The Garden of Eden as Blueprint for the Temple

In the book of Genesis, God places Adam in the garden so that he may “work and guard it”—two verbs that the Torah uses repeatedly in describing the duties of the priests in the Tabernacle. Drawing on this and other parallels, Leen Ritmeyer—an expert on the architecture of ancient Jerusalem—argues that the First and Second Temples themselves were modeled on the Garden of Eden. He makes particular use of the Temples’ layout, where one enters from the east and progresses through the outer and inner courtyards, into the Holy (which was generally only entered by priests), and from there to the Holy of Holies (which could be entered by the high priest only on certain occasions) at the westernmost part of the complex:

After Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, cherubim with a flaming sword that turned in all directions were placed to the east of the garden to prevent their return. In Hebrew, the word “placed” (yashken), used in Genesis 3:24, is closely related to the word for Tabernacle, which is mishkan in Hebrew. [The use of this word] appears to indicate that the cherubim were made to dwell in a tent-sanctuary or tabernacle that was erected to the east of the Garden of Eden. Although little else is known about this sanctuary, the text would seem to be describing a proto-Tabernacle [that] would serve as a model for future meeting places between God and man.

The location of the sanctuary at the east side of the garden can be compared to that of the Holy of the later sanctuaries of Israel. The forbidden paradise lay therefore to the west of the guarded entrance to the Garden of Eden. . . . Anyone wanting to visit this dwelling place would have had to approach it from the east and face west. This direction of approaching a holy place from the east has been preserved in the Tabernacle and the Temple constructions, the entrances of which all faced east, while the Holy of Holies is in the west.

The principle of approaching God by sacrifice would also have been established in this place. The [flaming] sword of the cherubim may have been used, not only to preserve the way to the Tree of Life by keeping humans out, but also for killing sacrifices and [using] the flame for igniting the wood.

The cherubim then also serve as a parallel to the images of cherubim beaten into the cover of the ark that sits in the Holy of Holies.

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Read more at Ritmeyer

More about: Garden of Eden, Hebrew Bible, Religion & Holidays, Tabernacle, Temple

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf