The Zohar explains that the rainbow is a sign indicating that a great destruction was forthcoming, but has been prevented by the hand of God. Reading this section infuses us with the same Light of protection expressed by the sign of the rainbow.
261. "And Elohim said to Noah... this is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you... I have set My rainbow in the cloud" (Beresheet 9:8, 12-13). The words, "I have set," SHOW THAT He had already set the rainbow. Rabbi Shimon commented on the verse: "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, with the appearance of a sapphire stone" (Yechezkel 1:26). Before this, it is written: "And when they went out I heard the noise (voice) of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of Shadai" (Ibid. 24). These words refer to the four sacred and mighty supreme living creatures upon whom the firmament rests. Their wings are joined together to cover their bodies.
262. When they spread their wings, the singing voice of all their wings is heard, and the words, "as the voice of Shadai," indicate that this voice is never silent. As it is also written: "may sing praise to You, and not be silent" (Tehilim 30:13). HE THEN ASKS: What do they say? AND HE ANSWERS: They say: "Hashem has made known His salvation, His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations" (Tehilim 98:2).
263. The words, "The noise of commotion, as the noise of a host" (Yechezkel 1:24), signify the noise of the holy camp, with its supernal armies assembled on high. HE ASKS: "And what do they say?" AND HE ANSWERS: THEY SAY "Holy, holy, holy is Hashem Tzva'ot, the whole earth is full of His glory" (Yeshayah 6:3). They face south and say "Holy," then they face north and say "Holy," then they face east and say "Holy," and then they face west and say "blessed."
264. And that firmament rests on top of their heads, so wherever THE LIVING CREATURE moves, it turns its head and faces all four faces gathered within. They turn and face all four corners of the world, ALL FOUR DIRECTIONS OF THE WINDS, and they are all brought back and spread downward.
265. The four faces OF THESE LIVING CREATURES are imprinted on all four sides OF THE FIRMAMENT, WHICH ARE THE "FOUR WINDS" - SOUTH, NORTH, EAST AND WEST. The face of a lion IS IMPRINTED TO THE SOUTH; the face of an ox TO THE NORTH; the face of an eagle TO THE EAST; and the face of a man TO THE WEST. All of the faces are also imprinted with the face of man: the face of a lion IS IMPRINTED WITH the face of a man, the face of an eagle with the face of a man, and the face of an ox with the face of a man. All faces are included in the face of a man, and this is why it is written: "As for the likeness of their faces, they each had the likeness of a man (Yechezkel 1:10). THIS MEANS THAT ALL FOUR HAVE THE FACE OF A MAN.
266. Now the firmament is a square THAT POINTS IN FOUR DIRECTIONS AND contains all of the colors, four of which - WHITE, RED, GREEN AND BLACK - are seen in it. EACH OF THESE COLORS IS imprinted with all four colors, SO WE HAVE SIXTEEN COLORS ALTOGETHER. The upper ones are imprinted with four engravings. The same applies to the lower ones. When these four colors spread out, they become twelve, AND NOT SIXTEEN. THE COLORS ARE green, red, white and sapphire, which is a combination of the first three colors. IN OTHER WORDS, THE COLOR SAPPHIRE, WHICH IS MALCHUT, IS NOT REALLY A COLOR BY ITSELF, BUT A COMBINATION OF THE THREE OTHER COLORS. SO WE HAVE THREE COLORS MULTIPLIED BY FOUR, WHICH ADDS UP TO TWELVE. This is why it is written: "As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain...so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Hashem" (Ibid. 28). THIS APPEARANCE AND LIKENESS, MALCHUT, contains all three colors, MEANING THAT MALCHUT HAS NO COLOR OF HER OWN, BUT CONTAINS THE OTHER THREE COLORS. That is why it is written: "I have set My rainbow in the cloud."
267. HE ASKS: What is meant by "My rainbow"? AND HE REPLIES: 'It is similar to what has been said about Joseph, "But his bow (rainbow) abode is strength" (Beresheet 49:24). THE RAINBOW SUGGESTS MALCHUT, AND since Joseph is called righteous, WHICH IS THE ATTRIBUTE OF YESOD, "his rainbow" refers to the "covenant of the rainbow," YESOD OF MALCHUT. THE COVENANT IS YESOD AND THE RAINBOW MALCHUT. The rainbow is incorporated in the Righteous because the covenant, YESOD, united with it. And because Noah was righteous, HIS COVENANT was established AND INCLUDED in THE SECRET OF the rainbow.
268. "Were made supple (Heb. vayaphozu)" (Ibid.). HE ASKS, what is the meaning of vayaphozu (lit. 'to make strong')? AND HE REPLIES THAT HIS HANDS were shining from the light that is AS PURE GOLD (HEB. PAZ) AND desired by all. This relates to the verse, "More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold (Heb. paz); sweeter..." (Tehilim 19:11). This means that HIS HANDS shone with the supernal light because he observed the covenant. This is why WHEN HE MERITED THE COVENANT, he was called "Joseph the Righteous." The rainbow was also called the covenant, because he and the rainbow are combined and included within each other, AS PREVIOUSLY EXPLAINED.
269. And THE RAINBOW is the splendor of the supernal glory, the sight beyond all sights. MALCHUT, CALLED THE SUPERNAL GLORY, CONTAINS ALL THE SIGHTS. It is also the sight of the hidden LIGHTS, WHICH ARE the hidden and unrevealed colors. The eye is not permitted to look at the rainbow when it appears in the world. For the rainbow exposes fault in the Shechinah. Furthermore, the colors of the rainbow are connected with the "appearance of the mist and the cloud," WHICH MEAN THAT THEY ARE COVERED UP. Like the appearance of the supernal glory, it should not be gazed upon.
270. But because the earth looks at the rainbow, MALCHUT, CALLED THE EARTH, IS COMPLETED BY THE RAINBOW AND then the sacred COVENANT is properly established. Therefore, "It shall be for a sign of a covenant between Elohim... " (Beresheet 9:13). What we previously stated, that these three colors - WHITE, RED AND GREEN - and one OTHER COLOR that is comprised of the other three, all form one secret. THIS MEANS THAT THE RAINBOW IS FORMED BY THESE THREE COLORS AND A FOURTH THAT IS A COMBINATION OF THEM. And THE RAINBOW climbs to the clouds to show itself, BECAUSE IT CAN ONLY BE SEEN FROM WITHIN A CLOUD.
271. "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone" (Yechezkel 1:26). This SAPPHIRE STONE is the Foundation Stone, which is one point upon which the whole world stands. Upon it, the Holy of Holies is established. What is this POINT? It is the supernal holy throne, which is appointed over the four COLORS. It bears a resemblance to a throne and its four supports, WHICH ARE THE FOUR COLORS, WHITE, RED, GREEN AND SAPPHIRE. This THRONE is the Oral Law, MALCHUT.
272. "And upon the likeness of a throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above" (Ibid.). This refers to the Written Law, NAMELY ZEIR ANPIN. From this we learn that the Written Law should be placed above the Oral Law, because the one is a throne for the other. "As the appearance of a man" refers to the image of Jacob, WHO IS ZEIR ANPIN, because he sits upon this throne.