As we count the omer, preparing for Shavuot and to receive an outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh let us endeavor in a more in depth study of the gifts of Tongues and the Urim and Thummim
In my last blog I spoke of the “immersion of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as mentioned in 1Cor. 12:12-13. Two of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit that are mentioned in 1Cor. Chapters 12-14 is “Kinds of Tongues” and “Interpretation of Tongues”. Many seem to think that these were some kind of new manifestation unique to the New Testament. In fact this manifestation is of Jewish origin and can even be found alluded to in the Tanak. It is spoken of in the Talmud and Zohar and is even practiced by Rabbinic Jews today.
Man was created in the image of Elohim. One of the ways that man was created in the image of Elohim was in being “male and female” (Gen. 1:26-27). But there is also another way in which man was created in the image of Elohim.
In Gen. 9:6 we are told that killing a man is a sin because man is “in the image of Elohim”. The preceding verses (9:2-5) tell us that man may kill and eat animals. Since many animals are “male and female” there must be more to man being “in the image of Elohim” than his being “male and female”. What is it that distinguishes man from animals?
The element about man that makes man “in the image of Elohim” while animals are not “in the image of Elohim” is the gift of speech.
The first two verses of Book of Jasher read:
1:1 And Elohim said, let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness,
and Elohim created man in his own image.
1:2 And YHWH Elohim formed man from the ground,
and he blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and man became a living soul, endowed with speech.
Note that Jasher 1:1 parallels Gen. 1:26-27 and Jasher 2:7 parallels Gen. 2:7 but adds the phrase "endowed with speech".
Now Targum Jonathan to Genesis 1:26 has "And the Word of YHWH said, let us make man in Our image." And Targum Onkelos to Gen. 2:7 adds a phrase at the end "and man became a spirit with speech".
Thus it would appear that man's gift of speech is the difference between man and animals so that man is "in the image of Elohim" while animals are not. It should also be noted that man was GIFTED with speech, Adam did not have to learn speech.
Isaiah prophesied about the manifestation of tongues:
Paul quoted directly from this scripture while teaching the assembly at Corinth about the gift of tongues. (1 Cor 14:21-22).
The gift of the manifestation of tongues is well known in the Rabbinic literature. The Talmud and midrashim both speak of this gift.
The “tongues of fire” event of Acts chapter two was a repetition of an event that took place at the first Shavuot (Shavuot is the aniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai). According to the Midrashim when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai the Torah message was divided up into the seventy languages of the Gentiles:
"Elohim's voice, as it was uttered, split into seventy voices,
into seventy tongues [leshonot], so that all the nations should understand."
(Midrash from Exodus Rabbah 5:9)
The Midrash also describes this event in even more detail:
In the occasion of Matan Torah [the giving of the Torah], the Bnai Yisrael [children of Israel] not only heard Hashem's Voice but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from Hashem's mouth. They visualized them as a fiery substance. Each commandment that left Hashem's mouth traveled around the entire Camp and then to each Jew individually, asking him, "Do you accept upon yourself this Commandment with all the halochot [Jewish law] pertaining to it?"
Every Jew answered "Yes" after each commandment. Finally, the fiery substance which they saw engraved itself on the luchot [tablets].
(The Midrash Says; Rabbi Moshe Weissman. Benei Yakov Publications (1980) p. 182)
Thus the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh and the manifestation of tongues in Acts chapter 2 was a repetition of the gift of Torah and the manifestation of tongues that took place then.
There is a hint in the book of Psalms that Yosef (Joseph) had the gift of tongues.
He appointed it in Yosef for a testimony,
when He went forth against the land of Egypt.
The speech that I knew not did I hear.
When Yosef was in Egypt, he had the testimony that he did “hear” “the speech of one” that he “did not know”. Now the word for “hear” in this passage in the Hebrew is SH’MA which does not just mean to “hear” something but to actually “understand” what is heard.
In fact SH’MA is used in the following passages to indicate speech that was not understood because it was I an unknown language:
…that they may not understand (SH’MA)
one another’s speech.
…and they will not understand (SH’MA)
what they speak.
This Ps. 81:6(5)b could be translated “speech that I knew not, I did understand.”
The Talmud also tells us that Yosef (Joseph) the patriarch was also given the gift of “kinds of tongues”:
Rabbi Hiyya ben Abba said in the name of Rabbi Johanan: "At the moment when Pharaoh said to Joseph, And without thee shall no man lift up his hand, Pharaoh's astrologers exclaimed: 'Wilt thou set in power over us a slave whom his master bought for twenty pieces of silver!' He replied to them, 'discern in him royal characteristics.' They said to him, 'in that case he must be acquainted with the seventy languages.' Angel Gabriel came and taught [Joseph] the seventy languages, but he could not learn them. Thereupon [Gabriel] added to his name a letter from the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and he knew [the languages]..."
The same story appears in the Book of Jasher:
And the angel roused him from his sleep, and Joseph rose up and stood upon his legs, and behold the angel of the Lord was standing opposite to him; and the angel of the Lord spoke with Joseph, and he taught him all the languages of man in that night, and he called his name Jehoseph.
The name Yosef is sometines spelled in the Tanak Yahusef. According to the Talmud the extra letter “H” (hey) from the name of YHWH was added to his name thus giving him the knowledge of the seventy languages which he had been unable to learn. It is significant that in Jewish tradition the first HEY in the name of YHWH represents the Ruach HaKodesh. Thus Yosef received the Ruach HaKodesh and the gift of tongues.
TZERUF: Permutations of Letters
Each of the twenty-two Hebrew letters represents one of twenty-two paths which connect the Sefirot of the Tree of Life. Each of these twenty-two letters represents a relationship between two of the Sefirot and a combination of two of the Sefirot. These twenty-two letters are part of the image of Elohim and they took part in the creation. Messiah said that he is the ALEF and the TAV. The ALEF and the TAV are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Alphabet and are intended as an abbreviation to indicate that Messiah the incarnate "Word" embodied the twenty-two letters. When Elohim created the heavens and the earth he did so through words. Elohim "said" things and they were so. Elohim created the universe
by his Word.
Each Hebrew word is more than a word, it is a matrix of dynamic relationships within the Godhead. Hebrew letters are also the building blocks of creation. In the upper worlds all things exist in their prime-material state as the strings of Hebrew letters and words
which were the building blocks of creation. As we read in the Sefer Yetzirah:
Twenty-two Foundation letters: He engraved them,
He carved them, He permuted (TZIRUF) them,
He weighed them, He transformed them,
And with them, He depicted all that was formed
and all that would be formed.
(Sefer Yetzirah 2:2)
This brings us to what is called in Rabbinic Judaism "Khokhmat HaTziruf" (Wisdom of Permutation) or simply "Tziruf" (permutation). This practice utilizes the letters of the alphabet in various permutations. By immersing oneself in various permutations of letters
and names one empties ones mind of the carnal thoughts that might interfere in focusing on the things of Elohim. Thus ones nefesh (soul), neshoma and ruach are freed from their natural constraints and opened to the influx of the Ruach HaKodesh. Through this process the believer is communing directly with the upper worlds and accessing the permutations of letters which are the creative substance of the universe, thus connecting with the worlds of formation and creation and the "Word", the ALEF and TAV through which all was created.
This practice is described in the Talmud:
Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: Bezalel knew how
to combine (TZIRUF) the letters by which the heavens
and earth were created. It is written here, And He hath filled
him with the spirit of God, in wisdom and in understanding,
and in knowledge (Ex. 35:31), and it is written elsewhere,
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding
He established the heavens (Prov. 3:19), and it is also written,
By His knowledge the depths were broken up (Prov. 3:20).
And in the Zohar:
R. Eleazar began here with the verse, “Ask thee
a sign [Hebrew: OT “sign” or “letter”] of the Lord thy God,
ask it either in the depth or in the height above” (Isa. 7:11).
He said: ‘We have compared the former with the latter
generations, and found that the former were conversant with
a higher wisdom by which they knew how to combine
(TZIRUF) the letters that were given to Moses on Mount Sinai,
and even the sinners of Israel knew a deep wisdom contained
in the letters and the difference between higher and lower
letters, and how to do things with them in this world.
For every letter that was transmitted to Moses used to
ascend as a crown upon the heads of the holy celestial
Hayyoth, who with them flitted through the ether which is
under the refined and unknowable supernal ether. There
were large letters and small letters; the large letters came
from the most high and hidden Temple (hekhal) and the
smaller letters from another lower Temple; and both kinds
were transmitted to Moses on Sinai, along with their
This refers to the Hayyoth (“living creatures”) in the throne vision of Ezekiel chapter one which “ran and return as a flash of lightning” (Ezek. 1:14) whose wings make a sound “like the voice Shaddai… like the voice of a host” (Ezek. 1:24) and we are told that “there was a voice above the firmament that was over their heads” (Ezek. 1:25), Ezekiel goes on to tell us that this “voice” was the “likeness of a throne” (Ezek. 1:26) with “the appearance of fire round about enclosing” (Ezek. 1:27).
The Sefer Yetzirah says of this passage of Ezekiel:
Ten sefirot of nothing.
Their vision is like the appearance of lightening
Their limit has no end
And His Word in them is running and returning
They rush to His saying like a whirlwind
And before His throne they prostrate themselves….
Ten Sefirot of nothing
bridle your mouth from speaking
and your heart from thinking
And if your heart runs return to the place.
It is therefore written:
The Chayot running and returning (Ezek. 1:14)
Regarding this a covenant was made.
Ten Sefirot of Nothingness:
One is the Spirit of the Living Elohim
Blessed and praised is the Name of the Lifegiver of worlds
The voice of breath and speech
And this is the Holy Spirit.
(Sefer Yetzirag 1:6-9)
Tzeruf is comparable to "machine language" in computer programming.
The Hebrew word for "tongue" (LASHON) and the Hebrew word TZIRUF (permutation) have the same gematria (numerical value) (386) which is also the gematria for the word YESHUA.
It is the practice of Tziruf which Paul speaks of when he writes:
For he who speaks in a tongue
does not speak to the sons of men but to Eloah,
for no man understands a thing that he speaks;
yet in the spirit he speaks a mystery.
If I were to pray in a tongue, my spirit prays,
but my understanding is without fruit.
When man was created he was given the gift of speech that he might manifest the image of Elohim. Through the manifestation of the gift of tongues man is able to manifest the image of Elohim on an even deeper level.
THE URIM AND THUMMIM AND TONGUES
In the Tanak we read of the mysterious objects known in Scripture simply as "the Urim and Thummim"
And he placed the breastplate upon him;
and in the breastplate he put the Urim and the Thummim.
Scripture does not tell us exactly what the Urim and Thummim were or how they worked.
The Urim and Thummim were instruments the High Priest used to consult the will of Elohim (Ex. 28:30; Lev. 8:8; Num. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; 1Sam. 28:6; Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65). The word "Urim" means "lights" while the word "Thummim" (Tummim) means "perfections".)
The Greek version of the Apocryphal book 1Esdras has "Doctrine/Manifestation and Truth" (1Esdras 5:40) in the place where the parallels in Ezra and Nehemiah have "Urim and Thumim" (Ezra 2:63; Neh. 7:65). (A footnote in the original 1611 text of the KJV indicates that the now lost, original Hebrew of 1Esdras had "Urim and Thumim" in this passage as well.)
The Targum Jonathan to the Torah explains the Urim and the Tummim this way:
And you shall put into the breastplate the Urim,
which illuminate their words and make manifest
the hidden things of the House of Israel,
and the Tumim [sic] which perfect their deeds.
(Targum Psuedo-Jonathan on Exod. 28:30)
The Babylonian Talmud says:
Why are they called "Urim and Thummim"
"Urim" because they made their words enlightening.
"Thummim" because they fulfill their words."
The Zohar says:
The term "Urim" signifies the luminous speculum,
which consisted of the engavure of the divine Name
written in the forty two letters by which the world was created,
whereas the Thummim consisted of the nonluminous
speculum, composed of the divine Name manifest in twenty
two letters. ...we read, "In the beginning Elohim created the
(ET) heaven and the (ET) earth" (Gen. 1:1), where the particle
ET (spelled Alef-Tav) is a summary of the twenty-two
letters by which the land is nourished.
Elsewhere the Zohar tells us that the Urim and Thummim were connected to the “permutations” or “combinations” of letters with which Elohim created the world, and by which Bezalel and Moses created the Tabernacle and its furnishings:
Observe that the world has been made and established by an engraving of forty-two letters, all of which are the adornment of the Divine Name. These letters combined and soared aloft and dived downwards, forming themselves into crowns in the four directions of the world, so that it might endure. They then went forth and created the upper world and the lower, the world of unification and the world of division. …
These forty-two letters thus constitute the supernal mystical principle; by them were created the upper and the lower worlds, and they indeed constitute the basis and recondite significance of all the worlds. Thus is explained the verse, “The secret of the Lord is to them that fear him; and his covenant to make them know it”, the first part alluding to the undisclosed engraven letters, whereas the latter speaks of the revealed. Now, it is written: “And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim” (Ex. 28:30). The term “Urim” (lit. Iight, illumination) signifies the luminous speculum, which consisted of the engravure of the Divine Name composed of forty-two letters by which the world was created; whereas the Thummim consisted of the non-luminous speculum made of the Divine Name as manifested in the twenty-two letters. The combination of the two is thus called Urim and Thummim. … Thus we read, “In the beginning God created the (eth) heaven and the (eth) earth” (Gen. I, 1), where the particle eth (consisting of Aleph and Tau) is a summary of the twenty-two letters by which the earth is nourished. Now, the same letters were the instruments used in the building of the Tabernacle. This work was carried out by Bezalel for the reason that, as his very name (Bezel-EI=in the shadow of God) implies, he had a knowledge of the various permutations of the letters, by the power of which heaven and earth were created. Without such knowledge Bezalel could not have accomplished the work of the Tabernacle; for, inasmuch as the celestial Tabernacle was made in all its parts by the mystical power of those letters, the lower Tabernacle could only be prepared by the power of the same letters. Bezalel was skilled in the various permutations of the Divine Name, and for each several part he employed the appropriate permutation of the letters. But when it came to the rearing up of the Tabernacle it was beyond his power, for the reason that the disposition of those letter-groups was entrusted to Moses alone, and hence it was by Moses that the Tabernacle was erected. So Scripture says: “And Moses reared up... and [he] laid... and put in...” (Ex. 40:18) Moses, but not Bezalel.’
Now there is an amazing yet mysterious fragmentary document found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (1Q29; 4Q376) which seems to give a detailed description of the manner in which the Urim and Thummim actually functioned. Unfortunately only tantalizing fragments survive, but these fragments speak of “tongues of fire” coming from the stones, and say “the Priest shall interpret”.
The Urim and the Thummim were therefore anciently connected with the gift of toungues.
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