Moses de León

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Statue of Moshe in Guadalajara, Spain.
Title page of first edition of the Zohar, Mantua, 1558. Library of Congress.

Moses de León (c. 1240 – 1305), known in Hebrew as Moshe ben Shem-Tov (משה בן שם-טוב די-ליאון), was a Spanish rabbi and Kabbalist who is considered the composer or redactor of the Zohar. It is a matter of controversy[1] if the Zohar is his own work, or if he committed traditions going back to Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai in writing. His other works include Sefer ha-Rimon, written in Hebrew.


He was born in León, Spain, Kingdom of León, then in the Crown of Castile.[1] He might have been born in Guadalajara and his surname, then, comes from his father, Shem-Tov de León. He spent 30 years in Guadalajara and Valladolid before moving to Ávila, where he spent the rest of his life. He died at Arévalo in 1305 while returning to his home.



  • Ahimaaz Chronicle, ed. London, pp. 95 et seq.;
  • Adolf Jellinek, Moses b. Schem-Tob de Leon und Seine Verhältniss zum Sohar, Leipsic, 1851;
  • Grätz, Gesch. vii. 231 et seq.;
  • Geiger, Das Judenthum und Seine Geschichte, iii. 75 et seq., Breslau, 1871;
  • Giovanni Bernardo De Rossi-C. H. Hamberger, Hist. Wörterb. p. 177;
  • Moritz Steinschneider, Cat. Bodl. cols. 1852 et seq.;
  • idem, Hebr. Bibl. x. 156 et seq.
  • Avishai Bar Asher, R. Moses de León - Sefer Mishkan ha-Edut, Los Angeles: Cherub Press, 2013