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Mishpatim: Metatron, The Angel of HaShem

Updated: 16 hours ago

In Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1–24:18) we are given a rare glimpse into the spiritual world. Exodus 23 says,

הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ מַלְאָךְ לְפָנֶיךָ לִשְׁמָרְךָ בַּדָּרֶךְ וְלַהֲבִיאֲךָ אֶל־הַמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר הֲכִנֹתִי׃ הִשָּׁמֶר מִפָּנָיו וּשְׁמַע בְּקֹלֹו אַל־תַּמֵּר בֹּו כּי לֹא יִשָּׂא לְפִשְׁעֲכֶם כִּי שְׁמִי בְּקִרְבֹּו׃

“Behold, I send an Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.” Exodus 23:20-21

Like Moshe Rabbeinu, one of the titles of this Angel is ‘Goel’ (Redeemer.) We read of ‘the Malakh HaGoel,’ the Angel Redeemer, in Yaakov’s blessing over Ephraim and Menashe,

“He blessed Yosef, and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads, and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac. Let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” Genesis 48:15-16

The book of Isaiah comments,

בְּכָל־צָרָתָם לֹא לֹו צָר וּמַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו הֹושִׁיעָ֔ם בְּאַהֲבָתֹו וּבְחֶמְלָתֹו הוּא גְאָלָם וַיְנַטְּלֵם וַיְנַשְּׂאֵם כָּל־יְמֵי עֹולָם

“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.” Isaiah 63:9

The phrase “yemei olam” (days of old) links to Micah 5:2, where it speaks of the origins of the Mashiach being the “days of old.” Commenting on Isaiah 63, R’ Yosef Hayyim of Bagdad (1832 – 1909 CE), known as the the Ben Ish Chai writes,

“According to the Masorah, the verse is to be read לו, as above, but written לא. It would then be translated: In all their affliction, there is no affliction (לא צר). The way the verse is read expresses the situation now, during Israel’s exile. “In all their affliction, He is afflicted” – wherever they were exiled, the Divine Presence was with them (Megillah 29a). The way the verse is spelled describes the situation in the future. At that time we will understand that in all their affliction, there was actually no affliction, for the suffering brought about all the wonderful good of the redemption.” Ben Ish Chai, Days of Peace, Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom Publications, pg. 169

R’ Yitzhak of Akko (13th to 14th century) says,

“And indeed, MoSheH is a wheel in heaven and the secret of Sandalphon [is a wheel] upon the earth.” [Ezekiel 1:15], namely, in the [realm] of corporeality. . . the secret of MoSheH is “in heaven” namely, in spirituality, “and the spirit of God hovers over the water’ [Gen 1:2]- this is the spirit of the Messiah [Genesis Rabbah 2:4] and it is MoSheH the High Priest, anointed by the oil, the supernal holy unction, the true Messiah, who will come today if we listen to the voice of his Master, whose name is found in him, he will redeem us. And “In all our affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of the face saved us.” [Isa. 63:9]… and “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him” [Isa. 11:2], those and all similar to them hint at Metatron, the Prince of the Face.” R’ Yitzchak of Akko, Sefer Otzar Chayyim 93a-b cited in Messianic Mystics, Moshe Idel, Yale University Press, pg. 303

R’ Isaiah Horowitz (1565 – 1630 CE), known as the Shelah, after his work Shnei Luchot HaBrit writes,

“We have explained on several occasions that the שר העולם, sar haolam, the angel to whom G’d has entrusted the proper allocation of the food-supply in the world, is called Mattatron, or נער, na’ar. Moses’s function too, was to provide for the needs of his people. He is already referred to as נער when the daughter of Pharaoh found him, although normally he should only have been referred to as ילד, yeled (Exodus 2,6). Our commentators have said that Moses’s voice was like that of a נער. The very name משה, Moshe, is also an acronym for מטטרון שר הפנים, Mattatron sar hapanim. On Exodus 24.1: ’ואל משה אמר אלה אל ה, our sages comment that Moses’s name was Mattatron, just like the name of his teacher. . . The description of Moses as נער then is an allusion to his function being similar to that of Mattatron.” Shelah, R’ Isaiah Horowitz, Shnei Luchot HaBrit, Volume 2, Translated by Eliyahu Munk, pgs. 756-757

The Angel of HaShem plays a significant role as the mysterious catalyst for Redemption, and his enigmatic cameo begs for a deeper explanation. Who is this ‘Angel of angels’?

What is an Angel?

To answer this question, we must first define what an “angel” actually is. In English and popular culture, the word “angel” often connotes a class of created, spiritual winged beings, who are human-like in appearance. The word “angel” itself is the Anglicization of the Greek word ἄγγελος (angelos). ‘Angelos’ is a direct translation of the Hebrew word מלאך (malach), which simply means “messenger.” While the word can and does refer to spiritual entities, its definition is more broad in Hebrew. It can refer to anyone, human or otherwise, who performs the task of an agent messenger. To understand the mission of the angel, one must understand the concept of the Law of Agency. The Talmud says,

שלוחא דמלכא כמלכא

“The agent of the ruler is like the ruler himself.” Baba Kama 113b, cf. Chagigah 10b, Nedarim 72b, Soncino Press Edition

The word for “agent” in Hebrew is “shaliach” meaning a “sent one.” The shaliach acts as a representative of the sender (meshuleiach). Tractate Chagigah says,

שלוחו של אדם כמותו

“The agent of a man is as himself.” Chagigah 10b, cf. Nedarim 72b, Soncino Press Edition

Yeshua elucidates the principle of the Shaliach:

“He that receives you receives me, and he that receives me receives Him that sent me. He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receives a tzaddik in the name of a tzaddik shall receive a tzaddik’s reward.” Matthew 10:40-41

Enter the Ultimate Angel, HaShem’s Prime Representative: Metatron. Rebbe Nachman explains,

“The angel Metatron is God’s shaliach, His agent in charge of this physical world.” R' Nachman of Breslov, Mayim, Breslov Research Institute, pg. 79

Rebbe Nachman says in Likutey Moharan,

 “For [Metat’s] name is like that of his Master’s, as it is written (Exodus 23:21) “because my name is in Him.” This is the lower unification. In other words, the Holy One, blessed-be-He, clothes Himself in Metat during the six days of the week and rules the world through him.” Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Likutey Moharan 11.5, Breslov Research Institute, pg. 183

The Breslov commentary explains,

“Shabbat is on a much higher level of holiness than the weekdays. It is completely holy, with the negative forces and qualities of bad, evil, falsehood, etc. having no place therein. This is not true of the weekdays. During the six days of the week, a mixture of good and evil, false and true, etc. predominates. Similarly, G-d is, so to speak, completely holy. Rulership of the world on Shabbat is entirely under his personal jurisdiction and domain. However, during the weekdays God clothes Himself in the angel Metat (Yevamot 16b, Tosafot. Zohar I, 126a). Through him, God rules the world, not directly and openly, but indirectly through a veil. This distancing from absolute holiness allows for the appearance of a creation separate from and even devoid of God, which ultimately what provides man the maximum free will to serve God of his own volition.” Commentary on Likutey Moharan 11.5, Breslov Research Institute, pg. 183

The Jewish scholar Alan F. Segal writes,

“The chief angelic mediator, whom we can call by a number of terms – G-d’s vice-regent, his Wazir, his gerent – is easily distinguished from the plethora of divine creatures, for the principal angel is not only head of the heavenly hosts but sometimes participates in G-d’s own being or divinity. The rabbis most often call G-d’s principal angel Metatron.” Alan F. Segal, Paul the Convert, Yale University Press, pg. 43

The Angel of Many Names

The name ‘Metatron’ is unusual and mysterious. R’ Moshe ben Menachem Graf of Prague (1678) wrote an important text called Shivim Shemot de’Metatron, which says,

“The reader should not say in his heart that “these alone are the names of Metatron for there are yet more; for these are but the 70 names that Metatron, Sar ha-Panim revealed to R. Ishmael and the remaining names of the Sar ha-Panim are included in the 70 names, according to his actions and his deeds, as, so to speak with the Blessed One, all the Torah is comprised of the names of the Holy One, and all the names are included in the names known to the sages…” R’ Moshe ben Menachem Graf, Shivim Shemot de-Metatron, cited in The Seventeenth Century Hebrew Book, pg. 995

While not Mesorah, the first century Jewish scholar Philo preserved a tradition of this angel and his many titles. This illustrates the antiquity of the concept,

“And even if there be not as yet anyone who is worthy to be called a son of G-d, nevertheless let him labor earnestly to be adorned according to his firstborn Word, the Eldest of his angels, as the Great Archangel of many names; for he is called, the Authority, and the Name of G-d, and the Word, and Man according to G-d’s image, and he who sees Israel. For which reason I was induced a little while ago to praise the principles of those who said, “We are all one man’s sons.” For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of G-d, still we may deserve to be called the children of his Eternal Image, of his most sacred Word; for the Image of G-d is his most Ancient Word. And, indeed, in many passages of the law, the children of Israel are called hearers of him that sees, since hearing is honored with the second rank next after the sense of sight, and since that which is in need of instruction is at all times second to that which can receive clear impressions of the subjects submitted to it without any such information.” Philo, On the Confusion of Tongues 28

 To modern audiences, the word brings to mind transforming robots. To the ancient mind, there may have been a couple of possibilities. Speculation of possible origins include:

  1. Latin: Metator – Mediator

  2. Greek: Meta-tronos – Beyond/Beside the Throne

  3. Aramaic: Metator – Guide

The Ramban answers the question of the etymology of the name,

“This is the great angel, who on account of it is called Mattat-ron, the meaning of the word being “the guide of the road.” Thus the Rabbis have said in the Sifre: “The Holy One, blessed be He, was the mattatron (guide) for Moses, and He showed him the entire Land of Israel.” Ramban, Exodus 12, Bo, translated by Rabbi C. Chavel, Shilo Publishing House, pgs. 410-411, 413

שדי = מטטרון = 314

The gematria of Metatron equals the Divine Name “Shaddai.” The word Shin-Dalet-Yud forms a notarikon (acrostic) of the phrase, “Shomer Daltot Yisrael,” Guardian of the Doors of Yisrael. The Torah commands to put the words of HaShem upon the doorposts,

“And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates.” Deuteronomy 11:18

The Door of Heaven is Jerusalem, specifically the Temple Mount.

“(Yaakov) was afraid, and said, “How fearful is this place! This is nothing but the house of God and this is the gate of Heaven!” Genesis 28:17

Amazingly, as if HaShem’s ring has impressed wax like a seal, the Shin is stamped upon Jerusalem. The three valleys that form the shin are:

  1. The Kidron Valley

  2. The Tyropoean Valley

  3. The Valley of Hinnom

In a stunning statement, the Zohar identifies Metatron as the Gate:

כָּל אִינוּן דְּשָׁלְטֵי בְּשָׁלְטָנוֹ דְּהַאי עַלְמָא, עַל יְדֵיהּ סָלְקִין, וְכָל אִינוּן דְּנָחֲתֵי עַל יְדֵיהּ נָחֲתֵי, כֻּלְּהוּ בְּהַאי סֻלָּם. הוי”ה שָׁלְטָא עַל כֹּלָּא, דִּכְתִיב וְהִנֵּה ה’ נִצָּב עָלָיו. כַּד אִתְעַר, כְּתִיב, אֵין זֶה כִּי אִם בֵּית אֱלֹהִים וְזֶה שַׁעַר הַשָּׁמָיִם. בֵּית אֱלֹהִים וַדַּאי. וְאִיהוּ תַּרְעָא לְאָעֳלָא לְגוֹ, דִּכְתִיב פִּתְחוּ לִי שַׁעֲרֵי צֶדֶק אָבֹא בָם אוֹדֶה יָהּ. זֶה הַשַּׁעַר לַה’. זֶה שַׁעַר הַשָּׁמַיִם כֹּלָּא חַד.  (עַד כָּאן סִתְרֵי תּוֹרָה

“And moreover, those who dominate in this world do so through him, METATRON. And those who are prevented from ruling fall through him. They all are dependent on this ladder, METATRON. Yud Hei Vav Hei dominates them all. As it is written, “And, behold, Hashem stood above it.” When he awoke, it is written, “this is no other than the house of Elohim, and this is the gate of heaven.” Assuredly, METATRON is the House of Elohim, the gate through which one passes to come within, as it is written, “Open to me the gates of righteousness, I will go in to them, and I will praise Yah (Yud-Hei)” (Tehillim 118:19). And “this is the gate to Hashem (Yud Hei Vav Hei)” (Tehillim 118:20) is the gate of heaven. And all is one, which means that the gates of righteousness, the gate of Hashem and the gate of heaven are one, and that one is Metatron. End of Sitrei Torah (Secrets of the Torah).” Zohar, Vayetze,

Yeshua identifies himself as the Door or Gate in the book of John,

“I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture.” John 10:9

Rebbe Nachman says,

“My Name” refers to God’s Holy Name Shadai (Almighty). This Name is to be found “within” the angel Metat in the sense that God hides Himself, as it were, within Metat, and through him directs the world. The bond between the Names Shadai and Metatron is reflected in the fact that their numerical values are identical (Rashi). Metat corresponds to the Oral Torah. Just as God is hidden within Metat (and uses that angel to do His bidding in the world), so too, He is hidden within the Torah. We must recognize that since God is greater than the Torah, we should not satisfy ourselves with Torah study, but strive in always to serve God on high levels of purity and sanctity as the tzaddikim do.” Rebbe Nachman’s Torah, Exodus/Leviticus, Breslov Research Institute, pg. 205

The Zohar says,

“And this is the letter Shin of Shadai (Shin-Dalet-Yud), THAT TEACHES ABOUT the three branches of the patriarchs, namely: Yud Hei Vav Hei, Our Elohim, Yud Hei Vav Hei, these being the three names that parallel the three branches of the patriarchs, WHICH ARE CHESED, GVURAH AND TIFERET. AND THESE THREE NAMES contain Yud Dalet  14) letters, which form the Dalet Yud of Shadai. AND SHADAI IS YESOD OF ZEIR ANPIN, and the apparel of Shadai IS Metatron, which has the same numerical value as Shadai. End of Ra’aya Meheimna (the Faithful Shepherd).” Zohar, Ra’aya Meheimna, Parashat Pinchas,

The Ramban, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, comments,

ועל דרך האמת המלאך הזה שהבטיחו בו “המלאך הגאל” [בראשית מח, טז] אשר השם הגדול בקרבו…שהוא מטטרון, והוא שם למורה הדרך…ועוד אזכיר [להלן כד, א] כוונתם ב”שמו כשם רבו”. והנה קולו הוא “קול אלקים חיים [דברים ה, כג] והמצוה לשמוע בקולו מפי הנביאים…וקולו הוא קול אל עליון רמב”ן, שמות כג, כא

“By the way of Truth, [the mystic teachings of the Cabala], this angel they were promised here is the redeeming angel in whom is the Great Name, for in Y-a-h the Eternal is an everlasting Rock. This is [what He meant when] He said, I am the G-d of Beth-el, for this is the custom of the King to dwell in His Palace. He is called mal’ach (angel) because the whole conduct of this world is by that attribute. And our Rabbis have said that this is Mattatron, a name which signifies “the guide of the road” . . . ‘to bring thee into the place which I have prepared, referring to the Sanctuary. . . I will yet mention the Rabbis’ meaning in saying that Mattatron’s name [in the sum of letters-numbers] is even as the Name of his Master. His voice is thus the voice of the living G-d, and it is mandatory upon us to hearken to His voice by the mouth of the prophets. . . he will not pardon your transgression if you rebel against his word, for he who rebels against him, rebels against the Great Name which is in him, and he deserves to be cut off by the attribute of justice.” . . . his voice is the voice of the Supreme One.” Ramban, Exodus 23, Mishpatim, translated by Rabbi C. Chavel, Shilo Publishing House, pgs. 410-411, 413

In spite of all of these descriptions of Metatron as an “angel,” R’ Joel David Bakst comments,

“Contrary to virtually anything you read elsewhere about this phenomenon, Metatron is not an angel. This is true despite the fact that the rabbis, as well as the Torah itself in numerous instances, refer to Metatron as a malach or The Malach. Yes, the term malach is always translated as angel or messenger. But this itself is begging the issue because what an “angel” is to the non-Jewish mind and what a malach is to the Torah mind are, for the most part, two different realities. We must reeducate ourselves (i.e., redefine ourselves and our perception of reality) that Metatron is not a “noun”, i.e., a person (even an angelic person), place or thing. If anything, Metatron is the meta-malach, the meta-messenger, the meta-medium for the revelation of the Ain Sof. But then, as Marshall McLuhan made famous, “The medium is the message”. A frustrating or forbidding paradox? Only until we realize that the relationship of MT to “God” is the same as the relationship of the Light (207) of the Ain Sof to the Ain Sof (also 207). The connection of the two is not linear but rather the “end” is looped into the “beginning”. Even if we attempt a more sophisticated “flatland” categorization of Metatron as a metasystem (which is perfectly fine as long as we remain acutely aware of its dimensional limitations) this puts Metatron in a whole category by itself for which we have little to compare. This “meta-angel” is greater than all the angels together! Now, what exactly is this whole that is greater than the sum of its angelic parts? Talk about “other worldly” and “alien”. (He is called Prince of the Presence – but the Presence of what?). Even though in the material you may read about Metatron – including the material I am presenting – describes Metatron as an angelic entity, don’t believe it. MT is big. Bigger than the universe. But, relative to the Ain Sof, The Source of all Blessing, He is still called the “Little YHVH”! R’ Joel David Bakst, Meet Your Mentor, ChazonHaTorah

The Lesser Hashem

One of the names of Metat is the Lesser Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei. This unusual title is puzzling. A text called Sefer HaHeikhalot, often called 3rd Enoch, says,

“R. Ishmael said: The angel Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, said to me: The Holy One, blessed be he, revealed to me from that time onward all the mysteries of wisdom, all the depths of the perfect Torah and all the thoughts of men’s hearts. All the mysteries of the world and all the orders of nature stand before me as they stand revealed before the Creator. From that time onward I looked and beheld deep secrets and wonderful mysteries. Before a man thinks in secret, I see his thought; before he acts, I see his act. There is nothing in heaven above or deep within the earth concealed from me. R. Ishmael said: Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence said to me: Out of the love which he had for me, more than for all the denizens of the heights, the Holy One, blessed be he, fashioned for me a majestic robe, in which all kinds of luminaries were set, and he clothed me in it. He fashioned for me a glorious cloak in which brightness, brilliance, splendor and luster of every kind were fixed, and he wrapped me in it, He fashioned for me a kingly crown in which 49 refulgent stones were placed, each like the sun’s orb, and its brilliance shone into the four quarters of the heaven of ‘Arabot, into the seven heavens, and into the four quarters of the world. He set it upon my head, and he called me, “The lesser HaShem” in the presence of his whole household in the height, as it is written, “My name is in him.” 3 Enoch 11:1 – 12:5, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, pg. 268

Amazingly, the Midrash says that the Messiah receives the Crown of HaShem, His Robe and His Name. The Midrash cites Jeremiah 23 for proof of Messiah receiving the Name,

“Behold, the days come, says Hashem, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name by which he shall be called: HaShem our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:5-6

The Midrash Rabbah says,

“What is the name of King Messiah? R. Abba b. Kahana said: His name is ‘the Lord’; as it is stated, And this is the name whereby he shall be called, HaShem is our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). For R. Levi said: It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king, and the name of its king identical with that of its God. ‘It is good for a province when its name is identical with that of its king,’ as it is written, And the name of the city from that day shall be the HaShem is there (Ezek. 48:35).” Lamentations Rabbah 1:51, Soncino Press Edition

Sefer Heikhalot says of Metatron,

“When the Holy One, blessed be he, placed this crown upon my head, all the princes of the kingdoms who are in the height of heaven of ‘Arabot and all the legions of every heaven trembled at me . . . Even …the Prince of the Accusers, who is greater than all the princes of the kingdoms that are in the height, was afraid and shuddered at me.” 3 Enoch 14:1-2, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, pg. 266

In the Pesikta Rabbati, a similar event happens when the accuser sees the Messiah,

“What is meant by ‘in Your light do we see light’? What light is it that the congregation of Israel looks for as from a watchtower? It is the light of Messiah, of which it is said, ‘And God saw the light that it was good’ (Gen 1:4). This verse proves that the Holy One, blessed be He, contemplated the Messiah and his works before the world was created, and then under His throne of glory put away His Messiah until the time of the generation in which he will appear. Satan asked the Holy One, blessed be He, for whom is the light which is put away under Your throne of glory? God replied: For him who will turn you back and put thee to utter shame. Satan said: Master of the universe, show him to me. God replied: Come and see him. And when he saw him, Satan was shaken, and he fell upon his face and said: Surely this is the Messiah who will cause me and all the counterparts in heaven of the princes of the earth’s nations to be swallowed up in Gehenna…” . . . in that hour all the princely counterparts of the nations, in agitation, will say to Him: Master of the universe, who is this through whose power we are to be swallowed up? What is his name? What kind of being is he?” Pesikta Rabbati 36.1, translated by William G. Braude, Yale University Press, pgs. 677-678 

Like the description of Metat receiving a glorious robe, so does Mashiach,

“The Holy One, blessed be He, will put upon Ephraim, our true Messiah, a garment whose splendor will stream forth from world’s end to world’s end; and Israel will make use of his light and say: Blessed is the hour in which he was created! Blessed is the womb whence he came! Blessed is the generation whose eyes behold him! … Blessed are the forbears of the man who merited the goodness of the world, the Messiah, hidden for the eternity [to come.]” Pesikta Rabbati 37.2, translated by R' William G. Braude, Yale University Press, pg. 689

Segal continues,

“Because of this obedience, G-d exalted Jesus and bestowed on him the “name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9). For a Jew this phrase can only mean that Jesus received the divine name [Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei], the tetragrammaton . . . We have seen that sharing in the divine name is a recurring motif of early Jewish apocalypticism…” Alan F. Segal, Paul the Convert, Yale University Press, pg. 62

Not only does Messiah receive the Name above all names, but so does Jerusalem,

“It shall be eighteen thousand reeds around: and the name of the city from that day shall be, HaShem is there.” Ezekiel 48:35

This demonstrates the connection between the Messiah and Israel, which will be further explored through the intricate discussion on the complex identity of Metatron.

Two Metatrons

As if the concept of Metatron were not already complex enough, it is important to note that there is not one, but two Metatrons! Gershom Scholem notes,

“It is already observed in Shi’ur Komah that the name Metatron has two forms, “written with six letters and with seven letters,” i.e. מיטטרון and מטטרון…the kabbalists regarded the different forms as signifying two prototypes for Metatron…They identified the seven-lettered Metatron with the Supreme emanation from the Shekhinah, dwelling since then in the heavenly world, while the six-lettered Metatron was Enoch, who ascended later to heaven and possess only some of the splendor and power of the Primordial Metatron. This distinction already underlies the explanation given by R. Abraham b. David to Berakhot.” Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem, pg. 380

The Upper Metatron is linked to the Soul of Mashiach ben Yosef, while the Lower Metatron is Enoch. The connections between the two are numerous. The Encyclopedia Judaica says,

“Two different traditions have been combined in the figure of Metatron. One relates to a heavenly angel who was created with the creation of the world, or even before, and makes him responsible for performing the most exalted tasks in the heavenly kingdom. This tradition continued to apply after Jahoel was identified with Metatron. According to this tradition, the new figure took over many of the specific duties of the angel Michael, an idea retained in certain sections of the Heikhalot literature up to and including the Kabbalah. The primordial Metatron is referred to as Metatron Rabba. A different tradition associates Metatron with Enoch, who “walked with G-d” (Gen. 5:22) and who ascended to heaven and was changed from a human being into an angel—in addition he also became the great scribe who recorded men’s deeds.” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Metatron

To what can this be compared? To the relationship between Moshe and Yehoshua, who were like the sun and the moon. In the future, the Light of the Sun (the Light of the Messiah) will be magnified to the level of the Primordial Hidden Light, and the Moon (the Light of the Bride, Israel) will be magnified to the level of the sun,

“Moreover the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, in the day that HaShem binds up the fracture of his people, and heals the wound they were struck with.” Isaiah 30:26

The book of Zechariah says,

“In that day HaShem will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He who is feeble among them at that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of HaShem before them.” Zechariah 12:8

John says,

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that, when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is.” 1 John 3:2


In his letters, Paul makes a remarkable statement.

“I know a man in Messiah, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I don’t know, or whether out of the body, I don’t know; G-d knows), such a one caught up into the third heaven. I know such a man (whether in the body, or outside of the body, I don’t know; G-d knows), how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” 2 Corinthians 12:2-4

In an incredible parallel, the Talmud, in tractate Chagigah 14, states that there were four individuals who ascended into heaven,

“Our Rabbis taught: Four men entered the ‘Garden’, namely, Ben Azzai and Ben Zoma, Aher, and R. Akiba. R. Akiba said to them: When you arrive at the stones of pure marble, say not, “water, water!” For it is said: ‘He that speaks falsehood shall not be established before mine eyes.’ Ben Azzai cast a look and died. Of him Scripture says: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.’ Ben Zoma looked and became demented. Of him Scripture says: ‘Have you found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for you, lest you be filled therewith, and vomit it.’ Aher mutilated the shoots. R. Akiba departed unhurt…Aher mutilated the shoots. Of him Scripture says: ‘Do not allow your mouth to bring your flesh into guilt.’ What does it refer to?  He saw that permission was granted to Metatron to sit and write down the merits of Israel. Said he: It is taught as a tradition that on high there is no sitting and no emulation, and no back, and no weariness. “Perhaps,” ‘God forfend!’ “there are two divinities!” [Thereupon] they led Metatron forth, and punished him with sixty fiery lashes, saying to him: “Why didn’t you rise before him when you saw him? Permission was [then] given to him to strike out the merits of Aher. A Bat Kol went forth and said: “Return, ye backsliding children — except Aher.” Chagigah 14b, Soncino Press Edition

It is beyond the scope of this article (and the author) to elucidate the meaning of this enigmatic passage. One common thread in this account is the concept of “separation.” One should not say “water, water” that is to focus on the duality, the separation, of the Upper Waters and the Lower Waters, which allude to the Upper Hei and Lower Hei of HaShem’s Name, which in all reality, is absolutely One (see Reb Noson’s Likutey Halachot, Hilkhot Eydut 2). Rebbe Nachman points out the error of Acher (Elisha ben Abuyah),

“The Talmud states that Acher caused irreparable damage because as a result of his vision, he took issue with the essence of everything – God’s oneness. . . This is what Acher presumed when he saw Metatron “sitting.” Acher should have seen past the illusion, recognizing that nature is no more than Divine providence cloaked in a “curtain of separateness,” but he didn’t.” Mayim, Rebbe Nachman, Breslov Research Institute, pg. 79

Sefer Heikhalot says,

“R. Ishmael said: The angel Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, the glory of the highest heaven, said to me: At first I sat upon a great throne at the door of the seventh palace, and I judged all the denizens of the heights on the authority of the Holy One, blessed be he. I assigned greatness, royalty, rank, sovereignty, glory, praise, diadem, crown, and honor to all the princes of kingdoms, when I sat in the heavenly court (yeshiva). The princes of the kingdoms stood beside me, to my right and my left, by the authority of the Holy One, blessed be he. But when ‘Aher came to behold the vision of the chariot and set eyes upon me, he was afraid and trembled before me. His soul was alarmed to the point of leaving him because of his fear, dread and terror of me, when he saw me seated upon a throne like a king, with ministering angels standing beside me as servants and all the princes of the kingdoms crowned with crowns surrounding me. The he opened his mouth and said, “There are indeed two powers in heaven!” Immediately a divine voice (bat kol) came out from the presence of the Shekinah and said, Come back to me, apostates sons – apart from ‘Aher!” Then Anapi’el Y-H-W-H, the honored, glorified, beloved, wonderful, terrible and dreadful Prince, came at the command of the Holy One, blessed be he, and struck me with sixty lashes of fire and made me stand to my feet.” 3 Enoch 16:1-5, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, pg. 268

The Talmud records a debate between a min (a heretic) and R’ Idith,

“R. Nahman said: He who is as skilled in refuting the Minim as is R. Idith, let him do so; but not otherwise. Once a Min said to R. Idith: “It is written, ‘And unto Moshe He said, ‘Come up to the HaShem.’ But surely it should have stated, ‘Come up unto me!’ “It was Metatron [who said that],” he replied, “whose name is similar to that of his Master, for it is written, ‘For my name is in him.” “But if so,” [he retorted,] “we should worship him!” “The same passage, however,”  replied R. Idith “says: Be not rebellious against him, i.e., exchange Me not for him.” “But if so, why is it stated: ‘He will not pardon your transgression?” He answered: “We hold the belief that we would not accept him even as a messenger, for it is written, “And he said unto him, “If your [personal] presence go not, etc.” Sanhedrin 38b, Soncino Press Edition

Metat is not an entity that is separate and independent from HaShem. Like R’ Akiva says, we must see beyond the illusion of duality, and realize that everything is One. Speaking of illusions of plurality, the book of Daniel contains a problematic verse,

“I beheld till the thrones were set, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and its wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9-10

The troublesome word is the plural “thrones.” Since there is a tradition that only HaShem sits in heaven, why is the word for throne plural? Ironically, it was R’ Akiva who suggested that the answer to the puzzle was that Messiah, like Metatron, will sit in heaven,

“One passage says: His throne was fiery flames, and another Passage says: ‘Till thrones were placed, and One that was Ancient of Days did sit!’ There is no contradiction: one [throne] for Him, and one for David (that is the Messiah) this is the view of R. Akiba. Said R. Jose the Galilean to him: “Akiba, how long will you treat the Divine Presence as profane! . . . Rather, [it must mean] one for a throne and one for a stool; the throne to sit upon, the stool for a footrest, for it is said: ‘The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My foot-rest.” Chagigah 14a, Soncino Press Edition

In truth, both positions are correct. It is the Messiah who sits in heaven, and writes down the merits of Israel,

“R. Isaac commented: The Torah teaches you a good rule of conduct, to wit, that when a person performs a good deed he should do so with a cheerful heart. If Reuben, for example, had known that the Holy One, blessed be He, would have written of him, ‘And Reuben heard it, and delivered him out of their hand’ (Gen. 37:21), he would have carried Joseph and brought him to his father. And if Boaz had known that the Holy One, blessed be He, would have it written of him that he ‘[Gave] her parched corn’’, he would have given her to eat fatted calves! R. Kohen and R. Joshua son of R. Simon in the name of R. Levi said: In times past when a man did a good deed the prophet used to record it, but now if a man does a good deed who records it? Elijah and the King Messiah, the Holy One, blessed be He, signing beside them; in accordance with that which is written, ‘Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him… for them that… thought upon His name.’ (Mal. 3:16).” Leviticus Rabbah 34:8, Soncino Press Edition

The Messiah, who is the Lamb of Isaiah 53, is the author of the Book of Life. Speaking of the New Jerusalem, the book of Revelation says,

“There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27

Forgiveness of Sins

One of the most controversial passages in the New Testament occurs when Yeshua forgives the sins of a paralytic,

“Behold, they brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a bed. Yeshua, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, “Son, cheer up! Your sins are forgiven you.” Behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man blasphemes.” Yeshua, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven;’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (then he said to the paralytic), “Get up, and take up your mat, and go up to your house.” Matthew 9:2-6

It is important to note that the passage in Exodus seems to imply that because of the Name of HaShem dwells in Metat, that he has the authority to forgive sins. If this were not the case, it would be superfluous for the Torah to even mention it. At first glance, some object to this concept as being anti-Jewish, or a violation of Torah. The forgiveness of sins seems to be exclusive to HaShem alone. However, when one practices bitul, self nullification, achieving humility in the service of the Creator he has the potential to become a vessel for bringing tikkun and HaShem’s light to the world. Yeshua was the ultimate example of this concept. Drawing upon the above concept of the law of the Shaliach, Messiah was the extension of HaShem, God’s hand reaching out and touching the paralytic. The proof before the eyes of all was that the man picked up his mat and walked, and God was glorified. Restoration came to the man’s life. There are numerous examples where individuals like Moshe, or the judges of Israel are called “Elokim.” They merit this title because they are His representatives, and act with His authority. An example of this in a Jewish source occurs in the Machzor for Rosh HaShanah,

“May everything be permitted you, may everything be forgiven you, may everything be allowed you. There does not exist any vow, oath, nazirism, cherem, prohibition, konam, ostracism or curse. But there does exist pardon, forgiveness, and atonement. And just as the earthly court permits them, so may they be permitted in the Heavenly Court.” Rosh HaShanah Machzor, Seder Hatarat Nedarim, K’hal Publishing, pg. 7

In the Machzor, a curious name appears. At the height of the Rosh HaShanah service, in the section of the TASHRAT (Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah, i.e. different types of shofar blasts), there is a yehi ratzon (may it be your will) prayer that says,

Yehi ratzon milefancha shet’kiat tashrat sh’anachnu tokim t’hei m’rukemet hai’reeah al yadei hammunah Tartiel k’shem sheqibalta al yad Eliyahu Z”L, viY’shua Sar HaPanim v’Sar MemTet. V’timeleh aleinu b’rachamim. Baruch atah HaShem, ba’al rachamim.

May it be your will (before you) that the sounding of the TASHRAT that we blow be woven into the curtain by the hand of the minister, Tartiel, like the name that was received by the hand of Eliyahu (his memory be for a blessing), and Yeshua the Prince of the Face, and the Prince Metatron. And may you be filled with mercy for us. Blessed are you, Master of mercies.

Who is “Yeshua, Prince of the Face”? The Orthodox Jewish blog, Emes v’Emunah writes, “There is no angel, Yeshua. Yeshua is Jesus.” Why does Yeshua’s name appear at this point in the Rosh HaShanah service? The name appears in various machzors, with minor variations to yehi ratzon prayer. Emes Ve-Emunah notes the following,

“The oldest version I found it in is the standard Machzor Kol Bo, (Hebrew Publishing Co.) that our parents and grandparents used (with the Beis Yisroel Yiddish Teitch, probably dating back to the 1920s or earlier). It is also in the Kol Bo Rav Pnimim (Zigelheim 1951), the Oahr Chudush (1978), The Machzor Rabbah (Eshkol), The Adler English translation (circa 1930s). And it is in the Artscroll In the Ashkenaz version it is on page 436 which has the Hebrew (Yud Shin Vav Ayin) and English translation: Yeshua!” Emes Ve-Emunah: Jesus in the Machzor of Rosh HaShanah [2]

In K’hal Publishing’s Soloveitchik Machzor, they translate ‘Yeshua’ into English, yet the interestingly explain the ‘Yeshua’ reference as referring to the Kohen Gadol from the Tanakh,

“…sound be embroidered into the [heavenly] curtain by the appointed angel [טרטיא”ל], just as You accepted prayers through Elijah, who is remembered for good; Yeshua (the Kohen Gadol), minister of the Inner Chamber; and the ministering angel [מט”ט]; and may You be filled with mercy upon us. Blessed are You, Master of Mercies.” Rosh HaShanah Machzor, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, K’hal Publishing, pg. 449


It is important to note that the early believers saw the figure of Metatron as connected to the Mashiach. Alan F. Segal writes,

“In the Hebrew Bible, G-d is sometimes described in human form. Exod. 23:21 mentions an angel who has the form of a man and who carries with him or represents “the name of G-d.” A human figure on the divine throne is described in Ezekiel I, Daniel 7, and Exodus 24, among other places, and was blended into a consistent picture of a principal mediator figure who, like  the angel of HaShem in Exodus 23, embodied, personified or carried the name of G-d, Y-H-W-H, the Tetragrammaton. This figure, elaborated on by Jewish tradition, would become a central metaphor for Christ in Christianity.” Paul the Convert, Alan F. Segal, Yale University Press, pg. 11

Segal continues,

“Yahoel appears in chapters 10 and 11, where he is described as the one “in whom G-d’s ineffable name dwells.” Other titles for this figure included Melchizedek, Metatron, Adoil, Eremiel, and preeminently the son of man.”. . .Whatever the date of Daniel or the earliest son of man traditions, this angelic figure, the figure that the Bible sometimes calls the Kavod or the principal angel of G-d, is pre-Christian and is a factor in Paul’s description of Christ.)” Paul the Convert, Alan F. Segal, Yale University Press, pg. 42, 51

R’ Ariel bar Tzadok says,

“MemTet rules over G-d’s entire universe, not just here on planet earth. Thus when Melekh HaMashiah comes, he will be MemTet incarnate. As such, he will serve as G-d’s regent over the entire universe and not just king here on earth. Mashiah will be to HaShem what Yosef was to Pharaoh in Egypt. Thus, we see that the role and authority of Mashiah is not merely limited to this world.” Identifying Shiloh – The Secret Soul of the Mashiah,” Parashat Vayehi, 5762, Rabbi Ariel bar Tzadok,

This indicates he is the Angel Redeemer, the one sent to bring us back to the Garden,

“Behold, I send an Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.” Exodus 23:20-21

Yeshua said,

“Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many homes. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also.” John 14:1-3

Yeshua is the Shaliach, the Sent One of HaShem, who will accomplish the mission of the Redemption by gathering the exiles to the Land, rebuilding the Temple and ushering in the ultimate Era of Peace. As he was sent as the Representative of HaShem to the world, so too Mashiach has sent us, to be his representatives, to become an extension of the Divine Light, to bring the Good News to the world, as he has said,

“Shalom be to you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” John 20:21



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