Temple for Jerusalem

Apocalyptic Mysticism 2

 

The text in Hekhalot Rabbati 3 describes G-Ds descent to the 7th hekhal says:

 

Wonderful loftiness, strange power, Loftiness of Grandeur, power of majesty that the Angel of the Countenance of G-D behaves thus thrice daily in heavenly court before Your Throne of Glory, when He comes and arrives in heavens above the heads of the cherubim, above the heads of the Ofanim and above the heads of the Heavenly Creatures.

 

And the Cherubim, Ofanim and the heavenly Creatures, bound, stand beneath the Throne of the Glory. And when they (the elders) see Him coming on the firmament which is above the heads of the Cherubim, the Ofanim and the Holy Creatures, they retreat and are frightened and fall back and swoon.

 

When G-D appears on His throne in the 7th heaven, He is clad in His Divine Garment (Haluq).

 

Note: Wisdom - rainbow light, shekinah dresses the throne.

It is stated in the hekhalot Rabbati 9, G-Ds descents to His throne correspond to the times of the 3 daily prayers of the People of Israel.

In 11:3-4, G-D is addressing twice daily, words of blessing to those officiating before Him. G-D asks the angels to be silent so as to enable Him to listen to the prayers of His People.

Hekhalot Rabbati 9: G-D is quoted as asking the mystics the Yordei Merkavah to: "tell my sons what I am doing during the morning and afternoon prayers... teach and tell them... and testify unto them what you saw me doing to the countenance of the face of Jacob, your Patriarch, which is engraven on my Throne."

 

Here the mystics are explicitly asked to tell and to reveal to the general public (to my sons) this element of their vision.

 

In 10:3 it is stated: "May the decree of heaven be upon you, descenders unto the Merkavah, if you do not tell and say what you have heard, and if you do not tell what you have seen upon the countenance of grandeur, might, wonder and glory."

In 16:3-5, G-D is described as waiting for the mystics to descend unto the merkavah so as to be able to "see and tell to the seed of Abraham, His beloved."

 

Hekhalot writings almost never require secrecy. No esoteric layers of scripture are revealed in them. In Hekhalot Rabbati, a piece of Shi'yr Qomah speculation is introduced: "From the throne of His Glory the height of G-D is 180 000 x 10 000 parasangs and from his right arm to his left arm, His width is 70 000 x 10 000 parasangs.

 

In Ch. 11, the angel of the countenance crowns each of the Living creatures with 1000s upon 1000s of "crowns". He falls upon his face every time he puts a "crown" on their heads. When the Living Creatures see that G-D is angry with the People of Israel, they untie their "crowns" and beat them on the ground thus asking forgiveness for the people of Israel. ch 12.

 

13:2, "What is the technique of the merkavah mystic like? It is like having a ladder is one's house and being able to go up and down at will."

 

Rabbi Nehunyah ben Ha-Qanah: " The beam of the web upon which rest the perfection of the world and its beautiful construction. And also the axle of heaven and earth to which are bound, sewed, connected, hung, and fastened all the edges of the earth and the universe and also the edges of the celestial firmaments."

 

"When a man wanted to descend to the merkavah he would call Suriyah, the Prince of the Countenance, and conjure him 112 times, careful not to add or subtract or he might fatally injure himself."

 

"Totrosi'i, Lord G-D of Israel, dwells in 7 palaces, one inside the other, and at the gate of each palace are 8 doorkeepers, 4 on either side."

 

The names of the doorkeepers in the 6 palaces are given, the 7th palace keepers given in Ch. 22:1.

 

The passage through the doors is granted only when 2 seals are shown, 1 to those standing on the right and 1 to those standing on the left. (17).

 

At the door to the 6th Hekhal, a change is introduced: 2 seals have to be shown to those standing on the right and 1 to those on the left (18:5-6).

 

Only when the seals are shown, do the doorkeepers accompany the mystic to the next door.

 

Note: Processional route implications

 

(25:5-6) The angel in charge of those standing on the right side of the door is Qezfiel ("The wrath of G-D") and he holds in his hand a drawn sword.- lightning bolts come out from it, and it shouts "destruction."

 

On the Left side stands Dumi'el (Divine Silence). Real name is Averbhidrihm. (Possibly a corrupt transcription of 3 Greek words: air, earth and water respectively)

 

The reason given in the text for the change of name is: "he should be called Dumi'el after my name: just as I see and remain silent so does he."

 

But Qezfiel the prince, used to push him aside.

 

The names of the gatekeepers of the 7th heaven are given. There is a difference to those keeping the gates on the descent as to those of the ascent.

 

Anafi'el holds the prominent role. Why is he called Anafi'el? Because of the branch of the crown of the crowns that was placed on his head and used to cover the all the chambers of the palace of the firmament 'Aravot. In this he resembles the demiuge.

 

Of the demiuge, it is said "His glory covers the firmament (Habakkuk 3:3), so it is also with Anafi'el, the minister, who is a servant that is called after the name of his master."

 

24:3, for a description of G-D in similar terms: "King of Kings, G-D of Gods and Lord of Lords.

 

He who is exalted with chains of crowns/Who is encompassed by the branches of the rays of brilliance/Who covers the firmament with the branch of His Glory."

 

Anafi'el opens for the mystic the gates of the 7th palace. And when the holy creatures try to assault the mystic, "Anafi'el assists him, "he and the 63 gatekeepers of the 7 hekhalot."

 

Anafi'el belongs to the category of Angels of the highest rank. He is viewed as equal to Metatron, "Akatri'el and Synadelphon.

 

The text tells how G-D descended on His throne into the temple and this only when the skeleton of the building was finished. This allegedly was to prove Haggai's prophecy (2:9) that the glory of the 2nd temple would be greater than that of the first one.

 

Merkavah Rabbah

 

There are 2 sets of names: the one that is said in the manner called Meforash and the other in the manner referred to as Kinuy.

 

The name Meforash generally is a name of an angel taken from the more or less common inventory of angelic names, while the name in the Kinuy-mode is a nomen barbarum to which certain combinations of the letters Y,H and W are added. The number of these double names in our case is 14, 4 of which are said to be engraved on the heads of the Holy Creatures, 4 on the 4 corners of the Throne, 4 on the 4 crowns of the Ofanim who stand opposite of the Holy Creatures, and two are engraved on the Crown of G-D.

 

Ma'aseh Merkavah

 

In paragraph 3 Rabbi 'Akiva describes the heavenly bridges on which the singing angels stand. These bridges connect the vestibules of all the hekhalot and they are stretched "like a bridge across a river (of light) so that everybody may cross them." There are 120 000 000 of such bridges, half of which are stretched above the vestibule and the other half below.

 

There are also rivers of fire, rivers of hailstone, treasuries of snow and wheels of fire- all of which encircle the angels that stand on the bridges.

 

Rabbi 'Akiva said: After I had prayed this prayer, I saw 6400 000 000 angels of glory standing before the Throne of Glory and I saw the knot of the tefillin of Gedudiya, Lord G-D of Israel, and I gave praise with all my limbs.

 

Rabbi 'Akiva: "Blessed is the man who stands and with all his power sings hymns to Barukhiya, Lord G-D of Israel. He gazes at the merkavah and sees all that is done before the Throne of Glory upon which Barukhiya, Lord G-D of Israel, is sitting."

 

"In the 6th palace I said the Qedushah before Him who said and created the world; and he ordered that none of the angels of the service should destroy me."

 

 

Hekhalot Fragments

 

Sefer Hekhalot (3 Enoch)

 

Sefer Hekhalot is the longest and most complex of the hekhalot writings, and by the manner in which it fuses together a number of esoteric traditions it can be viewed as a romance or grand summary of the Jewish apocalyptic and mystical traditions.

 

The book seems to have been written, or compiled, in post - talmudic times, probably in the 6th CCE.

 

Chapters 1-12 describe Enoch's translation unto heaven and his transformation into the Angel Metatron.

 

Ch. 1-2 Rabbi Yishma'el beholds the merkavah. He is described as having passed from palace to palace until he reached the 7th Palace. before entering the 7th, he had said a prayer to be saved from the wrath of Qezfiel and his retinue. In Hekhalot Rabbati 18, Qezfiel is keeper of 6th hekhal.

 

The prayer is characteristic of the late mystical literature and one of its literary parallels is found in Midrash Ma'ayan Hokhmah where Moses expresses his wish to fall from the cloud on which he has ascended to heaven.

 

On hearing Rabbi Yishmae'el's prayer, God called Metatron to the rescue. Metatron came "with great joy... to meet me so as to save me from their hands." He took Rabbi Yishma'el by the hand and said to him: "Enter in peace before the high and exalted King and behold the picture of the Merkavah." After exhaustion, the Rabbi sings a song before the Throne of Glory, and is promptly answered by the Qedushah of the angels.

 

Although Metatron is mentioned in other Hekhalot literature, he is nowhere else identified with the transfigured Enoch.

 

Metatron received a throne not in the 7th palace itself, alongside the Throne of Glory, but at the gate of that palace. The name Metatron signified the office and status of the angel who acts as a vice-regent or divine plenipotentiary.

 

Sefer Hekhalot refers to Metatron with the appellations Yahweh Ha-Qatan (Yahweh the smaller; or the lesser YAHWEH)

 

Note: After all the speculation, Enoch was transfigured into Metatron for the reason to wear the Crown of the Throne, a status of divinity Enoch had ascended to. His ascent in divinity warranted him this status, that of the lesser YHWH, 2nd only to G-D in the merkavah hierarchy.

 

From chapter 8 onwards Metatron describes the special gifts and qualities which G-D bestowed upon Him. God adored Metatron with special angelic features and attributes, and placed him on a throne at the gate of the 7th palace.

 

Metatron was not appointed over the 8 high princes called by the name of the Ineffable Name.

 

It appears that the writer had in mind the 7 archangels which together with Anafi'el, were appointed over the 7 heavens.

 

Metatron was appointed over secret knowledge and sciences; nothing was hidden from him. (ch 11)

 

G-D made for Metatron a garment of Glory and put a royal crown on His head (ch 12) G-D wrote on it with his finger the letters with which he created heaven and earth and all that they contain.

 

Chapter 25 takes up the subject of the angels. First we hear of Ofafani'el, the prince of the 'Ofanim, and later (26) of Safari's, the prince of the Seraphim. Description of Safari's is strongly influenced by the Shirr Qomah terminology.

 

Why are they called Seraphim- because they burn (sorghum) the writings of Satan. Every day Satan is sitting together with Samuel, the Prince of Rome, and with Double, the Prince of Persia, and they write the iniquities of Israel on writing tables which they hand over to the Seraphim, in order that they may present them before the Holiness, blessed be he, so that he may destroy Israel from the world.

 

But the Seraphim know the secrets of the Holiness, blessed be He that he desires not that the people of Israel should perish. What do the Seraphim do? Every day they take them from Satan and burn them in the burning fire, which burns in front of the high and exalted throne.

 

Important Note: The scripts of the sins of Israel are burnt, creating smoke. The reflected light from the wings refracts through the jewels and the resultant rainbow light reflects off the smoke, creating the garment of coloured light around the Throne. This is the daily sacrifice.

 

Makeshift Hekhalot

 

"G-D has 70 thrones of kingdoms ... which are like his own throne." They correspond to the 70 kingdoms of the world. Also 70 crowns and sceptres, thus all the world are under His dominion.

 

There are 378 kinds of light fixed in the throne. Note: 3x3x6x7

The garment of G-D (Haluq) is described in Hekhalot Rabbati 3:4 and 4:2, to the "cloth of all blue" (Begged Quell Tekhelet) with which the ark of the testimony was covered when carried from place to place.(Numbers 4:6)

Within these walls of fire there are the 7 hekhalot, but the text does not explicate how these 7 palaces are situated among the 4 walls of fire.

 

Every palace has 8,766 gates of lightnings, which correspond to the number of hours in 1 year of 365 days.

Note: Worship continues every hour corresponding to waves of worshippers.

 

Every such gate has 365 000 kinds of light, and in every (all) gate stand 3,650,000,000 angels.

Note: Total number of worshippers entering to worship.

 

According to Makeshift hekhalot, not only the angels sing their celestial song but also their horses. These horses are said to have 4 wings, like the angels who ride them, and like the angels they speak 70 languages.

 

The chapter ends with a description of the 8 very important angels who stand at the gates of the 7th palace, and who check all those who enter to see the Throne of Glory.

 

It is said that clouds of fire envelop the faces of the angels, so that they should not look on the vision of the Shekinah. In chapter 3 it says that G-D is hidden away from the angels by the "garment" that is spread over the Throne of Glory.

 

Important Note: The scripts of the sins of Israel are burnt, creating smoke. The reflected light from the wings refracts through the jewels and the rainbow light reflects off the smoke, creating the garment of coloured light around the Throne. This is the daily sacrifice.

 

Shirr Qomah (Disputed Book by Quartos and by Maimonides)

38a: Every parsing equals 3 miles, and every mile equals 10 000 ells, and every ell is equal to 3 small fingers. The small finger is that of G-D, and His small finger fills the whole earth.

Note: Take a small finger, 10-12 mm x 3; x 10,000 ells; x 3 miles = 1 parsing. 10 mm x 3 x 10,000 = 300 metres; x 3 = 900 -1080 metres is the size of a parsing. -1 kilometre

 

Sefer Hazard

 

Sefer hazard organises its magical subject matter into 7 parts, corresponding to the 7 heavens.

The 1st heaven contains no merkavah material at all.

From the 2nd onwards, the higher we proceed in the heavens, the more merkavah material, and the less magical material is found.

Sefer hazard contains an elaborate angelology underlining the structure of the book.

The 2nd heaven is divided into 12 classes of angels. They are called Ma'alot (steps), since like the levies in the temple, they stood on 12 steps in the 2nd heaven.

3 angels are in charge of the 3rd heaven. As in the previous 2 heavens, these angels too preside over angels. This heaven is divided into 3 parts.

The 4th heaven is divided into 2 parts corresponding with the 2 classes of angels inhabiting it, Angels of the day and angels of the night.

The 5th heaven, there are 12 angels called Presidents of Glory. (Nisei Ha-Kavod), related to the information of what may happen in the respective months over which they preside.

6th heaven is divided into 2 parts, corresponding to the groups of angels inhabiting the west and east of that heaven.

No specific classes of angels are mentioned in the 7th heaven.

 

G-d is said to be seated on His Abode, Melon Qodsho. Books of fire are said to be opened before Him, and streams of fire are pouring forth from underneath the Throne.

 

Appendices

Metatron- the meaning of his name and his functions- Saul Lieberman.

Metatron is called a minor god, his name being that of his master.

In the Palestinian Target, called "the great scribe". (3Enoch) He is given the task of teaching the souls of the embryos that died in their mother’s womb."A slave of a king is a King." A synthronos could be the most powerful figure (the prince of the World), a minor god, but at the same time he is a servant, a slave to his master.