The Seventy-two Names
“What is the meaning of May יְהוָה (YHWH) bless you and guard you. May יְהוָה (YHWH) light up His face to you and grant grace to you; May יְהוָה (YHWH) lift up His face to you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-6). This is the explicit Name of the blessed Holy One. It is the name containing twelve letters, as is written, יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH). This teaches us that the blessed Holy One’s Name consist of three camps. Each camp resembles the other, and each one’s name is like those [already] named. All of them are sealed with יְהוָה (YHWH). How? יְהוָה (YHWH) can be permuted twenty-four different ways, forming one camp. This is May יְהוָה (YHWH)… In a similar manner, the second May יְהוָה (YHWH) light up His face… These are twenty-four names of the blessed Holy One. In a similar manner, the third, May יְהוָה (YHWH) lift up His face… These are the twenty-four names of the blessed Holy One. This teaches us that each camp, with its heads and officers, has twenty-four. Multiply twenty-four by three and you have seventy-two names of the blessed Holy One. These are the seventy-two names derived from וַיִּסַּע (va-yissa), and it moved, the messenger of God that was going before the camp of Israel… וַיָּבֹא (va-yavo), and it came… וַיֵּט (va-yet), and stretched out… (Exodus 14:19-21).
And who are the officers? We learned that there are three. Gevurah 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 [Ḥesed]. In the middle is Truth. This is Uriel, the officer of all the holy forms [Tif’eret]. To each officer are more than twenty-four forms. But there is no reckoning of His camps, as is written, Is there a number to His brigades? (Job 25:3). But if so, then there are seventy-two and seventy-two. He said: This is not the case. For when Israel brings a sacrifice before their Father in heaven, they are united together. This is the unification of God” (Bahir §107).
וַיִּסַּע מַלְאַךְ הָאֱלֹהִים הַהֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵי מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֵּלֶךְ מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם וַיִּסַּע עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן מִפְּנֵיהֶם וַיַּעֲמֹד מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם
וַיָּבֹא בֵּין מַחֲנֵה מִצְרַיִם וּבֵין מַחֲנֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיְהִי הֶעָנָן וְהַחֹשֶׁךְ וַיָּאֶר אֶת-הַלָּיְלָה וְלֹא-קָרַב זֶה אֶל-זֶה כָּל-הַלָּיְלָה
וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת-יָדוֹ עַל-הַיָּם וַיּוֹלֶךְ יְהוָה אֶת-הַיָּם בְּרוּחַ קָדִים עַזָּה כָּל-הַלַּיְלָה וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת-הַיָּם לֶחָרָבָה וַיִּבָּקְעוּ הַמָּיִם
And the messenger of God that was going before the camp of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved before them and stood behind them. And it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there was the cloud and the dark, and it lit up the night, and they did not draw near each other all night. And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and יְהוָה (YHWH) led the sea with a mighty east wind all night, and He made the sea dry ground, and the waters were split apart (Exodus 14:19-21).
“We have learned: From the side of Ḥesed, seventy and two witnesses. From the side of Gevurah, seventy and two scribes. From the side of Tif’eret, seventy and two colors—to be glorified… Combination of these letters: First letters inscribed in their order, straight—for all those first letters appear in Ḥesed, proceeding straight, arranged correctly.
Secondly letters inscribed revolving backward, for all those second letters appear in Gevurah, revealing judgments and weapons issuing from the left side.
Third letters are letters inscribed to display colors, crowning the Holy King. All join and link to Him, and He is adorned with His crowns aligned, inscribed on this side and on that side—like a king completely adorned. For here is inscribed the Holy Name, engraved with seventy-two letters crowning the patriarchs—supernal holy Chariot” (Zohar 2:51b, cf. ibid. 3:150b-151a).