- ... From: David C. Hindley To: Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2002 9:03 AM Subject: RE: [GTh] Are the 5 treesMessage 1 of 3 , Jun 15, 2002View Source
----- Original Message -----
From: "David C. Hindley" <dhindley@...>
Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2002 9:03 AM
Subject: RE: [GTh] Are the 5 trees an allusion to Joshua 10?
> The number five could, in the original tradition or in the
> editor's interpretation of it, refer to a number of things,
> including the physical number of individual trees in
> paradise (perhaps representative of five points of
> knowledge) or to a paradise containing five kinds of trees
> that do not drop their leaves (cedar, pine, cyprus, fir,
You might be on to something in thinking that the five trees, as they do not
drop their leaves, are five different types of evergreen trees.
I say this because in the Essene work, The Thanksgiving Hymns (Hymn 18
(formerly 14)), three of the five types of evergreens you list above are
explicitly said to be trees of life.
This hymn thusly begins, "I [thank Thee, O Lord, for] Thou hast placed me
beside a fountain of streams in an arid land, and close to a spring of
waters in a dry land, and beside a watered garden [in a wilderness]. [For
Thou didst set] a plantation *of cypress, pine, and cedar* for Thy glory,
*trees of life* beside a mysterious fountain, hidden among the trees by the
water, and they put out a shoot of the everlasting Plant."
The imagery comes from Genesis 2:5b-9, where a fountain springs up to water
the face of the earth that is uncultivated (and, so, a wilderness); where
God places Adam in a garden; and where God causes to spring up trees,
including the Tree of Life. "For God had not rained on the earth, and there
was not a man to cultivate it. But there rose a fountain out of the earth,
and watered the whole face of the earth....And God planted a garden eastward
in Eden, and placed there the man whom He had formed. And God made to
spring up also out of the earth every tree beautiful to the eye and good for
food, and the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden."
While this Essenic hymn uses the imagery of Genesis 2:5b-9, it does not
refer to the earthly garden in Eden but, rather, to a heavenly analog of it.
So, a little later in this hymn, it is said, "No [man shall approach] the
well-spring of life or drink the waters of holiness with the everlasting
trees, or bear fruit with [the Plant] of heaven, who seeing has not
discerned, and considering has not believed in the fountain of life, who has
turned [his hand against] the everlasting [bud]."
Here, the Tree of Life is called "[the Plant] of heaven" and, so, this scene
is a heavenly one rather than an earthly one.
In this heavenly analog of the garden in Eden, we learn from this second
except from the Essenic hymn, the spring/fountain is a spring/fountain *of
This identifies this spring or fountain as being God--He who is the Spring
*of Life*. So, in Fuga (197-198), Philo states, "For He said in a certain
place: 'Me they forsook, a spring of Life, and dug for themselves broken
cisterns, which shall fail to hold water' (Jer. ii. 13). God, therefore, is
the chifest spring".
Indeed, that this spring/fountain is God is also indicated by the
reference, in the Essenic hymn, to he who "has not believed in the fountain
of life" In essence, then, ISTM, this is a statement that such a person
does.believe in God.
Such a person will not get into the heavenly analog of the garden in Eden.
To summarize: In an Essenic hymn, a heavenly analog of the garden in Eden is
the focus of attention. In this heavenly garden, God is a spiritual
spring/fountain of Life. From Him flows a spiritual water. Alongside this
spiritual water, are heavenly analogs of evergreen trees and they are trees
of life. The chief of them, which is the heavenly Tree of Life, is a bud or
shoot from the rest of them.
I think it likely that this, or a rather similar, conceptualization of a
heavenly analog of the garden in Eden underlies GTh 19b, "For there are
five trees for you in Paradise which remain undisturbed summer and winter
and whose leaves do not fall. Whoever becomes acquainted with them will not
In this case "Paradise" is this heavenly garden and the five trees, whose
leaves do not fall, are the trees of life that are the heavenly analogs of
evergreens. Since, in this case, the five trees are trees *of life*, this
explains why one who becomes acquainted with them will not die.
Why, though, are there precisely five trees in GTh 19b?
Your explanation provides a possible answer. In this case, the author of
GTh understood, there are five kinds of earthly evergreens and posited that
there would be one heavenly analog for each of these five kinds of earthly
Another possible explanation is that, as the Tree of Life in the Essenic
hymn is a bud or shoot from the rest of them ("and they put out a shoot of
the everlasting Plant"), the idea in GTh 19b is that one of the five
heavenly evergreen trees is the other four as a collective unity.
This explanation is in accord with the suggestion I made in a previous post,
i.e., the suggestion that the five trees represent: (1) generic virtue or
goodness (which generic virtue Philo deemed to be the heavenly analog of the
Tree of Life in the garden) and (2) the four cardinal virtues into which it
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
- ... From: fmmccoy To: Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2002 2:43 PM Subject: Re: [GTh] The 5 Trees in Paradise ...Message 2 of 3 , Jun 15, 2002View Source
----- Original Message -----
From: "fmmccoy" <FMMCCOY@...>
Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2002 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: [GTh] The 5 Trees in Paradise
> Indeed, that this spring/fountain is God is also indicated by the
> reference, in the Essenic hymn, to he who "has not believed in the
> of life" In essence, then, ISTM, this is a statement that such a person
> does.believe in God.
The last sentence should read, "In essence, then, ISTM, this is a statement
that such a person does *not* believe in God."
1809 N. English Apt. 17
Maplewood, MN USA 55109
- ... I see that our potential agreement was short-lived. (:-) The first question, of course, is _are_ there five kinds of evergreens, or are you just guessingMessage 3 of 3 , Jun 16, 2002View SourceFrank McCoy writes:
> Why, though, are there precisely five trees in GTh 19b?I see that our potential agreement was short-lived. (:-) The first question,
> [Dave's] explanation provides a possible answer. In this case, the author
> of GTh understood, there are five kinds of earthly evergreens and posited
> that there would be one heavenly analog for each of these five kinds of
> earthly evergreens.
of course, is _are_ there five kinds of evergreens, or are you just guessing
that there are? Secondly, what happens to the contrast between this world
and "paradise" seemingly invoked by that saying? I'll tell you what happens
to it - it disappears. Why look forward to a "paradise" containing five
trees whose leaves don't fall, if those very same trees exist in this world?
It needs to be *remarkable* that the leaves of those heavenly trees don't
fall, else why would the saying remark on it? In order to be remarkable, it
needs to be something that doesn't happen in this world - to _those_
"trees", not to some other kinds of trees.
On the other hand, if earthly evergreens really do shed their "leaves"
(pines shed their needles, don't they?) then the five might as well be any
kind of trees at all. But why real trees? Those hoary old literalistic
visions of "paradise" don't seem at all consonant with GThom's spiritual way
of thinking. Was the Thomas reader supposed to have said to himself, "Ah, no
more raking - now _that's_ heaven!"? You guys seem to be trying to put new
wine into old wine-skins, and leaks keep springing out all over.
Mt. Clemens, MI