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Revelation 6:1-8
Last update: February 19, 2002


Beginning with this chapter (through chapter 16), we are told of a series of three sets of judgments, commonly referred to as the "seal," "trumpet" and "bowl" judgments. With regard to these events, most Revelation studies are typically concerned with the effect these judgments have upon the earth and mankind. In this study we offer an alternative view, that being that these judgments are part of a process that effects teshuvah (return/repentance) to the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah.

Key to understanding this sequence of judgments is a comprehension of the Unification of the Name of God (a process called Yichud Hashem), and the ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom. Among other Scriptures, the book of Hebrews states that Messiah is heir of all things within creation. This includes not only the physical earth, but those things in the spiritual realms of Beriah and Yetzirah:

Hebrews 1:1-2 - God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Hebrew 2:5-8 - For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

Modern Orthodox Kabbalists make a link between Messiah and Metatron, (called by the Hebrew acronym MemTet in the following text), of whom it is said will come in the flesh and rule over all of creation:

MemTet rules over G-d’s entire universe, not just here on planet earth. Thus when Melekh HaMashiah comes, he will be MemTet incarnate. As such, he will serve as G-d’s regent over the entire universe and not just king here on earth. Mashiah will be to HaShem what Yosef was to Pharaoh in Egypt. Thus, we see that the role and authority of Mashiah is not merely limited to this world.  1

As discussed in our background studies on the Four Worlds, the three worlds within "creation" (beginning with Genesis 1:1), those being Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah, all exhibit some form of "evil" within them. (Only the world of Atzilut is purely Divine and free from any evil, as within it there is no division or change.) We have also explained how the Shekinah itself is attached to the evil realm (the "sitra atra"), until the time it is set free and reunited with the Godhead.

As stated by Rabbi Moshe Luzzatto, in his classic work, Derech Hashem ("The Way of God"):

"Included in God's decree that the world contain both good and evil, He also decreed that evil would be found throughout Creation at every degree and at every level possible ..." 2

What must take place before all things are given to the Messiah (and God's Name is unified), is a purging of evil from the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah. This is considered to be their "return" (teshuvah) to God.

As explained by Rabbi Luzzatto:

The basis of the annihilation and removal of evil, as well as the perpetuation of good in all creation, is therefore the revelation of God's unity ... we see that the ultimate rectification of all creation depends on the revelation of God's unity. 3

The Zohar mentions the following with regard to the idea of celestial cleansing:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 173b - The spirit of impurity does not mingle with the spirit of holiness, and therefore those angels that are called "spirits" cannot enter into the Holy Presence because of that spirit of impurity. Those angels, however, which are within are "fire", and that supernal holy fire ejects the impurity so that it cannot enter into the innermost place. Thus all combine to push out the impure power and prevent it from mingling with them; and, as we have said, the celestials can only begin to praise the Holy One after they have banished the "other side" from the heavenly courts.

As what occurs in any one of these worlds has effect on the others, when evil is purged from the world of Beriah the impact is felt on the earth. The same goes for when evil is abolished from Yetzirah. Finally, when evil is driven from Asiyyah (the physical world) into Gehenna (which exists "beyond" Asiyyah), all worlds are ready for unification, the great wedding feast, and Messianic kingdom. (Also see section on "Evil" below.)

As stated by Kabbalistic teacher, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, all of creation will undergo teshuvah at the end of days:

The first real sign that the End of Days is approaching is seen, we are told, when the terrestrial and celestial Worlds begin to be profoundly troubled. Both in the Heavens and on the Earth there will be major disturbances that indicate that a vast change is under way. Wars and rumors of disorder will abound. It is to be a period of trial, especially for those who are committed to aiding the process of cosmic growth, as the forces of those who deny everything but their own will seek to hold back the imminent transformation of the World. This crisis is precipitated by the fact that the accumulating level of Yezirah and Beriah present in Asiyyah is about to undergo a quantum jump of Teshuvah or conversion and redeem the physical World.  4

What we are "seeing" in John's accounts of the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments, is primarily the effect upon the earth of the three worlds being rectified. What is not so explicit is that which the physical eye cannot see in the spiritual realms.

A recent Chassidic commentary offers these insights on the teachings of the Torah, which may well be applied to what is depicted in the book of Revelation:

The Torah speaks about the upper realms, and alludes to the lower realms. This means that the narratives of the Torah are descriptions of the interrelation between Divine attributes in the spiritual realms. Nevertheless, since material existence is an outgrowth of spiritual existence, whatever happens in the spiritual realms is reflected in this world. Thus, every narrative in the Torah is a record of an actual event, but that event represents far more than what transpires in the material world. It is a dynamic movement beginning within the sublime spiritual planes and having ramifications on all levels of existence. This approach expresses the positive dimensions of both the views mentioned. On one hand, the historical integrity of the Torah is preserved. Conversely, the relevance of the Torah is not as a book of records, but as a guide, reflecting spiritual truths that should be applied in our Divine service.  5

Another way of looking at this process is examining the extended Tree of Life, and considering all that lies between mankind (located at the Malkut of Asiyyah), and the heavenly Temple (in the upper realm of Beriah). Picture that same Temple being on the earth (as it will be in the Millennial Kingdom, i.e., Ezekiel chapters 40-48), with the Sephirot between those two extremes no longer being "present."

Rabbi Pinchas Winston comments on this idea, that leads to the Millennial Kingdom:

The Sefiros work in a similar fashion. They are a system that G-d employs to translate HIS will into OUR reality, so that creation can interact with us, and we, with it, and through it all, earn our portion in the World-to-Come. And depending on the command of G-d, a certain sefirah is activated to provide a certain effect at precisely a certain time in a precise way. Just as with the computer, there can be a chain of command where one signal triggers another, and so on until the intention of the typist is executed. So too, does one sefirah give light over to another, until the light reaches its Divinely intended and final destination. The more conductors the electrical current has to pass through a computer, the weaker the signal. The more sefiros the light passes through, the weaker, the more physical the light. In Moshiach's time, may it be soon in our time, the lower sefiros begin to move in the opposite direction from whence they originally came, upward, and with them, human reality. Therefore, the light that will sustain us will have less sefiros through which to travel, and therefore, it will be less filtered. That is why evil will and must cease to exist, just as darkness is banished with the introduction of light.  6

Winston also expresses the same idea in terms of God's "light" reversing its direction at some predestined point in history:

The process of creation is really one of light moving through time, G-d's time, and history is just the record of what that light has, is, and will do along its path from its Source - Ain Sof - towards the center of the "hollow." It will continue along its path until it reaches a point at which time the light is to begin changing its direction, a point that only G-d knows and pre-determined when He first thought to make creation. In other words, at a point in time, the light will begin to back-track, and rather than move away from Ain Sof, it will begin to return back in the direction of Ain Sof, and with it will go the levels of reality that it created on the "way down."  7

The Zohar reminds us that Rosh haShana ("New Year's Day") marks the beginning of this time ("the Day of the Lord"), where God judges each "sphere" of creation:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 183b-185a - ‘New Year's Day is a day of judgement for those who have not accepted the healing food, and have neglected the “medicine” of the Torah for the sake of another food, which is leaven. For on this day that “leaven” ascends and accuses mankind and speaks evil against all whom it can malign in any wise. And at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, sits in judgement over all and pronounces His decrees in regard to all the spheres.

Following the Day of the Lord, all of creation from the heavenly Jerusalem to the physical world of earthly Jerusalem, will have undergone teshuvah. When the earthly Jerusalem is thus "ready," the final stages of Yichud Hashem will be enabled.

The Talmud expresses this idea as follows:

Talmud - Mas. Ta'anith 5a - The Holy One, blessed be He, said, ‘I will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until I can enter the earthly Jerusalem’. Is there then a heavenly Jerusalem? - Yes; for it is written, Jerusalem thou art builded as a city that is compact together.

This time of unification, (the seventh Millennium), is also known as the Great Sabbath, which as we have shown in our background studies, is closely associated to the Shekinah itself. At this time, the Shekinah will be freed from any connection to the sitra atra (evil realm), which is presently not the case. Only with evil being "put aside" as such, does the unification process go forward.

The Zohar speaks of the weekly Sabbath giving us a picture of what is to come:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 133b - ‘In the prayer before the entrance of the Sabbath the Throne of Glory is prepared for the Holy Heavenly King. And when the Sabbath arrives the Shekinah is in perfect union with Him and is separated from the "other side", and all the potencies of severe judgement are severed from Her, She being in closest union with the Holy Light and crowned with many crowns by the Holy King, and all the principalities of severity and all the lords of judgement flee from Her, and no other domination reigns in any of the worlds, and her countenance is illumined by the supernal light, and she is crowned here below by the Holy People, all of whom are invested with new souls. Then is the time for the commencement of prayer, when the worshippers bless Her with joy and gladness, saying, "Bless ye the Lord, the Blessed One!" (the beginning proper of the Sabbath Eve prayer). For the holy people cannot be allowed at this moment to begin with a verse that suggests judgement, as on weekdays, when "Bless ye" is preceded by "And He being merciful, forgiveth iniquity and destroyeth not", because the Shekinah is then entirely severed from the mystery of the "other side" and all the lords of judgement have separated themselves and passed away from Her, and he who rouses judgement in the lower spheres causes vibrations of doom and severity also in the celestial regions, and while this disturbing element is in evidence the Holy Throne cannot crown itself with the crown of holiness. Then the lords of judgement who have severed themselves for the time being from the rest of creation, hiding themselves away from all eyes in a deep and secret recess at the bottom of the sea, are roused to return to the celestial habitations, and they come back with violence and fury, so that the Holy Sphere, which requires above all rest and peace for the entrance of the Sabbath, is hard pressed by these potencies of judgement.

As also mentioned earlier in our study, both the Shekinah as well as faithful Israel (and those gentiles who cleave to her), are considered the "bride" (Malkut). Thus Israel's enemies must also, once and for, all be vanquished prior to Yichud Hashem:

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Section 2, Page 34b-35a -‘The Community of Israel is called “bride”, as it says, “Thou art all fair, my love” (Song of Songs 4:7.) She is also called “a kingdom of priests” when blessed by the priests, since the priests enthrone her and give her power, making her queen over all the treasures and armoury of the King, over higher and lower, over the whole world.’ R. Jose said: ‘It is written, “He hath established his bond upon the earth (Amos 9:6), namely, when the King joins her with all his holy Crowns in one company, for then She rules over all and shines above and below; and this at the time when the priest performs his service and brings the offering and burns the incense, uttering fitting prayer the while.’ R. Jose said: ‘When Aaron raised his hands, all raised with him, until the Community of Israel was blessed and higher and lower angels with her. Hence it says, “Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, who dwelleth in Jerusalem, Hallelukah” (Psalm 135:21).

The above theme is reflected in Rabbi Chayim Henoch's book on the great 13th century kabbalist, Nachmanides, which relates the function of the divine World of Atzilut in purging evil from the world in terms of the spiritual power of the nations decreasing and that of Israel increasing -- a key topic to the book of Revelation:

Certain kabbalists highlight in the law of actualization of the seven sefiroth of the Atziluth edifice not only the evolutionary developmental aspect, but also the cathartic cleansing aspect of the purification of evil, expressed by decreasing the forces of the celestial chiefs of the nations, until the final ascendancy of the the strength of Israel.  8

Scripture tells us that the final redemption of Israel and the ingathering of the exiles to the Land of Israel is directly tied to the ultimate sanctification (unification) of the Name of God:

Ezekiel 28:25-26 - Thus said the Lord YHWH-Elohim: When I gather in the House of Israel from the peoples among whom they were scattered, then I will be sanctified through them in the eyes of the nations, and they will dwell on their land that I gave to My servant Jacob.

1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as it were a voice of thunder, `Come and behold!'

Beginning with this verse, numerous metaphors are used to represent spiritual concepts, including; Messiah as a "Lamb," a scroll with seals, horses, horsemen, stars, the heavens as a scroll, mountains, islands, dens and rocks. These will be discussed as they are encountered in the text.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the setting for the initial set of events is Beriah, the world of the "Throne" of God. As we will see, the second set of trumpet judgments are mainly concerned with the world of Yetzirah, and the last (bowl judgments), with Asiyyah, the physical world.

This initial set of judgments begins with four that are carried out by "horsemen" who go from Beriah to afflict the earth. As mentioned, the language here is metaphorical -- these are not literal men on flesh and blood horses that will be riding around the globe. Keep in mind that in the world of Beriah we are dealing things at the archetypal level of creation, which is a world of higher spiritual concepts or forces, outside of the realm of physical experience. Everything is Beriah however, is connected to that which we experience in the physical world of Asiyyah.

As stated by Rabbi Moshe Luzzatto:

"... everything in the physical word has a counterpart among the transcendental Forces. Every entity and process in the physical world is liked to these Forces, following a system decreed by God's wisdom ... The physical and the spiritual are thus bound together like links in a chain. We also know from tradition that every physical entity and process is under the charge of some type of angel. These angels have the responsibility of maintaining the natural order, as well as bringing about changes, according to God's decree. The existence and state of being of the physical universe thus emanate from these highest Forces and are dependent upon them. Whatever exists in the physical world is a result of something that takes place among these Forces. This is true of both what existed in the beginning and what transpires with the passage of time." 9


The concept of "evil" is important to understand at this point, as there is exists more than one "kind" of evil. For instance, evil is found when human beings, knowing both good and evil, choose to do the latter. There is also "evil" in terms of spiritual forces, or beings, who simply exist as such. There is also evil in the existence of a place such as Gehenna, which the sages say, is one of the seven things that pre-existed the physical world. In Isaiah 45:7, God states that He creates evil - a verse that troubles those who don't understand the role God has given these forces and forms.

The four horsemen of Revelation may be considered "evil" in terms of their function, but it is important to realize that all created beings, even "evil ones" exist to serve God's purpose.

As described in the work, Derech Hashem:

There are many levels among the qualities of these evil forces and what results from them. In general, their effects are called corruption (tumah), darkness, pollution (zohamah), mundane (chol), and the like ... For each one of these concepts however, there are Agents (or Overseers) belonging to the general class of angels, appointed to translate them into action in the physical world. This is true of both good concepts and their opposites. These angelic agents are God's servants, obeying His word. God willed and organized things so that His decrees should be translated into action through angels, each in its own appointed area of influence. 10

The book of Enoch speaks of angels of Satan in terms of their accomplishing God's will:

Enoch 53:3-6 - For I saw all the angels of punishment abiding (there) and preparing all the instruments of Satan. And I asked the angel of peace who went with me: ' For whom are they preparing these Instruments?' And he said unto me: ' They prepare these for the kings and the mighty of this earth, that they may thereby be destroyed. And after this the Righteous and Elect One shall cause the house of his congregation to appear: henceforth they shall be no more hindered in the name of the Lord of Spirits.

The "left side" of the Tree of Life is said to be the side from which evil emanates, but this too must be seen in terms of God's justice and severity that act in order to correct what is wrong, especially in the physical world of Asiyyah - where free will exists. 11

The Zohar associates the sitra atra with being the counterpart to the "holy side" of the Kingdom of Heaven:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 184b - That “other side” is the central point of the waste places of the world, just as the central point of the whole inhabited world is occupied by the “holy side”, and therefore Jerusalem is in the centre of the inhabited world. The kingdom of heaven, which is the side of holiness, is fixed at two points, one its own and one belonging to the world to come. The upper point is hidden, and therefore it has two points. Under its own point is Jerusalem, the centre of the inhabited world. The point which takes from the hidden supernal Mother is the terrestrial Paradise, which is in the centre of the whole world.

As stated by Rabbi Luzzatto:

It was therefore arranged that every good concept have its counterpart in evil. This is what Scripture means when it says, "God has made one opposite the other." 12

This concept is also reflected in the colors of these horses. The first three are said to be white, red and black. The last is rendered as "pale" in most translations, however, the Greek word used to describe this, (chloros - Strongs #5514) denotes a pale green. These four colors - white, red, black and green, mimic the divine colors, as mentioned previously. (Also see comments at end of this study section.)

We give yet one more reference to this from the Zohar, commenting on these colors of the "expanse of heaven above the lower Paradise," (i.e., Beriah, above Yetzirah):

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 209b - That expanse of heaven, above the lower Paradise, displays four colours: white, red, green, and black, and correspondingly contains four doors in its four sides.

The following passage from the Zohar shows that the connection between the physical and spiritual realms, includes both a good and evil side:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 56a - Then He said to the angel: "Exterminate all those hosts", and it then covered them, as it says, "the chariots of Pharaoh and his host he cast into the sea".’ Said R. Eleazar: ‘Behold, how many chariots, how many hosts, the Holy One has formed above! How many camps, how many divisions! And all of them are linked to one another, all are chariots one to another, manifold grades, diverse and yet united! From the left side the chariots of the unholy principalities rise up. They also are linked one with the other, grade to grade, the greatest of them being, as we have already pointed out, "the firstborn of Pharaoh", whom the Holy One killed.

An especially interesting concept is that evil is necessary for "true good' to come about:

Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 183b - for there is no light except that which issues from darkness, for when that “other side” is subdued the Holy One is exalted in glory. In fact, there can be no true worship except it issue forth from darkness, and no true good except it proceed from evil. And when a man enters upon an evil way and then forsakes it the Holy One is exalted in glory. Hence the perfection of all things is attained when good and evil are first of all commingled, and then become all good, for there is no good so perfect as that which issues out of evil. The divine Glory is extolled and extended thereby, and therein lies the essence of perfect worship.

2 and I saw, and lo, a white horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a bow, and there was given to him a crown, and he went forth overcoming, and that he may overcome.

We know from other Scriptures and Hebraic writings that the world will be overcome by a great deception in the last days, one that will precede a time of awesome calamity. The text concerning the first of the four "horsemen" seems to support this idea, particularly the idea of the crown, a symbol of authority. Yeshua warned of a false Messiah that would come in his own "name" (i.e., "authority") who would be accepted by many (John 5:43).

The concept of "bow" also has allusions to Nimrod, who was a mighty hunter as well as the force behind Babel, a precursor to Babylon. This also is consistent with the rest of Revelation, as a modern "system of Babylon" will overcome the earth.

What follows in the next several verses is a picture of war, famine and other disasters, all brought about via the remaining "horsemen." As mentioned, these horsemen are spiritual entities who serve God, and bring what we consider "evil" to the earth, but with the purpose of giving mankind the opportunity for teshuvah (i.e., Revelation 9:20; 16:9).

The relationship of horsemen to "evil" spiritual entities (called "fishes"), is mentioned in this text from the Zohar:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 243b - R. Isaac said: ‘Dan is compared to a serpent lying in wait in the way. But there is also a reference to another serpent above, lying in wait in ways and paths, from whom issue those who lie in wait for the sons of men on account of the sins which they cast behind their backs.’ R. Hiya said: ‘The primeval serpent above, before he is appeased with gladdening wine, is "a serpent by the way". As there is a "way" above, so there is a "way" below, and the sea is divided into various paths on every side. There is one path which has abundance of water and breeds many kinds of evil fishes, just as the waters below breed good and bad fishes. When they escape from the path of the sea, they appear like riders on horseback, and were it not that this serpent who is the rearward of all the tents lies in wait at the end of the path and drives them back, they would destroy the world. It is from the side of these that sorcerers come forth.

… In the hollow of the great abyss, which is on the north side, there are many demons endowed with power to do mischief in the world.

A comparison may be made between the seal judgments of Revelation and events prophecied in Matthew 24, Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 16. 13

3   And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, `Come and behold!'

4   and there went forth another horse -- red, and to him who is sitting upon it, there was given to him to take the peace from the land, and that one another they may slay, and there was given to him a great sword.

5   And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, `Come and behold!' and I saw, and lo, a black horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a balance in his hand,

6   and I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, `A measure of wheat for a denary, and three measures of barley for a denary,' and `The oil and the wine thou mayest not injure.'

As forecast throughout Hebraic writings, the days leading up to the coming of the Messiah will be filled with war and famine.

The Talmud parallels the book of Revelation regarding a seven year period of trials:

Sanhedrin 97a - The rabbis taught: The seven-year cycle during which Moshiach will come, in the first year, the verse, "I caused it to rain on one city, but on another city, I did not cause it to rain" (Amos 4:7). In the second year, slight famine (Rashi: a slight famine so that no place will be completely satisfied). In the third year, the famine will be great, and men, women, children, pious people, and men of good deeds will die; Torah will be forgotten by those who learned it. In the fourth year, some will be satiated while others will not, but in the fifth year there will be plenty and people will eat, drink, and be joyous, and Torah will return to those who learned it. In the sixth year, there will be voices ... In the seventh year, there will be war.


The reference to wheat and barley (both used to make bread) in verse six, selling for a "denary" indicates an "inflated cost" and thus scarcity. Though this may in fact depict a physical famine, there is also a deeper meaning, related to a scarcity of "spiritual bread," that being Torah, at this time.

This is refected in the end-time prophecies of the prophet Amos:

Amos 8:11-12 - "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, And from north to east; They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, But shall not find it.

Note in the Talmudic reference above how the reference to physical famine is linked to the idea of spiritual famine, where Torah is lacking. When Torah "returns," it is said that the people will again "eat and drink." This may be compared to Yeshua's words regarding following Torah, which He expressed using similar metaphorical language:

John 6:53-57 - Then Yeshua said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

God's sustenance will continue in the very last days, but not in great abundance. This is based on the principle that as long as there is at least one righteous person on the earth, that person acts in the role of God's tzaddik (see studies on Yesod being the channel of heavenly provision). In the case of this seven year tribulation, there will be 144,000 tzaddikim serving God and man as such. They will bring the gospel (Torah) to the world, and then the end will come (i.e., Matthew 24:14).

Several sections of the Zohar (shown below), address the subjects of "oil and wine" in close proximity, and lend to the idea of God's spiritual provision. This first section shows how oil and wine represent the right and left sides of the Godhead and how oil must be present on the "table below" in order for blessings to come from above (Thus the instruction in Revelation to not "harm" the "oil" or "wine" below.):

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 88a,b - R. Judah discoursed on the text: I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me (S. S. VII, 11). He said: 'The inner meaning of this verse is that the stirring below is accompanied by a stirring above, for there is no stirring above till there is a stirring below. Further, blessings from above descend only where there is some substance and not mere emptiness. We learn this from the wife of Obadiah, to whom Elisha said, "Tell me, what hast thou in the house" (II Kings, IV, 2), meaning that blessings from above would not descend on an empty table or an empty place. When she said: "Thy handmaid hath nothing in the house save a cruse of oil" - only enough to smear her little finger-he said to her: "You have relieved me, for I did not see how blessings were to descend from above on to an empty place, but since you have some oil, this will provide a place sufficient for the purpose." (The connection of "oil" with "blessing" is found in Psalm CXXXIII, where it says "like the good oil,', etc., and then "for there the Lord commanded the blessing, life for evermore". It is true, the immediate comparison in the passage is with dew, not oil, but the two mean the same thing, as this dew was distilled by God from the supernal oil. Wine and oil belong respectively to the Left and the Right sides, and from the Right side blessings descend on the world, and from there the holy kingdom is anointed. Thus because it was fixed upon below, oil was first prepared above as the source of blessings. From the stirring of this supernal oil the lower oil was poured on David and Solomon to bring blessings on their descendants. This is derived from a collation of the text "and the oil stood", in II Kings IV, 6, with the text "the root of Jesse which standeth for an ensign of the nations", Is. XI, 10.) We derive the same lesson from the fact that the table of shew-bread, from which issued blessings, was not to be left empty a single moment; and on that account we do not say grace over an empty table, since blessings from above do not rest on an empty table. To resume, then, the verse "I am my beloved's and towards me is his desire" indicates that "first of all I am my beloved's, and then, in consequence, his desire is towards me; first I prepare for him a place, and then his desire is towards me". The verse may also be explained by reference to the dictum that the Shekinah is not found in the company of sinners, but when a man exerts himself to purify himself and to draw near to God, then the Shekinah rests on him. So "I am my beloved's" to begin with, and then "his desire is towards me".'

The following section links wine to both Torah, Messiah and the "spirit of Messiah" present at the creation of the world. The subject of bread is linked closely to wine and oil in terms of God's spiritual provision for the world:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 240a - "He hath washed his garments in wine", even from the time of the Creation the reference being to the coming of the Messiah on earth. "Wine" indicates the left side, and "the blood of grapes" the left side below. The Messiah is destined to rule above over all the forces of the idolatrous nations and to break their power above and below. We may also explain that as wine brings joyfulness and yet typifies judgement, so the Messiah will bring gladness to Israel, but judgement to the Gentiles. The "spirit of God which hovered over the face of the waters" (Gen. I, 2) is the spirit of the Messiah, and from the time of the Creation he "washed his garments in celestial wine". "His eyes shall be red with wine": this is the intoxicating celestial wine from which the masters of the Torah drink. " And his teeth white with milk", because the Torah is both wine and milk, the Oral and the Written Law. It is written of wine that it "rejoiceth the heart of man" (Ps. CIV, 15). Wine at first brings gladness, being the place from which all gladness issues, but afterwards it brings punishment, because its end is the place where is gathered all punishment. Hence the verse continues: "And oil to make the face shine", to wit, from the place from which all gladness issues. It then says: "And bread that strengtheneth man's heart", bread being the support of mankind. It is not, however, the only support, because there is no night without day, and they must not be separated. If so, it may be asked, why did David say that "bread supports the heart of man"? The answer is that this is why he added the word "and" before "bread", to show that the others are included. Observe that grace after meals should not be said over an empty table, but there should be bread on it and a cup of wine, and the wine should be taken in the right hand, in order to join the Left hand to the Right, and in order that the bread should be blessed by them and linked with them, so that the whole should be linked together to bless the Holy Name fittingly. For the bread being joined with the wine, and the wine with the right hand, blessings rest on the world and the table is duly perfected.'

This next section again speaks of the right and left sides of the Godhead, and the association of water, oil and wine to the priesthood. Note that in chapter 7 of Revelation, there are 144,000 members of the "royal priesthood" bringing witness ("oil" and "wine") to the world. (Thus, "oil and wine" in the context of Revelation 6:6 could speak of the witness, or the witnesses, or both.) There is also mention of a "bad wine," which corresponds to the wine of Babylon discussed later in Revelation:

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3 Page 39a - "Wine rejoiceth the heart of man" (Ps. CIV, 15). 'If', he said, the priest requires to be glad and smiling more than other men, why is he forbidden wine, which creates joy and smiles? The truth is that wine rejoices at first and saddens afterwards, and the priest must be glad throughout. Also wine is of the side of the Levites, but the side of the priests is pure and clear water.' R. Jose said: 'Each lends to the other, and therefore wine gladdens at first because it contains water, but afterwards it reverts to its own nature and brings gloom.' R. Abba said: 'Wine, oil and water issue from the same place. Water and oil, which are on the right, are taken by the priests, especially oil, which is joy first and last, as it is written: "Like the goodly oil upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard" (Ps. CXXXIII, 2). Wine, which is on the left, is inherited by the Levites, that they may raise their voices in song and not be silent, for wine is never silent, but oil is always noiseless. The difference between them is this. Oil comes from the side of Thought, which is always silent and unheard, whereas wine, which is for raising the voice, comes from the side of the Mother. Therefore the priest, when he entered the Sanctuary to perform divine service, was forbidden to drink wine, because his service is carried out quietly.'R. Judah and R. Isaac were once going from Be Merunia to Sepphoris, and with them was a youth leading an ass, on which was a jar of honey. Said R. Judah: 'Let us discourse on the Torah as we go.' R. Isaac began by quoting the verse: "And thy palate is like the best wine that goeth down smoothly for my beloved" (S.S. VII, 9). 'This wine', he said, 'is the wine of the Torah, which is in truth good, because there is another wine which is not good. But the wine of the Torah is good for all-good for this world and good for the world to come. This, too, is the wine that pleases the Holy One, blessed be He, more than all, and therefore he who quaffs deeply of the wine of the Torah will wake in the world to come and will come to life when God shall raise the righteous.' Said R. Judah: 'We have learnt that even in that world he will be able to study the Torah, as it is written, "He causeth to mutter the lips of the sleepers" (Ibid.).' The youth hereupon remarked: 'If it had been written, "thy palate is from the best wine", your explanation would have been correct, but it is written "like the best wine".' They looked at him, and R. Judah said: 'Speak on, for your remark is a good one.' He continued: 'I have heard that if a man who studies the Torah diligently allows his expositions to be heard and does not merely whisper them.

This next text links the oil and wine to "the world to come" (Olam Haba) and to "repentance," both of which are associated with the Sephirah of Binah (understanding), the source of spiritual provision for the lower seven Sephirot and the world. (Binah is the "Supernal Mother" mentioned in the Zohar, Shemoth, Page 184b reference in verse 1 above):

Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3 Page 40b - The youth then followed, taking as his text: "The king by judgement establisheth the land, but a man of offerings overthroweth it" (Prov. XXIX, 4). 'The king here', he said, 'is the Holy One, blessed be He. "Judgement" is Jacob, who is the epitome of the patriarchs. "A man of offerings" is Esau, who used to ask questions about offerings, but never bring any. Or again, I can say that 'offerings" is the negation of judgement, being the elevation of mercy, and therefore "a man of offerings overthroweth it". But was not David "a man of offerings", and yet the land was established by him? This was because it is written of him, "the sure mercies of David"; as he clung to one quality, so did he cling to the other. All his days David strove that this "offering" should be united with judgement. Solomon came and wedded them together, so that the moon became full and the land was established. Zedekiah came and parted them, and the land was left without judgement, and the moon was impaired and the land was devastated. Note that oil was for the priests and wine for the Levites-not because they require wine, but from the "treasured wine" some comes to their side to link the whole together and make all worlds glad, right and left being found clasped together in them, so that they should be beloved of the true believers. Whoso concentrates his thought on this is perfect in this world and in the world to come, and all his days clings to repentance, the place where oil and wine are found. In this way he will not hanker after this world or its delights, for another kind of wealth is stored up for him, and he has a share in the future world, the place where oil and wine are stored. And he who loves this place does not require wealth or strive for it. Happy are the righteous who all their days strive after the celestial wealth of which it is written, "Gold and glass cannot equal it, neither shall the exchange thereof be jewels of fine gold" (Job XXVIII, 17).He further discoursed on the verse: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me, and I will give thee... the law and the commandment which I have written to teach them" (Ex. XXIV, 12). 'The word lehorotham (to teach them) may be read lehoratham (to her that conceived them), the "them" referring to the law and the commandment. "She that conceived them" is the place of "treasured wine", because all writing of the Supernal Book commences there, and from thence issues the Torah which we call the Written Torah. The other Torah is called the Oral Torah (Torah of the mouth), the "mouth" being Knowledge which is the mouth of book and writing.'It is written: "Take away the wicked from before the king and his throne shall be established in lovingkindness " (Prov.xxv, 3). When sinners are numerous in the world, the throne of the holy King is established in judgement and flames play around the world. But when the wicked are removed from the world, His throne is established in lovingkindness and not in judgement. This shows that the lower world depends on the higher, and the higher is disposed according to the conduct of the lower.

This final reference ties the concept of supernal wine back to the idea of God's left and right hands "working together," as discussed at the beginning of chapter five's notes. Again we encounter the concept of having something present below (in this case bread), to assure blessing from above:

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 250a,b - Rab Hamnuna the Elder would not allow anyone else to take the cup of blessing, but he himself took it in his two hands and said the blessing. We have affirmed that the cup should be taken in the right hand, and not in the left. It is called "cup of salvations" (Ps. CXVI, 13), because through it blessings are drawn from the supernal salvations, and in it is collected the supernal wine. Also, the table over which the blessing is said should not be devoid of both bread and wine. The Community of Israel is called "cup of blessing", and therefore the cup should be raised both by the right hand and the left hand, so as to be set between. It should be filled with wine, because of the wine of the Torah which issues from the future world. There is a mystic allusion in this cup of blessing to the holy chariot. The right and left hands correspond to the north and south, between which is "the couch of Solomon". He who says the blessing should fix his eye upon the cup to bless it with four blessings. Thus the cup contains the emblem of faith, north, south, east, and west, and so the holy chariot. There should be bread on the table in order that the lower bread may be blessed, and the "bread of poverty" may become the "bread of luxury". In this way the Community of Israel will be blessed in all four directions, above and below-above by the bread of blessing and the cup of blessing through which King David is joined to the patriarchs, and below, that bread should never be lacking from the Israelite's table.’

7   And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, `Come and behold!'

8   and I saw, and lo, a pale green horse, and he who is sitting upon him -- his name is Death, and Hades doth follow with him, and there was given to them authority to kill, (over the fourth part of the land,) with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and by the beasts of the land.

In summation, we can make the following comparison between the colors of the Sephirot and those of the Horsemen:

Color Sephirah Horsemen
White Hesed - Mercy/Shalom False peace
Red Gevurah - Perfect Judgment War
Black Malkhut - Oral (teaching of) Torah Lack of Torah teaching
Green Tipheret - Written Torah of Life Death

Note also, that as Tipheret is said to be the synthesis of the other Sephirot, so is the fourth green Horse a synthesis of all four, as it contains the authority of the first, the sword (war) of the second, the hunger of the third, and its own forms of death.

1. Identifying Shiloh - The Secret Soul of the Mashiah, Parashat Vayehi, 5762,

2. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 207.

3. ibid, p. 275.

4. A Kabbalistic Universe, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach Maine, 1977, p. 199.

5. In the Garden of Torah: Parshat Mikeitz, An End and a Beginning, December 13, 2001,

6. Perceptions On The Parsha, Parshas Ki Saitzai, "Out & Up," Rabbi Pinchas Winston,

7. Perceptions On The Parsha - Parashas Shoftim: Judging by the Situation, Rabbi Pinchas Winston,

8. Ramban, Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc. Jerusalem, 1998, p. 261.

9. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, pp. 78-79.

10. ibid, p. 87.

11. See A Kabbalistic Universe, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach Maine, 1977, p. 92

12. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 207.

13. See Seven Seals, Seven Thunders, James Trimm, Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism, Hurst Texas, 2000, pp. 5-6.