1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."
As mentioned in previous studies, the "heavenly Temple" is associated with the Sefirah of Binah, which "sits atop" the "left pillar of judgment" on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. The actual source of "pure judgment" is the Sefirah of Gevurah (also called Din) which lies directly "below" Binah on the left side of the Tree:
The lack of repentance on the part of the inhabitants of the earth has caused a "disunity" among the Sefirot, in that the "pure" judgment from Gevurah is no longer being "softened" throught the "mitigating Sefirot" of Hesed-Tiferet-Yesod, but is "descending directly" from Gevurah to Malkut. The end result is complete "imbalance" and the destruction seen in the ensuing paragraphs of Revelation.
As shown in the kabbalistic classic, Sha'are Orah (Gates of Light), when judgment comes to the last Sefirah of Malkut directly from Gevurah, then Malkut (i.e., Shekinah) which is "passive," acts in accord to what it is "receiving" from above, in this case from the forces of the evil realm:
EGYPT - "PART TWO"
This last set of judgments bears similarity to those that God inflicted upon Egypt at the time of Moses. An important teaching in Judaism is that last redemption will be very much like the first from Egypt.
The term "anoki" in the above text is actually an Egyptian word adopted into the Hebrew. Its meaning is significant:
The following citations from various sources also show that;
It is further taught that each of the Ten Plagues combated a corresponding emanation of wickedness (i.e., the "evil" Sefirot of the Sitra Achra - see reference to Zohar, Vayikra, 70b, in notes to verse 2b in the previous study.) Thus, there is a relationship between the Ten Commandments, ten plagues, ten "holy" Sefirot, ten "evil" Sefirot, etc.
It is possible to construct a parallel between the final judgments in this chapter of Revelation and the "lower seven" Sefirot. Note that of the seven judgments, the first six are active, corresponding to the six Sefirot of Ze'er Anpin, whereas the seventh is passive (verse 17 - "It is finished"), in the likeness of Malkut (see comment to verse 1 above and also 17 below).
What we have is a progression through Ze'er Anpin, "from the bottom up":
Interestingly, the final redemption is said to occur by way of the more difficult route "from below" as opposed to "from above" if Israel does not merit the latter.
As explained by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh:
2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
Here we see the concept of midah kneged midah (measure for measure punishment), as those who took the "mark" receive a "sore" upon themselves.
The idea of a "mark" is associated with the "mark of circumcision, which in turn correlates to the Sefirah of Yesod. (See our background study, Yesod - Part 1: Foundation, Tzaddik, Covenant.)
3Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
4Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
The second and third angels/judgments bear similarity, and may be seen as corresponding to the Sefirot of Netzah and Hod (which are usually paired together in kabbalah). Just as the spiritual sea, rivers and springs "connect" the upper and lower realms, so are the Sefirot of Netzah and Hod are seen as those that "carry out" the will of God.
Further, these Sefirot are usually associated with Aaron (Hod) and Moses (Netzah).9 The following Torah commentary offers an amazing teaching that corresponds to the above two verses of Revelation. It explains that the first plague of blood in Egypt was actually "two in one" in that the staff of Moses was used to strike the main source (the Nile) and the staff of Aaron was used to strike against its tributaries:
(Note: the full teaching explains that Aaron's staff was "stronger" only with regard to punishing Egypt. Moses' staff was also used to shepherd Israel and thus at times had to be one of "gentleness even in times of anger." Moses/Netzah being on the pillar of mercy, while Aaron/Hod are on the pillar of judgment.)
5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due."
The punishment of "blood for blood" shows the concept of midah kneged midah, "measure for measure" punishment.
7 And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."
8Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.
9a And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues;
Kabbalistically, "the sun" (verse 8) is located at Tiferet on the Tree of Life. Blaspheming the "Name of God" stands in direct contrast to the ultimate goal of "unifying the Name of God." ("In that day His Name will be One.") The most holy "name" of God, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, is also associated with the Sefirah of Tiferet.
Both prayer and blasphemy are directed to that aspect of God associated with Tiferet:
9b and they did not repent and give Him glory.
The phrase "... and they did not repent and give Him glory," is kabbalistically significant. For instance, the aspect of "repentance" is associated with the Sefirah of Binah (the "mother"). The aspect of "glory" is associated with Malkut (the daughter/bride). "Not giving Him "glory" may thus be compared to "not giving the King His "bride" - the Shekinah.
Besides the more common kabbalistic idea of separating "the bride from the groom" (as discussed in previous studies) this "lack of repentance" is also seen as causing separation between the "female above" (Binah) and the "female below" (Malkut). (Binah being the "gateway" to the upper triad of Binah-Chokmah-Keter, and Malkut being the last ["least"] of the seven lower Sefirot.) These "two females" are associated with Rachel (Malkut) and Leah (Binah). In the physical realm, Jacob "unites" the two, among the Sefirot, the six known as Zer Anpin link Binah and Malkut.
As shown in our previous studies, the spiritual being that accomplishes this unity between the two "females" (Malkut and Binah) is that of Metatron. There is an interesting gemmatria here in that the numerical value of the kabbalistic term used for "the female" (nukveh) is 157 (nun/50-kuf/100-bet/2-hey/5). "Uniting" the two "females" would amount to 2 x 157 equalling 314, which is the numerical value of Metatron (mem/40-tet/9-tet/9-resh/200-vav/6-nun/50).
10Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.
Continuing along the ascending order of the Sefirot, we come to Gevurah - corresponding to "the throne of the beast," in that this is the Sefirah associated with source of "evil" and Sitra Achra.
11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
12Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.
Following the above sequence, verse 12 is associated with Hesed, the Sefirah of unlimited mercy. In times of calamity, especially when we do not merit favor, we should direct their prayers to this merciful attribute of God. As mankind does not do this, in fact choosing to blaspheme God, even this opportunity is taken away. 12
It is interesting to note that Abraham (associated with Hesed) crossed over (i.e., to cross over = "Ivri" / "Hebrew) the Euphrates. Just as God had this man go across this river to bring Torah enlightenment to the world, He now caused the forces of evil to cross this same river in retribution for the world turning its back on His Torah.
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
The rectification of Asiyah includes a rising of the power of its associated spiritual forces of the Sitra Achra. (See our previous notes on this concept.) The idea of the "mouth" of the dragon, beast and false prophet, has to do with Malkut, the Sefirah associated with the kingdom and the mouth (i.e., "Malkut Pei" - "Kingdom of the Mouth").
The demons (i.e., "frogs") that come forth from "the mouth," by their nature "reside" partly in the spiritual world and partly in the physical world. Thus they are able to make direct impact upon the "kings of the earth." 13
The emergence of frogs from the "mouth" of the dragon, beast and false prophet, may also be seen as symbolic of the "unity" of the Sitra Achra throughout the three worlds of creation; Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.
15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
The "keeping of ones garment" is an allusion to the the soul, specifically the "higher soul" called the Neshamah. This higher soul is "granted" to man as opposed to the Nefesh which is present in all men as well as in all living creatures.14
The Neshamah is man's "divine connection." Because it is linked to the Nefesh, which is in turn attached to the physical body, the Neshamah is affected by what man does with his body. Thus "keeping one's garments" is directly associated with avoiding sin. 15
A connection may also be found between verses 14 and 15 at this level. The soul interacts with spiritual entities (i.e., demons).Those who maintain their proper spiritual connection ("keep their garments") are contrasted to those who do not and are influenced by demons in the previous verse.
Further, the Neshamah is that which was "breathed into" Adam in the Genesis account, making him distinct from the rest of creation. The rectification of all creation will eventually return us to a state similar to Adam in Gan Edan (Garden of Eden) 16
The language of verse 15 holds an interesting linguistic connection to the account of the failure of Adam and Chava in Gan Edan, with the reference to; "garments," "naked" and "shame."
16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon
"They" in this paragraph would seem to be a combination of the demons of verse 14 and the angels of the nations. (Bearing in mind the unity within the Sitra Achra as explained above.)
The following text explain the idea of seventy heavenly chieftains who oversee the nations:
Both the physical nations and their spiritual counterparts will face God's judgment:
17Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!"
As mentioned in the beginning of this chapter's notes above, the seventh Sefirah of Malkut is said to be passive. (i.e., "It is done!") The following text from the Soncino appendix to the Zohar explains this as follows:
18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.
19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.
What "city" is being referrred to here? Many commentaries consider this to be Jerusalem, as it is referred to as "great" in another verse, and the prophet Zechariah speaks of a great earthquake in the latter days that will divide Jerusalem.
There are several things to consider however:
Verse 19 implies a connection between the "great city" being divided, and the "cities of the nation" falling. Verse 20 also seems to follow as a result of the events in verse 19.
20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
As discussed in our notes to 6:14-19 the concept of "islands and mountains moving" may be more indicative of activity in the spiritual realm than the physical. Part of the idea of "unification" is removal of boundaries, as expressed by the removal of spiritual "islands" and "mountains." 17
Jeremiah's prophecy against Babylon makes reference to such a "mountain" destroying the earth:
21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
Hail was also the seventh plague against Egypt (Exodus 9:13-35). Again, one must consider that even the hail is an "opportunity" God gives for repentance. In this case however, the response is further unbelief, to the point of "blasphemy."
It is no coincidence that the penalty for blasphemy was stoning:
Leviticus 24:16 - And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death.
1. The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson, London, 1988, p. 79.
2. ibid, p. 80.
3. Sha'are Orah ("Gates of Light"), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, translated by Avi Weinstein, Altamira Press, 1994, p. 65.
4. See Awaiting Moshiach, Rabbi Jacob Immanuel Schochet, http://www.moshiach.com/discover/tutorials/awaiting_moshiach.php#_ftnref28
7. Ohr Yechezkel, Emunas HaGeulah, 1960; p. 287 as cited on http://www.neveh.org/winston/parsha64/bo.html
8. From And a Staff Shall Arise in Israel, http://www.inner.org/times/shevat/shevat59.htm
9. See An Overview of the Sephirot at http://www.yashanet.com/studies/revstudy/rev5b.htm
10. Kli Yahar - Shemot (Exodus), rendered into English by Elihu Levine, Targum/Feldheim Press, 2002, pp.103-105.
11. The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson, London, 1988, p. 81
12. For a detailed analysis of Hesed and all of the Sefirot see; Gates of Light (Sha'are Oreh), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, translation by Avi Weinstein, Altimira Press, London, 1994.
13. See http://www.yashanet.com/studies/judaism101/lessons/lesson_1-5.htm for insight into the nature of demons as found in Judaism. (Commetary on Derech Hashem, part 1.5, by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto.)
14. Judaism teaches that there are five essential levels to the soul. In "ascending" order they are the; Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chiyah and Yechidah. It is taught that only the first three are attainable in this lifetime. The last two are reserved for the Messianic Kingdom and Olam Haba. A good article on this concept may be found at http://www.aish.com/spirituality/growth/Soul_Matters_2_-_Unifying_Souls.asp
15. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Translated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 185.
16. Rabbi Pinchas Winston teaches that we are in fact in a "reverse path" of history "repeating itself" back to the beginning. i.e., Events A, B, C will "repeat" but in the order C, B, A.
17. The Book of Enoch speaks of mountains in the spiritual realm. A translation may be found at: http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/enoch/
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