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Revelation 14:1c
Last update: January 14, 2005


1c ... and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads.

Verse 14:1 gives the impression that the presense of the Lord becomes "closer" as events draw to their conclusion on earth - i.e., the "Lamb" has "moved" from the Throne (Beriah) to Mount Zion (Yetzirah) - and eventually makes it to Asiyyah - the physical realm. The idea of the Divine Presence being "nearer" to us at certain times is fundamentel. We will briefly address this concept before continuing with the rest of the verse.

"GOD IS NEAR"

Isaiah 55:6 - Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.

Judaism teaches that there are times when "God is near" and at the other end of the spectrum, when the "evil realm" (the "Sitra Ahra") is allowed by God to have greater influence.1 These "cycles" of good and evil are found within each day, week, month, year and throughout history.

For instance;

  • In each 24-hour period, the nighttime hours are when evil is said to have greater dominion. An example of this is is Balaam, who is said to have acquired his knowledge of manipulating the spiritual realm, at night (Zohar, Bemidbar, 206b). Another is when Jacob wrestled with an angelic being (said to be Samael, the guardian angel of Esau) who had to get away from Jacob when dawn was approaching. Interestingly, although it is taught that the nighttime hours are treacherous for this reason, Torah study after midnight is especially blessed. (This having to do with the idea of a tzaddik rectifying the evil realm - taking it "head on.")
  • In the cycle of each week, Shabbat (the twenty-four hours from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday) is the "high point." Conversely, Tuesday evenings (the part of the week furthest away from Shabbat - at the midpoint of the six days) is a time when the evil realm is strengthened. Again, some believe that holding a Torah study on Tuesday evenings has the effect of coming up directly against the forces of darkness.
  • In each month, the full moon is the time associated with the Shekinah being strong, and the new moon is when the dark side is mightier. This is why the time of the new moon was when the Torah called for special observance - thus bringing an "extra measure" of protection to the people at that time.
  • On the yearly cycle, the month of Tishrei (with Rosh haShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot) is said to be "God's favorite month," while Nissan (the furthest from Tishrei) is known for heightened demonic activity - thus we find Pesakh (Passover) in Nissan, again for the sake of "directly combating" the evil realm.

Another time to "be cautious of" is when transitioning from the mudane into the holy - i.e., the hours of Erev Shabbat (the afternoon heading into sunset on Friday) are often very hectic and stressful. (The word "erev" having the connotation of "mixture" -- as in the "Erev Rav," the mixed multitude that caused a lot of problems during the Exodus.) This can also be seen on a grand historical scheme where the six weekdays followed by Shabbat are compared to six thousand years of human history followed by a 1,000 year Messianic reign. In this case the time of transition is also quite turbulent - the "birthpangs of Messiah," preceding his coming, bring great judgment upon the earth.

Conversely, coming out of the holy, back into the mundane, is also a time of vunerability. A prime example of this is after a woman gives birth. The Torah gave certain instructions regarding this, as a woman is going from a "godlike" status ("creating life") back to her "regular" state.

One especially important time when God is said to be "near" is during the Days of Awe, between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur. (The above verse from Isaiah 55:6 is often cited as applying to Rosh haShana). As mentioned in an earlier portion of this study, there is a relationship between this annual period (in terms of days) and the end-time events depicted in Revelation (in terms of years).

Earlier in John's vision, the "Lamb" was seen "amidst the throne," indicating the World of Beriah. At this juncture, the Lamb has "descended" to Yetzirah. Later, we see the Lamb in the physical realm of Asiyyah, as victor over the armies opposed to God and Light to those who follow God.

It is interesting to consider that the presence of Messiah in fact becomes "nearer" as things seem to get "darker" in the last days. This has to do with the fact that the "descent" of the Lamb is parallel to that of haSatan who was/is driven from the heavenly realm of Beriah into the mixed realm of Yetzirah and finally "down to the earth" in Assiyah.

Both Messiah and his evil counterpart - haSatan - must reach their "maximum potential" for the redemption to come. Both end up in physical form and both make a presence related to the Temple.2

The Torah commentary, Kli Yahar, depicts such a "mutual rise in power" (in relation to Pharaoh strengthening himself against God) as follows:

Everything in nature that senses an opposing force rising against it tries to overcome it and strengthens itself against its counterforce, refusing to submit to it. It naturally labors with whatever strength it can muster, but in the end it is conquered, for the counterforce overtakes it. 3

The messianic text, Kol Hator, frames this around the ingathering of the exiles:

As the number of ingathered increases, so the Sitra Achra (evil realm) will increase its strength. 4

The kabbalistic classic, Sha'are Orah, offers the following:

When the time comes for redemption, what is written about Samael, the wicked? "Should you nest as high as an eagle, or place your nest among the stars, I will bring you down from there, says the Lord." (Obadiah 1) How will He bring him down? The masters of salvation, YHVH, ELoHIM, TZVAOT upon HaR TZiToN, which is the essence of El Chay, are to judge HaR ESaV, which is HaR SAIR (literally: "mountain of the goat demons" - the domain of Esau.) "For God will visit the host of heaven in heaven, and the kings of the earth on earth." (Isaiah 24:21). Then "For My sword shall be seen in the sky." (Isaiah 34:5) Afterwards, it is written: "Behold you will descend upon Edom." (Isaiah 34:5) And since it is thus, what is written? "Who is this coming from Edom, in crimsoned garments coming from Bozrah?" (Isaiah 63:1) I say with righteousness salvation is great, which is the essence of the verse "The liberators will march up to HaR TZiYoN" (Obadiah 1:21) 5

The antagonistic relationship between the Holy and "dark" realms is centered around the Sefirah of Yesod (as might be expected!). As mentioned in earlier studies, haSatan's final bid to mislead mankind comes in the form of the anti-messiah, the false tzaddik - who places himself at the level of Yesod, thereby cutting off the blessings of God (via the upper Sefirot through Yesod to Malkut - i.e., the earth).

Regarding Esau, we find that he came against the Covenant (Brit) which is a partzufim of the Sefirah of Yesod.

Again we cite from Sha'are Orah:

The "liberators": YHVH, ELoHIM and TZVAOT; HaR TZiYoN is EL CHaY; 'to judge HaR ESaV': this is AMaLeK, the son of ESaV (Esau), with whom God has to wage war and he is the one who prosecutes against HaR TZiYon, and he is Samael, ESaV's guardian angel who went against the BRIT of peace. 6

As mentioned before, peace (shalom) is a very deep concept and is also centered around the Sefirah of Yesod.

When the TZaDIK awakens penance in the world or he repairs that which is ruined, then this attribute called SHaLoM mediates effectively between YHVH (Tiferet, the groom) and ADoNaY (Malkut, the bride) and it is the one which makes peace between them and brings them to dwell together without separation and mutilation in the world and when this happens YHVH will be one. You should know and believe that it is impossible to bring blessing to the world except through this attribute called SHaLoM. ... The attribute SHaLoM empties life into the attribute ADoNay when they are infused as one. For great is the power of peace, since even the upper worlds need it, as it is written: "He who makes SHaLoM in the heavens ..." (Job 25:2). When one latches on to Torah and other commandments, it is as if he brings SHaLoM to the heavenly household which is the essential meaning of the verse; "When he holds fast to my refuge, He makes SHaLoM for me, SHaLoM he makes for me." (Isaiah 27:5). 7

Samael comes against this Brit of Shalom in many ways (i.e., "doubt" through the spirit of Amalek, "deception" through the figure of the false Messiah/Tzaddik) in his efforts to separate the Shekinah (Bride) from her spouse, the "unforgiveable sin" (see previous notes on this.).

As the world of Yetzirah has now been "dealt with" (with the second set of judgments) we see the presence of the Lord "arriving" at this point. God, via his anointed one (Mashiach) has "descended near to us" to offer mercy and declare judgment. The world of Asiyyah (and physical earth) must still be dealt with however before Messiah comes. (i.e., Physical Jerusalem before Heavenly Jerusalem, as mentioned in the previous section.)

THE "144,000"

John's view of Mount Zion is in the Yetziratic realm and thus he views the souls of the 144,000 of Israel standing before the "Lamb." Traditional commentaries have difficulty determining if these 144,000 are on earth or "in heaven." However, as discussed earlier, man "exists" in all four worlds simultaneously, thus John speaks of them (at this juncture) from the point of view of their souls (i.e., at the level of Mount Zion/Yetzirah):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 229b, 230a - Man's soul is thus attired in the raiments of both worlds, the lower and the upper, thereby achieving perfection. Of this Scripture says: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name”; to wit, in this world-”The upright shall dwell in thy presence” (Ibid. CXL, 14); namely, in the other world.’ ...

What specfiic significance the number 144,000 has is not clear. However, the idea of a large group of "righteous ones" being gathered around God is also found in Talmud:

Talmud - Sukkah 45b - The row [of righteous men immediately] before the Holy One, blessed be He, consists of eighteen thousand.

THE NAME WRITTEN ON THE FOREHEAD

The "Name of God" being "written" on the forehead of these 144,000 righteous ones (tzadikim) gives indication of their affinity to God Himself. As shown in the previous lesson, in one of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov's discources on Messiah and the Millennial Kingdom, he expounds on how the tzadikim (righteous ones) will be called Holy, like God:

Regarding the Messianic age, it is written (Isaiah 4:3), "And it will be, that he who is left in Zion, and he who remains in Jerusalem, 'holy' shall be said to him." The Talmud teaches us that the angels will chant, "holy, holy, holy," before the Tzadikim, just like they do before God (i.e., Rev. 4:8). This is the plain meaning of the verse. For the Tzadikim who remain faithful before the Messiah's coming, will deserve this, and much more. 8

A relationship exists betwen the idea of the "forehead" and the "quasi" Sefirah of Da'at ("knowledge"). When superimposing the Tree of Life diagram on the image of Adam Kadmon (the image of man as made in the image of God) Da'at is seen on the forehead of man. (With Keter above the head, Binah to the left side and Chokmah to the right.) As mentioned in previous notes, Da'at is the confluence of wisdom and understanding. Da'at is the revelation of the "hidden" aspect of God known as Keter (crown).

As shown in the writings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov:

Keter and Da'at are respectively the internal and external manifestations of the same concept ... In relation to Chokmah and Binah, Da'at represents an external manifestation. Keter thus contains Chokmah, Binah and Da'at within itself in a transcendent unity. This is expressed in a very powerful gemmatria (numerical equivalent): the total numerical value of Chokmah (73) plus Binah (67) plus Da'at (480) is 620, which is the exact value of Keter. 9

The forehead is associated with the Sefirah of Keter, alluding to the hidden powers of the mind, yet because it can be "revealling," it is also associated with Da'at, for as we have seen Da'at is the external manifestation of Keter. 10

As mentioned in chapter 13, John encourages his readers to seek both Chokmah (Wisdom) and Understanding (Binah), the confluence of which is Da'at. We therefore have a connection between those who follow John's advice and those who have God's mark on their foreheads.

The allusion to the forehead reflects deeper spiritual ideas as seen in this Midrash:

Midrash Rabbah, The Song of Songs 7:11 - THY FOREHEAD IS LIKE THE TOWER OF LEBANON. This is the Sanctuary. Just as the forehead is on the highest part of a man, so the Sanctuary is in the highest part of the world. Just as most ornaments are suspended from the forehead, so priesthood, Levites, and kingship are from Jacob.

The above text links the forehead to the Sanctuary (Tabernacle/Temple). Hebraic teachings compare the attaining of Da'at to the building of the Temple - both the Millennial Temple as well as the "temple within each of us."

Talmud, Berakhot 33a - Whoever has Da'at, knowledge, it is as if the Holy Temple was built in his days.

Rabbi Nachman takes this idea even further, comparing the animal sacrifices of the Temple to the "sacrificing" of our own "animalistic" selves in favor of "spiritual" Da'at:

The reason why the Temple is the necessary location for the sacrifices which draw a person near to God is that the Holy Temple corresponds to Da'at, knowledge of God. This knowledge, which will be revealed to all in the Future, is the "fountain of wisdom" which will continuously flow from the Holy Temple, i.e., the expanded intellect. The Prophet Joel foresaw an era in which this knowledge will be available for all, for then people will have risen above their animalistic instincts, which bar the way to their understanding of the Divine. We see then that a person's mind is the Holy Temple. Or, at least, it could be. By controlling one's baser instincts and seeing to it that the intellect - not the emotions - is in charge, he is sacrificing "an animal" in his own Holy Temple. This person, even today, merits a revelation of Godliness similar to the revelation of Godliness that will be available in the Days of the Mashiach. 11

This revelation of Godliness (and increase in Da'at) in the Millennium is reflected in Ezekiel's Temple vision (Ezekiel, chapters 40-48) where we see the appearance and function of the priests raised to the level of the High Priest. (The latter traditionally wearing the diadem on his forehead).

GEMMATRIA

This idea of a connection between Chokhah/Wisdom and Binah/Understanding and the Temple is also found in Chassidic kabbalah. In the following text it is expressed in terms of the word "Lebanon" which is associated with the Temple:

The teachings of Chassidim are heard by the Neshamah (soul). As Scripture states, "And flowing streams from Levanon." Levanon stands form Lamed-Bet and Nun, i.e., the Chokhmah (Wisdom) and Binah (Understanding) in the Neshamah. 12

The word "Lebanon" is divided into two parts. The first two letters (Lamed-Bet) form the number 32, alluding to the "32 Paths of Wisdom." The remaining three letters spell "Nun," which has a numerical value of   50, and alluding to the "50 Gates of Understanding." Thus, again, the Temple is associated with adding Understanding to Wisdom.


1. Hebraic literature speaks of the power of Balaam who knew about the times and functions of the spiritual realm and when he would have power to malipulate this. His power of divination was useless against Israel however, as it is said that Israel (as well "the righteous") are "above their mazel" (i.e., their "sign").

2. A movie series that exemplifies this concept very well is the kabbalistic "Matrix" trilogy, where the hero and messiah-type character (Neo) reaches the culmination of power at the same time the satanic-type character (Smith) does.

3. Kli Yahar - Shemot (Exodus), rendered into English by Elihu Levine, Targum/Feldheim Press, 2002, p.78.

4. http://www.yedidnefesh.com/kaballah/kol-hator/1.htm, Section 10.

5. Sha'are Orah ("Gates of Light"), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, translated by Avi Weinstein, Altamira Press, 1994,  p. 99.

6. ibid, p. 97.

7. ibid, p. 67.

8. Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom, translated by Aryeh Kaplan, Breslov Research Institute, Jerusalem, 1973, p.255.

9. Anatomy of the Soul (based on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov) Chaim Kramer, Breslov Research Institute, Jerusalem, 1998, pp. 132-133.

10. ibid p. 318.

11. Mashiach - Who? What? Why? How? Where? When?  (based on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov) Chaim Kramer, Breslov Research Institute, Jerusalem, 1998, p. 54.

12. Mystical Concepts in Chassidim, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn, 1988, p. 8.:


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