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The Word of YHWH Revealed Part 3: The Middle Pillar

By James Trimm

In order to understand Philo’s concept of the Word (Logos) it is important to understand Philo’s concept of Elohim. Philo says:

"The primal existence is God, and second the God-Word"
(Allegorical Interpretation II, 86)

"The Creator of the world sends out His powers
from an eternal and invisible place"
(Q&A on Genesis, II, 48)

Philo raises the question

"...regarding its Creator, asking of what sort this Being is so difficult to see, so difficult to conjecture. Is He a body or incorporeal or something exalted above these? Is He a single nature... Or a composite Being?...and seeing that this is a problem hard to pursue, hard to take in by thought, he prays that he may learn from God Himself what God is."
(Flight and Finding, 164)

Philo doesn't answer this question here, but he does answer these questions elsewhere. In On the Confusion of Tongues, 62, He calls God "incorporeal" and in a later section, he describes God as a "Triad" (Trinity). He refers to God as “...the Lord God of three natures...”(Philo; On the Change of Names II, 11). He also says: is reasonable for one to be three and for three to be one, for they were one by a higher principle... the place of one, He makes the appearance of a triad [trinity]... He cannot be seen in his oneness without something [else], the chief Powers that that exist immediately with him... the Creative, which is called "Elohim" and the Kingly, which is called "Lord"... he begins to see the sovereign, holy, and divine vision in such a way that a single appearance appears as a triad [trinity], and the triad [trinity] as a unity.
(Philo; Questions on Genesis, IV, 2)

According to Philo God appears as a Triad -- himself and his two Powers: Creative and Ruling. To the "purified soul," however, God appears as One.

… the Father of the universe, who in the sacred scripture is called by his proper name,
‘I am that I am’; and the beings on each side are those most ancient powers which are always close to the living God, one of which is called his Creative Power, and the other his Royal Power. And the Creative Power is God, for it is by this that he made and arranged the universe; and the Royal Power is the Lord, for it is fitting that the Creator should lord it over and govern the creature. Therefore, the middle person of the three, being attended by each of his powers as by body-guard, presents to the mind, which is endowed with the faculty of sight, a vision at one time of one being, and at another time of three; …
(Abr. 119-123).

The reconciliation of these two opposing “powers”, the central power is the Word (Logos):

...the Divine Word (Logos)...fills all things and becomes a mediator and arbitrator for the two sides....from the Divine Word (Logos), as from a spring, there divide and break forth two powers. One is the creative through which the Artificer placed and ordered all things. This is named "God". And the royal, since through it the Creator rules over created things. This is called "Lord" And from these two powers have grown the others. For by the side of the creative power there grows the propitious of which is named "beneficial" while (besides) the royal the legislative, of which is aptly named "punitive". And below these and beside them is the ark."
(Philo on Q&A on Exodus, II.68)

As we stated earlier Philo’s “Word” (Logos) parallels Kabbalah’s SEFIROT.

According to the Sefer Yetzirah there are ten sefirot:

Ten Sefirot of Nothingness ten and not nine ten and not eleven…
(Sefer Yetzirah 1:4)

The ten sefirot are arranged on a chart known as the “Tree of Life” under three columns known as the “three pillars of the Godhead”.

As we read in the Bahir:

Why are they called Sephirot?
Because it is written (Psalm 19:2),
“The heavens declare (me-SaPRim) the glory of God.”
And what are they?
They are three. Among them are three troops and three dominions.
(Bahir 125-126)

The Zohar describes the three pillars of the Godhead as follows:

Then Elohim said, “Let thee be light; and there was light.
And Elohim saw that the light was good…
Why, it may be asked, was it necessary to repeat the word “light” in this verse? The answer is that the first “light” refers to the primordial light which is of the Right Hand, and it is destined for the “end of days”; while the second “light” refers to the Left Hand, which issues from the Right.

The next words, “And God saw the light that it was good” (Gen. 1:4), refer to the pillar which, standing midway between them, unites both sides, and therefore when the unity of the three, right, left, and middle, was complete, “it was good”, since there could be no completion until the third had appeared to remove the strife between Right and Left, as it is written, “And God separated between the light and between the darkness.”…

This is the Middle Pillar: Ki Tov (that it was good) threw light above and below and on all other sides, in virtue of YHWH, the name which embraces all sides.
(Zohar 1:16b)


Philo Writes of the Word (Logos):

For there are, as it seems, two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high priest is the divine word, his own firstborn son. The other is the rational soul, the priest of which is the real true man,
(On Dreams 215)

And if there be not as yet any one who is worthy to be called a son of God, neverthless let him labour 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 God", and "the Word", and "man according to God's image", and "He who sees Israel". . . For even if we are not yet suitable to be called the sons of God, still we may deserve to be called the children of his eternal image, of his most sacred Word; for the image of God is his most ancient word.
( On the Confusion of Tongues XXVIII:146-147)

Thus, indeed, being a shepherd is a good thing, so that it is justly attributed, not only to kings, and to wise men, and to souls who are perfectly purified, but also to God, the ruler of all things; and he who confirms this is not any ordinary person, but a prophet, whom it is good to believe, he namely who wrote the psalms; for he speaks thus, "The Lord is my shepherd, and he shall cause me to lack Nothing;" (Ps. 23:1.) and let every one in his turn say the same thing, for it is very becoming to every man who loves God to study such a song as this, but above all this world should sing it. For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heaven, and the periodical revolutions of the sun and moon, and the variations and harmonious movements of the other stars, ruling them according to law and justice; appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason, his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, "Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the Road."(Ex. 23:20.)
(On Husbandry 50-51)

According to the Zohar, the Middle Pillar of the Godhead is also known as the “Son of Yah”:

Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother far off.
This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the godhead,
which is the Son of Yah.
(Zohar 2:115)

The Middle Pillar is also known as “Metatron”:

The Middle Pillar [of the godhead] is Metatron,
Who has accomplished peace above,
According to the glorious state there.
(Zohar 3:227)

And in the Zohar we are also told that Metatron is “the firstborn” and the “ruler of all He has” and “committed to Him the government over all His hosts”:

"And Abraham said to his oldest servant of his house…" (Gen. 24:2) Who is this of whom it said "his servant?" In what sense must this be understood? Who is this servant? R. Nehori answered:
"It is in no other sense to be understood than expressed in the word "His servant,"
His servant, the servant of Elohim, the chief to His service. And who is he? Metatron, as said. He is appointed to glorify the bodies which are in the grave. This is the meaning of the words "Abraham said to His servant" that is to the servant of Elohim. The servant is Metatron, the eldest of His [YHWH's] House, who is the firstborn of all creatures of Elohim, who is the ruler of all He has; because Elohim has committed to Him the government over all His hosts.
(Zohar 1:129b)

This recalls, not only what Philo has said about the “Word” (Logos) but also a statement by Paul in his letter to the Colossians:

Who is the image of Eloah, which is invisible, and the Firstborn of all creation. And by him was created everything that is in heaven and on earth, all that is seen and all that is not seen, whether thrones or sovereignties or principalities or authorities. Everything through him and by him was created. He was from before, and all and everything by him was established. And he is the head of the Assembly, because He is the head, And the Firstborn from among the dead, that he might be first in all.
(Col. 1:15-18)

Friends, I know this study has gotten deep, but I want you to bear with me. YHWH has deep things ready for us, if we are ready to receive them. Be prepared, we are going to go deeper still. So stand by to go deeper still in part 4 coming soon.

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James Scott Trimm
Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim

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Views: 92

Comment by James Trimm on July 19, 2009 at 3:45pm
Yes there is confusion over the identity of Metatron.

In the Talmud Metatron is "the Lesser YHWH".

In the Zohar Metarton is the "Son of Yah" and "The Middle Pillar of the Godhead".

In 3Enoch Metatron is the ascended Enoch. 3Enoch is a bit of a misnomer for this book, it is not strongly related to 1st and 2nd Enoch and is not presented as a writing of Enoch. It is actually an apocalypse of Rabbi Ishmael a Pharisaic Rabbi AFTER the first century. (i.e. a non believer in Messiah).

There are two possible reasons for the confusion.

To begin with Metatron is mentioned in a Rabbinic Midrash which parallels the account in 1Enoch:

The following Rabbinic Midrash is from an old Midrash
collection called "The Book of Remembrances" or "The Book of Stories.":

The Midrash of Semhazai and Aza'el

(I) R. Joseph was (once) asked what was the story of Semhazai and Aza'eI,
and he replied: When the generation of Enosh arose and practiced idolatry
and when the generation of the Flood arose and corrupted their actions, the
Holy One-Blessed be He-was grieved that He had created man, as it is said,
"And God repented that he created man, and He was grieved at heart. (2)
Forthwith arose two angels, whose names were Semhazai and Aza'el, and said
before Him: "0 Lord of the universe, did we not say unto Thee when Thou
didst create Thy world, 'Do not create man'?", as it is said, "What is man
that Thou shouldst remember himn?". The Holy One-Blessed be He-said to
them: "Then what shall become of the world?" They said before Him. ''We
wilt suffice' (Thee) instead of it.' (3) He said. ''It is revealed and
(well known to me that if peradventure you had lived in that (earthly)
world, the evil inclination would have ruled you just as much as it rules
over the sons of man, but you would be more stubborn than they." They said
before Him. "Give us Thy sanction and let us descend (and dwell) among the
creatures and then Thou shalt see how we shall sanctify Thy name" He said
to them. "Descend and dwell ye among them." (4) Forethwith the Holy One
allowed the evil inclination to rule over them, as soon as they descended.
When they beheld the daughters of man that they were beautiful they began
to corrupt themselves with them, as it is said, "Then the sons of God saw
the daughters of man", they could not restrain their inclination.
(5) Forthwith Semhazai beheld a girl whose name was 'Esterah; fixing his
eyes at her he said: "Listen to my (request)." But she said to him: "I will
not listen to thee until thou teachest me the Name by which thou art
enabled to ascend to the firmament, as soon as Thou dost mention it." He
taught her the Ineffable Name. (6) What did she do? She mentioned It and
therebv ascended to the firmament. The Holy One said; "Since she has
departed from sin, go and set her among the stars.'' It is she who shines
brightly in the midst of the seven stars of the Pleiades; so that she may
always be remembered, forthwith the Holy One fixed her among the Pleiades.
(7) When Semazai and Aza'eI saw this they took to them wives, and begat
children. Semhazai begat two children, whose names were Heyya and 'Aheyya.
And Aza'el was appointed chief over all kinds of dyes and over all kinds of
women's ornaments by which they entice men to unclean thoughts of sin. (8)
Forthwith Metatron sent a messenger to Semhazai and said to him: "The Holy
One is about to destroy His world, and bring upon it a flood." Semhazai
stood up and raised his voice and wept aloud, for he was sorely troubled
about his sons and (his own) iniquity. And he said: "How shall my children
live and what shall become of my children. for each one of them eats daily
a thousand camels, a thousand horses, a thousand oxen, and all kinds (of
(9) One night the sons of Semhazai, Heyya and 'Aheyya, saw (visions) in
dream, and both of them saw dreams. One saw a great stone spread over the
earth like a table, the whole of which was written over with lines (of
writing). And an angel (was seen by him) descending from the firmament with
a knife in his hand and be was erasing and obliterating all the lines, save
one line with four words upon it, (10) The other (son) saw a garden,
planted whole with (many) kinds of trees and (many) kinds of precious
stones. And an angel (was seen by him) descending from the firmament with
an axe in his hand, and he was cutting down all the trees, so that there
remained only one
tree containing three branches. (11) Wben they awoke from their sleep they
arose in confusion, and, going to their father, they related to him the
dreams. He said to them: "'The Holy One is about to bring a flood upon the
world, and to destroy it so that there will remain but one man and his
three sons," They (thereupon) cried in anguish and wept, saying, "What
shall become of us and how shall our names be perpetuated?" He said to
them: "Do not trouble yourselves, for your names. Heyya and 'Aheyya, will
never cease from the mouths of creatures, because every time that men will
be raising (heavy) stones or boats, or anything similar, they will shout
and call your names." With this their tempers cooled down.
(12) What did Semhazai do? He repented and suspended himself between heaven
and earth head downwards and feet upwards, because he was not allowed to
open his mouth hefore the Holy One-Blessed be He-, and he still hangs
between heaven and earth. (13) Aza'el (however) did not repent. And he is
appointed chief over all kinds of dyes which entice man to commit sin and
he still continues to corrupt them. (14) Therefore, when the Israelites
used to bring sacrifices on the day of atonement, they cast one lot for the
Lord that it might atone for the iniquities of the Israelites, and one lot
for Aza'el that he might bear the burden of Israel's iniquity. This is the
Aza'el that is mentioned in the Scripture.

When compared with the account in 1Enoch and the Book of Giants it is easy to see how one might have confused Metatron with Enoch.

Also Enoch was twisted by pagans into the pagan gods Thoth, Hermes and Mercury. This connection lead to paganized "Hermetic Kabbalah". Such "twisters" may have elevated Enoch and made him out to be Metatron himself, not so much intending to lower Metatron, but to deify Enoch.
Comment by Melvin Creston Williams on June 17, 2010 at 6:38pm
One must be VERY careful when trying to assemble and reconcile all of these disparate pieces of information from all of these different sources. Only YHWH knows the truth. Only YHWH knows the mind of YHWH. Walk these paths with the utmost care.
Comment by Rabbi Yochanan ben Avraham on July 8, 2010 at 2:20pm
Philo was, as you said at the outset, a Hellenist. His testimony is certainly important but the testimony of Torah is far more so. I'm hoping you will demonstrate this doctrine from it as well in the future studies.

The idea of trinities of gods was widely accepted by Greek and Roman culture, like Diana, Selene and Hecate; Zeus (father), Leto (mother), and Apollo (son) and so on. The idea is completely alien to Jewish culture and the Torah however.

The oneness of HaShem was the pivotal realization of Abraham when, as Avram he entered his father's shop and destroyed the idols, chiding that perhaps the big one had destroyed the others in a fit of jealousy. Avraham reveals not the slightest indication that he accepted anything but the utter oneness of HaShem.

Likewise, Kabbalah does not support the Trinity (nor the polytheistic view of 10 gods as some suppose). Its view on the Oneness of HaShem is absolute. It seeks through the emanations of the Ten Sephirot to understand how the channels of the divine life force illuminates the 10 levels of creation. The ten "spirits" associated with the Sephirot are all descriptions of HaShem and His interactions within the creation.

HaShem, according to Kabbalah, exists in a state of Tzimtzum or "Restriction": hiddeness. By His sovereign Will Adonai limitedly reveals Himself through the Sephirot, hence Kabbalists study these emanations because His utter Oneness transcends all conception. As En Soph HaShem is utterly beyond all description. He is No-Thing. Not "nothing" but "No Thing" -- beyond all possible description.

However within that ultimately transcendent state His Oneness is boldly Proclaimed:

I Corinthians 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

God being "all in all" is the state of En Soph. In such a state of be-ing even referring to HaShem as "God" is but limitedly accurate because even that seeks to restrict and define the Divine nature.

In the Messianic Age of Olam Haba we will become "one with Y'shua" as our wills are completely harmonized with his. His will -- being in full harmony with Adonai from the point of his creation (Colossians 1:15) -- will then bring about a state of such perfect harmony that we can not even conceive at this point, and all existence will again be in harmony at it was in the beginning -- Isaiah 64:4; II Corinthians 2:9.

This is why Kabbalah master Gershom Scholem said:

"It is clear that with this postulate of an impersonal basic reality in God, which becomes a person—or appears as a person—only in the process of Creation and Revelation, Kabbalism abandons the personalistic basis of the Biblical conception of God....It will not surprise us to find that speculation has run the whole gamut—from attempts to re-transform the impersonal En-Sof into the personal God of the Bible to the downright heretical doctrine of a genuine dualism between the hidden Ein Sof and the personal Demiurge of Scripture.
— Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism Shocken Books (p.11–12)

The ultimate nature of Adonai is beyond our comprehension... but He is One.


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