This study establishes Moses de León's unpublished »Unnamed Composition« as the kabbalist's first experimental explanation of the sefirot in terms of their androgyny. A text-critical analysis and comparison with subsequent Hebrew writings by de León and passages from the canonical Zohar reveal the distinctive features of the speculation on gender preserved in this early text. Here de Leon (a) repurposes an older three-worlds framework for articulating the structures of divine androgyny; (b) uses Solomon's Sea as a speculative topos that favors female superordination; (c) refrains from any absolutism in determining gender on the basis of differentiated economic function; and (d) affirms the female eternity of Malkhut, which emphatically does not become male. These factors, and the last in particular, indicate a more heterogenous discourse on gender at the earliest phase of the theosophical speculation that gave rise to the Zohar.
- Rambi Publications
- Moses ben Shem Tov -- de Leon -- 1250-1305
- Mysticism -- Judaism
- Sefirot (Cabala)
- Zohar -- Criticism, interpretation, etc