Anointed Metatron and Mediator
In rabbinic tradition, Metatron is the unique Messenger of the Presence of YHVH, who bears the Tetragrammaton and guided Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land.
This Messenger of the Face (literally, the Face) has been entrusted by the Creator to run the universe according to natural laws. In some rabbinic works, he is called also “Metatron Mashiach” or the Anointed Metatron.
The messianic expectation is an integral part of Judaism, and the Messiah is understood to have pre-existed with the Eternal having a transcendent nature beyond and outside the ordinary human understanding.
Who has ever spoken with YHVH?
According to the Torah, Mosheh was the only human being who had ever spoken with the Creator face to face and mouth to mouth, as He Himself said,
I speak with him mouth to mouth, and plainly, and not in riddles. And he sees the similitude of Yehovah. (Num 12:8) (see also Deu 34:10)
According to the sages [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1:42:8, Tanchuma Tzav 13], the phrase “he sees the form of Yehovah” refers to a vision of Mosheh had in Exo 33:18-23, when he asked YHVH to show him His glory.
When Elohim talked with Mosheh face to face and mouth to mouth, Mosheh merely saw a similitude of YHVH, a counterpart that rendered the invisible Elohim visible to the human perception, namely, a manifestation of His glory in a certain way, and not a physical form of the Eternal.
Here we must distinguish between His presence, which is everywhere at all times, and His manifested presence, which is made evident in the physical world.
If YHVH had indeed spoke with Mosheh personally, why then was it necessary to say that no one had ever heard His voice at any time, nor seen Him or His form (Joh 5:37), “except He who is from Elohim, He has seen the Father (Joh 6:46)?
And if YHVH is speaking in the verse above, why the direct speech is suddenly changed from first person singular, “I speak with him mouth to mouth” to third person singular: “he sees the similitude of Yehovah”. Should we not expect to read, “he [Mosheh] sees the similitude of Me”? Who is “I”?
It is the object of this work to seek the answers to these questions. This work has also a second object, namely, to explain well-known concept in Judaism of the Messenger of the Face, characterized by the sages as the Anointed Metatron, but virtually unknown in the Christianity, and even foreign to this religion.
When one speaks, his words are not separate from him, but they are his expression of who he is, his character, and reputation. When the Creator spoke His words of creation, had He not spoken to them through the one who had seen Him and heard His voice?
In fact, it was the apostle who testified to the truth that the same one who spoke to the fathers at Sinai and through whom the Torah was given is the one who has ever seen the Eternal.
So, who is the one with whom Mosheh spoke face to face and mouth to mouth, and who is the one who has ever seen the Father?
And to Mosheh He said, “Come up to Yehovah, you and Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall bow yourselves from a distance. (Exo 24:1)
In the immediate textual context, the one who said to Mosheh to come up to YHVH is the one who revealed himself to the people at the mountain and gave the Covenant and the supplementary laws in Exodus 20-23. And in the beginning of Chapter 24, he said to Mosheh, “Come up to Yehovah”; the Torah is very precise in its wording.
This raises the inevitable question: Who is speaking here? And who is he who said to Mosheh, “Come up to Yehovah”?
The glorious Revelation at the mountain
On the first day of the third month after Israel had come out of Egypt, the people came to the Wilderness of Sinai (Exo 19:1). Mosheh ascended to YHVH (Exo 19:3) on the second day of the month. The people were told to set themselves apart for three days (Exo 19:10-11) after which thunders, lightning, and a thick cloud came upon the mountain. The people trembled because of the voice of the shophar they heard was very strong (Exo 19:15-16).
This context tells us that YHVH had already been on the mountain for a several days before He gave the Covenant to Mosheh, as we read,
And Mosheh went up to Elohim, and Yehovah called to him from the mountain, saying, “This is what you are to say to the house of Ya’akov, and declare to the children of Israel”. (Exo 19:3)
But Exo 19:11 and Exo 19:18 imply that YHVH descended to the mountain right before the revelation, not several days earlier,
And Mount Sinai was in smoke, all of it, because Yehovah descended upon it in fire. And its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the mountain trembled exceedingly. (Exo 19:18)
In contrast to these verses, Exo 24:10 makes it clear that when Mosheh and elders went up to receive the tablets of the Covenant, the Elohim of Israel was in heaven, not on Mount Sinai, as we read,
… and they saw the Elohim of Israel, and under His feet like a paved work of sapphire stone, and like the heavens for brightness. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the chiefs of the children of Israel! And they saw Elohim, and they ate and drank. (Exo 24:10-11)
The same perspective of YHVH being in heaven appears in Exo 20:22, when YHVH said to Mosheh after the uttering of the Covenant,
Say this to the children of Israel: You yourselves have seen that I have spoken to you from the heavens. (Exo 20:22)
Since these verses are seemingly contradictory, how can they be reconciled? Where was YHVH at the giving of the Covenant: in heaven or on the mountain, and who uttered the Ten Commandments in thunders and lightning? Because to make the things even more perplexing to us, in the culmination of the revelation (Exo 24:17), we are told that at Sinai the entire nation saw the appearance of YHVH.
And the appearance of the glory of Yehovah was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Israel. (Exo 24:17)
Forty years later
Forty years later, Mosheh told the new generation that the people heard only a voice, when YHVH spoke to the people on the summit of the mountain in the midst of the fire, but saw no form of Him (Deu 4:12, Deu 4:15),
And Yehovah spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard a voice of words, but saw no form, you only heard a voice. (Deu 4:12)
Here comes a verse that may ease the perplexed mind. Let us read with understanding Mosheh’s words, for they contain the key to unlock the mystery. In Deu 4:36, Mosheh emphasized even further that YHVH was in fact in heaven throughout the revelation, but here he said something more,
You have been shown it, to know that Yehovah Himself is the Elohim; there is no one else beside Him. From heaven He let you hear His voice, to instruct you, and on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. (Deu 4:35-36)
The Torah is not a closed book but the living Word of YHVH, and it is the opinion of the present author that in these verses Mosheh unlocks the enigma.
We will distinguish a few key elements in this short statement: (1) The first of them is that Israel was made to see all this to know that YHVH was the Elohim (הָאֱלֹהִים); (2) the Omnipresent had spoken simultaneously from heaven and from the great fire on earth, the phenomenon they all saw; but (3) they only heard His voice here on the earth and (4) saw no one else.
Then, Mosheh continued that by this awful phenomenon of the majesty of His nature, the Israelites were to know that YHVH alone was the Elohim (הָאֱלֹהִים) in heaven and on earth,
And you shall know today and shall recall to your heart that Yehovah Himself is the Elohim in the heavens above and on the earth beneath; there is no one else. (Deu 4:39)
How are these verses to be interpreted? First, Mosheh tells us that “Yehovah is the Elohim”. In places where Elohim occurs with the definite article ha “the”, i.e., haElohim, it denotes a title and elevates the personal Name of Yehovah to the absoluteness. In this sense, “Yehovah is the Elohim” is to be understood to mean “Yehovah is the Absolute Power”, as we explained it in the article Yehovah Elohim — the Creator’s Majestic Name.
Then, Mosheh tells us that Israel heard His voice from heaven and His words from the fire on the earth. And indeed, they could not have possibly seen the Eternal, since they were on earth, while He was in heaven.
And when it is said that the people heard Elohim’s voice, the Torah wants to emphasize this auditory phenomenon, repeating the word kol (“voice” or “thunder”) seven times in the narrative of the giving the Covenant (Exo 19:5, 16, 19, and Exo 20:18). These verses thus imply that YHVH revealed His Covenant but did not reveal Himself; there was no instance of visual perception.
The words are evidently intended to affirm something more than just the fiery form the people saw on the mountain summit. Only this form is not described unless the people make their own image of YHVH and sin.
We find that Isaiah gives no description of the form in which he saw YHVH sitting upon a high and lofty throne (Isa 6:1), either.
But Ezekiel is the first to describe the form of YHVH, which he saw in the vision, “as the appearance of a man” (Eze 1:26), and then Daniel, who saw the Ancient of Days seated on His throne in heaven (Dan 7:9), and the Kingship of the King Mashiach in the image and depiction of a human (Dan 7:13).
And since it was impossible for the people to see Him, instead He revealed something else: “the glory of Yehovah”.
And the glory of Yehovah dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. And on the seventh day He called to Mosheh out of the midst of the cloud. And the appearance of the glory of Yehovah was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Israel. And Mosheh went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And it came to be that Mosheh was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exo 24:16-18)
The rabbinic view of Metatron
Rabbeinu Bahya in his commentary on Exo 24:1 says that the meaning of the words “Come up to YHVH” obviously cannot mean that Mosheh was to ascend to heaven, but that he was to ascend to the level of the angel Metatron (also Mattatron); the angel whom is also described in the rabbinic literature as “the Minister of the Interior” or “The Minister of the Internal Affairs”, the angel to whom Elohim entrusted the running of His universe.
Rabbeinu Bahya continues that there is still another meaning associated with the word מטטרן Metatron, which is the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebrew משמרת, which means “custody” or “guard”. The name of that angel is Metatron as he is the custodian of the world on behalf of the Creator.
Therefore, the meaning of his very name, says Rabbeinu Bahya, is that he is the master of all that is below his rank—all the heavenly hosts as well as those on earth—are at his command and under his control. He acts as the agent of the One Who is above him, the One who has given him this authority.
When the Torah writes in verse 2 that Mosheh was to approach YHVH by himself, according to Rabbeinu Bahya, the meaning is also that he would approach Metatron who was at that time in the thick cloud.
As in the case of Num 12:8, we need to ask again as to why the direct speech in Exo 24:1 is changed from second person singular, “Come up to YHVH, you and Aharon, …” to third person singular in verse 2 where it is said: “and Moses shall come near to YHVH”. Rabbeinu Bahya thus concludes that the words in verse 2 were not spoken by Elohim but by the angel Metatron to approach him (the angel) within the thick cloud in Exo 24:15.
If Rabbeinu Bahyah is correct (as we believe), then in the same line of reasoning the words in Num 12:8 were not spoken by Elohim but by the same agent: Metatron, and we read the verse anew, “I (Metatron) speak with him … and he sees the similitude (Me) of Yehovah”.
Another Tanach commentator, Or HaChaim, addresses another issue when YHVH spoke to Israel,
And Yehovah spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard a voice of words, but saw no form, you only heard a voice. (Deu 4:12)
Here is his commentary on Deu 4:12,
How can we understand Moses referring to an image by contrasting it with a sound? It seems quite obvious that if one did not see an image that what one heard was only a sound? You may understand this in conjunction with what I explained on the last verse, that the Israelite saw an angel who communicated G’d’s words, i.e., the sound to him. This is also a way the Mechilta explains the words: “the whole people saw the voices (Exo 20:18).” Moses was afraid that the Israelites would think that the angel whom they had seen was the G’d of Israel. He therefore had to underline that all the Israelites saw in addition to the voices described in that verse were the angels described by the Midrash. They most certainly did not see G’d.
Being present everywhere at once
So, whom did they see in heaven and who appeared to them at Sinai? If the rabbis are correct in their line of thought, then who was that Messenger under the name of Metatron? And what constitutes the sight of YHVH in the first place?
In defining the concepts of “sight” we are confined within the limits of Exo 33:20, for it is said, “You are unable to see My face, for no man does see Me and live”, and regard it as a vision of Elohim in some form of manifestation. In order to understand the line of reasoning as outlined below, we must not err to think that a human being has ever seen YHVH the Eternal. We must not go beyond the limits of Exo 33:20.
Note: According to Exo 33:20, no one is able to see Him and live. But here in Exodus 24 the elders of Israel became an exception in regard to this norm. It is not that the Omnipotent does not allow to be seen, and whoever indeed sees Him, He kills him on spot. But this is to be understood that His presence is like a consuming fire that burns everything that comes close to Him.
We must not err and conclude that the Omnipresent moves from one place in His universe to another. If that were so, then the Creator would be confined in His own creation. The Creator does not exist in the universe defined by time and space; time and space exist in Him, as all in this world do, whether visible or invisible. In other words, the Omnipresent is not somewhere, He is everywhere.
Therefore, when the Torah identifies YHVH as being in heaven, this does not mean that He is up there and not down here, but this is the way it describes inconceivable things to men. “The language of the Torah is like the language of man” is a phrase that means “Torah speaks the language of man in order to make him understand”.
In cosmos there are no “up and down”, “left and right”, etc. All these categories are relative to the point of observation. Therefore, when it is said, “Come up to YHVH …”, it is said from human perspective and understanding. The term “up in heaven” is to be best understood to mean “in a world man cannot see”, i.e., “up there”, as heaven is a place unknown to the ancient.
For the lack of a better term, we may use the scientific term “a parallel universe” for “heaven”: a world where the heavenly hosts reside.
For example, when Apostle Shaul wrote that he was caught up to the third heaven (2Co 12:2-4), he must have been familiar with 2Enoch 8:1-5, because Chanoch (Enoch) and Shaul both had the same experience. Thus, “in heaven” means a world unknown to them, which they both called “Paradise”.
Metatron: The Glory of Yehovah
The glory of Yehovah came down from heaven and dwelt on Mount Sinai. And the appearance of His Glory on the top of the mountain was like a consuming fire (Exo 24:16-18). But what is the “Glory of Yehovah” Mosheh wrote about?
The prophet who spoke of the glory of YHVH was Isaiah. He tells us that the mankind would see the glory of YHVH two times. The first time the people saw the glory of YHVH was at Sinai, but the second time?
The present author will suggest a new interpretation of this prophecy read along with Yochanan’s account in the gospel. Thus read, it reveals the true meaning of the prophecy in Isaiah,
And the glory of YHVH was revealed, and the mankind saw it and will see it again, because the mouth of YHVH has spoken it (Isa 40:5). … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Joh 1:14)
Ezekiel too saw the glory of YHVH in vision,
And on the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man high above it. And from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw what looked like glowing metal with the appearance of fire all around within it. And from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw what looked like fire, and brightness all around. As the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yehovah. (Eze 1:26-28)
Ezekiel testifies about what he saw in heaven: “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yehovah”. Here, “the likeness” denotes not any definite form, with which another could be compared, but, properly, “similitude”, and is employed by the prophet in the sense of “something like”.
Further, Yochanan testifies (as we read in Joh 5:37, Joh 6:46, and in 1Jn 4:12) the words of the one who stated that no one had ever heard YHVH’s voice at any time, nor seen Him or His form except he who is from Elohim, only he has ever seen the Father.
The same person whom the apostle quotes has said that the one who is from the Father is the only one who has ever seen Him, speaking of no one but of himself.
But, probably the most exciting moments of the revealing of the glory of YHVH can be found in the stories of Avraham and Mosheh. When YHVH asked Avraham to sacrifice his son Yitschak, he was directed to time in the future when a sacrificial Lamb will take the place of the sinful world just as the ram took the place of Yitschak in order to be said, “Your father Avraham was glad that he should see My day, and he saw it and did rejoice.” (Joh 8:56)
From Genesis we forward to Exo 33:18-23 when Mosheh beseeched Elohim to show him His glory. Mosheh was told to go to the cleft of the rock where he was given to see the glory of YHVH in the future as his father Avraham saw Him. But, for more insight on what Avraham and Mosheh indeed saw, refer to the article To Foresee Yeshua the Messiah.
The anointed Metatron
As we explained, the Eternal does not exist in the universe, the universe exists in Him. He is constantly present everywhere at any given time existing beyond time and space.
The messengers (angels) of YHVH, however, do exist in these parallel worlds, each according to his rank, and they indeed can come up and down to do the will of the One who sends them; we should only recall the ladder Ya’akov saw in vision.
But above those messengers, there is a supernatural celestial being unlike any of them. Isaiah calls him “the Messenger of His [YHVH] Face” (Isa 63:9), who is identical with the Messenger in whom the Name of Yehovah is (Exo 23:20-21).
To distinguish that heavenly being from the “angels”, YHVH calls him “My Messenger (Exo 32:34, Exo 33:2) and “My Face” (Exo 33:14), as someone incomparably higher and unique than the manifestation of Elohim through the mediation of “angels”.
That Messenger rabbis calls Sar haPanim, “The Minister of the Face”, “the Minister of the Interior”, and “Anointed Metatron”.
Yochanan records in Rev 3:14 that this one is “the Trustworthy and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of Elohim” speaking of the one who became flesh. This celestial being is the true witness of the creation and also its beginning. Furthermore, he says in Joh 1:1-3, “All came to be through him, and without him not even one came to be that came to be”.
Shaul staying in the same line of words calls him “the likeness of the invisible Elohim, the first-born of all creation” (Col 1:15), “through whom all came and through whom we live” (1Co 8:6), and “through whom also He made the ages” (Heb 1:2). He also says that “there is one Elohim and one mediator between Elohim and men” (1Ti 2:5).
That celestial Being, Metatron, was the Mediator between Elohim and Mosheh when he spoke to him from the burning bush; the same one who took Israel out of Egypt and led the people in the desert forty years, and who said to Mosheh, “Come up to Yehovah”; the one who mediated the Covenant and gave Torah to Israel. (Refer to the source for the complete explanation: The Messenger of His Face and How Torah was Given to Israel).
That was the same being whom Apostle Stephanos saw in heaven before his death and called him the Messenger of YHVH (The Revelation of the Messenger of YHVH), and the one Avraham and Mosheh foresaw, and Mosheh wrote about him.
The Rabbis of blessed memory were fully aware of the prophecy concerning the coming of King Mashiach. They believed that the Messiah is the Wisdom and the Word, and the full glory of the Creator. Thus, they speak of the heavenly Being, the transcendent Son of the Creator, who was in His creation plan: the anointed Metatron. We read,
The belief was general that the sending of the Messiah was part of the Creator’s plan at the inception of the Universe. Seven things were created before the world was created: Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden (i.e., Paradise), Gehinnom, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah (Pes. 54a). In a later work there is the observation: From the beginning of the creation of the world king Messiah was born, for he entered the mind (of God) before even the world was created (Pesikta Rab. 152b)
In Bereisheet Rabbah 2:4: Rabbi Shim’on ben Jaqish further explained,
And the spirit of Elohim hovered over the face of the water” (Gen 1:2)—this is the spirit of King Messiah, as it is written, “And the spirit of the YHVH will rest upon him (Isa 11:2).
If the rabbis and apostles all agree on one thing, can they also agree on the identity of the Anointed Metatron, the beginning of the creation?
For further knowledge on the matter, the reader may do well to read what we have written in Revealing Yeshua Secretly Guarded by the Rabbis of Time of Reckoning Ministry.
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May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days!