I beleive the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated, copied, and interpreted correctly. In the course of my studies of the Bible, I've discovered that it has a long and convoluted history. So, these are my discoveries and my musings of Christian history and doctrines.

Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Garden of Eden Symbolism - The East. Part 2.

Doing a word search in my computerized scriptures program, I verified that east is the direction used most in the scriptures. According to Alonzo L. Gaskill, east represented God, "If something came from the east it was representative of the idea that it was of God, sent by God, or godly in nature. Both blessings and punishments were believed to have been sent from the east (i.e., from God). People from the east were often respected for their wisdom and perceived as being messengers from God." (1)

One thing in which I disagree with Dr. Gaskill is that he claims that Adam and Eve moved east after being expelled from the garden of Eden, and consequently their fall into mortality was a movement toward God. Where does Genesis say that? All Genesis says is that "God sent him forth from the garden" and "drove out the man" (2), but it doesn't say in what direction. Not east. Not west. Not south. Not north. It just doesn't say. All it says is that they were expelled.

Genesis does say that God placed the cherubim and flaming sword at the east end of the garden "to guard" or PREVENT THEM from partaking of the Tree of Life, which means they were PREVENTED FROM GOING EAST towards God. What's the tree of life? Who said "I am the light and the life of the world."?(3). The flaming sword is BETWEEN God and man. If the flaming sword is on the east end (in front of God, or in God's presence) and I walk in an eastward direction towards God the flaming sword is going to be in the way. I am going bump into that flaming sword that is set there in the east (in front of and before God's presence), which is set there to prevent me from going further east and from entering into God's presence; I am going to get burned and chopped up into mince meat. Somebody give this guy a compass. Where does it say that they were moving towards the flaming sword? It doesn't say that anywhere.

On the other hand, what is the meaning of west? If I face west, my back is to the east. Have you ever heard the phrase "He turned his back on me"? Does it not mean that somebody has ignored you, set at naught your counsel, or avoided you? And isn't that what Adam and Eve did when they partook of the forbidden fruit, ignored God's counsel to not partake of it? If east is the presence of God, then going west would mean going away from God's presence. Isn't that what happened when they were expelled from the Garden? They were being driven AWAY from His presence. Can you and I enter into God's presence any time we feel like it? No.

Not surprisingly, scholars noticed that references regarding the west are bad and undesirable, including sorrow, chaos, death, evil, dark, etc...(4) Note that God said to Adam "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; and in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life." And to Eve He said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children..." If they are heading east as Gaskill claims then why are they experiencing conditions associated with the west? It is because they are in the west, and heading west, away from God's presence, with their back towards Him, symbolically speaking of course.

(West) Adam ---------- Flaming Sword (East) --- God

1. Gaskill, Alonso L., The Lost Language of Symbolism (Deseret Book: Salt Lake City, Utah), p. 150.

2. Genesis 3:23-24, King James Version

3. 3 Nephi 9:18, The Book of Mormon

4. The Lost Language of Symbolism, p. 166.

5. Genesis 3:16-17, KJV


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a question, trying to understand. The KJV text (as well as in the book of Moses) says "and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." If it was at the East of the Garden, then the man Adam would have to go West from outside the garden to get to it. Which also means that Adam would have been sent East, wouldn't it?

I'm really just trying to get a better understanding, and not arguing with you.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Kam said...

Nice site. I've wondered for some time about this very topic. The insights so far are...insightful. I'll share one thing that occurred to me while reading. Assuming the garden was not along the Euphrates river, but much further west, like, say near the Mississippi (ahem) then "east" of that place would be anywhere from there to, say, Japan. So imagine the guarded tree of life (whatever it actually is) is hidden and guarded somewhere in the far east. (The Asian world has always been "hidden" and isolated from the rest of the world for what seems the length of history). The geography so far, if you're following along, places Christ (or the word/sword) right between the cast out man and the tree of life. No one enters the "east" but through Christ. I believe there could be something to that.

3:55 PM  
Blogger etzchaim said...

once adam & eve were made to leave eden, the sword was placed so that man could not eat of the tree of life thus becoming the same as god - immortal & able to create all things - the flaming sword is omnidirectional - it protects all directions at once (see etz chaim - the tree of life).

this is all metaphoric scripture - since man now has knowledge of good & evil - as god does - if he ate from the tree of life & became immortal like god - he would be equal to god - but he is not - he was only created in god's image.

there were originally 5 cherubim carrying the throne of god but now there are only 4 who were left in paradise (eden) to protect it. the other was the fallen angel who encouraged man to become god-like by eating from the tree of knowledge & then was cast down & made to crawl on it's belly for the rest of it's days.

when the messiah comes he will come from the east & all people will be called to paradise on earth, the sword will have been removed by the messiah on judgement day allowing mankind to enter into paradise once again.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

As I read Genesis, maybe the reason God kick Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden and placed a flaming sword to keep the way of the tree of Life was to prevent them from forever living in sin.

Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit therefor sinned. As a result, if they would have eaten from the tree of life, they would forever be in sin with not chance of redemption. God had to kick them out in order to prevent this.

10:37 PM  
Blogger BIG T said...

Impressive with how you broke all of the scripture down. what we see is man making their own decision without God and he removed him from the Garden Of Eden and the tree of life. By the end of Revelation God brings the Tree of Life back to man.

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