In his characteristic epic style, Thomas Cole depicted Adam and Eve being driven from the lush garden to live in the relative wilderness of the mortal world. The exit of the Garden-and presumably the only means of access-is on the east side, at the end farthest away from the mountain of God’s presence. The image of the tiny couple is almost lost in the wide expanse of the landscape, emphasizing the greatness of the power of God and the grandeur of His Creation as compared with the forced humility of fallen mankind. The light emanating from the Garden contrasts with the darkness of the way ahead for Adam and Eve.
Their expulsion is described twice in Moses’ account, with different terms used in each case.1 The Hebrew word geresh (“drove out”), used in Genesis 3:24, is harsher than the term shillah (“send him forth”) in verse 23. Significantly, the same two terms are used in the same order by the Lord to describe how Pharaoh would drive Israel away from the familiar comforts of Egypt,2 suggesting that we are not meant to read Adam and Eve’s exit from Eden as depicting a unique event but rather as demonstrating a repeated type of mankind’s difficulty, in its fallen state, to “stand in holy places” and not be “moved.”3
Though the scriptural admonition to “stand in holy places and be not moved”4 is a familiar one, the relevance of its symbolism to the story of Adam and Eve has been underappreciated. In this article, we will explore how one’s fitness to stand in holy places was understood in ancient sources, showing the paramount importance of this idea in the Old and New Testament-and its particular relevance for our own time. Indeed, Avivah Zornberg has argued that to “hold [one’s] ground” in sacred circumstances is the meaning of being itself-“kiyyum: to rise up (la-koom), to be tall (koma zokufa) in the presence of God.”5
Adam and Eve’s Standing in Eden
According to Jewish tradition, the dust used to create Adam was taken from two places: 1. From the four corners of the earth (so that wherever he died, he would be accepted for burial), and 2. From the “sacred center,” the place of Adam’s altar and the location of the temple:
“God took his dust from the place of which it is said, ‘You shall make an altar of earth for Me-I wish that he may gain atonement, and that he may be able to stand.'”6
In contrast to cattle, which “do not stand to be judged”7 (i.e., are not held accountable for their actions8), a midrashic account of Adam’s creation specifically highlights his first experience after being filled with the breath of life:9 namely, the moment when God “stood him on his legs.”10 According to Zornberg,11 it is in the ability to stand in the presence of God that one specifically demonstrates the attainment of full “majesty and strength,” a divine quality Adam will lose through his subsequent transgression:
Before the sin, Adam could “hear God speaking and stand on his legs. he could withstand it.”12 After the sin, he hides; the midrash imagines Adam and Eve as shrinking13 essentially pretending not to be. In another midrash, God says, “Woe Adam! Could you not stand in your commandment for even one hour? Look at your children who can wait three years for the fruit tree to pass its forbidden stage [orlah]”14
Zornberg is puzzled by the allusion to an immature fruit tree, calling it “a strange analogy,” and noting that “the capacity to wait seems to be the issue here.”15 However, this idea, though uncommon, is not completely without parallel. For example, the fifteenth-century Adamgirk does not see Adam and Eve’s attempt to “become divine,”16 as forever futile, but merely premature-not being, as yet, “in its time.”17 As Joseph Smith taught: “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.”18
Although to be banished from the Garden of Eden “is to lose a particular standing ground,”19 it was always God’s intention to restore Adam and Eve to their former glory,20 enabling their “confidence” to again “wax strong”21 in His presence. Succinctly expressing the hopelessness of Adam’s predicament in the absence of God’s remedy, midrash states: “If it were not for Your mercy, Adam would have had no standing (amidah).”22
Israel’s Failure to Stand at Sinai
I have already mentioned the parallel between the first couple’s expulsion from Eden and Israel’s exodus from Egypt to the places of their probation. As the path of exaltation was revealed through five covenants given to Adam and Eve after the Fall,23 so Israel’s salvation was also understood to have been made contingent on its acceptance of the five parts of God’s law.24 Indeed, Rashi wrote of how all creation from the beginning waited in expectation for this Law to be revealed:
All the works of the beginning are suspended (literally, hanging and standing) until the sixth day of Sivan, which is destined for the giving of the Torah.25
Implicit in such commentary is the idea that the earth and heavens are preserved by means of the same covenant that mankind makes in order to assure its standing with God. The original covenant from which all others derive was made before the “foundation of the world,”26 when the members of the Godhead agreed to create the universe.27 Afterward, the terms of this covenant were said to have been engraved upon Creation itself, symbolically delimiting the bounds beyond which they were not to pass. For example, in the book of Proverbs, Wisdom speaks poetically as having been present “when [God] prepared the heavens, . when he engraved a circle upon the face of the deep:. when he set for the sea its engraved mark. when he engraved the foundations of the earth.”28 In modern times, Joseph Smith also anticipated with great longing the day when he, like the author of Proverbs, would be able to “gaze upon eternal wisdom engraven upon the heavens.”29 Themes relating to these primordial “bounds” also appear in the Doctrine and Covenants30 and in other statements by Joseph Smith.31
Illustrating the idea of the engraving of divine law on the fabric of the cosmos is the well-known print by William Blake, entitled “God Creating the Universe.” The solitary posture of the form seems to have been prescribed by Milton, who wrote of the moment when the Almighty “took the golden Compasses prepar’d. to circumscribe This Universe, and all created things: One foot he centred, and the other turn’d Round through the vast profunditie obscure.”32
A corollary to the idea of God having ordered Creation through the establishment of Law is the Jewish teaching that man’s continued defiance of the great covenant could cause the entire universe to “dissolve and disappear,” bringing back the primordial state of a watery earth. It was, in fact, this very state that had been brought on by the rebellion of mankind in the prelude to Noah’s flood, that was later witnessed in the total annihilation of Sodom, and that was also described by the prophets as they envisioned the complete desolation of a world destroyed by wickedness.33 Thus, midrash asserted: “God made a condition with the works of the Beginning-If Israel accepts the Torah, you will continue to exist; if not, I will bring you back to chaos.”34
Israel, however, proved themselves unready to accept the fulness of God’s law at Sinai.35 They preferred that Moses ascend the holy mountain alone.36 Painting a vivid word picture of the Israelites’ inability to stand unmoved in the divine presence, Rashi explains that when they heard the sound of the voice of God “they moved backwards and stood at a distance: they were repelled to the rear a distance of twelve miles-that is the whole length of the camp. Then the angels came and helped them forward again.” Zornberg reasons: “If this happened at each of the Ten Commandments, the people are imagined as traveling 240 miles in order to stand in place!”37
We see this same movement away from God and toward the regions of death at the incident of the Golden Calf.38 Before their sin, the Israelites looked upon the divine flames at the top of the mountain without fear, but as soon as they had sinned, they could not even bear to see the face of Moses, God’s intermediary.39 On the other hand, Moses, like Jesus at the Transfiguration,40 had been covered by a glorious cloud41 and was made like God Himself.42 Moses then stood to Israel as God stood to him and, having received the power of an eternal life, he became known in the Samaritan literature as “the Standing One.”43
Comparing the sin of the Israelites to the transgression of Adam, midrash has God reproaching them as follows:
Like Adam, the people were destined to live forever, but “when they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel!,’ death came upon them. God said, ‘You have followed the system of Adam, who did not stand the pressure of his testing for three hours..” ‘I said, “You are gods..” But you went in the ways of Adam,’ so ‘indeed like Adam you shall die. And like one of the princes you shall fall’44-you have brought yourself low.”45
The midrash uses the imagery of the Fall, with a perfect consistency. The sin, as such, is not mentioned. Instead, what Adam, and again the Israelites, represents is a kind of spinelessness, a vapidity. The word that is used in Sanhedrin 38b to describe the sin is sarah, which implies exactly this aesthetic offensiveness: it holds nuances of evaporation, loss of substance, and the offensive odor of mortification. “O my offense is rank, it smells to heaven.”46 It signifies a failure to stand in the presence of God, to maintain the posture of eternal life. “You have brought yourselves low”: man, the midrash boldly implies, does not really want full and eternal being. He chooses death, lessened being. What looks like defiance is an abandonment of a difficult posture.
“The Measure of the Stature of the Fulness of Christ”
In describing the essential qualities the youthful Jesus acquired as he grew to manhood, Luke states that He “increased in wisdom and stature.”47 In striving toward His likeness, Paul instructed his readers to attain such “a knowledge of the Son of God” that would enable them also to become “perfect. unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”48 This supreme objective, of course, could not be accomplished without divine help, for “[w]hich of you by taking thought,” Jesus rhetorically asked in the Sermon the Mount, “can add one cubit unto his stature?”49
To fully understand the significance of Jesus’ question, its wider setting must be considered. Of great importance here is the compelling evidence provided by John W. Welch that the Sermon on the Mount, along with its companion Sermon at the Temple in the Book of Mormon, is best described as a “temple text.”50 In broad outlines, Welch describes the instructions given to candidates for Christian initiation as they are figuratively guided by Jesus’ sermon through the major areas of the temple:51 Having renounced Satan and accepted “angelic beings (cf. true temple personnel). as ministrants,” they proceed from the “court of the priests,”52 into the “great hall,”53 through the “narrow gate,54 to pass. the judgment of those guarding the holy place,” and finally enter into “the holy presence.”55
In His great sermon, Jesus taught His disciples that in order to qualify for entry into the holy presence, they must live a life of consecration, seeking the “kingdom of God” in preference to any other consideration.56 Unlike the Gentiles, who are obsessed with the pursuit of ordinary food and clothing, the “meat,” “drink,” and “raiment” to be sought by the disciples is of an eternal nature. It cannot be obtained through human effort, but only as a gift from the Father.57 For example, as Welch points out:58
The “clothing” of which Jesus speaks is richly symbolic. The Greek word for being clothed is enduo (endumatos, “raiment,” in Matthew 6:25, 28; endusesthe, “put on,” in Matthew 6:25). Jesus uses this word in Luke 24:49, shortly after his resurrection, when he tells his apostles to remain in the city “until ye be endued with power from on high.” It means “to endow.”
In light of this reading of the sermon, Jesus’ words about man’s inability to add to his own height are best read as an allusion to the spiritual “stature” required of one who desires to be clothed in robes of glory and stand in the presence of the Father. To attain the “measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”59 is to reach perfection in the temple of one’s body and spirit, exactly matching God’s Temple in “its precisely revealed measurements”60-measurements whose dimensions are also laid out in cubits.61 “No one,” writes Welch, “would be presumptuous enough to add a single cubit to any part of the Temple”62-nor can individuals, without divine aid, increase their spiritual stature to equal that of Christ Himself.
The Fall of the Temple Guards at Jesus’ Arrest
In his moving discourse on the Atonement, Elder Bruce R. McConkie compared the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane.63 Note that a “serpent” was present on both occasions. In the first instance, one who had been “drawn away”64 by Satan incited Eve to transgress God’s command, resulting in expulsion from Eden. In the second, Jesus bore our transgressions, resulting in an arrest and departure incited by the “son of perdition.”65 In the Garden of Gethsemane, however, there was no deception, for Jesus already knew “all things that should come upon him.”66 Nor could the Christ be compelled by the officers sent to arrest Him. Though the incident occurred “in a situation of apparently complete inequality of power, . it is not they but He who takes charge.”67 As Elder James E. Talmage wrote: “The simple dignity and gentle yet compelling force of Christ’s presence proved more potent than strong arms and weapons of violence.”68
The gospel of John emphasizes Christ’s mastery of the situation by omitting the kiss of Judas from its account, suggesting that “Judas’ task of identifying Jesus had been taken out of his hands.”69 Through His self-identification as Jehovah, Jesus is shown in full control of the arresting party:
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
In view of the previous discussion, it is clear that this is no mere slapstick scene that might be “explained away or trivialized. To know or use the divine name, as Jesus does [in replying with ‘I am’70], is an exercise of awesome power.”71 In effect, we are reading an eyewitness report of a solemn revelation to the band of arresting temple guards72 that they were standing, as it were, in the presence of Jehovah in the “Holy of Holies,” and that they, with full comprehension of the irony of their pernicious intent, were about to do harm to the very Master of the Lord’s House, whose precincts they had been sworn to protect. As with the Israelites who could not stand in His presence at “Sinai from whence Jehovah gave his laws,”73 “those of the dark world fell back, repelled by the presence of the Light of the world.”74
Standing in Holy Places in the Latter Days
The only direct mention in the New Testament of the idea of “stand[ing] in the holy place” is in Matthew 24:15:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Here the phrase is used descriptively, as part of Jesus’ discussion of the warning signs to which His disciples would be wise to attend. The plain meaning of the verse becomes more clear when it is rendered in conjunction with v. 16, with ellipsis, as follows: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination. stand in the holy place, . let them. flee into the mountains.”75 In other words, the disciples are being told that the sign by which they will know that they should “flee into the mountains” is the event of an “abomination” having been set up to “stand” in the “holy place” of the Jerusalem Temple, in other words, following Mark 13:14, “standing where it ought not to be.” Such an incident may have occurred during the Roman siege of the first century:
Daniel’s prophecy of the “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 9:23) was fulfilled in AD 70, when the Roman general Titus entered the Most Holy Place and had a statue of himself erected in the temple before having the temple destroyed. The Lord’s phrase “when you see” indicates that many of the disciples would still be alive at that time.76
While affirming that the event in question was connected with “the destruction of Jerusalem,” the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) differs with the King James Version in its prescriptive rendering of the key phrase:
When you, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, then you shall stand in the holy place; whoso readeth let him understand.77
Also of interest is a verse, inserted later in the chapter by the Prophet, which speaks of a second “abomination of desolation” that is destined to occur “in the last days”:
And again, in the last days, the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, will be fulfilled.78
D&C 45:31-33 reiterates and further explains the events described in Matthew 24:
31 And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
32 But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.79
33 And there shall be earthquakes also in divers places, and many desolations; yet men will harden their hearts against me, and they will take up the sword, one against another, and they will kill one another.
The central message of these verses is that in spite of the “overflowing scourge” of a “desolating sickness” that “shall cover the land,” the “disciples shall stand in holy places and shall not be moved.” Note that in every reference to this concept in modern revelation80 the idea that the Saints should “stand in holy places” is connected to descriptions of the latter-day gathering and the destruction that will precede the Savior’s Second Coming. 81
Where are the “holy places” in which we are to stand? In answer to this question, Elder David A. Bftnar has drawn parallels to the first Passover, when the obedient Israelites marked their homes with lamb’s blood, consumed the sacred meal, and shut the door on passing death. Note that the Israelites ate while standing.82 Elder Bftnar stated his belief that someday there will be a kind of latter-day Passover.83 In light of such teachings, the frequently-heard suggestion that such “holy places” include temples, stakes, chapels, and homes seems wholly appropriate.84 However, it should be remembered that what makes these places holy-and secure-are the covenants kept by those within. Sodom itself could have been a place of safety had there been as few as ten righteous in the city to “pray on behalf of all of them.”85
Another vivid picture of such “holy places” is drawn for us in Isaiah86 and the Doctrine and Covenants, where the kingdom of God is described as a tent whose expanse increases continually outward from the “center place”87 with the establishment of “stakes, for the curtains or strength of Zion.”88 It is “in Zion, and in her stakes, and in Jerusalem” that are to be found “those places which [God has] appointed for refuge.”89 God’s whole purpose is to draw the people of the world to such places of safety, the express purpose of the Church being “for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion.”90
Those who are determined to stand and not be moved will pitch their “tent with the door thereof towards the temple,”91 the place of God’s presence where He covenants with His people. On the other hand, to knowingly and deliberately place oneself outside the tent of Zion through failure to make or keep saving covenants92 is to court mortal danger. Only through “cheerfully do[ing] all things that lie in our power,”93 while relying on “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah”94 to make up our lack, can we be filled with sufficient faith to “stand still, with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God.”95
In words once sung to those who aspired to enter the temple,96 the Psalmist asks: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?”97 The consistent answer from scripture is: “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.”98
Even with the best intentions, of course, no one is capable of remaining in this state for very long. However, the permanence of this blessing eventually can be realized through lifelong persistence in a process of engagement and reengagement in sincere repentance and faithfulness to covenants-covenants that must be frequently renewed by participation in the ordinances of the Gospel. As Chauncey Riddle has written:99
. [Human] beings may be saved only by binding themselves to Christ.100 It is as if our task were to stand straight and tall before Father, but because of the Fall, we are broken and twisted. The Savior is our straight and tall splint. If we bind ourselves to Him, wrap strong covenants around us and Him that progressively draw us up into His form and nature, then we can become righteous as He is and can be saved.101
In spite of the bruised knees and tired limbs that this repeated cycle of standing and falling requires, we should thank God daily for the privilege of living for a while on an imperfect earth, for this is the way we gain our knowledge. Zornberg insightfully summarizes this lesson from Jewish tradition:
The Talmud makes an extraordinary observation about the paradoxes of “standing”: “No man stands on [i.e., can rightly under-stand] the words of Torah, unless he has stumbled over them.”102 To discover firm standing ground, it is necessary to explore, to stumble, even to fall.103
In our repeated falls, we should be reassured in the knowledge that, like the Israelites at Sinai, we can receive help from “angels” appointed to assist our return.104 Such a scene is depicted above, where the fallen Abraham gratefully testified that the Angel Yahoel “took me by my right hand and stood me on my feet.”105
The continual challenges endemic in a disciple’s life should teach us something about “standing” itself: namely, that what might appear to the naïve as a “static position” will, with experience, eventually be better understood as “a point of equilibrium in the eye of a storm.”106 Lest anyone think that living a life of continual standing in the presence of God is a “heavy, humdrum, and safe” affair, I close with the words of G. K. Chesterton, who understood that the essence of discipleship is to maintain:
. the equilibrium of a man behind madly rushing horses, seeming to stoop this way and to sway that, yet in every attitude having the grace of statuary and the accuracy of arithmetic. It is always simple to fall; there are an infinity of angles at which one falls, only one at which one stands.107
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—. E-mail message to Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, March 8, 2010.
Welch, John W. The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1990.
—. “The temple in the Book of Mormon: The temples at the cities of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Bountiful.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 297-387. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.
—. The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2009.
Wickman, Lance B. “Stand ye in holy places.” Ensign 24, November 1994, 82.
Zlotowitz, Rabbi Meir, and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, eds. 1977. Bereishis/Genesis: A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources 2nd ed. Two vols. ArtScroll Tanach Series, ed.Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1986.
Zornberg, Avivah Gottlieb. Genesis: The Beginning of Desire. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1995.
1 Scholars have long puzzled over the significance of the double reference to Adam and Eve’s expulsion in vv. 29 and 31. A change from the Genesis and OT1 “sent” to “will send” in OT2 was made in the handwriting of Sidney Rigdon (S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, p. 602; K. P. Jackson, Book of Moses, p. 85). This change allows the description of the “first” expulsion of Adam and Eve to be seen simply as an anticipatory statement of the Lord’s intention, corresponding to the actual event later described in v. 31. By way of contrast, some ancient traditions see the couple’s exit from the Garden of Eden as having occurred in two stages. For example, the Qur’an explicitly records that Adam and Eve were twice told to go down (Qur’an, 2:36, 38), explaining that they “were removed first from the Garden to its courtyard and then from the courtyard to the earth” (A. a.-S. M. H. at-Tabataba’i, Al-Mizan, 1:209). An idea consistent with Ephrem the Syrian’s idea of the Fall as an attempted intrusion in the holiest regions of the Garden is that Adam and Eve were first removed from the border of the celestial region to the terrestrial paradise, and then, in the second stage, were expelled from the terrestrial paradise to the telestial earth (Ephrem the Syrian, Paradise, 3:5, p. 92, 3:13-15, pp. 95-96).
2 Exodus 6:1. See N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 30.
3 See D&C 45:32.
4 D&C 45:32.
5 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 21.
6 Zornberg’s translation of Rashi, Genesis 2:7, in Ibid., p. 16. Compare Rashi, Genesis Commentary, 2:7, p. 23.
7 Zornberg’s translation of Rashi, Genesis 2:7, in A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 16. Compare Rashi, Genesis Commentary, 2:7, p. 23.
8 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 16.
9 Ibid., p. 22.
10 M.-A. Ouaknin et al., Rabbi Éliézer, 11, p. 78.
11 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 23.
12 Zornberg’s translation. Compare H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Numbers 1, 11:3, 5:419.
13 “His height?-For it says, And the man and his wife hid themselves (Genesis 3:8). R. Aibu said: His height was cut down and reduced to one hundred cubits” (Ibid., Genesis 1, 12:6, p. 91; cf. J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 1, 19:8:3, p. 208).
14 Zornberg’s translation. Compare J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 1, 21:7:3, p. 235. The JPS translation of Leviticus 19:23 reads: “When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten.” Levine comments on the literal translation as follows: “‘You shall trim its fruit in the manner of a foreskin.’ The syntax is unusual. Literally, this clause would read: “You shall trim its foreskin as foreskin” (va-‘araltem ‘et ‘orlato). Later on in the passage we find the masculine plural noun ‘arelim, ‘in a state of uncircumcision'” (B. A. Levine, Leviticus, Leviticus 19:23n., pp. 131-132).
15 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 23.
16 M. E. Stone, Adamgirk, 1:3:71, p. 101. Note, however, that this promise actually would reach its complete fulfillment through taking of the Tree of Life, not merely of the Tree of Knowledge as deceptively asserted here by Satan.
17 Ibid., 1:3:27, p. 96.
18 J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 11 April 1842, 5:135.
19 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 21.
20 “For these are those selected by God for an everlasting covenant and to them shall belong the glory of Adam.” (Rule of the Community 4:22-23 in F. G. Martinez, DSS Translated, p. 7; H. W. Nibley, Message 2005, p. 467).
21 D&C 121:45.
22 Following Zornberg’s literal translation-others read in terms of Adam’s capacity to “exist” or “survive” (see, e.g., A. Davis et al., The Metsudah Midrash Tanchuma, Bamidbar 2, Masei, 11, p. 354; J. T. Townsend, Tanhuma, 10 (Mas’e):8, Numbers 35:9ff, Part 1, 3:264; cf. H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Numbers 23:13, 6:877). Zornberg explains: “The simplest reading of ‘standing’ would be ‘survival.’ But, implicitly, both Adam and the world are in need of some Archimedian point of stability, in a situation in which disintegration threatens” (A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 25).
By way of contrast, consider Cain’s protest: “Since I am to be a restless wanderer, I cannot stand in one place-that is what banishment form the soil means-I have no place of rest. ‘And I must avoid Your presence’-for I cannot stand before You to pray” (A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 21).
23 J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image, pp. 338-350.
24 In the case of the rabbis, this was understood to be the five books of Moses, the Torah. Concerning the sixth day of Creation, Rashi commented: “The sixth day”: the definite article [heh] is added here to teach that God had made a condition with all the works of the beginning, depending on Israel’s acceptance of the Five [the numerical value of heh] Books of the Torah. (Zornberg’s translation in A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 27). Compare Rashi, Genesis Commentary, 1:31, p. 19.
The idea of five sacred things is encountered in other forms Jewish tradition. For example, Jewish authorities held that five things were lost when Solomon’s temple was destroyed. Both Margaret Barker and Hugh Nibley specifically connect these “five things” to lost ordinances of the High Priesthood (see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image, pp. 658-660).
25 Zornberg’s translation in A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 27. Compare Rashi, Genesis Commentary 1:31, p. 19.
26 E.g., Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8, Mosiah 4:7; 15:19; Alma 12:25, 30; 13:3, 5, 7; 18:39; 22:13; 42:26; D&C 35:18; 124:41; 128:5, 8, 18; 132:5, 63; Moses 5:57; 6:30.
27 The Prophet Joseph Smith, who explained: “Everlasting covenant was made between three personages before the organization of this earth, and relates to their dispensation of things to men on the earth; these personages, according to Abraham’s record, are called God the first, the Creator, God the second, the Redeemer, and God the third, the witness or Testator” (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 16 May 1841, p. 190).
28 Proverbs 8:27-29, following the translation of M. Barker, Temple Theology, p. 39; cf. Job 26:10.
29 J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, 27 November 1832, 1:299.
30 E.g., D&C 88:34-38, 42-45; 121:30-32; 132:5, 11.
31 J. Smith, Jr., Words, 9 October 1843, p. 253; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 20 March 1842, pp. 197-198.
32 J. Milton, Paradise Lost, 7:224-228, p. 145; compare Blake’s Urizen (1794), where he: “. formed golden compasses / And began to explore the Abyss” (W. Blake, Illuminated Blake, 7:8, p. 428); Chesterton called the figure “a monstrously muscular old man, with hair and beard like a snowstorm, but with limbs like young trees” (G. K. Chesterton, William Blake, p. 55).
Although the tools of an architect are frequently used in medieval depictions of the Creation to portray the geometry of the heavens, seas, and earth, Blake also may have been attracted to this symbol because of his acquaintance with Freemasonry while he was an apprentice engraver (P. Ackroyd, Blake, p. 377). An associate of Blake said that the artist saw the vision of this image hovering “at the top of his staircase; and he [was] frequently. heard to say, that it made a more powerful impression upon his mind than all he had ever been visited by” (P. Ackroyd, Blake, p. 378). He worked and reworked this image continually, reportedly returning to it for a final effort in the last hours before his death.
33 See Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23-27.
34 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 27. The reference is from B. Shabbat 88a, cited in A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 385 n. 68. In Pesikta Rabbati we read:
R. Huna said in the name of R. Aha (Aba?): The earth and all the inhabitants thereof were about to be dissolved; but then because of the I, (the “I” which begins the Ten Commandments and hence stands for Israel’s acceptance of God and the Torah, it stood firm], as the verse concludes, I caused the pillars of it to stand firm (Psalm 75:4). Long ago the world might have dissolved and disappeared. Had not Israel stood before Mount Sinai and said: All that the Lord hath said we will do and obey (Exodus 24:7), the world might have already reverted to chaos. And who made the world stand firm? I [anokhi] made the pillars of it stand firm, because of the merit Israel acquired in heeding “I [anokhi] am the Lord thy God.” (W. G. Braude, Rabbati, 21:21, p. 451)
Zornberg comments on the passage above as follows:
On a first reading, it seems that what saves the world from decomposing is God and His Law, which the people obediently accept. (“It is I who gives solidity to the world, through my commandments, encoded in the opening word of the Ten Commandments, anokhi-I..”) But there is another possible-and compelling reading. Here, the anokhi, which gives substance and coherence to reality, is the “I” of human beings. Rashi reads the prooftext, the verse from Psalms (75:4), in just this unexpected way: “‘It is I who keeps its pillars firm’-when I said, ‘We shall do and we shall listen.'” The people are responsible for the “I” that “fixes,” that congeals a dissolving reality. The world is saved by a human affirmation, a human “standing at Sinai,” which halts the process of disintegration. (A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, p. 28)
35 D&C 84:23-27; JST Exodus 34:1-2.
36 Exodus 20:18.
37 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, pp. 32-33. Zornberg’s comment is based on a midrash of Rashi on Exodus 20:15-16 (= KJV Exodus 20:18): “And all the people could see the sounds and the flames, the sound of the shofar and the smoking mountain; the people saw and they moved and they stood from afar. They said to Moses, ‘You speak to us and we shall hear; let God not speak to us lest we die'” (Rashi, Exodus Commentary, pp. 240-241). The “sounds” are read as coming from the “mouth of the Almighty.” The movement is one of trembling, not to be understood as the same one that led them to be standing “from afar.” Rashi says that the people “drew back twelve miles, the length of their camp, and the ministering angels would come and assist them to return, as it says ‘The kings of legions move about’ (Psalm 68:13)” (Rashi, Exodus Commentary, p. 241). “The Talmud reads the word ‘kings’ as ‘angels,’ and the intransitive verb ‘move about’ as the transitive verb ‘move others’ (see Mechilta; Shabbos 88a)” (Editor’s note in Rashi, Exodus Commentary, p. 241).
38 A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, pp. 23-24.
39 “R. Simeon b. Yohai observed: As long as a man refrains from sin he is an object of awe and fear. The moment he sins he is himself subject to awe and fear. Before Adam sinned he used to hear the voice of the divine communication while standing on his feet and without flinching. As soon as he sinned, he heard the voice of the divine communication and hid. (Genesis 3:8). R. Abin said: Before Adam sinned, the Voice sounded to him gentle; after he had sinned it sounded to him harsh. Before Israel had sinned, The appearance of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount (Exodus 24:17). R. Abba b. Kahana observed: Seven partitions of fire were consuming one another and Israel looked on undaunted and undismayed. As soon as they had sinned, however, they could not even look at the face of the intermediary [i.e., Moses] (Exodus 34:30)” (H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Numbers (Naso), 11:3, p. 419).
40 Mark 9:2-13.
41 Exodus 24:18, 33:7-11.
42 C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Reflections, pp. 299-301. I am indebted to David Larsen for the reference to Fletcher-Louis’ article relating to this topic.
43 Ibid., p. 303. Fletcher-Louis cites the following from Philo:
“Here I stand there before you, on the rock in Horeb” (Exodus 17:6), which means, “this I, the manifest, Who am here, am there also, am everywhere, for I have filled all things. I stand ever the same immutable, before you or anything that exists came into being, established on the topmost and most ancient source of power, whence showers forth the birth of all that is..” And Moses too gives his testimony to the unchangeableness of the deity when he says “they saw the place where the God of Israel stood” (Exodus 24:10), for by the standing or establishment he indicates his immutability. But indeed so vast in its excess is the stability of the Deity that He imparts to chosen natures a share of His steadfastness to be their richest possession. For instance, He says of His covenant filled with His bounties, the highest law and principle, that is, which rules existent things, that this god-like image shall be firmly planted with the righteous soul as its pedestal. And it is the earnest desire of all the God-beloved to fly from the stormy waters of engrossing business with its perpetual turmoil of surge and billow, and anchor in the calm safe shelter of virtue’s roadsteads. See what is said of wise Abraham, how he was “standing in front of God” (Genesis 18:22), for when should we expect a mind to stand and no longer sway as on the balance save when it is opposite God, seeing and being seen?. To Moses, too, this divine command was given: “Stand here with me” (Deuteronomy 5:31), and this brings out both the points suggested above, namely the unswerving quality of the man of worth, and the absolute stability of Him that IS. (modified by Fletcher-Louis from Philo, Dreams, 2:32, 221-2:33, 227, pp. 543, 545).
Fletcher-Louis comments on parallels between Philo, 4Q377 from Qumran, and the Pentateuch:
Like Philo, 4Q377 is working with Deuteronomy 5:5, the giving of the Torah, and perhaps Exodus 17:6. Both texts think standing is a posture indicative of a transcendent identity in which the righteous can participate and of which Moses is the pre-eminent example. With the stability of standing is contrasted the corruptibility of motion, turmoil and storms, which is perhaps reflected in the tension between Israel’s “standing” (lines 4 and 10) and her “trembling” (line 9) before the Glory of God in the Qumran text. Whether this and other similar passages in Philo (cf. esp. Sacr. 8-10; Post. 27-29) are genetically related to 4Q377 is not certain, but remains a possibility. (C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Reflections, p. 304)
44 Psalm 82:6-7.
45 Zornberg’s translation. Freedman’s translation is: “You have followed the course of Adam who did not withstand his trials for more than three hours, and at nine hours death was decreed upon him (H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Genesis, 18:6, p. 146). [Nine hours would be about three in the afternoon, the day being counted from 6 am to 6 pm]” (H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Exodus (Mishpatim), 32:1, p. 404).
46 W. Shakespeare, Hamlet, 3:3:36, p. 1166.
47 Luke 2:52.
48 Ephesians 4:13.
49 Matthew 6:27. The Book of Mormon follows the KJV in reading the key term as “stature” (3 Nephi 13:27), however some Bible translations take the contextually-sensitive Greek term helikia in terms of adding to the length of one’s life rather than to one’s height.
50 J. W. Welch, Sermon; J. W. Welch, Light. Welch defines as a “temple text”:
. one that contains the most sacred teachings of the plan of salvation that are not to be shared indiscriminately, and that ordains or otherwise conveys divine powers through ceremonial or symbolic means, together with commandments received by sacred oaths that allow the recipient to stand ritually in the presence of God. Several such texts are found in the Book of Mormon. In addition to the text of Ether 1-4 regarding the brother of Jared, the most notable are Jacob’s speech in 2 Nephi 6-10, Benjamin’s speech in Mosiah 1-6, Alma’s words in Alma 12-13, and Jesus’ teachings in 3 Nephi 11-18. (J. W. Welch, Temple in the Book of Mormon, p. 301)
51 J. W. Welch, Light, p. 210.
52 Matthew 5:13.
53 Matthew 5:48-64.
54 Matthew 7:14.
55 Matthew 6:25-7:23.
56 Matthew 6:33; JST Matthew 6:38; 3 Nephi 13:33.
57 Matthew 6:31-33; JST Matthew 6:34-48; 3 Nephi 13:31-33. See H. W. Nibley, Gifts.
58 J. W. Welch, Sermon, p. 69; cf. J. W. Welch, Light, pp. 161-164. This theme also recalls passages such as the following: “take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand” (D&C 27:15, emphasis mine, see also v. 16).
59 Ephesians 4:13.
60 J. W. Welch, Light, p. 160.
61 See Exodus 25-27, 37-38; 1 Kings 6-7; 2 Chronicles 3; Ezekiel 40-43.
62 J. W. Welch, Light, p. 160.
63 B. R. McConkie, Sermons, p. 208, see also p. 211. About the possibility that John was drawing parallels between the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the tomb and resurrection, Craig S. Keener cautiously writes:
Only John mentions the “garden” (John 18:1, 26; 19:41); gardens often were walled enclosures. Perhaps John alludes to the reversal of the Fall (cf. Romans 5:12-21) in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-16), but John nowhere else uses an explicit Adam Christology, and the Septuagint uses [kepos] for the Hebrew’s Garden of Eden only in Ezekiel 36:35 (and there omits mention of Eden, normally preferring [paradeisos]), rendering the parallel less likely. (John could offer his own free translation, but the proposed allusion, in any case, lacks adequate additional support to be clear.) The Markan line of tradition suggests that perhaps olive trees grew nearby; its name, Gethsemane, suggests an olive press and hence was probably the name for an olive orchard at the base of Mount Olivet. I