As mentioned earlier regarding the number 7, certain numerals (or combination of such) when appearing in Torah literature, can relate to particular and related concepts. The number 4 has significance regarding things beyond the physical world (Asiyah).
In addition to the four holy creatures, four horsemen and four colors mentioned in previous chapters, we find in various texts:
- Four letters of the Divine Name, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey
- Four keys associated with these letters (see Zohar Shemot 133b-136a on the angel “Boel”)
- Four worlds of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah
- Four elements of the physical world; earth, water, fire, air
- Four sides of the camp around the Tabernacle
- Four heads of the river of Eden into which it was divided (Genesis 2:10)
- Four horns that scatter Judah in Zachariah 2:1
- Four levels of spiritual hierarchy in Israel (High Priests, Priests, Levites, Israelites)
- Four garments worn by the High Priest on Yom Kippur
- Four rows of stones on the breastplate of the High Priest
- Four corners of the altar
- Four cups of wine, four types of sons and four questions asked at the Passover Seder
- Four species used at Sukkot; lulav, etrog, myrtle and palm branches
- Four steps in G-d’s plan of redemption (Exodus 6:6-7)
- Four steps in the ‘creation’ of man (Isaiah 43:7)
- Four blessings given after a meal (prayers for; food, Israel, Jerusalem and G-d’s goodness)
Examining the above, we can see that the number four is associated with that which upholds the heavenlies as well as connects them to the earth (and vice-versa). As seen in the following series of texts, it plays a role from the heavenly throne room down to our dinner table in this physical world.
After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree.
“Then he said to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and tell the wind, Thus says the Lord HaShem: Come from the four winds, breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
In the Zohar text below, the heavenly firmament is shown to be upheld by the four Holy Creatures (Hayoth). Note the reference to how the four divine colors (green, red, white, sapphire) are said to “decompose” into twelve. This may be associated with the twelve colors of the foundations of the walls of New Jerusalem on earth (Revelation 21:19-20). The angels singing, “holy, holy, holy,” do so toward the directions of east, south and north. To the west, the direction of Malkut, they say “blessed.” This is comparable to what is usually cited with the Shema, where the first verse is associated with G-d in the heavenly realms (Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad), and the second verse links “blessed” with the Kingdom on earth. (“Baruch Shem K’vod Malkhuto L’olam Va’ed – Blessed is His Name whose glorious Kingdom is forever and ever.”):
“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 Hayoth (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 98:2). It says further: “A noise of tumult like the noise of a host” (Ezekiel 1:4), 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). 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. 1:28): containing, that is to say, all shades of all colours.”
Zohar, Bereshith 71b
The four corners relate to four Sefirot and their relationship to the creation of man:
Come and see. When the Holy One Blessed be He created the first man, He gathered soil from the four corners of the world. These correspond to the four sefirot of chesed, gevura, tiferet and malchut, which are the four fundamental spiritual elements, the source of the four physical elements.
From “Soul Steps,” www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/379824/jewish/Soul-Steps.htm
First mentioned in Ezekiel’s vision, the Hayoth (holy creatures) “support” the spiritual realm beneath them, that being the Ofanim. (The Hayoth support the Ophanim, even though we think of the former as being “above.” This is explained in the text below.) The Ophanim in turn “connect” to the “four corners” of the physical world. Thus, that which is above is said to “diffuse” below and guide the world.
“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. So Scripture says: “For a bird of the air shall carry the voice” (Ecclesiastes 10:20). Now observe that the Ofanim (Wheels) are carried by the Hayoth (living creatures). For that which is of a higher grade, though it seems to be carried by that which is of a lower grade, really carries it. It was the same with the Ark, which also carried its carriers. [Tr. note: T. B. Sotah, 35a.] We must distinguish between the Hayah, “the spirit of which was in the Of anim”, and the Hayoth, with which the Ofanim went. This one turned towards all four quarters of the globe. In regard to this it says: “This is the Hayah that I saw under the G-d of Israel by the river Chebar” (Ibid. 10:20); it is the same which forms a throne to the likeness of Man, and is below the superior holy Hayoth. For they are in grades, one above the other. The Throne immediately underneath the G-d of Israel is in the form of Jacob, and the Throne below in that of David; this is the one that turns to the four corners of the world. It follows that the spirit of the highest diffuses through the lower, and directs and guides the whole. There was similar direction in the lower world. Just as in connection with the upper world we read that “the spirit of the Hayah is in the Ofanim”, so of the lower world it is written, “And Moses reared up the tabernacle”, he being the guiding spirit below; wherefore it is written: “And he reared up, fixed, put.”
Zohar, Shemoth 241b,242a
The above text mentions the Temples above and below. The creation of Adam is associated with the four corners of the world, as well as both Temples. Man is both a physical and spiritual being:
‘When the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He took his dust from the site of the Temple and built his body out of the four corners of the world, all of which contributed to his formation. After that He poured over him the spirit of life, as it says, “and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gen. II, 7).
Zohar, Bereshith 130b
“Observe that when the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He gathered his earthly matter from the four corners of the world and fashioned him therefrom on the site of the Temple here below and drew to him a soul of life out of the Temple on high.”
Zohar, Bereshith 205b
As there are Temples above and below, it is the same with the altars. These altars have four corners, that are also associated with the “four corners” of the earth:
“FIRE SHALL BE KEPT BURNING UPON THE ALTAR CONTINUALLY; IT SHALL NOT GO OUT. R. Hiya said: This fire is the fire of Isaac, who said (at the time of the binding), “Behold the fire and the wood” (Genesis 22:7), which perpetually exists. We have learnt that from the fire of Isaac there issue forth to the altar certain coals, one to the east side, one to the west side, one to the north side, and one to the south side. Now there is on the altar a footway with a certain number of steps, and the lowest step reaches to the abyss which is the highest of six, and when the coals mentioned above reach the four corners of the altar a spark shoots forth and descends to that highest abyss. In that place there are numerous hosts who proclaim “holy” with a loud voice, and on another side they say “holy” with a soft and wondrous voice, and on another side there are yet other hosts which say “holy”. There are six hundred thousand myriads in each corner, all under one commander, and all clad in an ephod, who are there to carry out the service of the altar in correspondence with those on earth. In another place the waves of the sea roar and descend a certain number of degrees, and there other hosts proclaim with the voice of song: “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place” (Ezekiel 3:12). Their song of praise is not stilled day or night, and all make melody. In another place are hosts who stand in fear and trembling. All look towards that supernal altar. When the fire of Isaac reaches the altar sparks fly about on every side, and from them many mighty beings are set aflame. And did not the priest stand by the altar and lay in order the wood, the world could not stand before them. From the sparks which issue the backs of those “living creatures” are set aflame (Ezekiel 1:13). On the right side of those “living creatures” a certain wind stirs from above which blows upon that fire, so that it settles down with a steady flame and gives light to the hosts standing on the right side. Then on the left side rises a strong wind breaking the rocks which blows upon that fire and makes it burn fiercely, till it gives light to the hosts on that side. And so on all four sides for the four camps. But all are appeased when the priest goes up to the altar.”
Zohar, Vayikra 30a
The following passage associated the number four with Judah, the fourth son of Leah, through whom would come the Messiah, linking his name to the name YHVH and the throne of G-d. Note that the letter Daleth has a numerical value of four:
“R. Jose then took the passage: “This time will I praise the Lord.” ‘Was it not’, he asked, ‘equally incumbent on her to praise G-d for the birth of her other sons? But the truth is that Judah, in virtue of being the fourth son, was the completion of the Heavenly Throne. Judah alone is thus the mainstay of the Heavenly Throne and is its truest support. For this very reason, moreover, was he called Judah (YHVDH), a word which contains the Divine Name with the addition of the letter Daleth (four), pointing to the four supports of the Heavenly Throne.”
Zohar, Bereshith 156a
Just as we saw four “horsemen” of judgment in the previous chapter, the number four is found elsewhere regarding divine retribution. The Midrash Rabbah offers the following interesting insight on the four heads of the river that went forth from Eden. The nations are said to drink from this “cup of reeling” in the “time to come,” which is linked to Babylon. This would seem to parallel Revelation 14;10; 16:19; 17:4; 18:6.
“This is alluded to in what is written, And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it parted and became four heads (Genesis 2:10). R. Tanhuma, and some say R. Menahema, in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi, said: The Holy One, blessed be He, will, in the Time to Come, cause the heathen nations to drink the cup of reeling. This is indicated by what is written, ’ And a river went out of Eden (‘eden),’ i.e. from the place whence judgment (din) is to go forth. ’And from thence it parted and became four heads.’ By this is meant four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon (ib. 11), that is Babylon, in view of its having been said thereof.”
Midrash Rabbah – Leviticus 13:5
The above mention of Babylon being the “first” source of judgment, is hinted at in this Scripture, which shows wickedness proceeding from Babylon going to all the earth. (Note that Shinar is Babylon):
“Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.”
The mystical reference to the number four extends all the way into the reality of our physical world. There are four traditional blessings said after meals. The Zohar places extreme importance on these, associating them with the support of the angelic realm that watch over the “four corners” of the world:
“R. Jose began a discourse on the verse: “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry”, etc. (Ruth 3:7). ‘His heart was merry,’ he said, ‘by reason of his having pronounced a benediction over his food; and there is, further, a deeper significance here, to wit, that whoever says a blessing after his meal satisfies his “heart”, that which is by him alluded to in the words: “In thy behalf my heart hath said” (Psalm 27:8), also in, “but G-d is the rock of my heart” (Ibid. 73:26). For, since the blessing offered up for one’s food is precious before the Holy One, blessed be He, whoever pronounces such a blessing after he is satisfied does good and brings joy to “another region”. So here “another region” derived enjoyment from the blessing after the meal that the righteous Boaz pronounced, and thus we read, “and his heart was merry”. Why pronounce a blessing? It is because the sustenance of man is troublesome, so to speak, for the Almighty, but when the words of the benediction pronounced by a man after eating and drinking ascend on high, that place derives an enjoyment from those words, and so benefit is drawn from the food, both below and above. This is a recondite teaching known to the Companions. Furthermore, on weekdays “that region” enjoys only the words of the after-meal benediction that ascend on high. On Sabbath days, however, there is an enjoying on high of the very food enjoyed on earth by man in virtue of this being part of the holy joy of the Sabbath. There is thus here a merging of the heavenly and the earthly. This recondite teaching is indicated in the passage, “for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (I Chronicles 29:14), alluding to the enjoyment in heaven of the holy joy in the Sabbath repasts partaken of below. Whoever pronounces the after-meal benediction must do so devotedly, and in a joyful mood unmingled with any tinge of sadness, inasmuch as in giving thanks he is giving of his own to someone else; and thus, as he gives thanks joyfully and unstintedly, so will sustenance be given to him joyfully and unstintedly. By the benedictions, each commencing with “Blessed art Thou”, are sustained the four legions that rule over the four corners of the world. Hence we ought to recite them with heartiness. So Scripture says: “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed, for he giveth of his bread to the poor” (Proverbs 22:9),”
Zohar, Shemoth, 218a
THE UNION OF THE SHEKINAH AND HER SPOUSE
Not surprisingly, the Shema holds a central place regarding all of the above themes. The following text from the Zohar, connects the three themes of; a) unity of all worlds, b) the four “quarters” of the universe and, c) the union of the Shekinah and Spouse, through the Shema:
“This is the recondite significance of the declaration: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our G-d, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The term ‘SHeMa’ (hear) is esoterically analysed into SHeM (name) and the letter ‘Ain (= 70), that is, one Name comprising seventy names whilst remaining a unity. “Israel” here signifies “Ancient Israel”, in contrast to “Little Israel”, of whom it is written: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him” (Hosea 11:1). “Ancient Israel” symbolizes the union of the Shekinah with her Spouse, and in pronouncing that name we have to concentrate our mind on the principle of unity, on the union of the two habitations; we have to put all our being, all the members of our body, our complete devotion, into that thought so as to rise and attach ourselves to the En-sof (Infinite), and thus achieve the oneness of the upper and the lower worlds. The words, “the Lord our G-d” are to reunite all the Members to the place from which they issued, which is the innermost Sanctuary. The same thought is continued in the words, “the Lord is one”, in the recital of which we have to make our thoughts range throughout all the grades up to the Infinite (En-sof) in love and fear. This is the method of avowing the unity of G-d practiced by Rab Hamnuna the Venerable, who learnt it from his father, who had it from his master, and so on, till it came from the mouth of Elijah. And it is the correct and proper method. The same Rab Hamnuna further said, that to concentrate the whole idea of unification in the term “one” (ehad) is a still better way; and it is for this reason that we dwell long over the enunciation of the word “one” (ehad), during which we effect the fusion into one of the upper and the lower worlds. As we have learnt, “one” alludes to above, below, and the four quarters of the universe, these being the supernal Chariot, so that all are embraced in a single unity reaching out to the En-sof (Infinite). After the recital of “Hear, O Israel…”, we have to recite the section containing mention of the Exodus from Egypt (Num. xv, 37-41), for the reason that the Shekinah was in the Egyptian exile, and as long as She is in exile there is no union between the upper and the lower worlds. But the redemption from Egypt, attended by all those signs and wonders, set Her free; and that redemption has to be mentioned by us to show that though She was in chains She is now free, so as to join her heavenly Spouse.”
Zohar, Shemoth 216a
The idea of union between the Shekinah and her spouse is a key theme to the book of Revelation. In a sense, it is what the book of Revelation is all about – the Unification of the Name of G-d via the union of the divine bride and groom, the Sitra Achra’s (‘other side’/Evil realm) bid to interfere with this plan, and man’s choice as to which “side” he will serve.
The following passage shows the relationship of the letter “Vav” to the bride/Shekinah, the four corners of the earth, and also the idea of a “pause” of silence. The latter point is significant regarding the “pause” found between the sixth and seventh judgments in this first set of “seal” judgments and again in the “trumpet” and “bowl” judgments.
“At the time when Israel is proclaiming the unity-the mystery contained in the Shema-with a perfect intention, a light comes forth from the hidden supernal world, which divides into seventy lights, and those seventy lights into the seventy luminous branches of the Tree of Life. Then the Tree and all the other trees of the Garden of Eden emit sweet odours and praise their Lord, for at that time the Matrona prepares Herself to enter under the shade of the canopy, there to unite herself with her Spouse; and all the supernal potencies unite in one longing and one will to be united in perfect union, without any separation soever. Then the Spouse makes ready likewise to enter the Canopy in order to unite Himself with the Matrona. Therefore we proclaim loudly: “Hear, O Israel; prepare thyself, for thy Husband has come to receive thee.” And also we say: “The Lord our G-d, the Lord is one”, which signifies that the two are united as one, in a perfect and glorious union, without any flaw of separation to mar it. As soon as the Israelites say, “The Lord is One”, to arouse the six aspects, these six unite each with each and ascend in one ardour of love and desire. The symbol of this is the letter Vau (because its numerical value is six) when it stands alone without being joined to any other letter. Then the Matrona makes herself ready with joy, and adorns herself with delight, and Her attendants accompany Her, and in hushed silence She encounters her Spouse; and Her handmaids proclaim, “Blessed be the Name of the Glory of His Kingdom for ever and ever.” These words are said in a whisper, for so she must be introduced to her Spouse. Blessed is the people which perceives these things, ordering its prayers in accordance with this mystery of the Faith! At the time when the Spouse is united with the Matrona a herald comes forth from the south, crying: “Awaken, O ye supernal hosts, and unfurl the banners of love in honour of your Lord!” Then one of the leaders of the celestial array-he whose name is Boel (G-d is in him)- stands forth, and in his hands are four keys which he obtained one from each of the four corners of the earth. One key has upon it the sign of the letter Yod engraved; the second the letter He’; and the third the letter Vau; and these three keys he lays beneath the boughs of the Tree of Life. Then these three become one. Then the fourth and last key, which bears upon it the second letter He’, joins the three which have become one. And all the angelic hosts enter by means of those keys into the Garden of Eden, where with one voice they proclaim the Divine unity at the selfsame moment as it is proclaimed here below. Then the Shekinah, the Bride, is conducted to the Palace of the King, Her Bridegroom, for now He stands complete in all His supernal goodness and can supply Her with all that She needs. Thus her attendants bring Her in unto Him in silence. Why in silence? In order that no “stranger” (evil potencies) should participate in her joy. As He united Himself above according to six aspects, so also She unites Herself below according to six other aspects, so that the oneness may be completed, both above and below, as it is written: “The Lord will be One, and his Name One” (Zechariah 14:9): Six words above-Shema Israel YHVH Elohenu YHVH ehad, corresponding to the six aspects, and six words below-baruk shem kebod malkuto le’olam waed (Blessed be the Name, etc.)-corresponding to the six other aspects. The Lord is one above; and His Name is One below. We say this reponse silently, although it is a triumphant expression of the Oneness, because of the “evil eye”, which still has power under the present dispensation; but in the future (Messianic Age) when the “evil eye” will have ceased to exist and will have no dominion whatsoever over this world, then we shall proclaim the Divine Unity and its full accomplishment openly and in a loud voice. At present, as the “other side” still cleaves to the Shekinah, She is not entirely One, and therefore, although even in this present time we proclaim the unity, we do so silently, symbolizing it by the letters of the word wa’ed (ever), which are equivalent by certain permutations to those of the word ehad (one). But in the time that is to be, when that other side shall be removed from the Shekinah and pass away from the world, then shall that unity be proclaimed openly. When She enters the canopy and is united with the Supernal King, then we awaken the joy of the Right and of the Left, as it is written: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy G-d with all thy heart”, etc. -that is, without any fear or foreboding, because the “other side” comes not near and has no power here. But whilst Her servants are bringing Her to the King they must keep a great and solemn silence.”
Zohar, Shemoth 133b, 134a
Kabbalistic texts often explain the Unification of the Name Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey (YHVH) in terms of the union between the letter Vav (the ‘Son’) and the bride (the final Hey of YHVH). This results in the coming of the Kingdom and the heavenly (third) Temple being established on earth.
This theme of unification between the Vav and the Hey is central to Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s (the Ramchal) work on the third Temple, Mishkney Elyon. Luzzatto specifically associates the union of the Vav and the Hey (its mate, the Shekinah) with the astern gate of the third Temple, from which flow all blessings of the heavenly Holy of Holies.
Note how Luzzatto places great significance on the union of the numbers 6 and 7, which are the dimensions (in cubits) of the Eastern Gate:
“As the great and powerful letter Vav asserted itself (for it was from the Vav that the light [of the heavenly Holy of Holies] emerged, its force was so great that it broke through the wall and made there a gate as high as the measure of the vav (=6): six cubits. And since the Vav was joined with its mate (6+1=7), the width of the gate was seven cubits.”
Secrets of the Future Temple (Mishkney Elyon), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, translated by Avraham Greenbaum, Temple Institute and Azamra Institute, Jerusalem, 1999, p. 74.
This relationship between the numbers 6 and 7 (as they correspond to the dimensions of the Eastern Gate) are explained in the overview to Mishkney Elyon, by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, who illustrates the mathematics of the Temple in Luzzatto’s work:
“… interactions between the Divine Names of the Partzufim [“qualities” of the Sefirot], all of which are also numbers, “create” the “space” of the Holy Temple. Consider an exampe of how numbers create space: A room that is forty feet in length, twenty feet wide and twenty feet high is “created” by walls of appropriate length and height. In the language of Mishkney Elyon, the floor space of such a room is created through the “joining” (Chibur) of forty and twenty. Chibur is the Hebrew word for the mathematical relationship expressed by x, the multiplication sign. … As Ramchal (an acronymn for RAbbi Moshe CHAim Luzzatto) proceeds with his “tour” of the various areas of the Temple, he shows how each individual Hall, Chamber, Wall, Gate and Courtyard “appears” as a result of the “joining together” of some or all of the letters of various Divine Names. These names correspond to the Sefirot and Partzufim, which are the Middot, “qualities” or “measures.” Chibur, “joining” and “multiplication” of the “measures,” brings into being three dimensional “spaces” where the axes of “length,” “breadth” and “height” are the three “lines” or “columns” of Chesed (Kindness), Din (Judgment) and Rachamim (Mercy and Balance).
Secrets of the Future Temple (Mishkney Elyon), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, translated by Avraham Greenbaum, Temple Institute and Azamra Institute, Jerusalem, 1999, pp. 41,42
What is significant in the relationship between the numbers 6 and 7 as associated with the Eastern Gate, is when we apply the chibur (joining/multiplication) of these numbers, we get “42,” which is associated with “the forty-two letter Name of G-d.” The number 42 and the forty-two letter Name are associated with the idea of an connection being made between the spiritual and physical realms. This can even be an unholy connection as seen by Balaam offering 42 sacrifices against Israel.
THE WIND (FOUR WINDS)
We know that two ‘opposites’ are occurring on the earth at the very end of the age. One is the message of the kingdom going out (Matthew 24:14) The other is apostasy on the part of part of Israel. (i.e., lack of regard for Torah (2 Thessalonians 2:3). See previous chapter notes and citation further below from Zohar [Bemidbar 202a-b], on Torah scholars sustaining the Holy Spirit in this world.
The Zohar expresses this in terms of Israel’s sin causing the Shekinah to be cut off:
“R. Abba discoursed on the passage beginning: “If thou know not, O thou fairest among women”, etc. (Song of Songs 1:8). ‘The Community of Israel’, he said, ‘is she that gathers in from all the camps above, and holds in all that she gathers, letting it escape only by drops like dew, because there is not sufficient faith below. For if She were to find faith as it is found in her, She would pour the light on every side without restraint, and they would give to her also gifts and presents without stint. But it is those of the lower world who restrain them and restrain her, and therefore she is called Azereth (the restrainer). Nevertheless, as a mother gives to her sons in secret and unbeknown, so she does with her children, Israel. We have learnt from the Sacred Lamp that when She ascends to receive delights and dainties, if then there is a blemish in Israel She is separated from her Spouse a fixed number of days.”
Zohar, Bemidbar 197a
The following Zohar text discusses the relationship between “wind” and “spirit,” showing how this spirit/wind is what connects man to the heavenly throne room:
“R. Eleazar and R. Abba were once walking from Tiberias to Sipphoris. On the way a Jew joined them. Said R. Eleazar: ‘Let each one of us expound some saying of the Torah!’ He himself started by quoting the sentence: “Then said he unto me, prophesy unto the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit” (Ezek. XXXVII, 9). ‘It may be asked, how could Ezekiel prophesy concerning the spirit, seeing that it is written: “No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit” (Eccl. VIII, 8)? Verily, man has no power over the spirit, but the Holy One has power over all things, and it was by His command that Ezekiel was prophesying. Besides, the spirit was embodied in material form in this world, and therefore he prophesied concerning it: “Come from the four winds, O spirit!”; namely from the region where it resides in the four foundations of the world. If the spirit of man is endowed in Paradise with the form of the body which it is to assume in this world, should it not have been said: “Come from Paradise, O spirit!” and not “from the four winds”?’ R. Eleazar replied: ‘Before descending into this world the spirit ascends from the earthly Paradise to the Throne which stands on four pillars. There it draws its being from that Throne of the King, and only then does it descend to this world. As the body is collected from the four regions of the world, so is the spirit of man taken from the four pillars upon which the Throne is established. As the body is formed in this world from the cornbination of the four elements, so is the spirit formed in the Garden from the combination of the four winds that are in the Garden, and the spirit is enveloped there in the impress of the body’s shape, and if it were not for the four winds, which are the airs of the Garden, the spirit would not have been clothed at all. These four winds are bound up with one another, and the spirit is shaped from them, as the body is shaped from the four elements. Therefore it says: ‘Come from the four winds, O spirit!’, namely from the four winds of Paradise from which thou art shaped. And now take this bundle of writings, and go thy way, and give it to the Fellowship.”
Zohar, Shemoth 13a,b
Interestingly, according to Midrash Rabbah, the “four winds” of Paradise (Eden) came forward at a previous time, one associated with the Passover lamb:
“When Moses prepared the paschal lamb, G-d decreed that the four winds of the world should breathe forth the scent of the breezes of the Garden of Eden.”
Midrash Rabbah, Exodus 19:5
I saw another angel ascend from the sunrise, having the seal of the living G-d. He cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to harm the earth and the sea,
saying, Do not harm the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our G-d on their foreheads!
THE LAND, SEA AND “TREES”
As mentioned, the first set of judgments were enacted against the ‘highest’ world within creation, Beriah. The text goes on to mention, the earth, sea and trees. Verse 3 is thus an announcement of what is about to occur to the next worlds of Yetzirah and Asiyah.
The three sets of judgment follow the three worlds of Creation from the ‘top down’ as such:
- Seal Judgments = the heavenly world of Beriah
- Trumpet Judgments = ‘the sea’ = the angelic world of Yetzirah
- Bowl Judgments = ‘the earth and ‘trees’ = the physical world of Asiyah
Why specify trees? We know that man himself is called a ‘tree’:
“Happy is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scorners. But whose delight is in the Torah of the Lord; and in his Torah he meditates day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
The image of a tree is used in the following passage in the context of humbling and exalting men.
“And known have all trees of the field That I, YHVH, have made low the high tree, I have set on high the low tree, I have dried up the moist tree, And I have caused the dry tree to flourish, I, YHVH, have spoken, and have done it!”
Yeshua Himself referred to men as a trees:
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
In the following passage, man is depicted as “a tree of the field” (based on Deuteronomy 20:19), who by study of Torah, actually upholds the Holy Spirit in the world:
“He then discoursed on the verse: “When thou shalt besiege a city a long time in making war against it to take it”, etc. (Deut. xx, 19). ‘How goodly’, he said, ‘are the ways and paths of the Torah, since it is full of good counsel for man, and every word of it radiates light in many directions. This verse can be taken literally, and it can be expounded homiletically, and it contains also a lesson of the higher wisdom. He who constantly occupies himself with the Torah is compared by the Psalmist to “a tree planted by streams of water” (Ps. I, 3). Just as a tree has roots, bark, sap, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, seven kinds in all, so the Torah has the literal meaning, the homiletical meaning, the mystery of wisdom, numerical values, hidden mysteries, still deeper mysteries, and the laws of fit and unfit, forbidden and permitted, and clean and unclean. From this point branches spread out in all directions, and to one who knows it in this way it is indeed like a tree, and if not he is not truly wise. Observe how beloved are those who study the Torah before the Holy One, blessed be He, for even when chastisement impends over the world and permission is given to the destroyer to destroy, the Holy One, blessed be He, charges him concerning them, saying: “When thou shalt besiege a city”, because of their numerous sins against Me, for which they have been adjudged guilty, “for many days”, that is to say, three successive days, so that the thing is known in the town, then I will charge thee concerning the sons of My house, “Thou shalt not destroy the tree thereof”: this is the learned man in the town, who is a tree of life, a tree that produces fruit. Or, again, we may explain it of one who gives good counsel to the townspeople, telling them how they may escape from punishment, and teaches them the way in which they should go. Therefore “thou shalt not destroy its tree by wielding an axe against it”, that is, by inflicting punishment upon him and brandishing the flaming sword over him, which slays other men. The verse then continues, “For from it thou eatest”. Now we cannot possibly apply this to the destroyer, so we must translate, “for from it she eats”, to wit, that mighty rock from which issue all great and holy spirits, for the holy spirit has no pleasure in this world save from the Torah of that pious one, who, if one may say so, sustains her and gives her food in this world more than all sacrifices. Since the Temple has been destroyed and the sacrifices have ceased, the Holy One, blessed be He, has only those words of the Torah which this man expounds. Therefore “it thou shalt not cut down’,: be careful not to touch him, “for man is the tree of the field”; this one is called “man”, being known as such above and below; he is the mighty tree of that field which the Lord hath blessed. “To be besieged of thee”: these words are connected with the earlier part of the verse, “thou shalt not destroy its tree”, namely, him who gave advice to the townspeople and prepared them to withstand a siege before thee, counselling them to amend and to blow the trumpet for repentance, to avoid thee and come before G-d. “In siege”: this is the place to which higher and lower angels cannot enter, but where repentant sinners may enter. If they accept this advice then I pardon them their sins and they are received into favour before Me. Happy, therefore, are those who study the Torah, for they are great in this world. See what G-d has done, how He has planted these trees, not one only, but three spreading their branches on all sides. May it be the will of heaven that these trees shall never depart from this place, nor this fountain.”
Zohar, Bemidbar 202a,b
I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel:
“What is the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He? Emeth (truth). Why ’emeth’? Said R. Simeon b. Lakish: Alef is the first of the letters [of the alphabet], mem the middle one, and taw (tav) the last, thus it corresponds to, I am the first, and I am the last, and beside Me there is no G-d. (Isaiah 44:6)
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 81:2
The Zohar makes an interesting link between the seal of G-d in the foreheads of His servants and the letter Tau, which is the final letter of “emeth.” The text goes as far as saying that emeth is engraved on this seal and that G-d Himself is called by the “name” emeth. Note also the criteria for being considered a “faithful one” is Torah observance, as Revelation also states in verses 12:17; 14:12; 22:14, as well as verses such as 1 John 2:3-6.
IN THE BEGINNING. Rab Hamnuna the Venerable said: ‘We find here a reversal of the order of the letters of the Alphabet, the first two words Bereshith bara-“in-the-beginning He-created”-commencing with beth, whereas the two words following, Elohim eth-“G-d the”-commence with aleph. The reason is as follows. When the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to make the world, all the letters of the Alphabet were still embryonic, and for two thousand years the Holy One, blessed be He, had contemplated them and toyed with them. When He came to create the world, all the letters presented themselves before Him in reversed order. The letter Tau advanced in front and pleaded: May it please Thee, O Lord of the world, to place me first in the creation of the world, seeing that I am the concluding letter of EMeTh (Truth) which is engraved upon Thy seal, and seeing that Thou art called by this very name of EMeTh, it is most appropriate for the King to begin with the final letter of EMeTh and to create with me the world. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her: Thou art worthy and deserving, but it is not proper that I begin with thee the creation of the world, since thou art destined to serve as a mark on the foreheads of the faithful ones (Ezekiel 9:4) who have kept the Law from Aleph to Tau, and through the absence of this mark the rest will be killed; and, further, thou formest the conclusion of MaWeTh (death).
Zohar, Bereshith 2b
Compare the above text to Revelation 14:1 which places the “Father’s name” on the foreheads of these 144,000 as well as Revelation 22:4:
“Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.”
“… and they shall see His face, and His name is upon their foreheads”
The Midrash Rabbah on Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) speaks of Truth (“emeth” – the seal of G-d), departing in the very last days before Messiah appears:
In the generation in which the scion of David will come, the meeting house shall be a bawdy house and Galilee shall be laid waste and Gabalina shall be desolate and the men of Galilee shall go about from town to town and find no pity and the wisdom of the scribes shall become putrid and the G-d-fearing and pious shall cease and truth shall be abandoned and the generation will be brazen-faced like a dog., How do we know that Truth will be abandoned? Because it says, And truth is lacking (ne-’edereth), and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey (Isa. LIX, 15). Whither does Truth go? The School of R. Jannai said: It will go and settle in separate groups (‘adarim) in the wilderness.’ The Rabbis say: In the generation in which the scion of David will come, the wise men of the generation will die and the rest will waste away with grief and sorrow and much trouble will come upon the community and cruel decrees will be promulgated, one coming on top of another. R. Nehorai said: In the generation in which the scion of David will come, the young will insult their elders and the old will rise before the young, as it says, The daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house (Micah VII, 6), and a son will feel no shame before his father. R. Nehemiah said: Before the days of the Messiah there will be great poverty and scarcity, and the vine will cast its fruit and the wine will turn bad and the whole of the government will be converted to minuth and there will be no reproof. R. Abba b. Kahana said: The scion of David will come only in a generation which is brazen-faced like a dog. R. Levi said: The scion of David will come only in a generation which is full of impudence and deserves to be exterminated. R. Jannai said: If you see one generation after another cursing and blaspheming, look out for the coming of the Messiah, as it says, Wherewith Thine enemies have taunted, O Lord, wherewith Thine enemies he taunted the footsteps of Thine anointed (Ps. LXXXIX, 52), and immediately afterwards it is written, Blessed be the Lord for evermore, Amen and Amen.
Midrash Rabbah, Song of Songs 2:33
The following text from Midrash Rabbah on Lamentations associates the abandoment of Torah (“truth”) with the coming of G-d’s judgment, considering this less forgivable than idolatry, immorality or bloodshed. This is consistent with 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which states that it will be after apostasy (abandonment of Torah), that the rule of the anti-Messiah will come:
“Rabbi sent R. Assi and R. Ammi on a mission to organise [religious education in] the cities of the land of Israel. They came to a city and said to the people, ‘ Bring us the guardians of the city.’ They fetched the captain of the guard and the magistrate. The Rabbis exclaimed, ‘ These the guardians of the city! They are its destroyers!’ The people inquired, ‘Who, then, are its guardians?’ and they answered, ‘The instructors in Bible and Mishnah, who meditate upon, teach and preserve the Torah day and night.’ This is in accordance with what is said, Thou shalt meditate therein day and night (Josh. I, 8); and it is similarly stated, Except the Lord build the house, they, labour in vain that build it (Psalm 127:1). R. Huna and R. Jeremiah said in the name of R. Samuel b. R. Isaac: We find that the Holy One, blessed be He, may overlook idolatry, immorality, or bloodshed, but He does not overlook rejection of the Torah; as it is said, ’Wherefore is the land perished?’ It is not written here ’because of idolatry, immorality, or bloodshed’, but ’because they have forsaken My law’. R. Huna and R. Jeremiah said in the name of R. Hiyya b. Abba: It is written, They have forsaken Me and have not kept My law (Jeremiah 16:11)–i.e. would that they had forsaken Me but kept My law, since by occupying themselves therewith, the light which it contains would have led them back to the right path. R. Huna said: Study Torah even if it be not for its own sake, since even if not for its own sake at first it will eventually be for its own sake. R. Joshua b. Levi said: Every day a Bath Kol issues from Mount Horeb, declaring, ‘Woe to mankind for slighting Torah!’ Samuel taught in the name of R. Samuel b. Ammi: When can the Government enact an oppressive measure and render it effective? At the time that Israel casts words of Torah to the ground; and so it is written, And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt-offering through transgression (Dan. VIII, 12). ’Host’ signifies nothing else than the [non-Jewish] Governments; as it is said, The Lord will punish the host of the high heaven on high (Isaiah 24:21). ’The continual burnt-offering’ is Israel; as it is written, ’Thou shalt meditate therein day and night.’ ‘ Through transgression’ means through neglect of Torah. Whenever Israel casts words of Torah to the ground, the Government enacts an oppressive measure which proves effective, as it is said, And it cast down truth to the ground (Dan. ib.). ‘ Truth’ signifies nothing else than Torah; as it is said, Buy the truth, and sell it not (Proverbs 23:23). If you have cast words of Torah to the ground, the Government is immediately successful [in its oppressive measures]; and so it is written, And it wrought, and prospered (Dan. ib.). R. Judah b. Pazzi said: Israel hath cast off that which is good (Hos. VIII, 3). ’Good’ signifies nothing else than Torah; as it is said, For I give you good doctrine (Proverbs 4:2).
Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations Prologue II
The following text shows how severe judgment comes upon the world when Israel fails in its task. This is a good example of how battles are fought both in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm. A connection is also made between Joshua and Metatron. (Also see “Gemmatria” section below concerning Joshua and Metatron):
“R. Simeon said: ‘There is a deep allusion in the name “Rephidim”. This war emanated from the attribute of Severe Judgement and it was a war above and a war below. The Holy One, as it were, said: “when Israel is worthy below My power prevails in the universe; but when Israel is found to be unworthy she weakens My power above, and the power of severe judgement predominates in the world.’ So here, “Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim”, because the Israelites were “weak” (raphe) in the study of the Torah, as we have explained on another occasion.’ AND MOSES SAID UNTO JOSHUA, CHOOSE US OUT MEN, AND GO OUT, FIGHT WITH AMALEK. Why did Moses abstain from fighting the first battle which G-d Himself commanded? Because he was able to divine the true meaning of his Master’s command. Hence he said: “I will prepare myself for the war above, and thou, Joshua, prepare thyself for the war below.” This is the meaning of the words :”When Moses lifted up his hand, Israel prevailed” (Ibid. v, 11), namely Israel above. Therefore Moses did not participate in the war on earth, so that he might throw himself with greater zeal into the war in Heaven, and thus promote victory on earth. Said R. Simeon: ‘Let us not think lightly of this war with Amalek. Verily, from the creation of the world until then, and since then till the coming of the Messiah, there has been and will be no war like that, nor can even the war of Gog and Magog be compared with it; and this not because of the mighty armies taking part in it, but because it was launched against all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He.’ AND MOSES SAID TO JOSHUA. Why to him, who was then but a “youth” (Ex. XXXIII, 11)? Were there in Israel no greater warriors than Joshua? The reason was that Moses in his wisdom was aware that it was not going to be merely a battle against flesh and blood, but against Samael, who was coming down to assist Amalek. Now Joshua, “the youth”, had reached at that time a high degree of spiritual perception, not, indeed, as high as Moses, who was united with the Shekinah, but his soul was, in fact, attached to the supernal region called “Youth” (=Metatron). Now when Moses perceived that Samael was going to fight for Amalek, he thought: “this young man, Joshua, will surely stand against him and prevail”, and therefore he said unto him: “go and fight against Amalek! It is thy battle, the battle here below, and I will prepare myself for the battle above. Choose worthy men, righteous and the sons of the righteous, to accompany thee”.’ Said R. Simeon: ‘At the moment when Joshua, the “young man”, started out to fight Amalek, the “Young Man” above was stirred, and was equipped with weapons prepared by his “Mother” (the Shekinah) for the battle in order to “avenge the covenant” (cf. Lev. XXVI, 25) with the “sword” (Ex. XVII, 13). Moses equipped himself for the war above. “His hands were heavy” (Ibid. v, 12), that is to say, “weighty, honourable, holy hands”, that had never been defiled, hands worthy to wage the war above.”
Zohar, Shemoth 65b, 66a
This text connects the One sitting on the heavenly throne of G-d (i.e., Jacob, Yeshua, Metatron) with the “seal of truth”:
R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: “And a throne is established through mercy, and there sitteth thereon in truth, in the tent of David, one that judgeth, and seeketh justice, and is ready in righteousness” (Isaiah 16:5). ‘This has been explained as follows’, he said. ‘When the Thought arose with glad purpose from the Most Recondite and Unknowable, that gladness impinged on the Thought, so that the latter entered more and more deeply until it was secluded in the interior of a certain supernal undisclosed Palace. [Tr. note: Binah.] It is from thence that there flow forth, first all the rivers of the “right side”, and after them the others. On the “right side” it was that the Lower Throne was established, since the Holy One, blessed be He, established that Throne “through mercy, and there sitteth thereon in truth”. The Throne is the bearer of the seal, the impress of which is Truth, and the Holy One sits on that Throne only in virtue of that seal; “in the tent of David”, which is identical with the Lower Throne. “One that judgeth” is from the side of Rigour; “and seeketh judgement”, from the side of Mercy; “and is ready in judgement”, alluding to the Throne of Judgement, which is on earth. Similarly, the Tabernacle was established only on this side of Mercy, as already said; and thereby were adjusted all the affairs of the lower world.’
Zohar, Shemoth 220b
All of the above texts (from the top of this page), lend to a deeper level understanding of these words from John’s gospel:
“Then said Yeshua to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
What Yeshua is saying is if someone follows Torah in faith, they are marked with the seal of truth. (To “know the truth” as He says, is to receive it via Da’at, the Sefirah of “knowledge” and the Ruach haKodesh. This seal of truth is thus equated with being “free.” This is Binah, which is called the Sefirah of “freedom,” (an allusion to the phrase “mother of us all,’ found in Galatians 4:26). It is also associated with the World to Come (the “8th day” beyond the 7,000 years of our current existence) as Binah is the 8th Sefirah from the “bottom” of the Tree of Life.
GEMMATRIA & THE SEFIRAH OF BINAH
An interesting link can be made using the last two Zohar references above (Shemoth, 65b, 66a and Shemoth, 220b), regarding Joshua. In Exodus 33:11, the Torah uses the less usual term “Bin” (as oppose to “Ben”) for the word “son,” when referring to Joshua as the ‘son of Nun’ (‘Yehoshua bin-Nun’). The prefix “Bin” is found in “Binah,” the Sefirah of Understanding.
The name “Nun” is also the Hebrew letter Nun, which has a numerical value of 50, as in the “Fifty Gates of Understanding/Binah.” Between Passover and Shavuot is the counting of the 49 days of the Omer, reflecting all 7 aspects within each of the lower 7 Sefirot. The 50th day is Shavuot, beginning of the mystical ‘8th week,’ relating to Binah.
Binah is associated with the feminine/mother aspect of the divine world of Azilut. Thus the “son of Nun,” may be said to be the “Son of Binah,” which is linked to the Sefirah of Tiferet and Metatron – the one ‘in the Throne.’
According to the Hebrew sage (Seder Olam 12; Rashi on Judges 11:26) Joshua was 42 years of age at the time of Exodus 33:11. We thus have a connection to the 42-letter name of G-d. Note also how Joshua does not leave ‘the tent’ which is another expression of connection to Binah and connection to the sukkah at Sukkot, which is also likened to the ‘womb of the mother’ (the upper Shekinah/Binah, i.e., Galatians 4:26. See verse 17 below).
“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.”
It is interesting that Joshua personally encounters the ‘Commander of the army of YHVH,’ which would seem to relate to the entity/concept called Metatron:
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of YHVH I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Then the Commander of YHVH’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.”
of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand, of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
What is peculiar and unique to this list is the inclusion of Manasseh and Joseph together, and exclusion of Dan and Ephraim. No explanation is given, though it may relate to something in the history of each. (Note in the listing found in Deuteronomy 33:7-26, the tribe of Simeon is left out. Some commentaries relate this to their violent actions with Levi.)
In the case of Dan and Ephraim, the issue is idolatry. Midrash says the following about Dan:
“AND THEY SHALL SET FORTH THIRD; a meet adjunct to Torah and to penitence is power; for a man should exert his powers in acquiring Torah and in mastering his evil propensities. The North is the region whence darkness issues forth into the world, and on that side shall be the tribe of Dan. Why? For it was that tribe which darkened the world with idolatry, when Jeroboam made the two golden calves. Idolatry is darkness, as it is said, And their works are in the dark (Isaiah 29:15). Jeroboam went round to all Israel [inviting them to embrace idolatry] but none of them would agree, except the tribe of Dan, as it is said, And the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold… and the other put he in Dan (I Kings 12:28 f.). For this reason the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded that he should pitch his camp in the North. Hence it is written, ON THE NORTH SIDE SHALL BE THE STANDARD OF THE CAMP OF DAN, etc.”
Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 2:18
The Zohar presents the following regarding Ephraim’s idolatry. In addition is an interesting mention of an entity who ‘rides on the beast.’
“When Jacob was about to bless Joseph’s sons, he saw by the Holy Spirit that Jeroboam the son of Nebat would issue from Ephraim, and he exclaimed, “Who are these?”, the word “these” (eleh) being an allusion to idols. The reason is that 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. Hence we find written, “These also shall forget” (Isaiah 49:15), and again, “For these I am weeping” (Ibid. 16), that sin being the cause to us of endless weeping; or alternatively, because this place was allowed to gain dominion over Israel and to destroy the Temple, the word “I” (ani) in this case referring to the Holy Spirit. It may be asked, on this hypothesis, what are we to make of the words “These are the words of the covenant”? The answer is that the word “these” is here also appropriate, because the words of the covenant are established by “these”, since they are the abode of all curses, which await all who transgress the covenant. Similarly it is written, “These are the precepts which the Lord commanded”, because the object of all the precepts is to purify man so that he should not stray from the right path and should keep far away from there. Hence, too, it is written, “These are the generations of Noah”, because they included Ham the father of Canaan, who was accursed. The spirit of eleh is the “dross of gold”. Aaron in the wilderness offered gold, which was his own affinity, since he was endowed with the strength of fire, and fire and gold are all one, but the unclean spirit which haunts the wilderness found at that time a place on which to fasten, and so Israel, after being freed at Mount Sinai from the primeval defilement which brought death into the world, afterwards incurred it again and brought death upon themselves and all their descendants. Hence, when Jacob saw in his mind’s eye Jeroboam son of Nebat, who made an idol and said, “These are thy gods, O Israel”, he trembled and said, “Who are these?”. Hence when he came afterwards to bless them, he first blessed Elohim and then blessed them from that source.”
Zohar, Bereshith 228b
Ephraim calls himself ‘rich’ akin to what we saw in Revelation 3:17 in the criticism of Laodicea.
“And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out power”, namely, the celestial unholy power which presided over the act of idolatry committed by Jeroboam (I Kings 12:28), without which he would not have been able to succeed. Now, when this king and this priest of the “other side” are subdued, and their power broken, all the “other sides” follow suit, and are also subdued and broken, and acknowledge the sovereignty of the Holy One, and in this way He alone rules above and below, as it is written: “And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11). In just the same way G-d broke here on earth the power of an “old and foolish king”, namely Pharaoh, who, when Moses said to him, “The G-d of the Hebrews hath met with us”, replied, “I know not the Lord,” but when the Holy One, desiring that His Name should be glorified on earth as it is in heaven, punished him and his people, he came and acknowledged the Holy One. Subsequently his priest also, namely Jethro, the priest of On, i.e. idolatry, was also humbled, so that he came and acknowledged the Holy One, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you…. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods…” (Exodis 18:10,11). So when that king and that priest acknowledged the Holy One, blessed be He, and were humbled before Him, He was exalted above and below, and then, and then only did He give forth the Torah, as undisputed sovereign over all.”
Zohar, Shemot 67b
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.
“Many nations shall join themselves to HaShem in that day, and shall be my people, and I will dwell in the midst of you, and you shall know that HaShem of Hosts has sent me to you.”
You shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your G-d seven days.
This “great ingathering,” along with the palms are references to Sukkot, which is associated with the end of the redemption process. Note this occurs after the sixth seal judgment. We see a similar picture of this “end” being proclaimed following the sixth trumpet judgment (11:15) and sixth bowl judgement (16:17).
They cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation be to our G-d, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!
All the angels were standing around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before his throne, and worshiped G-d,
saying, Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our G-d forever and ever! Amen.
See Revelation 5:6 notes regarding G-d and the Lamb being on the throne and receiving praise. Also verse 7:17 below.
One of the elders answered, saying to me, These who are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and from where did they come?
See Revelation 3:4 notes regarding “white robes/garments.
I told him, My lord, you know. He said to me, These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood.
The Zohar speaks of a relationship between the shed blood of a tzaddik and atonement, quoting Isaiah 53.
“Why is it that whenever sinners multiply in the world and punishment impends over the world, the virtuous among them are smitten for them, as we have learnt, that for the guilt of the generation the holy and righteous are seized upon? Why should this be? If because they do not reprove mankind for their evil deeds, how many are there who do reprove but are not listened to (though the righteous do humble themselves before them)? If it is in order that there may be no one to shield them, let them not die and let them not be seized for their sins, since it is a satisfaction to the righteous to see their destruction. He replied: It is true that for the guilt of the generation the righteous are seized upon, but we may explain this on the analogy of the limbs of the body. When all the limbs are in pain and suffering from sickness one limb has to be smitten in order that all may be healed. Which is the one? The arm. The arm is smitten and blood is drawn from it, and this is healing for all the limbs of the body. So men are like limbs of one body. When G-d desires to give healing to the world He smites one righteous man among them with disease and suffering, and through him gives healing to all, as it is written, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities… and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). A righteous man is never afflicted save to bring healing to his generation and to make atonement for it, for the “other side” prefers that punishment should light upon the virtuous man rather than on any other, for then it cares not for the whole world on account of the joy it finds in having power over him.”
Zohar, Bemidbar 218a
Another Zohar passage, also citing Isaiah 53, firmly places the Messiah in the role of the suffering servant of Israel:
“When the Messiah hears of the great suffering of Israel in their dispersion, and of the wicked amongst them who seek not to know their Master, he weeps aloud on account of those wicked ones amongst them, as it is written: “But he was wounded because of our transgression, he was crushed because of our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). The souls then return to their place. The Messiah, on his part, enters a certain Hall in the Garden of Eden, called the Hall of the Afflicted. There he calls for all the diseases and pains and sufferings of Israel, bidding them settle on himself, which they do. And were it not that he thus eases the burden from Israel, taking it on himself, no one could endure the sufferings meted out to Israel in expiation on account of their neglect of the Torah. So Scripture says; “Surely our diseases he did bear”, etc. (Isaiah 53:4). A similar function was performed by R. Eleazar here on earth. For, indeed, beyond number are the chastisements awaiting every man daily for the neglect of the Torah, all of which descended into the world at the time when the Torah was given. As long as Israel were in the Holy Land, by means of the Temple service and sacrifices they averted all evil diseases and afflictions from the world. Now it is the Messiah who is the means of averting them from mankind until the time when a man quits this world and receives his punishment, as already said. When a man’s sins are so numerous that he has to pass through the nethermost compartments of Gehinnom in order to receive heavier punishment corresponding to the contamination of his soul, a more intense fire is kindled in order to consume that contamination. The destroying angels make use for this purpose of fiery rods, so as to expel that contamination. Woe to the soul that is subjected to such punishment! Happy are those who guard the precepts of the Torah!”
Zohar, Shemoth 212a
This concept is established firmly in the writings of the Ramchal:
“Suffering and pain may be imposed on a tzaddik as an atonement for his entire generation. This tzaddik must then accept this suffering with love for the benefit of his generation, just as he accepts the suffering imposed upon him for his own sake. In doing so, he benefits his generation by atoning for it, and at the same time is himself elevated to a very great degree … In addition, there is a special, higher type of suffering that comes to a tzaddik who is even greater and more highly perfected than the ones discussed above. This suffering comes to provide the help necessary to bring about the chain of events leading to the ultimate perfection of mankind as a whole.”
‘Derech Hashem’ (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 122.
Therefore they are before the throne of G-d, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them.
“HaShem will create over the whole habitation of Mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.”
The Torah gives indication that Moses was caught up in the Shekinah of G-d in verses such as Exodus 24:15-18. While in the presence of G-d, Moses was shown heavenly items to which he was to use as the pattern for their earthly counterparts:
“And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. According to the pattern of the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.”
The book of Hebrews attests to the same:
“… who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the Tabernacle. For He said ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’.”
Other texts state that the Tabernacle and its furnishings/implements are indeed an image of what is ‘above,’ which includes two tabernacles above, one higher than the other:
“… the structure of the Tabernacle corresponds to the structure of heaven and earth.”
Zohar, Shemoth 149a
“Now, the Tabernacle below was likewise made after the pattern of the supernal Tabernacle in all its details. For the Tabernacle in all its works embraced all the works and achievements of the upper world and the lower, whereby the Shekinah was made to abide in the world, both in the higher spheres and the lower. Similarly, the Lower Paradise is made after the pattern of the Upper Paradise, and the latter contains all the varieties of forms and images to be found in the former. Hence the work of the Tabernacle, and that of heaven and earth, come under one and the same mystery.”
Soncino Zohar 231a
“Now, the lower and earthly Tabernacle was the counterpart of the upper Tabernacle, whilst the latter in its turn is the counterpart of a higher Tabernacle, the most high of all. All of them, however, are implied within each other and form one complete whole, as it says: “that the tabernacle may be one whole” (Exodus 26:6). The Tabernacle was erected by Moses, he alone being allowed to raise it up, as only a husband may raise up his wife. With the erection of the lower Tabernacle there was erected another Tabernacle on high. This is indicated in the words “the tabernacle was reared up (hukam)” (Exodus 40:17), reared up, that is, by the hand of no man, but as out of the supernal undisclosed mystery in response to the mystical force indwelling in Moses that it might be perfected with him.”
Zohar, Shemoth 235b
“It was taught: R. Jose b. Judah says, An ark of fire and a table of fire and a candlestick of fire came down from heaven; and these Moses saw and reproduced, as it is written, And see that thou make them after their pattern, which is being shown thee in the mount. Will you then say the same [of the tabernacle], for it is written, And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which hath been shown thee in the mount! — Here it is written ‘according to the fashion thereof’, whilst there ‘after their pattern’.”
Talmud, Menacoth 29a
The same concept is found when speaking of the first Temple. Here David receives the heavenly design idea and passes it along to his son Solomon, whom G-d had chosen to do the building:
“Then he began to expound to them this verse: A song of degrees for Solomon (li-shelomoh). Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord guard the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Ps. CXXVII, 1-2). Said he: ‘Was it Solomon who composed this Psalm when he built the Temple? (for li-shelomoh could be understood to mean “of Solomon”). Not so. It was King David who composed it, about his son Solomon, when Nathan came to him (David) and told him that Solomon would build the Temple. Then King David showed unto his son Solomon, as a model, the celestial prototype of the Temple, and David himself, when he saw it and all the activities connected with it, as set forth in the celestial idea of it, sang this psalm concerning his son Solomon.”
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth 164a
They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat,
for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them, and leads them to springs of waters of life. And G-d will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Moshe Idel shows how the lamb, the messiah and Metatron are connected. Citing Sefer ‘Otzar Hayyim, of R. Yitzhaq of Acre, discussing Messiah as Metatron, he writes:
“Here the term ‘mashiyah’ is mentioned explicitly as identical to the angel Metatron. Moreover the quotation from Isaiah 11:12 was traditionally understood as pointing to the Messiah … The master mentioned here is apparently G-d, whose name is found within Metatron or the Messiah … The picture, however, is more complex and interesting. Immediately after this passage, the author again mentions Sandalphon as an ox, and the “Prince of the Back, the Price of Judgment, but the sheep, which is the innocent lamb, is in its entirety good, and it is Moshe, the Prince of Mercy. The juxtaposition of the ox and the lamb, the latter standing for Metatron and Messiah is reminiscent of the well-know motif of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of G-d.”
Messianic Mystics, Moshe Idel, pp.303,304
The term “tabernacle” (v. 15) as well as mention of “living fountains of waters,” (v. 17) are additional references to Binah and Sukkot. Verse 17 is especially interesting as the reference connects to the Olam Haba (the World to Come, when there will be no more tears, etc.) Sukkot holds the mystical connection to the “eighth day,” (Binah) symbolic of “eternity.” It’s ironic that the symbol for ‘infinity’ resembles an ‘8’ on its side.