The Divine Council
and the Kabbalah
Free Will and the Divine Council
The Final Change
A Search for God
The Bible of the Kabbalah
The Resurgence of the Kabbalah
Luria, Freud and Post-Modern Thought
Free Will and the Divine Council
Over the course of the research that I have undertaken here at www.redmoonrising.com over the last few years I have come to a better understanding of how the real battle for this earth is indeed a spiritual battle. It is a battle of light versus dark, of good versus evil, of love versus hate. To complicate things, in today's liberal relativistic mindset these distinctions have been purposely blurred, so that many do not even believe in them, or else, on the other hand, it is believed that they are complimentary and necessary for "balance." In this way evil, darkness and hatred are dismissed as nonexistent, or else justified as essential to the harmony of creation, as paradoxical as that sounds.
I have my own limited understanding of God, Creation and Free Will and it goes a little something like this: At the ultimate and highest level God created the Universe and everything in it, and he is all-powerful and all-knowing when it comes to what He created. At the same time He also stands apart from what He created, and He is able to view our many dimensions as one unique whole from the beginning to the end. God is transcendent, and He already knows how the history of the universe will unfold. However, God is also a Being that desires to be loved and worshiped, and in this context Free Will became necessary. On this level God's Creation shows itself as an expression that allows Love to exist. Love is only genuine when it is freely given. It can only be freely given if other alternatives exist. If love is the only option then love is not love, but a pre-programmed conclusion. Love does not exist in machines, it can only exist within beings that have the power of Choice. Again, this is not to say that darkness, hatred and evil are necessary. These things are not necessary, as some modern New Age gurus try to say, rather it is the option to choose that is necessary. So to experience love, to allow love to exist in this universe, God had to create beings that have the power of choice, the power of Free Will, or the "Knowledge of Good and Evil."
Adam and Eve were not the first such beings -- they appeared much later on in the cosmic chronology. The first beings that God created with Free Will are referred to in the Bible simply as the "sons of God," or in Hebrew, "b'nai ha elohim." They were divine beings created by God to assist Him in the stewardship of creation and their original harmony with God is expressed in Job 38:7: "When the morning stars sang together and the sons of God shouted for joy...". Together God and the b'nai ha elohim made up the Divine Council.
If the reader is new to the subject of the Divine Council I suggest that the article "The Heavenly Divine Council" by Brian T. Huie (15 pages) be read first. Another overview article that is shorter in length (10 pages) is "Visions of the Heavenly Council in the Hebrew Bible" by Paul Sumner. Of course the most prominent scholar in this field of research is Dr. Michael S. Heiser, whose website is at www.michaelsheiser.com. The homepage of his Divine Council studies is at www.thedivinecouncil.com, and it contains free introductory articles as well as directions to sign up for his monthly newsletter, which I highly recommend.
From the very beginning of the Earth's existence it was through the Divine Council that the Earth was managed and ruled. However, things did not always continue in perfect harmony within the Council, because conflict is always capable of arising among Beings possessed of Free Will. According to my understanding there were three major changes in the Divine Council and in the relationship between God, the b'nai ha elohim, and humanity in antiquity.
The first change was the event known as the "Fall" of mankind, portrayed in Genesis as an event involving Adam and Eve, the serpent, and the fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Dr. Heiser explains that the Hebrew word translated as "serpent" in Genesis can also be rendered as "shining one," and that the being responsible for tempting Eve was one of the b'nai ha elohim, a prominent member of the Divine Council. It was a case of both the "serpent" and Eve exercising their God-given free wills and making the wrong decision: his to lie and tempt Eve, and hers to believe the "serpent" and disobey God. In an article Heiser shows that the descriptions of this tempting being, known to us as Satan, are comparable in the texts of Genesis 2-3, Ezekiel 28, and Isaiah 14, where his name is given as Helel ben Shakar, or "Shining One, Son of the Morning." In John 8:44 Jesus referred to this being as "the devil," a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies. He is Satan, which simply means Adversary. He is the foremost created being that exercised his free will against God, and now he is the foremost enemy of God and of Mankind as well.
The second event that changed things occurred after the Fall but before the Flood, and it is described in Genesis 6. This was when a group of these b'nai ha elohim actually had sexual relations with human women and produced semi-divine offspring. This was another example of some of the b'nai ha elohim exercising their freedom of choice to make a decision contrary to God's will. All accounts, whether from the New Testament, the book of Enoch, or Jewish commentary, state that the sons of God that sinned in this way were punished by being imprisoned and chained in Hell. However, their offspring remained on earth, and some of these hybrids were produced even after the Flood, creating the basis for the many pagan myths of mighty heroes that are found within the traditions of so many ancient cultures. The important point regarding this event is that at one time in antiquity mankind had a very close relationship with the b'nai ha elohim. These beings are real, and they are also physical. However, they are also inter-dimensional and super-physical, and are not contained by the laws of physics that appear to govern humanity's existence.
It was during these times, before and after the flood, that knowledge and worship of the transcendent Creator became confused because of mankind's dealings with the rebellious faction of the b'nai ha elohim. The slate was wiped clean with the Flood, but eventually the influence of these rebel b'nai ha elohim drove a wedge between man and God once again. Genesis 10 gives a listing of seventy different tribes that formed in the generations after the flood, and in the middle of the listing the most prominent name is that of Nimrod, the "mighty hunter before the Lord." Records tells us that he united a greater part of mankind and then led them in a rebellious act that took the form of an attempt to build the Tower of Babel. Biblical scholar and archaeologist David Rohl offers some excellent scholarship of Sumerian texts to argue that Nimrod was the historical figure Enmerkar (circa 2850 BC) who is credited as being the very first empire builder. Sumerian texts also record Enmerkar's many building projects, including a great temple/tower in the city of Eridu, which is a city that is translated as "Babylon" in the Greek version of the Sumerian King List that was translated by the Babylonian historian Berossos.
The Tower of Babel incident brought about the third major change in relations between God, mankind, and the b'nai ha elohim. It was the division of the tribes of the earth over to the authority of this rebellious faction of the "sons of God." They believed that they could govern mankind better than God could, and so God gave them a chance to prove it. Deuteronomy 4:19 says that the "host of heaven" was allotted to mankind, and Deuteronomy 32:8 explains that God set the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the "sons of God." This number was seventy. There were seventy nations at the time of the division after the Tower of Babel incident, and there were seventy b'nai ha elohim to whom these nations or tribes were given. From this time forward God would allow the b'nai ha elohim to direct the affairs of mankind, and His role would shift into the background. This was when pagan mystery religion and the mythology that is common to all pagan cultures began: of a hierarchy of "gods" or spirits that give their commands through dreams, drugs, channelling and other forms of shamanism. In this way mankind became enslaved to the capricious whims of the gods and direct knowledge of the Creator faded for the most part, as He willingly took a step back from humanity for a time.
David Rohl approaches ancient history and mythology from a materialistic perspective and he does not deal with the question of the "sons of God," or of any possible supernatural influences. Despite this shortcoming (which has perhaps allowed him to become so hugely popular in Britain), I do accept his conclusion that a great deal of pagan mythology is rooted in ancestor worship. Rohl believes that the historic memory of Nimrod was so influential that he became deified under four main name groupings (The Lost Testament, p.73):
(1) Early Sumerian Enmer(ker), later Mesopotamian Ninurta (originally Nimurda), biblical Nimrod, Greek Ninus:
(2) Old Babylonian Marduk, biblical Merodach, later simply known as Bel or Baal ('Lord');
(3) Late Sumerian Asar-luhi (a principal epithet of Marduk), Assyrian Ashur, Egyptian Asar (Osiris);
(4) Sumerian Dumuzi, biblical Tammuz, Phoenician Adonis, Greek Dionysus, Roman Bacchus.
After mankind was handed over to the "gods" Satan quickly established himself as the head of the pantheon of "gods" in the minds of men, and the memory of the true God faded. In many mythological traditions there is the tale of this "usurper god," which I believe is an echo of what really happened after God removed Himself from the scene and allowed the rebellious faction of the "sons of God" to take over. Near Eastern religious worship then evolved as a combination of ancestor worship along with elements of the real events that were occurring in heaven with regard to God, the ruling b'nai ha elohim, and the Divine Council.
In Babylonian mythology it is Marduk who usurps power from the previous heads of the pantheon, Anu, Enlil and Enki, and by the time of Hammurabi it was Marduk who emerged as the chief deity. Sumerian texts state that the Council of the gods gave Marduk his authority to govern earthly affairs.
In Canaanite mythology in which El is depicted as the head of the pantheon with a retinue of exactly seventy sons, it is El's son Baal that emerges as the most powerful active deity. I have several books that cover the relationship between Baal and El and one remarks, "It has been suggested that the comparative inactivity of El in the Ras Shamra texts indicates that he had been superseded by Baal. But it is more likely that his apparent inactivity is designed to conserve his dignity... " (Near Eastern Mythology, p.73). This statement shows that Canaanite scribes understood that God remained the head of the pantheon, but He remained aloof from earthly affairs, and with the rise of Baal in importance Baal's title became "Lord of the Earth," just as Satan claimed to be Lord of the Earth to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, and just as Paul declared Satan to be the Prince of this world in his letters.
Egyptian mythology is a special case because the kingdom of Egypt was established, as documented by David Rohl in his books "Legend" and "From Eden to Exile," by Mizraim the son of Ham, the son of Noah. This occurred before the division of the nations to the b'nai ha elohim had occurred, which may explain why the concept of a primordial Creator was still retained in Egyptian mythology in the form of the god Ptah. However, after Ptah it appears that Egyptian cosmology degenerates into the same type of confusing mix of ancestor worship and veneration of the supernatural ruling powers. Underneath Ptah, or perhaps taking the place of Ptah, were the famous Nine gods of Egypt: Ra, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Nepthys and Seth. The first usurper in Egypt was Seth, who was also known by the title Baal, meaning "Lord," and it is believed that the cult of Seth that ruled Egypt for several centuries had origins in Mesopotamia. The story goes that Seth murdered Osiris and took over Egypt, but that Osiris' son Horus later grew up to avenge his father's murder and regain the rightful kingship. Rohl believes that the origin of Seth goes back to the historical person Cush, and the origin of Horus goes back to the historical person Mizraim. Both were sons of Ham, and Cush was the father of Nimrod. It is all confusing and sometimes contradictory, but that is what happens when one tries to correlate the myths with real history.
In Greek mythology, which evolved rather late on the scene, the concept of an all-powerful transcendent creator God was not even present. The four oldest gods were Eros, Gaea, Chaos and Tartarus. Gaea's first child was Uranus, the sky, who then became Gaea's main consort. The first usurpers in Greek mythology were the Titans, led by Cronus, who rose up and overthrew their father Uranus. Cronus was then overthrown by his own son Zeus, and then Cronus and all the Titans were imprisoned in Tartarus, where they remain for eternity. Zeus remained the head of the pantheon for the Greeks, and then later for the Romans who knew him as Jupiter. He was the "Lord of the Earth" and he reigned supreme over the gods in his divine council located on Mt. Olympus. When Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Jewish Temple he set up a statue to Jupiter in the Holy Place. It was a statue to a deity that corresponds with Satan much more than it does to the true Creator who was also the unique God of the Jews.
In the book of Revelation the symbol for Satan is a great red dragon that possesses seven heads, each of which has a blasphemous name. These seven heads are explained to be seven kings, and I believe they are seven human kings (not kingdoms) that Satan has used throughout history to carry out his plan to take the place of God. I now believe that the first of these seven Satanic kings was Nimrod, and that the Tower of Babel was an attempt to build a "mount of the assembly" in honor of Satan, the leader of the rebel "sons of God." It has always been Satan's goal to take the place of God, as it says in Isaiah 14:13-14:
"You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' "
(--The second of Satan's kings was Pharoah of Egypt during the time of the Exodus. Egyptian worship by that time revolved around the blasphemous worship of the sun in the form of Amon-Re. Pharoah acted as an agent of Satan by refusing to allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt, and because of it he died a violent death.
--The third was King Sennacharib of Assyria, who was also the King of Babylon possessed by Satan as described in Isaiah 14. He acted as an agent of Satan by threatening to destroy Israel, and God protected Israel by sending his angels to destroy his massive army. Sennacharib probably worshiped Marduk, and he later died a violent death at the hand of his own sons.
--The fourth was Ithobaal II, the King of Tyre mentioned in Ezekiel 28, also described as being possessed by Satan. The kingdom of Tyre worshiped Baal, and their power to oppress Israel was of an economic character.
--The fifth was Antiochus Epiphanes of Daniel 11, who worshiped Zeus/Jupiter, persecuted the Jews and desecrated the Temple.
--The sixth of Satan's seven kings was either Nero or Domitian, and the seventh was Hitler.)
At the Tower of Babel incident, to keep humanity from being united around a massive and monumental structure dedicated to Helel ben Shakar, God decreed that mankind would be scattered and given different ruling powers to govern them. To make global unification of humanity impossible God also gave each separate nation a different language. Then in the midst of this chaotic situation God took steps to begin His plan to save and re-unify humanity in love and worship of Him.
Many generations after the division of mankind God reached out to a herdsman from the Mesopotamian city of Ur, and said to him, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great... and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you." All of the nations of the earth were under the power and control of the "gods," but God Almighty took one man, Abraham, and told him that he would be the father of a great nation, the Lord's own unique nation, through which all nations would be blessed.
And then Abraham's greatest test came when God asked him to sacrifice his second son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah. The key words in the text, which appear to be a deliberate error, are "take your son, your only son..." and then the prophetic words of Abraham to his own frightened son who asked 'where is the lamb?' : "Don't worry my son, God Himself will provide the Lamb..." As a Christian I believe that this event was a foreshadow of the crucifixion of Jesus on the very same Mt. Moriah about two thousand years later.
The important thing to note is the distinction between the nation of Israel, which was the personal property of the Creator Himself, and the many nations of the Gentiles that were the property of the rebellious faction of the "sons of God." God's connection with Israel was immediate, and He demanded complete and strict obedience from His people. However, when it came to the Gentile nations God's connection was not immediate, and he exercised control only through his status as the head of the divine council. For instance, consider both Job 1:6 and 2:1, which both begin "there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them..." God's control of the Gentile nations was not immediate, but He still retained ultimate control as the final word in the Council.
Another term for the ruling b'nai ha elohim of the Divine Council is "host of heaven." There are many Old Testament references to the pagan nations that worshiped the "host of heaven," there are warnings to Israel that they may not worship the "host of heaven," and there are accusations against wicked kings of Israel like Ahab and Manasseh for engaging in the practice of worshiping the "host of heaven," the false "gods" that nonetheless represented very real spiritual powers.
Israel's God demanded exclusivity, whereas the pagan gods were very tolerant of the worship of other gods. Israel's God considered sorcery, witchcraft, the use of mediums and channeling, shamanism (that almost by definition included the use of drugs), and other practices that facilitated contact with the spirit world a great sin, and a transgression that was to be punished by death. On the other hand, contact with the spirit world was the very basis of pagan religion, and channeling, spirit possession, and sex and drug-based ceremonies were commonplace, and continue to be so within the religious practices of pagan and indigenous cultures today. It becomes clear that when dealing with Israel God did everything possible to keep His people away from the seductive grasp of the evil b'nai ha elohim, to shield them and protect them from the higher plane or separate dimension in which these super-spiritual beings normally reside.
These days the trend is against Christianity specifically, and against monotheism in general. A case in point is a new book by well-known author Jonathan Kirsch, "God Against the Gods," which argues that monotheism has proven itself to be a curse on humanity and a scourge of civilization. Throughout the book he documents atrocities that he blames on the intolerant belief in "one God," and he continually pines for the pre-Christian, polytheistic pagan utopia that he believes existed in the ancient world. If Kirsch really wanted to learn how it was like back then when the pagan gods ruled he could simply visit the Yanomamo Indians, where pagan practice still flourishes. Famed anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon lived with and studied the Yanomamo, and the title of his book "Yanomamo: the Last Days of Eden" infers that he also has a positive regard for the traditional Yanomamo existence.
On the other hand, one could ask a Yanomamo Indian what life is like for the Yanomamo people, which is a story that comes through in the book "Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman's Story," related by Mark Ritchie. The story comes from a Yanomamo Indian named Jungleman, and describes the life he lived as a tool of the spirits. It documents his encounters with Napoleon Chagnon (a liar and a hypocrite), as well as his encounters with Christian missionaries and the Yanomamo Indians that were converted and gave up their violent ways for a life of peace. Jungleman relates that Yanomamo life is completely dominated by the spirits, and through their contact with and control over the shamans they ensure that a constant state of warfare exists among the tribes. Violence is the norm, including murder, incest and rape, and women are considered just another possession. Yanomamo life is about as far from Eden as can possibly be imagined.
At the end of the book Jungleman nears the point in his life when, as all Yanomamo shamans know, his usefulness has run its course and the time has come for the spirits to take his life. In despair on the jungle floor, after being knocked to the ground, while being psychically assaulted by the spirits that he had obeyed his whole life, he cries out in despair to Yai Wana Naba Laywa, the Great Spirit, the Spirit that the missionaries and Yanomamo converts worship. Here is how Jungleman, the Yanomamo shaman described the event,
"All of it happened in the snap of a bowstring. Yai Wana Naba Laywa reached out and grabbed me. I felt so safe. That's why it doesn't hurt, I thought. He stood over me, pulled me away from my spirits, and said to me, "Don't worry. You'll be all right. I'm here to protect you." Then with a big voice the spirit said to my spirits, "Leave him alone. He's mine." They scampered in every direction, like a herd of terrified hogs. And he was right; I was his.
At that moment I felt safer than ever in my life. I watched my spirits running so far away from me. When I saw their terror, all the fear of my whole life just ran away with them. Just when I needed another spirit most...
Right then my village came. They found me in the clearing, sitting in the grass along the side of the trail. I was dizzy over what I had just seen. We always thought that Yai Wana Naba Laywa was hot, like in a fire. But he wasn't hot at all, just warm. So very warm.
"You're dying!" my son yelled as they ran to me.
"No, I feel good," I said. But I couldn't say how good it felt.
"No, you're dying," the others said. "The spirits have come to kill you. We know you are dying."
"No, I'm good," I said while they helped me to stand up. "It's true, they did come to kill me. But while I was dying from their blows, Yai Wana Naba Laywa came and saved me."
In a similar vein, in a short article entitled "Cambodian Call" a Christian missionary who was raised in Cambodia responds to an article by a journalist that advocates expelling missionaries from Cambodia as a way to preserve the primitive existence of the natives. In the article she asks the journalist how intimate he actually became with the day-to-day life of the Cambodian pagans:
"Have you ever attended a tribal funeral? It is not an easily forgotten experience. The sick child becomes worse, and the family sacrifices, from their pitiful funds, first a chicken, then a pig. The child worsens, and the family sacrifices a water buffalo to those benevolent spirits that fill their lives with fear. And then the child dies—often from a very treatable condition that could have been prevented with proper help.
And the funeral begins. The wailings and sobs of utter despair will never cease to haunt me. I have sat through too many tribal funerals to be able to forget the anguish and hopelessness of the families involved. But why bother them? They are happy as they are. They live an ideal life, free from restraints, easy, carefree.
An outsider may see their lives as such. But in reality, they live in fear: fear of starvation, fear of sickness and death, fear of the spirits who rule their lives and soak up their small supplies of rice and animals for ritual and futile sacrifices. Would you deny them change if they desire it? Put yourself in their place: near-starvation year after year. Malaria, cholera, whooping cough, measles. Fear of angering the spirits or an ancestor who has gone on before. Daily toil from dawn to dusk to grow enough rice to carry your family through for another year.
Do you ever fear starving to death? Dying of malaria? Do you fear the spirits? No? And yet you would deny them freedom from their bondage. They may smile for your camera as they did for mine when I lived with them—but I lived with them—you saw only the surface. I experienced their despair and their longing for something different. I remember the stories of many who died during the cholera epidemic that terrible year. Many of them died without hope or peace. The last sounds they heard were the demonic chants and the pounding drums as their fellow villagers called out to their deaf gods for mercy—to no avail."
If one reads the mythological accounts of the gods from the great pagan civilizations of Sumeria, Egypt, India, Greece or Rome, one finds that the "gods" are equally capricious, equally uncaring, and equally cruel. Life was not a paradise prior to the arrival of Jesus Christ, and a return to worship of the gods of old, which is what is advocated by the New Age spirituality movement, is not what is needed to solve the many problems of today's world. Why would humanity want to return to an existence of spiritual bondage that was broken by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
The Final Change
Liberation is what the sacrifice of Jesus did for humanity. Prior to the Messiah God possessed just one nation, but after the Cross the grip on the nations that was held by the wicked b'nai ha elohim was broken, and the way became open for every human being to become one with the Creator. The old system of God dealing with the pagan nations on a second-hand basis through the medium of the Divine Council was ended. The rule of the gods was over, and through Christ every human being could become personally reconciled with the one true God.
In the Old Testament God stands in the divine assembly and accuses the b'nai ha elohim of being unjust and merciless in their dealings with humanity (Psalm 82), and of being in error (Job 4:18), and unclean (Job 15:15). And in Psalm 82 and Isaiah 24:21 God declares that one day these powers will be punished and destroyed. That day is not far off, but in the meantime these fallen and humiliated b'nai ha elohim continue to plot against God and deceive humanity.
With the advent of Christianity paganism was routed and put on the run, just like the spirits who ran from Jungleman when he cried out to God. With Christianity as its basis Western Civilization achieved great advances for humanity. However, the record is far from spotless because, as the old adage states, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The Christian West may have been free of the immediate influence of the pagan gods, but it was not free of sinful human nature, or free from the many other subtle ways in which the demonic spirit world can tempt and subvert that which is good.
The monumental edifice that we call Christianity has, historically, always had two parts to it: the Visible Church and the Invisible Church. The Visible Church is truly a massive social force, and it includes every human being that claims to be a Christian. The Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the Protestant Church, and the Medieval Christian Kings were all a part of the Visible Church. This Church is tangible and visible, and so it can come under a great deal of criticism, because not everyone who claims to be Christian is truly a person who is baptized in the Spirit and dedicated to the service of Christ. The tragedy is that under the cover of the Visible Church, and indeed in the very name of Jesus Christ, many atrocities have been committed down through the centuries, such as genocide, conquest, torture, and countless instances of Church-sanctioned fraud and deception motivated simply by greed.
However, the Visible Church is not the True Church, which is, according to St. Paul, the mystical body of Christ made up of dedicated and genuine believers, sanctified by the sacrifice of Jesus and therefore spotless and clean, which Jesus Christ treats as His Bride. Unfortunately this Body of Christ, this True Church is Invisible to human eyes, because the status of any individual's soul is a secret known only by that specific person and God Almighty, no matter what that person might dare to claim verbally. As Christianity's critics often love to point out, Hitler also claimed to be a Christian, and in his career he enjoyed the support of the mainstream visible German Church.
In the centuries after the emergence of the Visible Church as the most powerful force on earth, as paganism was routed, and as contact with the spirit world began to be viewed as either forbidden, or as irrelevant superstition, Satan and the b'nai ha elohim saw their direct influence over human affairs begin to fade. To change this situation they had a number of options which they exercised. One was to subvert the Visible Church from within; another was to challenge the Church on its own turf by getting into the newly-successful business of monotheism. I believe that this latter track took the form of Islam. Its sole purpose was to shield humanity from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but aside from that it was basically a "good" religion in that it advocated compassion for the poor, humility before God, and virtue in day-to-day life.
This brings us again to the question of "duality of the godhead," which is a doctrine that is rooted in paganism and gnosticism. It holds that God is equally darkness and light, and that both are necessary for universal harmony. This is nonsense of course. The Creator, although He allows darkness, hatred and evil, is not himself dark or evil. The Creator is pure light, pure truth and purely good. Satan is not an equal of God that simply "represents" God's evil side, but is a created being who is equal with Michael and/or Gabriel, the leaders of the majority of the b'nai ha elohim who have remained faithful to the Creator. The concept of the duality of the godhead is more likely rooted in pagan conceptions of their foremost god Helel ben Shakar, Satan, the leader of the fallen b'nai ha elohim. He is Lucifer, the Shining One, but he is the father of darkness and lies. He can be cruel but he can also appear to be merciful and good, as in the legends of Zeus or the myths of Baal and Marduk. Later in Zoroastrianism this duality appeared in the good form of Ahura Mazda and the evil form of Ahriman, and in Eastern religions as the concept of Yin and Yang. It is Satan who, until the consummation of the Kingdom of Christ at the Second Coming, continues to reign as the Lord of the World, and his reign is perpetuated only because he is able to deceive humanity with an apparent "good" side of his character, as the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:14, "...for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light." It was an angel of light, supposedly the angel Gabriel, that came to Mohammed and offered him the Quran. Contact with "angels" has turned out to be one of the most effective deceptions used by the fallen b'nai ha elohim in their war against God and mankind.
And why do we call the evil beings that serve Satan "fallen angels"? It is because they fell from their positions in heaven as members of God's Divine Council once the Messiah had finished His mission. Now it is through Christ that human beings may have a direct relationship with the Creator and the b'nai ha elohim that had been given their chance to rule over humanity now find that they are eliminated from the equation. The only type of rule that they now have is illegitimate and accomplished only through deception. The important point to note once this reality is grasped is that, according to the Apostle Paul, these beings are today the foremost enemies of the Gospel, of Christians especially, and of humanity in general. This is what he writes,
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the Devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:10-12
Mankind's primary struggle is against the rulers, the authorities, the powers of the world that are not flesh and blood!
These "world powers" (known in the Greek language as KOSMOKRATORS) are the true instigators behind the unfolding world events that bring strife, misery and confusion to human civilization. These Kosmokrators are the true manipulators behind the scenes that have been able to use various empires, organizations and secret societies to further their plan for a New World Order united under Satan against the Creator of the universe. And their influence has been greatest when and where they have found human beings willing to seek them out and willing to follow their directions.
The downfall of the wicked b'nai ha elohim was not achieved through conquest or through a visible display of strength, but instead through a divine sacrifice. The Messiah succeeded not because of Israel's acceptance of Him, but through, and in spite of, the rejection of Him by the Jewish leadership. Just as the Gentile world's relationship with the Creator changed at the Cross, so did Israel's status as God's only and unique people change at the Cross. The role of Israel, as God had told Abraham, was to be the tool by which all nations might be reconciled to God, and this was fulfilled with the Messiah's sacrifice. One of the saddest twists of fate in human history is the situation that the people of Israel found themselves in after their leaders directed them to reject Jesus.
The judgment against Jesus, and against His claim to be the Messiah occurred in 30 AD, and is recorded in Mark 3:20-30 and Matthew 12:22-45 (also see the article Who Was Jesus?). In response to the judgment against Him, made by the "teachers of the law" who had come down from Jerusalem, Jesus then predicted that the "wicked generation" that rejected Him would itself suffer a terrible end. Exactly forty years later, which is a biblical generation, Jerusalem was conquered and the Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Also, according to the Jewish records written in the Babylonian Talmud (Yoma 39a-39b), the national sins of Israel were not forgiven by God during these years at the annual ritual performed by the High Priest on Yom Kippur: "...Throughout the last forty years before the Temple was destroyed... the scarlet cloth never turned white."
With the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD the very center of Jewish worship was erased. As a result it was up to the Jewish leaders to do some very intense soul searching and attempt to redefine Israel's relationship with God and the way in which God wanted to be worshiped. For the Jewish leadership this task became very frustrating. Jesus, to them, was not an option they were willing to accept, yet God remained elusive, and everything around them seemed to offer evidence of His displeasure with them. The avenue that at least some of the Jewish leaders decided to take, which was one of the few avenues that appeared to offer any answers, was the avenue of mysticism and contact with the spirit world. God had left the Jews, and so it was up to the Jews to enter the mystical realm and go in search of God.
A Search for God
The earliest form of Jewish mysticism was known as Merkabah mysticism which, according to tradition, had its roots in the practices of some of the Jewish rabbis in the first century AD. Through prayer and fasting, meditating and muttering incantations, these mystics sought to connect with God and experience visions similar to the "throne-chariot" vision of the prophet Ezekiel. This type of mysticism, of willfully entering the spirit realm in search of God, (rather than being chosen by God as the prophets were in the Old Testament), was the way in which pagan shamans connected with their spirit-gods, and when Jewish life became relocated in places like Egypt and Babylon Jewish mysticism could not help but be influenced by such Gnostic and pagan practices.
Gershom Scholem (d. 1982) is the recognized authority in the field of Jewish mysticism (Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism), and he writes that the period of Merkabah mysticism lasted for about a thousand years, from the first to the tenth century AD, relatively unchanged. The majority of the mystical writings from this era date back to no earlier than the fifth or sixth century AD, and they are mostly described as "Hekhaloth Books," in that they consist of descriptions of the hekhaloth (halls or chambers) that must be passed through during the visionary's experience on the way towards the glorious throne room where God awaits. Scholem makes some telling observations regarding the mystic's relationship with God, as facilitated by these practices (Trends, p.55):
The fact is that the true and spontaneous feeling of the Merkabah mystic knows nothing of divine immanence; the infinite gulf between the soul and God the King on His throne is not even bridged at the moment of mystical ecstasy.
Not only is there for the mystic no divine immanence, there is also almost no love of God. What there is of love in the relationship between the Jewish mystic and his God belongs to a much later period and has nothing to do with our present subject. Ecstasy there was, and this fundamental experience must have been a source of religious inspiration, but we find no trace of a mystical union between the soul and God.
According to tradition, the first secretive group of of Jewish mystics formed around the person of Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, who lived through the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD. During the siege of Vespatian he was the Nasi, or president, of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and it was he who represented the pacifist faction within Judaism that refused to take up arms against the Romans. As a reward Rabbi Johanan was allowed to preserve the Sanhedrin and relocate it to the town of Yavneh. Rabbi Johanan helped to save Judaism but according to the Talmud on his deathbed he wept and said, "I do not know on what road I will be taken."
After Rabbi Johanan's death the leadership of the Sanhedrin was given to his disciple Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah, who almost certainly continued the secretive mystical work that his teacher had begun. Another important personality at the beginning of the mystical movement was Rabbi Ishmael the "High Priest." He was allegedly the son of the last High Priest of the Jewish Temple, and he appears as the principal speaker in the compilation of mystical texts known as the "Greater Hekhaloth."
Perhaps the most important early figure in the development of Jewish mysticism was the Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph. He was the star pupil of Rabbi Joshua, and in the Talmud it is recorded that Rabbi Akiba was one of four sages who together attempted to enter "Paradise" utilizing the methods of meditation and incantation that became known as Merkabah mysticism. The legend goes that of these four sages, one of them was killed, one of them was driven insane and one of them became an unbeliever, while only Rabbi Akiba emerged unhurt. Akiba is credited as being the principal speaker in the documents known collectively as the "Lesser Hekhaloth," and he is also considered the author of the foundational mystical tract known as the Sepher Yetzirah, or "Book of Creation." This short tract is the first document that details the creation of the universe using the imagery of thirty-two hidden paths that include the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the ten sephirot ("emanations"of God) that make up the Tree of Life.
Rabbi Akiba became a very powerful personality within Judaism during his day, and in 120 AD he became the head of what was left of the Sanhedrin. He was a devout mystic and he also held on to some very strong messianic expectations. As a result of these inclinations in 133 AD he felt compelled to put his immense prestige on the line by naming the revolutionary militant Simeon bar Kochba as the prophesied Messiah of Israel. Apparently Rabbis Akiba's source of inspiration deceived him because the messianic movement and revolt that he fuelled was a disaster for Israel. The rebellion against Rome failed miserably and according to tradition 24,000 of Rabbi Akiba's students died in the uprising. Rabbi Akiba was eventually caught by the Romans and skinned alive, and Bar Kochba was captured and executed as well. In the aftermath of this disaster Bar Kochba became re-named by the surviving Jews as Bar Koziva, which means "son of deception." However, some scholars believe that Bar Kochba only grudgingly allowed Rabbi Akiba to proclaim him as the Messiah, and therefore it is the Rabbi who should be remembered as the primary purveyor of this great disaster that befell Israel.
One of the results of the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt was that mysticism was largely discredited within mainstream Judaism, and Rabbinical Judaism, absent of imminent messianic expectations, took over Jewish culture. The synagogue became the center of Jewish life, and worship became focused upon the Torah, with the aid of the Mishnah (the Torah commentaries) and the Talmuds. Mysticism moved underground, and the Rabbis that continued to teach these dangerous practices settled on the rule that such knowledge would only be passed on to those who were at least forty years of age who had first become masters of the Torah. Mysticism remained a secretive and mysterious branch of Jewish study for a number of centuries, but it slowly grew back into prominence within the schools of learning that thrived in Iraq up to and after the rise of Islam under the Abbasid Caliphate.
Gershom Scholem writes that in the ninth century there are records of a teacher known as Joseph ben Abba who was the head of a rabbinical school at Pumbeditha, Iraq, who was "said to have been versed in mystical lore," and Scholem also mentions a teacher named Aaron ben Samuel of Baghdad, who is referred to in documents as the "father of mysteries." Scholem writes that this influential mystical teacher and promoter "was instrumental in bringing a knowledge of the mystical tradition, such as it had by that time become in Mesopotamia, to Southern Italy, and thence to the Jews of Europe." Aaron of Baghdad was closely connected with the powerful Kalonymides family of Italy that emigrated to the Rhine Valley of Germany in the ninth century. Direct descendents of this aristocratic Jewish family then created the Hasidic movement in the twelfth century, which utilized to a great degree the mystical traditions of Judaism.
Europe was of course the center of Christianity and the stronghold of the Visible Church, and was therefore the ultimate focus of the deceptive spiritual agenda of Helel ben Shakar and his kosmokrator forces. The vestiges of paganism within Europe continued to be used against the power of the Visible Church, and then with the appearance of Jewish mysticism a new potential tool was found for the Satanic arsenal. This tool emerged, not in the strictly Christian-dominated society of Germany, but instead in the area of southern France known as Provence. It was an area famous as the home of the semi-pagan heretical Christian sect the Cathars; it was the area from which the majority of the early Knights Templar were recruited (an organization later persecuted for heresy); and it was also the home of a thriving and energetic Jewish community from which this new tool emerged: the medieval Kabbalah.
The very first group of Kabbalists that emerged from a secretive existence into the light of day did so under the leadership of a Jewish Rabbi in Narbonne, France. His name was Rabbi Abraham ben Isaac (d. circa 1179), and he was the president of a rabbinic court as well as the master of his own rabbinic school. His inner circle included his son-in-law Rabbi Abraham ben David (known as the legendary "Rabad"), his colleague Jacob Ha-Nazir, and Isaac the Blind (the son of Rabad), who led medieval Kabbalism when it began to receive widespread acclaim. The word Kabbalah comes from the Hebrew word "to receive" which is made up of the Hebrew letters "K-B-L". Kabbalists claim that Abraham "received" mystical knowledge directly from God and that it was then passed down through the generations in a purely oral form. However, according to kabbalistic tradition the Kabbalah entered France, not through mortal hands or by word-of-mouth, but instead through a mystical visitation of the prophet Elijah. This alleged visitation (to either Rabbi Abraham or Rabbi David, the father of Rabad) then prompted the emergence of the Kabbalah into the open, and the movement was then fueled by fortuitous events and further spiritual occurrences.
The very first document that signifies the emergence of the Kabbalah as a unified theory of Jewish mysticism is a document known as the Bahir ("bright"). Although there is no reference to it in any Jewish literature prior to its appearance in Provence in the late twelfth century, the author is given in the text as Rabbi Nechunya ben Hakkanah of the first century AD. He was supposedly a teacher of both Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Ishmael, but another of his students is given as a Rabbi Rahmai, which Scholem argues might actually be a reference to a fourth century Babylonian mystic. Naturally the Kabbalistic circle that surrounded Rabad and Isaac the Blind, that claimed to have received the text from Palestine, should be the first suspect as to the actual authorship of the text, but even the Jewish opponents of the Kabbalah at the time grudgingly accepted that the Bahir originated outside of Provence. One contemporary critic of Isaac the Blind named Meir ben Simon wrote (Origins of the Kabbalah, p.43),
"They boast in mendacious speeches and statements of having found confirmation and encouragement in the land of sages and scholars... But God save us from the sin of such heretical words... And we have heard that a book had already been written for them, which they call Bahir, that is 'bright' but no light shines through it. This book has come into our hands and we have found that they falsely attribute it to Rabbi Nehunya ben Haqqanah. God forbid! There is no truth in this... The language of the book and its whole content show that it is the work of someone who lacked command of either literary language or good style, and in many passages it contains words which are out and out heresy."
It was obvious to critical scholars that the Bahir could not have been written by Rabbi Nechunya in the first century, but at the same time it was certainly not the work of scholars in France. A later Spanish Kabbalist named Isaac Cohen visited Provence and reported in his writings that the scholars there believed that the Bahir came to them on a circuitous route beginning in Palestine, and then making its way...
"...to the old sages and Hasidim, the kabbalists in Germany, and from there it reached several of the old and eminent scholars among the rabbis of Provence, who went in pursuit of every kind of secret science, the possessors of higher knowledge. However, they saw only a part of it and not the whole of it, for its full text did not come into their hands. In any case, it came from a distant land, whether from Palestine or from abroad, from old sages and holy kabbalists, who possessed a well-ordered tradition transmitted to them orally by their fathers and fore-fathers." (Origins, p.41)
Isaac Cohen's older brother Jacob Cohen was not quite so accepting of the mythology of the Bahir's creation, and he went against his brother when he wrote (p.44) of the "Book Bahir, which was composed by the sages of the Talmud, the kabbalist elect." In other words, as the scholar Gershom Scholem agrees, the writings of the Bahir were written collectively and in different stages by a group of mystically-inclined teachers of the Talmud, most probably in Babylon or Palestine, and certainly after the compilation of the Babylonian Talmud in the sixth century AD. It would not be wild speculation to think that perhaps the Bahir made its way to Provence through the same connections that were set up in the ninth century between Rabbi Aaron of Baghdad and the Kalonymides family of Italy that later moved to Germany.
In any case, regardless of the origin of the Bahir, the more important question is that of the content of the Bahir. What did it contain that caused other rabbis such as Meir ben Simon to condemn it as "out and out heresy"?
The Bahir broke new ground in the field of Jewish mysticism in several ways. For one, it was the first document to interpret the ten sephirot of the Sepher Yetzirah in what can be called a purely "kabbalistic" way. These ten sephirot, which are explained as "powers," "emanations," or "voices" of God, make up the entire universe, and traditionally they are usually shown superimposed and interconnected over a tree or over a human body. The ten sephirot form an interconnected unit, but they are also divided into three higher and seven lower sephirot. The three higher sephirot are explained cryptically in the Bahir as basically "Divine Thought," "Wisdom", and "Spirit," or Kether, Chokmah and Binah. The seven lower sephirot are explained at one point as Kindness, Strength, Splendour, Foundation, Peace, Eternity, and Kingdom, or Chesed, Geburah, Hod, Yesod, Tiphareth, Netzach, and Malkuth. Kabbalist Paul Krzok explains that these seven lower sephirot are traditionally based on a passage from 1 Chronicles 29:11,
"Thine, O Lord is the greatness (Chesed), and the power (Geburah), and the beauty (Tiphareth), and the victory (Netzach), and the majesty (Hod), for all (Yesod) that is in the heavens and the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom (Malkuth), O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all."
The Bahir is also noted as the first Kabbalistic text that explicitly promotes the idea of reincarnation. However, according to researcher Gershom Scholem, the Bahir created the greatest controversy because of its teachings regarding God's relationship with evil. This is important because it must be remembered that Satan's primary and all-consuming goal is to take God's place, and to be worshiped by humanity as the one and only God. Satan's agenda is accomplished by making himself appear greater than he truly is, or else by making God appear less than He truly is. Occultism has always proceeded on both of these tracks, and the Bahir has helped, as we will see.
Before we explain the Bahir's teaching of God's relationship with evil we must explain that of Rabbinical Judaism. By the 12th century Judaism had long rejected the concept of original sin, and had embraced the idea that mankind was instead made up of two "inclinations," the good inclination and the evil inclination. The process of life was, ideally, a process of gradually discarding the evil inclination and embracing the good inclination by following the laws of the Torah and using the Midrash and Talmuds as guides. Jewish theology was basically a theology of spiritual evolution through self-improvement. When the Bahir added reincarnation to the equation this process of spiritual evolution was simply expanded to include numerous lifetimes. Kabbalists embraced reincarnation, but many traditional Jewish rabbis rejected it, as they still do today.
Rabbinical Judaism had also developed a watered-down conception of the role played by Satan. No longer the great Adversary of God and man, he came to be viewed simply as the instrument that God uses to test people, to instigate the evil inclination and thereby help them learn to resist it. This new understanding of the kingdom of evil grew out of the chaos and tragedy that surrounded the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the subsequent destruction and dispersion of Israel. The Jewish rabbis were forced to conclude that the apparent triumph of the Gentiles over God's people, the Jews, could have only been a result of the divine Will of God. Gradually the sufferings of Israel came to be viewed as the prophetic sufferings of the Messiah and as a necessary stage of the Messianic process. The deception promoted in the Bahir is that Satan and the host of the fallen b'nai ha elohim that were once allowed to rule over humanity still continue to be a part of God's Kingdom and a part of His Plan. This was done by explicitly incorporating Satan and the fallen angels of the pagan nations within God's Divine Name.
According to the Bahir (section 110, from this online text), the 72 names of God are derived from the three verses of Exodus 14:19-21. Each of the verses contains exactly 72 letters, and there are three verses, so each of the mystical 72 names contains three Hebrew letters. These 72 names are then divided into three sections of 24, and over each section is a higher (angelic) Officer. These 72 names are also connected with another Name of God, the "explicit Name of the Blessed Holy One," which contains twelve letters taken from the three verses of Numbers 6:24-26 (section 107). This twelve letter name is simply written as YHVHYHVHYHVH. It can be divided into three names of four letters each, and each YHVH has 24 different possible permutations. The Bahir states, "This teaches us that God's names consist of three troops. Each troop resembles the other, and each one's name is like the other... This teaches us that each army, with its leaders and officers, has 24. Multiply 24 by three and you have the 72 names derived from the verses...[Exodus 14:19-21]."
Section 108 goes on to explain that there are three officers in charge of each group of 24, "Strength (Geburah) is the Officer of all the Holy Forms to the left of the Blessed Holy One. He is Gabriel. The officer of all the Holy Forms to His right is Michael. In the middle is Truth. This is Uriel, the Officer of all the Holy Forms [in the center]. Each Officer is over 24 Forms..."
In another passage from the Bahir (section 95) it is explained that "The Blessed Holy One has a single Tree, and it has twelve diagonal boundaries... They are the arms of the world. On the inside of them is the Tree. Paralleling these diagonals there are twelve Functionaries. Inside the Sphere there are also twelve Functionaries... This makes a total of 36 Functionaries. Each of these has another. It is thus written (Ecclesiastes 5:7), 'For one above another watches.'" For a total, once again, of 72. Then, in section 98, it is explained that the angelic "Holy Forms" are the powers that "oversee all the nations, but Israel is holy, taking the Tree itself and its heart." Section 94 also connects these "Powers" with the pagan nations:
Rabbi Amorai sat and expounded:
What is the meaning of the verse (1 Kings 8:27), "Behold the heaven and the heaven of heaven cannot contain you"?
This teaches us that the Blessed Holy One has 72 names.
All of them were placed in the Tribes [of Israel]. It is thus written (Exodus 28:10), "Six of their names on one stone, and the names of the other six on the other stone, according to their generations."
It is also written (Joshua 4:9), "He raised up twelve stones." Just like the first are (Exodus 28:12), "stones of memorial," so these are (Joshua 4:7), "stones of memorial."
[There are therefore] 12 stones [each containing six names] making a total of 72. These parallel the 72 names of the Blessed Holy One.
Why do they begin with twelve? This teaches us that God has twelve Directors. Each of these has six Powers [making a total of 72].
What are they? They are the 72 languages.
With the triumph of Jesus Christ on the Cross the rulership of the wicked b'nai ha elohim over the seventy pagan nations was ended, and their kingdoms were overthrown and replaced with the kingdom of God, made up of "every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues," (Revelation 7:9). After Christ's sacrifice these ruling world powers or kosmokrators then became, according to the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 6:10-12), the primary enemies of God and Jesus Christ and of humanity as a whole. The Bahir contradicts this Truth and sets up a system in which these "spiritual forces of evil" become viewed as Holy Forms or Powers that continue to exist within God's grace as His active and Holy agents. When Kabbalists entered the spirit world and actively sought out these angels in their magical rituals the stage was set for a massive deception.
The perceptive reader may begin to see a problem here, because the division of the pagan nations to the b'nai ha elohim that included a separation of languages was a division of 70 according to the table of Nations of Genesis 10, rather than 72. This fact is evidently known to the writers of the Bahir, and they resolve the apparent discrepancy in a creative way that shows how important it was for them to connect the fallen angels of the pagan nations with God's Divine Name. It is explained within a section of the Bahir (161-167) that is a commentary on Exodus 15:27, when Moses and the children of Israel encamped at Elim, an oasis that included twelve wells and seventy date palms.
The passage begins by recounting the trials and tribulations that the Israelites passed through on their way to Elim, and it describes the role of Satan as a deceiver and a tempter of Moses. After expounding on the choices made by Moses and Israel, and after relating a parable that explains how every individual has an Attribute to "leave aside every good way" and to "choose every evil way," it is then explained that this Attribute is "the Satan." This is followed by a passage that Gershom Scholem comments on, saying that it is probably one of those "novel and audacious formulas from the Bahir that aroused the suspicion of heresy..." :
This teaches us that the Blessed Holy One has an Attribute whose name is Evil. It is to the north of the Blessed Holy One, as it is written (Jeremiah 1:14),: From the north will Evil come forth, upon all the inhabitants of the earth." Any evil that comes to all the inhabitants of the earth comes from the north.
Section 163 continues:
What is this One Attribute?
It is the Form of a Hand. [This is a reference common to the Midrash that always means left hand]
It has many messengers, and the name of them all is Evil Evil. Some of them are great, and some are small, but they all bring guilt to the world.
This is because Chaos is towards the north. Chaos (Tohu) is nothing other than Evil. It confounds (Taha) the world and causes people to sin.
Every Evil Urge (Yetzer HaRa) that exists in man comes from there.
And why is it placed to the left? This is because it does not have any authority any place in the world except the north.
This complicated teaching is understood only by closely examining several other passages form the Bahir. Section 172 explains that the seven lower sephirot are the seven Holy Forms of God, and these Forms have a counterpart in man, because man is made in the image of God. These seven are the right and left leg, the right and left hand, the body and covenant (considered as one according to Section 168), the head, and finally the seventh is the wife ("and they shall be one flesh"). Chaos, or Evil, is then the Form or Attribute of God that is associated with man's left hand, which is the sephirot Geburah. Section 167 explains that Satan is the Prince of Chaos. This would appear to equate Satan with Gabriel who is, according to section 108, the Officer of all the Holy Forms to the Left of the Blessed Holy One. However, Gershom Scholem disputes this and says that the writers of the Bahir simply combined two different kabbalistic teachings into one. Whatever the case may be, Evil is clearly and boldly explained in the Bahir as an Attribute of God and is put forth as one of his Holy Forms. It can then be said that according to the Bahir, God is evil.
Satan's status is explained further in sections 166-167 that smoothes out the problem of 70 versus 72:
What are the seventy date palms?
This teaches us that the Blessed Holy One has seventy Structures.
These draw from the twelve Simple Ones. Just like water is simple, so are these simple.
How do we know that the date palm is a Structure? Because it is written (Song of Songs 7:8), "Your structure is like a date palm."
Besides that, there are seventy kinds of date palms. It is therefore written that there were seventy date palms. One was not like the other, their functions were all different, and the taste of one was not like the taste of the other.
You said that the seventy date palms represent the seventy Structures. But have you not said that there are 72?
There are 71. Israel makes 72, but it is not included.
But did you not say that there were seventy?
One is the Officer of the Satan...
Seventy, plus Israel, plus Satan, equals 72 that is associated with the number of the three-letter names of the Blessed Holy One. Again, going back to section 110, these names are divided into three groups of 24, and each group is given a higher Officer over it. These Officers are named in section 108 as Gabriel, Michael and Uriel, so the question arises-- is the Officer of the Satan a fourth, or is he one of the three? In any case, according to section 110, these Officers are "sealed with YHVH, God of Israel, the living God, Shaddai, high and exalted, who dwells in eternity on high, whose Name is holy, YHVH. Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever." With this in mind, and with the fact that Evil or Chaos is given as an Attribute of the Blessed Holy One, and that Satan is called the Prince of Chaos, it can then be said that according to the Bahir, Satan is Holy.
These are all very dangerous and deceptive ideas, and they are contradicted by the words of the Apostle James, the brother of Jesus, who was the first leader of the Jerusalem Church:
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God:
for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." (James 1:13)
The Bible of the Kabbalah
The Bahir was published in Provence, France, in 1176, and for the next one hundred years Kabbalistic study steadily progressed and spread throughout the Jewish world. In the years 1209-1255 the peaceful Jewish communities of southern France were upset by the papal Albigensian Crusades directed against the heretical Cathar Church that, like the Kabbalah, was based to a great degree on Gnostic doctrines. Partly because of these upheavals the small Spanish city of Gerona within the tolerant and stable Kingdom of Aragon became the new center for Kabbalistic learning. This school flourished from about 1210-1260 within a Jewish population that was second only to Barcelona throughout all of Spain.
The next major figure in the history of the Kabbalah was a Jew named Abraham Abulafia, who was born in Spain in 1240. In his youth he traveled to Palestine and then to Europe where he spent ten years in Greece and Italy. He was taught Torah and the Mishnah and Talmuds by his father at a young age, and in the course of his travels he delved into mysticism and developed an appreciation for the rational philosophy of the great Jewish teacher Maimonides. About 1270 he returned to Spain, and in Barcelona he devoted himself completely, for three or four years, to mystical research after falling in with a secret group centered around a well known Kabbalistic teacher. Gershom Scholem writes (Trends, p. 127),
By immersing himself in the mystical technique of his teacher, Abulafia found his own way. It was at the age of 31, in Barcelona, that he was overcome by the prophetic spirit. He obtained knowledge of the true name of God, and had visions of which he himself, however, says, in 1285, that they were partly sent by the demons to confuse him, so that he "groped about like a blind man at midday for fifteen years with Satan to his right." Yet on the other hand he was entirely convinced of the truth of his prophetic knowledge.
In 1274 Abulafia left Spain for the last time and journeyed back to Italy, where he found disciples to teach, and where he began his career as a prolific writer on prophetic and mystical subjects. Scholem writes that in the year 1280, "inspired with his mission, he undertook a most venturesome and unexplained task: He went to Rome to present himself before the Pope and to confer with him 'in the name of Jewry.'" Scholem believes that Abulafia had become smitten with Messianic hopes for himself, because at that time there was a well-known tract circulating that was written by the great scholar Nachmanides, which predicted that the Messiah would appeal to the Pope for the liberation of the Jews prior to appearing publicly. After failing in his attempts to speak with the Pope Abulafia busied himself with writing for the next decade, and the last record of him comes from 1291, after which he disappears.
Abulafia left a great deal of published work behind him, but it has largely been overshadowed by another great Kabbalistic work that emerged around the very same time out of Spain. It was a massive publication that is today greatly revered as the fundamental Bible of the Kabbalah, known as the Sefer Ha-Zohar, or "Book of Splendor."
The origin of the Zohar is still the subject of great debate. Many Orthodox Jews and traditional Kabbalists continue to faithfully believe that the Zohar was written in the second century AD, by Shimon bar Yochai, the foremost disciple of the celebrated Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph. It then allegedly remained contained in a number of manuscripts, and was hidden or lost for centuries until the manuscripts found their way to Spain, where they were finally put together into a single text by the Kabbalistic scholar Moses de Leon. Despite this belief, which comes from claims made in the Zohar itself, Gershom Scholem has been able to clearly demonstrate that the Zohar was most likely a product of medieval Spanish Kabbalistic thought, and that the author was Moses de Leon himself, just as other historical testimony has always maintained. Scholem analyzed the ideas, the Aramaic language, and the composition of the text and concluded that there is "no basis for assuming that the Zohar contains any ancient texts. The entire work belongs to the last quarter of the thirteenth century..." Scholem dissects the Zohar point by point in his book Major Trends In Jewish Mysticism (1954), and he leaves the reader without any doubt regarding the validity of his conclusions. However, for the purpose of this present study, as with the Bahir, the origin of the Zohar is basically irrelevant -- what matters most is its content. What does it have to say about God, Satan, the fallen angels and the nature of Evil, and how does it propose to reconcile the Jewish people with God?
The following texts from the Zohar help to explain Kabbalistic symbolism and theology, and are taken from the Zohar online at www.kabbalah.com. As far as I know, the CAPITAL LETTERS are a part of the original text.
These first three passages show that thirteenth century Judaism perfectly understood Israel's relationship with the pagan nations, and how God chose Israel for Himself, while dividing up the Gentile nations among the seventy b'nai ha elohim:
Volume 5 Vayishlach, Section 24, verse 236:
"...Come and behold: when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He divided the earth into seven regions that correspond to the seventy ministers APPOINTED OVER THE NATIONS. THESE ARE THE SECRET OF THE EXTERIOR--CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET, NETZACH, HOD, YESOD, AND MALCHUT--EACH CONSISTING OF TEN AND THEREBY TOTALING SEVENTY. The Holy One, blessed be He, appointed THE SEVENTY MINISTERS over the seventy nations, each according to its worth, as it is written: "When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Yisrael " (Devarim 32:8)."
Volume 12 Vayakhel, Section 23, verses 287-289:
"In each firmament there is a chief assigned to a world and a land, to rule over all of them, except over the land of Yisrael. No firmament rules over it, nor other force, but the Holy One, blessed be He, alone... ...in each firmament there are assigned chiefs who rule the world, and the chief who rules over a certain firmament, gives it from his strength, and the firmament receives it and transmits it to the land. That chief gets but the remnant of that light above, FOR THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD ARE SUSTAINED BY THE REMNANT ALONE. But the Holy Land is not under the rule of any firmament and other assigned chief, nor any other force but under the Holy One, blessed be He, alone. And He rules over the Holy Land from the firmament above it... In each firmament there are several designated portals, and the authority of each chief lies between two portals. He has no authority outside his area, even by a hairbreadth, except when he is given permission to rule over his fellow-chief. Then the kings on earth also rule one over another. NAMELY, THE KINGS OF THE LANDS DESIGNATED UNDER THESE FIRMAMENTS AND CHIEFS."
Volume 14 Vayikra, Section 49, verse 336:
"From there the Sanhedrin drew their knowledge of seventy languages, the seventy aspects of the Torah. For there are seventy languages on the side of the evil kingdom, all of which are different. Hence, "By these were the isles of the nations divided in their lands; everyone after his language" (Beresheet 10:5), since all these seventy languages are different from each other."
The last text above is remarkable because it specifically refers to the seventy nations as the "evil kingdom." However, other texts will show that the Zohar does not take the obvious step and refer to the kosmokrators or angelic ministers of these seventy nations as evil as well. To the contrary, the next texts show how these seventy angelic powers are closely associated with God within the imagery of the symbolic Tree of Life, Zeir Anpin, which ties together the ten sephirot of creation.
Volume 9 Beshalach, Section 24, verses 315-316:
315. Rabbi Shimon said: There is a great and strong, tall supernal tree, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN. Those above and those below are sustained through it. And it is bordered by twelve DIAGONAL border-lines, WHICH ARE THE FOUR SFIROT - CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET, AND MALCHUT - EACH ONE CONTAINING THREE COLUMNS. It is strengthened by the four directions of the world - WHICH ARE CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT - that are attached to their place. And seventy branches, WHICH ARE THE SEVENTY PRINCES THAT ARE APPOINTED OVER THE SEVENTY NATIONS OF THE WORLD, rise in it and are nurtured by it. From the center of its roots they nurture from around. And they are the branches that are found in the tree.
316. When the time of dominion arrives for each branch, they all want to completely destroy the trunk of the tree, which is the mainstay of the branches, that rules over Yisrael who are joined with it. And when the domination of the trunk of the tree reaches them, which is the portion of Yisrael, it wants to guard them, and to arrange peace among them all. For this purpose, seventy oxen ARE OFFERED during Sukkot (the holiday of booths) to bring peace among the seventy branches in the tree, WHICH ARE THE SEVENTY PATRON ANGELS OF THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD.
Volume 22 Ha'azinu, Section 55, verse 236:
"We have learned how the boughs of the tree, NAMELY THE SEVENTY MINISTERS OF THE NATIONS, are connected within the tree, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN. We have explained that the Holy One, blessed be He, then split the seventy ministers into officers and protectors over the rest of the nations. And of you YISRAEL, it is written, "For Hashem's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance" (Devarim 32:9), since He gave them not to a minister, an angel or any other officer, as He took as His portion this nation of the Holy One, blessed be He."
In this next text the seventy angels of the nations are named and, as in the Bahir, are connected with the 72 names of God. The names of the angels are called the "secret of the heavens" and the "seventy names of holiness." The seventy names of these angels that are branches of Zeir Anpin are associated with seventy judgments, and "they all shine simultaneously. And thus the Holy One, blessed be He, appears in His glory."
Volume 3 Vaera, Section 20, verses 274-279:
274. Ten Names are engraved by the King's authority. THE TEN NAMES REFER TO THE TEN SFIROT; there are ten SFIROT, AS EXPLAINED IN SEFER YETZIRAH (THE BOOK OF FORMATION); TEN EXACTLY, NOT NINE OR ELEVEN. NEVERTHELESS, THEY ALSO add up to a greater number, WHICH IS A REFERENCE TO THE 72 NAMES. THIS CAN BE EXPLAINED FURTHER. These seventy colors that glow in all directions derive from these Names, THAT IS, FROM THE 72 NAMES. AND THESE SEVENTY COLORS WERE ENGRAVED and formed into the secret of the seventy Names of the angels, which are the secret of the heavens.
275. And they are Michael, Gavriel, Refael, Nuriel. Kamatz (a vowel): Kedumiel, Malkiel, Tzadkiel. Patach (a vowel): Pedael, Tumiel, Chasdiel. Tzere (a vowel): Tzuriel, Raziel, Yofiel. Segol (a vowel): Stuteriyah, Gazriel, Vatriel, Lamael. Chirik (a vowel): Chazkiel, Rehatiel, Kadshiel. Sheva (a vowel): Shemael, Barchiel, Ahiel. Cholam (a vowel): Chaniel, Lahadiel, Machniel. Shuruk (a vowel): Shamshiel, Rehaviel, Kamshiel. Shuruk (a vowel) called melafum. Shemar'el, Rehatiel, Karshiel.
276. Ahaniel, Barkiel, Gadiel, Dumiel, Hadriel, Vadergaziyah, Zahariel, Chaniel, Tahariel, Ya'azriel, Kariel, Lamdiel, Malkiel, Nehariel, Saniyah, Anael, Patchiel, Tzuriel, Kanael, Remiel, Sha'ariel, Tavkiel.
277. Tefuriya, Shachniel, Renael, Kamriyah, Tzuriyah, Psisiyah, Iriel, Samchiel, Neriel, Madoniyah, Lasniyah, Kamsariyah, Yeriel, Tasmasiyah, Chaniel, Zachriel, Vadriel, Hinael, Denabael, Gadiel, Bedael, Adiriron. Adonai is above them all.
278. When they are all joined together as one, in one secret, by the power of the Almighty, NAMELY ZEIR ANPIN, then He is called Vav-Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei, WHICH MEANS THAT all are united as one. THIS REFERS TO ZEIR ANPIN AND THE NUKVA TOGETHER WITH THE SEVENTY ANGELS BELOW HER. The phrase, "from Hashem out of heaven" REFERS TO the Holy Name that is engraved with the other seventy Names of the secret of the heavens--WHICH ALLUDE TO ZEIR-ANPIN, WHICH IS THE NAME OF 72 THAT ARE IN THE MOCHIN OF ZEIR-ANPIN, WHILE IN ESSENCE IT INCLUDES SEVENTY. So these are the seventy OF ZEIR ANPIN that control the seventy Judgments OF THE NUKVA THAT GLOW IN ALL DIRECTIONS. They are the secret of Vav-Yud-Vav-Hei-Hei. And these seventy names of holiness, NAMELY THE MOCHIN OF ZEIR ANPIN, ARE THE SECRET OF Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei WITHOUT THE LETTER VAV, CALLED the "heavens."
279. These SEVENTY JUDGMENTS WITHIN THE NUKVA receive from those SEVENTY NAMES OF ZEIR ANPIN. Vav-Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei, WHICH INCLUDES SEVENTY JUDGMENTS, receives from Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei, WHICH IS THE SECRET OF THE SEVENTY NAMES WITHIN ZEIR ANPIN, the one from the other. So these are dependent on those, WHICH MEANS THAT the lower ones, WHICH ARE THE SEVENTY JUDGMENTS, ARE DEPENDENT on the upper ones, WHICH ARE THE SEVENTY NAMES OF ZEIR ANPIN. They are all connected together AND THEY ALL SHINE SIMULTANEOUSLY. And thus, the Holy One, blessed be He, appears in His glory. AS WE HAVE STATED the heavens have a numerical value of seventy and the secret of Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei WITHOUT THE LETTER VAV is the secret of the 72 names derived from the three verses, "and he went...and he came...and he stretched out," (Shemot 14:19-21) WHICH APPEAR IN THE PORTION OF THE PARTING OF THE RED SEA.
The passage above is an example of a twisting of cosmological reality brought about by the Kabbalists' forbidden contact with the spirit world. The seventy angels of the world are raised up to a divine position, while the holy angels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are slandered by being numbered among the seventy fallen angels. In the Bible the angel Michael is seen not as a ruler over a Gentile nation, but as the protector of Israel in the Old Testament and in the New (Daniel and Revelation). Scripture also teaches that Gabriel has also always been a holy servant of God, while tradition says the same about Raphael. On the other hand, the true group of seventy angels that were apportioned to the Gentile nations are the angels that can be numbered among the third of the angels that were swept out of heaven with Satan, as recorded in Revelation 12:4.
Evidence that Jesus Christ understood the reality of the kosmokrators (world powers) of the nations of the earth is found in the Gospels. Near the beginning of His ministry (Luke 10) Jesus made a point of choosing exactly seventy of his disciples, telling them to go out before Him announcing to people that "the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you..."(KJV). This was a symbolic gesture aimed directly at the spirit world, to tell the seventy b'nai ha elohim that their careers as rulers over humanity was about to come to an end, to be replaced by the eternal Kingdom of God. Later manuscripts of Luke 10 record that seventy-two disciples were chosen for this task, but the actual number, whether seventy or seventy-two, is irrelevant, because the spiritual meaning behind Christ's symbolic gesture is obvious.
Jesus Christ was rejected by the Jewish leadership of His day, but Messianic expectation remained a part of Judaism, as well as a part of Kabbalistic thought. It is interesting how the Zohar predicts the coming of the Messiah, and how this event is viewed in relation to the seventy "celestial chiefs" that were believed to still rule over the Gentile nations. Golden Dawn occultist Arthur Edward Waite studied the Zohar and Kabbalistic teachings and he was one of the first scholars to produce a comprehensive analysis of the Kabbalah in English. Here is how he sums up his knowledge of Kabbalistic teachings that predict the Messiah (The Holy Kabbalah, p.323 :
"Assuming that we have a proper point of departure for calculation, we have in another place the exact year of the Messiah's advent. When sixty years shall have elapsed after the sixth century of the sixth millenary, it is said that heaven shall visit the daughter of Jacob. In the seventieth year the King Messiah shall be revealed in the province of Galilee. The portents will be as follows: (1) The rainbow --which is now tarnished, because it serves only as a memorial that the world will be destroyed no more by deluge-- will shine with very brilliant dyes, like a betrothed lady adorning herself to enter into the presence of her spouse. (2) A star will rise in the East and swallow up seven stars in the North. (3) Presumably after a period, a fixed star will appear in the middle of the firmament and will be visible for seventy days. It will have seventy rays and will be surrounded by seventy other stars. (4) The city of Rome will fall to pieces --an intimation which should be of moment to the hot gospel of certain protestant second-advent preachers, whose vestiges remain among us. (5) A great king will rise up and will conquer the world. There will be war against Israel, but the chosen people shall be delivered. According to one account, the seventy celestial chiefs who rule the seventy nations of the earth will marshal all the legions of the world to make war on the sacred city of Jerusalem, but they will be exterminated by the power of the Holy One. It is written: "And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble." As such stubble, by such fire and flame shall the nations perish. Thereafter the King Messiah will cause Jerusalem to be rebuilt; the Holy One will remember that Covenant which He has made with Israel; and in such day will David be also raised up. The Messiah will draw to him the whole world; it shall be so to the end of the century; and then the VAU shall be united with the HE. It will be the period of true bridals; the Messiah will bring about union between the Palaces above and below, as also between EL and SHADDAI." A.E. Waite, The Holy Kabbalah, 1929 (Dover edition 2003), pp. 322-323
Waite's summary of the Kabbalah's Messianic teachings are taken from many references, including the following three from the Zohar:
Volume 19 Balak, Section 47, verses 501-505:
501. "I behold it, but it is not near" (Bemidbar 24:17), because some of these items came true at that time and some of them are for future times, in the period of Messiah. We learned that the Holy One, blessed be He, is destined to build up Jerusalem and display a fixed star that sparkles with seventy moving PLANETS and with seventy winds that display light from it in the center of the firmament. Another seventy stars will be instructed and guided by it, and it will be glowing and blazing seventy days.
502. On Friday, on the twenty-fifth day to the sixth month, the star will be seen. It will be gathered on the seventh day at the ending of the seventy days. IT WILL BE COVERED AND NOT SEEN. On the first day, it will be seen in the city of Rome and, on that day, three higher walls will fall from the city of Rome, and the great palace WHICH IS THERE will fall. The governor of that city will die. Then that star will spread and extend to be seen in the world. During that time, great and mighty wars will be stirring in the world to all four directions, and there will be no Faith among them.
503. In the center of the world, when that star will shine in the centre of heaven, a great king and ruler will rise in the world. His spirit will rise over all the kings and provoke war on the two sides, and will overpower them.
504. During the day when that star will be covered, the Holy Land will shudder and shake 45 miles around the area of the temple house, and a cave underneath the ground will be discovered. From that cave will emanate a fire to burn the world. And from that cave will grow one great lofty branch that will dominate over the entire world, and the kingdom will be granted to him. The saintliest people will be gathering to him. Then, Messiah will be revealed in the entire world and the kingdom will be granted to him.
505. At the time of the revealing OF MESSIAH, the inhabitants of the world will find themselves in one distress after another and those who hate Yisrael will get stronger. Then the spirit of Messiah will stir upon them, and will destroy the wicked Edom, and the entire land of Seir will go up in flames. Concerning that time, it is written: "And Yisrael shall do valiantly" (Bemidbar 24:18). That is the meaning of: "And Edom shall be his possession, Seir also, his enemies" (Ibid.), meaning the enemies of Yisrael. That is the meaning of: "And Yisrael shall do valiantly." At that time, the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise TO LIFE the dead of his people and remove death from them. This is what it says, "The right hand of Hashem does valiantly. I shall not die, but live" (Tehilim 118:16-17). It is further written: "And liberators shall ascend..." (Ovadyah 1:21) and then it is written: "And Hashem shall be king" (Zecharyah 14:9).
Volume 8 Shemot, Section 15, verses 98-99, 103-104:
98. After these troubles have been aroused against Yisrael, all the peoples and their kings will counsel together against them, raise many bad decrees, and come upon them with one mind. There will come troubles upon troubles and the later troubles will cause the earlier ones to be forgotten. Then a pillar of fire shall be seen there, standing from above down for forty days. And all the nations of the world will see it.
99. At that time the king, Messiah, will arise to go out of the Garden of Eden from the place called the 'bird's nest' and he will become revealed in the land of Galilee. On the day that MESSIAH goes there, the whole world will tremble and all the people of the world will hide in the caves and CRACKS in the rocks and will not expect to survive.
103. After twelve months, Messiah will be elevated within that pillar to the sky, and there he will receive the power and crown of the Kingdom. And when he descends TO THE EARTH, that pillar of fire will again appear as originally, before the eyes of the whole world. Afterwards, Messiah will appear and many nations will gather to him and he will wage wars throughout the entire world. At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, will rise with His might against all the nations of the world. Messiah will be publicly known throughout the world, and all the kings of the world will join together to do battle with Him.
104. Many of the oppressors of Yisrael will turn and join THESE NATIONS to war against the king Messiah; then will the world darken for fifteen days. Many of Yisrael will perish during this darkness. Of this it is written: "For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples" (Yeshayah 60:2).
Volume 9 Beshalach, Section 22, verse 309:
"Rabbi Yitzchak said: This verse refers to the time when The Holy One, blessed be He, will attire Himself with majesty over the nations that shall gather against Him, as it is written: "And the princes take counsel together, against Hashem, and against His anointed" (Tehilim 2:2). As we have learned, seventy generals of armies shall gather from every side at that time with the hosts of the entire world to wage war against Jerusalem, the Holy City, and to plan against the Holy One, blessed be He. What do they say? 'Let us rise against the protector first, and then against His people and His sanctuary'."
As students of Christian prophecy can see, events that the Zohar predicts will occur at the time of the Messiah's first coming are actually at least partially based on Old Testament passages that predict the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the references to the fall of Rome are probably based on wishful thinking on the part of the Rabbis, because they saw Jesus Christ as their enemy and Rome as the seat of Christian power. However, many Christian prophecy scholars, such as myself, as well as certain traditions within Catholic prophecy, predict that the Catholic Church will one day be led by an anti-pope, the False Prophet of Revelation 13, who will turn against traditional Christian doctrine and lead the world to embrace the Antichrist. In this way Rome could easily become a target of God's wrath and fulfill this specific Zohar prophecy in a roundabout way.
A.E. Waite's description of the role of the seventy celestial chiefs as leaders of the seventy nations in their attack against the Messiah, Israel and Jerusalem could also be viewed as basically accurate, because according to New Testament prophecy the Invisible Church will be taken to heaven at the beginning of the Tribulation period at the event known as the Rapture. This will leave the earth temporarily without any true followers of Christ, and Satan and the fallen angels will find themselves once again in a position of power over the people of the earth. According to Revelation they will indeed lead the nations of the earth against Israel and Jerusalem, and against the Messiah when He makes His glorious appearance. However, if one reads the above texts of the Zohar closely it does not say specifically that the angelic powers of the seventy nations will attack the Messiah, rather it says the "princes" and "generals" of the nations will attack the Messiah, meaning the human leaders of the nations. The Zohar consistently portrays the seventy celestial chiefs of the nations as Holy, and the Zohar would never portray them fighting against the Messiah. The end result of the Zohar's portrayal of evil angels as Holy was that in the Kabbalists' magical rituals, which involved contacting and communicating with these angels, the Kabbalists opened themselves up to demonic deception.
Some of the most forceful opponents of the Kabbalah were those Rabbis that had been closely exposed to it. We have already mentioned how many Kabbalistic teachings came from the Middle East, to Italy, to Germany through the Kalonymides family, and then to France and Spain. Along with the formation of the Kabbalistic movement in France and Spain, there occurred a parallel rise of a Jewish movement in Germany, the Hasidic movement, that coalesced from about 1150-1250. It was centered in the towns of Speyer, Mainz and Worms, and was originally led by three members of the Kalonymides aristocracy: Samuel the Hasid, the son of Kalonymus of Speyer; Jehudah the Hasid of Worms, the son of Samuel; and Eleazer ben Jehudah of Worms, the disciple of Jehudah.
Eleazer ben Jehudah (d.1232) was the most prolific writer of the early Hasidic movement and a great many of his works survive, however, Jehudah the Hasid (d.1217) is the most famous. He is remembered as a great mystic and a saint who performed many miracles, but at the same time he was an outspoken opponent of religious magic. Here is what he wrote in his Book of the Devout about practices that came to be associated with Kabbalism, and with the Messianic pronouncements that seemed to always follow them (Trends, p. 88):
"If you see one making prophecies about the Messiah, you should know that he deals in witchcraft and has intercourse with demons; or he is one of those who seek to conjure with the names of God. Now, since they conjure the angels or spirits, these tell them about the Messiah, so as to tempt him to reveal his speculations. And in the end he is shamed because he has called up the angels and demons, and instead a misfortune occurs at that place. The demons come and teach him their calculations and apocalyptic secrets in order to shame him and those who believe in him, for no one knows anything about the coming of the Messiah."
Ironically, Eleazer of Worms, who was the direct disciple of Jehudah the Hasid, succumbed to the very trap that his master warned against. Eleazer dared to consult with the spirit world as a part of his mystical explorations and, according to Gershom Scholem, he was "granted the revelation that all his words were truth and not deception." Scholem writes that he then became convinced that "the Messianic age would begin in 1226 and culminate in 1240, the year 5000 of Creation," and that "the rumor of this prediction spread far and wide."
Another disciple of Jehudah the Hasid, Moses Taku, remained wary of magical practices just like his teacher, and in his writings he left the following warning (Trends, p.102):
"They set themselves up as prophets by practicing the pronunciation of holy names, or sometimes they only direct their intention upon them without actually pronouncing the words. Then a man is seized by terror and his body sinks to the ground. The barrier in front of his soul falls, he himself steps into the centre and gazes into the faraway, and only after a while, when the power of the name recedes, does he awaken and return with a confused mind to his former state. This is exactly what the magicians do who practice the exorcism of demons. They conjure one from their midst with unclean exorcisms, in order that he may tell them what has perhaps been happening in a far away country. The conjurer falls down on the ground where he was standing and his veins become cramped and stiff, and he is as one dead. But after a while he rises without consciousness and runs out of the house, and if one does not hold him at the door he would break his head and his limbs. Then when he again becomes a little conscious of himself, he tells them what he has seen."
Despite the fact that many of the more conservative and traditional Rabbis rejected magic and the Kabbalah, it still held out the provocative promise of direct experience of the spiritual to the initiate, and this was enough to keep the Kabbalah active and alive throughout the Jewish world. However, Scholem writes that by the close of the fourteenth century the main currents of Kabbalism had run their course. The fifteenth century began with the emergence of Jewish persecution in Spain and the widespread forced or bribed conversion of Jews to Christianity. The situation came to a head in 1492, when all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity were forced out of Spain. It was another great catastrophe in the history of the Jewish people. However, because of this upheaval, Scholem writes that in the aftermath Kabbalism found itself reinvigorated and transformed from a secretive and esoteric doctrine into a widespread and popularly accepted doctrine. The Exodus from Spain created a situation where "Kabbalism established its claim to spiritual domination in Judaism."
The Resurgence of the Kabbalah
The masters of the Kabbalah were scattered from Spain and spread throughout Europe. Many were drawn to the thriving Jewish settlements in Venice, Amsterdam, Antwerp and London, while others found refuge in the Ottoman Empire-- in Istanbul, Egypt or in Palestine. About a generation after the Expulsion it was in Palestine, in the town of Safed in Upper Galilee, where the next great center of Kabbalistic study emerged. Here, under two major teachers, Moses ben Jacob Cordovero and Isaac Luria, the Kabbalah became reinvigorated, while a new and controversial understanding of God's relationship with creation emerged.
Cordovero is described by Scholem as "undoubtedly" the greatest theoretician of Jewish mysticism. He was a "systematic thinker" who was able to reduce and explain Kabbalistic doctrine in understandable terms. Scholem says that he "had the gift of transforming everything into literature," and much of his extensive writings survive to this day, including his comprehensive commentary on the Zohar. Cordovero died in 1570 at the age of 48.
Cordovero may have been Safed's greatest theoretician, but Isaac Luria proved to be its most creative and innovative thinker. Despite the fact that he himself wrote down very little (his students recorded his teachings), his legacy largely overshadows that of Cordovero. Luria's main achievement was his theory on the origin of the universe that attempted to reconcile the problem of how something could be created out of nothing, and of how imperfection (evil) could exist in a universe created by a perfect being. Luria died in 1572 at the age of 38, but the Lurianic Kabbalah has lived on and has come to dominate Jewish mystical thought. His ideas are very important, so now we will give a brief overview.
Luria's innovation begins with the doctrine of Tsimtsum, which Scholem calls "one of the most amazing and far-reaching conceptions ever put forward in the whole history of Kabbalism." Tsimtsum basically means "withdrawal" or "retreat" and it is basically the conception that creation began when the En-sof (the great "nothing") contracted within itself and created a space that was, paradoxically, empty of En-Sof.
The next stage of creation was when the empty primeval space of Tsimtsum was pierced by a concentrated beam of light from En-Sof, leading to the creation of Adam Kadmon, the "primordial man." The light from the En-Sof then burst out of the eyes, mouth, ears and nose of Adam Kadmon as the various Sephiroth. At first these Sephiroth burst out as beams of light indistinguishable from each other, but for the purposes of creation, which required separateness and individuality, these Sephiroth were captured into ten vessels that were to represent the building blocks of a perfect universe. However, the very act of separating the Sephiroth into vessels caused them to be weakened, and in the face of the infinite and perfect light from the En-Sof these vessels exploded and shards of them were scattered randomly and chaotically throughout the universe. In their tumbling these shards attracted and captured sparks of the divine light of En-Sof, which were then covered by a lifeless outer husk. These shells are known as Kellipot and these imperfect and alienated pieces of the original vessels of the Sephiroth make up the physical universe.
The reality of an imperfect universe in which pieces of the divine light are trapped within the Kellipot leads to the necessity of the process of Tikkun, which simply means "restoration." It is the redemptive process whereby the sparks of divine light are liberated from the Kellipot and returned to the original En-Sof. According to Luria, this is humanity's task, and every thought and action either contributes to or detracts from the process of Tikkun. Luria thus makes God into a being or force in need of redemption, and each human individual into a redeemer.
Luria's cosmology can be summarized in the following steps:
1- The existence of En-Sof.
2- Tsimtsum: the contraction of En-Sof to create a separate space.
3- The creation of Adam Kadmon and the ten separate Sephiroth that make up the universe.
4- The Shevirat Ha-Kelim, or "breaking of the vessels" of the Sephiroth.
5- Tikkun: the liberation of the exiled sparks of the En-Sof from their prisons within the Kellipot.
A further innovation, one that has been deemed heretical by many Jewish authorities over the centuries, is Luria's theory of how God can be known in the present material universe. According to Luria, at the time of the breaking of the vessels God's identity itself became split into different countenances, configurations or attributes. These are known as the Partsufim. Here is what Scholem has to say (Trends, p.271),
The conflict here is latent but inescapable: Is En-Sof the personal God, the God of Israel, and are all the Partsufim only His manifestations under various aspects, or is En-Sof the impersonal substance, the deus absconditus, who becomes a person only in the Partsufim? ...The more dramatic the process in God becomes, the more inevitable is the question: Where in all this drama is God?
For Cordovero, only En-Sof was the real God of whom religion speaks, and the world of divinity with all its Sefiroth nothing but the organism in which He constitutes Himself in order to bring forth the universe of creation, and to act in it. In reading the authentic literature of Lurianic Kabbalism, one is frequently struck by the opposite impression: En-Sof has little religious interest for Luria.
Isaac Luria was viewed by his contemporaries as a super-human figure, and was practically worshiped by his students. As early as thirty years after his death there was already a biography of his life that recounted his supernatural powers and his adventures in the spirit world. The explanations he brought back helped to draw Jewish mysticism even closer to the paganism against which Judaism had originally been created. Scholem explains (Trends, p.269)
The whole attempt of Lurianic Kabbalism to describe the theogonic process in God in terms of human existence represents an effort to arrive at a new conception of the personal God, but all it does is to culminate in a new form of Gnostical mythology...
In reading these descriptions one is easily tempted to forget that for Luria they refer to purely spiritual processes. Superficially at least, they resemble the myths through which Basilides, Valentinus or Mani tried to describe the cosmic drama, with the difference that they are vastly more complicated than these Gnostical systems.
This Lurianic perception of God culminates today in the currant mainstream Kabbalistic interpretation of Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Kabbalists today claim that the proper translation is "In the beginning [the En-Sof] created God, the heaven and the earth." And the En-Sof is of course the great eternal "nothing." According to Kabbalists today, this true Creator, that in turn created the God of the Bible, can never be described, never be known and never be understood. They owe this conclusion to Isaac Luria, or at least to the spirits that guided him in formulating his theories.
Luria, Freud and Post-Modern Thought
The Lurianic Kabbalah, strangely enough, has been a strong influence on, and holds much in common with, modern-day secular psychology and philosophy, a fact which is highlighted by Kabbalistic scholar Dr. Sanford Drob. Dr. Drob was a co-founder and former editor of the New York Jewish Review. He is a psychologist based at NYU Medical School, who was formerly the director of Psychological Assessment at Bellevue Hospital in New York, and currently a Supervising Psychologist there. Dr. Drob is a well known author and he currently runs a website called New Kabbalah that is dedicated to the synthesis of "traditional Jewish mysticism" with "modern rational thought." In separate articles Dr. Drob brings attention to the fact that the Lurianic Kabbalah has much in common with the theories of psychologist Sigmund Freud, and with the theories of the Post-Modern deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida.
In his article "THIS IS GOLD": FREUD, PSYCHOTHERAPY AND THE LURIANIC KABBALAH, Dr. Drob relates a story of how Sigmund Freud reacted when he was presented with a translation of a sixteenth century work of Lurianic Kabbalah that had been written by Luria's disciple Chayyim Vital,
Chayyim Bloch [the translator] then completed the translation but felt he needed someone to write a forward to the book and to help assume responsibility for its publication.
Apparently Bloch had some understanding of the psychological significance of Chayyim Vital's work, because he decided to approach his acquaintance, Sigmund Freud. Freud agreed to read the manuscript, and upon doing so exclaimed to Bloch "this is gold!" and wondered aloud why Chayyim Vital's work had never been brought to his attention in the past. Freud agreed to write the forward to the book and also agreed to assist in securing its publication.
At this point, Freud informed Bloch that he too had written a book that was relevant to Judaism, and hurriedly presented Bloch with the manuscript of what was to become Moses and Monotheism. Freud and Bloch were meeting in Freud's library, and Bloch quickly perused Freud's manuscript. The work, however, incensed Bloch, who saw that Freud had not only denied that Moses was Jewish but had placed responsibility for Moses' death on the Jewish people. Bloch exclaimed that the Christian world had always blamed the Jews for the death of their Christ, and now Freud would blame the Jews for the death of their own liberator, Moses.
Freud himself was deeply angered by Bloch's reaction and left the room, leaving Bloch alone in Freud's library for a period of time. During that time Bloch reports that he had nothing to do but to browse through the books on Freud's shelf, amongst which was a French translation of the classical Kabbalist text, the Zohar, as well as several German language books on Jewish mysticism.
Dr. Drob goes on to relate in his article how the psychoanalytical theories of Sigmund Freud have many similarities with the Lurianic Kabbalah, which the reader may explore through the link to the article above. In Drob's article on Jacques Derrida, DERRIDA AND THE LURIANIC KABBALAH, Drob begins with the following preface,
In one of his last meetings with Jacques Derrida, Emanauel Levinas is said to have asked Derrida to confess that he was in fact a modern day representative of the Lurianic Kabbalah. I learned of this from the death-of-God theologian, Thomas JJ Altizer, who related to me that he himself had heard it from Hillis Miller on the occasion of his introducing Altizer to Derrida himself. Whether apocryphal or true, the story seemed to confirm something I had suspected for quite some time, that an encounter with Derrida's thought is an important gateway to a contemporary Kabbalistic philosophy and theology.
Many of the major themes of Derrida's philosophy and its relationship to the Kabbalah emerge from a close reading of his 1968 paper on "Differance" (Margins of Philosophy, 1968). In order to show Derrida's affinity to the Kabbalah I will provide a reading of this paper. In the course of this reading we will have occasion to both compare Derrida's notions of "differance" and the "trace" with comparable Kabbalistic symbols, Ein-sof, Tzimtzum, and din, and in the process deepen our understanding of these Kabbalistic symbols.
Again, the reader may consult the article above to examine Drob's perspective on Derrida's work and its relation to the Kabbalah. However, I will now turn to another accredited Doctor for a Christian perspective on how the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Derrida has affected human society and shaped our ideas about man's place in the universe and our relationship with God:
Dr. Louis Markos is a professor of English and Literature and he teaches at Houston Baptist University. Some of his lectures are available through The Teaching Company (link), and a selection of his writings can be read at his personal website (link). The quotes below that explain Dr. Markos' perspective regarding Freud and Derrida are taken from his book Lewis Agonistes - How C.S. Lewis Can Train Us To Wrestle With the Modern and Postmodern World.
According to Dr. Markos, contemporary materialistic thought is based to a large degree on the legacies of four great thinkers, who he calls the Fathers of Modernism: Darwin, Freud, Marx and Nietzsche.
Darwin was the founding father of Modernism because his theory of evolution "both defines and enables the entire approach and direction of modernist thought; it is the one thing that can neither be compromised nor sacrificed... He outlined a counter-system to traditional entropy, one in which things progress from the physical to the spiritual, the less complex to the more complex, the material to the immaterial."
Freud was the next Modernist, and he took over where Darwin left off. Darwin focused on the biological, while Freud applied the same basic ideas to the field of consciousness:
For Freud, our psyche (Greek for both mind and soul) is not a divine gift that descended from above but a material product of dark, unconscious, impersonal forces. In traditional metaphysical thought, our limited, personal, self-consciousness is but a reflection of that greater, unlimited self-consciousness that rests in the mind of God (that God whose name is, simply, I AM). For Freud, who turns the traditional paradigm on its head, the origin of our self-conscious thoughts and desires is not to be sought in a supra-conscious being (top to bottom) but in a complex web of sub-conscious patterns (bottom to top). As Darwin pictured human bodily life as the end point in a fierce animal struggle for survival, so Freud pictured the human psyche as the end product of another kind of animal struggle waged well beneath the surface of conscious thought. Indeed, far from posting the spiritual as the origin of the psyche, Freud would argue that our highest spiritual thoughts are merely illusory wish fulfillments whose source is physical. What the Bible calls love (agape in Greek; caritas in Latin) is not, for the modernist Freud, a human reflection of a divine Form proceeding out of a Being who is love; rather, it is a sublimation of a baser, material desire for food and procreation. Freud was a materialist, not because he sought to accumulate wealth --the more recent sense of the word-- but because, in keeping with its philosophical definition, he only believed in the existence of matter. The spiritual was not only not the origin of the physical; it did not even exist.
In another passage Markos again puts forth the materialistic assumptions of Freud, but then he confronts them with a critique from the Christian thinker who is the subject of his book: C.S. Lewis,
[Freudians] claim that all our highest desires, whether they be ethical, religious, or aesthetic, are the material products of a lower-order desire (one that could have evolved) that has been first repressed and then sublimated in another form. Great art is, like our daydreams, just another type of wish fulfillment. What we call love is merely a sublimated form of that instinctual lust which lies buried deep in our unconscious. The lust is the primary, originary, natural thing; love is but the artificial, socially acceptable form that lust takes when it is filtered through our elaborate system of psychological defense mechanisms.
As always, Lewis's critique of this Freudian critique succeeds in flipping on their heads the assumption on which the modernist paradigm rests. Why, Lewis asks, must we say that love is a sublimation of lust? Is it not equally possible that lust is a falling away from love? Why must love be considered a projection from below, an evolution? May it not be rather an incarnation from above, a transposition from a heavenly key into an earthly one? Is not the universal human experience that of a search for higher things that goes terribly astray? Of a "looking for love" that goes awry and devolves into lust? We can only compromise on ideals that we already have; we can only pervert something that was at one time pure. If the clock is winding down, there must have been a time when someone wound it up. Freud would strand us in Plato's Cave, where what we think is real is but a mess of shadows and shadows of shadows. Lewis would help to lead us out of that cave and into that glorious light that is both our origin and our destiny
Karl Marx was the third founder of Modernism, and he simply applied materialistic assumptions to the fields of sociology, politics and economics, while Nietzsche was the fourth Father of Modernism. Markos writes that Nietzsche's "greatest contribution to the modernist paradigm was his debunking of truth. When Nietzsche declared that God is dead, he meant not only to deny the existence of God but of any and all absolutes that would claim a separate, unchanging existence apart from man and the products of man's labor. What we call 'truth,' Nietzsche argued, is not some eternal verity descended from above, but something that man himself thought up and then forgot that he thought it."
These four thinkers laid the foundations of Modernism, which essentially changed man's perception of the universe away from viewing it as something that has its ultimate origins in a higher divine source, to something that has a lower and physical source. Markos explains that "modernism" can also be classified as "structuralism," in which "all meaning, whether philosophical, theological, aesthetic, or linguistic, did not proceed downward from some divine presence but upward from physical structures." Markos explains that in the mind of the Modernist these structures "are social rather than individual, unconscious rather than conscious, material rather than metaphysical, deterministic rather than humanistic."
The next step after Modernism, which replaced a higher divine presence with physical structures, was Post-Modernism, typified by the work of Jacques Derrida, who set out to prove that all structures, whether physical or divine, do not exist. Derrida specifically acknowledges Nietzsche, Freud and Martin Heidegger as his greatest influences, and his philosophy called "Deconstructionism" tries to disconnect logic and meaning even further from its divine Source.
Upon introducing Derrida's philosophy, Professor Markos takes a step back and explains that Derrida's conclusions are not entirely original. He brings forth the example of the Sophists of ancient Greece, with whom Socrates and Plato had many passionate arguments. Socrates and Plato both believed in a divine Presence as the Source of the universe, and as the source of everything that is True, Just and Beautiful. When Plato gave his metaphor of the cave Plato explained that the shadows on the wall (the apparent physical universe), which so many of the cave dwellers (humanity) believed to be reality, were in fact just shadows cast by a real light or Source that existed outside of the cave. Plato was an idealist and also an absolutist, while Aristotle who came after him was more of a materialist, (a fact put forth in the famous Renaissance painting "The School of Athens" by Raphael, in which Aristotle gestures to the earth while Plato points to heaven.) Against both Plato and Aristotle there were the Sophists, highly paid teachers who based their philosophy on the belief that Truth was relative, and that what mattered most was that the self-interest of the individual was served. Gorgias was one of the most famous Sophists, and Markos sums up Gorgias's philosophy with the three following propositions:
1) Nothing exists; 2) If it does exist, it cannot be known; 3) If it can be known, it cannot be communicated. By his first proposition, Gorgias meant not to deny the existence of physical reality but to deny the existence of any absolute, eternal presence that dwells outside of space and time. Proposition two follows with the assertion that even if the gods or the Forms or some other first principle actually did exist, we would be unable to know or perceive those principles. The third proposition completes Gorgias's philosophical skepticism by arguing that even if an individual could somehow come to know one of these first principles, he would be powerless to communicate that knowledge by word, sound, or image to others.
As an aside, the article "Sophism: Ideology That Destroys Societies and Nations" by Michael Liebig explains how the infiltration of sophism into the culture of Classical Greece contributed a great deal to its downfall. Ideas can be very powerful, and acceptance of the wrong idea is the tragedy of human civilization. Fortunately, the basic ideas of Platonism found much in common with the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and Gorgias's insidious ideas were held back for a time. However, Dr. Markos goes on in his book to explain how Sophism has reemerged today in the philosophy of Post-Modernism and in the work of Jacques Derrida,
The core theories of deconstruction line up remarkably well with Gorgias's three propositions. In place of "Nothing exists," we have Derrida's claim that there are no Transcendental Signifieds, no divine origins or supernatural presences, no Alphas or Omegas that can act as a center and thus give order and structure to our shadowy world of signifiers. As for the second proposition ("If it exists, it cannot be known"), Derrida's concept of aporia boldly proclaims our inability to find our way back to any fixed meaning or presence. Even if meaning did exist, our knowledge of it would be perpetually deferred. Finally, Gorgias's third proposition ("If it can be known, it cannot be communicated") finds its echo in what Derrida terms the breakdown of signifier and signified...
In his lecture (link) on Derrida, Professor Markos remarks on the delayed re-emergence of sophism today,
"We might say that the reason it has taken almost 2500 years for Gorgias's three propositions to resurface and seize the "Academy" is that the systems of Plato and Christianity have been remarkably strong and resilient. After all, they are the foundation of Western Culture. Indeed, we might say that Plato and Augustine trounced poor old Gorgias so severely that it took him a couple of millennia to resurface."
And just how was Gorgias trounced so severely? What is the ultimate and eternal answer to the insidious three-fold deception that has been embraced by the Post-Modern world? Very simply, it is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, as revealed in the opening verses of the Gospel of John:
The first proposition is defeated by verses 1-12, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God (b'nai ha elohim), even them that believe on His name."
The second proposition is defeated by verse 14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
And the third proposition is defeated by the fact that right now the words that you are reading pierce right into the very heart of your soul. Truth can be known and Truth can be communicated. All protests to the contrary stand revealed as pathetic and evil.
In his lecture Professor Markos goes on to show how the doctrine of the Trinity does the same as that of the Incarnation:
"Think about it! The Trinity is the best way to answer Gorgias's three propositions:
'Nothing exists'? Well, God the Father is the eternal Creator and Origin, the Alpha and Omega. Yes, something exists: God.
'If it exists it cannot be known'? What does it [the Bible] say? 'In Christ,' the second person of the Trinity, 'God made Himself known to the world.'
Number three: 'If it can be known, it cannot be communicated.' What about the third member [of the Trinity]? The belief is that God communicates to us through the Holy Spirit, via the Bible, and so the Trinity is another refutation of Gorgias's three propositions.
Jesus Christ appeared on the scene after several millennia of paganism, and His message was spread when mankind was crying out for a change. Unfortunately today, after two thousand years of Christianity, the wicked b'nai ha elohim have been quietly working behind the scenes to spread the same lies and confusion that they spread leading up to the time of Nimrod. Because of their work, and because of man's inherent sinful and self-centered nature, we are now at a time in history when humanity is again agitating for a change.
The Kabbalah has been one the most successful tools used by the fallen angels to deceive mankind, and its usefulness is reflected by the twin conclusions reached by the secular and occult worlds. The secular, that God does not exist, and the occult, that Satan is God. The Kabbalah invites people to make contact with the fallen angels and so it should be no surprise that the ultimate god they lead initiates to is their master.
In future articles we will examine how the Kabbalah infected the Christian world and became combined with Hermetic magic at the time of the Renaissance. This new occult philosophy was led by magicians such as Cornelius Agrippa, Giordano Bruno, and John Dee, and it was then carried forward in the work of Eliphas Levi, Helena Blavatsky, and Aleister Crowley. Today it dominates Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, as well as the Theosophical and New Age movements, and it has a hold over the Globalist Establishment that includes the UN and the world of international banking. Never before have occult beliefs been so entrenched within the realm of political power, and today we stand on the verge of a deceptive and thoroughly Satanic spiritual and political revolution.
As an example of the occult belief that Satan is the one and only God, I recommend the article "Dr. John Dee, the Necronomicon & the Cleansing of the World - A Gnostic Trail," by occult writer Colin Low. It will be examined in our next installment.
July 1, 2004
November 14, 2004: A postscript to "The Divine Council and the Kabbalah" that examines John Dee, Aleister Crowley, and the resurgent Gnostic and New Age Movement that is dependent to a great degree on the Kabbalah.