The Zohar

The Zohar is one of the most important texts, if not the most important in Kabbalah. The Zohar is not a single book. Instead, it is allegedly a 2nd century A.D. collection of Aramaic writings from various Kabbalists that is a commentary on the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with some commentary on the song of songs, also known as the song of Solomon.  Its interpretations of the Torah are highly mystical and subjective and often in contradiction to what the Torah reveals. It seeks to explain as well as visualize the relationship between God and man.  But, the book is generally believed to have been authored by a 13th Century Jewish mystic named Moses De Leon (1250-1305) partly because it was never mentioned in the Talmud (a collection of commentaries used to explain the oral law concerning the first five books of the Old Testament).  Additions were added to the Zohar in the 14th century.

The Zohar is also said to have special powers which followers can benefit from by running a finger over the text as if reading Braille.1  Of course, Christians reject such a claim and recognized the Zohar as a non-biblical, mystical piece of literature often in contradiction to the Bible.  Please consider this quote:

"The Zohar discusses the universe, as a whole, in far broader terms than merely the physical universe. Indeed, the physical universe, as vast as it may be, is dwarfed in comparison with the mystical universe that embraces angelic and demonic realms. Whereas the physical universe is measured in time and distance, the mystical universe is measured in terms of levels of awareness. These levels should not be viewed as separate boundaries, for awareness is a continuum."2

Notice the ambiguity and non-falsifiability of the comments.  How do you verify what is said about the mystical universe?  You can't.  But that doesn't stop the Zohar from saying even more about creation:

"The Zohar says,' to create the world, It (Ein Sof, Infinite Nothingness) emanated a secret spark (awareness) from which emerged and radiated all light. The upper world was constituted of this light. Then a [different dimension of] light, a light without brightness (lower consciousness), was fashioned into the lower world. As it is composed of unilluminated light, the lower world is attracted to the upper world."3

Its scope of teaching seems to include predictions of the coming Messiah.  Apparently, the Zohar predicted the return of the Messiah in 1648 which was fulfilled in Shabbetai Zvi from Smyrna in Asia Minor.  He gathered many followers, so much so that the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire thought that he must be stopped.  He captured Sabbettai and given the ultimatum to convert to Islam or die.  He converted to Islam.4 Is this the work of the Messiah, to convert to a false religious system under threat of death?  Of course not.

Please consider representative quotes from the Zohar:

  • Zohar I 51b-52a: "the beings on high are all of the same illumination, being of celestial essence, whereas the beings below are of a different essence. They (the lower) are to this illumination (the higher) as the candle is to the flame....The light and the shadows are the only elements which form air and water...On leaving its source, the light divides into 75 channels directed toward the material world...Below these channels there are 375 trenches...These trenches are divided into 17 classes, of which each presents the shape of a chain-net...Such is the vision of this area of space which forms seven different colors. These seven colors constitute the supreme mystery...Seven other lights are divided into seven seas, which together amount to one giant sea. This last is the supreme sea where seven others are concentrated...."5
  • "This end of heaven is called Who. There is another below, called What. What distinguishes the two? The first, concealed one-called Who-can be questioned. Once a human being questions and searches, contemplating and knowing rung after rung to the very last rung - once one reaches there: What? What do you know? What have you contemplated? Or what have you searched? All this concealed, as before."6
  • "When Concealed of all Concealed emerged on being revealed, it produced at first a single point, which ascended to become thought.  within, it drew all drawings, grave to all and ravings, carving within the conceal the holy lamp a graving of one hidden design, only of holies, a deep structure emerging from fat, called Mi, Who, origin of structure.  existent and nonexistent, deep and hidden, called by no name but Who.  Seekng to be revealed, to be named, it garbed itself in a splendid, radiant garment and created (elleh), these.  Elleh attained the name:  these letters joined with those, culimnating in the name Elohim."7

Christians should quickly recognize the problems in such comments from the Zohar.  It isn't Christian and it isn't biblical.

  • 1. Sweeney, John, "Holocaust Was Jews' Own Fault, Madonna Sect Claims," Mail on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2005, p. 42, 1p.
  • 2. Cooper, David A., God is a Verb, New York: Riverhead Brooks, 1997, p. 34.
  • 3. Ibid., p. 35.
  • 4. Hopking, C.J.M., The Practical Kabbalah Guidebook, New York: Sterling Publishing, 2001, p. 14.
  • 5.
  • 6., p. 6.
  • 7. Ibid., p. 8.

About The Author

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