Shekinah, The

Learn about the divine feminine principle as conceived by Qabbalists

Artist’s rendition of the Shekinah

Shekinah (Biblical Hebrew: שכינה‎‎), is the English transliteration of a Hebrew noun meaning “dwelling” or “settling” and denotes the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God and his cosmic glory. Shekhinah is equated to the dwelling place of the divine presence to the effect that, while in proximity to the Shekhinah, the connection to God is more readily perceivable.

The concept is similar to that mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, 18:20:

Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in their midst.

Some theologians have connected the concept of Shekhinah to Parousia (Greek: παρουσία), the English transliteration of a Greek noun meaning “presence”, which is used in the New Testament in a similar way for “divine presence”.

Qabbalists view the Shekhinah as the divine feminine principle, a belief which distinguishes Qabbalistic literature from earlier rabbinical literature. According to scholar Alan Unterman in his book Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend:

In the imagery of the Kabbalah the shekhinah is the most overtly female sefirah, the last of the ten sefirot, referred to imaginatively as ‘the daughter of God’. … The harmonious relationship between the female shekhinah and the six sefirot which precede her causes the world itself to be sustained by the flow of divine energy. She is like the moon reflecting the divine light into the world.

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