10. Jerusalem

 

J.Morgenstern[1] has shown the important structure in Tyre with an old transcendent god Saturn-Baalshamem and a young active god as theos epiphanês, the young god being closely connected with the sun and the sunrise. The old god is linked to the world mountain = the Saturn-pillar, the young god is linked to the split mountain = the two Heracles pillars. Morgenstern thinks that this structure has also influenced the cult on Mt Zion through the temple of Solomon built with the help of Hiram of Tyre. With its system of gates the temple was oriented towards the sunrise. At spring and autumn equinox the sun would rise and send its light through the gates, between the two copper pillars, Jakin and Boaz, into the Holy of Holies. It was seen as the coming of the Lord to his temple after a night of darkness and chaos, the victory of the Kabod, the Glory of the Lord.

But the kabod-ceremony was obviously already celebrated in the Tent in Silo, where Eli’s daughter-in-law names her son Ikabod = “Where is kabod?” in her despair at the removal of the Ark as pointed out by T.N.D.Mettinger [2]. And the symbolism of the three pillars is also typical of the area of Midian and Seir, where Moses has his first encounter with God. So when it is told that the cult of Melqart in Tyre was reformed at the time of Solomon, it is obvious that the borrowing is the other way around: from Jerusalem to Tyre and not from Tyre to Jerusalem.

On the second evening of the feast of Tabernacles the leading men of Israel would gather in the temple-court of the women. They would dance with torches in their hands all night until sunrise. Some of them were excellent jugglers and could keep five torches flying through the air simultaneously. When dawn was approaching, two priest with silver-trumpets were standing ready at the top of the staircase leading to the inner courts, and with the first sight of the sun they would start blowing, moving down the stairs through the dancing crowd, out through the eastern gate to greet the coming of the glory of the Lord.

Now, it is obvious that the original meaning of the Yom Kippur ritual was to clean the temple, and especially the throne constituted by the two cherubs and the Ark of the Covenant as its footstool. The many sins of Israel are seen as dirt clinging to the sanctuary, and God has withdrawn to the transcendent world. But by the blood of the divine bull, the cherubs and the footstool are cleansed and prepared for the presence of the Lord coming on the second morning of the feast of Tabernacles.

“The blood poured out as forgiveness of sins” touches upon the same symbolism: the celebration of the Eucharist in the early church is a cultic cleansing followed by the epiphany of the Lord witnessed by the maranatha-call (a cultic cry with the meaning: ”come Lord”) and the hosianna-call (= “save”) from Jesus´s coming as Lord to Jerusalem and the temple on Palm Sunday. Bjørn Sandvik [3] has proved that the “Eucharist is a celebration in advance of the escatological coming of the Judge” of the living and dead. In the ritual, Apost.Const.VII,26, the Hosianna-call is followed by the words: ”God the Lord has become visible among us”, cf. the prayer in the Acts of Thomas 50: “Come and partake with us in this Eucharist celebrated in your name” [4].

God has withdrawn to the transcendent world (Hos 5,15), he is hiding his countenance. Darkness rules the earth. But in the Kabod-ceremony he is coming with the bright glory of the dawn to make his solemn entrance into the temple through the primordial gate (Ps 24) to rule as Lord of the universe from the throne on his holy Mt Zion at the navel of cosmos. Then sounds the cultic call JHVH mlk “Jhvh is king”:

“The Lord has shown he is king, he has set the universe into order (tikken - with the Greek trans.,Symm,Hier,Syr. trans.,Targ.), it will not be moved, with justice will he judge the nations…for he comes, he comes to judge the earth with justice”, Ps 96,10.13. “For to his temple in an instant comes the Lord you seek, and the angel of the covenant”, Mal 3,1.”Listen, you shepherd of Israel…you that throne over the cherubs, break forth (hofia´ means to “shine forth” like the sun, and in the background is felt the idea of epiphany, acc. to S.Mowinckel,[5]) in glory before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manassa, wake up your hero-strength, come to salvation for us”, Ps 80,2f.(Cf. with the Hosianna-call by the entrance of Jesus into the temple through the Golden Gate, the eastern gate to the temple-area close to Kedron and the Mount of Olives). All these calls, “break forth”, “wake up”, “come” are calling for divine epiphany in the glory of the rising sun.

To this tradition of epiphany must also be counted the “fullness” Ez 43,5; “the filling up” of the locality with the symbols of divine presence, the smoke of incense, glory, or roaring sound. The presence of the Spirit Ez 43,5. The falling on one´s face, but being raised up to standing before the throne of God 43,3+5 cf. 3,23f. Mettinger [6] mentions as “aspects of a theophanic ritual”: incense, Shofar signals, the proclamation of the Jhvh-name, the jubilation of the cult-community (teru´a).

Characteristic of the New Testament Christology is, that this Old Testament theophanic tradition and divine enthronement ritual is transferred to Jesus. The disciples beheld his Glory, he comes to the temple from the east across the Mount of Olives, he identifies with the shecinah =the divine presence in the temple, Matt 23,37ff., Luke 13,34f. And therefore his death and resurrection can be compared with the destruction and rebuilding of the temple, Mark 14,58; 15,29. He has got the power to be judge over all living and dead, Matt 25,31ff, a role up till then exclusively played by God [7]. He has risen high above all heavens to fill the All with his Glory (Eph 4,10 with a clear echo of Is 6,3).

Dan 7 with the description of the “coming of one looking like a Son of Man with the clouds” is a description of apotheosis, and must be compared with other descriptions of how the prophet Ezekiel and other prophets are ascending to the heavenly sphere to the council of God (Hebrew: sod, cf. the thrones erected Dan. 7,9) Jer 23,18.22; Amos 3,7 as proved by H.Gese[8]. In this connection Ezekiel is spoken to as “Son of Man” by the heavenly creatures. Compare this with the same way of addressing a prophet in Dan 8,17. He is mere “man” stepping into the circle of angels.

“Three days” is the time it takes to travel through the realm of death, the time Jesus has to stay in Sheol, but it can also be used about his travel to teleiosis, a journey during which he has to act as the sun hero clearing the road of demons, Luke 13,32f and accompanied by the Dioscouric pair, the “Sons of Thunder”(J.Rendel Harris, Boanerges, 1913), later together with Peter called the three “pillars”. In Ugarit 3 days are the time it takes the rephaim to travel from the realm of death to the land of the living. In Hos 6,1-3 there are two days of hard tribulations until the third day: ”On the third day he will raise us up, so we can live before his countenance”. In the background the journey of the sun warriors through struggles and labours to erection before the throne of the highgod in paradise (with its earthly reflection on Mt. Zion).

Now it is important to understand that Matt 16,17-17,9 finds its explanation on the background of the Yom Kippur-day (10th of Tishri) and the following feast of Tabernacles (15-22nd of T.,“6 days later”, Matt 17,1). Motifs from this feast are

 

a) ´even shetiyyah, the “corner-stone”, the stone in the centre of the world, standing firm against the attacks of chaos. For its role during Yom Kippur, see Mishna Yoma 5,2.

b) Peter gets the power to forgive sins. Israel´s sins are forgiven at Yom Kippur.

c) Jesus is the sacrifice making atonement, Matt 16,21,cf. Marc 8,31, where the word “rejected” used about the cornerstone, Ps 118,22; Matt 21,42 is also used about Jesus.

d) Jesus shining as the sun. The coming of the Glory of the Lord on the second morning of the feast of Tabernacles/huts, cf. Peter’s wish to build huts.

e) The illuminated cloud. The cloud of incense filling the sanctuary hiding God´s presence, Is 6,4.

f) As with the theophanic scenes in the O.T. the disciples fall to the ground, but are raised up.

g) God has eudokia (“well-pleasing”) in the Son. Mostly this word is used about God choosing Zion as his abode.

 

The cleansing of the temple at Yom Kippur is a total renewal. The temple is seen as ruined by the powers of chaos, but is created anew from the ´even shetiyya. This symbolism of the “corner stone” is also touched upon in Zech 3,9 and 4,7b-10: it bears the seven eyes of God, that is, it is an imago of the world mountain =the heavenly vault with the seven wandering lights (the planets), and inscribed by God with the destiny of the people: “On a single day (Yom Kippur) will he wipe out the guilt of Israel”. It is, like Peter, the corner stone for a new temple, and is laid down by Zerubbabel, who is painted in the colours of a sun hero: standing face to face with the primordial massive rock, he will turn it into a smooth road, 4,7a.

The cleansing of the temple is to Jesus both a most concrete task, Matt 21,12ff and a total rebuilding, John 2,19.

His sacrifice is for the cleansing of the spiritual temple he is going to build from human hearts. H.Sahlin[9] has rightly stressed that Acts 2, with the “roaring” and the “filling” of the house and the fiery phenomena, has to be understood on the background of the theophanic tradition from the O.T.:

            “the train of his cloak filled the whole temple”, Is 6,1

“and the house was filled with smoke”, Is 6,4

“The Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle”, Exod 40,34f

“the cloud filled the house of the Lord”, 1.Kings 8,10

“the cloud filled the inner courtyard… and the roaring of the wings of the cherubs was heard”, Ez 10,3-5.

 

When Paul speaks about the pleroma, “it pleased God to let the whole fullness take up its abode” (the word used about God´s “pleasing” is, as in Matt 17, eudokia) Col 1,19, this has to be seen on the same background and not on the background of Stoic and Gnostic thinking as J.Ernst (Pleroma und Pleroma Christi,1970) thinks. The normal translation of the Hebrew Qedushah (=Trishagion): “Holy,holy,holy…All the world is full of his glory” Is 6,3, is wrong. The Hebrew text does not have adj. male´, but nomen, melo´, “fullness”. This is the explanation of the Greek word, pleroma,  “all the world is fullness of his glory”.

Acts 2 has the elements, theophany and giving of the Spirit. Ez. 1-3 has the elements, theophany, giving of the Spirit, and raising up in the presence of the Lord.

Modern studies have underlined the great importance of the Council of God in O.T. (F.M.Cross, “The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah”, JNES 12,1953,pp.274-8. R.E.Brown, “The Pre-Christian Semitic Concept of Mystery”, CBQ 20,1958,pp.417-20. H.W.Robinson, “The Council of Yahweh”, JTS 45, 1944, pp.151-7). The prophets had access to this higher sphere as a source of information, the false prophets had not stood in Jahveh´s council (Jer 23,18.22). This council is the circle of the sons of God.

In a temple niche in Hazor dating from the late Bronze Age Y.Yadin found a slightly curved row of ten stelai, and a sitting god with a drinking vessel in his hand and a moon sickle on his breast. On one of the stelai was the relief of two hands stretched up towards the primordial mystical light (the unity of sun, moon, and star). G.W.Ahlström (“Heaven on Earth - At Hazor and Arad”,[10]) has interpreted this as the earthly symbol of “the assembly of the gods”, a well known phrase from the Ugarit texts (phr (bn)ilm cf. the Accadian puhur ilânî). They are the O.T. “the sons of God” and “the assembly (qahal) of the holy”, “the council of God”, “the sons of the Most High”, “all those standing around Him”.

In the Qumran community there was already in this life a “present participation in angelic life” [11] on the high plains of the paradise: “And you shall be an angel of countenance in the sanctuary”(I QSb 4,24-26), “an abode for the Glory (kabod) of his kingdom” (4 Q 510,1,3-4).

When the Glory arrives and takes up its abode in the sanctuary the believer is raised up as an angel standing before the face of God. But perhaps already the 70 elderly picked out by Moses are seen as an earthly manifestation of the council of God, Num 11,24ff.:

a) Theophany - the Lord comes, veiled in the cloud.

b) The elderly are arranged standing in a circle around the tent. Note the word sebibot, cf the phrase kol sebibin “all those standing around (God)”.

c) God lets the Spirit fall upon them, and they all experience prophetic rapture.

 

The belief in eternal life is not a borrowing from Iran, but a genuine Semitic development. The only place where there is eternal life is in the presence of God, on his mountain, standing before his countenance.

When one reads the Mandaean Canonical Prayerbook, it is seen at once that the purpose of the baptism is to make the candidate standing firm in eternity, “like a stone pillar in the storm” [12]. Adam-Juhana [13]“was signed with a great seal and set up for ever and ever”. As in early Christianity “sealing” is closely linked to this firmatio, this setting up as firm and standing: “secure, seal and guard the soul of N. and establish it”[14]. An important role is played by the shkinta, the hut of green vegetation, where the saved one is set up and made firm in eternity: “Between mountains twain … a shkinta did Yawar found, and chosen righteous were established therein”[15]. The hut is built on the twin mountain of paradise, also called the mountains full of sweet smell[16]. “Life” is the name of the highest god in some Mandaean texts, like sol invictus in the classical Syrian religion, “Life” is hailed as victorious: “Life is renowned and victorious, and victorious the man who went hence”[17]. “thou wast victorious, Manda-d-Hiia, and thou leadest all thy friends to victory”[18]. The victory is the same as in Rev 2-3, a victory over the earthly labours and struggles of life: “Thou hast proven thyself by (thy sojourn on?) earth, and thy destiny leapt upwards from its struggles” [19]. “In my Father’s Glory I stand” (qajjam – also used as the Mandaean word for baptism). In baptism you are set up in the presence of the god of Life as one of his sons. 

The rite of raising up/making firm is also known in gnosticism where it is referred to as (in Greek) stêrizô, and in early Christianity it hides behind confirmatio. Epiphanius is amused at the Manichaeans with the following words: ”Silly is also the teaching of the Manichaeans, that the souls, that is to say, the manes (Latin for the spirits), all sprung from a pillar of light, form a unity, and that they, when separated from the body, are formed back to this single substance, this same pillar.” (Anchor. 48).

The background of this strange belief is the world pillar and the old belief that the sun hero by following the course of the sun, finally comes to Saturn, Kvn, the “Firmly Grounded”. The Greek word kiôn = pillar must be a Semitic loanword. In the Syrian language the word for baptism is derived from the word for pillar and must be translated “to raise up and make firm” (´md)[20]. From the Qumran texts: “on a place of standing, thou hast set me” (fragm. transl. by Holm Nielsen, Hodayoth[21]). The morning and evening prayers of the Essenes/Therapeutes are found in Philo of Alexandria, de cont. vit. 27: in the morning they would pray that the sunrise would “fill them” (cf. above what we have said about the fullness of the Glory filling the earth, and God´s presence filling the temple). In the evening they would pray that the soul “may reach its own synedrium and council” (the council of sons of God surrounding his throne). After the nightly ritual of Exodus they were  “set up together with (systathéntes) the Father and Creator of all things”, ibd. 90.

 

 

10.a. The visions of Zechariah

 

The first vision is a vision closely linked to the sunset in the deep abyss in the west and the fiery red, white, dark, and brown clouds surrounding it. The “myrtle” (1,8) is the herb of life growing where the sun enters the realm of death. The last vision is a vision of sunrise above the twin peaks in the east: the copper mountains are the world mountain split into two to allow the sun to rise, 6,1.

Most of the visions have the Zion-ideology as their background: Mt Zion is the firm rock in the centre of the universe. The four horns beaten with the axe are the attack of the nations from the four corners of the world on the holy mountain of God, a motif quite often met with in the Psalms, 2,1-4. The next vision 2,5-17 describes how the people pour into Jerusalem to seek the protection and blessing of the holy mountain. For that purpose the measurements of the holy city are greatly increased until it is like open land. Then the Lord “will come and take up his abode in their midst” 2,14. He has “again chosen Jerusalem” as his dwelling place 2,15. 

Important is the hierogamic formula: ”Be jubilant and rejoice, daughter of Zion, for look, I come” 2,14, cf. 9,9; Is 62,11; Zeph 3,14; Is 12,6 - obviously a formula from some lost ritual. Is 12,6 seems closely linked to the making of the beaten track of the sun. In Zech 4,7 this motif the beaten track/ the road made even/the passage for the sun returns as the mighty mountain is made into a plain for Zerubbabel.

But to these visions of a “Zion-mystery” of the coming of the Lord to his holy mountain is linked a priestly initiation, which, in some aspects, is a forerunner of the early Christian baptismal ritual. “The Lord shall threaten you, Satan” (3,2) cf. in the credo the renunciation of the devil. Then the devestio, the taking off of the old shabby clothes, followed by an investio in clean clothes as a symbol of the guilt taken away (cf. the white baptismal alba). The short instruction mentioning “the paths of the Lord” could be compared with the baptismal instruction about the “two roads”, Didakê 1,1. Finally the high priest is “one of those standing here” on the holy Mt. Zion, 3,7 - that is, the angels standing before God.

Now, the purpose of both Mandaean and early Christian baptism is to make the candidate “a standing one”. An old Jewish tradition says that at the anointing the kings were signed by a circle, O, the priests with an X, cf the early Christian “sealing” with the cross. It seems likely that baptism is a democratization of a priestly initiation. During a visit in Uppsala prof. E.Segelberg kindly offered me his important article, "Evangelium Veritatis - a confirmation homily and its relation to the Odes of Solomon", [22]. The Gospel of Truth found among the Nag Hammadi scriptures could very well be a translation of the gospel written by the early gnostic, Valentine. Segelberg finds the following traces of early ritual in the text:

Conversio et exorcismus (33,19-21)

devestio et investio (20,30-37)

unctio et insufflatio (30,34)

confirmatio (19,30) et erectio (30,19-23)

 

Gnosticism is a typically spiritualistic sect: the forgiveness of sins has totally disappeared behind the mystery of how to achieve divine nature: eternal standing. "It placed him upon his feet, because he had not yet risen” (erectio). “For when they had been confirmed (raised up) they learned to contemplate”, cf from the Odes of Solomon, the earliest Christian hymn book (2nd cent.A.C.): “and (the Spirit) raised me on high: and made me to stand on my feet in the high place of the Lord. Before his perfection and his glory”(36,1f., transl. by Segelberg).

 

 

10.b. Conclusions

 

Early in this book we came across an Ugarit text describing a nocturnal ritual with 7 sacrifices and a bird. We have seen that the journey to the transcendent world is a journey in seven stages, and we have seen the semeion-pole with seven discs and at the top the bird of ecstasy. Now this journey to the mountain of El can also be seen as a journey in the course of the sun. In a nightly officium the believer is seen as travelling with the sun through darkness and death to the standing on the mountain of God. This is the background of the through-death-to-life motifs in the Psalms.

In Syrian and Babylonian cosmology Saturn is seen as the sun of the night. Saturn, the world pillar, is the end of the sun´s journey. (The reason for this must be speculations about the most active and the most static of the wandering lights of heaven.) The end of the journey is “standing firmly grounded” on the eternal rock as the obelisk, the miniature of the world pillar.

In the Christian use of the standing-symbolism it is not so much the picture of standing stones, but angels standing before God we have to call to mind.

In Ps 121 the pilgrimage up to Jerusalem is described as a climbing of high mountains. The right interpretation of the psalm is put forward by P.H.Pollock[23]: the dangers of mountain climbing are that the foot can stumble or slip, that one is exposed to the burning of the sun on the rocks (and the pale shine of the moon making people into lunatics). The psalm is asking God for help in the mountain climbing. It is no mere coincidence that this psalm stands as the introduction to the psalms of pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is an ascension to the top of God’s holy mountain, and the goal is linked to eternity by the last verse: eternal life is linked to the singer´s going in and out of the gates and forecourts. The journey to Jerusalem is a spiritual journey to paradise, and God´s caring for the pilgrim in his ascent grows to eternal preservation on all roads in life and death.

The most typical feature of the temple of Resheph in Byblos was the many upright stones in the temple yard. We know from Philo that Resheph was identified with the planet Saturn/Cronos, in West Semitic called Kvn = “firmly established”, “standing firmly”, probably an old name for the world pillar, for in Greek we find the name kion for a column.

That Resheph is the world pillar separating heaven and earth is also seen from the fact that a renewed victory over Uranos is won after El Cronos has ruled for 32 years. The Sed-festival in Egypt was celebrated by Pharaoh after 32 years' reign by putting up the Djed-pillar = the world column. And Resheph-El Cronos was often pictured with the two Hercules-pillars in his hands or with the sickle-sword, the weapon that separates heaven and earth, the weapon also used by Zeus-Sandan when he attacked Typhon, the monster which is the symbol of primordial totality.

G.Widengren has compared the earliest Christian baptismal ritual and the Mandaean baptismal ritual, both ending with the uprising of the baptismal candidate to eternal standing before the countenance of God, with a a)Sumerian ritual ending with the erection of a statue of the initiated among the gods of the temple and with b) the description of Apuleius of Lucius standing on a platform and hailed as and dressed like the sun after his nocturnal journey in the path of the sun[24].

The background of all these ideas is a very old myth about the journey in the sun´s path to eternity at the top of the unshakable world-mountain at the top of the vault of heaven. El Cronos with his double pair of wings is the one leading the gods (planets) in this flight (acc. to Philo), cf. the description in Plato´s Phaidros. But also Baal is carried by the sun to the “grave of the gods” inside the cosmic Saphon mountain, where he finally erects his throne, also the “gods”, ílnim, are mentioned at the end of the Baal-epos as gathered round the sun. They are the deceased following the sun in its path.

 

 

10.c. Jakin & Boaz

 

The stele is a model of the cosmic mountain. On the North African Saturn-stele, Saturn is seen resting at the top; the “second floor” are the two Hercules columns and the “first floor”/ the base shows the sacrificial bull, the symbol of primordial totality.

We have tried to trace the Near Eastern folk religion. Folk religion is not so much a religion in opposition to the official religion as a certain structure of thinking, determining the plot in both myth and fairy tale, making the highgod split up in a young and an old god and his opponents taking the head or the hide of a lion on their shoulders; and again and again folk religion paints the picture of the mystical, immovable mountain of god and the journey to it.

Saturn/Baalshamem and Melqart in Tyre are the sungod split up in his static and active aspect. Actually, the same can be seen in the God of Jerusalem. His numen as mountain is split up in Jakin and Boaz, the two pillars forming the gate of the sun, where Ja-kin is the kvn-aspect, and Bo-´az must be seen in connection with the sun hero, the morning star, in the Nabataean-North Arabian area called ´Azizu = “the strong one”.

In Ugarit we meet them as the two mountains at the edge of the world, Targhuzaz and Sharrumag, acc to de Moor[25]  after the two Anatolian gods,  Tarkun(zai) and Sharruma, in our opinion the sun hero and the demon god.

Already in Anatolia there is a tendency to see the two pillars as contrasting symbols of the high god and the sun hero, as seen by A.B.Cook (Zeus, II, p.492, fig.381). From Salonina in Lycia, from the time of emperor Caracalla there are coins showing two wooden pillars, one dedicated to Zeus (bull and thunder weapon), the other to Heracles (with club and lion). Mostly the pillar of Heracles is bigger than that of Zeus:

 

 

On the top of the pillars at the temple were metal works in the form of a lily (1.Kings 7,21). The world pillar ending in a mystical flower is typical of the cult in Baalbeck, as we have seen. The seven chains hanging from the capitals, 1. Kings 7,17 are also well known decorations, as can be seen from a picture of the omphalos-stone of Apollo (Cook II, p. 171, fig.117. Amphora from Ruvo. Baumeister, Denkmähler II, 1009f., fig.1215).

Morgenstern has stood alone with his interpretation of the meaning of the cult of pillars in Tyre. But the reason could be that scholars have not yet discovered what immense diffusion the symbolism of the two pillars has as the symbol of duality, the gate of the sun. Also at the great temple in Mabbug were two enormous pillars, acc to tradition set up by Dionysos when travelling to the land of the Ethiopians (Lucian, de dea) and in Edessa. (See below the two enormous free-standing columns.). In Antioch, Tiberius put up two great stelai for Zethos and Amphion (John Malala X, p.160). On Mesopotamian seals they can be placed on one of the platforms of the ziggurat with the mystical 8-petalled flower or star at the top.[26]. Or Gilgamesh is seen erecting the gate in the primordial sea with the highgod Ea as the spender of the moisture of life in the background[27].

 

 

The symbol of the Germanic Dioscuri were two rods: they were called Raos and Raptos =“reed” & “raft”[28]. Naturally these motifs are also found among the Mandaeans: “Adatan and Jadatan sitting by the gate of Life.” The Paronomasia marks them out as the primordial twins. The world pillar = the pillar of fire: the light-ether (Ayar-Rba) is called “Rod of upstanding…by which the whole edifice is held together” (Drower, Canonical Prayerbook, p.175). The new-born sun hero is called ´Usfar, “the little child who dwelleth upon pure springs of light”, “Any demon... will be thrashed by ´Usfar... beaten with the mace of water by which fire was beaten out and extinguished; and by the strength of Mân, the healer” (pp.11f.). ´Usfar is a “cutting instrument” crushing the demons, acc. to Drower. Note the water-against-fire symbolism.

These rather late examples are to my mind, the best proof of how widespread these motifs were in the thinking of the Middle East and how profoundly they influenced the very structure of religious thinking.

The many Saturn-stelai from North Africa show the symbols of Phoenician religion. On many of them the deceased is seen standing in a gate, the gate of the sun. Now the big and rather exciting question is: With the orientation of the temple of Jerusalem, with Jakin and Boaz forming the gate of the sun, is there also a symbolism of apotheosis tied to the gate of the sun on Zion?

There is actually such a gate, the Nicanor-gate (Nicanor = “the victorious”) made of highly polished Corinthian bronze, the Eastern gate to the temple area much bigger than the many other gates.

Nicanor is perhaps a historical person. An ossuar is found on Mt Scopus carrying an inscription: “The bones of Nicanor from Alexandria, who made the doors” (See the note in Der Toseftatraktat Jom hak-Kippurim, ed. Göran Larsson, 1980, p.156n63.) The Nicanor-gate was the great gate on top of the 15 semicircular steps leading from the court of the women to the court of the men and the priests. Acc. to tradition the Psalms 120-134 were sung on the 15 steps. They speak about an ascension beginning far from Jerusalem in tribulations: the singer is a stranger among unfriendly people. But he lifts his eyes to the holy mountains of God and finally he is among the priests in the tempel receiving eternal blessing. One may assume that the eating from the showbreads in the presence of God is a kind of apotheosis. And this was the privilege of the priest. Cf. the Eastern gate of the temple, Ez 44,3 where only the king of Israel may sit and eat in the presence of the Lord.

Julian Morgenstern (“The Gates of Righteousness”, HUCA 6,1929,pp.1ff.) thinks that it is possible to follow an ancient gate-ritual back to the “Gate of Justice”, Ps 118, and the “Gate of Eternity”, Ps 24,3ff.

During the rule of the crusaders the “Golden Gate” was opened twice a year on Palm Sunday and Exaltatio Crucis (the 14th of September) to give room to a procession into the old temple-area. Acc. to Morgenstern this is the last trace of an old ritual, a procession around spring and autumn equinox. Not only the procession, but also the Glory (Hebrew: kabod) of the Lord comes through the gate at sunrise to be enthroned on the throne of cherubim in the dark back-room of the Hecal (“Throne-room”) to reign as king of the universe. In late Jewish tradition the “Presence” (Shecinah) of the Lord went into exile through this gate. Acc. to Josephus, de bello jud. VI,5,3, shortly before the Jewish war broke out on the 8th of Xantikos (Nisan) this gate opened itself at midnight although it normally took 20 men to open it, and it was kept closed with bolts of iron.

 

Of special importance is the research of M.Ravndal Hauge ("Some Aspects of the Motif:  the City facing Death” of Ps 68,21, SJOT, 1988, pp.1-29). On several occasions in the Old Testament an “I” goes from death to life, from the valleys at the bottom of Mt.Zion to the city walls in a procession, Ps 118, and this motif is felt through the story in Is 26,1-27,1 & the sickness of king Ezekiya Is 38/2.Kings 20. The king’s sickness leads him to the gate of the realm of death (38,10), but he gets a promise of healing, and “on the third day he will ascend to the temple of Yhvh”. Both versions stress this ascension as “the relevant ending of a story, starting in the deathbed” (Hauge, p.27). The king is pictured as the “just one” going in through the gates (Ps 118,20) belonging to Jhvh, cf. Is 26,2: “Open the gates, that the just nation can enter, the nation who keeps itself faithful”. “Trust in Yhvh in eternity, for by Jah-Yhvh is a rock of eternity”. He prepares an even road for the just (v.7). (The sun's road made even for the sun hero to run his course) The opposite of the temple rock is “the low places with carcasses and ashes of fat” Jer 31,40,cf. Ps 68,14 “heaps of ashes”. In Is 29,4 the city of Jerusalem is calling to God from the ashes, and it is saved. Some scholars think that the child sacrifice to Molok was an early JHVH-cult, but J.A.Montgomery[29] has shown that Zion is the Paradise mountain, and the valley of Hinnom, where the child sacrifice took place, is Sheol (the home of the dead spirits, cf. the Refaim-valley, Jos 15,8.). Acc to the old Near Eastern world view, the Paradise mountain has at its foot the entrance to the underworld. The top of Mt. Zion is the place of life, survival and the place of God, the valley of the "spirits" is the place of ashes, dung heaps, Satan and death.

The final goal of the procession of the festivals of Sukkoth was the high towering pyramid of the holocaust altar. Today the Omar mosque is built over the socalled Eben Shetiyya, “the foundation- stone of the earth”. It is today the only part of the mountain seen above the esplanade built as the big platform for Herod's temple. What part of the old temple complex did this stone support? It is obviously not the Holy of holies. It must have been situated farther west close to the western edge of the esplanade. Of course it must have been some important part of the temple: the holocaust altar. At the old top of Mt Moria Abraham presented the “tied up” Isaac (in Hebrew called the ´akedah). Every sacrifice on this holy spot would call this act to God's remembrance.

The brazen altar was a stepped pyramid, the front of which measured 16 yards for the lower step, 14 for middle step, and 12 for the upper, the whole structure resting on a platform called heq ha ´ars (“bosom of the earth”). Today the only remnant is the naked rock seen in the Omar mosque. It is possible to descend into a cave just under the ´eben shetijja. The man descending into the rock itself becomes one with the ´eben shetijja, “the corner stone” of cosmos, Ps 118,22.

Every day during the Sukkot-festival the people would circle round the altar saying: “Oh Jhvh Help!” Acc. to rabbi Jehudah they called out: “Ani wehu, Help!”(Mishna Sukka IV,5). Ani wehu had the same arithmetical value as Oh Jhvh, and it had the meaning: “I and He”, and was a formula expressing an intimate relationship between God and his people. G.Klein[30], thinks that it is a mystical formula, and he compares it with the bridal mysticism of the Gnostic Marcos, who would say to the women he initiated: “Prepare to receive me as the bride receives the groom, that you may be me, and I you”. In the Gospel of Eve referred to by Epiphanios a man tells about a vision: he saw a small and a tall man (micro- & macro-anthropos) saying: “I am you, and you are I, I you, you I and everywhere I am sown, and when you collect me, you collect yourself”. In Pistis Sophia Jesus says: “I am them and they are me” (C.Schmidt's transl.1905, p.148). The Jewish formula Ani weHu is the Jewish parallel to the Hindu: Tat twam asi. O.Weinrich has treated this Hindu “formula of identity” and its parallels[31]. The Jewish formula has its origin in the hierogamic atmosphere of the Sukkot-festival, cf. Cant 6,3: “I am my friend's, and my friend is mine”. This “mystical formula of identity” is already used by Simon Magus in Apophasis Megale: “I and you one” (ap. Hippolytos). The characteristic unity of motifs a) the formula of identity (“I in you and you in me”), b) divine love, c) revelation of the divine name and d) God taking up his abode in the believer found in John 14,20-23 & 17,21-26 is Jewish Shekinah-symbolism with its origin in the theophanic tradition linked with the Sukkoth-festival. The temple itself is the Sukkah (originally the bridal hut) of God built on the Paradise mountain. To this hut God comes in the sunrise on the second morning of the Sukkoth-festival to take up his abode on Zion. On the second evening people would gather to dance in the women's temple court.

When the tourist comes to Jerusalem, he is shown the empty tomb of Jesus, the room for the Last Supper, the church built over the site of the house of the High Priest, Caiphas, where Peter wept at the crowing of the cock, but it is impossible to estimate the historical validity of these traditions. They are a universe created by faith and religion. A help for the fragile human mind in  its effort to go back and visualize and feel; a door opening up to something great, divine and incomprehensible, turning Mt. Zion into a sacred mountain.

Urim and Tummim are the two “tablets of destiny”. As the Mesopotamian god Marduc carries the "tablets of destiny" on his chest, so are these two items determining destiny worn as part of the official garment of the high priest[32]. Uri is the call at dawn, Tummim means "those who have perfection" at the end of the sun´s journey, “those who have completed” their journey. U. & T. are the symbols of polarity, of East and West, of dawn and sunset, a new version of two stelai inscribed with the world's destiny.



[1] "The King-God…", V.T. X,1960

[2] The Dethronement of Sabaoth, p.121

[3] Das Kommen des Herrn beim Abendmahl im Neuen Testament,1970,p.36;cf.p.50.

[4] Sandvik, pp.47;27.

[5] Bemerkninger til Salmene,1962,p.219.

[6] Dethronement, p.120

[7] P.Bilde, "Gud og Messsias som eskatologisk dommer", DTT 1977,pp.159-80.

[8] "Die Weisheit, der Menschensohn und die Christologie", SEÅ,1979, 44, p.95.

[9] “Pingstberättelsens teologiska Innebörd”, STKv,1949,p.187.

[10] in: Religious Syncretism in Antiquity. Essays in Conversation with G.Widengren, ed. B.Pearson, 1975, pp.67-83.

[11] H.W.Kuhn, Enderwartung und Gegenwärtiges Heil, 1966.

[12] Drower´s transl., 1959, p.134.

[13] ibd. p.276.

[14] p.10.

[15] p.126.

[16] p.135.

[17] pp.137, 179, 181, 194, 196, etc.

[18] p.117.

[19] p.95.

[20] C-M. Edsman, Le Baptême de Feu,1940, pp.172ff.

[21] 1960, pp.259f.

[22] Orientalia Suecana,8, 1959.

[23] "Psalm 121",JBL 59,1940,pp.411f.

[24] "Heavenly Enthronement and Baptism", in: Religion in Antiquity. Essays in memory of E.Goodenough, ed. J.Neusner, 1968,pp.551-82

[25] An Anthology, p.66n303.

[26] A.Parrot, La tour de Babel. 2.ed., 1954, p.19

[27] Amiet, RA 50, 1956, fig.5

[28] J.Loewenthal, Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Lit. 45, 1920-21, pp.248f.

[29] “The holy City and Gehenna”, JBL 27,1908.

[30] Den första Kristna Katekesen, 1908, pp.59-64.

[31] “Gnosticism and Hellenistic Magic”, ARW 19, 1916-19, pp.165ff.

[32] G.Widengren, Religionsphänomenologie, pp.329f.; 382