From Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth

by tillerofthesoil

 

And from Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth. And from Bamoth to the valley that is in the steppes of Moab, by the top of Pisgah looking out over the wasteland (Numbers 21:19–20)? [Rava said:] If a man allows himself to be treated as the wilderness upon which everybody treads, Torah will be given to him as מַתָּנָה (mattanah), a gift; and as soon as it is given to him as a gift, נְחַלוֹ אֵל (neḥalo El), he is ‘the inheritance of God,’ as it says: וּמִמַּתָּנָה נַחֲלִיאֵל (u-mi-mattanah naḥaliel), And from Mattanah to Nahaliel; and as soon as he is ‘the inheritance of God,’ he rises to greatness, as it says: and from Nahaliel to בָּמוֹת (Bamoth), Heights. But if he is arrogant, the blessed Holy One humbles him, as it says: And from Bamoth to the valley. If, however, he repents, the blessed Holy One raises him, as it says: Every valley shall be lifted high (Isaiah 40:4)” (BT Eruvin 54a, cf. M Avot 6:2).

“How do we know that each of the seven qualities is called נָחַל (naḥal), river? Because it is written And from Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth (Numbers 21:19). Do not read נַחֲלִיאֵל (naḥaliel), Nahaliel, but נַחֲלֵי אֵל (naḥalei El), ­rivers of God. And all six then go on one way to the Sea. What is this way? The one that holds the balance between them. Therefore it is written: Before Him pestilence goes, and plague comes forth at His feet (Habakkuk 3:5) [cf. BT Megillah 25b; Rabbi Yosef Hamadan, Sefer Tashaq, 267–68]. All of them go to that channel, and from that channel to the Sea. This is: And from מַּתָּנָה (mattanah), Gift, to Nahaliel—a place which is נִתַן (nitan), given, namely from the brain to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth. What is Bamoth? The Targum renders it: רָמָתָא (ramatha), Heights. This is the סְגֻלָּה (segullah), treasure, which follows זַרְקָא֮ (zarqa).

And from Bamoth to the valley that is in the steppes of Moab, by the top of Pisgah looking out over the wasteland (Numbers 21:20). And from Bamoth to the valley—which He prepared. And what is that which was in the steppes of Moab? Do not read מוֹאָב (mo’av), Moab, but מִאָב (mi-av), from father. This is the patriarch of whom is written, Because Abraham has listened to My voice and has kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, [and My teachings] (Genesis 26:5). And what is הַשָּׂדֶה (ha-sadeh), the steppes? It is at the top of Pisgah, also, looking out over the wasteland. יְשִׁימֹן (Yeshimon), the wasteland—the Targum renders this as שְׁמַיָּא (shemayya), heavens.

Of that channel is written: A garden spring, a garden of fresh water and streams from Lebanon (Song of Songs 4:15). What is Lebanon? We say: Ḥokhmah. What are the עַרְבֵי נָחַל (arvei naḥal), willows of the brook? We say: That which gives נַחֲלָה (naḥalah), an inheritance, to Israel—two אוֹפַנִי הַמֶרְכָּבָה (ofani ha-merkavah), wheels of the Chariot” (Bahir §178).

“Rabbi El’azar said, ‘The people of Israel are destined to chant a song from below to above, and from above to below, and to tie the knot of faith—as is written: Then יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל (yashir yisra’el), will Israel sing, this song (Numbers 21:17)—it is not written Then שָׁר (shar), did [Israel] sing, but rather Then yashir, will [Israel] sing, and similarly with all of them. This song—from below to above.

Rise, O well! Sing to it! (Numbers ibid.). Rise, O well!—that is, ascend to Your place, to be joined with Your Husband. This is from below to above, afterward from above to below—for until now She is in exile with us.

The well dug by princes (Numbers 21:18)—for Father and Mother engendered Her above. Delved by nobles of the nation (ibid.)—the Patriarchs, who are called nobles of nations (Psalms 47:10). Delved—a place for the King to couple with Her with blessings. And by what is the coupling? With a scepter (Numbers ibid.)—Yesod. With their stavesNetsaḥ and Hod. This is from above to below.

וּמִמִּדְבָּר (U-mi-midbar), And from the desert [alluding to the ascent of Shekhinah, known as divine דִבּוּר (dibbur), ‘speech’], to Mattanah. And from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth (Numbers 21:18–19)—here, complete bond, bond of faith, enduring bond wherein is all.

Of that time is written YHWH will be king over all the earth; on that day YHWH will be one and His Name one (Zechariah 14:9). And it is written Then will our mouth fill with laughter and our tongue with glad song. Then they will say among the nations: ‘Great things has YHWH done for these’ (Psalms 126:2–3)” (Zohar 3:286a).