Ancient Hebrews sometimes thought of the creation as beginning in a spiritual realm (Ein Sof) and the our physical creation as being an extension of that “world” (Keter is the gate to that world), and as that power extended downward to make creation it was divided. This divided power can be likened unto images of Solomon’s Temple. The Holy of Holies (Celestial Room) was a cube, the Holy Place (Terrestrial Room) was a larger room representing the expanded, divided, or dilution of the law. Then the Outer Court (Telestial Room) which was even larger.
In Ezekiel 47 the imagery is extended into the world in three degrees of salvation, where a trickle starts at the temple. At thousand cubit lengths the trail of water expands, or divides until it becomes a rushing river. (see HERE)
The same idea is present in Nephi’s river, see my post on: ”Filty Water”.
I know this idea may be foreign among many LDS folks. Think of it this way. We know that the imagery of the Tree of Life is central to the LDS view of the creation, it is there at Eden and heals the nations of the world during the Millennium.
In the Garden of Eden this overwhelming symbol, the “Tree of Life” was shown to Adam. But there was another tree there, “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” This latter tree had no power on man until he partook of the fruit. It appears the partaking of this “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” is what divides or dilutes the influence of the Tree of Life, at least as it now effects man. It is man’s choice to partake of the forbidden fruit that causes the levels or degrees of creation. In a nutshell, it is what law we live that creates the purity of the water, and the corresponding kingdom.
The powers of the Tree of Life are divided or split to the level we wish to partake at. Within the thinking of ancient Egyptians, regarding the creation and redemption of man this idea is played out over and over. Hugh Nibley teaches us about this teaching as found in the Book of the Dead.
“The custom is mentioned in the Book of Breathings: ‘I am the one before whom Atum [Adam] has announced the Annals under the noble Ished-tree of Heliopolis’ … When the initiate ‘witnesses the splitting of the Persea-tree in the midst of Rostau,’ in the B.D. version, that, according to Thausing, represents the Creation, among other things the ‘splitting of 'good' and 'evil' ’…, the law of opposites set forth in the Shabako Creation text.” (Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment, Hugh NIbley, Deseret Book, 2nd addition, pg. 290)
The pillars of Jachin and Boaz stood in Solomon’s Temple representing these trees. The temple is a playing out in ritual form of these ideas of healing and death, justice and mercy, law and choice.
The choices of man have created an inequality in the universe. Things are at odds, there is no reconciliation, things are dying or running down to destruction.
It is the atonement of Christ that heals this splitting or dividing. It is in him that we must trust.
“I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. Whoso removeth stones shall be hurt therewith; and he that cleaveth wood shall be endangered thereby.” (Ecclesiates)
It has long been held by some that this splitting or dividing is what is being spoken of in a symbolic way when God divides the light from the darkness during the creation narratives. This Idea has support from a reading of the Book of Abraham. In Abraham chapter 4, through 5:3 the seven creative periods (days) are described. The first act of creation is the creation of light (good) and it being divided by the darkness.
“And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light. And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.” (Abraham 4:3&4)
Then verses 5 through 13 describe two more periods of creation. But then in verse 14 forward is when actual lights in the heavens are set up, which is the FOURTH CREATIVE PERIOD.
“And organized them to be for lights in the expanse of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so.” (Abraham 4:15)
So the first day of creation can be thought of as the dividing of light and darkness, which in gospel terms is good (law) and bad (wrong choices), And the fourth day of creation is the placing of the actual luminaries in the physical heavens. (1)
What amazes me is when we learn more about ancient understandings of the plan of salvation, even as they come to us in fragment and corrupted condition, they can cause epiphany after epiphany when we read modern text such at the 88th. section of the Doctrine and Covenants where we are taught about light, law, choice, mercy, and kingdoms.
1.) In actuality the fourth chapter of Abraham is the spiritual creation, it is not until a few verses into the fifth chapter that the physical creation is described. However, the spiritual creation works as a template to aid our understanding.