Reading the first chapters of Genesis may not cause the average Westerner to think of the Jerusalem temple, but Israelites of biblical times associated the temple with creation and the Garden of Eden. Evidence of this association can be found in the furnishings of the temple itself as well as the testimony of non-biblical Jewish writers (the most prominent being Philo and Josephus).
In several places, both Philo and Josephus wrote about how the temple represented the entire universe and how the temple’s fixtures and the priest’s garments symbolized different parts of creation giving God the worship due him. The individual lights on the temple’s golden lampstand were thought to symbolize the planets and/or the lights that God fixed in the heavens (Genesis 1:14-16). Continue reading