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(Last update 7/3/00)

As noted earlier, the mystical teachings introduced in this section will be developed in detail in Section V of our Revelation background articles.

The term "Shekinah" means "dwelling" and is used to describe God's presence in this world. The word Shekinah is not found in the Bible. Its earliest appearance is in the Targums where it used with regard to God dwelling among the children of Israel. As such, the term and concept of Shekinah are not found very often in Christian literature. The "New Testament" allusions to the Shekinah include Luke 2:9; John 1:14; and Romans 9:4, where it is referred to as God's "glory," and is connected to the Messiah and the Millennium. The Zohar has hundreds of references to the Shekinah.

The Soncino Zohar gives the following appraisal. Note that the presence of the Shekinah is said to exist within the presence of people, now that the Temple is no longer:

Soncino Zohar, Appendix III - If we ask, how does God manifest His presence in Israel, the answer is, through the Divine Light, the Shekinah. This light is the connecting link between the divine and the non-divine. For, according to the Zohar, God, the protector of Israel, is borne along by four Hayyoth or Holy Beasts, constituting His throne, and these are borne on other angelic beings, which again rest on higher firmaments, under which is the lowest heaven, to which belongs the earth and all its creatures. ... Through this hierarchy an emanation of the Divine Presence is conveyed to earth, just as, on the other hand, the prayer of human beings is conveyed up to heaven. The Shekinah originally rested on the Tabernacle and Temple, but even now it accompanies the wise, especially when three study together. The ‘throne of God’, consisting of the Hayyoth, is the instrument of God's providence on earth. For the Hayyoth are pictured as having each a human face, but with the aspect respectively of a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle. According, therefore, to the aspect through which he is looked upon from on high will be the providential care which a man receives here on earth.


The following was mentioned in the previous section of this study:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 48b - Now Jacob is united with the Tree of Life, over which death has no dominion, since in it all life is contained, emanating from it unto all those who are in perfect union with it. For this reason Jacob did not really die. He died in a physical sense when “he gathered up his feet into the bed” (Gen. XLIX, 33), which bed is mysteriously called “the bed of Solomon” (S.S. III, 7), the bed of the “strange woman” whose “feet go down to death” (Prov. v, 5).

As previously stated, the reference to the "bed of Solomon" (also known as the couch of Solomon and the litter of Solomon) is linked to the Shekinah and is found in the following Scripture verse:

Song of Solomon 3:7 - Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.

The Zohar explains that the couch of Solomon is a reference to the Shekinah. It is taught that the book of Song of Solomon, or Song of Songs, is an allusion to the "Holy of Holies" and reflects the history of this world, the Millennium and the wedding of the Shekinah to God. The Shekinah is said to be protected by an array of sixty angels, with another ten "hidden" in their midst, making a total of seventy. These seventy angels have the task of protecting the Shekinah from the angels of the seventy nations:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 5a - R. Judah illustrated from the verse: "Behold, it is the couch of Solomon, threescore mighty men are about it, of the mighty men of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), which he expounded thus: ‘Six luminosities form a circle surrounding a seventh luminosity in the centre. The six on the circumference sustain the sixty valiant angels surrounding the "couch of Solomon". The "couch" is an allusion to the Shekinah, and "Solomon" refers to the "King to whom peace (shalom) belongs": "threescore mighty men are about it"-these are the sixty myriads of exalted angels, part of the army of the Shekinah which accompanied Jacob into Egypt.’

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 30b - There are on high seven firmaments, and seven zones of earth. Correspondingly, in the lower world there are seven graded firmaments and seven zones of earth. These, as the Companions have expounded, are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, rising one above the other, and each zone has ten divisions, so that there are seventy in all. Each one of these is presided over by a Chieftain, and these seventy Chieftains have under their charge the seventy nations of the earth. These seventy earth-divisions, again, border on and surround the Holy Land, as Scripture says: “Behold, it is the couch of Solomon; threescore mighty men are about, of the mighty men of Israel” (S.S. III, 7), there being, in addition to the threescore mentioned, ten concealed among their number.

There is also found a relationship between the Shekinah (called the "Matrona"), the angels of Ezekiel's vision and the "way of the tree of life" (that we will address at the end of this section), as found in the book of Genesis:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 50b - 52a - ‘How many thousands, how many myriads, of celestial cohorts surround the Holy One and follow in His train! Princes of supernal countenances are there, and beings full of eyes; lords of the sharp weapons, lords of the piercing cry, lords of the heralding trumpet, lords of mercy, lords of judgement; and above them the Lord has appointed the Matrona to minister before Him in the Palace. She for her own bodyguard has armed hosts of sixty different degrees. Holding their swords, they stand around Her. They come and go, entering and departing again on the errands of their Master. Each with his six wings outspread they circle the world in swift and silent flight. Before each of them coals of fire burn. Their garments are woven of flames from a bright and burning fire. A sharp flaming sword also is at the shoulder of each to guard Her. Concerning these swords it is written: "The flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. III, 23). Now, what is "the way of the Tree of Life"? This is the great Matrona who is the way to the great and mighty Tree of Life. Concerning this it is written: "Behold the bed which is Solomon's; the three score valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), namely, the Supernal Israel. "They all hold swords" (Ibid. 8), and when the Matrona moves they all move with her, as it is written: "and the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them" (Ex. XIV, 19). Is, then, the Shekinah called "the angel of the Lord"? Assuredly!

We can now begin to understand the mystical significance of the Menorah as it relates to the Shekinah. The Menorah is a seven-branched candlestick, having three candles to each side of the main one in the center. Each Menorah has six candles surrounding one in the center, representing the angelic guardians of the Shekinah.

In order to represent the sixty/seventy guardians of the Shekinah, Solomon made ten menorahs for the Temple:

2 Chronicles 4:7 - And he made ten lampstands of gold according to their form, and set them in the temple, five on the right hand, and five on the left.

The Zohar gives the following explaination of the relationship between the sixty guardians of the Shekinah and the Menorah's branches:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 14b - R. Simeon here discoursed as follows: ‘In his going down into Egypt Jacob was accompanied by six angelic grades, each consisting of ten thousand myriads. Correspondingly Israel was made up of six grades, in correspondence to which again there are six steps to the supernal celestial Throne, and corresponding to them six steps to the lower celestial Throne. ... Observe that each grade was an epitome of ten grades, so that altogether there were sixty, indentical with the “threescore mighty men” that are round about the Shekinah. And these sixty, again, are the sixty myriads that accompanied Israel in their departure from exile and accompanied Jacob into exile.’ R. Hiya asked him: ‘But are there not seven grades, each an epitome of the ten grades, thus amounting to seventy?’ R. Simeon said in reply: ‘That number has no bearing on this matter, as we learn from the description of the candlestick, of which it says: “And there shall be six branches going out of the sides thereof: three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof... And thou shalt make the lamps thereof seven” (Ex. xxv, 32). The central branch is not counted with the rest, as it says, “and they shall light the lamps thereof over against it” (Ibid.).’


The following verse discusses the two Tabernacles, one above and one below, and how the Shekinah was also meant to abide in both as the "connection" between this world and the heavenly realms above:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 231b - It has already been explained that the verse, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth", means that the lower world was created after the pattern of the upper. Now, the Tabernacle below was likewise made after the pattern of the supernal Tabernacle in all its details. For the Tabernacle in all its works embraced all the works and achievements of the upper world and the lower, whereby the Shekinah was made to abide in the world, both in the higher spheres and the lower. Similarly, the Lower Paradise is made after the pattern of the Upper Paradise, and the latter contains all the varieties of forms and images to be found in the former. Hence the work of the Tabernacle, and that of heaven and earth, come under one and the same mystery. It is written: "Lift up your eyes on high, and see: who hath created these? He that bringeth out their hosts by number.... Not one faileth" (Isa. XL, 26).

The mystery of how the Shekinah was "severed" from God, is explained in the Zohar, which points back to the sin of the Golden Calf in the book of Exodus:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 190b, 191a - ‘This is one of those sayings whose significance was revealed to me in a whisper from the school of knowledge in Paradise itself, and which should not be repeated openly. Yet, in spite of all this, I will now reveal it unto you, O my beloved children, my children whom my soul loves! What else can I do? It was told to me in a whisper, but I will tell it to you openly, and when the days of the Messiah shall be come, when we shall see face to face, all the “faces” will give their consent. Now, the sin which the “outsiders”- “the mixed multitude”- committed, and in which the holy people participated, was a sin against the “Holy Mother”, the Shekinah, because they said, “Up, make us a god” (Elohim) (Ex. XXXII, 1)- Elohim, the Glory of Israel, She who rested upon them like a mother on her children. This is the secret contained in the words: “They changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass” (Ps. CVI, 20). Yea, verily, that is the Glory of Israel: their Mother. Therefore it also says, “The glory has departed” (I Sam. IV, 22), because they caused the Shekinah to go into exile with them.

Due to this sin of the Golden Calf, the Shekinah is no longer in her unified position. She is in exile with God's people, to be reunited one day. The Zohar places the Shekinah in the lowest of the four "heavens," that of the "lesser He" (the second "H" of Y-H-V-H) - the spiritual realm immediately around us:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 9b - ‘A mystery of mysteries has been revealed to them that are wise of heart. The "He" of the second Temple is in exile with her twelve tribes and their hosts.

Returning to Ezekiel's Chariot vision, the Zohar indicates that what Ezekiel saw (Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10) was a picture of the Shekinah being in unity with God in the higher and lower realms. Hence, this was a picture of what was to come one day (in the Millennium):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 198a - "the Lord's heave-offering" indicates the Divine Throne, so called because they raise it and cause it to ascend on high. [Tr. note: i.e. from the world of beriah to the world of aziluth]. And it is for this reason that Ezekiel, in his vision of the ascending Hayoth, failed to see what it was that they were taking up with them, since it was the Matrona rising to join the Most High King in hidden and supreme glory. "And let every wise-hearted among you come and make all that the Lord hath commanded." This is an allusion to the sixty well-springs that feed the world and so are enjoined to come and bring with them from the treasury of life, by executing the commands of the Holy One, so as to benefit the world.’

It is no wonder that Ezekiel is also instructed to tell God's people that they should study the Temple (Ezekiel 43:10-11). It does in fact, contain the mysteries of the universe.


The terms of "beriah" and "aziluth" (above) relate respectively to the "third heaven" (Beriah is directly above Ezekiel's Chariot) and the fourth, or highest heaven (Aziluth), which is the realm of the En Sof. The Zohar describes that this unification of God's name will include the marriage of the Shekinah to her Spouse:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 198a - Thus Scripture says, "And Moses assembled", "Moses" being an allusion to Heaven; while the words "all the congregation of the children of Israel" allude to the twelve supernal holy legions. The next words, "and said unto them... This is the thing... Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord", means, "prepare yourselves, all of you, to take and to bear upon you the glory of the Divine Throne so as to raise it aloft to the divine heights; appoint from among you those supernal glorified chiefs who shall take up that offering containing the mystery of the Divine Throne, in order to bring about a union with the "patriarchs", (Tr. note: Al. "with her spouse".) for the Matrona (i.e. the Shekinah) may not come to her Spouse except those youthful bridesmaids follow in her train until she is brought to Him, as it says, "The virgins her companions in her train being brought unto thee" (Ps. XLV, 15), to wit, that she may join her Spouse.

The Zohar now states that this Divine Throne is associated with those who follow God, hence both the Shekinah and this body of believers are His bride:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 238a - ’AND THEY BROUGHT THE TABERNACLE UNTO MOSES, ETC. It is written: “And above the firmament” (Ezek. I, 26). This alludes to the firmament that is placed over the four Hayoth (Holy Animals) who are impinged on by the spirit of the Hayah (Holy Animal), by whose spirit they all rise aloft, as it says: “and when the Hayoth were lifted up from the earth, the Ofanim (Wheels) were lifted up beside them, for the spirit of the Hayah was in the Ofanim” (lbid. I, 21). It is when the space of that region, as it were, impinges on them that the four Hayoth rise and carry aloft the superior Hayah, bringing it to the Supernal Illumination. This is esoterically alluded to in the words, “The virgins her companions in her train being brought unto thee” (Ps. XLV, 15), the four Hayoth being so designated. These raise the Supernal Hayah higher and higher so as to uphold the Supernal Throne, as esoterically indicated in the words, “and [they] bore up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth” (Gen. Vll, 17). The same allusion can be found in the words, “And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses”, Moses being a synonym of Adam. The Tabernacle is symbolic of all the members of the Body when suffused with a holy desire for the union of the male and female principles. So “they brought the tabernacle”, since the bride is first to be brought to her spouse, who subsequently takes up his abode with her permanently.

The Zohar makes an association between the Shekinah and the Temple and indicates that the Shekinah's spouse is the Messiah.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 9a - 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. 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. 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).’

It is interesting that the Zohar (above) implies that there would be few faithful ones on earth at the time of the Messiah's coming. This mirrors the words of the Messiah Himself:

Luke 18:8 - Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Furthermore, the Zohar calls the faithful ones "little infants" - the identical term Yeshua uses in the same sermon from Luke's Gospel:

Luke 18:15-17 -  And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.