The Tabernacle:
Mountain of God in the Cultus of Israel

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Abstract: In this article, Michael Morales considers how the building of the Tabernacle had been pre-figured from the earliest narratives of Genesis onward. It describes some of the parallels between the creation, deluge, and Sinai narratives and the tabernacle account; examines how the high priest’s office functions as something of a new Adam; and considers how the completed tabernacle resolves the storyline of Genesis and Exodus, via the biblical theme of “to dwell in the divine Presence.”

[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the LDS community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

See L. Michael Morales, “The Tabernacle: Mountain of God in the Cultus of Israel,” in Ancient Temple Worship: Proceedings of The Expound Symposium 14 May 2011, ed. Matthew B. Brown, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Stephen D. Ricks, and John S. Thompson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2014), 27–70. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/ancient-temple-worship/.]

Introduction

That the narratives leading up to the tabernacle have had its cultus in view as a major goal may be surmised by the centrality of the cultus in the Torah, as well as the parallels (lexical and thematic) between those narratives and the tabernacle account.1 By way of introduction, [Page 98]we will consider briefly the former, the centrality of the tabernacle cultus. Unfolding through the events at Sinai recorded in Exodus 19 through Numbers 10, worship via the tabernacle is the literary heart and theological apex of the Torah.2 Even the sheer amount of this narrative is misleading, moreover, inasmuch as much of the literature outside Exodus 19—Numbers 10 has also been demonstrated to be concerned with cultic matters and likely, in Genesis 1—Exodus 18, in such a way as to anticipate Israel’s tabernacle cultus.3

More narrowly, chapters 19-40 of Exodus may be considered, formally, a meticulously composed, coherent story that culminates with the glory cloud’s descent upon the completed tabernacle.4 Justifiably, then, Davies believes “worship” has a strong claim to be the central theological theme of Exodus, linking together salvation, covenant, and law — a theology, what’s more, going back as far as can be discerned in the history of the tradition.5 Now beyond all else to which the tabernacle/המשׁכן cultus and its rituals pertain, one must keep in view the fundamental understanding of it as the dwelling/שׁכן of God (cf. Exodus 25.8-9; 29.45-46), so that “worship” may be defined broadly as “dwelling in the divine Presence.” Already, then, the bookends of the Genesis-through-Exodus narrative begin to emerge: the seventh day/garden of Eden (Genesis 1-3) and the tabernacle Presence of God among his cultic community (Exodus 40).

The building of the tabernacle, then, with the establishment of its cult, may be seen as a major goal of the exodus — a goal that includes the constitution of Israel as a cultic community (עדה ‘edah) living in the divine Presence.6 This goal is evident not only by the centrality of worship in the Torah, but also by explicit statement. At the very outset of the tabernacle narrative, Yhwh’s purpose is manifested: “Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25.8). This narrative goal is repeated in 29.45-6:

I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and I will be their God. They shall know that I am Yhwh their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am Yhwh their God.

That these explicit lines are not merely incidental but programmatic is evident, further, by the lengthy description of the follow-through on the “let them make me a sanctuary” directive. While modern sensibilities find tedious the mass of repetitive material constituting thirteen of the remaining sixteen chapters of Exodus, yet from the ancient Near East [Page 99](ANE) perspective this concentration manifestly brings one to the heart of the narrative.7 The overall movement from slavery to worship, from building for Pharaoh to building for Yhwh8 is in line with parallel ANE literature, such as the Ugaritic epic of Baal and the Babylonian “Epic of Creation,” whereby the building of a victorious deity’s house/temple forms the epic’s climax.9 Thus, comparisons with other building narratives from the Bible (1 Kings 5.15-9.25) and Mesopotamian and Ugaritic sources manifest, not only that the tabernacle story’s overall structure is deliberate and well ordered, following a standard literary pattern or building genre,10 but also the ideological weight of the tabernacle itself. The building section within the larger cycle, furthermore, is itself unified by the recurrent theme that Moses was shown the “pattern” (תבנית tabnît) of the tabernacle by God while he was on the mountain (25.9, 40, 26.30, 37.8),11 a theme functioning to underscore the importance of the cultus. Because insufficient consideration of the tabernacle account necessarily results in a “superficial grasp” of the book’s significance,12 the literary weight of the tabernacle material must be balanced by its theological weight. The dramatic question — and tension — of how the prospect of a return to dwelling in the divine Presence will be made possible via a tabernacle constructed according to the divinely revealed heavenly “pattern,” and this prospect in light of the thunderous fury of the fiery Presence just experienced at Sinai — all this must be impressed upon the reader. The balance of the book of Exodus, to summarize, is devoted to the tabernacle, the establishment of which, far from being a subsidiary interpolation, is the climax of the epic, the resolution toward which that narrative has progressed.13

Glimpsing now a sketch of the tabernacle’s centrality within the narrative progression leading up to it, its function as dénouement will appear more clearly. As the creation account of Genesis 1-3 would surely have catechized its original audience, the high goal of worshiping the Creator in the glory of his Presence upon the holy mount had been frustrated by Adam’s transgression and the consequent exile from the garden.14 The ensuing narrative, rather than normalizing life outside of Eden (so as to make the account merely a story about “lost innocence” or “why things are the way they are,” i.e., an etiology), intensifies the predicament and underscores the issue as crucial to the drama (and, thus, an eschatological point). For example, the use of “to banish” גרשׁ in the Cain narrative (4.14; cf. 3.24) suggests that “in some sense Cain’s exile is a repetition and intensification of Adam and Eve’s exile.”15 This intensification reaches an apex as the profanation of creation (as macro-[Page 100]temple) finally calls for an end/return to chaos, righteous Noah, with his household and a remnant of creatures, being delivered through an ark whose plans are divinely revealed, one of several features serving to portray it as a kind of typological temple. The scattering from the tower of Babel may be interpreted, through an anti-gate liturgy pattern, as a further removal from the Presence of God whose own deliberate plan for allowing re-entrance into the divine Presence begins with the call of Abraham and culminates in the divine in-filling of the tabernacle, Babel and the tabernacle being antipodes in the narrative arc.16 New mediated access to that Presence of life thus becomes, not merely a means of “worship” for the Israelite, but the means by which the order and purpose of creation is reestablished—that is, creation and cult are of a piece.17 Thus Hurowitz is correct in positing that the “crucial event around which all the activities focus is God’s entry and manifestation within the newly built abode.”18 If, as we have seen, the creation account is oriented toward the Sabbath, i.e., life in the divine Presence, then it makes sense that the account of history itself should be like oriented. Understanding the loss of the divine Presence as the central catastrophe of the biblical drama, then one begins to see the tabernacle as mishkan, the locus of God’s Presence in the midst of his people,19 as the (at least initial) resolution.20 As already stated, this dénouement is in accord with the general tenor of the Pentateuch in which numerous stories reflect points of priestly interest.21 The pattern of Exodus, then, offers a glimpse, a micro-narrative, of the entire biblical narrative itself.22

I. THE TABERNACLE PRE-FIGURED

In this chapter we will consider further how the tabernacle cultus “fulfills” plot expectation, the tabernacle’s significance being derived from and infused into the previous narrative(s). We will, accordingly, (1) rehearse some of the parallels between the creation, deluge, and Sinai narratives and the tabernacle account; (2) examine how the high priest’s office functions as something of a new Adam, as the righteous one able to ascend the mount of Yhwh; and (3) consider how the completed tabernacle resolves the storyline of Genesis—Exodus, via the biblical theological theme of “to dwell in the divine Presence.”

A brief overview of the parallels between the creation and deluge accounts and the tabernacle will be considered before we turn to the parallels between Sinai and the tabernacle. Our point will be to understand that the tabernacle subsumes meaning and significance [Page 101]from those previous accounts — it is, in many respects, the Pentateuch’s centripetal force and goal.

A. From Creation to the Tabernacle

Creating the cosmos and building the tabernacle are literarily linked, the latter being a microcosm of the former.23 Blenkinsopp identifies precisely these two accounts as the first two major “nodal points” of (P’s narrative in) the Pentateuch: the creation of the cosmos as a precondition for worship (Genesis 1.1-2.4a), and the building and dedication of the wilderness sanctuary (Exodus 40.1-33).24 While the creation may be understood legitimately in terms of a temple, it is also important to see that the tabernacle/temple constitutes something of a new creation within the old, a micro-cosmos within the macro, designed to mediate the paradisal Presence of the Creator. Thus one is not surprised to find the literary parallels between the creation and tabernacle narratives.25 While not rehearsing those parallels here, we merely recall how the רוח of God is instrumental both in the building of the cosmic temple, the world (Genesis 1.2), and in the micro-cosmic world, the tabernacle (Exodus 31.1-11), the former amidst the chaos of water (תהו), the latter amidst the chaos of wilderness (תהו Deuteronomy 32.10).26 This like source of wisdom/skill/power is matched by like method, both creation and tabernacle construction featuring “separation”/בדל: whereas the firmament is created to “separate” (hiphil participle of בדל) the waters (Genesis 1.6), so the tabernacle veil is to “separate” (hiphil qatal of בדל) the holy place from the holiest place (Exodus 26.33).27 Finally, the chronology of the building projects are also linked: the consecration of the tabernacle lasted seven days, a heptadic pattern connected to the Sabbath ordinances.28 Perhaps above all other parallels, it is the Sabbath linking of the tabernacle to creation that generates the theological profundity and function of the cultus: via the mediation of the tabernacle cultus alone, the purpose of creation may be realized.29 The Sabbath, therefore, forms a bridge, an inclusio, linking creation with cultus as its climax,30 the tabernacle manifestly created as a mini-cosmos oriented to the Sabbath.31

The cosmological parallels between creation and the tabernacle are in accord, further, with the cosmological import of several of the tabernacle appurtenances, as later explained within the temple system.32 The altar is called הראל (also referred to as אראיל) “the mountain of God” (Ezekiel 43.15-16) with its base named חיק הארץ “the bosom of the earth” (Ezekiel 43.14).33 The Basin הים מוצק as well is likely to be read with cosmic [Page 102]significance as “The Sea has been restrained!”34 It also appears evident that the menorah was a stylized tree of life (cf. Exodus 25.31-40).35

The tabernacle, then, “is a microcosm of creation, the world order as God intended it writ small in Israel.”36 The parallels thus established, when Yhwh fills the tabernacle, this is “a sign that the new ‘creation’ has been achieved.”37 Interestingly, the sixth century Egyptian Christian Cosmas, in his book Christian Topography, posited that the creation account of Genesis 1 was Moses’ description of the תבנית shown him atop Sinai, and that “the tabernacle prepared by Moses in the wilderness …was a type and copy of the whole world”:

Then when he [Moses] had come down from the Mountain he was ordered by God to make the tabernacle, which was a representation of what he had seen on the Mountain, namely, an impress of the world. …Since therefore it had been shown him how God made the heaven and the earth, and how on the second day he made the firmament in the middle between them, and thus made the one place into two places, so Moses, in like manner, in accordance with the pattern which he had seen, made the tabernacle and placed the veil in the middle and by this division made the one tabernacle into two, the inner and the outer.38

B. From the Ark of Noah to the Tabernacle

One might also recall the “striking parallels between the tabernacle and the ark of Noah,”39 the ark itself a micro-cosmos. Again, while not detailing the parallels here, we merely note the general correspondence that even as “Noah did according to all that God had commanded him, thus did he” (Genesis 6.22) in relation to the ark, so “according to all that Yhwh had commanded Moses, thus did the Israelites all the work” (Exodus 39.42) in relation to the tabernacle, both narratives emphasizing the New Year (Genesis 8.13; Exodus 40.2).40

When the tabernacle narrative is made to include the broader context of Exodus, then many more parallels are manifest: God “remembering” for the sake of deliverance (Genesis 8.1; Exodus 2.24); sending a “wind” (Genesis 8.1; Exodus 14.21); the appearing of “dry ground” (Genesis 8.13-14; Exodus 14.21-22).41

Ross, further, captures both the parallels and the pattern (through the waters → to the mountain → for worship) when he writes:

[Page 103]Just as God had judged the world in Noah’s day and brought Noah’s family through the Flood, compelling them to worship the Lord with a sacrifice, so he judged Egypt and brought Israel through the waters of the Red Sea to worship and serve him on the other side.42

Scholars have also noted how the salvation found in the ark during the forty-day period of rain parallels that amidst the presence of the tabernacle during the forty-year period in the wilderness.43

As mentioned already with regard to creation parallels, so now with regard to deluge parallels with the tabernacle: while it is legitimate to view the ark in terms of temple symbolism, one has not satisfied the significance of those parallels until the tabernacle itself, as the narrative goal, has subsumed something of the meaning of the ark. Likely, it is the redemptive aspect that informs the parallels between ark and tabernacle, the tabernacle constituting the divinely revealed means of refuge. Here, protology swirls into eschatology, and the cosmogonic pattern proves to be mythic in the sense of being in illo tempore.44 From one perspective, it may be said that Adam’s transgression and expulsion “interrupted” the eschatological goal of the original cosmogonic pattern. For our purposes, we simply note the deluge narrative, as with the creation account, has been shaped with a view to the tabernacle cultus.

C. From Mount Sinai to the Tabernacle

On Mount Sinai, Clifford notes, Yhwh has his tent, and the earthly copy of the tent will mediate his Presence to his people.45 What we would like to consider here is the narrative transition from the former to the latter. To be sure, the narrative accounts of each are linked together. For example, the motifs in Exodus 24.15b-18a of (1) Sabbath chronology, (2) the כבוד of Yhwh, (3) use of the term שׁכן, and (4) the introduction speech formula ויקרא, serve to link the mountain of God with the tabernacle pericope, essentially transforming the covenant ceremony into a preparation in worship for the establishment of the tabernacle cult.46 More specifically, we note first, and simply, that the tabernacle structure itself comes into existence within the sacred space established by the presence of the mountain of God.47 But further, and as early as the elders’ vision of God on Mount Sinai in Exodus 24.10-11, we find a description of the heavenly sanctuary, its blue sapphire being a common feature of temples in the ancient Near East, so that already the theophany of the mountain “gives way to temple imagery,” to “the vision of God in the heavenly temple.”48 [Page 104]Then, of course, the תבנית for the tabernacle is revealed precisely from Sinai’s summit. Dozeman and Niccacci note, significantly, it is upon the seventh ascension that the tabernacle cultus is revealed,49 so that the “revelation and construction of the wilderness sanctuary participate fully in the mythology of the cosmic mountain.”50 This participation in mythology also includes a sharing of terminology. Indeed, the great statement of Exodus 24.16 that would ever after symbolize Sinai, namely, that “the glory of Yhwh dwelled upon Mount Sinai,” begins with the word וישׁכן, offering a preview of the following section’s subject, the work of the משׁכן, so that the tabernacle is a kind of miniature Sinai.51 Consistently, the sacred mountain in Exodus 15.17 (whether precisely identified with Sinai or not),52 the tabernacle (Exodus 25.8; Leviticus 16.33), and the Jerusalem temple (1 Chronicles 22.19; Isaiah 63.18) are each referred to as מקדשׁ miqdāš.

Now since a defining feature of any ANE temple is its being an “architectural embodiment of the cosmic mountain,”53 one would expect parallels between them in that embodiment — such is, in fact, the case. In the following ways the narrative brings out the tabernacle’s function as a portable Sinai:54

  1. the three districts of holiness common to each;
  2. Yhwh communicates with Moses from the mountaintop and the Holy of Holies;
  3. the glory cloud envelops both;
  4. the two tablets derived from Sinai’s summit are placed in the tabernacle’s parallel Holy of Holies;
  5. mediation of the divine Presence is via sacrifice.

To flesh out each of these points now, Rodriguez offers a helpful summary of (1) some of the architectural similarities between Sinai and the tabernacle, followed by his illustration, in Figure 1:55

The similarity of arrangement here [Sinai] with that of the subsequent tabernacle is striking. The fence around the mountain, with an altar at the foot of the mountain, would correspond to the court of the sanctuary with its altar of burnt offering; the limited group of people who could go up to a certain point on the mountain would correspond to the priests of the sanctuary, who could enter into the first apartment or “holy place”; and the fact that only Moses could go up to the very presence of Yahweh would correspond to the activity of the high priest, who alone could enter into the presence of [Page 105]Yahweh in the inner apartment of the sanctuary, or “most holy place.”

Figure 1: Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle (Sketch by Angel M. Rodriguez)


The Torah, further, brings out the (2) parallel function between mountain and tabernacle as the locus of divine speech (מן־ההר min-hāhār//מאהל mē’ōhel), so that chapters 19-40 may be said to be a story “dedicated to the divine movement from mountain to tent”:56

And Yhwh called to him from the Mountain, saying…
And Yhwh called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying…

Knohl highlights the significance of the tabernacle as a locus of revelation:

Prior to the construction of the tabernacle, God said to Moses, “There I will meet with you, and I will impart to you—from above the cover, from between the two cherubim that are on top of the Ark of the Pact—all that I will command you concerning the Israelite people” (Exodus 25.22). After it was set up, we read, “When Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he would hear the voice addressing him from above the cover that was on top of the Ark of the Pact between the two cherubim: thus He spoke to him” (Numbers 7.89). God, who is seen above the cover (כפרת), meets Moses there and commands the children of Israel.57

[Page 106]Continuing, Weinfeld provides evidence that (3) the building of the tabernacle is stylistically paralleled to Mount Sinai, specifically with reference to the glory cloud — an idea, he notes, is found already in Nachmanides:58

 

Exodus 24.15-16 Exodus 40.34-Leviticus 1.1
When Moses had ascended the mountain, the cloud covered (הענן ויכס) the mountain. The Presence of Yhwh (כבוד־יהוה) abode on Mount Sinai and the cloud hid it for six days. On the seventh day He called to Moses (ויקרא אל־משׁה) from the midst of the cloud. … the cloud covered (ויכס הענן) the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of Yhwh (יהוה וכבוד) filled the Tabernacle. Moses could not enter because the cloud had settled upon it (cf. 1 Kings 8.10-11). Yhwh called to Moses (ויקרא אל־משׁה) … from the Tent of Meeting.

Cassuto had already noted the poetic parallelism of 40.34 is entirely similar to 24.15-16:59

And the cloud covered the tent of meeting,/
and the glory of Yhwh filled the tabernacle (40.34)

And the cloud covered the mountain;/
and the glory of Yhwh dwelt upon Mount Sinai (24.15-16)

Briefly, with reference to (4) the tables of the Law, we simply point out that the places of their origin (Sinai’s summit) and keeping (Holy of Holies) correspond to each other typologically. Finally, another parallel between Sinai and the tabernacle cultus is found in (5) how the problem of the divine Presence amidst a sinful people is remedied — namely, by sacrifice:

The divine Presence in the midst of Israel necessitated sacrifice. This is implied in the connection between the end of Exodus, where the glory fills the ‘tent of meeting’ (Exodus 40.34-35), and the opening verse of Leviticus where Yhwh calls Moses to give him instruction regarding sacrifice. Leviticus 9 records the occasion when the entire worship system commenced operation. The essence of the ceremony is summarized in Leviticus 9.22-24. All elements of Exodus 24.1-11 are repeated: (1) Yhwh appears to the people (the central benefit of the covenant), (2) the priests make sacrifice and peace offerings (a communal meal would follow that celebrates covenant [Page 107]fellowship), and (3) Aaron speaks a word of blessing to the people (implying benefits of the covenant, perhaps similar in content to the blessings defined in Leviticus 26.4-13). The Levitical sacrifices functioned to maintain and celebrate covenant relationship, sanctifying the nation in service of the holy God in her midst.60

Because of the cultic remedy for sin, “the fire that dwells in their midst” does not consume Israel (40.34-38; cf. 3.3, 24.17).61

In conclusion, there appears to be a deliberate narratival catechesis regarding the transition from Sinai to the tabernacle cultus, so that one may understand with Childs that what happened at Sinai “is continued in the tabernacle.”62 This however amounts to a fundamental understatement unless one first views Sinai as the culminating cosmic mountain (subsuming Eden and Ararat in the narrative trajectory toward the tabernacle), the fulfillment of the cosmogonic pattern: through the Sea (Exodus 14) → to Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) → for worship (Exodus 24), and as the summit from which the divine blueprint for the tabernacle, as with the ark of Noah, is revealed. In sum, when the glory cloud transitions from Sinai to the tabernacle Holy of Holies, what is continued in the tabernacle includes Sinai’s summation of creation (Genesis 1-3) and deliverance (Genesis 6-9).

II. THE GATE LITURGY

Throughout the creation, deluge, and Sinai narratives, the gate liturgy question (“Who shall ascend the mount of Yhwh?”) — so we have advanced — runs like an undercurrent. Finding liturgical expression within the context of the Solomonic temple (Psalms 15, 24), the gate liturgy becomes somewhat expected in the setting of the tabernacle. Such is, in fact, the case, as we will go on to demonstrate below. The gate liturgy will be found, however, in much the same way and manner as in the previous narratives — that is, as an undercurrent within the depths of the narrative, a narrative-unfolding ideology shaped by the cosmic mountain. In our attempt to make manifest the gate liturgy within the tabernacle cultus, we will consider the high priest as symbolizing Adam, and then his entrance into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement as an “ascent.”

[Page 108]A. The High Priest as Adam

One cannot understand the tabernacle cultus adequately apart from considering its personnel, the priesthood.63 The role of the priesthood must be understood in light of the overarching conceptual pattern of the tabernacle as a renewed cosmos.64 For his part, the priest represented the restored creation as pertaining to humanity — he had to be perfect as a man.65

Fletcher-Louis fills in a key piece when he notes that “the high priest was also believed to be the true or second Adam. This idea is probably present already in Ezekiel 28.12-16 and is otherwise clearly attested in Sirach 49.16-50.1 (Hebrew text).”66 He notes further that “the Adamic identity of Aaron is fundamental to the theology of P,” with the priest/new Adam “doing what Adam failed to do in the temple-as-restored-Eden,”67 so that, according to the cultic worldview, “the God-intended humanity of Genesis 1 is thus recapitulated, and sacramentally reconstituted, in Israel’s priesthood, in the temple-as-microcosm.”68 That Adam may be considered justly in priestly terms, even as an archetypal high priest, has already been addressed in our second chapter, and such an understanding is also evident from early sources of interpretation.69 In his Legends of the Jews, for example, Ginzberg notes: “On the sixth, the last day of creation, man had been created in the image of God to glorify his creator, and likewise was the high priest anointed to minister in the tabernacle before his Lord and creator.”70 It may even be precisely because he is an Adam-figure that the priest’s sin propagated guilt among the entire people (Leviticus 4.3).71 Even the terms for the priestly garments, כבוד (“glory”) and תפארת (“honor”), forming an inclusio around the account of the vestments in Exodus 28, are used of the glory theophany of Yhwh, demonstrating that “the priest was appropriately attired to enter a renewed cosmos and stand in the presence of the divine resident of this cosmic temple.”72 Thus the priest in the representation or drama73 of the cultus, dressed in such glorious raiment, portrayed humanity in its newly created purity, no longer separated from the divine Presence through the rebellion and expulsion recounted in Genesis 3, but able — as the pre-eminent “holy” person — to ascend the mount, to enter the Holy of Holies.74 It is important to see, further, that the high priest inherited Moses’ role, discussed earlier, as mediator:

One might picture priests as mediating an ascending movement toward God in their installation rite of passage and their holy and clean life-styles and a concurrent descending movement [Page 109]of oracular messages from God, authoritative declarations, trustworthy torah, and effective blessings in Yahweh’s name. The mediating and revelatory role of the priest, the one who by virtue of his office was “near” Yahweh (Ezekiel 42.13; 43.19; compare Exodus 19.22), is well expressed in a popular saying about priests that has God declare: “Through those near me I will make myself holy, and before the entire people I will glorify myself ” (Leviticus 10.3).75

Another parallel between Moses and the high priest’s office may be found in relation to their deaths. As Wenham notes, the high priest’s atonement labors were not only accomplished on the high holy Day of Atonement, but even, finally, through his own death:

At the pinnacle of the system stood the high priest. … These day of atonement ceremonies enabled God to continue dwelling among his people despite their sinfulness. The atoning work of the high priest culminated in his death. This purged the land of the blood guilt associated with violent death and allowed those convicted of manslaughter to leave the cities of refuge and return home (Numbers 35.28, 32).76

This in mind, and returning to Moses, Israel’s hope of entering the land appears throughout the book of Deuteronomy to be theologically connected to the death of Moses — a final gesture of atonement from the one who as mediator served as something of a paradigm for the high priest.77 Moses is portrayed, so notes von Rad, as a “suffering mediator,” whose death outside the land is to some extent depicted as “vicarious for Israel.”78

In relation to the tabernacle, then, there is a sense where Aaron’s role (who, incidentally, was not allowed to enter the top of the mount) was to portray in the drama of liturgy the role of Moses in relation to the cosmic mountain (and thus of Adam to Eden’s mount) — that is, via entering the tabernacle Holy of Holies, the high priest as mediator79 represents the one “able to ascend” the summit of the cosmic mountain.80 To be sure, “ascending the mountain and entering the Holy of Holies amount to the same thing.”81 The cosmogonic pattern in mind, moreover, it is interesting that in the construct of the tabernacle, Aaron and his sons would wash themselves at the laver (cosmic waters?) upon every approach to the altar (cosmic mountain?).82 Precisely as the one who inherits Moses’ mediatory role in the Pentateuch, then, “Aaron, the chief priest, is the messiah.”83

[Page 110]The high priest alone is הכהן המשׁיח hakkōhēn hammāšîaḥ (cf. Leviticus 4.3, 5, 16; 6.22). We turn now to consider the primary purpose of that anointing.

B. Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of Yhwh?

The tabernacle, immediately dominating the literary landscape and encircled by the tribes of Israel, constituted sacred space, guarded by the Levites so that anyone who did not belong to the priestly families and who attempted entrance was subject to the death penalty: “any outsider who encroaches shall be put to the death” (Numbers 3.10, 38).84 Its three zones of intensifying holiness (outer courtyard, holy place, Holy of Holies) corresponded respectively to the mountain of God’s base, midsection, and peak, a symbolism naturally generating the question of who may approach (ascend). Only those ordained may draw near to God (Numbers 16.5, 9, 10; 17.5; Leviticus 21.17).85 Significant to the gate liturgy theme already developed with reference to Moses and Mount Sinai, especially given our consideration of “door” (פתח) and its relation to the gate liturgy in previous chapters, the presentation of the ordination of Aaron and his sons in Leviticus 8-9 “is focused spatially on the door of the tent of meeting (Leviticus 8.3, 33). Indeed, the entire seven day period of the priests’ ordination is a time when Aaron and his sons are to remain at the door of the tent.”86 The essence of the priestly role, then, was access to the Presence, as evident by the vocabulary used to describe such movement: קרב ,נגשׁ ,עמד along with phrases in relation to Yhwh that utilize the prepositional form לפני, and with priests being defined as: הנגשׁים אל-יהוה (“the ones who draw near to Yhwh,” Exodus 19.22), קרובים ליהוה (“those who approach Yhwh,” Ezekiel 42.13; cf. 43.19; Leviticus 10.3).87 Thus, while uncertainty remains concerning the original meaning of the word translated “priest,” the suggestion, widely accepted by scholars, that כהן ḵōhēn derives from the verb כון (“to stand”), so that the priest is defined as one who stands before the divine Presence, appears plausible.88 This is, of course, especially the case with the high priest whose “special status emerges from the entire structure of the priestly cult according to which only the High Priest may minister inside the tent of meeting, before the ark, whereas ordinary priests may officiate only outside the tent,”89 that is, his special status emerges from his being the sole ascender to the (typological) mount’s summit, the “who” in the question: “Who may ascend the mount of Yhwh?”

The focus of Israel’s cultic calendar was upon entering the Holy of Holies, after elaborate preparations (Leviticus 16.2-17), one day out of [Page 111]the year, the Day of Atonement, a privilege granted the high priest alone90 — his “most critical role.”91 Indeed, this annual ritual of penetrating into the divine Presence may be considered the archetypal priestly act,92 whereupon Adam-like he fulfills the cosmogonic pattern:

Once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Adam’s eastward expulsion from the Garden is reversed when the high priest travels west past the consuming fire of the sacrifice and the purifying water of the laver, through the veil woven with images of cherubim. Thus, he returns to the original point of creation, where he pours out the atoning blood of the sacrifice, reestablishing the covenant relationship with God.93

Significantly, then, in the consecration of the priesthood, only Aaron is anointed (Exodus 29.7; cf. Leviticus 8.12), his anointing constituting a “gesture of approach” with particular reference to the gate liturgy.94 “Priestly unction was a rite of passage to a new status and effected passage from the outer, profane world to the sanctity of the tabernacle precinct.”95 Even for the high priest, however, this privileged entrance was permissible merely one day a year and by measured obedience alone.96 The Day of Atonement narrative begins, in fact, with the command for Aaron not to enter (at just anytime), and this command is itself bracketed by a threefold mention of death — that of his sons (for having approached in an unauthorized manner) and the prospect of his own (for doing likewise, cf. 16.13):

Yhwh spoke to Moses after the death (מות) of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near (קרב) before the face of Yhwh and died (וימתו). Thus Yhwh said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron your brother that he not enter (אל־יבא) at just any time into the holy place within the veil…lest he die (לא ימות). – Leviticus 16.1-2

Furthermore, only as representative of the renewed humanity—as a new Adam, were Aaron and his descendants permitted access to the cultic mount of Yhwh:

Speak to Aaron, saying, “Any man of your seed in their generations, if he has a blemish, shall not draw near to bring near (לא יקרב להקריב) the bread of his God. For any man who has a blemish shall not draw near (לא יקרב): a man blind or lame, who has a mutilated face or any limb too long, or a man with a broken foot or broken hand, or is a hunchbank or dwarf, or a man with a defect in his eye, or scaled skin or scab, or is [Page 112]a eunuch. Any man with a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall not approach to bring near (לא יגשׁ להקריב) the fire offerings of Yhwh. He has a blemish—he shall not approach to bring near (לא יגשׁ להקריב) the bread of his God. – Leviticus 21.17-21

Returning to the Day of Atonement, the weight of this annual drama (and thus of the gate liturgy itself) is manifest by its literary centrality: Leviticus is the center of the Torah,97 and atonement is the central theme of Leviticus,98 with its own center, chapter 16,99 highlighting the Day of Atonement chiastically:100

 

FRAME: “And Yhwh said to Moses…” (16.1)
A. Aaron should not go into Holy of Holies any time he wishes (16.2)
B. Aaron’s sacrificial victims, special vestment (16.3-4)
C. Sacrificial victims provided by people (16.5)
D. Aaron’s bull, goat for sin-offering, goat for Azazel (16.6-10)
A. Genesis E. Aaron sacrifices bull (16.11-14)
B. Exodus F. Goat sacrificed as sin-offering (16.15)
X. Leviticus – chapter 16 → X. Atonement (16.16-20a)
B.’ Numbers F.’ Goat sent to wilderness (16.20b-22)
A.’ Deuteronomy E.’ Aaron’s closing activities (16.23-25)
D.’ Goat for Azazel, Aaron’s bull, goat for sin-offering (16.26-28)
C.’ People rest and humble themselves (16.29-31)
B.’ Anointed priest officiates wearing special garments (16.32-33)
A.’ Anointed priest makes atonement once a year (16.34)
FRAME: As Yhwh commanded Moses…” (16.34)

In the drama of liturgy, the Day of Atonement was the “most intimate of the representations of access” to the divine Presence.101 Indeed, the importance of this day to the theology of the cult cannot be overestimated:

The goal of the Torah is holiness, which can be symbolically achieved in the cult. This occurs properly through atonement. The act of dedication to God, by which the distance from what is holy is symbolically bridged by the substitutionary offering of blood, is so central for the cult of the Priestly Document, that not only is the great day of atonement the highest holy day, but also every sacrifice takes on the nature of atonement, for it is only atonement, not offering a gift, that can express the meaning of the cult.102

Given the concentric structure of the Pentateuch, with the central book of Leviticus being organized as something of a literary tour of the tabernacle so that the reader, in the footsteps of the high priest, [Page 113]penetrates into the holiest,103 then it becomes apparent that the height of the gate liturgy — the concern for who may approach the divine Presence (and how) — has been reached within the tabernacle Holy of Holies in Leviticus 16, the cultic peak of Yhwh’s mount which extends outward to the literary edges of the Pentateuch. Subsuming meaning from the surrounding narratives, the Day of Atonement also exerts a centrifugal force upon the rest of the Torah. R. M. Davidson’s diagram illustrates the architectural centrality of this once-per- year mythic event of approaching the divine Presence:104

Figure 2: Diagram of Leviticus

This most intimate approach to the divine Presence, moreover, begins with the ceremonial washing of the high priest (Leviticus 16. ורחץ במים את־בשׂרו), likely via the laver (cf. Leviticus 8.6-9; Exodus 30.17-21), thus fulfilling the cosmogonic pattern: through the waters (laver) → to the summit of Yhwh’s mountain (Holy of Holies) → for worship (with cultic atonement signifying the highest gesture of worship). Viewing the Day of Atonement rite as a particularly cosmogonic ritual, what is more, fits logically with its position within Israel’s cultic year. While the completion of the tabernacle, as a new “creation,” resonates with the New Year, the Day of Atonement ritual has also been associated with the New Year,105 often compared to the Babylonian akitu festival.106 This correspondence with the New Year appears sound, furthermore, inasmuch as the Day of Atonement ritual functions to renew the cosmos, seeking “both to address and repair the breakdown in divinely established distinctions of holy/profane, pure/impure, and order/chaos,” and thus sustains and reclaims the divine intention for the created order.107 In priestly theology, [Page 114]“liturgy realizes and extends creation through human reenactment of cosmogonic events.”108

Finally, the gate liturgy theme continues to run as an undercurrent throughout the book of Numbers, particularly evident in chapters 16-17, with the focus having shifted from mountain to tabernacle and from Moses to Aaron, precisely in relation to the latter’s role as high priest. Here three episodes take place, the third being a symbolic reenactment of the previous events, to vindicate not merely “the exclusive right of the Levites to draw near to God” as commentators widely acknowledge,109 but the special prerogative of Aaron to draw near within the holiest as the appointed high priest. Wenham provides an exceptional summary:110

In the first of these [episodes] the non-Levites and Levites try to usurp the priestly prerogatives of Aaron’s family and offer incense within the tabernacle and die in divine judgment (chapter 16). In the second story a plague breaks out and Aaron saves the nation by offering incense (17.1-15). The first set of traditions about Korah, Dathan and Abiram shows the special status of Aaron in a negative way, by relating what happens to those who usurp his prerogatives. The second gives a positive demonstration of his effective mediation making atonement for the people’s sin.

The third story, culminating with the budding of Aaron’s rod, symbolically reenacts the previous narratives. Wenham provides four lines of reasoning to demonstrate this: (1) the Hebrew word מטה maṭṭeh means both “tribe” and “rod”; (2) the names of the tribes are written on the rods illustrating that the latter represent the former; (3) the rods are deposited in the tent of meeting before the testimony, in the divine Presence, paralleling the instructions given previously to Korah and his company (16.16); (4) the demonstration of Aaron’s unique status takes two days, just as for the previous two trials.111 Thus there are

three consecutive tales each making much the same point: that only Aaron and his tribe have a right to draw near to God. … Aaron’s rod was put back “before the testimony,” symbolically confirming that he alone has the right to draw near to God (17.25, cf. 16.5, 17.5). Once the symbolic equation of the rods with the tribes has been noted, other features in the story are clarified. When the rods are removed from the tent of meeting, they show no signs of life. Their deadness symbolizes the death that will overtake these tribes if they attempt to enter God’s [Page 115]presence. Hence their outcry to Moses, “Behold, we perish, we are undone, we are all undone. Everyone who comes near… to the tabernacle of the Lord, shall die. Are we all to perish?” (v 27-28). These verses form the climax to the story of Aaron’s rod.112

Significantly, the almond blossom of Aaron’s rod also has relevance to the gate liturgy, and the Day of Atonement:

[Almond trees] blossom early, which may explain their name, šāqēḏ, “watcher” … It was the duty of the priests and Levites to guard the nation spiritually, by teaching the people of Israel and keeping trespassers out of the tabernacle (Leviticus 10.11; Numbers 3-4). Finally almond blossom is white. In many cultures white symbolizes goodness, purity, authority and divinity. In Israel white linen was worn by the high priest when he entered the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16.4).113

These stories, in sum, clearly catechize Israel regarding who may and who may not approach the divine Presence. That is, their meaning unfolds within the context of cosmic mountain ideology and the cultic question of the gate liturgy: “Who shall ascend the mountain of Yhwh?” Indeed, and independently confirming our study, Nihan, who believes P’s narrative culminates with the Day of Atonement, writes: “The gradual restitution of the divine presence in Israel’s sanctuary is thus structured on the model of an ancient Near Eastern ritual of temple entrance, which finds its climax in the great ceremony of Leviticus 16.”114

Thus far, then, we have traced the evolution of the gate liturgy as a symbol: cosmogonic pattern (Genesis 1-3) → cosmogonic + redemptive/eschatological pattern (Genesis 6-9) → micro-cosmogonic + redemptive/eschatological pattern (Exodus 14-24) → ultimately, to the cultic pattern (Leviticus 16), which subsumes the cosmogonic and redemptive/eschatological significance even while lending them a liturgical context. The shift to the cultic pattern follows Yhwh’s cloud of glory as it descends from the height of Mount Sinai upon the tabernacle Holy of Holies, to which movement we now turn.

III. TO DWELL IN THE DIVINE PRESENCE

The biblical-theological goal and dénouement of the narrative arc from Genesis 1-3 to Exodus 40 may be surmised from the descent of the glory [Page 116]cloud upon the tabernacle. Justly does Rodriguez mark Exodus 25.8 as a key text, the divine command forming a link between the first twenty-four chapters of Exodus and the final fifteen: “And let them make me [Yhwh] a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.”115 The tabernacle cultus perpetuates the purpose and goal of the exodus deliverance, first fulfilled at the foot of Sinai: worship, variously described as “sacrifice”/זבח (Exodus 3.18; 5.3; 8.27-29; 10.25); “celebrate a festival”/חגג (Exodus 5.1; 8.20; 10.9); “serve,” “worship”/עבד
(3.12; 4.23; 7.16; 8.1, 20; 9.1, 13; 10.3, 7, 8, 11, 24, 26; 12.31).116 Indeed, this was the sign given Moses: “When you have brought forth the people from Egypt you [pl.] will worship God upon this mountain” (3.12). As the archetype of the tabernacle,117 Mount Sinai—the eschatological experience of being delivered through the waters and brought to the mountain of God for worship — would thus be prolonged and maintained via the tabernacle cultus.118 As cosmic mountain, furthermore, Sinai’s summit corresponds to Eden, paradisiacal features and symbolism also being subsumed by the tabernacle. The key link here is that the תבנית is “a model of the cosmic Tabernacle of Yahweh,” with “the earthly shrine as a microcosm of the cosmic shrine.”119 Thus returning to Exodus 25.8, we find the divine intention clearly expressed as “to dwell/tabernacle” (שׁכן)120 amidst his people. It is a sound suggestion, then, that the cultic mediation of the Presence of Yhwh via the tabernacle has been in view in the Torah’s narrative ever since that Presence was lost with the exile out of paradise in Genesis 1-3, informing the tabernacle symbolism found therein.

The central plot of the story of Exodus 19-40 being “dedicated to the divine movement from mountain to tent,”121 the book of Exodus thus ends with a climax that may serve as something of a bookend with the creation account in as much as it describes a completed temple-building project sanctified by the presence of Yhwh (40.34-35):

Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of Yhwh filled the tabernacle.

And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of Yhwh filled the tabernacle.

The cloud and Presence of glory,122 that is, “the visible manifestation of the divine Presence, not a substitute for it,”123 having rested atop Mount Sinai now moves upon the tabernacle, the building project that is both a proclamation of Yhwh’s cosmic rule and something of an “incarnation” of the triumphant King amidst his vassals.124 As Buber has it, the כבוד is [Page 117]that “fiery ‘weight’ or ‘majesty’ of God radiating from the invisible, which now ‘fills’ again and again the ‘dwelling’ of the tent (40.34), just as it had ‘taken dwelling’ upon the mount (24.16).”125 In this profound gesture, the God of the Patriarchs, El Shaddai, becomes the God of the sons of Israel, of the nation of Israel, to be worshiped corporately through the tabernacle cultus alone.126

The story of chapters 19-40 as a whole, framed by 19.3 and Leviticus 1.1, “presents how the locus of theophany was changed from mountain to tabernacle.”127

This transference and transformation, it may be argued, moves literarily via three steps: (1) establishing the God of creation as the God of the Patriarchs through the narratives of Genesis; (2) establishing the God of the Patriarchs as the God who calls Moses (Exodus 3.6, Yhwh declares: “I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”; cf. Exodus 15.2);128 (3) the glory cloud’s moving from the cosmic mountain (religion of the Patriarchs) to the tabernacle (cultus of Israel).129 That there appears to be deliberate narrative intention to demonstrate continuity between the cosmic mountain religion of the forefathers and the tabernacle/temple cultus of the original audience seems beyond question — and our suggestion, that the creation, deluge, and exodus narratives “pre-figure” the tabernacle cultus, thereby follows as well. Moses’ “mountain experience” in Exodus 24 will thus become the community’s via the tabernacle:

At first, the encounter is reserved for Moses. But the central significance of the Sinai narrative is to demonstrate how this encounter is made transferable, so that it can happen for the whole congregation. Therefore Moses, within the fire, receives the model for the sanctuary, which undoubtedly is heaven itself, the place where God’s own glory shines forth. Therefore the tent of meeting is built, and the cloud of God’s presence moves from Sinai, the world mountain, into the sanctuary, where it is possible for all to encounter God in cultic praise.130

After being tutored in Moses’ ability to ascend, the utterly unexpected statement in 40.35 that he is “not able (לא־יכל) … to enter (לבוא)” is indeed remarkable. In Exodus 33.20, Yhwh had prohibited Moses from entering his Presence too directly (“You are not able (לא תוכל) to see my face…”), so that the prohibition here would seem to imply that Yhwh’s Presence via the tabernacle though mediated is nonetheless a real Presence not to be trifled with — the tabernacle, in other words, provides [Page 118]for Yhwh’s immanence while safeguarding his transcendence,131 with the ritual divine Presence becoming “the highest form of religiosity.”132 The tabernacle thus becomes the one locus in all the earth for God’s Presence to dwell, and the intensity of this glorious mystery is so powerful, Moses is not able to enter.133 Brisman expresses the sublimity of the account well:

Here the sense of God as beyond human activity is troped as the presence of God before human activity: Filling that Tabernacle, God prevents (“goes before” and thwarts) Moses from filling his duty. It is a happy prevention, this dedicatory vision of the presence of God. … For the Priestly writer to conclude Exodus with a vision of God filling the Tabernacle, he needs to look beyond the priestly business of God’s work to a vision of the Divine Presence that prevents and overwhelms the priesthood — and even Moses himself.134

More to the point, with Yhwh’s descent upon the tabernacle, the new cosmos has been sanctified by his Presence. While there is a new creation, however, as yet there is no new humanity — a dramatic tension to be remedied in Leviticus 1-9, as Aaron is consecrated to be the new Adam, approaching the divine Presence via divinely sanctioned sacrifices.135

As the cloud descends upon the tabernacle, God entering his dwelling place and filling it with the כבוד, the book’s end not only forms a counterpart to the deus absconditus of the opening chapters of Exodus,136 although Yhwh’s “filling” (מלא) the tabernacle (40.34, 35) forms an inclusio with the sons of Israel “filling” (מלא) the land of Egypt (1.7),137 but also a bookend with the prologue to the Torah, the creation account of Genesis 1-2.3, where upon completing the cosmic temple, God enters his dwelling place in the enthronement of the Sabbath.138 It might even be said that the creation begun in Genesis 1 comes to fulfillment, however partial, with the establishment of the tabernacle cultus.139 Moreover, the re-creation account of the deluge is also fulfilled by the tabernacle climax of Exodus since the “arrival of the Israelites at Sinai sets in motion acts of atonement, administered by a sanctified priesthood, which will provide the antidote to the pollution, which causes the flood.”140 The tabernacle was “raised” (הוקם), what’s more, on “the first day of the first month” (40.2, 17), the same day the covering was removed from the ark for Noah to gaze upon a renewed creation (Genesis 8.13), that is, on New Year’s Day.141 This new beginning marks the creation (בראשׁית Genesis 1.1), deluge (בראשׁון Genesis 8.13), and tabernacle (40.17 הראשׁון) narratives. The undercurrent of these accounts, the drama and telos of the biblical [Page 119]narrative, particularly as it culminates in the tabernacle story, is the gaining of life in the Presence of the Creator:

[T]he tent located in the heart of the camp was first and foremost a place where the Glory of God was constantly present. God appeared in the cloud above the cherub covering that rested on the ark of the Pact: “for I appear in the cloud over the cover” (Leviticus 16.2). Consequently, the Tent of Meeting was called a tabernacle משׁכן (from the root שׁכן ‘to dwell’), because it was the fixed dwelling place of the Divine Glory. The constant presence of the Glory in the Tent is expressed in the cult of the fixed daily offering (תמיד), in whose framework the priests offered the daily burnt offering, burned the incense, lit the eternal light, and arranged the showbread on the table. Only the perpetual presence of God’s glory within the Tent of Meeting can explain the complex of acts performed in the daily worship.142

The period from the expulsion from paradise until Sinai had been marked by God’s dealings with humanity “from afar.”143 Now, so the message of the tabernacle narrative, the divine Presence is “not merely on an ethereal, cosmic plane” (lost through the expulsion), but is “historically present to Israel.”144 Similarly, Nihan writes:

Yahweh’s return, eventually reported in Exodus 40.34, corresponds to the restitution of the divine presence in Israel after the Flood; the significance of this event is highlighted by the various inclusions with the creation account in Genesis 1. This device, with its mythical background, indicates that in Israel’s sanctuary, as a space set apart from the profane world and as a “model” (תבנית) of the divine palace, the order initially devised by God at the creation of the world can now be partly realized. … Accordingly, it is in Israel’s sanctuary, specifically, that the creator God has chosen to dwell (Exodus 25.8-9; 29.45-46; 40.34) and where, therefore, he can be permanently encountered (root יעד, see especially Exodus 25.22 and 29.43), as in the creation before the Flood. Conversely, this means that it is Israel’s cult which guarantees the permanence of the divine Presence, and hence the stability of the cosmic order.145

The Presence of Yhwh among his people, then, is a — perhaps, the — major theme of Exodus, and indeed of biblical theology.146 The book of [Page 120]Exodus may be traced according to the movement of the divine Presence, as Moshe Greenberg had already noted in 1969:

It is possible to epitomize the entire story of Exodus in the movement of the fiery manifestation of the divine presence. At first the fire burned momentarily in a bush on the sacred mountain, as God announced his plan to redeem Israel; later it appeared for months in the sight of all Israel as God descended on the mountain to conclude his covenant with the redeemed; finally it rested permanently on the tent-sanctuary, as God’s presence settled there. The book thus recounts the stages in the descent of the divine presence to take up its abode for the first time among one of the peoples of the earth.147

Ending where Genesis had begun,148 the book of Exodus marks the historic cultic return to the lost Presence of the Creator, the tabernacle mediating paradise to the exiled descendants of Adam.149 Israel thus becomes a “microcosm of life in creation as God originally intended it,” lived worshipfully in the Presence of God dwelling in — or, perhaps better, “incarnated” through — the tabernacle, “a kind of material ‘body’ for God.”150 Because this crescendo at the end of Exodus also provides the dénouement for the beginning of the Exodus narrative,151 the theme of slavery and liberation is taken up into the understanding of the cultus: true freedom is the life of worship where Yhwh is in the midst of his people.

In sum, the “encounter with God at Sinai represents the beginning of legitimate cultic worship,”152 the beginning of humanity’s return through the gates of Yhwh’s holy mount, and thus a “foretaste of the final joys of life in the Presence of God”153 — this, then, is what the tabernacle cultus signifies as the cultic mountain of God.

CONCLUSION

We have seen how the cosmic mountain, as expressed through historical mounts in the narrative of the Pentateuch, gave way to the tabernacle cultus informed by it: the כבוד moved from Sinai to the tabernacle, the three part structure of the tabernacle corresponding to the three parts of the mountain with the Holy of Holies representing the clouded summit. As the peaks of Sinai and the Ararat mount had echoed Eden in their respective narratives, so the Holy of Holies corresponds to Eden and the blessing of the divine Presence, and the high priest portrays Adam (/Noah/Moses). Thus the narrative arc from Genesis 1-3 to Exodus 40 [Page 121]may be traced as the expulsion from the divine Presence to the gained re-entry into the divine Presence via the tabernacle cultus, from the profound descent of Adam to the dramatic “ascent” of the high priest into the Holy of Holies, particularly on the Day of Atonement.154

Notes

  1. For discussion of the tabernacle from a historical perspective, see F. M. Cross, Jr., “The Tabernacle: A Study from an Archeological and Historical Approach,” Biblical Archaologist 10.3 (1947) 45-68; F. M. Cross, “The Priestly Tabernacle in the Light of Recent Research,” pp. 91-105 in Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives, T. G. Madsen, ed. (RSMS 9; BYU Religious Studies Center, 1984); R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions, J. McHugh, trans. (1961; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997) 294-97; M. Haran, “Shiloh and Jerusalem: the Origin of the Priestly Tradition in the Pentateuch,” Journal of Biblical Literature 81.1 (1962) 14-24; V. W. Rabe, “The Identity of the Priestly Tabernacle,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 25.2 (1966) 132-34; W. H. Shea, “New Light on the Exodus and on the Construction of the Tabernacle: Gerster’s Protosinaitic Inscription No. 1,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 25.1 (1987) 73-96; G. J. Wenham, “Deuteronomy and the Central Sanctuary,” Tyndale Bulletin 22 (1971) 103-18.
  2. S. E. Balentine, The Torah’s Vision of Worship (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999) 66-68. Cf. E. G. Newing (“Rhetorical and Theological Analysis of the Hexateuch,” South East Asia Journal of Theology 22 [1981] 7-11) for the divine Presence of Exodus 33, within the Sinai Covenant (Exodus 19-Numbers 10), being central to the Hexateuch.
  3. G. J. Wenham notes, e.g., how the high points of Genesis involve sacrifice (Cain/Abel – Genesis 4, Noah – 8, Abraham – 22) (“The Akedah: A Paradigm,” pp. 399-404 in Pomegranates and Golden Bells: Studies in Biblical, Jewish, and Near Eastern Ritual, Law, and Literature in Honor of Jacob Milgrom, D. P. Wright, D. N. Freedman, A. Hurvitz, eds. [Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1994]), and S. D. Walters reads the akedah account of Genesis 22 as prefiguring the entire cultic system (“Wood, Sand and Stars: Structure and Theology in Genesis 22:1-19,” Toronto Journal of Theology 3.2 [1987] 301-30).
  4. M. R. Hauge, The Descent from the Mountain: Narrative Patterns in Exodus 19-40 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001) 100.
  5. [Page 122]G. Davies, “The Theology of Exodus,” pp. 137-52 in In Search of True Wisdom: Essays in Old Testament Interpretation in Honour of Ronald E. Clements (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999) 138, 149.
  6. B. W. Anderson, Contours of Old Testament Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress) 86, 107. See also G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology, vol. 1 (1962; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001) 233-34; G. Davies, “The Theology of Exodus,” 144.
  7. P. Enns, Exodus (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 506.
  8. T. E. Fretheim, Exodus (Int; Louisville: John Knox Press, 1991) 263-64.
  9. T. E. Fretheim, Exodus, 263-64. Cf. P. Miller, Jr., The Divine Warrior in Early Israel (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973) 117; F. M. Cross Jr., “The Divine Warrior in Israel’s Early Cult,” Biblical Motifs: Origins and Transformations, A. Altman, ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1966) 19ff; A. C. Leder, “The Coherence of Exodus: Narrative Unity and Meaning,” Calvin Theological Journal 36 (2001), 262-65; T.B. Dozeman, Exodus (ECC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009) 573-74. For Enuma elish see A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis: The Story of Creation, 2nd ed. (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1969). For the Baal and Yamm story, see A. Herdner, Corpus des tablettes en cunéiformes alphabétiques découvertes à Ras Shamra – Ugarit de 1929 à 1939, 2 vols. (Paris: Imprimerie nationale et librairie orientaliste Paul Geuthner, 1963); K. L. Sparks, “Enuma Elish and Priestly Mimesis: Elite Emulation in Nascent Judaism,” Journal of Biblical Literature 126.4 (2007) 625-48 (esp. 635-42).
  10. V. A. Hurowitz, “The Priestly Account of the Building of the Tabernacle,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 105.1 (1985) 21-30.
  11. B. A. Levine, “Tabernacle Texts of the Pentateuch,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 85.3 (1965) 308. Cf. F. M. Cross Jr., “The Tabernacle,” 54.
  12. Cf. A. C. Leder, “Reading Exodus to Learn and Learning to Read Exodus,” Calvin Theological Journal 34 (1999) 16.; T. E. Fretheim, Exodus, 263.
  13. W. W. Hallo, “Exodus and Ancient Near Eastern Literature,” pp. 367-77 in The Torah: A Modern Commentary, W. G. Plaut, ed. (New York: UAHC, 1981) 376-77.
  14. A. C. Leder, “The Cohehrence of Exodus,” 254.
  15. R. Hendel, “Leitwort Style in the J Primeval Narrative,” pp. 93-109 in Sacred History, Sacred Literature: Essays on Ancient Israel, the Bible, [Page 123]and Religion in Honor of R. E. Friedman on his Sixtieth Birthday, S. Dolansky, ed. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2008) 99.
  16. The “stairway” connecting heaven and earth is a theme running through the tower of Babel (Genesis 11.4), and Jacob (Genesis 28.12, 17) narratives, culminating at the end of Exodus. Cf. J. L. McKenzie, A Theology of the Old Testament (Garden City: Doubleday, 1974) 51.
  17. See T. E. Fretheim, “The Reclamation of Creation: Redemption and Law in Exodus,” Interpretation 50.3 (1996) 364; L. Brisman, “On the Divine Presence in Exodus.” Exodus: Modern Critical Interpretations. H. Bloom, ed. (New York: Chelsea House, 1987) 106.
  18. V. A. Hurowitz, “The Priestly Account of Building the Tabernacle,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 105.1 (1985) 22. Cf. J. I. Durham, Exodus (WBC. Waco: Word, 1987) 499.
  19. B. W. Anderson, Contours of Old Testament Theology, 108.
  20. Cf. G. Davies, “The Theology of Exodus,” 140, 150; T. E. Fretheim, Exodus, 264.
  21. P. J. Budd, “Priestly Instruction in Pre-Exilic Israel,” Vetus Testamentum 23.1 (1973) 6.
  22. A. C. Leder, “The Coherence of Exodus,” 255-56.
  23. A. C. Leder, “Reading Exodus to Learn,” 19; C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “God’s Image, His Cosmic Temple and the High Priest,” pp. 81-99 in Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology, T. D. Alexander, S. Gathercole, eds. (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster, 2004) 89.
  24. J. Blenkinsopp, “Structure and Meaning in the Sinai-Horeb Narrative (Exodus 19-34).” A Biblical Itinerary: In Search of Method, Form and Content; Essays in Honor of George W. Coats. E. Carpenter, ed. (JSOTSup 240; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) 113; J. Blenkinsopp, “The Structure of P,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 38 (1976) 275-92. Therefore, if, as Propp states, “Creation is complete only when God’s reign on earth commences at Sinai” (William C. H. Propp, Exodus 1-18, (AB 2. New York: Doubleday, 1999) 561), then that reign must be understood as continuing via the two revealed gifts of Sinai’s summit: Torah and the tabernacle תבנית, or, as T. B. Dozeman has it, “the revelation of the law and the cult at the mountain of God” (Exodus, 349-50). For the relation of law to sacred mountains, see J. M. Lundquist, “Temple, Covenant, and Law, in the Ancient Near East and in the Old Testament.” Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism. Donald W. Parry, ed. (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1994) 281-84. For the tabnit, see D. N. Freedman, “Temple without Hands.” Temples and High Places in Biblical Times. (Jerusalem: Nelson Glueck School [Page 124]of Biblical Archaeology of Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion, 1981) 26; J. D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), 140-41. The connection between the cosmic mountain of God, temple worship, and creation is firmly established for ANE culture.
  25. See summary in J. A. Davies, A Royal Priesthood: Literary and Intertextual Perspectives on the Image of Israel in Exodus 19.6 (JSOT Supplement 395; London: T&T Clark, 2004) 144-49.
  26. This observation is noted in many commentaries. See, e.g., T. E. Fretheim, Exodus, 269-71.
  27. P. H. Seely, “The Firmament and the Water Above, Part II: The Meaning of ‘The Water Above the Firmament’ in Genesis 1.6-8.” Westminster Theological Journal 54 (1992) 40.
  28. J. L. Morrow, “Creation and Liturgy: The Liturgical Background of Genesis 1-3.” Trends of Ancient Jewish and Christian Mysticism Seminar at the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, February 26, 2008, 5. The Sabbath, in fact, appears to tie the creation (Genesis 2.1-3), deluge (Genesis 8.6-12), Sinai (Exodus 24.16-18), and tabernacle accounts (Exodus 35.1-3), the tabernacle not only being completed in seven speeches (with the seventh addressing the Sabbath) and by seven acts of Moses who did “just as Yhwh commanded” (cf. Exodus 40.19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32), but structurally forming something of an inner frame in the tabernacle pericope.
  29. J. D. Levenson, “The Temple and the World,” The Journal of Religion 64.3 (1984) 288. Cf. also P. Elbert, “Genesis 1 and the Spirit: A Narrative-Rhetorical Ancient Near Eastern Reading in Light of Modern Science,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 15.1 (2006) 27ff.
  30. B. W. Anderson, Contours of Old Testament Theology, 108.
  31. The Sabbath, then, must be considered of a piece with temple theology. See D. C. Timmer, Creation, Tabernacle, and Sabbath: The Sabbath Frame of Exodus 31:12-17; 35:1-3 in Exegetical and Theological Perspective (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2009) 144.
  32. S. Il Kang, “The ‘Molten Sea,’ or Is It?” Biblica 89 (2008) 102.
  33. S. Il Kang, “The ‘Molten Sea,’ or Is It?” 102.
  34. S. Il Kang, “The ‘Molten Sea,’ or Is It?” 101-03. This would, to be sure, be a direct link to Genesis 1, the constraining of the sea being a major expression of Yhwh’s kingship (cf. Genesis 1; 6-9; Exodus 14-15; Psalms 104.9; 33.7; Job 26.10; Jeremiah 5.22). Il Kang ties the Basin to a possible New Year’s enthronement festival whereby Yhwh’s [Page 125]kingship was declared (cf. Psalm 89). Cf. Genesis 1.9-10 and 1 Kings 7.23; D. W. Parry, “Garden of Eden: Prototype Sanctuary.” Temples of the Ancient World. D. W. Parry, ed. (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1994) 138; J. L. McKenzie, A Theology of the Old Testament (Garden City: Doubleday, 1974) 52.
  35. See C. L. Meyers, The Tabernacle Menorah (Missoula: Scholars, 1976) 36-38; G. J. Wenham, “Sanctuary Symbolism in the Garden of Eden Story.” I Studied Inscriptions From Before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11. Richard S. Hess and David T. Tsumura, eds. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1994) 401; D. Parry, “Garden of Eden,” 128-29; J. V. Fesko, Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis with the Christ of Eschatology. (Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Mentor, 2007) 62.
  36. T. E. Fretheim, “‘Because the Whole Earth is Mine’: Theme and Narrative in Exodus.” Interpretation 50.3 (1996) 238.
  37. P. J. Kearney, “Creation and Liturgy: The P Redaction of Exodus 25-40,” Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenshaft 89.3 (1977) 381.
  38. Cosmas, The Christian Topography of Cosmas, an Egyptian Monk, tr. J. W. McCrindle (London: The Hakluyt Society, 1897) 24, 145, 150. Cosmas even describes the earth as a rectangular box (30ff.), that is, in the shape of the tabernacle/temple (and, significantly, the ark of Noah). Cf. M. Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T&T Clark, 2004) 195; M. Barker, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (2000; London: T&T Clark, 2004) 17-18.
  39. T. E. Fretheim, “Because the Whole Earth is Mine,” 238.
  40. J. Blenkinsopp, “The Structure of P,” 283. Cf. J. Blenkinsopp, “Structure and Meaning,” 113; W. W. Hallo, “Exodus and Ancient Near Eastern Literature,” 377.
  41. J. H. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992) 127. See T. E. Fretheim’s summary, Exodus, 268-69.
  42. A. Ross, Genesis (CBC; Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2008) 74.
  43. J. H. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative, 126; B. Waltke (with C. J. Fredericks), Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) 135, 152.
  44. Cf., e.g., M. Barker’s discussion, on the temple’s symbolizing the “eternal present,” The Gate of Heaven: The History and Symbolism of the Temple in Jerusalem (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2008) 58-65. Thus, when Asaph approached “the sanctuary of God” (מקדשׁי־אל miqdešê-’ēl), he understood “their end” (לאחריתם le’aḥarîṯām).
  45. [Page 126]R. J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain in Canaan and the Old Testament (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972) 191.
  46. J. McCrory, “‘Up, Up, Up, and Up’: Exodus 24.9-18 as the Narrative Context for the Tabernacle Instructions of Exodus 25-31,” SBL Seminar Papers (1990) 570-82. Cf. D. Gowan, Theology in Exodus: Biblical Theology in the Form of a Commentary (Louisville: Westminster Joun Knox, 1994) 183.
  47. E. Carpenter, “Exodus 18: Its Structure, Style, Motifs and Function in the Book of Exodus.” A Biblical Itinerary: In Search of Method, Form and Content; Essays in Honor of George W. Coats. E. E. Carpenter, ed. (JSOTSup 240; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997) 105.
  48. T. B. Dozeman, Exodus, 6, 563. Cf. also 567-75. He refers to the Exodus 24 event as “a worship service on the cosmic mountain before the heavenly temple of God” (God on the Mountain: A Study of Redaction, Theology and Canon in Exodus 19-24 (SBLMS 37. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989) 113).
  49. T. B. Dozeman, “Spatial Form in Exodus 19.1-8a and in the larger Sinai Narrative,” Semeia 46 (1989) 87-101; A. Niccacci, “Workshop: Narrative Syntax of Exodus 19-24.” Narrative Syntax and the Hebrew Bible: Papers of the Tillburg Conference. E. van Wolde, ed. (Leiden: Brill, 1997) 224.
  50. T. B. Dozeman, Exodus, 574.
  51. U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus. I. Abrahams, trans. (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1961) 316, 484. Cf. B. S. Childs, The Book of Exodus: A Critical, Theological Commentary (Louisville: Westminster Press, 1974) 638; P. Enns, Exodus, 493.
  52. See B. D. Russell, The Song of the Sea: The Date of Composition and Influence of Exodus 15:1-21 (SBL 101. New York: Peter Lang, 2007) 54-55; C. Meyers, Exodus (NCBC. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) 208.
  53. Indeed, this is Lundquist’s primary proposition. Cf. his “What is a Temple? A Preliminary Typology” pp. 205-19 in The Quest for the Kingdom of God: Studies in Honor of George E. Mendenhall, H. B. Huffmon, F. A. Spina, A. R. W. Green, eds. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1983) 207.
  54. Cf. N. M. Sarna, Exploring Exodus: The Heritage of Biblical Israel (New York: Schocken, 1966) 203-04. See also P. Enns, Exodus, 391; Edwin C. Kingsbury, “The Theophany Topos and the Mountain of God,” Journal of Biblical Literature 86.2 (1967) 205-10; J. A. Davies, A Royal Priesthood, 140; R. J. Clifford, The Cosmic Mountain, 123; M. Haran, [Page 127]“The Non-Priestly Image of the Tent of MO‘ED,” pp. 260-275 in Temples and Temple Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry into Biblical Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School, M. Haran (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1985) 267; O. Keel, Symbolism, 129-34; R. E. Clements, God and Temple (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965) chapters 2, 5 (17-27, 63-78); M. Fishbane, “The ‘Eden’ Motif,” Biblical Texts and Texture, 114. The term “portable Sinai” is utilized by various commentators, such as, e.g., T. E. Fretheim (Exodus, 274), N.M. Sarna (Exodus. (JPS Torah Commentary. Philadelphia: JPS, 1991) 237); P. Enns (Exodus, 493).
  55. A. M. Rodriguez, “Sanctuary Theology in Exodus,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 24 (1986) 132-34. Cf. N. M. Sarna’s synopsis of parallels in Exodus, 105.
  56. Cf. M. R. Hauge, The Descent from the Mountain, 22. Cf. A.C. Leder, “The Coherence of Exodus,” 268.
  57. I. Knohl, “Two Aspects of the ‘Tent of Meeting,’” pp. 73-79 in Tehillah le-Moshe: Biblical and Judaic Studies in Honor of Moshe Greenberg, M. Cogan, et al., eds. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1997) 73; T. E. Fretheim, Exodus, 277.
  58. M. Weinfeld, “Sabbath, Temple and the Enthronement of the Lord: The Problem of the Sitz im Leben of Genesis 1:1-2:3.” Mélanges bibliques et orientaux en l’honneur de M. Henri Cazelles. A. Caquot and M. Delcor, eds. (Alter Orient und Altes Testament 212. Kevelaer: Butzon and Bercker, 1981) 504-05. See also J. I. Durham, Exodus, 500; M. Oliva, “Interpretación teológica del culto en la perícopa del Sinaí de la Historia Sacerdotal,” Biblica 49 (1968) 345-54; V. P. Hamilton, “ןכַ שׇׁ dwell, tabernacle,” in Theological Words of the Old Testament. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., B. K. Waltke, eds. (Chicago: Moody, 1980) 2:926.
  59. U. Cassuto, Exodus, 484.
  60. J. W. Hilber, “Theology of Worship in Exodus 24.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39.2 (1996) 187. Cf. D. Janzen, “Priestly Sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible: A Summary of Recent Scholarship and a Narrative Reading,” Religion Compass 2.1 (2008) 38-52.
  61. A. C. Leder, “The Coherence of Exodus,” 260.
  62. B. S. Childs, Exodus, 540. Cf. B. S. Childs, Old Testament Theology in Canonical Context (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986) 163. Cf. R. E. Clements, God and Temple, 22; D. Gowan, Theology in Exodus, 185; N. M. Sarna, Exploring Exodus, 190-91, 203; U. Cassuto, Exodus, 319.
  63. [Page 128]See R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 348; M. Barker, The Gate of Heaven, 17; C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “The High Priest as Divine Mediator in the Hebrew Bible: Daniel 7.13 as a Test Case,” pp. 161-93 in SBL 1997 Seminar Papers (SBLSP 36; Atlanta: SBL, 1998) 188.
  64. Thus J. A. Davies (A Royal Priesthood, 150) asks the key questions: “If the tabernacle had an overarching conceptual rationale along the lines sketched above, what role did the person of the priest play in that rationale? What impression was conveyed to the Israelite community as day by day they saw their priests, dressed in their finery, enter God’s house to attend upon him and to enjoy his company in the surroundings of an ideal world?” See also his comments on 164-65.
  65. See M. Douglas, Purity and Danger (London and New York: Routledge, 1966) 64. Cf. G. J. Wenham, Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) 24; A. T. M. Cheung, “The Priest as the Redeemed Man: A Biblical-Theological Study of the Priesthood,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29.3 (1986) 265-75.
  66. C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “God’s Image, His Cosmic Temple and the High Priest,” 96; C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ 42; Leiden: Brill, 2002) chapters 3, 7 and 11. Cf. also M. Barker, “The High Priest and the Worship of Jesus,” pp. 93-111 in The Jewish Roots of the Worship of Jesus, C. C. Newman, et al., eds. (JSJSup 63; Leiden: Brill, 1999). For the traditional correlation between the vision of Moses in the Sinai pericope and Ezekiel 1, see L. Teugels, “Did Moses See the Chariot? The Link Between Exodus 19-20 and Ezekiel 1 in Early Jewish Interpretation,” pp. 595-602 in Studies in the Book of Exodus: Redaction-Reception-Interpretation. M. Vervenne, ed. (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1996).
  67. C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “Jesus as the High Priestly Messiah: Part I,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 4.2 (2006) 159 and fn 8 (see also 159 fn 10).
  68. C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “Jesus as the High Priestly Messiah: Part 2,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 5.1 (2007) 76. A. T. M. Cheung similarly states: “The purpose of the sacrificial duties was not simply for the putting away of sin. This was but a means to the ultimate end of regaining the priesthood, which entailed access to God’s sanctuary (which access was free for Adam, the primal man-priest, before the fall) and hence the restoration of fellowship with God. (“The Priest as the Redeemed Man,” 268).
  69. [Page 129]J. Marcus, “Son of Man as Son of Adam, Part II: Exegesis,” Revue Biblique 110 (2003) 374 and footnote 14.
  70. L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, vol. 3 (Philadelphia: JPS, 1911) 150.
  71. Cf. R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest: Community and Priesthood in Biblical Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993) 73.
  72. J. A. Davies, A Royal Priesthood, 158. For “glory” ascribed to Yhwh, see Exodus 24.16-17; Isaiah 4.5; Psalm 57.6 [5]; for “honor,” see Isaiah 46.13, 63.15; Psalms 71.8; 96.6; 1 Chronicles 29.11. Fletcher-Louis, further, posits five lines of reasoning to argue that “within the cult at least, the high priest takes on some of God’s identity in the victory over the forces of chaos,” an argument that, if valid, strengthens the Chaoskampf parallel between creation and cult (C. Fletcher-Louis, “The High Priest as Divine Mediator,” 186-92). Cf. M. Carden, “Atonement Patterns in Biblical Narrative: Rebellious Sons, Scapegoats and Boy Substitutes,” The Bible and Critical Theory 5.1 (2009) 04.5.
  73. This term “drama” is used here advisedly. See R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priesthood, 71.
  74. R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priesthood, 158-59, 166, 168, 202. Because, among other things, the high priest represented the people to God, it is important to see the nation of Israel, God’s son (cf. Exodus 4.22), as symbolizing a new Adam as well. C. Dohmen notes how via the covenantal agreement Israel in effect becomes a new entity, a cultic community (Exodus 19-40, 60f). Cf. J. H. Hayes, “Atonement in the Book of Leviticus,” Interpretation 52 (1998) 8; S.W. Hahn, “Worship in the Word: Toward a Liturgical Hermeneutic.” Letter and Spirit 1 (2005) 111.
  75. R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, 52.
  76. G. J. Wenham, Numbers. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries 4. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2008) 54.
  77. See D. T. Olson, Deuteronomy and the Death of Moses: A Theological Reading (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1994). Throughout his work, Olson points out how the theme of Moses’ self-denial pervading Deuteronomy and climaxing with his death and burial, is consistently portrayed as the means of life and continuing journey for Israel—that is, for the sake of Israel (57-58; 61; 67). He further notes: “The atoning death of the young heifer (21.1-9) resembles in theme and vocabulary the interpretation of Moses’ death outside the land as [Page 130]vicarious atonement for Israel (Deuteronomy 1.37; 3.26; 4.21)” (124). Olson justly notes throughout the complexity of Deuteronomy’s portrayal of Moses’ death as he is also dying for his own sin — he does not merely die in their stead but ahead of Israel (165),
  78. G. von Rad, Old Testament Theology, vol 1, D. M. G. Stalker, trans. (New York: Harper & Row, 1962) 294-95.
  79. Cf. C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “The High Priest as Divine Mediator.” He also notes that, in extra-biblical literature, Enoch’s heavenly ascent “looks most like the high priest’s annual visit to the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement” (180).
  80. See C. Meyer, Exodus, 282-83.
  81. N. Wyatt, “Degrees of Divinity: Some Mythical and Ritual Aspects of West Semitic Kingship,” pp. 191-220 in “There’s Such Divinity Doth Hedge a King”: Selected Essays of Nicolas Wyatt on Royal Ideology in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature (SOTS; Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005) 198.
  82. Cf. Exodus 40.32. Furthermore, the approach to the altar was eastward (this is made explicit in Ezekiel 43.17).
  83. C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “Jesus as the High Priestly Messiah,” 161.
  84. I. Knohl, “Two Aspects of the ‘Tent of Meeting,’” 73.
  85. C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, “Jesus as the High Priestly Messiah: Part 2,” 78. M. Barker notes well: “The mediators who passed between the two worlds were vital to the cult” (Gate of Heaven, 62).
  86. F. Gorman, The Ideology of Ritual: Space, Time and Status in the Priestly Ideology (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990) 49. Furthermore, the tabernacle veil, the פרכת, “functions as an objective and material witness to the conceptual boundary drawn between the area behind it and all other areas” (33). While Gorman here refers specifically to the כפרת within the Inner Sanctum, it is the veil that marks the separation.
  87. Cf. R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, 52, 61.
  88. Cf. F. B. Holbrook, “The Israelite Sanctuary,” pp. 3-36 in The Sanctuary and the Atonement, F. B. Holbrook, ed. (Silver Spring, MD: BRI, 1989) 20-21; R. Abba, “Priests and Levites,” Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible (1962) 3:877; J. J. Davis, Moses and the Gods of Egypt (Grand Rapids: BMH Books, 1971) 270-71; R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 346.
  89. B. A. Levine, “Tabernacle Texts of the Pentateuch,” 311. For the emphasis on Aaron particularly throughout the prescriptive section, chapters 28 and 29, his name mentioned some sixteen times in chapter 28 alone, see C. Meyers, “Incense Altar and Lamp Oil in [Page 131]the Tabernacle Texts,” pp. 13-21 in Sacred History, Sacred Literature: Essays on Ancient Israel, the Bible, and Religion in Honor of R.E. Friedman on his Sixtieth Birthday, S. Dolansky, ed. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2008).
  90. J. A. Davies, A Royal Priesthood, 162. For the emphasis of on the Day of Atonement in the Priestly writing, see R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, 127ff. Cf. M. Barker, Temple Theology: An Introduction (London: SPCK, 2004) 10; 53-73; M. Barker, “Atonement: The Rite of Healing,” Scottish Journal of Theology 49.1 (1996) 1-20.
  91. R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, 13. Nelson also notes that the Urim and Thummim became obsolete except for their use on the Day of Atonement, for the selection of goats (42).
  92. R. D. Nelson, Raising Up a Faithful Priest, 148.
  93. D. W. Parry, “Garden of Eden,” 135. Cf. S. W. Hahn, “Worship in the Word,” 112; M. Barker, “Beyond the Veil of the Temple: The High Priestly Origin of the Apocalypses” (Presidential address to the Society for Old Testament Study; published in Scottish Journal of Theology 51.1 [1998]) accessed at: www.jbburnett.com/resources/barker/barker_beyond%20 the%20veil.pdf.
  94. D. W. Parry (“Ritual Anointing with Olive Oil in Ancient Israelite Religion,” pp. 262-89 in The Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5, S. Ricks, J. Welch, eds. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994]) refers to this anointing as a “gesture of approach,” linking it with the entrance liturgies of Psalms 15, 24, and Isaiah 33.14-17 (“‘Who Shall Ascend into the Mountain of the Lord?’: Three Biblical Temple Entrance Hymns,” pp. 729-42 in Revelation, Reason, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, D.W. Parry, et al., eds. [Provo: FARMS, 2002]). Thus the long-awaited “Anointed One” might well be defined by his “entrance” work (cf. Hebrews 10.19-22; 12.22-24).
  95. C. Meyers, Exodus, 246. Cf. R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, II, 348; D. Fleming, “The Biblical Tradition of Anointing Priests,” Journal of Biblical Literature 117.3 (1998) 401-14; S. Niditch, The Symbolic Vision in Biblical Tradition (HSM, 30; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980) 110; J. A. Davies, A Royal Priesthood, 160-61.
  96. Cf. C. Nihan: “As regards Leviticus 16, it is undoubtedly the most important ritual in the whole book of Leviticus. It occurs once a year, and it is on this occasion that both the sanctuary (cf. 16.14-19) and the community (16.20ff.) are purified from all the impurities contracted during the year, whether physical or moral in nature. It is [Page 132]the only ceremony in the entire book during which Aaron is admitted into the inner-sanctum, and therefore in the presence of the deity. … Moreover, the central character of chapter 16 is also supported by a series of formal devices. Its introduction in v 1-2aa is absolutely unique in Leviticus and … chapter 16 is concluded in v 34b by a notice reporting the execution of “all what Yahweh had commanded to Moses,” a feature unparalleled so far in Leviticus …” (From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch [FAT 25; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007] 96-97 [emphasis original]).
  97. Many scholars have noted that this five-book structure, with Leviticus at the center, is not likely to have been coincidental. The notion that it simply took five scrolls to fit the entire Torah does not adequately account for the cutoff points of each book, including chronological markers (M. S. Smith, “Matters of Space and Time in Exodus and Numbers,” pp. 182-207 in Theological Exegesis: Essays in Conversation with Brevard S. Childs, C. Seitz, K. Greene- McCreight, eds. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999] 201; R.P. Knierim, The Task of Old Testament Theology [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995] 353), nor for the symmetry of the pentad: Exodus and Numbers are nearly the same exact length (16,713 and 16,413 words respectively) while Leviticus, the central book, is by far the shortest (11,950 words—half the length of Genesis). Furthermore, that the Psalter was deliberately divided into five books manifests an early awareness that the Pentateuch’s five-fold structure is theologically significant. Cf. G. A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible (BBRSup 1; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2007) 155ff.; Y. Radday, “Chiasm in Tora,” Linguistica Biblica 19 (1972) 21-23; W. Shea, “Literary Form and Theological Function in Leviticus,” pp. 131-68 in The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy, F. Holbrook, ed. (Washington, DC.; BRI, 1968); D. L. Christensen, “The Pentateuchal Principle within the Canonical Process,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39.4 (1996) 537-48 (539); M. Carden, “Atonement Patterns in Biblical Narrative,” 04.11; A. C. Leder, Waiting for the Land (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2010) 34-35. Sailhamer marginalizes the Pentateuch’s fivefold structure (The Pentateuch as Narrative [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992] 1-2), a point that may be connected to his downplaying the significance of the cultus. Cf. C. Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch, 69-76.
  98. M. Douglas, Leviticus as Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) 231-34.
  99. [Page 133]Apart from taking the space to justify this assertion, suffice it to note that the widest consensus on any “center” for Leviticus appears to mark chapter 16. See, e.g., R. M. Davidson, “The Eschatological Structure of the Old Testament,” pp. 349-66 in Creation, Life, and Hope: Essays in Honor of Jacques B. Doukhan, Jirí Moskala, ed. (Berrien Springs: AUTS, 2000); J. E. Hartley, Leviticus 1-27 (WBC 4; Dallas: Word, 1992) 217; G. A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap, 155ff; D. Luciani, Sainteté et pardon. Vol 1: Structure littéraire du Lévitique (Leuven: Peeters, 2005); R. Rendtorff, “Leviticus 16 Als Mitte Der Tora,” International Review of Biblical Studies 11.3/4 (2003) 252-58; D. W. Rooke, “The Day of Atonement as a Ritual of Validation for the High Priest,” pp. 342-64 in Temple and Worship in Biblical Israel, J. Day, ed. (New York: T&T Clark, 2007) 342; W. H. Shea, “Literary Form and Theological Function in Leviticus,” pp. 131-68 in The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy, F. B. Holdbrook, ed. (DRCS; Washington, DC: BRI, 1986); C. R. Smith, “The Literary Structure of Leviticus,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 70 (1996) 17-32; T. Seidl, “Levitikus 16 – ‘Schlussstein’ des priesterlichen Systems der Sündenvergebung,” pp. 219-48 in Levitikus als Buch, H.-J. Fabry, H.-W. Jüngline, eds. (BBB 119; Berlin: Philo, 1999); W. Warning, Literary Artistry in Leviticus (Leiden: Brill, 1999); E. Zenger (“Das Buch Levitikus als Teiltext der Tora/des Pentateuch Eine synchrone Lektüre mit kanonischer Perspektive,” in Levitikus als Buch, 71) and B. Jürgens (Heiligkeit und Versöhnung: Leviticus 16 in seinem literarischen Kontext [HBSt 28; New York: Herder, 2001] 126-86) both posit chapters 16-17 as the center. Besides, a few who have posited Leviticus 19 as the center of Leviticus, nonetheless suggest that atonement appears thematically central to the book. Mary Douglas infers that atonement is the central theme of Leviticus (Leviticus as Literature, 231-34), as does Kline, illustrated by this quote: “This structure can be interpreted as an analogical representation of the Tabernacle with chapter 19 parallel to the Ark of the Covenant, the inner array the Holy of Holies, the middle array the Holy Place, and the outer array the courtyard. The experience of reading Leviticus, according to this analogy, places the reader in a position analogous to the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Like the High Priest, the reader follows the inner path to holiness at the center of the book, passing through the courtyard and the Holy Place to the Holy of Holies. This path is reversed in the second half as the reader-High [Page 134]Priest returns to society when exiting the Tabernacle” (“The Literary Structure of Leviticus,” The Biblical Historian 2.1 [2006] 11).
  100. A. M. Rodriguez, “Leviticus 16: Its Literary Structure,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 34.2 (1996) 269-86 (283). The chiasm presented varies slightly from that of Rodriguez. D. Luciani’s chiastic outline of Leviticus 16 contains significant overlap, tending to confirm the focus upon the accomplished purgation of the tabernacle (Sainteté et pardon, 386). Cf. also G. A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap, 155ff; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus, 232. For Leviticus 19 as the ring center, see M. Douglas, “Poetic Structure in Leviticus,” pp. 239-56 in Pomegranates and Golden Bells: Studies in Biblical, Jewish, and Near Eastern Ritual, Law and Literature in Honor of Jacob Milgrom, D. P. Wright, D. N. Freedman, A. Hurvitz, eds. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1995).
  101. J. A. Davies, A Royal Priesthood, 162. Ultimately, then, the gate liturgy is via substitutionary atonement, the mythic pattern of (substitutionary) death and rebirth being at the heart of the sacrificial system of Israel’s cultus. Cf. “Rebirth,” pp. 696-97 in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, Ryken, Wilhoit, Longman III, eds. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1998) 697. Every sacrifice had atonement at its heart, both pointing toward and deriving significance from the high Day of Atonement.
  102. H. Gese, Essays on Biblical Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1981) 74.
  103. See Mary Douglas, Leviticus as Literature; M. Kline, “The Literary Structure of Leviticus”; G. A Rendsburg, “The Two Screens: On Mary Douglas’s Proposal for a Literary Structure to the Book of Leviticus,” JSQ 15 (2008) 175-89.
  104. R. M. Davidson, “Assurance in the Judgment,” Adventist Review (1988) 20, based on W. H. Shea, “Literary Form and Theological Function in Leviticus,” pp. 131-68 in The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy, F.B. Holbrook, ed. (Washington, DC: BRI, 1986) 18.
  105. Cf., e.g., J. Morgenstern, “The Cultic Setting of the ‘Enthronement Psalms,’” HUCA 35 (1964) 1-42 (esp. 8-14). His discussion of the enigmatic “closing of the gate” ceremony (13f) may be informed by the gate liturgy we have developed, including reference to Yhwh’s shutting of the ark’s door.
  106. See, e.g., R. E. Gane, Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, [Page 135]2005) 362-78; R. E. Gane, “The Nanshe New Year and the Day of Atonement,” Paper presented at SBL in San Francisco, CA, 1998; J. Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16 (AB 3; New York: Doubleday, 1991) 1067-71. On the akitu festival, see W. G. Lambert, “The Great Battle of the Mesopotamian Religious Year: The Conflict in the Akitu House (A Summary),” Iraq 25 (1963) 189-90; J. A. Black, “The New Year Ceremonies in Ancient Babylon: ‘Taking Bel by the Hand’ and a Cultic Picnic,” Religion 11 (1981) 39-60; B. D. Sommer, “The Babylonian Akitu Festival: Rectifying the King or Renewing the Cosmos?” Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society 27 (2000) 81-95; S. A. Pallis, The Babylonian Akitu Festival (Copenhagen: A. F. Horst, 1926); H. Zimmern, Das babylonische Neujahrfest (Leipzig: JC. Hinrichs, 1926); C. Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch, 508ff; 613, who notes: “the entire ceremony of chapter 16, as the Mesopotamian akitu Festival, corresponds to the re-establishment of cosmic order and may therefore be regarded as a ritual re-enactment of God’s primeval victory over chaos at the creation of the world. This ritual process of re-creation makes possible God’s permanent presence in Israel…” (613; emphasis original).
  107. S. E. Balentine, The Torah’s Vision of Worship, 65. F. H. Gorman states: “Thus, the ritual [of the Day of Atonement] reflects the need for an annual reestablishment of the order of creation, an order consisting of cosmic, social, and cultic categories. As such, the ritual reflects characteristics of annual new year festivals. This is an annual ritual concerned with the reestablishment of the prescribed and founded order of creation in which the community situates itself in the world, a world constructed and enacted ritually” (Ideology of Ritual, 61-62).
  108. J. D. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988) xxvi.
  109. G. J. Wenham, “Aaron’s Rod (Numbers 17.16-28),” Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenshaft 93.2 (1981) 280-81.
  110. G. J. Wenham, “Aaron’s Rod,” 280.
  111. G. J. Wenham, “Aaron’s Rod,” 280. C. Nihan, moreover, links these stories via the censer-incense to that of the deaths of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, claiming the point of the latter is the same: the high priest’s sole prerogative to enter the Holy of Holies (From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch, 582).
  112. [Page 136]G. J. Wenham, “Aaron’s Rod,” 280-81. Their reaction is similar to Isaiah’s after being ushered into the heavenly sanctuary (Isaiah 6.5).
  113. G. J. Wenham, “Aaron’s Rod,” 281.
  114. C. Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch, 614; see also 350.
  115. A. M. Rodriguez, “Sanctuary Theology in the Book of Exodus,” 128.
  116. This is recognized in most commentaries.
  117. J. Milgrom, Studies in Levitical Terminology 1 (Los Angeles: U of CA Press, 1970) 44-46. P. Enns, among other commentators, also posits Mount Sinai as the “pattern” for the tabernacle (Exodus, 488).
  118. A. M. Rodriguez, “Sanctuary Theology in the Book of Exodus,” 134.
  119. F. M. Cross, Jr., “The Priestly Tabernacle in the Light of Recent Research,” 93-94.
  120. Cf. F. M. Cross, Jr., “The Tabernacle,” 64-66; A. M. Rodriguez, “Sanctuary Theology in the Book of Exodus,” 129-30.
  121. M. R. Hauge, The Descent from the Mountain, 22. This connection, he suggests, is connected with the role of the human actors who may not ascend the mountain, making the divine descent to the tabernacle necessary (99).
  122. For the cloud of Glory symbolizing the divine Presence, cf. J. Plastaras, The God of Exodus: The Theology fo the Exodus Narratives. (Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing, 1966) 272-73.
  123. G. Davies, “The Theology of Exodus,” 141. He further supports this understanding in footnote 12 of the same page, noting that the LXX renders the phrase wešāḵantî beṯôḵām in 25.8 with καì ôϕθßσομαι êν üμ⁄ν.
  124. Cf. A. C. Leder, “The Coherence of Exodus,” 268.
  125. M. Buber, “Holy Event (Exodus 19-27),” pp. 45-58 in Exodus: Modern Critical Interpretations, H. Bloom, ed. (New York: Chelsea House, 1987) 51, originally published in On the Bible: Eighteen Studies by Martin Buber (New York: Schocken, 1968).
  126. For a similar succession of the names for the deity, cf. B. W. Anderson, Contours of Old Testament Theology, 86. The “alone” here derives from our understanding of the function and role of Exodus 32 set in the midst of tabernacle instruction and construction. Note the parallels between Exodus 24 and 32, A. Phillips, “A Fresh Look at the Sinai Pericope: Part 1,” 51; F. Polak, “Theophany and Mediator: The Unfolding of a Theme in the Book of Exodus.” Studies in the Book of Exodus: Redaction-Reception-Interpretation. M. Vervenne, ed. (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1996) 141. Further, the making, breaking, and remaking of the covenant [Page 137]in Exodus 19-34 corresponds with the overall pattern of Genesis 1-11, old creation, destruction, new beginning (J. Blenkinsopp, “Structure and Meaning,” 111; T. E. Fretheim, Exodus, 272). See also R. E. Hendrix, “A Literary Structural Analysis of the Golden-Calf Episode in Exodus 32.1-33.6,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 28.3 (1990) 211-17; R. W. L. Moberly, At the Mountain of God: Story and Theology in Exodus 32-34 (JSOTSup 22; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1983).
  127. M. R. Hauge, The Descent from the Mountain, 62.
  128. P. D. Miller, e.g., considers this the oldest attestation identifying Yhwh with the God of the fathers (The Divine Warrior in Early Israel [HSM 5; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973] 114). Cf. P. Enns, Exodus, 297-98. Moses is thus portrayed as the “last Patriarch,” Yhwh meeting him at the entrance of his own (Moses’) tent (Exodus 33.7-11; cf. Genesis 18.1; A. Cooper and B. R. Goldstein, “At the Entrance to the Tent: More Cultic Resonances in Biblical Narrative,” Journal of Biblical Literature 116.2 [1997] 201-15). With the movement of the glory cloud to the tabernacle, worship shifts from family clan to national cultus.
  129. This is not unlike M. Buber’s observation that while the deity remains the same from the patriarchal age to that of the Exodus tradition, it is the people (Israel as a nation) that changes. See “Holy Event (Exodus 19-27).” Cf. also Fretheim’s theological reflection on the shift in divine abode from mountain to tabernacle (Exodus, 272-73).
  130. N. Lohfink, The Theology of the Pentateuch: Themes of the Priestly Narrative and Deuteronomy. L. M. Maloney, trans. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994) 130.
  131. Cf. A. M. Rodriguez, “Sanctuary Theology in the Book of Exodus,” 131-37. J. I. Durham (Exodus, 500-01), in agreement with U. Cassuto (Exodus, 484), is likely right in pointing out “no real discrepancy” here in Moses’ inability to enter since even in Exodus 24.15-18 (as well as in 19.20) it is clear that he had to wait until Yhwh’s invitation (24.17) which, in the tabernacle context, probably occurs in Leviticus (either 1.1 or 9.23). However, and given the lack of objective discrepancy, Exodus 40.35 still makes Moses’ inability to enter the Presence a matter of literary emphasis not found in the narrative of chapter 24, and thus crucial for interpretation. B. S. Childs (Exodus, 638) suggests that here Moses’ role gives way to the priestly role of Aaron (Leviticus 9.23). To be sure, Aaron’s “future” role has been in [Page 138]preparation throughout the narrative, as suggested by his singular privilege of accompanying Moses up the Mount in Exodus 19.24 (P. Enns, Exodus, 395). However, Enns’s suggestion that Moses’ inability to enter represents “a heightening of God’s presence” is appealing (Exodus, 599), functioning perhaps to confirm the validity of the tabernacle cultus (even as the fearful theophany had previously functioned to validate Moses’ mediatorial role, Exodus 19.9). Cf. D. K. Stuart, Exodus (NAC. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2006) 792-93; T. B. Dozeman, Exodus, 765-66. So, the point is not simply that Moses’ role gives way to the priesthood, but includes the essential shift from approaching the divine Presence upon the cosmic mountain to approach via the ordained cultus — that is, the tabernacle, the text is emphasizing, is part of a “regulated” cultic complex. Cf. M. R. Hauge, who traces the narrative development of the four visio Dei episodes (20.18-21; 24.17; 33.8-10; 40.34-38) and sees a role reversal between Moses and the people in this final and climactic scene (The Descent from the Mountain, 41, 58).
  132. M. R. Hauge, The Descent from the Mountain, 101.
  133. C. Meyers, Exodus, 283.
  134. L. Brisman, “On the Divine Presence in Exodus,” 108.
  135. For a similar reading, see C. Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch, 231ff.
  136. F. Polak, “Theophany and Mediator,” 147. T. B. Dozeman also notes the “absence of God” in the beginning of Exodus (Exodus, 44).
  137. A. C. Leder, “Reading Exodus to Learn,” 20; D. Gowan, Theology in Exodus, 1-24.
  138. The enthronement emphasis may also be seen in the instructions for building the tabernacle (chapter 25), as B. A. Levine is likely correct in seeing the order of items in relation to relative importance with the ark, as “the central object of the cult” as well as Yhwh’s throne, coming first (“The Descriptive Tabernacle Texts of the Pentateuch,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 85.3 [1965] 307). This priority, to be sure, is organized by degree of holiness — see M. Haran, Temples and Temple Service in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Claredon, 1978; reprinted, Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1985); P. P. Jenson, Graded Holiness: A Key to the Priestly Conception of the World (JSOTSup 106; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992); C. Meyers, Exodus, 224-25. The ark is “the supreme post-Sinai symbol of the Presence of Yahweh” (J. I. Durham, Exodus, 350). Cf. P. Enns, Exodus, 511.
  139. [Page 139]Cf. F. Gorman, Ideology of Ritual, 42; T. E. Fretheim, “Reclamation of Creation,” 364-65 footnote 26; N. M. Sarna, Exodus, 237.
  140. T. B. Dozeman, Exodus, 439.
  141. Commonly recognized by scholars. See A. C. Leder, “Reading Exodus to Learn,” 26.
  142. I. Knohl, “Two Aspects of the ‘Tent of Meeting,’” 73. Cf. M. Fishbane, Biblical Text and Texture: A Literary Reading of Selected Texts (New York: Schocken, 1979) 13.
  143. Cf. J. Plastaras, The God of Exodus, 258.
  144. R. P. Gordon, Hebrew Bible and Ancient Versions: Selected Essays in Honor of Robert P. Gordon (SOTS. Burlington: Ashgate, 1988) 29.
  145. C. Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch, 65 (emphasis in original).
  146. See J. D. Currid, A Study Commentary on Exodus. Vol. 2. (Darlington, England; Auburn, MA: Evangelical Press, 2000) 143; F. Gorman, Ideology of Ritual, 48.
  147. M. Greenberg, Understanding Exodus, 16-17.
  148. For literary and thematic parallels between the creation account and the completion of the tabernacle, cf. M. Fishbane, Biblical Text and Texture, 12-13; R. S. Hendel, “The Poetics of Myth in Genesis,” pp. 157-70 in The Seductiveness of Jewish Myth, S. D. Breslauer, ed. (New York: State University of New York Press, 1997) 163-64.
  149. A. C. Leder states: “Remarkably, Exodus ends where Genesis begins. Or, to put it another way: The end of Exodus picks up where Adam’s and Eve’s sin created a disjunction between the presence of God and human history” (“Reading Exodus to Learn,” 30). Cf. P. Enns, Exodus, 285. Similarly, J. H. Walton: “As Exodus 40 describes the glory of the Lord filling the temple, the Israelites experience what is, in effect, a return to Eden — not in the sense of full restoration, but in the sense that God’s presence again takes up its residence among people, and access to God’s presence, however limited, is restored” (“Equilibrium and the Sacred Compass: The Structure of the Book of Leviticus,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 11.2 [2001] 296).
  150. T. E. Fretheim, Exodus, 240-41, 315 (emphasis original). Cf. C. Meyers, Exodus, 222-23; J. K. Bruckner, Exodus, 327; J. D. Currid, Exodus, vol. 2, 369.
  151. See M. Greenberg’s assessment for the book of Exodus as a literary unit within the Torah, having its own prologue and epilogue, etc., Understanding Exodus, 2-3.
  152. [Page 140]M. Noth, Exodus: A Commentary. J. S. Bowden, trans. (OTL. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962) 200.
  153. B. S. Childs, Exodus, 239. Similarly, P. Enns, Exodus, 301, 506; D. C. Timmer, Creation, Tabernacle, and Sabbath, 145. See also the Eden–temple parallels in M. Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T & T Clark, 2003) 47.
  154. Cosmic mountain ideology may serve to unfold the meaning of other cultic rituals as well. E.g., the Day of Atonement liturgy may be of a piece with the later Tamid ritual whereby the lamb was slain at the sound of the opening of the temple gates at dawn (see m.Tamid 3.1-5, 7) — entrance into Yhwh’s abode via sacrifice. Interestingly, some have posited that the Day of Atonement morning Tamid, in particular, serves as the context for the temple themes in John’s Apocalypse. Cf., e.g., J. Paulien, “The Role of the Hebrew Cultus, Sanctuary and Temple in the Plot and Structure of the Book of Revelation,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 33.2 (1995) 245-64. See also D. Hamm, “The Tamid Service in Luke-Acts: The Cultic Background behind Luke’s Theology of Worship,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 65 (2003) 215-31.

 

This chapter has been adapted from L. Michael Morales, The Tabernacle Pre-Figured: Cosmic Mountain Ideology in Genesis and Exodus (Biblical Tools and Studies 15, Leuven, The Netherlands: Peeters, 2012) 245-277.

 

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About L. Michael Morales

L. Michael Morales is Chair of the Biblical Studies Department and Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew and Great Works for Reformation Bible College. He is also a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. His PhD is in the Pentateuch and was supervised by Old Testament scholar Gordon J. Wenham at Trinity College, UK. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Dante Society of America. Michael also serves as an adjunct for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and Reformed Theological Seminary, and is the author of The Tabernacle Pre-Figured; the editor of Cult and Cosmos; and is working on a biblical theology of the book of Leviticus and a commentary on Numbers for IVP.

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