Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Garden of Eden as a Proto-Temple

Earlier I quoted Dr. Jim Halmiton and his argument that the first Temple is the cosmos itself. The next great temple in Scripture is the Garden of Ede. Here's my reasoning.

1. God Dwells in the Garden With Mankind

Compare both Genesis 3:8 and Leviticus 11-12:
Genesis 3:8 – “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, . . .”
Leviticus 26:11-12 – “Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”
The temple is the place, by definition, where God dwells. God's presence in Eden suggests it as the first type of temple.

On this point, Dr. G. K. Beale describes this point as The Garden as the unique place of God's presence (66) in his book The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. He then adds: 
Israel’s temple was the place where the priest experienced God’s unique presence, and Eden was the place where Adam walked and talked with God. The same Hebrew verbal form (stem) mithallek (hithpael) used for God’s ‘walking back and forth’ in the Garden (Gen. 3:8), also describes God’s presence in the tabernacle (Lev. 26:12; Deut. 23:14 [15]; 2 Sam. 7;6-7). (66)

2. Symbolism of Cherubim

Again, compare Genesis with other descriptions of the Temple:
Genesis 3:24 – Cherubim are placed at the Garden to guard (shamar) the Garden preventing anything unclean from entering – sinful man.
1 Kings 8:6-7 – “Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim made a covering over the ark and its poles from above.”

3. Emphasis on Precious Stones

In Genesis 2:12, we are told that the precious stones of gold, bdellium, and onyx were present in Eden. Those same stones are mentioned in the temple/tabernacle in Exodus 25:7; 28:9-12, 20; 1 Chronicles 29:1-2


4. An Emphasis on the East

In Genesis 3:24, a cherubim is placed at the east of the Garden of Eden. This suggests that one would enter the Garden from the East. Later, Solomon's Temple was entered through the East. Finally, in Ezekiel 40:6 we see that the future and final Temple will be entered through from the East. Throughout his prophecy, Ezekiel repeatedly describes Eden as a sanctuary and as the mountain of God.


5. The Garden is the Place of the First Priest

Though more space might be required on this point, I will defend this in brief. The two verbs cultivate (abad) and keep (shamar) in Genesis 2 are used in the Old Testament to describe the function of priests. The word keep (shamar) means "to guard." Priests had the important function of protecting the Temple/tabernacle from anything unclean or defiled. In Numbers 3:8, Moses writes “[The priests] shall guard (shamar) all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard (abad) over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle” (ESV). Also consider the evidence in Numbers 8:25-26; 18:1-7 (especially vs. 5-6); 1 Chronicles 23:32; and Ezekiel 44:14.


6. Adam is the first Priest

If the previous point is true, then we should expect to see that Adam is presented as Eden's first (and only) priest. In Genesis 2:16-17 (immediately following the priestly function of Adam is explained) Adam is given a torah – a law. We see the same pattern in 1 Kings 9:1, 6-7:
Now it came about when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all that Solomon desired to do, . . . But if you or your sons indeed turn away from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, 7  then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them, and the house which I have consecrated for My name, I will cast out of My sight. So Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.
As priest, Adam was to cultivate the land, serve in the Garden/Temple, and guard anything unclean from entering it. Adam fails in his role as priest for as the narrative unfolds, Adam allows the unclean Serpent to enter the Garden. Therefore, that pesky question of how did the Serpent sneak in the Garden is answered by Adam's failure to guard the first temple of God.

Regarding this final point about the Serpent, Dr. Beale writes in The Temple and the Church’s Mission:
Adam, however, failed in the task with which he was commissioned, which includes permitting entrance into the Garden to an antagonistic and unclean being. Though Genesis 2-3 does not explicitly say that Adam’s ‘ruling and subduing’ task was to guard the garden from the satanic snake, our overall discussion so far int his chapter together with the conclusion of the preceding chapter points to this . . . Thus, Adam did no guard the Garden but allowed entrance to a foul snake that brought sin, chaos and disorder into the sanctuary and into Adam and Eve’s lives. He allowed the Serpent to ‘rule over’ him rather than ‘ruling over’ it and casting it out of the Garden. Rather than extending the divine presence of the garden sanctuary, Adam and Even were expelled from it. Consequently, Adam and Eve disobey God’s mandate in Genesis 1:28 (and, if 1:28 includes an implicit promise to provide them ability to obey, it is not fulfilled). (87)

7. Symbolism of the Tree

In Exodus 25:31-36, Moses pictures the lampstand in the Temple as having a flowering and fructifying appearance of a tree with 'bulbs and flowers', 'branches' and 'almond blossoms' (Beal, 71). This is repeated by Josephus:
It was made with its knops, and lilies, and pomegranates, and bowls (which ornaments amounted to seventy in all); by which means the shaft elevated itself on high from a single base, and spread itself into as many branches as there are planets, including the sun among them.(Antiquities 3.145)
In the Garden, the lamp stand is seen in the Tree of Life.


8. Eden As a Temple was the View of Early Judaism

Regarding Adam as the first priest, the Book of Jubilees writes There [Adam] was arrayed in the apparel of sovereignty, and there was the cross of glory on his head, there was he made king, and priest, and prophet . . . Furthermore, Jubilees suggests Adam knew that the Garden of Eden is the holy of holies, and the dwelling of the Lord, and Mount Sinai the center of the desert, and Mount Zion -the center of the navel of the earth: these three were created as holy places facing each other.

In addition to these, consider The Testament of Levi 18:6 and 1 Enoch 21-24


For more:

For more on the above argument, see G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, 66-80, Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, What is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission, 209-210, and James Hamilton What is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible's Story, Symbolism, and Patters, 27-29 and 72-76.
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