29 October 2012

Temple Symbolism in the Form of Noah’s Ark

John Lundquist describes the ancient expectation that temple plans are to be received by revelation. For example:
Gudea of Lagash was visited in a dream in a temple of Lagash and shown the plan of the temple by a goddess, who gave him a lapis lazuli tablet on which the plan of the temple was written. Perhaps the best example of this aspect of temple building is the Sinai episode itself, in which, according to D. N. Freedman, “this heavenly temple or sanctuary with its throne room or Holy of Holies where the deity was seated on his cherubim throne constituted the [pattern (Hebrew tabnît)] or structure seen by Moses during his sojourn on the same mountain.”
Thus the heavenly temple became the pattern for the earthly Tabernacle built by Moses. It is significant that, apart from the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon, Noah’s Ark is the only man-made structure mentioned in the Bible whose design was directly revealed by God. In this detail from a window of the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, God shows the plans for the Ark to Noah just as He later revealed the plans for the Tabernacle to Moses. The hands of Deity hold the heavenly curtain as Noah, compass in his left hand, regards intently. Like the Tabernacle, Noah’s Ark “was designed as a temple.” The Ark’s three decks suggest both the three divisions of the Tabernacle and the threefold layout of the Garden of Eden. Indeed, each of the three decks of Noah’s Ark was exactly “the same height as the Tabernacle and three times the area of the Tabernacle court.” The same Hebrew word (mikseh) was used for the animal skin covering of the Ark and that of the Tabernacle.

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