by Stephen P. Dehnke
Formerly from www.proclaimliberty.info
The abrupt death of a friend earlier this year led to a shocking discovery and an unsettling question of faith that has haunted me ever since. Although several months have since past, I still feel at a loss to come to an explanation. While this has been a remorseful experience for me, perhaps it will serve as a warning for others who might find themselves going down a similar road to perdition.
My friend died just before sundown ushered in a weekly Sabbath. It came as a terrible shock to everyone who knew him. Even in death, he entered into his Sabbathâ€™s rest. He was Shabbat Shomer, an observant keeper of YHWHâ€™s weekly day of rest â€“ the eternal sign between Him and His people, Exd. 31:13-17. We both had been taught to keep the Torah strictly as a demonstration of our daily devotion and love for the Most High. Our friendship was forged by common experiences along the Narrow Way and a love for YHWH and His Word.
The previous year had been especially difficult for him. My friend had an unexpected seven-month â€œhiatusâ€ that kept him away from home during the entire time. For him, the experience was profound. It forced him to rethink some things, especially his relationship with his Heavenly Father.
After his hiatus ended, he confided to me that his unpleasant experience led him to reconsider his interest in Jewish mysticism, known as the Qabalah, also spelled Qabbala, Kabbalah, Cabala, and numerous other variations. (1) His zeal was such that he had endeavored to go as far deep into learning Qabalastic mysteries as he was able. He eventually regretted that decision.
Meanwhile, certain other Hebraic Roots believers, themselves Qabalah proponents, had encouraged him onward. He ordered books, received newsletters, and searched the Internet, acquiring a vast amount of information on the subject. Full of curiosity, he inundated himself in what had been considered for centuryâ€™s hidden knowledge explaining the mysteries of the universe and the nature of the Almighty.
His desire to uncover hidden secrets, however, led him to go beyond the Qabalistic realm of Torah commentary into what many consider the supernatural realm of the occult. In that occult essentially means â€œhidden,â€ perhaps this should not have come as a total surprise, especially given the Qabalahâ€™s unsavory reputation as a system for performing occult magic (2), sorcery, and divination. Before his hiatus, he managed to keep his esoteric involvement with the Qabalah hidden from me. After he returned, he eventually revealed a dark secret to: one that exploded like a bombshell in my face.
As if he had confessed to pigging out at a pig roast, I was shocked and appalled when he admitted that a former friend, who was also a professed Hebraic Roots-oriented Bible believer, had brought him a deck of Tarot cards and taught him how to â€œreadâ€ them. This person shared other questionable things with my friend as well.
And if that discovery was not enough to elicit my exasperation, he also divulged that he had engaged in candle magic to cast spells. It was like he admitting to being a sorcererâ€™s apprentice. By his sheepish expression, I could tell he was not proud of himself for engaging in these practices. He even admitted that he should never have done so. I think it was a huge relief for him just to confess to me that he had done these things.
However, instead of repenting and putting this problem behind him; he still wrestled with an unresolved issue.
Recalling from the Bible the incident with the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19 and the actions of good kings Hezekiah and Josiah to cleanse the ancient Jewish kingdom of heathen idolatry, I exhorted him to burn and destroy these abominable items immediately.
Without going into detail, he replied that he simply could not do so at that time. He explained the items could only be destroyed at the right time and only in a prescribed way. I tried arguing with him about it, but he kept to his position without backing down. Only as he said â€œwhen the time was rightâ€ would he be able to do what needed to be done.
I didnâ€™t agree whatsoever, but I decided it was pointless to argue further. Instead, I chose to just let the matter go since it was obvious he was unwilling to be persuaded otherwise.
Presuming that he had been taken care of this matter as he said he would, I watched admiringly as he worked during the next months to develop a new overseas online Hebraic Roots outreach. This was his new daily passion. He was talking about developing other ministries as well. Meanwhile, he had taken a Nazirite vow, as per Num. 6, committing himself to spiritual purity while the vow remained in effect. Things were looking up for him.
A SHOCKING DISCOVERY
Five months after his occult confessions to me, I was notified of his sudden death. His passing occurred just days before Passover. The significance of this timing would manifest itself shortly to me.
During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I received a call from a mutual friend, who is a fellow Hebraic Roots believer. He had just helped clean out several items from our departed friendâ€™s apartment. â€œThereâ€™s something you need to see for yourself,â€ he told me, proceeding to warn me in advance what to expect.
On the weekly Shabbat, I and another person drove to his house to engage in fellowship and Bible study, before attending a nearby worship event later that day featuring a renowned spiritual warfare speaker. Afterward that evening, we took care of the business that our departed friend had neglected to do long ago: burn and destroy two garbage bagfuls of occult paraphernalia that had accumulated in his apartment. Evidently, something had frightened him to the point where he refused to discard these items.
There were candles of various scents and colors, sachet bags filled with stinky powders for incantations, spell-casting directions, voodoo stuff, certain personsâ€™ photographs with the backgrounds cut out, incense, assorted other stuff, and also â€” not entirely surprisingly â€“ a deck of Tarot cards. Looks alone suggested something of a nefarious element here. Even the mingled odors of the various scented items smelled evil.
My friend never destroyed these items as he said would. To this day, I cannot understand why. I had no idea he had delved so deeply into what was clearly to me an abomination to YHWH. Tarot cards were just the beginning of an unhealthy spiritual sickness. Most of the items obviously were not intended for other people to see. Evidently, he planned to keep these things hidden until he figured out how to get rid of them.
As I reflected upon his situation, I thought of Messiah Yahâ€™shuaâ€™s warning about the Pharisees in Luke 12:2,
â€œBut there is nothing covered up, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.â€ (3)
Perhaps most shocking of the items was a handwritten spell using YHWHâ€™s name, essentially commanding the Most High to provide him with something that was unlawful for him to have.
The pastel colored inks used in the Tarot deck gave off a wild array of strange colors. While it burned, a nauseating stench filled the air. My stomach turned as we watched the items immolated and reduced to ashes. Afterward, the ashes were covered over with dirt. The non-burnable items were smashed and destroyed. A feeling of accomplishment came over me as we finished our Deu. 7:5 commanded duty.
Months later, I still do not understand what caused my friend to fail obliterating these occultic items from his life. What was he so afraid of? Was he fearful of a demonic retaliation? Had he made a covenant or vow in the supernatural realm that he feared was binding upon him? Had he pronounced a curse upon himself?
As I contemplated these questions, others came to mind as well: Why had my friend so flagrantly disobeyed the Torahâ€™s prohibitions against engaging in the occult? Why had he placed his trust in demons over YHWH? And why was he convinced that YHWH could not deliver him from retaliatory demonic forces? What had become of his faith?
The more I pondered the situation, the more consternation I felt, especially that other professing believers apparently had influenced my friend to go in this direction. My main concern, though, was why he even let them.
I was stupefied in understanding why this man, who had a great zeal for Almighty YHWH and His Torah, who even considered becoming a minister at one point, would allow himself to fall into practices that were outright occultic in nature. Had a strong delusion come over him, as in 2Th. 2:11? This is my quest to learn how my friend had allowed himself to become so terribly deceived by something that may have looked attractive outwardly but inwardly was replete with red flag issues.
The Torah says the following about those who would lead one astray into idolatry: â€œIf thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, that is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; of the gods of the peoples that are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him.â€ Deu. 13:6-8.
Exd. 22:18 also came to mind, â€œThou shalt not suffer a witch to live.â€ (KJV). Other translations say â€œsorcererâ€ instead of â€œwitch.â€ Except perhaps to Wiccans, it probably makes little difference which word is used here: by definition sorcery is witchcraft. (4) Regardless of what the politically correct crowd says, all witchery is wicked. YHWH looks upon it as an abomination.
Here, I must make a confession. I was not only upset but utterly LIVID that others who professed to be fellow believers and observant of the Torah had shamelessly encouraged my friend to go in this direction. I praise the Almighty, though, that my friend at least realized what he was doing was evil and put a stop to it. If only he would have come totally clean on his situation by having all those abominable items removed and destroyed. If onlyâ€¦
Following my awful discovery, I wondered what would have happened had I spoken out earlier against Qabalism as I had felt impelled to do. Perhaps things would have turned out much differently for my friend. Perhaps he would even still be alive.
To be sure, Qabalism was a hotly debated subject within the Messianic and Hebraic Roots movements. Whenever detractors pointed out that the Qabalah had pagan and occultic elements, its defenders would respond that there were essentially two types of Qabalah: kosher and non-kosher (with the kosher variety supposedly always spelled with a â€œK.â€ as in â€œKabbalahâ€ to differentiate it from occultic Qabala, spelled with a â€œQ.â€). (5)
My position is that all Qabalah, regardless of its spelling, is based on a received tradition, thus rendering it suspect. The spelling with a â€œQâ€ instead of a â€œKâ€ best reflects its Hebrew origin. There is probably no one â€œcorrectâ€ spelling. As it is spelled in this article is an attempt to reflect its transliteration from Hebrew. More about the spelling and meaning of the term appears below.
Meanwhile, defenders of the Qabalah might allege that the non-kosher type is the one practiced commonly, including by pop celebrities and numerous Hollywood actors. Not surprisingly, this branch of Qabalah is riddled with pagan, occultic, and New Age spiritually unclean elements. Kosher Kabbalism, allegedly ascended above the corruptions of non-kosher Qabalism and supposedly offers a pure, mystical understanding of the Almightyâ€™s nature, along with a deeper comprehension of the Scriptures.
At the time, rather than thoroughly investigating the Qabalah question for myself, however, I found it convenient for years to remain mostly ambivalent on the subject â€” and thereby decidedly neutral when the controversial subject came up. Shame on me!
PRIOR EXPOSURE TO QABALISTIC TEACHINGS
Although my position was essentially neutral, my intuition and limited knowledge on the subject told me there was much to be wary about its study and practice. Several years ago, I was invited to the U.S. Midwest for a Torah-observant Sukkoth, or Feast of Tabernacles. After I arrived, I realized that Qabalism was to be the main course of the feast.
A Hebraic Roots author who had written several books on Nazarene Messianic Qabalism was the featured guest speaker. His overhead PowerPoint presentations on Qabalistic concepts were, frankly, over my head (pun intended). At the time, the impression I had was that they were radical reinterpretations of the Creation account given in Genesis 1-2.
Another guest, with a similar religious background to mine, rejected the teachings outright as heretical and exited abruptly from the convocation. While I found myself troubled by some of the teachings presented, I felt at the time that it was worthwhile to learn more.
Eventually, two incidents convinced me that I too was in the wrong place.
One of the spiritual leaders and authorities on the Qabalah remarked to me at one point that â€œYahâ€™shuaâ€™s problems were really with the Sadducees, rather than the Pharisees.â€ I could scarcely believe my ears at hearing such a statement. With numerous examples throughout the four gospels of contentions between the Pharisees and Yahâ€™shua, it was clear to me that an effort was underway to reinterpret the Scriptural record of Yahâ€™shuaâ€™s life to exonerate the Pharisees.
Of course, to Jews, the Pharisees are looked upon favorably as the religious party that founded rabbinic Judaism and who also are the forefathers of modern Orthodox Judaism. With that telling remark, sadly that leader thereafter lost credibility with me.
Later, one of his Qabalah students presented a teaching on Lilith, the supposed first wife of Adam, in the Garden of Eden. His message cited traditional Jewish sources without once referencing the Biblical account in Genesis. At that point, I realized that tradition and questionable apocryphal accounts were being given greater credence over Holy Scripture. Appalled, I was reminded of Paulâ€™s admonition in Tts. 1:13-14:
â€œThis testimony is true. For which cause reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.â€
Despite my protest to one of the eventâ€™s leaders over that teaching, it seems the matter was quickly disregarded. Although I did not abruptly walk away from that convocation as that other family had done earlier, I determined that I would not be returning to this feast site in the future.
Given this experience, it would have been easy for me then to dismiss all Qabalah teachings as suspect. Instead, I decided to set the subject aside and leave it alone for the meantime. While others might find it fascinating and perhaps even use it to broaden their Scriptural knowledge, my position was that Qabalah was not for me. For the meantime, I was content to just let it go at that.
Now, years later, my friendâ€™s death has drawn me back to the subject. Relentlessly curious about this matter, I needed to understand why my friend, despite his outward zeal for Torah observance, had developed such an attraction for the dark side of Qabalah with its apparent anti-Torah elements. In time, I came to acknowledge that this issue was far more complicated than simply being an issue of right or wrong, truth or error, Biblical or unBiblical.
Deep down, I found that the quest for Qabalah is really a journey to discover the true intents of the heart. As observed in Jer. 17:9-10,
â€œThe heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? I, YHWH, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.â€
BEGINNING THE QUEST
To begin the quest for understanding the nature of Qabalah, perhaps it would be best to examine the word itself. As mentioned above, I specifically chose this spelling because it seems to correspond best with the Hebrew spelling: qoph-beth-lameth-hey, as shown in Eliezer Ben-Yehudaâ€™s Hebrew-English Dictionary. The chosen spelling of â€œQabalahâ€ is my best attempt at a transliteration of the Hebrew term. As indicated by the â€“ah ending, Qabalah is a feminine term. Ben-Yehuda defines the word as â€œreception; tradition; cabala; mysticism.â€
Regardless of how it is spelled in English, the term is typically defined as meaning â€œto receive.â€ (Please note that the spelling â€œKabbalahâ€ will often appear in the quotations cited in this article, along with variant spellings of other Hebrew words.)
Interestingly, this Hebrew term does not appear in the Bible.
However, its closest related term is Strongâ€™s number H6901, qaval, qoph-beth-lameth, a primitive root, which means â€œto take, receive, be before.â€ In the Piel, or intensive, conjugation, it can mean â€œto take, choose, receive, accept, or assume.â€ In the Hiphil, or reflexive, sense, it can mean â€œto show oppositenessâ€ or â€œto correspond or receive one to the other.â€
Qabal is one of seven Hebrew and Aramaic words in the Original Testament (OT), or TaNaK that are translated as â€œreceive.â€ Meanwhile, there are 28 different Greek words in the King James Version (KJV) of the Nazarene Testament (NT) corresponding to â€œreceiveâ€ or a form of the word.
Looking at the related Hebrew terms, we see that among the meanings of qaval, H6905, is â€œsiege engineâ€ and â€œbattering ram,â€ perhaps conveying the idea of taking something by conquest or persistent force.
According to Gesenius Lexicon, H6906, qavaâ€™, qoph-beth-final ayin, means â€œto coverâ€ and also suggests being in â€œhiding.â€
Figuratively, the word can mean â€œto deceive, to defraudâ€ someone, as in Mal. 3:8-9: â€œWill a man rob Elohim?â€ It also can mean â€œto despoilâ€ someone, as per Prv. 22:23. In the KJV, it has been translated four times as â€œrobâ€ and twice as â€œspoil.â€ These word meanings are important as we delve into understanding the nature of Qabalah.
Â QABALAHâ€™S ORIGINS
The term Qabalah specifically refers to a received mystical tradition. Some say this tradition goes back as far back as Adam in the Garden of Eden and was passed down generation to generation since then. Some speculate that angels taught the mysteries of Qabalah to mankind. It is assumed these were not fallen angels. According to some traditions, Abraham learned of these mysteries and taught them to the Egyptians, who then supposedly developed their own esoteric teachings based on them.
Another explanation is that Moses received the teachings of the Qabalah from the Most High Himself while on Mt. Sinai after receiving the Torah and the Oral Tradition, or Oral Law, which is used to explain how the Torah was to be kept.
Commenting on this, the author of a general book about the Qabalah mentioned, â€œAdherents to the traditional orthodox approach believe that Kabbalah is divinely inspired and written under the influence of the Ruakh HaKodesh, literally â€˜the Holy Spirit.â€™ People who maintain this orientation believe that Kabbalah, even though it is an oral tradition, has the authority of Scripture and that its insights are part of the oral Torah that Moses received at Mount Sinai.â€ (7)
The rabbinic Oral Tradition was later codified in the Talmud. Yahâ€™shua takes issue repeatedly with the Phariseesâ€™ observance of the Oral Law over the Written Word, such as in Mat. 15:3-6 and Mark 7:9-13.
Over time, Judaism developed a works-based theology based on the keeping of rabbinic traditions, which often contradicted teachings in the TaNaK. This is exhorted in 1Pe. 1:13-25, that one ought to put his hope of salvation by faith in Almighty YHWH and by keeping His Word, rather than living by the traditions of man (v. 18).
In any event, it is conceded that some Qabalistic teachings are indeed extremely ancient and may precede the 1st Century CE (or, AD). One notable Qabalistic book, â€œThe Song of Sabbath Sacrifices,â€ was discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls and also among the ruins at Masada. (8)
Scholars have suggested that the Apostle Paul was likely educated in Qabalistic thought in his schooling to become a leading 1st Century Phariseean rabbi. Also, Bible commentators have noted Qabalistic aspects in John 1 as the evangel begins by explaining Yahâ€™shuaâ€™s deistic nature. As with the prophetic books of Ezekiel and Daniel, some have suggested that the book of Revelation contains merkavah-type visions â€“ in which one ascends to the heavenlies to Almightyâ€™s throne â€” similar to those reportedly experienced by Qabalah adherents. Moreover, the book of Jude includes a quotation from the apocryphal book of Enoch, generally considered to be a book of Qabalistic authorship.
Undoubtedly, there is much about the Holy Scriptures that could be considered â€œhiddenâ€ or allegorical, especially the book of Song of Solomon. Yahâ€™shua often chose to present His teachings in parables. Paul often wrote in a way that could be misunderstood by those not knowing his context, as Peter noted in 2Pe. 3:16.
Nevertheless, much of what we now refer to as Speculative or Theoretic Qabalah dates back to the Middle Ages. Practical or Hermetic Qabalah â€“ the practice of esoteric Qabalah â€“ dates back to antiquity. This branch merged with Qabalistic teachings during the late Middle Ages. As a result, Qabalah received the reputation for being occultic and often was equated with witchcraft.
â€œKabbalah is a mixture of demonic activity, pagan philosophy, Gnosticism and the Hebrew Bible,â€ was the summation of one Messianic Jewish believer who wrote on the subject, adding that the mystical religious element in Judaism has always been influenced by outside beliefs and practices. (9) Given the recurring idolatry that occurred in Biblical times, it should come as no surprise that the Jewish religion continued to wrestle with corrupting foreign religious influences since then.
Perhaps for that reason, Orthodox Judaism generally has disdained the study of Qabalah. The medieval Church, which for centuries had antipathy for all things Jewish, also viewed it with great suspicion. Thus, Qabalism generally remained hidden and kept secret among relatively few.
Interestingly, the English word â€œcabal,â€ which has sinister and conspiratorial connotations, is derived from the word â€œCabbala.â€ By definition, it refers to a small group meeting secretly. (10)
With the following comments, one contemporary Messianic writer, J.K. McKee, expressed his concerns about studying the Qabalah: (11)
â€œWe have to be extremely cautious of teachings circulating in our midst, and IF SOMEONE IS BRINGING KABBALAH INTO OUR ASSEMBLIES, HE OR SHE MUST BE STOPPED. The origins of Kabbalah are not Biblical, and they lie with the occult and practices which are distinctly classified in the Bible as being divination. Divination is punishable by death according to the Scriptures (Exodus 22:18; cf. Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10-12).â€ (CAPITALIZATION for emphasis is mine.)
He further adds:
â€œThe Book of Revelation says that â€˜the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second deathâ€™ (21:8), plainly attesting that those who practice sorcery, esoterism (sic), asceticism, or anything related will be eternally separated from God. While some of these mystical teachings might sound good, and might tickle our ears, their origin is not the Holy Scriptures.â€ (12)
As modern watchmen, it is our duty to speak up against occultism and witchcraft when it tries to make its way into our congregations, fellowships, and study groups. Those who introduce such esoteric teachings should be gently shown their error but firmly told that there is no place for these things among fellow believers. If they persist in such matters, it may be best to tell them to leave.
â€œBut there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of.â€ 2Pe. 2:1-2.
More about Qabalahâ€™s esoteric elements will be examined later. Certainly some fellow believers are deeply concerned with the teaching of Qabalism in view of the obvious connections to the occult. Before considering those elements, we will peruse some basic normative teachings.
EIN SOF AND THE SEFIROTIC TREE
â€œIn the beginning, created Elohim the heavens and the earth.â€ No, this is not a careless typo or an inadvertent juxtaposition of words. The Qabalah presenter mentioned earlier suggested that this was perhaps how Gen. 1:1 ought to be translated, indicating that the Creator was initially the unnamed entity Ein Sof.â€
Thus, as read, the unnamed entity created Elohim (usually translated in English as â€œGodâ€). Furthermore, if commas are added after Elohim and the heavens, then the sentence grammatically reads as a series of things created: â€œâ€¦Elohim, the heavens, and the earth.â€
At initially hearing this thought expounded, it seemed heretical to think of something greater than Elohim. In Qabalistic thought, though, Elohim resulted when Ein Sof â€“ called â€œthe Infinite, unknowable divinityâ€ â€“ contracted (a process called tzimtzum) to be able to create the universe.
In so doing, Elohim â€” a collective Hebrew noun which means Mighty Ones â€” manifested itself as ten emanations known collectively as the Sefirotic Tree. These emanantions, or Sefira, are known as follows, from top to bottom: (13)
- Keter: Crown
- Binah: Understanding
- Chokhmah: Wisdom
- Gevurah: Power (or Judgment)
- Hesed: Love
- Tiferet: Beauty (or Compassion)
- Hod: Splendor
- Netzach: Eternity
- Yesod: Foundation (or Righteous One)
- Shekhinah: Presence (Malkhut or Kingdom)
The Sefirotic Tree is preceded by an 11th entity, the Sefiroth First, the Horizon of Eternity, presumably a reference to the Ein Sof. The Sefirotic Tree, which is likened to the Tree of Life, appears in three columns. The left column â€“ Binah, Gevurah, and Hod â€“ are considered masculine while the right column â€“Chokhmah, Hesed, and Netzach â€” are feminine.
The 22 connections, or pathways, between the 10 emanations correspond to the 22 letters of the Hebrew language. Qabalists attempt to advance through the pathways as if consuming of the fruits of the Tree of Life until attaining enlightenment, or illumination.
Interestingly, though, after Adam and Eve sinned and were driven out of the Garden of Eden, a cherubim with a flaming sword was placed in the garden to prevent them from eating of the tree, Gen. 3:24. Thus, it would seem that eating of the Qabalist Tree of Life, the Sefirot, would be partaking of forbidden fruits.
The Sefirotic Tree also corresponds to four separate worlds: Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah. Each is said be linked to one of the four letters in YHWHâ€™s name: yothe-hey-waw-hey.
Trying to comprehend the Ein Sof and the Sefirotic Tree introduces the Bible student to supposedly a deeper understanding of YHWHâ€™s nature. Needless to say, this new metaphysical understanding may seem extremely unfamiliar, as indicated in the following quotes:
â€œThe entire world of the Sefirot was seen as symbolized in Godâ€™s explicit name, YHVH (YHWH). The yud (yothe), which begins the name, is the smallest letter in the alphabet and represents Chokhmah (wisdom), the flash of insight. Chokhmah is nourished in the â€˜wombâ€™ of Binah, which is a growth of comprehension that represents the nourished flesh of insight. Binah, the supernal Mother, is symbolized by the first hey in YHVH. Hey is the letter than ends most feminine singular words in Hebrew. The vav (waw), which is next in the Name, represents the next six Sefirot. Vav has the gematria of six. Finally, the last hey in YHVH symbolized Shekhinah, the other Mother/Bride/Queen that gives birth to the created universe by bringing forth Shefa (divine energy). (14)
â€œThe other dominant symbol for the world of the Sefirot is that of the primordial human, Adam Kadmon, which is male and female together in one being. In this symbolic map of the Sefirot, each Sefira represents a different part of the body. The first three Sefirot are the head. Hesed is the right arm, and Gevurah is the left. Tiferet is the torso, Netzach the right leg, and Hod is the left leg. Yesod is the male sexual organ, Malkhut the female.â€ (15)
On a side note, much has been made of the symbolism of the double trapezoidal shape of the Sefirotic Tree. In reading over recent years about the alleged esoteric layout and architecture of Washington, DC, I recall an author suggested that the federal mall, extending from the Lincoln Memorial at the head eastward to the Capitol building below, represented the Sefirotic Tree.
Likewise, the Temples in Jerusalem also were situated toward the east.
The Washington Monument, the giant Egyptian-style obelisk (reportedly a word that signifies â€œshaft of Baâ€™alâ€), corresponds to the Yesod, the male sexual organ. Below, or further east, is the Capitol Building, with its prominent classical-style dome in the middle. This structure symbolizes Malkhut, or Kingdom, and represents a womanâ€™s womb. (16)
Between the two structures lies the Reflecting Pool, which symbolizes the birth canal. The Reflecting Pool also serves to produce a duplicate image of the Capitol. This represents the primary occultic belief â€œAs above, so below,â€ which also is a major tenet in Qabalistic thought.
Using this symbolism, one would arrive at the conclusion that the Capitol building, with its idol-like figurine of Liberty at its pinnacle, represents the Shekhinah, the supposed feminine presence or manifestation of YHWH, which some equate with the Holy Spirit.
For the Qabalistic mystic, the epitome of life is to engage in union (devekut) with the Shekhinah, bringing that person into the ecstatic sublime presence of the Almighty â€“ also known as having a merkavah (chariot) experience, as in the chariot of fire that swooped up the prophet Elijah into the heavens, 2Kg. 2:11.
For this reason, married Qabalistic Jews believe that Shabbat evening (Fr-day night) is ideal for sexual intercourse. Here, the wife symbolizes the Shekhinah presence, with whom her husband seeks to join together in an ecstatic union. (17) This is encouraged despite the Torah statement in Lev. 15:16-18, 32 indicating that sexual relations make both persons ritually unclean. On the Sabbath, one should desire to appear before YHWH in a sanctified state, if possible, and forego relations during that set-apart 24-hour period. In Qabalism, though, the rule is to follow mystical rabbinic tradition over the plainly stated Written Word.
Teachings regarding the Shekhinah presence of the Almighty make Qabalism extremely attractive to those with a preference for feminism. To them, the notion that the Almighty manifests itself in an entity that is by nature feminine is more appealing than the Hebraic Roots patriarchal view of the Father and Son working together in ekhad, unity.
Meanwhile, back to the Qabalistic themes incorporated into the Washington, DC layout. In many religions, the godhead was presented as a trinity of deities: the divine father, mother, and son. Interestingly, the painting on the Capitol dome ceiling is called â€œThe Apotheosis of George Washington.â€ It depicts the U.S. first president ascending to heaven and, in accordance with pagan tradition, being transformed and taking his place in the pantheon of gods. (18) Thus, the capitol dome, a symbol of the female womb, symbolizes the place where sons of gods are birthed. (19)
This pronounced esoteric symbolism seems more than just coincidental, especially when considering all the other Washington street-layout anomalies. Among these are the seemingly deliberate incomplete inverted pentagram (known as the Goatâ€™s Head of Mendes) and the owlâ€™s head symbol: both having profound meanings among occultists. (20)
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness that several of the Founding Fathers were either Freemasons or were influenced by it. (21) In addition, it has been acknowledged within Freemasonry, despite its secretive nature, that its rituals and symbols are a reflection of the Hermetic Qabalistic tradition. (22) Those who are in the upper levels of Freemasonry are considered to be â€œenlightened onesâ€ or â€œilluminated.â€ â€œIlluminationâ€ is also a key idea recurring throughout Qabalistic thought.
Thus, it came as no surprise to me when touring the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C. and the George Washington Memorial Lodge across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia to find prominence given to the Name of YHWH in items used for ritualistic purposes. From Qabalistic literature on the subject, it would seem the emphasis on YHWHâ€™s Name is not to bring glory to it, but to exalt its alleged magical qualities.
What is YHWHâ€™s response to such blatant, not-so-hidden occultism? The prophet Micah delivers the answer in
â€œAnd it shall come to pass in that day, saith YHWH, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and will destroy thy chariots: and I will cut off the cities of thy land, and will throw down all thy strongholds. And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers: and I will cut off thy graven images and thy pillars out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thy hands; and I will pluck up thine Asherim out of the midst of thee; and I will destroy thy cities. And I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations which hearkened not.â€
Heavenly judgments have been pronounced. It is only a matter of time before the sentences are fully carried out here on earth.
â€œSACREDâ€ BOOKS OF THE QABALAH?
While there are many books that comprise the Qabalah, three in particular stand out in importance: the Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Creation; the Sefer Bahir, the Book of Illumination; and the Zohar, the Book of Splendor, the latter being the main text of Torah exegesis.
For one to give credence to these texts, it is important to know the source. Who are the authors? In each case, the bookâ€™s authorship is not known for certainty.
As noted earlier, it is thought that these books were inspired by the Holy Spirit, thus placing them on the same or nearly the same level as Holy Scripture. While they may contain many beneficial ideas, several of which seem complementary to Scriptural teachings, they in no wise can replace the authority and authenticity of the Scriptures.
As any resourceful journalist knows, a news source must be credible for the information he conveys to have credibility. Unlike with the Holy Scriptures, this presents a problem for these books of the Qabalah.
The authorship for the Book of Creation is attributed to the patriarch Abraham. There is no evidence, however, that he is the author. At present, the consensus on the pseudipigraphical bookâ€™s authorship is that it was written prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, perhaps during the 1st Century CE when the Nazarene faith was being proclaimed throughout the Holy Land. (23)
Likewise, the Book of Illuminationâ€™s authorship also is not definitely known. Rabbi Nekhunia ben HaKanah, a Mishnah tanna, or sage, is thought to have written it in the mid-1st Century. (24) This would place the work concurrent with the lives of Paul and the other Apostles.
Nekhunia is known, among other things, as the teacher of the much revered Rabbi Akiva, who persecuted the Nazarenes and falsely proclaimed Shimon Bar Kokhba as the conquering messiah. He was executed by the Romans for insurrection by being flayed alive in 132 CE.
The Zohar, which also means â€œIllumination,â€ is said to have been written by Rabbi Akivaâ€™s disciple, Rabbi Shimon bar Yokhai. In the end, after hiding in a cave for 12 years, he was apprehended and executed by the Romans. Most of the Zohar is written in Aramaic; although some of the text appears in Hebrew. The words used in the text have given clues to the bookâ€™s actual authorship:
â€œThe Aramaic of the Zohar, however, contains numerous grammatical mistakes, terms that are clearly translations from Medieval Hebrew, philosophical terms that were coined in the Middle Ages, and other elements that would never characterize something written by an authentic Aramaic speaker such as Shimon bar Yokhai.
â€œThe Land of Israel, where Shimon bar Yokhai lived and which is the landscape regularly depicted in the pages of the Zohar, is described with geographical errors that a native inhabitant would not make. However, all of these characteristics make sense if this was the imaginative setting of a work written in late-thirteenth-century Spain.â€ (25)
In other words, the Zohar is a fraud. Nevertheless, despite evidence to the contrary, modern Orthodox Judaism maintains that Shimon bar Yokhai is indeed the bookâ€™s author. (26) It needs to maintain him as such in order to maintain the bookâ€™s credibility. â€œThe Zohar is the only text besides the Bible (TaNaK) and the Talmud ever to be considered a canonical book in the Jewish tradition.â€ (27)
So if Shimon bar Yokhai did not write the Zohar, who did?
â€œMany modern scholars believe that Moshe de Leon (of Spain) was the actual author of the Zohar, but the most recent research has veered toward the conclusion that Moshe was not the sole author. Much of the Zohar revolves around a group of ten Kabbalists, with Shimon bar Yokhai at the center. The latest theory is that a number of Kabbalists who studied together, much like the Kabbalists depicted in the book itself, all contributed to the composition of the Zohar, with Moshe de Leon as the main author.â€ (28)
OVER-EMPHASIS ON QABALAH STUDY
So, despite the authorship issues, the Zohar is still highly esteemed by Qabalists. One modern Qabalistic author asserts, â€œOf all the sacred texts, the Zohar is the most effect instrument for connecting to the Light.â€ Some even believe copies of it have â€œspiritually chargedâ€ magical qualities when one merely scans it by his hand, even if he does not know how to read Hebrew. Doing so supposedly allows him to connect with the Light of the Creator. (29)
Thus, the importance of studying the Holy Scriptures is diminished. What happened to â€œThy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path.â€ (Psa. 119:105)? Yahâ€™shua is the â€œlight of the worldâ€ and â€œthe Word made flesh.â€ He is the one to whom we should be trying most to connect.
Our focus should be on living according to his example, not according to the teachings of various Talmudic and Qabalistic rabbis and their traditions. Did they recognize Yahâ€™shua for who He is? Did they support His Kingdom message? Were they men filled with the Holy Spirit who gave the glory to YHWH On High?
Perhaps this is the main danger of studying Speculative Qabalah, it diminishes from time that would have been spent studying the Scriptures â€“ and worse, can lead one astray from the Narrow Way.
â€œThe secret things belong unto YHWH our Elohim; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law (Torah).â€ Deu. 29:29.
No doubt, there are those who will be inclined to go â€œqa-ballisticâ€ and gnash against me in this matter. They may assert that Iâ€™m absolutely wrong and that there is no harm in studying the Qabalah. Iâ€™ve been subjected to verbal abuse before over matters such as this; so I have come to expect it from abusive individuals.
Yes, perhaps there are some spiritual insights to be gained by studying the Qabalah. Nevertheless, it also seems that there are more dangers than blessings. With this article, I am issuing a word of caution against it. Certainly, studying the Qabalah, or Talmud for that matter, cannot edify one spiritually as can studying the Holy Scriptures, Genesis to Revelation.
Consider the following statement from Michael Berg of the Kabbalah Centre: (30)
â€œThe sacred texts of Kabbalah are gifts of the Creator that have been brought in to the world by and through a small number of righteous human beings. Through their works, we are able to directly communicate with them beyond the limits of time and space, and across the borders between this world and the nextâ€¦â€
Hmmm, sounds like necromancy to me â€“ which is yet another occultic practice specifically prohibited in the Torah, Deu. 18:10-12.
â€œEven more than their teachings, this soul-to-soul contact with the righteous is vital to our spiritual progress. Our contact with these great souls magnifies our own soulsâ€™ greatness. Because ego is so completely absent from their works, Kabbalah teaches that the writings of the tzaddikim (righteous ones) have a quality of divine inspiration. Light flowed so directly to the tzaddikim their writings are considered actual messages from the Creatorâ€¦.
â€œOn the spiritual level of being, study is necessary for our growth and even our survival. It is truly food of the soul. Without continuous study of the sacred texts, the soul does not receive an absolutely essential element of its nourishment. And from a kabbalistic viewpoint, I want to emphasize that study of the Zohar is especially crucial.â€
It is also clear from such statements that these Qabalists have a greater love for the books of Qabalah than for the Holy Scriptures. Furthermore, it would seem that they have greater respect for their Qabalistic rabbis than Moses and the prophets. I hate to say it, but it looks like they have departed from the Word to embrace the idolatry of man-made traditions, as per Mat. 15:8-9,
â€œThis people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.â€
Interestingly, much of the aforementioned information came from the book The Way, Using the Wisdom of Kabbalah for Spiritual Transformation and Fulfillment by Michael Berg of the Kabbalah Centre, a Los Angeles-based organization that has attracted numerous affluent celebrities to its teachings. (31) Over time, it also has gained a reputation for certain questionable financial practices. (32) The book features a front-cover endorsement by Madonna, probably its best known patron and the most recognized proponent worldwide of living the Qabalistic lifestyle.
Admittedly, there is much that is appealing about this book. Sometimes it seemed like I was reading about an eastern philosophy with its emphasis on doing good toward others. Many of the teachings are even in agreement with what Yahâ€™shua and the Apostles taught. For instance, humility and selflessness are encouraged. Nevertheless, for the discerning, leaven can be found within its pages.
If I might ask, why should we as Bible believers and servants of the Master, Yahâ€™shua the Messiah, follow these Qabalists in their errors? Have we not been fed with the Bread of Life? Why do we wish to eat spiritual bread that has been corrupted by the â€œleaven of the Pharisees,â€ i.e. unScriptural rabbinic teachings and traditions?
Likewise, Yahâ€™shua also rebuked the Sadducees, telling them that they â€œâ€¦do err, not knowing the Scriptures,â€ Mat. 22:29.
Nevertheless, it would seem that there are fellow believers who are not content with the pure teachings from the Bible and turn to the Qabalah in pursuit of â€œdeeper truths.â€
Among the criticisms of the Qabalah is that it exposes the nakedness of the Father, as symbolized in the story of Noah in Gen. 9. In this chapter, the patriarch lay exposed in his tent. Afterward, Ham sinned against his father and Canaan was cursed as a result. There may be validity to this criticism since the Scriptures indicate that YHWH the Father is not inclined to manifest Himself in an overtly revealing manner to mankind, Exd. 19:10-25, 33:17-23; John 1:18.
When Moses spoke to YHWH â€œface to face,â€ evidently he spoke with the Son, not the Father, Exd. 33:1, Deu. 34:10. Likewise, when Moses, Aaron, and the 70 elders went to meet YHWH, they communed with the Son, not the Father, Exd. 24:9-11.
Nevertheless, to know the Son is to know the Father, John 10:38, 14:8-11.
It is not for mankind â€œto takeâ€ â€“ one of the meanings of the root word qabal from which â€œQabalahâ€ is derived. Moreover, when the concept of a battering ram or siege engine is taken into consideration, as defined by Strongâ€™s H6905, it suggests that Qabalists may be attempting to force a mystical union (devekut) with Almighty YHWH against His wishes. Or, as the meaning in H6906 suggests, are they attempting to rob Elohim of His privacy?
In Exd. 19:12-13, those who overstepped the bounds and drew too close to YHWH, beyond what was permitted, were condemned to die as a result. It would be interesting to see how the Qabalistic commentaries interpret this passage.
Commenting on that same incident in Gen. 9 in which Noah planted a vineyard and becomes drunk with wine, the Zohar reportedly says that after the flood, the Angel of Darkness (apparently Satan) approached Noah and attempted to seal a bond with him by sacrificing four animals: a lamb, a lion, a monkey, and a pig.
This is retold in the book The Essential Zohar: The Source of Kabbalistic Wisdom by Rav P.S. Berg: (33)
â€œAll this was very puzzling to Noah, but in truth the Angel was presenting him with an allegory of exactly what was about to happen. He was showing how self-serving desire carried to excess becomes self-destruction. With respect to wine, one cup makes us docile as a lamb. Then, after two cups, we may believe ourselves to be as powerful as the king of beasts. But it is all downhill from there. Soon enough we are making monkeys of ourselves, until before we know it we are rolling in the mud like pigs.â€
The author continues:
â€œIt is the potable version of the â€˜second biteâ€™ syndrome that befell Adam â€“ and as in the earlier instance, nakedness emerges as a theme. But while Adam and Eve realized they were naked and covered themselves, Noah went in the opposite direction. He took off his clothes and lay on the floor of his tent.â€
While this may all be very interesting, frankly I would rather not waste my time with these fables. (34) As a certain Torah teacher I knew once remarked about Bible commentaries, â€œStick with the original: itâ€™s better.â€ On the same subject, he also quipped, â€œThe key to interpreting the Bible is to let it interpret itself.â€
So, when commentaries go in the direction of fictionalizing Biblical accounts or embellishing them with dubious details, it might be best to set them aside and just say â€œEnough already!â€
As part of the Qabalistic commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures, a four-fold system of interpretation was developed, called by the acronym PaRDeS. The word Pardes refers to â€œorchard,â€ â€œgarden,â€ or â€œparadise.â€ The notion is that coming to a complete interpretation of a passage would figuratively place one in a paradise-like condition inhabited with trees, including the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from the Garden of Eden.
The Sefirotic Tree, and oneâ€™s spiritual journey upward from Malkhut toward Keter, or crown, is likened to the Tree of Life. The various explanations for the co-existence of good and evil are linked to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (35)
The orchard symbolism leads me to wonder if there isnâ€™t a connection to the Asherim, or sacred groves, connected with the ancient worship of Baâ€™al and his consort Asherah. In the Wiccan belief system, great importance is attached to nature worship among certain groves of trees.
Under the PaRDeS system of Biblical interpretation, the following four methods of exegesis are employed: (36)
1. Peshat: â€œplainâ€ or â€œsimpleâ€ â€” essentially the direct, contextual meaning of the text.
2. Remez: â€œhintsâ€ at a deeper, symbolic, or allegorical meaning beyond the literal meaning.
3. Derash: from the Hebrew word darash, to â€œinquireâ€ or â€œseekâ€ â€“ the homiletical sense arrived at through discourse (â€œmidrashâ€).
4. Sod: â€œâ€˜secretâ€™ (â€˜mysteryâ€™) or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.â€ (Incidentally, the â€œoâ€ in Sod is long.) (37)
While using the PaRDeS system has expanded Biblical exegesis to new levels, it has also created controversy. Allegations have been made that the Derash and Sod approaches have opened the door to Biblically unsound doctrines. Those who use these approaches have been allowed to force new meanings on the text that are not necessarily in harmony with the rest of Scripture.
It seems some have gone so far as to say that it is essential that we study Torah at the Sod level: â€œThe obligation to study, and practice Torah at the Kabbalistic (sod) level is a requirement for every Yisraelite soul. For this we were â€˜chosen.â€™ The importance of this aspect of Torah learning and practice cannot be overly emphasized.â€ (38)
In opposition to this trend toward Jewish mysticism within the Hebraic Roots and Messianic movements, self-described Messianic apologist J.K. McKee responded,
â€œHowever, we must point out that those who believe that a mystical level of interpretation is the pinnacle of Biblical examination are often making the mistake of trying to find hidden meanings in Scripture when the answers we need are often right before us in plain sight.â€ (39)
McKee argues that the effect of using Sod level interpretations is intended to â€œtickle the earsâ€ of many in the movement, an apparent reference to 2Ti. 4:3,
â€œFor the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.â€ (NASB)
While Qabalah proponents will see mysteries to be unlocked throughout the pages of the NT, others will argue that the Nazarene message was essentially very simple and could be summed up in the following verse:
â€œHere is the patience (i.e. the steadfast hope) of the saints, they that keep the commandments of (Elohim), and the faith of (Yahâ€™shua),â€ .
The Qabalistic works-based system would have us believe that redemption comes through our study of the Qabalah. This statement suggests that the study of other books, such as Holy Scripture, is somehow less important. Furthermore, according to one Jewish rabbinic authority, â€œ(O)nly by the learning of Kabbalah will we merit the redemption. All Halakhic authorities agree with this.â€ (40)
Furthermore, it is alleged under the Lurianic Qabalistic system that those who fail to learn the secrets of Qabalah using the PaRDeS system will be condemned to reincarnate until they do. (41)
It is not my intention to unfairly criticize others for their belief systems. In writing this article, Iâ€™m not trying to be unfairly critical. I recognize that each person is entitled to believe and practice within the parameters of law what he or she is convinced is true.
Nevertheless, I have included these quotes to show the direction they have chosen to go. This direction probably differs from many of us who have taken a course in life to live by every word of Scripture, Deu. 8:3; Mat. 4:4; Luke 4:4.
The Nazarene Faith was never intended to be a mystery religion, an exclusive belief system understood only by the elite initiated few. To be sure, Yahâ€™shua and His disciples did not go from town to town preaching the Ein Sof and the Sefirotic Tree. Rather, Yahâ€™shua declared the coming Kingdom: the hope of mankind in bondage to sin. His death broke down the wall of partition that separated mankind from that blessed hope. Mankind is totally dependent on YHWH for redemption.
Sadly, it would seem that some have lost sight of this good news message to mankind. Instead, they have replaced it with one that emphasizes a mystical embrace of non-Scriptural books written by proponents of a â€œreceived rabbinic traditionâ€ that has questionable origins. As far as we know, these same proponents rejected Yahâ€™shuaâ€™s Messiahship and the Nazarene message of repentance.
To those who accept a plain, rather than mystical, understanding of the Apostolic writings, Yahâ€™shua has already paid the price of redemption in full. Contrary to Qabalistic thought, there is nothing mankind can do to earn redemption. But for Qabalists, their hope is that their actions will help bring about the coming of the messiah to complete the restoration (tikkun) of the world from its fallen state. To the non-Qabalist, though, Yahâ€™shua will return to usher in YHWHâ€™s Kingdom at the set time. (42) Our duty is to announce His return to the world and prepare for that day.
A QABALISTIC SPIRIT OF ANTI-MESSIAH?
An undercurrent of false messianism emerges as one researches the history of Qabalah. This messianism begins with the Qabalistic connections to Rabbi Akiva â€“ he was the student of Nekhunia ben HaKanah, the alleged author of the Book of Illumination, and also taught as his disciple Shimon bar Yokhai, the supposed author of the Zohar.
During his lifetime, Akiva proclaimed Shimon bar Kokhba as the conquering messiah. He also actively opposed the Nazarene movement. In the end, Bar Kokhba failed to defeat the Romans, not to mention that he did not fulfill messianic prophecies. But was Akiva denounced as a fraud for proclaiming a false messiah? Hardly! He is still venerated in Judaism as one of its leading rabbinic authorities of all time.
One of the hallmarks of the Chabad movement and other ultra-Orthodox sects of Chassidism is their zeal for the Qabalah. In reading some of the Qabalistic rabbinic tales, I observed how rabbis claimed to have encounters with the messiah himself or with Elijah the prophet. From these encounters, one might think that perhaps some of them might have ascertained the Messiahâ€™s identity â€” but that never is the case. These tales remind me of young, starry eyed children who emerge from their beds on Christmas morning with fanciful stories of waking up during the night only to find Santa Claus in their homes delivering gifts.
Over time, some of the teachers of the Qabalah began to see themselves as being the messiah. Perhaps they imagined themselves to have magic powers, acquired from Qabalastic spells and incantations. Among them were Isaac Luria, (43) Shabbatai Zevi, and Jacob Frank. Luria, known as â€œAri,â€ the lion, is considered one of the all-time chief exponents of Qabalistic theory.
One encyclopedia said the following of Luria: â€œAs part of that â€œsearch for meaningâ€ in their lives, Kabbalah received its biggest boost in the Jewish world when the explication of the Kabbalistic teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) (known as the ARI) by his disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital who published the ARIâ€™s teachings gained wide-spread popularity. It was Rabbi Isaac Luria who popularized and gave credence to the teachings of the Zohar which had until then been a little-known work.â€ (44)
Perhaps the most influential of these false Jewish messiahs was Shabbatai Zevi (or Zâ€™vi), based his claim to messiahship by publicly pronouncing the Name of YHWH, something considered unheard of in the Jewish world since the time of the 2nd Temple. (45) Zevi converted to Islam in 1666, causing shockwaves through the Jewish world, especially among Qabalists who looked upon him with such high expectations.
Frank, who rejected the Talmud early in life, considered himself the reincarnations of both Zevi and King David. He was a self-proclaimed messiah whose beliefs led to the development of his own new religion, or cult, known as Frankism, which combined elements of Judaism with Christianity. During his lifetime, he claimed to have revelations from heaven that led him and his followers to convert to Catholic Christianity as part of an expected transition to the future â€œmessianic religion.â€ (46)
From the disillusion that arose from Zeviâ€™s apostasy and Frankâ€™s cultism arose the Chassidic (or Hasidic) movement under the mystical teachings of the Baâ€™al Shem Tov, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, who first gained fame as a type of traveling faith healer and miracle worker.
In contemporary times, the late Chabad Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson was proclaimed by a faction of his followers as the messiah. To his credit, the Lubavitcher Rebbe had many teachings that were spiritually edifying and even in agreement with teachings espoused in the NT. Sadly, the yearnings for a messiah were so great among these followers that they ignored virtually all the Biblical requirements for messiahship. Schneerson had never even set foot in the Holy Land during his lifetime. Since 1994 he has remained in his grave in New York City unresurrected.
When one looks at the history of Jewish Messianic claimants, only Yahâ€™shua of Nazareth fulfills the Scriptural requirements for the Suffering Servant, which corresponds to the Messiah ben Joseph. Jewish tradition teaches that there will be two messiahs: the first, Messiah ben Joseph, will be slain. Afterward, he will be followed by the conquering messiah, Messiah ben David.
It seems that nearly two millennia of Christian hypocrisy and anti-Semitic hatred have led to an adamant rejection among Jews of Yahâ€™shua as the prophesied Suffering Servant. In this sense, Christianity has failed miserably in presenting Yahâ€™shuaâ€™s Messianic credentials to His own people: the Jews. Churches need to acknowledge that Christian history is stained with Jewish blood, so to say, and make amends. Perhaps the first step toward achieving a measure of reconciliation is widespread support for the nation of Israel, especially in its struggles for survival among hostile neighbors and those who have embraced terrorism in the name of a false god.
Looking ahead, if one wished to create a global religion, as it would seem the Anti-Messiah will do, Qabalism would be an ample starting point. There is much in the Qabalistic tradition that is said to coincide with other religious systems, particularly with mystical Sufi Islam, and also with Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age beliefs, Theosophy, Wicca, Unitarianism, as well as Christianity, which has its own Christian form of Qabalism. Jewish Qabalists, especially members of the Chassidim, claim to be working actively toward ushering in the messiahâ€™s appearance.
Would this be a repeat of history? As we look back, Christianity, which had been significantly altered from its original 1st Century Nazarene-Judeo roots, was promoted by Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century as a means to unify the Roman Empire. Henceforth, the imperial state religion became known as the Roman Catholic (universal) faith.
In the books 1 & 2 John, we see the Apostle expressing concerns about the spirit of the Anti-Messiah, which he says in 1Jn. 4:3 is in the world already. Various Christian heresies, including Gnosticism, were already circulating by the end of Johnâ€™s life.
Numerous standard reference works have shown there is a connection between Qabalism and Gnosticism. (47) Nevertheless, if we see the term Anti-Messiah as one who stands in the place of the Messiah, certainly this spirit of messianism had already manifested itself within Judaism and would continue to do so down through our time. (48)
Nevertheless, could John have been sending a warning primarily for believers at the end of the age? In his salutation of his second epistle, just who is meant by â€œthe elect lady and her children,â€ 2Jn. 1:1?â€ As we see from the epistle, heresy is a main concern. Another is that the brethren show love for one another. Certainly these concerns apply now perhaps more than ever.
An emphatic concern that emerges from examining the Qabalah is the danger of exposing ourselves to â€œseducing spirits and doctrines of demonsâ€ and the consequences of doing so. Paul warns of this in 1Ti. 4:1-2,
â€œBut the Spirit says expressly, that in the later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron.â€
What are our heartâ€™s intents: to show our love for the Most High by keeping His commandments or doing our thing by seeking â€œsecret knowledgeâ€ promoted by anti-Yahâ€™shua and anti-Nazarene rabbis who taught that their rabbinic traditions take precedence over YHWHâ€™s Written Word? This is the Quest for Qabalah, knowing where our heart lies in this matter. Do we love YHWH most by keeping His commandments, or do we love the RECEIVED religious traditions of men more?
As â€œglobalismâ€ becomes part of our daily vernacular, we can see international leaders continue to entertain various proposals for unification. At what point do these types of proposals turn into binding legislation and are enforced upon us? Before you know it, our national sovereignty will be gone and we will find ourselves part of a larger collective advancing toward a final one-world solution.
Think about it, for someone to unite the world under one syncretistic ecumenical religious umbrella would go far in promoting an illusory world peace. If or when we come to such a point where it is criminal to be a Bible believer, we must ask ourselves whom do we love more: YHWH or man-made religion? To whom is our heartâ€™s allegiance?
(NOTE: In the follow-up article, â€œQueen Jezebel and the Quest for Qabalah,â€ the author will examine Jezebelâ€™s connection to the Qabalah and the spiritual dangers it presents in these end times.)
(1) This authorâ€™s chosen spelling of â€œQabalah,â€ which may seem quixotic to some, represents an English transliteration from the Hebrew spelling of the word, which begins with the letter qoph ×§, not kaph, ×›. This is discussed in greater detail later in the article.
(2) Often spelled â€œmagickâ€ with a â€œkâ€ at the end to distinguish it from entertainment magic.
(3) Unless indicated otherwise and in accordance with the authorâ€™s linguistic preferences, all quotations from the Bible are from the American Standard Version (ASV) with the names YHWH and Yahâ€™shua and the Hebrew title Elohim and the Hebrew-derived term Messiah used respectively in the English translation in place of Jehovah (or The LORD), Yahshua, God, and Christ. Published in 1901, the ASV is renowned for its emphasis on conservative literal translational accuracy. Preference also is given in NT passages to using â€œMasterâ€ instead of â€œLordâ€ in references to Yahâ€™shua. These changes are not done in violation of the prohibition in Deu. 4:2 from adding or diminishing from the Word. The modification is made to the English translation, not to the words in the original text. While the author is accustomed to pronouncing YHWH as â€œYahweh,â€ he acknowledges that others may be convinced of differing pronunciations of the Almightyâ€™s revealed name. Thus, the Tetragrammaton is rendered in English letters as â€œYHWH.â€ If we accept as true Josephusâ€™ claim that the Almightyâ€™s name consisted of four vowels, then perhaps none of the many common pronunciation attempts is absolutely correct. Furthermore, the author maintains that despite having many titles and appellations, YHWH is the Almightyâ€™s one name, Psa. 83:18. This thought is further elucidated in the NKJV translation of this verse.
(4) â€œWitchcraftâ€ entry, Merriam-Websterâ€™s online dictionary.
(5) As we shall see, this is not necessarily always the case. Much of the research done for this article revealed that teachings and practices identified as Kabbalah or Kabala with a â€œKâ€ often was not Scripturally kosher. An example can be found viewing the Website of a certain rabbi, at kabalatalisman.com. As the site notes, this rabbi â€œis fully committed to kabbalah magic. He writes special talismans for people to ensure their success in love and business. Some of these protective talismans include kabbalah bracelets, or rather the famous kabbalah red bracelets. A kabbalah red string bracelet provides health and protection from evil forces, specifically evil eye and black magic.â€ Is this hardly any different than the teraphim idolatry practiced in Biblical times intended to bring prosperity upon a household? Such idolatry is strongly denounced in 1Sa. 15:23 in Samuelâ€™s condemnation of Saul.
(6) Mat. 23 alone shows that Yahâ€™shua had numerous contentions with the Pharisees. By branding them as â€œhypocrites,â€ He undoubtedly heightened their animosity toward Him. It is evident by pronouncing â€œwoesâ€ that He does not consider these differences to be mere minor offenses.
(7) â€œThe Everything Kabbalah Bookâ€ by Mark Elber. Adams Media, 2006, p. 7.
(8) As reported in Kabbalah: Three Thousand Years of Mystic Tradition by Kenneth Hanson, Ph.D. Council Oak Books, 1983.
(9) â€œKabbalahâ€ online article by Avram Yehoshua.
(10) â€œCabalâ€ entry, Online Etymological Dictionary, at etymonline.com.
(11) â€œThe Effects of Mysticism and Gnosticism on the Messianic Movementâ€ online article by J.K. McKee.
(13) Elber, pp. 72-73. Other sources list the emanations with some variations.
(14) Ibid, p. 74.
(15) Ibid, p. 76.
(16) Ibid, pp. 78-79.
(17) The Apostle Paul seems to refer to a similar type of spiritual union in Eph. 5:31-33 but not a union between the Shekinah and man but between the Assembly, as the bride, and the Messiah, as her husband.
(18) More about the significance of this painting and other riddles of the Washington architecture can be found in the fascinating book â€œApollyon Rising 2012â€ by Thomas Horn. Defender, 2009.
(19) Horn finds this especially interesting in view of the account of the Nephilim in Gen. 6:2-4.
(20) See the related award-winning DVD documentary, â€œRiddles in Stone,â€ written and directed by Christian Pinto.
(22) See â€œFreemasonry, A Journey through Ritual and Symbolâ€ by W. Kirk MacNulty. Thames and Hudson, 1991. The same author also has written an essay entitled â€œKabbalah and Freemasonry,â€ which further shows the Masonic connection to Qabalism.
(23) Elber, pp. 43-44.
(24) Ibid, p. 61.
(25) Ibid, pp. 82-83.
(26) Ibid, p. 83.
(27) Elber, p. 81.
(28) Ibid, p. 83.
(29) â€œThe Way, Using the Wisdom of the Kabbalah for Spiritual Transformation and Fulfillment,â€ by Michael Berg of the Kabbalah Centre. John Wiley & Sons, 2001. pp. 201, 204-205.
(30) Ibid, p. 200.
(31) Among the celebrities reportedly connected with the Kabbalah Centre are Lindsay Lohan, Roseanne, Sandra Bernhard, Anthony Kiedis, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Lucy Liu, Rosie Oâ€™Donnell, Naomi Campbell, Pierre Lewis, Alex Rodriguez, Donna Karan, Mischa Barton, Britney Spears, David Beckham, Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, James Van Der Beek, Heather McComb, Zac Efron, and Lauren Conrad. Cited from â€œKabbalah Centre,â€ article, Wikipedia.org.
(33) Publication by Bell Tower, 2002.
(34) Tts. 1:13-14 warns against those who give heed to â€œJewish fables and the commandments of men.â€
(35) Elber, pp. 75-76.
(36) â€œPardes (Jewish exegesis)â€ article, Wikipedia.org.
(37) Ibid. The exact wording for the meaning of Sod is quoted here.
(38) â€œThe Original State of Adam Previous to the Fallâ€ online article by Rabbi Levi bar Ido/Bâ€™nai Avraham
(39) â€œThe Effect of Mysticism and Gnosticism on the Messianic Movementâ€ online article by J.K. McKee.
(40) Quote attributed to Rabbi Chayim (or Chaim) Vital, cited by Rabbi Levi bar Ido in his â€œOriginal State of Adamâ€ article.
(41) Ibid. A statement also attributed to Rabbi Chayim Vital, who was the disciple of Rabbi Isaac Luria. Incidentally, the word â€œtransmigrationâ€ is often used by Qabalistic authors to refer to reincarnation. Heb. 9:27 effectively refutes the reincarnation doctrine.
(42) Evidently, faith is not a factor in hastening the Messiahâ€™s coming, as per Luke 18:8.
(43) Hanson, p. 158. The author writes: â€œLuria was privately convinced that he was in fact the Messiah of the House of Joseph, though how he reconciled this idea with the statement that Messiah son of Joseph was slain is a mystery. In any case, Luria saw himself as one sent to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah of the House of David. And prepare them he did.â€
(44) â€œKabbalahâ€ article, academickids.com online encyclopedia
(45) â€œSabbatai Zeviâ€ article, Wikipedia.org.
(46) â€œJacob Frankâ€ article, Wikipedia.org.
(47) In his â€œConfessions of an Ex-Qabalistâ€ online article, William Schnoebelen maintains that Qabalism and Gnosticism actually have few similarities. Nevertheless, aside from having dissimilar belief systems about the nature of the Almighty, both emphasize acquiring secret, esoteric knowledge.
(48) â€œJewish Messiah claimantsâ€ article, Wikipedia.org.