The Sefer Raziel

Archangel Raziel's Book of Angel Secrets

Ancient Angel handwriting in the Sefer Raziel
Culture Club / Getty Images

The Sefer Raziel (which means "Book of Raziel") is a Jewish text that is said to have been written by archangel Raziel, the angel of mysteries, to tell the secrets of the universe that angels know to human beings. Raziel is said to have given the book to Adam, the first human being, to help him after he and his wife Eve brought sin into the world and had to leave the Garden of Eden.

Although many scholars say that the Sefer Raziel was actually written anonymously by 13th-century authors (when the text of it first appeared in circulation), the book says that Raziel wrote down all the mysterious secrets that God revealed to him to deliver to human beings. Then, according to the Sefer Raziel's own text, the book was passed down through the line of Jewish patriarchs with the help of not only Raziel but also archangels Metatron and Raphael.

Raziel Answers Adam's Prayers

The Sefer Raziel says that God sent Raziel to Earth to help Adam after Adam -- who was in despair after the fall of the world—prayed for wisdom:

"God sent forth, Raziel, the angel, who dwelled upon the river going forth from the Garden of Eden. He was revealed to Adam as the sun went black. By his hand, he gave the book to Adam, saying: 'Do not fear and lament no longer. From the day you served in prayer, the prayers were heard. I come to give the knowledge of the words of purity and great wisdom. Become wise by the words of this holiest book.
Adam drew near and heard, yearning to be guided by the holy book. Raziel, the angel, opened the book and read the words. Hearing the words of the holy book from the mouth of Raziel the angel, he fell upon the ground trembling in fear. Raziel spoke: 'Rise up and be strong. Revere the power of God. Take the book from my hand and learn from it. Understand the knowledge. Make it known to all pure. Therein establish what will occur in all time.'
Adam took the book. A great fire kindled upon the bank of the river. The angel rose up in flames and returned to heaven. Then Adam knew the angel had been sent forth by Elohim, the holy king, to deliver the book, sustained therein in holiness and purity. The words of the book proclaim works to perform when seeking to prosper in the world."

Many Mysteries Revealed

The Sefer Raziel contains a wealth of information about angelic knowledge of the universe. Rosemary Ellen Guiley writes in her book The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy that,

"The book reveals secrets and mysteries of creation, the secret wisdom of the 72 letters of the name of God and its esoteric 670 mysteries, and 1,500 keys, which had not been even given to angels. Other important material deals with the five names of the human soul; the seven hells; the divisions of the Garden of Eden; and the types of angels and spirits who have dominion over various things in creation. The book also gives angelic scripts, angel languages, magical incantations for directing the memunim (deputy angels), and magical instructions for the making of talismans and amulets."

In his book Cultures of the Jews: A New History, David Biale writes:

"Sefer Raziel contains portions of various Hebrew works dealing with various aspects of magic, cosmology, and mystics. According to the introduction, the angel Raziel revealed the secrets contained in the book to assist him in his despair following the expulsion from paradise. [...] As he sits behind the divine curtain, Raziel hears everything that happens in this world."

The Sefer Raziel itself describes the comprehensive scope of what Raziel revealed to Adam:

"Everything was revealed to him: of the holy spirit, of death and life, of goodness and evil. Also, the mysteries of hours and minutes of time, and numbers of days."

Such glorious wisdom is too valuable to measure, the Sefer Raziel says:

"The value of wisdom cannot be measured, nor understanding of knowledge. Also, there is no measure to the value of the secrets written herein, as revealed by Elohim [God] [...] Elohim treasures the reverence. The Lord fills all the Earth with glory, as in heaven where the throne is established. There is no measure to the glory."

Wisdom Passed On Through Generations

After Raziel gave the book to Adam, the mysterious book was then passed down the line of Jewish patriarchs, with the help of archangels Metatron and Raphael, according to the Sefer Raziel itself:

"Adam, the first man, understood the power was passed on to the generations coming after, by the power and the glory. After Enoch was taken by God, it was kept hidden, until coming to serve Noah, son of Lamech, a most righteous and honest man, loved by the Lord.
The Lord sent forth the holy prince, Raphael, to Noah. Raphael spoke: 'I have been sent forth by the word of Elohim. The Lord God restores the Earth. I make known what will be and what to do, and deliver this holy book. You will understand how to be guided therein by works most holy and pure.'"

Noah"received understanding of the knowledge therein," including how to survive the coming worldwide flood. After the flood, the Sefer Raziel quotes Noah as saying:

"By understanding every word, every man and beast and living creature and bird and creeping thing and fish know of the power and great strength. Become wise by the great wisdom of the holy book."

The Sefer Raziel says that Noah handed the book down to his son Shem, who handed it to Abraham, who passed it down to Isaac, who gave it to Jacob, and on down through the line of Jewish patriarchs.

By the 13th century, the book was no longer hidden, but in wide circulation. Many scholars think that the Sefer Raziel was actually created during that time. Guiley comments in The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy that the Sefer Raziel "probably was written in the 13th century by different anonymous authors."

In her book The Watkins Dictionary of Angels, Julia Cresswell writes:

"The Hebrew text we know today as Sefer Raziel or The Book of Raziel was already in circulation by the 13th century. It is often attributed to Eleazar of Worms (c 1160 – 1237), and he indeed may have been one of several people who had a hand in writing it. Such was the fame of this work as the ultimate source for invoking angels, that its name was widely used."

The Sefer Raziel was first printed in 1701, but at first, many people simply used it as a tool for spiritual protection rather than actually reading it.

"The material collected in Sefer Raziel was written over a long period, with some sections dating back to Talmudic times. However, because of its special nature, the book was not printed in until 1701 (in Amsterdam), and even then the publisher did not intend the book to be read by everyone. Rather, simply possessing it would protect the owner and his home from misfortunes and dangers (such as fire and robbery). It would drive away evil spirits and even work like a charm..."
—Biale, Cultures of the Jews.

Now the Sefer Raziel is widely available for anyone to read.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Hopler, Whitney. "The Sefer Raziel." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Hopler, Whitney. (2020, August 27). The Sefer Raziel. Retrieved from Hopler, Whitney. "The Sefer Raziel." Learn Religions. (accessed March 27, 2023).