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Revelation 2:8-29
Last update:
October 29, 2001

8 And to the messenger of the assembly of the Smyrneans write: These things saith the First and the Last, who did become dead and did live

The name "Smyrna" has a Hebraic root from the word myrrh, a balm used to anoint the dead. (i.e., the Hebrew name Myrna means "annointed unto death.") Note that Yeshua encourages this congregation to be "faithful unto death."

9a I have known thy works, and tribulation, and poverty -- yet thou art rich ...

Yeshua's salutation is from the Aleph-Tav (the "First and the Last" - see notes to chapter 1), who was dead and resurrected. The mention of resurrection is mentioned by Him, prior to the next verse, where He asks those following Him to be ready to die for Him.

This assembly is considered to be "rich" by Yeshua's standards, as opposed to the Laodicean assembly in the next chapter, which has great material wealth, but can't see its own spiritual poverty. The relationship between spiritual and material concerns is important in the book of Revelation. In the later chapters we see God's judgement coming against the material wealth of the world.

Midrash Rabbah goes as far as saying that material wealth goes into Edom, which is comparable to Rome (or Babylon), each representing the evil Kingdom on earth (in the last days):

Midrash Rabbah - Ecclesiastes I:21 - Another interpretation of ALL THE RIVERS RUN INTO THE SEA: All wealth only goes to the kingdom of Edom, and the kingdom of Edom is never filled; for R. Levi said: It is written, So the eyes of man (adam) are never satiated (Prov. XXVII, 20), i.e. the eyes of Edom are never satiated. Do you mean to say that when wealth enters Edom it never returns to its owners? Thereforethe text states, UNTO THE PLACE WHITHER THE RIVERS GO, THITHER THEY GO AGAIN. From the place where wealth accumulates, viz. the kingdom of Edom, in this world, thence it will be dispersed in the days of the Messiah; as it is written, And her gain and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord (Isa. XXIII, 18).

The book of Enoch, ties material wealth to denial of the Name of God:

Enoch 46:5 - They shall condemn the stars of heaven, shall life up their hands against the Most High, shall tread upon and inhabit the earth, exhibiting all their works of iniquity, even their works of iniquity. Their strength shall be in their riches, and their faith in the gods whom they have formed with their own hands. They shall deny the Name of the Lord of Spirits, and shall expel him from the temples, in which they assemble.

Another modern day Scripture commentary teaches the following lesson:

We are not so aware of how our physical actions impact our spiritual reality, though, as we see here, there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the two. People think that they can be exposed to negative influences, especially only for a short duration, and walk away spiritually unscathed. They think that they can purchase something that is spiritually defective, and somehow maintain enough spiritual distance from it to hold their moral ground. They are wrong -- dead wrong. ... The Torah is warning here (Deuteronomy 7:25-26): Know that your entire perspective on life will be colored by your choices. If you choose good, then you will see good, and you will pursue G-d. If you choose spiritual depravity, then, you will see a G-dless world, and, be a victim of your own blindness. What you will "buy" from that world is more than just "idols" and "ornaments" -- it is an entire philosophy that you will absorb through spiritual osmosis.1

9b ... and the evil-speaking of those saying themselves to be Jews, and are not, but [are] a synagogue of the Adversary.

The idea of an "evil remnant" within Judaism is associated with the Erev Rav,  the "mixed multitude" that came with the Hebrews out of Egypt. The subject of the Erev Rav will be discussed in greater detail in chapter 18 of our study.

10 and ye shall have tribulation ten days, become thou faithful unto death, and I will give to thee the crown of the life.

This verse is one of the least understood in Revelation commentaries for the reason that the explanation is found within Hebrew mystical writings which the Christian Church is largely unaware of. The difficulty here, is that the Tribulation period, as it occurs here on earth, is of a seven-year duration, yet Yeshua speaks of ten "days." The answer to this lies in a mystical relationship between the numbers 7 and 10.

The period of time from Rosh haShana through Yom Kippur is called yomim ha nora'im - "days of awe." This period is sometimes thought of as the seven days between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur, but is also considered to include the two days of Rosh haShana and the day of Atonement, making a total of 10 days:

Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 12b - But the Lord of Hosts is exalted through justice, and the holy God is sanctified through righteousness: When is the Lord of Hosts exalted through justice? In these ten days from New Year to the Day of Atonement; and none-the-less it says, ‘the holy God’.

The yomim ha nora'im are considered a "last chance" to perform teshuvah (return to God). At the end of this time period, a person's fate is said to be "sealed.":

On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed how many shall pass on, and how many shall be born; who shall live, and who shall die ... who shall rest, and who shall wander ... who shall be impoverished, and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise...2

Another example is the idea of why the concept of the "ten sayings of creation" (found in Genesis 1), is often expressed in terms of seven (i.e. seven days of creation).

Aryeh Kaplan's commentary on the Bahir states:

The answer given is that the ten "were expressed with a single word." The ten represent an internal concept, which is expressed as a single idea. This is because the Ten represent a complete structure. The seven, on the other hand, are an incomplete structure, and therefore seen as separate entities.3

(Interestingly, this same section of Kaplan's book makes mention of the ten Sephirot being called "ten Kings." As we will see later in the study, the Satanic 10 Sephirot [mentioned in our background notes] are called "kings" and are reduced in number [by haSatan] from ten to seven according to the prophet Daniel.)

The seven day / ten day relationship is also described in modern Hassidic literature as follows:

During the Ten Days of Repentance, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there is a complete seven-day week, one Sunday, one Monday, etc. The Arizal ascribes special significance to this period, explaining that proper service on the Sunday of this week accomplishes repentance and correction of sin for every Sunday of the past year, and so for Monday etc. In addition to correcting past defects, this week also creates spiritual resources for the coming year (for repentance includes regret for the past and resolve for the future) on Sunday we gather strength for spiritually productive Sundays, etc. Where do we find that these seven days provide resouces for the coming year? Yom Kippur is actually also called Rosh Hashanah, as indicated by the scriptural phrasing, "On Rosh Hashanah on the tenth of the month." Chassidut explains that Rosh Hashanah is in an internal mode, and Yom Kippur in an external one. It is evident, then, that the spiritual service of Rosh Hashanah ("the building of the sefirah of malchut") continues on the following days, reaching completion on Yom Kippur (when the "building of malchut" is accomplished for all the ten sefirot contained in it, i.e. chachmah of malchut, binah of malchut, etc.). All of the Ten Days of Repentance, thus, express the concept of "Rosh Hashanah"; and just as Rosh Hashanah includes all the days of the coming year (analogous to the head's relationship to the limbs of the body), so do these days.4

The ten "Days of Awe" represent an "internal concept of ten" (in the heavenly realm) of perfect judgment. They are "played out" in the physical realm in the form of the seven year end time tribulation period. This time period is associated with that of judgment and repentance, for the individual as well as the world. This idea of an "internal concept of ten," having a representation of seven in the physical world, is of course, similar to that of the Sephirot, as shown in our earlier studies.

It would seem that Yeshua is encouraging those of this particular "type of assembly" to maintain their faith unto death as many of them will die at the hands of haSatan during the Tribulation period. (See our notes on Matthew 10:28-39.)

The Shekinah's Judgment

The Zohar also associates the ten days between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur with the end times, when haSatan (also called Samael), will interfere with the union of the bride and groom (the Sephirot of Malkut and Tipheret, as discussed earlier). As we will see, when judgment comes to the earth in the seven year tribulation, it comes via the Shekinah, who is kept from her groom by the world's acceptance of a false Tzaddik, the "anti-Messiah."

The following passage from the Zohar not only supports the idea of the "Accuser" (haSatan) attacking the Shekinah, but also that the "Advocate" (i.e., Yeshua) is "found in the Matrona." The idea of Tipheret being cloaked within the Shekinah (Malkut) was discussed previously in this study:

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 74a - When R. Eleazar was once studying with his father he said: ‘If an Advocate comes down to the world, he is to be found in the Matrona, and if there is an Accuser who assails the world, it is the Matrona that he assails. Why is this?’ He replied with a parable. ‘A king once had a son from a queen. As long as the son was obedient to the king the latter consorted with the queen. But when the son was not obedient to the king he separated from the queen. So it is’, he said, ‘with the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Community of Israel. As long as Israel perform the will of God the Holy One makes His abode with the Community of Israel. But when Israel do not perform the will of God He does not make His abode with the Community of Israel, because Israel is the firstborn of the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Community of Israel is their mother. All the time that Israel is kept away from the temple of the king, the Matrona, if one may say so, is kept away with them. Why is this? Because the Matrona did not in time apply the lash to this son to keep him in the right path. For the King never punishes his son, but leaves it in the hand of the Matrona to punish him and to lead him in the straight way before the King.

Chayim Henoch, in his book about Nachmanides, makes this interesting point, that will be very applicable when we discuss the judgments that befall the earth in later chapters of this study:

Such a husband-wife relationship exists between the two sefiroth of the Divine Atziluth. The Great Name - Beauty - Tifereth, is the husband, also called "the Holy One, blessed be He," Who is the dominant partner vis--vis the Honorable Name - Lower Crown - Atarah (Malkut), the wife, also called the Shekinah, who will defer to Him. When husband and wife diverge from their natural tendencies in the relationship, with the wife, the Lower Crown, taking the upper hand and rebelling against Beauty, her husband, an imbalance is created. Such an imbalance interrupts the energy flow from the "Great Fire" ([harsh] Strength - Gevurah, the fifth sefirah). At that moment the wife, Lower Crown, becomes destructive and brings destruction to the lower worlds, particularly to our world.5

The Zohar depicts the demonic realm as still "clinging" to the Shekinah in this present age. This is supported by Yeshua's teaching in Matthew chapter 13, that at the present time, the Kingdom of God (i.e., associated with the Shekinah among His people), still has both wheat and tares (good and evil) within it:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 133b - At present, as the "other side" still cleaves to the Shekinah, She is not entirely One, and therefore, although even in this present time we proclaim the unity, we do so silently, symbolizing it by the letters of the word wa'ed (ever), which are equivalent by certain permutations to those of the word ehad (one). But in the time that is to be, when that other side shall be removed from the Shekinah and pass away from the world, then shall that unity be proclaimed openly.6

Because of this "relationship" between the Shekinah and the demonic forces, when the Shekinah acts as an agent of destruction, the demonic forces are allowed to inflict punishment upon men as well. Both the Shekinah's vengeance as well as the demonic powers of evil, stem from Gevurah, (also Geburah), the Sephirah of judgment:

Zohar Appendix III, The Designations and The Categories, 3c - The distinction between ‘right’ and ‘left’ in the Zohar corresponds, not only to the distinction between reward and punishment in the next world, but also between good and evil, and specifically moral good and evil in this world. Samael, the power of evil, the tempter, the accuser, the evil Serpent, is placed on the left and is identified with the grade Geburah. Now Samael is represented as the opponent not of Hesed but of Tifereth. He is the Great Dragon, who on New Year [Rosh haShana] swallows the Moon, that is, prevents the union of the Matrona with the Holy King, until Israel by their sacrifice on the Day of Atonement induce him to desist.

The kabbalistic book of Maarekheth Elokuth, elaborates on this idea:

The existence of the world depends solely upon (the universal law of): "He shall rule over her," (so to speak). And whoever causes the woman to rule causes the flow of mercy to depart, and she becomes punished and detached (and her rule as nursemaid for the lower worlds is interfered with). Then permission is given for the destroyer (Satan) to destroy in the name of the serpent; and sometimes he will not distinguish between the righteous and the evildoer, as in the case of the Egyptian firstborn, where it advises: "You shall not go out" (from your houses).7

As the forces of haSatan have no regard for God's people, it then becomes imperative for those who are "on God's side" to distinguish themselves from those opposed to God when this type of judgment is unleashed. This can be done by way of physical separation and also by application of some type of "mark" of God upon them.

An example the first type (physical withdrawal) is found in the Torah, where God tells his people to "stand away" from the rebellious Korah in order to not be struck by the judgment coming upon him and his followers (Numbers 16:26). Many commentaries have wondered why God told them to do this. (As if the Almighty couldn't "aim" straight.)

An example of the "mark of God" is found in Exodus 12, where He commands the children of Israel to mark their doors with blood, in order that they be preserved when His vengeance strikes. Another example is found in Revelation 7:3 and 9:4, where God's people are marked by Him, with what is evidently an invisible mark on their foreheads (as opposed to the visible "mark of the beast" that others will take -- i.e., Revelation 13:16).

The following section speaks of the same period of judgment and also of the "heavenly manna," as a symbol of what was to come (i.e., Colossians 2:17 - also see notes to verse 17 below). Those who have rejected Torah, even if they lay claim to following the historical person of Messiah (i.e., in the form of the Torah-less "Jesus" of Christianity - see Matthew 7:21-23), face judgment:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 183b - ‘New Year's Day [Rosh haShana] is a day of judgement for those who have not accepted the healing food, and have neglected the "medicine" of the Torah for the sake of another food, which is leaven. For on this day that "leaven" ascends and accuses mankind and speaks evil against all whom it can malign in any wise. And at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, sits in judgement over all and pronounces His decrees in regard to all the spheres. Therefore, when He gave the Torah to Israel He gave them to taste of that supernal bread of the celestial realm, namely, the manna, by means of which they were enabled to perceive and penetrate into the mysteries of the Torah and to walk in the straight path.

As previously mentioned, God's judgment and mercy are not mutually exclusive (i.e., the Lord chastises the ones He loves). Thus, the ten Days of Awe are a time of judgment, but with an opportunity for repentance. (As the book of Revelation shows occurs in subsequent chapters):

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 113b - and so the Holy One dispenses His judgement to Israel in a spirit of mercy, and accords them as a time of grace those ten days between New Year Day and the Day of Atonement, for the acceptance of all those who repent of their sins and for forgiveness of their iniquities, by giving them a respite till the Day of Atonement. The Holy One had thus given Israel all these commandments to save them from falling into the wrong hands and from being judged with rigour, so that they should all come out innocent on earth, through His mercy which is like the mercy of a father towards his children. All depends on actions and words, as we have explained.’

Some will repent during the Tribulation, others will follow the anti-Messiah. The same was true of Daniel's time, during their "ten days" of judgment. (Note the reference to eating of prohibited food as seen also in Revelation 2:20 below):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 125b - It is written concerning Daniel and his companions that "at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter than the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat" (Dan. I, 5). This was because the image of their Lord was not removed from them, whereas from those others it was. What was the cause of this? The fact that they did not pollute themselves with the abomination of the prohibited food. Blessed are the Israelites who are called to be a "holy people"!’

The "crown of life" Yeshua promises in verse 10, is similar to the "hidden manna" and "white stone" he promises in verse 17. All are an allusion to the Kingdom of God, known as the Great Golden Crown.8

As discussed throughout this study, the Kingdom (Malkut) is associated with the Shekinah, the presence of God in this (physical) world. The reward of Olam Haba (the world to come), after the resurrection, will include a highly intensified relationship with the presence of God, in the form of Tipheret.

As taught by Nachmanides:

In the future the Holy One Blessed be He (Tipheret), will arrange a meal and dance for the righteous in the Garden of Eden, and will sit among them, and each one will point at Him with his finger, as is said: "Behold, this is our God" (Isaiah 25:9). 9

This next section of the Zohar ties together several themes from what we have seen to this point in the book of Revelation:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 81a -The "voice of the trumpet" mentioned in the same verse is, according to R. Judah, that voice which is itself called "trumpet" in reference to the Day of Atonement (Lev. xxv, 9). According to R. Simeon, the "voice of the trumpet" is the "word which proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord" (Deut. VIII, 3), by which "man lives". It is greater and stronger than all lower voices. On it depends all; it is called "great voice", and also a "still thin voice" (I Kings XIX, 12)

11 He who is overcoming may not be injured of the second death.

This promise is tied to the concept of the "ten days" mentioned in the previous verse. The promise of being "sealed" by God is a common blessing on Rosh haShana:

Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim.
"For a good year shall you be inscribed and sealed."

In direct relation to the final resurrection is the second death. This will be discussed in detail in later chapters.

12 And to the messenger of the assembly in Pergamos write: These things saith he who is having the sharp two-edged sword:

See comments to verse 16 below.

13 where thou dost dwell -- where the throne of the Adversary is

Pergamos was a wealthy city with temples for many pagan deities. According to Alexander Hislop's 19th century work, The Two Babylons, the mystery cults of Babylon had moved to Pergamos after the death of Belshazzar. The "pontiff" of the Babylonian religion later moved from Pergamos to Rome, probably when Pergamos became part of the Roman empire around 133 BCE.

An interesting foreshadowing of this transference of the seat of power from Babylon to Rome is found in the Book of Jasher, which states that Nimrod (associated with Babylon), was killed by Esau (associated with Rome). Also found in this text is mention of a mystical garment that Esau took from Nimrod. This garment, according to Jewish tradition, was the garment of Adam, which had been passed along from generation to the next. With this garment came great powers.

This portion of Jasher leads up to the events of Genesis 25:29:

Jasher 27:1-12 - And Esau at that time, after the death of Abraham, frequently went in the field to hunt. And Nimrod king of Babel, the same was Amraphel, also frequently went with his mighty men to hunt in the field, and to walk about with his men in the cool of the day. And Nimrod was observing Esau all the days, for a jealousy was formed in the heart of Nimrod against Esau all the days. And on a certain day Esau went in the field to hunt, and he found Nimrod walking in the wilderness with his two men. And all his mighty men and his people were with him in the wilderness, but they removed at a distance from him, and they went from him in different directions to hunt, and Esau concealed himself for Nimrod, and he lurked for him in the wilderness. And Nimrod and his men that were with him did not know him, and Nimrod and his men frequently walked about in the field at the cool of the day, and to know where his men were hunting in the field. And Nimrod and two of his men that were with him came to the place where they were, when Esau started suddenly from his lurking place, and drew his sword, and hastened and ran to Nimrod and cut off his head. And Esau fought a desperate fight with the two men that were with Nimrod, and when they called out to him, Esau turned to them and smote them to death with his sword. And all the mighty men of Nimrod, who had left him to go to the wilderness, heard the cry at a distance, and they knew the voices of those two men, and they ran to know the cause of it, when they found their king and the two men that were with him lying dead in the wilderness. And when Esau saw the mighty men of Nimrod coming at a distance, he fled, and thereby escaped; and Esau took the valuable garments of Nimrod, which Nimrod's father had bequeathed to Nimrod, and with which Nimrod prevailed over the whole land, and he ran and concealed them in his house. And Esau took those garments and ran into the city on account of Nimrod's men, and he came unto his father's house wearied and exhausted from fight, and he was ready to die through grief when he approached his brother Jacob and sat before him. And he said unto his brother Jacob, Behold I shall die this day, and wherefore then do I want the birthright? And Jacob acted wisely with Esau in this matter, and Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, for it was so brought about by the Lord.

14 That thou hast there those holding the teaching of Balaam

Balaam achieved his powers by "tapping into" the evil sephirot (the "unholy crowns"), said to emanate from the left side, as discussed earlier. The Zohar says he dealt with haSatan directly:

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 112b, 113a - There are many Chieftains who guide them and one supreme Chieftain from the side of the Left. That wicked Balaam gained access to this supreme Chieftain by his sorceries, which he practised in the night when he was at the head of all his company, and then he made known his requests to him. The word Elohim is used in connection with Balaam as with Laban and with Abimelech, because this is a name of general application, being used of idols under the title of "other gods", which includes these Chieftains also. So this wicked Balaam summoned the Chieftain to him and he came to him. It may be said that he was with him by day (when he was with Balak). The truth is, however, that at that hour he only made observations by means of his divinations to fix the right hour, and when it says, "he went not as at other times to meet with enchantments" (Ibid. XXIV, 1), this signifies that he tried to fix the hour, but was not able as on other days, because he saw that there was no great wrath in the world and knew that "it was good in the eyes of the Lord to bless Israel" (Ibid.). For when burning wrath is rife the Left is aroused, and the wicked Balaam knew how to take hold of the left side so as to curse; but on this occasion he looked and saw that the wrath was not there.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 21b, 22a - It is, however, true that Balaam was the counterpart of Moses. As the works of the one were from above, so were the other's from below. Moses wrought his works by means of the holy Crown of the All-highest King, Balaam by means of the unholy crowns from below. Hence, "The children of Israel slew Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer" (Jos. XIII, 22).

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

(See comments to verse 6 in the previous section.)

16 Reform! and if not, I come to thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

As mentioned in chapter 1, the (two-edged) sword is the Torah coming from the mouth of God, as Yeshua (in the essence of the Sephirah of Tipheret), is the "voice" of God. The threatened chastisement in this case, is different than that faced by Ephesus, as Yeshua's words are directed toward specific offending parties within the congregation.

Bearing in mind the principle of midah k'neged midah, what we have at Pergamos, is severe doctrinal error being committed by specific individuals within the congregation. Yeshua threatens to "correct" these individuals (only) with the "doctrine" (Torah) of His mouth. Balaam's power also stemmed from his mouth:

Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 206b, 207a - R. Jose quoted the verse: "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye" (Prov. XXIII, 6). ‘This’, he said, ‘is Balaam who blessed Israel. "Neither desire thou his dainties": this was Balak, whose burnt offerings were not accepted by the Almighty. When Balak observed that Sihon and Og had been killed and their land taken away, he foresaw in his wisdom that he and five princes of Midian and his people would fall by the hand of Israel, and not knowing what to make of it he approached Balaam, whose power was in his mouth, just as the power of Israel was in its mouth. Balaam was even more anxious to attack them than Balak. The knowledge which he acquired was at night time, because the lower crowns and the asses are at large only in the first watch of the night. Therefore he had an ass to attract the asses to her in the early part of the night. It is true that it says, "Elohim came to Balaam in the night", but we have explained this to refer to the Chieftain appointed over them. It was on this account that Balaam said to the princes of Balak, "Tarry here this night". Balaam went to his she-ass and performed his rites and uttered his spells, and the ass then told him and he did the requisite act for that spirit to rest upon him. Then someone came and told him things through the agency of the ass. It may be asked, if he told him in one night, "Thou shalt not go with them", why did he try a second time? The fact is that these powers are subject to a higher control, and we have learnt, "In the way in which a man desires to go he is led". At first he was told, "Thou shalt not go with them". When God saw that he was bent on going, He said to him, "Arise, go with them, only the thing that I tell thee", etc.

17 To him who is overcoming, I will give to him to eat from the hidden manna, and will give to him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, that no one knew except him who is receiving it.

The "hidden manna" is an ancient promise to those who will one day enter the Kingdom.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 63a - R. Eleazar taught that in the coming age the righteous shall eat of this manna, but of a much higher quality, a quality which was never seen in this world, as it is written: "To behold the beauty of the Lord and to visit his Temple" (Ps. XXVII, 4); "Eye hath not seen... what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him" (Isa. LXIV, 4).

The Zohar makes a connection between the heavenly manna and Tipheret, which as we have seen may be linked to Yeshua. Those gathering the manna are said to have praised the "Holy Name," which is associated with Tipheret:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 62b - Said R. Simeon: ‘Observe that before the Holy One gave Israel the Torah He tried them to see who would be a son of faith and who would not be. How did He try them? By the manna. All those who were found to be sons of faith were signed with the sign of the crown of Grace by the Holy One Himself; and from those who were not found to be thus, this supernal crown was withheld. ‘It has been said at that hour Israel was perfected below according to her prototype above, for it is written, “and they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water and threescore and ten palm trees” (Ex. xv, 27). Now the Holy Tree [Tr. note: Tifereth.] spreads to twelve boundaries on the four quarters of the earth, and to seventy branches closely intertwined, so that what was above should have here its counterpart below. At that hour holy dew dropped down from the Hidden Most Ancient One and filled the head of the Lesser Countenance, the place which is called “Heaven”. From this dew of the supernal holy light the manna descended, and in so doing dispersed itself into flakes and became solidified “as thin as the hoar frost on the ground” (Ex. XVI, 14). And all the sons of the Faith went out, gathered it, and praised the Holy Name for it. The manna diffused the scents of all the spices of the Garden of Eden, through which it had passed in descending. Each one found in the manna the taste he most desired; and as he ate he blessed the Supernal Holy King for His goodness, and was himself blessed with understanding of the Supernal Wisdom. Therefore that generation was called “the generation of knowledge”. These were the sons of Faith, and to them was given the privilege of contemplating and comprehending the holy Torah. But of those who were not truly faithful it is written, “and the people roamed about (shatu) and gathered (the manna)” (Num. XI, 8). The word “shatu” (roamed about) indicates that these people allowed “stupidity” (shatuta) to enter into them, because they were not sons of Faith.

John's gospel has Yeshua associating Himself with the heavenly manna:

John 6:31-35 - Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:48-51 - I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

The "white stone" of verse 17, is also called the precious stone in Kabbalistic writings and is associated with the Sephirah of Malkut (Kingdom). As Malkut is the "last" Sephirot, it receives and reflects all the previous Sephirot, similar to a diamond reflecting white light as all colors.10

The first mention of this is found in the text of the Bahir which mentions the stone in a dialogue between the Holy One Blessed be He (Tipheret) and the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Note the relationship between the stone and "fear of God," (and therefore to Malkut/Kingdom, as mentioned earlier in this study):

Bahir 190 - "What is Fear of God? It is the First Light. Rabbi Meir thus said: Why is it written (Genesis 1:3): And God said 'Let their be light, and there was light.' Why does it not say: 'And it was so?' But this teaches us that the light was very intense, so that no created thing could gaze upon it. God therefore store it away for the righteous in the Ultimate Future. This is the measure of all merchandise (Sechorah) in the world ...

... This teaches us that God took a thousandth of its radiance, and from it He constructed a beautiful precious stone. In it He included all the commandments.

Not only are all the Torah commandments included in this stone, but the stone itself is a reward for those who keep these commandments (the patience of the saints), as Yeshua's promises:

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

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.

Kabbalistic teachings also show that the commandments of Torah are to be kept in faith (i.e., Hebrews 4:2):

"And the purpose of all the mitvoth (commandments) is to believe in our God, and to admit and thank Him for having created us. That is the purpose of Creation, for lack of any other regarding the first Creation. And God primarily wants man to know and admit and thank God for creating him, and to say in a congregation, i.e., in public): We are Your creatures (see Exodus 13:16)." 11

Nachmanides stressed the link between the reward of the Kingdom and following the commandments in faith:

We must not forget our faith in God. This first preventative mitzvah commands us the "Acceptance of the Kingship of Heaven," in other words, that we believe there is a God Who made everything. He brought them forth from the total "nothing" unto "something" that He perpetually wants. He commanded us this faith, which is the foundation of the Torah, and He doubled this exhortation regarding its denial, which would mean the abolition of the truth. As it is stated: "Beware, lest you forget the Lord, Who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery" (Deuteronomy 6:12), meaning, not to forget God, or have doubts whether He exists, and the world has always existed, or always existed for a reason and does not change." 12

The "precious stone," (the Kingdom) is given at the end of the Tribulation period, corresponding to the end of the Days of Awe (see verse 10 above), on the Day of Atonement. The Zohar shows that it is the "voice of the Trumpet" (Tipheret/Yeshua) that causes this to occur. Note that at this "final Yom Kippur" the powers of darkness are prevented from acting any longer. (Something the annual Yom Kippur sacrifice was able to accomplish for intermittent periods.) Note also the reference to the "upper Jerusalem" as "mother" (i.e., Galatians 4:26):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 184a-185a - Therefore the Israelites haste to awaken the voice of the trumpet, which is compounded of fire, water, and wind, and all are made one and the voice ascends and strikes that "precious stone", which then receives the various colours of this voice and then draws down upon itself the attribute from above, according to the colour which it shows. And when it is duly prepared by this voice, Mercy issues from on high and rests upon it, so that it is enfolded in mercy, both above and below. Then is the "other side" thrown into confusion, and its power weakened, so that it lacks the strength to accuse, and the "precious stone" is lit up on both sides, from below and from above. And when is that light shed from the world above upon the ways of men? Verily, on the Day of Atonement. On that day the "precious stone" is illumined with the light from above, which emanates from the splendour of the world to come. Therefore Israel prepare a goat here below for the Day of Atonement and send it forth to that terrible desert which is under the dominion of the Accuser. That "other side" is the central point of the waste places of the world, just as the central point of the whole inhabited world is occupied by the "holy side", and therefore Jerusalem is in the centre of the inhabited world. The kingdom of heaven, which is the side of holiness, is fixed at two points, one its own and one belonging to the world to come. The upper point is hidden, and therefore it has two points. Under its own point is Jerusalem, the centre of the inhabited world. The point which takes from the hidden supernal Mother is the terrestrial Paradise, which is in the centre of the whole world. In the centre of this Paradise there is a hidden supernal point which is not manifested, and a pillar rises within that point from below, and from thence issue waters which spread to all four sides of the world. Thus there are three points which stand one upon the other, like the three sections of the Torah (Law, Prophets, Writings).

18 And to the messenger of the assembly of Thyatira write: These things saith the Son of God, who is having his eyes as a flame of fire, and his feet like to fine brass;

20 That thou dost suffer the woman Jezebel, who is calling herself a prophetess, to teach, and to lead astray, my servants to commit whoredom, and idol-sacrifices to eat;

As mentioned in chapter 1, both fire and brass are representative of judgment.

The reference is to Jezebel (1 Kings & 2 Kings), who is long dead when Yeshua speaks these words to John -- yet He speaks in the present tense. (Note: A similar anachronism is found in Midrash Rabbah, Genesis LXIV:5 concerning Jezebel.)

What is being referred to here is a continuation of the false teaching of Jezebel, who taught the children of Israel to compromised Torah by linking it to that which was not from God. The "whoredom" and "adultery" spoken of in this section is more "spiritual" than it is physical. (See notes on "holiness" in verse 23, below.)

22 lo, I will cast her into a couch, and those committing adultery with her into great tribulation

23 and her children I will kill in death, and know shall all the assemblies that I am he who is searching reins and hearts; and I will give to you -- to each -- according to your works.

Here we seem to have a "double" punishment -- a) being cast into the couch of great tribulation, and b) the "killing of her children." Two questions to ask are; a) Why the double penalty? and, b) Exactly who is carrying out these retributions?

As discussed in our background study, the Shekinah is also known as the couch of Solomon. The couch "bed" of a chaste bride is also compared to the Shekinah's purity.

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 225b - AND ISRAEL BOWED HIMSELF DOWN UPON THE BED'S HEAD. The "bed's head" is the Shekinah. Said R. Simeon: ‘Not at all. The bed stands for the Shekinah, as in the verse, "Behold, it is the litter of Solomon" (S. S. III, 7). The "head of the bed" is the Foundation of the World who is the head of the sacred couch; and "that which is upon the head" is (the supernal) Israel who is established at the head of the bed.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 5a - Said R. Jose: ‘When Jacob went down to Egypt, sixty myriads of celestial angels accompanied him.’ R. Judah illustrated from the verse: "Behold, it is the couch of Solomon, threescore mighty men are about it, of the mighty men of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), which he expounded thus: ‘Six luminosities form a circle surrounding a seventh luminosity in the centre. The six on the circumference sustain the sixty valiant angels surrounding the "couch of Solomon". The "couch" is an allusion to the Shekinah, and "Solomon" refers to the "King to whom peace (shalom) belongs": "threescore mighty men are about it"-these are the sixty myriads of exalted angels, part of the army of the Shekinah which accompanied Jacob into Egypt.’

Malkut (i.e., the Shekinah) is the Sephirah through which God's judgment is channeled through. Hence, the reference in verse 22 is saying that the Shekinah will carry out this aspect of their punishment. Those committing spiritual adultery (by way of bringing anti-Torah teachings into the congregation), will be tossed into the judgement that comes upon the world (via the Shekinah).

In this case however, the threat to "kill her children with death," comes directly from Yeshua Himself. This reference and His subsequent words, "I will give to you -- to each -- according to your works," are presented in a negative context, and further establish the principle of midah k'neged midah. (See previous section.) As the teachings of Jezebel corrupt (and bring spiritual death) to the children of Lord's people, Yeshua kills her "children" as a fitting punishment.

Why does Yeshua Himself also get involved with this punishment? The answer lies in the idea that "stealing children away" from God (via spiritually "adulterous" teachings) is a sin against both the "mother and father" of the children. Besides the metaphorical aspects of husband and bride, the Sephirot of Tipheret is also considered as "Father," and Malkut (Shekinah) as "Mother." Therefore, the two Sephirot (i.e, Yeshua/Father and the Shekinah/Mother) both take revenge when children are involved.

Nachmanides taught this principle regarding the sacrifice of children to the god Molech:

The sinner of Molech introduced defilement into the atmosphere of Holiness between the two Divine Names via plucking the sublime fruit, a child in Israel, from its celestial source of growth to sacrifice it to a foreign realm. Its source of growth is the Atziluth Parents: the sefirah of Tifereth, the provider, Who is called "Father" and "the Holy One, blessed is He," and the Atarah (Malkut), the recipient, also called "Mother," and "the Assembly of Israel" (see Leviticus 20:3). Therefore, these two sefiroth take revenge against the sinner, measure for measure.13

In verse 23, Yeshua states, "I am he who is searching reins and hearts." The purpose of God searching us is to make us holy - to set us apart to Him. Holiness is at the opposite end of the scale from spiritual adultery. Interestingly, the words, "holy" (kodosh) and "harlot" (kedaisha), are similar in the Hebrew. The former signifies an attachment to holiness, the latter attachment to the unholy. According to Nachmanides, both terms derive from the word "holiness" (kedusha).14

24 And to you I say, and to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching ...

As with Pergamos (above), there is a "doctrinal" problem with certain individuals, and His punishment is directed toward the specific people holding this teaching (Midah k'neged midah).

26 and he who is overcoming, and who is keeping unto the end my works, I will give to him authority over the nations,

27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron -- as the vessels of the potter they
shall be broken -- as I also have received
from my Father;

28 and I will give to him the morning star.

The term "morning star" is peculiar, as its only reference in the Tenakh (Isaiah 14:12), refers to either haSatan or Nebuchednezzar. (This is similar to the King of Tyre, who also has characteristics of haSatan.)

There are several possible associations to this term as used in the book of Revelation:

1. Regarding the removal of the "evil morning star" (haSatan) and subsequent rule over the nations by the righteous

The Midrash Rabbah associates the morning star with an angel (i.e., haSatan) cast down by God. HaSatan is known as the deceiver of the nations (Revelation 20:3,8). This is interesting in light of Revelation 2:26, which states that Yeshua will give authority over the nations to His faithful ones. This would not be possible unless the previous authority - the angel(s) over the nations - are first removed from his/their positions. As we will discuss, this occurs through the series of judgments shown in subsequent chapters of Revelation:

Midrash Rabbah - The Song of Songs VIII:19 - The Holy One, blessed be He, does not punish a nation on earth till He has cast down its guardian angel from heaven. This is borne out by five Scriptural verses. One, the verse, And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will punish the host of the high heaven on high-that first, and then-and the kings of the earth upon the earth (Isa. XXIV, 21). The second is: How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! after which we read, How art thou cut down to the ground (ib. XIV, 12). The third is: For My sword hath drunk its fill in heaven; and then, Behold, it shall come down upon Edom (ib. XXXIV, 5). The fourth: To bind their kings with chains, and then, and their nobles with fetters of iron (Ps. CXLIX, 8), explaining which R. Tanhuma said: ' To bind their kings with chains’: this refers to the heavenly princes. ‘And their nobles with fetters of iron’: this refers to the earthly rulers. The fifth is: To execute upon them the judgment written, and then, He is the glory of all His saints, hallelujah (ib. 9).

2. Regarding the morning sacrifice.

An alternative meaning for "morning star" is found in the Mishna:

Mas. Yoma 28a - The officer said to them: Go forth and see whether the time for killing (of the morning sacrifice) has arrived. If it had arrived then he who saw it said: It is daylight!

A footnote to the above passage, offers an alternate translation for the word "daylight," as found in the above passage:

Mas. Yoma 28a, footnote 11 - The Mishnaic ‘barkai’ may be a contraction of ‘barka hi’, i.e. there is a shining. Or: the shining one, i.e., the morning star.

3. Regarding Messiah and His role in ushering in the Eternal (complete) Shabbat.

The term "morning star" became associated with Messiah in Judaism. The second century false Messiah, Simon bar Kokba,  had his title (bar Kokba = son of the star), given to him by Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph.

In Revelation 22:16, Yeshua refers to Himself as "the bright and morning star." Kabbalistically, the evening of Shabbat (at sunset) is associated with Sephirah of Malkut (Kindgom), and is dominant in the world we live in, as the bride (Malkut) is not united with the groom (Tipheret).

Shabbat day is associated with Tipheret. The "complete" Shabbat (evening and day), comes into being with the union of the bride and groom (see Zohar reference below). This cannot occur as long as the "other side" (evil) clings to the evening side of Shabbat (Malkut/Shekinah), as discussed above in verse 10.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 138a - This psalm of praise was therefore ordered to be chanted on the Sabbath by the "one people", namely the children of Israel. (Ps. XCII): "A song. A psalm for (to) the sabbath day. It is good to praise the Lord, to sing unto thy name, O most high. To proclaim thy lovingkindness in the morning and thy faithfulness in the nights." It has been established by the Companions that this hymn of praise was sung by the first man (Adam) after he had been driven out of the Garden of Eden, when the Sabbath drew nigh unto the Holy One and interceded for the created being. Then he sang this hymn in honour of the Sabbath which had delivered him. It is a hymn of praise sung by the world below to the world above, to a world which is altogether "Sabbath", the sphere of the "King whose is the peace". It is a hymn of the sabbath below unto the Sabbath above: the sabbath below, which is like night, sings to the Sabbath above, which is like day. In fact, whenever "Sabbath" is mentioned it refers to the "eve of the Sabbath" (i.e. the Shekinah), but when it says "the Sabbath day", it denotes the Supernal Sabbath (i.e. Tifereth). The former is symbolized by the Female, the latter by the Male. Thus "And the children of Israel should keep the Sabbath" (Ex. XXXI, I6) alludes to the Female, which is the night (layla), and "remember the Sabbath day" (Ibtd. xx, 8) alludes to the Male. Thus the sabbath here below sings a hymn to the Sabbath above.

It is therefore possible that the reference to "bright and morning star," has to do with Yeshua's role (as groom) in establishing the Supernal Shabbat. The morning star is both the Supernal Shabbat (Revelation 2:28), as well as the one who ushers it in (Revelation 22:16), in a similar fashion to Yeshua being both the sacrificial lamb and the One making the sacrifice.

1. Commentary on Parsha VaEtchanan, Rabbi Pinchas Winston, see

2. From the Musaf prayer for Rosh Hashanah.

3. The Bahir: Translation, Introduction and Commentary, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1979, p.118.

4. A Momentous Week, Thoughts and Insights on the month of Elul, Chabad-Lubavitch,

5. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson, Inc., London 1998, p.221.

6. The reference to the silent proclamation of unity (regarding the Kingdom), refers to the second line of the standard method of reciting the prayer of the Shema, which states: "Blessed be His glorious Name, Whose Kingdom is forever and ever."

7. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson, Inc., London 1998, p.221.

8. ibid, quotation from Rabbi Bahya ben Asher, p.171.

9. ibid, quotation from Nachmanides, p.192.

10. The Bahir: Translation, Introduction and Commentary, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1979, p.160.

11. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson, Inc., London 1998, quotation from Rabbi Meir Ibn Gabbai, p.175.

12. ibid, citation from Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth - Negative Mitzvah 1, p.164.

13. ibid, p.229.

14. ibid, p. 98.