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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Zohar: Pritzker Edition (Volume 4)
Matt, Daniel C.

Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 2007 pp. xii + 576. $49.95


Description: Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Radiance) has amazed and overwhelmed readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain toward the end of the thirteenth century. Written in a unique, lyrical Aramaic, this masterpiece of Kabbalah exceeds the dimensions of a normal book; it is virtually a body of literature, comprising over twenty discrete sections. The bulk of the Zohar consists of a running commentary on the Torah, from Genesis through Deuteronomy. This fourth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition covers the first half of Exodus. Here we find mystical explorations of Pharaoh’s enslavement of the Israelites, the birth of Moses, the deliverance from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the Revelation at Mount Sinai. Throughout, the Zohar probes the biblical text and seeks deeper meaning—for example, the nature of evil and its relation to the divine realm, the romance of Moses and Shekhinah, and the inner meaning of the Ten Commandments. In the context of the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea, Rabbi Shim’on reveals the mysterious Name of 72, a complex divine name consisting of 216 letters (72 triads), formed out of three verses in Exodus 14. These mystical interpretations are interwoven with tales of the Companions—rabbis wandering through the hills of Galilee, sharing their insights, coming upon wisdom in the most astonishing ways from a colorful cast of characters they meet on the road.

Subjects: Bible, Mishnah, Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature, Other Rabbinic Works, Literature

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Review by Marvin Sweeney
Published 9/8/2010
Citation: Marvin Sweeney, review of Daniel C. Matt, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition (Volume 4), Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2010).


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