Category Archives: Temple

2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 3)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition
Steve St.Clair

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Post 3: 1902AD – 2002AD

1902

Theological Quarterly, Evangelical Lutheran Church

Eschatology

Yet, while we shall all be heirs of salvation, and though our bliss shall be perfect, and our glory great, in eternal life, we shall also differ from each other in various ways. In the world to come Moses will still be Moses, and Elias will be Elias, and in HIS flesh Job shall see God. Many from the east and west shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, every one ofthem, as each of the patriarchs, in his personal identity. There will be no propagation in heaven; for in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in mrrrriage. Life in the future world will be a continuation of the same life, though under different conditions, in the present world. And as men pass from this world into the world to come, their works do follow them, not precede them, to prepare or purchase a place for them in heaven; for Christ has fully accomplished this, and we must not purchase or earn, but inherit the kingdom prepared for us. But the works of every heir of salvation, which he has done in this life, shall follow him to the life beyond. Not his evil works; for they are cast into the depth of the sea, blotted out, never to be remembered. But of his good works, not one shall be forgotten, not even the cup of cold water given to one of Christ’s little ones in the name of a disciple. And it shall not only be mentioned unto him, but he shall in no wise lose his reward. Christ will make good his promise. Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be. Here we sow; there we shall reap as we shall have sown. He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Thus there shall be degrees of glory in the kingdom of glory. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also in the resurrection of the dead. Yet the greater glory of the one shall not be a cause of envy, but a source of joy to the other. Neither shall they whose crown shall shine with brighter gems exalt themselves; but every one shall say, The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. The four and twenty elders shall fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.  The song of the glorified elect shall be as the new song which St. John was permitted to hear: Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wert slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests. . . .Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing! Thus shall the eternal glory of the righteous redound to the eternal glory of Him to whose cross and crown of thorns we shall owe our bliss and our crowns of glory, and whom, with immortal tongues, we shall for ever praise, our Savior and our God.

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2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 4)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition
Steve St.Clair – stclairst@ca.rr.com 2010

Download the entire document as a PDF file by clicking this link.


POST 4:  2002AD – Present

 

2002
Asher Intrater, Messianic Jewish Leader in Isreal
Rewards in Heaven

Revive Isreal.org Website

The ultimate destiny of every man is either eternal bliss in paradise or eternal torment in the lake of fire. There is no middle ground.

Revelation 20:15

“Anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

The difference between these two final options is what motivates us to preach the gospel. Everyone will be saved or damned.

Among those who are being saved there are also different levels of reward. When Yeshua taught on prayer, fasting, and charity, he said that if we do these things with a pure heart, then we would receive reward in the world to come. If on the other hand, our motives were not pure, our reward would be canceled.

Matthew 6:4,6,18

“Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”

The people he is talking about here are “believers.” This is not a difference between being damned or saved, but rather a difference as to what reward you will receive in paradise. Each time we do righteous deeds with a pure heart, we store up for ourselves reward in heaven. To the degree that we act hypocritically, our rewards are nullified.

Since each action has a cumulative reward, every person will receive a different level of reward in the world to come.

In order to be saved, we must receive forgiveness of sins by faith in Yeshua’s sacrifice for us on the cross. Anyone who rejects the saving grace of Yeshua is damned (Mark 16:16). He who does believe in Yeshua passes out of this judgment and receives salvation (John 5:24). God does not seek to damn anyone, but He who rejects the offer of eternal life is in effect damned of his own (John 3:18).

In the sense of being condemned, a true believer in Yeshua is not “judged.” However, there is another meaning to the word “judge” which is not referring to damnation or salvation, but to reward and punishment. In this sense every believer will be judged.

II Corinthians 5:10

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the Body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

This statement of the Apostle Paul was made to born-again, spirit-filled believers. He included himself in this judgment when he said, “we.”

If all saved people will live eternally in paradise, and if paradise is such a perfect place, how could there be different levels of reward there? Let us examine four areas:

1. Position of authority

The world to come is a real society. Everyone will have a job. There will be positions of leadership and government.

Luke 19:17

“Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.”

Luke 19:19

“You also be over five cities.”

Luke 19:24

“Take the portion away from him, and give it to him who has ten.”

Some people will have authority over thousands (like ten cities). Others will have lesser positions (like five cities). Others will have jobs with no authority at all (like the one whose portion was taken away).

2. Magnitude of Glory

In the world to come, we will live in resurrected bodies. These bodies will be glorified, meaning that they will shine with light like stars by the power of God. But like the stars, not every person’s body will shine with the same degree of glory.

I Corinthians 15:39-42

“There are celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead.”

The difference between our bodies now and our bodies after the resurrection will be like the difference between the earth (which doesn’t shine) and a star (which does shine). However, there is another difference. “For one star differs from another star in glory (vs. 41).” Just as there is a difference in the magnitude of light coming from each star, so will it be in the resurrection. Each person’s body will have a different degree of light shining from it – some more; some less.

3. Proximity to Yeshua

While all true believers will be physically present in the world to come, and while everyone will have access to meet Yeshua, not everyone will have the same proximity to Him on a day-to-day basis. John and James’ mother once came asking a request from Yeshua.

Matthew 20:21

“Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

While Yeshua could not grant her request, He did affirm the fact that there will be a certain “assigned seating” arrangements at events in the kingdom of God. As a citizen of Israel, I have general access to meet with the Prime Minister. However, only those on his immediate staff can meet with him every day. Only those with higher positions in the government can easily obtain an appointment with him. The degree of one’s accessibility to Yeshua is considered a great reward in the kingdom of God.

4. Heavenly “Treasure”

Sometimes people say, concerning money, “You can’t take it with you.” That is not entirely true. Just as there are banks on earth, there is some type of “banking” system in heaven.

Matthew 6:20

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and thieves do not break in and steal.”

You make a deposit in your account in heaven by giving money to others. I don’t know if there is an actual “currency” in the world to come. However, there must be some kind of “treasure” or what Yeshua said would be meaningless. Whatever that “treasure” is, there must be different degrees to which it can be “stored up.” There will be different quantitative rewards in the world to come.

When referring to rewards according to our works, we must remember that God looks at the heart and not at the outward appearance. Many things that seem to be great works in the eyes of men are nothing in the eyes of God. And many deeds that seem to be worthless in the eyes of men are of great value to God. Yeshua said of the poor widow who gave two small coins that she gave more than the great sums of money given by the wealthy (Luke 21:3). In what sense did she give more? Her gift was considered greater for its deposit in the heavenly bank because it took more faith and love to give it.

So it is with many other kinds of works. A great evangelist may be motivated by worldly ambition and even though he was used by God to save thousands, he may receive little reward in the world to come (Phil. 1:16). Another may only “succeed” in giving one cup of water, but thereby receive the same reward as a prophet (Matt. 10:41)! If you are just faithful in the very little thing that God has put in your path, you may receive an enormous reward in the world to come.

Some people think that it is unbiblical and selfish to be motivated by rewards in the world to come. But that is not true. It is wrong to be motivated by the honor of man rather than the honor of God (John 5:44), and by the carnal rewards of this life rather than the eternal rewards of the world to come (Hebrews 11:25-26).

In fact, the Bible says that we cannot even please God unless we believe that He will reward those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Behavioral science correctly teaches that rewards encourage certain behavior and punishments discourage. Yet the very concept of reward and punishment, both temporal and eternal, comes from God.

There will also be certain punishments among those who receive eternal life. How can there be punishments when a person is saved? Any sin that is repented of by a believer is washed by the blood of Yeshua and erased. Yet sin that is not repented of will receive punishment. Five of the seven churches in the book of Revelation received rebukes from Yeshua. He was not speaking primarily of their losing salvation, but of losing their rewards. By punishment here I do not mean damnation, but rather chastisement.

The Bible speaks of Yeshua having a “rod” that comes out of His mouth. By this I understand that the primary chastisement of believers in the world to come will not be torment by fire nor even physical beatings, but rather a firm and honest rebuke by Jesus, which will be witnessed by millions in the Day of Judgment.

Yeshua will not give us false compliments or flattery. If we have disobeyed Him, failed to fulfill our destiny, or simply led a carnal lifestyle, He will speak bluntly and authoritatively to the point. I would rather be burned with fire or receive a thousand lashes than to hear a word of disapproval from the lips of Yeshua on “that day.”

Luke 12:47-48

“That servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.”

This passage is not speaking of the damned. (That is covered in verse 46.) In any case, receiving a few more or less beatings could not apply to someone who would spend eternity in the lake of fire. There are degrees of responsibility and commitment in the kingdom of God. We are held responsible for what we know. The level of punishment is meted out accordingly.

So in the kingdom of God there will be different levels of reward and punishment. Some will receive more. Some will receive less. Some will receive nothing at all.

I Corinthians 3:14-15

“If anyone’s work that he has built on [the foundation which is Jesus Christ] endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved.”

We are saved through faith in Yeshua. That is our foundation. With that foundation a person builds his life with a quality like gold or silver, wood or hay. According to the life we live, we will be rewarded or not rewarded; we will be praised or rebuked.

There is an urgency to tell unbelievers that a day of judgment is coming where they will face either eternal damnation or salvation. There is likewise an urgency to tell believers that a day of judgment is coming – not for damnation or salvation, but for reward and punishment in the kingdom of God.

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2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 2)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition
Steve St.Clair – stclairst@ca.rr.com 2010

Download the entire document as a PDF File at this link.


POST 2:  1300AD – 1899AD

 

1300 AD

Falasha Anthology Translated by Wolf Leslau from Ethiopic Sources (1951)

Apocalypse of Gorgorios

Blessed be God, the Lord of Israel. This is the book of the prophet Gorgorios.

I said to the angel Michael: “Tell me about death and how the soul goes forth from the body.” He said to me: “I shall tell thee how the soul leaves the body,” and he said to me: “Death is bitter and painful to the righteous and the sinners as well, but for the man of good deeds it is salvation and rest when soul and body are separated. The bitterness of death is bearable for him because he sees gathered around him the beautiful angels whose faces are fair and full of mercies; they wear bright crowns and they receive the soul with praise and song. They bless the angel who stayed with him, drive away from him the unclean spirits, and raise his soul to Heaven with blessings, praise, and song.”

“The death of the sinner is desolate. His departure from this ephemeral world is as follows: the angels of calamity who have no mercy, the ill-favored, disfigured, are sent to him. The soul of the sinner is entrusted to them in a terrible punishment. Then the evil spirits who were with him and devoured him come to him. When the man sees them he will repent that he did not accomplish good deeds in his lifetime. More punishment is inflicted upon him, and they raise his soul to Heaven in great pain and sore calamity and smite it with sticks of fire.”

The angel said to me: “Look down upon the earth.” Behold, I saw thousands and thousands of radiant angels, well favored, dressed in ornamented garments, who praised and sanctified God saying: “Praise, glory, and greatness are proper for Thee, for Thou art the grace of the righteous, the crown of the pure, the greatness of the humble, and the strength of the weak.”

Then I saw an old good man who had died, and the angels raised his soul aloft. This soul was as bright as the sun. The angels received it and said joyfully: “0 soul, thine affliction passed away because of God’s word, and thou wilt find mercy at His side forever.” After they had raised this soul to Heaven, all the angels shouted and said: “Praise to God alone, the Holy.” And they said to this soul:”Peace and felicity to thee, forever,” and they blessed the angel who was with her. Then I heard God’s voice saying: “Bring this soul that she may rejoice and receive the fruit of her deeds and find her reward.” The soul then prostrated herself with fear. The angel said to her: “Fear not, 0 soul, for thou hast accomplished good deeds before they raised thee. It will be reckoned to thee as righteousness and thou shalt receive the treasures of grace full of joy and gladness.” I also heard God saying: “Place this soul with the souls of the hermits who are secluded and live on the mountains and hills serving God.”

Then the angel said to me: “Look.” And from the earth to Heaven, thousands and thousands of spirits disfigured, angels with dark faces from whose mouths burning charcoal came forth and who held sticks of fire in their hands. I saw it and was frightened and said to the angel: “What is this terrifying sight?” He said to me: “It is for a bad king who abandoned justice and was iniquitous.”

And the order came from God to take his soul by force at the hand of bitter Death. And these, the angels of calamity and of wrath, were sent to him. Then I saw a dark one whose odor was bad and whose teeth and nails were of fire. As for the soul, she shouted and lamented: “Pity me, pity me.” When she shouted they poured upon her burning charcoal from Heaven. When she drew nigh a sheet of fire like a wave of the sea came and hit her and brought her down to earth. Then the angels said: “Let us take her away.” And I saw the angels and the spirits raise her as before, and they brought her to Heaven and said: “Bring not in this soul. She is unclean, since she was rebellious against her Creator and chose the earthly kingdom in vain rather than the Heavenly Kingdom and followed the commandments of Satan.” Then a voice came from Heaven saying: “Say to this unclean and bad soul that she confess her faults and the sins she has committed.” The soul answered, trembling: “I did things in my kingdom which were not proper, without thinking of the future or of the judgment that will overcome me.” The angels said: “Woe unto thee, 0 soul! Didst thou not hear the words of the prophets and the commandments of God? Didst thou not read the words of the Scriptures? Didst thou not see the wonders of God upon the earth and His marvels in this world?” The soul answered and said: “I have confidence, 0 Lord, in Thy grace.” The angels said to her: “When thou didst walk upon the earth we were gracious to thee there. Hadst thou made thy ways and doings good, thou wouldst have inherited the Heavenly King­dom, but now thou wilt be rewarded according to thine ac­tions.” Then I heard the voice of God saying: “Bring this soul to the rebellious, iniquitous, transgressors, and unclean so that she be there in her punishment until the day of retribution.”

Behold, the angels shouted in a loud voice saying: “Holy, Holy, Holy, God of Saba’ot, perfect in His deeds, the merciful and gra­cious, who exalts the humble and destroys the strong. Thou alone art the King of justice, the Lord of the law, and the Judge of judges.”

Then the angel Michael said to me: “I have shown thee the departure of the souls of the sinners and of the just. And now follow me and I shall let thee see the place where the good and pure live.” Then he held my hand and brought me into a wide place, the charm of which was like a precious pearl of various colors that shines like bright stars and like lamps that ravish the eyes. There were in it thousands of doors of sapphire brighter than the sun. The floor of this place was white as silver and as mirrors. Behold, a large stream and small springs flowing with light, and the stones of this stream were precious pearls, topazes, carbuncles, hyacinths, and emeralds. And around this stream were tall and short trees. It seemed a valley. Among all the trees there was not a dry one nor a fallen-down leaf nor a spoiled fruit. The odor of these trees was sweeter than all the odors upon the earth. When the dead in the graves smell this odor they will wake up and live. That place had no sun nor moon, but its light exceeded the light of the sun, and the darkness of the night came not near it and found it not.

Then I marveled, praised and blessed God. The angel said to me: “Marvel not, 0 Gorgorios. This is the Paradise in which Adam and Eve lived; in it there is neither odor nor cold nor sadness. If they had not transgressed the commandment of God they would have remained in it, they and their children, without affliction, sorrow, sickness, death, sin, or iniquity. God knew in advance what would happen.” I said to Michael: “Who lives in this place?” He said to me: “Those who observe the law of God will stay here.”

Then Michael said to me: “Follow me and I shall let thee see the temple containing the tabernacle built in Paradise of old in the name of the Holy God.” I followed him and I saw the Temple of the Most High that preserved its length and width and was built of green emerald, the light of which shone in Paradise. And behold, columns and vaults, topazes, red hyacinths, and gold, and images of sky color adorned with precious pearls. The silent angels praised God and said: “Praise to the most high God who is above.” And all the creatures of Heaven and earth were frightened.

There was in it a white sea pearl which shone brightly, and if one opened the interior of this Seyon it would illuminate the ends of the earth. Its light was brighter than the light of the sky. It was made of a shiny pearl and of pure gold, and the crown on its top was made of a green pearl like an emerald, adorned with three white pieces of silver that shone with so brilliant a light that no eye could look at it.

Behold, there were present four angels adorned like a rose-colored pearl and like a pearl of sky color set in pure gold tried in the fire. A voice came out of their mouths saying: “Holy is the King who dwells in the residence of the Holy.” And the wood of the ark was like a white pearl, and nothing was like it in length and width. Images appeared whose colors vied with each other; they appeared first red, then green, then sky color, lily color, and other colors. Then I marveled, I fell on my face, and cried. The angel said to me: “What makes thee cry?” I said: “Be­cause of the marvels God did to the sons of men; they are foolish but God maintains them.”

The angel said to Gorgorios: “Now thou wilt see something that is greater than anything that is on earth and in Heaven. They are those who serve God with a pure heart. Who can know God?” I perceived a sound of songs and melodies that re­joiced the heart, praise, hymns, and a light that appeared like lightning, and a fragrance that revived the dead. Then I turned back and behold there was a woman dressed in purple and no eye could look at her because of her splendor. I marveled, praised God, then fled and knew not where I was. And when my mind was restored I said to the angel: “What is this marvel?” And he said to me: “This is the Heavenly Jerusalem.” I said to the angel: “For whom is it prepared?” He said to me “Read what is written on the door of the tabernacle of the sanctuary.” And behold, I saw a Roman inscription written in various lights that said: “This is the Heavenly Jerusalem for the one who gave himself for God’s word, for those who despised the glory of the ephemeral world, for those who retired to the hills and caverns, and for the hermits who served God.”

Then Michael said to me: “Now come and follow me and I shall show thee the punishment of Hell for the men who denied God, for the rebellious, the evil, and disobedient who did bad deeds before God.” The angel took me and placed me on the top of a high mountain and said to me:  “Turn back and look to thy right.” And behold, I saw a big deep river flowing with pitch, dark as lead; burning charcoal came out of it, and it boiled like a pot; it was fetid. It flowed like the river of Egypt. Men were in it, suspended by their feet, and their heads were turned downward. They trembled and fainted. Then I wept and wailed; a great trembling and quaking fell upon me. I fell on my face and said to the angel: Who are those, 0 Lord?” He said to me: “These are those who denied God and returned to sin. They will undergo this punishment that thou seest forever.”

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2010: Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition / Steve St.Clair (Post 1)

Degrees of Glory / Levels of Heaven / Heavenly Rewards in Jewish, Christian, Latter-day Saint Tradition

Steve St.Clair – stclairst@ca.rr.com 2010

Download the entire document as a PDF File at this link.

POST 1:  Old Testament Period – 1290AD

List of Sources

Date Author or Translator Title or Content
Old Testament / First and Second Temple Period Rachel Elior The Merkavah and the Sevenfold Pattern
Old Testament / First and Second Temple Periods Dr. Joseph P. Schultz Angelic Opposition to the Ascension of Moses and the Revelation of the Law (1971
Old Testament / Second Temple Period Paul M. Joyce Ezekiel 40-42- The Earliest ‘Heavenly Ascent’ Narrative? (2007)
Old Testament / Second Temple Period Dr. James D. Tabor Ascent to Heaven in Antiquity (1992)
Old Testament / Second Temple Period Christopher A. Morray-Jones The Temple Within (excerpts) (2007)
200 BC – 100 AD? 1985 Publication in English by M. A. Knibb The Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah
200 BC – 100 AD? Levi’s Ascent Testament of Levi
New Testament Period Emma Disley Scriptural Basis of Degrees of Glory (1991)
70 – 155 AD Papias of Hierapolis Many Mansions; A share is given to all by Father,  according as each one is or shall be worthy
120 AD Translation by R.H. Charles, 1896 Nature Of Resurrection Body; Final Destinies Of Righteous And Wicked
125 – 200 AD St. Irenaeus There Shall Be Various Mansions For Saints, According To Rank Allotted To Each Individual
150 – 216 AD Clement of Alexandria Degrees Of Glory In Heaven Corresponding With Dignities Of Church Below
150 – 216 AD Clement of Alexandria Degrees of Glory in Heaven
160 – 230 AD Tertullian How Many Mansions In Father’s House, If Not Diversity Of Deserts? How Will One Star Differ From Another Unless By Effort, Suffering, Torture, Death?
200 AD Sifre on Deuteronomy Seven and Thirty and Sixty Degrees in Paradise, Faces like Sun, Moon, Stars, Planets, Lightning
160-200 AD (Greek Original) English translation by M.R. James in 1924 Punishment of Hell, Glories of Paradise
100 BC—250 AD (Dates of Texts) Moses Gaster, Ph.D. Hebrew Visions of Hell and Paradise (1893)
185 – 254 AD Origen One Is Glory Of Sun, Another Glory Of Moon, Another Glory Of Stars; One Star Differeth From Another Star In Glory; According To That Gradation, Which Exists Among Heavenly Bodies, Let Them Show Differences In Glory Of Those Who Rise Again
185 – 254 AD Origen Many Mansions
270 – 345 AD Aphrahat of Persia Know That Even When Men Shall Enter Into Life, Yet Reward Shall Excel Reward, Glory Shall Excel Glory, Recompense Shall Excel Recompense; Degree Is Higher Than Degree; Light Is More Goodly Than Light In Aspect
306 – 373 AD Ephrem the Syrian Paradise Has Four Levels: The Summit, The Heights, The Slopes, And The Lower Parts; The Inhabitants Of These Regions Are Correspondingly: God, The Victorious, The Righteous, And The Repentant
330 – 379 AD St. Basil the Great For Among The Glories Of The Saints Are “Many Mansions” In The Father’s House; That Is Differences Of Dignities
330 – 389 AD Gregory Nazianzen Are There Many Mansions In God’s House, Or Only One? Of Course You Will Admit That There Are Many, And Not Only One
349 – 407 AD St. John Chrysostom In Hell & In Kingdom One Will Find Many Differences; In My Fathers House Are Many Mansions; One Glory Of Sun, Another Glory Of Moon, Difference In That World Between One Star & Another
349 – 407 AD St. John Chrysostom Having Made Two Ranks Of Righteous & Of Sinners, These He Subdivides Into Many Parts, Signifying That Neither Righteous Nor Sinners Shall Obtain Same; Neither Righteous Alike With Other Righteous, Nor Sinners With Other Sinners
350 AD? Pseudo-Macarius Passages on Ascents Prefiguring Resurrection
200 – 460 AD M.R. James Translation of 1924, from Latin,  corrected with Greek and Syriac as needed. Paul’s Ascent to Paradise & Descent to Hell, With Numerous Different Rewards & Punishments
380 AD – 450 AD ( Time of Jovinianist controversy) Christopher John Gousmett, Ph.D Shall the Body Strive and Not be Crowned?
389AD St. Ambrose & The Council of Milan They Place Every Thing Level, Abolish Different Degrees Of Merit & Have Meagreness In Heavenly Rewards, As If Christ Had Only One Palm To Bestow & No Copious Diversity In His Rewards
393 AD St. Jerome (345-420 AD) Defense Of All Scriptures As Basis For Degrees Of Merit, & Refutation Of All Scriptural Argments In Opposition
427 AD St. Jerome (345-420 AD) In Father’s House Many Mansions & Different Degrees Of Merit; Sun Has Its Own Splendour, Moon Tempers Darkness Of Night; Five Heavenly Bodies Called Planets Traverse Sky In Different Tracks & With Different Degrees Of Luminousness; Countless Other Stars Whose Movements We Trace In Firmament & Each Has Its Own Brightness
420 AD St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) Who Can Conceive, Not To Say Describe, What Degrees Of Honour & Glory Shall Be Awarded To Various Degrees Of Merit? Yet It Cannot Be Doubted That There Shall Be Degrees & That There Shall Be This Great Blessing, That No Inferior Shall Envy Any Superior
354-430 AD St. Augustine of Hippo Albeit One Be Stronger Than Another, One Wiser Than Another, One More Righteous Than Another, One Holier Than Another; In Father’s House Are Many Mansions; None Shall Be Estranged From That House; A Mansion For Each According To His Deserving
354-430 AD St. Augustine of Hippo After The Resurrection There Shall Be Two Distinct Kingdoms, One Of Eternal Happiness, The Other Of Eternal Misery;  Among Both There Will Be Degrees Of Happiness And Misery
354-430 AD St. Augustine of Hippo Yet Star Differeth From Star In Glory; So Also Resurrection Of Dead. These Are Different Merits Of Saints; If By That Penny Heaven Were Signified, Have Not All Stars In Common To Be In Heaven?
344 – 407 AD St. John Chrystostom There Being Not Only Difference Between Sun, Moon, Stars, But Also Between Stars; Some Have Larger, Others Less Glory. What Do We Learn From Hence? That Although They Be All In God’s Kingdom, All Shall Not Enjoy Same Reward
400 – 500 AD? Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Celestial Hierarchy Of Three Heavens, Each Separated Into Three Additional Groups; From This Order, In Due Degree, Second, & From Second, Third, And From Third Our Hierarchy Religiously Conducted To Beginning Above Beginning, & End Of All Good Order,
300 AD—600 AD (1983 Translation by Mueller and Robins in OTP, vol. 1) Vision of Ezra (Christian Apocalypse) Elect Are Those Who Go Into Eternal Rest On Account Of Confession, Penitence, Largesse In Almsgiving; What Do Just Do In Order That They May Not Enter In Judgment? Just As Servant Who Performed Well For His Master Will Receive Liberty, So Too Will Just In Kingdom Of Heaven
521 AD Jacob of Sarug (451 -521 AD)  Translated By Thomas Kollamparampil 2008 Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on the Resurrection
600 AD Ruth Rabbah 3:3-4 Heavenly Rewards and Heavenly Canopies with Different Numbers of Pearls
600 AD (Wolf Leslau, Translator) Falasha Anthology Translated from Ethiopic Sources (1951) Michael Will Blow Trumpet For Third Time, & All Dead Will Be Resurrected In Twinkling Of An Eye; Glory Of Some Will Be Greater Than Sun, Others Will Stand Up In Honor, Still Others In Misery; King Of Heaven & Earth Will Come & Reward All Men According To Their Deeds
650 AD John Climacus (595-650), Monastic Leader, Mt. Sinai Desert May This Ladder Teach You Spiritual Disposition Of Virtues; I Am At Summit Of Ladder, & As My Great Initiate (St Paul) Said: So Faith, Hope, Love Abide, These Three; But The Greatest Of These Is Love
700 AD Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian) Eastern Christian Monk What is Heaven? – St Isaac of Syria
1000 AD St. Symeon the New Theologian (942-1022) Discourses On Christ’s Resurrection, Extasy In The Light, How Not To Lose The Kingdom Of Heaven, And The Final Reward
1150 AD? St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153) (French abbot & Leader of  order) Il y a Plusieurs Demeures Dans La Maison De Mon Père; Le Sens De Ces Paroles Est, Vous Régnerez Avec Moi Dans La Vie Éternelle En Laquelle il y a Plusieurs Demeures, C’est-À-Dire Plusieurs Dignités; En Cet Heureux Séjour, Autre Est La Clarté Du Soleil, Autre Celle De La Lune, Autre Celles Des Étoiles
1151 AD Peter Lombard (1100—1160AD) Just As Lighting Up Of Bodies Will Be Different, So Glory Of Souls Will Be Different; For Star Differeth From Star, That Is, One Elect, From Another, In Glory Of Mind & Soul
1155 AD Richard Of St. Victor (1110-1173), Leader of Cistercian Order How Third Level Differs From & Rises Above Second; How Fourth Level Differs From & How Much It Rises Above Third
1160 AD Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1166) The Perfection of the Coming Life: Lord Thus Distinguished Various Degrees Even Among The Perfect; You Know That Among Saints There Are Distinctions Of Reward, Just As Of Merit
1208 AD St. Dominic (1170-1221); Catholic Saint and Theologian The Faithful Children Of The Rosary Shall Merit A High Degree Of Glory In Heaven
1208 AD (Oldest Date for Text) Translated Into English By Rev. Dr. Jacques Issaverdens (1901) Concerning The Inquiries Made By The Prophet Esdras Of The Angel Of The Lord Concerning The Souls Of Men; There Are In It Seven Steps Up To The Divinity
1259 AD (Latin); St. Bonaventure (1221 – 1274):  Franciscan Monk, Doctor of Catholic Church These Six Levels of Ascent Are Six Steps Of True Throne Of Solomon By Which One Ascends To Peace; On Six Wings Of Cherub By Which Contemplative Man Grows Strong, Filled With Supreme Wisdom
1290 AD Moses De Leon (or Rabbi Shim’on Bar Yohai) The Multiplicity Of Rewards That Await Mankind In The World To Come In the Zohar
1300 AD Falasha Anthology Translated by Wolf Leslau from Ethiopic Sources (1951) Apocalypse of Gorgorios
1300’s AD Helmut A. Hatzfeld Linguistic Investigation of Old French High Spirituality (1946)
1472 (Italian); 1814 (English) Dante Alighieri  (1265 – 1321):  Italian Poet While There Are Different Degrees Of Reward In Heaven (The Light Shining More In Some Places, In Other Places Less), Light Of God Still Shines Abundantly For All; Dante Sees Divisions Of Heaven; Just As There Are Three Parts To Hell & Purgatory, So Three Parts Of Heaven
1474 (Published in Latin); 1487 (French) Ludolphe le Chartreux / Ludolph of Saxony (c. 1300 — 1378) Catholic Philosopher Des Peines De L’enfer Et De La Gloire Céleste
1510 (Latin) St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) The Happiness Of The Saints And Their Mansions; & Of The Aureoles (Circles Of Light Or Radiance Surrounding The Head Or Body Of Sanctified Persons, Saints & Angels)
1580; 1882 (Spanish); 1888 (English) St. Theresa of Avila (1515 – 1582) The Effects Of The Divine Graces In The Soul; The Inestimable Greatness Of One Degree Of Glory
1600 (Latin); 1864 (First English Translation) St. Francis de Sales (Saint and Doctor of the Church) Each of Blessed In His Own Degree Of Glory, Continually Singing Before God; As Every One Of Saints Had Gifts Of God In Different Way, So Every One Of Blessed Sings His Praises In Different Way, & Yet All Harmonize In One Concert Of Love
1616 (French Publication) St. Francois de Sales (St. Francis de Sales) (1557—1622) Now This Light Of Glory Will Regulate Sight & Contemplation Of Blessed, & According As We Have Less Or More Of That Holy Brightness, We Shall See Less Or More Clearly & Blessedly That Godhead Wherein We Shall Attain To Various Degrees Of Glory
1617; 1832 (Boston) William Fulke (1538-1589) English Puritan divine As Stars Differ In Glory, Not According To Their Merits, But According To God’s Gift In Their Creation, So Bodies Of Saints Shall Differ In Glory, Not According To Their Merits, But According To God’s Free Gift In Resurrection
1622 Jacob Boehme, German Christian Mystic Of Heaven and Hell; a Dialogue Between a Scholar and His Master
1631 John Donne (1572 –  1631):  British Anglican preacher and poet We Deny Not This Difference Of Degrees Of Glory In Heaven; But That Frame, & That Scale Of These Degrees, Which They Have Set Up In Roman Church, We Do Deny
1632 (Latin) John Cameron (1529-1623):  Scottish Calvinist Theologian Fifteen Arguments In Favour Of Heavenly Degrees Of Glory, Each Of Which Carefully Refuted, & Twelve Arguments Against, Which He Defends, Concluding That Elect In Heaven Are Equal In Glory
1651 (French); 1810 (26th English Edition) Charles Drelincourt (1595-1665) Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ Ne Dit Pas Qu’il Y A Plusieurs Étages Ou Plusieurs Appartemens, Dont Les Uns Sont Plus Beaux Et Plus Riches Que Les Autres, Mais Simplement Qu’il Y A Plusieurs Demeures Dans La Maison De Son Père
1651 (French); 1810 (26th English Edition) Charles Drelincourt (1595-1665) As Light Of Firmament Differs Much From That Of Bright Stars; & As Among Stars There Is Diversity Of Light; In Like Manner There Shall Be Divers & Different Degrees Of Glory Amongst Blessed In Heaven
1657 Moïse Amyraut (1596-1664) French Calvinist Protestant theologian and metaphysician De Forte Que Nous Parviendrons A La Gloire Comme Celuy Qui Court En Lice, Qui Void Le But Où Il Tend; Au Lieu Que Nous Parviendrons A Ses Plus Hauts Degrés Comme Les Rameurs, Qui Tournent Toujours Le Dos Au Port Auquel En Fin  Pourtant Ils Arrive
1659 Johann C. Dannhauer (1603-1666) German Philosopher and Theologian (In Response to J. C. Sondershausen) An In Vita Aeterna Futuri Sint Gloriae Gradus? (Answered in Affirmative)
1662; last English publication in 1866 Thomas  Brooks (1608 – 1680): Puritan Clergyman Lastly, To provoke you to labor after higher degrees of holiness, consider that the more holiness you have here—the more happiness you shall have hereafter. The more grace you have on earth—the more glory you shall have in heaven.
1665 John Bunyan (1628 – 1688) In Temple Were Chambers Bigger & Lesser, Higher & Lower, More Inward & More Outward: Which Chambers Were Types Of Mansions That Our Lord Told Us He Went To Prepare For Us
1669 Johannes Cocceius (1603 – 1669) (Dutch religious thinker) A noticeable feature of Cocceius’s account of both eternal punishment & eternal glory is that he spoke repeatedly in terms of steps & degrees (W.J. Van Asselt, 1999)
1686 Johan C. Van Bleiswijkt Geestlyck Graad-boek (“On the Degrees of Future Rewards and Punishments”)
1695 (1815 Publication in Versailles) Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) French Catholic Bishop and Theologian Il y a plusieurs demeures dans la maison de mon Père; s’il n’en était pas ainsi, je vous le dirais.
1695 (died) John Scott, DD., Rector of St. Giles’s in the Fields, London The Christian Life: From Its Beginning to Its Consummation in Glory
1699 Jane Leade (1624 – 1704):  Christian Mystic, Founder of Philadelphian Movement The Ascent to the Mount of Vision
1700 William Burkitt (1650 – 1703) Learn Hence, That There Are Degrees Of Glory In Heaven, Probably According To Measures & Degrees Of Service We Have Done For God On Earth; There Is, No Doubt, An Equality Of Glory There, As To Essentials, But Not With Respect To Accidentals
1701 (First Publication) His Holiness St. Leon, Pope (Actual Name Jean-Baptiste Morvan de Bellegarde) Des degrez pour monter à la Beatitude
1703 (Latin); 1827 (English Translation) Dr. George Bull (1634–1710): English theologian & Bishop of St David’s Different Degrees Of Bliss & Glory In Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom Answer To Different Degrees Of Grace Here Below; Several Objections Against This Doctrine Are Answered
1707 John Norris, M.A. (1657 – 1711)), Rector of Bremerton Church near Serum That There Are Degrees Of Glory, Though By Some Much Contested, Is Yet I Think Most Certain & Unquestionable Truth; Certainty Of Which I Shall Endeavour To Establish Upon These Few Evident Principles
1716 (English); 1826 (English) August Hermann Francke (Important German Pietist Leader) Three Practical Discourses: I. Of The Love Of God. II. Of Charity To The Poor. III. Of The Differing Degrees Of Glory
1717 David Constant de Rebecque (1638-1733): Pastor / Philospher, Lausanne, Switzerland Discours sur les degrés de gloire (Discourse on the Degrees of Glory)
1723; Reprinted in London in 1830 Thomas Green, (Church of England Bishop of Norwich) Of The Different Degrees Of Glory And Happiness In Heaven
1728 Date of Death Joseph Boyse (1660–1728), Presbyterian minister and religious writer Sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:8: The Different Degrees of Future Rewards
1731; 1815 (American Edition in Philadelphia) Thomas Ridgley (c.1576–1656) Whether There Are Degrees Of Glory In Heaven?
1732 John Wesley (1703 – 1791) On The Resurrection of The Dead
1733 Adam Lebrecht Müller Significant investigation of Matters of Eternal Life (Gradus Vitae: Oder Deutliche Untersuchung derer Stuffen des Ewigen Lebens)
1737 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) Many Mansions
1738; republished in 1820 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) Not Only Higher Degrees Of Glory In Heaven, But Heaven Itself, Is Given In Reward For Holiness & Good Works Of Saints; God May Bestow Heaven’s Glory Wholly Out Of Respect To Christ’s Righteousness, & Yet Reward Man’s Inherent Holiness In Different Ways
1739 (English Publication Date) Rev. Dr. Thomas Burnet, British Theologian (1635-1715) Treatise Concerning the State of Departed Souls Before and At and After the Resurrection
1740 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) All Christians Should Follow His Example & Should Not Content Themselves With Thought That They Have Goodness Enough To Carry Them To Heaven, But Should Earnestly Seek High Degrees Of Glory; For Higher Degrees Of Glory Are Promised To Extraordinary Labors For God, For No Other Reason, But That We Should Seek Them
1748 Charles Louis de Villette:  Minister of French Huguenot Church of St. Patrick in Dublin, Ireland Essai sur la Felicite de la Vie a Venir (An Essay on the Felicity of the Life to Come)
1755 John Wesley (1703 – 1791):  English Reformer There Is Inconceivable Variety In Degrees Of Reward In Other World; Let Not Any Slothful One Say, If I Get To Heaven At All, I Will Be Content; Such A One May Let Heaven Go Altogether
1756; 1822 (American Publication) William Law (1686-1761), English cleric and theological writer Whilst We Are Labouring After Christian Perfection, We Are Labouring For Eternity, Building To Ourselves Higher Stations In Joys Of Heaven
1756 (London and Boston) John Gill, British Baptist Calvinist Theologian (1697 – 1771) The Glorious State of the Saints in Heaven
1757 Publication Date John Conybeare, D.D. (1692-1755) Episcopal Bishop of Exeter Sermon on 1st John 3:2: Different Degrees of Happiness in a Future State
1758 Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) New England Stone Carving And Its Symbols (Allen I. Ludvig, 1975)
1758 (Teubingen) Johann Friedricht Cotta Dissertatio Historico-Theologica Prior de Diversis Gradibus Gloriae Beatorum
1758 (Latin) Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1722) Heaven and Its Wonders and Hell (excerpts)
1759 (England); Reprinted 1813 (England) Isaac Watts (1674-1748) English Non-Conforming Protestant Theologian and Author of Hymns The World To Come; Or Discourses On The Joys Or Sorrows Of Departed Souls At Death, And The Glory Or Terror Of The Resurrection
1770 John Flavel  (1627 – 1691):  English Presbyterian clergyman and scholar We Reject With Abhorrence Popish Doctrine Of Diversity Of Glories As Founded In Diversity Of Merits
1770 Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778) British Calvinistic divine and author, a Premillennialist The Millenium and Degrees of Glory
1773 Johann Friedricht Cotta Dissertatio Dogmatico-Polemica de Diversis Gradibus Gloriae Beatorum
1793 Charles Louis de Villette:  Minister of French Church of St. Patrick in Dublin, Ireland An Essay on the Felicity of the Life to Come
1797 Publication date James Hervey  (1714 – 1758)  British Calvinistic Clergyman In World Above Are Various Degrees Of Happiness, Various Seats Of Honour – Some Will Rise To More Illustrious Distinctions And Richer Joys
1797 Johann Friedrich Flatt (1759 – 1821) German theologian and philosopher Remarks about the proportion of morality and Felicitousness in relation to the doctrine of Christianity (Bemerkungen uber die proportion der Sittlichtkeit und Glukseeligkeit in Beziehung auf die lehre des Christenthums von der kunktigen Seeligkeit gebesserter Menschen)
1805 Publication Date Philip Doddridge (1702 -1751) There Shall Indeed Be Some Difference In Degree Of That Glory, Correspondent To Different Excellencies In Characters Of Good Men
1807 Solomon Chamberlain (Early Convert to Mormonism) Chamberlain’s Vision of Three Heavens
1808 Publication date Joseph Hall (1633-1710), Bishop of Exeter and Norwich, England Discoursing Of Different Degrees Of Heavenly Glory; Of Our Mutual Knowledge Of Each Other Above
1809 Publication Date In London Samuel Drew (1765-1833) British Wesleyen Theologian Essay on the Identity and General Resurrection of the Human Body
1820 Publication (Edinburgh, Scotland) Hugh Blair, Scottish Theologian (1718 – 1800) Sermon X – On The Immortality Of The Soul, and A Future State.
1820 Editor: Samuel C. Loveland The Christian Repository, (Universalist Journal published in Vermont) Magazine Masthead: In my Father’s house are many mansions.—Jesus
1821 Letter to the Editor Covenant That Assigns To Greater Degrees Of Grace Here, Greater Degrees Of Glory Hereafter
1822 Publication date Henry Kollock  (1778-1819): Pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church Sermon 82:  Degrees of Glory in Heaven
1824 Publication date John Angell James  (1785-1859):  British Congregational Minister and prolific author Many Mansions & Degrees of Glory in Resurrection
1829 Alexander Campbell; Founder of Campbellite Restorationist Movement The Three Kingdoms
1830 St. Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church: Sections on the life-to-come and Heavenly Rewards
1832—1835 Joseph Smith (1805-1844) Doctrine and Covenants 76 Sources
1833 (London) Richard Mant, D.D., M.R.I.A. (1776-1848) Lord Bishop of Down and Conner; English churchman and writer Different Degrees Of Happiness Among The Blessed
1833 (Cambridge; Available in U.S.) Bernard Whitman (Calvinist Scholar) Friendly Letters to a Universalist on Divine Rewards and Punishments
1835 Joseph Smith (1805 – 1844) The Three Degrees of Glory (D&C Section 76)
1837 Rev. Stephen Remington (Methodist Episcopal Pastor, New York) Gift Of God, Which Is Eternal Life, Contrasted With Wages Of Sin, Which Is Death, Closed With Objections Against Universalism
1837 Thomas Jefferson Sawyer (1804 – 1899), Universalist Minister and Educator Letters to Stephen Remington in Review of his Lectures on Universalism
1843 W.W. Phelps or Joseph Smith (1805-1844) The Answer to W.W. Phelps, Esq.: A Vision
1844 Hosea Ballou 2nd  (1796- 1861) son of Universalist Founder Article 11 – In My Father’s House are Many Mansions
1844 Joseph Smith Nauvoo Address on Resurrection
1848 Publication date John Angell James  (1785-1859):  British Congregational Minister High State Of Religion In World, Exalted State Of Honor & Happiness In World To Come; Different Degrees Of Glory In Celestial Kingdom
1850 Henry Bidleman Bascom  (1796—1850) (Methodist Episcopal Bishop) Different Degrees Of Glory Affirmed With Regard To Inhabitants Of Heaven, Not Inconsistent With Preceding Views
1859 John Angell James  (1785-1859):  British Congregational Minister Different Degrees of Glory
1860 President Brigham Young (1801—1877) The Three Glories
1860 Octavius Winslow (1808—1878) Calvinist Baptist Author Help Heavenward (1860) Chapter  “The Clouds of the Christian, the Chariot of God”
1860 J.C. Ryle (1816—1900) (Evangelical Anglican Bishop of Liverpool) Eternity!
1860 J.C. Ryle (1816 – 1900) (Evangelical Anglican Bishop of Liverpool) Expository Thoughts On John 23  (1860)
1864 William Branks (1812-1879) Meet for Heaven: A State of Grace Upon Earth the Only Preparation for a State of Glory in Heaven
1877 F W Farrar, British Pastor and Theological Writer (1831—1903) Sermon IV – Are there Few that Be Saved?
1880 Elder Orson Pratt, Apostle The Power Of God To Communicate Intelligence—Difference In Capacity Between The Mortal And The Immortal—The Future Of Man, Etc
1881 President Wilford Woodruff (1807—1898) “Vision” Revelation Gives More Light, More Truth, More Principle Than Any Revelation Contained In Any Other Book
1881 l’abbé Charles Arminjon (1824-1885)  (French Catholic Spiritual Leader) Fin du monde présent et mystères de la vie future
1882 Marcel Bouix (1806-1889) (French Catholic Spiritual Leader) Que l’Union des Bienheureux avec Dieu aura Différents Degrés
1888 President Charles W. Penrose (1832—1925), First Presidency Justice Tempered with Mercy; Loss Sustained by Disobedient; Doom of the Sons of Perdition; Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial Glories; Redemption & Glorification of Earth; Salvation of Whole Race
1897 St. Therese of Lisieux (1873—1897) (French Catholic Saint) In Heaven God Will Give His Chosen Their Fitting Glory, Last Will Have No Reason To Envy First
1897 St. Therese of Lisieux (1873—1897) (French Catholic Saint) I Desire To Fulfill Perfectly Thy Holy Will, And To Reach The Degree Of Glory Thou Hast Prepared For Me In Thy Kingdom
1898 Alexander Maclaren (1826—1910): Leader Of English Non-Conformist Baptists Many Mansions
1902 Theological Quarterly, Evangelical Lutheran Church Eschatology
1902 Pastor D. L. Moody Heaven: Its Riches
1913 Charles George Herbermann, Catholic Scholar Individual Eschatology
1918 President Joseph F. Smith Vision of the Redemption of the Dead
1918 Joseph Casimir Sasia, S.J. (“Society of Jesus” – Jesuit Catholic) Chapter 18 – The Various Degrees of Merit
1922 Melvin J. Ballard The Three Degrees of Glory
1936 Fr. Reg. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. La charité parfaite et les beatitudes (1er janvier 1936)
1941 C. S. Lewis The Weight of Glory
1942 N. B. Lundwall The Vision Or The Degrees of Glory: Eternity Sketched in a Vision from God
1947 Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. ((1877 – 1964), Philosopher / Theologian at Vatican Degrees Of Pain In Hell; Our Immortal Soul Reunited Forever To That Body, Though In Different Degrees Of Merit & Demerit; Degree Of Our Life In Eternity Depends On Degree Of Our Merits At Moment Of Death; There Are Many Mansions In The Father’s House Corresponding To Varied Merits
1949 E. Cecil McGavin Chapter 13: The Vision of Glories
1955 LaVerne Wesley Hofer, Biola University Degrees In Reward And Punishment (Thesis at Biola University)
1961 Sterling W. Sill (1903—1994): Assistant to Quorum of the Twelve The Glory of the Sun & A Journey through Hell
1964 Craig J. Ostler and Joseph Fielding McConkie Section 76: Revelations of the Restoration
1971 (1830’s  Period LDS Beliefs) Robert J. Matthews The New Translation of the Bible 1830 – 1833: Doctrinal Developments (Degrees of Glory and the Bible Translation)
1974 Robert J. Woodford (Ph.D Dissertation) Section 76, in The Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants (Volumes I-III)
1984 Larry E. Dahl The Vision of the Glories (D&C 76)
1985 (1830’s Period LDS Beliefs) Grant Underwood Saved Or Damned: Tracing a Persistent Protestantism in Early Mormon Thought
1986 Robert L. Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie Many Mansions  (Chapter)
1987 D. Michael Quinn “The Vision”
1991 Dr. Emma Disley Degrees of Glory: Protestant Doctrines and the Concept of Rewards Hereafter
1992 John MacArthur Jr. Different Degrees of Reward in Heaven and Punishment in Hell
1992 Larry E. Dahl Degrees of Glory (Encyclopedia of Mormonism)
1992 Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Then CES Coordinator, Irvine, California “Eternity Sketch’d in a Vision”: the Poetic Version of Doctrine & Covenants 76
1992 Craig Blomberg Degrees Of Reward In The Kingdom Of Heaven?
1993 J .I. Packer There Will Be Different Degrees Of Blessedness And Reward In Heaven
1993 Alister McGrath Whether There Are Relative Grades Or Ranks Among Those In Heaven
1994 John Brooke Chapter 8: The Mysteries Defined (Including Section 76)
1994 Dr. Michael Hicks Joseph Smith, W. W. Phelps, and the Poetic Paraphrase of “The Vision”
1994 William J. Hamblin, George L. Mitton, and Daniel C. Peterson A Review Of “The Refiner’s Fire: The Making Of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844” By John L. Brooke
1995 (1830’s  Period LDS Beliefs) Daniel Peterson Review Of Grant Underwood, Saved Or Damned? Regarding Belief In Degrees Of Glory By Some Early Converts To Mormonism
1996 Bob Wilkin, Executive Director, Grace Evangelical Society The Biblical Distinction Between Eternal Salvation And Eternal Rewards:  A Key to Proper Exegesis
1998 R. C. Sproul There Will Be Degrees Of Blessedness In Heaven
1998 Robert L. Millet Chapter 2 – More Kingdoms Than One
1999 Dr. Barry R. Bickmore Three Degrees of Glory and Outer Darkness
2001 Stephen H. Robinson and H. Dean Garrett Section 76
2001 LDS Institute Manual, Doctrine and Covenants Section 76 –  The Vision of the Degrees of Glory
2001 Randy Alcorn The Randy Alcorn Treasure Principle
2002 Bruce Wilkinson A Life God Rewards:  Why Everything You Do Today Matters Forever
2002 Craig J. Hazen The Apologetic Impulse In Early Mormonism: More Reasonable Beliefs
2002 Asher Intrater (Messianic Jewish Leader in Isreal) Rewards in Heaven
2002 Wayne Jackson, Editor, “Christian Courier” (Church of Christ) Are There Degrees of Blessedness and Punishment in Eternity?
2002 Craig Miller Did Emanuel Swedenborg Influence LDS Doctrine? (excerpts)
2005 Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Degrees of Heaven / Hell
2005 Robert L. Millet A Different Jesus?  The Christ of  the Latter-day Saints – Degrees of Glory
2005 Dr. Richard L. Bushman “The Vision,” in Chapter Ten: Exaltation (1832-33)
2005 Elder B. Renato Maldonado, Area Authority Seventy, South America North Area Messages from the Doctrine and Covenants:  The Three Degrees of Glory
2006 Blake Ostler Soteriology in LDS Thought  – The Vision
2006 Fr. Stephen Salaris, Father in the Antiochian Orthodox Church “Sneak Previews” of the Heavenly Kingdom
2007 Marc A. Schindler Heaven and Hell (on FAIRlds website at this link.)
2007 L.G., Blogger, Biola University Student Rewards and Punishment
2008 J. B. Haws Joseph Smith, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Section 76: Importance of the Bible in Latter-day Revelation
2008 Casey Paul Griffiths Universalism and the Revelation of Joseph Smith
2008 Dr. David Reim, Lutheran Pastor and “Confessional” (Traditionalist) LutheranTheologian, B.C., Canada Examining and Applying the Scriptural Teaching of Rewards
2009 http://www.gospeldoctrine.org (Outstanding Independent Site for Gospel Doctrine Teachers) DC 76   Historical Background
2009 Brandon Washington, Outstanding Black Pastor and Theology Student at Denver Seminary Eternity, Life After Death – pt. 3 of 4 © 2009 The Lamppost
2009 (December) John Tvedtnes Three Degrees of Glory

Source Documents

Old Testament / First and Second Temple Period

Rachel Elior

The Merkavah and the Sevenfold Pattern

The Three Temples (2009 Publication)

Chapter One – The Merkavah and the Sevenfold Pattern

It seems that they consider the number as the principle of things, in respect both of matter; and of their changes and situations … And all these seven heavens, as it is said, are number.

The Merkavah

THE origins of the Merkavah concept lie in the Chariot Throne of the cherubim, whose divine pattern or prototype was shown to Moses in heaven and whose first representation in a cultic context is as ‘two cherubim of gold’, with out­stretched wings, mounted on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant in the desert sanctuary. In the Holy of Holies (devir) of Solomon’s Temple, two gold-plated cherubim shielded the cover of the Ark with their wings; their appearance, revealed to David in a vision as a divine pattern, is described in the parallel passage in Chronicles, which explicitly links the cherubim with the heavenly Chariot Throne: ‘for the pattern of the chariot—the cherubim—those with outspread wings screening the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord’. The various traditions that pictured the cherubim as screening the Ark differ in their particulars: some place them above the cover of the Ark, others have them standing before it; common to all is the fact that their four wings touched. The divinely patterned chariot of the cherubim in the First Temple’s Holy of Holies, the supposed throne of the Deity or site of his revelation in the Temple, did not survive the destruction, but lived on in mystical memory, which linked its cosmic prototype with its ritual meaning, and was perpetuated in prophetic and priestly traditions and in liturgical testimony. In these traditions, the very word merkavah became a symbolic concept expressive of the Holy of Holies and the Temple, both as a whole and in detail; it figured both in the divine prototype of the Temple (the supernal Heikhalot and their angelic cult), and in the memory of its earthly archetype (the Temple and its priests); its roots lay in the numinous foundations of an ancient ritual tradition that forged a bond between heaven and earth.

Biblical tradition explicitly ascribed the origins of the Merkavah to a divine pattern or prototype. The visionary tradition of the Merkavah repeatedly empha­sized its four faces, while post-biblical tradition associated this divine prototype, facing all four points of the compass, with the universe and its microcosmic cultic representations: the Merkavah represented the annual cyclic cosmic order of time, based on a chronotopic fourfold axis unifying time and space. This unified space-time concept governed the fourfold cycle of seasons in nature, the four winds of the heavens’, the ‘four foundations of the wondrous firmament’, and other mul­tiples and derivatives of four in fixed proportions to the twelve months of the year. Thus, there were twelve diagonal divisions of the universe, twelve signs of the zodiac and forty-eight constellations, twenty-four hours in a day, twenty-four priestly and angelic courses performing their sacral duties, and `twenty-four myriad thousand miles’. All these divisions derived from the divine chronotopic division melding time and place; they represented unifying links between the cosmic, the chronotopic, and the ritual, or between cycles of nature and cycles of time as reflected in the cultic order.

The Merkavah reflected time as the mystery of the creative process in nature, the eternal, divine order of Creation as embodied in fixed numerical proportions of cycles of time. Its constituent parts formed a multidimensional, concrete repres­entation, in cultic terms, of the great clock of nature with its numerous fourfold subdivisions, whose interrelations were based on a fixed cyclic order that trans­formed time and place in accordance with the four seasons of the year. Correlated with this cosmic order was a fixed, fourfold order of ritual which observed the solar calendar; the latter was divided into 364 days, fifty-two sabbaths, and four equal quarters of ninety-one days—the annual seasons—each consisting of thirteen sabbaths (see below).

The Merkavah was thus a representation of the ritual order of cyclic ritual time, measured in sabbaths of days, i.e. weeks. But the four annual seasons in turn sub­divided in accordance with a fixed sevenfold cyclic order; similarly, the concept of sacred cosmic place was also associated with a fixed sevenfold axis. The cyclic axis of sacred time derived from the seven days of Creation; accordingly, there are seven days in a week, counted in `Sabbaths of days’; seven days of service performed by each priestly course serving in the Temple; seven days of consecration (miluim; see Lev. 8: B); and seven-week intervals between harvesting times (see below). The fixed spatial axis of sacred place, on the other hand, was embodied in seven firma­ments, seven heikhalot, seven devirim, and seven merkavot.

The Merkavah tradition, then, established a chronotopic synchronization between the fourfold cycle and the sevenfold cycle, in regard to sacred time and sacred place alike, as a manifestation of the creative process of nature; the eternal, cyclic, cosmic order was preordained in terms of set times and testimonies, a divine pattern maintained by angelic forces. This tradition was preserved by priests and angels, all observing a hallowed solar calendar based on these two cycles, to which ritual and liturgy conformed in both earthly Temple and supernal Heikhalot. Thus, sacred time was reflected on a microcosmic ritual scale by the natural cosmic order and the divine order in the calendar of seasons, weeks, and set times (= festivals), correlated with a cyclic order of liturgy; while sacred place was similarly reflected by various sevenfold, fourfold, and twelvefold ritual representations linking the Earthly Temple with the supernal worlds. All these elements came together in the sacred service as performed on earth by the priests and in the heavens by the angels, all guardians of the sacred heritage.

The origins of the mystical Merkavah tradition lie in the vision of the exiled priest Ezekiel son of Buzi, who prophesied towards the end of the First Temple period. Deported from Jerusalem to Babylonia with Jehoiachin, he saw a vision in which the Chariot Throne and its cultic representations in the ruined Temple assumed a divine dimension, to become the Merkavah, combining various ele­ments from the Holy of Holies and the Temple courts into an eternal, visionary, cosmic entity transcending the limits of time and space. In addition to the heaven­ly Chariot Throne, Ezekiel also envisioned the future earthly Temple, whose service was entrusted exclusively—as Ezekiel repeatedly stressed—to the priests of the House of Zadok.

The next stage in the Merkavah tradition was the mystical vision of seceding priestly circles, who were barred from serving in the Second Temple in the last centuries BCE because of fundamental dissension concerning the sanctity of time and place and polemical disputes about sabbath and festivals, calendar and cult. Having withdrawn, as a consequence, from the earthly Temple, these circles, who called themselves ‘sons of Zadok, the priests’, ministered in their mind’s eye, together with their angelic counterparts, in a divine Chariot Throne which, inspired by Ezekiel’s Merkavah vision and the tradition of the Temple service, they recreated in their writings in poetic and visionary terms. The Zadokite priests are referred to by a variety of priestly epithets: in the Community Rule; in the `Rule for all the congregation of Israel …, when they shall join the Community to walk according to the law of the sons of Zadok the priests’, in a Qumran scroll known as the Damascus Document, which calls them `the sons of Zadok, the priests …, behold they are the interpretation of the last Law’; in the fragments of the Damascus Document found in the Cairo Genizah; in the War Scroll; and in other Qumranie works. They served together with their mystical angelic counter­parts, referred to in Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice in typically priestly terms: `priests of the inner sanctum (kohanei korev) who serve before the King of holiest holiness’, ‘Priests of the inner sanctum in his royal sanctuary, ministers of the Presence in his glorious &via’, ‘priests of the highest of high’, ‘Angels of Holiness’, `chief priests’, ‘seven priestly factions for the wondrous Temple’, `Chief Princes’, and ‘Chiefs of the Princes of Wondrous Priesthoods’. The terrestrial chief priests, who had withdrawn from the Temple, and the heavenly priests of the inner sanctum, who were painted with a clearly priestly brush, sang together, in a perma­nent cyclic order, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice; in a regular, prescribed daily, weekly, monthly order of set times they recited psalms, songs, hymns, and Kedushahs, shared by angels and men. They did all this in a cyclic, weekly order of liturgy, governed by the ritual solar calendar of weeks (sabbaths) and quarterly seasons, and correlated with the order of priestly courses, also subdivided in con­formity with sabbaths and multi-annual cycles, and named after the new months and the festivals.

The last stage of the Merkavah tradition in ancient mystical literature was formulated by certain circles of priestly affiliation, active after the destruction of the Second Temple, who composed the Heikhalot literature in the first centuries CE. The protagonists of this literature—known as ‘descenders of (or to) the Chariot’ and associated with the high priest Rabbi Ishmael’ and with Rabbi Akiva, who `entered the Pardes’ (an expression symbolizing engagement in esoteric specula­tion pertaining to the heavenly sanctuaries)—aimed to perpetuate the destroyed Temple and its cult through their vision, by `descending’ to the Chariot Throne and `ascending’ to the supernal Heikhalot—that is, heavenly temples or sanctu­aries. There they met their mystical counterparts: the ministering angels, the angels of glory and the angels on high, as well as the high priest of the supernal worlds, Enoch son of Jared, also known as Metatron, the mystical angelic pro­tagonist of the priestly literature from Qumran. The angels who serve in those supernal worlds bathe and purify themselves, sing and recite the Kedushah, exalt, bless with holy names, the kindle fiery flames, thus perpetuating the priestly and Temple ceremonies in the seven supernal sanctuaries, the Heikhalot.

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Ezekiel 40 – 42 as Verbal Icon – Steven Tuell

Ezekiel 40-42 as Verbal Icon

Steven S. Tuell
Randolph-Macon College Ashland, VA 23005
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 58, 1996

In the last great vision of the prophet Ezekiel, an angelic figure guides the- prophet through a temple complex, carefully (though selectively) measuring the walls, gates, and chambers. For all its detail and precision, the visionary report remains curiously laconic as to the appearance or purpose of the courts and chambers marked off by the guide, and nothing at all is said of the reason why this temple was revealed to Ezekiel. Readers of the text have filled the gap with a variety of proposals about the purpose of this vision report. Most scholars have deemed Ezekiel 40-42 to be either a pre-exilic temple blueprint ‘preserved in archival fashion by the prophet or a building proposal for the restored temple — although adherents of the latter view differ in their answers to the question whether the temple was meant to be built by the exiles upon their return to the land or by Yhwh, at the end of time. After these proposals have been considered, another one will be advanced in this study: that the text be seen as a report of an ascent to the heavenly temple by reading this report, Ezekiel’s audience could share in the prophet’s experience of transcendent reality and so be given access to the presence of Yhwh. Ezekiel 40-42 would have functioned, for them, as a verbal icon.

I. Ezekiel 40-42 as a Pre-exilic Blueprint
In Ezekiel 40-42 the various structures of the temple are generally mea­sured in two-dimensional outline, as if on a blueprint. Indeed, complex three-dimensional descriptions in the vision report (such as 40:5; 41:5-15a; 42:1-12) are often regarded as secondary expansions.1 This has prompted many scholars to conclude that Ezekiel’s vision is in fact based on a plan or blue­print of the first temple which he had either preserved himself or found in the archives.2

It is unlikely, however, that Ezekiel was working from an actual pre-exilic blueprint. First, the prophet’s visionary experience is definitely three-dimensional. As he is guided through the eastern gate, he describes the palm trees carved on its pilasters and the windows set in the walls of the gate chambers; furthermore, Ezekiel observes that the width of the eastern gate was measured “from the roof of the chamber to its roof” (40:13), that is, across the ceiling of the gateway.3 We are dealing with a complex, three-dimensional structure, even if it is generally measured only in two dimensions.4 Second, the design found in Ezekiel 40-42 is highly impractical. The massive fortified gates of the complex, for example, are out of all proportion to its relatively scant walls.5 Finally, Ezekiel’s vision does not conform to the pattern of the first temple. While the tripartite structure of Ezekiel’s temple is reminiscent of the Solomonic temple, the temple complex Ezekiel describes is not Solomon’s: for instance, there is no bronze sea in the forecourt of Ezekiel’s temple.6 In fact, nothing like Ezekiel’s temple ever existed. Ezekiel’s temple plan is hybrid, combining different sorts of struc­tures into a wholly unique form. As the prophet himself tells us (40:1), he is describing a vision, But granting that the vision of Ezekiel is a vision and not a blueprint, what is its purpose?

II Ezekiel 40-42 as a Post-exilic Building Proposal
Many commentators have understood Ezekiel 40-42 as an idealistic vision of the restored temple, to be built after the return from exile. If this is so, then the report of the vision is essentially a building proposal.7 The impracticality of the design does not in itself rule out this possibility. The temple complex depicted in the Temple Scroll from Qumran, for example, is architecturally realistic, despite its massive scale.8 However, information essen­tial for the construction of Ezekiel’s temple (for instance, the height of the buildings) is lacking.9 Avigdor Hurowitz argues that not too much should be made of such gaps, which are also present in other biblical descriptions of a temple.10 “The degree to which the biblical author has achieved or missed his goal of concretization,” Horowitz urges, “should not influence our appreci­ation of what the goal actually was.”11 One must observe, nevertheless, that the temple vision, for all its detail, cannot serve as an adequate blueprint for an actual building. The detailed description serves to give us an overwhelming sense of the symmetry and order in the temple’s design. It also enables us to share in Ezekiel’s experience, to see in our mind’s eye what he sees. But we cannot even begin to construct Ezekiel’s temple on the basis of these measurements.

A. Stories of Building Projects in Israel and the Ancient Near East
The most decisive argument against reading Ezekiel 40-42 as a building program is that it nowhere claims to he a building program. Nowhere in this text do we find either a decision to build the temple or a divine permission given for its building. Horowitz, in his recent survey of Mesopotamian and Northwest Semitic stories of building projects, observes a typical pattern it in these accounts:
I. The circumstance of the project and the decision to build
2. Preparations, such as drafting workmen, gathering materials
3. Description of the building
4. The dedication rites and festivities
5. Blessing and (or) prayer of the king
6. Blessing and curses of future generations12

The form is flexible (in particular, parts 5 and 6 are often missing), but in every building story Horowitz considers, one finds a decision to build—either in response to divine decree, or as a result of the god responding favorably to the king’s desire to build. In the text of the Gudea cylinders the temple of Ningirsu at Lagash is built in accordance with a dream vision of Gudea interpreted by Nina, the main priestess of the gods.13 Similarly, in the Ugaritic Baal cycle Baal’s desire to build a temple cannot be carried out until a decree is issued by ‘El.14 This pattern also holds in the biblical temple building texts. Moses, like Judea, is shown the plan for a sanctuary and receives an explicit divine command to build it (Exod 25:8-9). Similarly, though Yhwh denies David permission to build a temple in Jerusalem (2 Sam 7:4-7; I Chr 22:7-8; 28:1-4), David’s son Solomon is appointed to this task (2 Sam 7:13; I Kgs 5:17-19; I Chr 22:5-6,9-19; 28:5-29:19,” 2 Chr 1:18­2:9).15 Even the Qumran Temple Scroll contains, implicitly, the decision to build the structure the scroll describes, in obedience to a divine decree.16 In Ezekiel 40-42 there is no such decision or decree. Though Horowitz describes Ezekiel 40 – 42 as “a detailed divine command concerning the rebuilding of the temple and the restoration of the cult,”(17) the text itself contains no such command, but simply presents the dimensions of the visionary temple.

B. An Alternate Genre: The Building Description
The closest parallels to Ezekiel’s description of the temple are not the mythological or biblical texts considered above but another set of descriptive texts, discussed by Horowitz, which are typified by the detailed measurement of structures.18 The first text of this type considered by Horowitz is from the Esagila Tablet. It is a detailed description of two temple chambers, and it appears to be a school text, perhaps an exercise in geometry or surveying.19 Two other examples are the description of the Temple of Resh in Uruk and a description of Babylon found on the obverse of a drawing of the city, both of which may be official surveyors’ reports20 The fourth building description of this type discussed by Horowitz, the description of Esagila and Ezida from Assur, may represent written instructions given to builders; however, it de­scribes an existing structure, which is to be either repaired or duplicated21 The last building descriptions considered by Horowitz, three temple descrip­tions from Hall 115 at Mari, give the floor plans in two dimensions, for three temples.22 These texts too, according to Horowitz, are not building plans but appear to represent a descriptive inventory.

Note that all of these texts are descriptions of existing structures. While Horowitz cites them as background for understanding the concrete detail presented in all the biblical descriptions of a temple, the texts from Exodus, Kings, and Chronicles are explicitly presented as commands, to build. This command is lacking in Ezekiel, which, like the Mesopotamian descriptions mentioned above, simply presents the dimensions of a structure.23 I will argue that this similarity has great significance for the meaning and function of Ezekiel 40-42. For now, it is sufficient to observe that, judging from the comparison of Ezekiel 40-42 with stories of building projects in the Hebrew Bible and across the ancient Near East, Ezekiel’s vision does not fit into this genre.

III. Ezekiel 40-42 as an Eschatological Building Program
One way to salvage the idea of Ezekiel 40.42 as a building program is to project the vision upon the end time. 24 In this reading no command to build is required, for the temple Ezekiel describes is the eschatological temple which Yhwh will build in the last days. Certainly, there is much in the text to commend such a reading. Its very setting, atop a very high mountain, evokes the final transformation of the world, when Zion will at last be re­vealed as the cosmic mountain, the center of the earth (Ezek 40:1; cp. Isa 2:2-5; Mic 4:1-4; Zech 14:10).25 The absence of any command or decision to build also makes sense in this view, since the eschatological temple is to be built by Yhwh, not by human hands.26 Finally, the appropriation of Ezekiel’s visions in historical apocalypses such as those of Daniel (especially Daniel 7 and Daniel 10) and of Revelation (Rev I I :I; 21:10-21; 22:1-6) gives evidence that Ezekiel 40-48 was read eschatologically.

Against this reading must be posed the literary setting of the temple vision in Ezekiel’s prophecy. This may seem a strange claim: one could argue that the literary setting of the vision report requires a futuristic interpretation. The vision comes, after all, as the climax of the messages of hope in Ezekiel 33-­39, and it immediately follows the description of Yhwh’s final victory over Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39). Indeed, Joseph Blenkinsopp argues that this vision is the fulfillment of the eschatological promise in Ezek 37:26b-27 (NRSV): “I will bless and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they stall be my people.” 27

We have a still more compelling literary connection, and Ezekiel 40-42 must be understood in terms of it. Ezek 40:1 opens with an introductory formula common in Ezekiel’s prophecy, a date formula specific to the day,28 but in this case the date is followed by the formula for expressing prophetic ecstasy (“the hand of Yhwh was upon me”) and the specification “in visions of God.” 29 These three formulas appear together only two other times in Ezekiel: in 1:1-3 (the call vision) and 8:1-3 (the vision of the abominations). Chapters 1-3, 8-11, and 40-48 are also linked both by mutual reference (8:2 recalls the vision by the river Chebar; 43:3 refers to the river and to the vision of Jerusalem’s destruction) and by the image of the glory (kavod). Chaps. 40-48 and 8-11 are further linked in a pattern of exit and entrance: the kavod exits the Jerusalem temple by the eastern gate in 11:22, and it enters the visionary temple by the eastern gate in 43:4-5. We have, then, an interconnected network of three visions which stand as the milestones of Ezekiel’s ministry and as key points in the structure of his hook. The vision in Ezekiel 40-48 is closely related to the earlier visions, and it demands interpretation on the same terms.

The central issue in all three visions appears to be the divine presence, expressed in priestly terms as the 11=. In his inaugural vision Ezekiel experiences the kavod as a commissioning agent calling him to he a prophet (2:3 3:1 I). In his second vision, the TM] is removed from the temple in Jerusalem (9:3; 10:4,18-19; 11:22-23), an act which leaves the city open to judgment at the hands of the destroyers (9:1-1 IT Now, in his final vision, the prophet sees the mix once more, entering the visionary temple and issuing a promise: “0 human, this is the place of my throne and my footstool, where it will dwell in the midst of the people Israel forever” (43:7a). The explicit reference to the throne of God calls up the imagery of the throne-chariot in 1:15-25 and 10:9-19. The footstool of Yhwh is ordinarily the ark; thus, 43:7a recalls the departure of Yhwh from the cherub throne over the ark in the most holy place (9:3). Significantly, there is neither cherub throne nor ark in the inner room of Ezekiel’s visionary temple (41:3-, 4,15b-20): they are not needed, for Yhwh arrives already on the throne in his chariot. The promise in 43:7a marks the climax of Ezekiel’s book. Now at last the divine presence is manifested among Yhwh’s people, never to be withdrawn.

Given the close association of the three visions, one is prompted to look among them for a parallel to this promise. We find a likely point of contact in11:14-16.30 Here, the prophet addresses the arrogant claims of those who remain in Jerusalem. The inhabitants of the city say that the exiles are now far from ‘The heritage of these outcasts has been abandoned for those left behind to claim. To this Yhwh says,”l will be for them a sanctuary in small measure in the lands where they gone.”31 Far from abandoning the exiles, Yhwh has abandoned Jerusalem. Yhwh will be found instead in the midst of the true house of Israel, which now consists of the community in exile (I 1:15). The vision in Ezekiel 40-42 represents the fulfillment of these words. Despite the collapse of state and cult, Yhwh resolves to be with the exiles, just as he had promised.

IV. Ezekiel 40-42 as a Heavenly Ascent
As has already been observed, Ezekiel in his vision walked through an existing structure. Among the numerous texts cited by Hurowitz, the closest formal parallels to the building description itself appear likewise to be descriptions of existing structures. While one could of course argue that the prophets frequently speak of future events as already accomplished (the famous “prophetic perfect”), one must at any rate acknowledge that Ezekiel’s vision is not explicitly given a future setting. Those elements in the vision that have been so interpreted, particularly the very high mountain and the river of life, are capable of another interpretation that has been little explored. Ezekiel in his vision is guided through a “real” structure, though not an earthly one. The temple of the vision is, I propose, the heavenly archetype, the real temple, of which the temple of Jerusalem was but a shadow. 32

A. The Idea of the Heavenly Plinth’ in Israel and the A anent Near East
The concept of the heavenly temple has deep roots in the temple ideologies of the ancient Near East. The earthly temple was understood to be the material counterpart of the divine dwelling place and, hence, to correspond symbolically to the cosmic mountain where the god lived, the mythic center of the world. This correspondence was guaranteed by precise adherence of the earthly temple to the pattern of the heavenly temple. Hence, in Babylon, the foundation lines of a temple could not be disturbed. When a temple was repaired or rebuilt, the dimensions of the former structure had to he duplicated; otherwise, the temple failed to correspond to its ideal counterpart and could not function as a connecting point with divine reality. 33

That the idea of a heavenly original for the earthly shrine was present in ancient Israel as well is demonstrated in the revelation of the shrine’s pattern (man) to Moses (Exod 25:8-9). Cross and others have propose MB the him was a depiction of the heavenly shrine itself, the very dwelling of Yhwh.34 On the basis of I Chr 28:11-12 (where man refers to a written text) and extrabiblical parallels, Hurowitz argues that the tavnit cannot be an actual structure but must refer rather to a model or plan35 Even if this is the case, the model was presumably not chosen at random.

Numerous illustrations can be cited from the Hebrew Scriptures for the idea that the earthly temple corresponds to the heavenly temple. The ancient poem in 1 Kgs 8:12-13 explicitly describes the temple of Jerusalem as an earthly dwelling place for Yhwh corresponding to the Sell’, the incomprehensible, inaccessible cloud of God’s heavenly dwelling (cf. Exod 20:18; Ps 97:2; Job 22:12-14). In Ps 46:5, Zion is described as a source of waters, calling to mind the dwelling place of ‘El as it is described in CTA 4,4.2I-22: mbk nhrm/ qrb apq thmtm, “at the source of the twin rivers; in the midst of the pools of the double deep.” Ps 48:2 explicitly identifies Zion with Zaphon, the mythic home of Bag. Presumably, then, the man was understood as corresponding to the ideal shrine, whether Moses was given a vision of that structure or not.

B. Heavenly Ascents in Biblical and Extrabiblical Literature
The idea of a journey to the heavenly temple is not without parallel. In Isa 6:1, Isaiah ben Amoz is evidently transported from the temple of Jerusalem into the divine original temple, which vastly surpasses its earthly counterpart; the prophet says that the mere edge of Yhwh’s royal robes filled the earthly temple. Most explicitly, the Enochic literature of the second century B.C.E. describes journeys into the heavenly regions, including the heavenly temple where God dwells (I Enoch 14:8-25). As Martha Himmelfarb observes, “there are numerous close parallels between the ascent of Enoch and the visions of Ezekiel: the imagery of cloud, wind, water, and fire; the presence of the cherubim; the lofty chariot-throne with its wondrous wheels.” 36 It is particularly intriguing that the first temple entered by Enoch (which somehow opens into the second, greater, temple) is empty, as is the temple of Ezekiel’s vision.

Himmelfarb insists that while “Ezekiel is the only one of all the classical prophets to record the experience of being physically transported by the spirit of God … even Ezekiel does not ascend to heaven. The throne of God comes to him while he is standing by the river Chebar (Ezek I-3). Enoch’s is the first ascent in Jewish literature.” 37 Ezekiel 1-3 certainly does .UN describe an ascent, but that is exactly the experience described in VAS*”Ezekiel is taken by the hand of Yhwh to a very high mountain. 38 There, he is guided by an angel through a standing structure. Clearly, this structure does not stand on the earthly Zion. Where, then, is it? I suggest that it stands atop the heavenly Zion, that Ezekiel has been taken by the spirit into the heavenly reality.

We may find early evidence for this understanding of Ezekiel 40-48 in the Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice from Qumran (4Q400-407). Ezekielian words and images recur- these songs.39 Most striking, however, is the way in which the poets have used Ezekiel 40-48 to structure their portrayal of the heavenly temple and its liturgy, particularly in the second half of the song cycle.” 40 As Carol Newsom observes, “it is clear that these chapters … play a central role in informing the conception of the heavenly temple and the Sabbath worship conducted there.” 41

C. Earthly Liturgy and Cosmic Reality
Julie Galambush finds evidence within the text of Ezekiel itself that chaps. 40-48 should be understood as a vision of heavenly reality. She identifies in Ezekiel 8-47 the pattern of the old entrhonement festival. Because of the circumstances of the exile, this ritual could not be enacted cultically. Thus, Galambush proposes, “rather than the ritual being a symbolic reenactment of a cosmic reality, in Ezekiel the prophet witnesses the actual cosmic event.” 42 The numerous correspondences cited by Galambush between the festival and the Book of Ezekiel are compelling: the departure of the ark or throne in Ezekiel 8- I I, the [negative] rehearsal of salvation history in Ezekiel 20, the “visit to the graveyard” in Ezekiel 37, and the final enthronement in Ezekiel 40 48.43 Indeed, Marvin Sweeney has suggesed, that one might expand this thesis to find in Ezekiel I.- ,3 an aspect of another autumn festival: the priest’s entrance into the divine presence on Yom Kippur. 44

The theme throughout this rehearsal of Israel’s sacred calendar is the problem of the divine presence. How can Yhwh be said to be present among the exiles, who are removed from land and temple and liturgy? The answer given in Ezekiel, it seems, is that Yhwh can be wherever Yhwh wants to be. The presence has forsaken Jerusalem: the earthly Zion and the heavenly Zion have become disassociated. Ezekiel, however, has been given access to the cosmic reality, where Yhwh’s true enthronement lakes place.

V. The Function of Ezekiel 40-42
A. The Jerusalem Temple as icon
What purpose is served by the description of this ideal heavenly shrine? We can get at this question by asking another: What purpose was served by the earthly shrine? As is observed above, the temple was deemed a connecting point between heaven and earth. By extension, the iconography of the temple could itself become a medium of divine presence. The clearest expression of this idea is Ps 48:13-14 (NRSV): “Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers, consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide forever.” Here, Zion functions in a manner Vet)) much like the icon in Eastern Orthodoxy. The Orthodox icon is understood to be a window into heaven. Reverence paid to the icon passes through to the heavenly realm, while the icon communicates to the worshiper an experience of heavenly reality. Similarly, in ancient Israel the temple itself appears to have been understood as a means of experiencing God. Pilgrim songs and songs of Zion describe the longing for the sight of the temple—which is also, in areal sense, a vision of God (so Psalm 84, especially v 8; also Ps 42:2-6). Mark Smith has proposed that the frequent biblical motif of “seeing” God reflects a connection between Yhwh and solar imagery. 45 While this may well be so, I would propose that this idea could be connected more concretely with the vision of Yhwh in the liturgy of the temple, or even with the sight of the temple itself.

For Ezekiel and the other exiles, the devotional function served by, the iconography of the temple was lost forever. Even prior to the temple’s literal destruction, the corruption of Jerusalem’s liturgy had severed the shrine’s connection with the divine world. Yet Yltwh had promised to he present, in however small a measure, among the exiles. Ezekiel’s detailed report of his vision would appear to be, at least in part, the means of this presence. 46

B. Ezekiel 40-42 as Verbal Icon
At least since Smend, scholars have remarked on the explicitly literary character of the Book of Ezekiel: 47 The unique function of Ezekiel as a written text has been a particular concern of Ellen Davis, who sees Ezekiel as a liminal figure between prophet and scribe. 48 The point may be overstated, of course; certainly written prophecy did not originate with Ezekiel. Still, one can legitimately ask how the function of the report of Ezekiel’s temple vision as a written text may differ from its function as an oral performance.

Margaret Rader observes that writing, as opposed to speech, “tends toward syntactic complexity and lexical elaboration,” elements which enable the composer “to control and make possible the development of a complex image in the mind of the reader.”49 This is precisely what we see in Ezekiel 40-42. The reader of the text is able to experience what the prophet experienced, independent pf the original visionary; however, this (admittedly indirect) experience is disciplined and controlled by the fixedness of the written text. “Only in writing,” Rader asserts, “can the inference-suggesting information be so carefully controlled and restricted even as inferring and imagining are given full rein.” 50 The text of Ezekiel’s vision, thus, could become an aid to devotional piety, like the icon in Orthodoxy.

A similar function could be argued for the heavenly ascents in Jewish and Christian apocalypses. Scholars such as Jershom Scholem, Morton Smith, and James Tabor have understood the ascents as literary devices providing directions for would-be mystics who wish to repeat the ecstatic experience of the visionary. 51 Himmelfarb, however, observes that the evidence for rites or mystical practices designed to induce a heavenly ascent is scant in Jewish and Christian circles.52 She cites studies by Schafer and Halpern to the effect that by reciting given texts from the hekhalot literature the student was able to achieve the same results as those who actually experienced the ascent.53 Himmelfarb concludes, then, that “the heavenly ascents of the hekhalot literature functioned not as rites to be enacted but as stories to he repeated:54 If, however, we view the texts as having a devotional function analogous to that of the icon, the distinction between ecstatic religious experience and literary imagination becomes less significant. The text itself may be understood to give the reader access to the transcendent realm. Consider, for instance, that the Qumran covenanters, who preserved and revered the Enochic literature with its heavenly ascents, evidently believed that in their worship they participated in the angelic liturgy of the heavenly realm, a realm envisioned in images drawn from Ezekiel. 55

Susan Niditch has also pointed toward the possibility that the temple vision of Ezekiel served a devotional function for the exilic community, doing so by comparing Ezekiel’s vision to the mandalas of Tantric Buddhism.56 Like the temple, the mandala is a microcosm: an expression of the central structure of reality in symbolic form.57 Meditation upon the mandala therefore centers the devotee, putting her or him in connection with the true reality. Niditch notes that mandalas need not he two-dimensional representations; they may he actual structures, “palaces of the deities, built with real materials.”58 Tantric literature contains numerous detailed descriptions of such mandalas, with directions for their construction. Niditch finds in these texts parallels to Ezekiel’s temple vision.

While the parallels Niditch draws between Ezekiel 40 48 and the mandala are evocative, I would suggest that the icon is an analogy more in keeping with Ezekiel’s report of his vision. The mandala, after all, is always a visual symbol.59 The descriptive texts from Tantric literature cited by Niditch are not themselves mandalas. However, a written text can serve as an icon. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Gospels are a “verbal icon” of Christ. The stories of Jesus make the Christ present to the faithful hearer of the word, in a way rather like the presence mediated by a painted icon. Similarly, Ezekiel’s temple vision can be understood as a verbal icon by which a people who had thought themselves separated from God could experience and celebrate the divine presence.

In Ezekiel 40 42, the prophet describes his ascent to the real temple, situated atop the real Zion. By means of Ezekiel’s report of his vision the exiles could share in this extraordinary experience, seeing in their mind’s eye the heavenly temple that Ezekiel saw. Though the earthly temple was no more, the heavenly temple would stand forever. Through Ezekiel’s words the community of exiles was given access to this eternal, cosmic reality. Indeed, the reader in any time or place can marvel at this temple, and experience thereby the connection with the sacred that Ezekiel experienced.

Notes

1 Ezekiel 40:5 is held suspect by John Wevers (Ezekiel [NCB; Greenwood, SC: Attic, 19691 209). While W. Eichrodt (Ezekiel [071); Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970] 547) holds 41:13-14 to be original, with the element of guidance lost in the text’s redaction, he otherwise considers all of 41:5-42:14 secondary (pp. 546-48), as they run counter to the “purely two-dimensional geometric arrangement which, without a word about the elevation of the buildings, produces its effect solely through the symmetry of the plan” (p. 549). While Ronald Hals (Ezekiel [FOTL 19; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 19891298) considers it generally impossible “to get behind the present text to some reconstructed, trouble-free original,” he notes that in 41:5-12,15W26 and in 42:1-14 “a decided difference in style appears.”
2 For instance, G. A. Cooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936) 425; Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel (IHermeneia; The Structuring of Biblical Books: Studies in the Book of Ezekiel,” ASTI 10 (1975-76) 139.
3 No emendation such as “from back to back,” suggested by the MS on the basis of the Septuagint’s “from the wall of the chamber [Greek On here is a transliteration of the Hebrew an] to the wall of the chamber;” and followed by the RSV is necessary. Given the barriers across the front of the ski, chambers (40:12), the easiest way for the guide to measure the breadth of the gateway was to measure along the ceiling.
4 As Hats (Ezekiel. 299) also observes.
5 The wall is six cubits deep and tall (40:5), while the gate complexes are each fifty cubits deep and twenty-five cubits broad (40:13-15; the height of the gate complexes is not given). The study of Carl Gordon Howie (“The East Gate of Ezekiel’s Temple Enclosure and the Solomonic Gateway of Megiddo” BASOR 117 [1950] 13-18) was seminal in this regard. Ile himself was inclined to view the structure as a memory of the first temple’s eastern gate. Zimmerli (Ezekiel. 2. 352 with 2.353 [the illustration]) has a neat, brief summary of the more recent work on similar gateways uncovered at Hazor and Gezer and the conclusions drawn from them, which lead him to conclude that the gateways described in Ezekiel 40-42 are Solomonic city gates, not temple structures. Frank Moore Cross, however, finds this a false distinction: in a private communi­cation he writes, The temple area of Solomon was an ‘independent citadel, a fortified bastion, and probably even on the south where it joined the City of David was independently fortified the entrances to the temple are in fact city gates, gates to [the] citadel.” Still, as Cross observes, the temple vision applies this plan of a fortified gate to inner as well as outer structures of the gate, which seems unlikely as does the pairing of a fortified gate with what, for purposes of defense, seems only a token wall.
6 This point has been examined by Steven Tuell, “‘And the Sea Was No More :Lhe, Absence of the ‘sea’ in Ezekiel 40)47-49 and Revelation 211,” a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, 1990.
7 So Herbert May, 18. 6. 53; R. E. Clements, God and Temple (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965) 106, Victor Gold, The Oxford Annotated Revised Standard Version (ed. Herber) May and Bruce Metzger; New York: Oxford University Press, 1973) 1052; Wevers, Ezekiel. 208; Moshe Greenberg, “The Design and Themes of Ezekiel’s Program of Restoration,” Int 38 (1984) 182; idem, Ezekiel 1-20 (AB 22; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983) 15. Cooke (Ezekiel. 425) de­scribes Ezekiel as “the most practical of reformers”; however, Ezekiel was also sensitive to an eschatological element here which will be considered below: the time of the return from exile is also a new age.??
8 Johann Maier, “The Temple Scroll and Tendencies in the Cultic Architecture of the Second Commonwealth,” Archaeology and History in the Dead Sea Scrolls (ISOT/ASOR Monograph Series 2; JSPSup 8; ed. Lawrence H. Schiffman; Sheffield: JSOT, 1990) 67, 75.
9So Eichrodt, Ezekiel. 542; Hats, Ezekiel, 299. Indeed, Hats (pp. 301-3) deems it impos­sible to recover any kind of positive program from these verses; the report of the vision, in his view, is intended to negate past practices and abuses.
10 Avigdor Hurowitz, I Have Built You an Exalted House: Temple Building in the Bible in Light of Mesopotamian and Northwest Semitic Writings, JSOTSup 115, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992) 244-47. According to Horowitz. a comparison of the biblical texts with Mesopotamian building descriptions, particularly those found in royal inscriptions, reveals that the Mesopotamian inscriptions are high-flown and poetical, while the biblical texts tend to be concrete and practical. By reading a biblical building description one can actually visualize the structure described something not always possible with the Mesopotamian inscriptions.
11 Horowitz, I have Built. 247 n. 2, To demonstrate the concreteness of biblical temple descriptions, Horowitz (p. 247) cites the numerous sketches and models of the temple of Jeru­salem that have been based on these descriptions. No such model, however can be made of Ezekiel’s temple complex or its contents- The best one can do is present a bare outline. The sole exception is the altar of burnt offering (43:13-17), which is described in such detail that it can be modeled with ease, but the description of the altar was not a part of the prophet’s original vision xenon. and it appears to derive from an older description of the Solomonic altar (see the discussion in Steven S. limit, The 2aw of the Temple M Ezekiel 40 48 [HSM 49; Atlanta: Scholars, 19921 46-51).12
12 Horowitz, I Have Built. 64.
13 Gudea Cylinder A, col. 4 line 8 to col. 7 line 10.
14 CTA 4.4.62-63.
15 Note in I Chr 28:11-12 the explicit mention of the tabnit, which in this case evidently refers to a written document. Yigael Yadin (The Temple Scroll [2 vols.; Jerusalem: Israel Explo­ration Society, 1983] I. q7, 182) has suggested that the Temple Scroll presents itself as just such a document, originally revealed to Moses, then handed on to Solomon by David.
16 As Yadin has argued, on the basis of 1 IQT 29.8-9: /9 ‘TIM nu Yadin (temple Scroll, 2. 128-29) translates this passage, And I will consecrate my (t)emple by my glory, (the temple) on which will settle my glory, until the day of on which I will create my temple” Yadin (Temple Scroll I. 183)
compares this st between a present temple (evident y t ’emu described in the scroll) and
a future, eschatological to be Yhwh’s creation) with the “old house” and “new
house” of 1 Enoch 90:29.17
17 Horowitz, I Have Built 25; cf. 138, 159, 255.
18 Ibid., 251.
19 Ibid., 251-52. Horowitz bases his assessment of the text as an exercise on the use of the expressions assum/ki. . . la tidi, “since you do not know,” and ana amari, “in order to calculate.”
20 Ibid., 252-53.
21 Ibid., 253-55.
22 Ibid., 255.
23 As Eichrodt (Ezekiel, 184) observes, Ezekiel 40-42 is neither instruction for nor narra­tive of building, but a vision of an already built complex.
24 Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 542; Yadin, Temple Scroll.1.198; Maier, “Temple Scroll and Tenden­cies in the Cultic Architecture,” 69; Jon Levenson, Theology of the Program of Restoration of Ezekiel 40-48 (HSM 10; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1976) 33: J. J. M. Roberts. “A Christian Perspective on Prophetic Prediction,” Int 33 (1979) 247; Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezekiel (IBC; Louisville: John Knox, 1990) 193-99.
25 For the mythic significance of the cosmic mountain, see Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return; or, Cosmos and History (Bollingen Series 46; Princeton: Princeton Univer­sity Press, 1911) 12-21; Richard J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament (HSM 4; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972) 3. Levenson (Theology. 14) identifies the mountain of Ezekiel 40:1 with the mythic Zaphon, but he also identifies it with Sinai (Theology 41).
26 Yadin ( Temple Scroll, I. 185) suggests that the idea of a future temple built by Yhwh, which he finds also in the Temple Scroll, derives from [nod 15:17. The future temple is also mentioned in 4QFIorilegium. which describes the house which [he will create) for [himself at the end of days” One might also note Jub. 1:15-17,26-29. Eichrodt (Ezekiel, 542) similarly observed that in Ezekiel’s vision “the temple makes its appearance as a heavenly reality created by Yahweh himself and transplanted to stand on the earth,” and that “there is nothing to suggest that it should have a human builder.” Cf. also Zimmerli, Ezekiel, 2. 327-28.
27 Blenkinsopp (Ezekiel, 177-78; 179-80; 194) further argues that the temple vision origi­nally followed Ezekiel 37.
28 of an oracle. Of these, eleven are precise to the year, month and day (I:I; 8:1; 20:1; 24:1; 29:1; 29:17; 30:20; 11:1;32:1; 33:21; 40:1). Three others are precise to the year and day (I:2; 26:1: 32:17), while two date by reference M some fixed event (3:16 refers back to the date of the call vision and sets its vision seven days later, while a second date in 40:1 specifies the year as the fourteenth after the fall of Jerusalem). Interestingly, both 1:1,2 and 40:1 are double dates, though in light of the troublesome “thirtieth year” of 1:1 not much can be made of this parallel.
29 This formula occurs seven times in Ezekiel, always in a visionary context (1:3; 3:14,22: 8:1; 33:22: 37:1; 40:1), Zimmerli (Ezekiel, I. 42) rightly regards the phenomenon of prophetic ecstasy as a point of continuity between Ezekiel and the preclassical prophets. The word mar’ah is relatively rare, occurring only eleven times (Gen 46:2; Num 12:6 [both El; 1 Sam 3:15; Dan 10:7 [twice],8,16; Ezek 1:1; 8:3; 40:2; 439).
30 Most scholars (for instance, Cooke, Ezekiel, 121; May. IB, 6. 118; Eichrodt, Ezekiel, 142-43; Zimmerli, Ezekiel. 1.256; Donald E. Gowan, Ezekiel [Knox Preaching Guides; Atlanta: John Knox, 19851 50; Hats, Ezekiel, 68-69; Blenkinsopp, Ezekiel. 52, 62-64) have argued that this text is not original to the vision, and that it may indeed represent a later editorial expansion of Ezekiel’s prophecy. However, despite the presence of an additional oracular heading at 11.14, the content of this oracle fits quite well into its context: Yhwh’s condemnation of Jerusalem’s inhabitants and abandonment of Jerusalem itself. Further, as Wevers observes (Ezekiel. 79). this text presupposes that Jerusalem is still standing, which makes it unlikely that 11:14-16 has been added by a later editor, or even by Ezekiel himself, at a time following the city’s destruction. If it was not originally connected to the vision of the temple’s destruction, the connection was made very early in the composition of the book, doubtless by Ezekiel himself.
31 The JPSB reads 11:14-25 as a single connected oracle, so that 11:14-16 becomes an introduction to the promise of return in 11:17-21 (a reading also proposed by Cooke, Ezekiel, 124-25). Though the exiles have been removed far away and Yhwh has “become to them a diminished sanctity in the countries whither they have gone” the day of their return will one day come. Against this reading must be posed the separate oracular heading at 11:17 and the scribal tradition inserting a break seluma between vv 16 and 17, both of which suggest that 11:16 and 11:17-21 represent two separate divine responses to the words of the Jerusalemites in 11:14. Further, the general rendering “sanctity” for Inn is without precedent; everywhere, miqdas is used for a sanctuary. Note that in the Targum of Ezek 11:16, on non is understood as a reference to the synagogue. Ezek 11:16 does not represent a concession to the diminished sanctity of Yhwh in Babylon—quite the contrary: it is only among the exiles that Yhwh’s presence will be manifested at all, albeit in small measure.
32 This proposal was first advanced by the author of the present study in Steven S. Tuell, The Temple Vision of Ezekiel 40-48: A Program for Restoration?” Proceedings of the Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society 2 (1982) 101-2. Something similar is proposed by Gowan (Ezekiel, 140), save that he understands the vision symbolically, as a “theology in visual terms.” While Ezekiel 40-42 is certainly filled with theological insight, it remains the report of a vision: Ezekiel describes what he and his contemporaries would have understood as an actual visionary journey to the heavenly temple.
33 A. Leo Oppenheim, The Mesopotamian Temple,” BAR, 1. 163. Indeed, one of the accusations raised later against Sennacherib was that with evil intentions against Babylon he let its sanctuaries fall into disrepair, disturbed the(ir) foundation Imes and let the cultic rites fall into oblivion” (from the stela of Nabonidus in Istanbul, t E A. Len Oppenhcim. A NET 309; emphasis mine).
34 Frank Moore Cross, “The Priestly Tabernacle,” BAR. 1 220.
35 Hurowitz, I Have Built. 168-70.
36 Martha Himmelfarb, “From Prophecy to Apocalypse: The Book of the Watcbers and Tours of Heaven,” Jewish Spirituality: From the Bible tbrough the Middle Ages (World Spiri­tuality 13; ed. Arthur Green; New York: Crossroad, 1988) 149-50.37
37 Ibid., 150.38
38 The mention of Sing’ (Pa in Ezek 40:2 should not mislead the reader. Since the term “Zinn” is never used in the Book of Ezekiel (Yhwh having abandoned Zion’s earthly referent, the acropolis of Jerusalem), this phrase serves to indicate that the mountain in question is indeed Zion, the mountain of God. Elsewhere in Scripture, heavenly “geography” is indicated by refer­ence to corresponding earthly geography. For example, Ps 48:2 identifies the divine dwelling place with Zaphon, and in Dan 10;20-21 Michael, the angelic prince of Israel, does battle with the angelic princes of Persia and Greece. One might also cite in this connection the place names in Judg 5:4, where Yhwh marches to war from the south (cf. also Hab 3:3).
39 For instance, the description of the throne-chariot of Yhwh in 4Q404 Iii 1-16; 4Q405 20-22 (Carol Newsom, Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice: A Critical Edition [HSS 27; Atlanta: Scholars, 1985] 226,303) obviously derives from Ezekiel I, as Newsom (pp. 52, 55-56) has noted.
40 Note particularly that the interest of Ezekiel 40 42 in the temple gates appears to find a parallel in the Songs. the words used to describe the entrances and exits of the heavenly temple in 4Q405 (x18′, 824,91A3 Prat appear together only in Ezekiel, as Newsom (Songs. 42) has noted: the first two are found in 40:11,38,40 and 46:3; all are found together in 46:2-3.
41 Ibid., 58.
42 Julie Galambush, “The Last Enthronement Festival: Ezekiel 43 as 4.5444144 2199 Year’s Celebration: presented at the Annual Meeting Of the Society of Biblical Literature. 1992.
43 Galambush also suggests a tenuous connection between the taus vim of 11:16 and the akitu house, the smaller shrine where the image of Marduk was placed upon removal from Esagila in the New Year’s Festival.
44 Statement made in response to Galambush’s presentation at the meeting referred to in n. 42. Galambush is inclined to reject Marvin Sweeney’s proposal that Ezekiel I 3 represents Yom Kippur, since the dates are wrong; further, she proposes that Yom Kippur is absent from the cultic calendar in Eyck 45:21-25, where it has been replaced by a ceremony of cleansing linked to Passover. Without doubt, the dates, both for the initial vision of call and for the temple cleansing in the calendar, do not lit the calendar of P. but that in itself need not rule out such an identification. Elsewhere Quell, Law of tbe Temple. 145-48) I have argued that. Ezekiel 45 represents an alternate calendar, from a time prior to the adoption of a single, fixed liturgy. The ritual described in 45:18-20 is explicitly performed to atone for the Temple and for the inadvertent sin of the people. ThiS festival despite its variant date, is functionally, Yom Kippur. If the initial vision of Yhwh’s Kavod is understood to represents the priest’s entrance into e

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Jerusalem Temple in Devotional & Visionary Experience – J D Levenson

The Jerusalem Temple in Devotional and Visionary Experience
Jon D. Levenson

Temple and TentA CENTRAL PARADOX of Jewish spirituality lies in the fact that so much of it centers upon an institution that was destroyed almost 1 two millennia ago, the Jerusalem Temple. The enduring centrality of the Temple in Jewish consciousness and the tenacity of it’s hold upon it are attested by the tendency of modern students of Jewish history to periodicize distant antiquity in terms of the First Temple period (ca. 960-587 B.C.E.) and the Second Temple period (ca. 515 B.C..E.-70 C.E.). In ‘fact, the existence or absence of the Temple is a point of great relevance even to the observance of Jewish law. To cite only one example from among many, the Mishnah, a law code promulgated about 200 C.E., stipulates that the prohibition of the slaughter of an animal and its young on the same day (Lev 22:28) applies both “in the presence of the Temple and in the absence of the Temple” (m. Hui. 5:1). But other commandments, especially many found in the last of the six “orders” of the Mishnah, which deals with matters of ritual purity, apply only when the Temple is standing.

The paradox is compounded when one considers that the Pentateuch has been, in principle, the foundational document of Judaism since some point in that Second Temple period. For the Pentateuch neither names Jerusalem nor refers directly to the sacred building(s) that were erected there. Instead it treats at length the construction of the ‘ohel mo’ed, the Tent of Assembly or Tent of Meeting, which served as a portable temple during the period between the revelation at Sinai (e.g., Exod 25-30; 35-40) and the entrance into Canaan, or perhaps even the construction of Solomon’s Temple, the First Temple (1 Kgs 8:4). Modern critical scholarship has tended to doubt the historicity of that portable temple and to regard it as a retrojection of a later institution, usually the Second Temple, which the text thus anchors in primordial events.


This tendency has been mitigated in our century by research into tribal palladia and other tent-like structures which, even in modern times, have accompanied some nomadic Arabian tribes in their movements. Descriptions of analogous shrines appear in Phoenician sources contemporaneous with much biblical literature. Thus, the possibility that the traditions about the Tent of Meeting contain a nucleus of historical fact especially in the more conservative American circles.There has gained ground, on the other hand, the notion that the Tent as described in Exodus could have been carried about in the wilderness for some forty years is still implausible. If, as seems likely, the Tent of Meeting and the Temple, in whatever of its phases, are not simply to be identified, we are led to wonder what statement is being made by the emphasis of some ancient Israelite traditions upon the portable shrine.

Is it a judgment upon the Temple, a statement that the Jerusalem shrine does not conform to the ancient archetype. If so, then the very portability of the Tent may have served as a critique of the tendency to regard Jerusalem and its Temple as immutable cosmic realities, a tendency which we shall examine and which became more developed in post-biblical literature. Similarly, the availability of God in His portable home probably did serve as a source of consolation to an Israel in exile (sixth century B.C.E.) far from their Temple, which lay in ruins. To them the most meaningful image of God was not that of a king enthroned in his massive stone palace; it was that of a delicate tabernacling presence, on the move with His people. In rabbinic literature, this presence acquires a name, the shekkinah (from the root shakhan, “to set up tent; “to dwell”), and there it is often said to envelop those who involve themselves in Torah (e.g., m. Abot 3:3). This conjunction of the tabernacling presence and Torah is, in a sense, natural, in light of the emphasis in the Pentateuch itself upon God’s mobility and availability to all Israel, attributes that He shares with the Book. Finally, we should note that, if the Pentateuchal concern with the tent-shrine is indeed a judgment on the Jerusalem Temple, it is probably also a judgment upon the latter’s character as a royal shrine, built, patronized, and abused by the House of David. The placement of the ideal arrangement in the days of Aaron and Moses, when a king had not yet remains that the dominant impression one receives from the Hebrew Bible is one of an easy harmony between the two. In fact, one scholar has recently gone so far as to argue for the historical accuracy of the statement of 1 Kgs 8:4 (-2 Chr 5:5) and several texts in Chronicles that the Tent was moved into the Temple.4 In support of this, he points to texts such as Ps 26:8:

0 LORD, I love Your temple abode,
The dwelling-place (meqwm ‘thaw) of Your glory.’

Here, the psalmist puts “temple” and “tent” into synonymous parallelism. Essentially the same use of language can be found in Ps 27:4-5, in which the poet longs “to live in the house (beyt) of the LORD,” which he also describes as “His pavilion” (sukkoh) and “His tent” (‘oholo). Finally, Psalm 74, whose occasion is the destruction of one of the Jerusalem Temples (v. 2), most likely the First in 587 B.C.E., puts “sanctuary” (miqdash) and “tent” (mishkan) into parallelism and laments the torching of all of “God’s [of El’s] tabernacles” (mo’adey-‘El, vv. 7-8).This kind of evidence, of which there exists much more, suggests that we may, with all due caution, include the Tent of Meeting in our discussion of the spiritual experience of the Jerusalem Temple when it stood. In a sense, the rabbis institutionalized such: a homologization, when, centuries later, they match, “sages from the Torah about the construction of the Tent of Meeting with prophetic lee-. tions (haftarot) describing the erection or reconstruction of the Temple in; Jerusalem.

For example, the haftarah for the portion Teza wweh (Exod 27:20-e 30:10) is Ezek 43:10-27, and that for Wayaqhel (Exod 35:1-38:20) is 1 Kg 7:40-50. Judaism tends to continue those streams in biblical tradition which: homologized the Tent and the Temple.

The Presentness and Practice of Salvation

It is often said that Israel established her identity through the recitation of her Heilsgeschichte, the sacred story which, with many embellishments and digressions, dominates the Pentateuch or the Hexateuch (Genesis-Joshua) The most compressed resume of the story occurs in 1 Sam 12:8: 91710 Jacob came to Egypt,6 … your fathers cried out to the LORD, and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place This resume is extraordinary only in its implication that Moses and Aaron came into the land with the people; the Pentateuch dates their deaths before the entrance into the land (Num 20:27-29; Deut 34:4-7).7 The absence of mention of the revelation at Sinai/Horeb is not,. extraordinary. It is paralleled in the Pentateuch (e.g., Deut 26:5b-9). In fact,. it is this omission which has generated the controversial hypothesis that the settlement tradition and the Sinai tradition were originally separate and distinct, having been combined only at a certain point within historical memory.’ Whether the hypothesis is historically valid or not, it remains true that the present shape of the Pentateuch presents us with two different perspectives concerning the point at which the relationship between Israel and its God (YHWH) was consummated, the telos, so to speak, of the foun­dational drama. The settlement tradition holds that the story is consum­mated only outside the Pentateuch, with the allocation of the land, at long last, to the tribes (Josh 21:41-43). Until “everything was fulfilled” (v. 43), the hand of God was restless, discontented with the status quo, and upsetting eventually each obstacle to the fulfillment of the promise, whether it arises from Pharaoh, from Canaanite land tenure, or from the faithlessness and lawlessness of the Israelites themselves. The other perspective finds the climax at the point at which God graciously signals the acceptability of the complex and elaborate system of worship mandated and executed at Sinai:

Moses and Aaron then went inside the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the Presence of the Lord appeared to all the people.

Fire came forth from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offer­ing and the fat parts on the altar. And all the people saw, and shouted, and fell on their faces. (Lev 9:23-24)

At last, the basis has been laid for insuring the eternal availability of that elusive “presence (kavod, usually rendered “glory”), which all the people tipv. The visitation of God to Israel, the vision of God in Israel, need no longer be episodic or arbitrary. An enduring means of access of YHWH to Israel and of Israel to YHWH has been inaugurated, service without end, “an eternal ordinance for all generations” (Lev 10:9 and often). From now on, all that remains is the issue of whether or not Israel is observing the commandments, moral, ritual, and both, which entitle her to be graced by the electrifying divine presence manifest in the Tent and to remain in the presence of the fire that burned on Mount Sinai, wherever she may go. Whereas in the first perspective, the land symbolizes and manifests spiritual fulfillment, in this second one it is the Tent of Meeting that performs this climactic function. The relationship of YHWH and Israel is consummated in her unending repetition of His sacred rites. In both perspectives, the 1 assumption, perhaps a naïve one, is that only Israel’s sin can rupture the beatified life.The two climactic movements define two poles not only of the Torah but of biblical spirituality in general, and perhaps of the Jewish world view itself. The first, the settlement tradition, evokes images of instability, of political change, of an alternation of divine presence and absence, of the quest for new fulfillments. For even the land soon proves to be something very different from paradise, and each new consummation—the defeat m the Philistines, the establishment of the House of David, the erection of the Jerusalem Temple, the centralization of the liturgy there—yields to a successor, in a dynamic whose logical fulfillment came in the vision of a definitive end to all history in apocalyptic literature (Dan 2:44-45). In this perspective, the status quo is forever on the verge of obsolescence, and its radical critique is an indispensable component of the spiritual life: The second perspective, the Sinai tradition, at least as it appears in Priestly materials (P), evokes images of stasis, regularity, repetition, constancy, and intimacy. It places salvation in the present and not only in the future and offers the means for a partial immanentization of the God who is still transcendent. Those means are essentially the liturgy centered upon the Tent of Meeting. They are beyond critique, although the people obligate by them is not. Salvation, the beatific vision, which is the definitive teleo-, logical end of life, cannot be surpassed.

Within this second perspective, the emphasis lies on absorption into divine order of things, that is, participation in the rhythm of the divine file: itself, which is the nearest approximation to unto mystics that Hebraic thought can tolerate. Thus, the Sabbath, which in Deuteronomic tradition (D) is a humanitarian ordinance and a commemoration of the liberation from Egypt (Deut 5:12-15), appears in P as a sign of the eternal covenant. and a-commemoration of the act of creation (Exod 31:12-17). In P, in of e words, observance of the Sabbath is an example of imitatio Dei. Through it, Israel replicates the rhythm of the primordial act, participating endlessly in an institution which, until Sinai, had been observed by God alone (Gad., 2:1-3). The dietary laws speak to the same point. In D, they seem to be consequence of the election and consecration of Israel (Deut 14:1-21). P, which also assumes election and consecration, suggests a connection between I Israel’s “separation” (hivdaltem) of clean from unclean beasts and God’s “separation” (hivdaltiy) of Israel from the nations, and it presents divine holiness as the rationale for Israel’s mandated holiness (Lev 20:25-26).10 Once again, sacred rites are grounded in imitatio Dei; mortal persons are offered some access into the divine life. Furthermore, it seems likely that tile emphasis upon the verb “to separate” (hivdil) here is intended to suggest the primordial acts of separation that punctuate the act of creation in P (Gen 1:4, 6, 7, 14, 18). If so, then the implication is that the separation of Israel from the nations is a continuation of creation and that Israel’s own separa­tion of fit from unfit foods is a perpetuation of the very process that brought order out of chaos. Israel draws near to God, in part, by perpetuating the primordial within the world of historical change, and the sacred amidst profanity.

And at the center of Israel, quite literally, lies what is most sacred, the Temple (Num 2). Israel lies at the intersection of God and, the world, but she faces God.

The dichotomy between these two perspectives must not be sharply drawn. Although D is closer in spirit to the first, and P, to the second, the perspectives are ideal types that are not coterminous with literary sources or historical periods. Nor should we fall into the common mistake of iden­tifying one perspective as indigenous and essential, and the other as foreign and peripheral. Both are well attested in the Hebrew Bible, and both have antecedents and parallels elsewhere in the ancient Near East. More impor­tant, the final shape of the Hebrew Bible and of the Torah in particular includes both perspectives. In that sense, the Book is bipolar: the whole is larger than the sum of its part, and the tension between perspectives yields a spiritual dynamic that neither perspective alone could have produced.

The Presence and the Omnipresence of God

The developed theology of temples in Israel points to the presence of God as the core of spiritual meaning:

For there I will meet with you, and there I will speak to you, and there I will meet with the Israelites, and it shall be sanctified by My Presence.

I will sanc­tify the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their God.

And they shall know that I the LORD am their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I the LORD their God. (Exod 29:42b-46)

This passage offers a rich network of interconnected associations. The Tent is the vehicle for communication with God; in it oracles are received. God’s visible Presence” (kavod) renders the Tent and its sacrificial apparatus sacred. But the sanctity does not preclude immediate human contact; it only restricts it to the chosen priesthood (kohanim), Aaron and his male descen­dants. The Tent is a visible relationship between God and Israel, a relation­ship whose other great testimony is the exodus. Here, we see the effect of the nearer climax of the sacred history that appears in P: the goal of the exodus is not so much the promised land as it is the intimacy with YHWH made available to Israel in the Tabernacle. He rescued her so that He might set up Tent in her midst (leshokniy betokham, v. 46). The endless rendezvous in the portable temple is the teleological consummation of the history of redemption.Another aspect of the sanctified and sanctifying presence of God in His Temple is the idea of blessing. We have already examined the passage in which Moses and Aaron blessed the people after they came out of the Tent and before the presence, or glory, of YHWH appeared to all (Lev 9:23-24). In fact, blessing was a part of the regular liturgy of the Jerusalem Temple:

A song of ascents.
Now bless the LORD,
all you servants of the LORD
who stand nightly
in the house of the LORD.

Lift your hands toward the sanctuary and bless the Lord.
May the LORD, maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion. (Ps 134)

The setting of this poem was probably the changing of the guard in _the Jerusalem Temple, which sat atop Mount Zion. The night shift, who seem to be going on or off duty (v. 1), are summoned to bless YHWH before doing so. Verse 3 may be the response from the other shift; if so, they return YHWH’s blessing to those who have just blessed him (cf. Ruth 2:4). At all events, two points are noteworthy in the psalm. First, the direction of blessing is twofold: God is blessed and blesses; persons both give and receive a benediction. The image is one of nearness, mutuality, reciprocity, communication. Second, the psalmist’s assertion of God’s sovereignty over the entire cosmos, “heaven and earth; is in no tension with his allegiance to Zion as the source of YHWH’s blessing (v. 3). Zion is not another spot in the world. It is the capital of the world, the place from which the divine beatification of humanity proceeds. In this, Psalm 134 is typical of Hebraic thought, which does not view the presence of God as finite in quantity: His presence in one place does not imply a corresponding absence of God elsewhere. Thus can the God enthroned on Zion bestow a blessing to those outside. This is not an easy conception for modern persons to grasp. Perhaps it will prove useful to envision the Temple as the center of a wheel, equidistant from each point on the rim, which is the world. The sanctifying and beatifying presence of God shoots out along the spokes. The points on the rim then discharge sanctity and blessing back toward the center. The rim and the center are not identical. But so long as the process of sanctification and beatification continues, neither is bereft of God. Zion is the conduit through which the plenitude of divine blessings surges into the world. In fact, the Temple is sometimes seen as the earthly antitype to a heavenly archetype.The °holy palace° (heykhal qodsho) is both the Temple (e.g., Ps 79:1) and the eternal archetype which it manifests. YHWH’s presence in His Temple does not diminish His presence in the heavens. On the contrary, the two places are the same. The relationship of the Temple to the world is not one of simple spatiality.

The Temple is the objective correlative of the paradoxical doctrine of God’s simultaneous otherness and omnipresence.

Refuge for the Just in the House of YHWH

Nowhere is it written that sins and sanctity can cohabitate. In some passages, the conditionality of God’s presence in the Temple is underscored:

Then the word of the LORD came to Solomon,

“With regard to this House you are building— if you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep My commandments,

I will fulfill for you the promise that I gave to your father David: I will abide among the children of Israel, and I will never for­sake My people Israel.” (1 Kgs 6:11-13)

Here, the dynastic covenant with David, which elsewhere is unconditional (2 Sam 7:14-16; Ps 89:20-38), has been rendered contingent upon the king’s obedience. The same note of conditionality governs YHWH’s presence in the Temple. Once again, covenant and presence imply each other. Faithful obervance of the commandments (mizwot), which are the stipulations of the covenant, evokes the presence of God. God graciously deigns to place His presence in the Temple until human disobedience renders the place fit for Him. In prophetic preaching, the moral side of sanctity becomes a precious homiletical resource:

When they [the Judean kings] placed their threshold
next to My threshold
and their doorposts next to My doorposts
with only a wall between Me and them,
they would defile My holy name
by the abominations that they com­mitted,
and I consumed them in My anger.

Therefore, let them put their apostasy
and the memorials of their kings far from Me,
and I will dwell among them forever. (Ezek 43:8-9)

The last passage cited and probably the one before it as well are responses to the catastrophe of 587 B.C.E., when Solomon’s Temple, the First Jerusalem Temple, fell to the Babylonians. They reflect the solemn note of conditionality that dominates Jeremiah, Deuteronomy, and the literature edited under the latter’s influence, the block from Joshua through 2 Kings: Israel’s breach of covenant, her violation or neglect of mizwot, can fell the House of YHWH. As we shall see, other literature from the Hebrew Bible affirms the unshakability and inviolability of the Temple and its mountain and city, leaving ambiguous the issue of whether this is pure grace or a condi­tional gift that may yet be withdrawn if the recipient proves undeserving.

Between these two positions—the one resting the very existence of the Temple on Israel’s deserts, the other ostensibly ignoring the issue of deserts – lies a third position. This one, most evident in the book of Psalms, sees in the Temple a source of boundless security, but one available only to those whose deeds prove worthy. The effect, then, is to highlight the unshakability and inviolability of the person of innocence And rectitude:

A psalm of David.
LORD, who may sojourn in Your tent,
who may dwell on Your holy mountain?
He who lives without blame,
who does what is right,
and in his heart acknowledges the truth;
whose tongue is not given to evil;
who has never done harm to his fellow,
or borne reproach for (his acts toward) his neighbor;
for whom a contemptible man is abhorrent,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who stands by his oath even to his hurt;
who has never lent money at interest,
or accepted a bribe against the innocent.

The man who acts thus shall never be shaken. (Ps 13)

In this poem, we hear the requirements for admission to the Temple. The assumption of most scholars has been that the original setting for this kind of literature was an “entrance liturgy: in which priests set forth the terms for admission for inquiring worshipers. Egyptian parallels, however, suggest an alternative hypothesis, that the requirements were inscribed on the door­posts or lintels of the Temple.This recalls the injunction in Deuteronomy that the stipulations of the covenant be inscribed “on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut 6:9; 11:20), and it suggests a very practical background to Jeremiah’s stress on the moral requirements for admission to the Temple, especially the Decalogue (Jer 7:9), which he is said to have pro­claimed to “all you of Judah who enter these gates …” (v. 2; cf. 22:2).


But who is applying for admission? Much of the literature suggests, as does Psalm 15, that it is ordinary people who seek to offer prayer or sacrifice in the House of YHWH. Elsewhere, however, we hear of the worshiper’s desire not merely to visit the sacred shrine but to spend his whole life there, as in the close of the famous Twenty-Third Psalm:

You spread a table for me in full view of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my drink is abundant.
Only goodness and steadfast love shall pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for many long years. (Ps 23:5-6)

The familiar words suggest an image perhaps unfamiliar to those who now make devotional use of the poem: In the Temple, the poet has found refuge from his pursuing enemies. There, his life is complete, lacking neither food nor drink. The passage recalls Adonijah’s grasping the horns of the altar until his brother, Solomon, swore not to put him to the sword (1 Kgs 1:50-53). The sacred shrine is a place of asylum for those falsely accused and for those who crime was unintentional (cf. Exod 21:14).Apparently, its function in Israelite law was like that of the “cities of refuge”, to which one guilty of homicide without malice aforethought could escape the vendetta of his victim’s blood-avenger (Num 35:9-34). There he was entitled to remain in asylum until the death of the high priest (vv. 25-28), at which point, presumably, the right of vengeance expired, probably because of an amnesty proclaimed by the new high priest upon his accession (before the exile, it was the king who issued the amnesty). The resultant interval could be decades. We should not be surprised, therefore, by the length of time which some psalmists seek to spend in the Temple:

One thing I ask of the LORD, only that do I seek:
to live in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD,
to frequent His temple.

He will shelter me in His pavilion
on an evil day,
grant me the protection of His tent,
raise me high upon a rock.

Now is my head high
over my enemies roundabout;
I sacrifice in His tent
with shouts of joy,
singing and chanting
a hymn of the LORD. (Ps 27:4-6)

As in the Twenty-Third Psalm, so here again we read of the author’s longing for a lifetime of asylum in the Temple in place of the enmity which seems to have driven him there. If, as we suggest, this request for a lifetime in the Temple was not originally an example of devotional hyperbole (which it became later), but had a precise, legal reference, how did the refugee spend his time those many years? Psalm 84 suggests an answer:

How lovely is Your dwelling-place,
0 LORD of hosts.
I long, I yearn for
the courts of the LORD;
my body and soul shout for joy
to the living God.

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself
in which to set her young,
near Your altar, 0 LORD of hosts,
my king and my God.

Happy are those who dwell in Your house;
they forever praise You. (Selah)

Happy is the man who finds refuge in You.
Better one day in Your courts
than a thousand [anywhere else];
I would rather stand at
the threshold of God’s house
than dwell in the tents of the wicked,

For the LORD God is sun and shield;
the LORD bestows grace and glory;
He does not withhold His bounty
from those who live without blame. (Ps 84:2-6a, 11-12)

The two beatitudes of vv. 5 and 6 suggest that the refugees may have been employed as Temple singers, a position that in the postexilic era was re­defined as a prerogative of the lesser clerical caste, the Levites (1 Chr 16:4). Verse 11 recalls another Temple chore, that of the doorkeepers, which also eventually became Levitical (1 Chr 9:19). Ps 27:6, which we have already examined, indicates that the refugee may also have been engaged in the sacred slaughter of animals, and many psalms indicate that he did, indeed, partake of the offerings:

I bless You all my life;
I lift up my hands, invoking Your name.
I am sated as with suet and fat,
I sing praises with joyful lips
when I call You to mind upon my bed,
when I think of You in my watches of the night,
for You are my help,
and in the shadow of Your wings
I shout for joy.

My soul is attached to You;
Your right hand supports me.
May those who seek to destroy my life
enter the depths of the earth. (Ps 63:5-10)

Elsewhere, the “as” of v. 6 disappears, and we hear of people who “feast on the rich fare of Your house” (Ps 36:9). These passages betray no awareness of the Priestly insistence that a layperson may not eat of the sacred dona­tions (Lev 22:10-16).We have argued that the Jerusalem Temple (and other Israelite shrines) served as places of asylum in a very practical, legal sense. Whether the institution of asylum was the original context for all the “entrance liturgies” is impossible to ascertain. Passages like Ezekiel 18, however, with its criteria for determining who is righteous and worthy of life and who is not, argue for a less limited context of these lists of criteria. In any event, the preserva­tion of the “entrance liturgies” after the disappearance of the legal institution in question and their eventual inclusion in the Psalter demonstrates that their meaning was not thought to have been exhausted by any practical con­text. Instead, they became part of a manual of devotion.

The refugee of those poems that do clearly speak of asylum became Everyman. The situa­tion of an innocent person slandered and hunted by bloodthirsty enemies and seeking shelter and sustenance from his bountiful lord became a para­digm of the human condition. The recitation to this day of those psalms by people who have never suspected their original setting is stunning evidence for the phenomenal durability of the spiritual legacy of the Jerusalem Temple.

A Locus for the Vision of God

The apogee of the spiritual experience of the visitor to the Temple was a visit of God. In fact, “to see the face of YHWH” is an idiom that indicates a visit to the Temple (e.g., Deut 16:16). Psalm 11 asserts a reci­procity of vision: YHWH, enthroned in His Temple, conducts a visual inspection of humanity, and those found worthy are granted a vision of his “face”:

The LORD is in His holy palace;
the LORD —His throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold (yehezu), His gaze searches mankind.

The Lord seeks out the righteous man,
but loathes the wicked one who loves injustice.
He will rain down upon the wicked
blazing coals and sulfur;
a scorching wind shall be their lot.

For the LORD is righteous;
He loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold (yehezu) His face. (Ps 11:4-7)

We shall see that the vision of God in His Temple or a vision of the Temple itself were occasionally powerful components of the revelation granted to prophets. But this was probably merely a specialization of the spiritual experience of the Temple available to any whose deeds merited it. The folk etymology of the Land of Moriah at which Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac underscores the association with visionary experience:

And Abraham named that site Adonai-Yireh,
whence the present saying,
“On the mount of the LORD there is vision.” (Gen 22:14)

The last clause can just as well be translated, “on the mount of the LORD He is seen.” One senses that the author has a particular mountain in mind. Postexilic tradition may well be correct in identifying it with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where YHWH “had appeared to [Solomon’s] father David” (2 Chr 3:1). If so, then one function of the story of the binding of Isaac in its present form was to connect the ongoing vision of God in the Temple with the visionary experience of the patriarchs. Abraham’s experience has been assimilated to David’s (2 Sam 24:15), and both now serve as a foundation myth for the Jerusalem Temple. If, as seems equally possible, in Genesis 22 Moriah has not yet become a name for any part of Jerusalem but refers to another sacred spot, the connection between theophany and sacrifice remains valid and important. Particularly noteworthy is the association of vision, sacrifice, and oracle, which appear together not only in Genesis 22 and 2 Samuel 24 but also, for example, in the story of the Gentile seer Balaam (Num 23:1-5) and in the annunciation of Samson’s birth (Judges 13). The last passage indicates that a divine being might be imagined to have been glimpsed in the flames leaping up to the sky from the altar on which the sacrificial offer­ing was burning (vv. 19-23; cf. Exod 3:2).

The importance of icons of the deity in Near Eastern temples suggests another candidate for the object beheld in the epiphanic moment. To be sure, images of the deity, in fact all images, became strictly prohibited in ancient Israel. The prohibition came into the Decalogue itself (Exod 20:4),20 and Aaron’s and Jeroboam’s casting of golden calves (Exod 32 and 1 Kgs 12:28-32) came to serve as archetypes of sin. The question is the date at which the cultus became aniconic and the extent of acceptance of the anti-iconic theology in ancient Israelite society. From the Torah itself one might not suspect that the heyday of iconoclasm in Israel began in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah late in the eighth century B.C.E., and was resumed with a ferocious passion almost a century later, in the reign of Josiah.

It was Hezekiah who “broke into pieces the bronze serpent which Moses had made” (2 Kgs 18:4), the very sight of which had been thought to produce healing in the viewer (Num 21:6-9).

Josiah, acting on the basis of a new­found “book of the Torah,” which most scholars think was some form of Deuteronomy, carried out a far-reaching purge, which included the destruc­tion of iconography on the grounds of the Jerusalem Temple (2 Kgs 22-23). The history of Israel that comes to us in the books from Joshua through 2 Kings was edited in Deuteronomistic circles who presupposed the norma­tiveness and antiquity of the aniconic cultus.

But traces of the other perspec­tives remain. There is, for example, the golden “ephod” that the YHWHistic hero Gideon made; to a Deuteronomistic editor of the book of Judges, it was only “a snare to Gideon and his household” (Judg 8:27). But there is no reason to think that it represented any deity except YHWH. Similarly, the mother of an Ephraimite named Micah dedicated silver to YHWH, out of which a smith at her request apparently made two images, one sculptured and one molten. These Micah set up in his temple (Judg 17:1-6). The precise nature of all these images must remain a matter of speculation. Nonetheless, the application of bovine imagery to YHWH may provide a clue. Not only is YHWH described as being endowed with something “like the horns of a wild ox” (Num 24:8), but one of his epithets is ‘avir ya`aqov, a term often rendered as “Mighty One of Jacob; but better rendered “Bull of Jacob” (Gen 49:24; Ps 132: 2,4).21 The bovine imagery and epithets are a carryover from the Canaanite god ‘El, with whom YHWH was identified even in “ortho­dox” theology (e.g., Gen 33:20; Isa 43:12). Was there ever a bull image or similar icon in the Jerusalem Temple?

In answer, one must first note that the radical iconoclasm of Deuteronomic tradition, which prohibited all plastic art (Deut 4:15-18), never seems to have taken root in the Jerusalem Temple. There, in contrast, one encountered a dazzling display of art, including olive-wood cherubim, reliefs of trees and flowers, bronze columns, topped with capitals and festooned with chainwork, a bronze tank called the “Sea’ supported by twelve oxen (!), and much else (1 Kgs 7).

The blunt truth is that, if we judged from the descriptions of Solomon’s Temple and the Tent of Meeting (Exod 25-30; 35-40) alone, we should never guess the depth of anti-iconic feeling in ancient Israel. Whether the gallery of visual delights that was the Jerusalem Temple included at some points in its checkered history an icon of YHWH, bovine or other, is impossible to say with certainty. Deuteronomic tradition insists that the Ark of the Covenant contained only the Decalogue (Deut 10:1-5).

Some modern scholars have conjectured that at one point it contained an icon instead.If so, it is likely that the “face” which was seen in the Temple or the “beauty of the LORD” which one psalmist longed to behold there for his entire life (Ps 27:4) were more than metaphorical. In that case, what is most remarkable is that this language of vision remained central to the religious vocabulary even after its literal referent had vanished. In this, the language of vision resembles the Jerusalem Temple itself.

Zion the Inviolable

We have seen that central to the idea of the Temple as a place of asylum is the assertion that the person qualified for admittance to it is inviolable. He “shall never be shaken” (Ps 15:5), and he holds his “head high/over [his] enemies roundabout” (Ps 27:6). The same inviolability is predicated not only of the right-doing person sheltered within, but of the Temple itself, the mount upon which it rests, and the holy city in which it is found. That is to say, the protection that the Temple affords one Israelite against the enmity of another is available also to the larger community when it is under attack by its enemies:

A song. A psalm of the Korahites.
The LORD is great and much acclaimed
in the city of our God,
His holy mountain —
fair-crested, joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, summit of Zaphon,
city of the great king.

Through its citadels,
God has made Himself known as a haven.
See, the kings joined forces;
they advanced together.
At the mere sight of it they were stunned,
they were terrified, they panicked;
they were seized there with a trembling,
like a woman in the throes of labor,
as the fleet of Tarshish
was wrecked in an easterly gale.

The likes of what we heard
we have now witnessed
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
in the city of our God—
may God preserve it forever!
Selah.

In Your temple, God,
we meditate upon Your faithful care.
The praise of You, God, like Your name,
reaches to the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is filled with beneficence.
Let Mount Zion rejoice!

Let the towns of Judah exult,
because of Your judgments.
Walk around Zion, circle it;
count its towers, take note of its ramparts;
go through its citadels,
that you may recount it to a future age.

For God—He is our God forever;
He will lead us evermore. (Ps 48)

In this poem, recited today by traditional Jews on Monday mornings, the Temple is the objective correlative of the omnipotence and trustworthiness of God. The very sight of it throws an alliance of hostile kings into a panic (vv. 4-8). Zion, the Temple Mount, is the visible form, the “incarnation: so to speak, of the sacred story of YHWH’s commitment to rescue those loyal to Him (v. 9): it is in the Temple that the psalmist and his circle “form an image” (dimminu, v. 10)23 of God’s care for His worshipers. Here the dichotomy is not between the innocent within and the wicked outside the Temple, or between the homicide without malice aforethought and his victim’s avenger. Rather, the critical distinction is between the Temple (and Zion and Jerusalem) as the state shrine of the entire kingdom of Judah, on the one hand, and those outside Judah, on the other, those who are, pre­sumably, vulnerable to military defeat, as Judah, ruled by “the great king” (v. 3), is not. Whether “the great king” is YHWH or His Davidic viceroy and son is impossible to ascertain and ultimately irrelevant, given the indefectible commitment of YHWH to the House of David in Judean royal theology (e.g., Pss 89:20-28; 110:1-5). In fact, the inviolability of the Temple/Zion/Jerusalem served, in part, as the ideology associated with Davidic imperialism. The utility of this mythos for propaganda and psycho­logical warfare must not be overlooked:

Why do nations assemble,
and peoples plot vain things;
kings of the earth take their stand,
and regents intrigue together
against the LORD and against His anointed.
“Let us break the coals of their yoke,
shake off their ropes from us!”
He who is enthroned in heaven laughs;
the LORD mocks at them.

Then He speaks to them in anger,
terrifying them in His rage,
“But I have installed My king
on Zion, My holy mountain!”

Let me tell of the decree:
the LORD said to me,
“You are My son,
I have fathered you this day.
Ask it of Me,
and I will make the nations your domain;
your estate, the limits of the earth.
You can smash them with an iron mace,
shatter them like potter’s ware.

So now, 0 kings, be prudent;
accept discipline, you rulers of the earth!
Serve the LORD in awe;
tremble with fright,
pay homage in good faith,
lest He be angered,
and your way be doomed
in the mere flash of His anger.
Happy are all who take refuge in Him. (Ps 2)

In this poem, as in Psalm 48, we hear of a conspiracy of kings and of the ease with which it is overcome. But here the kings are already in vassalage to YHWH and to His anointed regent (mashiah, v. 2); v. 3 is the manifesto of their revolution, the declaration of their independence.With three points, however, they have failed to reckon.

First, ultimate sovereignty is not an earthly prerogative; it resides in the skies, where YHWH, the king of kings, is enthroned. No challenge to His kingship can succeed (v. 4).

Second, the human king against whom they are in rebellion has been in­stalled by the ultimate king on Mount Zion, which is sacred space (v. 6). Presumably, an attack upon him there would be equivalent to an invasion of the Temple precincts by a blood-avenger in pursuit of his prey—in short, an outrageous sacrilege.

Third, the rebellious vassals do not recognize the closeness and the durability of YHWH’s relationship to the anointed king enthroned upon Zion. The latter rectifies this by reading the protocol By which he became God’s son and thus the vice-regent of the universal dominion (vv. 7-9). The action of Psalm 2, therefore, takes place upon a split set.

The nexus between heavenly and earthly sovereignty is Davidic kingship, which is an extension of YHWH’s reign into the murky world of human politics. In other words, the authority of the House of David is in this world, but not of it. The link between the two worlds, the world of divine power and the world of power politics, is Mount Zion, the capital of the universe, from which the House of David exercises its divine commis­sion to rule. The divine origin of that commission ensures the immunity and invulnerability of the Temple Mount to the challenges of ordinary political life. It is on Zion that the higher world is available. Zion is the axis mundorum.

The Judean royal theology, with its bold assertions about the indefectibil­ity and absoluteness of God’s commitments to David and Zion, must not be taken for the totality of biblical thought on these issues. There is, for example, a tension between this theology and the stern morality of much prophetic literature:

Hear this, you rulers of the House of Jacob,
You chiefs of the House of Israel,
Who detest justice
And make crooked all that is straight,
Who build Zion with crime,
Jerusalem with iniquity!

Her rulers judge for gifts,
Her priests give rulings for a fee,
And her prophets divine for pay;
Yet they rely upon the LORD, saying,
“The LORD is in our midst;
No calamity shall overtake us.”

Assuredly, because of you
Zion shall be plowed as a field,
And Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins,
And the Temple Mount
A shrine in the woods. (Mic 3:9-12; cf. Jer 7:1-15)

Here, the divine commitment to Temple/Zion/Jerusalem is emphatically contingent upon the justice of the Judean ruling class. Jerusalem ceases to benefit from God’s special protection when its prosperity results from cor­ruption and victimization of the innocent; to build Jerusalem in this way is to invite God to level it. To be sure, no biblical source guarantees the Davidic king and the inhabitants of Jerusalem immunity from punishment for sins they commit. In fact, even the texts that promise David an ever­lasting dynasty warn that the reigning dynast can be chastised, even though the throne is inalienable from his family (2 Sam 7:14-15; Ps 89:31-38). The Davidic covenant does not provide exemption from the Sinitic. And, in fact, Israelite kings, like kings throughout the ancient Near East, were expected to promote and enforce social justice (e.g., Pss 72 and 101).On the other hand, the very indefectibility of the grant to David does imply that one punishment for breach of the Sinaitic covenant is not a possibility, the deposition and exile of the king (Dent 28:36). When, in 597 B.C.E., a Davidic king was dragged into exile and in 587 B.C.E., the Temple atop Mount Zion was torched and the sacred city destroyed (2 Kgs 24:8­25:17), the Sinaitic covenantal tradition must have seemed vindicated and the spiritual experience articulated in the royal theology, discredited:

The breath of our life, the LORD’S anointed,
Was captured in their traps—
He in whose shade we had thought
To live among the nations. (Lam 4:20)

Yet Judaism as it developed in the exile and in the period of the Second Temple was not a religion of pure conditionality untouched by vision and grace. Instead, the impregnable Temple of yesteryear and Zion, the seat of a glorious empire, were increasingly projected onto an eschatological future. God would redeem Zion, David, and all Israel from their present state of degradation and subjugation (e.g., Zech 9:9-10). Or, to change the metaphor from the temporal to the spatial, the glories of the past could still be glimpsed, but only in the form of their heavenly archetypes now that the earthly antitypes were ruined or diminished: apocalyptic seers and initiated mystics could still attain to a vision of the messiah and even of the throne of God in the supernal realm, which has not yet come to the mundane world (e.g., Dan 7; 1 Enoch 14).Despite all these transformations, something of the Judean royal theology lives even today in the Jewish messianic hope and its Christian counterpart, the expectation of the Second Coming and the kingdom, and in the place that Zion and Jerusalem play in the Jewish religious imagination.

The effect of the inclusion of these two spiritual postures in one set of scriptures is to create a spiritual dialectic which, like any dialectic, is more than the sum of its pans. The one perspective, represented by the royal theology, speaks of the mysterious and all-encompassing grace of God, which provides absolute security in the here-and-now. The second perspec­tive, represented by the Sinaitic covenantal perspective, also includes a note of grace, for example, in its assertion of the perdurable openness of God to repentance (e.g., Deut 4:29-31) and its occasional emphasis upon the eternal, unconditional covenant with the patriarchs (e.g., Lev 26:39-42). But the predominant note in the Sinaitic traditions is the note of ultimate condi­tionality, the life-and-death choice which it is fully in Israel’s power to make (e.g., Deut 30:19-20).

Together these two positions prescribe a religion in which, to use the Christian terminology, neither “grace” nor “works,” is asserted at the expense of the other. The emphasis on grace in the royal and Temple theologies threatens to depreciate the deed, to render ethics dispens­able, in short, to make Israel merely a passive bystander in her own spiritual life. The emphasis on works on mizwot, in the traditions of the Sinai cove­nant, threatens to make God merely a mechanism for the dispensation of rewards and punishments and to make the mizwot themselves into magical practices through which Israel can manipulate her God, who thus becomes the passive partner in the relationship.

By refusing to dichotomize spiritual experience into grace and works, by affirming both simultaneously, the religion prescribed by the Jewish Bible maintains the two-sidedness of the relationship of God and Israel. It preserves both activity and passivity as proper postures for both partners, and it affirms the ultimate importance both of this world and of the higher or future world.

To some, the juxta­position of the two theologies will seem to have resulted in an unacceptable contradiction. To others, it will seem to have resulted in a contradiction that is indeed to be accepted, a paradox, one that lies at the heart of Jewish spirituality throughout the ages.

Temple and Creation

In post-biblical Jewish literature, both Hellenistic and rabbinic, we find the notion that the Jerusalem Temple (or the Tent of Meeting) was a cosmic institution, either the center of the world, from which the world was created, or itself a microcosm, a miniature world. For example, the first-century historian Josephus describes the veil over its door as an eikon, an image, of the world.

In our century this notion that the Temple was conceived as cosmic has received some confirmation from archaeologists studying the iconography of the Temple and its Near Eastern sources and parallels.

For example, the metal “Sea” (yam) in its courtyard (1 Kgs 7:23-26) suggests “the Mesopotamian apsu, employed both as the name of the subter­ranean fresh-water ocean and as the name of a basin of holy water erected in the Temple. As the god of the subterranean freshwater ocean, apsu played an important role in some Mesopotamian cosmogonies, just as the Sea (yam) did in some Israelite creation stories (e.g., Ps 74:12-17; Isa 51:9-11). This suggests that the metal Sea in the Temple courtyard served as a continual testimony to the act of creation.

Similarly, the name of the foundation of the altar of the Temple envisioned in Ezek 43:13-17, “Bosom of the earth” (heq ha’arez), might suggest the sort of cosmic understanding that will become common in Hellenistic and rabbinic speculation, and the name har’el there (v. 15) may signify either “the mountain of God” (Hebrew) or “a cosmic locality opposite of heaven” (Akaddian arallu). The last example of many that might be cited is the platform (kiyor), upon which Solomon stands as he dedicates his Temple in 2 Chr 6:13. It has been connected with Akkadian kiuru, which may indicate the earth or a sacred place.

In sum, the likelihood is that the Temple appurtenances were con­ceived as symbolic of the cosmos and reminiscent of the great cosmogonic acts of YHWH. If so, then the association of Zion/Jerusalem with “heaven and earth” (e.g., Ps 134:3; Isa 65:17-18), the nierism through which biblical Hebrew denotes the world (e.g., Gen 1:1), is not coincidence!

There is also literary evidence to support this connection of creation and Temple in ancient Israelite culture. Since rabbinic times, scholars have noticed verbal parallels between the account of the completion of the world in Gen 2:1-3 and the account of the completion of the Tent of Meeting in Exodus 39-40. World building and Temple building seem to be homo­logous activities. In fact, some of the same language can be found in the description of “the establishment of the sanctuary in the land and the distribution of the land among the tribes in Joshua 18-19.

Therefore, we should not be surprised to find other thematic parallels between these three moments. One is the theme of “rest.” God “rested° (wayyanah) on the seventh day (Exod 20:11), the crown of creation; Zion is his “resting-place” (menuhatiy), Ps 132:4 and the land of Israel is the place in which he provides “rest” for his people (menuhah, Deut 12:9). According to 1 Chr 22:9, it is because Solomon, unlike David, was “a man at rest” (‘ish menuhah) that he was permitted to build the Temple.

The Temple is the place at which that primordial moment of repose remains eternally available. Yet the Sabbath; another memorial to creation (e.g., Exod 20:11), makes available the same experience. The Sabbath is a kind of democratization of the Temple expe­rience, and the land of Israel is an extended Temple, a whole land of holi­ness, which, like temples, must be zealously guarded against pollution (e.g., Lev 18:24-30).

The sanctity of the Sabbath, the sanctity of the Temple, and the sanctity of the land are homologous. They are not ultimately distin­guishable. Each testifies to God’s triumph, to His invincibility — whether in cosmogony, when He overcame the primordial watery chaos (Gen 1:2), or in history, when He overcame all the enemies of His people, settled them in the land, gave them respite, and allowed His sacred palace to be built at last. Ultimately, the cosmogony and the historical myths are not to be distinguished: their end point is the same, YHWH and Israel at rest in His sacred precincts. It was for this reason that the definitive triumph of YHWH over Pharaoh, a historical enemy, could be celebrated with a hymn about victory at the waters, a hymn that ends with the appropriate image of YHWH enthroned on his mountain in the Temple which His own hands built and acclaimed king by the people He acquired through manumission (Exod 15:1-8).32 It is here that we see the convergence of the two perspec­tives outlined above, the settlement tradition and the (Priestly) Sinai tradi­tion.

It is true that the consummation of the foundational story comes at the assumption of the promised land in one case and at the inauguration of the tent-shrine in the other. In the settlement tradition, the fulfillment lies ahead for a longer time. In the (Priestly) Sinai tradition, it is a present reality from Sinai on. But once the homology of land and Temple is recognized, it becomes clear that, although the story comes to rest later in one case than the other, the rest to which it comes is the same.

This conception of the Temple as a world, a microcosm, recalls the recent statement by a distinguished historian of religion that “ritual represents the creation of a controlled environment … [It is] a means of performing the way things ought to be in conscious tension to the way things are in such a way that this ritualized perfection is recollected in the ordinary, uncontrolled, course of things.” The Temple is the world as it ought to be. It is a world in which God’s reign is unthreatened, and his justice is manifest, in which life is peaceful, and every Israelite is without blemish. It is no wonder that prophets could call the mountain of God TAW, and compare Zion glorified to that paradisaical garden (Ezek 28:13-14; Isa 51:3). In this theology, [he Temple was a piece of primal perfection available within the broken world of ordinary experience—heaven on earth.

The House of YHWH and the Renewal of the World

The contiguity of a heavenly entity, the Jerusalem Temple, and mundane reality, with all its corruption and defilement, accounts for one of the most powerful spiritual dynamics in the Hebrew Bible. We see it in its sharpest form in the experience of the prophet Isaiah:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I beheld my Lord seated on a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple.

Seraphs stood in attendance on Him. Each of them had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his legs, and with two he would fly.

And one would call to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy!
The Loan of Hosts!
His presence fills all
the earth”

The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the House kept filling with smoke.

I cried,
“Woe is me; I am lost!
For I am a man of unclean lips
And I live among a people
of unclean lips;

Yet my own eyes have beheld The King LORD of Hosts!”

Then one of the seraphs flew over to me with a live coal, which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched it to my lips and declared,

“Now that this has touched your lips,
Your guilt shall depart
And your sin be purged away!”

Then I heard the voice of my LORD saying,

“Whom shall I send?
Who will go for us?”

And I said,

“Here am I; send me.”

And He said,

“Go, say to that people… 7 (Isa 6:1-9)

Here Isaiah is privileged to see the difference between the earthly antitype and the heavenly archetype disappear: iconography becomes the reality it symbolizes. To the prophet, the Temple as it fills with smoke (probably from burning incense) suggests the world as it is filled with the “presence” (kaved) of God, no longer restricted to the sacred precincts (vv. 3-4; cf. Exod 40:34; 1 Kgs 8:11).Not only does the earthly Temple become one with the heavenly one, but the world becomes one with the Temple — or almost. For the vision of God in His majesty and holiness and the seraphic an­nouncement of the universal scope of His presence induce in Isaiah an acute awareness of his own defilement. He is a man °of unclean lips” from a people “of unclean lips,” a status that is incompatible with a vision of God.

The vision would have doomed him, had not a seraph cauterized his lips and thus purified him of whatever blasphemy or slander he had uttered (Isa 6:5-7). Only then does Isaiah become fit to bear the verdict of the divine council out into the profane world (vv. 8-9).

The affinity of Isaiah’s throne – vision with the spirituality of the Temple as it appears in the Psalms is patent. As we have noted, the apogee of a visit to the Temple was a vision of God, but entrance was granted only to those qualified for it. Sins of the tongue are prominent among the disqualifications (e.g., Ps 15:3; 24:4).

In Isaiah’s case, the dissonance between the holiness of YHWH enthroned in his Temple and the unholiness of the outside world impelled his prophetic career. The people of Zion have become unfit recep­tacles for that overpowering holiness whose invasion of the ordinary world was announced by the seraphim. They must be reformed:

Sinners in Zion are frightened,
The godless are seized with trembling:
“Who of us can dwell with the devouring fire?
Who of us can dwell with the never – dying blaze?”

He who walks in righteousness,
Speaks uprightly,
Spurns profit from fraudulent dealings,
Waves away a bribe instead of grasping it,
Stops his ears against listening to infamy,
Shuts his eyes against looking at evil —

Such a one shall dwell in lofty security,
With inaccessible cliffs for his stronghold,
With his food supplied And his drink assured. (Isa 33:14-16)

In this oracle, the “entrance liturgy” serves as the basis for prophetic indict­ment, as the entire nation is exhorted to act as if it seeks admission to the Temple. Moreover — and here we see the connection with the seraphic hymn of 6:3 — the holy God is not satisfied with remaining within His palace, but is, instead, determined to make the world His palace: He is a “devouring flame,” scorching sinners not only in Zion/Jerusalem but also in Israel and throughout the world.Isaiah’s message is, in large measure, founded upon the ethical imperative that follows from the experience of the Temple. For him, YHWH is, first and foremost, the “Holy One of Israel;” and the deadliest sin is arrogance, which he interprets as the idolatrous act of self-enthronement:

Yea, man is bowed,
And mortal brought low;
Brought low is the pride of the haughty.
And the LORD of Hosts is exalted by judgment,
The Holy God proved holy by retribution. (Isa 5:15-16; cf. 2:10-17).

Just as Isaiah’s own life is exposed to the eyes of the Holy One, so he sees his people in their world sub specie sanctitatis Dei.

The invasion of the weed by the Towle is the theme of an oracle of uncertain authorship, two variations of which appear in Isaiah and in Micah:

In the days to come,
The Mount of the Lord’s House Shall stand firm above the
mountains And tower above the hills;
And all the nations
Shall gaze on it
with joy.
And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come,
Let us go up to
the Mount of the Lord, To the House of the God of Jacob; That He may instruct us
in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.”
For instruction shall come
forth from Zion, The word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Thus He will judge among the nations
And arbitrate for the many peoples,
And they shall beat their
swords into plowpoints”
And their spears into pruning hooks:
Nation shall not take up
Sword against nation;
They shall never again know war. (Isa 2:2-4; cf. Mic 4:1-5)

Here we see numerous reflections of the Temple mythos which we have been delineating. The language of the eschatological establishment of the Temple (nakhon, “stand firm;’ v. 2) recalls both YHWH’s founding of a temple after His battle with Pharaoh at the Sea (Exod 15:17) and the language of creation, in which YHWH sets the earth upon its founda­tion (e.g., yekoneneha, Ps 24:1-2). The Temple is about to be refounded, and the world, renewed. The exaltation of the Temple Mount (nissa’, Isa 2:2) recalls Isaiah’s vision of YHWH seated “on a high and lofty (ram wenissa’) throne” (6:1). Apparently, the famous oracle of 2:2-4 is a description of the world as it is to be after YHWH’s final and irreversible enthronement, when He assumes direct rule over His universal dominion. Like so much of biblical literature, it is a historicization of the enthronement experience, this time (as often) in the future tense.The theme of peace (v. 4) is, as we have seen, also an integral element in the Temple mythos. In this oracle, it is extended beyond the vicinity of Zion, or, to be more precise, Zion so dominates the world that all war becomes as futile as an attack upon the inviolable and impregnable Temple Mount itself. The affirmation that God “puts a stop to wars throughout the earth” (Ps 46:10) seems to have had a place in the Temple theology (cf. vv. 9-12).

Finally, the prediction of “instruction” (torah, Isa 2:3) proceeding from Zion recalls the career of Isaiah himself, who bore his message from the Temple out into the world. The prediction is another reflex of the idea, common throughout the ancient Near East, of the temple as a place for oracles. But, in this vision, alongside the outward motion of the oracle as it leaves Zion/Jerusalem lies the motion of the nations as they march toward the Temple in quest of sacred knowledge. The image of the Gentiles converging on Zion, now resplendent and triumphant after a period of humiliation and desolation, became an important element in later Jewish eschatology (e.g., Isa 60-62).

It was an essential constituent of the vision of YHWH’s ultimate victory, which was complete and manifest only when He had assumed His throne in the palace upon His sacred mountain. “A new heaven and a new earth” were inextric­ably associated with a new Jerusalem, (re-)created “as a joy/and her people as a delight” (Isa 65:17-18). Visions of that (re)new(ed) temple and the pro­leptic experience of it were important in Jewish utopias (e.g., Ezek 40-48).

Temple and Synagogue

==================================The groundwork for Jewry’s survival of the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. was laid after the Babylonians had razed the First in 587 B.C.E. The unavailability of the Temple to all Jews for another two generations and to Diaspora Jews ever after aided mightily in the emergence of ideas and institutions that stood in succession to the national shrine, principally the synagogue. Until the emergence of liberal Judaism in the nineteenth century, however,the succession of the Jerusalem Temple by the synagogue was not regarded as final. Rather, the synagogue was seen as a temporary measure, although, sadly, a long-lived one, until the -reconstruction of the Temple. In fact, the traditional liturgy continues to pray for the return of the Temple and the reinstitution of its sacrificial system. Prayer and sacred study replaced sacrifice, but sacrifice remained a central concern of prayer and sacred study. This curious arrangement, in which one institution replaces another without altogether displacing it, is adumbrated in the Hebrew Bible, in the longest biblical meditation upon the use of the Temple, Solomon’s dedication speech in 1 Kgs 8:12-53. The speech shows an acute consciousness of the possibility of national defeat in war and a consequent exile (vv. 33-34, 46-53), but it never once mentions the most frequent and obvious function of the Temple, to serve as a place for sacrifice! Instead it stresses prayer (tefilla) and supplication (tehinnah) unremit­tingly.37 The Temple, in fact, has become the place toward which Israel in exile directs their prayers (v. 48); from there they are referred to God’s heavenly abode, the supernal Temple. The survival of the Temple as a spiritual focus long after the physical entity had been destroyed is one of the most remarkable aspects ofJudaism. It is not that the Temple was spiritualized after its destruction. Instead, the spiritual role of the Temple after its destruction was a continuation of the role the Temple had long played in the devotional and visionary experience of Israel in the biblical period.

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