[The following are some musings from this morning. I didn't have much time to write and so I just posted my notes in the best order that time would allow.]
In the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we learn that Adam was like a priest:
"The Garden as the place of the first priest
Genesis 2:15 says God placed Adam in the garden 'to cultivate [i.e., work] it and to keep it'. The two Hebrew words for 'cultivate and keep' are usually translated 'serve and guard [or keep]' elsewhere in the Old Testament. It is true that the Hebrew word usually translated 'cultivate' can refer to an agricultural task when used by itself (e.g. 2:5; 3:23). When, however, these two words (verbal [abad and samar] and nominal forms) occur together in the Old Testament (within an approximately 15-word range), they refer either to Israelites 'serving' God and 'guarding [keeping]' God's word (approximately 10 times) or to priests who 'keep' the 'service' (or 'charge') of the Tabernacle (see Num. 3:7-8; 8:25-26; 18:5-6; 1 Chr. 23:32; Ezek. 44:14).
The Aramaic translation of Genesis 2:15 (Tg. Neofiti) underscores this priestly notion of Adam, saying that he was placed in the Garden 'to toil in the Law and to observe its commandments' (language strikingly similar to the above Numbers' references; likewise T. Pseudo Jonathon Genesis 2:15). Verse 19 of this Aramaic translation also notes that in the naming the animals Adam used 'the language of the sanctuary'," G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission
He was also like a king in that his task was to "rule over...all the Earth." But because Adam failed the way into "tabernacle" of Eden was blocked by Keruvim (Cherubim). So G-d transferred Adam's commission to Abraham (i.e. Israel):
“The commission of Genesis 1:28 involved the following elements:
1. ‘God blessed them’;
2. ‘be fruitful and multiply’
3. ‘fill the earth’;
4. ‘subdue the ‘earth’;
5. ‘rule over…all the earth’ (so Gen. 1:26 and reiterated in 1:28).
The commission is repeated, for example, to Abraham: (1) ‘I will greatly bless you, and (2) I will greatly multiply your seed…(3-5) and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies [=’subdue and rule’]. And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…’ (Gen. 22:17-18). God expresses the universal scope of the commission by underscoring that the goal is to ‘bless’ ‘all the nations of the earth’,” G.K. Beale
Just as Adam's commission was transferred to Israel, Eden itself was also transferred to Israel:
"For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody," Isaiah 51:3
"They will say, "This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited," Ezekiel 36:35
And one day the Keruvim will no longer stop man from partaking of the Tree of Life:
"Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing," Ezekiel 47:12
"Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations," Revelation 22:2
So the question is: what happened to change the Keruvim's task of protecting the Tree of Life?
The answer lies within the Tabernacle.
It says that there are Keruvim on the outer curtains of the tabernacle, Keruvim on the veil, and Keruvim above the ark itself. Yet it says nothing about these Keruvim holding fiery swords. Rather, man is permitted to enter because an atonement has been made.
This atonement allows mankind (through Israel) to be restored to the original commission of priesthood and kingship, to the original calling of being made in the Divine Image.
We were made in this Divine Image in order to stabilize and cultivate the world/universe. And this is why the Tabernacle is associated with creation itself:
"And God saw all that He had made, and, behold it was very good," Genesis 1:31
"And Moses saw all the work and, behold, they had done it," Exodus 39:43
"The heavens and the earth were completed and all their array," Genesis 2:1
"Thus was completed all the work of the Tabernacle of the tent of meeting," Genesis 39:32
"God finished the work which he had been doing," Genesis 2:2
"When Moses had finished the work," Exodus 40:33
"And God blessed..." Genesis 2:3
"Moses blessed them..." Exodus 39:43
"...and sanctified it..." Genesis 2:3
"...to sanctify it and all of its furnishings" Exodus 40:9
Rav Yaakov be-Rav Asi said: Why does it say: "Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells" (Tehilim 26:8)? Because it is equivalent to the creation of the world. How so?
On the first day it says: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Bereishit 1:1); and it says: "Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain" (Tehilim 104:2). And regarding the Mishkan, what does it say - "And you shall make curtains of goats' hair" (Shemot 26:7).
On the second day, "Let there be a firmament" (Bereishit 1:6), and it mentions division, as it is stated: "And let it divide water from water." And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And the veil shall be for you as a division" (Shemot 26:33).
On the third day, it mentions water, as it says: "Let the waters be gathered" (Bereishit 1:9). And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "You shall also make a laver of brass, and its pedestal also of brass… and you shall put water in it" (Shemot 30:18).
On the fourth day, He created the lights, as it says: "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven" (Bereishit 1:14). And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And you shall make a candlestick of pure gold" (Shemot 25:31).
On the fifth day, He created the birds, as it is stated: "Let the waters swarm abundantly with moving creatures that have life, and let birds fly above" (Bereishit 1:20). And corresponding to them in the Mikdash – offering sacrifices from sheep and birds.
On the sixth day, man was created, as it says: "So God created man in his own image" (Bereishit 1:27) – He formed him with dignity. And regarding the Mishkan it says "man," namely, the High Priest who was anointed to serve and attend before God.
On the seventh day: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished" (Bereishit 2:1). And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And all the work was finished."
Regarding the creation of the world, it says: "And God blessed" (Bereishit 1:28). And regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And Moshe blessed them" (Shemot 39:43). Regarding the creation of the world, it says: "And God ended" (Bereishit 2:2), and regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And it happened on the day that it was finished." Regarding the creation of the world, it says: "And He sanctified it" (Bereishit 2:3), and regarding the Mishkan, it says: "And Moshe anointed it and sanctified it."
Why is the Mishkan equivalent to the heavens and the earth? Just as the heavens and the earth testify about Israel, as it says: "I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you" (Devarim 30:19), so the Mishkan is testimony to Israel, as it is stated: "These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the testimony" (Shemot 38:21).
Therefore, it says: "Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells," Tanchuma Pekudei 2
“…It is written, ‘Who stretches out the heaven like a curtain (Ps. 104:2), while of the Tabernacle it is written, And you shall make curtains of goat’s hair for a tent over the Tabernacle, etc. (Ex 26:7). It is written in connection with the second day, ‘Let there be a firmament… and let it divide, etc.’ (Gen. I, 6), and of the Tabernacle it is written. ‘The veil shall divide unto you’ (Ex. 26:33). Of the third day we read, ‘Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together’ (Gen. 1:9), and of the Tabernacle it is written, ‘Thou shall also make a laver of brass, and the base thereof of brass, whereat to wash, etc.’ (Ex. XXX, 18). Of the fourth day, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven’ (Gen. I, 14), and of the Tabernacle, ‘You shall make a candlestick of pure gold, etc.’ (Ex. 25:31). Of the fifth, ‘Let fowl fly above the earth, etc.’ (Gen. 1:20), and of the Tabernacle , ‘The cherubim shall spread out their wings’ (Ex. 25:20). On the sixth day man was created, and in connection with the Tabernacle it says, ‘Bring thou near unto thee Aaron thy brother’(Ex. 28:1). Of the seventh day we have it written, ‘And the heaven and the earth werefinished’ (Gen. 2:1), and of the Tabernacle, ‘Thus was finished all the work of the Tabernacle, etc.’ (Ex. 39:32). In connection with the creation of the world it is written,‘And God blessed’ (Gen. II, 3), and in connection with the Tabernacle, ‘And Mosesblessed them’ (Ex. 39:43). On the seventh day God finished(Gen. 2:2), and in connection with the Tabernacle, ‘IT CAME TO PASS ON THE DAY THAT MOSES HAD MADE AN END.’ ‘On the seventh day He hallowed it’ (Gen. II, 3), and in connection with the Tabernacle he ‘SANCTIFIED IT’ (7:1)," Numbers Rabbah 12:13