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Revelation 13:11 to 13:15
Last update: August 10, 2003


11   And I saw another beast coming up out of the land, and it had two horns, like a lamb, and it was speaking as a dragon,

The origin of this second beast is said to be from "the land," giving it a more direct connection to the physical world of Asiyyah. (Recall however, that Asiyyah also has a spiritual aspect to it.)

Throughout this chapter, John presents the idea of an unholy unity of beings. The following passage from the Zohar adds some insight. Compare the context of the words of Ephraim in the text below, "I have become rich ..." [from Hosea 12:8], with that of the Laodicean congregation in chapter 3 of this study:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 67b - 'Observe this. In the mystic doctrine of the Holy Name we speak of King and Priest, both above and below. The King above is the mystic Holy of Holies,. [Tr. note: Binah.] and under him there is a Priest, the mystic Primeval Light, who ministers before him; he is the priest who is called “great” and is stationed at the right hand. There is a King below, in the likeness of the King above, who is king over all that is below; and under him there is a Priest who ministers to him: this is he whom we call Michael, the High Priest, who is at the right hand. All this constitutes the true object of faith, that of the side of holiness. On the “other side”, the side which is not holy, there is also a king, the one who is called “an old king and a fool” (Eccl. IV, 13), and the priest, who is under him and ministers to him, is On (=aven, nothingness, idolatry); he is alluded to in the verse: “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 committted by Jeroboam (I Kings XII, 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” (Isa. II, 11). In just the same way God broke here on earth the power of an “old and foolish king”, namely Pharaoh, who, when Moses said to him, “The God 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...” (Ex. XVIII, 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.’

12   and all the authority of the first beast doth it do before it, and it maketh the land and those dwelling in it that they shall bow before the first beast, whose deadly stroke was healed,
13   and it doth great signs, that fire also it may make to come down from the heaven to the earth before men,

This deception mimics Elijah's bringing fire down from heaven, thus showing himself to be a "prophet of God." Jewish tradition is clear that Elijah will come with Messiah at the end of the age, thus the two beasts counterfeit the messianic King and the great prophet:

Midrash Rabbah - Numbers II:13 - As any one of the stars can burn up the whole world, so the righteous; Elijah, for example, at whose word fire came down from heaven; as it is said, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty (II Kings I, 10).

Another interesting possibility is that the second beast is associated with a "resurrection" of the first beast. This too would parallel (counterfeit) Jewish ideas regarding the role of Elijah in the end times.

As seen in the following quotations (cited in Raphael Patai's book, "The Messiah Texts" 1) Elijah is either responsible for the coming resurrection of the dead, or the latter is a sign that Elijah is about to appear. Either scenario might relate to the actions of the beasts or Revelation:

M. Sota 9:15 - The resurrection of the dead will come through Elijah of blessed memory, Amen.

Y. Sheqalim 47c - The resurrection of the dead will bring about (the coming of) Elijah of blessed memory.

14   and it leadeth astray those dwelling on the land, because of the signs that were given it to do before the beast, saying to those dwelling upon the land to make an image to the beast that hath the stroke of the sword and did live,
15   and there was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, that also the image of the beast may speak, and [that] it may cause as many as shall not bow before the image of the beast, that they may be killed.

The second beast (emanating from Asiyyah) commands people to make an image to the first beast (emanating from Yetzirah). This image parallels that of Nebuchadnezzar - to a greater extent than John informs us. The following text gives us a critical piece of information regarding Nebuchadnezzar's idol, not found in the Tenakh -- it actually spoke:

Midrash Rabbah - The Song of Songs VII:15 - The Rabbis say: Nebuchadnezzar tried to entice Daniel, saying to him, ‘Will you not bow down to the image, for it is strong and real? Come and see what it can do.’ He said to him, ‘and you will bow down to it of yourself.’ What did that wicked king do? He took the plate of the High Priest and put it in the mouth of the image, and then he brought together all manner of musicians who played hymns to it, and it responded, ‘I am the Lord thy God.’ When Daniel saw this, he said: ‘Will you permit me to go up to it and kiss your image on the mouth?’ ‘Why on the mouth?’, he said to him. ' Because,’ he replied, ‘it speaks so excellently.’ He thereupon gave him permission. Going up to it, he adjured the plate saying, ' I am flesh and blood, and I am the messenger of the Holy One, blessed be He; I bid thee take good heed that the name of heaven should not be profaned through thee, and command thee to follow me.’ He then approached to kiss it and took that which it had swallowed out of its mouth. When he came down the various musicians assembled and played hymns before it, but it made no response; and straightway the wind blew down the image. When the heathen saw the wonders and mighty deeds that God had wrought with Hananiah and his companions, they took their idols and broke them, and made them into bells which they hung on their dogs and their asses, and when they tinkled they said, ‘You see now to what we used to bow down,’ to fulfil what is said, ‘Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth’; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle (Isa. XLVI, 1).

One ancient kabbalistic text links Nebuchadnezzar's actions directly to the tower of Babel and that "Generation of Division":

"It (the Tower of Babel) will make a name for us ..." (Genesis 11:4) Then (later) Nebuchadnezzar came after he had destroyed lands, uprooted kingdoms and cast his hand upon the Temple. He saw that he was able to do this and then returned to activate this evil thought that the Generation of Division had connived to assert. This is the essence of the statement: "King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue of gold sixty cubits high and six cubits broad. He set it up in the BIKAH of Dura in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:1) This is the same BIKAH: "They came upon a BIKAH (a valley, also a breach) in the land of Shinar and thus they gave it the name Babylon. (Genesis 11:9) This same wicked man wanted to complete the thought of the Generation of Division which could not do it. ... The one who understands this will understand the essence of all that is said in the chapters that deal with the Generation of Division, and the idol of Nebuchadnezzar, and will realize how identical these situations are and he will realize how far the wicked one's designs reached with that idol ..." 2

THE IMAGE - A HYPOTHESIS

Note that in the previous account, the "power" received by the image, enabling it to speak, came about by Nebuchadnezzar placing what was a "holy" object (the head plate of the High Priest) into its mouth. The righteous Daniel actually spoke to the plate (not to allow itself to be used for evil) and it responded.

There is an important principle in Scripture that we will apply to a hypothesis regarding John's image, and that is, "timing is everything." A good example is in the story of the "ten spies" that Moses sent ahead to check out the land. The result was that the people did not go forward to take the land as they had been told. Subsequently they regretted what they had done (or failed to do) and announced they would now go forward. Moses however, told them that they had lost their chance and to not attempt this. In a moment of great "religious fervor," they disregarded Moses' warning, went ahead and were badly beaten by their enemies.

The "talking image" in Revelation may be such a case of "bad timing." If in fact this image is once again caused to speak by use of the head plate of the High Priest (or some other Temple artifact) where would this item have come from?

Interestingly, there are Jewish and Christian groups working today toward rebuilding the Temple, who have constructed many of the necessary implements. One might ask however; Who said they were to do this? Where in Scripture does God give this task to anyone? Does Israel "merit" this temple in its current spiritual state?

Could it be that this will be another case of "religious fervor" that will backfire and be used in a nefarious fashion? Is this a wicked generation mistakingly "going forward" [in what it believes is a "good" action] when it should not? Will the coming evil one say, "those will do nicely" to the people who have re-created the Temple implements and then use them for evil?

This is simply something to consider.

SPEECH - THE "WORD"

"Speech" is highly significant throughout Scripture, from the words of Creation, to the voice of God at the giving of the Torah, to the "Word of God" in heaven, etc. As mentioned in an earlier study, the Millennial Kingdom is called Malkut Pei (kingdom of the mouth) for this reason.

Speech, at a deep spiritual level, can be used for good or evil:

Just as the generation of the Tower of Bavel used their power of speech and potential godliness to rebel against G-d, so too was Bilaam about to use that very same power to curse the holiest nation on earth. At least, that is what he thought. What he found out instead was that his diabolical scheme ran in the face of the primal purpose of creation, something he had to find out from a donkey's mouth. In fact, Shabbos is called "Malchus Peh," the "Kingdom of the Mouth," (which is why some people will only speak in Hebrew on Shabbos). 3

Interestingly, Nebuchadnezzar's own guardian angel has a name closely associated with this idea:

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XXI:5 - God does not cast down a nation before He destroys their guardian angel first. You will find that in the case of Nebuchadnezzar also God first overthrew his guardian angel, for it says, While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell Kal [E.V. ‘a voice’] from heaven (Dan. IV, 28). R. Joshua b. Abin said: The guardian angel of Nebuchadnezzar was named ' Kal ‘, and him God cast down.

The following amazing text relates the idea of speech to the concepts of "first born Son," "holy sun," "tabernacle" (for all the sephirot) and "bridegroom". Note the significance of the letter combinations coming together to create something spiritually significant. This will be discussed further in the comments to verses 16-18 later in this study:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 136b, 137a - When the Sabbath day itself lightens, a spirit of tranquil joy ascends through all worlds. This is the significance of the Psalm (recited on Sabbath morning): “The heavens tell the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.” ‘What is meant by “Heaven”? That heaven in which the Supernal Name is made visible (shama-yim- heaven; shem-Name). What is the meaning of the word “tell” (mesaprim)? Assuredly not the mere telling of a tale. Far otherwise! It signifies that they are illumined from the flashing of the supernal Point and ascend in the Name which is contained in the light-stream of the supernal perfectness. They flash and lighten of themselves through the lightening and flashing of the Supernal Book; [Tr. note: Malkuth.] they lighten and flash towards all the sides which are attached to them, and each sphere retains unto itself a little of this light, for from that sapphire-like radiance every ring in the chain derives its light and radiance. For upon this day (Sabbath) the heavens are crowned and ascend in the power of the Holy Name more than on any other day. “His handiwork” is the supernal Dew which streams forth from all the hidden regions; it is “the work of His hands”, and His self-fulfilment wherein He completes and perfects Himself on this day more than upon any other. This dew “streams down” (maggid in the Aramaic sense) from the Head of the King, with an abundance of blessing, the “firmament” here signifying the stream issuing from the Cistern, the “River which went out of Eden”, which flows earthwards, as the stream of the Supernal Dew which gleams and flashes from all sides. This “firmament” draws it downward upon a current of love and desire, in order that it may water the field of bliss and joy at the entrance of the Sabbath. When that fair pearled Dew streameth down, the whole becomes full and complete in its holy letters acting through all their holy channels; since all is united to it, a path is opened to it to water and bless all below. “Day unto day”-one day to another, one ring or sphere unto its fellow. Here Scripture speaks in detail concerning the manner in which the heavens radiate sapphire brightness to that Glory, and how that “Firmament” of the supernal Dew causes the downward flow of the current. “Day unto day utters speech.” Day unto day, grade unto grade, in order that the one should complete itself in the other, and one be illumined by the other from the luminous and sparkling radiance of the Sapphire which is reflected by the heavens back to the central glory. The word yabia’ (uttereth) can be translated “hasteneth”: they hasten to catch the light and the flashing one from another. The word OMeR (speech) indicates the letters and paths which proceed from the Father[Tr. note: Hokmah.] the Mother, [Tr. note: Binah.] and the head which issues from them, who is the firstborn Son. [Tr. note: ‘ Tifereth.] Aleph symbolizes the Father, and when it ascends and descends, the Mem unites itself with it, producing em, which signifies Mother; the resh is the Head (rosh =head), signifying Son. When these three unite the result is that they form “Word”, “Speech”. Thus the Father, the Mother, and the first born Son radiate one within the other in one union, which has its reign and duration upon the Sabbath. Thus all are united so as to become one, and therefore they hasten one to another that Omer, as a supernal reign, in order that all should be one. But when all has been conveyed down to that “firmament”, then it diffuses light upon the “Glory of God” below that it may produce beings in the likeness of the heavens which give light to that Glory. “And night unto night declareth knowledge.” These are those “chariots” which form the body of the Throne; they are called “nights”, as it is written: “My reins also instruct me in the nights” (Ps. XVI, 7). The upper chariot is called “Days” or “day unto day’,, the lower “Nights”, or “night unto night”. Ye-hawe (declares) may also mean “makes alive”, to wit, produces the progeny of the heavens, “brings unto life” generations. “Knowledge” designates the mystery of the heavens: as the heavens have six sides, so also the generations which they bring into life in their likeness. Thus “day unto day” is included in a supernal sphere called “Word” (omer), and “night unto night” in the mystery of the Male, who gives light to her and whose name is “Knowledge”. And because this “Word” is not like other words, but is a supernal mystery, Scripture comes back to it and says: “There is no word (omer) nor speeches, their voices are not heard” (v. 3). This “word” is a supreme mystery of supernal grades, where there are no voices nor speech, and which cannot be understood like the other grades which constitute the mystery of the Faith, and which are voices that can be heard. And yet “Their line is gone out through all the earth” (v. 4), although they are supernal mysteries which can never be perfectly comprehended, yet the current of their flow is downward. Because of this current, we have a true Faith in this world, and all mankind can discourse of the mystery of the Faith of the Holy One in connection with these grades, as if they were revealed to and not hidden from them. Therefore it says: “And their words to the end of the world” (Ibid.), which means that from the beginning to the end of the world the “wise of heart” discourse of those hidden grades although they cannot be comprehended. And how far are they comprehended? “In them hath he set a tent for the sun” (Ibid.), because the holy sun [Tr. note: ‘ Tifereth.] is as a tabernacle of all those supreme grades, and is as a light which has taken into itself all the hidden lights and the whole current of their extension, whereby Faith is manifested in the whole world. To grasp the Sun is equivalent to grasping all grades, because the sun is a “tent” including all and absorbing all; and he in turn lights up all the shining colours below. Hence “He is a bridegroom coming forth from his canopy (covering)” (v. 6), in the gleam and flash of those hidden lights which in strong yearning and desire give him tokens of their love, as to a bridegroom to whom all his friends give presents and gifts.

IDOLATRY

The sin of verse 15 of course is idolatry. It has been typical of Israel's enemies in the past to try to induce them into this sin. The following passage informs us that Haman (from the book of Esther) was also involved in having God's people bow to an idol. Note that this Midrash makes a point to associate the refusal to bow to an idol with the idea of "unification of the Name of God," which as we mentioned in the introductory comments to this chapter, is the "battleground" of Revelation:

Midrash Rabbah - Esther VI:2 -2. THERE WAS A MAN, A JEW IN SHUSHAN THE CASTLE. The word MAN here tells us that Mordecai in his generation was equal to Moses in his; for of Moses too it is written, Now the man Moses was very meek (Num. XII, 3). Just as Moses stood in the breach, as it is written, Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breach (Ps. CVI, 23), so did Mordecai, as it is written, Seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his seed (Est. X, 3). Just as Moses taught Israel Torah, as it is written, Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances (Deut. IV, 5), so did Mordecai, as it is written, And he sent letters... with words of peace and truth (Est. IX, 30), [and truth means Torah], as it is written, Buy the truth, and sell it not (Prov. XXIII, 23). WHOSE NAME WAS MORDECAI. The wicked in Scripture come before their name, as it says, Nabal was his name, Sheba son of Bikri was his name. But the righteous are preceded by the word ' name ‘, as it says, And his name was Manoah, And his name was Kish, And his name was Elkanah, And his name was Boaz, AND HIS NAME WAS MORDECAI. The reason is that they resemble their Creator, of whom it is written, But by My name The Lord made Me not known to them (Ex. VI, 2). A JEW [lit. A JUDEAN]. Why is he called A JUDEAN; surely he was a Benjamite? Because he declared the unity of God's name in the face of all mankind, as it is written, But Mordecai bowed not down nor prostrated himself before him (Est. III, 2). Was Mordecai then looking for quarrels or disobedient to the king's command? The fact is that when Ahasuerus ordered that all should bow down to Haman, the latter fixed an idolatrous image on his breast for the purpose of making all bow down to an idol. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down to it, he was filled with wrath. Said Mordecai to him: ' There is a lord who is exalted above all the exalted; how can I abandon Him and bow down to an idol?’ And so because he proclaimed the unity of God's name he was called YEHUDI (JUDEAN), as much as to say yehidi (unique). Some say he was equal to Abraham in his generation. Just as our father Abraham allowed himself to be cast into the fiery furnace and converted his fellowmen and made them acknowledge the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it says, And the souls which they had gotten in Haran (Gen. XII, 5), so in the days of Mordecai men acknowledged the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it says, And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews (Est. VIII, 17), and he proclaimed the unity of God's name and sanctified it. Therefore he was called YEHUDI, as it says, A JUDEAN MAN; read not YEHUDI but yehidi.

AMALEK & THE "MIXED MULTITUDE"

What is happening to cause these terrible events to happen to Israel and to the world? As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter's notes, in order to gain understanding of what may happen in the future, we can often go to the historical record.

The figure of Amalek (first mentioned in Genesis 14:17) gives us a specific insight as his persecution of Israel. Amalek is directly tied to "doubt" (versus faith) on the part of God's people. When the Hebrew people doubt God, Amalek strikes. In gammatria, the numerical value of "Amalek" (240) and the word for "doubt" (safek) are the same.

We begin with a short citation from the Midrash on Numbers:

Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XIX:20 - The Amalekites were ever a strap of chastisement for Israel. You find that as soon as they said, Is the Lord among us? (Deuteronomy 17:7), Came Amalek (ib. 8). When They said one to another: Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt (Num. XIV, 4), Then the Amalakite and the Canaanite... came down (ib. 45).

The Zohar offers a similar view:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 65b-66a - When a young man who lives at ease in his father's house begins to make all sorts of complaints and demands, saying, “I want this, and I do not want that”, he attaches himself to that “sore evil”, and he will be punished both in this world and in the world to come. Concerning such a case, King Solomon said: “There is a sore evil... riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.” Such was the case of the Israelites: the Holy One, blessed be He, carried them on eagles’ wings, encircled them with the clouds of glory, made the Shekinah go before them, gave them manna to eat, and sweet water to drink, and yet they complained! Hence, “and Amalek came."

The idea of "doubt" being a critical sin was actually brought up earlier in John's vision:

Revelation 3:15-16 - I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

These ideas of doubt and lukewarmness, as connected to Amalek, are said to infect the Jewish people at certain times in history, one being at the time of the sin of the golden calf:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 28b - The mixed multitude are the impurity which the serpent injected into Eve. From this impurity came forth Cain, who killed Abel.... From Cain was descended Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, as it is written, “And the sons of the Kenite the father-in-law of Moses” (Jud. I, 16), and according to tradition he was called Kenite because he originated from Cain. Moses, in order to screen the reproach of his father-in-law, sought to convert the “mixed multitude” (the descendants of Cain), although God warned him, saying, “They are of an evil stock; beware of them.” Through them Moses was banished from his proper place and was not privileged to enter the land of Israel, for through them he sinned in striking the rock when he was told to speak to it (Num. XX, 8); it was they who brought him to this. And withal God takes account of a good motive, and since Moses’ motive in converting them was good, as has been said, therefore God said to him, “I shall make thee a nation greater and mightier than he” (Ibid. XIV, 12). In regard to them it is written, “Whoso hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Ex. XXXII, 33), for they are of the seed of Amalek, of whom it is said, “thou shalt blot out the memory of Amalek” (Deut. XXV, 19): it was they who caused the two tablets of the Law to be broken.

Amalek's power is traced directly to the serpent, the master of planting doubt in the minds of humans (i.e, such as in the Garden of Eden story).

"What does DOR DOR (from generation to generation) mean? Amalek the wicked comes from the power of the primordial snake, and it is there that he connects and draws his strength." 4

Amalek is directly associated with Samael, the archangel of evil. He is the cause of the "three great sins" -- idolatry, murder and unchastity (sexual sin):

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 28b,29a - Various impurities are mingled in the composition of Israel, like animals among men. One kind is from the side of the serpent; another from the side of the Gentiles, who are compared to the beasts of the field; another from the side of mazikin (goblins), for the souls of the wicked are literally the mazikin (goblins) of the world; and there is an impurity from the side of the demons and evil spirits; and there is none so cursed among them as Amalek, who is the evil serpent, the “strange god”. He is the cause of all unchastity and murder, and his twin-soul is the poison of idolatry, the two together being called Samael (lit. poison-god). There is more than one Samael, and they are not all equal, but this side of the serpent is accursed above all of them.

The three sins of  idolatry, murder and unchastity are those for which a Jew is expected to give up his life. In other cases, it is permitted to sin if one's life is at stake:

Talmud, Sanhedrin 74a - R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: By a majority vote, it was resolved in the upper chambers of the house of Nithza in Lydda18 that in every [other] law of the Torah, if a man is commanded: ‘Transgress and suffer not death’ he may transgress and not suffer death, excepting idolatry, incest, [which includes adultery] and murder.

These three sins are said to be what caused the destruction of the first temple:

Talmud, Yoma 9b - Why was the first Sanctuary destroyed? Because of three [evil] things which prevailed there: idolatry, immorality, bloodshed.

(See Revelation 9:21 which adds "theft" to these others.)

The greatness of Amalek's power is seen in this commentary on Israel's war with with him:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 66a - 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 God 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. AND THEY TOOK A STONE AND PUT IT UNDER HIM AND HE SAT THEREON: to participate in the distress of Israel.

The Talmud equates the elevation of Moses' hands in the battle against Amalek with faith on the part of Israel (and conversely, the lowering of his hands with their doubt):

Talmud, Rosh Hashana 29a - Now did the hands of Moses wage war or crush the enemy? Not so; only the text signifies that so long as Israel turned their thoughts above and subjected their hearts to their father in heaven they prevailed, but otherwise they fell.

Although Amalek was killed long ago, the Torah and other writings testify to the idea that the spirit of Amalek will not be done away with until the coming of Messiah:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 25b - But withal redemption will not be complete until Amalek will be exterminated, for against Amalek the oath was taken that “the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex. XVII,16).

The following passage associates the coming of Amalek with the union of two evil spiritual forces coming together. This text also portrays the brazenness of Amalek as having no regard for God whatsoever:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 65a - And this is the meaning of the words, “blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass”, namely, the two “Crowns of the Left”, to which are attached the pagan nations who are called “ox and ass”. When the Israelites are worthy, then they dismiss these evil powers, and they have no dominion over them.’ Said R. Abba: ‘When the two (i.e. the ox and the ass) are united, the inhabitants of the world cannot stand up against them. For this reason it is prohibited to “plough with an ox and an ass together” (Deut. XXII, 10). From them, when united, emanates the power, called “dog”, which is more insolent than all of them. Said the Holy One, blessed be He: “Ye said, ‘is the Lord in our midst or not?’ Behold, I will deliver you to the dog!”, and straightway came Amalek.’ R. Judah said: ‘It is written, “Amalek is the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever” (Num. XXIV, 20). Was, then, Amalek the first of the nations? Were there not many tribes, nations, and peoples in the world before Amalek came? But the meaning is that Amalek was the first nation who feared not to proclaim war against Israel, as it says, “and he feared not God” (Deut. XXIV, 18); whilst the other nations were filled with fear and trembling before Israel at the time of the Exodus, as it says: “The peoples heard and were afraid; trembling took hold of the inhabitants of Pelesheth” (Ex. xv, 14); in fact, apart from Amalek there was no nation that was not awestruck before the mighty works of the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore “his latter end shall be that he perish for ever”.’

As mentioned throughout this study, the cure for Israel's woes is the Torah:

The Torah says: "Amalek battled Israel in (a place called) Refidim" (Exodus 17:8). The Midrash explains that the name "Refidim" is a contraction of Hebrew words meaning "they loosened their grip on Torah." As long as the Jews were diligent in Torah study, Amalek had no dominion over them. But as soon as Jewish study became lax, they were in danger. 5

We can now make the following contrasts and comparisons:

  • faith is contrasted to Amalek/doubt (and the anti-Messiah of Revelation)
  • the establishment of the Temple (and the Throne of God) is contrasted to haSatan's opposition to this. (See previous notes to 13:6 on the beast blaspheming the Holy Temple.)
  • study of Torah is the antidote to this doubt

Thus "doubt," caused by lack of Torah study, is a tactic used by the enemy to prevent the "completion" of the Temple/Throne of God and the unification of His Name. Anything that disuades people from being "hearers and doers" of the Torah is of Amalek and the anti-Messiah.

A modern teacher/author ties this all together as follows:

When the Beit HaMikdash was eventually constructed on the holy mountain, symbolizing the possibility of human connection with God and holiness, its spiritual foundations are traced back to the prayers Moshe uttered on that hill in the desert. In the aftermath of that first battle we are told that until Amalek is ultimately and completely defeated, something will remain missing in this world and the celestial spheres (Exodus 17:14-16) ... for as long as Amalek is around, spewing his venom, the throne of God and God's Name are, as it were, incomplete. Evil has a foothold in this world as long as God's holiness is not completely manifest. The symbol of the destruction of evil is the final victory in the epic battle with Amalek. Yerusshlayim (Jerusalem) represents God's throne on earth; Amalek represents the attack on the throne. 6


1. The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1979, p. 143.

2. Sha'are Orah (Gates of Light) Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, English translation by Avi Weinstein, Altamira Press, London, 1994, p. 363.

3. Perceptions On The Parsha, Parshas Balak, "Balak Magic," Rabbi Pinchas Winston -   http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5759/balak.html This parsha study is also interesting as it relates the teaching concerning Balak's practice of inserting the tongue of a real bird into the statue of a bird in order to cause it to reveal prophecy.

4. Sha'are Orah (Gates of Light) Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, English translation by Avi Weinstein, Altamira Press, London, 1994, p. 320.

5. From http://www.aish.com/purimthemes/purimthemesdefault/Haman_Heir_to_Amalek.asp

6. Emanations: In-depth analysis of the Jewish holidays through the prism of rabbinic perspective, Ari D. Kahn, Targum/Feldheim, 2002, p. 114.


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