The Three Pillars of the Godhead
By James Scott Trimm
The Deity of Messiah is Jewish
The reader should know that the Zohar, Bahir and Sefer Yetzirah are the three most authoritative works of Kabbalah which is Jewish mysticism. The purpose of this part is to demonstrate that the deity of Messiah and three pillars of the Godhead is indeed a Jewish concept.
In Part 1 we discussed the meaning of the word ECHAD in the Sh’ma which reads:
SH’MA YISRAEL YHWH ELOHEYNU YHWH ECHAD
“Hear O Israel, YHWH, our Elohim, YHWH is one (ECHAD)”
Now let us to explore how this passage is understood by the Zohar:
The [profession of] unity that every day is [a profession of] unity
is to be understood and to be perceived. We have said in many places
that this prayer is a profession of Unity that is proclaimed:
”Hear O Yisrael, YHWH“ first, [then] “Eloheynu” [and] “YHWH” they are all One and thus He is called “One”.
Behold, these are three names, how can they be one? Is it because we call them one? (literally: And also concerning the proclamation that we call them one?). How these are one can only through the vision of the Holy Sprit be known. And these are through the vision of the closed eye (or the hidden eye) To make known that these three are one (i.e. a Tri-Unity).
And this is the mystery of the voice that is heard. The voice is one. And is three GAUNIN: fire and air and water. And all these are one in the mystery of the voice.
And also here “YHWH, Eloheynu, YHWH” these are One. Three GAUNIN that are One. And this is the voice of the act of a son of man in [proclaiming] the Unity.
And to which he sees by the Unity of the “All” from Eyn Sof (the Inifinite One) to the end of the “All”. Because of the voice in which it is done, in these are three that are one (i.e. a Tri-Unity).
And this is the [profession] of the daily profession of Unity that is revealed in the mystery of the Holy Spirit.
And there are many GAUNIN that are a Unity, and all of them are true, what the one does, that the other does, and what that one does, the other does.
(The Aramaic word GA’UN (sing.)/GAUNIN (plural) has the same meaning in the Zohar as the Aramaic word K’NUMA did in the Aramaic New Testament. GAUN comes from the word for “color” and refer to an “aspect, element, substance, essence”. )
Thus the Zohar understands the Sh’ma to mean that YHWH, Elohim and YHWH are three GA’UNIN. This section of the Zohar also recalls a reading from the Sefer Yetzirah:
Three “mothers”: Alef; Mem and Shin
Their foundation is a pan of merit
a pan of liability
and the tongue of decree deciding between them.
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:1)
Three “mothers”, Alef, Mem, Shin
in the universe are air, water, fire…
(Sefer Yetzirah 3:4a)
(Note: The letter SHIN has a gematria (numerical value) of 300 which is the same as the gematria of the phrase ”Ruach Elohim” (the Spirit of God).)
As it we will demonstrate the “tongue of decree deciding between them” is the Middle Pillar of the Godhead which reconciles the two outer pillars of the Godhead.
The Three Pillars of the Godhead
The Zohar also calls these three GAUNIN the three pillars of the Godhead. The Zohar teaches that the two outer pillars are reconciled by the middle pillar just as the “tongue of decree” decides between the two pans of the scale in the Sefer Yetzirah. The Zohar reads 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.).
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.
The Middle Pillar of the Godhead is the Son of Yah
According to the Zohar the Middle Pillar of the Godhead is 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.
The Zohar also says of the Son of YHWH:
The Holy One, blessed be He, has a son, whose glory (tifret)
shines from one end of the world to another. He is a great
and mighty tree, whose head reaches heaven, and whose roots
are set in the holy ground, and his name is “Mispar” and his
place is in the uppermost heaven… as it is written, “The heavens
declare (me-SaPRim) the glory (tifret) of God” (Ps. 19:1).
Were it not for this “Mispar” there would be neither hosts
nor offspring in any of the worlds.
This Zohar passage is intended to recall a passage from the Bahir:
Why are they called Sephirot?
Because it is written (Ps. 19:2),
“The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory (tifret) of God.”
The Zohar also says concering the Son of Yah:
“We may also translate “he who withholds blessings
from the Son” (Prov. 11:26), whom the Father and Mother
have CROWNED and blessed with many blessings,
and concerning whom they commanded, “Kiss the SON
lest he be angry” (Ps. 2:12), since he is invested
with judgment (GEVURAH) and with mercy (CHESED)”
The Zohar also identifies the Middle Pillar as “Metatron”:
The Middle Pillar [of the Godhead] is Metatron,
Who has accomplished peace above,
according to the glorious state there.
the Zohar teaches that Metatron is not just the Son of Yah, but that he is “first begotten of all the creatures of God”:
“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 God, 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 God.
The servant is Metatron, the eldest of His [YHWH’s] House,
who is the first-begotten of all creatures of God,
who is the ruler of all He has; because God has committed to Him
the government over all His hosts.
The Memra (The Word)
Another term for the Middle Pillar of the Godhead in Judaism is the Memra (the “Word”). The eminent Kabbalah Scholar Gershom Scholem writes of the Memra:
…the memra– the paraphrase used in the Targumim,
the Aramaic Bible translations, to refer to God’s word.
The memra is not merely a linguistic device for overcoming
the problem of biblical anthropomorphisms; it has theological
significance in its own right. The memra….is…. a world-permeating
force, a reality in the world of matter or mind, the immanent aspect
of Elohim, holding all things under its omnipresent sway.
(On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead:
Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, by Gershom Scholem pg 181-182)
The Targums were authoritative Aramaic paraphrases of the books of the Tanak which were read in the synagogues along with the Hebrew of the Torah and Haftorah readings. Whenever the Targums come to passages where YHWH is anthropomorphisised or seen, or where two or more YHWHs are indicated by the text, the Targums will often substitute “The Word [Memra] of YHWH” for YHWH. For example in Gen. 19:4 the Tanak has:
And YHVH rained brimstone and fire
upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah,
from YHVH, from the heavens.
(Original Bible Project preliminary edition)
The Hebrew grammar here indicates that one YHWH rains fire from another YHWH) But Targum Jonathan substitutes “The Word of YHWH/the LORD” for the first of the two YHWHs as follows:
And the Word of the YHWH caused to descend
upon the peoples of Sodom and Gommorah,
brimstone and fire from the YHWH in heaven.
In another example the Torah has:
Ex. 24:1a (YHWH is the speaker, see Ex. 20:1-2)
Now He [YHWH] said to Moses, “come up to YHWH…”
But Targum Jonathan paraphrases the speaker in Ex. 20:1 with the substitution “the Word [Memra] of YHWH” in place of “YHWH.”
And the Word of the Lord spoke all these glorious words…
So it would seem that one of these entities called “YHWH” in these Torah passages was actually understood by the Targumists as being the “Word of YHWH.” It was, according to Targum Onkelos, this Word of YHWH that Abraham trusted in:
And Abraham trusted in the Word [Memra] of YHWH,
and He counted it to him for righteousness.
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 15:6)
Moreover Abraham prayed in the name of the Word of YHWH:
And Abraham worshipped and prayed
in the name of the Word [Memra] of YHWH,
and said, “You are YHWH who does see, but You cannot be seen.”
(Jerusalem Targum Gen. 22:14)
Note that here Abraham prays “in the name of the Word of YHWH” to the YHWH who “cannot be seen.” Here two YHWHs are very apparent. Abraham is praying in the name of the Word of YHWH but is praying to the YHWH who cannot be seen. This idea is reinforced elsewhere as follows:
And Hagar praised and prayed
in the name of the Word [Memra] Of YHWH
who had revealed Himself to her…
(Jerusalem Targum Gen. 16:3)
It was this Word of YHWH that Jacob also trusted in:
And Jacob vowed a vow, saying,
“If the Word [Memra] of YHWH will be my support,
and will keep me in the way that I go,
and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
so that I come again to my father’s house in peace;
then shall the Word [Memra]of YHWH be my God.
(Targum Onkelos on Gen. 28:20-21)
King David also urged Israel to trust in the Word of Yah as the Targum of Psalm 62 reads:
Trust in the Word of Yah at all times,
O people of the house of Israel!
Pour out before Him the sighings of your heart;
Say, God is our trust forever.
(Targum on Psalm 62:9)
This “Word of YHWH” was, according to Targum Jonathan, the Creator:
And the Word [Memra] of YHWH
created man in his likeness,
in the likeness of YHWH, YHWH created,
male and female created He them.
(Targ. Jonathan Gen. 1:27)
This idea is also put forward in the Jerusalem Targum:
And the Word [Memra] of YHWH said to Moses:
“I am He who said unto the world ‘Be!’ and it was:
and who in the future shall say to it ‘Be!’ and it shall be.”
And He said: “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel:
‘I Am’ has sent me to you.”
(Jerusalem Targum Ex. 3:14)
The Fragmentary Targum of the Torah also expresses that the Word of YHWH was the Creator:
The first night, when the “Word of YHWH”
was revealed to the world in order to create it,
the world was desolate and void,
and darkness spread over the face of the abyss
and the “Word of the Lord” was bright and illuminating
and He called it the first night.
(Fragmentary Targum Ex. 12:42)
That the Word of YHWH was the Creator can also be seen in the Tanak itself:
By the Word of YHWH were the heavens made,
And all the hosts of them by the Spirit of His mouth.
The Word was also the covenant maker. For example the Noachdic covenant was between the Word and all mankind:
And YHWH said to Noah,
“This is the token of the covenant
which I have established between My Word [Memra]
and between all flesh that is upon the earth.
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 9:17)
The Word also made the Abrahamic covenant as Targum Onkelos also paraphrases:
And I will establish my covenant
between My Word [Memra] and between you…
(Targum Onkelos Gen. 17:7)
The Word of YHWH was also the giver of the Mosaic Covenant and the Torah as the Jerusalem Targum (as quoted above) makes the Torah giver “the Word of YHWH” in Ex. 20:1. It was to th e Word that Jacob turned to for salvation:
Our father Jacob said: “My soul does not wait for salvation
such as that wrought by Gideon, the son of Joash,
for that was but temporal; neither for a salvation
like that of Samson, which was only transitory;
but for that salvation which You have promised to come,
through Your Word unto Your people, the children of Israel;
for your salvation my soul hopes.”
(Targum Jonathan Gen. 49:18)
That the Word of YHWH is the savior is expressed elsewhere:
But Israel shall be saved by the Word of YHWH
with an everlasting salvation…
By the Word of YHWH shall all the seed of Israel be justified…
(Targum Jonathan Is. 45:17, 25)
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah,
and I will save them by the Word of YHWH, their God.
(Targum Jonathan Hosea 1:7)
Thus the Zohar teaches that the Sh’ma (Deut. 6:4) refers to the three pillars of the Godhead as being ECHAD. Moreover the Zohar also teaches that the Middle Pillar of the Godhead reconciles the two outer Pillars (Father and Mother). The Zohar further teaches that this Middle Pillar of the Godhead is the Son of Yah, the firstborn of all creation who will glorify all the bodies which are in the grave. This is the Word of YHWH in whom Abraham placed his faith and who made the covenant with Israel.
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