I'll comment on an interesting post by Bnonn:
I believe that to a great extent, Bnonn is channeling Michael Heiser in this series. Bnonn makes some interesting connections with the Book of Job.
Regarding the identity of the Temper in Gen 3, I agree with Bnonn, but I'd like to anticipate an objection. The OT sometimes uses "folk etymologies" or puns.
Some people might object that "folk etymologies" are incorrect, but that misses the point. It's like saying a pun is incorrect. But the function is to trigger associations. That communicates. The meaning we attribute to word is arbitrary, in the sense that words mean whatever the linguistic community assigns to certain phonemes. The objective is successful communication.
Now I'd like to comment on Bnonn's position that the Garden of Eden was the meeting place for the divine council. He offers the following corroborative evidence:
- A garden. Most obviously, the divine council was thought to meet in a garden—which is what Adam was created in.
- Rivers. In Genesis 2, we learn that Eden was the source of four rivers. If you recall the codewords I listed in the previous installment, this was another common motif for divine council meeting places; in Ugarit, for example, El’s divine council met in a lush garden at the source of two rivers.
- A holy mountain. This garden meeting-place was also held to be on a holy mountain; and the Bible explicitly names Eden as such [Ezk 28:13-17).
Here I'm afraid I must demur.
1. Although I think OT scholars like Heiser and John Walton can be useful, I disagree with their liberal use of comparative mythology. I favor realistic interpretations of OT historical narratives.
2. Apropos (1), what exactly is the divine council? Michael Heiser says:
The term divine council is used by Hebrew and Semitics scholars to refer to the heavenly host, the pantheon of divine beings who administer the affairs of the cosmos.
Unfortunately, that's ambiguous. Is the heavenly host synonymous with angels?
In a previous installment, Bnonn says:
The Old Testament seems to distinguish angels—mere messengers—from the sons of God—the royal family; and in doing so it follows Ugarit, which had two tiers of gods: the sons of El, who ruled certain districts and provinces, and a larger group of lesser gods who acted as messengers and warriors.
So this suggests that the divine council consists of aristocratic angels.
i) In a pagan context, the "sons of God" would the literal offspring of high gods and goddesses. Divine princes.
Now, that might be tolerable as mythopoetic picture language, but it can't be more than that in OT monotheism.
ii) Apropos (i), why would God have a terrestrial meeting place with angels? It's understandable that God appears to Adam and Eve on terra firma. That's because Adam and Eve are earthlings. But surely God doesn't need a physical meeting place to communicate with angels. In the case of Ugaritic mythology, that might well be taken literally, just like Greek mythology locates the dwelling place of most high gods in a palace on the summit of Mt. Olympus. But surely that's not a realistic interpretation of OT historical narration. At best, that would be using human social metaphors which depict God as a king with his retinue of princes and courtiers.
iii) It's possible that Ezekiel's mountainous depiction of Eden is figurative. That may trade on the Mt. Zion motif.
However, it's possible or even probable that Eden was actually located in the high country. For one thing, there's a natural link between rivers and mountains inasmuch as mountains are a major source of rivers. The melting snowpack produces mountain streams which swell into rivers. Moreover, Eden is located somewhere in Mesopotamia. Possibly the highlands of Armenia.
But in that event, Eden isn't associated with a mountain because that's the location of a divine council. Rather, it's based on physical logistics. Mountains and rivers naturally go together.
iv) Apropos (iii), that, in turn, dovetails with a river and a garden. It's logical that man's ancestral home would be a garden with fruit-trees. That's supplies a natural human foodstuff. Likewise, the garden provides grazing land for livestock (and possibly game animals). So, once again, Eden isn't associated with a garden because that's the location of a divine council. Rather, it's based on provision for human subsistence.
v) Apropos (iii-iv), that pans into the riverine locale. Humans typically settle near bodies of water–a spring, well, lake, river, ocean. Rivers are especially valuable because humans can do so many things with a river:
• Irrigation for farming
• Fruit trees and garden plots along the moist river banks
• Waste disposal
• Bathing water
• Cooking water
• Drinking water (for humans)
• Watering hole for livestock and game animals
So, once more, Eden isn't associated with a river (or rivers) because that's the location of a divine council. Rather, that's for the benefit of human inhabitants. The implicit rationale is very practical, very down-to-earth. Providing for the physical needs of human creatures. That's of no earthly use to a divine council. Angels don't need a mountain retreat or garden resort to hang out with God. Angels don't need bodies of water to survive and thrive. If you push that, it pushes you into a mythological conception.