The images of wolf, lion, and snake appear abundantly throughout the Bible. Though in general they represent negative forces, each symbol possesses a positive side, as well. The negative side represents the origin of the disease, while the positive side points to its cure.
A symbol is most potent when it becomes personified. According to Kabbalah, a living figure or character in a previous generation (or age) may become, at a later stage in history, a psychological or physical condition whose ramifications affect all of mankind. Let us begin with the wolf.
In addition to the wolf symbolizing the Egyptian exile, as in the Talmudic passage quoted above, the evil “wolf” (ze’ev) of the Bible is personified as the name of the second of the two ministers of Midian killed in the war that Gideon fought against Midian, as recorded in the book of Judges. The name of the first minister was “raven” (orev). As stated of the wolf, the raven also symbolizes strong sexual impulses.
Etymologically, the word “raven” is related to the word for “ambush” (orev). Thus, in particular, the raven, the first evil force of Midian, represents the ambush of the rapist, while the wolf, the subsequent evil force of Midian, represents the rapist’s assault. The fear of rape includes the fear of both the raven and the wolf.
The initial letters of the two ministers of Midian, Orev and Ze’ev, spell the word for “goat” (eiz) or “bold” (az; both eiz and az are spelled ayin, zayin). The evil goat symbolizes a demon in the Torah. The combined origins of the raven and the wolf is a demonic goat. As explained above, the fear of rape may be generalized to refer to the fear of any compulsory invasion of oneself by something other than oneself. Invasion into the private domain is symbolized by the goat.
The word “bold” alludes to yet another animal. Our sages teach (and so begins the Code of Jewish Law, as will be mentioned below with regard to the lion): “Be as bold as a leopard.” The commentaries explain that the difference between the boldness of a leopard and the courage of a lion is that whereas the lion senses his innate physical strength and rule over all creatures of the field, the leopard is audaciously brazen, above and beyond the measure of his physical strength. This is what is meant by boldness (and so in the domestic realm, the goat–more than any other domestic animal–exhibits the property of boldness, after which it is named). So is the rapist bold, while the murderer is strong.
These two ministers, Ze’ev and Orev, served the two kings of Midian, Zevach and Tzalmona. The name Zevach, which means “to slaughter,” begins with the two primary letters of Ze’ev(zayin-veit). Rape is a form of “slaughtering,” as will be further explained. Orev serves, in particular, Tzalmona, whose name means “a moving shadow-image”–“the shadows of evening” (we will presently see that the name Orev derives from the root meaning “evening”). Sexual lust as well as the fear of sexual abuse epitomize the psychological state of the unrectified “power of imagination” (personified by Tzalmona and his minister Orev, the moving shadow-image of evening) as explained at length in our book, The Mystery of Marriage.
Gideon and his troops succeeded, with the aid of God, to eradicate (and ultimately rectify) all four of these evil forces.
A new chapter is both uploaded to the web and sent out every week via the Inner Dimension (free) weekly Torah message email list. Click here to subscribe now!