By James Trimm

In order to understand Philo’s concept of the Word (Logos) it is important to understand Philo’s concept of Elohim. Philo says:

“The primal existence is God, and second the God-Word”
(Allegorical Interpretation II, 86)

“The Creator of the world sends out His powers
from an eternal and invisible place”
(Q&A on Genesis, II, 48)

Philo raises the question

“…regarding its Creator, asking of what sort this Being is so difficult to see, so difficult to conjecture. Is He a body or incorporeal or something exalted above these? Is He a single nature… Or a composite Being?…and seeing that this is a problem hard to pursue, hard to take in by thought, he prays that he may learn from God Himself what God is.”
(Flight and Finding, 164)

Philo doesn’t answer this question here, but he does answer these questions elsewhere. In On the Confusion of Tongues, 62, He calls God “incorporeal” and in a later section, he describes God as a “Triad” (Trinity). He refers to God as “…the Lord God of three natures…”(Philo; On the Change of Names II, 11). He also says:

…it is reasonable for one to be three and for three to be one, for they were one by a higher principle… …in the place of one, He makes the appearance of a triad [trinity]… He cannot be seen in his oneness without something [else], the chief Powers that that exist immediately with him… the Creative, which is called “Elohim” and the Kingly, which is called “Lord”… he begins to see the sovereign, holy, and divine vision in such a way that a single appearance appears as a triad [trinity], and the triad [trinity] as a unity.
(Philo; Questions on Genesis, IV, 2)

According to Philo God appears as a Triad — himself and his two Powers: Creative and Ruling. To the “purified soul,” however, God appears as One.

… the Father of the universe, who in the sacred scripture is called by his proper name,
‘I am that I am’; and the beings on each side are those most ancient powers which are always close to the living God, one of which is called his Creative Power, and the other his Royal Power. And the Creative Power is God, for it is by this that he made and arranged the universe; and the Royal Power is the Lord, for it is fitting that the Creator should lord it over and govern the creature. Therefore, the middle person of the three, being attended by each of his powers as by body-guard, presents to the mind, which is endowed with the faculty of sight, a vision at one time of one being, and at another time of three; …
(Abr. 119-123).

The reconciliation of these two opposing “powers”, the central power is the Word (Logos):

…the Divine Word (Logos)…fills all things and becomes a mediator and arbitrator for the two sides….from the Divine Word (Logos), as from a spring, there divide and break forth two powers. One is the creative through which the Artificer placed and ordered all things. This is named “God”. And the royal, since through it the Creator rules over created things. This is called “Lord” And from these two powers have grown the others. For by the side of the creative power there grows the propitious of which is named “beneficial” while (besides) the royal the legislative, of which is aptly named “punitive”. And below these and beside them is the ark.”
(Philo on Q&A on Exodus, II.68)

As we stated earlier Philo’s “Word” (Logos) parallels Kabbalah’s SEFIROT.

According to the Sefer Yetzirah there are ten sefirot:

Ten Sefirot of Nothingness ten and not nine ten and not eleven…
(Sefer Yetzirah 1:4)

The ten sefirot are arranged on a chart known as the “Tree of Life” under three columns known as the “three pillars of the Godhead”.

As we read in the Bahir:

Why are they called Sephirot?
Because it is written (Psalm 19:2),
“The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory of God.”
And what are they?
They are three. Among them are three troops and three dominions.
(Bahir 125-126)

The Zohar describes the three pillars of the Godhead as follows:

Concerning this, too, it is written: “Let there be light, and there was light” (Gen. I, 3). Why, it may be asked, was it necessary to repeat the word “light” in this verse? The answer is that the first “light” refers to the primordial light which is of the Right Hand, and is destined for the “end of days”; while the second “light” refers to the Left Hand, which issues from the Right. The next words, “And God saw the light that it was good” (Gen. 1, 4), refer to the pillar which, standing midway between them, unites both sides, and therefore when the unity of the three, right, left, and middle, was complete, “it was good”, since there could be no completion until the third had appeared to remove the strife between Right and Left, as it is written, “And Elohim separated between the light and between the darkness” (Ibid.).
(Zohar 2:167a)

This is the Middle Pillar: Ki Tob (that it was good) threw light above and below and on all other sides, in virtue of Tetragrammaton, the name which embraces all sides.
(Zohar 1:16b)


Philo Writes of the Word (Logos):

For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high priest is the divine word, his own firstborn son. The other is the rational soul, the priest of which is the real true man,
(On Dreams 215)

And if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, neverthless let him labour earnestly to be adorned according to his Firstborn Word, the eldest of his angels, as the great archangel of many names; for He is called, “the Authority”, and “the Name of God”, and “the Word”, and “man according to God’s image”, and “He who sees Israel”. . . For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his most sacred Word; for the image of God is his most ancient word.
( On the Confusion of Tongues XXVIII:146-147)

Thus, indeed, being a shepherd is a good thing, so that it is justly attributed, not only to kings, and to wise men, and to souls who are perfectly purified, but also to God, the ruler of all things; and he who confirms this is not any ordinary person, but a prophet, whom it is good to believe, he namely who wrote the psalms; for he speaks thus, “The Lord is my shepherd, and he shall cause me to lack Nothing;” (Ps. 23:1.) and let every one in his turn say the same thing, for it is very becoming to every man who loves God to study such a song as this, but above all this world should sing it. For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason, his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, “Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the Road.”(Ex. 23:20.)
(On Husbandry 50-51)

According to the Zohar, the Middle Pillar of the Godhead is also known as the “Son of Yah”:

Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother far off.
This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the godhead,
which is the Son of Yah.
(Zohar 2:115)

The Middle Pillar is also known as “Metatron”:

The Middle Pillar [of the godhead] is Metatron,
Who has accomplished peace above,
According to the glorious state there.
(Zohar 3:227)

And in the Zohar we are also told that Metatron is “the firstborn” and the “ruler of all He has” and “committed to Him the government over all His hosts”:

“And Abraham said to his oldest servant of his house…” (Gen. 24:2) Who is this of whom it said “his servant?” In what sense must this be understood? Who is this servant? R. Nehori answered:
“It is in no other sense to be understood than expressed in the word “His servant,”
His servant, the servant of Elohim, the chief to His service. And who is he? Metatron, as said. He is appointed to glorify the bodies which are in the grave. This is the meaning of the words “Abraham said to His servant” that is to the servant of Elohim. The servant is Metatron, the eldest of His [YHWH’s] House, who is the firstborn of all creatures of Elohim, who is the ruler of all He has; because Elohim has committed to Him the government over all His hosts.
(Zohar 1:129b)

This recalls, not only what Philo has said about the “Word” (Logos) but also a statement by Paul in his letter to the Colossians:

Who is the image of Eloah, which is invisible, and the Firstborn of all creation. And by him was created everything that is in heaven and on earth, all that is seen and all that is not seen, whether thrones or sovereignties or principalities or authorities. Everything through him and by him was created. He was from before, and all and everything by him was established. And he is the head of the Assembly, because He is the head, And the Firstborn from among the dead, that he might be first in all.
(Col. 1:15-18)


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