Halls of the Heavens: Heikhalot Rabbati

by tillerofthesoil

 

[§199] [The Companions made a parable concerning the one who gazes into a vision of the Chariot:] Like a man who has a ladder inside his house on which he ascends and descends; there is none to prevent him—whoever is free and innocent of idolatry, lewdness, bloodshed, slander, a vain oath, profaning the Name, impudence, and baseless hatred, and he keeps every positive and negative mitsvah.

 

[§200] Rabbi Yishma’el said: Rabbi Neḥunia son of ha-Qannah said to me: Son of nobles, happy is he and happy is the soul of anyone who is free and innocent of these eight qualities that טורטביאל יוי (TWRTBY’L YHWH) and סוריה (Suriah) His servant rejects. He descends and gazes on the majesty, wondrousness, and strange princeliness, majesty of exaltation and princeliness of splendor which come to pass before the Throne of His Glory three times every single day on high from the day that the world was created until now for praises with which TWRTBY’L YHWH conducts Himself on high.

[§201] Rabbi Yishma’el said: When my ears heard this warning, my strength grew weak. I said to him: Rabbi, if so, there is no end to the matter, for you do not have a man who has breath in him who is free and innocent of these eight qualities. He said to me: Son of nobles, if not, stand and bring before me all the mighty men of the association and all the magnificent ones of the academy and I will recite before them its mysteries, the things made secret and preserved, wonders, and the weaving of the web that is the completion of the world and upon it its extolment stands, the axis [lit., שִׁפּוּד (shipood), spit, skewer] of the heavens and the earth, on which all the corners of the earth and the inhabited world and the corners of the firmaments on high are tied, sewn, fastened, hung, and stand. And the way of the ladder on high is that its one end is on earth and its other end is on the right foot of the Throne of Glory.

[§202] Rabbi Yishma’el said: At once I stood and I assembled the whole great Sanhedrin and the small, at the third entrance that is in the House of YHWH. And he sat upon a bench of pure alabaster that Elisha my father gave to me at the behest of her who bore me, who brought [it] for him in her marriage contract.

[§203] And there came Rabban Shim’on son of Gamaliel, Rabbi Eli’ezer the Great, Rabbi El’azar son of Damah, Rabbi El’azar son of Shammu’a, Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dahavai, Ḥananiah son of Ḥakhinai, Yonatan son of Uzziel, Rabbi Akiva, and Rabbi Yehudah son of Baba. We came and we sat before him, and they were a whole crowd of companions standing on their feet, because they were seeing to the pans of fire and torches that they had set as a barrier between us and them. And Rabbi Neḥunia son of ha-Qannah sat and arranged all the matters of the Chariot before all [the Sages], [the] descent and [the] ascent, how he descends who descends, and how he ascends who ascends [cf. Bahir §171].

[§204] When a man seeks to descend to the Chariot, he calls on Suriah, Prince of the Presence and adjures him one hundred and twelve times by טוטרוסיאי יוי (TWTRWSY’Y YHWH), who is called טוטרוסיי צורתק טורטביאל טופגר אשרויליאי זכודיאל (TWTRWSY’Y TsWRTQ TWTRBY’L TWPGR ‘ShRWYLY’Y ZKWDY’L), and זהדריאל טנראל (ZHRRY’L TND’L), and שקרהוזיאי רהבירון אדירירון יוי (ShQDHWZY’Y RHBYRWN ‘DIRIRWN YHWH), God of Israel.

[§205] And he must be careful not to add to the one hundred and twelve times, and not to subtract from them. And if he adds or he subtracts, his blood shall be on his head (Joshua 2:19). But his mouth, must bring forth names, and the fingers of his hands must count one hundred and twelve. At once he descends and has authority over the Chariot.

[§206] Rabbi Yishma’el said: Thus said Rabbi Neḥunia son of ha-Qannah: In seven halls TWTRWSY’Y YHWH, God of Israel, sits enthroned, chamber within chamber. And at the entrance of every single hall are eight guards of the threshold, four to the right of the lintel and four to the left of the lintel.

[§213] And at the entrance of the seventh hall stand all the mighty ones, harsh tyrants, hard, awesome, frightening, taller than mountains and sharper than peaks. Their bows are drawn and they are at their faces; their swords are sharp and they are in their hands. Lightning bolts drip and issue from their eyeballs, and pans of fire from their nostrils, and torches of glowing coals from their mouths. They are armed [with] helmets and coats of mail, and lances and spears are hung for them on their arms.

[§214] Their horses are horses of darkness, horses of a deep darkness, horses of gloom, horses of fire, horses of blood, horses of hail, horses of iron, horses of fog. The horses upon which they ride stand over mangers of fire filled with glowing juniper coals, and they eat glowing coals out of their mangers, about a measure of forty seahs in one mouthful. And the measure of the mouth of every single horse is three times as much as the measure of the entrance of the mangers of Caesarea.

[§215] There are rivers of fire beside their mangers, and all their horses drink about the measure of the full canal of water that there is in the river Kidron, which brings out and unites all the rainwater of Jerusalem. A cloud is there above their heads, dripping blood above their heads and [those] of their horses. So this is the mark and character of the guards of the entrance of the seventh hall, and such is the entrance of every single hall.

[§238] Rabbi Yishma’el said: Rabban Shim’on son of Gamliel was enraged with me. He said to me: זהפנוריאי (ZHPNWRY’Y) very nearly rebuked us and crushed us like bran flour. Why is it that you have committed a willful offence with us, do you think that Yonatan son of Uzziel is a man of small account in Israel? What if he descended and just came and stood at the entrance of the seventh hall without a seal, what would have happened to him? He could not blink an eye before the guards of the seventh hall had decreed destruction (Isaiah 10:23; 28:22; Daniel 9:27) upon him.

[§239] Rabbi Yishma’el said: I went and was angry against Rabbi Neḥunia son of ha-Qannah, my master, saying: The Patriarch is angry with me! Why do I live? He said to me: Son of nobles, if not, what honor do I have among you? I put in your mouths Torah, Prophets, and Writings, Mishnah and Midrash, halakhot and aggadot, and the explanation of halakhot, of what is forbidden and permitted. Except for Secrets of Torah, which I have hidden from you, would you have come and appeared before me at all? I know why you have come. You have come only concerning the guards of the entrance of the seventh hall.

[§240] Go and say to the Patriarch: As for all the guards of the entrances of the six halls, it is permissible to invoke the names of every single one of them and to grasp them, but [as for] the guards of the entrance of the seventh hall, the report of them frightens a man and he cannot grasp them. Because every single one of them—his name is called by the name of the King of the World—I have not specified them. Now, since you say to me, specify them, come in and stand on your feet, and every single one of you, when His name issues from my mouth, bend down and fall on your faces. At once came in all the mighty ones of the association and all the magnificent ones of the academy and stood on their feet before Rabbi Neḥunia son of ha-Qannah. He would recite [a name] and they would fall on their faces and the scribes would write.

[§241] These are the names of the guards of the entrance of the seventh hall: זהפנוריאי יוי (ZHPNWRY’Y YHWH), the honored and desired prince; אבירזהיאי יוי (‘BYRZHY’Y YHWH), the honored, desired, and awesome prince; אטריגיאל יוי (‘TRYGY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, awesome, and frightening prince; נגרנאל יוי (NGRN’L YHWH), the honored, desired, awesome, frighting, and precious prince; נורפניאל יוי (NWRPNY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, awesome, frighting, precious, and ornamented prince; נעדוריאל יוי (N’DWRY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, awesome, frighting, precious, ornamented, and powerful prince; ססטיטיאל יוי (SSTYTY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, awesome, frighting, precious, ornamented, powerful, and mighty prince; ענפיאל יוי (‘Anafi’el YHWH), the honored, desired, awesome, frightening, precious, ornamented, powerful, mighty, upright, and valiant prince, the prince whose name is mentioned before the Throne of His Glory three times every single day on high since the world was created and until now for praise. Why? Because the signet ring of the seal of heaven and earth is given over to his hand.

[§242] And when all who are on high see him, they bow down and fall and abase themselves before him, which is not [done] on high. If you say they do not fall before the Prince of the Presence, [it is] rather apart from those who stand before the Throne of His Glory, for they do not prostrate themselves to the Prince of the Presence. But before ענפיאל (‘Anafi’el) the prince [even] they prostrate themselves with permission and willingly, אתנורוס רבי הגדול רבו ה’ג’ יא פימיל שנתמרצע (‘TNWRWS RBY HGDWL RBW H’G’ Y’ PYMYL ShNTMRTs’) YHWH God of Israel.

[§243] These are the names of the guards of the entrance of the seventh hall of the descent. Explication of the names of the ascent: נורפניאל יוי (NWRPNY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, and awesome prince, who is called אבירזהיאי יוי (‘BYRZHYZY YHWH). דלקוקיאל יוי (DLQWQYAL YHWH), the honored, desired, and awesome prince [who is called], לבכפיאל יוי (LBKPY’L YHWH). יקריאל יוי (YQRY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, and awesome prince who is called אטריגיאל יוי (‘TRIGI’L YHWH), the honored, desired, and awesome prince who is called בנאנאל יוי (BN’N’L YHWH). נורפיניאל יוי (NWRPYNY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, and awesome prince who is called שקדיהיאל יוי (SQDYHY’L YHWH). נערוריאל יוי (N’RWRY’L YHWH), the honored, desired, and awesome prince who is called זוהליאל יוי (ZWHLY’L YHWH). ענפיאל יוי (‘Anafi’el YHWH), the honored, desired, awesome, frightening, precious, ornamented, powerful, mighty, strong, upright, and valiant prince who is called טופריאל יוי (TWPRY’L YHWH).

[§244] And why is his name called עַנָפִיאֵל (‘Anafi’el), Mighty Branch? Because of the branch of crowns of crowns laid upon his head. [He is] a canopy covering all the chambers of the hall [called] עֲרָבוֹת רָקִיעַ (aravot raqi’a), Firmament of Clouds, as יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית (yotser bereshit), Fashioner at the Beginning. What is “Fashioner at the Beginning?” Of Him is written: [אֱלוֹהַּ (Eloah), God, shall come from Teman and the Holy One from Mount Paran. selah.] His majesty covers the heavens, [and His splendor fills the earth] (Habakkuk 3:3), so too the prince ‘Anafi’el, a servant who is called by his Master’s name. And why is he favored of all the guards of the six halls? Because he opens the entrance of the seventh hall [§245] and closes before the Throne of Glory which is set high and stands opposite the entrance of the seventh hall. And the holy living beings are opposite the entrance of the seventh hall, and the cherubim and the ofannim are opposite the entrance of the seventh hall, and there are two hundred and fifty-six faces in each of the holy living beings opposite the entrance of the seventh hall [cf. Targum Yonatan to Ezekiel 1:6].

[§246] Greatest of all, there are five hundred and twelve eyes in the four living beings opposite the entrance of the seventh hall. Of them all the forms of the faces are faces of sixteen by sixteen faces which belong to every single living being, opposite the entrance of the seventh hall.

[§247] When a man would seek to descend to the Chariot, ‘Anafi’el would open the doors of the entrance of the seventh hall for him. This man, would enter and stand at the threshold of the entrance of the seventh hall, and the holy living beings would raise over him five hundred and twelve eyes. And every single eye of one of the holy living beings is split open like the size of a great winnowers’ sieve, and the look of their eyes run like lightning (Nahum 2:4). Besides them, there are the eyes of the mighty cherubim and the ofannim of the Shekhinah, which are the look of torches and flaming coals.

[§248] And that man shudders and trembles and recoils—terrified he faints and falls backwards. And ‘Anafi’el the prince and sixty-three guards [cf. Bahir §92–§93] of the entrances of the seven halls, all support him and help him. And they say to him: Do not be afraid, son of the beloved seed. Enter and see the King in His beauty (Isaiah 33:17). You will not be ruined and you will not be burned.

[§249] He is the upright King, He is the faithful King, He is the desired King, He is the humble King, He is the meek King [cf. BT Megillah 31a: “Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The blessed Holy One—wherever you find His strength you find His meekness”], He is the righteous King, He is the devout King, He is the holy King, He is the pure King, He is the blessed King, He is the majestic King, He is the mighty King, He is the gracious King, He is the merciful King, He is the lowly King, He is the great King.

[§250] And they place in him power. Immediately, one blows the horn from above the רָקִיעַ (raqi’a), platform, that was over their heads, [it was like the look of sapphire stone—the likeness of a throne, and above the likeness of the throne, like a human form upon it above] (Ezekiel 1:26), and the holy living beings cover their faces, and the cherubim, and the ofannim turn back their faces, and he enters and stands before the Throne of His Glory.

“Rabbi Akiva said: In the moment I ascended to and gazed at the Glory, I saw that in the pathways of heaven there are creatures, whose length on high is [?] and whose width below is [?]—of their length below and their width on high Is there a number to His brigades?(Job 25:3). Behold: Kokhavi’el is the prince appointed over the stars, and with him there are 365,000 myriad honored ministering angels. The angles, great and lofty in קוֹמָה (qomah), stature, enclothed in white fire are filled with eyes (Ezekiel 1:18). And behold: ‘Anafi’el, the great prince, by his fingertips the firmament of Aravot is split” (Rabbi El’azar of Worms, Sodei Razaya, 2; Schäfer, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, §§545, 873]).

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