Monday, August 20, 2007

The Zohar

Nephi said that he made his “record in the language of …[his] father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.”[1]

What did he mean by the learning of the Jews? If we understood this Jewish knowledge would it enrich our understanding of the Book of Mormon and the gospel generally?

For example, the discovery of chiasmus (a Jewish learning) in the Book of Mormon has greatly increased our understanding of the text and has proven to be one of our best apologetic tools for defending the faith.[2]

There are levels upon levels in the Book of Mormon that go unnoticed by the casual reader. There are symbols, figures of speech, and concepts being deployed that could add depth if we can see them.

I would submit that a most valuable tool that a modern day Mormon can have in understanding the “learning of the Jews” is the Zohar.

The word Zohar means Splendor or Radiance. First published by Moses de Leon (13th. century), and is purported (with many differing views) to be the work of a second century rabbi named Simeon ben Yohai. Most authorities believe De Leon to be the actual author. The Zohar is comprised of a group of books, originally written in Aramaic and medieval Hebrew.

The Zohar is given in story form, mostly of groups of Rabbis walking from place to place, meeting interesting people. The conversations are the lessons. It is a fascinating and wonderful book. If you take the Doctrine and Covenants admonition seriously to seek out the best books,[3] you should seek out the Zohar.

The backdrop for the Zohar is the Tree of Life, just like Genesis and 1 Nephi.

I suggest Daniel C. Matt’s translation, 3 volume set, found here at Amazon.


[1] 1 Nephi 1:2
[2] Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, Chapter 7, Noel B. Reynolds, Deseret Book.
[3] Doctrine and Covenants 109:7,14; 88:118


Anonymous said...

On this blog you have a link to the Jewish Encylopedia,it raises some very interesting issues against the Zohar,How do you see yourself so posessed by some familar spirit to make this Zohar your new Bible.and do you think it is the work of God,or a deceitful act of man.
No judgement , but it does lean heavy towards Gnoticism as noted in the

David Littlefield said...

Responding to Anon’s comments above:

First, I link to a number of sites here that I do not endorse or even know the entire content of their site. Clearly if I believed or endorsed everything on the Jewish Encyclopedia, I would be Jewish not LDS. In-fact I find the Jewish Encyclopedia to be somewhat narrow, I find Wikipedia to be a much better, but maybe not as comprehensive source for all things Jewish.

I find your condemnation of my links to be a bit narrow minded itself. Would you also condemn me for books I may have in my library?


“How do you see yourself so [possessed] by some [familiar] spirit to make this Zohar your new Bible.”

The answer is no. I think we need to have the ability to read books and learn from them, without necessarily making them our bible.


“do you think it is the work of God,or a deceitful act of man.”

Neither, I don’t see it as scripture. I don’t see it as a deceit at all. It is an insightful description in story form of the Oral Traditions of the Jews.

Anything related to the temple, the ignorant call Gnostic. Was Solomon’s temple Gnostic? Or, the Second Temple?

Have you read the Zohar? I highly recommend it for those who are prepared.


Anonymous said...

In the studies of the Nature of God, Theology and mans relationship to it, Religions right or wrong "barrow"one another's stories, rituals,language,and understanding some of the terms and words barrowed from the language and culure in their new understandings and in the evolution launguages also barrow form previous luangauge,religions and cultures, in North America many "new" religions sprung up in the early 1800s and those teaching were in the language and culture of those people.
In the Religions of the People who Draw on the Creation Story of Adam and Eve.
There are Two Different Camps.
There are the Faithful Who learn of God in faith and deed.Paul the Apostle makes the strongest outline as to who are the Faithful.and John the Apostle also Make a full outline of the Fruit of the Tree of Life.
Then you have the Gnostics/Mystics/ who are steadfast in their Persuit of the Love of Wisdom or Philo-Sophia and the Fruit of the Knowlege of Evil and not good.No need for Faithfulness one can be as god and accend in Light upto that Lucifer state of Gnosis as in the never ending search for "more Light" as of the freemason the most noteable Gnostic sects.One only link to Manley P.Hall and see the Light of Lucifer incarnate,ever learning and never knew Jesus.
From beginning to end for the Faithful the End game is Jesus.
From beginning to end for the Gnostic its Knowlege of Gnosis.
To compare and contrast lets take the Lost Scientologist learning to Rise and Accend above all of Abbreations and to Become a Clear Gnostic and Spirit Being. To sail in the Heavens as one in L.Ron.Hubbards Navy in the Sea Org.
And by contrast take the Plain and Simple of the Earth and Make them Christ's and God's thru faith and Grace.
God will write on the fleshly tables on the Heart of man that Thiers Names may be Named in the Book of Life.
No condemnation or judgement on the Zohar but it claims to be Scripture and if its not, its claim is a Lie and a deceiptful writting of man. and it may just be a "fun"
book.and The Zohar is of Jewish Orgin Link Link. not Wikipedia and is there a Wiki Church or Wiccan Church or a Philo-Sophia Society of Manley P.Hall
Could you please put up a link to the Whore of all the earth.and to the Mother of Harlots, and Babylon the Great, I need to know that "stuff" I want to be Prepared.
The real point all humor and wrestling aside, there is more than enough Meat in understanding the Gospel with out crossing over to the Gnostic camp.

David Littlefield said...


Thanks for the comment. I am not sure how to say this respectfully, but, you don't have a clue what you are talking about. You just find some little corner to pull on to see if you can roll Mormonism up into your anti-Mormon carpet. For example, ANON said:

"the Zohar but it claims to be Scripture"

You have obviously never read the Zohar, and don’t have a clue to what it is.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should should put away you Wiki Bible and cast out that familiar spirit.You are Invited to read the first line from under the heading of Zohar
"A work that PRETENDS to be a communicated revelation from God" that is what the Jewish encyclopedie says ,you know those Jewish people who gave us the Bible.
What the witches and mystics bible says of it who knows? and anything that that asserts that it is the revelation of God,would also be the Word of God and therefor Scripture
And if it was not the work or word of God, though it claims to be, that is false work or word and decption.
For those who like to venture on the rim of sanity,perhaps an intereresting read,that has some insiteful twist and perspectives
The Urantia is a fun read and relates to the angels,pre-existance
If you like the legends and mythology of a Religious nature you will love this book.
In that vain and on the rim a rather good Book,like O.B.1.K.N.O.B
and C3PO and YODA and Darth Vader.
But with a religious relationship.
Some call the book the false New Bible of the New Age Movement.
It does aquaint one with some Heavenly themes and carries some theologies to a further degree,
it also uses types,symbols themes, quest,giants,queries,illistrations, and
conflicts that go beyond our common themes and language.
Of very questionable orgins,and most likely a Decption,But insightful a fiction,

Anonymous said...

“I don’t know much about the Gospel other than what I’ve learned from the Standard Works. When I drink from a spring I like to get the water where it comes out of the ground, not down the stream after the cattle have waded in it.” Elder M.G. Romney, quoted by J. Richard Clarke, Conference Address 1982.
November 1, 2007 11:08 PM

Anonymous said...


Mormon2theCore said...

I love the insight the Zohar has given into Book of Mormon symbolism.

Anonymous said...

hello, this is another person, I am not sure if the other anonymous is one or many, but I would like to say that I have come into contact with some proponents of the Zohar, and disturbed by their organization, though the teachings on the surface seemed ok, interesting, something I would like to know more about, I can't shake the feeling that there is something wrong. So in my outside research on the Zohar, I ended up reading some of Revelation about the Whore and the Beast of Babylon, and I hesitate to even say it publicly but let me just say that there are some disturbing references that match up... though one could argue there is a tree of life and a tree of death, so perhaps those references referred to the tree of death, but disturb me nonetheless enough to honor my hunch that something very not right is going on. Thank you for the mention of "No need for Faithfulness one can be as god and accend in Light upto that Lucifer state of Gnosis as in the never ending search for "more Light"" as it has always intrigued me that Samael is called the "Angel of Light", it makes a lot of sense in the context you just described... i mean, consider a flashlight held to the sun, even more so this so called "Light" as held up to The Holy One, blessed be He.

Anonymous said...

To: Anonymous

May 28, 2009 10:21 PM

The Bible: King James Version

Gen 2:9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they spiritually died just as God warned them they would. i.e. They ate of the tree of "spiritual death." i.e. the tree of "death."

To everyone else that disputes this article because they think they have the authority to claim that they are an authority of what is or is not the word of God and the truth of God:

Who do you think you are? God? or God's imperfect creation?

Do you know the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness?

Where do you think the way of righteousness leads? Heaven? or Hell?

Where do you think the way of self-righteousness leads? Heaven? or Hell?

One final question to all those that would question mysticism:

If the word of God did not come from Mystics as you seem to be claiming then who interpreted and wrote the word of God?

(Bare in mind that a true Mystic is one who has direct knowledge of God, spiritual truths, and the ultimate reality which is defined by God and only God. i.e. a true Mystic is a prophet like Moses.)

Anonymous said...

The TRUE Mystics are so thru the Holy Life and Holy Family. they are the Fruit of the Gospel Shine the Light Of Christ on the Earth.The Holy Ghost is the Revelator. Vision Dreams Gifts of the Spirit.

By Far I avoid the Mystic Luciferian Gnostic Gnowledge of the Deniers and Crucifiers of Jesus.Blind Learned and Killers of their LORD. Jesus Called that Group the Children of their Father the Devil. Dark Hearts Dark Eyes.

Some feel comfortable to Hide Jesus's words of Light under a bushel.
If you want to be a True Mystic, Be Simple, Holy, a Servant, a Samaritan,Charitable, Feed the Poor Sick and Lame

The truth all that mystic stuff gives me a Head ache

But I still like to read and Learn.

Aaron said...

I bought the first volume on Daniel C. Matt's THE ZOHAR translation and am really liking it. It moves slow, but the commentary really helps to understand what the text is teaching. Very mysterious.

David Littlefield said...

Hey Aaron!

You will have a great read!

I don't know your familiarity with the topics in there, so it may take a little bit to get the style, and to get a hold of a few teaching that help understand the entire book.

If I can be so bold. If you find yourself struggling, take a break and read my book, Mormon Mysticism. It is a good introduction to the topics, and it's free, here:

It might give you some background that may be helpful, if you are not familiar with it. The prominent concept is the Jewish theme of the Tree of Life, which is a backdrop for the entire book.

Good reading!


Anshel Bomberger, Colorado said...

I am Jewish by birth and raised secular, although my adopted extended family is LDS. I find mystical Judaism fascinating. I find your blog here enlightening. Keep up the good work. s a Jew with LDs family members, it is a mitzvah (good deeds) for you to spread this knowledge to others.