Genesis 2 describes the Garden of Eden, making no mention of a Temple at the time. However, the way the Garden is referenced in later Temple-specific passages sheds light on the Temple-like nature of the Garden. In verses 9 & 10 of Genesis 2, we see that the Garden has a center: two trees. Also four rivers flow out from the garden into the outside world. Already three ‘layers’ of this Temple are identifiable: the center of the garden, the rest of the garden, and the outside world. Adam and Eve are allowed to live in the garden, but were commanded to leave the fruit of one of the center trees uneaten, as their sacrifice to God. When they broke this command, they were ostracized into the outer layer – the world outside the Garden.
The Prophet Ezekiel, as he prophesied about the New Temple (which turns out to be Jesus, the Church, and/or the new creation), described it in Garden terms. In Ezekiel 47, water is described to flow out from the Temple, becoming a “river of life” to the rest of the world. St. John’s Apocalypse repeats Ezekiel’s description in Revelation 22 – the river of life flows from the throne of God. Trees bearing fruit year-round grow along this river, harkening back to the idyllic scene of Eden.
Outer layer: the outside world
Middle layer: the garden
Inner layer: the tree of knowledge of good & evil and the tree of life