5 Video Game Characters Named After Jewish Mysticism
Who knows where the names of video game characters come from? Most of the time you don't even pay attention, you just process the information for identification and move on with your quest. Well, a fair amount of them actually come from Jewish mysticism, and some of them might surprise you.
The golem is a Jewish legend that Mary Shelley borrowed heavily from to create Frankenstein. Golems are humanoid men created from mud and given the ability to move and act, though not speak. In the Talmud, Adam is created by god as a golem. The best-known example is the Golem of Prague, in which a rabbi constructed one to defend the ghetto he lived in from anti-Semites. Legend has it that the remains of the golem are in the attic of the Old New Synagogue, waiting to be reactivated should he be needed again.
In World of Warcraft, golems are huge, powerful constructs built from a variety of sources, not just mud or dust. Like their mystical inspirations, they aren't known for their intelligence, but are fierce protectors of whatever they have been assigned to guard. They do not require food or air, and can withstand almost any harsh environment. In general they are mindless husks, merely animated tools of a wizard, though there are reports of golems wandering masterless to unknown destinations.
Most people think of Eve as the wife of Adam, but even God took a few tries to get the whole dating thing right. Before Eve was a nameless woman who Adam rejected because he saw God create her...bit by bit. He couldn't deal with knowing about all the mucus and bones and blood in his mate, so God destroyed her, or perhaps she left Eden. Before her was Lilith. The Talmud lists her as Adam's mate, but she desired equal standing, and insisted on being on top during sex. For this God banished her, and she fled Eden to boink Lucifer.
Lilith is a recurring character in the Castlevania series, usually portrayed as a woman with bat wings. This may be a reference to her giving birth to many demonic children in her world sex tour after leaving Adam. In fact, God sent three angels to retrieve Lilith, and threatened to kill 100 of her kids if she didn't come with them. She said she'd rather watch them die than return to Adam. You might want to remember this story when you complain about your spouse.
Only three angels are named in the Bible: Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer. All the other names of angels that we're familiar with come from later works. One of these is Raziel, the keeper of secrets and mysteries who appears in the Kabbalah. He was responsible for recording the deepest secrets of creation in a book, and sat at God's right hand. When Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, Raziel gave them his book to help them find their way back to Paradise.
The winged Raziel from the Legacy of Kain games bears little resemblance to the cherubic figure of Jewish mysticism. He is a decayed, soul-eating creature, and rather than holding all the answers, he spends the series as an unwitting pawn of greater masters. Still, in the end it is his knowledge that allows Kain to defeat the parasitic Elder God, though it costs him his life in the process. Just as Kain becomes the Scion of Balance in his success, restoring Nosgoth to order, so perhaps does Raziel ascend to his rightful place as a spirit of knowledge.
Unlike the first three entries on this list, Sephiroth isn't a person or a creature, it's a process. The ten Sephirot are the attributes through which God reveals himself. It's a really, really complicated set of theological parameters, so we'll explain it as the different ways in which God manifests himself to reveal his will.
Final Fantasy VII's Sephiroth is one of the series' most popular antagonists, and he lives up to his namesake. His journey is a constant shift in forms, from child, to mutation, to soldier, to murderer, to death and finally to magnificent resurrection in the form of the One-Winged Angel. His goal is a perverted form of enlightenment and divinity where instead of attempting to become one with the universe or God, he attempts to make everything become one with him.
Baraka, too, isn't a figure of Jewish legend. In fact, it's an orthodox word meaning a blessing that is said during specific parts of a ceremony. Barakas can be used to bless food, when carrying out commandments and in praise of God.
Meanwhile...that's Baraka from the Mortal Kombat games up there. A spike-toothed, bald murder mutant with swords embedded in his forearms. Though he's one of the coolest-looking characters in a game full of cool-looking characters, he's little more than a goon who is always the first to get his ass kicked in any showdown between the forces of good and evil.
Strangely, he actually has a fairly solid connection to his name in Jeff Rovin's Mortal Kombat novel. In the book he is actually a priest who presides over Outworldian religious ceremonies. He attempts to kill Sonya Blade and remove her heart in a sacrifice to a messenger dove that got through on time. Not exactly the solemn world of Jewish supplication, but at least there was praying involved.
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