What was the Kabbalah at the earliest beginnings of Jewish history? What was the Kabbalah in its “Mosaic”—or the original, foundational—form? It is—in accordance with the Sôd Hypothesis—the nearly-lost initiatory system of Moses himself, the legendary adept and servant of the God of Israel.
In spite of the built-in dominant exoteric (or outward, external) elements that necessarily endure throughout the length of Jewish history—such as, especially, for example, the observance of the Sabbath day—the inaugurating esoteric spirituality of the Mosaic Kabbalah is fundamentally different from the many much later Kabbalistic schools, such as the Merkabah, Abulafian, Zoharic, or Lurianic and Hassidic approaches. The later Kabbalahs are significantly different in their methods and efficacy—and thus, their results.
They are profoundly different in the following crucial aspect: their respective approaches to God and the all-important God question.
The so-called “Mosaic distinction” (as one Egyptologist calls it) rejected not only the Egyptian magical pantheism, but also the anthropomorphic visualizations and human divinization of any sort.
Later developments within Judaism saw a partial reversion to the idea of human divinization, specifically in both Christianity (initially an offshoot of Judaism) and the rabbinical Judaism’s obsessive, still-present Messianism. This was inevitably reflected in the concomitant mystical schools (for example in Abulafia, a well-known medieval Jewish mystic who saw himself as the Messiah). The Zohar, while displaying awareness of many Mosaic Kabbalah notions, is also a paean to Messianism.