Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)
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Poems by Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)
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The Hekhalot Hymns were composed by Jewish mystics around the 4th century CE.

The word "hekhalot" translates as "palaces" in reference to seven heavenly halls the Jewish mystic must safely pass through in order to approach the Merkavah (the divine throne or "chariot" -- usually equated with the chariot of Ezekiel's vision). The visionary who can make this sacred mystical journey is called a "descender to the chariot."

Hekhalot mysticism also looks to the ascent of Moses up the mountain to receive the Torah from heaven as a template for the mystic's journey to the Merkavah.

There are indications of early Hekhalot mysticism in the apocryphal Fourth Book of Ezra from around 100 CE:

"O Lord who inhabitest eternity, whose eyes are exalted and whose upper chambers [hekhaloth] are in the air, whose throne [merkavah] is beyond measure and whose glory is beyond comprehension, before whom the hosts of angels stand trembling and at whose command they are changed to wind and fire..."
-- 4 Ezra 8:21-22a

Other passages in the Fourth Book of Ezra suggest that the hymns may have been dictated by mystics in deep states of ecstasy, while a scribe sat on either side and recorded the visionary utterances.

There is some disagreement among scholars when trying to date the Hekhalot Hymns, but the consensus is that they were composed sometime between 200 and 800 CE. The 4th century is a common date cited.

Poems by Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)

Recommended Books: Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)

The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism

Related Links

Notes on the Study of Merkabah Mysticism and Hekhalot Literature in English

A scholarly paper available in PDF form that explores early Jewish Merkavah mysticism and the Hekhalot Hymns.

Changing Images of Moses in Jewish Culture

An article exploring how Moses has been viewed throughout Jewish history, with a brief look at the Hekhalot literature.

The Kabbalah: Early Cosmogonic Speculation

A good collection of extracted quotes on early Kabbalah mysticism, with a section on the Hekhalot literature.
Hekhalot Hymns (Anonymous)