“Cabala (or kabbalah; fr Heb qabbalah, ‘tradition’) The oral traditions of the Jews, said to have been delivered by Moses to the rabbis and handed down through the centuries by word of mouth. In the Middle Ages, the word was a popular term for the Jewish theosophy describing the World of Souls. The rabbis, or cabalists, who were the guardians of the cabala were feared as possessing secrets of magical powers.”
Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.