How do you spell קבלה?

Here is a history of how to spell קבלה. Notice the changes of the spelling and recent vintage of our current spelling of kabbalah. Most spell checks still use cabala. It seems that the publication of the Encyclopedia Judaica in 1971-2 changed the spelling to kabbalah. What other words did the EJ change? Qabbalah has still not caught on and cabbala has declined. Also notice the interest in the esotericism of the cabbala as a subject between 1810-1840. Click on the chart to enlarge.

Thanks to Yosef Rosen and Satya of Berkeley for the above chart.

Update- Here is one for halacha, halakhah, halachah, and halocha. The scale is smaller, before 1925 there were basically no references.

5 responses to “How do you spell קבלה?

  1. Wonder how it correlates with the spelling of חנוכה?

  2. Sheila Tanenbaum

    any one trace the spelling for Hanukkah?

  3. Doesn’t the English word cabal come from cabbala?

  4. I’ve been under the impression that [QCK]abbalah’s spelling (yes, I know there are also older variants with one or two ‘b’s, or without an ‘h’), mostly went according to faith. That is, Kabbalah is Jewish, Cabbalah is Christian, and Qabbalah is Crowley/GD/new-age. Which is why I stick with the K, even though I often transliterate quf with a ‘q’ otherwise.

    the N-gram is interesting – it was almost entirely Cab[b]ala before 1950, with huge spikes in the mid-1660s and 1690-1710, I wonder why. I suppose the 1660s would be Sabbatai Sevi and the Christian hebraists/cabalists, and maybe Knorr von Rosenroth’s Kabbala Denudata (1677-84)?

    Qabbalah appears in the 1880s, probably with the European occult revival, W. Wynn Westcott and others, disappears, and reappears in the late 1950s.

  5. Usually one sees Hanukkah or Chanukah. I did see one Spanish Evangelical Christian advise to use Hannukah once. I believe that was an error but well intentioned still.

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