THE UNIQUE NAME OF
(Last updated 7/18/01)
There is a specific and important reason that we have presented the
preceding material on Tipheret and that of the following sections. Though many of the
Pharisees and other Jews may not have accepted Yeshua when he walked among them, and later
Jews have come to reject the Christianized view of Messiah (in the form of an anti-Torah
"Jesus"), it is clear that the Jewish sages of the Talmud, Midrash, Zohar, and
other writings, arrived at conclusions that mirror the teachings of the "New
Testament," when the latter is interpreted at the same level.
This is especially true in their teachings on; Yesod, the
Tzaddik, Tipheret, Metatron, the "middle pillar," Melchizadek, Boel, and the
"Memra." This makes sense, as Yeshua fills the "mold" that the Torah
presents of Him. One can only wonder where we would all be in our learning if the the
"New Testament" writings had been taught at such a level since their origin, as
opposed to the non-Hebraic, anti-Torah interpretation that has been placed on them.
What do the following three Scriptures have in common?
Matthew 1:17 - All the generations, therefore, from Abraham unto
David are fourteen generations, and from David unto the Babylonian removal fourteen
generations, and from the Babylonian removal unto the Messiah, fourteen generations.
Numbers 33:1-2 - These are the journeys of the children of Israel,
which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and
Aaron. And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of
the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.
Exodus 24:9-10 - Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu,
and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under
his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in
If the "connection" seems difficult to see - don't worry -
it's far from obvious. (Yes, the "answer" will be revealed.) This is a complex
section - the reader is encouraged to refer back to previous sections on the Shekinah and Tipheret wherever needed.
One of the more interesting, yet esoteric topics in Bible study, is that of the use of
numbers. Most Bible students are aware of certain numbers that have special signficance.
Numbers such as 3,7,10,12 and 40, appear often in both the Tenakh and "New
Testament." The Jewish mystical writings have a lot to say about numbers and also
about the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, including their "role" in creation,
their numerical values, combinations of certain letters, and the amount of letters used to
form various "names" of God.
The most obvious example would be the four-letter name of God, YHWH. There are also
other "names" of God referred to in Judaism, including one with twelve letters,
one with forty-two letters, and another containing seventy-two. The focus of this study
will be on the forty-two letter name of God, also known as the Unique Name of God.
There is no single name of forty-two letters known in any language. Maimonides
concluded that the forty-two letters formed several words, each expressing a definite idea
or fundamental attribute of the Supreme Being, and all together providing the true
definition of the Divine essence.1
Early commentators say that the forty-two letters are a combination of the first
forty-two letters of the Torah. The Name may also be associated with the phrase God used
to reply to Moses, "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh", ("I Am that I Am"),
which comes out to 42 in gematria (doubling the value of the Name Ehyeh, which
equals 21 in Hebrew numerology.)
There is an interesting blessing regarding this particular name of God, reminiscent of
how the book of Revelation begins with a blessing:
Talmud - Mas. Kiddushin 71a - The
forty-two lettered Name is entrusted only to him who is pious, meek, middle-aged, free
from bad temper, sober, and not insistent on his rights. And he who knows it, is heedful
thereof, and observes it in purity, is beloved above and popular below, feared by man, and
inherits two worlds, this world and the future world.
THE NAME IN CREATION
The forty-two letter Name of God is closely associated with God and His role in
creation. The following verse from the Zohar speaks to this, also
describing these letters as being an "ornament," which is another translation of
the word Tipheret (Strong's #8597):
AND THE EARTH WAS VOID AND WITHOUT FORM. This describes the
original state-as it were, the dregs of ink clinging to the point of the pen-in which
there was no subsistence, until the world was graven with forty-two letters, all of which
are the ornamentation of the Holy Name.
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 30a -
The "New Testament" refers to this being the role of Yeshua:
John 1:3 - All things were made by him; and without him was not
any thing made that was made.
The "Holy Name" of God (in the Zohar above), also called the Unique Name,
is directly associated with Tipheret. (See section below on "The Name at
The Zohar has a section on the creation of all the heavens, which is said to have
"six sides." These heavens (which testify to God) are said to hold the mystery
of the forty-two letter name of God:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page
16a - Up to this point only extend the allusions to the Most Mysterious who
carves out and builds and vivifies in mysterious ways, through the esoteric explanation of
one verse. From this point onwards bara shith, he created six, from the end of
heaven to the end thereof, six sides which extend from the supernal mystic essence,
through the expansion of creative force from a primal point. Here has been inscribed the
mystery of the name of forty-two letters.
The forty-two letters of the Divine Name are also said to be the
power (along with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet) behind the Urim and
Thummin, which the High Priest used to determine the will of God. Here we see
reference to the luminous speculum (mirror) and non-luminous speculum. The former is the
clear mirror through which only Moses saw (Tipheret), and the latter the dim mirror
(Malkut) through which all other prophets see. (See section below on "The Name at
Sinai" for more on this subject):
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 234a -
R. Judah followed with a discourse on the verse: The counsel of the Lord is with
them that fear him; and his covenant to make them know it (Ps. xxv, 14).
The counsel he said, alludes to the sublime mystical knowledge which
remains hidden and undisclosed save for those that fear the Lord continuously and thus
prove themselves worthy of these secrets and able to keep them. Observe that the world has
been made and established by an engraving of forty-two letters, all of which are the
adornment of the Divine Name. These letters combined and soared aloft and dived downwards,
forming themselves into crowns in the four directions of the world, so that it might
endure. They then went forth and created the upper world and the lower, the world of
unification and the world of division. In the latter they are called mountains of
separation ("bather" - Song of Songs II, 17), which are
watered when the south side begins to come near them. The water flows with supernal energy
and with ecstatic joy. Whilst the Thought mounts up with exulting joy out of the most
Undisclosed One, there flows out of it a spark: the two then come into contact with each
other, as explained elsewhere. [Tr. note: Zohar, Exodus, 220b.] These forty-two letters
thus constitute the supernal mystical principle; by them were created the upper and the
lower worlds, and they indeed constitute the basis and recondite significance of all the
worlds. Thus is explained the verse, The secret of the Lord is to them that fear
him; and his covenant to make them know it, the first part alluding to the
undisclosed engraven letters, whereas the latter speaks of the revealed. Now, it is
written: And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgement the Urim and the
Thummim (Ex. XXVIII, 30). The term Urim (lit. Iight, illumination)
signifies the luminous speculum, which consisted of the engravure of the Divine Name
composed of forty-two letters by which the world was created; whereas the Thummim
consisted of the non-luminous speculum made of the Divine Name as manifested in the
twenty-two letters. The combination of the two is thus called Urim and Thummim. Observe
that by the power of these sunken letters were the other letters, namely, the raised
letters forming the names of the tribes, now illumined, now darkened. The letters of the
Divine Name embrace the mystery of the Torah, and all the worlds are a projection of the
mystery of those letters.
THE NAME WITH JACOB
The following section explains how the Shekinah accompanied Jacob
when he went to Egypt. It is said that "forty-two heavenly attendants," which
are associated with the Holy Name of God, were with the Shekinah:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 5a -
Said R. Simeon: When the Shekinah went down to Egypt, a celestial "living
being" (Hayah, cf.Ezek. 1, 5), called "Israel", in form like the patriarch
Jacob, went down with Her, accompanied by forty-two heavenly attendants, each of whom bore
a letter belonging to the Holy Name. They all descended with Jacob to Egypt, and
hence it says and these are the names of the children of Israel which came into
Egypt... with Jacob. ... When R. Isaac was once studying with R.
Eleazar, the son of R. Simeon, he asked him: Did the Shekinah go down to Egypt with
Jacob? Said R. Eleazar: Surely! Did not God say to Jacob, "I will go down
with thee into Egypt" (Gen. XLVI, 4)?
One of the mystical interpretations of Exodus
12:40-41, is that the heavenly hosts that accompanied Jacob into Egypt, left with Moses
and the children of Israel:
Exodus 12:40-41 - Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four
hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty
years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD
went out from the land of Egypt.
THE NAME WITH MOSES
Next, we have mention of the rod that Moses carried with him. Earlier in
our study, we saw how the Zohar said this rod was Metatron, who exercises both mercy
(life) and judgment (death). (See section below on The Name in Song of Songs,
regarding the colors red and white symbolizing judgment and mercy.)
Here, the rod is said to have the forty-two letter name of God
engraved in it:
THE NAME AT SINAI
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 8b -
And in the Egyptian's hand was a spear like a weaver's beam (I Chr. XI, 23).
This alludes to the divine rod which was in Moses hand, and on which there was
engraved the divine ineffable Name radiating in various combinations of letters. These
same letters were in possession of Bezalel, who was called weaver, and his
school, as it is written: Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart... of the
craftsman and the skilled workman, and the weaver, etc. (Exod. XXXV, 35). So that
rod had engraved on it the ineffable Name on every side, in forty-two various
combinations, which were illumined in different colours.
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 27a - AND THE LORD GOD
TOOK THE MAN AND PUT HIM IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, ETC. From whence did he take him? He took
him from the four elements which are hinted at in the verse and from there it parted
and became four heads. God detached him from these and placed him in the Garden of
Eden. So does God do now to any man created from the four elements when he repents of his
sins and occupies himself with the Torah; God takes him from his original elements, as it
is said, and from there he parts, i.e. he separates himself from the desires
which they inspire, and God places him in his garden, which is the Shekinah, to
dress it, by means of positive precepts, and to keep it, by means of
negative precepts. If he keeps the law, he makes himself master of the four elements, and
becomes a river from which they are watered, and they obey him and he is their ruler. But
if he transgresses the law, they are watered from the bitterness of the tree of evil,
which is the evil inclination, and all his limbs are full of bitterness; but when the
members of the body are kept holy from the side of good, it may be said of them that
they came to Marah and were not able to drink waters from Marah, for they were
bitter (Ex. XV, 23). Similarly, the study of the Talmud is bitter compared with that
of the esoteric wisdom, of which it is said, And God showed him a tree
(Ibid.); this is a tree of life, and through it the waters were sweetened.
Similarly of Moses it is written, And the staff of God was in his hand. This
rod is Metatron, from one side of whom comes life and from the other death.
When Moses received the commandments at Sinai directly from God, he heard (shema) His
voice. As seen in our earlier studies, Moses had an intimate understanding of this
emanation of God:
Soncino Zohar Appendix III - The Divine Name - It remains to say a
few words on the place occupied by the Holy Name, the Tetragrammaton [YHVH], in the scheme
of the Zohar. In the Cabbalistic doctrine the name formed by the four Hebrew letters yod,
he, vau, he, has a special and intimate connection with the grade of Tifereth, of which it
is in the strict sense the proper name. We must understand this to mean that if one could
grasp with sufficient clearness the nature of the grade Tifereth, especially as the
originator of the neshamah, he would automatically perceive that this is the fitting
appellation which should be given to it. To this grade of comprehension Moses and the
other prophets actually rose, and this was the basis of their inspiration. There is,
however, a difference between the inspiration of Moses and that of the other prophets.
Moses was able to grasp the connection between the grade and the Name fully and clearly,
but the others only through a haze, as it were, since their comprehension only reached
fully to the two inferior grades of Nezah and Hod, the two pillars or
willows of the brook, as they are fancifully called.
Jewish mystical literature identifies the voice at Sinai, and the God "seen"
at this time, with the sephirah of Tipheret (the sephirah associated with the Messiah).
Among the titles given to Tipheret, is the "Great Name," or
"Unique Name" of God. The last sephirah (Malkhut/Kingdom) is also known as
Atarah, and is entitled the "Honorable Name" of God.
A recent publication2 on the life of the famous Jewish mystic and teacher,
Rabbi Moses ben Nachman (Nachmanides, also called Ramban), annunciates this thought:
"Moses received his prophecy via the central sephirah of Tifereth, whereas
Israel received theirs via the last sefirah of the Atziluth, via Atarah or Malkhuth. ...
In slightly different words, all Torah prophecy derives from the Great [Unique] Name, the
sefirah of tifereth. Moses, because of his greatness, received Torah prophecy from it
directly, whereas Israel, could receive such prophecy only via the Honorable Name, the
sefirah of Atarah (Malkut), which serves as a garment to the Sefirah of Tifereth,
which so to speak, rests in her."
The author quotes from Nachmanides teachings about the giving of the Ten Commandments:
"And God descended upon Mount Sinai" (Exodus 19:20) - If you will look
into this Portion, you will understand that the Great [Unique] Name descended on Mount
Sinaia, and rested on it in Fire [Atarah, called "Fire"]. And He [Unique Name]
spoke with Moses; and in the whole Portion this Name talks to him. And also Moses' going
up ("Moses rose up to God" - 19:3), and his going forth ("Moses [went] led
forth the people towards God" [Ibid., v.17]) towards the place of Divine Honor
Nachmanides also makes it a point to associate Tifereth, with coming in a cloud, adding
yet another link between Yeshua and Tipheret:
THE NAME IN THE WILDERNESS
"The correct interpretation in my eyes is, He [God] said to him [Moses]: 'I
come to you in a thickening of the cloud, that you approach to the dark cloud, in order
that the people may hear My words, and they themselves will be prophets through My words,
and they will not have to believe via others.'"
The manna in the wilderness is also associated with the forty-two letter Name of God.
The children of Israel in their journey from Sinai to the Promised Land, stopped a total
of forty-two times, at each point meeting with God in the form of the Shekinah appearing:
Midrash Rabbah - Exodus XXV:5 - and God
said, BEHOLD, I WILL CAUSE TO RAIN BREAD FROM HEAVEN FOR YOU. R. Judah b. Shalom the
Levite said in the name of R. Jonah, and also R. Levi in the name of R. Hama b. R. Hanina
said: The manna descended after [they had travelled] forty-two stages.
This gives us yet another "connection," as in the
"New Testament," Yeshua refers to Himself as being this manna:
John 6:33 - For the bread of God is he which cometh down from
heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
During this excursion to the Promised Land, The children of
Israel experience their encounter with the evil prophet, Balaam, who offered his services
to the king Balak, who had sought him out. The Talmud records that Balak (and Balaam)
offered a total of forty-two sacrifices to come against the power(s) that supported
Talmud - Mas. Sotah 47a - R. Hanina said: On
account of the forty-two sacrifices which Balak, king of Moab, offered, were forty-two
children cut off from Israel.
The Zohar states the same about Balak and Balaam, and then goes
on to explain that the prophet Elisha exacted revenge upon forty-two children for the
curses that Balak and Balaam attempted to inflict upon Israel:
Shemoth, Section 2, Page 224a - R. Simeon said: Observe that the
forty-two offerings brought by Balaam and Balak were offerings diverted from the
other side towards the Holy One, blessed be He, and so the other
side, which is called curse, had to be repaid these offerings from
Israel. This is the inner implication of the verse, And he (Elisha) looked behind
him and saw them (2 Kings II, 24). That is to say, behind him, meaning
the other side, which stands behind the Shekinah. He turned and saw
them (the children), as being meet for punishment; and cursed them in the name
of the Lord (Ibid.), inducing the Divine Name, as it were, to discharge the debt
owing to the other side, for the latter's offerings which had been diverted to
Him. Thus all is made right before the Holy One, blessed be He, and not a single act is
lost, whether for good or for evil.
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 224b - Straightway
he [Elisha] cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth
two bears(2 Kings II, 24)-she bears, as indicated by the feminine numeral sh'tayim,
big with offspring, and tare forty and two children of them (Ibid.), in
correspondence, as has been explained, to the number of offerings brought by Balak.
The Scripture verse in question is from 2 Kings:
2 Kings 2:24 - And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the
LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children
THE NAME IN SONG OF SONGS
Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) is perhaps the most "mysterious" book of the
Bible with its dialogue between a man and a woman, filled with sexual imagery. It is a
book that clearly holds a deep meaning not found at its literal level. The writings of the
Zohar refer to "Song of Songs" as "Holy of Holies," expressing that
its words are a depiction of (spiritual) history, involving the unification of God, with
the bride (the Shekinah) longing to be united with the bridegroom (Tipheret/Messiah).
In Midrash Rabbah Song of Songs, we see the Shekinah speak of how it met with the
children of Israel a total of forty-two times in their wildernesss journey:
Midrash Rabbah - The Song of Songs I:41 - MY
MOTHER'S SONS, the sons of my nation, namely the spies, WERE INCENSED AGAINST ME: they
attacked me, they filled the Judge with wrath against me. THEYMADE ME KEEPER OF THE
VINEYARDS: because I stayed in the wilderness journeying forty-two stages,
I was not able to enter the land of Israel. Hence, MY OWN VINEYARD I DID NOT KEEP.
The Zohar alludes to the Song of Songs, chapter 2, verse 1, which
says: I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. This section speaks of the lily (shoshana = lily or rose) as being the
beloved of the man in the story. The lily is related to the "Community of
Israel" (and the Shekinah which resides among them). (See also Song of Solomon 3:3,
where he feeds among the lilies [shoshanim]). The colors red and white are associated in
the Zohar with the sephirot of judgment and mercy respectively. (Also, as we will discuss
later, the color green is associated with the sephirah of Tipheret.)
This opening verse of the Zohar speaks of these 42 legs of the
journey in the Wilderness as "42 couplings," and links these to the 42-letter
Name, thus giving a sexual connotation associated with the creation of something:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 1a - Rabbi
Hizkiah opened his discourse with the text: As a lily among thorns, etc. (S.S. II, 2).
What, he said, does the lily symbolise? It symbolises the Community of
Israel. As the lily among thorns is tinged with red and white, so the Community of Israel
is visited now with justice and now with mercy; as the lily possesses thirteen leaves, so
the Community of Israel is vouchsafed thirteen categories of mercy which surround it on
every side. For this reason, the term Elohim (God) mentioned here (in the first verse of
Genesis) is separated by thirteen words from the next mention of Elohim, symbolising the
thirteen categories of mercy which surround the Community of Israel to protect it. The
second mention of Elohim is separated from the third by five words, representing the five
strong leaves that surround the lily, symbolic of the five ways of salvation which are the
five gates. This is alluded to in the verse I will lift up the cup of
salvation (Ps. CXVI, 13). This is the cup of benediction,which has to be
raised by five fingers and no more, after the model of the lily, which rests on five
strong leaves in the shape of five fingers. Thus the lily is a symbol of the cup of
benediction. Immediately after the third mention of Elohim appears the light which, so
soon as created, was treasured up and enclosed in that b'rith (covenant) which entered the
lily and fructified it, and this is what is called tree bearing fruit wherein is
the seed thereof: and this seed is preserved in the very sign of the covenant. And
as the ideal covenant was formed through forty-two copulations, so the engraven ineffable
name is formed of the forty-two letters of the work of creation.
Returning to our opening question regarding the
"connection" between the verses in Matthew, Numbers and Exodus. In the first
verse, we have Matthew listing forty-two generations that led to Messiah. In Numbers, we
learn that the children of Israel met with the Shekinah a total of forty-two times in the
wilderness. Lastly, in Exodus, we find that the "God of Israel" seen my Moses
and the others was that emanation of God represented by the forty-two letter Name.
1. The Kabbalah: The Religious Philosophy of the Hebrews, Adolphe
Franck, University Books, 1967, p.19
2. Ramban: Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J.
Henoch, Jason Aronson, Inc., London 1998, p.148.