25 May 2012

Philo and the Earth as Temple

rainforestIn Philo of Alexandria’s work On Noah the Planter (De Plantatione Noë), we find concurrently two ideas which we find in the Old Testament:

  1. The earth as the temple of the Lord; and
  2. The earth as the mountain of the Lord.

Philo is commenting on Moses’ Song in Exodus 15, and specifically verse 17:

You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.

The ‘them’ are the children of Israel, who have just escaped from Egypt through the miracle at the Red Sea. Philo says of Moses:

Therefore he had learnt, as plainly as any man that ever lived, that God, having fixed the roots and seeds of everything down in the earth, is the cause also of the greatest of all plants, namely this world, shooting up; which world he here seems to speak of enigmatically in the song which I have just quoted, where he calls it the mountain of his inheritance; since that which is made is the most appropriate possession and inheritance, of him who has made it.  De Plantatione, 48