Hebrews 8:5's "shadow of heavenly things" and Bezalel
I once had a thought on "shadow" in Hebrews 8:5, and it came to mind again this past Sunday during our Bible study of Hebrews, so I mentioned it to the others in that study group. Here's the verse, which concerns Levitical priests who served in the holy tabernacle:
[They] serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. [KJV]In his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Harold W. Attridge says of "shadow":
ὑποδείγματι καὶ σκιᾷ λατρεύουσιν τῶν ἐπουρανίων καθὼς κεχρημάτισται Μωσῆς μέλλων ἐπιτελεῖν τὴν σκηνήν Ὅρα γάρ φησίν ποιήσῃς πάντα κατὰ τὸν τύπον τὸν δειχθέντα σοι ἐν τῷ ὄρει (Textus Receptus)
The use of "shadow" (σκιά) as an image for components of the phenomenal or material world is Platonic. This imagery recurs in Philo, where it indicates both the inferiority of the sensible to the ideal and also the positive function of the "shadow" in leading one to the "reality." (page 219b)Attridge then remarks, in footnote 44, that:
Philo frequently develops the contrast between the chief craftsman Bezalel (Exodus 31:2), who builds the shadows of the realities that Moses alone has seen. Cf. Leg. all. 3.96, 103; Plant. 27; Som. 1.206 (page 219b, note 44)Although Attridge doesn't note this point, the Hebrew name Bezalel (בצלאל Bĕtsal'el) means "in (בְּ) the shadow (צֵל) of God (אֵל)," and I've long wondered if the writer of Hebrews had this etymology in mind when composing this verse. Given what Attridge says about Philo's emphasis upon Bezalel and "shadows," I strongly suspect that Philo, at any rate, was thinking of this etymology, but I've not taken the time to check and see if Philo explicitly notes it.
Have any Philo scholars ever noticed anything in Philo's writings on this?
I hesitate to cite Wikipedia, but I will this time, and though it says nothing of Philo on this issue, it does note some interesting remarks in the rabbinical literature:
By virtue of his profound wisdom, Bezalel succeeded in erecting a sanctuary which seemed a fit abiding-place for God, who is so exalted in time and space (Exodus R. 34:1; Numbers R. 12:3; Midrash Teh. 91). The candlestick of the sanctuary was of so complicated a nature that Moses could not comprehend it, although God twice showed him a heavenly model; but when he described it to Bezalel, the latter understood immediately, and made it at once; whereupon Moses expressed his admiration for the quick wisdom of Bezalel, saying again that he must have been "in the shadow of God" (Hebrew, "beẓel El") when the heavenly models were shown him (Numbers R. 15:10; compare Exodus R. 1. 2; Berakhot l.c.).That's certainly intriguing enough to pursue further . . .
UPDATE: Thanks to Jim Davila of PaleoJudaica for sending traffic my way.