Sepher Ha-Levanah & Sefer Mafteaḥ Shelomoh

 Two British Library Manuscripts comprising a complete copy of the Hebrew Key of Solomon, 17th-18th C

BL Oriental 6360 | BL Oriental 14759

Sepher Ha-Levanah (Oriental 6360) and Sefer Mafteaḥ Shelomoh (Oriental 14759) together comprise a complete copy of the Hebrew Key of Solomon, Sefer Mafteah Shelomoh (The Book of the Key of Solomon). The below manuscript, in two parts, is one of only three known Hebrew copies of the Key of Solomon. Many editions of the Key of Solomon, especially the French Text-Groups, claim to be translated from the Hebrew however a Hebrew manuscript had yet be located until a manuscript was discovered in the library of Samuel H. Gollancz and published by his son Hermann Gollancz in 1903. Gershom Sholem, the founder of the modern study of Kabbalah, asserts that it is “a late Jewish adaptation of a ‘Latin (or rather Italian) Clavicula text of the renaissance period’.” According to Claudia Rohrbacher-Sticker, the present manuscripts, Oriental 14759 & 6360, are the ancestor of the Gollancz’ manuscript.

PART I. Sepher Ha-Levanah

A collection of astrological, kabbalistic and magical fragments.Fols 1r-15vTitle: Mafteaḥ Shelomoh.Title: מפתח שלמה.Decoration note: Full-page drawing of an astrologer, in black ink. (Fol 1r)Fols 1v-6vTitle: Sefer ha-levanah.Title: ספר הלבנה.Fols 7r-11vTitle: Sefer ma῾alot ha-mazalot.Title: ספר מעלות המזלות.Fols 12r-15vTitle: Sefer Mafteaḥ Shelomoh.Title: ספר מפתח שלמה.Filiation: For the continuation of the work, see Or 14759 (below). The two MSS add up to a complete copy of the Sefer Mafteaḥ Shelomoh. See also Or 10767.

Languages: Hebrew

Physical Description:

  • Paper codex of the 17th to 18th century.
  • 15 folios. Dimensions (leaf): 300 x 190 mm. Dimensions (written): 250 x 150 mm.
  • Foliation: 15 folios (+ 1 unfoliated modern flyleaf at the beginning and 5 at the end).
  • Collation: Irregular quiring.
  • Condition: Water damage, all repaired/infilled before rebinding. Tidemark at head throughout. Ink burn-through, also flaked off in some heavily inked areas.
  • Layout: Columns: 1 to . Ruled lines: 23 to 35. Written lines: 23 to 35. Uniform layout. Vertical plummet ruling visible. Initial words and section titles in larger square characters. Catchwords on every verso. Graphic fillers at the end of the line. Marginal notes.
  • Additions: A series of diagrams, folio 15v.
  • Binding: BM in-house. Spine: ‘Sepher Hal-Lebanah. Hebr. Brit. Mus. Oriental 6360’.
  • Scripts: Hebrew.
  • Script (summary): Sefardi semi-cursive and square script of the 17th to 18th century.

Ownership: Acquisition: Raffalovich & Lifkin (bookseller) purchased by the British Museum on 15 April 1902: inscribed, back flyleaf (vi)v Date of origin: 1600-1799 CE.

PART II. Sefer Mafteaḥ Shelomoh

A Hebrew handbook of magic.Title: Sefer Mafteaḥ Shelomoh.Title: ספר מפתח שלמה.Note: Title on f. 1r added by a later hand “ספר חמשה חומשי תורה ס’ הלבנה א’ ספר המזלות א’ ס’ מפתחות שלמה עם חכמתו א’ וספר הנסיונות אחד ואת המאור הגדול לממשלת היום והלילה”. Contains Latin, Greek, Arabic, and Italian words and passages in Hebrew transliteration. Several lacunae: after f. 23 (according to the Hebrew foliation, two leaves are missing), Lacuna after f. 31 (according to Hebrew foliation, 15 leaves are missing), after f. 40 (according to Hebrew foliation, 1 leaf is missing).Decoration note: With numerous diagrams and figurative illustrations. Most probably drawn by the scribe himself. Filiation: Apparently a continuation of Or 6360. See also Or 10767.


  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Arabic
  • Greek, Ancient

Physical Description:

  • Paper codex of the 17th-18th century.
  • 53 folios. Dimensions (leaf): 305 x 211 mm. Dimensions (written): 230/240 x 135/150 mm.
  • Foliation: Foliation in Arabic numerals in pencil. Parallel Hebrew foliation in ink by the scribe. F. 3r is blank.
  • Collation: Catchword on every verso.
  • Condition: Usage stains, worm damage, ink stains.
  • Layout: Columns: 1. Ruling is visible (the outline of the text in pencil, the lines for the text in hard point). Marginal notes; but some of these have been trimmed off by a later binder.
  • Additions: Scribbles on the front and the back pastedowns.
  • Binding: Brown leather binding, gold-tooled. In phase box.
  • Scripts: Hebrew.
  • Script (summary): Sefardi semi-cursive and square script of the 17th to 18th century.

Ownership: Acquisition: Acquired in 1993 Place of origin: Netherlands (Amsterdam).Date of origin: 1600-1799 CE.

* By permission of the British Library

BL Oriental Facsimiles

PART II: (Oriental 14759) Sefer Mafteaḥ Shelomoh (Book of the Key of Solomon) via British Library Website

Gollancz Facsimile

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