Sefiroth represent a divine emanation through which God manifested
his existence during the creation of the universe. It is believed that
God radiated from himself ten basic intelligences, each of which represented
a trait or characteristic of himself. According to the Jewish
mystical philosophy of the Cabala, these ten creative powers govern
and shape the universe, both seen and unseen and may be compared
with the Platonic powers or intelligences.
In the Cabala, there are ten holy sefiroth who issue from the right
side of God, whereas the ten unholy ones issue from his left. It is
believed that God uses the sefiroth as intermediaries in dealing with
and controlling his lower Creation.
The sefiroth are generally identified as Kether, God’s will and his
thought; Hokhmah, God’s plan for the universe; Binah, God’s intelligence;
Hesed, divine love; Gevurah, divine judgment; Rahamin,
divine compassion (or Tiphereth, beauty, in some systems); Netsah,
lasting endurance or eternity; Hod, divine majesty; Yesod, the base of
every activity in God; and Shekinah, the presence of God.
In addition, the great sefiroth in the form of personalized angels
are: Metatron, archangel of the hayyoth hakodesh; Raziel, archangel of
the arelim or erelim; Zadkiel, archangel of the hashmalim; Kamael,
archangel of the seraphim; Michael, archangel of the shinanim;
Haniel, archangel of the tarshishim; Raphael, archangel of the bene
elohim; and Gabriel, archangel of the kerubim.
According to the sixteenth-century commentator Isaac ha-Cohen
of Soria, of the ten evil emanations, only seven were permitted to
endure. Of these seven only five have been “authenticated,” that is to
say Ashmedai, Kafkefoni, Taninniver (blind dragon), Sammael, and
Sammael’s mate Lilith are recognized.