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הרקיע השביעי | The Seventh Heavenly Dome, a description and hymn of divine praise from Sefer ha-Razim

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

והרקיע השביעי
כלו אור שבעתים
ומאורו יבהיקו כל המעונות
The seventh dome,
all of it is sevenfold light,
and from its light all the domains shine.

ובו כסא הכבוד
נכון על ארבע חיות כבוד.
Within it is the throne of kavod,
set on the four resplendent Ḥayot.[1] The “living creatures” of Ezekiel’s vision. Cf. Ezekiel 1:5 ff. The ḥayot and ofanim are part of or equivalent to the class of heavenly beings, like the keruvim in Ezekiel 10, who are the supports of the heavenly throne of the deity. 

ובו אוצרות חיים
ואוצרות נפשות
Also within it are the storehouses of lives,[2] ”Lives” are here thought of as entities placed by the deity in all living things, and causing them to live. They are distinguished from “souls.” Cf. Gen 2:7, “the breath of lives.” 
and the storehouses of souls.

ואין חקר ותכלית למאור הגדול אשר בו
ומאור הממולא תאיר כל הארץ
There is no calculation or limit to the great light within it,
and the fullness of the light illumines all the earth.

ומלאכים אחוזים בעמודי אור
ואורם כאור נוגה
ולא יכבה
כי עיניהם כניצוצי ברק
ומעמדם על גפי אור
ומפארים באימה ליושב בכסא הכבוד.
The angels are fixed in pillars of light,
and their light is as the light of Nogah (Venus)[3] This is certainly a reference to Aphrodite-Venus, who has been referred to previously. Cf. First Firmament, note 44 (p.33).  
and cannot be extinguished,
for their eyes are like flashes of lightning,
and they stand upon the margins of (the divine) light,
and glorify in fear the One who sits upon the throne of kavod.

כי הוא לבדו יושב במעון קדשו,
דורש משפט
ומפלס צדק
שופט באמונה
ומדבר בצדקה,
For he alone sits in the heaven of his holiness,
seeking out judgment,
leveling the scales of justice;
judging in truth
and speaking in righteousness.

ולפניו ספרי אש פתוחים
ומלפניו נהרי אש מושכים
ומשאתו יגורו אלים
ומשאגתו ירופפו עמודים
ומקולו ינועו אמות הסיפים
And before him the books of fire are open
And from before him flow rivers of fire.[4] Cf. Daniel 7:10. 
When he raises (his voice) the elim[5] other divine/numinous entities (i.e., gods).  are afraid,[6] Cf. Job 41:17.  
And when he roars the pillars shake,
And from his voice the doorposts tremble.[7] Cf. Isaiah 6:4. 

וחיילותיו עומדים לפניו
ולא ישורו דמותו
כי הוא נסתר מכל עין
ואין מי יראנו וחי.
דמותו מכל נעלמה
ודמות כל ממנו לא נסתרה.
His soldiers stand before him,
But they do not gaze upon his likeness.
For he is hidden from every eye,
And none can see him and live.
His appearance is hidden from all,
But no appearance is hidden from him.

מגלה עמוקות מני חשך (איוב יב:כב)
ויודע מה בסתרי אופל.
כי אור עמו חונה
וכשלמה אור יעטה.
יושב בכסא האור
וסביבותיו עוצם אור.
He uncovers deep things from the darkness, (Job 12:22)
And he knows the secrets of obscurity.
For light dwells with him,[8] Cf. Daniel 2:22. 
And he puts on light as a garment.[9] Cf. Ps 104:2. 
He sits on light as a throne,
And light closes off what surrounds him.

וחיות ואופנים ינשאוהו
והמה מעופפים בכנפיהם
ולהם שש שש כנפים
ובכנפיהם יכסו פניהם
ולמטה יתנו פניהם
ולארבעתם פונים פניהם
ולא ירומו למעלה פניהם
מפחדן ומאימתן.
The Ḥayot and Ofanim bear him up,
As they fly with their wings.
They have six wings each
And they cover their faces with their wings,
And they turn their faces downward.
Their faces are turned toward their fellows,[10] Literally, “to the four of them.” 
And they do not lift their faces upwards,
Because of their fear and their terror.

והן על גביהם עומדים לפניו כתות כתות
וטובלין בנהרי טהרה
ומתעטפין כסות אש לבנה
ועונין בענוה בקול חזק
ק׳ק׳ק׳ יי׳ צבאות
מלא כל הארץ כבודו. (ישעיה ו:ג)
Troops upon troops stand one above another before him,
And immerse themselves in rivers of purity.
And wrap themselves in garments of white fire,
And sing with humility in a strong voice:
“Holy Holy Holy is YHVH Tsevaot,
The whole world is full of his kavod, (Isaiah 6:3)

והוא מקדם לכל המעשים
והוא עד לא ארץ ושמים
והוא לבדו ואין זר עמו,
He is prior to all creatures;
He was when earth and heaven were not yet.
He is alone; there is no stranger with him.

תולה בזרועו מעונה
ובכל מעונות אימתו
ובכל מלאכים יראתו,
כי ברוח פיו נחצבו
ולהדר חסנו ניצבו,
By his strength he upholds the heaven(s),
And in all the heavens he is feared,
And by all the angels he is revered,
For by the breath of his mouth they were formed
And to glorify his power they were established.

והוא באחד ומי ישיבנו (איוב כג:יג)
ואם צוה אין לבטל,
כי הוא מלך מלכי המלכים
מושל על כל מלכי הארץ
ומתנשא במלאכי שמים
חוקר לבבות עד לא נוצרו
ויודע מחשבות עד לא תהיינה.
He (acts) alone and who can turn him back? (Job 23:13)
And if he commands none can annul.
For he is the King of kings of kings,
Ruling over all of the kings of the earth,
And exalted among the angels of heaven.
He searches hearts before they are formed,
And he knows thoughts before they occur.

ברוך שמו
ומבורך יקר הדרו
לעולמי עולמים
ולנצח נצחים
ועדי עד
כי אין מבלעדו אל
וזולתו אין אלהים.
Blessed be his name
And blessed the greatness of his glory.
For ages and ages,
And for an eternity of eternities
forever and ever.
For there is no el (divinity) apart from him,[11] Cf. 2 Sam 22:32. 
And there is no elohim (deity) beside him.

ברוך שמו בכל דור ודור
ומבורך במעוני מעלה.
ברוך שמו בגבורתו
ומבורך זכרו בתפארת עוזו.
כי כשמו כן תהלתו שנ׳
כשמך אלהים
כן תהלתך עד קצוי ארץ
צדק מלאה ימינך. (תהלים מח:יא)
Blessed is his name in each generation
And blessed in the heavens on high.
Blessed is his name with its might,
And blessed its mention with the beauty of his power.
For as his name so is his praise as it has been said:
“As is your name, Elohim,
so is your praise to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is full of righteousness.” (Psalms 48:11)

והוא מקרב טהורים ליראתו
ומרחק טמאים בחמת עברתו,
מעתיק הרים באמצה ובגבורה
ולא ידעו כאשר הפכם באפו,
תולה עולם כאשכול
סובל הכל היה והוא ויהיה,
ועתיק יומין,
ועמו הון עתק וצדקה.
He brings the pure to reverence him,[12] Literally, “to his fear,” i.e., to worship and magical practices. 
And in his wrath drives away the impure.
He moves mountains by his might and strength,
They did not know when he overturned them in his wrath.[13] Cf. Job 9:5. 
He holds the world as a cluster of grapes,
Bearing all that was, is, and will be.
He is the Ancient of Days,[14] Cf. Daniel 7:9. 
And with him are enduring riches and righteousness.[15] Cf. Proverbs 8:18. 

ברוך כבודו ממקומו
ומבורך בתפארת יקרו.
ממלא דעת לב יריאיו
לחקור ולידע עוז יראת שמו.
Blessed be his kavod from his habitation,
And blessed (is he) in the beauty of his dignity.
The hearts of those who fear him he fills with knowledge,
To search and to know the power of the fear of his name.

ברוך שמו במושב הדרו
ומבורך בתפארת עוזו.
ברוך שמו באוצרות שלג
ומבורך בנהרי שלהבת.
ברוך שמו בערפלי זיו
ומבורך בענני הוד.
Blessed be his name in the dwelling place of his splendor,
And blessed in the beauty of his strength.
Blessed be his name in the storehouses of snow,
And blessed in the rivers of flames.
Blessed be his name in the mists of brilliance,
And blessed in the clouds of glory.

ברוך שמו ברכב רבואתים
ומבורך באלפי שנאן.
ברוך שמו בשרשרות האש
ומבורך במיתרי לוהטת.
ברוך שמו בקולות רעמים
ומבורך בריצת ברקים.
Blessed be his name in the myriads of chariots,[16] Cf. Psalms 68:18. 
And blessed in the thousands upon thousands (of his warriors).
Blessed be his name in the chains of fire,
And blessed in the ropes of flame.
Blessed be his name in the peals of thunder,
And blessed in the bolts of lightning.

ברוך שמו בפי כל אשר בארץ
ומבורך בתהומות הארץ.
ברוך שמו בכל המדברות
ומבורך בגלי הים.
ברוך שמו לבדו בכסאו
ומבורך בישיבת עוזו.
Blessed be his name in the mouths of all on earth,
And blessed in the depths of the earth.
Blessed be his name amid all the wildernesses,
And blessed amid the waves of the sea.
Blessed be his name alone on his throne,
And blessed in dwelling places of his majesty,

ברוך שמו בפי כל נשמה
ומבורך בשיר כל בריה.
ברוך יי׳ לעולם אמן ואמן (תהלים פט:נג)
הללו־יה.
Blessed be his name in the mouth of all living,
And blessed in the song of every creature.
Blessed be YHVH in the cosmos Amen and Amen. (Psalms 89:53)
Hallelu-Yah.

This is a description of the seventh and highest dome of Heaven (haRaqia haShevi’i) containing a hymn found near the end of many recensions of Sefer ha-Razim, a Jewish magical work compiled sometime in late Antiquity (before the 4th c.). The previous six heavenly domes in Sefer ha-Razim are named and described along with all the notable angels populating it, and relevant magical recipes in making use of their respective capabilities. The seventh dome is unique in having only this description and a hymn of praise, without any accompanying lists of angels or magical recipes.

The text provided here is the edition by Mordecai Margaliot (Yediot Aḥronot: 1966), a reconstruction of Sefer ha-Razim drawn from the surviving manuscripts, translations, and Geniza fragments available to him. (In 2014, Peter Schäfer published Sefer ha-Razim I und II, a comprehensive edition with transcriptions of all the known significant recensions, fragments, and translations.) The English translation provided here was lightly adapted from the translation of Margaliot’s work made by Michael A. Morgan (Scholars Press/SBL: 1983).

According to Morgan, the hymn begins with the line ולפניו ספרי אש פתוחים — “And before him the books of fire are open.”

I have replaced several words in Morgan’s translation: firmament with ‘dome’ for רקיע, heavens with ‘domains’ for מעונות, evening with ‘leveling’ for מפלס, glory with ‘kavod‘ for הכבוד, and deserts with ‘wildernesses’ for מדברות, among other small changes. (My intention in transcribing this hymn and setting it side-by-side with a translation, is to prepare it for liturgical use, especially for shaḥarit given the parallel phrases in other prayers around the birkat yotser ohr.) –Aharon Varady

Source(s)

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Sefer ha-Razim I §239-245 p.86 (Peter Schäfer 2014)

Sefer ha-Razim I §239-245 p.87 (Peter Schäfer 2014)

Sefer ha-Razim I §246-284 p.88 (Peter Schäfer 2014)

Sefer ha-Razim I §246-284 p.89 (Peter Schäfer 2014)

 

Notes

Notes
1 The “living creatures” of Ezekiel’s vision. Cf. Ezekiel 1:5 ff. The ḥayot and ofanim are part of or equivalent to the class of heavenly beings, like the keruvim in Ezekiel 10, who are the supports of the heavenly throne of the deity.
2 ”Lives” are here thought of as entities placed by the deity in all living things, and causing them to live. They are distinguished from “souls.” Cf. Gen 2:7, “the breath of lives.”
3 This is certainly a reference to Aphrodite-Venus, who has been referred to previously. Cf. First Firmament, note 44 (p.33).
4 Cf. Daniel 7:10.
5 other divine/numinous entities (i.e., gods).
6 Cf. Job 41:17.
7 Cf. Isaiah 6:4.
8 Cf. Daniel 2:22.
9 Cf. Ps 104:2.
10 Literally, “to the four of them.”
11 Cf. 2 Sam 22:32.
12 Literally, “to his fear,” i.e., to worship and magical practices.
13 Cf. Job 9:5.
14 Cf. Daniel 7:9.
15 Cf. Proverbs 8:18.
16 Cf. Psalms 68:18.

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