The Thomas Pages homepage
  The North  
"Out of the north comes golden splendor;
God is clothed with awesome majesty."
Job 37:22

From the beginning of human experience, as is reflected in the pages of Holy Scripture, 'the north' (apart from the later reality of Babylonian military invasion of Israel from that direction) – north from Canaan/Palestine/Israel,
the far north, was associated with the direct presence of God.
This association
is noted in a careful Genesis-reading of the experience of Adam's family after their expulsion from the place of their daily fellowship with God, the garden in Eden; before the Cherub-guarded gate where they later brought their offerings to God.
Genesis 3:8, 24;
Genesis 4:3-4.
the Genesis description of human beginnings, the garden itself is described as being the source from which a river ran that then divided into four, two of which were the Tigris and the Euphrates, well known to us today.
Pishon, Gihon and Tigris branches of this Eden drainage are given detail in Genesis to help the reader of that time to understand their geographic locality but not the Euphrates, for that river was the most widely known to them. This same Euphrates is also later used in the definition of the boundaries of the Promised Land as its northern boundary (Ex.23:31), not its 'East' as mistranslated in the New Living Translation version.
So although we look today at a map and see it as being Mesopotamia/Iraq to the East of Israel, the Jordanian desert cut off that idea in their experience and it was at that time the northern marker of their land.
the north, associated with the source of this river, the place of the garden in Eden of human fellowship with God, toward which the first worship offerings of Adam's sons toward God were brought (Gen.4:16), is linked with God's original relationship to humanity.
It is against this background then that the 'north' held a symbolic significance for them.
Eastward, in Eden
For instance,
many years later, after David's conquest of the citadel of Zion in Jerusalem to make it his capital and Solomon's construction of the temple of God on Moriah in Jerusalem, this association of God's presence with the north continued, even though Jerusalem was to the south east of most of the Promised Land.
 "Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! 
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth,
Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King." 
Psalm 48:1-2
association of the north is continued, by implication, in the idea of promotion ('lifting up') coming ultimately from God Himself –
 "For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness [the south] comes lifting up, 
but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another."
Psalm 75:6-7
And so,
when the king of Babylon is prophetically rebuked for his pride by Isaiah, which some see as an oblique reference to Satan behind this arrogance of Babylon, the reference to the presence of God is again directly associated with the north
"You [king of Babylon] said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High'."
Isaiah 4:13-14.
continuing symbolic significance of the north relative to Israel, totally rebuts forever the idea that the garden of God in Eden was somewhere in southern Mesopotamia.
The symbolism of Cherubim-faces and Rainbow represent the guarantee of God's covenant with Noah (Gen.9:9-10) which forever conditions His rule over all humanity.

For even
in Mesopotamia, Ezekiel's vision, which summons him to become a prophet of God to the Exiles of Israel, is of a fiery cloud-enfolded resplendent chariot-throne of God which "came out of the north" (Ezekiel 1:4).
This 'north' has nothing to do with the route of earlier Assyrian and subsequent Babylonian invasions of Israel, as is confusedly stated repeatedly by most commentators, for –
1. this vision takes place within Mesopotamia; and,
2. it is also not a prophecy of an invasion of Israel.
It is the call of God to an Exile to become God's prophet to his own people already in exile.

For honest exegesis Holy Scripture must always be understood within its own context and not the mental engineering of its commentators.

The Sovereignty of Original Intention A Biblical Structure of History

Copyright © Lloyd Thomas 2013-2016. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Feel free to copy, as long as this full copyright notice is included.