Creation to Exile

January4

The oh-so-speshul Bible we ordered didn’t show up at our door until today, so here begins our journey.

This particular one has about 1833 pages, which comes to about 5 pages of reading a day for a year. Wow. So easy, she says. Not to mention, half of each page consists of commentary, charts, or pictures, so surely this will be a walk in the park. Heh.

So a simple start. This part we pretty much all have down.

In the Beginning

So God creates the world. I gotta say, it’s pretty nice. If you’ve read any other creation stories from the ancient world, they can be awfully gruesome. A bunch of god-on-god homicide and then some god tearing open a goddess’ body to become the earth and all that. But this God here is pretty calm, ordered, and having a good time. Heaven and earth, light and dark, water and sky, land and plants, the sun and the moon (yes, after the light and dark progression of day and night had already been established), fish and birds, livestock and wild animals. Huh, domesticated animals from the beginning. Okay.

Then God makes people. Plural. Male and female simultaneously. In God’s own image. Tells them to do it like bunnies. Gives them the earth and animals to rule, and all the plants and seeds and fruit for food. So they’re supposed to be vegan, even though livestock have been created. Ah, well.

So God did all that creating over the course of six days, and takes the seventh off. Thus we have weekends! Yay God. You rule. Now, don’t get too worried about this “six days” thing. The Bible literally says…somewhere…that a day is like a thousand years to God and vice versa. So we literally have the Bible saying that things aren’t always literal. Sweet. We can all relax. The Bible ain’t lying to you and science ain’t lying to you. We can all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

So then we kind of retell the story of the creation of people. God makes a man from dust and breathes life into him. God plants a garden in Eden, sticks the dude there and whips up a bunch of trees, including the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, telling the dude if he eats from the latter he’s going to die. God makes him a woman to keep him company, by knocking him out and forming her from one of his ribs or part of his side. God calls her a “helper” or “helpmeet” in a lot of translations but the awesome author Rachel Held Evans notes that the Hebrew ezer kenegdo is more like

“a helper of the same nature,” or a corresponding character. Kenegdo literally means “as in front of him,” suggesting that the ezer of Genesis 2 is Adam’s perfect match, the yin to his yang, the water to his fire—you get the idea.

The man – Adam as we come to call him because “adam” is the word for “man” – is super thrilled with his woman and they are naked and happy together. But not, like, naked and happy, as far as the text goes yet.

Enter the snake, who is described as the sharpest wild animal, which, duh, because he talks. He suckers the woman into eating the fruit God has forbidden by telling her, “Nah, you won’t die! You’ll just be like GOD, knowing good and evil!” She eats it, she hands some to Adam, who doesn’t even blink before he has some too and suddenly they feel all NEKKID and grab some fig leaves.

God comes back and is pissed. Adam blames his woman, the woman blames the snake, and God punishes all three. Including us, really. Ladies, we get painful pregnancies and births, and apparently patriarchy. Dudes, you have to work your ass off to farm.

Adam names his wife Eve (“life”) and God makes some animal skin clothing for them. Aw. Then the couple gets booted from the garden. Oh. God’s cheesed the people have become “like” God with the good and evil, and is now worried they’ll eat from the tree of life and live forever, so they have to go. Interesting. The way God’s talking, it’s like they never took a crack at that tree and one shot would do it. But maybe it just means they were already immortal and would have needed the steady supply to remain so. That would sort of be the common interpretation. I’d like to point out that if we’re being literal, and it’s fun to be literal, the snake is totally telling Eve the truth. She didn’t die, and she did become “like God, knowing good and evil.” I’d also like to point out that nowhere here is the snake equated with Satan or anything evil at all. He’s just a talking snake.

And that was all for my reading today. It took about two seconds to read and a lot longer to write about. Don’t worry; laziness will take care of that in a few days. I’ll get succinct-er.

P.S. Eve is my heroine. Later people will talk about Original Sin and how these first people screwed us all forever by making us be born in sin and unable to be okay with God. But that’s not here. Here is a woman who must be living some kind of childish existence – everything taken care of and not much to do but garden – and she decides to make a change. To deliberately learn something new. The consequences being the struggle of honest work, the craziness of having children, and the neverending choices between good and evil. You know, things that often make life rather meaningful. In this passage, we don’t inherit sin. We inherit humanity. Or maybe you could just make those terms interchangeable, in the best sense. If we weren’t sinners, we wouldn’t be people, really, and what would have been the point of it all? So…thanks, Eve!

 

posted under the Bible in 2014
One Comment to

“Creation to Exile”

  1. Avatar January 5th, 2014 at 1:17 am Julie Says:

    P.P.S. I should credit Rabbi Harold Kushner for first planting in my 20-something brain the notion of the Fall as a positive instead of a negative.

    Also, I don’t pretend to be saying theologically “correct” things, but I certainly think there’s a lot to learn by exploring the strange angles from which you can look at our foundational stories. Feel free to share your thoughts, argue with me, or whatever. As long as you’re having fun, I love to debate!


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