MASHIACH AND TIKKUN
As discussed in previous chapters, everything occurring through the three sequences of judgments pertains to tikkun (rectification) of the three worlds of Creation, which were all impacted by the sin of Adam. The end of this process is associated with the coming of Mashiach:
The chief cause for the existence of evil in the upper and lower worlds, which necessitates a universal catharsis, is the mystical sin of Adam. This sin effected an abysmal fissure in the Divine harmony of all being and interrupted the flow of Divine energy into the arteries of the universe. … The purpose of this sefirotic, cosmo-historical catharsis is thus directed toward the renewal of the shining of the Divine light in all phases and branches of the universe, piercing and making the veil of opaqueness and darkness disappear. Ultimately, this sublime purpose expresses the realization of fixing of the mystical-universal split, symbolized by the arrival of the Messiah, which represents the climactic completeness of man, who is created in the image of G-d.
Ramban, Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc, Jerusalem, 1998, p. 366.
(Note the similarity between the reference above connecting the Messiah to the ‘completeness of man in the Image of G-d,’ and Romans 10:4, which identifies him as the goal (Gk: ‘telos’) of the Torah for those following G-d. Other verses in the New Testament depict messiah in terms of the B’tzelem Elohim, the ‘Image of G-d,’ to which we are to become conformed by way of Torah study and application (i.e., Romans 2:13, 8:7,29; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 1:15, 3:9,10; James 1:22).
Of course, these judgments in Revelation proceed from the messiah, who is the ‘lamb’ that is worthy to reveal such. As the aspect of the messiah known as Messiah ben David, comes at the climax of these events, we can associate the actual process of tikkun, with all its ‘afflictions, with the other aspect of the messiah, called Messiah ben Yosef.
Interestingly the Zohar associates its main character/author, Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, with being:
“… a messianic figure who is actively engaged in the process of the world’s tikkun [restoration]. While he is not the Messiah himself — the latter will come only after the tikkun — it is he who paves the way for redemption and makes it possible.”
Studies in the Zohar, Yehuda Liebes, SUNY Press, Albany, 1993, pp. 1-2.
Chapter 9 goes even further in the use of metaphorical, cryptic language. The text also takes a peculiar turn with the introduction of destructive entities from an ‘abyss’ – a ‘place’ that seems to have aspects of both the physical world of Asiyah and the angelic world of Yetzirah. This is reflective of the realm of the shedim – demons – entities who existence transverses those two worlds as they are part physical and part spiritual entities. (See Derech Hashem 1.5.1 below.)
Shedim are also said to have a negative association with dreams, which provide a connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. (In a positive manner as well, via prophetic revelation, etc.) Sleep is called “one-sixtieth” of death with respect to this.
1 And the fifth messenger did sound, and I saw a star out of the heaven having fallen to the earth, and there was given to it the key of the pit of the abyss,
2 and he did open the pit of the abyss, and there came up a smoke out of the pit as smoke of a great furnace, and darkened was the sun and the air, from the smoke of the pit.
3 And out of the smoke came forth locusts to the earth, and there was given to them authority, as scorpions of the earth have authority,
Here we see a “star” clearly explained as being an angel from heaven. (See comments in previous chapters on this subject.) The ‘locusts’ that emerge do not seem to be physical insects (as they are compared to scorpions, horses, lions, men and women) but a description of spiritual entities, called by several terms, most commonly shedim – demons.
Demons are mentioned twice in the Torah, where they are also called “spirits”:
“They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed to powerless spirits, not to G-d; to gods whom they knew not; to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.”
“And they shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they play the harlot. This shall be a statute forever to them throughout their generations.”
Demons are beings of their own class. They are not “fallen angels” or angels of any type. Rather, they are a peculiar set of spiritual entities that have characteristics of both both angels and humans. They have a relationship with the angelic world (as seen by such an angel opening the pit in verse 2 above). As demons play an important role in John’s prophecy, we will take a closer look at what various sources have to say.
Regarding the composition of these demonic entities, Rabbi Moshe Luzzatto, in his work Derek Hashem (The Way of G-d), explains as follows:
“There is however, another class that is like an intermediate between the spiritual and the physical. This consists of entities that cannot be detected by physical means and are not bound by the limitations and laws of ordinary detectable matter. For this reason, they might improperly be considered spiritual. Their essence, however, is very different from that of the angelic class, even though they may resemble them in some ways. These entities also have specific attributes and unique limitations, based on their true nature. They are therefore considered a separate class, namely that of Shedim (Demons). This class also contains certain individual types, where each type may be considered a separate species belonging to the general class of Shedim.”
The Way of God, Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 77.
The following text of the Zohar comments on the concepts of “smoke” and “the pit of the abyss,” here called a “hidden cavern in the North” (north relating to ‘the left side of judgment,’ said to be the origin/location of evil realm). Note first that impure spirits (demons) are said to rule at night, hence the prohibition concerning leaving a dead body out past sundown. Demons are said to not have access to the land of Israel unless they find a means through part of a sacrifice that was not burned. The text goes on to say that some of the smoke from the sacrifices was to “nourish” demons in order that they would not attempt to come into the land for this purpose. This smoke would enter into a hidden cavern in the North, where the evil realm has its “abode”:
“He whose soul leaves him in the Holy Land, if his body is buried upon the day of his death, is in no way dominated by the spirit of impurity. Therefore it says of one who has been put to death by hanging that “his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day.. that thy land be not defiled” (Deuteronomy 21:23), for at night the impure spirit is given permission to rule. However, although these last are given temporary power, they cannot exercise their sway within the boundaries of the Holy Land, because it is impossible for them to enter it unless they can come upon an organ or means of approach in the parts and fat of those sacrifices that are consumed at night for the purpose of feeding other (foreign) kinds. [Zohar Shemot 129b-130a.] But even these portions were not left with the purpose of attracting evil potencies to the Holy Land, but rather, on the contrary, to entice them away from it, for, as has been said on another occasion, the smoke of these parts of the sacrifices was wont to ascend crookedly and drift away until it reached that hidden cavern in the North in which all the powers of the “other side” have their abode; into which cave the smoke would enter and all the demons and impure spirits be nourished thereby. But the smoke of those sacrifices which were burnt during the day ascended in a straight line unto its rightful place and all the proper spirits received nourishment from it. Over the bodies of the righteous, who were not seduced in this world by the lusts of the hard shell, the impure spirit has no power at all, because they did not associate themselves therewith. But just as the wicked in this life were seduced by that powerful shell of evil and its pleasures and practices, so are their bodies unclean after the soul has left them.”
Zohar, Shemoth 141a
The Talmud also describes demons in terms of being “part human” and “part angelic.” Note that unlike angels, demons can reproduce and be killed:
“Our Rabbis taught: Six things are said concerning demons: in regard to three, they are like the ministering angels; and in regard to three, like human beings. ‘In regard to three they are like the ministering angels’: they have wings like the ministering angels; and they fly from one end of the world to the other like the ministering angels; and they know what will happen like the ministering angels. [You say], ‘They know’ — you cannot mean that! — Rather, they hear from behind the Veil like the ministering angels. ‘And in regard to three, they are like human beings’: they eat and drink like human beings; they propagate like human beings; and they die like human beings. Six things are said of human beings: in regard to three, they are like the ministering angels, and in regard to three, they are like beasts. ‘In regard to three, they are like the ministering angels’: they have understanding like the ministering angels; and they walk erect like the ministering angels; and they can talk in the holy tongue like the ministering angels. ‘In regard to three, they are like beasts’: they eat and drink like beasts; and they propagate like beasts, and they relieve themselves like beasts.”
Talmud, Chagigah 16a
“Is it not possible that it was a demon [that cried]? — Rab Judah replied in the name of Rab: [This is a case] where they saw in him the likeness of a man! But they also are in the likeness of men! — They saw his shadow. But these also have a shadow!”
Talmud, Yevamoth 122a
The Zohar (below) offers more insight into the origin and function of the demonic world. Note that demons also serve G-d’s purpose, but are in great terror of the holy name. Compare this to the reaction of demons who faced Yeshua in the “New Testament” accounts.
These demons are also said to be hidden in an abyss covered by a millstone. Note also the references to the Tabernacle as “mother” and place of the souls (i.e., the Sefirah of Binah). Lastly, compare the reference to Psalm 91 as a prayer against the demonic realm (a “hymn of accidents”) to Paul’s teachings from Ephesians 6 and comments from Midrash Rabbah – Numbers 12:3, shown further below:
“WHICH G-D CREATED TO MAKE: As “remembering” finds its fulfilment in “keeping”, so here “creating” is implemented by “making”, to establish firmly the work of the world; “to make” indicates the world’s artificer, through whom the whole is carried on.’ R. Simeon further explained the verse as follows. He said: ‘It is written, Who keepeth the covenant and the kindness (Deuteronomy 5:10). “Who keepeth” indicates the community of Israel; “the covenant” indicates the Foundation of the world; “kindness” indicates Abraham. The community of Israel is that which keeps the covenant and the kindness, and it is called “keeper of Israel”, and guards the gate of the Whole, and on it depend all the works of the world. This it is which “G-d created to make”, i.e. to perfect and finish off the whole, and to bring forth spirits and souls and even spirits and demons. Do not think that these also are not for the good of the world, for they serve for the punishment of the wicked, whom they find out and admonish; for he who proceeds towards the left becomes entangled in the left side, and is set upon by them. Hence they are of use. ‘We read that G-d said with regard to Solomon, “I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the plagues of the children of men” (2Samuel 7:14). These “plagues of the children of men” are the demons. They were created just at the moment when the Sabbath was sanctified and they were left spirit without body. These are the creatures which were not finished; they are from the left, dross of gold, and because they were not finished and remained defective, the holy name is not mentioned in connection with them, and they do not cleave to it, and are in great terror of it. The holy name does not rest upon anything defective. Hence a man who departs from life defective through not having left a son behind him cannot attach himself to the holy name, and is not admitted within the curtain, because he is defective, and a tree which has been uprooted must be planted over again; for the holy name is perfect on every side, and no defect can attach to it. Those creatures we have mentioned are rejected both above and below, and therefore they have no sure place either above or below. It is these which are meant by the words” which G-d created to make”, i.e. they were not made into finished beings either above or below. You may ask, seeing that they are spirits, why were not these beings finished off above? The answer is that they were not finished below on the earth, and therefore they were not.finished above. They all have their origin in the side of the left; they are invisible to men and hover round them to do them mischief. They have three features in common with the angels and three in common with human beings, as has been laid down elsewhere. After they had been created, they were left behind the millstones of the chasm of the great abyss during the night and the day of Sabbath. When the sanctity of the day expired, they came out into the world in their unfinished state and commenced flying about in all directions. They became a great danger to the world, because with them the whole of the left side roused itself and the fire of Gehinnom began to flash, and all the denizens of the left side commenced to roam about the world. They sought to clothe themselves in bodies, but were not able. Hence we require protection against them, and therefore the recital of the “hymn of accidents” (Psalm 91) has been prescribed for every occasion when danger is threatened from them. For when the Sabbath is sanctified on Friday evening, a tabernacle of peace descends from heaven and is spread over the world. This tabernacle of peace is the Sabbath, and when it comes down, all evil spirits and demons and all the creatures which defile hide themselves within the orifice of the millstones of the chasm of the great abyss. For when sanctity spreads over the world, the spirit of uncleanliness remains inactive, since the two shun one another. Hence the world is under special protection (on the Sabbath eve), and we do not require to say the prayer “who keepeth his people Israel for ever, amen”. This prayer has been prescribed for week-days, when protection is needed. But on Sabbath a tabernacle of peace is spread over the world, which is thus sheltered on all sides. Even the sinners in Gehinnom are protected, and all beings are at peace, both in the upper and lower spheres, and therefore we conclude our prayer this day with the words “who spreads a tabernacle of peace over us and over all his people Israel and over Jerusalem”. (The reason why Jerusalem is mentioned is because it is the abode of the tabernacle.) Thus it behoves us to invite that tabernacle to spread itself over us and to rest upon us and to shield us as a mother shields her children, so that we should feel secure on every side. See now, when Israel by reciting this blessing invite this tabernacle of peace to their homes as a holy guest, a divine sanctity comes down and spreads its wings over Israel like a mother encompassing her children. Then all evil spirits disappear from the world, and Israel are at rest under the sheltering sanctity of their Master. Further, this tabernacle of peace imparts new souls to her children. For souls have their abode in her and issue from her, and so when she comes down and spreads her wings over her children, it sheds a new soul on each one of them.’ R. Simeon said further: ‘It is on this account that, as we have learnt, Sabbath is a mirror of the future world. For this same reason, too, the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee mirror one another. This additional soul descends from the mystic force implied in the word zachor (remember) upon the tabernacle of peace, being taken from the future world, and the tabernacle gives it to the holy people, who are gladdened by it and enabled to forget all worldly matters and all their troubles and sorrows, thus realising the words of the prophet, “on the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy trouble, and from the hard service, etc.” (Isaiah 14:3). Therefore on Friday night a man should have a fullcourse meal, to show that this tabernacle of peace has been formed by a union of all principles, provided only that he leaves himself enough for one meal the next day, or, according to others (and this is more correct), for two meals. All the more so, of course, if he has more than enough left for the next day. For children two dishes are enough; [Tr. note: al. Two dishes should be the minimum.] and so the colleagues agreed. The function of lighting the Sabbath light has been entrusted to the women of the holy people: as the colleagues put it, “woman put out the light of the world and brought darkness, etc.”; and so we agree. There is, however, a more esoteric reason. This tabernacle of peace is the Matron of the world, and the souls which are the celestial lamp abide in her. Hence it behoves the matron to kindle the light, because thereby she is attaching herself to her rightful place and performing her rightful function. A woman should kindle the Sabbath light with zest and gladness, because it is a great honour for her, and, further, she qualifies herself thereby to become the mother of holy offspring who will grow to be shining lights of learning and piety and will spread peace in the world, and she also procures long life for her husband. Hence she should be very careful to observe this ceremony. Observe that the words “remember” and “keep” in the commandment of the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8, and Deuteronomy 5:12). Both apply equally to the day and to the night; nevertheless “remember” has a more special application to the man and “keep” to the woman, whose chief observance is at night.”
Zohar, Bereshith 47b-48b
The following text from Midrash Rabbah, concerning demons, strongly resembles the advice given by Sha’ul (Paul) in his Ephesians letter. Note the relationship between demons and the Torah, the latter which is defined as the “truth” of G-d. Demons set out to disrupt study of Torah as such study is the protection against them. Subsequently, when Torah study in the world is diminished, as is foretold by Scripture and the Hebrew sages, demonic activity will increase, as we see occur in the book of Revelation:
I will say of the Lord that He is my refuge — mahsi (Ps. XCI, 2). This psalm of plagues was composed by Moses while he was making his ascent of Mount Sinai, for he was afraid of the harmful demons. What is the meaning of: ‘I will say of the Lord that He is mahsi’? He is my protection.”
… He will protect you for the sake of the Torah which was given with the right hand of the Holy One, blessed be He; as it says, At His right hand was a fiery law unto them (Deuteronomy 33:2). Under his wings thou shalt take refuge (Psalm 91:4). If one comes to take refuge beneath His wings the Holy One, blessed be He, will be unto him. A shield and a buckler of truth. What is the exposition of the text: His truth is a shield and a buckler-sohera (ib.)? R. Simeon b. Lakish explained: The Holy One, blessed be He, says, ‘ I shall forge a weapon for all who trade (soher) in the truth of the Torah.’ R.Simeon b. Yohai said: The truth of the Torah is the weapon of him who possesses it. R. Simeon b. Yohai further said: The Holy One, blessed be He, gave Israel at Sinai a weapon upon which the Ineffable Name was written. Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night (Psalm 91:5), namely of Igrath, daughter of Mahalath, [names of demons]and her chariot, and of any of the demons who hold sway at night. Nor of the arrow that flieth by day (ib.). R. Berekiah explained that there is a kind of demon who flies through the air like a bird, and darts like an arrow.
... Of the pestilence that walketh in darkness (Psalm 91:6) implies that if a man’s deeds are in the dark the pestilence gains mastery over him. In a like strain it says, Before Him goeth the pestilence, and fiery bolts go forth at his feet (Habakkuk 3:5). So here too it says, Of the pestilence that walketh in the darkness. Nor of the destruction (keteb) that wasteth at noonday (Psalm 91:6) Our Rabbis explain that ‘keteb’ is a demon. And why was he called keteb’?’ R. Abba son of Kahana said: Because he breaks into the daily studies from the beginning of four hours of the day to the end of nine. R. Levi said: Because he robs pupils of their noonday lessons from the end of four hours to the beginning of nine hours. He holds sway neither in the shade nor in the sun but between the shade and the sun.
Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 12:3
Compare the above to this:
“As to the rest, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; put on the whole armor of -Gd, for your being able to stand against the wiles of the devil, because we have not the wrestling with blood and flesh, but with the principalities, with the authorities, with the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, with the spiritual things of the evil in the heavenly places; because of this take ye up the whole armor of G-d, that ye may be able to resist in the day of the evil, and all things having done — to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about in truth, and having put on the breastplate of the righteousness, and having the feet shod in the preparation of the good-news of the peace; above all, having taken up the shield of the faith, in which ye shall be able all the fiery darts of the evil one to quench, and the helmet of the salvation receive, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of Go-d.”
Regarding the “authority” of the demons in this chapter, the Zohar has this interesting comment as associated with those who teach Torah without proper training and understanding:
“Happy are those who devote themselves to the study of the Torah! You should not think, however, that all this applies even to one who is no true scholar. Not so. When one who is a stranger to the mysteries of the Torah makes pseudo-discoveries based on an incomplete understanding, that “word” rises, and is met by the perverse One, the Demon of the false tongue, who emerges from the cavern of the great abyss and makes a leap of five hundred parasangs to receive that word. He takes it and returns with it to his cavern, and shapes it into a spurious heaven which is called Tohu (chaos). That Demon then traverses in one swoop the whole of that heaven, a space of six thousand parasangs. As soon as that heaven is formed, the Harlot emerges, and lodges herself in it, and joins forces with it, and issuing from thence she slays thousands and tens of thousands. For as long as she is lodged in that heaven she has authority and power to swoop through the world in the twinkling of an eye. This is implied in the words, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity” (Isaiah 5:18). The word for “iniquity”, ‘Avon, being of the masculine gender, designates the Demon. In the next part of the verse, “and sin, as it were, with a cart rope”, the word for “sin”, hattaah, being of the feminine gender, signifies the female, the Harlot who rushes to execute slaughter on the sons of men. Concerning her we also read, “For she hath caused to fall many deadly wounded” (Proverbs 7:26), namely, that hattaah (sin) who slays the sons of men. And the ultimate cause is the unripe scholar who is not qualified to teach and yet does so.”
Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 5a
Lastly, the following Talmudic text is especially relevant when we view the beginning of this Revelation chapter to the last verse where theft/robbery is mentioned:
“For the crime of robbery locusts make invasion, famine is prevalent, and people eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, for it is said, Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy.”
Talmud – Shabbath 32b
4 and it was said to them that they may not injure the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but — the men only who have not the seal of G-d upon their foreheads,
This verse helps decipher some of the metaphorical language to this point. The text points to grass, green things and trees (of the physical realm) that may not be be injured. On the other hand those who the demons may harm are the unrighteous who do not have the seal of G-d upon their foreheads. (i.e., seal = truth = Torah = protection from demons. See also reference to Zohar, Bereshith, 104a, in verse 11 below.) We can thus determine that the grass, green things and trees represent the righteous people on earth – those who follow G-d’s Torah (i.e., Revelation 12:17; 14:12; 22:14).
The Zohar comments on the place of Torah in keeping Jerusalem safe from Samael (haSatan). Note how Sha’ul (Paul) in the “New Testament” foretold that “falling away” (Israel’s deviation from Torah) would one day come, followed by such judgment:
“R. Hiya and R. Hizkiah were once sitting underneath a tree in the field of Ono. R. Hiya fell into a slumber and beheld Elijah. He said to him: ‘The whole field is illumined with your presence.’ Elijah answered: ‘I am come to tell you that Jerusalem is about to be laid waste together with all the towns of the sages, for the reason that Jerusalem is the embodiment of judgement, and is preserved by judgement, and now judgement demands its destruction; and Samael has already been given power over it and over its mighty ones. I have therefore come to advise the sages thereof so that they may try to obtain for Jerusalem some years of grace. For so long as knowledge of the Torah is found therein it will be spared, the Torah being the tree of life by which all live. But when the study of the Torah ceases below, the tree of life disappears from the world. Hence so long as the sages cling to the Torah, Samael has no power over them, as Scripture says: “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27:22). The voice is the Torah, which is termed the voice of Jacob, and so long as that voice pours forth, the utterance also dominates and prevails (over the hands of Esau). Hence the study of the Torah should never cease.’ R. Hiya then awoke, and they went and told the sages. Said R. Jesse: ‘We all know this, and so it is written: “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain” (Psalm 127:1), as much as to say: “It is those who labor in the Torah who preserve the Holy City, and not the warriors and men of might.”
Zohar, Bereshith 151a
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.
2 Thessalonians 2:3
5 and it was given to them that they may not kill them, but that they may be tormented five months, and their torment [is] as the torment of a scorpion, when it may strike a man;
6 and in those days shall men seek the death, and they shall not find it, and they shall desire to die, and the death shall flee from them.
John gives no definitive reason for the time period of five months. An educated guess could be the five months between the first month of Nissan (the month of the spring Feasts) and the seventh month of Tishrei (the fall Feasts). Interestingly, the number of days in this five Hebrew month period is 147, which is also the number of years that Jacob lived.
Another possible starting point is the beginning of Nissan, as according to the Zohar, this is the month where evil is “let loose” in the world:
“It was on the first of Nisan that the Tabernacle was reared up, a season when the evil powers are let loose in the world; for in the days of Nisan, as the saying goes, “even when the ox has his head in the fodder basket, go up the roof”
Zohar, Shemoth 240b
Midrash Rabbah speaks of the peculiarity of the torment that G-d will bring upon the nations. As always, G-d’s punishment is middah knegged midah, “measure for measure”:
Thine eyes shall behold strange things (Proverbs 23:33): in retaliation for the close looks with which the idolaters have scrutinised Israel, the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring upon them strange punishments which shall be rivals to one another, in the same way as they had come upon Israel; as you read, And many evils and troubles shall come upon them (Deut. XXXI, 17), which means evils that are rivals to each other; such as a bee-sting and a scorpion-bite. And thy heart shall utter confused things–tahfukoth (Prov. XXIII, 33): You turn about against them every day–as you read, Surely against me He turneth (yahafok) His hand again and again all the day (Lam. III, 3)–and Israel’s mind is deranged by reason of the multitude of sufferings which you cause them. Accordingly the Holy One, blessed be He, will requite them as they deserve, measure for measure; for He will bring upon them such severe punishments that their minds will be deranged and their heart shall utter confused things, and terrors shall come upon them. ‘ Confused things (tahfukoth) ‘; as you read, Terrors are turned upon me-hohpak (Job XXX, 15). In the same strain it says, Hark! the Lord rendereth recompense to His enemies (Isa. LXVI, 6); measure for measure. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the heart of the sea (Prov. XXIII, 34); that alludes to Pharaoh, who was drowned in the heart of the sea; as you read, The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea (Ex. XV, 8), and as it says, But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea (Ps. CXXXVI, 15). As in the case of Pharaoh, the Holy One, blessed be He, smote him with ten plagues, in retaliation for the ten things which he had decreed against Israel, and finally drowned him, in retaliation for Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river (Ex. I, 22), so will the Holy One, blessed be He, do to all the idolatrous nations who do evil to Israel; measure for measure.”
Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 10:2
7 And the likenesses of the locusts [are] like to horses made ready to battle, and upon their heads as crowns like gold, and their faces as faces of men,
8 and they had hair as hair of women, and their teeth were as [those] of lions,
The fifth plague in the group of seven would correspond with the Sefirah of Hod. (As they are in descending order from Chesed down to Malchut. which ‘births’ the next sequence of events.) Correlating this to the 10 Plagues of Egypt, this would also align with Hod, as this is the third in the ascending order they took place.
We find an odd connection to the feminine aspect and hair:
“This plague (the third, lice) issued from the hod of the holy feminine principle – for, as you know, Imma‘s influence extends until hod – and smote the highest part of the skull encompassing the head of the evil Nukva, the location of the hair on the head. This plague also [smote] the malchut – the final sub-sefira of the evil Zeir Anpin, otherwise known as ‘Satan’, the husband [of the evil Nukva, Lilith]. As is known, lice nest in the hair of the head. Imma, intellectual inspiration, extends its influence as far as hod, the last of the middot with original content. Yesod and Malchut are just the coalescence and expression of all that has preceded them. Thus, this plague, although issuing from hod, is primarily a “head” plague.”
‘Kabbala and the 10 Plagues’ (Kabbalah Online, Chabad.org)
9 and they had breastplates as breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings [is] as the noise of chariots of many horses running to battle;
Mention of a breastplate is also interesting as it also corresponds to the Sefirah of Hod which is associated with Aaron, the first to wear this – also called ‘the breastplate of judgment.’
10 and they have tails like to scorpions, and stings were in their tails; and their authority [is] to injure men five months;
These demons, as with the angels of the Sitra Atra, are under the “authority” of Samael (haSatan). The Zohar refers to them as being like horses when they are active on the earth:
“Samael and all his groups – these are like clouds to ride upon when He descends to earth: they are like horses.”
Zohar, Shemoth, Raya Mehemna, 43a
Spiritual entities are associated with horses and chariots in a number of Tenakh passages, including; 2 Kings 2:11; 6:16-17; Psalm 68:17 and Zechariah 6:1-5.
Scripture, as well as other Hebraic writings, have numerous mentions of hair, more so for women than for men. (Although the High Priest had to tend to his hair as part of his duties). In the “New Testament,” Sha’ul (Paul) makes a point about a woman’s hair being covered. Such concerns about a woman’s hair are also found throughout Talmud, Midrash Rabbah and the Zohar.
As a woman’s hair is associated with her beauty, and thus the passions it arouses in men (a necessary function of life!), it has an association with the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) and the the “left side” of the Tree of Life. The Zohar comments on how the Levites, who are also associated with the Left side (not in an “evil” sense of course), are not to let their hair grow long as this brings judgment:
“Take the Levites …” This indicates that it was needful to cleanse them and draw them on that they might be linked to their own proper place. For they symbolize the Left Arm, identical with the side of Judgement, and whoever proceeds from the side of Judgement ought not to let his hair grow, as he thereby strengthens Judgement in the world. For the same reason a woman may not have her hair exposed to view, but it behoves her to cover her head and keep her hair concealed. When this is done, all those who proceed from the side of Judgement are blessed; and thus is explained the significance of the command saying: “And thus shalt thou do unto them to cleanse them … and let them cause a razor to pass over all their flesh …”
Zohar, Bemidbar 151b
Rabbi Pinchas Winston makes the following comment on long hair and “divine judgment”:
“Korach, son of Yitzhar, grandson of Kehas, great-grandson of Levi …” (Bamidbar 16:1) What’s in a JEWISH name? One can just imagine standing around at a Bris, just as the one honored with the pronouncement of the name of the newly circumcised baby turns to the father to hear the name announced publicly for the first time. “Korach ben Yitzhar, HaLevi.” Would that not raise eyebrows? “Korach”? “Bald One?” Perhaps he was hairless at birth, as many babies are. However, is that any reason to give him a name that would remind him of this the rest of his life? Hardly. Perhaps, then, Yitzhar and his wife were prophets and knew something about the future, even though the Jewish people were still gainlessly ’employed’ in Egypt, with no hope of redemption?
… The Midrash says yes, whether they knew it at the time or not (and it is true of all parents when they give their children Jewish names). For, in last week’s parshah, as part of their inauguration ceremony into the Temple service, all the Levi’im were shaven clean. In fact, this is one of the ‘events’ that so angered Korach’s wife that she used it to ‘intimidate’ her husband into following through with his proposed rebellion. The Arizal explains why: This is why he called him ‘Korach’ (‘Bald One’), because, Korach son of Yitzhar also came from the root of Kayin. Now, he was called ‘Korach’ because all the Levi’im had been completely shaven bald, because of the strong “din” that was in them. (Sha’ar HaGilgulim, Chapter 34)
… In other words, the removal of hair from each Levi was more than just a cleansing process; it was also a way of softening a Levi’s propensity to be judgmental — to be din-oriented. For, the Temple was a place of mercy, a place representative of Divine love, not Divine judgment, and this had to be expressed through the very people who performed the Temple service and participated in its upkeep. Now, Kabbalistically, hair (se’ar) represents ‘din,’ just as barley (se’ora) does, which is why it was the Omer-Offering between Pesach and Shavuos, during which time 24,000 of Rebi Akiva’s students died for less than perfect ‘social’ behavior. Interestingly enough is the fact that Rebi Akiva himself was called ‘Korach,’ at least as a nickname.
Perceptions, Parsha Korach, Was Korach Bald?, Rabbi Pinchas Winston, http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5761/korach.html
In addition to this, the Talmud (Eiruvin 100b), makes it a point to mention that the demon named Lilith, has long hair. The Zohar (Vayikra, Page 19a) states that Lilith’s abode is in the depths of the great abyss. Lilith is said to tempt men in the area of sexual sinx. (See section on sexual sin in notes to verses 20-21.)
COMPARISON TO JOEL
The book of Joel begins with many parallels to what we have seen in Revelation. The prophet, in speaking of the “Day of the Lord,” mentions locusts bringing judgment on the land, “wine, oil, wheat and barley” being in short supply (see notes to Revelation 6:6) and teeth of lions in the context of judgment on Israel. Note also the connection between these “locusts” and “a nation” that has come up upon His land. Joel also speaks of the “meal offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord;” (Daniel 9:27?), and vines, trees and water streams (sources of Torah and G-d’s blessings), drying up:
“The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear this, you old men, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land. Has such a thing been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? Tell you your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. That which the cutting locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten; which the swarming locust has left, the hopping locust has eaten; and that which the hopping locust has left, the destroying locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and howl, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a lioness. He has laid my vine waste, and splintered my fig tree; he has made it clean bare, and thrown it down; its branches are made white. Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. The meal offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord’s ministers, mourn. The field is wasted, the land mourns; for the grain is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languishes. Be you ashamed, O you farmers; howl, O you vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field has perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languishes; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, all the trees of the field, are withered; because joy is withered away from the sons of men. Gird yourselves, and lament, you priests; howl, you ministers of the altar; come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my G-d; for the meal offering and the drink offering is withheld from the house of your G-d. Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your G-d, and cry to the Lord. Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our G-d? The seed is shrivels under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the grain is withered. How do the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.O Lord, to you I cry; for the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field. The beasts of the field cry also to you; for the waters streams have dried up, and the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.”
Joel’s end-time prophecy continues, and points out that even in this time of judgment, G’d seeks people to come to teshuvah (repentance). What is also interesting is the reference to “two rains” given by G-d. The first one, which comes in “due measure” in the first month (Nissan, according to the religious calendar) and the second, which is the final one coming at Yom Kippur (i.e., the Day of the Lord). Note also how G-d refers to the “locusts” that accosted Israel as “His army”:
“Blow the shofar in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord comes, for it is near at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness. Like twilight spread upon the mountains; a great and mighty people; there has never been the like, nor shall be any more after them, through the years of many generations. A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns; the land is like the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; and nothing escapes them. The appearance of them is like the appearance of horses; and like horsemen they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array. At their presence the people are in anguish; all faces are covered with blackness. They run like mighty men; they climb the wall like men of war; and they march everyone on his ways, and they do not break their ranks; Nor does one thrust another; they walk everyone in his path; and when they burst through the weapons, they are not wounded. They run to and fro in the city; they run upon the wall, they climb up into the houses; they enter by the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them; the heavens tremble; the sun and the moon are dark, and the stars withdraw their shining; And the Lord utters his voice before his army; for his camp is very large; for he who executes his word is strong; for the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; and who can abide it? Yet even now, says the Lord, turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; And tear your heart, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your G-d; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents of the evil. Who knows if he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him; a meal offering and a drink offering to the Lord your G-d? Blow the shofar in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly;Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts; let the bridegroom go out of his room, and the bride out of her chamber. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the vestibule and the altar, and let them say, Spare your people, O Lord, and give not your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the people, Where is their G-d? Then will the Lord was zealous for his land, and pitied his people. And the Lord answered and said to his people, Behold, I will send you grain, and wine, and oil, and you shall be satisfied with that; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations;But I will remove far off from you the northerner, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the eastern sea, and his rear toward the western sea, and his stench and foul smell shall rise, though he has done great things. Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice; for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, you beasts of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness shall spring, for the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and the vine yield their strength. Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your G-d; for he has given you the first rain in due measure, and he has brought down for you the rain in the first month, the former rain, and the latter rain.And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, the hopping locust, and the destroying locust, and the cutting locust, my great army which I sent among you. And you shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your G-d, who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people shall never be ashamed. And you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your G-d, and none else; and my people shall never be ashamed.”
The book of “James” directly associates “two rains” (mentioned above) with the coming of the messiah:
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
11 and they have over them a king — the messenger of the abyss — a name [is] to him in Hebrew, Abaddon, and in the Greek he hath a name, Apollyon.
The “destroying angel” is found in numerous Hebraic texts, especially the Zohar. In this section, the destroying angel is seen as G-d’s agent in all cases of harsh judgment:
“We have a dictum that when death rages in a town or in the world at large, no man should show himself in the street, because the destroying angel is then authorised to kill indiscriminately. Hence the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Noah, “It behoves thee to take heed to thyself and not show thyself before the destroyer, so that he may have no power over thee.” You may perhaps say that there was not here any destroying angel, but only the onrush of the overwhelming waters. This is not so; no doom is ever executed on the world, whether of annihilation or any other chastisement, but the destroying angel is in the midst of the visitation. So here there was indeed a flood, but this was only an embodiment of the destroyer who assumed its name.”
Zohar, Bereshith 63a
The following text shows that the destroyer does not harm the one who has G-d’s “mark” upon him:
“We have thus been taught that when the Holy One loves a man, He sends him a present in the shape of a poor man, so that he should perform some good deed to him, through the merit of which he shall draw to himself a cord of grace from the right side which shall wind round his head and imprint a mark on him, so that, when punishment falls on the world, the destroyer, raising his eyes and noticing the mark, will be careful to avoid him and leave him alone.”
Zohar, Bereshith 104a
In this next section, the destroying angel is not allowed to harm the Torah scholar, who is called a “tree.” (See above ‘green’ references.)
“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.”
Zohar, Bemidbar 202a
12 The first wo did go forth, lo, there come yet two woes after these things.
13 And the sixth messenger did sound, and I heard a voice out of the four horns of the altar of gold that is before G-d,
14 saying to the sixth messenger who had the trumpet, `Loose the four messengers who are bound at the great river Euphrates;’
The correlation between the four horns of the altar and “four corners” of the world was discussed in our notes to chapter seven.
The Euphrates is given a negative connotation, and connected to Babylon, in the following Midrash:
“R. Abin opened his discourse with the text, And He changeth the times and the seasons (Daniel 2:21). Jeremiah said to Israel, ‘ Had you been worthy, you would be dwelling in Jerusalem and drinking the waters of Shiloah whose waters are pure and sweet; but now that you are unworthy, you are exiled to Babylon and drink the waters of the Euphrates whose waters are impure and evilsmelling. Hence it is written, And now what hast thou to do in the way to Egypt, to drink the waters of Shihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way to Assyria, to drink the waters of the River? (Jeremiah 2:18). Had you been worthy, you would be dwelling in Jerusalem uttering songs and praises to the Holy One, blessed be He; but new that you are unworthy, you are exiled to Babylon where you utter lamentations.’ Alas! By the rivers of Babylon (Psalm 137:1), Ekah.”
Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations, Prologue 19
In this Midrash, the Euphrates is connected to Edom/Rome:
“AND THE FOURTH RIVER IS PERATH (EUPHRATES): that is Edom, PERATH denoting that it upset (hefirah) and harassed His world; PERATH denoting that it was fruitful (parath) and increased through the blessing of that old man [Isaac]; PERATH also denoting that I [G-d] will ultimately consign it to oblivion (hafer); [finally, it is called] PERATH on account of its ultimate destiny, as it is written, I have trodden the winepress (purah) alone…” (Isaiah 63:3).
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 16:4
15 and loosed were the four messengers, who have been made ready for the hour, and day, and month, and year, that they may kill the third of men;
16 and the number of the forces of the horsemen [is] two myriads of myriads, and I heard the number of them.
17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and those sitting upon them, having breastplates of fire, and jacinth, and brimstone; and the heads of the horses [are] as heads of lions, and out of their mouths proceedeth fire, and smoke, and brimstone;
18 by these three were the third of men killed, from the fire, and from the smoke, and from the brimstone, that is proceeding out of their mouth,
19 for their authorities are in their mouth, and in their tails, for their tails [are] like serpents, having heads, and with them they do injure;
As already mentioned, all angelic and demonic entities serve G-d. Nothing that they do is separate from the will of G-d:
“He prepared for the throne angelic hierarchies to serve Him: malachim (angels), erelim, seraphim, hayoth (living beings), ophanim, hamshalim, elim, elohim, be’ne (sons of) elohim, ishim (supernal “men”). To these He appointed as ministers Samael and all his groups- these are like clouds to ride upon when He descends to earth: they are like horses. That the clouds are called ” chariots” is expressed in the words, “Behold the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt” (Isaiah 19:1).”
Zohar, Shemoth, Raya Mehemna, 43a
Serpents and scorpions are terms used to describe chastisement Israel received from G-d, which He implemented by way of Samael:
‘It is written: “And in the wilderness where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy G-d bare thee as a man doth bear his son in all the way that ye went, until ye came unto this place” (Deuteronomy 1:31). This verse ought surely to run: “And in the wilderness where the Lord thy G-d bare thee”; what is the significance of the words “where thou hast seen”? The answer is as follows. The Holy One led Israel through a terrible wilderness “wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions” (Deuteronomy 8:15); indeed, the most fearful wilderness in the world. Why did He do this? Because in the hour when they left Egypt and increased to the number of sixty myriad souls, the Holy Kingdom was strengthened and stood firm, high above all, and the Moon was illumined, and thus the wicked dominion, the “other side”, was subdued, and the Holy One brought the Israelites out in order to lead them through the terrible wilderness, the very realm and domain of Samael the wicked, in order that the evil power might be broken and the ruler of the regions of darkness be crushed, that it might rear its head no more. Had the Israelites not sinned, the Holy One would have resolved to remove him altogether from the world. Therefore He led them through his very dominion and territory. But when they sinned the serpent stung them many a time, and then was fulfilled that which was written: “He shall bruise thy head (rosh) and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15) – that is to say, Israel first (be-rosh) bruised his head, but because later they knew not how to guard themselves against him he finally smote them and they all fell dead in the wilderness, and then the other half of the verse was fulfilled: “and thou (i.e. the serpent) shalt bruise his heel”. And forty years long were they chastised by him, which corresponded to the forty lashes of the judges. Therefore it says: “where thou hast seen”. They saw with their own eyes the prince of the desert, a prisoner bound before them, and they took his lot and possession. And so I also separated myself from the haunts of men and departed to dwell in the desert in order to be able better to meditate upon the Torah and to subdue that “other side.” Besides, the words of the Torah can best sink into the soul there in the desert, for there is no light except that which issues from darkness, for when that “other side” is subdued the Holy One is exalted in glory. In fact, there can be no true worship except it issue forth from darkness, and no true good except it proceed from evil. And when a man enters upon an evil way and then forsakes it the Holy One is exalted in glory. Hence the perfection of all things is attained when good and evil are first of all commingled, and then become all good, for there is no good so perfect as that which issues out of evil. The divine Glory is extolled and extended thereby, and therein lies the essence of perfect worship. And as for us, we remained in the desert throughout all the days of the year in order to subdue there that “other side”, but now, when the time for the divine worship from the side of holiness has come, we return to an inhabited place where the worship of the Holy One is carried on. Moreover, now in the season of the New Year the time has come for that serpent to demand justice from the Holy One, and he rules there at present, and therefore we went away from there and are come to an inhabited place.’
Zohar, Shemoth 183b-184a
The idea of the “heads” and the “tails” of the horses in verses 17-19 represents the linkage of the various grades of angels and demons all working in one accord. (The concept of “angelic hierarchies” was mentioned in the above notes from Zohar, Shemoth, Raya Mehemna, Page 43a, and elsewhere in this study.) This is similar to how the entities below the four holy creatures followed their movements (i.e., Revelation 4:9-10). The same principle is true in the evil realm.
This passage of the Zohar gives further insight into this concept:
“He then discoursed (concerning the other nations), citing the verse: “How shall I curse, whom EL (G-d) hath not cursed, and how shall I execrate, whom the Lord hath not execrated?” (Num. XXIII, 8). ‘Observe’, he said, ‘that the lower world is modelled on the upper world. On high there is a Right and a Left; so below there are Israel and the idolatrous nations, the former on the right, attached to the holiness of the Holy King, the latter on the left, on the side of the unclean spirit. The grades are linked one with another, all depending finally on the one at the head, and the tail has to move in accordance with the head. Balaam could avail himself of all the lower grades, but he saw that even the lowest was still guided by the head. Hence his declaration: “How shall I curse, whom EL hath not cursed?”, because the superior Head did not exercise rigour in those days. It is true that El denotes Goodness and Mercy, but it also expresses Rigour, as it says, “and El hath indignation every day” (Ps. VII, I2). As for the compound “El-Shaddai”, this signifies the G-d who put a limit to the universe. [Tr. note: SHaDaY (Shaddai)=He who… enough; i.e. He who, at the proper moment, put a limit to the expanding universe at the Creation by the word of command: “Enough!”, v. T.B., Hagigah, 12a.] Hence “How shall I curse, whom El hath not cursed?”. For, as the Head moves, so does the Tail.’[Tr. note: This is in reply to the question of R. Judah as to how men of other nations awake during the night.] R. Eleazar wept. He discoursed on the verse: “The sound thereof shall go like the serpents”, etc. (Jer. XLVI, 22). ‘At the present time,’ he said, ‘when Israel is in exile, he is assuredly as the serpent. For when the serpent presses its head into the sand its tail flies upwards, being master, as it were, and lashing out at anyone near him; so Israel in exile has his head bowed down into the dust whilst the tail obtains the mastery. But although the head is bowed down into the sand, it is the same head, and that directs and rules the movements of the tail; and so at the present time it is indeed the other nations, who are attached to the tail, that rise on high, have the mastery and are lashing out, whilst the head is bowed down into the dust, as it says, “The virgin of Israel is fallen, she shall no more rise” (Amos v, 2); yet it is the head that directs the tail in its motions, as it says: “They made me keeper of the vineyards” (S.S. I, 6), to wit, of the idolatrous nations, which are the tail.”
Zohar, Bemidbar 119b
20 and the rest of men, who were not killed in these plagues, neither did reform from the works of their hands, that they may not bow before the demons, and idols, those of gold, and those of silver, and those of brass, and those of stone, and those of wood, that are neither able to see, nor to hear, nor to walk,
21 yea they did not reform from their murders, nor from their sorceries, nor from their whoredoms, nor from their thefts.
Here we see the principal of midah knegged midah (measure for measure punishment). As men turned from G-d toward demons, G-d now turns these demons upon them.
The idea “bowing down before demons and idols” does not necessitate a “primitive” act of worshiping a physical (i.e., “carved”) statue or anything similar. Involvement with anything “spiritual” that does not correspond to Torah, opens the door to the unleashing of demons as seen in this chapter.
John’s mention of “gold,” “silver,’ “brass,” etc., has a mystical connection to the demonic “abyss/pit” (which is linked to gehenna or hell) itself. This pit is described as having seven levels to it. (Thus making this the “evil counterpart” to Beriah/Heaven, which is also said to have seven levels or “seven heavens” within it):
… they are confined under the greatest concentration of laws in the Universe, constraining them from being too dangerous to themselves and to the Cosmos. Thus, they are imprisoned we are told, in one of the Seven Palaces of Impurity while their impurities are melted, burnt and blasted away like metals under a process of elemental and chemical refinement. Indeed the symbology of the metallic and mineral realms is used to explain the qualities of Hell, with its sometimes slow and sometimes violent methods of extreme pressure, heat, cold and geological aeons of time. This is another reason Hell is placed beneath the Malkut of Earth [Asiyah].
“A Kabbalsitic Universe,” Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1977, p.94.
The book of Enoch speaks of “mountains” of metals being brought down before the presence of G-d:
“And after those days in that place where I had seen all the visions of that which is hidden -for I had been carried off in a whirlwind and they had borne me towards the west-There mine eyes saw all the secret things of heaven that shall be, a mountain of iron, and a mountain of copper, and a mountain of silver, and a mountain of gold, and a mountain of soft metal, and a mountain of lead. And I asked the angel who went with me, saying, ‘What things are these which I have seen in secret?’ And he said unto me: ‘All these things which thou hast seen shall serve the dominion of His Anointed that he may be potent and mighty on the earth.’ And that angel of peace answered, saying unto me: ‘Wait a little, and there shall be revealed unto thee all the secret things which surround the Lord of Spirits. And these mountains which thine eyes have seen, The mountain of iron, and the mountain of copper, and the mountain of silver, And the mountain of gold, and the mountain of soft metal, and the mountain of lead, All these shall be in the presence of the Elect One As wax: before the fire, And like the water which streams down from above [upon those mountains], And they shall become powerless before his feet. And it shall come to pass in those days that none shall be saved, Either by gold or by silver, And none be able to escape. And there shall be no iron for war, Nor shall one clothe oneself with a breastplate. Bronze shall be of no service, And tin [shall be of no service and] shall not be esteemed, And lead shall not be desired. And all these things shall be [denied and] destroyed from the surface of the earth, When the Elect One shall appear before the face of the Lord of Spirits.”
The book of Enoch also offers the following views on this subject:
And He will imprison those angels, who have shown unrighteousness, in that burning valley which my grandfather Enoch had formerly shown to me in the west among the mountains of gold and silver and iron and soft metal and tin. And I saw that valley in which there was a great convulsion and a convulsion of the waters. And when all this took place, from that fiery molten metal and from the convulsion thereof in that place, there was produced a smell of sulphur, and it was connected with those waters, and that valley of the angels who had led astray (mankind) burned beneath that land. And through its valleys proceed streams of fire, where these angels are punished who had led astray those who dwell upon the earth.
And again I swear to you, ye sinners, that sin is prepared for a day of unceasing bloodshed. And they who worship stones, and grave images of gold and silver and wood (and stone) and clay, and those who worship impure spirits and demons, and all kinds of idols not according to knowledge, shall get no manner of help from them. And they shall become godless by reason of the folly of their hearts, And their eyes shall be blinded through the fear of their hearts And through visions in their dreams. Through these they shall become godless and fearful; For they shall have wrought all their work in a lie, And shall have worshiped a stone: Therefore in an instant shall they perish.
The Zohar speaks of the significance of metals in both worship of G-d and false worship:
“AND THE BRASS OF THE WAVING WAS SEVENTY TALENTS. Said R. Judah: ‘All this descends here below in the supernal image, containing the mystery of Faith. To the same pattern did Nebuchadnezzar make the image that he erected.’ R. Jose said: ‘It was not the image he made that was after the same pattern, but the image that he saw in his dream, an image made of gold, of silver and brass. Now, iron and clay were not worthy to enter into the work of the Tabernacle, but only those three metals. There is a recondite significance in the triad of metals. There were other materials that formed into tetrads, as the four fabrics consisting of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine linen, or the four rows of stones (in the breastplate).’ R. Judah said: ‘Some of them formed into threes, some into fours, some into twos, and again others were kept single. Nevertheless, an Order proper consists of a triad.”
Zohar, Shemoth 228a
THE FIVE SINS
In these two verses, John associates five categories of sin with the plague of demons that was brought forth.
- Whoredom (sexual sin)
We will examine each of these sins with regard to their connection to the demonic realm. Attention will be given to the generation of the flood, as in Matthew 24:37 it is said that the last days would mirror the days of Noah.
At the time of the flood, mankind had sunk to its lowest in many ways. One of these concerned the “level of idolatry” they stooped to. Although all forms of idolatry are bad, when people go from worshipping the higher angels or men (which are “close” to G-d) to the lowest demons (which are “far” from G-d), this is considered a further indication of their decayed spiritual state.
Rabbi Nachmanides had the following to say about this:
“The third group of idol worshippers eventually served demons, a type of spirit, for also of them are appointed over nations to damage their enemies. Regarding this, the verse says (Deuteronomy 32:17): “They sacrificed to demons, which were not G-d: gods that they did not know; new ones recently concocted, whom your forefathers did not dread.” The verse makes fun of them; they sacrifice to demons, which are not Divine at all. They are not [even] like angels, or separate intelligences that are called Divine, but these are gods they never know, that is, they have no Divinity or power, they are newly thought up, in other words, they learned of them anew from the Egyptians, who engage in sorcery, and even your wicked forefathers such as Terach and Nimrod weren’t afraid of them.”
“Ramban, Philosopher and Kabbalist,” Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc., Jerusalem, 1998, pp. 198-199.
Aside from the obvious transgression of unjustly taking a human life, there is another aspect of murder directly associated with the Sitra Atra (the evil realm). As demons both live and die, one may ask, “What sustains and empowers them?” It is well known that throughout history, people have sacrificed human beings to various spiritual entities in order to acquire benefit from them. Aside from “formal” sacrificial rites, the very act of murder (the “shedding of blood”) also empowers these beings.
We know from Scripture that blood contains the spiritual life force, therefore blood is very powerful. Kabbalistically, when people sin they impact the subtle balance between the physical and non-physical worlds. A sin causes “energy” to be used in the physical world in a spiritually improper manner. As energy is taken, it must be returned. Lucky for us, instead of taking our lives to restore this balance, G-d ordained animal sacrifice as a substitute.
The ‘forces of the Sitra Achra’ also know that blood, especially human blood contains such “power.” Through the shedding of human blood, these forces acquire spiritual energy from the universe. As an example, looking back in history, people have wondered how the Nazis came to power and achieved such great technological advances so quickly. It is known that the Nazis had great interest in the occult and spent huge sums of money investigating such things. (Hollywood movies such as “Seven Years in Tibet” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” touch on this subject.) It could be that they were empowered by demons in exchange for all the blood they shed.
Sorcery involves “tapping into” the powers of what is beyond the purely physical realm, specifically the angelic world of Yetzirah, in a way not approved by G-d. There are numerous ways to do this, including; use of drugs, spiritual incantations, and “psychic powers.”
This section of the Zohar explains how the ability to draw power from the world of Yetzirah (through magic/divination) caused the generation of the flood to think they did not need G-d and could fend off any judgment coming from Him:
“R. Eleazar said: ‘In the time of Enosh, men were skilled in magic and divination, and in the art of controlling the heavenly forces. Adam had brought with him from the Garden of Eden the knowledge of “the leaves of the tree”, but he and his wife and their children did not practice it. When Enosh came, however, he saw the advantage of these arts and how the heavenly courses could be altered by them, and he and his contemporaries studied them and practiced magic and divination. From them these arts descended to the generation of the Flood and were practiced for evil purposes by all the men of that time. Relying upon these arts, they defied Noah, saying that divine justice could never be executed upon them, since they knew a way to avert it. The practice of these arts commenced with Enosh, and hence it is said of his time, THEN WAS THE NAME OF THE LORD CALLED UPON PROFANELY. R. Isaac said: All the righteous men that were among them sought to restrain them, such as Jered, Methuselah, and Enoch, but without success, and the world became full of sinners who rebelled against their Master saying, “What is the Almighty that we should serve him?” (Job 21:15). This is not so foolish as it sounds, for they knew all the arts we have mentioned and all the ruling chieftains in charge of the world, and on this knowledge they relied, until at length G-d disabused them by restoring the earth to its primitive state and covering it with water. Later, He again restored it and made it productive, since He looked upon it with mercy, as it is written, “The Lord sat at the Flood”-”the Lord” signifying the attribute of mercy. In the days of Enoch even children were acquainted with these mysterious arts.’ Said R. Yesa: ‘If so, how could they be so blind as not to know that G-d intended to bring the Flood upon them and destroy them?’ R. Isaac replied: ‘They did know, but they thought they were safe because they were acquainted with the angel in charge of fire and the angel in charge of water, and had means of preventing them from executing judgement on them. What they did not know was that G-d rules the world and that punishment proceeds from Him. They only saw that the world was entrusted to those chieftains and that everything was done through them, and therefore they took no heed of G-d and His works until the time came for the earth to be destroyed and the Holy Spirit proclaimed every day, “Let sinners be consumed out of the earth and let the wicked be no more” (Psalm 104:35). G-d gave them a respite all the time that the righteous men Jered, Methuselah, and Enoch were alive; but when they departed from the world, G-d let punishment descend upon them and they perished, as it says, “and they were blotted out from the earth” (Genesis 7:23).”
Zohar, Bereshith 56a
Illicit sexual activity is associated through kabbalistic writings as actually “creating demons.” (Note how many Torah commands deal with sex, from adultery, to homosexuality, to incest to bestiality — and how these merit the death penalty.)
The following passages from both Zohar, Midrash and Talmud discuss the sexual sins of Noah’s time:
“There is no sin in the world which so much provokes the anger of the Almighty as the sin of neglecting the covenant, as we read, “a sword that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant” (Lev. XXVI, 25). The proof is that in the generation of the Flood the measure of sin was not filled up until mankind became (sexually) perverted and destroyed their seed.”
Zohar, Bereshith 66b
“The men of the generation of the Flood used to act thus: each took two wives, one for procreation and the other for sexual gratification. The former would stay like a widow through- out her life, while the latter was given to drink a potion of roots, so that she should not bear, and then she sat before him like a harlot, as it is written, He devoureth the barren that beareth not, and doeth not good to the widow (Job XXlV, 21). The proof of this is that the best of them, who was Lamech, took two wives, Adah, [so called] because he kept her away (ya’ade) from himself; and Zillah, to sit in his shadow (zillo).”
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 23:3
“Hence it is written, For they were fair, which refers to virgins; And they took them wives, refers to married women, Whomsoever they chose: that means males and beasts. R. Huna said in R, Joseph’s name: The generation of the Flood were not blotted out from the world until they composed nuptial songs in honour of pederasty and bestiality. R. Simlai said: Wherever you find lust, an epidemic visits the world which slays both good and bad.”
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 26:5
“For all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. R. Johanan said: This teaches that they caused beasts and animals, animals and beasts, to copulate; and all of these were brought in connection with man, and man with them all.”
Talmud, Sanhedrin 108a
“The Generation of the Flood were blotted out from the world because they were steeped in whoredom. R. Samlai observed: In every instance where you find the prevalence of whoredom, an androlepsia1 comes upon the world and slays both good and bad. R. Huna says in the name of R. Jose: The Generation of the Flood were only blotted out of the world on account of their having written hymenean songs for sodomy. R. ‘Azariah in the name of R. Judah son of R. Simeon and R. Joshua b. Levi in the name of Bar Kappara say: We find that the Holy One, blessed be He, is long-suffering towards every offence except whoredom, and there are numerous texts to bear this out.”
Midrash Rabbah, Leviticus 23:9
On a related note, the number of Internet web sites dedicated to the practices of; bestiality, incest and pedophilia, has increased dramatically in the past couple of years — another sign that we are mirroring the days of Noah.
Should anyone consider that the inclusion of “theft” is oddly placed among the other sins in that it is “less serious,” consider what has been said about stealing:
“And G-d said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me. R. Johanan said: Come and see how great is the power of robbery. For lo, though the generation of the flood transgressed all laws, their decree of punishment was sealed only because they stretched out their hands to rob, as it is written, for the earth is filled with violence through them, and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And it is ‘also written, Violence [i.e., robbery] is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.”
Talmud, Sanhedrin 108a
“It is like the case of a basketful that is full of iniquities. Which of these discredits the basketful? Robbery.”
Midrash Rabbah, Leviticus 33:3
“To rob a fellow-man even of the value of a perutah [a very small amount] is like taking away his life.”
Talmud, Baba Kama 119a
“Rain is withheld only because of the sin of violent robbery.”
Talmud, Ta’anith 7b
“Ordinary robbery is worse than the robbery of the Most High.”
Talmud, Baba Bathra 88b
Even Yom Kippur would not bring atonement for theft, unless the thief made things right with his victim:
“[If one says]: I shall sin and the day of atonement will procure atonement for me, the day of atonement procures for him no atonement. For transgressions as between man and the omnipresent the day of atonement procures atonement, but for transgressions as between man and his fellow the day of atonement does not procure any atonement, until he has pacified his fellow.”
Mishnah Yoma 85b
It is rather remarkable that the Talmud, Midrash and New Testament are in such alignment on this specific issue.