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Revelation 1:7-20
Last update: October 21, 2004

7 Behold, he comes with the clouds, and every eye shall see him whom they have pierced (every eye shall see him, even those who did pierce him), and all the tribes of the land [shall] wail because of him shall. Yes! Amen!


The Clouds of Glory are associated with the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles), which holds enormous Messianic significance. For instance, in Matthew 17:4, Peter wanted to build "tabernacles" when he saw Yeshua, Moses and Elijah. Also, in Matthew 21:8, the people laid down "branches" in front of Yeshua, welcoming Him as Messiah. (Branches called "the Lulav" are a key part of Sukkot.) The Tenakh tells us that Sukkot will be celebrated by all of the nations in the Millennial Kingdom (Zechariah 14:16-19).

The 18th century kabbalist, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, wrote the following about the link between the Heavenly Clouds and Sukkot:

Sukkos observances in general are related to the Clouds of Glory. Besides the physical benefit of providing shelter and protection, these Clouds also provided an important spiritual benefit. Just as these Clouds caused Israel to be set apart, and elevated physically, they likewise were responsible for the transmission of the Essence of illumination that made them unique. As a result, they were differentiated from all peoples and literally elevated and removed from the physical world itself ... This is the Light of holiness, transmitted by God which surrounds every righteous man of Israel, distinguishing him from all other individuals, and raising and elevating him above them all. This is the concept that is renewed every Sukkos through the sukkah itself .1

See previous teachings on Messiah and Sukkot for additional information. Also note comments to verse 13 below, regarding Nachmanides analysis of Exodus. See notes to verse 12, for allusions to the Feast of Shavuot as well. (As discussed earlier, both Shavuot, with its seven previous weeks in the spring, and Sukkot, with its seven days in the fall, relate to the coming Kingdom and World to Come.)

The idea of Messiah coming on the clouds is found in the; Tenakh, the "New Testament," Apocryphal writings, the Talmud and the Zohar.

We find the following in Scripture:

Daniel 7:13 - I was seeing in the visions of the night, and lo, with the clouds of the heavens as a son of man was [one] coming, and unto the Ancient of Days he hath come, and before Him they have brought him near.

Matthew 24:30 - Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 26:64 - Yeshua said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Acts 1:9- 11 - Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Yeshua, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

The Apocryphal book of 4 Ezra was written before Yeshua's time. It contains reference to a "sea," which is understood to be the Supernal Sea, which is associated with the spiritual realm. The language in 4 Ezra is reminiscent of the "New Testament," with likeness to Armageddon, and someone called "My Son," who was hidden away for a while by God (i.e., Isaiah 49), slaying those who come against him with the word of his mouth. This man flies with the clouds of heaven:

4 Ezra 13:1-9; 25,26,35,36 - And it came to pass after seven days that I dreamed a dream by night: and I beheld, and lo! there arose a violent wind from the sea, and stirred all its waves. And the wind caused the likeness of a form of a man to come out of the heart of the seas. And this Man flew with the clouds of heaven. And wherever he turned his countenance to look, everything seen by him trembled; and whithersoever the voice went out of his mouth, all that heard his voice melted away, as the wax melts when it feels the fire. And after this I beheld that there were gathered from the four winds of heaven an innumerable multitude of men to make war against that Man who came up out of the sea ... And I saw that he cut out for himself a great mountain and flew upon it ... And when he saw the assult of the multitude as they came, he neither lifted his hand, nor held spear nor any warlike weapon; but I saw only how he sent out of his mouth as it were a fiery stream, and out of his lips a flaming breath, and out of his tongue he shot forth a storm of sparks ... And these fell upon the assault of the multitude ... and burned them all up ...

These are the interpretations of the vision: Whereas you did see a man coming up from the heart of the sea: this is he whom the Most High is keeping many ages and through whom He will deliver His creation, and the same shall order the survivors ...

But he shall stand upon the summit of Mount Zion. And Zion shall come and shall be made manifest to all men, prepared and built, even as you did see the mountain cut out without hands. But he, My Son, shall reprove the nations that are come for their ungodliness ...

The Talmudic references to the "son of the clouds" (Bar Nafle), states that this person is the Messiah. The following text includes references to their being very few people studying Torah upon his return (i.e., Luke 18:8) and that this will be preceded by times of great tribulation (i.e., Matthew 24). Mention is also made of Messiah coming at the end of a seven year cycle, which would be the 70th shemita cycle of Daniel's prophecy:

Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 96b - R. Nahman said to R. Isaac: ‘Have you heard when Bar Nafle [son of the clouds] will come?’ ‘Who is Bar Nafle?’ he asked. ‘Messiah,’ he answered, ‘Do you call Messiah Bar Nafle?’ — ‘Even so,’ he rejoined, ‘as it is written, in that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David ha-nofeleth [that is fallen].’ He replied, ‘Thus hath R. Johanan said: in the generation when the son of David [i.e., Messiah] will come, scholars will be few in number, and as for the rest, their eyes will fail through sorrow and grief. Multitudes of trouble and evil decrees will be promulgated anew, each new evil coming with haste before the other has ended.’ Our Rabbis taught: in the seven year cycle at the end of which the son of David will come-in the first year, this verse will be fulfilled: And I will cause it to rain upon one city and cause it not to rain upon another city; in the second, the arrows of hunger will be sent forth; in the third, a great famine, in the course of which men, women, and children, pious men and saints will die, and the Torah will be forgotten by its students; in the fourth, partial plenty; in the fifth, great plenty, when men will eat, drink and rejoice, and the Torah will return to its disciples; in the sixth, [Heavenly] sounds; in the seventh, wars; and at the conclusion of the septennate the son of David will come.

In the following passage from Talmud, the sages saw that the Tenakh contained what appeared to be a contradiction. One the one hand, Messiah would arrive triumphantly on the clouds, on the other hand, lowly on a donkey. The conclusion was that if Israel merited it, he would come on the clouds, but if they failed, he would come on a donkey:

Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 98a - R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it! — if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee . . .] lowly, and riding upon an ass! — if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven; if not, lowly and riding upon an ass.

Messiah will come regardless of whether His people merit it or not. However, a far less desirable scenario comes about if it is the latter.

As stated by Rabbi Pinchas Winston:

Hence, if the Jewish people do not warrant the arrival of Moshiach and redemption in a positive way, they will be forced to cross a historical threshold to Yemos HaMoshiach of a far more destructive nature. In Biblical terms, it is called the "War of Gog and Magog." 2

The Zohar directly associates Daniel 7:13 with the Messiah who will establish the Kingdom of God:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 145b - R. Hiya then followed with a discourse on the verse: I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of devices (Prov. VIII, 12). ‘ "Wisdom" here’, he said, ‘alludes to the Community of Israel; "prudence" signifies Jacob, the prudent man; and "knowledge of devices" alludes to Isaac, who used devices for the purpose of blessing Esau. But since wisdom allied itself with Jacob, who was possessed of prudence, it was he who was blessed by his father, so that all those blessings rested on him and are fulfilled in him and in his descendants to all eternity. Some have been fulfilled in this world, and the rest will be fulfilled on the advent of the Messiah, when Israel will be one nation on earth and one people of the Holy One, blessed be He. So Scripture says: "And I will make them one nation on earth" (Ez. XXXVII, 22). And they will exercise dominion both on high and here below, as it is written: "And, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man" (Dan. VII, 13), alluding to the Messiah, concerning whom it is also written: "And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, etc." (Ibid. II, 44). Hence Jacob desired that the blessings should be reserved for that future time, and did not take them up immediately.’

Tribes of the Land

The reference to being pierced is a quote from Zechariah. The translation "tribes of the land" (often mistranslated, "tribes of the earth"), is a direct reference to the tribes of the Land of Israel, as these are the tribes shown in the book of Zechariah, from which John is quoting:

Zechariah 12:10-14 - "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.

8 `I am the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is coming -- the Almighty.'

The first mystical reference to "beginning and end," is found in Genesis 1:1. The fourth "word" (in the Hebrew) of that verse is not translated. This "word" is made up of the letters Aleph and Tav, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which in Hebraic literature, when found together, represent the beginning and end.

The word-for-word of Genesis 1:1 reads:

Bereshit bara Elohim [aleph-tav] hashamayim ve-et ha-eretz.
In the beginning created god(s) [aleph-tav] heaven and the earth.

The kabbalistic teaching from Genesis 1:1, is that God not only fills all of physical space (He is everywhere), but also all of time. (Thus explaining how John's vision encompasses past, present and future - see verse 19.) The term aleph-tav implies all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet (that lie between the aleph and the tav.

Note that when the middle letter of the alphabet, the Mem, is placed in between these two letters ("aleph-mem-tav"), you have the word Emet, meaning "truth." The Mem derives its name from mayim, the Hebrew word for "water," and thus represents the fluid transition of history from the beginning to the end.3

The Mem also has a numerical value of forty, a number symbolic of a time of testing, proving, development and judgment.

For instance:

  • Forty Sa'ah of water in a mikvah (immersion tank)
  • Forty days of the flood of Noah's time
  • Forty days on the mountain for Moses
  • Forty years in the desert for the Israelites
  • Forty days for a human embryo to take on a recognizable human form
  • Forty days of Yeshua being in the Wilderness
  • "Forty less one" being the number of the punishment of stripes; categories of work forbidden on the Sabbath, and weeks of a pregnancy
  • Forty cubits being the height of the entrance to the Sanctuary of the Temple
  • Forty Sephirot when one counts all ten in each of the "four worlds"

The role of Hebrew letters in the creation process was briefly mentioned in the second part of our background study of Spiritual Dimensions. Once thought of by many as fanciful thought, the idea of that the mysteries of the universe can be explained by mathematical equations (i.e., the Hebrew letters have numerical values), is now a fundamental precept of modern physics. Everything that exists in our physical world comes from the divine world (Azilut) of the Sephirot:

"Creation is portrayed as the unfolding of divine language from the Sefirot into ideal letters of the spiritual realm which were then impressed upon the physical world. ... whatever exists in the world must first exist, in divine form, in the divine realm. Nothing can exist unless it has its "root" in the Sefirot." 4

9 I, John, who also [am] your brother, and fellow-partner in the tribulation, and in the reign and endurance, of Messiah Yeshua, was in the isle that is called Patmos, because of the word of God, and because of the testimony of Messiah Yeshua;

10a I was in the Spirit on the Lord's-day ...

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan offers the following regarding the connection between the Ruach (Spirit) and prophecy:

The individual must be in a pure state, not tainted by the Evil Urge (Yetzer Hara), and beyond the grasp of everything pertaining to the physical. He must be completely free of any sin that would blemish any of the roots of his soul. Only then, if he prepares himself properly, can he attach himself to the highest root. Even though an individual is worthy for it, however, he must still divest his soul from all mundane things, separating it from all physical concepts. Only then can it be attached to its spiritual Root. This is the concept of "divestment," discussed in all the texts with regard to Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and Prophecy. It does not refer to actual divestment, where the soul would actually leave the body, as when one sleeps. If this were the case, the person owuld not experience prophecy, but it would be like any other dream. But Ruach HaKodesh is experienced when the individual's soul is in his body, when he is awake, and when his soul has not left him. 5

10b and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying,


The reference to "trumpet" could very well be to a shofar. In Hebrew literature, the sound of the shofar is also associated with; Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, Mount Sinai, the Shekinah, Tipheret, Malkut, judgment, and the unification of the Name of God.  (See comments on verse 15 below.)

One modern mystical teaching explains the impact of the blowing of the Shofar on New Year's, ultimately announcing the "marriage" of divine groom (Tipheret) and bride (Malkut/Shekinah):

The ram's horn (shofar) also symbolizes the predominance of Hesed (Mercy) over Din (Gevurah/Judgment), The horn is blown one hundred times during the Rosh ha-Shanah service. The ram's horn activates the various Sefirot and creates a configuration of the Sefirot in which Hesed predominates. The horn itself symbolizes Binah [Understanding] and emphasizes Hesed since it is the Sefirah that precedes Hesed. ... Confession and repentance on Rosh ha-Shanah moderate Din with Hesed and ultimately bring about the union of Tiferet and Malkhut on Yom ha-Kippurim [the Feast of Yom Kippur]. ... Yom ha-Kippurim is a vivid and symbolic recreation of the events leading up to the revelation of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai ... The Bible recounts that when the laws were given, "all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the blare of the horn." The holiday concludes its reenactment of Sinai with one final shofar blast. Yom ha-Kippurim is, therefore, a symbolic reenactment of the revelation of Sinai and atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. ... Yom ha-Kippurim is the next stage of the process of reuniting Tiferet and Malkhut, which began on Rosh ha-Shanah through softening the power of Din. On Yom ha-Kippurim the Sefirah Binah, the source of Hesed, prevails and uplifts the Shekinah in preparation for reunion with Tiferet. 6

11 `I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last;' and, `What you do see, write in a scroll, and send to the seven assemblies that [are] in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.'

The reminder of His being the First and the Last with regard to what is being sent to the assemblies, is connected to verse 19, where the message is one transcending time. See also comments to verse 17, on Yeshua being "the First and the Last."

12 And I did turn to see the voice that did speak with me, and having turned, I saw seven golden lamp-stands,

"See the Voice"

Note that John does not say he turned to see who spoke, or from where voice came. Rather, he says he turns to see the voice. How does one see a voice? The same question may be asked regarding the events of Mt. Sinai, as read about in the Torah:

Exodus 20:18-19 - And all the people are seeing the voices, and the flames, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mount smoking; and the people see, and move, and stand afar off, and say unto Moses, `Speak thou with us, and we hear, and let not God speak with us, lest we die.'

The connection between John's vision and that at Mount Sinai will be elaborated on in this study. In both cases there is an experience that transcends the senses as we understand them in the physical world of Asiyyah. Our separate senses are linked to our "divided" view of God, as is experienced in the physical world of Asiyyah. In the upper worlds, our senses as well as what we "sense" are in a more unified state.


The seven golden lampstands are seven Menorahs. The King James text has "candlesticks" in place of lampstands. Some Christian studies erroneously teach that these are single candles and therefore not Menorah's. They go as far as saying that this is "proof" that Christianity has replaced Judaism, as the single candlestick represents the single Christian believer of the "New Testament," as opposed to the seven-branch Menorah, which represents the community relationship God had with Israel in the "Old Testament."

There is no basis for this claim other than replacement theology. The term "candlestick," in the singular, is used to represent the Menorah throughout Jewish literature. Within the Soncino version of the following books, there are 197 references to "candlestick" in the Talmud, 71 in Midrash Rabbah, and 21 in the Zohar.

The presence of the Shekinah, represented by the Menorah, is said to exist within the presence of people, now that the Temple is no longer. Compare the reference to the Shekinah (the presence of God) being present when three or more study, to Yeshua saying He is present when two or three are gathered in His name (Matthew 18:20). Recall that in the Tree of Life, the "Sephirah of Messiah" corresponds to that of Malkut (Shekinah) in Azilut:

The Soncino Zohar in Appendix III - If we ask, how does God manifest His presence in Israel, the answer is, through the Divine Light, the Shekinah. This light is the connecting link between the divine and the non-divine. For, according to the Zohar, God, the protector of Israel, is borne along by four Hayyoth or Holy Beasts, constituting His throne, and these are borne on other angelic beings, which again rest on higher firmaments, under which is the lowest heaven, to which belongs the earth and all its creatures. ... Through this hierarchy an emanation of the Divine Presence is conveyed to earth, just as, on the other hand, the prayer of human beings is conveyed up to heaven. The Shekinah originally rested on the Tabernacle and Temple, but even now it accompanies the wise, especially when three study together. The ‘throne of God’, consisting of the Hayyoth, is the instrument of God's providence on earth. For the Hayyoth are pictured as having each a human face, but with the aspect respectively of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle. According, therefore, to the aspect through which he is looked upon from on high will be the providential care which a man receives here on earth.

The Menorah represents both the Shekinah and the people themselves, who have the Shekinah dwelling among them, while in exile. As the Shekinah can be withdrawn from the people (due to sin - the violation of God's Torah), it can be said that the Menorah can be withdrawn from them. (re: Revelation 2:5).

The fact that there are seven Menorahs, each with seven branches is also significant. This is a full representation of the seven "lower" Sephirot, as each of them contains within itself, aspects of all seven. These 49 lights, leading to and including Yeshua, correspond to, "The Fifty Gates of Understanding." This concept is linked to the Feast of Shavuot, which in turn is associated with the Jubilee, representing the coming Kingdom.

As mentioned in our previous study on Shavuot and the Fifty Gates of Understanding, the Feast of Shavuot is associated with the Sephirah of Binah, the source of all things that we can understand. Binah is also the great river from which all streams of provision flow out, and is linked to the third world of Beriah/Creation and the Sanctuary in Ezekiel's Temple, from which this great river finds its "source" (Ezekiel 47). Paul refers to her as "Jerusalem above, being free, and Mother to us all," in his Galatians epistle. Binah is also the head of the pillar of judgment, as reflected in the Millennium being a time of strict obedience and judgment.

(See background notes on Binah among the Sephirot.)

The Zohar links the concept of the Fifty Gates of Understanding to the Shema and to the Holy One, blessed be (Tipheret), in the following way:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 139b - Corresponding to these twenty-five, Moses chiselled twenty-five letters in writing the mystery of the Shema (the twenty-five Hebrew letters contained in the verse, "hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one"). Jacob wished to express the unity below and did so in the twenty-four letters of the response to the Shema: "Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingdom for ever and ever." He did not bring it up to twenty-five because the Tabernacle was not yet. But as soon as the Tabernacle was completed and the first Divine utterance was pronounced there, it contained twenty-five letters, to show that the Tabernacle was after the supernal pattern, as it is written, "And the Lord spake to him out of the tabernacle of the congregation" (Lev. 1, 1-twenty-five letters in Hebrew). Thus the twenty- five things for the Tabernacle show forth the Sanctuary as a perfect and harmonious whole in accordance with the mystery of the twenty-five letters, as thou, our Master, hast taught us. This is the mystery of the whole Tabernacle and of everything appertaining to its construction. The number twenty-five corresponds with the twenty-two letters of the Alphabet, along with the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, which all form one whole sum and one mystery. When the Israelites proclaim the Unity, expressed in the mystery of the twenty-five letters of the Shema and in the twenty-four letters of the response, and each person in the congregations is doing this with devoutness, then all those letters unite as one and ascend as one unity. Then the forty-nine gates are opened which signify the mystery of the Jubilee. And when the gates are opened, the Holy One, blessed be He, regards each of such persons as though he had fulfilled the whole Torah-the Torah which can be viewed from forty-nine aspects. So it is necessary to concentrate heart and mind on both the twenty-five and the twenty-four letters and to raise them with the whole force of intention to the forty-nine gates, as we have said. Through concentration on this, one will concentrate on the Unity, for our Master has taught us that the "Hear, O Israel" and the "Blessed be the Name" are the summary of the whole Torah.

13 and in the midst of the seven lamp-stands, [one] like to a son of man, clothed to the foot, and girt round at the breast with a golden girdle,

John's vision includes the image of "a son of man" with the characteristics of God, similar to that of Ezekiel's (only with far greater detail and information).

As author Rabbi J. Henoch states in his book about Nachmanides:

"... the decent unto the celestial Merkabah (chariot) was not restricted to the viewing of the Merkabah and the holy throne of God, but included at its pinnacle the vision of God Himself, so to speak, in the image of man." 7

As mentioned in our study on the Names of God, there is much in Hebrew literature to support the idea of the Messiah being in the "midst of the Shekinah." Recall what was said in Rabbi Henoch's book concerning Tipheret (Messiah) resting in the "garment" of Malkut (the Shekinah):

... In slightly different words, all Torah prophecy derives from the Great [Unique] Name, the sefirah of Tifereth. Moses, because of his greatness, received Torah prophecy from it directly, whereas Israel, could receive such prophecy only via the Honorable Name, the sefirah of Atarah (Malkut), which serves as a garment to the Sefirah of Tifereth, which so to speak, rests in her." 8

The above comment is another way of stating that Moses' level of prophecy was of Da'at of Beriah (just beneath the Tipheret of Azilut), and that of the Children of Israel was at the Da'at of Yetzirah, (which is beneath the Malkut of Azilut).

The same book refers to the great teacher Nachmanides' final comments on the book of Exodus:

"And it is plausible that the verse mentions another time 'And the Glory of God fills His tabernacle.' alluding to (the mystery) of 'The Glory of God dwells in His midst,'" referring to the inner union between the two major sefiroth of the seven lower sefiroth of the Divine Atziluth: Tifereth (Beauty/Mercy) and Malkhuth (Kingdom/Justice), and as explained by R. Bahya ben Asher: "And parallel to revelation on Mount Sinai, the Torah mentions here twice 'The Glory of God.' alluding to (the sefirah) Tifereth, which dwells in the midst of the Sefirah) Glory (Malkhuth). Understand that, for the Rav (Ramban) had this in mind." 9

As we have seen throughout the background material to this study, the Zohar supports this statement of Messiah being in the midst of the Shekinah. (Recall that the Malkut of Azilut [Shekinah] is also the Sephirah of the Messiah.) It makes reference to a "celestial living being" called "Israel" (that resembled Jacob), which accompanied the Shekinah with Israel. As mentioned in our background notes, this being was accompanied by 42 attendants, each with a relationship to the 42-letter Holy Name of God.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 5a - Said R. Simeon: ‘When the Shekinah went down to Egypt, a celestial "living being" (Hayah, cf.Ezek. 1, 5), called "Israel", in form like the patriarch Jacob, went down with Her, accompanied by forty-two heavenly attendants, each of whom bore a letter belonging to the Holy Name. ... When R. Isaac was once studying with R. Eleazar, the son of R. Simeon, he asked him: ‘Did the Shekinah go down to Egypt with Jacob?’ Said R. Eleazar: ‘Surely! Did not God say to Jacob, "I will go down with thee into Egypt" (Gen. XLVI, 4)?’

The relationship between the Shekinah, Messiah and Metatron, is found in numerous passages of the Zohar, including these, where both the Shekinah and Messiah are seen as coming from Edom to judge:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 52a - And in the future all of them shall be delivered up, as it says: "Who is this that cometh from Edom...?" (Isa. LXIII, 1). And this indeed is the significance of the words: "And he went behind them"- that the Shekinah will uproot them all at the end of days.’

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 238a - HE HATH WASHED HIS GARMENT IN WINE . With this may be compared the verse: "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?" (IS. LXIII, 1); and also: "I have trodden the winepress alone, etc." (Ibid. 3). "Wine" here alludes to the side of Geburah, of stern justice which will be visited on the idolatrous nations. AND HIS VESTURE IN THE BLOOD OF GRAPE . This is the lower-world tree, the judgement court which is called "grapes", in which the "wine" is kept. Thus the Messiah will be clothed in both to crush beneath him all the idolatrous peoples and kings.

Metatron (i.e., Messiah) is also said to be an embodiment of the Shekinah:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 94b - "I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another" (Isa. XLII, 8). Nor is it to be thought that the body which harbours the daughter of the king shall be sold into the power of earthly crowns of defilement. Against this the Scripture says: "And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity" (Lev. xxv, 23). Which is the body of the King's daughter? Metatron; and this same body is identical with the handmaid of the Shekinah.

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 60 - R. Simeon then discoursed on the verse: "Behold it is the litter of Solomon, threescore mighty men are round about it", etc. (S.S. III, 7). He said: ‘The "litter" here is the throne of glory of the King, Solomon, the "king to whom all peace belongs". Threescore mighty men are round about it, clinging to its sides as emissaries from stern judgement; they are called the sixty rods of fire wherewith that Youth [Tr. note: Metatron.] is girt.

Zohar I (Vayechi) 223a - One youth, whose measure is from the height of the world to the end of the world, emerges between her legs. He is clothed in sixty whips of fire [the Shekinah]. This is his appearance when he is appointed over those below on (all) four sides. This is the lad who holds six hundred and thirteen exalted keys from the domain of Mother (Binah), and all these exalted keys hang on the point of the sword girded to his belt. (i.e., the 613 commands of the Word (the Torah), making up the "sword of the Spirit" as found in Ephesians 6:17 and Isaiah 59:17.)

This same portion of the Zohar refers to Metatron as "holy Israel." This understanding impacts the "Servant Song" verses in Isaiah, where the subject is disputed to be either Israel or Messiah):

Zohar I (Vayechi) 223a - Come and see: holy Israel on high is called the son of his mother, as it is written, "For I am a son to my father, the dear only one of my mother", and it is written, "Israel is my firstborn son". So too below, this one is called his mother's lad, as it is written, "Israel is a lad and I love him".

The "angel of the Lord," whom God sent to guide the Israelites in the book of Exodus (which is also said to be Metatron 10), is associated with the Shekinah:

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XXXII:9 - BEHOLD, I SEND AN ANGEL. Wherever the angel appeared, the Shechinah appeared, as it says, And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire (Ex. III, 2), and immediately after, it says, God called unto him. Moreover, salvation cometh to Israel wherever they cry unto Him1; at the thorn-bush--Behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; in the case of Gideon--And the angel of the Lord came... and the angel of the Lord appeared... and the Lord... said: Go in this thy might, and save Israel (Judg. VI, 11-14). In the millennium, likewise, when he will reveal himself, salvation will come to Israel, as it says, Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall clear the way before Me (Mal. III, 1).

Note in the above passage, that the angel of the Lord appears in the flame, similar to how Yeshua appears among the seven Menorah. This angel of the Lord is identified as Metatron, and is said to have God's Name in him, as shown in the Talmud:

Talmud, Sanhedrin 38b - A heretic challenged Rabbi Idit: It is written, "(God) said to Moses, 'Go up to YHVH'" {Exodus 24:1}. (Since God was speaking), it should say 'Go up to Me!' Rabbi Idit answered: (YHVH) here means Metatron, whose name is the same as the name of his Lord. As it is written, "Behold, I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way... My name is in him" {Exodus 23:20-21}.

As we have discussed earlier in this study, at the present time, Messiah and Shekinah are not united, and the Shekinah is with Israel and those gentiles who join themselves to the faith of Israel.

The Zohar has an interesting commentary on God "allowing" for this separation to occur:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 133b - The Holy One, blessed be He, unlike a human husband, who would protest violently should anyone take from him the wife whom he so dearly loves, is greatly pleased when the Shekinah, whom He so loves, is "taken" from the supernal sphere, the abode of Love, to dwell below in the midst of Israel. Happy is the lot of Israel and happy that of all those who are worthy of this. ... However, although they "take" Her (the Shekinah), they may do so only when her Spouse specially grants permission, and only in accordance with His will, in order that He may be worshipped in love.

As we will see later in this study, the Shekinah's fury is unleashed upon the earth in the "Tribulation" when haSatan, in the form of the anti-Messiah (and false Tzaddik), puts himself in the place of the true bridegroom.

14 and his head and hairs white, as if white wool -- as snow, and his eyes as a flame of fire;

The book of Enoch associates a head of white wool with the Ancient of Days, who has the Son of man standing with him:

Enoch 46:1 - There I beheld the Ancient of days, whose head was like white wool, and with him another, whose countenance resembled that of a man.

Daniel also spoke of God in this fashion:

Daniel 7:9 - I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Midrash views a hair of wool as a sign of total superiority above all and pending judgment:

Midrash Rabbah - Esther I:6 - R. Levi said in the name of R. Samuel b. Nahman: It is written, And the hair of His head like pure wool (Dan. VII, 9), indicating that no creature has the least claim upon Him.4 R. Judan said in the name of R. Aibu: It is written, I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the peoples there was no man with Me (Isa. LXIII, 3). Does God require the assistance of the nations that He says, ' And of the peoples there was no man with Me’? What the Holy One, blessed be He, really said was this: ' When I shall examine the records of the nations and they shall be found to have no merit before Me, then I shall tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury.’ R. Phinehas and R. Hilkiah in the name of R. Simon said: It is written, And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations, etc. (Zech. XII 9). ’I will seek!’ Who can prevent Him? In fact what God meant was this: When I shall examine the records of the nations and they will not be found to have any merit before Me, then ’I will seek to destroy all nations’.

The reference to eyes as flames of fire is also one of judgment, tied directly to feet of brass (below).

15 and his feet [were] like fine brass, as in a furnace having been fired, and his voice as a sound of many waters,

Brass is another symbol of judgment, in this case related to "powers and principalities" that lie behind the nations, whom Messiah is coming to judge (see comments on verse 16). Note also the Messianic reference to Sukkot:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 135a - Brass is symbolic of the days of the Sacrifices of the Feast of Tabernacles [Sukkot], which alluded to the powers and principalities of the heathen nations, who are designated "mountains of brass".

Note the above description of the "powers and principalities of the heathen nations," as "mountains." This will be important later in the text of this letter.

The reference to "many waters" in verse 15, is yet another link to Sukkot, as seen in John's gospel:

John 7:2 - and the feast of the Jews was nigh -- that of tabernacles

John 7:37-38 - And in the last, the great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried, saying, `If any one doth thirst, let him come unto me and drink; he who is believing in me, according as the Writing said, Rivers out of his belly shall flow of living water;'

Kabbalistically, judgment belongs to the Sephirah of Tipheret, (the "Son"), though it is seen as being carried out by Gevurah (the Sephirah of the 'evil realm") and Malkut (the Shekinah).11

The reference to the voice of many waters alludes to the will of God (blessings and cursings), as seen in the waters of Eden. The voice heard by Moses at Mount Sinai, was also said to be one of many voices:

Bahir 45 - This teaches us that the Torah was given (at Sinai) with seven voices. In each of them the Master of the Universe revealed Himself to them, and they saw Him. It is thus written, "And all the people saw the voices."

The following passage from the Zohar, strongly resembles the text of Revelation, as it links the seven voices with the Holy One blessed be He (Tipheret), who is sitting on the throne, amidst the fire (i.e., "candlesticks") and speaking as a trumpet:

Soncino Zohar, Devarim, Section 3, Page 261a - GO THOU NEAR AND HEAR, ETC. When the Law was given to Israel, all the Voices were present and the Holy One, blessed be He, was sitting on His throne, and one was seen within another, and the utterance of each came forth from the one above it, wherefore it is said, "The Lord spake to you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire" (Deut. v, 4), which means that the utterance came forth from the midst of fire and flame, which thrust it forth by the force of spirit and water; and fire, spirit and water all issued from the trumpet which contained them all.

The voice emanating from the fire and flame, mentioned in the above Zohar passage, has a direct connection to Moses, who also "saw" God in the form of a voice, which is called "the messenger (angel) of YHVH":

Exodus 3:2-4 - and there appeareth unto him a messenger of YHVH in a flame of fire, out of the midst of the bush, and he seeth, and lo, the bush is burning with fire, and the bush is not consumed. And Moses saith, `Let me turn aside, I pray thee, and I see this great appearance; wherefore is the bush not burned?' and YHVH seeth that he hath turned aside to see, and God calleth unto him out of the midst of the bush, and saith, `Moses, Moses;' and he saith, `Here [am] I.'

"Spirit, water and fire," (mentioned in the above Zohar verse), also are associated with the letters in the name Moses (Mem-Shin-Heh). The Mem is associated with water, the Shin with fire, and the Heh with spirit. These parallel the three pillars of the Godhead, as discussed in an earlier study.

Midrash Rabbah tells us that the voice of waters, is the Torah:

Midrash Rabbah - The Song of Songs I:19 - Just as water is from heaven, as it says, At the sound of His giving, a multitude of waters in the heavens (Jer. X, 13), so the Torah is from heaven, as it says, I have talked with you from heaven (Ex. XX, 19). Just as [the downpour of] water is accompanied by loud thunderings, as it says, the voice of the Lord is upon the waters (Ps. XXIX, 3), so the Torah was given with loud thunderings, as it says, And it came to pass on the third day when it was morning that there were thunders and lightnings (Ex. XIX, 16).

16 and having in his right hand seven stars, and projecting [from] (out of) his mouth a sharp two-edged sword is proceeding, and his countenance [is] as the sun shining in its might.

The seven stars are explained in the comments to verse 20 (see below).

The sword is said to be "projecting" from the mouth of the Lord. This is an allusion to the "giving" of the Torah. Those who did not "hear" (i.e., Shema Israel) would be condemned. Judgment comes from the word of God – the Torah. Following God’s Torah (which includes Messiah) in faith, brings salvation. Disobedience to God’s Torah brings condemnation:

Deuteronomy 8:3 - So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.

Psalm 7:11 - God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword; He bends His bow and makes it ready. He also prepares for Himself instruments of death; He makes His arrows into fiery shafts.

Hebrews 4:11-13 - Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

Revelation 14:12 - Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Yeshua.

Revelation 19:15 - Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Revelation 22:14 - Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

The sword as representing Torah, is found in Hebrew commentaries as well:

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XXI:9 - Our Rabbis said: SWORD refers to the Torah, as it is written, And a two-edged sword in their hand (Ps. CXLIX, 6).

Midrash Rabbah - Exodus LI:8 - And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments from Mount Horeb onward (ib. 6). (By three names is this mount known: The mountain of God, ‘Mount Horeb’ and Mount Sinai.2 Why ’ The mountain of God ' ? (ib. XVIII, 5). Because it was there that God manifested His Godhead. And Sinai? use [it was on that mount] that God showed that He hates (sane) the angels and loves mankind. And why was it called ’Horeb’? (ib. XXXIII, 6)--Because thereon was the Torah, called ‘a sword’ (hereb), given, as it says, Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand (Ps. CXLIX, 6).

Soncino Zohar, Devarim, Section 3, Page 269a - A man should sharpen the intellect of his son on the words of the Torah like a two-edged sword, so that he should not be dull.

Conversely, Scripture uses the "sword" metaphor to represent lies opposed to God's Torah as well:

Psalm 57:4 - My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 85b - Happy are those who know the ways of the Torah and study it in the proper manner, for they plant trees of life which are superior to all healing medicines. Therefore it says, "The law of truth was in his mouth" (Mal. II, 6). For there is a law which is not of truth, namely, of him who gives decisions without being qualified, and one who learns from him learns something which is not truth.

17 And when I saw him, I did fall at his feet as dead, and he placed his right hand upon me, saying to me, `Be not afraid; I am the First and the Last,

Yeshua calls Himself in the same manner that John refers to God in verse 4. In the book of Isaiah, God refers to Himself in this same way, as being both "King of Israel" (a title for Tipheret, as discussed earlier), and "the First and the Last":

Isaiah 44:6 - "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God."

Isaiah 48:12 - "Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last."

Isaiah holds yet another interesting verse regarding the "first and the last." Here again the "sword" (Torah) of God comes to judge:

Isaiah 41:1-4 - Keep silent towards Me, O isles, And the peoples pass on [to] power, They come nigh, then they speak, `Together -- to judgment we draw near.' Who stirred up from the east a righteous one? He calleth him to His foot, He giveth before him nations, And kings He causeth him to rule, He giveth [them] as dust [to] his sword, As driven stubble [to] his bow. He pursueth them, he passeth over in safety A path with his feet he entereth not. Who hath wrought and done, Calling the generations from the first? I, YHWH, the first, and with the last I [am] He.

The above reference of a righteous one being stirred from the "east." may be understood kabbalistically as from the "right side" of the Tree of  Life (the side of mercy), or in a more literal sense, referring to the wilderness of the east (Isaiah 40:3).

18 and the living one (he who is living), and though I was (did become) dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore (living to the ages of the ages). Amen! and I have the keys of the hades and of the death.

The above reference to death is a description of the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy that the Messiah would die:

Daniel 9:24-27 - Seventy weeks are determined for thy people, and for thy holy city, to shut up the transgression, and to seal up sins, and to cover iniquity, and to bring in righteousness age-during, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the holy of holies. And thou dost know, and dost consider wisely, from the going forth of the word to restore and to build Jerusalem till Messiah the Leader [is] seven weeks, and sixty and two weeks: the broad place hath been built again, and the rampart, even in the distress of the times. And after the sixty and two weeks, cut off is Messiah, and the city and the holy place are not his, the Leader who hath come doth destroy the people; and its end [is] with a flood, and till the end [is] war, determined [are] desolations. And he hath strengthened a covenant with many -- one week, and [in] the midst of the week he causeth sacrifice and present to cease, and by the wing of abominations he is making desolate, even till the consummation, and that which is determined is poured on the desolate one.'

19 `Write the things that you have seen, and the things that are, and the things that are about to come after these things;

See comments to verse 8 above. This is another hint to the high level of John's vision. Of course, this is what makes Revelation such a difficult and intriguing study, as we are so used to thinking in terms of linear time.

20 the secret of the seven stars that have seen upon my right hand, and the seven golden lamp-stands: the seven stars are messengers of the seven assemblies, and the seven lamp-stands that have seen are seven assemblies.

As mentioned in the comments to verse 12, the Menorah (lamp-stand) represents both the Shekinah and the people among whom the Shekinah is present, here being represented by the seven "types" of groups.

The term "stars" is a common euphemism for angels ("good" and "bad" ones), in Jewish mystical literature. This will be elaborated on as we move forward into the text study.

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 230b - ... and then the angels of the third watch commenced to sing, and also all the stars and constellations of the heaven, as it is written: "When the morning stars sung together and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job XXXVIII, 7), and also, "Praise him, all ye stars of light" (Ps. CXLVIII, 3), these being the radiant stars which are appointed to sing at dawn.

1. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Feldheim Publishers, 1997, p. 343, citing Zohar 3:103a, Tikkunei Zohar 21 (55a).

2. Approaching the Threshold: Current Events in Light of the Past, Rabbi Pinchas Winston,

3. For an expounded teaching, see Waters of Eden, Aryeh Kaplan, NCSY Orthodox Union, 1976, pp. 62-73.

4. The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson, London, 1988, p.115, 129.

5. Meditation and the Bible, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1978, p. 49.

6.  The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S. Ariel, Jason Aronson, London, 1988, p.152.

7. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson, Inc., London 1998, p.181.

8. ibid, p.148.

9. ibid, p. 93.

10. Kabbalah and Exodus, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1980, p. 129.

11. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson, Inc., London 1998, p.205.