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Abulafia, Abraham ben Samuel

Born: 1240 AD
Died: 1291 AD
3.2 (63.64%) 33 votes

1240 – He was born in Saragossa, Aragon.

1258 – He was taken by his parents to Tudela, in Navarre, where his aged father Samuel Abulafia carefully instructed him in the Bible and Talmud.

1258 – His father died, and two years later Abraham began a life of ceaseless wandering.


        – First journey was to Palestine, hence he intended to start and find the legendary river Sambation and the lost Ten Tribes.


       – Wrote industriously on kabbalistic, philosophical, and grammatical subjects, succeeded in surrounding himself with numerous pupils, to whom he imparted much of his own enthusiasm.

1271 – On his return to Spain he became subject to visions, and at the age of thirty-one, at Barcelona, immersed himself in the study of the Sefer Yetzirah and its numerous commentaries. This book, and particularly the commentary and method of the German mystic, Eleazar of Worms, exercised a deep influence upon him, and had the effect of greatly increasing his mystical bent.

1279 – Wrote at Patras, in Greece, the first of his prophetic books, Sefer ha-Yashar (The Book of the Righteous).

1280 – Went to Rome, in order to effect the conversion of Pope Nicholas III on the day before New Year. The pope, then in Suriano, heard of it, and issued orders to burn the fanatic as soon as he reached that place.


         – Abulafia set out for Suriano and reached there 22nd of August. While passing through the outer gate, he heard that the pope had succumbed to an apoplectic stroke during the preceding night.


        – Thrown into prison by the Minorites, but was liberated after four weeks’ detention. He was next heard of in Sicily, where he appeared as a prophet and Messiah.

1285-1288 – Abulafia had to take up the pilgrim’s staff anew, and under distressing conditions compiled his "Sefer ha-Ot" (The Book of the Sign) on the little island of Comino, near Malta.

1291 – Wrote his last, and perhaps his most intelligible, work, "Imre Shefer" (Words of Beauty); after this all trace of him is lost. He died in Comino, Maltese Archipelago.


Founder of a unique kabbalah (mystical tradition), known as "ecstatic kabbalah".

Student of the writings of Moses Maimonides and of Hillel of Verona.

3.2 (63.64%) 33 votes