The Lamb, the Throne and the Desert: I. Jesus, the Origin of God’s Creation

I.  Jesus, the Origin of God’s Creation

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it….  John 1.1-5

 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. …..John 1.14

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 The Word, the agent of creation, the one who became flesh and dwelt among us                                                                      

“In the beginning was the Word[1]….Through him all things were made.[2]….The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.[3]

From the conjunction of these three phrases we know that the search for the historical Jesus of Scripture takes us to the narrative of creation, and so we must begin at the beginning.

There are issues between the account of creation in the Bible and the account of the origins of the universe espoused by modern science.

It is more than a footnote that Jesus is to be understood as “the Word” and “the Word made flesh, who dwelt among us.”  The Word, or more accurately the Logos, a Greek word for the fountain of all reason and ratio and proportion in the universe [in Chinese it is translated as the Tao], … this “Word” is the origin of creation, God in his creative agency.  It is impossible to claim adherence to the Jesus of Scripture and at the same time reject his presence in creation.  The Jesus of Scripture is the Word, the creator of all things.[4]

Neither can we “allow” that Jesus is in identity with the Word while denying the events of creation and the truths enshrined in it – such as the truth that man was created, male and female, in the image of God, created by God with an inborn faculty of speech, designed to love and obey God, assigned to stewardship of the animal and vegetable worlds, etc.

If we would know and honor the Jesus of Scripture we can not renounce the agency of Jesus in creation from the foundation of the world.  As Jesus says of himself in Revelation, in the letter toLaodicea:

“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation.”[5]

If we are able to see this, then, when we consider the fall of man, we will be able to acknowledge the provision of Jesus for the contingency that we will misuse our freedom, for he is “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”[6]

We must speak of the creation and the fall, because the being of Jesus loses all meaning in a world which devolves from a “big bang” along lines of evolution and social Darwinism.  It has been said that evolution is the darling of Satan’s philosophic assaults.  Assuming the robe of an objective search for knowledge, the Darwinian voice accuses God of telling fairy tales.  Should we accept this deceit, we give away the understanding of the heart of our existence, that we are created in the image of God, and we also reject the integrity of the speech of God in Scripture.

We can not understand the life of Jesus unless we understand the fact of human rebellion.  We can not understand our rebellion unless we are able to see what we were created to be.

Jesus has acted and continues to act in history, in this world, to guarantee that there will be men and women who are free to know the high calling of their created purpose.  In a world derived from fortuitous Darwinian happenstance, the presence of Jesus on the cross would be hyperbole, incomprehensible theatricism.  The Jesus of Scripture and of history did not go to the cross to salvage “most fit” survivors.  He did not even go to the cross to rescue angels.  He went to the cross to save mankind, male and female, created in his image.

There is in God an eternal fullness and immutability.  All things are contained in him.  He is greater than the sum of all things.  He is eternal and above the influence of every change of quality or quantity.  He is the one who can say, “I am that I am.”  We see in him the ultimate capacity of faithfulness, so that we know that what he was yesterday he is today and will be tomorrow.  As such he is God the Father.

Knowing that all history is contained in him, we also know that he is the prime agent in the progress of history.  As such he frees himself to step out of his eternal fullness and act in the moment and in the limitations of space.  As agent of history we find him as the Word, the Angel of God, the Son of God, the Son of Man, and Jesus the Messiah.  Paul wrote of Jesus:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. …For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” [7]   

Jesus said,

“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.   How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in me?  The words I say to you are not just my own.  Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” [8]

There is perfect union in the will of Jesus and the will of the Father.   The identity of God and Jesus is sure, and in every presence of God we need never doubt the truth of the shema that

The Lord our God, the Lord is One.”[9]

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Creation and the nature of being

The book of Genesis is composed as a most serious and careful account of the beginnings of the world.  We should not be turned aside by descriptions which seem to contribute nothing to modern science or natural history.

Enshrined in the creation narrative lies a great truth about the nature of existence, and all who disregard that truth are likely to fail to understand what is transpiring in the first chapters of Genesis.  That truth is that man is created to have an essential being which is, by God’s grace, immortal, and is also created to have a temporal body of flesh, which passes away.

The essential being of man is portrayed in Genesis, in the time of its inception, as having place in the world, in and of itself, and as being fully conscious and capable of understanding.  It comes into being prior to the body of flesh, without dependence upon the body of flesh.

The order of creation is an insight into the hierarchy within our person.

We have noted that Jesus, speaking to John in the course of the Revelation, referred to himself as “the origin of God’s creation.”   In the book of John, John said,

“In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God….  Through him all things were made, and without him nothing was made that has been made….  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”[10]

We are told here that the Word is essentially God and that Jesus is essentially the Word.  We are told that the birth of Jesus from the womb of his mother is actually the Word becoming flesh or the being of the Word taking upon itself the flesh of a human body.

The creation narrative presents an analogous portrait for mankind, inasmuch as it presents the creation of a sentient, existent, essential Man, male and female, created [barah] by God on the sixth day of creation.  Then, in time subsequent to the seven day creation, we are presented with the formation [yiytser] of the flesh and body from divine breath and the dust of the ground.  Only then does Adam become a “nephesh chayah”, a breathing and fully bodied human being.  As complement, God then takes one half of Adam’s body and builds/constructs [yiven] that body-half into a woman, so that Eve now also is a “nephesh chayah,” and he restores to Adam flesh where it had been lost.

This order is established in the narrative: 1.] the creation of our independent essential being, followed by 2.] the separate formation of our temporal being.  Later we learn that the death of the temporal body is only the “first death,” the death of the nephesh body.  The essential being survives the death of the body and can only be taken from us by God himself.  The hope which God gives to us is that we never need to know the “second death.”

King David, in Psalm 139, talks of two levels of creation for the individual, secondarily,

“You covered me [with bones, sinew, and flesh] in my mother’s body”  – the creation of the temporal body,

 and primarily,

“not hidden from you was my frame when I was fashioned in concealment, when I was knit together in the lowest parts of the earth” – the creation of the essential being.

Jesus is speaking of the same hierarchy when he says to Nicodemus,

“No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”[11]

Jesus assures Nicodemus that as surely as his physical body must see the light of day to know life on earth, so his essential self must know the light of the Spirit of God in order to secure the eternal life of his essential being.

 

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The first day

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  Genesis 1.1

The first words of the creation narrative are an introduction.  They also state an accomplishment of fact.  The word “beginning” has no meaning apart from some continuum of time or space, here a continuum of time.  This is the beginning of time, and in this statement we are told, in a very simple and general way, that the origins of the cosmos and of our earth are bound into the beginning of time and the creative agency of God.

Within these first few words there is some minimal rendering into existence of heaven and earth.  These words comprise a first brief creation narrative.

The next lines speak of the earth as having, at some level, existence:

“Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.       1.2

Although earth is addressed as being in existence, it is unformed and void.

In the vastness of “the deep” the Spirit of God is attentive to an expanse of water.  Out of the waters will come the earth.  God begins to mold the earth and the universe which contains it.  This is the beginning of the creative activity which God will undertake during the period of the seven days.  We see the Spirit of God “brooding” over the waters, suggesting his attention to the work of creation.

He works in time, step by step, for six periods called “days,” although the length of these days can not yet be empirically determined.   With the creation of light, by the speech of  God, comes the first mention of a day:

And God said:  “Let there be light.”  And there was light.                

And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided between the light and between the darkness.  And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening, and there was morning, one day.           1.3-5

In the command, “Let there be light,” light and darkness take on being in and of themselves, and they are articulated one from the other, but without any mention of generative bodies, which will not come into being until the fourth day.  So the first “day” is a period of dark and light – but of undetermined measure, since the relationship by which we measure a day on earth  – the relative motion of earth and sun –is not possible until  the sun is created.  And on this day the earth seems to exist, although unformed and void.  Over against this unformed something there is the brooding of our God, Lord of all things, Lord of the deep, Lord of the as yet unformed heavens.

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The second day

In the second day of creation God considers the waters over which his Spirit has been brooding.  Relative to the Spirit of God, these waters have a considered place in the world.  God is about to disrupt that place.  The work of the second day is to separate these waters into two parts, the waters which are below and the waters which are above, by a vast intervening expanse or firmament which God will call “the heavens.”

And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide between the waters and the waters.  And God made the firmament and divided between the waters which were under the firmament and the waters which were above the firmament and it was so.  And God called the firmament Heavens.  And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.      1.6-8

There is still no indication of an earth as we know it – only waters divided in two – and  between them the heavens.

These roots of the architecture of the universe, which are attested to in the creation narrative, deserve our attention.  Out of “the waters below” God is about to make something which resembles our planet, and we need to know that the heavens, and the throne of God, from the moment of creation, are directly over our heads.  There is no impediment between us and the throne of God.

The Psalms declare:

“The Lord is in his holy temple, The Lord, his throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.”  Psalm 11.4

And,

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens; And his kingdom rules over all.            Psalm 103.19

And,

I cried to my God for help.  From his temple he heard my voice…He parted the heavens and came down;… He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind….He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.           Psalm 18.6,9,10,16 

Isaiah gives us his vision of the throne of God, suggesting the magnificence of the presence of God overflowing into the earthly environment:

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he did fly.  And one called unto another, and said:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of his glory.                                                                    Isaiah 6.1-3

We see the presence of God inside the universe of his creation, with immediate relation to the earth and to us.

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The third day

The third day begins:

“And God said, ‘Let the waters be gathered together under the heaven, unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so.  And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters called he seas; and God saw that it was good.       1.9,10

 The waters are the substrate which God collects into one mass, and out of which he draws land.  With the appearance of dry ground God calls for vegetation which produces seed “according to its kind” – in other words, plants which retain their species and do not wander in their nature as a result of environmental influences.

And God said: Let the earth put forth[12] grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit tree bearing fruit after its kind wherein is the seed thereof upon the earth.  And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind, and tree bearing fruit wherein is the seed thereof after its kind; and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning a third day.   1.11-13

 

Notice that the essential vegetal creation occurs prior to the creation of the sun.  We will see that the actual flourishing of vegetal creation awaits not only the sun, on the fourth day, but also the flowing of the rivers, as God provides them in the next [chapter 2] level of creation.

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The fourth day

With the beginning of the fourth day, the first suns and first planets other than the earth appear, even though light and “day” and “night” have been in creation since the first day.

With the creation of suns and galaxies throughout the heavens, it is not until the end of this fourth day of creation that we can really talk of a day as we know it on earth.

And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide between the day and the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth.’  And it was so.  And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars.  And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.  And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide between the light and between the darkness: and God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.            1.14-19

There is an implication here that the earth, and the consciousness of those who live on earth, is at the center of God’s purpose in the creation of the physical universe.  The sun and moon are for the earth, for our lives.

The text also completes the picture that the heavens are not just the “sky” or the space between earth and the highest clouds [as if the “waters that are above” had meant the clouds] but rather the heavens are the entire spatial universe beyond the surface of the earth, and the “waters that are above” are possibly at the farthest limits of the universe.

And so the end of the fourth day, the day on which first occurs the actual interplay of earth and sun in motion – the first actual earth – day.

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 The fifth day

On the fifth day God calls into being “the creatures of the sea and the birds of the air.”  One entire day is devoted solely to animals which fly and swim.

Again in the text we see God’s stated creative intent that species will exist “after their kind.”  Members of species may adapt, but as those beings adapt to their environment, they yet retain in their bodies their defining content, their kind, given to them by God, which they will not yield in a state of nature.

And God said: Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament of the heaven.  And God created the great sea-monsters and every living creature[13] that creepeth, wherewith the waters swarmed after its kind, and every winged fowl after its kind; and God saw that it was good.  And God blessed them saying: Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.  And there was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.        1.20-23

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The sixth day

The sixth day is devoted to the creation of land animals and man.

In the creation of land animals there is a division which further indicates that creation is oriented toward man.  In the text, the division arises in the creation of cattle separate from the creation of wild animals:

And God said: Let the earth bring forth[14] the living creature[15] after its kind, cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth after its kind.  And it was so.  And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 1.24,25

The text implies that domesticated animals, at least cattle, did not originate in our ability to domesticate certain wild animals, but in the creative intent of our God.

We also note that land animals are created from their inception as “the living creature,” nephesh khayah, physical beings with the breath of life.  They do not have a prior, separate, essential being.   Man, however, will not become a nephesh khayah until the second level of creation.

Finally comes the creation of the essential being of man.  We are called into existence according to a higher calling than any other creature on earth:

And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness….”           1.26a

God determines that there shall be a living being modelled after himself, a creation called “man” which shall be “in our image, in our likeness”, implying by the use of “our image” that we are to share in his complexity.

As he is God and Spirit and Word and Angel of God and Son of Man, so we are to have many levels of being.  We have living and breathing bodies which we own as the address of our soul in this world.  We have an essential being mysteriously wrapped within our bodies.  We have a soul at the core of our essential being.  This soul supports the mystery of our spirit, a spirit which can die and leave the soul impoverished or can bond with the Spirit of God and fill the soul with life.  We have a vastly capable mind, equipped with memory, and flooded with endless information through the senses.  We communicate and collect knowledge through the senses, through speech, and through the written word.  We have a place of understanding which we call the heart, and it is able to be touched by the heart of God.

He has made us to be beautiful, to be intelligent, to gather huge resources of thought and experience into our memory, to be capable of love and faithfulness, to be capable of devotion to the truth beyond even our own self interest… all this in an environment of freedom, where our actions emanate from our own understanding and our own choices.  “We are as gods.”

As God makes us in his image he immediately appends to our call to existence a responsibility for the welfare of the earth and of all other beings on earth:

“…and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.      1.26b

 We who give our fealty to God are the heirs of this responsibility.  The failure to care for the earth can not be passed off to the children of rebellion, as if to say that our affairs are spiritual and the material world is their affair.  Here we who belong to God are given responsibility for a part of God’s creation, the living creatures of the earth.

The text now elaborates the creation of man in more detail:

And God created[16] the man in His own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them.           1.27

In the creation of man, male and female are individually and equally made in the image of God.  He immediately now gives them his spoken blessing, not spoken out into the void, but spoken directly to them.  They have existence and are from the beginning fully capable of speech and  understanding.  He blesses them by delivering them a purpose and by instructing them that the creation is for them:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.  And God said: Behold I have given to you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the heaven and to every thing that creeps upon the earth, wherein there is a living soul, I have given every green herb for food.  And it was so.     1.28-30

This is the narrative of the originalEden, the original paradise, where the lion lies down with the lamb.

And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.     1.31

The six days are complete and the six-day labor of creation is complete.

And there were finished the heaven and the earth and all the host of them.         2.1

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The seventh day

But in the text it is indicated that the full extent of creation is not yet complete.  Beyond the essential and material creation God must yet install the seventh day in the order of time.  Creation awaits God’s rest and the seventh day.  After the rest of God he will declare it to be time “hallowed,” time set apart to God.

And God finished on the seventh day 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 hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God in creating had made.   2.2-4

The final architectural element which had to be in place was the sabbath, the structure of time in sevens, and the establishment of sacred time.  The sabbath rest from the six day  labor of creating the heavens and the earth is the affirmation of the truth that “it is good,” that what God intended for creation is what has been done, and that there is no element lacking in what he intended to bring about in this world.

It is not the case that after the seventh day God ceases from all activity.  After the seventh day, God enters into the life of his creation, tending it and supplying and maintaining the conditions which will bring it to the satisfaction of his purpose within it.

From the beginning of the world the sabbath, the seventh day, is set apart as holy to God.  God gives to us the mystery of time, the mystery of the coming rebellion, and the mystery of his redemption.  It is the mission of our own complexity to be the ones who are capable of understanding and participating in the great creative mission of God in time and on earth.

The essential creation ends with a closing statement:

“These are the generations of the heaven and the earth when they were created, in the day[17] that the Lord God made earth and heaven.” Gen. 2.4

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The second level of creation

Now immediately in the next sentence we learn that where God “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good,” nevertheless much of it has yet to manifest itself in forms that conform to our experience.  Shrubs and grasses are spoken of as existing but not yet “sprung up” … as if still in germinal form.  The description suggests  a garden awaiting sun and rain for growth.

Although the essential beings of the first man and the first woman are in place, the final form of their physical person still awaits the attention of God.   Analogously, the vegetation, addressed as already existing, yet awaits the full complement of conditions for horticultural success.  [Notice also that in the prepared order, our temporal bodies only come into being once decent vegetables have arrived!]

And every shrub of the field was not yet in the earth and every herb of the field had not yet sprung up, 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.  Then the Lord God formed the man of dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living soul.[18]  2.5-7

Rashi notes: “Like the baker who puts water in the dough, then kneads the dough.”  Although the land animals are recorded as becoming “nephesh khayah”, living beings, during the sixth day, it is not until now that Adam becomes “nephesh khayah,” with Eve soon to follow.

We know that Adam already exists…not just as an idea but as someone who has presence in a physical, phenomenal world.  Neither the plants nor Adam is either immaterial or a mere idea.  The addition of water to an idea or an immaterial form does not yield a plant.  And in God’s contributions of mud and divine breath to Adam, man is already more than a concept.  Rather we have already been told that he existed in the world and possessed all the essential content of the being of a man.  Already, prior to the formation of their bodies, God has spoken with both Adam and Eve.

Rashi’s notes on 2.7 [“Then the Lord God formed…”] claim that “There were two acts of creation:   The letter Yod [y] in yiytser  [“he formed”] is written twice hinting two acts of creation, a creation for this world and a creation for the time of the resurrection of the dead.  But in the case of the animal which does not rise for final judgment two yods are not written in the word used for its creation.”  [“Yitser”][19]

This brings us to the importance of considering the record of the levels of creation:  at the time of our death we lose our temporal body, but our essential being does not die.  We go on, and we retain to ourselves the content of our individual being, our person, our history.  Our death on this earth is the first death, the death of the temporal body.  The being which remains lives in hope for eternal life, and can only be destroyed by the action of God in the day of judgment.[20]  As Jesus said,

The conqueror shall not be injured by the second death.        Revelation 2.11

 And

Be faithful, though you have to die for it, and I will give you the crown of Life.”

                                                                                                            Revelation 2.10

Man in his essential being is created in the image of God and is capable of existence independent of the temporal body.  Mind does not have an independent existence.  The mind which received the commands of God on the sixth day of creation is dependent on the independent being of the essential person.  The Greeks, specifically the Platonists and the Gnostics, introduced a separation, a dualism of mind and body, claiming that Mind is pure and primary, only sullied by the phenomenal world of body and appearances.  We must not give away the dignity of our bodies to such a doctrine.

The “dualism” of God is quite different.  He makes it clear in these very Scriptures that he gives us an essential being and a temporal being, both of which are part of the phenomenal world, both of which are created pure.  There is no degradation in this world apart from our rebellion against our God.  Adam has no shame of his nakedness until the day in which he rebels against God.

In this vein Jesus, reminded his disciples that it is not any food which brings sin into the body, but that sin begins in the heart of man…meaning in the heart of rebellion.  The primary goal of Jesus in his first brief earthly mission was to rescue us from the effects of rebellion.

For the Gnostics, salvation lies in ultimate escape from the weight of the body, implying that the highest world is one of pure mind and knowledge [gnosis].  For us, we are to know that it is not escape from the body into some ethereal heaven which will be our redemption.  It is the restoration of our selves into the presence of God – on this earth – which is our hope.  This again reveals the importance of the study of creation.  God’s plan is the restoration of all things.  God created the earth in love, and has every intention of fulfilling his every design for this planet which is the jewel of the heavens.  The story of the Bible is not about people getting saved and escaping the world, as so many would like to tell it.  The story of the Bible, from the day of creation to the day of eternity, is God making, in this world, a people for himself.

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The full complement of being human

And so God watered the earth and molded man into a living being capable of functioning in the earth.  So far there is only one fully functional living human being, and that is Adam.  God then moves Adam into a garden with a very specific order and arrangement:

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, eastward, and he put there the man whom he had formed.  And the Lord God made to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; also the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became four heads….Pishon….Gihon…Hiddekel[Tigris]…. and Euphrates.  And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  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.”       Gen. 2.8-17 excerpts

If Adam is master of all that he can see, then he is God.  And if he imagines that he is master of all things when he is not, then he is in trouble.  God does at least four things which have the potential to maintain in him an understanding that he is not God.  First he spends time with him.  God walked in the garden.  Second, he gives him a job, giving him responsibility to tend to the welfare of the animal and vegetable creation.  This alone could still lead to arrogance, so another factor is introduced:  by God’s command, part of the garden is to be kept from Adam, in other words, reserved for God.   And, fourthly, he makes Adam wait a very long time for the appearance of Eve, perhaps to show him his need for a mate and to illustrate to him that he is not by nature to live only as “complete unto himself.”

The setting apart of a portion of the garden as holy to God is the clearest message in form of metaphor for Adam that the passageways of the world are established along two fields of potential: life set apart from God, and life set apart for God.  The honor of this boundary will have everything to do with the life of every man from the day of creation until the end of the age.

As for the delay in bringing Eve’s body of breath to light of day, if it is not for Adam’s edification, then we might imagine that our God, in his pleasure, is teasing Adam.

And the Lord God said: It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him a help meet for him.  And the Lord God formed out of the ground every beast of the field and every fowl of the heaven, and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them; and whatsoever the man would call every living creature, that was to be the name thereof.  And the man 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 a help meet for him.      2.18-20

God does not go straight for the germinal Eve.  One effect of this curious delay is to carve out emphasis… emphasis on the radical process by which God is about to form the body of Eve.

Unfortunately the simple words used to describe this dramatic event have a tradition of being mistranslated, much like Jerome’s mistranslation of Exodus 34.29 which became enshrined in the Vatican in Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses with a horn in the middle of his forehead.[21]  Adam’s rib has become an icon in the narrative of the creation of Eve, but it is nearly as curious as the horn in the middle of Moses’ forehead.  I owe my information on this to a student of the Bible named Wayne Simpson, who found himself questioning this very point in the narrative and who, in carefully reading the Hebrew text, has restored it to something which has the ring of truth.[22]

The common text says at 2.20 “for Adam no suitable helper was found.”  Some translations use the quaint phrase “no help meet,” which I believe is old English for “helping mate.” But Mr. Simpson points out that the meaning of the Hebrew azer k’negdo is quite serious, as signifying the substantial provision of all that is lacking to complete a vital task.[23]  The meaning is closer to “the one who completes” than to “the one who lends a hand.”

Then we must consider that “tsela”, the word commonly translated as “rib,” has a much larger meaning.  Mr. Simpson notes that the Stone edition of the Chumash renders the phrase accurately:

“…and he took one of his sides and He filled in the flesh in its place.”

Careful consideration of the use of this word, “tsela,” in the Bible[24] reveals that its common usage is as “side,” not only as an exterior face but even as denoting the full half of an object divided along its length or axis, as in Exodus 26.35 where it says, “and you shall put the table on the north side of the tabernacle”…”al tsela tsaphon.”

The restored text then reads as follows:

And the Lord God caused to fall a deep sleep upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his sides, and closed up with flesh the place thereof.  And the Lord God built the side which he had taken from the man into a woman, and he brought her unto the man.  And the man said: ”This is now bone of my bones [note the plural] and flesh of my flesh [not just bone]; she shall be called ‘woman’, because out of man was she taken.”  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.

 God put Adam into a deep sleep and literally divided him in half, filling in the missing half, and then with the half which he had taken from Adam, he turned to Eve and formed for her a temporal body.[25]

She was in her primary creation independently created in the image of God.  And now in the final phenomenal formation of Eve, she is in her flesh as much Adam as is Adam, as much independently formed as is Adam.  She is in her essential being as much the being of “man” as is Adam.  She is in her final phenomenal formation as much the body of “man” as is Adam.  And so language, until recently, has long preserved the sacred truth that to allude to a woman with the word “man” is no slight.  Adam never had any more ownership of it than did Eve.  Eve however held the additional mark of being “woman” to honor the dignity and equality and intimacy of her origins.

Adam and Eve now share this bond of the violence of their formation, the intimacy of their formation.  They mirror and complement each other.  They belong to each other.  They are one flesh.  They are man.  They are created in the image of God.  They belong to God, and there is no conflict between their own will and the will of God.  They know the endless provision of the garden.  They have the purpose to understand and attend to the order of its development to the glory of God.

God has marked them as his holy creation, not just “in concept” or in their “ideal” form.  In their actual physical being they are God’s miracle, created and formed at every level as a reflection of the being of God. They are the lords of the created world, and the prize of the Creator.  They have nothing to fear from God, nothing to hide from God, no thought, no pleasure, no aspect of their bodies. God’s witness to this is the final phrase of the creation narrative:

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.  2.25


[1] John 1.1

[2] John 1.3

[3] John 1.14

[4] John 1.1ff

[5] Revelation 3.14

[6] Revelation 13.8

[7] Colossians 1.15-17,19,20

[8] John 14.9-10

[9] Deuteronomy 6.4 ff

[10] John 1.1,3,14

[11] John 3.5

[12] Rashi considers this as further evidence of the prior level of creation in the first day, v.1.1

[13] “nephesh khayah

[14] Again Rashi calls this evidence of the first day contribution to creation, here implying that the content of land animals already exists in some way, waiting to be called forth out of the earth.

[15] “nephesh khayah” 

[16] “barah”

[17] Again Rashi calls this an allusion to the creation on the first day: “This teaches you that all of them were created on the first [day].  Another interpretation would be that, in this phrase, “day” is used in a sense more broad than simply an earth day measured by the relative motion of earth and sun.

[18] “nephesh khayah” Nephesh having the root meaning of being capable of breath, and Khayah meaning “living” or “alive”  That which is Nephesh can perish, i.e. fail in its capacity to breathe

[19] The Pentateuch and Rashi’s Commentary, Genesis, S.S.&R. Publishinbg Company,Brooklyn,N.Y. p.20

[20] Revelation 20.1-10

[21] The church, at the time of Michelangelo, was using the Latin Vulgate, Jerome’s translation from the Hebrew.  Jerome mistranslated the Hebrew for shone as “grew horns”, thus some comical misconceptions from a verse which should read as follows: “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai…he did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”

[22] See Adam’s Rib by Wayne Simpson, Biblical Research Foundation,629 Lexington Road,Sapulpa, Ok 74066 and at http://www.jasher.com/Adamsrib.htm

[23] Ezekiel 12.14; Daniel 11.34; Isaiah 30.5; Exodus 18.4; Deuteronomy 33.29; Deuteronomy 33.7; See Appendix A. “Adam’s Rib”

[24] Exodus 25.12; Exodus 37.3-5; Exodus 27.7; Exodus 38.7; Exodus 26.20; Exodus 36.25,31; Job 18.12; Jeremiah 20.10

[25] This is the temporal body which would become immortal should it eat of the tree of life, thus God’s concern after the fall that they be separated from the garden and the tree of life, otherwise even men in rebellion could retain their bodies forever.

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