This web article, on page 4, states that the Arizal taught in Sefer HaGilgulim, chapter 67, that Yeshu (Jesus) was the reincarnation of Eisav. I tried looking for the Sefer HaGilgulim online, but I couldn't find it.

Can someone clear this up for me? Did the Arizal actually teach this? Here's the original quote from the article:

Indeed, according to the teachings of the Ari’zal, revealed to him by none other than Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah), Yeshu was none other than the reincarnation of Esav, the brother of Ya’aqov Avinu (ref. Sefer HaGilgulim of the Ari’zal, chapter 67).

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    It's right there on Hebrewbooks twice hebrewbooks.org/45024 or hebrewbooks.org/23822
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 16:02
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    OK I didn't think of checking HebrewBooks but that still doesn't answer my question. The copies of Sefer HaGilgulim you linked do not have a chapter 67.
    – ezra
    Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 16:07
  • I recall heard this in the name of Abravanel. Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 21:38
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    A similar idea is in the Ari's Pri Etz Chaim: hebrewbooks.org/….
    – Harel13
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 9:58
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    The question assumes reincarnation is in the Torah when it is not.
    – Turk Hill
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 0:28

2 Answers 2


Yes, at the end of chapter 67 in Sefer HaGilgulim it brings exactly what was cited in your question from Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok.

The Ari z"l, as quoted in a hand-written note from Rabbi Chaim Vital shown here below, is actually making several source references.

The Mitzri mentioned in the heading is referring to the unnamed Mitzri also mentioned in Shemot 2:11-12. This is the individual that Moshe Rabbeinu killed by using one of G-d's names. In the commentaries there, it mentions that Moshe actually checked to see if any important descendants would come from this person before killing him.

The Ari z"l also connects the descendants of this individual with Kayin, who murdered his brother, Hevel in the beginning of the book of Bereshit. It was via this association that the Ari makes reference to his ultimate judgement of being immersed in boiling excrement in Gehinom as discussed in tractate Gittin 57a. This particular judgement falls on those who mock the Sages, something specifically mentioned in connection with Yeshu both in his early youth (see for example the Nag Hammadi text of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas) and later, as he grew up like is discussed in connection with his treatment of his teacher, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Perachiyah in Sanhedrin 107b.

This is also discussed in the Zohar 2:12b:5 which also connects this person to Eisav.

But then the Ari z"l goes further and says his pedigree is the same as the person mentioned in VaYikra 24:10-11 and his commonly known name is actually referenced through the Roshei Teivot (first letters) in the posuk from VaYikra 24:16, which in reversed order spells out Yeshu.

The image from my copy of the book follows:

Sefer HaGilgulim end of Chapter 67

  • If this is indeed the case, how does Ari HaKadosh reconcile this with the usual association of that particular person and Bilhaam? Or is there s link between Esav and Bilhaam I'm unaware of? Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 1:46
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    @JoshK See the link to the Zohar in my answer. It’s discussed there and is also alluded to in the citation from Gittin. Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 2:04
  • תדה רבה ממש, Yaakov! Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 2:59
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    – kouty
    Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 3:52
  • @JoshK In case you didn’t notice, using the tzeruf of Yitzchok Avinu, the transformation of Gevurah, רוע המצר״י becomes שוע הנצר״י, an alternate of his common name. And this can also be read הנצר י״שוע. Commented Mar 18, 2021 at 3:56

As @Harel13 commented: In the Book, Pri Eitz Chaim, here, (the Teachings of Isaac Luria / Arizal, recorded by his student Chayim Vital), it says the following:

Hebrew text

"It's found in another place: It's spelled / it says עשי״ו [Esav], because he was reincarnated into ישוע [Yeshua]. [I think he's trying to point out the the letters in both names are the same, only rearranged.] He was a student of R' Yehoshua ben Prachiah, and since R' prachiah pushed him away with two hands, and he was punished, as it says there. And that's why when Chushem, son of Dan, killed Esav, he chopped off his head and the head rolled into the cave and it was buried there with Yakov, because the holiness was only in the head, that's why he was buried there."

  • Chosem?, I always thought it was Chushim
    – sam
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 1:23
  • @sam you might be right
    – larry909
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 1:24
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    he.wikisource.org/wiki/… text at Wikisource Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 2:52
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    re: the bounty: This of course opens the old can of worms if Yishu the disciple of Yehoshua ben Perachia is the infamous Jesus.
    – Mordechai
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 9:50
  • @Mordechai there is a debate about that?
    – larry909
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 18:40

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