Genesis 1-2 as a Temple Text

I am continuing my presentation of the Analogical Day View in this post by looking specifically at Genesis 1-2. We have seen that in the ANE in general & Israel specifically, the temples were seen as a kind of microcosm. If that is the case, then perhaps we would expect that the Jews also interpreted it that way and that creation passages may reflect the temple. So perhaps it is not surprising that Genesis 1-2 itself has a lot of temple connections. One of the lines of evidence that Eden should be viewed as the first temple is in the verbal similarities between the creation accounts and the later temple and tabernacle accounts.

Walk (Halak)

Both Eden and the later tabernacle were considered a special dwelling place of God. We know that God is omnipresent, that is to say, God is everywhere, but at the same time we can recognize that he was present in a unique way in the temple or in the tabernacle.

  • Leviticus 26:12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
  • Deuteronomy 23:14 Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.
  • 2 Samuel 7:6 I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling.

Each of these passages has reference to the tabernacle, and specifically how God in the tabernacle would walk with his people. The same Hebrew word for “walk” used in these tabernacle texts is also used in Genesis to refer to God walking in the garden.

Expanse (Raqiya)

On day 2 God created the expanse to separate the waters above from the waters above. The word expanse (in the Hebrew it is raqia) is used to describe an extended metal surface. Liberals have used that to try to disprove the Bible saying, “See! This is obviously just made up by ancient people who thought that the sky was a solid dome.” But once you understand Genesis 1 as a creation text, then the solid dome makes sense as part of the imagery that communicates creation as God’s temple.

God, through Moses is structuring the telling of creation in such a way that creation itself is to be seen as the temple of God. So Moses uses the term raqiya` as a metaphorical way to refer to the sky. He could have simply said “sky” or “heaven” but he wanted to paint a picture of creation as God’s temple. Hence using the term Raqiya` gives that picture of a temple dome. It is interesting that the term raqiya` is also used in Psalm 150 where the heavens are likened to God’s sanctuary.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! (Psalm 150:1, ESV)

In this case the first line “Praise God in his sanctuary” is paralleled with the second line “praise him in his mighty heavens!” So sanctuary is a synonym with raqiya or expanse.

Lights (Ma’owr)

On day 4 God created the sun, moon, and stars. But oddly enough, he avoids calling them sun and moon. Rather, the terms greater light and lesser light are used. In fact he uses a rather obscure term that is only used perhaps a dozen or so times in the Bible and almost all of them are found in the Pentateuch. A number of commentators mention that “What is intriguing is that the ten occurrences in the Pentateuch outside of Genesis all refer  to the light of the lampstand that lights up the tabernacle.” So it seems that God is making another reference to the temple or tabernacle which will figure so prominently later in the Pentateuch.

Work and Keep It (`abad shamar)

In chapter 2 God made Adam, then he put him in the garden and commanded him to “work it and keep it.” The only other place we see these two words occur together is when God instructs the priests to work and keep the temple.

  • Numbers 3:7-8 They shall keep guard over him and over the whole congregation before the tent of meeting, as they minister at the tabernacle. 8 They shall guard all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, and keep guard over the people of Israel as they minister at the tabernacle.
  • Numbers 8:25-26 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
  • Numbers 18:5-6 And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel. 6 And behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the people of Israel.They are a gift to you, given to the Lord, to do the service of the tent of meeting.

In each of these instances, the priests were told to keep and to guard, which are the same Hebrew words in the instructions God gave to Adam regarding his service in the garden. As Beale points out:

When Adam fails to guard the temple by sinning and letting in an unclean serpent to defile the temple, Adam loses his priestly role, and the two cherubim take over the responsibility of “guarding” the garden temple. . . . Their role became memorialized in Israel’s later temple when God commanded Moses to make two statues of angelic figures and station them on either side of the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies in the temple. (Beal, “Eden, The Temple, an the Church’s Mission in the New Creation” JETS 48/1 (March 2005) 5–31)


The entrance of the temple was on the east side. That was always to be the case. Even with the tabernacle which moved around all the time, it was to be set up so that its entrance was always on the east side. Given the other temple connections, the otherwise odd detail of the entrance of the garden being in the east now has added significance.

The rivers in Genesis 2 have been the subject of much debate. Not only because two of the four rivers are unknown to us, but also because it is unknown to have a river divie into four parts. It is common to have rivers join together, but unheard of to have them divide. It is interesting that, just as a river flowed out of Eden, so also does a river flow out of both the post-exilic idealized temple in Ezekiel, and the eschatological temple of Revelation.