Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The True Vine and Veil Symbolism

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. John 15:1

The quote below gives us a word picture that the Savior used when He called himself the "true vine." Josephus also shares the Jewish interpretation of the embroidered veil symbolism.

"As to the holy house itself, which was placed in the midst [of the inmost court] that most sacred part of the temple, it was ascended to by twelve steps; and in front its height and its breadth were equal, and each a hundred cubits, though it was behind thirty cubits narrower; for on its front it had what may be styled shoulders on each side, that passed twenty cubits farther.

Its first gate was seventy cubits high, and twenty-five cubits broad; but this gate had no doors; for it represented the universal visibility of heaven, and that it cannot be excluded from any place. Its front was covered with gold all over, and through it the first part of the house, that was more inward did all of it appear; which, as it was very large, so did all the parts about the more inward gate appear to shine to those who saw them; but then, as the entire house was divided into two parts within, it was only the first part of it that was open to our view.

Its height extended all along to ninety cubits in height, and its length was fifty cubits, and its breadth twenty; but that gate which was at this end of the first part of the house was, as we have already observed, all over covered with gold, as was its whole wall about it: it had also golden vines above it, from which clusters of grapes hung as tall as a man’s height; but then this house, as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of twenty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors.

It was a Babylonian curtain , embroidered with blue and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet, there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax of the earth, by the blue of the air, and by the purple of the sea; two of them having their colors this foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures."

(Josephus, Jewish War 5.5.4 §§207-14 #118)

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