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Physiognomy, Chiromancy and Metoposcopy

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Chapter Summary

The physiognomic and chiromantic texts of the Merkavah mystics raise a number of interesting questions. This chapter concerns the historical continuity of the physiognomic and chiromantic tradition in Judaism. The physiognomic tradition in Judaism is much older than Merkavah mysticism. The Responsa of Hai Ga⁠ʾon and his father, Sherira Ga⁠ʾon, supply the necessary documentary bridge between the chiromantic writings of the Merkavah mystics and the physiognomic and chiromantic passages in the Zohar; however, no such links are known to exist between the relevant texts of the Qumran community and the chiromantic texts of the Merkavah mystics. Admittedly, one finds in some of the rabbinic writings certain terms that are key notions in the chiromantic texts of the Merkavah mystics. However, these terms, as they appear in the rabbinic writings, indicate only very general physiognomic notions, whereas the Merkavah mystics were in possession of fully developed disciplines of chiromancy and metoposcopy.

Keywords: chiromantic texts; Merkavah mystics; metoposcopy; physiognomic texts; rabbinic writings; Zohar



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