How the Creator Connects with the Soul
This article is a continuation of the article Nephesh, Neshamah, and Ruach of the soul.
There are three levels or channels of communication between the Infinite Creator and man; they are: (1) inspiration through Ruach haKodesh, (2) the oracle of urim and tummim, (3) and prophecy.
The access to YHVH Elohim by means of the urim and tummim was on a lower level than that of a prophet, but it represented a higher level than hearing inspired words through Ruach haKodesh.
The oracle of urim and tummim
Urim and tummim are an instrument of the enlightening oracle in the High Priest’s breastplate. We read thus,
And into the breastplate of judgment you shall put the urim and the tummim, and they shall be on the heart of Aharon when he goes in before Yehovah. And Aharon shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel on his heart before Yehovah, continually. (Exo 28:30)
Very little we know about the urim and the tummim that were in the High Priest’s breastplate. From the brief description of Exo 25:30 we learn that that they served as instrument (of some sort) of judgment.
But according to the tradition, we learn that YHVH told Mosheh to place a parchment inscribed with His Name (the Tetragrammaton) into the fold of the breastplate of the High Priest. This parchment on which the Name of Creator was written was known as “urim and tummim“.
In his Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, Chapter 8:9, Josephus stated that the breastplate of the High Priest played a significant role in the communication process with YHVH by illuminating the gemstones that were on it.
To communicate with YHVH, the inquirer needed the medium of the urim and tummim, in order to bring His righteous judgment.
Since, the breastplate was a shining (urim) and complete (tummim) oracle, it was causing the letters on it to light up in sequence, spelling out the complete answer to the question of the people.
However, according to Rabbeinu Bahya, “Urim and Tummim are the descriptions of the names of holy beings” by whom the High Priest was able to communicate with YHVH Elohim.
Nevertheless, we never read in the Tanak of urim and tummim being made by men, as the other items of the High Priest’s apparel were, or the menorah and the ark of the Covenant in that manner. But the urim and tummim, we deduce, were something fashioned directly by and in heaven, like the first set of the tablets of stone Mosheh broke.
Josephus furthermore says that in the establishment of the oracle of the urim and tummim, Mosheh left no room for the evil practices of false prophets and any attempt to abuse the “Divine authority”. Would we not need the urim and tummim today to leave no room for the modern-day “prophets”?
Connection through a prophet
The difference between “inspired words” and “prophecy” is that when a prophet receives a communication from YHVH all his normal faculties are disrupted. At such a time he was as if deprived of all bodily functions, remaining temporarily in a state of mind resembling deep sleep.
This phenomenon occurs while these prophets are awake and represented a special prophetic level or channel of communication with YHVH.
The best example for such a type of communication is the giving of the Covenant YHVH made with Avram.
It should not come as a surprise that the patriarch is called prophet in Gen 20:7. This is the first time that the term “prophet” is used in the Torah. It is not that Avram could see into the future: this is not what prophet is for. But prophet is the one who witnesses for YHVH as His spokesman.
For instance, Aharon was called “prophet” in Exo 7:1, while in Exo 4:15-16 he was called “mouth” for Mosheh who would “speak for you to the people” and they both were called “mouth” for YHVH. So, we see that we have had all wrong about the prophet. We read,
And it came to be, when the sun was going down, and a deep sleep fell upon Avram, that look, a frightening great darkness fell upon him. (Gen 15:12)
This description of Avram’s state of mind of deep sleep and great darkness most like was what is called today “trance”. The Book of Jubilee 14:13-17 calls “deep sleep” an ecstasy.
Another example we can present is the prophet Ezekiel. In the very beginning of his service as a prophet of YHVH he saw a phenomenon in heaven. This phenomenon consisted in this, that the heavens were opened, and Ezekiel saw visions of Elohim.
The heaven opened not merely when to his eye a natural event was disclosed, but also when Elohim manifested Himself in a manner perceptible to human sight. That vision which had heavenly origin described “the hand of YHVH” coming upon Ezekiel.
The expression “the hand of YHVH” always signifies a miraculous working of the power or omnipotence of the Creator upon a man: the [right] hand as the instrument of power and authority, by which a prophet was placed in a condition to exercise superhuman power.
The vision Ezekiel describes in a prophecy not perceived with physical eyes, but a vision similar to an ecstasy that the prophet experienced (Eze 1:26-28). See also Isa 6:1, 1Ki 22:19, and 2Ki 6:17 for other examples of such a prophetic experience.
With that being said, a prophet’s sight reaches up to the heaven directly via the medium “of the inner eye”. This type of a direct communication, which a common man does not have, enables him to see the Creator and His messengers in human-like forms. This is alluded to in Gen 1:26, wherein is said, “Let us make man in our image after our likeness”.
A common man has weak eyes and only sees what his normal faculties allow him to see. It is like weak-eyed people can only see in the shadow, but people with strong eyes can see in sunlight. No eye, however, can look directly into the bright sun.
When a prophet was to see a vision from YHVH being under the hand of YHVH, he was gifted with “strong eyes” to be able to look into what a common man was not given to see. Such is the explanation of the faculties of a prophet who was to see the glory of the infinite YHVH Elohim, His presence, and His messengers, as in Ezekiel 1.
The second part of the Bible, known as Naviym (Prophets), was written under the influence of this type of heavenly communication.
Inspiration through Ruach haKodesh
This type of communication known as “inspiration” was one of the levels or channels of heavenly revelations through Ruach haKodesh (Hebrew for Breath or Wind of Set-apartness).
Inspiration through Ruach haKodesh did not involve the deprivation of the recipient’s normal faculties, as it was the case with the prophets.
The recipient of inspiration behaved and spoke like an ordinary individual but was deeply filled with extra faculties which allowed him to utter the words put in his mouth, which in return he conveyed in ordinary language to the people.
But truly it is the ruach in man and the breath of the Almighty that gives him understanding. (Job 32:8)
Such a person revealed matters in whom YHVH Elohim had breathed understanding, and there is no mystery involved in the inspiration through Ruach of YHVH.
All Scripture is breathed out by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of Elohim might be fitted, equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17)
The three parts of the Scripture (The Torah, The Prophets, The Writings) adapt themselves to different states of the soul (nephesh, neshamah, ruach) for teaching, reproof, and for instruction: all good works. When the apostle said “all Scripture” undoubtedly he meant the Scripture known to him: the Tanak, the Hebrew Scripture. The gospels and epistles had not have been written yet. That is not to say the Apostolic Writings are not inspired by Ruach haKodesh; on the contrary, they are: moreover, the Gospels and Revelation are direct revelations from YHVH. But what the apostle is saying is that the Hebrew Scripture was the Scripture in his time.
The third part of the Bible, known as Ketuvim (Writings) and the Apostolic Writings were written under the influence of this kind of heavenly communication.
Prophet like no one else
A prophet’s sight reaches up to the heaven directly. But the level of heavenly communication Mosheh possessed was far superior to that of any of the aforementioned means of communication with YHVH, and Mosheh was far superior to any of the prophets before and after him. His prophetic insights exceeded those of any other prophet of Israel.
The difference in that respect between Mosheh and all other prophets of Israel is that while the prophets were taken up to heaven in vision, YHVH came down to Mosheh to talk with him face to face and mouth to mouth.
Mosheh was a very humble man, more than all men who were on the face of the earth (Num 12:3) about whom YHVH said,
If your prophet is of Yehovah, I make Myself known to him in a vision, and I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Mosheh, he is trustworthy in all My house. I speak with him mouth to mouth, and plainly, and not in riddles. And he sees the image of Yehovah. So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Mosheh? (Num 12:6-8)
And indeed Israel great prophets to whom YHVH in visions and dreams. But Mosheh was the only one with whom He spoke mouth to mouth. We should note here the different expressions used in this statement. While YHVH said he would speak to the other prophets, about Mosheh He said that He spoke with him. What is the difference?
The expression “mouth to mouth” implies that the words which Moses spoke had been given to him directly from the mouth of YHVH, not even as though breathed into him but face to face, like words spoken with a friend.
When Mosheh, 120, died and after Israel mourned for him thirty days, Yehoshua was filled with the breath of wisdom (see Isa 11:2), and the people listened to him and did as YHVH commanded them. And since then no prophet has arisen in Israel like Mosheh, whom YHVH knew face to face and spoke with mouth to mouth (Deu 34:9-10).
YHVH indeed chose Mosheh to be His servant and prophet with whom He spoke face to face and mouth to mouth. But Mosheh warned us in Deu 13:1-5 of other prophets and dreamers of dreams who will come along and attempt to lead the people away with their claims of the truth and prophetic dreams, that they too have a direct access to heaven.
… do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for Yehovah your Elohim is testing you to know whether you love Yehovah your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being. (Deu 13:3)
YHVH Elohim is testing us through such “prophets” to see whether we will walk after Him and guard His commands. Furthermore, He says that He has already deceived that prophet to destroy him from the midst of His people.
And if the prophet is deceived, and shall speak a word, I Yehovah have deceived that prophet, and shall stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from the midst of My people Israel. (Eze 14:9)
Everything written in the Torah is of direct communication from the Creator to His prophet Mosheh and as such it is of a far superior degree to The Prophets and The Writings. This is due to the different degrees of set-apartness between these three types of communication and parts of the Scripture.
Therefore, when we speak of the Torah, we speak of the direct and personal revelation of the Creator to the hearers at Mount Sinai.
The first part of the Bible, known as Torah (Instruction), was written in this kind of a direct heavenly revelation.
This is the reason why the books in the Hebrew Scripture are put in this order: The Torah, The Prophets, The Writings, known as the Hebrew acronym “TaNaK”.
Furthermore, YHVH stated that Mosheh had seen His image. What does that mean, when, and how had Mosheh seen the image of YHVH?
First, we need to know to distinguish between the presence of YHVH, which is everywhere at all times, and His manifested image, which can be made evident in the finite world in various ways at His will. This manifested image Mosheh saw is known in the Scripture as His Face.
Revelation through the messenger of His Face
Just as a man feels pain and yet keeps himself superior to it, so does the Creator: He too suffers with His people their afflictions.
YHVH Elohim is said to feel the sufferings of His people as His own sufferings. If He is the Creator of the universe and nothing came into being without Him, then everything originates in Him, except sin, including pain. But because He is also the Almighty One who is above and beyond everything, including pain, He suffered with them in Egypt and save them through His mediator: the messenger of His Face.
In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence* saved them; in His love and in His pity, He redeemed them; and He bore them, and carried them all the days of old. (Isa 63:9 JPS)
In Deu 4:37, this presence of Elohim Mosheh called directly “His Face” to distinguish that being from the “angels”.
In both occasions in Deuteronomy and Isaiah, “His presence” is called in Hebrew “His Face”: the messenger of YHVH in whom His Face is manifested.
And although the messenger YHVH regarded as distinct from Him (Exo 23:20-23), he is also regarded as one that is completely hidden before Him.
This mediator is the greatest and at the same time the most personal of all manifestations of the Omnipotent One to His people; even greater than that to Mosheh. Mosheh himself bade us to anticipate him,
Yehovah your Elohim shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brothers. Listen to Him! (Deu 18:15)
The messenger of His Face is the personal medium in which the Name of YHVH is indwelling for the purpose of His self-attestation. Although the messenger could appear in human body both in the time of Avraham and in that of Yehoshua (Jos 5:13), it never appeared in such a form in the Exodus but in the form of heavenly revelation.
The messenger of His Face appeared in the pillar of cloud and fire in the march through the desert (Exo 14:19-20), when the cloud shielded the Israelites from their pursuers.
Therefore, the “messenger of His Face” in Isa 63:9 is YHVH in His presence and identical with the messenger in whom the Name of Yehovah is manifested (see again Exo 23:21).
To distinguish that heavenly being from the “angels”, YHVH became even more direct in His words to call him “My Messenger” and “My Face” in Exo 32:34, Exo 33:2, and Exo 33:14, as someone incomparably higher and unique than the manifestation of Elohim through the mediation of “angels”.
The revelation to Apostle Stephanos
Apostle Stephanos faced two false accusations before the council of the Pharisees: (1) that he had declared that Yeshua would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem and (2) that he had changed the customs of Moses. In response to those false accusations, Stephanos appealed to the Tanak.
And the entire council saw how Stephanos’ face was turning into what was looking like the face of a heavenly messenger (Act 6:15), i.e. radiating.
Strephanos reached the corner stone of his speech when he was said that a messenger of YHVH appeared to Mosheh in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush (Exo 3:1-2),
And after forty years were completed, a messenger of YHVH appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. And Mosheh, seeing it, marveled at the sight, and coming near to look, the voice of YHVH came to him, saying, ‘I am the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Avraham and the Elohim of Yitschak and the Elohim of Ya’akov. (Act 7:30-31)
Then Stephanos said that the same messenger who appeared to Mosheh in the burning bush was the one who led Israel out of Egypt referring to the Exodus,
This Mosheh whom they had refused, saying, “Who made you a ruler and a judge?” this one Elohim sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Messenger who appeared to him in the bush. This one led them out, after he had done wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. (Act 7:35-36)
Two important things should be noted here: (1) the apostle staying faithful to the text in the Torah is very clear that a messenger of YHVH appeared to Mosheh in a flame of fire in the bush and (2) the one who is speaking from the bush is YHVH Himself.
Then, Stephanos also made it very clear to the Pharisees that it was the messenger of YHVH who spoke to Mosheh on Sinai and who gave the living Words (the Covenant and the Torah) to the fathers at the mountain.
This is he [Mosheh] who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the Messenger who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received the living Words to give to us, unto whom our fathers would not become obedient, but thrust away, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, (Act 7:37-39)
Therefore, the apostle proclaimed that the one who spoke to Mosheh from the burning bush, the one who spoke in the thunders and lightnings and fire at Mount Sinai, with the strong voice of a shophar (see Exo 19:16-19), was none other than the messenger of YHVH.
The messenger of His Face in Rabbinic eschatology
There is a very interesting prayer that mentions the name of a “minister of the Face” [of YHVH]. The title of this prayer is Sar HaPanim, “Minister of the Face”, in the Prayer Book for Rosh HaShana Machzor Raba, Nusah Ashkenaz, Publishing House of Eshkol of Jerusalem.
In the rabbinic eschatology “Minister of the Face [of YHVH]” is viewed and considered the inner reflection of the very Face of the Creator.
Sar HaPanim is recited, according to the tradition, on Yom Teruah (the Day of the Trumpets) between the blowing of the first and second set of the sounding of the shofar.
In this prayer, “Minister of the Face” is also called Metatron (Hebrew for “Guide of the Way”) most likely named after the messenger who led Israel out of Egypt on the way to Sinai.
We should note that the name Metatron “Guide of the Way” alludes to the statement a person made in the first century Judea: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life”, and to the name of the assembly called after him: “The Way” (see Act 24:14).
This prayer, in which the Rabbis of blessed memory have hidden the name of Sar HaPanim, the Minister of the Face, is believed to be based on Isa 63:9,
May it be Your will before HaShem* that the sounding of the tashrat that we are blowing will be woven into the curtain of heaven by the hand of the minister Tartiel, like the name that You received by the hand of Eliyahu of blessed memory, and Yeshua Sar HaPanim and also the Minister Metatron and fill us up with mercy. Blessed are You who possesses all mercies.
*Hebrew for “The Name”, a substitute for the Tetragrammaton.
Yeshua HaMashiach was indeed that messenger of His Face who was filled with the sevenfold Ruach of Elohim, and concerning him it was said,
And a rod shall come forth from the stump of Yishai, and a sprout from his roots shall be fruitful. The Ruach of Yehovah shall rest upon him: the ruach of wisdom and understanding, the ruach of counsel and might, the ruach of knowledge and of the fear of Yehovah, (Isa 11:1-2)
Yeshua himself described in Luk 4:18 his relationship with Ruach of Elohim by reading from the prophecy,
The Ruach of Adonai Yehovah is upon me, because Yehovah has anointed me to bring good news to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the eyes to those who are bound, … (Isa 61:1)
“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears”, announced the messenger of His Face (Luk 4:21).
But Isa 61:2-3 is the prophecy Yeshua did not read, because it was not the time for this yet. He will announce it at his return.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.