Said Rabbi Jose: "It is written, 'And it came to pass, in the days of Amrafel King of Shinar' (Gen. XIV. 1). In the prophecy of Isaiah we read, 'Who (mi) raised up the Just One from the east and called him to follow after him' (Is. XLI. 2). This verse has already been the subject of comment to the neophytes, being replete with the mystery of the hidden wisdom that teaches that the Holy One created seven firmaments or heavens above, wherein to manifest his glory, all of them being based and founded on principles beyond human comprehension, which therefore remain subjects of faith and not of knowledge. The highest of these heavens is altogether invisible and rules all those below it, and is therefore called mi (who), as it is written, 'From the womb of Mi came forth the ice' (Job XXXVII. 28).Job 38:29 The lowest of these firmaments or heavens is void of light and non-luminous; and, because so, it is attached to those above it to receive it from them. It is distinguished from them by the letters 'y' and 'm' and called yam (the sea), and such it really is to the highest heavens termed Mi (the same letters changed in their order). All the higher firmaments pour their light into it, as rivers discharge their waters into the sea, so that this lower heaven produces fruit, fish, after their species. David refers to it in the words, 'The great and wide sea wherein are things creeping innumerable, both
small and great beasts' (Ps. CIV. 25). 'Who raised up or called the Just One to come from the east' alludes to Abraham, and 'to follow him' refer to this lower heaven that forms, as just stated, a sea to the higher heavens above it. It is further added, 'and cast down nations before him.' To whom are these words to be applied? To the lower heaven, also that avenges the oppressed and causes their enemies to fall and be destroyed. In speaking of it David said, 'Thou hast given me the necks of my enemies and destroyed them that hate me' (Ps. XVIII. 40). The above words refer also to Abraham, whose enemies the Holy One caused to be destroyed. Again it is further added, 'and made him rule over kings,' that is, those celestial chiefs that are set over nations as rulers, and protectors who are chastised at the same time that the nation or peoples under their control are afflicted86a with divine judgments. 'He pursued after and passed safely'Is. 41:3 refer to Abraham, who pursued his enemies without harm or suffering to himself, for the Holy One destroyed them from before him and 'he passed safely,' or rather, 'peace went before' (yaabor shalom), leaving no traces behind; that is, the Holy One who is sometimes called 'Peace,' intimating that either concealed and hidden by a cloud, or carried in a chariot, Abraham passed through the land instead of marching through it on foot. Now scripture states it was no angel or divine messenger, but the Holy One who went before him; 'with his feet,' that is, with angels that are subordinate to him; as it is written, 'And his feet shall stand in that day,' etc. (Zach. XIV. 4). According to another interpretation of the words, 'Mi (who), raised up or brought the just One from the east,' it is affirmed that after creation of the world the Holy One determined to bring Abraham into it, that he might serve him and become a progenitor of Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel, who, like their forefathers, were servants of the Holy One. The esoteric meaning of these words, therefore, is that he called Abraham, the just One, out of the east to serve him and do his will, as it is stated, 'Get thee out and all the people that follow thee' (that are at thy feet) (Ex. XI. 8). A further exposition is that the words refer to the east, where the light first dawns and illuminates the south and is pressed by Mi heir (who raised), whilst by 'called the Just One to follow him' have reference to the west. The mystic meaning of the whole verse is that
the West will eventually be able to subdue all other nations receiving accessions of power and numbers from the East, in the world."
Said Rabbi Jehuda: "Who has called the Just One to come from the east' refer certainly to Abraham, for from observing the rising of the sun in the east he obtained the first true conception of the Holy One and reasoned then within himself, 'This sun is the king who created me.' He therefore bent in adoration before it and worshipped it all that day. Then, however, the sun set and the moon arose and began to shine. 'This truly,' said he, 'is the deity and rules over the sun whom I have been worshipping all the day, whose light and splendor have faded and given way to that of the moon who now rules supreme.' He thereupon worshipped it all through the night. In the morning he observed the moon disappear and the sun arising again from the east, and said to himself, 'Surely above those kings there is some other and higher power that rules and governs and commands their obedience.' Then the Holy One, seeing the desire of Abraham for divine knowledge rising within him, manifested himself unto him and spake86a unto him as it is written. He called the just One to follow him; that is, he made himself, both by sight and speech, known unto Abraham."NdM omits pages 86b-91b