Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Joseph Smith in the Zohar?

The Zohar is a medieval book, which I think is largely successful in capturing and preserving the thought and teachings of ancient Israel. It put into story form much of the oral teachings of the Jews.

In the Zohar there is a teaching that describes the seven thousand years of man upon the earth, the milleniums. The Zohar ascribes a letter to each of the milleniums (which may have significance beyond what we are discussing here), the letter “vav” is associated with the sixth millenium. The letter “vav” is the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. It then gives us what amounts to a prophesy:

"Every sixty years of that sixth millenium, he is invigorated, scaling its rungs. In the six hundreth year of the sixth, springs of wisdom will open above, springs of wisdom below, and the world will prepare to enter the seventh..." [1]

The Zohar scholar, Daniel Matt, calculated this time for us in his commentary as corresponding to the year 1839. [2] We could talk about the happenings of 1839 and the 121st. section of the Doctrine and Covenants, but I think I would take a little larger view, and allow for an allusion to the period of the restoration generally.

I don’t know the ultimate origin of this “prophesy,” but it does seem to point to the time that the heavens opened, wisdom, or revelation was poured out upon man (Joseph Smith in particular), and that this was being done in prĂ©paration of the seventh period know as “The Millenium.”

Many angels visited Joseph Smith, including Moroni. For a period Moroni visited Joseph each year and instructed him:

“... and [Joseph Smith] received instruction and intelligence from him [Moroni] at each of our interviews, respecting what the Lord was going to do, and how and in what manner his kingdom was to be conducted in the last days.” [3]

This was part of the “preparing to enter” the final millenium the Zohar teaches about.
[1] The Zohar, Daniel Matt. Vol. 2, pg. 180, Va-Yera
[2] The Zohar, Daniel Matt. Vol. 2, pg. 180, Va-Yera, Matt's note #501, "Corresponding to 1839/40 C.E.."
[3] PGP, Joseph Smith History.


Anonymous said...

So are you hinting to a specific time at which the mellenium is to start?

David Littlefield said...

I don't know if I would go that far yet. There are calendar adjustments etc. I do remember extending this out to a millenium date like 200 plus years from now. But I think these speculations are beyond the scope of what was meant, though they may be interesting.

If the Millenium started today would we know it?

First there is "half and hour" of silence. Some figure this to be 21 years. Then the plagues, then the second coming.

I am up for the speculation, but I just don't know if the "prophesy" time period was already adjusted for mistakes in the Calendar. And if so, it would be a mistake to then conclude that the the 6000 years concludes on a certain date. IMHO


David Littlefield said...

What I really find entertaining is that some critics of Joseph Smith go on about how the Book of Mormon brought forth by the prophet is self referencing, about Joseph being involved in the restoration.

And here we have a “prophesy” that we can lay down beside it. For some reason this is fun for me!