This question is related to the question 'what is the origin of the Hebrew language?' since Hebrew is a key part of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. However, the question of Hebrew language origins seems to have more historic and archeological answers than the Kabbalistic symbol's origins. Hebrew language may still be relevant nonetheless; if Hebrew language is thought to stem from Canaanite language/Phoenician alphabet (the first alphabet!) and that from Ancient Egyptian language, where/when did the Tree of Life symbol and organization of the Alephbet and Sefiroth come to be? If the Tree of Life symbol is from the time of Abraham, was the Phoenician Alephbet used in designating the 22 paths?

From what I can tell, the 10 Sefirot are first attributed to Sefer Yetzirah, which has authorship ascribed to Abraham who lived sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE. That would mean the 10 Sefirot were written on Earth earlier than the Torah which was first written in Moshe's time (a few hundred years later than Abraham's time). Again on the language point, from what I can tell, at both those times either no alephbet existed yet or Phoenician/Paleo-Hebrew was used. Since Sefer Yetzirah practically details the Hebrew language, I wonder about the relationship between the origin of Hebrew and the Sefer Yetzirah (which is perhaps the introduction of the Tree of Life symbol).

Regardless of language timing, I'm not sure if the Tree of Life symbol itself can be said to have been introduced in Abraham's time, given the claim that Sefer Yetzirah's Sefirot do not correspond to that of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life we see today:

"An intimate relation exists between the Sefer Yetzirah and the later mystics; and although there is a marked difference between the later Kabbalah and the Sefer Yetzirah (for instance, the Sefirot of the Kabbalists do not correspond to those of the Sefer Yetzirah), the system laid down in the latter is the first visible link in the development of Kabbalistic ideas."

via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_Yetzirah which cites it to: Singer, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "YEẒIRAH, SEFER". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company. Retrieved 16 April 2013.

I'm not yet aware of how the Sefer Yetzirah's Sefirot differ from those we see today in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life symbol.

What is the best estimate, or what are the best estimates if it is in contention, of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life symbol's origins? If the answer to this question is too lengthy for this format, a response pointing me in the direction of fuller answers (e.g. in form of a book, lecture, expert) would be appreciated/accepted.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya cr0 and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Sep 21 '18 at 3:48
  • I read that the Sephirot came from Islamic mysticism. However I didn't get to see any sources. – Aaron Sep 21 '18 at 15:16

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