The Logos in the Ark and Menorah (Parsha T’rumah Ex. 25:1-27:19)

This coming week’s Torah Parsha (2/20/21) deals with the Tabernacle and it’s furnishings. The Torah says, concerning the Tabernacle and its furnishings “According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it.” (Ex. 25:9) “And look that you make them after their pattern, which was shewed you in the mount.” (Ex. 25:40).

This fits well with Philo of Alexandria’s concept of two worlds when he writes:

We must mention as much as we can of the matters contained in his account, since to enumerate them all is impossible; for he embraces that beautiful world which is perceptible only by the intellect, as the account of the first day will show: (16) for God, as apprehending beforehand, as a God must do, that there could not exist a good imitation without a good model, and that of the things perceptible to the external senses nothing could be faultless which wax not fashioned with reference to some archetypal idea conceived by the intellect, when he had determined to create this visible world, previously formed that one which is perceptible only by the intellect, in order that so using an incorporeal model formed as far as possible on the image of God (Gen. 1:27), he might then make this corporeal world, a younger likeness of the elder creation, which should embrace as many different genera perceptible to the external senses, as the other world contains of those which are visible only to the intellect. (17) But that world which consists of ideas, it were impious in any degree to attempt to describe or even to imagine: but how it was created, we shall know if we take for our guide a certain image of the things which exist among us. When any city is founded through the exceeding ambition of some king or leader who lays claim to absolute authority, and is at the same time a man of brilliant imagination, eager to display his good fortune, then it happens at times that some man coming up who, from his education, is skilful in architecture, and he, seeing the advantageous character and beauty of the situation, first of all sketches out in his own mind nearly all the parts of the city which is about to be completed–the temples, the gymnasia, the prytanea, and markets, the harbour, the docks, the streets, the arrangement of the walls, the situations of the dwelling houses, and of the public and other buildings. (18) Then, having received in his own mind, as on a waxen tablet, the form of each building, he carries in his heart the image of a city, perceptible as yet only by the intellect, the images of which he stirs up in memory which is innate in him, and, still further, engraving them in his mind like a good workman, keeping his eyes fixed on his model, he begins to raise the city of stones and wood, making the corporeal substances to resemble each of the incorporeal ideas. (19) Now we must form a somewhat similar opinion of God, who, having determined to found a mighty state, first of all conceived its form in his mind, according to which form he made a world perceptible only by the intellect, and then completed one visible to the external senses, using the first one as a model. (On Creation 15b-19)

These are reminiscent of the words Plato ascribes to Timeaus:

But when the artificer of any object, in forming its shape and quality, keeps his gaze fixed on that which is uniform, using a model of this kind, that object, executed in this way, must of necessity [28b] be beautiful; but whenever he gazes at that which has come into existence and uses a created model, the object thus executed is not beautiful. (Plato; Timeaus 28)

From which Plato derives his world of ideas that parallels this world. However, Philo derives this idea from Gen. 1:26-27:

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
(Gen. 1:26-27)

It is no wonder that the ancient Alexandrian Jewish writer Aristoblus, wrote in the Second Century BCE:

“It is evident that Plato imitated our Torah and that he had investigated thoroughly each of the elements in it. For it had been translated by others before before Demetrius Phalereus, before the conquests of Alexander and the Persians.”
(Aristoblus; Fragment 3; quoted in Eusebius 12:12:1f)

“And it seems to me that Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato with great care follow him [Moses] in all respects. They copy him when they say they hear the voice of God, and they contemplate the arrangement of the universe, so carefully made and so unceasingly held together by God.
(Aristoblus; Fragment 4; quoted in Eusebius 13:13:4)

Thus the Tabernacle and it’s furnishings were made after a pattern from the world of ideas.

Philo finds that two of the furnishings of the Tabernacle were made after this pattern in the world of ideas, that teaches us that the Logos is key to moderation.

The first of these is the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat cover for the Ark, which The Torah describes as follows:

[17] And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
[18] And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
[19] And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
[20] And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
[21] And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
[22] And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
(Ex. 25:17-22 KJV)

The first century Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria taught that the two cherubim represented “the two most ancient and supreme powers of the divine God, namely, his creative and his kingly power”:

(97) But the ark is the depository of the laws, for in that are placed the holy oracles of God, which were given to Moses; and the covering of the ark, which is called the mercy-seat, is a foundation for two winged creatures to rest upon, which are called, in the native language of the Hebrews, cherubim, but as the Greeks would translate the word, vast knowledge and science. (98) Now some persons say, that these cherubim are the symbols of the two hemispheres, placed opposite to and fronting one another, the one beneath the earth and the other above the earth, for the whole heaven is endowed with wings. (99) But I myself should say, that what is here represented under a figure are the two most ancient and supreme powers of the divine God, namely, his creative and his kingly power; and his creative power is called God; according to which he arranged, and created, and adorned this universe, and his kingly power is called Lord, by which he rules over the beings whom he has created, and governs them with justice and firmness; (100) for he, being the only true living God, is also really the Creator of the world; since he brought things which had no existence into being; and he is also a king by nature, because no one can rule over beings that have been created more justly than he who created them.
(Life of Moses II)

(57) Why God places a cherubim in front of the Paradise, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life? (Gen. 3:24). The name cherubim designates the two original virtues which belong to the Deity, namely, his creative and his royal virtues. The one of which has the title of God, the other, or the royal virtue, that of Lord. Now the form of the creative power is a peaceable, and gentle, and beneficent virtue; but the royal power is a legislative, and chastising, and correcting virtue.

Philo also taught that “the third thing which was between the two, and had the effect of bringing them together was reason (the LOGOS) [Word]:

(27) I have also, on one occasion, heard a more ingenious train of reasoning from my own soul, which was accustomed frequently to be seized with a certain divine inspiration, even concerning matters which it could not explain even to itself; which now, if I am able to remember it accurately, I will relate. It told me that in the one living and true God there were two supreme and primary powers–goodness and authority; and that by his goodness he had created everything, and by his authority he governed all that he had created; (28) and that the third thing which was between the two, and had the effect of bringing them together was reason (the LOGOS), for that it was owing to reason that God was both a ruler and good. Now, of this ruling authority and of this goodness, being two distinct powers, the cherubim were the symbols, but of reason the flaming sword was the symbol. For reason (the LOGOS) is a thing capable of rapid motion and impetuous, and especially the reason of the Creator of all things is so, inasmuch as it was before everything and passed by everything, and was conceived before everything, and appears in everything. (29) And do thou, O my mind, receive the impression of each of these cherubims unadulterated, that thus becoming thoroughly instructed about the ruling authority of the Creator of all things and about his goodness, thou mayest receive a happy inheritance; for immediately thou shalt understand the conjunction and combination of these imperishable powers, and learn in what respects God is good, his majesty arising from his sovereign power being all the time conspicuous; and in what he is powerful, his goodness, being equally the object of attention, that is this way thou mayest attain to the virtues which are engendered by these conceptions, namely, a love and a reverential awe of God, neither being uplifted to arrogance by any prosperity which may befall thee, having regard always to the greatness of the sovereignty of thy King; nor abjectly giving up hope of better things in the hour of unexpected misfortune, having regard, then, to the mercifulness of thy great and bounteous God. (30) And let the flaming sword teach thee that these things might be followed by a prompt and fiery reason combined with action, which never ceases being in motion with rapidity and energy to the selection of good objects, and the avoidance of all such as are evil.  (31) Do you not see that even the wise Abraham, when he began to measure everything with a reference to God, and to leave nothing to the creature, took an imitation of the flaming sword, namely, “fire and a Sword,” being eager to slay and to burn that mortal creature which was born of him, that so being raised on high it might soar up to God, the intellect being thus disentangled from the body.
(On the Cherubim 27-31)

Philo taught that it was the Word (Logos) which spoke to Moses from between the two cherubim:

XXXIV. (165) And he apportioned cold and heat, and summer and spring, the different seasons of the year, divided by the same dividing Word. And the three days which passed before the creation of the sun, are equal in number to the three days of the first week which came after the creation of the sun, the number six being dissected equally in order to display the character of eternity and of time. For thus God allotted three days to eternity before the appearance of the sun, and those which came after the sun he allotted to time; the sun being an imitation of eternity, and time and eternity being the two primary powers of the living God; (166) the one his beneficent power, in accordance with which he made the world, and in respect of which he is called God; the other his chastening power, according to which he rules and governs what he has created, in respect of which he is further denominated Lord, and these two he here states to be divided in the middle by him standing above them both. “For,” says he, “I will speak to you from above the mercy-seat, in the midst, between the two Cherubims;”(Exodus 25:22). that he might show that the most ancient powers of the living God are equal; that is to say, his beneficent and his chastising power, being both divided by the same dividing Word.
(Who is the Heir of All Divine Things )

XIX. (100) These, then, are the six cities which Moses calls cities of refuge, five of which have had their figures set forth in the sacred scriptures, and their images are there likewise. The images of the cities of command and prohibition are the laws in the ark; that of the merciful power of God is the covering of the ark, and he calls it the mercy-seat. The images of the creative power and of the kingly power are the winged cherubim which are placed upon it. (101) But the divine word which is above these does not come into any visible appearance, inasmuch as it is not like to any of the things that come under the external senses, but is itself an image of God, the most ancient of all the objects of intellect in the whole world, and that which is placed in the closest proximity to the only truly existing God, without any partition or distance being interposed between them: for it is said, “I will speak unto thee from above the mercyseat, in the midst, between the two Cherubim.” (Exodus 25:22). So that the word is, as it were, the charioteer of the powers, and he who utters it is the rider, who directs the charioteer how to proceed with a view to the proper guidance of the universe.
(On Flight and FInding)

Philo sees the Logos as a moderating force between the opposing virtues of Elohim, Chesed (mercy) which he describes as “peaceable, and gentle, and beneficent” and Gevurah (judgment) which he describes as “a legislative, and chastising, and correcting virtue.

Concerning the Tabernacle Menorah, the Torah says:

[31] And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
[32] And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
[33] Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
[34] And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
[35] And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
[36] Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
[37] And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
(Ex. 25:31-37 KJV)

Philo writes concerning the Menorah:

(218) Concerning the candlestick above mentioned, the artist speaks again a second time and says, that from its different branches there are three arms projecting out on each side, equals in all respects to one another, and having on the top lamps like nuts, in the shape of flowers supporting the lights; (Ex. 5:33.) the seventh flower being fashioned on the top of the candlestick of solid gold, and having seven golden places for lights above them; (219) so that in many accounts it has been believed to be fashioned in such a manner because the number six is divided into two triads by the Word (Logos), making the seventh and being placed in the midst of them; as indeed is the case now. For the entire candlestick with its six most entire and principal parts was made so as to consist of seven lamps, and seven flowers, and seven lights; and the six lights are divided by the seventh. (220) And in like manner the flowers are divided by that which comes in the middle; and in the same manner also the lamps are divided by the seventh which comes in the middle. But the six branches, and the equal number of arms which shoot out are divided by the main trunk itself which makes up the number seven. (Who is the Heir of All Divine Things 219-220 )

So the Menorah also gives us a symbol of the Logos as being the place in the middle.

These furnishings of the Tabernacle give us symbols of the Logos from which we can learn that the Logos presents us with a moderating force in which we can see both the virtue of justice, which moderates judgement with mercy, and self-control which exhibits moderation, the Logos being the moderating force behind both virtues.

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