Obj. ID: 37747
Jewish printed books Raziel ha-Malakh, Lemberg, 1865
This text was prepared by William Gross:
Collection of mystical, cosmological, and magical Hebrew works and portions of works. First printed in Amsterdam in 1701, it continues to be reprinted many times, because of the popular belief that the book protects its owner's home from fire and other dangers. Indeed, few Jewish homes can be found without a copy. There are some manuscripts of, at least, parts of this work which date back to the 16th century. The material can be divided into three distinct categories or strata:
(1) Works, or parts of works, which belong to Heikhalot and Merkabah mysticism, the mystical and cosmological literature of the talmudic and geonic periods. Of these, Raziel contains a version of the Sefer ha-Malbush, a magical work; baraita of Ma'aseh Bereshit, a cosmological and astrological description of the Creation, which has some mystical overtones; and a major part of the Sefer ha-Razim ("Book of Magical Secrets"), which is a collection of magical formulas and angelological material from talmudic times. The introduction states that the angel Raziel revealed the secrets described to Adam. In this category, there is some importance to a long version of the early anthropomorphic work, the Shi'ur Komah, describing the members and secret names of the Creator.
(2) Material which belongs to literature of the 13th-century R. Hasidei Ashkenaz. To this category belong the introduction and the first half of R. Eleazar of Worms' work, Sod Ma'aseh Bereshit ("The Secret of the Creation"), which formed the first part of his Sodei Rezaya. Some exegetical works on the Holy Names of G-d, and some magical formulas which conclude the collection, also belong to the literary heritage of the R. Hasidei Ashkenaz.
(3) A few portions of kabbalistic literature, descriptions of the Sefirot and exegeses of Holy Names, mostly reflecting kabbalistic theology of pre-Lurianic periods.
The book Raziel Hamalach is considered the basic book for amulets and practical Kabbalah. The tradition around the book attributes it to have been revealed to Adam by the angel Raziel. The title itself is mentioned in another magical work of late antiquity, The Sword of Moses. Critical historians regard it as a medieval work, most probably originating among the Chassidei Ashkenaz, as citations from it begin to appear only in the 13th century. Sections of it are no doubt older. The likely compiler of the medieval version is Eleazer of Worms, as "Sefer Galei Razia", which developed to what we have now as "Sefer Raziel HaMalakh", including more writings written by people of various theological opinions.
The book draws heavily on Sepher Yetzirah and Sepher Ha-Razim. There are multiple manuscript versions, containing up to seven tractates. The printed version of Sefer Raziel is divided into five books, some of it in the form of a mystical Midrash on Creation. It features an elaborate angelology, magical uses of the zodiac, gematria, names of God, protective spells, and a method of writing magical healing amulets.
The first printed edition of the famous book "Raziel Hamalach" was issued in Amsterdam in 1701. This volume basically determined the texts and diagramatic representation of many basic amulets from this time on, being endlessly copied in almost all places that amuilets were written. The second edition was not published for over 90 years, but then numberous edition were issued from the Hebrew presses of Eastern Europe. It continues to be printed to this day.
There were many editions pulished in Lviv during the 19th century. In this one the illustrations apparently are also done in letterpress, an unusual feature. This is one of two editions published in Lvov in 1865, the other being B.2024.