The world's first two people -- Adam and Eve -- were living it up in the Garden of Eden, talking with God himself and enjoying countless blessings. But then they sinned, and their mistake caused the fall of the world. Adam and Eve had to leave the garden so they wouldn't contaminate it with sin, and God sent an angel to expel them from that paradise, according to the Bible and the Torah.
Both the Bible and the Torah tell the story of the world's fall in Genesis chapter 3. Satan, leader of the fallen angels, approaches Eve while disguised as a serpent and lies to her about the Tree of Knowledge (also known as the Tree of Life) that God had warned her and Adam not to eat from, or even touch, or else they would die as a result.
Verses 4 and 5 record Satan's deception, and the temptation he presented to Eve to try to be like God herself: "'You will not certainly die,' the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Eve fell prey to Satan's scheme by deciding to rebel against God: She ate some of the forbidden fruit, and then she encouraged Adam to do the same. That brought sin into the world, damaging every part of it. Now tainted by sin, Adam and Eve could no longer be in the presence of a perfectly holy God. God cursed Satan for what he had done, and announced the consequences for humanity.
The passage ends with God casting Adam and Eve out of paradise and sending a cherubim angel to guard the Tree of Life: "And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.' So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3:22-24).
The First Angel Mentioned in the Bible and Torah
Archangel Jophiel has the honor of being the very first of many angels who are mentioned in the Bible and Torah. In her book Simply Angels, Beleta Greenaway writes: "Jophiel (Beauty of God) is the first angel mentioned in the Bible [the first part of which is also the Torah]. His role is to guard the Tree of Life for the Creator. Grasping a fearsome, fiery sword, he had the awesome task of banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, and will deter any human from stepping onto the hallowed ground again. He has wisdom, will give inspiration, and will help you to use discrimination."
Beauty Lost, With the Hope of Restoration
It's interesting to note that Jophiel, whose name means "beauty of God," is the angel whom God chooses to expel Adam and Eve from the beautiful paradise of the Garden of Eden. In his book The Spiritual Sense in Sacred Legend, Edward J. Brailsford comments: "Jophiel, the Beauty of God, was the guardian of the Tree of Knowledge. It was he who after the fall drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. The association of beauty with knowledge is natural, and needs no explanation. But why should Beauty expel the guilty pair, and wave the flaming sword, unless it was that they should ever carry with them the remembrance that justice was tempered with mercy, and have imprinted upon their last memory of paradise a vision, not of the terrible frown of an angry God, but of the beauty of goodness which was grieved and willing to be reconciled?"
Artistic depictions of Jophiel often show the angel in the Garden of Eden, and are meant to portray both the pain of sin's consequences and the hope of restoration with God, writes Richard Taylor in his book How To Read a Church: A Guide to Symbols and Images in Churches and Cathedrals. In art, Taylor writes, Jophiel is often shown "carrying the sword of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden" and that portrayal serves "to symbolize the early division and later reuniting of God and humankind."
A Future Paradise
Just as the Tree of Life is seen in the Bible's first book -- Genesis -- when sin enters the world, it is seen again in the Bible's last book -- Revelation -- in a heavenly paradise. Revelation 22:1-5 reveals how the Garden of Eden will be restored: "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 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. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever."
In his book Living With Angels, Cleo Paul Strawmyer writes: "When John in Revelation speaks of the Tree of Life in paradise, is this the same Tree of Life that the cherubim were guarding in the Garden of Eden? It is the same tree." Strawmyer continues by writing that angels likely carried the Tree of Life from Earth to heaven to preserve it without the contamination of sin -- they "would have to not only guard the tree of life while in the garden, but now they would have to lift up the tree and take it to safety in paradise."
Jophiel's Sword of Conscience
The fiery sword that archangel Jophiel used to guard the Tree of Life may represent the power that angels have to help sinful human beings discern truth, writes Janice T. Connell in her book Angel Power: "The Earth became a valley of suffering when God’s children no longer had access to the Garden of Eden. When we lost paradise, we lost the ability to see truth. The fiery sword that blocks the entrance to paradise is the great sword of conscience. It takes awareness every minute to keep the sword of conscience on fire with the light of truth. It is angel power that brings such awareness. Those who access angel power are clothed with the holy angels and are able to pass through the fiery sword of conscience to reenter paradise."