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Revelation 13:1 to 13:10
Last update: August 10, 2003

In attempting to understand the text from this point forward, we will keep in mind several principles:

1. As discussed, God's ultimate plan is represented by the "Unification of His Name" (Zechariah 14:9). This is symbolized in various ways such as; the union of the heavens and earth (which includes the removal of Yetzirah - the "mixed realm" 1), establishment of the third Temple, coming of Elijah and Messiah, marriage of the bride and groom, etc. If we have a grasp of what the Unification of the Name involves, we can better understand the story of Revelation.

2. Simply stated, haSatan's plan is to counter the above unification and establish his own (i.e., "I will be like the Most High" - Isaiah 14:14). His tactics include; deception, counterfeiting and instilling of doubt in the minds of people. It is imperative to keep in mind however, that everything haSatan (and any part of the evil realm) does serves God's ultimate purpose.

3. The main expression of the disunity of the Name of God is that of the Shekinah (God's "presence in the world") being in exile - "separated" in a sense from the rest of God. (The Shekinah being represented by the final "hey" of the 4-letter name Y-H-V-H.) This separation is mainly caused by a disregard for Torah on the part of Israel (and to a lesser extent, the world). The result is greater power to haSatan and the dark side, which causes greater disunion (i.e., of Malkut from Yesod), thus lessening God's protection. This causes an even worse apostacy (i.e., the hearts of many will fail).

This is expressed as follows in Midrash:

Midrash Rabbah - The Song of Songs II:33 - R. Johanan said: In the first year of the septennate in which the scion of David will come, will be fulfilled the statement of the Scripture, And I will cause it to rain upon one city, etc. (Amos IV, 7). In the second year famine will assail it. In the third year there will be a great famine, from which men, women, and children will perish, and pious men and men of good deeds will become few, and the Torah will begin to be forgotten in Israel. In the fourth year there will be scarcity of a kind and plenty of a kind. In the fifth year there will be great plenty and the people will eat, drink, and be merry, and the Torah will be renewed and restored to Israel. In the sixth year there will be thunderings, in the seventh year wars. At the expiration of the seventh year the scion of David will come. Said Abaye: How many septennates have passed like this, and yet he has not come I He will only come in the circumstances described by Resh Lakish:, In the generation in which the scion of David will come, the meeting [Torah study] house shall be a bawdy house and Galilee shall be laid waste and Gabalina shall be desolate and the men of Galilee shall go about from town to town and find no pity and the wisdom of the scribes shall become putrid and the God-fearing and pious shall cease and truth shall be abandoned and the generation will be brazen-faced like a dog, How do we know that Truth will be abandoned? Because it says, And truth is lacking (ne-’edereth), and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey (Isa. LIX, 15). Whither does Truth go? The School of R. Jannai said: It will go and settle in separate groups (‘adarim) in the wilderness.’ The Rabbis say: In the generation in which the scion of David will come, the wise men of the generation will die and the rest will waste away with grief and sorrow and much trouble will come upon the community and cruel decrees will be promulgated, one coming on top of another. R. Nehorai said: In the generation in which the scion of David will come, the young will insult their elders and the old will rise before the young, as it says, The daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house (Micah VII, 6), and a son will feel no shame before his father. R. Nehemiah said: Before the days of the Messiah there will be great poverty and scarcity, and the vine will cast its fruit and the wine will turn bad and the whole of the government will be converted to minuth and there will be no reproof. R. Abba b. Kahana said: The scion of David will come only in a generation which is brazen-faced like a dog. R. Levi said: The scion of David will come only in a generation which is full of impudence and deserves to be exterminated. R. Jannai said: If you see one generation after another cursing and blaspheming, look out for the coming of the Messiah, as it says, Wherewith Thine enemies have taunted, O Lord, wherewith Thine enemies he taunted the footsteps of Thine anointed (Ps. LXXXIX, 52), and immediately afterwards it is written, Blessed be the Lord for evermore, Amen and Amen.

Ultimately and ironically, the result of all of this is positive - the arrival of Messiah. The following kabbalistic text even associates this idea with the teaching of the metzora (afflicted person) who is struck with the skin disease of tzarat (as found in Levitixus chapter 13 and incorrectly called "leprosy"). Here it is taught that just as when the metzora's tzarat covers him fully and he is actually declared "clean" by the priest, so shall Messiah come when Israel is in a similar state:

When people sin, the attribute of judgment is extended against them, and then God, who is YHVH, sees that if the judgment is fulfilled, then worlds will be utterly destroyed, so what can He do? He removes judgment from there and he brings it up to the attribute of mercy ... Thus it is written: "The son of David will only come when a generation is collectively guilty of sin." ... "When the whole turns white it is pure" (Leviticus 13:14). 2

4. The nature and tactics of haSatan, as demonstrated by Israel's historical enemies (i.e., Amalek, Balaam, Haman, Nebuchednezzar), can give us insight into the prophecies of Revelation, as we are told:

Ecclesiastes 1:9 - That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.

5. When studying these historical accounts, one must examine them on various levels (i.e., literal, allegorical and metaphysical - see background study on Methods of Study.)

In this chapter, John's vision moves from the Beriatic "dragon" and becomes more "down to earth" in the form of two "beasts." The first of these is said to emerge from the "sea" (the world of Yetzirah) and the second from the "land" (the world of Asiyyah.)

All three of these entities work in "conjunction" with each other. The theme of a "heavenly power" with two earthly manifestations is seen throughout history in the form of king and priest, pharaoh and magician, chief and medicine man, etc. Within Judaism, the end time scenario involves the Messiah and prophet Elijah being sent by God.

1  And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw out of the sea a beast coming up, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horns ten diadems, and upon its heads a name of evil speaking,

John describes his "spiritual location" as being on the sand of the sea, an allusion to the angelic world of Yetzirah. Here the Beriatic concepts introduced in the previous chapter begin to take "form" (Yezirah = world of Formation).

As alluded to in earlier sections of this study, that which exists below is a reflection of that which exists in higher realms:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 48b - “There go the ships; there is that Leviathan whom thou hast made to play therein” (Ibid. v, 26). And all the fishes of the sea gather to their places, and all the creatures rejoice over it and the Hayoth of the supernal fields, as it is written: “And all the beasts of the field play there” (Job XL, 20). Come and see! The likeness of that which is above is that which is below, and what is below is also in the sea, and the likeness of that which is above is that which is in the supernal sea, and what is below is also in the lower sea.

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 34a - LET THE WATERS SWARM WITH SWARMS OF LIVING CREATURES. R. Eleazar said: ‘These are the lower waters, which brought forth species corresponding to those above, so that there was a lower order and a higher order.’ R. Hiya said: ‘It was the upper waters which brought forth a “living soul”, to wit, the soul of the first man, as it is written, “and the man became a living soul” (Gen. II, 7).’ AND FOWL TO FLY ABOVE THE EARTH. These are the emissaries from the upper world which appear to men in visible shape. For there are others of whose existence man knows only by conjecture. These latter are referred to in the next verse in the words, “every winged fowl after its kind”. The words “after its kind” are used in connection with the latter and not with the former, because the latter never take the forms of another species, whereas the former do. Nevertheless, they do differ one from another.

This beast may be seen as representing both a "governing entity" as well as an individual, as historically the head of a government is often identified with that which he rules. This beast emerges from Yetzirah, suggesting that it may be an angel (from the "angelic world" of Yetzirah) taking on the appearance of a human. Aside from the mention of "emmisaries that take visible shape," as mentioned in the above Zohar reference, the following texts also support this possibility:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 101a - When Abraham was still suffering from the effects of the circumcision, the Holy One sent him three angels, in visible shape, to enquire of his well-being. You may, perhaps, wonder how angels can ever be visible, since it is written, “Who makes his angels spirits” (Ps. CIV, 4). Abraham, however, assuredly did see them, as they descended to earth in the form of men. And, indeed, whenever the celestial spirits descend to earth, they clothe themselves in corporeal elements and appear to men in human shape.

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis LXXV:4 -
MALAKIM-E.V. MESSENGERS (XXXVII, 4). These were none but human messengers. The Rabbis said: It means literally angels. If an angel escorted Eliezer, who was but a servant of the house, how much the more this one [Jacob], who was the beloved of the house! R. Hama b. Hanina observed: Hagar was but Sarah's handmaid, yet five angels appeared to her; how much the more then to this man [Jacob], who was the beloved of the house! R. Jannai said: Joseph was the youngest of the tribal ancestors, yet three angels met him, as it is written, And a certain man found him... and the man asked him... and the man said: (Gen. XXXVII, 15 ff.). Then how much the more this one Jacob], who was the father of them all!

Hebrews 13:2 - Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.

Another idea regarding the nature of this beast is that a pre-existing soul has been placed into a human body. (We will be dealing with this subject in depth in future segments of our Judaism 101 study.) This would be in a similar fashion to the idea of the soul of Elijah having the possibility of coming into John the Baptist, as alluded to by Yeshua, as well as the disciples' statement regarding who the people thought Yeshua was:

Matthew 11:13-14 - For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.

Matthew 16:13-14 - When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

(Also see notes to verse 4 below for more on this idea.)

2   and the beast that I saw was like to a leopard, and its feet as of a bear, and its mouth as the mouth of a lion, and the dragon did give to it his power, and his throne, and great authority.

The relationship between the world of forces (Beriah) and formation (Yetzirah) is illustrated in this verse in terms of the "dragon" of Beriah giving power to the "beast" of Yetzirah. The idea of the dragon having a throne is consistent with the kabbalistic teaching of their being an "evil form" of that which we view as being associated with God (i.e., God's throne in Beriah - also see Isaiah 14:13)

The following text speaks of the awesome power of this heavenly dragon:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 34a,b - R. Simeon continued: ‘It is now fitting to reveal mysteries connected with that which is above and that which is below. Why is it written here, “Come (bo) unto Pharaoh”? Ought it not rather to have said “go” (lekh)? It is to indicate that the Holy One, blessed be He, guided Moses through a labyrinth right into the abode of a certain supernal mighty dragon-that is to say, Egypt's celestial representative- from whom many lesser dragons emanate. Moses was afraid to approach him, because his roots are in supernal regions, and he only approached his subsidiary streams. When the Holy One saw that Moses feared the dragon, and that none of the supernal messengers was able to overcome him, He proclaimed: “Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon (tanim) that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said: My river is my own, and I have made it for myself” (Ezek. XXIX, 3). Yea, truly, the Lord Himself had to war against this dragon, and no lesser being. This is the mystery of the “great dragon” for those who are familiar with the esoteric lore.’ Said R. Simeon further: ‘It is written: “And God created the great dragons (taninim) and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind” (Gen. 1, 2I). This verse’, he said, ‘we have already discussed, but the words “He created the great dragons” contain a yet more special and particular mystery: they refer to the Leviathan and his mate, which last was slain and is preserved by the Holy One for the regaling of the righteous (in the days of the Messiah).

As mentioned in most commentaries, the leopard, bear and lion mirror the beasts mentioned in the book of Daniel. These are symnolic of the nations that turn on Israel when they turn from God and His Torah.

For example:

Talmud - Mas. Megilah 11a - As a roaring lion and a ravenous bear, so is a wicked ruler over a poor people. ‘A roaring lion’: this is the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, of whom it is written, A lion is gone up from his thicket. ‘A ravenous bear’: this is Ahasuerus, of whom it is written, And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear’, and R. Joseph learnt: These are the Persians, who eat and drink like bears, and are coated with flesh like bears, and are hairy like bears, and can never keep still like bears. ‘A wicked ruler’: this is Haman. ‘Over a poor people’: this is Israel, who are poor in [the observance of] precepts.

God describes Himself in terms of these three beasts in passing His judgment on unfaithful Israel:

Hosea 13:4-9 - And I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt, and you know no god but me; for there is no savior beside me. I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, they became full; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore they have forgotten me. Therefore I will be to them as a lion; as a leopard by the way will I observe them; I will meet them like a bear that is bereaved of her cubs, and will tear their closed up heart, and there I will devour them like a lion; the wild beast shall tear them. O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; for you are against me, against your help.

The above passage would remind us that every action of the evil side, especially those taken "against" Israel, is controlled by God for the purpose of achivieving His perfect will.

3   And I saw one of its heads as slain to death, and its deadly stroke was healed, and all the earth did wonder after the beast,

The significance of what appears to be a resurrection will be addressed in the comments to verse 12 in the next section.

4   and they did bow before the dragon who did give authority to the beast, and they did bow before the beast, saying, `Who [is] like to the beast? who is able to war with it?'

The idea of a powerful evil ruler oppressing Israel in the end times, is spoken of in Daniel:

Daniel 8:23-25 - And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their full measure, a king of fierce countenance, and one who understand riddles, shall arise. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall cause awesome destruction, and he shall prosper, and act, and he shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and without difficulty shall destroy many; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken by no human hand.

As mentioned in our introduction to this chapter, examining some of Israel's historical enemies offers insight into this future evil king. As one modern rabbi writes:

In the end, the Talmud reaches a "compromise:" If the Jewish people are NOT deserving of being redeemed at the End-of-Days, G-d will cause a ruler to arise who will decree against the Jewish people as did Haman in the days of Mordechai and Esther, making their lives so difficult that Jews far and wide will be "forced" to turn back to G-d, and BECOME deserving of redemption. 3

The verse in question reads:

Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 97b - R. Eliezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed; if not, they will not be redeemed. R. Joshua said to him, if they do not repent, will they not be redeemed! But the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a king over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman's, whereby Israel shall engage in repentance, and he will thus bring them back to the right path.

Hebraic literature does contain ideas concerning a future "anti-Messiah" who comes against Israel, God and the true Messiah. Raphael Patai, in his classic work, "The Messiah Texts," devotes an entire chapter to a figure named "Armilus" who epitomizes this evil ruler. 4

Traditional commentaries on Revelation view this as depicting a "resurrected anti-Christ." How this plays out in the physical realm is not made clear by John.

It is interesting to note that the Zohar states that God will bring back the souls of some of Israel's worst enemies in the end of days in order to judge his people and return them to Him:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 58b - IN THE GREATNESS OF THINE EXCELLENCY (lit. uplifting) THOU OVERTHROWEST THEM THAT RISE UP AGAINST THEE. R. Hezekiah found here the same idea as in the verse: “Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? Why hidest thou thyself in time of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). ‘The sins of mankind,’ he said, ‘cause the Holy One to ascend higher and higher, and then men cry bitterly but without avail, because the Holy One has departed from the world, and they are unable to return to Him.’ R. Isaac, however, applied these words to the time when the Holy One will adorn Himself with majesty in face of the nations who will gather against Him, of whom it says: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed” (Psalm 2:2). We are told that the seventy guardians of the nations will at that time gather from all sides with the armies of the whole world and start war against Jerusalem the holy city, and take counsel together against the Holy One. They will say: “Let us rise first against the Patron, and then against His people and against His sanctuary!” Then “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision” (v. 4). He will put on His majesty and shall dash them in pieces.’ R. Abba said, in the name of R. Jesse the Elder-and R. Simeon made the same remark- that the Holy One will bring to life again all those kings who afflicted Israel and Jerusalem: Hadrian, Lupinus, Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and all the other kings of the nations who have destroyed His house, and set them up again as rulers, and they shall gather many nations, and then He will do vengeance and justice upon them near Jerusalem, as it is written: “And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem” (Zechariah 14:12). On the other hand, here it says: “In the greatness of thy excellency Thou wilt overthrow thine opponents”, which refers to the Messianic times; and so this song has an eternal significance.

5   And there was given to it a mouth speaking great things, and evil-speakings, and there was given to it authority to make war forty-two months,

Again we have mention of a forty-two month period, which as mentioned already, carries the idea of stages (of reproving/rectification) leading to a conclusion. Compare this to the sacrifices offered by Balaam and Balak against Israel -- forty-two in all -- as explained in the Zohar:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 224a - the side of holiness, the other that of defilement; the one destined for the righteous, the other for the wicked. Happy are those righteous who have no portion in this world but only in the world to come. Observe that all is predisposed and revealed before the Holy One, blessed be He. Even so was it with Balak and Balaam: although the motive of their action [Tr. note: Viz. the building of the altars and the offering of sacrifices.] was not the glory of Heaven, yet was all they did duly recorded before the Lord, who did not diminish aught of their reward in this world. Thus, through the power of the forty-two offerings which they brought on the seven altars, Balak and Balaam obtained for the time being dominion over Israel, so that twenty and four thousand Israelites died by the plague besides those who were slain, as we read: “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them up unto the Lord in face of the sun.... Slay ye every one his men that have joined themselves unto the Baal of Peor” (Num. XXV 4-5).’ R. Simeon said: ‘Observe that the forty-two offerings brought by Balaam and Balak were offerings diverted from the “other side” towards the Holy One, blessed be He, and so the “other side”, which is called “curse”, had to be repaid these offerings from Israel.

The idea of blasphemous speech, especially in the end of days, is found in Ezekiel's passage concerning Edom:

Ezekiel 35:1-15 - And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it, And say to it, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, O Mount Seir, I am against you, and I will stretch out my hand against you, and I will make you a total desolation. I will lay your cities waste, and you shall be desolate, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Because you have had an everlasting hatred, and have shed the blood of the people of Israel by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time of their final punishment; Therefore, as I live, says the Lord God, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; surely you have hated your own blood; therefore blood shall pursue you. Thus will I make Mount Seir a total desolation, and cut off from it all who come and go. And I will fill its mountains with its slain men; in your hills, and in your valleys, and in all your rivers, shall fall those who are slain with the sword. I will make you everlasting desolations, and your cities shall not be restored; and you shall know that I am the Lord. Because you have said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; though the Lord was there; Therefore, as I live, says the Lord God, I will do according to your anger, and according to your envy which you showed because of your hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I shall judge you. And you shall know that I am the Lord, and that I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying: They are laid desolate, they are given us to devour. Thus with your mouth you have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me; I have heard them. Thus says the Lord God: When the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate. As you rejoiced at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do to you; you shall be desolate, O Mount Seir, and all Edom, all of it; and they shall know that I am the Lord.

Paul made clear that the coming "anti-Messiah" would do no less than seek to put himself in the place of God:

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 - Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

The arrogance of this being is also linked to a strategical maneuver. In its effort to destroy Israel, the enemy will seek to take on the God Israel directly, as outlined in this Midrash:

Midrash Rabbah - Esther VII:18 - R. Levi said: Accursed are the wicked, who all devise evil against Israel, each one devising according to his own idea and saying, ‘My device is better than yours.’ Esau said: Cain was a fool for killing his brother in the lifetime of his father, not knowing that his father would still have children. I will not do so, But let the days of mourning for my father be at hand then will I slay my brother Jacob (Gen. XXVII, 41). Pharaoh said: Esau was a fool. Did he not know that his brother would have children in the lifetime of his father? I will not make such a mistake, but while they are tiny and scarce out of their mothers’ womb I will strangle them; and so it says, ’Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river’ (Ex. I, 22). Haman said: Pharaoh was a fool for saying, ’Every son that ts born ye shall cast into the river’; did he not know that the daughters would marry and have children? I will not make such a mistake, but will decree ’To destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish’, etc. And so Gog and Magog in the time to come will say: Our predecessors were fools for laying their plans, they and their kings together against Israel, not knowing that they have a protector in heaven. I will not do so, but I will first attack their protector and then I will attack them; and so it says, The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed (Ps. II, 2). Says the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘Wretch, do you come to try conclusions with Me? How many hosts are at My service, how many lightnings, how many thunders,’ as it says, The Lord thundered with a great thunder (X Sam. VII, 10); ' how many Seraphim and how many angels! But My might shall go forth and fight with thee,'

6   and it did open its mouth for evil-speaking toward God, to speak evil of His name, and of His tabernacle, and of those who in the heaven tabernacle,

The blasphemous speech is said to be against the heavenly tabernacle as well as God as the former is an extension of the Divine. This is another representation of haSatan's counter plan, as the unification of the Name of God goes hand in hand with the coming third temple. (See notes concerning Amalek in verse 15 of the next section for more on this idea.)

The number forty-two is once again significant as it represents this union of above and below as represented by the third temple, specifically the coming together of the gate to the heavenly Holy of Holies -- which measures six by seven cubits [6x7=42] -- through which God's greatest blessings will one day flow.

(See section on "The Gate to the Holy of Holies" in our previous study on the Millennial Temple as well as the Gemmatria section on the third temple as discussed in our chapter 7 notes.)

The following text links a number of these themes (i.e., how the 42-letter name is associated with the idea of the heavenly and earthly realms coming together):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 234a-235a - R. Judah followed with a discourse on the verse: “The counsel (sod) of the Lord is with them that fear him; and his covenant to make them know it” (Ps. xxv, 14). ‘ “The counsel” (sod),’[Tr. note: Sod in the Bible =counsel; in post-Biblical Hebrew = secret.] he said, ‘alludes to the sublime mystical knowledge which remains hidden and undisclosed save for those that fear the Lord continuously and thus prove themselves worthy of these secrets and able to keep them. Observe that the world has been made and established by an engraving of forty-two letters, all of which are the adornment of the Divine Name. These letters combined and soared aloft and dived downwards, forming themselves into crowns in the four directions of the world, so that it might endure. They then went forth and created the upper world and the lower, the world of unification and the world of division. In the latter they are called “mountains of separation” (bather) (S.S. II, 17), which are watered when the south side begins to come near them. The water flows with supernal energy and with ecstatic joy. Whilst the Thought mounts up with exulting joy out of the most Undisclosed One, there flows out of it a spark: the two then come into contact with each other, as explained elsewhere. [Tr. note: Zohar, Exodus, 220b.] These forty-two letters thus constitute the supernal mystical principle; by them were created the upper and the lower worlds, and they indeed constitute the basis and recondite significance of all the worlds. Thus is explained the verse, “The secret of the Lord is to them that fear him; and his covenant to make them know it”, the first part alluding to the undisclosed engraven letters, whereas the latter speaks of the revealed. Now, it is written: “And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgement the Urim and the Thummim” (Ex. XXVIII, 30). The term “Urim” (lit. Iight, illumination) signifies the luminous speculum, which consisted of the engravure of the Divine Name composed of forty-two letters by which the world was created; whereas the Thummim consisted of the non-luminous speculum made of the Divine Name as manifested in the twenty-two letters. The combination of the two is thus called Urim and Thummim Observe that by the power of these sunken letters were the other letters, namely, the raised letters forming the names of the tribes, now illumined, now darkened. The letters of the Divine Name embrace the mystery of the Torah, and all the worlds are a projection of the mystery of those letters. The Torah begins with a Beth followed by an Aleph,[Tr. note: Allusion to B ereshith B ara E lohim (in the beginning God created).] indicating thereby that the world was created by the power of these letters, the Beth symbolizing the female principle and the Aleph the male principle, and both engendering, as it were, the group of the twenty-two letters. Thus we read, “In the beginning God created the (eth) heaven and the (eth) earth” (Gen. I, 1), where the particle eth (consisting of Aleph and Tau) is a summary of the twenty-two letters by which the earth is nourished. [Tr. note: v. Zohar, Gen. 16b.] Now, the same letters were the instruments used in the building of the Tabernacle. This work was carried out by Bezalel for the reason that, as his very name (Bezel-EI=in the shadow of God) implies, he had a knowledge of the various permutations of the letters, by the power of which heaven and earth were created. Without such knowledge Bezalel could not have accomplished the work of the Tabernacle; for, inasmuch as the celestial Tabernacle was made in all its parts by the mystical power of those letters, the lower Tabernacle could only be prepared by the power of the same letters. Bezalel was skilled in the various permutations of the Divine Name, and for each several part he employed the appropriate permutation of the letters. But when it came to the rearing up of the Tabernacle it was beyond his power, for the reason that the disposition of those letter-groups was entrusted to Moses alone, and hence it was by Moses that the Tabernacle was erected. So Scripture says: “And Moses reared up... and [he] laid... and put in...” (Ex. XL, 18) Moses, but not Bezalel.’

7   and there was given to it to make war with the saints, and to overcome them, and there was given to it authority over every tribe, and tongue, and nation.

God allows the evil side to gain the upper hand (for a period of time) in order to serve His purpose. (See notes on the congregation at Smyrna in chapter 2 for more on this theme.) The account of Balaam and Balak shown above in verse 5 (Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 224a) also depicts a limited success against Israel.

8   And bow before it shall all who are dwelling upon the land, whose names have not been written in the scroll of the life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;

The idea of heavenly "books" in which names are inscribed is found in numerous Hebraic texts such as the Book of Enoch and the Talmud:

Talmud - Mas. Rosh HaShana 16b - R. Kruspedai said in the name of R. Johanan: Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death.

(The subject of things "existing" since "the foundation of the world" and then "playing out in time" in the physical realm will be addressed in our notes to Chapter 15.)

9   if any one hath an ear -- let him hear:
10   if any one a captivity doth gather, into captivity he doth go away; if any one by sword doth kill, it behoveth him by sword to be killed; here is the endurance and the faith of the saints

The p'shat (plain meaning) conveys the idea of midah knegged midah - "measure for measure" punishment (or reward). See Isaiah 14:2 regarding those who made Israel captive becoming captive themselves.

We will conclude this section with the following texts, which provide some "food for thought" regarding death by the sword (compare with verse 14 in the next section), measure for measure punishment, etc:

Soncino Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 194b - When Balaam came down in front of Phineas, he said to him: Wretch, how many evil haps hast thou brought upon the holy people! He then said to Zilya: Kill him, but not with the Name, for it is not meet that the divine sanctity should be mentioned over him, so that his soul in leaving him should not be united with matters of holy grades, and his prayer be fulfilled: “May my soul die the death of the righteous” (Num. XXIII, 10). He then tried to kill him in many ways, but did not succeed, until he took a sword on which was engraved a snake on each side. Said Phineas: Kill him with his own weapon. And then he did kill him; for such is the way of that side, he who follows it is killed by it and it is with his soul when it departs from him, and he is punished in the other world and never finds burial, and his bones rot and become noxious serpents, and even the worms that eat his body become serpents.

Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 8b -  Raba asked Rabbah b. Mari: Whence is derived the maxim of the Rabbis that the redemption of captives is a religious duty of great importance? — He replied: From the verse, And it shall come to pass when they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth, then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the Lord, Such as are for death, to death, and such as are for the sword, to the sword, and such as are for famine, to the famine, and such as are for captivity, to captivity: and [commenting on this] R.Johanan said: Each punishment mentioned in this verse is more severe than the one before. The sword is worse than death; this I can demonstrate either from Scripture, or, if you prefer, from observation. The proof from observation is that the sword deforms but death does not deform; the proof from Scripture is in the verse, Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints. Famine again is harder than the sword; this again can be demonstrated either by observation, the proof being that the one causes [prolonged] suffering but the other not, or, if you prefer, from the Scripture, from the verse, They that be slain with the sword are better than they that be slain with hunger. Captivity is harder than all, because it includes the sufferings of all.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 107b,108a - In his charge to Solomon concerning this Shimei, David said: “And behold thou hast with thee Shimei....which cursed me with a strong curse... and I sware to him by the Lord saying, I will not put thee to death with the sword.” Was Shimei, then, a fool to accept an oath like this, which forbade David only to kill him with a sword, but not with a spear or arrow? But this sentence can be taken in two ways. One is ... that when David swore he swore by his sword upon which was engraved the Ineffable Name (YHVH); and thus he swore to Shimei, as it is written: “I sware to him by the Lord (YHVH)... I will not put thee to death (swearing) by the sword.” But Solomon interpreted it differently. He said: “This man cursed my father with words; he shall die by means of a Word (YHVH).” And, in fact, he did not kill him with the actual sword, but with the Name.

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 240a - “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen” (Amos IX, 11). ‘It speaks of the day’, he said, ‘when the Almighty will execute divine justice upon the world and will visit their deeds upon the wicked of the world. For the Community of Israel cannot rise from the dust so long as the sinners from among Israel exist in the world. Thus the previous verse says: “AII the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, that say: The evil shall not overtake nor confront us” (Ibid. 10); and this is immediately followed by the verse, saying: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle... and close up their breaches, and I will raise up its ruins”, where the plural “their” breaches can only point to “the sinners of My people” who form breaches in Israel, and so when “the sinners of My people shall die by the sword” those “breaches” will be closed up; “and I will raise up its ruins”, to wit, the ruins of the tabernacle of David which was laid into ruins what time the wicked kingdom obtained dominion in the world. For, as we have learnt, of the two powers, as the one gathers strength the other languishes; as the one is filled the other is laid waste. So, until that day the wicked kingdom will be in power, but on that day the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise up the Holy Kingdom and “will raise up its ruins, and will build it as in the days of old” (Ibid.). This last is in allusion to: “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, etc.” (Isa. xxx, 26).

1. The subject of the world of Yetzirah as it relates to the principle of "uncertainty" in the physics of the world of Asiyyah will be explored in section 1.5 of our "Judaism 101 study" scheduled for release in early 2005.

2. Sha'are Orah (Gates of Light) Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, English translation by Avi Weinstein, Altamira Press, London, 1994, p. 205.

3. Perceptions On The Parsha, Parshas Vayeilech - Shabbos Shuva, "Going" In The Direction of TeSHUVAH, Rabbi Pinchas Winston -

4. The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1979, pp. 156-164