Adam and Eve

Tree of Knowledge (Michelangelo: Sistine Chapel, Vatican)

Ever since 385 CE, when the pagan Emperor Constantine commissioned the Arian (non-Orthodox) bishop Eusebius to prepare fifty copies of the Bible, the legend of Adam and Eve has been read, in most cases, as the glorification of Adam who remained true to the rule of the Great Lord of the Garden: not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge that would lead to understanding what was good or evil (Genesis 2:16-17).  It is not the goal nor the purpose of this article to expose its pagan roots, nor to indite an exegesis on the first two chapters of Genesis.  I save that challenge for another paper.  Instead I wish to look at the two primary “characters” of the fable: Adam (in Hebrew אָדָם‎, meaning “dust” or “red earth) and Eve (in Hebrew חַוָּה‎, meaning living one, who was to be a “helpmeet”/”helpmate”) with neither being a term referring to gender or gender action (sex). 

What is usually ignored is that Adam was neither created nor born in the Garden of Eden.  This action happened elsewhere.  He was “placed” in Garden only later (Genesis 2:7): once he had command of basic intellectual faculties.  At first (Genesis 2:7) Adam was little more than a statue, but the word “statue” originally was used to describe someone who was out of work or did not have a job.  Once Adam was introduced into the garden (hired) he had work, but it was more than one person could do.  For that reason the helpmate/helpmeet was fashioned from a rib as the equal to Adam (Genesis 2:18). 

Tree of Knowledge (Medieval painting)

There are two accounts of the creation, installation into the Garden, transgression or sin of the first two workers, and their being expelled into a void/wilderness/wasteland, and they do not match.  These two accounts make up what today are known as the first two chapters of Genesis–although in their original writing they were two separate stories on scrolls or passed down as legends by word of mouth, much as was the fate of Homer’s famous poems.

No where in the original records do we read that woman is subordinate to man, nor is the female to be submissive before the male (that comes with the miscopying of “St Paul” in the eighth century). Instead, we read: both male and female the gods created them.  Neither was superior to the other, nor was one inferior to the other (Genesis 1:27: וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמֹו בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתֹו זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בָּרָא אֹתָם׃).

Rather than the sexism of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and other religions, androgyny was the rule, with the gods (אֱלהִים) of Genesis being both male and female: Yahweh was a dressmaker (Hosea 11:9), nurse (Genesis 3:21), supplier of water (Nehemiah 9:21; a function reserved for women), cook and culinary artist (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2-13), who experienced birth pains and gives birth (Exodus 16:4-36; Nehemiah 9:15), as well as a carpenter, gardener, planter, and so forth (II Isaiah 42:14, 66:9). Differentiation between tasks and gender is a later invention and added as an afterthought (Genesis 2:21-23), as before that time both are referred, collectively, as adham (Genesis 5:2: זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם וַיִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁםָם אָדָם בְּיֹום הִבָּרְאָם׃ ס the plural pronoun is them and the title for the two was “mortal kind” or “human”).

Adam and Eve in Garden talking to "the Lord"

One part that evangelical extremists miss is the order of the Hebrew language and culture, their ability in translation marginal, their comprehension of interpretation not even embryonic–as it sadly remains in most schools and universities today.  In the world from which this tale originates, those who are mentioned last are acknowledged because they are first and the most important person or character in a story or recitation.  This remained the cultural import and value through the days of the early Gospels, as seen most graphically in Matthew 20:16 (So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” [emphasis mine, as the text refers to both genders]: οὕτως ἔσονται οἱ ἔσχατοι πρῶτοι καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι  ἔσχατοι ; cp. Mark 10:31, Luke 13:30).  The authors of Genesis knew, as shown by their writing, that Eve was far more important and of greater value than Adam, as was in keeping with the matriarchy and matrilineal culture of the ancient Middle East (and explains why Mary was the mother, but Joseph only the stepfather, of Jesus) and theology of the ancient Canaanites, Hyksos, Egyptians and Babylonians who have similar accounts.

Lorenzo Ghiberti: Creation of Adam

While man was created out in the rustic wilderness, away from any refinement or creature comforts and out of dust, it is woman who was delivered in the Gan (garden: paradisio) as befitting her station and worth.  Woman was the culmination of creation–not an afterthought–creation was to bring about the appearance of woman, not man–he was merely to be a worker (for a translation from the ancient Hebrew and Greek, see Ide, Arthur Frederick (1982). Woman in Ancient Israel under the Torah and Talmud; with a translation and critical commentary on Genesis 1-3. Mesquite, TX USA, pp. 10-17).

Far more important is the order of the words, a reality that any philologist or grammarian knows is of utmost importance.  Genesis 1 details the actual creation.  Genesis 2 begins with creation nearly complete: all that is lacking is the employment of mortals.  The gods/lords in Genesis 1 are kind, loving, compassionate, and understanding, but the gods/lords in Genesis 2 are selfish, dictatorial, and cruel and did not provide clothing to their employees.  They were kept ignorant so that they did not know they were naked.

In Genesis 2, woman is created to keep man quiet so he will not leave his job and go elsewhere; thus woman is there to help him so his toil is not so hard or the hours so long.  The equality of man and woman is given in Genesis 2:18 (neged) and verse 20 (ezer): וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים לֹא־טֹוב הֱיֹות הָאָדָם לְבַדֹּו אֶעֱשֶׂהּ־לֹּו עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדֹּו׃  וַיִּצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִן־הָאֲדָמָה כָּל־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְאֵת כָּל־עֹוף הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיָּבֵא אֶל־הָאָדָם לִרְאֹות מַה־יִּקְרָא־לֹו וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא־לֹו הָאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה הוּא שְׁמֹו׃  וַיִּקְרָא הָאָדָם שֵׁמֹות לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה וּלְעֹוף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּלְכֹל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וּלְאָדָם לֹא־מָצָא עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדֹּו׃ .  Note well: the gods/lords are making a helper–not a woman–to afford the laborer (“Adam”) relief. 

Adam hides from the gods of Eden

A small fraction of the Egyptian and Akkadian stories creep in here, for “man” is created from the fragile element of dust, while woman (ishshah) is created from the stronger element of bone and is called Kara (a verb that does not function as a synonym for “name” but follows Genesis 2:19-20). This explains why man is weak, does not debate the “serpent” nor reprimands the woman, but ultimately hides behind a bush in shame of his venal status and lack of force.

Memphis (Egypt) theology of creation

The story of the Temptation has fascinated story tellers and artists for centuries and is found throughout the world’s religious literature.  In the Torah it has variety and force, for in the Torah it is woman who is pre-eminent and dominant.  It is woman who is the theologian.  She knows and is able to quote scripture (similar to Isis addressing Seth in ancient Egyptian theology).  She and the serpent (a god in ancient Egypt known as Apep who was considered evil as Apep was constantly demanding answers from mortals (Apep was in a constant war with the god Ra; cp. Assmann, Jan (1983). Re und Amun : die Krise des polytheistischen Weltbilds im Ägypten der 18.-20. Dynastie. Freiburg, Schweiz : Universitätsverlag ; Göttingen : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (the serious student is encouraged to use

Atum and the snake god Apep

the original edition in German); in English it is: Assmann, Jan (1995), Egyptian solar religion in the New Kingdom : Re, Amun and the crisis of polytheism;

Creation theology at ancient Heliopolis Egypt (c. 2000 BCE)

translated from the German by Anthony Alcock.  London ; New York : Kegan Paul International ; New York : Distributed by Columbia University Press. pp.  49-57); in the Genesis account is a teacher questioning a student to solicit responses and determine the extent of the student’s learning and knowledge) dispute throwing scripture (allegedly not yet written, demonstrating that Genesis is not the first book of the Torah, but the last; it is placed first only because of its first word(s): In the Beginning).  While emerging theologies in Constantine’s Christianity portray the serpent as a female, originally, as noted in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the serpent was a more aggressive male and represented sexual knowledge.

Not only can woman interpret scripture, she demonstrates a powerful and masterful understanding of fine hermeneutic points of scripture and its subsequent debates.  This demonstrates that Genesis was written at least 500 to 1000 years after the rest of the Torah was composed.

Woman is ambitious while man is a coward. She covets the fruit of the Tree of

Fruit of all Vedic knowledge

Knowledge and Wisdom ( עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע Genesis 2:9: haskil, which should be translated as Tree of Consciousness or Tree of Conscience; cp. with the Egyptian Tree of Life and Knowledge that follows the Vedic Fruit of Knowledge that includes knowledge of death).  It represents an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong: an understanding that comes with education.  (From this allegory came the idea of giving a teacher an apple in representation of the knowledge that teacher imparts to the student.  Knowledge and learning has always been considered a link to the divinity, as education was the monopoly of the gods; cf. Ninian Smart (1989). The World’s Religions: Old Traditions and Modern Transformations.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press. UK. pp. 10–21; cp. Shankara (1978). Crest-Jewel of Discrimination (Viveka-Chudamani) (trans Prabhavananda S and Isherwood C). Vedanta Press.  Hollywood, CA USA. 1978. p. 119; the original is  विवेकचूडामणि {in Sanskrit} and is 580 verses).

Without remorse, knowing that the gods/lords of the garden are selfish and wish their workers to remain uneducated except in mythology (so equal to WELS and fanatical fundamentalism in the world today), the woman grabs the fruit (a word for education: (Genesis 3:1-6: וְהַנָּחָשׁ הָיָה עָרוּם מִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־הָאִשָּׁה אַף כִּי־אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן׃  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ מִפְּרִי עֵץ־הַגָּן נֹאכֵל׃  וּמִפְּרִי הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר בְּתֹוךְ־הַגָּן אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בֹּו פֶּן־תְּמֻתוּן׃  וַיֹּאמֶר הַנָּחָשׁ אֶל־הָאִשָּׁה לֹא־מֹות תְּמֻתוּן׃  כִּי יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים כִּי בְּיֹום אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם וִהְיִיתֶם כֵּאלֹהִים יֹדְעֵי טֹוב וָרָע׃  וַתֵּרֶא הָאִשָּׁה כִּי טֹוב הָעֵץ לְמַאֲכָל וְכִי תַאֲוָה־הוּא לָעֵינַיִם וְנֶחְמָד הָעֵץ לְהַשְׂכִּיל וַתִּקַּח מִפִּרְיֹו וַתֹּאכַל וַתִּתֵּן גַּם־לְאִישָׁהּ עִמָּהּ וַיֹּאכַל׃) and she became like the gods/lords:  educated not by repeating what the gods/lords said but by debating, questioning, pursuing the conduct of inquiry that so few universities even entertain today (sadly rote memorization is destroying contemporary education as can be seen in the demands of students to debate those in running for the USA presidency and misquote history and science, literature, philosophy, theology and languages).

Woman is fully aware of what she was doing.  Man was in awe and dumbfounded.  Woman ate and delighted in what she saw.  She had no regret.

Woman gave man the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  He ate it reluctantly. His eyes were opened but he did not like what he “saw” (learned):  the nakedness was his ignorance.  He was required to think–with the greater of his two heads, and that was difficult so he fashioned an apron to cover his “sin”.  In Genesis 3:7, the “apron” is a group of fig leaves that cover the genitals; but in Acts 19:12, it is a girdle or half-girdle worn by artisans and servants round the waist for the purpose of preserving the clothing from injury, which is more in keeping with the Babylonian and Sumerian accounts as we find in Ruth 3:15, where it is correctly rendered “vail” or “mantle.”  It indicates that mortals began to take care of their bodies and to protect the bodies from injury while working in the Garden. 

What is of especial note is that the “apron” only covered the front of the person (the genitals).  No where is nudity damned, until quite late, when we get to the Ethiopian story of Noah/Noe who was drunk and naked–but this account reflects strongly the story of Oedipus and his marriage to his mother in ancient Greek legend–a rendering that I shall offer later. As I authored in a different article, nowhere in the Old Testament is marriage defined as one man with one woman (Abraham had no less than two wives, David had eighteen wives, and Solomon had 700), nor is incest denied (Jacob married two of his first cousins)

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3 Comments

Filed under Bible, Education, Evangelical Christianity, Language

3 responses to “Adam and Eve

  1. And then? Don’t stop! I want to hear more and more!

    (I’m going to send some friends to read this, right away!)

  2. Bobbie

    This is very interesting. I’m looking forward to the other people you’ll write about.

  3. Liza

    Why do people believe the Bible as “truth”? IF the story of Adam & Eve were 100% true as followed by Christians, has anyone ever questioned where Adam & Eve’s sons found their wives???

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