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Revelation 22:6-21
Last update: September 22, 2008

The primary theme in this final chapter in the Oneness of God and Creation. The main character in this final section is a mighty angel, referred to by seemingly different titles such as the angel of the Lord God of the holy prophets, the angel of Yeshua, as well as a the fellow servant with John who is "of his brethren."

At times the text is unclear whether it is this angel or Yeshua who is speaking to John. This angel is traditionally known as Metatron and has been mentioned throughout this study. Here, we will look further into the mystery of this angel.

In reviewing this final chapter, two principles should be kept in mind:

  • References to beings or objects being likened to God in the text of the Bible and extra-biblical texts are a means of describing the relationship between God and His creation, and are not describing the essence of God.
  • There are many such beings and objects and they function at different levels and have complex inter-relationships often resembling each other.

Two recommended books on these subjects are Through a Speculum that Shines and Along the Path by Elliot Wolfson. We will cite from these texts in this section.

Wolfson explains the above concepts as follows:

The paradox that the deus absconditus (hidden God) appears to human beings in multiple forms, including, most significantly, that of an anthropos (man) is the enduring legacy of the prophetic tradition that has informed and challenged Judaism throughout the ages ... The prophetic tradition, epitomized in Hosea 12:11, that God can be represented in images served as an exegetical basis for certain mythic ideas that evolved in the aggadah from the formative period of rabbinic Judaism The most significant of these is that God assumed "incarnational forms" at critical moments in Israel's sacred history: at the splitting of the Red Sea he is said to have appeared as a young warrior and at Sinai as a merciful elder; he is sometimes further described as a scribe teaching Torah. 1

Representing God anthropomorphically in auditory imagery is not theologically offensive, for that mode of representation does not violate the basic principle of God's irreducible otherness. Indeed, it is alone the speech of God that bridges the gap separating humanity and the divine. Thus one finds a verbal/auditory emphasis affirmed in many prophetic revelations that conform to the Deuteronomic restriction on iconic representation yet preserved the lived immediacy of biblical religion ... Anthropomorphic expression can be appropriated as a meaningful mode of discourse if it is circumscribed within a linguistic field. 2

Specifically regarding angels in prophetic vision he cites ...

It is customary for God to clothe the thoughts of His decrees, to show them to the prophets so that they will know that God has set His decrees. The prophet knows His thoughts according to the vision that he sees. At times this vision is called an angel.  3

6 Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.

7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

The verse is very similar to 19:10. In this chapter, the angel is associated with prophecy in verse 9 and with messiah in verse 16. For more on the relationship between prophecy and messiah and the concept of unification, see our notes on Revelation 19:10.

Verse 9 adds a peculiar dimension as the angel identifies himself as being of one of John's "brethren the prophets," seemingly identifying himself as human. The text presents a clouding of the distinction between the spiritual and physical - not atypical of Hebraic mystical literature, such as 3 Enoch where Enoch is transformed into the angel Metatron, who occupies a throne next to the throne of God. (Compare also to verses in chapters 5 and 22 which speak of an entity on the throne and one  in the midst of a throne [also in the midst of the four creatures and the elders] as well as a mention of a throne of the Lamb and throne of God.)

As in verse 19:10, here is an angel with a presence in John's vision so strong it inspires this reaction. The idea of the angel of the Lord ("God's angel," "angel of the Presence," etc.) being viewed as almost "godlike" is found throughout Hebraic writings.

Author Wolfson provides several insights that relate to this, again mentioning the idea of the "blurring of the distinction" between God and Metatron in the prophetic vision, often in terms of the Shekinah:

It may be said that the medieval Jewish mystics recovered the mythic dimension of a biblical motif regarding the appearance of God in the guise of the highest of angels, called "angel of the Lord" (mal'akh YHVH), "angel of God" (mal'akh ha-Elohim), or "angel of the Presence" (mal'akh ha-panim), which sometimes appears in the form of a man. ... This tradition of angelophony figured prominently as well in the literature of both the German Pietists and the Provencal-Spanish kabbalists. In both cases we find evidence for the identification of, or the blurring of the distinction between, the glory and an angelic being, the anthropomorphic manifestation of the divine revealed to the prophets and mystics. More specifically, in some of the earliest kabbalistic sources the Shekinah is identified in one of her aspects as Metatron ...

In some literary units of the Hekhalot literature, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate between God and his angel. The attribution of divine characteristics to the highest angel also underlies traditions about Metatron, the demiurgical angel in ancient Jewish esotericism. The confusion is especially evident with respect to the name of God and Metatron.  4

The verse said, "I am sending an angel before you" (Exodus 23:20) . This refers to the Shekinah, for the word mal'akhi ("My angel") ... has a numerical value of Shekinah (=385). 5

The following text explains how God can be referred to in many ways, citing the specific example of the burning bush:

Thus it is established in the secret of the Chariot (sod ha-merkavah) that the Holy One blessed be He, is mentioned as an angel in the secrets of the angels, (a sphere) in the secret of the spheres, and that is the throne. All of these are emanations that emanate from the splendor of His great infathomable and limitless light. Thus it is written in Exodus (3:2), "An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush," and immediately after it is written, "God called to him out of a bush," and it is written, "for he was afraid to look at God. Therefore the word mal'akh (angel) numerically equals ha-'elohim (the divine).  6

Wolfson cites an ancient text in pointing out the relationship in the gemmatria (314) between not only Metatron and the God-name Shaddai (as is well known and mentioned earlier in this study), but also to a phrase often associated with God Himself:

The Prince of the Countenance is called Metatron, he is all-powerful (ha-kol yakhol). Thus the numerical value of Metatron (=314) is equal to the expression 'he who governs the whole world; (ha-manhig kol ha-olam = 314). This is the numerical value of Shaddai (=314)  7

Further, we know that "he who governs the whole world," does so from the Heavenly Throne. The following citations show relationships between multiple entities in the spiritual worlds:

We begin with the unity between the four creatures of the Ezekiel's chariot:

"The principle form of the four creatures, which collectively comprise one entity, is that of an anthropos (a man), also identified as the cherub ... 8

This relationship between the anthropos (man) and the cherub is associated with the relationship between Joseph and Jacob:

This is to teach that the faces of Jacob and Joseph are engraved upon the throne, for the face of an anthropos resembles the face of Jacob, and the face of a cherub is small like the face of Joseph. Just as the face of Joseph resembles the face of Jacob, so too the face of the cherub resembles the face of an anthropos. 9

It is possible that the celestial image of Jacob is a mythic portrayal of the the demiurgic angel who is most commonly referred to as Metatron in Jewish esoteric sources. 10

Just as the image of Jacob (and that of Joseph) is seen as being in or on the throne, so is this cherub. This cherub is not only in the image of God, it can be seen (by the prophets) in different ways. In the following passage, note the interesting reference to Moses and the prophets being "enthroned" by the angel all the while maintaining a separateness from God Himself (i.e., "the children are not like the father"). Compare to Revelation 5 where the lamb is "amidst the throne" along with the four creatures and the elders.

The cherub sits on the throne and it is the image (demut) of the Holy One, blessed be He, as long as His shadow is upon him, and this is (the import of) what is said, "in the hands of the prophet I was imaged (Hosea 12:11) ... This is the cherub that changes and is seen in all these aspects ... It is always called a cherub when there is not an abundance of the emanation of the Presence (hamshakhat ha-shekhinah) upon it, even though all is one. Therefore it is called "king of kings" (melekh malkhe ha-melakhim), Moses our master, and his disciples, i.e., prophets who were like him, for the Presence rested upon the angel of the countenance (sar ha-panim) and the prophets, and through his influence it enthroned them, but God forbid that the children should be like the father. 11

Taking it still further, the Olam Haba (World to Come) of which John is prophesying in this chapter is directly tied to both Jacob and Metatron - again stressing the idea of unity (i.e., "everything is one power"):

"... above that world (of angelic beings) is another realm of existence referred to by the technical rabbinic eschatological term "the world to come" which is also identified as the "palace of Jacob," the palace of Metatron, for the souls of the righteous from the lower world come there. Metatron is the Active Intellect, and this is the power of Shaddai, everything is one power.... 12

Citing a very ancient text, we find Metatron and Jacob associated with "sar ha-panim," the angel of the countenance (of God):

Metatron, the angel of the countenance (sar ha-panim), is identified as Jacob who is said to be inscribed upon the throne and upon the heart of Metatron. 13

Taking all of these citations into account, we see there is a close connection between;

  • the heavenly throne
  • the anthropos (image of a man)
  • the cherub (an angel)
  • the face of Jacob (and/or Joseph)
  • the image of Jacob (and/or Joseph) on the throne
  • Metatron
  • the Shekinah
  • the Name "Shaddai"
  • the angel of the countenance (sar ha-panim).

This last title ("sar ha-panim") is particularly interesting.

Examining a text on the subject of Rosh Hashana, we find a connection between the blowing of the shofar and mercy coming from the throne of Jacob:

Therefore, by means of the blowing of the ram's horn, He sees the image of Jacob and changes into His mercy. "He mounted a cherub" (2 Samuel 22:11), Psalm 18:11), from Jacob (mi-ya'aqov). "A ruling of the God of Jacob" (Psalm 81:5). The glory above the glory ...

Eleazar identifies the image of Jacob with the God of Israel and the cherub, but here he adds the motive that this image is the personification of the attribute of mercy. Specifically, when Israel blows the ram's horn below, the divine glory looks upon the image of Jacob and is filled with mercy. The idea that the blowing of the ram's horn effects a transformation of God's attribute of judgment to mercy is a standard rabbinic theme expressed in classical midrashic sources. 14

All of this leads us to an extraordinary text. Continuing on the subject of Rosh Hashana, Wolfson cites author Yehuda Liebes who refers to a connection in the Rosh Hashana section of a prayer book that mentions Yeshua (by name) in the context of "sar ha-panim" and Metatron:

Also relevant is another study by Liebes where he argued for a possible Jewish-Christian background of the image of Yeshua Sar ha-Panim found, together with Elijah and Metatron, in one of the prayers in the standard Ashkenazi liturgy for Rosh ha-Shanah. The immediate context to locate this liturgical formulation is one of the main circles of German Pietists, the group responsible for the commentary on the names of Metatron published under the name "Sefer ha-Hesheq," but, according to Liebes, the Sitz im Leben ("setting in life") of the image foes back to an ancient Jewish esoteric tradition that preserved this Jewish-Christian belief regarding the angelic status of Jesus. 15

Yashanet has attained a copies of this prayer book and has scanned in the relevant sections.

Click here to view images of this very interesting text Updated

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.

11 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.

A transition seems to have occurred over verses 10 through 12. The speaker in verse 10 continues to be the angel from previous verses. Verse 12 however seems to be Yeshua speaking, both from the content of the verse as well as the continuation in verses 13 and 16 below. As we are showing in the texts by Elliot Wolfson, this is consistent with Jewish mystical literature.

The time for performing acts of righteousness comes to a close at the end of the millennial kingdom and entry into Olam Haba - the World to Come. One's status for eternity is sealed at this point. 16

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”

Though this verse would appear to be associated with Yeshua, the divergent characteristics of "beginning and end" and "first and last" are (not surprisingly) found regarding Metatron.

Citing the 13th century kabbalist Abraham Abulafia, author Wolfson shows that these opposite characteristics (beginning and end, etc.), are found in Metatron and resemble the combination of Israel and Jacob, found in a single person:

In the ontological scheme of Abulafia,, based on Maimonides, Metatron is the Active Intellect or the last of the ten separate intellects. On the other hand, Metatron is also described as the first of the created entities outside the divine. Abulafia alludes to this dual status of Metatron in his comment that the angel of God "is the end of the angels, but he is still the beginning." The two aspects of Metatron are alluded to as well in the names Israel and Jacob.; the secret of the former is conveyed in the transposition of the consonants "yisra'el" to form the word "le-ro'shi" (to my head), and the latter in he letters ya'aqov that are transposed into "aqevi (my heel). The aspect of Metatron as the first is conveyed in the physical image of the head, and as the last, in the image of the heel ... Just as Israel and Jacob are two names for one and the same person, so too the two aspects are unified in the one angelic personality. Metatron is described therefore, as possessing opposite qualities, the first and the last, beginning and end ...  17

14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

As mentioned previously, the denial of access to the Tree of Life is fundamentally related to the sin of separating the bride from the groom. This may also be expressed in terms of division between YHVH and Adonai. (See our Study Chart on the Name of God.) Thus the tikkun of the the bride/groom (or YHVH/Adonai) and access to the Tree of Life, is directly tied to the keeping of the commandments of the Torah. (See comments on uniting the bride and groom in notes to 19:10.)

As mentioned earlier in this study ...

Furthermore, one of the special paragraphs said in advance of a mitzvah, to focus us on the purpose of the mitzvah (found in most prayer books) is: [I hereby do this mitzvah] for the sake of the unification of The Holy One, Blessed is He, and His Divine Presence, in fear and in love, to unify the Name of yud-h'eh with vav h'eh in completion, in the name of the entire Jewish people.  18

The Zohar offers the following regarding keeping of the commandments. Note yet another dichotomous reference to Metatron from whom come both life and death:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, 27a - AND THE LORD GOD TOOK THE MAN AND PUT HIM IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, ETC. From whence did he take him? He took him from the four elements which are hinted at in the verse "and from there it parted and became four heads". God detached him from these and placed him in the Garden of Eden. So does God do now to any man created from the four elements when he repents of his sins and occupies himself with the Torah; God takes him from his original elements, as it is said, "and from there he parts", i.e. he separates himself from the desires which they inspire, and God places him in his garden, which is the Shekinah, "to dress it", by means of positive precepts, "and to keep it", by means of negative precepts. If he keeps the law, he makes himself master of the four elements, and becomes a river from which they are watered, and they obey him and he is their ruler. But if he transgresses the law, they are watered from the bitterness of the tree of evil, which is the evil inclination, and all his limbs are full of bitterness; but when the members of the body are kept holy from the side of good, it may be said of them that "they came to Marah and were not able to drink waters from Marah, for they were bitter" (Ex. XV, 23). Similarly, the study of the Talmud is bitter compared with that of the esoteric wisdom, of which it is said, "And God showed him a tree" (Ibid.); this is a tree of life, and through it "the waters were sweetened". Similarly of Moses it is written, "And the staff of God was in his hand." This rod is Metatron, from one side of whom comes life and from the other death. When the rod remains a rod, it is a help from the side of good, and when it is turned into a serpent it is hostile, so that "Moses fled from it", and God delivered it into his hand. This rod typifies the Oral Law which prescribes what is permitted and what is forbidden. When Moses struck the rock God took it back from him, and "he went down to him with a rod" (II Sam. XXXIII, 21), to smite him with it, the "rod" being the evil inclination, which is a serpent, the cause of the captivity. A further lesson can be derived from the words "and from there it parted": happy is the man who devotes himself to the Torah, for when God takes him from this body, from the four elements, he is detached from them and ascends to become the head of the four Hayyoth, as it is written, "and they shall bear thee on their hands" (Ps. XCI, 12).

15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

16 “I, Yeshua, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the congregations. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

Here we have Yeshua referring to "his angel." The idea of a specific angel being associated with messiah ben Joseph is found in several sections of the classic text, Kol Hator (Voice of the Turtledove):

Yosef is still alive.  -- The independence of Mashiach ben Yosef is related to three categories: a) the Mashiach ben Yosef from above is  Metatron, the Minister of Interior; as is known, Yosef is Metatron.  Both of them are from the light from above, and both are in the sefira Yesod ,,, b) In every generation one Mashiach ben Yosef from below appears.  He is a righteous person, a foundation of the world, who because of his deeds and the root of his soul, merits acting for the salvation of Israel, carrying out helpful deeds and glorifying the Torah through his dedication.  Thus he reaches to the high level of Mashiach ben Yosef, ....c) Mashiach ben Yosef who is present in every house of Israel in general, according to what is revealed by the words “remnant of Yosef” which was said about all of Israel in general and regarding every man of Israel in particular ...  19

“For a bird of the skies will carry the sound, and some winged creature will relate the matter” -- This was said about Metatron, the Minister of Interior, as brought in Tikunei Zohar. He is the Angel of Mashiach ben Yosef.  20

“The angel who redeems me” -- “The angel who redeems” is the Angel of Yosef.  This means that as soon as Yosef was born, Jacob was able to overpower Esau.  As known, the redeemer is in Yesod. 21

17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;

19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The warning is strict, as the sages teach that even the slightest actions of one person can cause a "ripple effect" with profound negative results for many:

Do not be surprised by the fact that an individual person, through his or her deeds, can cause an elevation or degradation of the whole world....  22

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Yeshua!

21 The grace of our Lord Yeshua haMashiach be with you all. Amen.

1. Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Elliot R. Wolfson, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1994, p.8

2. ibid, p.15

3. ibid, p.206, citation from Sefer ha-Shem, Rabbi Eleazer ben Judah of Worms

4. ibid, p.255

5. ibid, p. 257, citation  from Sefer ha-Hokhmah, Rabbi Eleazer ben Judah of Worms

6. ibid, p.257

7. ibid, p.259, citation from Sefer ha-Hokhmah, Rabbi Eleazer ben Judah of Worms

8. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, p. 10

9. ibid, p.122, citation from The Commentary on Ezekiel's Chariot, R. Jacob ben Jacob ha-Kohen of Castile

10. ibid, p. 19

11. ibid, pp. 11,12

12. ibid., p. 19

13. ibid

14. ibid, p. 52

15. ibid, p. 68

16. For a detailed explanation of this concept see Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997.

17. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, p. 21

18 From - Parshas Vaeschanan/Nachamu, Pleading in Comfort, by Rabbi Pinchas Winston.

19. See

20. See

21. See

22. See