Jerusalem, National Library of Israel MS 1257

R. Joshua ben David of Kurdistan Ilan -- Jerusalem, NLI, MS 1257
Manuscript name
Jerusalem, National Library of Israel MS 1257
This ilan was crafted by R. Joshua ben David (active early-seventeenth-century), a student of R. Samuel Barzani, the preeminent rabbinic scholar of Kurdistan in the period. The ilan was modeled upon the notion of the “Four Worlds” of Aẓilut, Beriah, Yeẓirah, and ‘Assiyah, which was commonplace in kabbalistic thought from the sixteenth century and later. Between the arboreal diagrams additional diagrams were inserted, including drawings of the “Holy Chariot” consisting of the four Ḥayyot (beasts; also known as Kruvim, Cherubs) of the Chariot. Midway down the rotulus a large circle features the name of its draftsman. The lower section includes a drawing of the orb of the zodiac, the planetary bodies, and the earth with the four elements. The top of the rotulus is no longer intact but would have included a tree of the sefirot of the world of Aẓilut, which we know from another work that R. Joshua composed with his colleague, R. David Sidkhani. The ilan is enriched with many texts throughout, most of which are extracts from the works of other authors. This anthological collection allows us to reconstruct R. Joshua’s impressive kabbalistic library, which included many works published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The ilan is also distinguished for its “bottom up” implied order of reading. It is imagined as a ladder by which the practitioner can enact an ascent from the lower to the higher worlds. For additional information and bibliography, see Chajes, The Kabbalistic Tree, pp. 75–82.
Support material
MS 1257
Alternative identifier
National Library of Israel
5 leaves
39.0 cm
450.0 cm
Creation time
... Translation
... Commentary
... Object