The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life was originally a Babylonian idea and represents a higher article system of 10 aspects (seferit) of God's nature that are linked in 32 paths. It was later adapted by Jewish mystics and became part of the Kabbalistic interpretation of God's essence. It is a graphic representation of the descent of God into the material world. There are ten circles that are related to each other in particular ways and demonstrate the interrelationship of different aspects of God's nature. The Tree of Life is supposed to be representative to help Kabbalists attain union with the divine by helping them understand the relationship and sequence of the various aspects of God's divine nature as it manifests itself in our world and in ourselves. Each triad contains a masculine and feminine element with a combining element found in the center.

The first triad: The top sephiroth (creative forces) describe the indescribable via representation. They have no direct link with reality.

  1. Crown - (Keter) The highest aspect of the Tree that can be understood. The Lower aspects (sephirot) grow out of the topmost aspect of God. It is also known as the Simple Point. The Crown, Keter is union with God and is the mind of God that cannot be known by people.
  2. Wisdom - (Hokhmah, Chockmah) The contemplative and primordial masculine aspect of God. It is the point from which the knowable creation was begun. It is, therefore, creative force, the expressive action of God.
  3. Understanding - (Binah) The analytical aspect of God's nature, thoughts, etc. It is the highest feminine aspect of God. It is said that Understanding gave birth to the seven lower aspects. It is also known as Mother. It is the formation of Wisdom.

The second triad: The next three sephiroth "are reflections of the first, on a lower level."1

Notice the gap between the first triad and the second. This is the Abyss, "our side".

  1. Mercy - (Hesed, Chesed) The benevolent side of God, the masculine side. It is also called Gedulah, meaning Greatness. "As the first sephira below the Abyss, Chesed also represents the level of the "Inner Plane Adepts": individuals who no longer need to incarnate on earth, and who could cross the abyss and move on to the next stage of their evolution."2 They help people on the physical plane.
  2. Judgment, Severity - (Din) The divine wrath, judgment, and punishment of God, feminine side. With Beauty, it shows balance. "It represents the concept that is expressed by the Hindu term 'Karma.'"3
  3. Beauty, Balance - (Tiferet) The representation of the balance of justice and mercy. It is both masculine and feminine. The higher self and the inner child.

The final group of four: The expression of the upper triads in a concrete manner.

  1. Eternity, Passion - (Nezah) God's grace that works through the world. It is the passion and energy of God's creative force that is manifested in our world: gardening, sexual relations, painting, etc.
  2. Splendor, Thought - (Hod) The lower channel or means by which God's judgment enters the world. It is the area of thought and truth. An imbalance of this aspect can lead to deception.
  3. Foundation, Feeling - (Yesod) The channel by which beauty and good forces pass into the world. It is a combination of splendor and eternity. its realization is manifested in intuition, instinct, and non-intellectualism. "All created things must pass through the Yesod before being actualized on the physical plane."4
  4. Kingdom, Body - (Shekhinah, Malkuth) God's dwelling and presence in the world. It is the funnel through which the upper aspects are delivered to the world and realized in the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Therefore, some believe it has a feminine aspect.
  • 1. Hopking, C.J.M., The Practical Kabbalah Guidebook, New York: Sterling Publishing, 2001, p. 22.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. Ibid., p. 23.
  • 4. Ibid., p. 25.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.