G. K. Beale says that both texts and ruins from the ancient Near East portray temples as small models of either heavenly temples or of the whole universe. In yesterday’s post we saw how he understands Israel’s tabernacle and temple, along with the vestments of the priests, to model the two visible parts of the universe (heaven and earth) and the invisible part (the dwelling place of God). This understanding seems to fit with the conception of temples throughout the Near East.
Beale cites several examples from Mesopotamian and Egyptian texts that say in various ways that temples were made like the heavens. A temple to Marduk was made as a “counterpart” to the work of the god in creating the heavens. Egyptians often talked about their temples as “heaven on earth”.
But ancient temples also portrayed the earth. Often they contained either a real tree or an artistic one to…
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