I heard a loud voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God on the earth!
As mentioned in previous studies, the “heavenly Temple” is associated with the Sefirah of Binah, which “sits above” the lower seven Sefirot, but particularly the left pillar of measurement and judgment. This aspect of Binah with seven below her is found in Proverbs:
“Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars.”
The actual source of “pure judgment” is the Sefirah of Gevurah (also called Din) which lies directly “below” Binah on the left side of the Tree:
“Binah emanates Din (Gevurah/Judgment), which signifies the power of severity and absolute justice.”
The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson, London, 1988, p. 79.
The lack of repentance on the part of the inhabitants of the earth has caused a “disunity” among the Sefirot, in that the “pure” judgment from Gevurah is no longer being “softened” through the six “mitigating Sefirot” of Zeir Anpin, but is “descending directly” into Malkhut.
The end result is complete “imbalance” and the destruction seen in the ensuing paragraphs of Revelation:
“Alone, the polarities of the Sefirot – right and left, active and passive, male and female, good and evil, – remain ineffectual. A universe of extremes cannot endure. All opposites need to be moderated by another element in order to be brought into a state of harmony and balance.
The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, 1988, p. 80.
As shown in Sha’are Orah (Gates of Light), when judgment comes to the last Sefirah of Malkhut, the Shekinah acts in accord to what it is “receiving” from above, in this case from the forces of the evil realm:
“Know that this attribute, because it receives energy from higher powers (once received) has various qualities; to give life, or bring death, to bring up or bring down, to smite or to cure. All, however, is dependent upon the kind of energy that can be drawn to this attribute. It acts among all Creation according to the energy it receives … There are, however, other times when people transgress and the channels of judgment obstruct the channels of loving-kindness and mercy, causing much stress to be drawn into the world. The world, at that time, knows much suffering and want, and it is fraught with diseases and plagues. And there are times when all the higher channels are closed off and the everflow is diverted through the outer channels; then all places are in pain, for this situation wields destruction upon all the lands, the deposing of kingdoms as well as the the imposition of difficult, evil exiles.” … (Malkhut/Shekinah) … draws from external elements known as ra choleh (evil sickness) which contains all kinds of destructive forces and sufferings, These, in turn, are sent into the world to all living creatures, each according to how he is judged. Thus the world becomes filled with plagues and afflictions.
Sha’are Orah (“Gates of Light”), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, pp. 50-54, 65
The Zohar, as has been explained in the Appendix to Vol. I, draws a distinction between the seventh of the secondary grades [Malkut] and the preceding six, (Zeir Anpin) corresponding to the distinction drawn in the first chapter of Genesis between the seventh day and the preceding six. The essence of this distinction, according to the Zohar, is that the six grades are active creative or controlling forces, whereas the seventh is by comparison passive, merely reflecting the work of the others.
Soncino Zohar Appendix II, THE COSMIC SCHEME OF THE ZOHAR
EGYPT – “PART TWO”
This last set of judgments bears similarity to those that G-d inflicted upon Egypt at the time of Moses. An important teaching in Judaism is that last redemption will be very much like the first from Egypt.
What is the meaning of G-d’s statement, THAT I (ANOKI) HAVE SENT THEE? Our Sages said it is symbolic of the first deliverance, for with an anoki Israel came into Egypt, as it is said: ‘ I (anoki) will go down with thee into Egypt’ (Genesis 46:4), and with an anoki will I take you out. It is also symbolic of the latter redemption, for with an anoki will they be healed and redeemed, as it is said: Behold, I (anoki) will send you Elijah the prophet.
Midrash Rabbah, Exodus 3:4
The term “anoki” is significant:
Anochi signifies the first redemption from Egypt and the last redemption through Moshiach. Anochi is an explicit expression of compassion, consolation and comfort. Indeed, Anochi is an acronym with every one of its four letters signifying Biblical prophecies of the Messianic consolations and comfort.
Awaiting Moshiach, Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Chochet
The following citations show that;
- the second redemption will include many visible miracles
- the final redemption will make the ultimate impact on not only Israel, but the whole world
- belief in this second redemption is equivalent to the first of the Ten Commandments
In the same manner that the Jews in Egypt saw signs and wonders during the time of their redemption from bondage. So too, we shall see revelations of G-dliness, revelations that our eyes of flesh and blood can not believe, revelations that our minds will stutter to comprehend, revelations of G-dliness so amazing that we will walk like drunkards, unbelieving our own eyes and ears. When the final redemption comes, with the arrival of the messiah, we will stagger from the power of one revelation, until we are shown another revelation, which is even greater than that which preceded it. We will not have words to express the sights that our eyes will behold.
The redemption of Egypt, which serves as a prototype for the final redemption, had universal concerns — not merely does it illustrate the removal of the Jews from this foreign land, but it serves as a powerful polemic against the greatest civilization in the world at that time. When the final redemption comes, it will not be of parochial, Jewish concern. It will be the greatest event in the history of the world, which will convince all the people of the world of the error of their ways.
The Sefer Mitzvos HaKatan wrote in his explanation of the Positive Mitzvah of, “I am G-d, your G-d, Who took you out of Egypt,” that it means one must know that, He Who created Heaven and Earth alone controls [the world] above and below. However, to this he added, “This [mitzvah] is the basis for what the rabbis teach: At the time of a person’s judgment after death, they ask him, ‘Did you anticipate redemption?’ (Shabbos 31a). Where is this mitzvah written? Actually, it comes from this [same mitzvah], for just as, ‘I am G-d, your G-d, Who took you out of Egypt,’ means that we are expected to believe that G-d redeemed us from Egypt, and it also means, ‘Just as I want you to believe that I took you out [from Egypt], I also want you to believe that I, G-d, your G-d, will gather you in and redeem you in mercy a second time’.” According to what he (Sefer Mitzvos HaKatan) has said, belief in the future redemption is part of our faith in, “I am G-d, your G-d,” and thus is the first of the Ten Commandments.
Ohr Yechezkel, Emunas HaGeulah, 1960; p. 287 as cited on http://www.neveh.org/winston/parsha64/bo.html
It is further taught that each of the Ten Plagues combated a corresponding emanation of wickedness (the concept of the opposite or “evil” Sefirot of the Sitra Achra). Thus, there is a relationship between the Ten Commandments, ten plagues, ten “holy” Sefirot, ten “evil” Sefirot, etc.
The Holy One, blessed be He, has produced ten holy crowns above wherewith He crowns and invests Himself, and He is they and they are He, being linked together like the flame and the coal. Corresponding to these are ten crowns beneath, which are not holy, and which cling to the uncleanness of the nails of a certain holy Crown called Wisdom, wherefore they are called “wisdoms”. We have learnt that these ten species of wisdom came down to this world, and all were concentrated in Egypt, save one which spread through the rest of the world. [Tr. note: v. T.B. Kiddushin, 49b.] They are all species of sorcery, and through them the Egyptians were more skilled in sorcery than all other men. When the Egyptians desired to consort with the demons, they used to go out to certain high mountains and offer sacrifices and make trenches in the ground and pour some of the blood around the trenches and the rest into them and put flesh over it, and bring offerings to the demons. Then the demons used to collect and consort with them on the mountain. Israel, being subject to the Egyptians, learnt their ways and went astray after them; hence God said to them: “After the doings of the land of Egypt in which ye have dwelt shall ye not do”, and also, “And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the satyrs after whom they go a-whoring”, since, as we have learnt, the demons used to appear to them in the form of he-goats. R. Hiya said: ‘This is the last of the unholy crowns, as we have learnt.’ R. Isaac said, in the name of R. Judah, that the souls of the wicked are the demons of this world. Said R. Jose: ‘If so, the wicked are well off; where is their punishment in Gehinnom? Where is the evil in store for them in the other world?’ R. Hiya replied: ‘We have learnt and laid down that when the souls of the wicked leave this world many executioners of judgement await them and take them to Gehinnom, and subject them there to three tortures every day. Afterwards they go about the world in company with them and mislead the wicked, from whom repentance is withheld, and then return to Gehinnom and punish them there, and so every day’.
It is possible to construct a parallel between the final judgments in this chapter (as well as the previous two sets) and the “lower seven” Sefirot. Note that of the seven judgments, the first six are active, corresponding to the six Sefirot of Ze’ir Anpin, whereas the seventh is passive (verse 17 – “It is finished”), in the likeness of Malkut (see comment to verse 1 above and also 17 below).
What we have is a progression through Ze’ir Anpin, “from the bottom up”:
- Verse 2 – Yesod
- Verses 3 & 4 – Hod and Netzach
- Verse 8 – Tiferet
- Verse 10 – Gevurah
- Verse 12 – Hesed
Interestingly, the final redemption is said to occur by way of the more difficult route “from below” as opposed to “from above” if Israel does not merit the latter.
As explained by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh:
Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar (who passed away in 5503), author of the commentary Or HaChaim, explains our verse as referring in its entirety to the Mashiach. He explains that the Mashiach’s coming will be hastened, if the Jewish People merit it, and if not, then he will come “in its appointed time.” This is the meaning of the quote “in its appointed time, I will hasten it” (Isaiah 60:22), as interpreted by our sages. In accordance with this understanding, the quote “I behold it, but not now” (not immediately now, but very soon) refers to a state in which the Jewish People are worthy, whereas “I behold it, but not in the near future” refers to a state in which they are not. So too, if the Jewish People are worthy, then the Mashiach will come in a manner from above to below as pictured in the phrase, “a star will go forth from Jacob” and as it is said “he will come via the clouds of the heavens”–in the merit of the service of the majority of the souls of Israel, the average ones amongst the Jewish People, the rank and file–who may be labeled “Jacobs.” Whereas, if they are not worthy, then the Mashiach will come in a manner from below to above, “and a staff shall arise in Israel” and as “a poor man, riding on a donkey”–in the merit of the service of the minority of the souls of Israel, the Tzadikim of the generation, who are labeled “Israel.”
From And a Staff Shall Arise in Israel, http://www.inner.org/times/shevat/shevat59.htm
The first went, and poured out his bowl into the earth, and it became a harmful and evil sore on the people who had the mark of the beast, and who worshiped his image.
Here we see the concept of midah kneged midah (measure for measure punishment), as those who took the “mark” receive a “sore” upon themselves. The idea of a “mark” is also associated with the “mark of circumcision,” which in turn correlates to the Sefirah of Yesod. “All things” pass through Yesod, going from the spiritual to physical realms and back. Thus, there is an equivalency between taking this mark and causing a “separation” between above and below.
The term for ‘worship’ in Judaism is ‘avodah,’ which refers to work or actions. (See verse 11 regarding the connection to evil works.)
The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man. Every living thing in the sea died.
The third poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
The second and third angels/judgments bear similarity, and may be seen as corresponding to the Sefirot of Netzah and Hod (which are usually paired together in kabbalah). Just as the spiritual sea, rivers and springs, “connect” the upper and lower realms, so the Sefirot of Netzah and Hod are seen as those that “carry out” the will of G-d, “through Yesod.” (Netzach and Hod are called, “the Wings of Yesod.”)
These Sefirot are usually associated with Moses (Netzah) and Aaron (Hod). The following Torah commentary offers amazing insight that corresponds to the above two verses of Revelation. It explains that the first plague of blood in Egypt was actually “two in one” in that the staff of Moses was used to strike the main source (the Nile) and the staff of Aaron was used to strike against its tributaries:
Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh that it becomes a serpent.” (Exodus 7:9) Here it says that Aharon should take his staff and it will become a tanin, and previously … (Exodus 4:2) [God] commanded, that Moshe should take his staff, “And it became a nachash.” … Tanin is an extremely dangerous large serpent … the venom (of the tanim) is more lethal than that of a regular nachash, snake … It (Torah) says, “The staff which was turned into a snake, take in your hand.” (Exodus 7:15) This is referring to Moshe’s staff. And it is written there, “Behold, I will smite with the staff that is in my hand the waters that are in the river, and they shal be turned into blood.” (Exodus 7:17). However its strength (Moshe’s staff) was not sufficient to destroy all the waters of Egypt (including) its streams and ponds. Therefore, afterwards, it says, “Take your staff and stretch your hands upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams …” (Exodus 7:19) … From this we can deduce that the power of Aaron’s staff was greater than the power of Moshe’s staff … This is because Aharon’s staff was compared to a tanin … Moshe’s staff was not given greater venom, since he also shepherded Israel with that staff and it was necessary to behave gently with them even in times of anger.
Kli Yahar: Shemot, Elihu Levine, Targum/Feldheim Press, 2002, pp.103-105.
Note: the full teaching explains that Aaron’s staff was “stronger” only with regard to punishing Egypt. Moses’ staff was also used to shepherd Israel and thus at times had to be one of “gentleness even in times of anger.” Moses/Netzach being on the pillar of mercy, while Aaron/Hod are on the pillar of judgment.
I heard the angel of the waters saying, You are righteous, who are and who were, you Holy One, because you have judged these things.
For they poured out the blood of the holy ones and the prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They deserve this.
The punishment of “blood for blood” shows the concept of midah kneged midah, “measure for measure” punishment.
I heard the altar saying, Yes, Lord G-d, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.
The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was given to him to scorch men with fire.
People were scorched with great heat, and people blasphemed the name of G-d who has the power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.
The ‘sun’ (verse 8) is associated with the central Sefirah of Tiferet. Blaspheming the “Name of G-d” stands in direct contrast to the ultimate goal of “unifying the Name of God.” (“In that day His Name will be One.” Zechariah 14:9′) The term for ‘blaspheme’ (gadaph) has at its root, “to cut,” the act of causing separation.
Both prayer and blasphemy are related to that aspect of G-d associated with Tiferet:
Because Tiferet symbolizes the state of harmony among the Sefirot, it came to be associated with the traditional name for G-d in rabbinic literature — Ha-Kadosh Barukh Hu (The Holy One Blessed be He). Tiferet was understood to be the subject of many traditional prayers. Prayers that emphasized G-d as father and king were usually prayers referring to Tiferet in particular or, through it, to the Sefirot in general. In this way Tiferet was often portrayed as the representative of the other Sefirot. Tiferet came to symbolize the aspect of G-d that was known as the traditional G-d of Judaism, the G-d of the Hebrew Bible. Tiferet was the Sefirah that most closely symbolized the transcendent deity. If was the Sefirah that spoke at Sinai as the representative of the other Sefirot.
The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson, London, 1988, p. 81
The phrase “who has the power over these plagues” emphasizes the fundamental concept of Torah, “Ein Od Milvado” — “there is no power other than Him.” Even the Sitra Achra exists to serve G-d’s purpose.
Besides the more common idea of separating “the bride from the groom” (as discussed in previous studies) this “lack of repentance” is also seen as causing separation between the “female above,” Binah and the “female below,” Malkhut. (Binah being the “gateway” to the upper triad of Binah-Chokmah-Keter, and Malkut being the last [“least”] of the seven lower Sefirot.) These “two females” are associated with Rachel (Malkhut) and Leah (Binah). In the physical realm, Jacob “unites” the two, playing the role of the ladder in his dream.
The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was darkened. They gnawed their tongues because of the pain,
Continuing along the ascending order of the Sefirot, we come to Gevurah – corresponding to “the throne of the beast,” in that this is the Sefirah associated with source of restriction, “evil” and the Sitra Achra.
The concept of a “separate” throne and kingdom, does not indicate anything outside the will of G-d. Just as the plagues are fully under the power of G-d, so are the things of the Sitra Achra. (Ein Od Milvado!)
and they blasphemed the G-d of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They did not repent of their works.
As mentioned in verse 9, blasphemy is associated with works that cause division in the Name of G-d. Teshuva, the act of ‘returning to the Image of G-d,’ may be seen as opposite to that in that it ‘reconnects’ the divisions within us and creation.
The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates. Its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings that come from the sunrise.
Following the above sequence, verse 12 is associated with Hesed, the Sefirah of unlimited mercy. In times of calamity, especially when we do not merit favor, we should appeal to this merciful attribute of G-d. As mankind does not do this, in fact choosing to blaspheme G-d, even this opportunity is taken away. (For a detailed analysis of Hesed and all of the Sefirot see; Gates of Light (Sha’are Oreh), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, translation by Avi Weinstein, Altimira Press, London, 1994.)
It is interesting to note that Abraham (associated with Hesed) crossed over (i.e., to cross over = “Ivri” / “Hebrew) the Euphrates. Just as G-d had this man go across this river to bring Torah enlightenment to the world, He now caused the forces of evil to cross this same river in retribution for the world turning its back on His Torah.
I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, something like frogs;
for they are spirits of demons, performing signs; which go forth to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together for the war of that great day of God, the Almighty.
The rectification of Asiyah includes a rising of the power of its associated spiritual forces of the Sitra Achra. The idea of the “mouth” of the dragon, beast and false prophet, has to do with Malkhut, the Sefirah associated with the kingdom and the mouth (i.e., “Malkhut Pei” – “Kingdom of the Mouth”).
The demonic entities (i.e., “frogs”) that come forth from “the mouth,” by their nature, “reside” partly in the spiritual world and partly in the physical world. (Ramchal, Derech Hashem 1.5.1) Thus they are able to make direct impact upon the “kings of the earth.”
Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his clothes, so that he does not walk naked, and they see his shame.
The “keeping of ones garment” is an allusion to the the soul, specifically the “higher soul” called the Neshamah, man’s “divine connection.” Because it is linked to the Nefesh, which is in turn attached to the physical body, the Neshamah is affected by what man does with his body. Thus “keeping one’s garments” is directly associated with avoiding sin. (See Derech Hashem 3.1.2, 3.1.3)
And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to thwart him. And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebukes you, O Satan; the Lord that has chosen Jerusalem rebukes you. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? And Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, Remove the filthy garments from him. And to him he said, Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will dress you in festive garments. And I said, Let them set a pure mitre upon his head. And they set a pure mitre upon his head, and dressed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.
A connection may also be found between verses 14 and 15 at this level. The soul interacts with spiritual entities (i.e., demons).Those who maintain their proper spiritual connection (“keep their garments”) are contrasted to those who do not and are influenced by demons in the previous verse.
Further, the Neshamah is that which was “breathed into” Adam in the Genesis account, making him distinct from the rest of creation. The rectification of all creation will eventually return us to a state similar to Adam in Gan Edan (Garden of Eden)
The language of verse 15 holds an interesting linguistic connection to the account of the failure of Adam and Chava in Gan Edan, with the reference to; “garments,” “naked” and “shame.”
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Then the L-RD G-d called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
Also for Adam and his wife the L-RD G-d made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
He gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew, Har-Megiddo.
Both the physical nations and their spiritual counterparts will face God’s judgment:
THE HORSE AND HIS RIDER HATH HE THROWN INTO THE SEA. The dominion below and the dominion above, which are bound up the one with the other, have been delivered to that great “Sea” and that great sovereignty for punishment, as we have been taught that the Holy One does not exercise judgement below until He has done so above on the celestial representative of the particular nation, as it says: “The Lord shall punish the host of the high ones in the height (heaven) and the kings of the earth upon the earth” (Isaiah 24:21). R. Judah said: ‘On that night extreme severity was roused, for the Matrona asked that all the hosts below and all the powers above should be delivered unto Her. And so they were.
The following text explain the idea of seventy heavenly chieftains who oversee the nations:
As soon as Joseph died, the celestial representative of Egypt was given domination over all the other nations, as it says: “And Joseph died… and a new king arose”, like one who rose to power from a lowly position. R. Tanhum said: ‘Every nation has its own representative above, and when God elevates one He degrades another, and when He gives power to this one it is only on account of Israel, as it says: “Her adversaries have become chiefs” (Lamentations 1:5).’ R. Isaac said: ‘Israel singly is equivalent to all the other nations together; as seventy is the number of the nations, so seventy was the number of the children of Israel when they came into Egypt, and whoever rules over Israel rules over the whole world.’ R. Huna said: ‘Why is Israel subjected to all nations? In order that the world may be preserved through them, since they are on a par with the whole world. As God is One, so is Israel one, as it says: “And who is like thy people, one people on earth?” (2 Samuel 7:23). And as His name is one and yet has seventy ramifications, so is Israel one, and yet divided into seventy.
The seventh poured out his bowl into the air. A loud voice came forth out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done!
As mentioned, the seventh in each series of judgments, is passive, leading to something else. In the first two cases, the 7th judgment led to the next set. With this final group, all three worlds of creation; Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah have gone through their ordeal of purification.
There were lightnings, sounds, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men on the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty.
The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of G-d, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
The verse implies a connection between the “great city” being divided, and the “cities of the nation” falling. Verse 20 also seems to follow as a result of the events in verse 19.
Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
As discussed in chapter 6, the concept of “islands and mountains moving” would be more indicative of activity in the spiritual realm than the physical. Part of the idea of “unification” is removal of boundaries, as expressed by the removal of spiritual “islands” and “mountains.”
Jeremiah’s prophecy against Babylon makes reference to such a “mountain” destroying the earth:
And I will repay Babylon And all the inhabitants of Chaldea For all the evil they have done In Zion in your sight,” says the LORD. “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, Who destroys all the earth,” says the LORD. “And I will stretch out My hand against you, Roll you down from the rocks, And make you a burnt mountain.
Great hailstones, about the weight of a talent, came down out of the sky on people. People blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for this plague is exceedingly severe.
Hail was also the seventh plague against Egypt (Exodus 9:13-35). Again, one must consider that even the hail is an “opportunity” G-d gives for repentance. In this case however, the response is further unbelief.
It is no coincidence that the penalty for blasphemy was stoning:
And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death.