Metatron is the name of an angel that is described primarily in Jewish Rabbinical literature as well as non-canonical Kabbalistic mystical texts. While only briefly described in a few passages in the Talmud, Metatron appears in medieval Jewish mystical esoteric and occult sources. There are no references to him in the Jewish Tanakh (Old Testament), Christian Scriptures (New Testament), or the Qur'an. Nevertheless, in Rabbinic tradition, he is the highest of the angels and serves as the celestial scribe, though there is no consensus as to his genesis, nor is there a Christian consensus on his position in the hierarchy of angels.
There are numerous possible etymologies for the name Metatron: Some scholars believe that the name originated in Hekhalot-Merkabah texts, such as 3 Enoch, and may be a magical word like Adiriron and Dapdapiron. In contrast, Hugo Odeberg, Adolf Jellinek and Marcus Jastrow suggest the name may originate from either "keeper of the watch" or the noun "to guard, to protect." An early derivation of this can be seen in Shimmusha Rabbah, where Enoch is clothed in light and is the guardian of the souls ascending to heaven. Odeberg also suggests that the name Metatron might be taken from the Persian name Mithras. He lays out a number of parallels between Mithras and Metatron based on their positions in heaven and duties.
Metatron seems to be made up of two Greek words, after and throne, μετὰ θρóνος (meta thronos), taken together as "one who serves behind the throne" or "one who occupies the throne next to the throne of glory." This has been disputed due to the word θρóνος not being used in place of the Hebrew word for throne. The two words do not appear in any known text, leading to the belief of Gershom Scholem in particular to dismiss this idea with the words "this widely repeated etymology… has no merit.".
The word συνθρόνος (synthronos) used as "co-occupant of the divine throne" however like the above etymology it is not found in any source materials. It is supported by Saul Lieberman and Peter Schäfer who give further reasons why this might be a viable etymology.
The Latin word Metator (messenger, guide, leader, measurer) had been suggested by Eleazar ben Judah of Worms (c. 1165 - c. 1230), Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, and brought to light again by Hugo Odeberg. Gershom Scholem argues that there is no data to justify the conversion of metator to metatron. Philip Alexander also suggests this as a possible origin of Metatron, stating that the word Metator also occurs in Greek as mitator–a word for an officer in the Roman army who acted as a forerunner. Using this etymology, Alexander suggests the name may have come about as a description of "the angel of the Lord who led the Israelites through the wilderness: acting like a Roman army metator guiding the Israelites on their way". Another possible interpretation is that of Enoch as a metator showing them "how they could escape from the wilderness of this world into the promised land of heaven." Because we see this as a word in Hebrew, Jewish Aramaic, and Greek, Alexander believes this gives even more strength to this etymology.
Other ideas include μετρονa (metrona, "a measure"). Charles Mopsik believes that the name Metatron may be related to the sentence from Genesis 5:24, "Enoch walked with God then he was no more, because God took him." The Greek version of the Hebrew word "to take" is μετετεθη (it was transferred). רון meaning RON is a standard addition to מטטרון metatron and other angelic names in the Jewish faith. So Mopsik believes if we concentrate on מטט MTT he believes it appears to be a transliteration from the Greek μετετεθη.
In the entry entitled "Paradigmata" in his study, 'The Written' as the Vocation of Conceiving Jewishly, John W. McGinley gives an accounting of how this name functions in the Bavli's version of "four entered pardes." This account maintains that "Ishmael ben Elisha" is a Rebbinically sanctioned cognomen for Elisha ben Abbuyah (the "Akher" of the Bavli's account). This hypothesis explains why the generators of the "chambers" portion of the Heikhalot literature make "Ishmael ben Elisha" the major protagonist of their writings even though this Rabbi Ishmael was not directly mentioned in the Bavli's account (in the Gemara to tractate Khaggigah) of "The Work of the Chariot."
Solomon Judah Leib Rapport in Igrot Shir suggests that Meta Tron is a combination of two Greek words that mean "change" and "pass away" referring to Chanoch who "changed" into an angel and "passed away" from the world.
The angel Matatron is described in Rabbinical sources that provide hints of his considerable power as well as his relationship with the other angels. The Babylonian Talmud mentions Metatron in three places: "Sanhedrin" 38b, "Hagiga" 15a, and "Avodah Zarah" 3b. In one of these stories, Elisha ben Abuyah, also called Acher, is said to have entered Paradise when he sees Metatron sitting down (an action that in heaven is permitted only to God Himself). As a result, Acher mistakenly views Metatron as a deity and says heretically, "There are indeed two powers in heaven!" The Talmud subsequently explains that Metatron sits because of his function as the Heavenly Scribe, writing down the deeds of Israel (Babylonian Talmud, "Hagiga" 15a).
"… the Talmud states, it was proved to Elisha that Metatron could not be a second deity by the fact that Metatron received 60 'strokes with fiery rods' to demonstrate that Metatron was not a god, but an angel, and could be punished." -
Additionally, Yevamot 16b describes in the Amoraic period the duties of 'prince of the world' being transferred from Michael to Metatron. Metatron is identified with the term "lesser YHVH," which is the Lesser Tetragrammaton, in a Talmudic version as cited by the Karaite scholar Kirkisani. The word 'Metatron' is numerically equivalent to Shaddai (God) in Hebrew gematria; therefore he is said to have a "Name like his Master." It should be noted, however, that Kirkisani may have misrepresented the Talmud in order to embarrass his Rabbanite opponents with evidence of dualism. On the other hand, extra-talmudic mystical texts (see below regarding Sefer Hekhalot) do speak of a "lesser YHVH," apparently deriving the concept from Exodus 23:21, which mentions an angel of whom God says "My name [understood as YHVH, the usual divine Proper Name] is in him."
Metatron is also mentioned in the Pseudepigrapha, most prominently in the Hebrew/Merkabah Book of Enoch, also called 3 Enoch or Sefer Hekhalot (Book of [the Heavenly] Palaces). The book describes the link between Enoch son of Jared (great grandfather of Noah) and his transformation into the angel Metatron. His grand title "the lesser YHVH" resurfaces here. Metatron says, "He [the Holy One]… called me, 'The lesser YHVH' in the presence of his whole household in the height, as it is written, 'My name is in him.'" (12:5, Alexander's translation). The narrator of this book, supposedly Rabbi Ishmael, tells how Metatron guided him through Heaven and explained its wonders. Here Metatron is described in two ways: as a primordial angel (9:2–13:2) and as the transformation of Enoch after he was assumed into Heaven.
- "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." —Genesis 5:24 NIV.
- "This Enoch, whose flesh was turned to flame, his veins to fire, his eye-lashes to flashes of lightning, his eye-balls to flaming torches, and whom God placed on a throne next to the throne of glory, received after this heavenly transformation the name Metatron."
While this identification of Metatron with Enoch is not to be found in the Talmud itself, this connection is assumed by some of the earliest kabbalists. There also seem to be two Metatrons, one spelled with six letters (מטטרון), and one spelled with seven (מיטטרון). The former may be the transformed Enoch, Prince of the Countenance within the divine palace; the latter, the Primordial Metatron, an emanation of the "Cause of Causes," specifically the tenth and last emanation, identified with the earthly Divine Presence.
The Zohar calls Metatron "the Youth" a title previously used in 3 Enoch, where it appears to mean "servant". It identifies him as the angel that led the people of Israel through the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt (again referring to Exodus 23:21, see above), and describes him as a heavenly priest.
The Fruit of Life (a component of the Flower of Life) has 13 circles. If each circle's center is considered a "node," and each node is connected to each other node with a single line, a total of 78 lines are created. Within this cube, many other shapes can be found, including two-dimensionally flattened versions of the five Platonic solids. The true Metatron's Cube will include all five Platonic solids in such a way that the solids, existing in volumetric 3D space, have had their z-coordinates set to zero but their x- and y-coordinates retained, such that they are orthogonally flattened.
In early Kabbalist scriptures, Metatron supposedly forms the cube from his soul. This cube can later be seen in Christian art, where it appears on his chest or floating behind him. Metatron's cube is also considered a holy glyph, and was often drawn around an object or person to ward off demons and satanic powers. This idea is also present in alchemy, in which the cube was favored as a containment circle or "creation circle."
The simplest means of constructing Metatron's Cube is to begin with a cube flattened along a space diagonal, such that it becomes a 2D figure, equivalent to a regular hexagon divided via its own diagonals into six equilateral triangles. The vertices of this 2D figure are then connected with additional lines. Several steps later, the full Metatron's Cube figure is formed. This method requires dividing vertices according to the golden ratio. There is also a method of construction from the Flower of Life. The cube resembles the fourth dimensional analog of the cube, or the Tesseract.
The cube is often associated with conspiracy theories surrounding the New World Order and the Illuminati.
- Etymology of the Name Metatron Andrei Orlov (an excerpt from A. Orlov, The Enoch-Metatron Tradition (TSAJ, 107; Tuebingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2005): xii. Retrieved December 7, 2008.
- Andrei A. Orlov, "The Enoch-Metatron Tradition." TSAJ 107 (Tuebingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2005): 92-97
- Philip Alexander, 3 Enoch, 1.243; idem, “The Historical Settings of the Hebrew Book of Enoch,” 162.
- Hugo Odeberg, 3 Enoch 1.125, 1.126
- A. Jellinek. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kabbala, (Leipzig c.l. Fritzsche, 1852,), 4
- M. Jastrow. A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature. 767
- Gershom Gerhard Scholem. Major Trends in Jewish mysticism. (Schocken Books; 3rd ed. 1954. ASIN: B0007DLW66), 69.
- Gershom Gerhard Scholem. Jewish Gnosticism, merkabah mysticism, and Talmudic tradition. (Jewish Theological Seminary of America; 2nd edition (original 1960) (1965), 91, 43
- sunthronos, the Greek term metaturannos, which can be translated as “the one next to the ruler.” - Philip Alexander, 3 Enoch.
- Saul Lieberman, "Metatron, the Meaning of His Name and His Functions." in: I. Gruenwald. Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism. (Leiden: Brill, 1980), 235–241.
- Peter Schäfer and Aubrey Pomerance, (translator). The Hidden and Manifest God: Some Major Themes in Early Jewish Mysticism. (State University of New York Press, 1992, ISBN 0791410447). : "most probable is the etymology of Lieberman: Metatron = Greek metatronos = metathronos = synthronos; i.e. the small "minor god" whose throne is beside that of the great "God".
- Philip Alexander, "From Son of Adam to a Second God" ; and P. Alexander, 3 Enoch.
- Ephraïm Elimelech Urbach. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, (1979) 1987. ISBN 0674785231)
- Matthew Black. The Origin of the Name of Metatron. : Can be linked back to the title praemetitor in Philos QG which can be connected to the Greek word for Metator "measurer".
- Charles Mopsik. Le Livre hébreu d’Hénoch ou Livre des palais. (Paris: Verdier, 1989.)
- Black, The Origin of the Name of Metatron. : Can be linked back to the title praemetitor in Philos QG which can be connected to the Greek word for Metator "measurer".
- John W. McGinley. 'The Written' as the Vocation of Conceiving Jewishly. (ISBN 059540488X.) The entry "Paradigmatia" gives an accounting of the meaning of "Metatron" as it is used in the Bavli's version of "four entered pardes".
- Gershom Scholem. Kabbalah. Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, Ltd., 1974.
- M. Gaster, Enoch as Metatron and conversion of Moses from flesh to fire - JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY - 1893.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved December 7, 2008.
- Philip Alexander. Chapter 3, (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch, Edited by James H. Charlesworth. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, (New York: Doubleday, 1983. ISBN 0385096305)
- Gershom G. Scholem, "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1941/1961)," 67. Extract of 3 Enoch.
- Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim. Three Occult Books of Philosophy. (Llewellyn Publications, 1994. ISBN 0875428320)
- Metatron's Cube Retrieved December 7, 2008.
- Metatron's Cube from Flower of Life Retrieved December 7, 2008.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Agrippa, Henry Cornelius, James Freake, and Donald Tyson. Three Books of Occult Philosophy. Llewellyn Publications, 1994. ISBN 0875428320. Translated from the Latin.
- Alexander, Philip, "3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch" in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. New York: Doubleday, 1983. ISBN 0385096305.
- Black, Matthew. "The Origin of the Name of Metatron." Can be linked back to the title praemetitor in Philos QG which can be connected to the Greek word for Metator "measurer".
- Eynden, Rose Vanden. "Metatron: Invoking the Angel of God's Presence." Llewellyn Publications, 2008. ISBN 0738713430.
- Jastrow. M. A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature. Leiden: Brill, 1980. ISBN 9562914763.
- Jellinek, A. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kabbala. Leipzig: c.l. Fritzsche, 1852.
- Lieberman, Saul. "Metatron, the Meaning of His Name and His Functions." in: Ithamar Gruenwald. Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism. Leiden: Brill, 1980. ISBN 9004059598. (in English, translated from the German Arbeiten Zur Geschichte Des Antiken Judentums Und Des Urchristentums)
- McGinley, John W., 'The Written' as the Vocation of Conceiving Jewishly. iUniversie, 2006. ISBN 059540488-X.
- Mopsik, Charles, and Moché Idel. Le Livre hébreu d’Hénoch ou Livre des palais. Paris: Verdier, 1989. ISBN 2864320886. (in French)
- Odeberg, Hugo. in 3 Enoch.
- Orlov, Andrei A. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition. (Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism) Coronet Books, 2005. ISBN 3161485440, 92-97.
- Schafer, Peter, and Aubrey Pomerance, translator. The Hidden and Manifest God: Some Major Themes in Early Jewish Mysticism. (SUNY Series in Judaica) State University of New York Press, 1992, ISBN 0791410447.
- Scholem, Gershom Gerhard. Jewish Gnosticism, merkabah mysticism, and Talmudic tradition. Jewish Theological Seminary of America; 2nd edition (original 1960) (1965). ASIN: B0007DPTYM. (in English).
- Scholem, Gershom Gerhard. Kabbalah. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, Ltd., 1974.
- Scholem, Gershom Gerhard. Major Trends in Jewish mysticism. Schocken Books; 3rd ed. 1954. ASIN: B0007DLW66.
- Urbach, Ephraïm Elimelech. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, (1979) 1987. ISBN 0674785231 OCLC: 15489564.
All links retrieved September 19, 2018.
- Andrei A. Orlov, Chapters from his text, The Etymology of the Name "Metatron" complete text.
- Reb Chaim HaQoton website, Reb Chaim HaQoton: Metatron
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