As mentioned in the preface to chapter 1, the book of Revelation is broken up into several distinct sections. There is a great deal of kabbalistic imagery and terminology going forward from chapter 4. Although this is a ‘verse by verse’ study, the nature of the text, and lack of historic association with established kabbalistic concepts (for most people reading it) merits expounding on each topic as it comes up. It’s important to get a better understanding of these concepts in order to grasp the ‘big picture.’
The preceding chapters provided insight into ‘seven types’ of groups, each claiming to be following G-d. Beginning with chapter 4 and continuing through chapter 19, John experiences an elevated level of revelation. Though not at the level Moshe (panim el panim), it is ‘very direct.’
Such a high level of revelation is referred to in a number of ways, said to be at the level of; ‘YHVH,’ Tiferet, the Neshamah or ‘the Heavens’ (Beriah):
“In the Kabbalistic doctrine the name formed by the four Hebrew letters yod, he, vau, he, has a special and intimate connection with the grade of Tiferet, of which it is in the strict sense the proper name. We must understand this to mean that if one could grasp with sufficient clearness the nature of the grade Tiferet, especially as the originator of the neshamah, he would automatically perceive that this is the fitting appellation which should be given to it. To this grade of comprehension Moses and the other prophets actually rose, and this was the basis of their inspiration. There is, however, a difference between the inspiration of Moses and that of the other prophets. Moses was able to grasp the connection between the grade and the Name fully and clearly, but the others only through a haze, as it were, since their comprehension only reached fully to the two inferior grades of Nezah and Hod, the two ‘pillars’ or ‘willows of the brook’, as they are fancifully called.”
Soncino Zohar Appendix III – The Divine Name
The Sefirah of Tiferet plays an important role regarding ‘prophecy,’ in that it represents balance and harmony among all the Sefirot. Such a ‘state’ of equilibrium may be said to reflect or be conducive to higher levels of revelation:
“Among the Divine Names, then, the Unique Name [Tiferet] occupies a central position in the process of communion … The significance of the Unique Name versus the other Divine Names, Rabbi R. Isaac explains thus: “Because this Name is the Cause of all causes, and everything is contained in Him, from the upper crown (Keter) until the Lower Crown (Atarah). [Malkut/Kingdom] From Ein-Sof until Ein-Sof. He is the cause of all existence.”
Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc., Jerusalem, 1998, p. 190.
After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a shofar speaking with me, was one saying, Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this.
The door is representative of a higher level of connectivity in the spiritual worlds. The connection is associated with the term ‘da’at’ (knowledge/knowing). The “door” in this chapter of Revelation could be seen attaining da’at/connectivity as expressed in several ways:
- Malkhut or Netzach/Hod to Tiferet, which is how kabbalah views the different between the level of Moshe versus all the other prophets.
- Shaddai to YHVH, which is how G-d expressed it to Moshe in Exodus 6:2.
- Yetizrah to Beriah, which we be equivalent to moving from the “lower Paradise,” into the Throne Room of G-d, the world of Beriah, which is also called “Heaven”or “the heavens” or the “Celestial Paradise.”
- One level of heaven to the next within Beriah, which is said to be made up of ‘seven heavens.’ (Recall Paul mentioning he attained the level of the ‘3rd heaven.’ Also see note below.)
The ‘movement’ from one ‘spiritual level’ to another, is in this context not ‘physical. “Proximity to G-d’ is to be understood along the idea of ‘likeness to His Image,’ which is associated with greater revelation, dreams, prophecy, etc. This, understanding enables us to see how verses such as the following, both speaking of the final end of days, are related.
The ‘connectivity’ through ‘da’at’ (knowledge) mentioned by Daniel leads to an increase in prophetic revelation as seen in Joel:
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge (da’at) shall increase.”
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”
The idea of movement through a spiritual door appears in pseudepigraphic texts as well as esoteric works such as the Zohar:
“And [the angel] took me (Baruch) and led me where the firmament has been set fast, and where there was a river which no one can cross, nor any strange breeze of all those which G-d created. And he took me and led me to the first heaven, and showed me a door of great size. And he said to me, Let us enter through it, and we entered as though borne on wings, a distance of about thirty days’ journey. . . And the angel whose name is Phamael said to me: This door which thou seest is the door of heaven, and as great as is the distance from earth to heaven, so great also is its thickness; and again as great as is the distance (from North to South, so great) is the length of the plain which thou didst see.”
3 Baruch 2:1-3, 5
The following example from the Zohar refers to a spiritual “portal.” Passage through this portal is linked to going beyond the basic “obedience to the command” (which G-d does honor), to having a “great love and devotion” for G-d’s Torah:
“Happy is the portion of whoever is found worthy of those garments wherein the righteous are clad in the Garden of Eden. [i.e., Yezirah] Those garments are made out of the good deeds performed by a man in this world in obedience to the commands of the Torah. In the Lower Paradise [i.e., Yezirah] man’s soul is thus sustained by these deeds and is clad in garments of glory made out of them. But when the soul mounts up on high [i.e., Beriah], through that portal of the firmament, [i.e., Da’at/Yesod] other precious garments are provided for it of a more exalted order, made out of the zeal and devotion which characterized his study of the Torah and his prayer; for when that zeal mounts up on high a crown is made out of it for him to be crowned with, but some of it remains as the man’s portion, out of which garments of light are made for the soul to be clad in when it has ascended on high [i.e., Beriah]. The former garments, as we have said, depend on his actions, but these depend on his devotion of spirit, so as to qualify their owner to join the company of holy angels and spirits. This is the correct exposition of the matter as the Holy Lamp learned it from Elijah. The garments of the Lower Paradise [i.e., Yezirah] are made of man’s actions; those of the celestial Paradise [i.e., Beriah] of the devotion and earnestness of his spirit.”
Zohar, Shemoth 210b
As has been mentioned, the term “Heaven” is often associated with the World of Beriah (Creation). The word generally used for “Heaven” in Torah literature is Shamayim, which is plural. Within the World of Beriah there are said to be “seven heavens,” or seven levels of heaven.
These are listed from ‘lowest (1) to highest’ (7) as follows:
- Vilon (וילון) or Arafel (ערפל)
- Raqia (רקיע)
- Shehakim (שחקים)
- Zebul (זבול)
- Maon (מעון)
- Makon (מכון)
- Aravot (ערבות)
Note: Paul’s reference in 2Corinthians 12:2-4, regarding receiving insight in the ‘third heaven,’ corresponds to Shehakim.
Talmud speaks of Shehakim being where ‘manna is ground for the righteous’:
“…that in which millstones stand and grind manna for the righteous for it is said: And He commanded the skies [Shehakim] above, and opened the doors of heaven; and He caused manna to rain upon them for food etc.”
Talmud, Chagigah 12b
this heavenly ‘manna” represents more than physical food. It is associated with the idea of spiritual insight.
The third heaven is the place where “… incarnate men can rise during prayer and be instructed in the mysteries of creation.”
“A Kabbalistic Universe,” Z’ev Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1977, p. 52.
Yeshua draws a direct connection between ‘heavenly manna’ and ‘spiritual insight,’ as found in chapter 6 of John’s gospel:
“Then Yeshua said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of G-d is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to him, “lord, give us this bread always.” And Yeshua said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me. This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that everyone who sees the son and believes in him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then complained about him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And they said, “Is not this Yeshua, the son of Yosef, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Yeshua therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by G-d.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from G-d; he has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” – John 6:32-51
The “voice as of a trumpet” was discussed in chapter 1. John’s vision of the heavenly Tabernacle, with all of its detail, is comparable to that of Moses, received at Mount Sinai. In each case, the Tabernacle (and subsequently the Temple) alludes to G-d’s unity, specifically a union between the Shekinah/Malkhut as bride and Tiferet as groom, from whom the voice of G-d is heard. This unification comes about at the time of the Supernal Shabbat — the seventh Millennium and “messianic Kingdom” (Malkhut).
“All Torah prophecy derives from the “Great (Unique) Name,” the Sefirah of Tiferet. Moses, because of his greatness, received Torah prophecy from it directly, whereas Israel could receive such prophecy only via the Honorable Name, the Sefirah of Atarah (Malkhut), which serves as a garment to the Sefirah of Tiferet, which, so to speak, rests in her. “
“Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, “Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc., Jerusalem, 1998, p. 148.
The Zohar associates the “Voice of G-d” in the garden of Eden to Mount Sinai. The following text is broken into several sections to aid in clarity of understanding. It begins with a discussion of Adam and Eve, who “walked with G-d,” and had a relationship with the “voice” of G-d (associated with Tiferet) as Moses did. They were also adorned in a “heavenly radiance,” alluding to their “garments,” as discussed in previous chapters of the study.
“AND THEY HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD G-D WALKING IN THE GARDEN. (Note the form mithalech (walking) instead of the usual mehalech.) Until he sinned, man was gifted with the wisdom of celestial illumination, and he did not for an instant quit the Tree of Life. But when he was seduced by his desire to know what was below, he weakly followed it until he became separated from the Tree of Life, and knew evil and forsook good: hence the Scripture says ‘for thou art not a G-d that hath pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not sojourn with thee’ (Psalm 5:5). He who is drawn after evil may not abide with the Tree of Life. Before they sinned, the human pair used to hear a voice from above, and were endowed with the higher wisdom; they stood erect with heavenly radiance, and knew no fear. When they sinned, they were not able to stand up even before an earthly voice. A similar thing happened later with the Israelites. When Israel stood before Mount Sinai, the impurity of the serpent was removed from them, so that carnal passion was suppressed among them, and in consequence they were able to attach themselves to the Tree of Life, and their thoughts were turned to higher things and not to lower. Hence they were vouchsafed heavenly illuminations and knowledge which filled them with joy and gladness. Further, G-d girt them with cinctures of the letters of the Holy Name, which prevented the serpent from gaining power over them or defiling them as before.”
Zohar, Bereshith, 52a
It is of interest to note that this section of the Zohar continues by showing that the children of Israel were deprived of their “ornament” when they sinned at Sinai. The term “ornament” is another term related to Tiferet. It then further speaks of them “losing their armor.” This is reminiscent of Ephesians 6 and Isaiah 59, which is a description on the attire of the High Priest:
“When they sinned by worshiping the calf, they were degraded from their high estate and lost their illumination, they were deprived of the protective girdle of the Holy Name and became exposed to the attacks of the evil serpent as before, and so brought death into the world. After their sin, it is related that ‘Aaron and the children of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him’ (Exodus 34:30). Before that, however, we are told that ‘Israel saw the great hand’ (Ibid. 14:31) on the Red Sea, and that at Mount Sinai they all saw celestial lights and were illumined with the vision of clear prophecy, as it is written, ‘And all the people saw the voices’ (Ibid. 20:18), and by the Red Sea they saw G-d and did not fear, as it is written, ‘This is my G-d and I will praise him’ (Ibid. 15:2). But after they sinned, they were not able to look even on the face of the deputy (Moses). How was this? Because ‘the children of Israel were deprived of their ornament from Mount Sinai’, to wit, of the armor with which they were girt on Mount Sinai in order that the evil serpent should not have power over them.”
Zohar, Bereshith 52a
There follows in this same Zohar section, a discussion concerning the disharmony between the “sun” and “moon,” which are representative of Tiferet (groom) and Malkhut (bride/Shekinah). Rather than existing in a state of continual unification (as was prior to the fall), this union would now only come about at designated times, when the people met with G-d. Hence the term, “tent of meeting” for the gatherings in the Tabernacle, when G-d allowed this to occur:
“After this had been stripped from them we read that ‘Moses took the tent and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp’ (Ibid. 33:7). R. Eleazar explained the connection thus: ‘When Moses perceived that Israel had been deprived of their heavenly armour, he said, “Of a surety the evil serpent will now come to dwell among them, and if the sanctuary remains here among them it will be defiled”, and he therefore took the tent and pitched it outside, far from the camp.’ ‘And he called it the tent of meeting.’ It had been such before, but had been called the ‘tent’, simply. The epithet ‘of meeting’ was now given to it, according to R. Eleazar, in compliment, according to R. Abba, in disparagement. R. Eleazar defended his view on the ground that moed (meeting, appointed time) is the word used of the day when the moon is in full career, when its holiness is increased and it is free from defect; so here, Moses gave the tent this name to show that it had been removed from the contagion of the people. R. Abba argued that the simple name ‘tent, has the same implication as in the verse ‘a tent that shall not be removed, the stakes of which shall never be plucked up’ (Isaiah 33:20), i.e. that it designates something which confers eternity on the world and saves it from death, whereas the epithet ‘meeting’ is used in the same sense as in the phrase ‘a house of meeting for all flesh’ (i.e. the grave, Job 30:23), and indicates that now the life which it conferred was only for a limited period. At first it was unimpaired, but now it was impaired; at first the sun and the moon were in continuous union, but now their union was only from season to season (moed); hence the name ‘tent of season’ (moed).”
Zohar, Bereshith 52a
The text then goes on to express Adam and Eve’s “nakedness” in terms of their losing their “crowns.” These crowns are associated with a higher relationship with G-d (i.e., at the level of Beriah). When living in Eden, with a primary level of existence in the World of Yetzirah, Adam and Eve still had access to Beriah. Once cast out, into the physical World of Asiyah, they no longer had this level of connection.
“AND THEY HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD G-D WALKING IN THE GARDEN. (Note the form mithalech (walking) instead of the usual mehalech.) Until he sinned, man was gifted with the wisdom of celestial illumination, and he did not for an instant quit the Tree of Life. But when he was seduced by his desire to know what was below, he weakly followed it until he became separated from the Tree of Life, and knew evil and forsook good: hence the Scripture says ‘for thou art not a G-d that hath pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not sojourn with thee’ (Psalm 5:5). He who is drawn after evil may not abide with the Tree of Life. Before they sinned, the human pair used to hear a voice from above, and were endowed with the higher wisdom; they stood erect with heavenly radiance, and knew no fear. When they sinned, they were not able to stand up even before an earthly voice …
… When Adam sinned, G-d took from him the armour of the bright and holy letters with which he had been encompassed, and then he and his wife were afraid, perceiving that they had been stripped; so it says AND THEY KNEW THAT THEY WERE NAKED. At first they had been invested with those glorious crowns which gave them protection and exemption from death. When they sinned, they were stripped of them, and then they knew that death was calling them, that they had been deprived of their exemption, and that they had brought death on themselves and on all the world.”
Zohar, Bereshith 52a-52b
In a different section, the Zohar equates the “voice of the trumpet,” with the time of Yom Kippur and the Word of Gid. This is significant, as the Seven Year Tribulation, also called the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, is associated with the seven “Days of Awe,” (yomim ha nora’im), that begin following Rosh haShana, and end with Yom Kippur. (See previous notes on Revelation 2:10 regarding this):
“In this latter passage (Exodus 20:18) also we find “fire torches” mentioned instead of the “lightnings” of the former. Both, however, mean one and the same thing; when the lightnings are quite formed and ready to appear they are called “fire-torches” (lapidim). The “voice of the trumpet” mentioned in the same verse is, according to R. Judah, that voice which is itself called “trumpet” in reference to the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9). According to R. Simeon, the “voice of the trumpet” is the “word which proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3), by which “man lives”. It is greater and stronger than all lower voices.”
Zohar, Shemot 81b
“COME UP HITHER”
John is told to “come up” to see, which bears some similarity to Moses at Mount Sinai. (Note that there are multiple comparisons to be made with Mount Sinai in this and the next chapter.) The text aligns with the idea that John is going from knowledge of (connection to) one level of prophecy to another. i.e., the second World of Yezirah, the angelic realm,’ to the third World of Beriah, the location of the ‘heavenly throne.’
Another concept regarding prophecy, concerns receiving the “highest level” that you are worthy and capable of. For instance, it is taught that at Mount Sinai, Moses received the highest level of prophecy, directly speaking with G-d. The elders received prophecy at a lower level, and the remainder of the children of Israel an even lesser one. This is reflected in the physical World (Asiyah) in how ‘far up the mountain’ each was allowed to climb.
The following midrash goes further, comparing the levels of Torah given at Sinai to the manna in the desert, which tasted different to each person who ate it:
“The word of the Lord went forth in two aspects, slaying the heathen who would not accept it but giving life to Israel who accepted the Torah. This is what Moses said to them at the end of forty years: For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living G-d speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? (Deuteronomy 5:23). Only you have heard His voice and lived, but the heathen heard it and died. Just see how the Voice went forth-coming to each Israelite with a force proportioned to his individual strength-to the old, according to their strength, and to the young, according to theirs; to the children, to the babes and to the women, according to their strength, and even to Moses according to his strength, as it is said: Moses spoke, and G-d answered him by a voice (Exodus 19:19), that is, with a voice which he could endure. Similarly, it says: The voice of the Lord is with power (Psalm 29:4); not ‘with His power’, but ’with power’, i.e. with the power of each individual, even to pregnant women according to their strength. Thus to each person it was according to his strength. R. Jose b. Hanin says: If you are doubtful of this, then think of the manna that descended with a taste varying according to the needs of each individual Israelite. The young men, eating it as bread, as it says: Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you (Exodus 16:4); the old, as wafers made with honey, as it says, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey (ib. 31); to the babes, it tasted like the milk from their mothers’ breasts, for it says: And the taste of it was as the taste of rich breast milk (Numbers 11:8); to the sick, it was like fine flour mingled with honey, as it says: My bread also which I gave thee, wineflour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee (Ezekiel 16:19); while to the heathen, its taste was bitter and like coriander seed, for it says: Now the manna was like coriander seed (Numbers 11:7). Hence did R. Jose b. Hanina say: If the manna, which is all of one kind, became converted into so many kinds to suit the capacity of each individual, was it not more possible for the Voice, which had power in it, to vary according to the capacity of each individual that no harm should befall him? Whence do we know that the Voice divided itself into many sounds so that the people should not be injured by its force? Because it is written: ’And all the people perceived the thunderings ‘ (Exodus 20:15). Hence doth Job say: ’ G-d thundereth marvellously with His voice’ (Job 37:5).”
Midrash Rabbah – Exodus 5:9
Moses’ vision was “panim el panim” (face to face) and said to be at the level of Tiferet. Scripture states that Moses’ face was illuminated when he descended from the mountain. This is significant as the Sefirah of Tiferet (beauty) is also called the “illuminating face.”
“… ‘You shall have no other G-d before me’ … ‘before me,’ ‘before my face,’ refers to ‘illuminating face,’ that is the sefirah of Tiferet -Beauty.”
“Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist,” Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc., Jerusalem, 1998, p. 199.
“I WILL SHOW THEE”
Midrash Rabbah states that all prophecy ties back to Mount Sinai, and comes from the “great voice,” which is associated with Tiferet and divides into many voices as discussed in chapter 1, verse 15:
“Another explanation of AND G-D SPOKE ALL THESE WORDS, SAYING. R. Isaac said: The prophets received from Sinai the messages they were to prophesy to subsequent generations; for Moses told Israel: But with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our G-d, and also with him that is not here with us this day, etc. (Deuteronomy 29:14). It does not say ‘that is not here standing with us this day’, but just ’with us this day’-these are the souls that will one day be created; and because there is not yet any substance in them the word ‘ standing ‘ is not used with them. Although they did not yet exist, still each one received his share [of the Torah]; for so it says, The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi (Malachi 1:1). It does not say ‘in the days of Malachi’, but ’by Malachi’, for his prophecy was already with him since Sinai, but hitherto permission was not given him to prophesyl … So Isaiah said: From the time that it was, there am I (Isaiah 58:16). Isaiah said: I was present at the revelation on Sinai whence I received this prophecy, only And now the Lord G-d hath sent me, and His Spirit (ib.); for hitherto no permission was given to him to prophesy. Not only did all the prophets receive their prophecy from Sinai, but also each of the Sages that arose in every generation received his [wisdom] from Sinai, for so it says, These words the Lord spoke unto all your assembly… with a great voice, and it went on no more (Deuteronomy 5:19). R. Johanan said: It was one voice that divided itself into seven voices, and these into seventy languages. R. Simeon b. Lakish said: [It was the voice] from which all the subsequent prophets received their prophecy. The Sages said: It had no echo. R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: How is it possible to say, The voice of the Lord is with power (Psalm 24:4)? Do we not know that no creature can withstand the voice of an angel, as it says, His body also was like the beryl… and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude (Daniel 10:6). Was it then necessary for the Holy One, blessed be He, of whom it says, Do not I fill heaven and earth? (Jeremiah 23:24) to speak with power? The meaning, however, of ’ The voice of the Lord is with power’ is that it was with the power of all voices. As to the view of R. Johanan, the following verse supports him, for it says, The Lord giveth the word; they that proclaim the tidings are a great host (Psalm 63:12).”
Midrash Rabbah, Exodus 28:6
The above is consistent with what the book of Revelation later says. The testimony of Yeshua (i.e., “the voice of Tiferet”) is the Ruach (i.e., via Da’at) of Prophecy:
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Yeshua: worship G-d: for the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy.”
Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne
Similar accounts of prophetic experience, regarding vision of the heavenly realm, is found in the Heikhalot literature:
“And I looked and saw therein a lofty throne: its appearance was as crystal, and the wheels thereof as the shining sun, and there was the vision of cherubim. And from underneath the throne came streams of flaming fire so that I could not look thereon. And the Great Glory sat thereon, and His raiment shone more brightly than the sun and was whiter than any snow. None of the angels could enter and could behold His face by reason of the magnificence and glory and no flesh could behold Him. The flaming fire was round about Him, and a great fire stood before Him, and none around could draw nigh Him: ten thousand times ten thousand (stood) before Him, yet He needed no counselor. And the most holy ones who were nigh to Him did not leave by night nor depart from Him. And until then I had been prostrate on my face, trembling: and the Lord called me with His own mouth, and said to me: ‘ Come hither, Enoch, and hear my word.'”
1 Enoch 14:18-25
“And after that I saw all the secrets of the heavens, and how the kingdom is divided, and how the actions of men are weighed in the balance. And there I saw the mansions of the elect and the mansions of the holy, and mine eyes saw there all the sinners being driven from thence which deny the name of the Lord of Spirits, and being dragged off: and they could not abide because of the punishment which proceeds from the Lord of Spirits. And there mine eyes saw the secrets of the lightning and of the thunder, and the secrets of the winds, how they are divided to blow over the earth, and the secrets of the clouds and dew, and there I saw from whence they proceed in that place and from whence they saturate the dusty earth. And there I saw closed chambers out of which the winds are divided, the chamber of the hail and winds, the chamber of the mist, and of the clouds, and the cloud thereof hovers over the earth from the beginning of the world. And I saw the chambers of the sun and moon, whence they proceed and whither they come again, and their glorious return, and how one is superior to the other, and their stately orbit, and how they do not leave their orbit, and they add nothing to their orbit and they take nothing from it, and they keep faith with each other, in accordance with the oath by which they are bound together. And first the sun goes forth and traverses his path according to the commandment of the Lord of Spirits, and mighty is His name for ever and ever. And after that I saw the hidden and the visible path of the moon, and she accomplishes the course of her path in that place by day and by night-the one holding a position opposite to the other before the Lord of Spirits.” And they give thanks and praise and rest not; For unto them is their thanksgiving rest. For the sun changes oft for a blessing or a curse, And the course of the path of the moon is light to the righteous And darkness to the sinners in the name of the Lord, Who made a separation between the light and the darkness, And divided the spirits of men, And strengthened the spirits of the righteous, In the name of His righteousness. For no angel hinders and no power is able to hinder; for He appoints a judge for them all and He judges them all before Him.”
1 Enoch, chapter 41
“And there I saw One who had a head of days, And His head was white like wool, And with Him was another being whose countenance had the appearance of a man, And his face was full of graciousness, like one of the holy angels. And I asked the angel who went with me and showed me all the hidden things, concerning that Son of Man, who he was, and whence he was, (and) why he went with the Head of Days And he answered and said unto me: This is the son of Man who hath righteousness, With whom dwelleth righteousness, And who revealeth all the treasures of that which is hidden, Because the Lord of Spirits hath chosen him, And whose lot hath the pre-eminence before the Lord of Spirits in uprightness for ever. And this Son of Man whom thou hast seen Shall raise up the kings and the mighty from their seats, [And the strong from their thrones] And shall loosen the reins of the strong, And break the teeth of the sinners. [And he shall put down the kings from their thrones and kingdoms] Because they do not extol and praise Him, Nor humbly acknowledge whence the kingdom was bestowed upon them. And he shall put down the countenance of the strong, And shall fill them with shame. And darkness shall be their dwelling, And worms shall be their bed, And they shall have no hope of rising from their beds, Because they do not extol the name of the Lord of Spirits. And these are they who judge the stars of heaven, [And raise their hands against the Most High], And tread upon the earth and dwell upon it. And all their deeds manifest unrighteousness, And their power rests upon their riches, And their faith is in the gods which they have made with their hands, And they deny the name of the Lord of Spirits, And they persecute the houses of His congregations, And the faithful who hang upon the name of the Lord of Spirits.”
1 Enoch, chapter 46
(See also 1 Enoch 47:3, 48:1, 60:2 and 69:29)
“When the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to lift me up on high, He first sent ‘Anaphiel-YHVH’ the Prince, and he took me from their midst in their sight and carried me in great glory upon a a fiery chariot with fiery horses, servants of glory. And he lifted me up to the high heavens together with the Shekina.”
Sefer Heikhalot 6:1 (3 Enoch)
“When the Holy One, blessed be He, took me away from the generation of the Flood, he lifted me on the wings of the wind of Shekina to the highest heaven and brought me into the great palaces of the ‘Araboth Raqia’ on high, where are the glorious Throne of Shekina, the Merkaba, the troops of anger, the armies of vehemence, the fiery Shin’anim’, the flaming Kerubim, and the burning ‘Ophannim, the flaming servants, the flashing Chashmattim and the lightening Seraphim. And he placed me (there) to attend the Throne of Glory day after day.”
Sefer Heikhalot 7:1 (3 Enoch)
“I WAS IN THE SPIRIT”
As a quick review of the ‘Four Worlds of Existence”:
- Atzilut = Near (to G-d) and beyond ‘Creation,’ the “Lord” above the heavens in Jacob’s dream of the ladder between earth and the heavens.
- Beriah = Creation, the ‘heavens’ and world of the throne of G-d and what are called; archangels, forces (Ramchal in ‘Derech Hashem’) or powers (Paul in Ephesians 6)
- Yetzirah = Formation, the world of angels, Sulam Yaacov (Jacob’s Ladder)
- Asiyah = Making, our physical world of the five senses
The text creates a direct correlation between gaining da’at (knowledge) of the next world or level with being ‘in the Spirit.’ There is an idea in kabbalah that attaining the “da’at’ of one world gains access to the Yesod (foundation) of the one immediately ‘above’ it. Thus, through Da’at (i.e., the Ruach), comes (higher level of) prophecy.
Da’at may be explained as:
“…the access and exit point into manifest existence of that which lies above. It is the space through which higher influences can have direct contact with the seven sefirot of Construction, as they are known below, and the place where anything beneath may contact that which is above.”
The Work of the Kabbalist, Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1985, p. 9.
“A THRONE WAS SET IN THE HEAVEN”
John’s vision gives him a view of the Throne Room of G-d in the Heavens (the world of Beriah/Creation). Others who had such an experience in/from Beriah, include:
- The Book of Enoch
- Solomon – he is said to have been, “a man of three worlds”
- Isaiah – he saw the Lord on His throne and angels (Isaiah 6)
- Paul – in 2 Corinthians 12
“UPON THE THRONE IS ONE SITTING”
The Zohar relates the manifestation of the Name of G-d to the world of Beriah (the heavens):
“This is the significance of the Psalm (recited on Sabbath morning): “The heavens tell the glory of G-d; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” ‘What is meant by “Heaven”? That heaven in which the Supernal Name is made visible (shama-yim- heaven; shem-Name).”
Zohar, Shemoth 50b
The question of “Who is sitting on the throne?” has been a great puzzle for Christian commentators. On the one hand some feel it is ‘the Father,’ as ‘the Son’ is associated with the Lamb, who is shown to be a “separate entity,” who takes the scroll from the hand of the one on the throne in 2:7. What’s more, in Revelation 2:13 we see the elders and creatures bestowing “blessing, honour, glory, and might,” to both the one on the throne and the Lamb.
However, the description of the one on the throne, given in 4:11 (… Thou did create the all things, and because of Thy will are they, and they were created), is also given by Paul, specifically concerning Yeshua:
- “Because in him (Yeshua) were the all things created, those in the heavens, and those upon the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things through him, and for him, have been created, and himself is before all, and the all things in him have consisted.”
What is interesting is that in Torah literature, we find similar statements made of Jacob being associated with both the throne and ‘creation’ itself:
- Numbers Rabbah 4:1:
- There is a Scriptural text bearing on this: Since thou art precious in My sight, and honourable, etc. (Isaiah 43:4). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Jacob: Jacob, thou art exceedingly precious in my sight. For I have, as it were, set thine image on My throne, and by thy name the angels praise Me and say: Blessed be the Lord, the G-d of Israel, from everlasting and to everlasting (Psalm 41:14).
- Midrash Yelammedenu:
- The angels descended and saw his (Jacob’s) image. They said, “Certainly this is the form (surah) and this is the image (demut) engraved upon the throne of glory.” All of them responded and said, “Bless the Lord, G-d of Israel.”
- A liturgical poem of Moses ben Eleazar ha-Darshan:
- … the Biblical expression “majesty of Israel” (from Lamentations 2:1) is transformed into a symbol for the icon of Jacob engraved on the throne.
- A liturgical poem of Eliezer ben Nathan of Mainz:
- In that passage, the angel of the countenance (sar ha-panim) is identified as Jacob who is said to be inscribed upon the throne and upon the heart of Metatron.
Sefer Pa’neah Raza (Isaac bar Judah ha-Levi): Ya’aqov (Jacob) is numerically equal (=182) to mal’akh ha-‘elohim (“angel of G-d,” i.e., Metatron). This alludes to the fact that his image is engraved on the throne.
- In that passage, the angel of the countenance (sar ha-panim) is identified as Jacob who is said to be inscribed upon the throne and upon the heart of Metatron.
- In Genesis Rabbah 78:3:
- For thou art a prince (“saritha” from sar, a prince) together with G-d, thy features being engraven on high.
- Midrash Tanhuma:
- Jacob was a partner with his Creator in everything.
- Rabbi Pinehas ha-Kohen bar Hamma:
- See what is written, Not like these is the portion of Jacob, For it is he who formed all things.
(The above citations found in “Along the Path – Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism and Hermeneutics,” Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, 1995, pp.1-62 and footnotes pp.111-187.)
To complicate matters, in the previous chapter, Yeshua says both “he and the Father” are in the Father’s throne:
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
And if this was not enough, the Zohar discusses two thrones (perhaps helping to explain Revelation 3;21?):
“And above the firmament that was over their heads was as the appearance of a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne” (Ezekiel 1:26). This firmament’, said R. Simeon, ‘is the lower firmament, as you, Companions, have explained. Happy is my portion and happy is your portion, since as regards the supernal firmament there is no one who can ever discern it. Above that lower firmament, then, there is that “sapphire stone”, that precious jewel by which it is adorned. It says, “the likeness of a throne”, and not “the throne”. For there is throne and throne. The term “the throne” would signify the Supernal Throne, which is undisclosed and beyond all knowledge and comprehension. Hence it says here “a throne”, to wit, a lower throne.”
Zohar, Shemoth, 217b
(Also see notes to 4:3 on there being two celestial tabernacles)
An interesting view of a ‘heavenly unity,’ as related to “speech,” is found in this passage from the Zohar, which is a continuation of the section cited just above:
“For upon this day (Sabbath) the heavens are crowned and ascend in the power of the Holy Name more than on any other day. “His handiwork” is the supernal Dew which streams forth from all the hidden regions; it is “the work of His hands”, and His self-fulfilment wherein He completes and perfects Himself on this day more than upon any other. This dew “streams down” (maggid in the Aramaic sense) from the Head of the King, with an abundance of blessing, the “firmament” here signifying the stream issuing from the Cistern, the “River which went out of Eden”, which flows earthwards, as the stream of the Supernal Dew which gleams and flashes from all sides. This “firmament” draws it downward upon a current of love and desire, in order that it may water the field of bliss and joy at the entrance of the Sabbath. When that fair pearled Dew streameth down, the whole becomes full and complete in its holy letters acting through all their holy channels; since all is united to it, a path is opened to it to water and bless all below. “Day unto day” – one day to another, one ring or sphere unto its fellow. Here Scripture speaks in detail concerning the manner in which the heavens radiate sapphire brightness to that Glory, and how that “Firmament” of the supernal Dew causes the downward flow of the current. “Day unto day utters speech.” Day unto day, grade unto grade, in order that the one should complete itself in the other, and one be illumined by the other from the luminous and sparkling radiance of the Sapphire which is reflected by the heavens back to the central glory. The word yabia’ (uttereth) can be translated “hasteneth”: they hasten to catch the light and the flashing one from another. The word OMeR (speech) [Aleph-Mem-Resh] indicates the letters and paths which proceed from the Father [Tr. note: Chokmah.] the Mother, [Tr. note: Binah.] and the head which issues from them, who is the firstborn Son. [Tr. note: ‘ Tiferet.] Aleph symbolizes the Father, and when it ascends and descends, the Mem unites itself with it, producing em, which signifies Mother; the resh is the Head (rosh =head), signifying Son. When these three unite the result is that they form “Word”, “Speech.” Thus the Father, the Mother, and the first born Son radiate one within the other in one union, which has its reign and duration upon the Sabbath. Thus all are united so as to become one, and therefore they hasten one to another that Omer, as a supernal reign, in order that all should be one. But when all has been conveyed down to that “firmament”, then it diffuses light upon the “Glory of G-d” below that it may produce beings in the likeness of the heavens which give light to that Glory.”
Zohar, Shemoth 50b
(Note the combination of Chokmah/Father, Binah/Mother and Tiferet/Son as they relate to the colors white, red and green in notes to 4:3.)
that looked like a jasper stone and a sardius. There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at.
Ezekiel’s vision comes to mind:
“I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it all around, from the appearance of his waist and upward; and from the appearance of his waist and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of HaShem. When I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke.”
Many references to color appear throughout the text. The specific color related to jasper is uncertain. Sardius would likely be a shade of red and the emerald, green.
Four colors, white, red, green and black are directly associated with the following Sefirot:
- White = Mercy/Chesed
- Red = Judgment/Gevurah
- Green = Beauty/Tiferet
- Black = Kingdom/Malkhut
The Zohar associates some of these colors with the “son” (Tiferet) in Song of Songs (Song of Solomon):
“Also it is written: “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons” (Song of Songs 2:3) – as an apple tree which has varied colours, red, white, and green combined in a unity.”
Zohar, Shemoth 122a
As mentioned above, the one in the ‘Throne of Beriah’ is linked to the figure of Metatron (i.e., meta-tronos, amidst/beyond the throne). The Zohar associates the same colors; green, white and red with Metatron, who is said to be “elder of his house”and who resurrects the dead:
“So, too, in the verse: “And Abraham said unto his servant, etc.” (Genesis 24:2), the servant is an allusion to the moon as already explained. Also, the servant is identical with Metatron, who is the servant and messenger of his Master, and who was, as we read further, the elder of his house, the same who is alluded to in the text: “I have been young, and now am old” (Psalm 37:25). “That ruled over all that he had”; this applies to the same Metatron by reason of his displaying the three colours, green, white, and red. “Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh”; this is symbolic of the foundation of the world, for this servant was destined to bring to life again the dwellers in the dust, and to be made the messenger by the spirit from on high to restore the spirits and souls to their places, to the bodies that were decomposed underneath the dust. We read further: “and I will make thee swear (veashbe’akha) by the Lord, the G-d of heaven”, the term veashbe’akha implying that the servant will be invested with the mystery of the seven (sheba’) celestial lights which constitute the mystery of sublime perfection.”
Zohar, Bereshith 181b
Comparing the language related to the ‘elder of the house’:
For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is G-d. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Messiah as a son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
…. and having a High Priest over the house of G-d,
Metatron is said to me ministering in the heavenly tabernacle. Note the Zohar referring to two celestial tabernacles as it did two thrones, one ‘belonging to’ Metatron and the other beyond current comprehension. (See above notes on 4:2.)
“AND LOOK THAT THOU MAKE THEM AFTER THEIR PATTERN WHICH WAS SHEWED THEE IN THE MOUNT. And again it is written: And thou shalt rear up the Tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount (Exodus 26:30). R. Jose said: From this we see that the Holy One, blessed be He, actually gave Moses all the arrangements and all the shapes of the Tabernacle, each in its appropriate manner, and that he saw Metatron ministering to the High Priest within it. It may be said that, as the Tabernacle above was not erected until the Tabernacle below had been completed, that youth (Metatron) could not have served above before Divine worship had taken place in the earthly Tabernacle. It is true that the Tabernacle above was not actually erected before the one below; yet Moses saw a mirroring of the whole beforehand, and also Metatron, as he would be later when all was complete. The Holy One said to him: Behold now, the Tabernacle and the Youth; all is held in suspense until the Tabernacle below shall have been built. It should not be thought, however, that Metatron himself ministers; the fact is, that the Tabernacle belongs to him, and Michael, the High Priest, it is that serves there, within the Metatron’s Tabernacle,mirroring the function of the Supernal High Priest above, serving within that other Tabernacle, that hidden one which never is revealed, which is connected with the mystery of the world to come. There are two celestial Tabernacles: the one, the supernal concealed Tabernacle, and the other, the Tabernacle of the Metatron. And there are also two priests: the one is the primeval Light, and the other Michael, the High Priest below.”
Zohar, Shemoth 159a
The following passage of the Zohar connects the concepts of “doors” and “colors.” In addition to the green, white and red mentioned above, the color black is associated with the Sefirah of Malkhut and linked with the Shekinah (the “hidden one”), which represents the ‘bride’ and kingdom. The color Sapphire, as well as, “a color that contains all colors,” are also used in describing the Shekinah, as Malkhut, being the “last” of the Sefirot, “contains” all that came before it.
Note also the term, “Holy One, blessed be He,” which as discussed is associate with the Sefirah of Tiferet. (See references to the term in previous chapter notes.) There is also reference to ‘chieftains’ having dominion over certain heavens. Among the “heavenly doors” is one main one leading to the throne, this door has seventy other doors “inscribed upon it,” and it is throught this door that G-d provides for all of Israel’s needs. This is the function of the Sefirah or Yesod/Foundation (associated with “Shaddai”). The text also speaks of a lower paradise (Yezirah) and the expanse of heaven above it (Beriah). It should be noted that the Sefirah of Malkut [Kingdom] is considered the “house of Tiferet.” (i.e., Hebrews 3:3-6).
“But the heaven which is over the Holy Land is not ruled by any chieftain or any other power, but is in the sole charge of the Holy One, blessed be He, (HaKadosh Baruch Hu) who Himself directs the affairs of that land from that heaven. Each heaven is provided with a certain number of portals, and the charge of each chieftain extends from one portal to the next, and he may not encroach on the sphere of his fellow-chieftain by even so much as a hairbreadth, except he receive authorization to exercise dominion over his neighbour; when this happens one king on earth obtains power over another. There is, besides, in the centre of the whole of the heavens, a door called G’bilon; underneath that door are seventy other doors, with seventy chieftains keeping guard, at a distance from it of two thousand cubits, so that no one should come near it. From that door, again, there is a path mounting higher and ever higher until it reaches the Divine Throne. The same door gives access to all quarters of heaven as far as the gate called Magdon,[Tr. note: Al. Mandon] where is the end of the heaven that extends over the Land of Israel. All the seventy doors that are inscribed on the door called G’bilan, are called “gates of righteousness”, being under the direct control of the Divine Throne, and no other power; and it is through those gates that the Holy One provides the Land of Israel with all that it needs; and it is from the residue of that provision that the Chieftains take and transmit to all the lower chieftains. ‘In connection with the firmament that is above the lower Paradise there are sublime mysteries. When the Holy One was about to make the firmament, He took fire and water out of His Throne of Glory, fused them into one, and out of them made the lower firmament, which expanded until it reached the area of the Lower Paradise, where it halted. The Holy One, blessed be He, then took from the holy and supernal heaven fire and water of another kind, such as both are and are not, are both disclosed and undisclosed, and of them He made a further expanse of heaven which He spread over the lower Paradise where it joins the other firmament. That expanse of heaven, above the lower Paradise, displays four colours: white, red, green, and black, and correspondingly contains four doors in its four sides.”
Zohar, Shemoth 209b
Both the Midrash Rabbah and Zohar associate these four colors with the events concerning the Tabernacle at Mount Sinai. Again, the term “the Holy One, blessed be He,” is associated with Tiferet.
“When the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded Moses, ‘Make Me a Tabernacle,’ he should have just put up four poles and spread out the Tabernacle over them! We are therefore forced to infer that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed Moses on high, red fire, green fire, black fire, and white fire, and said to him: Make it according to the fashion thereof, which hath been shown thee in the mount (Exodus 26:30).”
Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 12:8
“Observe that when Moses was commanded to make the Tabernacle, he could not comprehend its design until G-d showed him an exact replica of every single part, a replica in white fire, in black fire, in red fire, and in green fire. Scripture thus says: “And see that thou make them after their pattern, which is being shown thee in the mount” (Exodus 25:40).”
Zohar, Shemot 241a
The “rainbow” seen around the throne is also associated with the same colors. Again, we will divide this lengthy text from the Zohar into several sections. The following begins with a reference to Noah’s rainbow, associating it with the songs of praise coming from the “living creatures” found in Ezekiel (and Revelation):
“AND G-D SAID TO NOAH… THIS IS THE TOKEN OF THE COVENANT WHICH I MAKE BETWEEN ME AND YOU… I HAVE SET MY RAINBOW IN THE CLOUD. The past tense “I have set” shows that the bow had already been there. In connection with this passage R. Simeon discoursed on the verse: And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone (Ezekiel 1:26). ‘Before this verse,’ he said, ‘we find the words, “And when they went I heard the noise of their wings like the noise of great waters, like the voice of the Almighty” (Ibid. 24). These are the four sacred and mighty beings called Hayyoth (animals), by whom the firmament is upheld, and whose wings are usually joined together to cover their bodies. When, however, they spread out their wings, a volume of sound swells forth, and they break out into songs of praise, “as the voice of the Almighty”, which never becomes silent, as it is written, “so that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent” (Psalm 30:13). The tenour of their praises is, “The Lord hath made known his salvation, his righteousness hath he revealed in the sight of the nations” (Psalm 93:2). It says further: “A noise of tumult like the noise of a host” (Ezekiel 1:24), i.e. like the sound of the holy camps when all the supernal armies assemble on high. What is it they declaim? “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). They turn to the south and say “holy”, they turn to the north and say “holy”, they turn to the east and say “holy”, they turn to the west and say “blessed”. And that firmament rests upon their heads, and in whatever direction it turns, their faces turn also. They turn their faces to the four cardinal points, and all revolve in a circle. The firmament is imprinted, at the four corners of a square, with four figures, of a lion, an eagle, an ox, and a man; and the face of a man is traced in all of them, so that the face of Lion is of Man, the face of Eagle is of Man, and the face of Ox is of Man, all being comprehended in him. Hence it is written: “As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man” (Ezekiel 1:10). Eurther, the firmament with its enclosed square contains the gamut of all the colours. Outstanding are four colours, each engraved with four translucent signs, both higher and lower. These when decomposed become twelve. They are green, red, white, and sapphire, which is made up of all these colours.”
Zohar, Bereshith 71b
The singing of these creatures proclaims the message, “Holy, holy, holy,” as found in both Isaiah and Revelation. Note that these three words are spoken in the directions of south, north and east. The creatures then utter the word “blessed” to the last direction of west. This is because the Sefirah of Malkut (Kingdom) lies to the “west” in the Tree of Life, as did the earthly Holy of Holies.
This is a reflection of the mystery of the Shema, which states, “Blessed be His glorious name whose Kingdom is forever and ever.” The unity of the ‘four keys’ (see previous chapter notes) the four colors, the four cardinal directions and the four living creatures, are all symbolic of the unification of the name of G-d and establishment of His Kingdom.
Note also that these four colors are the essence of the rainbow and are said to “decompose” forming twelve colors, reflective of the twelve colors on the breastplate of the High Priest:
“What is it they declaim? “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is. VI, 3). They turn to the south and say “holy”, they turn to the north and say “holy”, they turn to the east and say “holy”, they turn to the west and say “blessed”. And that firmament rests upon their heads, and in whatever direction it turns, their faces turn also. They turn their faces to the four cardinal points, and all revolve in a circle. The firmament is imprinted, at the four corners of a square, with four figures, of a lion, an eagle, an ox, and a man; and the face of a man is traced in all of them, so that the face of Lion is of Man, the face of Eagle is of Man, and the face of Ox is of Man, all being comprehended in him. Hence it is written: “As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man” (Ezekiel 1:10). Further, the firmament with its enclosed square contains the gamut of all the colours. Outstanding are four colours, each engraved with four translucent signs, both higher and lower. These when decomposed become twelve. They are green, red, white, and sapphire, which is made up of all these colours. Hence it is written, “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ibid. I, 28): containing, that is to say, all shades of all colours.”
Zohar, Bereshith 71b
This text then goes on to link the rainbow to Joseph, the covenant and a tzaddik (righteous person). All of these are associated with the Sephirah of Yesod, (Foundation), and integral to one another. The rainbow represents the supernal splendor of the heavenlies. Recall that Joseph, who represents Yesod and the rainbow, had a coat of “many colors” (Genesis 37:3) given to him:
The same is referred to in the text I HAVE SET MY BOW IN THE CLOUD. The bow here has a parallel in the text, “But his bow abode firm” (Genesis 49:24), i.e. the covenant of Joseph, because he was a righteous man, had for its symbol the bow, since the bow is linked with the covenant, and the covenant and the righteous are integral in one another. And because Noah was righteous, the sign of his covenant was the bow. (The word vayophozu, mentioned in connection with Joseph, is akin to the term paz (fine gold) in the passage, “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold” (Psalm 19:11), and it means that his arms shone with the lustre of the most desirable substance, they shone with the light supernal, since he had observed the covenant; hence he is named “Joseph the righteous”.) And the rainbow is therefore called ” covenant” because they embrace one another. Like the firmament it is a supernal resplendent glory, a sight of all sights, resembling the hidden one (the Shekinah), containing colours undisclosed and unrevealable. Hence it is not permitted to gaze at the rainbow when it appears in the heavens, as that would be disrespectful to the Shekinah, the hues of the rainbow here below being a replica of the vision of the supernal splendour, which is not for man’s gaze ;.. Hence when the earth saw the rainbow as a holy covenant, it was once more firmly established, and therefore G-d said, AND IT SHALL BE FOR A TOKEN OF A COVENANT BETWEEN G-D, ETC. The three primary colours and the one compounded of them, which we mentioned before, are all one symbol, and they all show themselves in the cloud. “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone” (Ezekiel 1:26). This alludes to the “foundation stone” (eben shethiah), which is the central point of the universe and on which stands the Holy of Holies. “The likeness of a throne”, i.e. the supernal holy throne, possessing four supports, and which is symbolic of the Oral Law. “And upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above” (Ibid.); this symbolises the Written Law. From here we learn that copies of the Written Law should rest on copies of the Oral Law (and not vice versa), because the latter is the throne to the former. “As the appearance of a man” refers to the image of Jacob, who sits on it.’ …
Zohar, Bereshith 71b
Remarkably, the text now links this rainbow and covenant to a “mark upon the foreheads” of those who are following G-d (Revelation 7:3):
“It is written: “And I will look upon it (the rainbow) that I may remember the everlasting covenant.” This means that G-d’s desire is constantly for the bow, and that he who is not visible therein will not enter into the presence of his Master. The inner meaning of the words, “And I will look upon it”, is to be found in the words, “and set a mark upon the foreheads, etc.” (Ezekiel 9:4), so as to be clearly visible.’ (According to others, the mark was symbolic of the holy mark in the flesh.) R. Judah said, ‘This is assuredly so, but the rainbow that appears in the sky has a profound mystic significance, and when Israel will go forth from exile that rainbow is destined to be decked out in all the finery of its colours, like a bride who adorns herself for her husband.”
Zohar, Bereshith 71b
Later in this section of the Zohar, we find a dialogue concerning the rainbow, and its association to the Messiah.
The Judean said to him, ‘This is what my father said to me when he was on the point of departing this world: “Do not expect the coming of the Messiah until the rainbow will appear decked out in resplendent colours which will illumine the world. Only then expect the Messiah.” We learn this from the words, “And I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant” (Genesis 9:16). That is, at present the bow appears in dull colours, since it is only designed as a reminder that there shall be no return of the Flood; but at that time it will appear in its full panoply of colours as a bride does for her husband, and that will be “to remember the everlasting covenant”’ The Holy One, blessed be He, will remember the covenant which is in exile and He will raise her from the dust, as it is written, “and they will seek the Lord their G-d and David their king” (Hosea 3:4); also, “But they shall serve the Lord their G-d, and David their king, whom I will raise unto them” (Jeremiah 30:9), i.e. raise from the dust, in accordance with the text: “I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen” (Amos 9:11). The “everlasting covenant” will thus be remembered to be raised from the dust. My father also said that it is for that reason that in Scripture the redemption of Israel and the remembrance of the rainbow are mentioned together, as it is written: “For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee” (Isaiah 54:9).
Zohar, Bereshith 72b
The book of Enoch makes clear that the one exalted and made to sit in the Throne of G-d is the Son of Man, G-d’s Messiah:
And thus the Lord commanded the kings and the mighty and the exalted, and those who dwell on the earth, and said: ‘ Open your eyes and lift up your horns if ye are able to recognize the Elect One.’ And the Lord of Spirits seated him on the throne of His glory, And the spirit of righteousness was poured out upon him, And the word of his mouth slays all the sinners, And all the unrighteous are destroyed from before his face. And there shall stand up in that day all the kings and the mighty, And the exalted and those who hold the earth, And they shall see and recognize How he sits on the throne of his glory, And righteousness is judged before him, And no lying word is spoken before him.
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones. On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads.
“A favorite saying of Rab was: [The future world is not like this world.] In the future world there is no eating nor drinking nor propagation nor business nor jealousy nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads feasting on the brightness of the divine presence, as it says, And they beheld G-d, and did eat and drink.”
Talmud, Berachot 17a
“Yeshua said to them, ‘Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Based on the principle that what is in the heavenlies is mirrored on the earth, it would seem that these 24 “elders” are a counterpart to the twenty-four divisions of the Levitical priesthood.
The Zohar speaks of the eastern gate to the heavenly Holy of Holies, which is guarded by twenty-four sentinels:
“Hence it is written: “And Moses reared up the tabernacle”, signifying that it was raised by Moses every time.’ R. Simeon discoursed in this connection on the verse: “When those went these went, and when those stood these stood” (Ezekiel 1:21). ‘That means’, he said, ‘that when the Hayoth (living creatures) went the Ofanim (Wheels) also went, as we read, “and when the Hayoth went the Ofanim went hard by them” (Ibid. 19). For the movements of the Ofanim are only induced by the movements of the Hayoth, nor can they pause independently of the Hayoth, for the two move together as one. Now the celestial gate of the east is provided with twenty-four openings guarded by twenty-four sentinels who are surrounded by a flaming fire. There are at the entrance of the gate twenty-four sockets supporting twenty- four pillars. These pillars remain in their place and do not soar into space; they are thus designated “standing ones”, in the verse: “I will give thee a place to walk among these standing ones” (Zechariah 3:7). And as long as those pillars remain immobile those that are above them go to and fro through the world, survey things, and whatever they overhear they carry up on high.”
Zohar, Shemoth 241b
Another possibility relates to the arrangement of the tribes, as they were grouped around the Tabernacle, in Numbers, chapters 2 and 3. In giving the assignments of the tribes, we have the three children of Levi as well as their children (a total of eight grandchildren). The tribes of Levi did not have a place with the other twelve, rather these children and grandchildren were placed in the area closest to the Tabernacle. The three children were Merari, Gershon and Kohath. The eight grandsons of Levi were; Libni, Shimei, Amram, Izehar, Hebron, Uzziel, Mahli and Mushi (see Numbers 3:17-20).
This resulted in a final total of 24 groups, represented by 24 elders, (all mentioned by name) who surrounded the Tabernacle.
The breakdown is as follows:
- (1) Moses’ family
- (12) The 12 tribes
- (3) The tribes of the 3 sons of Levi
- (8) The tribes of the 8 grandsons of Levi
The subject of heavenly (white) garments has already been discussed as being associated with righteousness, specifically in the Olam Haba. We will cite several more interesting examples. This first passage, from the Zohar, associates the spiritual garments with the resurrection of the dead and New Jerusalem:
“As soon as they will rise from the dead all those hosts will march, each man to the portion of his ancestors, as Scripture says, “and ye shall return every man unto his possession” (Leviticus 25:10). They shall recognize each other, and G-d will clothe every one in embroidered garments; and they will all come and offer up thanksgiving to their Master in Jerusalem, where there will assemble multitudes upon multitudes. Jerusalem itself will spread out in all directions, to a further extent even than when the exiles returned there. When they assemble and offer up praises to their Master the Holy One, blessed be He, will rejoice in them. So Scripture says: “And they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow unto the goodness of the Lord”, etc. (Jeremiah 31:12), namely, every one to his portion and the portion of his ancestors. And the possession of Israel will extend till it will reach Damietta of the Romans, and even there they will study the Torah. All this has already been stated, and it is in harmony with the Scriptural passage, saying: “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust”, etc. (Isaiah 16:9). Blessed be the Lord for evermore! Amen and Amen!”
Zohar, Shemoth 219b
The following Midrash sounds very much like a combination of Yeshua’s Kingdom parables.
“LET THY GARMENTS BE ALWAYS WHITE; AND LET THY HEAD LACK NO OIL. R. Johanan b. Zakkai said: If the text speaks of white garments, how many of these have the peoples of the world; and if it speaks of good oil, how much of it do the peoples of the world possess! Behold, it speaks only of precepts, good deeds, and Torah. R. Judah ha-Nasi said: To what may this be likened? To a king who made a banquet to which he invited guests. He said to them, ‘Go, wash yourselves, brush up your clothes, anoint yourselves with oil, wash your garments, and prepare yourselves for the banquet,’ but he fixed no time when they were to come to it. The wise among them walked about by the entrance of the king’s palace, saying, ‘ Does the king’s palace lack anything?’ The foolish among them paid no regard or attention to the king’s command. They said, ‘We will in due course notice when the king’s banquet is to take place, because can there be a banquet without labour [to prepare it] and company?’ So the plasterer went to his plaster, the potter to his clay, the smith to his charcoal, the washer to his laundry. Suddenly the king ordered, ‘ Let them all come to the banquet.’ They hurried the guests, so that some came in their splendid attire and others came in their dirty garments. The king was pleased with the wise ones who had obeyed his command, and also because they had shown honour to the king’s palace. He was angry with the fools who had neglected his command and disgraced his palace. The king said, ‘ Let those who have prepared themselves for the banquet come and eat of the king’s meal, but those who have not prepared themselves shall not partake of it.’ You might suppose that the latter were simply to depart; but the king continued, ‘ No, [they are not to depart]; but the former shall recline and eat and drink, while these shall remain standing, be punished, and look on and be grieved.’ Similarly in the Hereafter, as Isaiah declares, Behold, My servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry (Isaiah 65:13). Ziwatai said in the name of R. Meir: These will recline and eat and drink, while the others will recline without eating and drinking; because the vexation of him who stands [at a banquet without participating in it] is not the same as of him who reclines [without participating in it]. He who stands without eating and drinking is like an attendant, but he who reclines and does not eat suffers very much more vexation and his face turns green.1 That is what the prophet says, Then ye shall I sit and discern between the righteous and the wicked (Malachi 3:18). Bar Kappara and R. Isaac b. Kappara said: It may be likened to the wife of a royal courier who adorned herself in the presence of her neighbours. They said to her, ‘Your husband is away, so for whom do you adorn yourself? ‘ She answered them, ‘ My husband is a sailor; and if he should chance to have a little spell of [favourable] wind, he will come quickly and be here standing above my head. So is it not better that he should see me in my glory and not in my ugliness? ‘ Similarly, LET THY GARMENTS BE ALWAYS WHITE [and unstained] by transgressions; AND LET THY HEAD LACK NO OIL: [let it not lack] precepts and good deeds.”
Midrash Rabbah, Ecclesiastes 9:7
Just as their are heavenly garments for those who enter the spiritual realms of G-d, their are also garments for those who do not:
AND THE LORD SAID TO MOSES, SPEAK UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL… THAT THEY MAKE THEMSELVES FRINGES ON THE CORNERS OF THEIR GARMENTS, ETC. R. Hizkiah adduced here the verse: “And he showed me Joshua the high priest”, etc. (Zechariah 3:1). ‘What did he see? He saw him standing before the angel.’ R. Isaac said: ‘What does this tell us? That every man who in this world does not wrap himself in the ceremonial garb and clothe himself therewith, when he enters the other world is covered with a filthy garment and is brought up for trial. Many are the garments prepared for man in this world, and he who does not acquire the garment of religious observance is in the next world clad in a garment which is known to the masters of Gehinnom, and woe to the man who is clad therein, for he is seized by many officers of judgement and dragged down to Gehinnom, and therefore King Solomon cried aloud, “At all times let thy garments be white”.’
Zohar, Bemidbar 174a
Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders. There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of G-d.
“It happened on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of an exceedingly loud shofar, and all the people who were in the camp trembled.”
The mention of “lightnings, thunders, voices and fire,” is a direct allusion to Mount Sinai, and an indirect one to Yom Kippur, which is associated with Sinai, as it was on Yom Kippur that Moses descended with the second set of Tablets. (The first were given on Shavuot.)
As mentioned in our notes to Chapter 1, Torah says the voices at Sinai were “seen” (Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 4:12). The “number” of voices is said to be seven, taken from the seven voices mentioned in Psalms 29:3-9.
The Bahir (an old and significant kabbalistic text), makes the following comment on these voices, as they were seen by the people at Sinai:
This teaches us that the Torah was given with seven voices. In each of them the Master of the Universe revealed Himself to them, and they saw Him. It is thus written, “And all the people saw the voices.”
At first they saw the voices. What did they see? The seven voices mentioned by David. But in the end they heard the word that emanated from them all.
These seven voices are associated with the seven lower Sefirot (the middot). These in turn parallel the seven days of creation. Thus it is taught that the people at Sinai had a view of these seven Sefirot, but not those of the “upper three,” those being: Keter (crown), Chokhmah (wisdom) or Binah (understanding).
(Re: “The Bahir: Translation, Introduction and Comentary,” Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser Inc., York Beach Maine, 1979, p. 118.)
The idea of the Sefirot being the linguistic expression of G-d, is based in the fact that all beings reveal their essence through thought, that eventually takes the form of speech.
(Re: “The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism,” David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson, London, 1988, p. 113.)
The term “Sefirah” shares the same root as the word “tell,” (mesapprim), in the following verse of Scripture:
“The heavens tell of the glory of G-d.”
The Zohar states that the combination of thunder and voices coming from G-d, is representative of the judgmental and merciful pillars:
“R. Judah discoursed here on the text: The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High gave forth his voice; hailstones and coals of fire (Psalm 18:14). ‘When G-d’, he said, ‘created the world, He constructed for it seven pillars by which it was to be upheld. So Scripture says: “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1). These in turn are upheld by one grade from among them called “the Righteous One, the everlasting foundation” (Ibid. 10:25). Further, when the world was created, it was started from that spot which is the culmination and perfection of the world, the central point of the universe, which is identical with Zion, as it is written: “A psalm of Asaph. G-d, G-d the Lord hath spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, G-d hath shined forth” (Psalm 50:2). That is to say, G-d started the earth from Zion, from the spot where faith culminates in its full perfection. Zion is thus the citadel and central point of the universe, from which it began to be fashioned and from which the whole world is nourished. This lesson is esoterically indicated in our text. For Zion and Jerusalem, while one, represent two degrees, the one being the channel of judgement, the other of mercy; first there issues from one the sound of mercy, and afterwards there comes forth from the other the voice of judgement, the two forming the source from which the paths of judgement and mercy issue and diverge. Hence the expression “And the Lord also thundered in the heavens” indicates judgement, while “the Most High gave forth his voice” refers to mercy, and “hailstones and coals of fire” signify water and fire, that is, mercy and judgement commingled.”
Zohar, Bereshith 186a
Before the throne was something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal. In the midst of the throne, and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.
“It was taught: R. Ishmael b. Elisha says: I once entered into the innermost part [of the Sanctuary] to offer incense and saw Akathriel Jah (the Crown of G-d), the Lord of Hosts, seated upon a high and exalted throne. He said to me: Ishmael, My son, bless Me! l replied: May it be Thy will that Thy mercy may suppress Thy anger and Thy mercy may prevail over Thy other attributes, so that Thou mayest deal with Thy children according to the attribute of mercy and mayest, on their behalf, stop short of the limit of strict justice! And He nodded to me with His head. Here we learn [incidentally] that the blessing of an ordinary man must not be considered lightly in your eyes.”
Talmud, Berakhot 7a
The ‘sea of glass’ and other imagery from the world of Beriah are not to be taken at the literal level. There are even warnings about this.
The Talmud (Chagiga 14b), Zohar (1:26b) and Tikunei Zohar (Tikun 40), report the following incident regarding four Mishnaic Sages:
“The Rabbis taught: Four [Sages] entered the Pardes [literally “the orchard.”]. Rashi explains that they ascended to heaven by utilizing the [Divine] Name [i.e., they achieved a spiritual elevation through intense meditation on G‑d‘s Name] (Tosafot, ad loc). They wereBen Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher [Elisha ben Avuya, called Acher– the other one — because of what happened to him after he entered the Pardes]and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva said to them [prior to their ascension]: “When you come to the place of pure marble stones, do not say, ‘Water! Water!’ for it is said, ‘He who speaks untruths shall not stand before My eyes’ (Psalms 101:7).”Ben Azzai gazed [at the Divine Presence – Rashi] and died. Regarding him the verse states, “Precious in the eyes of G‑d is the death of His pious ones” (Psalms 116:15). Ben Zoma gazed and was harmed [he lost his sanity — Rashi]. Regarding him the verse states, “Did you find honey? Eat only much as you need, lest you be overfilled and vomit it up” (Proverbs 25:16).Acher cut down the plantings [he became a heretic]. Rabbi Akiva entered in peace and left in peace.”
The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle.
And the cherubim and seraphim standing about the throne, the six-winged and many-eyed ones do not depart, standing before the Lord’s face doing his will, and cover his whole throne, singing with gentle voice before the Lord’s face: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Ruler of Sabaoth, heavens and earth are full of Your glory.”
2 Enoch 21:1
The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord G-d, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!
“Every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third face the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.”
The location of the four living creatures, who proclaim “Holy, Holy, Holy,” is said to be around the Throne, in the world of Beriah.
As Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh states:
“In each of the three lower worlds there exists a class of angels (messengers of G-d to manifest His Presence and rule over the created entities of the lower worlds). The world of Beriah is the spiritual abode of the serafim (“fiery angels”). These are the angels that the prophet Isaiah saw in his vision of the Divine chariot. These are the angels that exclaim to G-d “Holy, Holy Holy is the G-d of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”
“Olam Ha’Beriah – The World of Creation,” Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
John’s vision is similar to that of Ezekiel’s, with an interesting variation. John shows the creatures as having six wings and Ezekiel as having four. John is not alone in this difference. Isaiah also recorded these same beings as having six wings:
“Seraphim are standing above it: six wings has each one; with two [each] covers its face, and with two [each] covers its feet, and with two [each] flies.”
This variation is discussed in the Talmud, which offers the solution that the living creatures have six wings when the Temple is standing, and four when it is not. The additional wings are used to create song. John (and evidently Isaiah), had a vision including a Temple in place. Ezekiel did not:
“One verse says: Each one had six wings; and another verse says: And every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings! — There is no contradiction: the one refers to the time when the Temple was no longer standing, [when] as it were, the wings of the living creatures were diminished. Which of them were taken away? — R. Hananel said that Rab said: Those with which they utter song. [For] here it is written: And with twain he did fly. And one called unto another and said; and [elsewhere] it is written: Wilt thou set thine eyes upon it? It is gone. But our Rabbis said: Those with which they cover their feet, for it is said: And their feet were straight feet, and if [these wings] had not been taken away, whence could he have known! — Perhaps, [the feet] were exposed and he saw them. For if you do not say so, [then from the words], As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of man, [one might infer] likewise that [the wings covering them] were taken away! They must therefore have been exposed, and he saw them; similarly here, they were exposed, and he saw them. But how can they be compared? Granted that it is customary to expose one’s face before one’s master, but it is not customary to expose one’s feet before one’s master!”
Talmud, Chagigah 13b
The Zohar offers the following elaborate explanation of the difference in levels of prophetic revelation:
“We have been taught that when the Holy One revealed Himself on Mount Sinai all the Israelites saw the Divine manifestation as one sees a light streaming through the glass of a lamp, and by means of that light each one of them saw more than did the prophet Ezekiel, since those celestial voices were all revealed together, whilst to Ezekiel only the Shekinah was revealed in Her Chariot, and he but caught glimpses of it as though through many barriers. Said R. Judah: ‘Blessed was Moses, concerning whom it says: “And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai… and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount”, and blessed was that generation concerning whom it says: “And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai before the eyes of the whole people …
As the Torah, however, was given from the Right Hand (“from his right hand went a fiery law for them”, Deut. XXXIII, 2), what essential difference was there between the manifestation to the people and the manifestation to Ezekiel?’ R. Jose replied: ‘On Sinai the “Head” and the “Body” of the King were revealed, as it is written: “He bowed the heavens and came down” (2 Sam. XXII, 10); but to Ezekiel it was, as it were, only the “Hand” which was shown: “And the hand of the Lord was there upon him” (Ezekiel 1:3). And even the “Hand” has two aspects, a higher and a lower. Observe that he says: “The heavens were opened and I saw visions (maroth) of G-d” (Ezekiel 1:1). “Maroth” is written in a defective form, to indicate that he merely had a vision of the Shekinah.’ Said R. Jesse: ‘But is the Shekinah not a representation of the whole of the Deity?’ R. Jose replied: ‘The “Head” of the King is not to be compared to His “Feet”, although both are in the “Body” of the King.’ Observe that Isaiah said “I saw (eth) the Lord” (Isa. VI, 1), but Ezekiel said “I saw visions of G-d”.’ They meant, however, the same thing, and both belonged to the same grade (of spiritual perception) …
Why, then, did Isaiah not give a detailed account of his visions, like Ezekiel? According to R. Jose, it was necessary that Ezekiel should speak in a detailed manner in order to impress the people in exile with the fact that the Holy One loved them, and that the Shekinah and Her Chariots had gone down into exile also, to be present with them. R. Hiya asked, why did the Shekinah reveal Herself in “the land of the Chaldeans” (Ezekiel 1:3), of which it says: “Behold the land of the Chaldeans, a people which is not” (Isaiah 23:13, i.e. degraded)? If it was for Israel’s sake, surely She could have been present among them without manifesting Herself in that inauspicious place? However, had She not revealed Herself the people would not have known that She was with them. Besides, the revelation took place “by the river Chebar” (Ezekiel 1:3), by undefiled waters where impurity has no abode, that river being one of the four which issued from the Garden of Eden. [Tr. Note: v. Zohar, Genesis, 85a.] It was there, and nowhere else, then, that “the hand of the Lord was upon him”, as is directly stated …
R. Hiya also expounded, in accordance with the esoteric teaching, Ezekiel’s vision: “Out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures (Hayoth), and this was their appearance, they had the likeness of a man” (Ibid. v, 5), saying that there is a sacred Hall in which dwell four living Creatures, which are the most ancient celestial beings ministering to the Holy Ancient, and which constitute the essence of the Supernal Name; and that Ezekiel saw only the likeness of the supernal Chariots, because his beholding was from a region which was not very bright. He furthermore said that there are lower beings corresponding to these upper ones, and so throughout, and they are all linked one with another. Our teachers have laid down that Moses derived his prophetic vision from a bright mirror (cf. Midr. Lev. R., p. 145d), whereas the other prophets derived their vision from a dull mirror. So it is written concerning Ezekiel: “I saw visions of G-d”, whereas in connection with the difference between Moses and all other prophets it says: “If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known to him in a vision…. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all my house: and with him I will speak mouth to mouth” (Numbers 12:7-8) …
R. Jose remarked that all the prophets are in comparison with Moses like females in comparison with males. The Lord did not speak to him in “riddles” (Ibid.), but showed him everything clearly. Blessed, indeed, was the generation in whose midst this prophet lived! Said R. Jose the son of R. Judah: ‘The Israelites saw the splendour of the glory of their Lord face to face; and, moreover, there were neither blind, nor lame, nor deaf, among them: they all saw (Exodus 20:18); they all stood (Ibid. 19:17); they all heard (Ibid. 19:8). And of the Messianic Age it says: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isaish 35:5-6).
Zohar, Shemoth 82a
As this Zohar section concludes, in the Messianic Age (the Kingdom), “the tongue of the dumb sing.” As the book of Revelation shows, there is much “speech,” “praise,” and “singing,” coming from the mouths of angels and human beings, that associated with the Millennial Kingdom — the Supernal Shabbat. It is interesting to note that Shabbat is also called “Malkhut Peh,” the “Kingdom of the Mouth.”
When the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him who sits on the throne, to him who lives forever and ever,
“Above him stood the seraphim. Each one had six wings. With two he covered his face. With two he covered his feet. With two he flew.”
the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever, and throw their crowns before the throne, saying,
Worthy are you, our Lord and G-d, the holy One, to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!
The following commentary by author David Ariel sheds light on the relationship between the Sefirah of Tiferet and the “Holy One (blessed be He)”, which is, “HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”
“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