Man-made technology suggests the Hebrew parallel to Etemenanki, “The House of the Foundation-Platform of Heaven and Earth”[i] could otherwise be known as the Tower of Babel. However, in Jacob’s dream, the portal was revealed via divine initiative. The contact between Heaven and earth was by the grace of God not the ingenuity of man. A highly regarded Old Testament scholar, Victor Hamilton, argues any perceived parallel with the Babel gate is superficial:
One cannot help but be struck by the parallel between the stairway in this dream, a stairway whose top reaches the sky, and the tower of Babel, whose top also extended into the heavens (11:4). But the similarity stops here. Unlike the Babel tower, Jacob’s stairway is not a product of human delusions of grandeur. It is a way by which God will make himself known to Jacob. Messengers, not pride, go up and down this structure.[ii]
The Hebrew term sullām, sometimes rendered “ladder,” is a hapax legomena—it only occurs once in the Hebrew Bible. Since we have no Scripture to compare, ancient Semitic literature can be helpful. Many scholars now think sullām is connected to the Akkadian simmiltu, for “stairway.”[iii] Since it supports two-way traffic in Jacob’s dream, a stairway does seem more logical than a ladder. Others see a more natural explanation.
Old Testament scholar Cornelis Houtman believes Bethel is a sacred mountain, pointing out that “according to Midrash Rabbah the rabbis understood sulläm as a symbol of mount Sinai.”[iv] The Mountain of God, Mount Horeb, Mount Sinai and Mount Paran are all names for MountSinai. Interestingly, the gematriah of the Hebrew sullam and Sinai both have the value of 130, giving them esoteric affinity.
Sullam= 2 *5 * 13 = 130
Sinay= 2 *5 * 13 = 130
Affinity or not, the relevance of such a connection is probably only historical. The Ark of the Covenant, representing God’s presence on earth, spent some time at Bethel (Judges 2:1, 20:27), but was taken to Shiloh in the time of the Judges (1 Samuel 1:3, 3:3), Later, David installed the ark in a tent at Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). It was placed in the Temple with great ceremony in the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 8:1ff.). Accordingly, Mount Zion—the Temple Mount—became the new Mountain of God. A more ancient Hebraic interpretation—through a supernatural worldview—centers on the immortals.
The Midrash Tanchuma posits that the angels Jacob saw were the supernatural princes of the nations, and the two-way traffic depicts the rise and fall of these principalities and their associated worldly kingdoms.[v] Following the Babel dispersion, these spirit-beings quickly became idolized on earth as gods, giving birth to the worship of fallen immortals worldwide in the guise of various pagan religions. According to this Rabbinic tradition, Jacob is a symbol for the nation of Israel, and the angels symbolize the Divine Council through the wanderings of the Israelites from one hostile nation to another, witnessing the ascendency and annihilation of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. This midrash is quite consistent with Michael Heiser’s exegesis of Psalm 82, which is explained elsewhere in this book.
Did Jacob merely “dream” that he saw a stairway to heaven, or was it a true vision of an objective reality? Still yet, perhaps it involves some of both? While there is not likely a physical stargate buried at Bethel, we do believe that Jacob was permitted to mystically “see” into objectively existing dimensions outside our normal three, plus one (time), and into the “folded space” or through a wormhole known to modern physicists as the Einstein-Rosen Bridge. As detailed elsewhere in this work, exotic matter is required to create temporary artificial wormholes in most theoretical designs. However, the Creator’s divine essence is all the exotic matter needed to make the already thought plausible designs of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne into tangible realities. That such a fantastic vision is now a scientifically respectable concept does not in any way diminish the miraculous nature of the event. No, theoretical physics is the way our limited human minds must try to scientifically explain the supernatural abilities of God, who transcends time and space!
There is a parallel verse to this in John 1. Bethsaida in Galilee is where Jesus found Andrew, Peter, Philip, James, and John. It is a region on the northeast part of Galilee, very likely close to Capernaum, where Peter lived.
Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
And Nathanael said unto him,Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. (John 1:44–51, emphasis added)]
This is a most interesting and pivotal point in the life of Nathanael (whose name means “gift of God”). When told by his friend Philip about a man from Nazareth who fit the bill to be their promised Messiah, Nathanael replied with an insult: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Little Nazareth must have had a low reputation. Today, we might say something like, “You mean that hick place?” Yet, Philip here insisted that lowly Nazareth was the home to the Messiah. How did Jesus respond to Nathanael, knowing full well what the man had said—about the insult? Our wonderful, understanding Lord called Nathanael an Israelite in whom there was no guile—no deceit. An insult was answered by a compliment! Then Jesus proved His divinity by telling Nathanael that He’d seen him underneath the fig tree even before Philip had called to Nathanael.
It’s the equivalent of “I know who you are, and I know what you did.” Nathanael made a complete, mental U-turn and called Jesus “Rabbi” (“Teacher”) and “the Son of God.” In recognition of this, Jesus continued, promising Nathanael that he would “see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” One might conclude that Nathanael had been praying for a vision while beneath the fig tree, and now Jesus promised him one.
As a first-century Jew from Cana of Galilee, Nathaniel read and studied from the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Scriptures. Like his contemporaries, he was expecting the Messiah based on the prophecies of a coming king who would overthrow Israel’s oppressors. “Because a child was born to us; a son was given to us whose leadership came upon his shoulder; and his name is called “Messenger of the Great Council,” for I will bring peace upon the rulers and health to him” (Isaiah 9:6, LES). The Messenger of the Great Council applied Jacob’s gate to himself when he replied to Nathanael, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). Later, he said “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). Under the New Covenant, Jesus is a greater gateway to God than the “stairway to heaven” the angels traversed (Genesis 28:12; cf. Hebrew 10:19–20), and wherever Jesus is worshipped as Lord, that place becomes a spiritual “Bethel”—a gateway to God.
Did Nathanael see what Jacob saw—the Einstein-Rosen Bridge that leads to the throne of God? Perhaps not at that time—but one day, he and all those who “see” Jesus for who He really is will stand in His presence and witness the eternal bridge between the heavenly throne room and Israel. In fact, those who return with Christ—His Bride—may use that very bridge as we ascend in the Rapture to enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and then descend with Him at the end of the Tribulation Period.
Are there other examples in Scripture of the Einstein-Rosen Bridge, commonly called wormholes? Let me ask you two questions: What happened to Enoch and Elijah? And where is Moses buried? If you’re not firmly versed in the Old Testament, you may not have a ready answer, but I’m betting that most of you shouted out the answer in your heads—if not right out loud. We’ll begin with Enoch.
This prophet of the Lord lived before the Great Flood of Noah’s day. In fact, Enoch was Noah’s grandfather. The King James translation of Genesis 5:24 says simply, “Enoch walked with God and was not, for God took him.” Young’s Literal Translation says this: “And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.” Enoch walked with God in the same way that Adam also “walked with God”—habitually, as a friend might walk with a companion. Enoch’s walk has become the benchmark of biblical faith (Hebrews 11:5–6), and his being taken by God without dying earns him the rarified honor of being one of two known humans who can legitimately be called “immortals.”
Enoch may actually have “seen” the Lord, for Noah clearly “heard” orders from the Lord to build an ark, and Abraham clearly “heard” and even “saw” the Lord, so the one-way Einstein-Rosen Bridge may have opened and allowed Enoch to “walk” with the Lord. Regardless of how this walking relationship occurred, the Hebrew makes it clear that something supernatural did occur when Enoch simply vanished from the earth. He walked, and he was not.
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Interestingly, the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts seem to have anticipated what twentieth-century scientific discoveries involving black hole vortices and wormhole portals say they should look like. The Hebrew word laqach usually means “to take, grasp, seize.”[vi] Its semantic equivalence to the Greek harpazo is provocative because the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, used it to describe the Rapture of the church: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds” (1 Thessalonians 4:17a, emphasis added).
The Semitic laqach implies being taken suddenly, perhaps even against your will (i.e., captured), but Strong’s also lists “to flash about as lightning” as a possible meaning.[vii] If Enoch disappeared into a portal, then it’s quite possible—even probable—that the opening of this gateway involved a flash, like lightning. The event horizon of these portals is often characterized by lightning as well as a whirlwind: “The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook (Psalm 77:18). We’re told by Christ that He saw Lucifer fall “like lightning” to the earth. The rip into our time/space dimension from a world outside our continuum would likely create a great deal of lightning due to the enormous energy displacement. Now please recall that we mentioned that Enoch was one of two human beings (not counting Jesus) who can legitimately claim the title of “immortal.”
Out of the Whirlwind
Elijah also walked with the Lord, and he knew in advance that the Lord would be sending for him. As one might expect to see in an astrophysicist-advised science-fiction film, Elijah’s flaming chariot traveled to Heaven through a whirling vortex: “There appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11). This imagery of a whirlwind is familiar to anyone living within the Bible Belt of the United States, because we see “whirlwinds” every spring. In fact, the Horn family’s home in Missouri is smack in the middle of tornado alley! Often when God appears to people on earth, the scene is characterized by fire and whirling vortex energy (Ezekiel 1:4; Job 38:1).
The Hebrew term suphah is usually translated as “whirlwind” or “tempest” in English.[viii] While it commonly denotes a cyclonic wind, the primitive root from which it derives, suph, means “surely snatch” or “surely snatch away,”[ix] corresponding neatly to the Greek word harpazo used for the Rapture, which also means “to seize, to snatch away, to take away.”[x] The same term is also found in the New Testament,in2 Corinthians 12:2 (“caught up to the third heaven”); Revelation 12:5 (“caught up unto God”); and Acts 8:39 (“the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip”)—always describing the miraculous transport of a human by God.
The term suphah usually denotes a natural whirlwind, but it seems to describe a portal in many passages. The boldfaced terms that follow are all rendered from suphah. Apparently, the whirlwind portal is bidirectional, because Yahweh communicated with Job through a similar turbulence: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind” (Job 38:1). However, whirlwinds are not only connected to heaven but also nightmares: “Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night” (Job 27:20). The same term is also connected to God’s judgment: “Behold, a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked” (Jeremiah 23:19) and on the end-time Day of the Lord: “And the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south” (Zechariah 9:14). It can also be translated, the Lord God will sound the trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south” (Zechariah 9:14b, ESV). Might it denote a divine portal in the south from which the Lord stages Armageddon?
Our suggestion that ancient prophecy describes, in a “just-so” manner, a vortex-like event horizon (just like one would expect of a traversable wormhole) is at the very least intriguing yet, even more, entails untold prophetic significance in the future. The Book of Enoch speaks of twelve heavenly portals (Enoch 76:1) grouped into four quadrants: North, South, East, and West. Paralleling Zechariah’s prophecy that the Lord will come from the whirlwinds of the South, Enoch explains two of the quadrants: “And the first quarter is called the east, because it is the first: and the second, the south, because the Most High will descend there, yea, there in quite a special sense will He who is blessed forever descend” (Enoch 77:1). Apparently this descent marks the occasion when the Lord exclaims:“Lift up the gates, those rulers of you. Lift eternal gates, and the King of glory will enter” (Psalm 23:7, LES). Because the Book of Enoch was written at least few hundred years prior to Jesus’ birth, the predicted event is remarkably consistent with Jesus’ predicted end-time descent onto the Mount of Olives in the New Testament (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4).
Zechariah 9:13 contains a prophetic promise of divine defense from military aggression from Greece, translated from the Hebrew name Yavan for Japheth’s son Javan (Genesis 10:2)—also denoting his “descendants and their land.”[xi] Accordingly, the prophecy covers the lands of Javan’s sons: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim, considerably more than what we now call Greece, including parts of modern Turkey. Zechariah was writing between 520 and 480 BC, but Alexander the Great did not conquer Israel for Greece until 333 BC. Accordingly, many believing scholars view this as prophecy of the Maccabean revolt (166–160 BC) that resulted in full Jewish independence in 142 BC. Even so, the context seems necessarily still future due to its initial messianic prophecy (v. 9) and the Lord’s bountiful restoration (vv. 15–17) that seems to vastly supersede the second century BC Maccabean victory over Greece. This suggests the possibility of another victory over the lands of Javan or Greece.
Greece could play an important role in future prophecy. Daniel has told us to expect the “Little Horn,” the Antichrist, will have to move southeast in order to reach the “pleasant land,” or Israel (Daniel 8:9).
And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. (Daniel 8:9)
Reversing that, the text implies that he comes from a land due northwest of Israel. Greece happens to lie squarely on a northwestern vector extending from Israel. More fascinating is that he will magnify himself “to the prince of the host” (Daniel 8:11), a reference to an immortal.
Interestingly, as we send this manuscript off to the printer, the new prime minister of Greece, Alex Tsipras, is being heralded as an Antichrist candidate. He is a handsome, charismatic, and “an avowed atheist.”[xii] A communist in his youth, he is now the leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). In an op-ed piece for the Israeli paper Haaretz, Sabby Mionis called SYRIZA “the anti-Zionist far-left” and labeled Tsipras as a “narcissistic populist,” a silver-spoon-fed billionaire who has “never really held a proper job.”[xiii] When a young Greek rises so quickly to power, it brings to mind the prototypical Antichrist, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, as implied by Jesus.
Antiochus, who preferred to be called theosepiphanes, “manifest god,” was the Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. His reputation was so atrocious, some his Greek contemporaries called him Epimanes (“The Mad One”) behind his back. He invaded Israel in 167 BC and proceeded “to build illicit altars and illicit temples and idolatrous shrines, to sacrifice swine and ritually unfit animals” (1 Maccabees 1:47).[xiv] Even so, his ultimate sacrilege, the first “abomination of desolation,” was to erect a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies and sacrifice a swine upon the altar of burnt offering in the temple (1 Maccabees 1:54).[xv] According to Jesus, those events are a portent of another desolating abomination that will occur just prior to His return in judgment (Matthew 24:15).
Rising from the ashes of the “Greek Depressions,” Tsipras seems to be positioning himself as an advocate for Europeans disenfranchised by the financial crises from 2008 to 2014, which produced unexpectedly high unemployment in most of the EU. When Tsipras met with Pope “Petrus Romanus” Francis at the Vatican on September 17, 2014, he extolled the pope as the “pontiff of the poor.”[xvi] Tsipras wrote concerning the papal meeting, “We discussed the need for peace to return on earth, for the immediate cease of war interventions…asked him to take an international initiative for the termination of conflicts in the Middle East.”[xvii] It seems that Tsipras is summoning the angel in the whirlwind.
NEXT UP: Summoning the Angel in the Whirlwind
[ii]Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis. Chapters 18–50, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995) 240.
[iii]Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis. Chapters 18-50, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 239.
[iv] C. Houtman, “What Did Jacob See in His Dream at Bethel?: Some Remarks on Genesis XXVIII 10-22’” VetusTestamentum, Vol. 27, Fasc. 3 (Jul., 1977), 347.
[vi] Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997) 649.
[vii]“3947 laqach,” The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible: Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order. Ed. James Strong (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996) H3947.
[viii] 5492a in New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition, ed. Robert L. Thomas (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, 1998).
[ix]“5486,” New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries.
[x] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996) 220.
[xi] Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, 1998).
[xii] “A courteous distance,” The Economist January 26, 2015, http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2015/01/church-and-state-greece.
[xiii]SabbyMionis, “Greece’s Jewish voters are faced with an impossible choice,” Haaretz, June. 10, 2012, “http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/greece-s-jewish-voters-are-faced-with-an-impossible-choice-1.435484 (accessed February 13, 2015).
[xiv]Jonathan A. Goldstein, I Maccabees: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary, includes indexes (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008) 206.
[xv] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988) 10.
[xvi]Helena Smith, “Pope Francis the ‘Pontiff of the Ppoor,’ says Greece’s Alexis Tsipras,” The Guardian, September 8, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/18/pope-francis-alexis-tsipras-vatican (accessed February 15, 2015).
[xvii] “Pope Francis meets with Alexis Tsipras,” http://www.alexistsipras.eu/index.php/9-press-releases/298-pope-francis-meets-with-alexis-tsipras (accessed February 17, 2015).