Revelation 17


In addition to peculiar imagery, the numbers 7 and 10 play a prominent role in this chapter. These are significant with regard to the final “Unification of the Name,” with the number ‘7’ relating to creation, and ’10’ to pre-creation and even ‘before’ such, where everything was ‘hidden’ within the singularity of “Adam Kadmon.” This is referred to as the hidden “5th World,” sometimes called, “pre-existence.” (See our Soul Chart for how various spiritual concepts relate to these five worlds.)

One connection between 7 and 10 is their sum of 17. This number contains a ‘messianic’ theme with regard to the joining of creation as represented by ‘7,’ and the totality of all things as represented by ’10.’  This relates to the concept that the immanent G-d we primarily consider “within creation,” (Elohim) is “One” with the idea of a transcendent G-d, that known as YHVH (Yud, Hey, Vav, Hey).

The Zohar goes as far as saying that understanding this, is the reason G-d created man:

Moses said, in effect: “Till now I had to teach you as little children are taught”; thou “hast been shown to know”, and thou hast learnt by now to know and penetrate into the mystery of the Faith, namely, this, that “the Lord (YHVH) He is G-d (Elohim)”, which is no small matter, since concerning this it says: “know therefore this day and consider it in thine heart that the Lord he is G-d in heaven above and upon the earth beneath, there is none else” (Ibid. v. 39). The whole mystery of the Faith depends upon this; from this comes the knowledge of the mystery of mysteries, the secret of secrets. YHVH-ELOHIM is a full Name, and the whole is one. Herein is a mystery of mysteries to the masters of the esoteric knowledge. And, indeed, blessed are they who endeavor to comprehend the Torah. …  the only aim and object of the Holy One in sending man into this world is that he may know and understand that YHVH is Elohim. This is the sum of the whole mystery of the Faith, of the whole Torah, of all that is above and below, of the Written and Oral Torah, all together forming one unity. The essence of the mystery of Faith is to know that this is a complete Name. This knowledge that YHVH is One with Elohim is indeed the synthesis of the whole Torah, both of the Written and of the Oral, for “Torah” stands for both, the former being symbolic of YHVH and the latter of Elohim. The Torah being the mystery of the Holy Name, it is therefore called by two names, one of which is general, and the other particular. The general is complemented by the particular, also the particular by the general, both combining to form one synthesis. In the Torah we find, therefore, the synthesis of the Above and the Below, for the one Name, YHVH, is above, while the other, Elohim, is below, one indicating the higher world and the other the lower. And therefore is it written: “Thou hast been shown to know that YHVH is Elohim.”
Zohar, Shamot 161a,b

The number 17 is the gematria of ‘tov’ (good) which relates to what Moses’ mother called him at his birth Exodus 2:2. Further, the mathematical ‘triangle’ of 17 (the sum of all number from 1 to 17) is 153, which is the numerical value of Betzalel, who understood the secrets of building the Mishkan. The number 153 is also mentioned in John 21:11, hinting at the messianic concept of the one who unites all worlds (and the names Elohim and YHVH as the Zohar discusses above).

In addition to this, there is also the chibur (‘joining,’ in terms of a mathematical product/multiplication) of seven (heads) and ten (horns) which is 70. One application of this relates to the “seventy nations.”

The Zohar explains the spiritual architecture behind this equation, which is particularly pertinent to this chapter of Revelation:

Observe that whatever is engendered on earth grows through the stimulus of a celestial Chieftain who has charge over it, and that all on earth is shaped after a celestial pattern. There are on high seven firmaments, and seven zones of earth. Correspondingly, in the lower world there are seven graded firmaments and seven zones of earth. These, as the Companions have expounded, are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, rising one above the other, and each zone has ten divisions, so that there are seventy in all.Each one of these is presided over by a Chieftain, and these seventy Chieftains have under their charge the seventy nations of the earth. These seventy earth-divisions, again, border on and surround the Holy Land, as Scripture says: “Behold, it is the couch of Solomon; threescore mighty men are about, of the mighty men of Israel” (Song of Songs 3:7), there being, in addition to the threescore mentioned, ten concealed among their number. All these surround the Holy Land. This alludes to the upper world, and the same is reproduced in the lower world.
Zohar 2:30b 

The number 70 has a specific connection to the often hostile relationship of the nations to Israel (i.e., the 70 oxen sacrificed on Sukkot “on behalf of the nations were also considered a type of “protection” from them).

The number 70 is the gemmatria of the letter Ayin, which means “eye,” and has to do with the “eye” of G-d, again relating to the 70 nations.

If not today, then tomorrow. And, if not tomorrow, then the day after. And if not then, then the day after that, etc. But come it will, and in the meantime, the real battle will be one of PERCEPTIONS. For, the gemmatria of Gog u’Magog is SEVENTY, the SEVENTY of the Ayin of Amalek, who spends all of his time trying to destroy our Torah perception of reality by infecting us with spiritual doubt, the gemmatria of his name. (“doubt” = sufek = 240 = Amalek) It is Moshiach Ben Yosef who is unaffected by Ayin Hara – the evil Ayin of Amalek, who defeats him with the holy aspect of Ayin: the Ayin of Sod, whose gemmatria is SEVENTY. Shimshon (Sampson), whom the Mishnah says failed [to be Moshiach Ben Yosef], did so because he went after his eyes (Sotah 10b), as opposed to above them, in his battle against the Pelishtim – read: the Palestinians of his time over Gaza. This is why, explains the Vilna Gaon, regarding the war against Amalek, Moshe Rabbeinu was told to speak b’aznei Yehoshua – in the ears of Yehoshua, the gemmatria of b’aznei equaling SEVENTY. And thus, Mordechai defeated Haman, the prototypical descendant of Amalek, in SEVENTY days. His rise and fall is told in SEVENTY pesukim in Megillas Esther, occurring in the Year SEVENTY of exile. The Erev Rav’s greatest tool in the final showdown, says the GR”A: achizas einayim – literally meaning, “grasping of the eyes” or deception. And therein lies the nechamah (the consolation). For, “the salvation of G- d comes in the blink of an eye,” as quick as it takes to replace a false perception with a true one. For, when it comes to G-d and His vengeance, it really is a case of now you see them, now you don’t.

Revelation 17:1
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, Come here. I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters,

The opening verse introduces several concepts:

  • An angel instructing John to “come,” implying yet another level of revelation. (See notes to 4:1)
  • The “great harlot”
  • The “waters,” defined in verse 15 as “peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues.”

Revelation 17:2
with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality, and those who dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her sexual immorality.

The idea of an “alternative path for humanity” was initiated in Gan Edan by the serpent, who did not deny G-d, but offered the lie of “another power.” Revelation, as with Jewish esoteric writings and even the Bible (i.e., Song of Songs, references to the ‘bride,’ etc.) expresses spiritual connectivity in sexual terms.

“Wine” is often used as a term for Torah, which is our ‘path’ to follow. In this case, it would be a “false path” of the harlot. (Also see notes to 14:18). As the Shekinah relates to Malchut (‘kingdom’) and this physical world. so this other “feminine entity” is associated with “kings of the earth.”

The subject of spiritual “harlotry” was an issue in the written Torah as well:

And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined.
Numbers 15:39 

The terms “drunk” and “fornication” in this context indicate widespread disregard for G-d – as in the days of Noah. The passage, relating a “harlot” going out among the earth to perpetuate evil, is similar to that mentioned in Zechariah:

Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, “Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth.” So I asked, “What is it?” And he said, “It is a basket that is going forth.” He also said, “This is their resemblance throughout the earth: Here is a lead disc lifted up, and this is a woman sitting inside the basket”; then he said, “This is Wickedness!” And he thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth.  Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. So I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they carrying the basket?” And he said to me, “To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base.”
Zechariah 5:5-11 

Revelation 17:3
He carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet-colored animal, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.

The color scarlet (red) is associated with Malchut and the kingdoms of earth. As there is a wilderness below, there is a “wilderness” in the spiritual realm. The idea of “the wilderness” is associated with prophetic revelation. (i.e., isolation/exile enables one to “tune out” the world and ascend spiritually.)

Even the evil prophet, Balaam, received one of the greatest prophecies about Israel in this fashion:

And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
Numbers 24:1 

The Book of Enoch contains a “spiritual journey” described as beginning in similar fashion:

And thence I went towards the east, into the midst of the mountain range of the desert, and I saw a wilderness and it was solitary, full of trees and plants. And water gushed forth from above.  Rushing like a copious watercourse which flowed towards the north-west it caused clouds and dew to ascend on every side. … And they took and brought me to a place in which those who were there were like flaming fire, and, when they wished, they appeared as men. And they brought me to the place of darkness, and to a mountain the point of whose summit reached to heaven. And I saw the places of the luminaries and the treasuries of the stars and of the thunder and in the uttermost depths, where were a fiery bow and arrows and their quiver, and a fiery sword and all the lightnings.
Book of Enoch, chapters 17 & 28

The concept of a “beast” is defined in the following commentary on the Zohar as the union of the evil angel Samael and “the woman of whoredom.” The woman is said to be his “wife.” We also see another reference to the reciprocal “ten Sefirot” of the Sitra Achra. These in turn correlate to the “ten horns” of power mentioned in this verse.

The demons are the grossest and most deficient of all forms. Their ten degrees answer to the decad of the Sephiroth, but in inverse ratio, as darkness and impurity increase with the descent of each degree. The two first are nothing but absence of visible form and organization. The third is the abode of darkness. Next follow seven Hells occupied by those demons which represent incarnate human vices, and torture those who have given themselves up to such vices in earth-life. Their prince is Samael, SMAL, the angel of poison and of death. His wife is the harlot, or woman of whoredom, AShTh ZNVNIM, Isheth Zenunim; and united they are called the beast, CHIVA, Chioa.
The Kaballah Unveiled, S.L. Macgrethor Mathers, Introduction, part 61. See

Another source provides similar insight:

The supreme chief of that world of darkness who bears the Scriptural name of “Satan,” [Hebrew: “opposer”] is called in the Kabbalah “Samael” (‏סמאל‎), that is to say the angel of poison or of death; and the Zohar states positively that the angel of death, evil desire, satan and the serpent which seduced our first mother, are one and the same thing. Samael is also given a wife who is the personification of vice and sensuality, for she calls herself the chief prostitute or the mistress of debauches ‏אשת זנונים‎ [It is supposed that the wife of Samael is Lilith (a power of the night), which is often spoken of in the Talmud.] But ordinarily they are united into one single symbol called simply the beast (‏חיוא‎). If we wish to reduce this demonology and angelology to the simplest and most general form, we find that the Kabbalists recognized in each object of nature, and consequently in all nature, two very distinct elements; one, an inner incorruptible which reveals itself to the intelligence exclusively, and which is the spirit, the life or the form. The other, a purely external and material element that has been made the symbol of forfeiture, of curse and of death.
The Kabbalah, Adolphe Franck (1843)

Another mention of a “beast” and “rider” is found in the following text which also contrasts the the two ‘evil entities’ being ‘joined together,’ with the Ruach HaKodesh, also understood to be the Shekinah.

Besides the evil serpent there is one that rides on it, and when they are joined together they are called “these”, and they visit the world with all their hosts. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is called “this,” and is symbolized by the covenant of the holy imprint which is ever on a man’s body.
Zohar 1:228

This “woman of whoredom,” called Isheth Zenunim, is the entity called Lilith. Known as the primary consort to Samael, she is also known in Hebraic legend as the “screech owl” and is mentioned in Isaiah 34 as living “in the wilderness.” Her relationship to the nations is found in this Isaiah text as well as in Nahum 3.

There is a relationship between the Shekinah and the demon Lilith in that both are seen in a role of “matron/mother” with regard to Israel. When Israel forsakes G-d’s Torah, they are said to abandon their true mother for “the maidservant” Lilith. (This is similar to their association with the “Vine of Sodom” mentioned in Chapter 14.)

Therefore when the Jews had trampled the Temple (see Isaiah 1:12), they were running after the power of the External Forces, who are led by their cursed mother (Lilith), to gain nourishment from her as her children. … Yet our “mother” (the Shekinah) is not able to sustain us in exile, for the position of distributing the divine influence has been taken from her. In accordance to the state of the Shechina not directly transferring the influence, therefore the Zohar describes the situation as, “the maid servant who inherits (the place of) her matron.” (Proverbs 30:23). Meaning that she (Lilith) can divert the majority of the influence to her own “children”.

A more literal idea of “fornicating with the demonic realm” is explained in the following, which describe the “spiritual energy” gained by demons through illicit sexual behaviors:

Lilith is a female demon. (Isaiah 34:14; Eiruvin 100b; Shabbat 151b; Bava Batra 73b; Nidah 24b) Just as an angel is the personification of some holy emotion, a demon is the personification of some evil emotion. In this case, Lilith (whose name is related to the Hebrew word for “night”, “lailah”) is the personification of man’s sexual lust as divorced from any context of true love or desire to increase G-dliness in this world – in other words: raw, self-indulgent, self-serving sensual pleasure. Man is intended to engage in sexual pleasure as a spiritual pursuit that gives pleasure to his wife, makes him into a more holy person, and increases the Divine Image on earth (ideally by resulting in children). When instead, he engages in sexual release simply for the “high” he enjoys from it, he is said to be copulating with Lilith. Although he does not intend to procreate by this union, he does so anyway, for every act of man has its repercussions on some level. The semen he expels “impregnates” Lilith, and she “bears” for him “demon-children”, i.e. negative, abusive, and evil energy, which spreads evil throughout the world.

Jacob set out to rectify the sin of sexual licentiousness, i.e. wasting seed and giving it over to Lilith and Na’amah, who are termed “nakedness”, as is known. As we have seen previously, these are the archetypal female demons, i.e. the power of evil to receive life force from the realm of holiness. This feminine evil takes the vital force of wasted seminal emissions and impregnates itself with it, producing demons, or forces of evil, i.e. anti-divine consciousness. The idiom for “sexual licentiousness”, “gilui arayot”, literally means “uncovering the nakedness” of a forbidden sexual partner.

Revelation 17:4
The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of the sexual immorality of the earth.

Purple and scarlet, though they are typically regarded as “regal” colors, may be seen as representative of the angelic world of Yetzirah (purple) and ‘physical’ world of Asiyah (scarlet) as these are the dominion of this “woman” and the “demonic realm” in general. (See, Chart #3, “Temple-Tabernacle Related.”)

Every entity or function of the Sitra Achra (“other side”) serves the will of G-d. (“Ein od Milvado” – There is no other power.) This “cup of abomination and filthiness” is in effect given of G-d:

For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, And the wine is red; It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. But I will declare forever, I will sing praises to the G-d of Jacob. “All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off, But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.” Psalm 75:8-10. 
Regarding the connection between the sin of Adam and that of Aaron’s sons, as relating to this “evil wine,” see, 

Revelation 17:5

The “name” on the forehead stands in contrast to Kadosh l’Hashem (“Holy unto the Lord”) found on the forehead of the High Priest and to the name on the foreheads of the tzaddikim in Revelation 22:4.

The concept of “name” often has to do with the idea of authority and function:

Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the NAME of the Messiah.
Talmud, Pesachim 54a 

Note that one of the “hidden things” in the above tractate Pesachim 54a, is “Gehenna.” See comments to verses 6 and 8 below.

Revelation 17:6
I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the holy ones, and with the blood of the martyrs of Yeshua. When I saw her, I wondered with great amazement.

Being “drunk with the blood of the saints,” would indicate a “desire for souls,” as mentioned in this text from the Zohar:

The “Satan” is he who has charge of the souls in Gehinnom, who ever craves for more and says “give, give”, more souls to Gehinnom. Then, “The Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, Satan, and the Lord rebuke thee….” Why two rebukes here? One for Dumah and one for him who comes out of Gehinnom to lead astray. That higher Satan, as we have stated elsewhere, goes down to earth in the form of an ox, and all those wicked spirits which have been condemned to Gehinnom he licks up in one moment and hands over to Dumah after he has swallowed them. Therefore it was that Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now shall this multitude lick up all that is round about us as the ox licks up the grass of the field”, since it is known that the ox is there to do evil to all mankind.” Said R. Jose: “If so, Balak was clever?” He replied: “Certainly; and he had to know all the ways of that ox, as otherwise he would not have been able to practice his magic arts.”
Zohar 3:186a 

See comments to verse 16 below regarding the antagonistic relationship between this “woman” and the “Son.”

Revelation 17:7
The angel said to me, Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.

Revelation 17:8
The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present.

The terms “bottomless pit” and “destruction” would both seem to relate to the idea of Gehenna and spiritual fornication/adultery:

Gehenna has seven names, and they are: Nether-world, Destruction, Pit, Tumultuous Pit, Miry Clay, Shadow of Death and the Underworld. ‘Nether-world’, since it is written in Scripture: Out of the belly of the nether-world cried I, and Thou heardest my voice; ‘Destruction’, for it is written in Scripture: Shall Thy Mercy be declared in the grave? Or thy faithfulness in destruction; ‘Pit’, for it is written in Scripture: For Thou wilt not abandon thy soul to the nether-world; neither wilt Thou suffer Thy godly one to see the pit; ‘Tumultuous Pit’ and ‘Miry Clay’, for it is written in Scripture: He brought me up also out of the tumultuous pit, out of the miry clay; ‘Shadow of Death’, for it is written in Scripture: Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; and the [name of] ‘Nether-world’ is a tradition. But are there no more [names]? Is there not in fact that of Gehenna? — [This means,] a valley that is as deep as the valley of Hinnom and into which all go down for gratuitous acts. Is there not also the name of Hearth, since it is written in Scripture: For a hearth is ordered of old? — That [means] that whosoever is enticed by his evil inclination will fall therein.
Talmud, Eiruvin 19a 

What reason did the Holy One, blessed be He, see for asking of Israel that their heart and their eyes should be directed towards Him? Because transgression is dependent on them. Hence it is written, That ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, etc. (Numbers 15:39). The eye and the heart are two agents of sin. ‘For a harlot is a deep ditch’ (Proverbs 23:27); compare with what Moses said, After which ye use to go a-whoring (Numbers 15:39), implying that whoredom depends on them [the eyes and heart]. The eyes see the harlot and the heart entertains impure thoughts about her. So the Holy Spirit said through Solomon, ‘For a harlot is a deep ditch.’ Why did he call her ‘ ditch (shuhah)’? In allusion to the text, For her house sinketh down (shahah) unto death (Proverbs 2:18). ‘Deep’? This recalls the text, Her guests are in the depths of the nether-world (Proverbs 9:18). ‘A harlot’? This refers to a married woman. ‘A narrow pit‘? Because she brings the adulterer down into Gehenna. Hence it is written, Her steps take hold on the nether-world (Proverbs 9:5), and the nether-world is called ‘pit’; for it is written, O Lord, Thou broughtest up my soul from the netherworld; Thou didst keep me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (Psalm 30:4).
Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 10:2 

Midrash teaches that the Messiah is hiding within the Garden of Eden in a place called the Bird’s Nest (an allusion to the Shekinah or the Community of Israel):

See now, in the lower Paradise there is a secret and unknown spot, broidered with many colours, in which a thousand palaces of longing are concealed. No one may enter it, except the Messiah, whose abode is in Paradise. The Garden is encompassed with multitudes of saints who look to the Messiah as their leader, along with many hosts and bands of the souls of the righteous there. On New Moons, festivals, and Sabbaths, he enters that place, in order to find joyous delight in those secret palaces. Behind those palaces there is another place, entirely hidden and undiscoverable. It is called “Eden”, and no one may enter to behold it. Now the Messiah is hidden in its outskirts until a place is revealed to him which is called “the Bird’s Nest”. This is the place proclaimed by that Bird (the Shekinah) which flies about the Garden of Eden every day. In that place the effigies are woven of all the nations who band together against Israel. The Messiah enters that abode, lifts up his eyes and beholds the Fathers (Patriarchs) visiting the ruins of G-d’s Sanctuary. He perceives mother Rachel, with tears upon her face; the Holy One, blessed be He, tries to comfort her, but she refuses to be comforted (Jeremiah. 31:14). Then the Messiah lifts up his voice and weeps, and the whole Garden of Eden quakes, and all the righteous and saints who are there break out in crying and lamentation with him. When the crying and weeping resound for the second time, the whole firmament above the Garden begins to shake, and the cry echoes from five hundred myriads of supernal hosts, until it reaches the highest Throne. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, beckons to that “Bird”, which then enters its nest and comes to the Messiah, and flits about, uttering strange cries. Then from the holy Throne the Bird’s Nest and the Messiah are summoned three times, and they both ascend into the heavenly places, and the Holy One swears to them to destroy the wicked kingdom (Rome) by the hand of the Messiah, to avenge Israel, and to give her all the good things which he has promised her. Then the Bird returns to her place. The Messiah, however, is hidden again in the same place as before.
Zohar 2:8a

Messiah is not the sole entity performing a “divine disappearing act.” The Shekinah is also considered to be “in hiding” (with Israel) until the time of the restoration of Israel:

When the Sanctuary was destroyed and the Temple was burnt and the people driven into exile, the Shekinah left her home in order to accompany them into captivity. … in the days to come, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will remember His people, the community of Israel, the Shekinah will return from exile first and proceed to her House, as the holy Temple will be built first.
Zohar 1:134a 

This concept of “appearing, hiding and reappearing,” is also found regarding Elijah:

In the second year of King Ahazia, Elijah was hidden, and he will not be seen again until Messiah comes.
Seder ‘Olam Rabba, ch. 17 as found in, The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, p. 134

“Heavenly Jerusalem” shares this hidden aspect as well:

For behold the days shall come, and it shall be when the signs which I have foretold unto you shall come to pass. Then shall the city that is now invisible appear, and the land which is now concealed be seen. And whoever is delivered from the predicted evils shall see my wonders.
4 Ezra 7:26-27 

The “Book of Life” is one of three “books” concerned with the fate of humanity:

R. Kruspedai said in the name of R. Johanan: Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death. Said R. Abin, What text tells us this? — Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. ‘Let them be blotted out from the book — this refers to the book of the wicked. ‘Of life — this is the book of the righteous. ‘And not be written with the righteous’ — this is the book of the intermediate. R. Nahman b. Isaac derives it from here: And if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written, ‘Blot me, I pray thee’ — this is the book of the wicked. ‘Out of thy book’ — this is the book of the righteous. ‘Which thou has written’ — this is the book of the intermediate. It has been taught: Beth Shammai say, There will be three groups at the Day of Judgment — one of thoroughly righteous, one of thoroughly wicked, and one of intermediate. The thoroughly righteous will forthwith be inscribed definitively as entitled to everlasting life; the thoroughly wicked will forthwith be inscribed definitively as doomed to Gehinnom, as it says. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. The intermediate will go down to Gehinnom and squeal and rise again, as it says, And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name and I will answer them. Of them, too, Hannah said, The Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. Beth Hillel, however, say: He that abounds in grace inclines [the scales] towards grace, and of them David said, I love that the Lord should hear my voice and my supplication, and on their behalf David composed the whole of the passage, I was brought low and he saved me.
Talmud, Rosh HaShana 16b

Revelation 17:9
Here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits.

Verse 9 provides a parallel structure to the ten Sefirot, with the feminine (Binah/the woman) resting upon seven:

  • The mind (Keter)
  • Wisdom (Chokmah)
  • The woman (Binah)
  • The seven heads/kings (the lower seven Sefirot)

Contrast the woman here to Binah (i.e., the “upper Shekinah,” hidden “New Jerusalem,” and “Mother to us all”) who is above her seven pillars and offers her own wine:

Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars;  She has slaughtered her meat, She has mixed her wine, She has also furnished her table.  She has sent out her maidens, She cries out from the highest places of the city,  “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,  “Come, eat of my bread And drink of the wine I have mixed.  Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding.”
Proverbs 9:1-6

Revelation 17:10
They are seven kings. Five have fallen, the one is, the other has not yet come. When he comes, he must continue a little while.

Wisdom (“Chokhmah”) is associated with the past. (Understanding/Binah, with the future.) John assigns these mountains/kings a “historic order of appearance.” As opposed to the ten kings mentioned later in this chapter who all function at one point in time. These seven kings are associated with the “mountains” (i.e., spiritual entities) as the manifestation of this power in the physical realm.

It is said that G-d will specifically bring back some of Israel’s traditional enemies:

The Holy One will adorn Himself with majesty in face of the nations who will gather against Him, of whom it says: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed” (Psalm 2:2). We are told that the seventy guardians of the nations will at that time gather from all sides with the armies of the whole world and start war against Jerusalem the holy city, and take counsel together against the Holy One. They will say: “Let us rise first against the Patron, and then against His people and against His sanctuary!” Then “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision” (v. 4). He will put on His majesty and shall dash them in pieces.’ R. Abba said, in the name of R. Jesse the Elder-and R. Simeon made the same remark- that the Holy One will bring to life again all those kings who afflicted Israel and Jerusalem: Hadrian, Lupinus, Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and all the other kings of the nations who have destroyed His house, and set them up again as rulers, and they shall gather many nations, and then He will do vengeance and justice upon them near Jerusalem, as it is written: “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 14:12).
Zohar 2:58b

There is also a connection between the seven kings and Amalek, whom G-d has promised to destroy at the end of the age:

It is written, “Amalek is the first among the nations, and in the end, he shall be destroyed.” The opening phrase means that Amalek is the source and root of the seven evil nations (Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, and so on), yet he is separate from them.”
An End to Evil: Reishis Goyim Amalek, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson

Verses 3 and 7 indicated that this woman sits on the beast. In this verse it is said that she sits on the seven “heads” of the beast, which are in turn mountains, which are linked to “seven kings.”

The depiction of this emanation of the Sitra Achra transverses the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah. (See previous notes on Chapter 6 on rectification of these three worlds.)

  • Seven Heads = the lower seven “negative” Sefirot of Beriah (pre-formative ‘forces’ or ‘powers’)
  • Seven Mountains =  the lower seven “negative” Sefirot of Yetzirah (angelic power)
  • Seven Kings =  the lower seven “negative” Sefirot of Asiyah (manifestation of kings in physical time and space)

As mentioned, the reference to seven heads/mountains/kings corresponds to the Zohar’s reference to seven firmaments above and that are linked to seven zones of earth below. (See above notes to verse 3.)

The Book of Enoch depicts angels as “mountains” residing in a “chaotic” place:

And I proceeded to where things were chaotic. And I saw there something horrible: I saw neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth, but a place chaotic and horrible. And there I saw seven stars of the heaven bound together in it, like great mountains and burning with fire.. Then I said: ‘For what sin are they bound, and on what account have they been cast in hither?’ Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me, and was chief over them, and said: ‘Enoch, why dost thou ask, and why art thou eager for the truth? These are of the number of the stars of heaven, which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here till ten thousand years, the time entailed by their sins, are consummated.
Book of Enoch, 21:1-8


The Torah speaks of ten nations, of which Israel was only to conquer seven. In the following text, the seven they could conquer are part of what is called the Kelipat (Klippot) Noga. “Kelipat/klippot” has to do with the idea of “husks” or “shells” that restrict the light of G-d – “Noga” meaning there was/is still some measure of this light within themselves in order to sustain their own existence). Kelipat Noga are an “intermediate” level of ‘evil’ between holiness and total impurity. There is an association between the soul of every Jew, the Kelipat Noga and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.

For in the case of the Jews, the soul of the kelipah is derived from the kelipat nogah, which also contains good, as it originates in the esoteric “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
Opening the Tanya, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, p. 43.

The seven nations are linked to the lower seven Sefirot, made up of “Zeir Anpin” (the six Sefirot between Hesed and Yesod) and “Nukva” (meaning “female” – another name for the Sefirah of Malkhut.) Samael is actually called the “Zeir of Kelipot Noga” – in effect the “son” of the evil realm. The remaining three nations (associated with the three upper Sefirot) are “reserved” for G-d to deal with at the end of days.

The following text contains many kabbalistic themes, one of which associates the seven lower nations with Lilith and the “malkut” of the Sitra Achra:

In the days of Moses, the Children of Israel were only promised the seven lands of the seven nations. Those seven correspond to the lower seven. Yet, “The lands of the Kini and Kenizi and Kadmoni” (Genesis 15:19), which correspond to the three upper sefirot, they were not promised. This was so being that, in our times, only the lower seven are functioning in a perceivable manner. After the final redemption, those upper three will also be functioning, and therefore we will be given those three corresponding lands. It is known that the lands of the seven nations are hinted to in the Zeir and Nukva of the Kelipat Noga, for Zeir is comprised of six extremities, and its Nukva is their seventh aspect. For this reason, in my impoverished opinion, the first letters that spell the seven nations, Canaanites, Hitites, Emorites, Prizians, Hivites, Jebusites, and Girgashites, have the numerical value of 131, which is the same value as “Sama’el”, who is the Zeir of Kelipat Noga. While “Canaan” has the same value as “Lilith” (Sama’el’s mate), for she receives from all of his six extremities, likewise the entire numerical value of all seven nations (Canaanites, Hittites, Emorites, Prizians, Hivites, Jebusites, and Girgashites) together with the value of Sama’el equals the value of Eretz Canaan using the large value for the final letters MaNZePaCh. That signifies that she (Eretz Canaan) is the malchut of the kelipot, and that she includes within herself from the ten sefirot of Kelipa Noga. … Abba is the Foundation of his daughter” (Pinchas 158 a), which says that she is Eretz Yisrael, ” Yisrael Sabba”. She includes ten levels to correspond to the ten nations, those levels are keter, chochma, bina, gedula chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod and malchut. The first letters of those ten levels equals “Yisrael” (541). There in the midst of Eretz Yisrael, ten levels of holiness sanctify it.

The idea of there being three nations “set aside” for G-d to deal with seems to connect to the vision in the book of Daniel, where the prophet saw a future kind “subduing” three of ten others, leaving the seven:

The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.
Daniel 7:24

The relationship between (ten) spiritual sources of evil and their (ten) physical maifestations is seen in this text from Zohar:

Observe that ever so many streams and rivers rise out of the Supernal Sea, which in their courses divide and subdivide again into many other rivers and streams: and the portion that fell to the side of Egypt were waters swarming with such creatures. For all waters issuing from that sea breed various kinds of fishes, to wit, messengers sent into the world to carry out the will of their Master through the spirit of Wisdom. In regard to this a traditional text tells us that there are waters that breed wise men and other waters that breed foolish men, according to the various rivers that branch off into all sides. Now the Egyptian rivers breed masters of sorcery of various kinds, and of ten degrees, as enumerated in the verse, “one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer” (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). Here we have ten species of sorcery. And at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, stretched forth His finger and disturbed the brooks and rivers of Egypt so that their fishes of wisdom were confounded: some waters turned into blood, others threw up small fishes of no account upon whom the spirit of sorcery never rested. Then there came upon them the plague called ’arob (lit. mixture, i.e. mixture of various beasts) which allegorically indicates that the Almighty confounded their magical arts so that their practitioners were not able to piece them together. Moreover, that confusion produced a mingling of a perverse and hybrid kind similar to those referred to in the words of Scripture, “thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed; neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together” (Leviticus 19:19). Many were then the legions that bestirred themselves above, but the Holy One, blessed be He, confounded them altogether; these mighty deeds which the Almighty performed in Egypt were accomplished by the raising of one of his hands against them, both on high and below. It was then that the wisdom of Egypt perished, as Scripture says: “and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (Isaiah 29:14). Note further the pronouncement: “And I will confuse Egypt with Egypt” (Ibid. 29:2), that is to say, celestial Egypt with terrestrial Egypt. For the celestial legions are in charge of the terrestrial ones, and they both were altogether thrown in disorder. They were confused on high so that the Egyptians could not derive inspiration from the celestial sources as formerly.
Zohar 2:30b

Revelation 17:11
The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction.

There is a deep mystical concept associated with these eight kings that traces itself from before the creation of the world to the end of this age, where they manifest into physical beings. This will be further discussed in a post-chapter 22 study that is being researched and developed.

The Arizal relates the “shattering of the vessels” to the Kings of Edom from Genesis, these begin a process of rectification, first through the world of Sefirot (from Da’at to Malchut), into the idea of Partzufim (personae) and eventually into the physical world (as Revelation hints at).

Our sages tell us that before G‑d created our world, He created an “earlier” state of existence—the world of Tohu (“Chaos”). But this was a world of “much light and scant vessels.” As a result, the vessels burst and the light escaped. G‑d then created “our” world—the world of Tikkun (“Correction”), constructed with “broad containers and scant light” that allow it to function and endure. (“Light” (or) is the Kabbalistic term for an emanation of Divine energy; “containers” (kelim) are the Divine forces that channel, define, and focus the “light.” A soul, for example, is a “light,” while a body is a “vessel.” A world, whether physical or spiritual, consists of lights deriving from the Divine power to reveal and bestow, and vessels deriving from the Divine power to define and delimit.) There was a reason for this “debacle.” G‑d desired that our “correct” world should be built upon the ruins of Tohu, so that we should delve beneath its surface to unearth the “sparks of holiness” that are the residue of this primordial world, tap their potent potential, and ultimately integrate the two realities, capturing the immense light of Tohu in the broad vessels of Tikkun …
The eight kings who “reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel” are the volatile forces of Tohu, while the people of Israel proceed to Sinai where they are entrusted with the 613 commandments that serve as the vessels for tikkun olam, the correction and civilization of the world.
The Cosmic Twins,

“The (eight) “kings” mentioned in Genesis 36:31-39 allude to the primitive vessels that were meant to hold G-d’s light. Instead they shattered and fell to a lower level, forming the realm of evil. These vessels were the earliest manifestations of the Female Principle (Malkhut) and the Divine Presence (Shekinah). The shattering and falling of these vessels is thus the first manifestation of the exile of the Shekinah, i.e., the complete concealment of the Divine and man’s inability to experience G-d in his life.”
Inner Space, Aryeh Kaplan, p. 22, note 82.

What is fascinating is the eighth king, Hadar, is the only one with a female counterpart and whose death is not mentioned in Genesis.  The feminine aspect (Malchut, Shekinah, etc.) can function in a positive or negative manner:

“This also explains why the Sefirah of Malkhut-Kingship is referred to as “evil.” The reason for this is that Malkhut not only has the power to hold, but also the power to hold back, and constrain G-d’s light.”
Inner Space, Aryeh Kaplan, p. 81.

These ‘kings’ are spiritual emanations that remain in existence through the sparks that came from their shattering:

“Thus, when the vessels shatter and lose their identity they should cease to exist. However, as the Ari explains, the spiritual dimension is governed by a “law of conservation” similar to that which we see in the physical universe. According to this principle, something that was created in the spiritual realm cannot cease to exist.”
Inner Space, Aryeh Kaplan, p. 81.

So the quest to unite Tohu and Tikkun extends beyond their lifetimes, to the nations of Israel and Edom … The conflict rages on in the battles between Judah and Rome, between spirit and matter, between law and lust, to be resolved only when the struggles of humanity culminate in the day when “the saviors shall ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau.”
The Cosmic Twins,

“And now an explanation of the shattering of the Kings: When all the lights reverberated back to their origins there were still sparks within all the vessels; they collapsed into broken shards and from these were created the Shells (Klippot) or external energy. Even though food has been clarified from the Shells, or residue, and it disappeared above, there are still sparks of the sacred left within the vessels, this is what is left for us to complete, through our prayers and good deeds and through saintly souls when they depart from this world. When the saints leave the world and pass through the world of Action (Asiyah) they raise up with them sacred sparks from the Shells to the realm of Formation (Yetzirah) in the same way when they ascend towards the world of Formation to the world of Creation (Beriah) to the world of Emanation (Atzilut), they transform and raise these sparks and return this great light to the sublime and noble place where it originated.”
Kabbalah of Creation, Eliyahu Klein, p. 43,44

Their ‘death’ was originally a decent from before creation (from Atzilut to Beriah). This seems to continue down to the physical world of Asiyah, as Revelation depicts.

“As the Zohar explains, however, something is said to have died when it leaves its true level an descends to a lower level of existence … the descent of the Kings-Vessels of Azilut to the outside realm of Beriyah, was their death. Despite their shattering and descent however, the Vessels still retain a small amount of holiness. This again is similar to a person that dies. His life-force does not leave him completely … It is is through this very small portion of life that he will once again rise in the World to Come.”
Inner Space, Aryeh Kaplan, p.83.

Revelation 17:12
The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour.

The concept of one “hour” (Gr: hora) has to do with a finite period of time for something to be accomplished. (See 17:17 below.)

Revelation 17:13
These have one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast.

A contrast can be made between these being of “one mind” and those of Messiah who are of one mind (i.e., Romans 15:6, 1Corinthians 1:10, 2:16, Philippians 1:27).

The idea of “all ten” coming together alludes to the complete complement of ten Sefirot functioning together as a unit for the purpose of unification.

If a man makes the entire goal of his action to please his Creator and Maker, then all ten holy sefirot are included in his deed. He thereby builds up the Divine Presence, elevates it, and unites all worlds.
From Ma’or V’Shemesh, Parshat Nitzavim, as cited in Song of the Soul, Rabbi Yechiel Bar-Lev, Petach Tikva, 1994, p. 79.

Revelation 17:14
These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings. They also will overcome who are with him, called and chosen and faithful.

The idea of “messiahs battles” in the last days is found in ancient sources:

When the Holy One comes to visit the “Hind” (Israel), he will examine who it is that remains loyal to her at that time, and then woe to him who shall not be found worthy, and of whom it shall be said, “I looked and there was none to help” (Isaiah 62:23). Many sufferings shall then befall Israel. But happy he who will be found faithful at that time! For he shall see the joy-giving light of the King. Concerning that time it is proclaimed: “I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried” (Zechariah13:9). Then shall pangs and travail overtake Israel, and all nations and their kings shall furiously rage together and take counsel against her. Thereupon a pillar of fire will be suspended from heaven to earth for forty days, visible to all nations. Then the Messiah will arise from the Garden of Eden, from that place which is called “The Bird’s Nest”. He will arise in the land of Galilee, and on that day the whole world shall be shaken and all the children of men shall seek refuge in caves and rocky places. Concerning that time it is written: “And they shall go into the holes of the rocks and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth” (Isaiah 2:19). “The glory of his majesty” refers to the Messiah when he shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee; for in this part of the Holy Land the desolation first began, and therefore he will manifest himself there first, and from there begin to war against the world. After the forty days, during which the pillar shall have stood between heaven and earth before the eyes of the whole world, and the Messiah shall have manifested himself, a star shall come forth from the East variegated in hue and shining brilliantly, and seven other stars shall surround it, and make war on it from all sides, three times a day for seventy days, before the eyes of the whole world. The one star shall fight against the seven with rays of fire flashing on every side, and it shall smite them until they are extinguished, evening after evening. But in the day they will appear again and fight before the eyes of the whole world, seventy days long. After the seventy days the one star shall vanish. Also the Messiah shall be hidden for twelve months in the pillar of fire, which shall return again, although it shall not be visible. After the twelve months the Messiah will be carried up to heaven in that pillar of fire and receive there power and dominion and the royal crown. When he descends, the pillar of fire will again be visible to the eyes of the world, and the Messiah will reveal himself, and mighty nations will gather round him, and he shall declare war against all the world. At that time the Holy One shall show forth his power before all the nations of the earth, and the Messiah shall be manifested throughout the whole universe, and all the kings will unite to fight against him, and even in Israel there will be found some wicked ones who shall join them in the fight against the Messiah. Then there will be darkness over all the world, and for fifteen days shall it continu, and many in Israel shall perish in that darkness. Concerning this darkness it is written: “Behold, darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the peoples” (Isaiah 62:2).
Zohar 2:7b

Messiah is ruler over both the spiritual (Yetzirah/Zeir Anpin) and physical (Assiyah/Malkut) worlds. (See also the reference to the faithful ones in the above Zohar passage.)

Revelation 17:15
He said to me, The waters which you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.

This fourfold description is similar to that found in a previous verse:

For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.
Revelation 9:11 

This “unity” of people is associated with either the presence of G-d (i.e., the Shekinah) or the influence of the Sitra Achra (i.e., Lilith), both of which extend to the entire earth as follows:

The essential and true understanding of the verse, “A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and then it divides and becomes four branches.” (Genesis 2:10) is that rivers represent the four divisions of the Shekinah.
Sha’are Orah (“Gates of Light”), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, p. 14.

AND G-D CREATED THE GREAT SEA MONSTERS. These are the Leviathan and its female. AND EVERY LIVING CREATURE THAT CREEPETH. This is the soul of the creature which creeps to the four quarters of the globe, to wit, Lilith.
Zohar, 1:34b 

Revelation 17:16
The ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the prostitute, and will make her desolate, and will make her naked, and will eat her flesh, and will burn her utterly with fire.

Here we see the idea of midah knegged midah (“measure for measure”) judgment coming upon an evil entity. Lilith, who has a reputation of turning against her own, is inevitably rejected by her own:

Lilith who, when she finds nothing else, turns upon her own children.
Midrash Rabbah – Numbers 16:25 

The downfall of Lilith is directly linked to the defeat of “Rome” (gentile kingdoms) in the latter days:

And when the Almighty will destroy the wicked Rome, He will settle Lilith among the ruins, since she is the ruin of the world, as it is written: “For there Lilith shall settle and find her a place of rest”
Zohar 3:19a 

The concept of “nakedness” of the “mother” is found in the following text. It is interesting to see that those who serve Lilith (also called the Erev rav – the “mixed multitude”) are said to separate the two He’s (pronounced “hay”) in the Name YHVH. (Keeping in mind that separation of the Name comes directly against the “prime objective” of unifying the “Name” of G-d – Zechariah 14:9 as discussed throughout this Revelation study.)

Specifically, they come against the Vav which is called “the son” (i.e., verses 6 and 14 above):

Before Israel went into captivity, and while the Shekinah was still with them, G-d commanded Israel: “thou shalt not uncover thy mother’s nakedness” (Leviticus 18:7), and this captivity is the uncovering of the nakedness of the Shekinah, as it is written, “On account of your sins your mother has been put away” (Isaiah 50:1), i.e. for the sin of unchastity Israel has been sent into captivity and the Shekinah also, and this is the uncovering of the Shekinah. This unchastity is Lilith, the mother of the “mixed multitude”. It is they who separate the two He’s of the sacred name, and prevent the Vau from entering between them; so it is written, “the nakedness of a woman and her daughter thou shalt not uncover”, referring to the upper and lower Shekinah. When the “mixed multitude” are between the one He and the other, the Holy One, blessed be He, cannot link them together, and consequently “the river becomes dry and parched”- dry in the upper He and parched in the lower He, in order that the “mixed multitude” may not be nourished by the Vau, which is the Tree of Life. Therefore the Vau does not link together the two He’s when the mixed multitude is between them, and the letter Yod is not able to draw near to the second He’; thus the precept “thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law” is transgressed. Further, they separate the Yod from the upper He, and so break the command “thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s wife”, the Yod being the father, the first He the mother, Vau the son and the second He the daughter. Therefore it is ordained with regard to the upper He, “thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s wife”; “the nakedness of thy sister the daughter of thy father” refers to the lower He; “her son’s daughter and her daughter’s daughter” refers to the He and He which are the children of He; “the nakedness of the father’s brother” refers to the Yod, which is the product of the letter Yod, a brother to Vau. In a word, when the “mixed multitude” are mingled with Israel, the letters of the name Tetragrammaton cannot be joined and linked together; but as soon as they are removed from the world, then it is said of the letters of G-d’s name that “On that day the Lord shall be one and his name one” (Zechariah 14:9).
Zohar 1:27b 

The letter “vav” (=6) is called the “vav of connection”:

The internal force of the line is the power to reveal the inherent interinclusion of the various aspects of reality, one in the other, thereby joining them together as an organic whole. This property of the letter vav, in its usage in Hebrew, is referred to as vav hachibur, the vav of connection”–“and.” The first vav of the Torah–“In the beginning G-d created the heavens and [vav] the earth”–serves to join spirit and matter, heaven and the earth, throughout Creation.
The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letters, Vav – Connection, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh,

Revelation 17:17
For G-d has put in their hearts to do what he has in mind, and to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of G-d should be accomplished.

This may be compared to Pharaoh (whose heart G-d hardened) who served G-d’s purpose for a specific time.

It is evident that everything that exists, both above and below, was created only because the Highest Wisdom deemed these phenomena necessary and useful for furthering the purpose of creation as a whole … Since each thing was initially created for a purpose, it is appropriate that it be maintained as long as it is serving its purpose. G-d created all things, He continues to oversee them and maintain them in the state He desires.
Derech Hashem, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, part 2.1.1.

There does not exist a single concept in the world, whether it be a process or circumstance in anything that exists, that is not set up and ordained according to what must exist to fulfill the purpose of creation …
Derech Hashem, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, part 4.9.1.

Revelation 17:18
The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.

This “woman” is a “great city” that is “reigning” over the kings of the earth. This is the Sitra Achra counterpart to Jerusalem, also seen as the woman/mother over all:

Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Galatians 4:26 


Lilith is the counterpart to the Shekinah at the level of Malkhut. Babylon is the counterpart to “Jerusalem above” (at the level of Binah). These are the “two females” or “upper and lower mothers” that seek to be connected via the tzaddik. The latter is represented in terms of;  the letter vav, Messiah ben Joseph, Metatron, Sefirah of Yesod, Jacob’s ladder, etc. In the case of the Sitra Achra, is could be seen as the false-messiah/tzaddik, who causes separation between the upper “Hay” and lower “Hay.”

Note that the same or similar angel introduces “Jerusalem above” in Revelation 21:9. Lilith/Babylon is a “bride” as the Shekinah/New Jerusalem is a bride. When Lilith “replaces” the Shekinah (i.e., Malkhut) as the “lower” female (nukveh) then G-d’s blessings are cut off and in place comes disease, famine, death, etc.

As mentioned in notes to chapter 6:

“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.”
Sha’are Orah (“Gates of Light”), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, pp. 50-54

(Malkut/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, p. 65.

This is the hidden meaning behind the “women’s hair” of the demons (whom Lilith oversees) mentioned in an earlier chapter:

Their hair was like women’s hair …
Revelation 9:8a 

This woman’s hair on Lilith’s demons is representative of the negative state of the Shekinah,

The “hair” of Nukva, the extreme filtering of malchut, which is the lowest sefira and is within the order of creation, allows for the sustenance of negative forces.

Further, the “upper mother” (i.e., Binah) is associated with the matriarch Leah, and the “lower mother” (i.e., Malkut) with the matriarch Rachel. Jacob (Tiferet/Zeir Anpin) is the one who connects the two females, binding the upper spiritual (Binah – the “gateway” to the upper triad of Binah-Chokmah-Keter) to the lower spiritual (Malkut – the spiritual aspect of the physical world).

As mentioned in an earlier study however, Jacob cannot do this without the “tzaddik” – Joseph (Yesod) who has a critical role in defeating Esau.

And the house of Jacob shall be fire, and the house of Joseph flame, and the house of Esau for stubble.
Obadiah 1:18

For an in-depth look at the relationship between; Jacob, Israel, Rachel, Leah, Joseph and Esau, see the excellent article at


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