Human nature in a controlled environment.
It was not me, it was you.
Of course, Eden, I almost forgot.
After Genesis, and its seven days, we found a new description of creation but made on a completely different way. So much so that, in general, biblical scholars say it has a different origin, another author, and it was probably written at another time.
In this new description there is a different line of facts.
Why not read the paragraph and analyze it?
"At the time when Yahweh
God made earth and heaven there was as yet no wild bush on the earth nor had any
wild plant yet sprung up, for Yahweh God had not sent rain on the earth, nor was
there any man to till the soil. Instead, water flowed out of the ground and
watered all the surface of the soil. Yahweh God shaped man from the soil of the
ground and blew the breath of life into his nostrils, and man became a living
"Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden, which is in the east, and there He put the man He had fashioned.
"From the soil, Yahweh God caused to grow every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
"A river flowed from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided to make four streams. The first is named the Pishon, and this winds all through the land of Havilah where there is gold. The gold of this country is pure; bdellium and cornelian stone are found there. The second river is named the Gihon, and this winds all through the land of Cush. The third river is named the Tigris, and this flows to the east of Ashur. The fourth river is the Euphrates. Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it. Then Yahweh God gave the man this command, "You are free to eat of all the trees in the garden. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat; for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die".
"Yahweh God said, "It is not right that the man should be alone. I shall make him a helper". So from the soil Yahweh God fashioned all the wild animals and all the birds of heaven. These He brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it.
"The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of heaven and all the wild animals. But no helper suitable for the man was found for him. Then, Yahweh God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And, while he was asleep, He took one of his ribs and closed the flesh up again forthwith. Yahweh God fashioned the rib He had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said: "This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh! She is to be called Woman , because she was taken from Man". This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and they become one flesh. Now, both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame before each other." (Genesis 2:5-25).
12 - In some translations instead of "woman" it
says Varona ['ishshah]: "And Adam said: This is now bone of my bones and flesh
of my flesh: this shall be called Woman [' ishshah], because of the man ['ish]
it was taken. This is now bone of my bones "(Genesis 2: 23).
Adam, recognizing in her the desired partner, joyfully welcomed her as his bride and expressed his joy in a poetic exclamation. The words "this is now" reflect his pleasant surprise when he saw in the woman the fulfillment of his heart's desire.
The triple repetition of "this" (as it is in Hebrew) vividly points to her as whom he was now admiring -with joyous amazement- with the intense excitement of first love.
Instinctively, or as a result of divine instruction, he recognized in her a part of his own being. Thereafter he should love her as his own body as by loving her he loves himself.
The Apostle Paul emphasizes this truth: "So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself "(Ephesians 5: 28).
"Now, the snake was the
most subtle of all the wild animals that Yahweh God had made. It asked the woman,
"Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?"
The woman answered the snake, "We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden.
But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, "You must not
eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death". Then the snake said to the woman,
"No! You will not die! God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will
be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil". The woman saw that
the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye; and that it was enticing for
the wisdom that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She
also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of
both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed
fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.
"The man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. But Yahweh God called to the man. "Where are you?" He asked. "I heard the sound of you in the garden", he replied. "I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid". "Who told you that you were naked?" He asked. "Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?" The man replied, "It was the woman you put with me; she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it". Then Yahweh God said to the woman, "Why did you do that?" The woman replied, "The snake tempted me and I ate". Then Yahweh God said to the snake, "Because you have done this, accursed be you of all animals wild and tame! On your belly you will go and on dust you will feed as long as you live. I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel". To the woman He said: "I shall give you intense pain in childbearing, you will give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning will be for your husband, and he will dominate you". To the man He said, "Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, accursed be the soil because of you! Painfully will you get your food from it as long as you live. It will yield you brambles and thistles, as you eat the produce of the land. By the sweat of your face will you earn your food, until you return to the ground, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and to dust you shall return".
"The man named his wife "Eve" because she was the mother of all those who live.
"Yahweh God made tunics of skins for the man and his wife and clothed them. Then Yahweh God said, "Now that the man has become like one of Us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live forever!" So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden He posted the great winged creatures and the fiery flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3:1-24).
"The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. "I have acquired a man with the help of Yahweh", she said. She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain.
"Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil. Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for Yahweh, while Abel for his part brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat as well. Yahweh looked with favour on Abel and his offering. But He did not look with favour on Cain and his offering, and Cain was very angry and downcast.
"Yahweh asked Cain, "Why are you angry and downcast? If you are doing right, surely you ought to hold your head high! But if you are not doing right, Sin is crouching at the door, hungry to get you. You can still master it". Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out"; and while they were in the open country, Cain set on his brother Abel and killed him. Yahweh asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I do not know", he replied. "Am I my brother's guardian?" "What have you done?" Yahweh asked. "Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground. Now be cursed and banned from the ground that has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood at your hands. When you till the ground it will no longer yield up its strength to you. A restless wanderer you will be on earth". Cain then said to Yahweh, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Look, today You drive me from the surface of the earth. I must hide from You, and be a restless wanderer on earth. Why, whoever comes across me will kill me!" "Very well, then", Yahweh replied, "whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance". So Yahweh put a mark on Cain, so that no one coming across him would kill him.
"Cain left Yahweh's presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
"Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He became the founder of a city and gave the city the name of his son Enoch. Enoch fathered Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael; Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech." (Genesis 4:1-18).
It seems obvious that this description does not correspond with
the general creation, but only with that of Eden and Adam and Eve.
When God created Eden, humanity had been walking in the world a long time, millions of years; so much so that after God expelled Adam and Eve from Paradise, Cain killed Abel and, as the only living child of Adam and Eve, left the presence of God and sat on the land of Nod, where he met his wife.
Here it is evident that Cain met his wife in the land of Nod because there were women there to be met; and because there were other countries where women lived, other women who were of course not relatives of Adam and Eve. They were part of other peoples, the peoples that were not God's chosen people; because in order to choose a people there had to be other options, which were "the other", the other men and women, the original, which had been generated during the overall creation of species, those men that God created on the sixth day and lived in populations like that land of Nod mentioned in the text.
If humanity -and therefore man-existed, what is the meaning of the creation of Eden?
This point is very important, crucial Iīd say.
Humanity is now fully operational, under development and activity.
It takes, at least, two million years of evolution, but- and-once again but-it is walking down a wrong path, and this wrong path it polytheism.
Humans, in that spiritual youth -almost spiritual children- see a god in every force of nature, every star, and every event they cannot explain. This is natural and reasonable for children, spiritual children, so they are naturally polytheists.
Apparently this polytheism is not wrong in the beginning of the world; it is indeed almost normal, almost inevitable. But, for some reason, it is clear, at that point in history God decides it is time to take the next step, understanding the meaning of monotheism and adopting it. It is time to discard the facets, the biases of divinity, and replace them with the more advanced idea of one God, a single God. This new idea, this new belief in one single God is monotheism
It is interesting to note and observe that, although in most of the planet people had and worshipped many gods, in China and India they did not. China and India, at the time when the chosen people entered the picture, were already monotheists. It is necessary to understand Hindu philosophy to understand that they already were monotheists and, of course, still are. In India God is everything, but not as pantheism understands it but from the closer view of panentheism. Although they sound similar, pantheism and panentheism are spiritually different approaches. Pantheism can become atheist-atheistic pantheism-; but not panentheism, which is a more complex understanding of God, the divinity, as one, omnipresent and omniscient. China and India already had the idea of a moral and just God above all things, not only unique but moral. His philosophy was based on the correct action -dharma in India- and on karma as the result of oneīs acts.
This philosophy stands to this day, and it is observed in both Hinduism and Buddhism, which can be considered a new and current derivation of the first, based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha.
It is possible that due to the type of philosophy they followed, Indians and Chinese did not resist the idea of monotheism when Catholic missionaries arrived in the land, in more modern times. And perhaps also for the same reason, God has not sent the disciples of Jesus to catechize Asia. Moreover, at some point the Holy Spirit explicitly prohibits the apostles to go to Asia. To better understand it is good to read the words of Jesus when He sends His disciples after the lost sheep, both of His own people, the Jews, and of the Gentiles, the "other", all of them polytheistic. Naturally, it was not worth wasting time with those who already had the knowledge-those who were monotheistic-, that is why the spread of Christianity occurs from Pakistan to the West, bypassing India and China.
The first time I noticed it, that I noticed this "detail"- when I compared the world map and overlaid it with the initial expansion area, the area of influence of Christianity- I was in shock.
Of course, the God of the Hebrews was and is the same as that of Asia, so why waste time?
So, summing up, we have man diverting to a malicious polytheism -we might call it wild- with human sacrifices and identification of God with vile, low aspects; so it was necessary to stop and redirect this diversion and, at the same time, take the next step of spiritual growth towards the adult form of monotheism, to the knowledge of the one God.
It seems to me that this is precisely the reason for the creation of the chosen people, the Jewish people, who will be in charge of first purifying those peoples that no longer have a chance to join the new "monotheistic system"-so to speak- and then imposing the belief in Yahweh, their God, the only God.
For this purpose God, as a first step, makes the place from where the first humans will come out, Eden, a new pristine place, on which He first puts the man, made from the dust of the ground. This dust is all a metaphor. Let us pause for a moment on that idea: the man made of dust from the ground. If we recall the comments in the original creation, that everything we are is part of the original nebula-that cosmic dust generated in the furnaces of supernovae- there is no doubt that we are just that: soil dust: dust plus the breath of life from God, the soul, the spirit.
After God created this new man apart from "the other", surrounds him with a garden, trees, plants, and animals.
It is interesting to compare and conclude that this creation is totally different from the original, the first. In this, man is the first to be created -because he was the most important in this phase- and then God deals with the accessory, plants and animals.
But -there is always a but- He puts in their way the tree of good and evil, about which He warns them, very clearly, not to eat the fruit under penalty of certain death.
Well, we have almost completed the scene, the man, his environment, and something forbidden ... what's missing? Yes, something is missing, we need women. Without women, the stage, the replica of what was happening outside of Eden, would have been incomplete.
We now have everything, the woman, who is part of the man, of one of his ribs, with which they form one flesh in the union that is beyond explanation; and the rest of the environment.
She turns on the machine, and makes human nature remain in evidence.
Ah yes ... the temptation never well weighted...
"Now, Both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame before each other.
"Now, the snake was the most subtle of all the wild animals that Yahweh God had made. It asked the woman, "Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?"...
So great is the separation between these two beings and the rest of those who already inhabited the planet, who have no idea of the slightest customs, or of the feeling of shame-for they were naked, and, of course, that did not affect them at all. Then the snake appears: evil, temptation, doubt, rebellion, but -yes, again but... our beloved but-nothing would have happened if human nature did not exist. Precisely, this whole scenario is mounted to show human nature, for us to become aware of our nature and try to tame it. Without this component the snake would have found a resounding NO and everything would have ended there. But... it didnīt happened; the free will God has given us and our rebellious nature is, was, and will be the perfect combination to get us in trouble. And it did. Not only Eve ate, but Adam ate, and both ended thrown from Paradise- right out in the street, as my wife would say.
Now, let's look a little more closely at this whole play.
First the threat.
This threat is not small; if they eat they will die because God is going to kill them; not because it will do them wrong, they will have stomachache or something ... no, they will die because that is the law that God established: eating = death penalty.
And there goes the unconsciousness, not being aware of the seriousness of the threat; how serious, delicate and dangerous it is to contradict what God says.
Naïve Adam and Eve heard nothing of what God said, but heeded the serpent, who skillfully explains that there is nothing to fear. She tells them that God just does not want to share with them the gifts of the gods, and there appears the human folly. Fools are naturally stupid, no doubt.
Did God know what was going to happen? I think so, He just wanted to show it to us and prove it with facts.
In Eden there was no one to ask or from whom be badly influenced; they were alone, alone with the object of desire, the law and the temptation to contradict it.
With that, there was more than enough; there was no need for anything else, which was amply demonstrated.
What now? Now awareness of what is right and what is wrong arises, but knowingly, not like before when God had specified: they can do this and not that. Now they must decide what is right and what is wrong and take the consequences, or at least, they should bear the consequences.
So there they are sewing leaves to clothes.
At one point they are pitiful. They look like children who have done a mischief and now do not know how to fix it; and to make matters worse they are ashamed to be naked, so they hid from God.
God walks the Eden as if He knew nothing, like a father who obviously knew what had happened -how wouldnīt He? Come on, He is God!- and asks: Where are you?, As if He were playing hide and seek with a child.
This scene reminds me of many games and situations I have had with my children. The typical: what have you done? -a completely rhetorical question because I already knew what he had done-, but it was just necessary to ask to make him reflect on what he had done and so try to explain why, why he had done it and thus learn from it. And there you have God in the same situation -we must not forget that God is a loving and merciful father.
Adam replied "I heard the sound of you in the garden", he replied. "I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid"; how does he know he's naked, if a moment before they had no idea of what nudity was? And God asks: "Who told thee that thou wast naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? ". Isnīt it wonderful? Isnīt it wonderful how God speaks to him as to a child? If I said no, why did you do that? And there comes the explanation: "It was the woman you put with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it", so it was her fault, not mine; and You are to blame for giving her to me as my companion. Let's see ... not only does he not take responsibility but also he blames God!
If God so far was calm and tried not to get angry this must have filled up the measure of His patience.
And yes ... He is not to be blamed. It was time to grab them by the ears and ..., but God remains calm and continues: "'Why did you do that?". The woman replied, "The snake tempted me and I ate". ', And yes, that snake...
And we got this far.
God said to the serpent:
""Because you have done this, accursed be you of all animals wild and tame! On your belly you will go and on dust you will feed as long as you live. I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel".
"To the woman He said: "I shall give you intense pain in childbearing, you will give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning will be for your husband, and he will dominate you".
"To the man He said, "Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, accursed be the soil because of you! Painfully will you get your food from it as long as you live. It will yield you brambles and thistles, as you eat the produce of the land. By the sweat of your face will you earn your food, until you return to the ground, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and to dust you shall return"."
I wonder whether the death penalty wouldnīt have been better.
And he drove them from Eden.
"Yahweh God made tunics of skins for the man and his wife and clothed them. Then Yahweh God said, "Now that the man has become like one of us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live forever!" So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden He posted the great winged creatures and the fiery flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life."
This paragraph clearly shows the mercy of a loving father; even after such disobedience and the seriousness of these actions, God dresses them, gives them garments of skin-to replace the loincloth of leaves they had done. This seems a minor issue, but it is not. Clearly, God is merciful, loving, to the point that He does not keep the original death penalty and only sends them out, out of Eden to live with "the other"-the other people, men that had been conceived in the initial creation.
This raises two issues: one, how did we come to the idea that there are others out of Eden? And two, what is the meaning of the story of Eden if Adam and Eve were not the first humans?
Let's look first at the "other", the other people:
"The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. "I have acquired a man with the help of Yahweh", she said. She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain.
"Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil.
"Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He became the founder of a city and gave the city the name of his son Enoch".
Here are two clues, two keys to understanding that other beings live out of Eden: first, Abel was a keeper of flocks, and Cain a tiller. Keep in mind that animal grazing and tillage are fairly recent human activities; man originally was nomadic gatherer, so if their tasks were plowing that means, we might say, they were modern, and that they enter the play -so to speak- in a time when humanity had developed such activities for their livelihood. And second: "Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch." How did he meet a woman if Adam and Eve were supposedly alone in the world together with Cain, because Abel had died? If there was a woman to be met it was simply because there was someone else to meet, and those were "the other."
And now, what is the meaning of the story of Adam and Eve? Why are they made? Why would God take so much trouble for just two people?
This is a much more complex issue, and to understand it we must look at the whole Bible, the whole history of the Hebrew people, the history of the chosen people; without understanding the Bible there is no way to understand Eden.
When reading the Bible I have reflected and discovered what I think is the reason, the rationale for the chosen people, the Jews. We have seen human nature in action put in evidence with Adam and Eve in the Paradise narration. Now we must see what "the other" were doing - the other people when Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel come into play-, so to speak, the game of Humanity.
These other people who were in the area were polytheistic; they believed in many gods, some of which had been given violent and vile characteristics, to the point of being offered human sacrifices. If you review some of the customs of the time and the region, you will find extremely barbaric practices, such as revenge, human sacrifice, polytheism and the worship of false gods.
It is obvious to me that God understood that among men there was much to correct and that it was time to do so; that this situation could not continue and that someone should undertake this task. Then, considering that it was not only a matter of time and place but of nature -as demonstrated by the snake- He gives that task to the descendants of Adam and Eve, the Hebrews -later the people of Israel- today the Jewish people, the descendants of the tribe of Judah.
These people, the chosen people, are the people chosen by God to perform the hard task of recovering the lost sheep, eliminating those that cannot be redeemed and prepare the ground for the arrival of the Messiah; the Messiah Who will wipe mankind from the guilt of their sins of evil and polytheism, and Who will give them another chance.
It is for this purpose that makes sense to have eaten of the tree of good and evil, as this town-which must deal with being the role model of a new age-, must have-should have- extra knowledge "others" do not possess; and their "diploma" -the credential of having a better understanding- is the fact they ate of the fruit of good and evil. They were the only ones they knew why; they had the knowledge, awareness of why they should go towards monotheism. They knew that there was only one God; they knew there was only a single God. What is not clear to me is whether they were ever aware of the task they had been given, although they did it to perfection-beyond some delays and complications like the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the desert...
And finally, in the story of the Messiah, of Jesus, we find this people, the same chosen people, the one that must kill the Messiah in order to fulfill their task, and also to rid humanity of this tremendous guilt:
"He asked, "But what harm has he done?" But they shouted all the louder, "Let him be crucified!" Then Pilate saw that he was making no impression, that in fact a riot was imminent. So he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, "I am innocent of this man's blood. It is your concern." And the people, every one of them, shouted back, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" " (Mateo 27:23-25).
"Let his blood be on us and on our children!". This phrase frees humanity from the terrible burden of having killed the Messiah, the Son of God.
There and then, an era ends and another begins. The idea of monotheism is already planted and spreads like a blast covering the planet until today. Changing paradigms and laws are altered by Jesus. Jesus opens the game to all humanity. The good news of Jesus, the Messiah, in not something reserved to the Hebrews anymore; salvation includes "others" to the point that the apostles, originally Jewish, offer other people-the Gentiles- to take the job to bring the good news for everyone. No need to be Jewish to reach God; you no longer need to be Jewish to know that God is one. From Jesus the knowledge is for everyone, and we are all children of God, Jews and Gentiles. There is no distinction. We are all the same herd sheep and God is the good shepherd, our Good Shepherd.