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Revelation 6:9-14
Last update: March 1, 2002

9 And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those slain ...

How does one see a soul? How can they be "under an altar?" This verse especially reveals the deep kabbalistic concepts found in the text of Revelation.

As shown in our background studies, the heavenly incense altar on the extended Tree of Life is located exactly at the midpoint of the central column, at the Yesod of Beriah. This Sephirah is at a critical juncture, just above the Keter of Asiyyah (the upper limit of the physical realm), and just below the Malkut of Atzilut, (the lowest limit of the Divine realm). Here is the Divinely designated place in the Sanctuary, where the incense would burn, placed by man below, rising to God above. (Revelation 8:3-4).

This Sephirah is also the place where the Divine manifests to man in some form, and is associated in kabbalistic literature with such things as; the voice in the burning bush as heard by Moses, the cloud and pillar of fire that followed the Children of Israel in the desert, the figure of Melkizadek, who served as a priest to God (thus connecting God and man) prior to the establishment of the Levitical priesthood, and the angel Gabriel who would give guidance to men.

This Sephirah lies above the "Triad of the Soul," found between the Tipheret, Hesed and Gevurah of Yetzirah on the extended Tree of Life. Thus, these souls are said to be "under" this heavenly altar until the time of the resurrection. 1

The Zohar offers the following commentary on altars - both heavenly and earthly:

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 30a - R. Abba said: ‘There are two altars below and two altars above. Of the latter one, the innermost of all, is that on which is offered the inner fine incense, which is the bond of faith, and the most high Priest of all offers this incense with the bond of faith. This is called the Altar of Gold, the place where all the threads of faith are bound together. There is another altar called the Altar of Brass, which is more external and on which Michael the great chief brings the pleasing offering of the Holy One, blessed be He. On earth there are correspondingly the altar of gold and the altar of brass, on the one of which was offered incense and on the other fat and limbs. It is written, "Oil and incense rejoice the heart" (Prov. XXVII, 9), but not fat and limbs, although these, too, allay wrath. The altar which is the innermost of all, the linking of faith, is called "a still silent voice", and in relation to this the other altar is called the "outer" one. The inner one is called "the altar of the Lord" and the other one "the altar of brass". Said R. Abba: ‘When Moses built an altar (Ex. XVII, 15), he meant it to correspond to that inner one, and therefore he called it "The Lord is my banner", because it was stamped with the sign of the holy covenant. This is the inner Altar, the "still silent voice", and on this "fire shall be burnt continually", that is, the perpetual Fire, the Fire of Isaac. The proper name for this is Adonai, but when the priest puts wood on the altar we call it by the name of mercy, YHWH; sometimes it answers to one and sometimes to the other.’ R. Simeon said that there were two, the inner supported on the outer and fed from it, the two being thus linked together.


Gemmatria (from where we get the word "geometry"), is the study of the numerical values of the letters and words of the Torah. Gemmatria plays a role in understanding the book of Revelation. For instance, numbers are used in "measuring" things. In both chapter 11 of Revelation, as in the book of Ezekiel, someone is told to measure the Temple. In chapter 21, the city of New Jerusalem is measured.

As gemmatria plays a role with the Temple, this is true for those things related to the Temple, such as the altar mentioned in Revelation 6:9. The altar of the Sanctuary was where the Ketores - the Incense-Offering, a special mixture of eleven spices – was burned every morning and every night.

Kabbalistically, the number eleven alludes to "Da’at" – Knowledge (from God). Although there are only ten Sefirot, there is also considered to be an "eleventh" one, that being Da’at. As Da’at is linked to our own worthiness, it can come and go, and is considered to be a "pseudo-sefirah." This does not diminish it’s importance as Da'at is the light of Keter as we can experience it. (Keter is beyond the realm of understanding and experience in this life.)

Da'at, is associated with the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) and is thus strongly tied to redemption. The greater the "light" passing through Da’at, the more redemption becomes a reality. As the Da’at in Yetzirah (where the altar in Revelation 6:9 is located) overlays the Yesod of Beriah, this is also identified with "tzaddik" (righteous one) and particularly Joseph, who was the eleventh son of Jacob. In turn, Messiah ben Joseph is said to be someone that would play a role in bringing in the Messianic Kingdom – a time of universal Da’at.

This Kingdom comes into being when the heavenly "groom" is joined with His bride (the Shekinah and Community of Israel). As mentioned in earlier studies, these are associated with the last two letters of the Divine name of YHVH. The groom is identified with the the Vav, which has a numerical value of six. The bride is linked to the last Hey, with a value of five. When they are joined (and the final redemption of Messiah comes) we have the sum of six and five, which is eleven.

(We will continue this discussion on gemmatria and the Temple in chapter 7.)

9 ... because of the word of God, and because of the testimony that they held,

Just as Yeshua spoke greatly of Torah in the first chapters of Revelation, John continues this theme. To "serve God," "follow Yeshua," "act righteously," "be born again," etc., are all equivalent to being a "hearer and doer" of God's Torah.

As stated above, these souls are located in the proximity of the Yesod (the foundation) of Beriah. As mentioned previously, when man becomes established at this Sephirah, he is said to be born of of the spirit (Beriah) as well as of water (Yetzirah), and thus "born again." (i.e., John 3:5)

10  and they were crying with a great voice, saying, `Till when, O Master, the Holy and the True, dost Thou not judge and take vengeance of our blood from those dwelling upon the land?'

The book of Enoch contains a similar reference to a place of souls, who until the day of judgment comes, cry out to heaven for justice:

Enoch 22:1-7  And thence I went to another place, and the mountain [and] of hard rock. And there was in it four hollow places, deep and wide and very smooth. How smooth are the hollow places and deep and dark to look at. Then Raphael answered, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said unto me: 'These hollow places have been created for this very purpose, that the spirits of the souls of the dead should assemble therein, yea that all the souls of the children of men should assemble here. And these places have been made to receive them till the day of their judgement and till their appointed period [till the period appointed], till the great judgement (comes) upon them.' I saw (the spirit of) a dead man making suit, and his voice went forth to heaven and made suit. And I asked Raphael the angel who was with me, and I said unto him: 'This spirit which maketh suit, whose is it, whose voice goeth forth and maketh suit to heaven ?' And he answered me saying: 'This is the spirit which went forth from Abel, whom his brother Cain slew, and he makes his suit against him till his seed is destroyed from the face of the earth, and his seed is annihilated from amongst the seed of men.'

11  and there was given to each one white robes, and it was said to them that they may rest themselves yet a little time, till may be fulfilled also their fellow-servants and their brethren, who are about to be killed -- even as they.

As discussed in our background studies, white robes are associated with the idea of an additional or "higher" soul, or as Paul calls it, a celestial/spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:35-54).

The book of Enoch also speaks of the garments of the righteous:

Enoch 62:15-16 - And the righteous and elect shall have risen from the earth, And ceased to be of downcast countenance. And they shall have been clothed with garments of glory, And these shall be the garments of life from the Lord of Spirits: And your garments shall not grow old, Nor your glory pass away before the Lord of Spirits.

The "rest" these souls are given is in preparation for the "great rest" (the Millennial Sabbath, when Ezekiel's Temple will be placed in Jerusalem), when their cries will be turned to words of thanksgiving:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 219b - As soon as they will rise from the dead all those hosts will march, each man to the portion of his ancestors, as Scripture says, "and ye shall return every man unto his possession" (Lev. xxv, 10). They shall recognize each other, and God will clothe every one in embroidered garments; and they will all come and offer up thanksgiving to their Master in Jerusalem, where there will assemble multitudes upon multitudes. Jerusalem itself will spread out in all directions, to a further extent even than when the exiles returned there. When they assemble and offer up praises to their Master the Holy One, blessed be He, will rejoice in them. So Scripture says: "And they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow unto the goodness of the Lord", etc. (Jer. XXXI, 12), namely, every one to his portion and the portion of his ancestors. And the possession of Israel will extend till it will reach Damietta of the Romans, and even there they will study the Torah. All this has already been stated, and it is in harmony with the Scriptural passage, saying: "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust", etc. (Isa. XVI, 19). Blessed be the Lord for evermore! Amen and Amen!’

It would also seem that the group "about to be killed" in this verse, shares a fate with those of the Assembly of Smyrna (Chapter 2), who are told that many of them will be killed (during the final days of "great tribulation.")

12  And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and lo, a great earthquake came, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood,

Although it may be possible for the literal sun to go dark and moon to turn red, the verse implies a metaphorical interpretation in light of the surrounding text. (i.e., see notes to verse 13 below.) Kaballistically, the sun represents Tipheret, the "bridegroom" and the moon is Malkut (the bride -- the Shekinah and people of God).

As the earth will turn from the true bridegroom to a false one (the "anti-messiah," who may also be considered a false tzaddik who comes between the bride and groom), the sun turns dark, no longer giving its light, and the bride turns to the judgmental color of red, as she prepares to unleash unmitigated judgment on the earth. (This concept was discussed in our background studies on the Shekinah, Tipheret and Yesod.)

The Zohar associates these events with the land of Israel falling under control of the evil realm:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 210a - NOW THOU ART COMMANDED, THIS DO YE: TAKE YE WAGONS OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, ETC . R. Hiya opened a discourse with the text: Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her rejoice for joy with her, etc. (Ibid. LXVI, 10). ‘When’, he said, ‘the Temple was destroyed and Israel on account of their sins were driven from their land, God removed Himself, as it were, to the height of heights and regarded not the destruction of the Temple nor the exile of His people, and so the Shekinah was exiled with them. When God again descended, He observed His House that was burnt down. He looked at His people and behold, they were in exile. He inquired concerning the Matron (Shekinah) and found that she had been driven out. Then, "in that day did the Lord, the God of hosts, call to weeping, and lamentation, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth" (Ibid. XXII, 12); and the Matron was called upon to "lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth" (Joel I, 8), because He had removed Himself from her and they were separated. The very heaven and the very earth lamented, as it is written: "I clothe the heaven with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering" (Is. L, 3). The celestial angels all raised their voices in lamentation, as it says: "Behold, the angels cry without; the angels of peace weep bitterly" (Is. XXXIII, 7). The sun and the moon mourned and their light was darkened, as we read: "The sun shall be darkened in his going forth, etc." (Ibid. XIII, 10). For what reason? Because the other side had obtained sway over the Holy Land.

There are numerous references to such end-time cosmic disturbances in other Hebraic literature. Note the following texts from the Zohar which ties the moon's color turning to blood to the "waters" below. This of course is an allusion to the Egypt and the Exodus:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 29a - ‘Observe that when the Holy One, blessed be He, prepares to inflict chastisement upon the idolatrous nations, the “Left Side” awakens and changes the whiteness of the moon to blood; then the ponds and the pools below are also filled with blood. So the punishment of the unrighteous is indeed blood. Further, when the doom of blood impends upon a people, it is the blood of slaughter executed by another people whom God brings against them. But against Egypt the Holy One, blessed be He, did not choose to raise up another nation, lest Israel, who dwelt in her midst, might also suffer. Therefore He punished the Egyptians by causing their streams to be changed into blood so that they could not drink from them. And as Egypt's supramundane power was centred in the Nile, the Holy One enforced His will first on that principality, so that-the Nile being one of their divinities-their highest power might first of all be humbled. From the lesser idols also blood gushed out, as it is written: “And there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone” (Ibid.).’

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 28b - THE WATERS OF EGYPT, UPON THEIR STREAMS, UPON THEIR RIVERS... THAT THEY MAY BECOME BLOOD. Said R. Judah: ‘How was this possible? Could one rod so be stretched over all this extent? Moreover, it says later, “And seven days were fulfilled after the Lord had smitten the river” (v. 25), only mentioning the river, and leaving out the other waters of Egypt upon which Aaron had stretched out his hand. The explanation is that the reference is to the River Nile, for out of this all the other rivers, streams, ponds, and pools are filled, so that Aaron needed but to smite that river and all the other waters were smitten. The proof is that it says, “And the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river” (v. 2I).’ R. Abba said: ‘Observe that the lower waters diverge and spread on every side, but the upper waters draw together and are concentrated in one place,’ [Tr.note: Yesod.] as it says: “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place” (Gen. I, 9); and again, “And the gathering together of the waters called He seas”- as we have explained. The firmament in which the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets are suspended is the great meeting place where the upper waters are gathered, and whence the earth, or lower world, is watered. She thereupon scatters and distributes these waters far and wide, in order that all things may be watered by them. When, however, chastisement impends over the world, then the lower world does not imbibe from that upper firmament of sun and moon, but from the “left side”, concerning which it says: The sword of the Lord is full of blood” (Isa. XXXIV, 6). Woe unto them who must drink from this cup! At such times the sea imbibes from both sides and divides itself into two parts, white and red (mercy and justice). Thus it was the lot of Egypt which was cast into the Nile, and the blow was inflicted both above and below. Therefore Israel drank water, but the Egyptians blood.

Not surprisingly, the subject of Metatron comes up in the context of the shaking of the heavens (see comments to verse 13 below), and resumption of the moon's light:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 181b - The time, however, will come for the moon to resume her primordial light, and in allusion to this it is written: "Behold, my servant will prosper." That is to say, there will be a stirring in the upper realms as of one who catches a sweet odour and stands alert. "He shall be exalted", from the side of the most exalted luminaries; "and lifted up", from the side of Abraham; "and shall be high", from the side of Isaac; "very", from the side of Jacob. At that time, then, the Holy One will cause a stirring on high with the object of enabling the moon to shine with her full splendour, as we read: "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days" (Ibid. XXX, 26). There will thus be added to the moon an exalted spirit whereby all the dead that are in the dust will be awakened. This is the esoteric meaning of "my servant", [Metatron] viz. the one that has in his hand the key of his Master.

As mentioned, Rosh haShana, is associated with the beginning of the Day of the Lord, the final judgment of God upon the earth. What is interesting in the following text is the mention of the importance of the number "seven" with regard to sanctifications, as the judgments of Revelation come in three sets of seven:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 184a -The old man then proceeded to discourse on the verse: “Blow the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed on our solemn feast-day” (Ps. LXXXI, 4). He said: Now is the time when the mighty supernal judgement is awakened, and with it the “other side” also gathers force. And with this access of force it ascends and veils the Moon that She may no more shine, and She falls entirely under the influence of stern Justice. Then all the worlds and spheres come under the aegis of judgement, both celestial and terrestrial beings, and a herald makes proclamation throughout all the firmaments, saying: “Prepare the Throne of Judgement for the Lord of all, since He cometh to judge all worlds!” Here is a mystery which was revealed to us during our sojourn in the desert. Why is supernal justice roused to activity just on this day? Because all mysteries and all glorious sanctifications are centred in the mystery of seven. And the supernal Seventh, the upper world, called “the world to come”, is the realm whence all lights derive their brightness. And when the time arrives when those blessings and sanctifications are to be renewed with fresh light, all the conditions in the different worlds are passed in review. Then all these preparations ascend from earth if they are fitting, but if not, then it is decreed that the Moon is not to shine till the sinners have been separated from the righteous.

13  and the stars of the heaven fell to the earth -- as a fig-tree doth cast her winter figs, by a great wind being shaken --

Many commentaries insist on taking this verse at a literal level, while stating other things in the book, such as the "Horsemen," "Beast" or "Dragon," are allegory. The concept of "stars" has been mentioned earlier in the study as being associated with spiritual entities (as it is throughout Hebraic literature), and should also be understood in the same fashion here. If these were literal stars, just one "falling to the earth" would destroy the planet and the story would end here.

Moses Maimonides (Rambam), who was not considered a kabbalist, but a great Talmudic mind, also used the term "stars" for spiritual entities:

Speaking on the topic of "foreign deities," Maimonides writes:

That of a prophet who arises and declares, a certain star cast its spirit upon me, telling me to worship it in a certain way, so that it will save me ... 2

The book of Enoch refers to "stars" who were punished for transgressing the ways of God:

Enoch 18:12-16 - And beyond that abyss I saw a place which had no firmament of the heaven above, and no firmly founded earth beneath it: there was no water upon it, and no birds, but it was a waste and horrible place. I saw there seven stars like great burning mountains, and to me, when I inquired regarding them, The angel said: 'This place is the end of heaven and earth: this has become a prison for the stars and the host of heaven. And the stars which roll over the fire are they which have transgressed the commandment of the Lord in the beginning of their rising, because they did not come forth at their appointed times. And He was wroth with them, and bound them till the time when their guilt should be consummated (even) for ten thousand years.'

Enoch goes on to say that in the last days (as depicted in Revelation) there will once again be "stars" who transgress their domain and who will be sought after as Gods by men:

Enoch 80:1-8 - And in those days the angel Uriel answered and said to me: ' Behold, I have shown thee everything, Enoch, and I have revealed everything to thee that thou shouldst see this sun and this moon, and the leaders of the stars of the heaven and all those who turn them, their tasks and times and departures. And in the days of the sinners the years shall be shortened, And their seed shall be tardy on their lands and fields, And all things on the earth shall alter, And shall not appear in their time: And the rain shall be kept back And the heaven shall withhold (it). And in those times the fruits of the earth shall be backward, And shall not grow in their time, And the fruits of the trees shall be withheld in their time. And the moon shall alter her order, And not appear at her time. [And in those days the sun shall be seen and he shall journey in the evening on the extremity of the great chariot in the west] And shall shine more brightly than accords with the order of light. And many chiefs of the stars shall transgress the order (prescribed). And these shall alter their orbits and tasks, And not appear at the seasons prescribed to them. And the whole order of the stars shall be concealed from the sinners, And the thoughts of those on the earth shall err concerning them, [And they shall be altered from all their ways], Yea, they shall err and take them to be gods. And evil shall be multiplied upon them, And punishment shall come upon them So as to destroy all.'  

Other verses in Revelation, such as 9:1 clearly associate "stars" with spiritual entities. (Also see notes to verse 16 below.)

The Zohar contains the following esoteric text regarding the end times, where spiritial entities called both stars and flames (i.e., Hebrews 1:7), do battle in view of the entire world. This leads to the coming of Messiah, who Himself takes vengeance on behalf of His spouse (The Shekinah and Israel) and the "shaking" of the earth and heavenly realms. 3

Note in the latter part of this text that the crown which God adorns Himself is also the crown of Messiah:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 8b-9a - ‘At the time when the Holy One shall arise to renew all worlds, and the letters of his Name shall shine in perfect union, the Yod with the He, and the He with the Vau, a mighty star will appear in the heavens of purple hue, which by day shall flame before the eyes of the whole world, filling the firmament with its light. And at that time shall a flame issue in the heavens from the north; and flame and star shall so face each other for forty days, and all men will marvel and be afraid. And when forty days shall have passed, the star and the flame shall war together in the sight of all, and the flame shall spread across the skies from the north, striving to overcome the star, and the rulers and peoples of the earth shall behold it with terror, and there will be confusion among them. But the star will remove to the south and vanquish the flame, and the flame shall daily be diminished until it be no more seen. Then shall the star cleave for itself bright paths in twelve directions which shall remain luminous in the skies for the term of twelve days. After a further twelve days trembling will seize the world, and at midday the sun will be darkened as it was darkened on the day when the holy Temple was destroyed, so that heaven and earth shall not be seen.

Then out of the midst of thunder and lightning shall a voice be heard, causing the earth to quake and many hosts and principalities to perish. On the same day when that voice is heard throughout the world, a flame of fire shall appear burning in Great Rome; it will consume many turrets and towers, and many are the great and mighty who shall perish then. All shall gather against her to destroy her, and no one will have hope to escape. From that day on, for twelve months, all the kings (of the world) will take counsel together and make many decrees to destroy Israel; and they shall prosper against him, as has been said. Blessed is he who shall live in that time, and blessed is he who shall not live in that time! (i.e., Revelation 14:13)

And the whole world then will be in confusion. At the end of the twelve months the "sceptre of Judah", namely the Messiah, will arise, appearing from Paradise, and all the righteous will surround him and gird him with weapons of war on which are inscribed the letters of the Holy Name (YHWH). Then a voice will burst forth from the branches of the trees of Paradise: "Arise, O ye saints from above, and stand ye before the Messiah! For the time has come for the Hind (Shekinah) to be united with her Spouse, and he must avenge her on the world and raise her from the dust". And all the saints from above will arise and gird the Messiah with weapons of war, Abraham at his right, Isaac at his left, Jacob in front of him, while Moses, the "faithful shepherd" of all these saints, shall dance at the head of them in Paradise.

As soon as the Messiah has been installed by the saints in Paradise, he will enter again the place which is called "the Bird's Nest’, there to behold the picture of the destruction of the Temple, and of all the saints who were done to death there. Then will he take from that place ten garments, the garments of holy zeal, and hide himself there for forty days, and no one shall be able to see him. At the end of those forty days a voice shall be heard from the highest throne calling the Bird's Nest and the Messiah who shall be hidden there. Thereupon he shall be carried aloft, and when the Holy One, blessed be He, shall behold the Messiah adorned with the garments of holy zeal and girded with weapons of war, he will take him and kiss him upon his brow. At that moment three hundred and ninety firmaments shall begin to shake.

The Holy One shall command one of these firmaments, which has been kept in waiting since the six days of creation, to approach, and He shall take out from a certain temple in it a crown inscribed with holy names. It was with this crown that the Holy One adorned Himself when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and He avenged Himself on all the chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen. With this same crown will He crown King Messiah. As soon as he is crowned, the Holy One will take him and kiss him as before. All the holy multitude and the whole holy army will surround him and will bestow upon him many wonderful gifts, and he will be adorned by them all. Then will he enter into one of the temples and behold there all the upper angels, who are called "the mourners of Zion" because they continually weep over the destruction of the Holy Temple. These angels shall give him a robe of deep red in order that he may commence his work of revenge. (i.e., Revelation 14:14-16)

The Holy One will again hide him in the "Bird's Nest" and he will remain there for thirty days. After the thirty days he will again be decked with those adornments from above and from below, and many holy beings will surround him. The whole world then shall see a light extending from the firmament to the earth, and continuing for seven days, and they will be amazed and not comprehend: only the wise will understand, they who are adepts in the mystic lore, blessed is their portion. All through the seven days the Messiah shall be crowned on earth. Where shall this be? "By the way", to wit, Rachel's grave, which is on the cross-road. To mother Rachel he will give glad tidings and comfort her, and now she will let herself be comforted, and will rise and kiss him. (i.e., Matthew 2:18)

The light will then move from that place and shall stand over Jericho, the city of trees, and the Messiah will be hidden in the light of the "Bird's Nest" for twelve months. After the twelve months that light will stand between heaven and earth in the land of Galilee, where Israel's captivity began, and there will he reveal himself from the light of the "Bird's Nest", and return to his place. On that day the whole earth will be shaken from one end. to the other, and thus the whole world will know that the Messiah has revealed himself in the land of Galilee. (i.e., Matthew 3:13)

And all who are diligent in the study of the Torah-and there shall be few such in the world-will gather round him. His army will gain in strength through the merit of little infants at school, symbolized by the word ephroah-"young bird" (cf. Deut. XXII, 6). And if such will not be found at that time it will be through the merit of the sucklings, "the eggs" (Ibid), "those that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts" (Isa. XXII, 9), for whose sake the Shekinah dwells in the midst of Israel in exile, as indeed there will be few sages at that time. (i.e., Luke 18:8)

This is the implication of the words "And the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs", which, allegorically interpreted, means that it does not depend upon the Mother to free them from exile, but upon the Supreme King; for it is the young ones and the sucklings that will give strength to the Messiah, and then the Supernal Mother, which "sits upon them", will be stirred up towards Her Spouse. He will tarry for twelve months longer, and then he will appear and raise her from the dust: "I will raise up on that day the tabernacle of David that is fallen" (Amos IX, II). On that day the Messiah will begin to gather the captives from one end of the world to the other: "If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee" (Deut. xxx, 4). From that day on the Holy One will perform for Israel all the signs and wonders which He performed for them in Egypt: "As in the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt, will I show unto him wonders" (Micah Vll, I5).’.

The "earthquake" mentioned by John in verse 12 is connected to verse 13, where the "stars of heaven" are said to fall, and compare to fig trees. This is reminiscent of Yeshua's language in Luke's account:

Luke 21:25-31 - And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.

Other Scriptures speak of both the heavens and earth being "shaken" by God in the last days, along with other signs in the heavenlies:

Hebrews 12:26 - Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

Isaiah 13:9-13 - Behold, the day of the LORD comes, Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, And for the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; The sun will be darkened in its going forth, And the moon will not cause its light to shine. "I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, a man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the LORD of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger.

Joel 3:14-16 - Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

14  and heaven departed as a scroll rolled up, and every mountain and island -- out of their places they were moved;

The idea of the heavens being "rolled up" sounds very much like Rabbi Pinchas Winston's concept of the Sephirah being withdrawn back toward God, as outlined in the notes prior to verse 1. The text implies that the "mountains" and "islands" being moved out of their places are themselves in the world of Beriah. (See notes to verse 17 below.)

The books of Isaiah and Hebrews allude to the same concept:

Isaiah 34:4 - All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down. As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree.

Hebrews 1:10-12 - And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail."

15  and the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich, and the chiefs of thousands, and the mighty, and every servant, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains,

16  and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, `Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of Him who is sitting upon the throne, and from the anger of the Lamb,'

17  because come did the great day of His anger, and who is able to stand?

Again, these verses must be understood metaphorically. Men do not generally speak to mountains, much less ask rocks to hide them from God. The idea of mountains (and islands) in the angelic/spiritual realms carries with it the concept of "separation" -- that which is in opposition to the (coming) unity of God and His creation. They are therefore associated with the sitra atra - the evil realm. These mountains, islands and rocks are similar to the "principalities and powers" mentioned in the "New Testament" (i.e., Romans 8:38; Ephesians 3:10, 6:12; Colossians 1:16, 2:15).

The Zohar speaks of a mighty "rock" associated with the sitra atra, that is responsible for covering up the moon, a sign of judgment:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 184a - But that “other side” is encased in a powerful shell which cannot be broken, except by means of that counsel which the Holy One, blessed be He, gave to Israel when He said: “Blow the trumpet in the new moon, in the covering (ba-kese) of our solemn feast-day”, in order to break that “covering” (kese) which prevents the Moon from shining. And when the Israelites blow the trumpet here below the voice thereof smites the air and breaks through all firmaments until it reaches the mighty rock which covers up the Moon through the evil power of the “other side”, and when Satan, who has ascended and stands above, perceives that Mercy has been roused he becomes confused, and the trumpet's voice causes the strength of the Accuser to depart from him, and the voice of judgement to be hushed and rigorous punishments to be revoked.

As for "mountains," these would seem to indicate evil "high places" just as their are righteous high places. The book of Enoch associates spiritual mountains as such, even comparing one to the Throne of God. It also brings forth the idea of spiritual "trees" as is seen later in Revelation:

Enoch 24:1-25:3 - And from thence I went to another place of the earth, and he showed me a mountain range of fire which burnt day and night. And I went beyond it and saw seven magnificent mountains all differing each from the other, and the stones (thereof) were magnificent and beautiful, magnificent as a whole, of glorious appearance and fair exterior: three towards the east, one founded on the other, and three towards the south, one upon the other, and deep rough ravines, no one of which joined with any other. And the seventh mountain was in the midst of these, and it excelled them in height, resembling the seat of a throne: and fragrant trees encircled the throne. And amongst them was a tree such as I had never yet smelt, neither was any amongst them nor were others like it: it had a fragrance beyond all fragrance, and its leaves and blooms and wood wither not for ever: and its fruit is beautiful, and its fruit n resembles the dates of a palm. Then I said: 'How beautiful is this tree, and fragrant, and its leaves are fair, and its blooms very delightful in appearance.' Then answered Michael, one of the holy and honoured angels who was with me, and was their leader. And he said unto me: 'Enoch, why dost thou ask me regarding the fragrance of the tree, and why dost thou wish to learn the truth?' Then I answered him saying: 'I wish to know about everything, but especially about this tree.' And he answered saying: 'This high mountain which thou hast seen, whose summit is like the throne of God, is His throne, where the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit, when He shall come down to visit the earth with goodness.

Thus, these final verses of the chapter would indicate that men will call upon various (evil) spiritual forces and entities ("mountains" and "rocks"), rather than turning to God.

Eventually, these kings of the earth will have to face the one on the Throne. According to the book of Enoch, only then will they offer a token form of repentance to the Messiah -- one that will be firmly rejected:

Enoch 62:9-16 - And all the kings and the mighty and the exalted and those who rule the earth Shall fall down before him on their faces, And worship and set their hope upon that Son of Man, And petition him and supplicate for mercy at his hands. Nevertheless that Lord of Spirits will so press them That they shall hastily go forth from His presence, And their faces shall be filled with shame, And the darkness grow deeper on their faces. And He will deliver them to the angels for punishment, To execute vengeance on them because they have oppressed His children and His elect And they shall be a spectacle for the righteous and for His elect:  They shall rejoice over them, Because the wrath of the Lord of Spirits resteth upon them, And His sword is drunk with their blood.

1. See Kabbalah and Exodus, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser Inc. York Beach Maine, 1980, p. 26 ff.

2. Maimonides' Introduction to the Talmud, translated and annotated by Zvi Lampel, The Judaica Press, Brooklyn, NY, 1998, p. 48.

3. For a fascinating opinion on spiritual entities and UFOs, see, "An Authoratative Torah View on Extraterrestrial Life," by Ariel Bar Tzadok, at