Last update: April 12, 2002
Beginning with this chapter, the focus of John's vision shift from Beriah (the heavenly world of the Throne, archangels and higher forces), to Yetzirah, the world of angels and souls. This is a very complex realm as it lies between heaven above and the earth below.
1 ... And when he opened the seventh sealAs briefly discussed in the previous chapter, the seventh of each of the three series of seven judgments (seals, trumpets, bowls), offers the idea of "completion" to it (i..e., Revelation 8:1; 11:15; 16:17). However, in the case of the seals and trumpets, more judgments follow in what seems to be an order of succession. In each of the sets of judgments, the "seventh" in the sequence is less of a specific judgment than it is the segue to something else.
This is explained by the idea (presented earlier in this study), that the first series of seal judgements primarily affected the heavenly world of Beriah, while the next set (trumpets) mostly impact the angelic world of Yetzirah, and the final group (bowl judgemnts) is directly upon the physical world of Asiyyah. You can therefore have a "conclusion" at the end of each set, while maintaining a sequence from beginning to end. Note that as part of the rectification of Beriah and Yetzirah, the "fallout" from these judgments effects the lower world of Asiyyah (the earth and mankind).
An example of this can be seen with the judgment that came upon Egypt in the book of Exodus. Although the earthly effects are plainly seen in the physical realm, with the ten plagues and the destruction of Egypt's army at the Red Sea, their spiritual powers above were dealt with (by God) first.
This is reflected in the following section of the Zohar. First it mentions how God slew the first born "on high" as well as below. It then shows how both sacrifices and the blowing of the trumpet (shofar) take away the power of the Sitra Atra, the evil realm:
Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 149a - Happy, he said, are Israel to whom the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Holy Law and whom He taught His ways, how to cleave unto Him and observe the precepts of the Torah whereby to merit the world to come; and whom He brought near to Himself at the time when they went forth from Egypt. For then He took them away from a strange dominion and caused them to be united to His Name. Then they were called the children of Israel, to wit, free men entirely emancipated from any strange power, and united to His Name that is supreme over all, that rules over the upper beings and the lower; and out of His love for them He designated them Israel my firstborn (Ex. IV, 22), on the celestial pattern. Then He slew every firstborn on high and below, set free the bondmen and prisoners, the upper and the lower ones, so as to free Israel completely. Hence the Holy One, blessed be He, did not send an angel or a seraph, but performed the deed Himself. Furthermore, He alone, being all-knowing, could distinguish and discern and set free the bondmen, things not within the power of any messenger but only within His own. Now on that night when the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to slay all those firstborn, the angels came forward to sing their song of praise before Him. He said to them: This is not the time for it, as another song my children on earth are about to sing. Then at the division of the night the north wind bestirred itself, and the Holy One, blessed be He, executed judgement and Israel broke forth in loud songs of praise. Then He made them free men, freed from every bondage; and the angels and all the celestial hosts hearkened unto the voice of Israel. After Israel had circumcised themselves they marked their houses with that blood and with the blood of the paschal lamb in three spots, to wit, the lintel and the two side-posts (Ibid. XII, 22). For when the destroying angel went forth and saw the mark of the holy sign on that door he had compassion on Israel, as it is written: the Lord will compassionately pass over the door (Ibid. 23). There is a certain difficulty here. For since the Holy One Himself was to come and slay in the land of Egypt, what need was there for a sign on the door, seeing that all is revealed before Him? Further, what signifies and [He] will not suffer the destroyer (Ibid.)? We should have expected and [He] will not destroy. But the truth is as follows. It is written, and the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt (Ibid. 29). Now and the Lord (V-YHVH) everywhere denotes He together with His tribunal, and on any such occasion it behoves man to exhibit some visible act in order to be saved. It is thus of importance to have sacrifices offered on the altar so as to keep at a distance the Destroyer during a service. The same applies to the New-Year Day, the Day of Judgement, when the lords of the evil tongue rise up against Israel; it is then that we need prayer and supplication, and, in addition, some outward and visible act. This act consists in blowing the trumpet, the sound of which wakes into action another trumpet. We thereby bring about the working of Mercy and Rigour at one and the same time, like the celestial trumpet that emits a combined sound. Our object is to awaken Mercy and to bring about the subjection of the Masters of Rigour so that they may be impotent on that day. And so when the powers of Mercy are awakened, all the celestial lamps are lit on both sides, and then In the light of the King's countenance is life (Prov. XVI, 15). So at the moment when the priest is about to kindle the lamps here below and offers up the perfumed incense, the celestial lights are kindled and all is linked together so that joy and gladness pervade all the worlds. So Scripture says: Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart (Prov. XXVII, 9). This, then, is the full import of When thou lightest the lamps.
The Zohar offers this interesting analysis of how the worlds of creation are "connected." Note in the following text how the forces of the Sitra Atra are said to emanate from the"left side" (the side of judgment of the Tree of Life) as mentioned in earlier studies. Observe also the reference to the upper worlds as the "sea." This section of the Zohar also speaks of a similar, and final, judgment against "Rome."
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 56a - PHARAOH S CHARIOTS AND HIS MIGHT HE CAST INTO THE SEA AND THE CHOSEN ONES OF HIS KNIGHTS WERE DROWNED IN THE RED SEA. R. Judah said: When the Israelites were about to cross the sea, the Holy One said to the angel who is appointed over the sea: "Divide thy waters!" "Why?" said the angel. "So that My children may pass through." "Do they really deserve this redemption?" said the angel. "Wherein lies the difference between them and the Egyptians?" Said the Holy One: "I made this condition with the sea when I created the world! " Thereupon He exerted His power and the waters were piled up, wherefore it is written: "The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee, they were afraid; the depths also were troubled" (Ps. LXXVII, 17). Then He said to the angel: "Exterminate all those hosts", and it then covered them, as it says, "the chariots of Pharaoh and his host he cast into the sea". Said R. Eleazar: Behold, how many chariots, how many hosts, the Holy One has formed above! How many camps, how many divisions! And all of them are linked to one another, all are chariots one to another, manifold grades, diverse and yet united! From the left side the chariots of the unholy principalities rise up. They also are linked one with the other, grade to grade, the greatest of them being, as we have already pointed out, "the firstborn of Pharaoh", whom the Holy One killed. All of these unholy powers are delivered unto the judgement of the Kingdom, the which is called "the great sea", in order that they may be uprooted each in his own grade, and be utterly cast down, and when they are broken above, all their counterparts below are also broken and lost in the "lower sea". As to the "captains" (shalishim) who were drowned in the Red Sea, it has already been made clear that all these grades consist of three (shalosh) attributes each (two and one, the triad, corresponding to the holy triad above). They were all delivered unto Her (the Shekinah's) hand, that their power might be broken. All the ten punishments which the Holy One brought on Egypt were achieved by the power of one "hand", for the "left hand" is included in the right, the ten fingers forming one entity in correspondence to the Ten expressions by which the Holy One is designated. Then came a punishment which was equal to all the rest, that of the sea: "The last one was the hardest" (Isa. VIII, 23). And in the future the Holy One will deal similarly with all the hosts, princes and chieftains of Edom (Rome), as it is written: "Who is he who cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save" (Isa. LXIII, 1). PHARAOH'S CHARIOTS AND MIGHT HE CAST INTO THE SEA. R. Isaac referred to the verse: "When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens" (Jer. X, 13), and said: According to tradition, the Holy One created seven heavens, and in each heaven stars and planets are fixed. Arabot is above them all. The length of each heaven is such that it would take two hundred years to traverse, and the distance between each heaven and the next would take five hundred years to traverse. As for Arabot, one would need one thousand five hundred years to cover its whole length, and the selfsame number for traversing its breadth. All the heavens are lighted from the radiance of Arabot. Above Arabot is the heaven of the Hayoth, and above this latter sphere another heaven, brighter than all, as it is written: "And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the Hayoth" (Ezek. I, 22). And below there are many chariots at the right hand and at the left, of many grades, each with its own name. And beneath them are others, smaller and yet more varied, which are the smallest ranks of this celestial but unholy order; as it is written: "The sea is great... small beasts and great are there" (Ps. CIV, 25), as we have affirmed, that on the left side below there is a ruler, the "other side", attached to those above, but they are crushed by the great holy power, according to our interpretation of the words, "Pharaoh's chariots and his might he cast into the sea".
1 ... there came silence in the heaven about half-an-hour,
The meaning behind this "silence in heaven" (Beriah), was mentioned earlier in this study. The Zohar speaks of this as the time of the wedding of the Shekinah to her groom, as it occurs in the higher realms, coming at a time when their is still an evil presence about.
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 134a - Then the Shekinah, the Bride, is conducted to the Palace of the King, Her Bridegroom, for now He stands complete in all His supernal goodness and can supply Her with all that She needs. Thus her attendants bring Her in unto Him in silence. Why in silence? In order that no "stranger" (evil potencies) should participate in her joy. As He united Himself above according to six aspects, so also She unites Herself below according to six other aspects, so that the oneness may be completed, both above and below, as it is written: "The Lord will be One, and his Name One" (Zech. XIV, 9): Six words above-Shema Israel YHWH Elohenu YHWH ehad, corresponding to the six aspects, and six words below-baruk shem kebod malkuto le'olam waed (Blessed be the Name, etc.)-corresponding to the six other aspects. The Lord is one above; and His Name is One below.
The Zohar is consistent with John's vision, as he presents this silence as occuring at the time of the seventh seal judgement, which "concludes" the rectification of the (higher) world of Beriah. This rectification has not yet come to the worlds of Yetzirah or Asiyyah, thus elements of evil still exist within creation. (Keep in mind that all of the Sephirot are present in each of the four worlds of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah.) As the Zohar states above, this silence takes place as to not "stir up" any of this evil realm during the unification of the Name at the level of Beriah.
2 and I saw the seven messengers who before God have stood, and there were given to them seven trumpets,
The following sequence of seven trumpet judgments will bring rectification to the world of Yetzirah. The impact of these things, as mentioned, will affect the lower physical world.
There are several "clues" in the text that indicated the trumpet judgments evolve around the world of Yetzirah:
- "Angels" are specifically involved in these judgements. The realm of the angels is Yetzirah. This is different than the "higher forces" of the Beriatic judgments, or the ensuing bowl judments relegated to Asiyyah, the physical world.
- The judgments proceed from below the Altar of Incense (at the Yesod of Beriah, which "overlays" the Da'at of Yetzirah), as opposed to the previous ones which were from the higher level of the Holy Creatures, in proximity of the Da'at of Beriah, just below the Throne. The souls of men are beneath this altat, and souls are in the realm of Yetzirah.
- The concept of the "trumpet," and "voice of the trumpet," as discussed in earlier studies, is associated with Tipheret, the central Sephirah of Ze'er Anpin, which is made up of the six Sephirot of the spacial world of Yetzirah. Those six being Hesed, Gevurah, Tipheret, Netzah, Hod and Yesod. (The Sephirah of Chokhmah/Wisdom is linked to the world of Atzilut, Binah/Understanding with the world of Beriah and Malkhut/Kingdom with the world of Asiyyah. The Sephirah of Keter is the unknowable bridge between the Sephirot and Eyn Sof.)
- These trumpet judgments affect things that can be understood (metaphorically) to represent that which exists in the angelic world of Yetzirah, (i.e., trees, grass, mountains, seas, ships, stars, rivers, waters, sun, moon, locusts, scorpions, chariots). These will be reviewed as we encounter them.
As in Revelation, the Zohar also speaks of seven angels of destruction in the context of prayer (i.e., Revelation 6:10):
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 23b - Prayer which is not whole-hearted is pursued by numbers of destructive angels, according to the Scriptural expression: all her pursuers have overtaken her, etc. (Lam. I, 3).Therefore it is well to preface one's prayer with the verse, but he is merciful and forgiveth iniquity, etc. (Ps. LXXVIII, 38). The word iniquity signifies Samael, who is the serpent; he will not destroy signifies the destroyer; he turneth his anger away refers to the demon Af (anger); and doth not stir up all his wrath refers to the demon Hemah (wrath). To these powers are attached many destructive angels, which are under seven chiefs with seventy under-chiefs, dispersed in every firmament, and under them are myriads of others. When an Israelite wearing fringes and phylacteries prays with devotion, then the words of the Scripture are fulfilled: All the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee and they shall fear thee (Deut. XXVIII, 10). We have agreed that the name of the Lord refers to the phylactery of the head; and when the destructive angels see the name of YHVH on the head of him who is praying, they at once take to flight, as it is written, a thousand shall fall at thy side (Ps. XCI, 7).
3 and another messenger did come, and he stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given to him much perfume, that he may give [it] to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar that [is] before the throne,
4 and go up did the smoke of the perfumes to the prayers of the saints out of the hand of the messenger, before God;
The identity of this other messenger (angel) is not specifically given, but it can be deciphered. Kabbalisically, the archangel Gabriel is located at the Yesod of Beriah, where the incense altar is placed. Gabriel is often associated with prayer (i.e., Daniel 10:11), judgment, and is referred to as the man clothed in linen (Daniel 12:7), an allusion to the High Priest, who serves at the altar of incense (Leviticus 16:12-13). The intimate link shown between the angels Michael and Gabriel is reflective of that found between Tipheret and Yesod (Jacob and Joseph) as discussed in an earlier study, and seen in this selection from the Zohar:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 231a - It may here be asked: Seeing that Michael was the High Priest and belonged to the right side, why is Gabriel referred to as the man clothed in linen (Dan. XII, 7), seeing that such robes could only be worn by the High Priest? But the truth is that the left is always embraced within the right, and hence Gabriel (although of the left) was clothed in these robes. Furthermore, Gabriel is the messenger for this world, hence he had to put on the garments of this world. The same has already been explained in regard to the soul which, whilst in the upper world, has to put on heavenly garments, but in descending below assumes lowly garments.
Midrash Rabbah states the following about the various roles of Gabriel:
Midrash Rabbah - Lamentations II:3 - It is written, And, behold, six men came forth from the way of the upper gate, which lieth toward the north, every man with his weapon of destruction in his hand; and one man in the midst of them clothed in linen, with a writer's ink-horn on his side. And they went in, and stood beside the brazen altar (Ezek. IX, 2). The number six is mentioned here; but there were five decrees, as it is written, And to the others He said in my hearing: Go ye through the city after him, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity (ib. 5); and it is written, Slay utterly the old man, the young man and the maiden, and little children and women (ib. 6)! R. Johanan said: He spoke thus to the sternest of the angels, viz. Gabriel ; as it is stated, And one man in the midst of them clothed in linen, with a writer's ink-horn on his side. That angel served in three capacities: as scribe, executioner, and High Priest. Scribe, as it is written, With a writer's ink-horn on his side; executioner, as it is said, He hath utterly destroyed them, He hath delivered them to the slaughter (Isa. XXXIV, 2); and High Priest, as it is said, And one man in the midst of them clothed in linen, while of the High Priest it is written, He shall put on the holy linen tunic (Lev. XVI, 4).
An interesting teaching regarding the incense is that it is made up of "hard" things that have been ground to powder. On Yom Kippur the various components of the incense were ground even finer than for the daily service. Kabbalistically, this grinding of hard substances has to do with the putting away of the Sitra Atra, the evil realm.
The Sitra Atra is associated with things that cause division or separation (between man and God as well as between the Sephirot). Thus, "mountains" and "rocks" in the spiritual realm have a negative connotation (as seen in earlier chapters), as they are ("hard") things that cause division. The ground incense is associated with their removal, which comes with (or is caused by) the unification of the Name of God.
Isaiah speaks of the coming of the Lord in terms of the leveling of mountains and valleys as well as crooked and rough places:
Isaiah 40:4-5 - Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
The following text from the Zohar elaborates on these themes. Again prayer and incense play an important role:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 219a,b - R. Simeon further discoursed on the verse: And thou shalt make an altar (mizbeah) to burn incense upon (Ex. XXX, 1). This verse, he said, raises a problem, for we find that there were two altars, namely, the altar of burnt-offering and the altar of incense, the former the outer altar and the latter the inner one. Now, why was the altar of incense called mizbeah (lit. slaughtering-place), seeing that it had no connection with animal slaughter? The explanation is that this altar was efficacious in defeating and subduing the numerous powers of the other side, so as to make them powerless and unable to act as accusers. Hence the name mizbeah (place of slaughter). The evil side, when it beheld the smoke of the incense ascending in a pillar, was subdued, and fled, and was quite unable to approach the Tabernacle. Now, because that joy was shared by no one beside the Holy One, blessed be He, by reason of this offering being so precious in His sight, that altar was placed in the innermost part of the Tabernacle, for it was the repository of blessings, and was therefore hidden from the eye of man. In regard to this, it is written: And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed (Num. XVII, 13).
... Prayer, indeed, is the highest service of all, yet is incense-burning dear and acceptable to the Almighty. Observe the difference between prayer and incense-offering. Prayer has been instituted to take the place of the sacrifices that Israel used to offer, but none of the sacrifices had the same value as the incense. There is, further, this difference between the two. Prayer repairs damage which has been done, but incense does more-it strengthens, it binds together, it is the greatest light-bringer. It was incense that removed the evil taint (zuh'ma) and purified the Tabernacle, so that the whole was illumined, renewed, and knitted together into a combined whole.
... Moses was bidden Take unto thee, that is, take for thy benefit and use the incense (q'toreth), which is potent to bind together (qatar), to illumine and to remove the evil taint. The Daleth is linked to the He, the He to the Vau, the Vau ascends and is adorned with the He, the He, is illumined by the Yod, and the whole ascends, reaching out to the En-sof (Infinite, Illimitable), so that there results one organic whole, interrelated under one principle, the most exalted of all. From thence and upward the whole is adorned as with a crown by the ineffableness of the En-sof; and the Divine Name in its mysteriousness is illumined and is adorned on all sides, and the worlds are all wrapt in joy, the lamps radiate their lights, and sustenance and blessing pour down on all the worlds. All this follows the hidden virtue of the incense, without which the evil taint would not be removed. All thus depends on it.
Observe that the offering of the incense used to precede all other services, and hence its recital should be a prelude to our service of hymns and praises, as these latter do not ascend, nor is the required readjustment and unity achieved until the evil taint is removed. So Scripture says: And he shall make atonement for the holy place... and because of their transgressions, even all their sins (Lev. XVI, 16), first atonement for the holy place and then for their transgressions. We, too, thus have first to remove the evil taint and purge the holy place, and then engage in song and hymn and prayer,as already said. Happy are Israel in this world and in the world to come, inasmuch as they know how to effect adjustment on high and below; to achieve adjustment from the lower world upwards until the whole is bound together in the most sublime union. The process of adjustment performed in the lower world is by means of the impressed letters of the Ineffable Name (YHVH) by which the Holy One, blessed be He, is named.
This next section of the Zohar is a continuation of one presented in the previous chapter notes. Here is another discussion of the two altars, the incense altar (in the Sanctuary) and the altar of sacrifice (in the courtyard). As the Tabernacle/Temple below is designed on a heavenly model, this means that there are two altars above and two altars below.
Note that on the extended Tree of Life diagram, the bronze altar of sacrifice and laver are near the Yesod (foundation) of Yetzirah, the incense altar at the Yesod of Beriah, and the Ark of the Covenant at the Yesod of Atzilut. Each is associated with a higher level of connection with God:
Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 30b - 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, YHVH; 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.
The following text is another analysis of the function of the Incense Altar, here in association with the Menorah. Note the reference to study of the inner altar (associated with Binah and Beriah) bringing Wisdom (associated with the Divine world of Atzilut).
Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 151b - R. Eleazar said: This section, dealing with the ceremonies of the candlestick, is a repetition of another section dealing with the same. The reason for the repetition is as follows. Having recorded the offerings brought on the altar by the Princes, and all the ceremony of its dedication, Scripture records the service of the candlestick, which was a finishing touch ministered by Aaron, inasmuch as it was through Aaron that the supernal candlestick with all its lamps was lighted. Observe that the altar had to be dedicated and perfected by the twelve Princes, representing the twelve tribes, who were ranged on four sides carrying four standards. It was all on the supernal pattern, to wit, the candlestick with its seven lamps to be lighted by the hand of the priest. Candlestick and the inner altar together minister to the joy of the whole of existence, as Scripture says: Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart (Prov. XXVII, 9). For of the two altars, the inner one [on which the incense was offered] radiated its force to the outer one, the one assigned for other offerings; and it is by meditating on the inner altar that one obtains a knowledge of the Supernal Wisdom, which is concealed within the words ADoNaY YHVH. Hence the incense had to be offered up only when the oil had been poured in the lamps. The following is found in the Book of King Solomon. The incense has the virtue of diffusing joy and putting away death. For whereas Judgement prevails on the exterior, joy and illumination, on the other hand, proceed from the interior, the seat of all happiness. So when this bestirs itself all Judgement is removed and is powerless. The incense thus has the virtue of annulling death and binds all together, and was therefore offered on the interior altar.
In this section, the incense altar itself is said to play the role of the Tzaddik, which as discussed earlier, is associated with the Sephirah of Yesod, which is the location of this altar in Beriah. The actions of the tzaddik cause the Right Hand (merciful aspect) of God to intervene.
Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 177b - For things done quietly are the province of the priests and not of the Levites, whose function it was to raise the voice in song. Hence, when judgements begin to assail the world from the side of the Left, the Right Hand must bring appeasement with the incense, which makes no sound. Observe that when that other altar commences to grow restive because there are no righteous, the inner altar intervenes with it and judgements are allayed. Hence AARON TOOK AS MOSES SPAKE, AND RAN INTO THE MIDST OF THE ASSEMBLY, AND HE PUT ON THE INCENSE, which belongs to the inner precinct symbolizing the Priest, and so HE MADE ATONEMENT FOR THE PEOPLE AND HE STOOD BETWEEN THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Death. Then the Right Hand drew them near one to another and the plague was stayed. Happy the lot of the priest who has power above and below and brings peace above and below!
5 and the messenger took the censer, and did fill it out of the fire of the altar, and did cast [it] to the earth, and there came voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
The mention of voices, thunders, lightnings and earthquakes is similar to the events at Mount Sinai as found in the book of Exodus. There, the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah came together for a brief moment in time. The events of Revelation are also leading to unification, only of a greater and permanent nature.
Here we see the messenger of verses 3 and 4 turn from causing prayers to "go up," to having judgment "come down." This is also indicative of Sinai where God "descended," while Moses, the elders and the people, to various degress, "ascended."
This is reflected in the actual word "sinai," which means both a high cliff and a deep ravine. Another understanding is how a person both "ascends" spiritualy to come closer to God, as well as "descends" into the depths of their soul. Note that someone can also ascend the "mountains" of the evil realm as Balaam did in his efforts to curse the children of Israel.
Again, Hebraic sources would point to the messenger being Gabriel, as he is associated with fire and bringing judgment upon the earth:
Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XVIII:5 - When Gabriel came down to deliver Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, he ordered the fire to scorch all those who had thrown them in, as it says: The flame of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Dan. III, 22).
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LI:2 - THE LORD CAUSED TO RAIN UPON SODOM AND UPON GOMORRAH BRIMSTONE AND FIRE. Abba Hilfi, the son of Samkai, said in the name of R. Judah: THEN THE LORD CAUSED TO RAIN, etc. refers to Gabriel; FROM THE LORD (OUT OF HEAVEN, to the Holy One, blessed be He).
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 93b - Another one then discoursed on the text: And it came to pass on the way at the lodging place that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. He said: By him is here meant Moses. Said God to him: How can you think to bring Israel out of Egypt and to humble a great king, when you have forgotten my covenant, since your son is not circumcised? Forthwith he sought to slay him: that is, as we have learnt, Gabriel came down in a flame of fire to destroy him, having the appearance of a burning serpent which sought to swallow him. The form of a serpent was chosen as emblematical of the king of Egypt, who is compared to a serpent (Ezek. XXIX, 3). Zipporah, however, saw in time and circumcised her son, so that Moses was released; so it is written, And Zipporah took a flint and cut off the foreskin of her son, being guided by a sudden inspiration.
This next text associates Gabriel with "seven fiery rivers of judgment":
Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 154b - Then follows the third standard to the north. It had for its ensign Ox and was accompanied by the angel Gabriel and his two chieftains, Kafziel and Hizkiel. The Ox, being of the left side, has horns between his two eyes, which flame as it were with burning fire; he gores and tramples with his feet ruthlessly. When he moos there emerge out of the hollow of the great abyss numerous spirits of wrath who proceed in front in a chorus of shrieking. Seven fiery rivers flow in front of him, and when thirsty he draws up a whole riverful at one gulp.
The Zohar's seven fiery rivers are similar to the seven angels in this chapter of Revelation, as the composition of angels is described in terms of fire:
Hebrews 1:7 - Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire." (Citing Psalm 104:4)
6 And the seven messengers who are having the seven trumpets did prepare themselves that they may sound;
The Zohar, speaking of Rosh haShana, which is properly known as Yom Teruah, "the day of blowing" (trumpets), depicts judgment coming to celestial and terrestrial beings, after the moon no longer shines. Again, this seems to follow the sequence found in Revelation, as the moon is affected by the rise in power of the "other side" (Sitra Atra), and all worlds (Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah) face judgment. As with the text of Revelation, the number "seven" is significant:
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.
The conclusion of the above Zohar passage complements one of Yeshua's parables:
Matthew 13:36-43 - Then Yeshua sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
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