What is Kabbalah?

Kabbalah is difficult to categorize because it is a subjective non-falsifiable belief system. In other words, it rests in non-verifiable philosophy, not in historic fact. Nevertheless, Kaballah is a mystical and esoteric system of observing and interpreting the universe and mankind that tree of lifealso seeks to reveal the true relationship between God, man, and the universe. It teaches that there is a divine being, neither male nor female, that has 10 primary aspects called sephirot which are represented in the Tree of Life (see diagram to the left). Kabbalah teaches that the supreme being created the universe through a series of those 10 aspects that descended through various levels until creation was fully realized.

There are slightly different definitions of the word "Kabbalah." One source says it comes from the three Hebrew kbl which means "reception." Another source says "Kabbalah is a word meaning "tradition."1
Kabbalah is also known as cabala, cabalah, kabala, caballah, qabala, qabalah, etc. You do not have to be Jewish to study Kabbalah and its proponents state that it can adapt itself to any religious system.hebrew
Furthermore, the Kabbalist is supposed to gain understanding about God and himself by learning to understand these 10 aspects, their relationship to each other, and then apply the principles thus learned in his own life to help him return back to God -- Kabbalah teaches the soul's pre-existence.

Kaballah is the way of viewing reality based upon subjective, experiential interpretations of the world, life, death, creation, meaning, purpose, etc. It is an inner-contemplative movement and is considered to be a way of life.   Kabbalah relies heavily on mystical interpretations of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) as well as the rest of the Old Testament. Its premises are that there are secret and hidden meanings in the biblical text that can be discovered by examining the shape of Hebrew letters, the gematria of words (mathematical values), and how these word values relate to each other. The problem is that this method often draws conclusions that are in contradiction to the plain teaching of the text that it examines. Thus, Kabbalah can have a variety of disjointed beliefs. This is why David A. Cooper, a Kabbalist, says, "Kabbalah does not lend itself to a straightforward definition or even a clear-cut history...it teaches us about the mysteries of life, how the creation works, where we are going, and how we get there."2

Where does Kabbalah come from?

Mr. Cooper in his book, God is a Verb, asks, "What is it that cabalists receive? And from whom do they receive it?"3 Mr. Cooper's questions are extremely important especially since Kabbalistic theology is unbiblical. It teaches reincarnation, a type of karma, inner divinity, and no need for a Redeemer. Indeed, we must ask where does the Kabbalist in the Kabbalist of history get their information? They get it from the Zohar, the Zoar, and the Sepher Yetzirah which are essentially mystical commentaries and interpretations of the biblical text as written and recorded by various Kabbalists throughout history.

Nevertheless, are we to conclude that the philosophy taught through Kabbalah is godly? If it contradicts both Old and New Testament teaching, then how can it be from God? We conclude that it is not from God but is in reality yet another deception that proceeds out of the Garden of Eden where Satan said "you will be like God," (Gen. 3:5). The Edenic lie echoes through the hearts of mankind and has taken root in the philosophy of Kabbalah.

Non Falsifiability

Kabbalists claim to receive their mystical interpretations of reality from beyond themselves. The more you read Kabbalistic writings, the more you will see that it is mystical and unbiblical. You will also discover that the philosophy cannot be verified. In other words, there is no historical fact that verifies Kabbalah. It borrows heavily from the accounts written in the first five books of the Bible, but it also radically reinterprets so many events and so many concepts in the Bible that it is quite foreign from what the Word of God actually says.

Please consider some of the following phrases used in the books that teach Kabbalah and notice their ambiguity and New Age "feel":

  1. connections with other realities
  2. contemplative exercises
  3. mystical awareness
  4. higher awareness
  5. the worlds of awareness integrate along a continuum
  6. higher and lower realms of consciousness
  7. unification of the finite with the infinite
  8. energy of darkness
  9. cosmic fluctuation
  10. inherent light of consciousness
  11. practicing Kavannah (awareness of the implications of everything we do)
  12. the path to awareness
  13. mystical Academy

These kinds of phrases are unverifiable and subjective and have no inherent meaning apart from assigned philosophical interpretations given to them by Kabbalah literature. Furthermore, the phrases are highly reminiscent of New Age teaching that also exalts humanity to the level of divinity, teaches esoteric knowledge, secrets of the universe, and also tries to unravel the mystical relationship between God, the universe, and ourselves -- all based on subjective interpretations of the Bible.

Both Kabbalah and the New Age do not rest in historical facts nor in historical events that can be verified so as to support their interpretations. How do you connect with other realities? In fact, what does that mean? What is "higher awareness"? How does the finite become unified with the infinite? The answers that Kabbalah seeks to give to these kinds of questions are as equally subjective as the phrases that initiate the questions.

Because there is no way to verify the truth of the 10 aspects of God, that Kabbalah was given to the angels for the creation of the world, etc., the Kabbalist is left to either believe or disbelieve based on his preferences. Instead of believing what the Bible actually says, the Kabbalist is left with following the baby and mystical interpretations of a few ancient Jews.

Unlike the Gospels, Kabbalistic literature is full of philosophical mumbo-jumbo, unverifiable and subjective ideas, and words that are strung together in such a way as to appear to be semi-coherent. The problem is that Kabbalah contradicts the Bible. Therefore, it is not true.



  • 1. Leet, Leonora, The Secret Doctrine of the Kabbalah, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1999, p. 2.
  • 2. Cooper, David A., God is a Verb, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 11.
  • 3. Ibid.

About The Author

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