Monday, June 25, 2012

Maaseh Hamerkava and Chukas

The day of this post is 5 Tammuz. The reason I point this out is because this was the date that Yechezkel Hanavi witnessed his fantastic vision of the maaseh hamerkavah. This vision was a display of the angelic procession that surrounds the heavenly throne. In this vision Yechezkel sees that the angels have four different faces: a lion, a man, an eagle, and an ox (this last face was later replaced with the face of a cherub). (See Yechezkel 1 and 10.)

In my book, The Secrets of the Stars, I detailed how these four faces are also reflected in the signs of the zodiac that represent the first month of each season. As the earth circles around the sun, the backdrop of stars that would be behind the sun (if its light wasn't outshining them during daytime) change. When the world was initially created, the grouping of stars that was behind the sun during the first month of spring was Taurus the Ox, that of summer was Leo the Lion, that of autumn was Scorpius the Scorpion, and that of winter of Aquarius the Water Carrier. (Due to a phenomenon called axial precession, this has changed and these signs no longer accompany the first months of these seasons.)

If you look carefully, you will see that three out of four are three of the four faces of Yechezkel's vision. Taurus, Leo, and Aquarius have the faces of an ox, lion, and human repsectively. The only one that appears to not represent one of these faces is Scorpius. Interestingly, Rabbeinu Bacheye points out that the face of an eagle is often times only hinted at and not expressed outright. In fact, when looking at the banners of the encampment of Klal Yisrael in the wilderness we find a similar representation. Each shevet had a flag and each grouping of three had a specific banner.

Rabbeinu Bacheye points out that the four major banners appeared to display the faces of the angels of Yechezkel. The camp of Ephrayim had an ox, Yehuda had a lion, Reuven had mandrakes whose root structure looks very human like, and Dan's camp had an eagle. Although the northern encampment of Dan flew under this banner, his personal flag was that of a snake. This is peculiar because the banners of the other three camps were identical to the personal flag of the leader of that camp. It would seem that, once again, the eagle is somehow not displayed fully, in this case being represented by a snake just as in the sky it was exchanged for a scorpion. I do feel the need to point out that in ancient Babylonian astrology, the sign of Scorpius was depicted as an eagle and currently the constellation next to it is Aquila the Eagle.

This week's parsha, Chukas, seems to have the four elements expressed in it, as well. We find the Water Carrier of Aquarius in Moshe who is the human the brings forth water. Unfortunately, it was done this time by hitting the rock in a fashion for which Moshe was punished, but nevertheless it is found in the parsha. We find our snakes (similar to the Scorpion of Scorpius, this association is expounded upon in greater detail throughout The Secrets of the Stars) when venemous snakes are sent to punish Klal Yisrael for complaining about the manna, and the ox can be seen in the beginning of the parsha in the discussion of the parah adumah, red heifer. The lion may not be seen in the parsha itself, but is clearly referenced as Chukas is always read in the first month of summer, Tammuz. (The earliest in the year that Chukas can be read is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz which, although is technically 30 Sivan, is certainly part of Tammuz as it is its Rosh Chodesh.) This is the month that was symbolized by Leo the Lion when the world was created. Chukas is also always the parsha either preceding 5 Tammuz or, as in this year, right afterwards as well.

This post is a very quick overview and, unfortunately, due to the brief nature of this site I am not really able to expound significantly on these topics as much as I would like. In The Secrets of the Stars I dedicated an entire chapter to Yechezkel's vision and also discuss its relevance to us.

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