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(Last updated 7/8/00)

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

There is an interesting reference to a river coming out of Eden found in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 2:8-10 - And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

Scripture gives no detailed explanation of this river. It does not appear again until the very end of the book of Revelation, where it is shown, along with the Tree of Life,  to provide benefit for mankind:

Revelation 22:1-2 - And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.


In these verses, the waters of the River of Eden are associated with providing for man when he is in a state of sinlessness. Its first appearance is before the fall and it returns with the creation of the new heaven and new earth. Between Genesis 2 and Revelation 21 however, man has the issue of sin to deal with -- it is here that we see these waters taking on a different role - helping man connect to God.

Water is seen as playing a special purpose in the Tenakh, in the form of the mikvah, or immersion. Within the Torah, the mikvah is associated with those commandments for which there is no readily apparent reason (such as the kosher laws). These commandments are known as Chukim. The keeping of such commandments is seen as a sign of someone whose faith is strong enough to place God's will above their own understanding.

There is a very mystical element to the process of the mikvah, that somehow it works to bridge the gap between God and man. The mikvah was a very important part of the conversion process in Judaism, being associated with a spiritual change in identity. Such an act of faith, taking part in a ritual that does not have an obvious meaning, was a sign of the convert's readiness.

One of the main reasons for the Mikvah, as seen in the Tenakh, had to do with purification - the process of going from spiritually "unclean" to "clean." God's commandments regarding spiritual impurity are also in the class of Chukim. The commandments regarding purification covered many areas - from the High Priest at Yom Kippur to a woman after giving birth. An excellent book on this subject is Waters of Eden, by Aryeh Kaplan.

For the purpose of this study we will address the aspect of this world being in an impure state due to the sin of Adam. When Adam sinned - all of creation fell into an impure state with him. This creates a "difficulty" for God to relate to us as man cannot in his impure state approach God, nor can God "reside" in the tainted "physical space" we exist in. It should be noted that sin and impurity are not synonymous as one could become impure without actually sinning.

To alleviate this problem, God gave both the Torah as well as the Tabernacle/Temple. However, as the Temple is holy "spiritual space" that God has "carved out of" our physical realm for Him to dwell in, no one in an impure state can enter the Temple. God gave the commandment of the mikvah to allow His people to make themselves spiritually clean in order to enter into "His space."

(The concepts of physical and spiritual space were addressed earlier in this study.)

There is therefore a deep mystical connection between the waters of the mikvah, that purify a man for a certain amount of time, and the River of Eden that he once existed with in continued state of purity (and will again one day). Because of this connection to Eden, water holds a spiritual significance throughout Scripture -- and not only for the "good guys."

The Egyptians worshipped the Nile River as a source of spiritual blessings. (Notice that at the time of the ten plagues, Moses kept meeting Pharaoah by the river, when the latter would be worshipping?) The ten plagues that God launched on Egypt were specifically against their gods, with the Nile being an early target. In the book of Revelation we will see that water is again a primary target of God's wrath.


When the Children of Israel left Egypt, they came to a place where the waters were bitter:

Exodus 15:22-27 - So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

Here Scripture gives us a direct connection between the "sweetening of the waters" and the establishment of God's Torah. (Note they receive these commandments long before they get to Mount Sinai.) The blessings that come with the water are tied to their faith - as shown by their obedience to God's Torah (re: James 1:22; 2:18; 1 John 2:3-5). With their relationship to God and His Torah comes a test of their faith. This is followed by their arrival at Elim, where they come to a place with twelve wells (water) and seventy palms (trees). The significance of these wells and trees will be covered later.

The Zohar states that not only the waters represent Torah -- the tree that God used to sweeten them is also the Torah. Moreover, it says there is no difference between God and the Torah -- they are in unity:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 60a - In Scripture “water” stands as a symbol for the Torah: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” (Isa. LV, 1). ‘But’, remarked R. Jesse, ‘the time for the giving of the Torah was not yet, and how could they expect to find this “water” there?’ Said R. Eleazar: ‘They went out into the wilderness to see the glory of the Holy One, but could not, for He removed it from there. We learn from this that “water” is the symbol of the Torah, and the Holy One and the Torah are one.’ Said R. Simeon: ‘There in the wilderness a strange power, representing the nations of the world, the ruling spirit of the desert, appeared to them, but they soon discovered that it was not the radiance of their King's glory. Hence it says: AND WHEN THEY CAME TO MARAH THEY COULD NOT DRINK OF THE WATERS OF MARAH, FOR THEY WERE BITTER, and they did not feel the same “sweetness” in their souls as before. Moreover, this power came to act as an accuser against them. Then HE (Moses) CRIED UNTO THE LORD, AND THE LORD SHOWED HIM A TREE, WHICH, WHEN HE CAST IT INTO THE WATERS, THE WATERS WERE MADE SWEET. The tree is a symbol of the Torah, which is “a tree of life to those who lay hold upon her” (Prov. III, 18), and the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one.’ R. Abba said: ‘The “Tree” is a direct symbol of the Holy One, for it says: “The tree of the field is (the supernal) Adam” (Deut. XX, 19). The “field” is the “Field of the holy apples”. Thus, when the light of their King's glory manifested itself to them, “the waters were made sweet”, and the accuser became an intercessor.’

Later on when Moses fails to follow God's command concerning speaking to a rock (to draw water from it), He is chastised by the Lord and not allowed to enter the promised land. Moses' striking the rock and not speaking to it is called a failure to sanctify God:

Numbers 20:8 - Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

Numbers 20:12 - And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

When we start to understand (beyond the literal level of the text) the connection between God, the water, the tree and the rock, some of Paul's concepts in the "New Testament" become a bit clearer:

1 Corinthians 10:4 - And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.


Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 64b - R. Abba further said: ‘We know that “water” everywhere symbolizes God's kindness, “Grace”

Water, in the form of rain, is seen to be related to God's salvation:

Hosea 6:1-3 - Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

A short while ago, the leader of the Orthodox Hassidim, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, passed away. A number of his followers believed him to be the Messiah. Upon the death of the rabbi, they announced that he would rise on the third day, quoting the above section of Hosea as a resurrection verse.

Hosea's reference to raising us up on the "third day," establishes the topic as salvation. The book of James confirms Hosea's prophecy of an early and latter "rain," associating it with the return of the Lord:

James 5:7-8 - Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

Zechariah connects a fountain of water in the Millennium to sin and impurity:

Zechariah 13:1 - In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.

The pouring out of water is associated with the pouring out of God's Spirit:

Isaiah 44:3 - For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

This is confirmed by Yeshua's statement, connecting water and the spirit with salvation:

John 3:5 - Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John's Gospel also makes a connection between a pool of water (that was used to mikvah) and an angel that would come and cause the waters to have healing powers:

John 5:1-4 - After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

Conversely, a lack of water is associated with being away from the will of God. In Genesis we see Hagar temporarily being cast into the desert, only to have a mysterious well show up to save her. What is signicant is that this well and its water is connected with God being with the lad (Ishmael):

Genesis 21:14-20 - And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

Yeshua makes a connection between being in oppostion to Him and "dry" places -- those without (God's) rest:

Luke 11:23,24 - He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.


The Zohar (below) provides a link between the Shekinah and this river of Eden. In the following passages we have mention of a sin committed by Israel with the "mixed multitude." This is a reference to the sin of the golden calf. Although water still has spiritual properties in the time between Genesis 2 and Revelation 21, the River of Eden itself is said to be "dried up" during the time of Israel's exile (in that it is not fully functioning as seen in Genesis and Revelation). This causes a "disconnect" between the En Sof, the Shekinah and mankind.

When Israel comes out of exile at the time of Messiah, and following the Millennium, the river of Eden resumes its uninterrupted flow and the Tree of Life is "replanted" into the re-established Eden on earth (as in Revelation 22).

The Zohar describes this as a time when everything from the "Yod" to the "lesser He" (of God's name, Y-H-V-H) are united:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 26a - AND THE TREE OF LIFE. This means that at that time the Tree of Life will be planted in the Garden, so that “he shall take also of the Tree of Life and eat and live for ever” (Gen. III, 22). The Shekinah will no longer be in the power of the “evil influence”, i.e. the mixed multitude who are “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”, and shall no longer receive into itself anyone unclean, to fulfil what is written, “the Lord alone shall lead him and there shall be no strange god with him” (Deut. XL, 12). For this reason proselytes will no longer be admitted in the days of the Messiah. The Shekinah will be like a vine on which there cannot be grafted any shoot from another species, and Israel shall be “every tree pleasant to see”, and their former beauty shall be restored to them, of which we are told: “He cast from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel” (Lam. II, 1). “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil” shall be thrust from them and shall not cleave to them or mingle with them, for of Israel it is said: “and of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat”. This tree is the “mixed multitude”, and God pointed out to them that through mixing with them they suffered two losses, of the first and of the second Temple, as it is said: “and on the day that thou eatest of it thou shalt surely die”. They caused the Zaddik to be left parched and desolate by the loss of the first Temple, which is the Shekinah in heaven, and by the loss of the second Temple, which is the Shekinah on earth. Hence it is written, “and the river shall be drained dry”; i.e. the river vau shall dry in the lower he, so as to deprive it of the flow of yod issuing from En-Sof. But as soon as Israel shall go forth from captivity, that is, the holy people alone, then that river which was dried up shall become “the river that goes forth from Eden to water the garden”. This river is the Central Column; “goes forth from Eden” is the supernal Mother; “to water the garden” is the Shekinah on earth. In reference to that time it is said of Moses and Israel, “Then thou shalt delight in the Lord”, and the words shall be fulfilled, “then Moses shall sing” (Ex. XV, 1) ...

It is interesting to note that in this section(above) it states that there will be no more proselytes admitted, and no more "mixed multitude," insinuating that the door is closed -- those who are truly of God will be permanently separated from those who are not.

This parallels the book of Revelation which states:

Revelation 22:11 - He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Other verses in the Zohar that link the River of Eden to the reunification of the Name of God and the 1000-year Millennium are:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 95b - …when the Yod is united with the He, they produce "the river which issues from Eden to water the Garden"

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 145b - The Day of the Holy One, blessed be He, is a thousand years, and this number symbolizes also the River which goes out of Eden.

It would seem that the full return of the River of Eden is at the end of the Millennium when sin is no more. The fountain mentioned in Zechariah 13:1 however, is opened during the Millennium for purification, as during the 1000-year period there is still sin (and sin sacrifice) occuring.

The following verse associates the theme of Jubilee with the River of Eden, and the end times, something we have discussed earlier in this study:

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 58a - Mark now that in future generations the Torah will be forgotten, and there will be none to close and open. Alas for that generation! There will be no generation like the present until the Messiah comes and knowledge shall be diffused throughout the world. It is written: "A river went forth from Eden" (Gen. II, 10). It has been laid down that the name of that river is Jubilee, but in the book of Rab Hamnuna the Elder it is called Life, because life issues thence to the world. We have also laid down that the great and mighty Tree in which is food for all is called the Tree of Life, because its roots are in that Life. We have learnt that that river sends forth deep streams with the oil of plenitude to water the Garden and feed the trees and the shoots.

Jacob is connected to the River of Eden and the idea of his bringing together the unification of the Name of God. This was also mentioned in a prior section:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 247b - Up to this point the blessings were given in general; they were now particularized with the words: BLESSINGS OF HEAVEN ABOVE, ETC. THE BLESSINGS OF THY FATHER HAVE PREVAILED ABOVE THE BLESSINGS OF MY PROGENITORS . This was so because Jacob inherited the cream of all more than the other patriarchs, he being perfect in all, and he gave all to Joseph. This was fitting, because the Righteous One takes all and inherits all, and all blessings are deposited with him. He first dispenses blessings above, and all the limbs of the body are disposed so as to receive them, and thus is brought into being the "river which goes forth from Eden". Why Eden (lit. delight)? Because whenever all the limbs are knit together in harmony and in mutual delight, from top to bottom, then they pour blessings upon it, and it becomes a river which flows forth, literally, from "delight". Or again, the word "Eden" may refer to the supreme Wisdom, from which the whole flows forth like a river until it reaches this grade, where all is turned to blessing.

Note the references (above) to "harmony" and "wisdom." These are hidden references to the Messiah, that will be discussed in the next section on the Image of God.

Jacob's actions foreshadowed what the Messiah will later do in finality - bringing His bride to Him. The Shekinah is directly involved with the singing of the Song of Moses unto the Lord at this time of the Messiah. This song is associated with the River of Eden and the union of the Shekinah (the Matrona), with the Messiah. As mentioned, this is the time that the name of God will be One, with the; Yod, Hay, Vav, and "lesser Hay," (Y-H-V-H) all being united:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,page 54b - Moses and the children of Israel will then sing “this song unto the Lord”: the song of the Matrona to the Holy One, blessed be He. We have been taught that every one who sings this hymn daily with true devotion will be worthy to sing it at the Redemption that is to be, for it refers both to the past world and to the future world; it contains confirmations of faith and mysteries relating to the days of the Messiah. The Shekinah will sing this song to the Lord, because the King will receive Her with a radiant countenance. R. Jose said that the Shekinah will praise the Lord for all the concentration of light and holiness which the Holy King shall direct towards her. Said R. Judah: ‘If this is the song of the Shekinah, why does it say that Moses and the children of Israel sang it? Blessed were they that they knew how to praise Him for all the power and might which the Shekinah receives and shall receive from Him, the Holy King!’ According to R. Abba, the singing is to be directed, not to any of the emanations of the Deity, but to the Holy King in His very essence, as it says, concerning the song of Moses and the children of Israel, that they sang “to the Lord”.R. Jose said that the words “this song to the Lord” refer to the “river that issues forth from Eden” (Gen. II,10), from which all the abundance of oil issues to kindle the lights; whereas the words “I will sing unto the Lord” (Ibid.) refer to the Supernal Holy King. AND SPAKE, SAYING.: this repetition denotes that it is to be sung in all generations, in order that it should never be forgotten, for he who is worthy to sing this song in this world shall be worthy to sing it in the world to come, and to declare praises with it in the days of the Messiah, when the Community of Israel will rejoice in the Holy One. “Saying” means saying at the time of the Exodus, saying when Israel was in the Holy Land, saying in exile, saying when Israel will be redeemed, saying in the world to come. I WILL SING UNTO THE LORD. As stated above, they spoke in the name of the Shekinah, hence the singular. “To the Lord”-to the Holy King. For highly exalted is He (gaoh gaah): He ascends to be crowned with His crowns in order to dispense blessings, and perform wonderful works, and to be exalted in and through all; exalted in this world, exalted likewise in the world to come; exalted in order that He may crown Himself with His crowns and be glorified in perfect joy.

Revelation also states that the song of Moses will be sung to the Lord at that time:

Revelation 14:1-3 - And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

Revelation 15:1-3 - And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.