1 After these things I saw, and lo, a door opened in the heaven, and the first voice that I heard [is] as of a trumpet speaking with me, saying, `Come up hither, and I will shew thee what it behoveth to come to pass after these things;'
Up to this point of the book of Revealtion, John had prophetic knowledge via the Da'at of the second World of Yezirah. Once firmly placed at this level, a person has access to the Yesod of the next spiritual world (in this case the Yesod of Beriah), as the Da'at of a lower world is the Yesod (foundation) of the next one. (Again, the student should refer to the extended Tree of Life diagram as a visual aid.)
Thus, the "door" in this chapter of Revelation leads from Yezirah (the "lower Paradise"), into the Throne Room of God, Beriah, also called "Heaven," (or the "Celestial Paradise").
The following portion of the Zohar refers to it as a "portal." Passage through this portal is linked to going beyond the basic "obedience to the command" (which God does honor), to having a "great love" for God's Torah, a concept mentioned in the previous chapter notes:
It would seem that that Yeshua's special love for John, was merited by the latter's love for Him and His Torah. (Just as Moses merited his revelation by being humble before God.) John was rewarded by experiencing this level of prophecy, which is also considered coming via Tipheret, which is in turn associated with the 42-letter Name of God:
This is reflected in the following:
Kiddushin 71a - Rab Judah said in Rabs name: The forty-two lettered Name [of God] is entrusted only to the person who is pious, meek, standing in the middle of his days, does not get angry, does not get drunk, and is not insistent on his rights. And the person who knows it, does not use it lightly, observes it in purity, is beloved above and popular below, feared by man, and inherits two worlds, this world and the world to come
"IN THE HEAVEN"
As has been mentioned, the term "Heaven" is often associated with the third World of Beriah. The word for "Heaven" in Hebrew is Shamayim, which is plural. Kabbalistically, within the World of Beriah there are "seven heavens," or seven levels of heaven. This concept is beyond the scope of this particular study.
The "voice as of a trumpet" was identfied in our notes to chapter 1. We will elaborate a bit more at this point. John's vision of the heavenly Tabernacle, with all of its detail, is comparable to that of Moses, received at Mount Sinai. In each case, the Tabernacle (and subsequently the Temple) alludes to God's unity, specifically a union between the Shekinah as bride and Tipheret as groom, from who the voice of God is heard. This unification come about at the time of the Supernal Shabbat -- the seventh Millennium, the Kingdom of God (Malkut).
Torah prophecy is said to derive from the "Great (Unique) Name," that being the Sephirah of Tipheret.1 As both Moses' and John's visions are that of the third World of Beriah, their view of God is one of far greater unity than ours is in the physical realm. By returning (i.e, "teshuvah") to the the Keter of Beriah/Creation, John's level of prophecy includes a highly unified view of both space and time. (See background study on The Work of the Chariot.)
An interesting allusion to this concept of "going to the beginning" (i.e., the Keter of Beriah) to learn of the "end," is found in the extra-Biblical, Gospel of Thomas, which attributes Yeshua as saying the following to his disciples, when they asked for knowledge of the end times:
The Jewish sages are not in total agreement regarding the "voice of God." Maimonides, coming from a more Talmudic/rationalist viewpoint, did not believe God has an actual voice that could be heard, as God does not have a body nor such bodily functions. This of course is true if we are considering God solely in terms of Eyn Sof. (Maimonides was not a Kabbalist.)
Maimonides believed that this "voice" was one created by God for this purpose:
Nachmanides however, and other kabbalists, who regard the Sephirot as divine emanations of God, make the direct connection between this "voice" and God Himself.
The Zohar associates the "Voice of God" in the garden of Eden to Mount Sinai. The following text is broken into several sections to aid in clarity of understanding. It begins with a discussion of Adam and Eve, who "walked with God," and had a relationship with the "voice" of God (associated with Tipheret) as Moses did. They were also adorned in a "heavenly radiance," alluding to their "garments," as already discussed:
AND THEY HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD GOD WALKING IN THE GARDEN. (Note the form mithalech (walking) instead of the usual mehalech.) Until he sinned, man was gifted with the wisdom of celestial illumination, and he did not for an instant quit the Tree of Life. But when he was seduced by his desire to know what was below, he weakly followed it until he became separated from the Tree of Life, and knew evil and forsook good: hence the Scripture says for thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not sojourn with thee (Ps. V. 5). He who is drawn after evil may not abide with the Tree of Life. Before they sinned, the human pair used to hear a voice from above, and were endowed with the higher wisdom; they stood erect with heavenly radiance, and knew no fear. When they sinned, they were not able to stand up even before an earthly voice. A similar thing happened later with the Israelites. When Israel stood before Mount Sinai, the impurity of the serpent was removed from them, so that carnal passion was suppressed among them, and in consequence they were able to attach themselves to the Tree of Life, and their thoughts were turned to higher things and not to lower. Hence they were vouchsafed heavenly illuminations and knowledge which filled them with joy and gladness. Further, God girt them with cinctures of the letters of the Holy Name, which prevented the serpent from gaining power over them or defiling them as before.
It is of interest to note that this section of the Zohar continues by showing that the children of Israel were deprived of their "ornament" when they sinned at Sinai. The term "ornament" is another definition of Tipheret. It then further speaks of them "losing their armor." This is reminiscent of Ephesians 6 and Isaiah 59, which is a description on the attire of the High Priest, which we have previously shown to be linked to Tipheret:
It is taught that after the drowning of the Egyptians, the least of the children of Israel had a greater prophetic capability than did the prophets. Interestingly, it is also said that the "Song of Moses" that they sang on the shore of the sea, was of a prophectic nature, and actually applied to the coming day when the Kingdom would be established (i.e., Revelation 15:3).
There follows in this same Zohar section, a discussion concerning the disharmony between the "sun" and "moon," which as we have seen are representative of Tipheret (groom/Messiah) and Malkut (bride/Shekinah). Rather than existing in a state of continual unification (as was prior to the fall), this union would now only come about at designated times, when the people met with God -- hence the term, "tent of meeting" for the gatherings in the Tabernacle, when God allowed this to occur:
This same section of the Zohar then goes on to express Adam and Eve's "nakedness" in terms of their losing their "crowns." These "crowns" are associated with a higher relationship with God (i.e., at the level of Beriah). When living in Eden, in the World of Yetzirah, Adam and Eve still had access to Beriah. Once cast out into the physical World of Asiyyah, they no longer had this connection.
In a different section, the Zohar equates the "voice of the trumpet," with the time of Yom Kippur and the Word of God. This is significant, as the Seven Year Tribulation, also called the Time of Jacob's Trouble, is associated with the seven "Days of Awe," (yomim ha nora'im), that begin following Rosh haShana, and end with Yom Kippur. (See previous notes on Revelation 2:10 regarding this):
"COME UP HITHER"
John is told to "come up" to see, as was Moses at Mount Sinai. (Note that there are multiple comparisons to be made with Mount Sinai in this and the next chapter.) As mentioned, John is going from knowledge of the second World of Yezirah, to knowledge of the third World of Beriah, the location of the heavenly Throne Room. Once established in Beriah, he has access to the prophetic view from the higher point of "heaven" (Beriah).
A concept found in Judaism, regarding prophecy, concerns receiving the "highest level" that you are worthy of and capabale of receiving. For instance, it is taught that at Mount Sinai, Moses received the highest level of prophecy, directly speaking with God. The elders received prophecy at a lower level, and the remainder of the children of Israel an even lesser one.3
The following passage from Midrash Rabbah, commentary on the book of Exodus, supports the idea that each person at Mount Sinai receive as much of God's Torah as they were capable of handling. It goes on further to compare the Torah to the manna in the desert, which according to Jewish history, tasted different to each person who ate it, including bitter to those unworthy:
John's vision, as presented in chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, is at a level of Moses who was also shown elements of the heavenly Temple. As we have discussed, Moses' vision was at the level of Tipheret, as is John's (via the heavenly Yeshua). Scripture states that Moses' face was illuminated when he decended from the mountain. This is significant as the Sephirah of Tipheret (beauty) is also called the "illuminating face." 4
As mentioned in our study on the Unique Name of God:
Regarding the above quotation, both the "Tifereth" and Malkut being spoken of, refer to those Sephirot as realized in the Divine World of Azilut. As discussed, the Tipheret of Azilut corresponds to the Keter (head) of the World of Beriah, called the Sephirah of Metatron (from where Moses and John prophecied). The Malkut of Azilut is aligned with the Keter of Yetzirah, called the Sephirah of Messiah, from where most other prophecy emanates. (Refer to the extended Tree of Life diagram for a clearer view of these relationships.)
The vision John receives as he "goes up" (in the Spirit), is similar to the experience of Mount Sinai (when God is also said to have "come down." As mentioned in our background studies, in these cases, Scripture is speaking of spiritual space and "movement" -- not physical.
It is also possible to spiritually ascend in a "negative fashion," as was the case with the prophet Balaam, who "ascended to various mountain levels" in attempting to call on evil powers to come against Jacob/Israel. (i.e., Numbers, chapters 22-24. The concept of "spiritual mountains" will arise again later in this study.)
As Moses went up to converse with God at the level of Tipheret, which is associated with the 42-letter name of God, Balaam attempted to "counter" Jacob (Israel) by calling on the same Divine Name through a series of 42 sacrifices:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 224a - R. Simeon said: Observe that the forty-two offerings brought by Balaam and Balak were offerings diverted from the other side towards the Holy One, blessed be He, and so the other side, which is called curse, had to be repaid these offerings from Israel. This is the inner implication of the verse, And he (Elisha) looked behind him and saw them (2 Kings II, 24). That is to say, behind him, meaning the other side, which stands behind the Shekinah. He turned and saw them (the children), as being meet for punishment; and cursed them in the name of the Lord (Ibid.), inducing the Divine Name, as it were, to discharge the debt owing to the other side, for the latter's offerings which had been diverted to Him. Thus all is made right before the Holy One, blessed be He, and not a single act is lost, whether for good or for evil.
Balaam's actions would seem to be an attempt to influence a specific group of angels who are associated with the 42-letter name, and thus Jacob, who himself is associated with Tipheret:
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. They all descended with Jacob to Egypt, and hence it says and these are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt... with Jacob.
The opening paragraph of the Zohar connects the 42-letter name not only with Jacob, but also with his decendants, the community of Israel. In its commentary on Genesis, alludes to the Song of Songs, chapter 2, verse 1, which says: I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. This section speaks of the lily (shoshana = lily or rose) as being the beloved of the man in the story. The lily is related to the "Community of Israel" and the Shekinah which resides among them. (See also Song of Solomon 3:3, where he feeds among the lilies [shoshanim]).
The colors red and white are mentioned in this text, and are associated in the Zohar with the Sephirot of judgment and mercy respectively. (As an aside, the color green is associated with the Sephirah of Tephiret. These three colors are explained more fully in verse 3 below.)
This very mystical section is as follows:
"I WILL SHOW THEE"
The Midrash Rabbah (below), states that all prophecy ties back to Mount Sinai, and comes from the "great voice," which is associated with Tipheret and divides into many voices as discussed in chapter 1, verse 15:
All of the above is consistent with what the book of Revelation later says. The testimony of Yeshua (i.e., "the voice of Tipheret") is the Ruach (i.e., via Da'at) of Prophecy:
Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a modern kabbalistic teacher, associates the forty-two letter Name of God with this spirit of prophecy:
2 and immediately I was in the Spirit, and lo, a throne was set in the heaven, and upon the throne is [one] sitting,
"I WAS IN THE SPIRIT"
As mentioned, up to this point, John's level of prophecy was comparable to that of the other prophects (aside from Moses). The prophets of God were given their prophecies "dimly through a glass," in that although they may at times reach the level of Beriah (or Tipheret), they could not sustain it, and thus were relegated to a prophectic view based in the second heaven of Yezirah (or Malkut/Hod/Netzah).
As discussed earlier, Tipheret is said to grant access to Da'at, the Sephirah of Knowledge, and realm of the Ruach haKodesh. When a person is firmly in Da'at, they have access to the next World. This occurs as the Da'at of a lower World, is the Yesod (foundation) of the one immediately above it. (See previous study on the Four Worlds.)
Thus, through Da'at (i.e., the Ruach), comes prophecy, which emanates to the seven "lower" Sephirot (i.e., "the seven spirits of God before the throne" -- Revelation 1:4; 4:5).
Author and kabbalist Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi explains this principle as follows:
The Zohar (below) also associates the voice at Sinai with Tipheret, refering to the "third day" (of Exodus 19:11-16), as the day of Rahamim (Compassion), which is a name associated with the Sephirah of Tipheret:
"A THRONE WAS SET IN THE HEAVEN"
John's vision rises to the Keter of the World of Beriah (which is also the Tipheret of Azilut), and gives him a view of the Throne Room of God in the Heavens. Others who had such an experience (though not as clear as Moses or John), include:
As mentioned throughout this study, Tipheret is called the Sephirah of Truth, and also the giver of the Neshemah, (higher soul). Tipheret thus plays the important role in determining if a person will ascend further up Jacob's Ladder (the Tree of Life). Tipheret is the synthesis of Hesed (Mercy) and Gevurah (Judgment), and is associated with the soul. As such, the soul is both a bridge between the right and left pillars, and a barrier/gateway to the Ruach haKodesh (found in Da'at) 8
"UPON THE THRONE IS ONE SITTING"
The Zohar relates the manifestation of the Name of God to the world of Beriah (the heavens):
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 50b - This is the significance of the Psalm (recited on Sabbath morning): "The heavens tell the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork." What is meant by "Heaven"? That heaven in which the Supernal Name is made visible (shama-yim- heaven; shem-Name).
The question of "Who is sitting on the throne?" is a great puzzle for modern commentators, as the text does not disclose if it is the "Father" or the "Son." Arguments are made that this is not the Son, as the Son is associated with the Lamb, who is shown to be a "separate entity," who takes the scroll from the hand of the one on the throne in 2:7. What's more, in Revelation 2:13 we see the elders and creatures bestowing "blessing, honour, glory, and might," to both the one on the throne and the Lamb.
However, the description of the one on the throne, given in 4:11 (... Thou did create the all things, and because of Thy will are they, and they were created), is also given by Paul, specifically concerning Yeshua:
John 1:3 also credits "the Word" (Yeshua) with creation:
Yeshua had given a hint at who is in the throne at the end of the previous chapter:
Revelation 3:21 - To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Yeshua indicates that He and the Father are both on this throne. This relates to the concept of the Son and Father, "being One," in the words of Yeshua, as found in John 10:29-30; 14:7-11; 15:23-24; 17:11,21-23. Without a knowledge of the Sephirot, (and a "sod-level" understanding of Yeshua's own words), the text presents great difficulties.
As discussed in our earlier notes on Ezekiel's vision, the "one sitting on the Throne" is actually in the Fourth Heaven, specifically in the location of the Tipheret of Azilut (which is also the Keter of Beriah, the third heaven, which John has access to). This is also known as the Sephirah of Metatron, the head of all creation, who is referred to in some texts as, the Lesser YHVH.
As the one in Ezekiel and John's visions is on the throne, (i.e., in the "midst" of the throne), we come to an understanding of the Greek term, Metatron. The term for "midst" is mesos, which comes from the root meta (Strong's #3326). The term for throne, is thronos (Strong's #2362). Placed together, one has meta-thronos, or "Metatron."
Tipheret (as mentioned in our background notes), contains all the aspects of the Sephirot. This remarkable citation from Chayim Henoch's book on Nachmanides goes as far as saying that Tipheret is the closest we can come to understanding the very Ein Sof:
An understanding of, a) the difference between God as Eyn Sof and God as seen in the Sephirot, as well as, b) how each Sephirah "contains" elements of the others within it, c) how all of the Sephirot are present in each of the Four Heavens, and, d) the "tri-unity" of the Sephirot in terms of the pillars of mercy, judgment and harmony, helps us to get a grasp on how God is presented in Scripture.
It must be noted that this "tri-unity" as presented in the Hebraic/Kabbalistic view of Scripture, is not the same, nor arrived at in the same way as the Christian Trinity of, "God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit." Historically, Christianity divorced itself from understanding the deeper levels of Scripture that are found within the Kabbalistic Judaism that Yeshua, John, Paul and other disciples taught from.
This causes fundamental errors including, but not limited to;
An interesting view at a Hebraic "trinity" is found in this passage from the Zohar, which is a contination of the section cited above (in the comments to "Upon the throne is one sitting.")
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 50b - For upon this day (Sabbath) the heavens are crowned and ascend in the power of the Holy Name more than on any other day. "His handiwork" is the supernal Dew which streams forth from all the hidden regions; it is "the work of His hands", and His self-fulfilment wherein He completes and perfects Himself on this day more than upon any other. This dew "streams down" (maggid in the Aramaic sense) from the Head of the King, with an abundance of blessing, the "firmament" here signifying the stream issuing from the Cistern, the "River which went out of Eden", which flows earthwards, as the stream of the Supernal Dew which gleams and flashes from all sides. This "firmament" draws it downward upon a current of love and desire, in order that it may water the field of bliss and joy at the entrance of the Sabbath. When that fair pearled Dew streameth down, the whole becomes full and complete in its holy letters acting through all their holy channels; since all is united to it, a path is opened to it to water and bless all below. "Day unto day" - one day to another, one ring or sphere unto its fellow. Here Scripture speaks in detail concerning the manner in which the heavens radiate sapphire brightness to that Glory, and how that "Firmament" of the supernal Dew causes the downward flow of the current. "Day unto day utters speech." Day unto day, grade unto grade, in order that the one should complete itself in the other, and one be illumined by the other from the luminous and sparkling radiance of the Sapphire which is reflected by the heavens back to the central glory. The word yabia (uttereth) can be translated "hasteneth": they hasten to catch the light and the flashing one from another. The word OMeR (speech) [Aleph-Mem-Resh] indicates the letters and paths which proceed from the Father [Tr. note: Hokmah.] the Mother, [Tr. note: Binah.] and the head which issues from them, who is the firstborn Son. [Tr. note: Tifereth.] Aleph symbolizes the Father, and when it ascends and descends, the Mem unites itself with it, producing em, which signifies Mother; the resh is the Head (rosh =head), signifying Son. When these three unite the result is that they form "Word", "Speech". Thus the Father, the Mother, and the first born Son radiate one within the other in one union, which has its reign and duration upon the Sabbath. Thus all are united so as to become one, and therefore they hasten one to another that Omer, as a supernal reign, in order that all should be one. But when all has been conveyed down to that "firmament", then it diffuses light upon the "Glory of God" below that it may produce beings in the likeness of the heavens which give light to that Glory.
1. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc., Jerusalem, 1998, p. 148.
2. ibid, p. 149.
3. ibid, p. 93.
4. ibid, p. 199.
5. ibid, pp. 148, 159.
6. Perceptions on the Parsha, Parshas Mattos-Masie, Rabbi Pinchas Winston, http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5759/matos.html. The phrase, "the stops in the desert," is reference to the forty-two times the Tabernacle was setup. (See The Unique Name of God, in our background studies.)
7. The Work of the Kabbalist, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach Maine, 1985, p. 9.
8. ibid, pp. 23-24.
9. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc., Jerusalem, 1998, p. 190.
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