Friday, March 09, 2007

Jesus and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom (2.1.4. David & Adam)

The Davidic covenant may also be linked with the creation covenant—something which is quite clear in Jeremiah:

“Thus says the Lord: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the descendants
of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his descendants to rule over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Jer 33:25-26).
Speaking of a “covenant” with creation might sound odd since the word is not used in Genesis 1-2. Yet, a closer examination of Genesis reveals good reasons for doing to so. For one thing, the language used in Genesis 9:13 for God’s covenant with creation indicates the renewal of a covenant already established.[1] Moreover, the “seven-day” creation narrative also evokes covenant imagery. Entering into a covenant involved the swearing of an oath. The Hebrew word for swearing an oath is sheva, which literally means “to seven-oneself.” It should not be surprising then that “seven” and covenant oaths are often linked together. For example, in Genesis 21:31, Abraham swears a covenant oath to Abimelech near a well, which comes to be called “Beer-sheva,” which translators either render, “the well of the oath” or “the well of the seven” (check your Bible’s footnotes). [2] The seven-day creation narrative therefore indicates that the world is created in covenant relationship with God. The sign of this covenant is the Sabbath.[3]

From the outset then, God creates man in covenant relationship. Covenants were often associated with kinship bonds.[4] By virtue of the creation covenant, Adam is the recipient of divine sonship. This can be seen from the description of Adam as created in the “image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27). Later on we read that Seth is begotten in the “image” and “likeness” of Adam (Gen 5:3). From this we can see that the phrase “image and likeness” implies filial relation. It is perhaps thus not surprising that Luke 3:38 refers to Adam as the “son of God.”

In addition to language of divine filiation, Genesis also describes Adam in priestly terminology. We read in Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till [Heb. ‘abad] it and keep [Heb. shamar] it." The word for “guard” in Hebrew, shamar, implies priestly duties.[5] Likewise, the word for “tilling” the garden in Genesis 2:15, ‘abad, also has cultic echoes.[6] These words appear together in the description of the priests’ duties in Numbers 3:7-8: “And [the Levites] shall keep [shamar] his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the Tabernacle of the congregation to do [‘abad] the service [or perhaps, "worship"; Heb.: ‘abodah] of the Tabernacle. 8 And they shall keep [shamar] all the instruments of the Tabernacle of the congregation and the charge of the children of Israel to do [‘abad] the service [‘abodah] of the Tabernacle” (cf. also Num 8:26; 18:5-6; also see Num 17:12-18:6)

Indeed the whole cosmos may be understood as a macro-temple.[7] The account of creation in Genesis 1 presents God’s creation of the world in terms of temple building. This implication is underscored by many historical-critical scholars who, upon seeing this emphasis, ascribe it the “Priestly” tradition.[8] Thus, the construction of the tent of God’s dwelling and, later, the temple, are patterned after the creation account.[9] Ratzinger explains: “Seven times it says, ‘Moses did as the Lord had commanded him’, words that suggest the seven-day work on the tabernacle replicates the seven-day work on creation.”[10] Likewise, the construction of the temple took seven years and was dedicated after a seven-day feast (Tabernacles), in the seventh month, with a seven-part prayer.[11]

If the world is the temple, the garden is the sanctuary. The inter-testamental book of Jubilees explains: “[Noah] knew that the garden of Eden was the holy of holies and the dwelling of the Lord.”[12] Several links may be found between the temple and the garden:
» place of cheribum (Gen 3:24; Ezek 28:14)
» candelabra as the Tree of Life (Exod 25:31-36; Josephus, Antiquities 3.145)
» garden imagery in the Temple (1 Kgs 6-7)
» source of water (Gen 2:10; Ezek 47:1-12 [Rev 21:1-2]
» on a mountain (Ezek 28:14, 16; Ezek 40:2; 43:12)
» facing East (Gen 3:24; Ezek 40:6)
» place of where God dwells [hithallek] (Gen 3:8; Lev 26:11-12; Deut 23:14; 2 Sam 7:6-7)

However, just as Adam is presented in priestly terms, he is also presented as a king. One scholar, Meredith Kline, finds several terms which indicate Adam’s kinship: his dominion, his call to subjugate the earth, his naming of creatures, etc.[13] Psalm 8 exemplifies the kinship of Adam, saying that God has “crowned him with glory and honor” and “given him dominion”, putting “all things under his feet”.[14] Adam, therefore, was a priest-king.

However, his kingship needed to be subordinated to his priestly calling. Adam was to sanctify all that is created and bring it into the seventh day rest – he was to offer up to God all creation, which is under his dominion. Leithart explains: “[Adam and Eve] were to go about their royal tasks for six days, only to return at the end of the week to offer themselves and their works to the Lord.”[15]

God’s covenant with Israel may be understood in terms of a kind of “new creation,” whereby God returns humanity to his prelapsarian state: divine sonship with priestly and royal prerogatives. In the Davidic king, we have a kind of return to this state: he is the priest-king, son of God, through whom God will bless all nations (cf. Ps 72:8, 11, 17). It should be no surprise therefore that the eschatological restoration was linked with Davidic themes―as we shall see ub the next few pages. In restoring the kingdom of David, God would restore humanity to its original calling.
[1] See Scott Hahn, A Father Who Keeps His Promises (Ann Arbor: Servant, 1998), 277 n. 5 which sites W. J. Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1984), 11-46; W. J. Dumbrell, “The Covenant with Noah,” in Reformed Theological Review 38 (1979):1-8.
[2] Scott Hahn is the noted expert on covenant theology. See his discussion in Kinship by Covenant and Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacrament (New York: Doubleday, 2004), 103-106.
[3] “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD, your God. . . In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:10-11. Also see John Paul II, Dies Domini 8, “According to the priestly writer of the first biblical creation story, then was born the ‘Sabbath,’ so characteristic of the first Covenant, and which in some ways foretells the sacred day of the new and final Covenant" (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1998), 18.
[4] Paul Kalluveettil, Declaration and Covenant (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1982), 205: “Thus a covenant implies an adoption into the household, an extension of kinship, the making of a brother.” Also see page 212: “The idea, ‘I am yours, you are mine’ underlines every covenant declaration. This implies a quasi-familial bond which makes sons and brothers. The act of accepting the other as one’s own reflects the basic idea of covenant: an attempt to extend the bond of blood beyond the kinship sphere, or, in other words, to make partner one’s own flesh and blood. . . covenant is relational.” For a fuller discussion also see, Hahn, Kinship, 656: “[T]he inner logic of the covenant is to be found in the solidarity and life-giving love of the family. . .”
[5] “Elsewhere in the Bible, especially in passages dealing with the functions of the priests and Levites in Israel, the verb shamar occurs frequently in the sense of guarding the holiness of God’s sanctuary against profanation by unauthorized ‘strangers’ (cf., e.g. Num 1:53; 3:8, 10, 32; 8:26; 18:3ff.; 31:30,47; 1 Sam 7:1; 2 Kngs 12:9; 1 Chr 23:32; 2 Chr 34:9; Ezek 44:15f., 48:11).” M. G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1993), 54. For a great overview of this issue and many of the points below see Scott Hahn, “Worship in the Word: Toward a Liturgical Hermeneutic,” in Letter & Spirit (2005): 101-36. [I can't recommend this article highly enough!]
[6] Kline. Kingdom Prologue, 54.
[7] Meredith Kline, Images of the Spirit (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), 39.
[8] See Keck, Leander, ed. et al. New Interpreter’s Bible: Volume 1 (Nashville: Abingdom Press, 1994), 340.
[9] Kline explains how the Old Testament applies the temple terminology for the world. He points to Isaiah 66:1 and Psalm 132:7. Isaiah calls the earth God’s footstool, while Psalm 132 identifies God’s footstool as the temple. See Kline, Kingdom, 23.
[10] Ratzinger, Cardinal Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2000), 26-27.
[11] John D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion (New York: Harper & Row, 1985), 143-144. Also see p. 138: “The Temple is the epitome of the world, a concentrated form of its essence, a miniature of the cosmos.” Scott Hahn, “Worship in the Word,” 115.
[12] Jubilees 8:19. See Charlesworth, James, ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 2: 73.
[13] See Kline, Kingdom, 25. Kline concludes: “Man is located in [Genesis 1-3] as king over all the created order of the six days.”
[14] Psalm 8:5,6.
[15] Peter Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1993), 28.

Continue to the next post in this series...

Complete outline (with links) of "Jesus and the Restoration of the Kingdom" series


Paul Cat said...

Though the word "covenant" was not used in Gen 1 and 2, some of the language (particularly the "You may eat...You shall not eat ... you shall die" verses) does seem to echo the language found in laws and contracts. Can it be stated that there was a covenant with Adam and Eve, although not called a covenant?

Paul Cat said...

Also, I thought covenant means "to cut". Yet "sheva" means "to-seven oneself". How do they fit together exactly? I've also understood the number seven to be a number of completeness. To swear a covenant means to "cut oneself completely"?

Disregard my previous post. I hadn't finished reading your essay before posting.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Sydney, Australia!

A helpful summary of issues - thanks for your work. Nice one.

This has also been nicely harmonised by Rikk Watts, Assoc Prof of NT at Regent College, Vancouver BC (prob best known for his work on Isaiah's New Exodus in Mark).

Warren A. Gage's "Gospel of Genesis" is a helpful study in protology and eschatology in Genesis - worth a look.

You may also note the work of John A. Davies, "A Royal Priesthood" (I think this was a JSOT / Continuum publication), a fine example of biblical theology working specifically with the imagery of Ex 19:5-6.

Both Bill Dumbrell and John Davies are friends whose work has been enormously helpful to those of us who seek to honour the patterns and threads of Sacred Scripture.