Sunday, June 16, 2013

The mountain glory

15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights (Exod 24:15-18).
This passage has some striking parallels with the creation account.

i) There’s the light/darkness motif. The “cloud” is the Shekinah. The pillar of cloud in the wilderness, which was dark by day and bright by night.

ii) The “cloud” conceals the mountain, just as darkness conceals the primordial world. Conversely, the cloud reveals God, as an emblem of his presence.

iii) The six-day/seventh day formula recalls the creation week and the prefiguration of the Sabbath.

That, in combination with the forty days and nights, reminiscent of the flood, raises the question of whether these are conventional figures or numerological sums rather than exact time-markers.

iv) God “dwelling” on the mountain foreshadows the tabernacle as the place of God’s presence. And it backshadows the tabernacle motifs in the creation account.

v) If Eden was situated in the highlands of Armenia, then that’s a mountainous region.

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