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The cross, a tree of death, transformed by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ into the Tree of Life


GENESIS 2 -- Friday, March 18, 2011

By an oversight, the chapter and verse numbering convention which was imposed on the Bible centuries after it was written creates an unnatural break in the creation narrative, which actually continues a few verses into Chapter 2:

  • 1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

When the Jews were taken into captivity in Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem, they were introduced to the concept of "evil days" which occured on the new moon and every seven days thereafter, when the moon was quarter waxing, full, and quarter waning. On those days, the Babylonians curtailed their activity, and this custom was more or less imposed on the captive Jewish population. But members of the Aaronic priesthood in exile attempted to reconcile this practice with Judaism by claiming ownership of those "evil days" and declaring them holy.

The Babylonian Shapattu became the Jewish Shabbat, a day of total rest when no work was to be performed at all. The priests read the Sabbath back into their scriptures when they assembled the Torah from the Jawhist, Elohist, and Deuteronomist sources, and Genesis chapter one is the ultimate instance of that, a retrojection of the Babylonian tradition right back onto the time of creation itself. And within a few years the myth that Moses himself had written the entire Torah and Jewish scribes had faithfully copied it in an unbroken series was accepted by all, and not seriously questioned until the 20th Century.

  • 4-6 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

These verses mark the beginning of the Yahwhist contribution to Genesis, where the preceding material came from the Priestly source, and was actually a post-Exilic synagogue litany chanted by Jewish congregations to put them in the frame of mind for worship much like the similar group participation rituals at the beginning of the Catholic Mass. But I will proceed as though Genesis was inerrant and had Moses as the sole author to trace out the consequences of that "conservative" position. Genesis chapter 2 begins after Creation Monday, before he caused the Earth to be covered with green growing things. And it says God created the earth and heavens one one day, not six.

  • 7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

This verse has significance to the pro-life movement. Here the Bible is saying man doesn't have a soul until he actually breathes air. Based on a chronology given by the Bible itself, which will be traced in this commentary, Adam came into existence in the year 4,163 B.C.

The text of Chapter 2 also says the first living thing God created was man, and so we are presented with an inescapable dilemma. If we accept Genesis 1 as true that man was created on the first Friday, then the plants of Creation Tuesday and the birds and fish of Creation Thursday could not have been created on the days they were said to have been. If we accept Genesis 2 as true, then man was created on Monday before any other living thing, contrary to what it clearly says in Chapter 1.

  • 8-9 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The name of the garden was not "Eden". It was not the "Garden of Eden" as is commonly supposed. Eden is a land, and the garden was planted in the eastern half of Eden. Mormons insist the Garden of Eden is in present-day Jackson County, Missouri, in the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.

  • 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

Now there is a curious digression from the straight narrative of Genesis 2, and we veer into a little geography. The garden is the source of a river which divides into four streams. We never see this occur in real rivers except at their mouths, where they debouch into the sea.

  • 11-12 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

Josephus identified this river with the Ganges in India. Others associate it with a river in Iran that flows north into the Caspian sea, based on the description of gold and other resources given in the text.

  • 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

Josephus identifies this river as the Nile, and this leads to a serious problem. The source of the Blue Nile is Lake Tana in Ethiopia, nowhere near Mesopotamia. Of course, Bible inerrantists claim the geography of all these lands were greatly distorted by the Great (Noachian) Flood, just like Middle-earth after the fall of Numenor.

  • 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

The changed-land hypothesis has a problem because the rivers Hiddekel (Tigris), and Euphrates are well-known and extant. In any event, this little geography lesson seems to be a strange insertion of irrelevant material which interrupts the bold flow of the Yahwhist source, which now resumes as scheduled.

  • 15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

The first thing God did with the man was give him a job. He was to tend the garden. Presumably this was accompanied with extensive training, or perhaps the required skill set was built right into Adam's mind from the gitgo.

  • 16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Along with his training, God gave Adam a Law consisting of a single commandment. He was never to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because it was immediately lethal. This seems to be a little white lie on God's part, because Adam lived to be 930 years of age.

  • 18-19 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

There are between 1.5 million and 1.8 million named species in the world. Adam never finished the task of naming all of them, because the total number of species in the world could range as high as ten million, and there were many more species back in the Day before man really began to dominate the Earth.

  • 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

God didn't have a problem finding a help meet (a female beast) for every male beast, but when it came to finding a help meet for Adam, it was a real head scratcher. But finally God hit upon the solution! He would make something a lot like Adam, except it would be (wait for it...) female!

  • 21-22 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

When I was growing up, it was "common knowledge" that boys had one less rib than girls, and when we learned different, it was as traumatic as learning that Santa Claus wasn't real. It was not until 1543 that Andreas Vesalius did what none before had dared to do: He simply counted the ribs. And he found in every instance their number was the same for man as for woman.

  • 23-24 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

This teaching actually has a scientific basis. Human reproduction mixes the genetic information of both parents to produce a unique third person who is "one flesh". But if Eve was essentially a clone of Adam, with only the gender changed, then all their children would be identical to themselves, and there would be no source for human variation.

  • 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

And why would they be ashamed? They were on an extended honeymoon with no one else on the whole planet.

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