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(Last updated 6/23/00)

Jewish literature has a lot to say about the heavenly Tabernacles/Temples, including numerous references to a mysterious figure known as Metatron, who is given such an exalted position, that at times he is even associated with God Himself.

In the Soncino Zohar glossary, Metatron is given the following two definitions:

  • The chief of the Chieftains, the power charged with the sustenance of mankind
  • The head of the "world of creation," called also the "servant" or the "body" of the Shekinah

As seen in the citations below, Metatron also bears a great likeness to Yeshua in that:

  • The heavenly Temple is His
  • He is compared to Joshua and to God
  • He teaches Jews the mysteries of the Torah
  • He performs an atoning work for Israel

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page I43a - ‘This song King Solomon poured forth when the Temple was erected and all the worlds, above and below, had reached their perfect consummation. And although concerning the exact time of its singing there is some difference of opinion among the members of the Fellowship, we may be certain that it was not sung until that time of absolute completion, when the Moon-the Shekinah-came to her fulness and was revealed in the full perfection of her radiance, and when the Temple had been erected in the likeness of the Temple that is above. The Holy One, blessed be He, then experienced such joy as He had not known since the creation of the world. When Moses set up the Tabernacle in the wilderness, another such was raised in the heavenly spheres, as we learn from the words: "And it came to pass... that the Tabernacle was reared up", the reference being to the other Tabernacle, to that which was above, namely the Tabernacle of the "Young Man", Metatron, and nothing greater. But when the first Temple was completed another Temple was erected at the same time, which was the centre for all the worlds, shedding radiance upon all things and giving light to all the spheres. Then the world was firmly established, and all the supernal casements were opened to pour forth light, and all the worlds experienced such joy as had never been known to them before, and celestial and terrestrial beings alike broke forth in song. And the song which they sang is the "Song of Songs", or, as we might render, "Song of the Singers", of those musicians who chant to the Holy One, blessed be He.

The following section would indicate that there are in fact two heavenly tabernacles (in addition to the earthly one):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 159a - ‘From this we see that the Holy One, blessed be He, actually gave Moses all the arrangements and all the shapes of the Tabernacle, each in its appropriate manner, and that he saw Metatron ministering to the High Priest within it. It may be said that, as the Tabernacle above was not erected until the Tabernacle below had been completed, that "youth" (Metatron) could not have served above before Divine worship had taken place in the earthly Tabernacle. It is true that the Tabernacle above was not actually erected before the one below; yet Moses saw a mirroring of the whole beforehand, and also Metatron, as he would be later when all was complete. The Holy One said to him: "Behold now, the Tabernacle and the ‘Youth’; all is held in suspense until the Tabernacle below shall have been built." It should not be thought, however, that Metatron himself ministers; the fact is, that the Tabernacle belongs to him, and Michael, the High Priest, it is that serves there, within the Metatron's Tabernacle, mirroring the function of the Supernal High Priest above, serving within that other Tabernacle, that hidden one which never is revealed, which is connected with the mystery of the world to come. There are two celestial Tabernacles: the one, the supernal concealed Tabernacle, and the other, the Tabernacle of the Metatron. And there are also two priests: the one is the primeval Light, and the other Michael, the High Priest below.

In this next section, Metatron is compare to Joshua (much the same as Yeshua often is) as well as to God Himself:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 164a - Then he began to expound to them this verse: A song of degrees for Solomon (li-shelomoh). Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord guard the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Ps. CXXVII, 1-2). Said he: ‘Was it Solomon who composed this Psalm when he built the Temple? (for li-shelomoh could be understood to mean "of Solomon"). Not so. It was King David who composed it, about his son Solomon, when Nathan came to him (David) and told him that Solomon would build the Temple. Then King David showed unto his son Solomon, as a model, the celestial prototype of the Temple, and David himself, when he saw it and all the activities connected with it, as set forth in the celestial idea of it, sang this psalm concerning his son Solomon. There is also yet another interpretation, namely, that "for Solomon" (li-shelomoh) refers to Him "whose is the peace" (shalom), and this psalm is a hymn above all hymns, which ascends higher than all. "Except the Lord build the house": King David saw all the seven pillars upon which that house, the Universe, stands-for they stand row upon row-and above them all is the Master of the House, who advances with them, giving them power and strength, to each in turn. It is concerning this that King David said: "Except the King, whose is the peace, and who is the Master of the House, build the house, they labour in vain that build it"-that is to say, the pillars. Except the Lord-the King, whose is the peace-guard the city, "the watchman waketh but in vain". This is the pillar upon which the Universe stands, namely the "Righteous" who keeps waking guard over the City. The Tabernacle which Moses constructed had Joshua for its wakeful and constant guard; for he alone guarded it who is called the "young man", namely Joshua, of whom it says: "Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the Tent" (Ex. XXXIII, 11). Later in its history it was another "young man" who guarded it, namely Samuel (I Sam. 1l, I8), for the Tabernacle could be guarded only by a youth. The Temple, however, was guarded by the Holy One Himself, as it is written, "Except the Lord guard the City, the watchman waketh but in vain". And who is the watchman? The "young man", Metatron. And you, holy saints, ye are not guarded as the Tabernacle was guarded, but as the Temple was guarded, namely, by the Holy One Himself; for, whenever the righteous are on a journey the Holy One guards them continually, as it is written: "The Lord shall keep thy going out and thy coming in from now and forever" (Ps. CXXI, 9).’ Then they accompanied him on his journey for a distance of three miles, and, parting from him, returned to their own way, and they were moved to quote these words concerning him. "For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands" (Ps. XCI, 11, I2); and "Thy father shall be glad and thy mother rejoice" (Prov. XXIII, 25).

Here Metatron teaches the mysteries of Torah, something associated in Judaism to the Messiah:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 169b - Then they all rejoiced for that whole day in the words of the Torah, and the inhabitants of the town appointed the young man to be their head. On the next day R. Jose and R. Hiya rose and blessed them all, and departed on their way. As they came near to R. Simeon, he lifted up his eyes, and seeing them, said: ‘To-day did I behold you with the eyes of the spirit, and I saw that ye dwelt for two days and a night in the Tabernacle of that Youth, Metatron, and the Youth taught you of the supernal mysteries in the joy of the Torah. Blessed are ye, my children!’ When they had told him all that had happened to them, he said: ‘Happy are ye, and happy is my lot, for well do I recollect the day when his father, Rab Saphra, accompanied me on my way, and when I parted from him I blessed him with this blessing-that he might have a son who should be a scholar, but not that he himself should live to see it. Happy, my children, is your lot! Concerning you it is written: "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord" (Isa. LIV, 13). There is, however, another interpretation of this verse. Does God teach all the children of the Israelites the Torah? Yes, indeed, for when these little ones learn, the Shekinah comes and lends to each of them power and energy to study; for without the help of the Holy One the strain on these babes would be too great.’

In Midrash Rabbah we find reference to Metatron and the two Tabernacles, as well as His performing acts of atonement:

Midrash Rabbah - Numbers XII:12 - When the Holy One, blessed be He, told Israel to set up the Tabernacle He intimated to the ministering angels that they also should make a Tabernacle, and when the one below was erected the other was erected on high. The latter was the tabernacle of the youth whose name was Metatron, and therein he offers up the souls of the righteous to atone for Israel in the days of their exile. The reason then why it is written ETH THE TABERNACLE is because another tabernacle was erected simultaneously with it. In the same strain it says, The place, O Lord, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, the Sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established (Ex. XV, I7).

Lastly, there is a very interesting connection made between Moses' rod and Metatron:

Soncino Zohar, Bershith, Section 1, Page 27a - 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."