The Book of the Moon

book of the moon lev_tpA. W. Greenup: Sefer ha-Levanah — The Book of the Moon
(You will need a Hebrew font installed to read some of this book.)This HTML edition by Joseph H. Peterson, Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved.

This book is extremely rare. The only copy of it I could find is in the Cambridge University Library. Since its original publication, it has come to light that the manuscript which forms the basis for the book, BL Oriental manuscript 6360, is in fact part of a larger work which had become separated. The rest of the original text is continued in Oriental MS. 14759. The two manuscripts together comprise a complete copy of Sefer Mafteah Shelomoh (‘The Book of the Key of Solomon’). This is one of only three known Hebrew manuscripts of this infamous magical text known in Latin as Clavicula Salomonis.

Numerous manuscripts of the Key of Solomon exist in French, Latin, Italian, and English, purporting to be translated from the Hebrew, but the Hebrew original was thought to be lost long ago.

A second manuscript of Mafteah Shelomoh was discovered in the library of Samuel H. Gollancz, and a detailed description of it was published by his son Hermann Gollancz in 1903. He later published a facsimile edition of the manuscript (London, 1914). Gollancz’ manuscript had been copied in Amsterdam in Sephardic (Italo-Spanish) cursive script.

There is a third manuscript of Mafteah Shelomoh in the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana in Amsterdam.

Text in [] added by JHP.




Edited, for the first time,



LONDON, 1912.


This pamphlet is printed for private circulation only. My interest in its contents is due to the perusal of Dr. Gaster’s article on “Charms and Amulets” (ERE. iii. 451 ff.) The MS. is described with some fulness by the Rev. G. Margoliouth (to whom I am indebted for many kindnesses) in his recently-printed Catalogue of MSS. of Kabbalah in the British Museum.

The MS. from which this work is printed is numbered Or. 6360 in the British Museum collection. It is of paper, 11 7/8 X 7 5/8, and consists of 15 leaves. The writing is Oriental Rabbinic of the 16th century. The contents of the MS. are (1) fol. 1a -6b äðáìä øôñ [Sefer ha-Levanah (‘Book of the Moon’)] (2) fol. 7a-11b … úåìæîä úåìòô øôñ (3) fol. 12a-15b A fragment of äîìù äúôî [Mafteah Shelomoh (‘The Key of Solomon’)].

On the title page is the drawing of an astrologer, compasses in hand, with one foot placed on the Zodiacal sphere, within which are named the planets and the earth. Above the head are eight stars, whilst on the left hand top corner is a representation of the moon and on the right of the sun. The MS. was bought by the Museum Trustees from Raffallovich and Lipkin in 1902, and, as far as the first two works are concerned, is probably unique.

Title page.

The contents of the äðáìä øôñ [Sefer ha-Levanah] may be summed up thus:–

Introduction in which the book is introduced by some one under the name of ñîøä [HRMS]. He says that all the books of astrology which he is acquainted with are perplexing, but that the one which commends itself to him as the best and clearest is the äðáìä øôñ [Sefer ha-Levanah] the first part of which follows. It is not to be transmitted to any one and is rightly considered a ‘hidden’ book.
Twenty-eight directions for preparing íéîìö [TzLMIM (‘Images’)] in accordance with the various positions of the moon. As might be expected in a work of this kind there are many corruptions of Arabic names.
Twelve directions as to the íéîñ [SMIM (‘drugs’ or ‘potions’)] to be used for good and evil íéîìö [TzLMIM (‘Images’)].
On the names of the hours of the night and their íéîìö [TzLMIM (‘Images’)].
Three short paragraphs headed úåìæîä éðô. The first explaining that every ìæî [MZL (constellation, planet, destiny, fate)] can be divided into three equal portions; the second giving the signs of the zodiac; and the third beginning çîåö íéðô [PNIM TzVMCh].
On the íéîìö [TzLMIM (‘Images’)] of the hours of the day.
In this last section occurs a mystical alphabet, evidently drawn from the Latin, and this would suggest that the whole work is a translation from some ancient Latin astrological treatise, ”full of the most extraordinary medley of Greek, Babylonian, Egyptian, and other ancient traditions” (Encycl. of Religion and Ethics, iii. 454). The mystical alphabet occurs also in the úåìæîä úåìòô øôñ [SFR POLVTh HMZLVTh] which may possibly be the second section of the äðáìä øôñ [Sefer ha-Levanah] referred to by ñîøä [HRMS] in the preface.



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