Last update: October 13, 2005
1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
The opening verse introduces several concepts, most of which will be discussed in detail in subsequent verses. They include:
- An angel instructing John to "come," implying a different level of revelation. (See notes to 4:1.)
- The "great harlot" -- which will be reviewed in verse 3.
- The "waters" are defined in verse 15 as "peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues." As will be discussed, all of these "levels" of humanity stem from the "spiritual roots" of the "70 nations" that descended from the three sons of Noach. (Israel, by divine decision, is separate and above these 70.)
2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."
"Wine" is often used as a euphemism for Torah ("instruction"). In this case, it would be the "false torah" of the harlot. (See comments on the good and bad "vines" in Revelation 14:18b.)
The subject of "harlotry" was an issue in the written Torah as well:
Numbers 15:39 - And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined
The terms "drunk" and "fornication" in this context indicate widespread disregard for God - as in the days of Noah. The passage, relating a "harlot" going out among the earth to perpetuate evil, is similar to that mentioned in Zechariah:Zechariah 5:5-11 - Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth. So I asked, What is it? And he said, It is a basket that is going forth. He also said, This is their resemblance throughout the earth: Here is a lead disc lifted up, and this is a woman sitting inside the basket; then he said, This is Wickedness! And he thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth. Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. So I said to the angel who talked with me, Where are they carrying the basket? And he said to me, To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base.
For more on the idea of "spiritual fornication," see comments to verses 3b and 8a.
3a So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness ...
As there is a wilderness below, there is a "wilderness" in the spiritual realm. The idea of "the wilderness" is associated with prophetic revelation. (i.e., isolation/exile enables one to "tune out" the world and ascend spiritually.) The evil prophet, Balaam received one of the greatest prophecies about Israel in this fashion:Numbers 24:1 - And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
The Book of Enoch contains a "spiritual journey" described as beginning in similar fashion:
And thence I went towards the east, into the midst of the mountain range of the desert, and I saw a wilderness and it was solitary, full of trees and plants. And water gushed forth from above. Rushing like a copious watercourse which flowed towards the north-west it caused clouds and dew to ascend on every side. 1
And they took and brought me to a place in which those who were there were like flaming fire, and, when they wished, they appeared as men. And they brought me to the place of darkness, and to a mountain the point of whose summit reached to heaven. And I saw the places of the luminaries and the treasuries of the stars and of the thunder and in the uttermost depths, where were a fiery bow and arrows and their quiver, and a fiery sword and all the lightnings. 2
3b ... And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy ...
The concept of an evil "beast" is defined in the following translation of the Zohar as the union of the evil angel Samael and "the woman of whoredom." The woman is said to be his "wife." We also see another reference to the reciprocal "ten Sefirot" of the Sitra Achra. These in turn correlate to the "ten horns" of power mentioned in this verse (see comments to 3c below):
The Demons are the grossest and most deficient of all forms. Their ten degrees answer to the decad of the Sephiroth, but in inverse ratio, as darkness and impurity increase with the descent of each degree. The two first are nothing but absence of visible form and organization. The third is the abode of darkness. Next follow seven Hells occupied by those demons which represent incarnate human vices, and torture those who have given themselves up to such vices in earth-life. Their prince is Samael, SMAL, the angel of poison and of death. His wife is the harlot, or woman of whoredom, AShTh ZNVNIM, Isheth Zenunim; and united they are called the beast, CHIVA, Chioa. Thus the infernal trinity is completed, which is, so to speak, the averse and caricature of the supernal Creative One. Samael is considered to be identical with Satan. 3
This "woman of whoredom," called Isheth Zenunim, is the demon called Lilith. Known as the primary consort to Samael, she is also known in Hebraic legend as the "screech owl" and is mentioned in Isaiah 34 as living "in the wilderness." Her relationship to the nations is found in this Isaiah text as well as in Nahum 3.
There is a direct relationship between the Shekinah and the demon Lilith in that both can play the role of "matron/mother" with regard to Israel. When Israel forsakes God's Torah, they are said to abandon their true mother for "the maidservant" Lilith. (This is similar to their association with the "Vine of Sodom" discussed in an earlier chapter):
Therefore when the Jews had trampled the Temple (see Isaiah 1:12), they were running after the power of the External Forces, who are led by their cursed mother (Lilith), to gain nourishment from her as her children. ... Yet our "mother" (the Shekinah) is not able to sustain us in exile, for the position of distributing the divine influence has been taken from her. In accordance to the state of the Shechina not directly transferring the influence, therefore the Zohar describes the situation as, "the maid servant who inherits (the place of) her matron." (Proverbs 30:23). Meaning that she (Lilith) can divert the majority of the influence to her own "children". 4
The Isaiah chapter cited in the text above intimates the relationship between the Shekinah and Lilith:
Isaiah 1:8,12,21 - So the daughter of Zion (the Shekinah) is left as a booth in a vineyard ... When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? (i.e., Who = Lilith) ... How the faithful city has become a harlot! (i.e., Revelation 11:8)
A more literal idea of "fornicating with the demonic realm" is explained in the following teachings, which describes the "spiritual energy" gained by demons through illicit sexual behaviors:
Lilith is a female demon. (Isaiah 34:14; Eiruvin 100b; Shabbat 151b; Bava Batra 73b; Nidah 24b) Just as an angel is the personification of some holy emotion, a demon is the personification of some evil emotion. In this case, Lilith (whose name is related to the Hebrew word for "night", "lailah") is the personification of man's sexual lust as divorced from any context of true love or desire to increase G-dliness in this world - in other words: raw, self-indulgent, self-serving sensual pleasure. Man is intended to engage in sexual pleasure as a spiritual pursuit that gives pleasure to his wife, makes him into a more holy person, and increases the Divine Image on earth (ideally by resulting in children). When instead, he engages in sexual release simply for the "high" he enjoys from it, he is said to be copulating with Lilith. Although he does not intend to procreate by this union, he does so anyway, for every act of man has its repercussions on some level. The semen he expels "impregnates" Lilith, and she "bears" for him "demon-children", i.e. negative, abusive, and evil energy, which spreads evil throughout the world. 5
Jacob set out to rectify the sin of sexual licentiousness, i.e. wasting seed and giving it over to Lilith and Na'amah, who are termed "nakedness", as is known. As we have seen previously, these are the archetypal female demons, i.e. the power of evil to receive life force from the realm of holiness. This feminine evil takes the vital force of wasted seminal emissions and impregnates itself with it, producing demons, or forces of evil, i.e. anti-divine consciousness. The idiom for "sexual licentiousness", "gilui arayot", literally means "uncovering the nakedness" of a forbidden sexual partner. 6
Another mention of a "beast" and "rider" is found in the following text:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 228a - Besides the evil serpent there is one that rides on it, and when they are joined together they are called these, and they visit the world with all their hosts.
3c ... having seven heads and ten horns.
The concept of "horn" has to do with a manifestation of power:
Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, 19b - And he shall give strength to his king: this is the Holy One, blessed be He; and exalt the horn of his anointed: this is the Community of Israel.
The mathematical product of seven heads and ten horns (7x10) is seventy and hints at a relationship to the "seventy nations." The Zohar explains the spiritual structure behind this equation:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 30b - Observe that whatever is engendered on earth grows through the stimulus of a celestial Chieftain who has charge over it, and that all on earth is shaped after a celestial pattern. There are on high seven firmaments, and seven zones of earth. Correspondingly, in the lower world there are seven graded firmaments and seven zones of earth. These, as the Companions have expounded, are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, rising one above the other, and each zone has ten divisions, so that there are seventy in all. Each one of these is presided over by a Chieftain, and these seventy Chieftains have under their charge the seventy nations of the earth. These seventy earth-divisions, again, border on and surround the Holy Land, as Scripture says: Behold, it is the couch of Solomon; threescore mighty men are about, of the mighty men of Israel (Song of Songs 3:7), there being, in addition to the threescore mentioned, ten concealed among their number. All these surround the Holy Land. This alludes to the upper world, and the same is reproduced in the lower world.
The number seventy has a specific connection to the 70 nations and their hostile relationship to Israel (i.e., the 70 oxen sacrificed on Sukkot "on behalf of the nations were also considered a type of "protection" from them). This is especially true in the end of days.
The number 70 is the gemmatria of the letter Ayin, which means "eye," and has to do with the "eye" of God, especially regarding the 70 nations.
Speaking on the subject of when God's perfect plan will finally come to fruition, Rabbi PinchasWinston writes:
If not today, then tomorrow. And, if not tomorrow, then the day after. And if not then, then the day after that, etc. But come it will, and in the meantime, the real battle will be one of PERCEPTIONS. For, the gemmatria of Gog u'Magog is SEVENTY, the SEVENTY of the Ayin of Amalek, who spends all of his time trying to destroy our Torah perception of reality by infecting us with spiritual doubt, the gemmatria of his name. ("doubt" = sufek = 240 = Amalek) It is Moshiach Ben Yosef who is unaffected by Ayin Hara - the evil Ayin of Amalek, who defeats him with the holy aspect of Ayin: the Ayin of Sod, whose gemmatria is SEVENTY. Shimshon (Sampson), whom the Mishnah says failed [to be Moshiach Ben Yosef], did so because he went after his eyes (Sotah 10b), as opposed to above them, in his battle against the Pelishtim - read: the Palestinians of his time over Gaza. This is why, explains the Vilna Gaon, regarding the war against Amalek, Moshe Rabbeinu was told to speak b'aznei Yehoshua - in the ears of Yehoshua, the gemmatria of b'aznei equaling SEVENTY. And thus, Mordechai defeated Haman, the prototypical descendant of Amalek, in SEVENTY days. His rise and fall is told in SEVENTY pesukim in Megillas Esther, occurring in the Year SEVENTY of exile. The Erev Rav's greatest tool in the final showdown, says the GR"A: achizas einayim - literally meaning, "grasping of the eyes" or deception. And therein lies the nechamah (the consolation). For, "the salvation of G- d comes in the blink of an eye," as quick as it takes to replace a false perception with a true one. For, when it comes to G-d and His vengeance, it really is a case of now you see them, now you don't. 7
4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.
One must always keep in mind that every entity or function of the Sitra Achra (evil realm) serves the will of God. This "cup of abomination and filthiness" is in effect given of God:
Psalm 75:8-10 - For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, And the wine is red; It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. But I will declare forever, I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. All the horns of the wicked I will also cut off, But the horns of the righteous shall be exalted. 8
Regarding the colors purple and scarlet, though they are typically regarded as "regal" colors, they may also be seen as representative of the Worlds of Yetzirah (purple) and Asiyah (scarlet) as these are the dominion of "the woman" as well as the "evil prince." 9
Ephesians 2:2 - Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
John 12:31 - Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
5 And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
The "name" on the forehead stands in contrast to Kadosh l'Hashem ("Holy unto the Lord") found on the forehead of the High Priest and to the name on the foreheads of the tzaddikim in Revelation 22:4.
The concept of "name" (particularly in the higher world of Beriah) often has to do with the idea of role and authority, i.e.,
Talmud, Pesachim 54a - Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah.
Note that one of the "hidden things" in the above verse from Pesachim is "Gehenna." See comments to verse 8 below.
6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Yeshua. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
See comments to verse 16 below regarding the antagonistic relationship between the this "woman" and the "Son."
Being "drunk with the blood of the saints," would indicate a "desire for souls," as mentioned in this text from the Zohar:
Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, 186a - The "Satan" is he who has charge of the souls in Gehinnom, who ever craves for more and says "give, give", more souls to Gehinnom.
7 But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.
8a The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition.
Contrast may be made between, "was, and is not and will ...", and the language of Revelation 1:5:
Revelation 1:5 - Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come...
Hebrew Midrash teaches that Messiah is hiding within the Garden of Eden in a place called the Bird's Nest (an allusion to the Shekinah or he Community of Israel):
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 8a - See now, in the lower Paradise there is a secret and unknown spot, broidered with many colours, in which a thousand palaces of longing are concealed. No one may enter it, except the Messiah, whose abode is in Paradise. The Garden is encompassed with multitudes of saints who look to the Messiah as their leader, along with many hosts and bands of the souls of the righteous there. On New Moons, festivals, and Sabbaths, he enters that place, in order to find joyous delight in those secret palaces. Behind those palaces there is another place, entirely hidden and undiscoverable. It is called Eden, and no one may enter to behold it. Now the Messiah is hidden in its outskirts until a place is revealed to him which is called the Bird's Nest. This is the place proclaimed by that Bird (the Shekinah) which flies about the Garden of Eden every day. In that place the effigies are woven of all the nations who band together against Israel. The Messiah enters that abode, lifts up his eyes and beholds the Fathers (Patriarchs) visiting the ruins of God's Sanctuary. He perceives mother Rachel, with tears upon her face; the Holy One, blessed be He, tries to comfort her, but she refuses to be comforted (Jeremiah. 31:14). Then the Messiah lifts up his voice and weeps, and the whole Garden of Eden quakes, and all the righteous and saints who are there break out in crying and lamentation with him. When the crying and weeping resound for the second time, the whole firmament above the Garden begins to shake, and the cry echoes from five hundred myriads of supernal hosts, until it reaches the highest Throne. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, beckons to that Bird, which then enters its nest and comes to the Messiah, and flits about, uttering strange cries. Then from the holy Throne the Bird's Nest and the Messiah are summoned three times, and they both ascend into the heavenly places, and the Holy One swears to them to destroy the wicked kingdom (Rome) by the hand of the Messiah, to avenge Israel, and to give her all the good things which he has promised her. Then the Bird returns to her place. The Messiah, however, is hidden again in the same place as before.
Messiah is not the sole entity performing a "divine disappearing act." The Shekinah is also considered to be "in hiding" (with Israel) until the time of the restoration of Israel:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, 134a - When the Sanctuary was destroyed and the Temple was burnt and the people driven into exile, the Shekinah left her home in order to accompany them into captivity. ... in the days to come, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will remember His people, the community of Israel, the Shekinah will return from exile first and proceed to her House, as the holy Temple will be built first.
This concept of "appearing, hiding and reappearing," is also found regarding Elijah:
In the second year of King Ahazia, Elijah was hidden, and he will not be seen again until Messiah comes. 10
Heavenly Jerusalem shares this hidden aspect as well:
4 Ezra 7:26-27 - For behold the days shall come, and it shall be when the signs which I have foretold unto you shall come to pass. Then shall the city that is now invisible appear, and the land which is now concealed be seen. And whoever is delivered from the predicted evils shall see my wonders.
The terms "bottomless pit" and "perdition" (i.e., "destruction") would both seem to relate to the idea of Gehenna and spiritual fornication/adultery:
Talmud - Mas. Eiruvin 19a - Gehenna has seven names, and they are: Nether-world, Destruction, Pit, Tumultuous Pit, Miry Clay, Shadow of Death and the Underworld. Nether-world, since it is written in Scripture: Out of the belly of the nether-world cried I, and Thou heardest my voice; Destruction, for it is written in Scripture: Shall Thy Mercy be declared in the grave? Or thy faithfulness in destruction; Pit, for it is written in Scripture: For Thou wilt not abandon thy soul to the nether-world; neither wilt Thou suffer Thy godly one to see the pit; Tumultuous Pit and Miry Clay, for it is written in Scripture: He brought me up also out of the tumultuous pit, out of the miry clay; Shadow of Death, for it is written in Scripture: Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; and the [name of] Nether-world is a tradition. But are there no more [names]? Is there not in fact that of Gehenna? [This means,] a valley that is as deep as the valley of Hinnom and into which all go down for gratuitous acts. Is there not also the name of Hearth, since it is written in Scripture: For a hearth is ordered of old? That [means] that whosoever is enticed by his evil inclination will fall therein.
Midrash Rabbah - Numbers 10:2 - What reason did the Holy One, blessed be He, see for asking of Israel that their heart and their eyes should be directed towards Him? Because transgression is dependent on them. Hence it is written, That ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, etc. (Numbers 15:39). The eye and the heart are two agents of sin. For a harlot is a deep ditch (Proverbs 23:27); compare with what Moses said, After which ye use to go a-whoring (Numbers 15:39), implying that whoredom depends on them [the eyes and heart]. The eyes see the harlot and the heart entertains impure thoughts about her. So the Holy Spirit said through Solomon, For a harlot is a deep ditch. Why did he call her ' ditch (shuhah)? In allusion to the text, For her house sinketh down (shahah) unto death (Proverbs 2:18). Deep? This recalls the text, Her guests are in the depths of the nether-world (Proverbs 9:18). A harlot? This refers to a married woman. A narrow pit? Because she brings the adulterer down into Gehenna. Hence it is written, Her steps take hold on the nether-world (Proverbs 9:5), and the nether-world is called pit; for it is written, O Lord, Thou broughtest up my soul from the netherworld; Thou didst keep me alive, that I should not go down to the pit (Psalm 30:4).
8b And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
The verse lends itself to the seeming paradox of "free will" versus "Divine Providence." Throughout the book of Revelation it is made clear that much of mankind chooses to sin and not repent. In this verse however, reference is made to a "Book of Life from the foundation of the world," indicating what some would call "predestination." The mystery that we cannot completely resolve (on this side of the Olam Haba - the World to Come) is that both are true.
The "Book of Life" is one of three "books" concerned with the fate of humanity:
Talmud, Rosh HaShana 16b - R. Kruspedai said in the name of R. Johanan: Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death. Said R. Abin, What text tells us this? Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. Let them be blotted out from the book this refers to the book of the wicked. Of life this is the book of the righteous. And not be written with the righteous this is the book of the intermediate. R. Nahman b. Isaac derives it from here: And if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written, Blot me, I pray thee this is the book of the wicked. Out of thy book this is the book of the righteous. Which thou has written this is the book of the intermediate. It has been taught: Beth Shammai say, There will be three groups at the Day of Judgment one of thoroughly righteous, one of thoroughly wicked, and one of intermediate. The thoroughly righteous will forthwith be inscribed definitively as entitled to everlasting life; the thoroughly wicked will forthwith be inscribed definitively as doomed to Gehinnom, as it says. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence. The intermediate will go down to Gehinnom and squeal and rise again, as it says, And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name and I will answer them. Of them, too, Hannah said, The Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. Beth Hillel, however, say: He that abounds in grace inclines [the scales] towards grace, and of them David said, I love that the Lord should hear my voice and my supplication, and on their behalf David composed the whole of the passage, I was brought low and he saved me.
9 "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
10 There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time.
Wisdom ("Chokmah") is associated with "the past" (Understanding/Binah = future, see previous notes) and John immediately assigns these mountains/kings a "historic order of appearance." (As opposed to the ten kings mentioned later in this chapter who all function at one point in time.) These seven kings are associated with the "mountains" (i.e., spiritual entities) as the manifestation of this power in the physical realm.
It is a teaching of Judaism that souls may "reincarnate." This is called gilgul ("revolutions of the soul") and is not the same teaching as in Hinduism.11
Further, certain generations or peoples may even return "as a group":
What is important to recall is that any Biblical nation was really just the physical manifestation of a spiritual concept. Thus, even though the physical nation may have disappeared the concept lives on and resurfaces throughout history in the guise of other nations who share the same specific spiritual profile. Their souls might even be actual reincarnations of the original nation from the time of the Torah. 12
It is also said that God will specifically bring back some of Israel's traditional enemies:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 58b - The Holy One will adorn Himself with majesty in face of the nations who will gather against Him, of whom it says: The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed (Psalm 2:2). We are told that the seventy guardians of the nations will at that time gather from all sides with the armies of the whole world and start war against Jerusalem the holy city, and take counsel together against the Holy One. They will say: Let us rise first against the Patron, and then against His people and against His sanctuary! Then He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; ehe Lord shall have them in derision (v. 4). He will put on His majesty and shall dash them in pieces. R. Abba said, in the name of R. Jesse the Elder-and R. Simeon made the same remark- that the Holy One will bring to life again all those kings who afflicted Israel and Jerusalem: Hadrian, Lupinus, Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and all the other kings of the nations who have destroyed His house, and set them up again as rulers, and they shall gather many nations, and then He will do vengeance and justice upon them near Jerusalem, as it is written: And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:12).
Verses 3 and 7 indicated that this woman "sits" on the beast. In this verse it is said that she sits on the seven heads/mountains of the beast, these in turn are linked to "seven kings." Here we see a depiction that transverses the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah.
- Seven Heads = the lower seven "negative" Sefirot of Beriah (pre-formative force)
- Seven Mountains = the lower seven "negative" Sefirot of Yetzirah (angelic power)
- Seven Kings = the lower seven "negative" Sefirot of Asiyah (manifestation in physical time and space)
As mentioned, the reference to seven heads/mountains/kings corresponds to the Zohar's reference to seven firmaments above and that are linked to seven zones of earth below. (See above notes to verse 3c.)
The Book of Enoch depicts angels as "mountains" residing in a "chaotic" place:
And I proceeded to where things were chaotic. And I saw there something horrible: I saw neither a heaven above nor a firmly founded earth, but a place chaotic and horrible. And there I saw seven stars of the heaven bound together in it, like great mountains and burning with fire.. Then I said: 'For what sin are they bound, and on what account have they been cast in hither?' Then said Uriel, one of the holy angels, who was with me, and was chief over them, and said: 'Enoch, why dost thou ask, and why art thou eager for the truth? These are of the number of the stars of heaven, which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and are bound here till ten thousand years, the time entailed by their sins, are consummated. 13
"TEN AND SEVEN"
The Torah speaks of ten nations, of which Israel was only to conquer three. In the following text, the seven they could conquer are part of what is called the Kelipat Noga. ("Kelipat" having to do with the idea of "husks" or "shells" that restrict the light of God - "Noga" meaning there was/is still some measure of this light within themselves in order to sustain their own existence).
Kelipat Noga are an "intermediate" level of evil between holiness and total impurity. In Hebraic tradition there is an association between the soul of every Jew, the Kelipat Noga and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.
For in the case of the Jews, the soul of the kelipah is derived from the kelipat nogah, which also contains good, as it originates in the esoteric "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." 14
The seven nations are linked to the lower seven Sefirot, made up of "Zeir" (the six Sefirot between Hesed and Yesod, i.e., Zeir Anpin) and "Nukva" (meaning "female" - another name for the Sefirah of Malkut.)
Samael is actually called the "Zeir of Kelipot Noga" - in effect the "son" of the evil realm - the counterpart to the Messiah, who is the "Son" of the holy realm. The remaining three nations (associated with the three upper Sefirot) are "reserved" for God to deal with at the end of days.15
The following text is loaded with deep kabbalistic themes, one of which associates the seven lower nations with Lilith and the "malkut" of the Sitra Achra:
In the days of Moses, the Children of Israel were only promised the seven lands of the seven nations. Those seven correspond to the lower seven. Yet, "The lands of the Kini and Kenizi and Kadmoni" (Genesis 15:19), which correspond to the three upper sefirot, they were not promised. This was so being that, in our times, only the lower seven are functioning in a perceivable manner. After the final redemption, those upper three will also be functioning, and therefore we will be given those three corresponding lands. It is known that the lands of the seven nations are hinted to in the Zeir and Nukva of the Kelipat Noga, for Zeir is comprised of six extremities, and its Nukva is their seventh aspect. For this reason, in my impoverished opinion, the first letters that spell the seven nations, Canaanites, Hitites, Emorites, Prizians, Hivites, Jebusites, and Girgashites, have the numerical value of 131, which is the same value as "Sama'el", who is the Zeir of Kelipat Noga. While "Canaan" has the same value as "Lilith" (Sama'el's mate), for she receives from all of his six extremities, likewise the entire numerical value of all seven nations (Canaanites, Hittites, Emorites, Prizians, Hivites, Jebusites, and Girgashites) together with the value of Sama'el equals the value of Eretz Canaan using the large value for the final letters MaNZePaCh. That signifies that she (Eretz Canaan) is the malchut of the kelipot, and that she includes within herself from the ten sefirot of Kelipa Noga.
... Abba is the Foundation of his daughter" (Pinchas 158 a), which says that she is Eretz Yisrael, " Yisrael Sabba". She includes ten levels to correspond to the ten nations, those levels are keter, chochma, bina, gedula chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod and malchut. The first letters of those ten levels equals "Yisrael" (541). There in the midst of Eretz Yisrael, ten levels of holiness sanctify it. 16
The idea of there being three nations "set aside" for God to deal with directly may tie into the vision in Daniel 7 where the prophet saw a future kind "subduing" three of ten others:
Daniel 7:24 - The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings.
The relationship between (ten) spiritual sources of evil and their (ten) physical maifestations is seen in this interetesting text:Observe that ever so many streams and rivers rise out of the Supernal Sea, which in their courses divide and subdivide again into many other rivers and streams: and the portion that fell to the side of Egypt were waters swarming with such creatures. For all waters issuing from that sea breed various kinds of fishes, to wit, messengers sent into the world to carry out the will of their Master through the spirit of Wisdom. In regard to this a traditional text tells us that there are waters that breed wise men and other waters that breed foolish men, according to the various rivers that branch off into all sides. Now the Egyptian rivers breed masters of sorcery of various kinds, and of ten degrees, as enumerated in the verse, "one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer" (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). Here we have ten species of sorcery. And at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, stretched forth His finger and disturbed the brooks and rivers of Egypt so that their fishes of wisdom were confounded: some waters turned into blood, others threw up small fishes of no account upon whom the spirit of sorcery never rested. Then there came upon them the plague called arob (lit. mixture, i.e. mixture of various beasts) which allegorically indicates that the Almighty confounded their magical arts so that their practitioners were not able to piece them together. Moreover, that confusion produced a mingling of a perverse and hybrid kind similar to those referred to in the words of Scripture, "thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed; neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together" (Leviticus 19:19).
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 30b -Many were then the legions that bestirred themselves above, but the Holy One, blessed be He, confounded them altogether; these mighty deeds which the Almighty performed in Egypt were accomplished by the raising of one of his hands against them, both on high and below. It was then that the wisdom of Egypt perished, as Scripture says: "and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid" (Isaiah 29:14). Note further the pronouncement: "And I will confuse Egypt with Egypt" (Ibid. 29:2), that is to say, celestial Egypt with terrestrial Egypt. For the celestial legions are in charge of the terrestrial ones, and they both were altogether thrown in disorder. They were confused on high so that the Egyptians could not derive inspiration from the celestial sources as formerly.
11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition.
Again, the concept of gilgul may lie behind this text, in that this same soul has manifested itself before in seven personalities, with the eighth being the final manifestation. Another possibility is that of ibur, where someone receives (part of) the soul of a previously existing being(s) within their lifetime.
12 "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.
13 These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.
A contrast can be made between these being of "one mind" and those of Messiah who are of one mind (i.e., Romans 15:6, 1Corinthians 1:10, 2:16, Philippians 1:27).
The idea of "all ten" coming together alludes to the complete complement of ten Sefirot functioning together as a unit for the purpose of unification.
If a man makes the entire goal of his action to please his Creator and Maker, then all ten holy sefirot are included in his deed. He thereby builds up the Divine Presence, elevates it, and unites all worlds. 17
14a These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them ...
The idea of "messiahs battles" in the last days is found in ancient sources:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 7b - When the Holy One comes to visit the Hind (Israel), he will examine who it is that remains loyal to her at that time, and then woe to him who shall not be found worthy, and of whom it shall be said, I looked and there was none to help (Isaiah 62:23). Many sufferings shall then befall Israel. But happy he who will be found faithful at that time! For he shall see the joy-giving light of the King. Concerning that time it is proclaimed: I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried (Zechariah13:9). Then shall pangs and travail overtake Israel, and all nations and their kings shall furiously rage together and take counsel against her. Thereupon a pillar of fire will be suspended from heaven to earth for forty days, visible to all nations. Then the Messiah will arise from the Garden of Eden, from that place which is called The Bird's Nest. He will arise in the land of Galilee, and on that day the whole world shall be shaken and all the children of men shall seek refuge in caves and rocky places. Concerning that time it is written: And they shall go into the holes of the rocks and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth (Isaiah 2:19). The glory of his majesty refers to the Messiah when he shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee; for in this part of the Holy Land the desolation first began, and therefore he will manifest himself there first, and from there begin to war against the world. After the forty days, during which the pillar shall have stood between heaven and earth before the eyes of the whole world, and the Messiah shall have manifested himself, a star shall come forth from the East variegated in hue and shining brilliantly, and seven other stars shall surround it, and make war on it from all sides, three times a day for seventy days, before the eyes of the whole world. The one star shall fight against the seven with rays of fire flashing on every side, and it shall smite them until they are extinguished, evening after evening. But in the day they will appear again and fight before the eyes of the whole world, seventy days long. After the seventy days the one star shall vanish. Also the Messiah shall be hidden for twelve months in the pillar of fire, which shall return again, although it shall not be visible. After the twelve months the Messiah will be carried up to heaven in that pillar of fire and receive there power and dominion and the royal crown. When he descends, the pillar of fire will again be visible to the eyes of the world, and the Messiah will reveal himself, and mighty nations will gather round him, and he shall declare war against all the world. At that time the Holy One shall show forth his power before all the nations of the earth, and the Messiah shall be manifested throughout the whole universe, and all the kings will unite to fight against him, and even in Israel there will be found some wicked ones who shall join them in the fight against the Messiah. Then there will be darkness over all the world, and for fifteen days shall it continue, and many in Israel shall perish in that darkness. Concerning this darkness it is written: Behold, darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the peoples (Isaiah 62:2).
14b ... for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful."
Messiah is ruler over both the spiritual (Yetzirah/Zeir Anpin) and physical (Assiyah/Malkut) worlds. (See also the reference to the faithful ones in the above Zohar passage.)
15 Then he said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.
This fourfold description is similar to that found in a previous verse:
Revelation 9:11 - For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial.
This "unity" of people is associated with either the presence of God (i.e., the Shekinah) or the influence of the Sitra Achra (i.e., Lilith), both of which extend to the entire earth as follows:
The essential and true understanding of the verse, "A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and then it divides and becomes four branches." (Genesis 2:10) is that rivers represent the four divisions of the Shekinah. 18
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 34b - AND GOD CREATED THE GREAT SEA MONSTERS. These are the Leviathan and its female. AND EVERY LIVING CREATURE THAT CREEPETH. This is the soul of the creature which creeps to the four quarters of the globe, to wit, Lilith.
16 And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
Here we see the idea of midah knegged midah ("measure for measure") judgment coming upon an evil entity. Lilith, who has a reputation of turning against her own, is inevitably rejected by her own:
Midrash Rabbah - Numbers 16:25 - Lilith who, when she finds nothing else, turns upon her own children.
The downfall of Lilith is directly linked to the defeat of "Rome" (gentile kingdoms) in the latter days:
Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 19a - And when the Almighty will destroy the wicked Rome, He will settle Lilith among the ruins, since she is the ruin of the world, as it is written: For there Lilith shall settle and find her a place of rest
The concept of "nakedness" of the "mother" is found in the following text. It is interesting to see that those who serve Lilith (also called the Erev rav - the "mixed multitude") are said to separate the two He's (pronounced "hay") in the Name Y-H-V-H. (Keeping in mind that separation of the Name comes directly against the "prime objective" of unifying the "Name" of God - Zechariah 14:9 as discussed throughout this Revelation study.)
Specifically, they come against the Vav which is called "the son" (i.e., verses 6 and 14 above):
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 27b - Before Israel went into captivity, and while the Shekinah was still with them, God commanded Israel: thou shalt not uncover thy mother's nakedness (Leviticus 18:7), and this captivity is the uncovering of the nakedness of the Shekinah, as it is written, On account of your sins your mother has been put away (Isaiah 50:1), i.e. for the sin of unchastity Israel has been sent into captivity and the Shekinah also, and this is the uncovering of the Shekinah. This unchastity is Lilith, the mother of the mixed multitude. It is they who separate the two Hes of the sacred name, and prevent the Vau from entering between them; so it is written, the nakedness of a woman and her daughter thou shalt not uncover, referring to the upper and lower Shekinah. When the mixed multitude are between the one He and the other, the Holy One, blessed be He, cannot link them together, and consequently the river becomes dry and parched- dry in the upper He and parched in the lower He, in order that the mixed multitude may not be nourished by the Vau, which is the Tree of Life. Therefore the Vau does not link together the two Hes when the mixed multitude is between them, and the letter Yod is not able to draw near to the second He; thus the precept thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law is transgressed. Further, they separate the Yod from the upper He, and so break the command thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's wife, the Yod being the father, the first He the mother, Vau the son and the second He the daughter. Therefore it is ordained with regard to the upper He, thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's wife; the nakedness of thy sister the daughter of thy father refers to the lower He; her son's daughter and her daughter's daughter refers to the He and He which are the children of He; the nakedness of the father's brother refers to the Yod, which is the product of the letter Yod, a brother to Vau. In a word, when the mixed multitude are mingled with Israel, the letters of the name Tetragrammaton cannot be joined and linked together; but as soon as they are removed from the world, then it is said of the letters of God's name that On that day the Lord shall be one and his name one (Zechariah 14:9).
The "vav" is called the "vav of connection":
The internal force of the line is the power to reveal the inherent interinclusion of the various aspects of reality, one in the other, thereby joining them together as an organic whole. This property of the letter vav, in its usage in Hebrew, is referred to as vav hachibur, the vav of connection"--"and." The first vav of the Torah--"In the beginning G-d created the heavens and [vav] the earth"--serves to join spirit and matter, heaven and the earth, throughout Creation.19
See previous comments on the letter vav at:
17 For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.
This may be compared to Pharaoh (whose heart God hardened) who served God's purpose for a specific time.
It is evident that everything that exists, both above and below, was created only because the Highest Wisdom deemed these phenomena necessary and useful for furthering the purpose of creation as a whole ... Since each thing was initially created for a purpose, it is appropriate that it be maintained as long as it is serving its purpose. God created all things, He continues to oversee them and maintain them in the state He desires. 20
There does not exist a single concept in the world, whether it be a process or circumstance in anything that exists, that is not set up and ordained according to what must exist to fulfill the purpose of creation ... 21
18 And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth."
This "woman" is a "great city" that is "reigning" over the kings of the earth. This is the Sitra Achra counterpart to Jerusalem:
Galatians 4:26 - Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Kabbalistically, we have Lilith as the counterpart (in the lower world of Asiyah) to the Shekinah (at the level of Malkut). We also have Babylon as the spiritual counterpart to "Jerusalem above" (at the level of Binah). These are the "two females" or "upper and lower mothers" that seek to be connected via the tzaddik (the vav, Messiah ben Joseph, Metatron, Sefirah of Yesod, etc.), or in the case of the Sitra Achra, the false-messiah/tzaddik, who causes separation between the upper "Hay" and lower "Hay."
Note that the same or similar angel introduces "Jerusalem above" in Revelation 21:9. Lilith/Babylon is "bride" as Shekinah/New Jerusalem is the bride to Mashiach. When Lilith "replaces" the Shekinah (i.e., Malkut) as the "lower" female (nukveh) then God's blessings are cut off and in place comes disease, famine, death, etc.
This is the hidden meaning behind the "women's hair" of the demons (whom Lilith oversees) mentioned in an earlier chapter:
Revelation 9:8a - Their hair was like women's hair ...
This woman's hair on Lilith's demons is representative of the negative state of the Shekinah:
The hair of nukva (malchut), by contrast, is a source of vitality for negative energies. 22
Further, the "upper mother" (i.e., Binah) is associated with the matriarch Leah, and the "lower mother" (i.e., Malkut) with the matriarch Rachel. Jacob (Tiferet/Zeir Anpin) is the one who connects the two females, binding the upper spiritual (Binah - the "gateway" to the upper triad of Binah-Chokmah-Keter) to the lower spiritual (Malkut - the spiritual aspect of the physical world).
As mentioned in an earlier study however, Jacob cannot do this without the "tzaddik" - Joseph (Yesod) who has a critical role in defeating Esau.23
Obadiah 1:18 - And the house of Jacob shall be fire, and the house of Joseph flame, and the house of Esau for stubble.
1. Book of Enoch, chapter 28.
2. ibid., chapter 17.
3. See The Kaballah Unveiled, S.L. Macgrethor Mathers, Introduction, part 61, as found on http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/tku/tku03.htm.
8. See http://www.kabbalaonline.org/weeklytorah/ari/propriety_and_passion.asp for an interesting view of the connection between the sin of Adam and that of Aaron's sons, as relating to this "evil wine."
9. The colors generally associated with the Four Worlds of Existence are Asiyah=Red (the color of the earth), Yetzirah=Purple (the "mixture" of red and blue - i.e., Asiyah and Beriah), Beriah=Blue (the heavenlies) and Atzilut=Gold or White.
10. Citation from Seder 'Olam Rabba, ch. 17 as found in, The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, 1979, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, p. 134.
11. The concept of gilgul is beyond the scope of this study. It was part of Judaism's belief system at the time of Yeshua as seen in several New Testament verses including; John 9:2; Matthew 16:13-14 and Matthew 11:14 and 17:12.
13. Book of Enoch, 21:1-8.
14. Opening the Tanya, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, 2003, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, p. 43.
17. From Ma'or V'Shemesh, Parshat Nitzavim, as cited in Song of the Soul, Rabbi Yechiel Bar-Lev, Petach Tikva, 1994, p. 79.
18. Sha'are Orah ("Gates of Light"), Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, translated by Avi Weinstein, Altamira Press, 1994, p. 14.
19. The Mystical Significance of the Hebrew Letters, Vav - Connection, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, http://www.inner.org/HEBLETER/vav.htm.
20. Derech Hashem ("The Way of God"), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 91, part 2.1.1.
21. ibid., p. 353, part 4.9.1.
23. For an in-depth look at the relationship between; Jacob, Israel, Rachel, Leah, Joseph and Esau, see the excellent article at: http://www.aish.com/torahportion/mayanot/Whats_In_A_Name.asp.
BACK TO THE TEXT INDEX