The Garden of Eden
A long, long time ago, when I moved to Portugal, I found an old Gideon’s Bible that I had been given in school. It was in a box that mum had left in her caravan. I could hardly believe that it had come all the way from England. I had been asking myself a lot of questions about life at the time, and I was now rather intrigued that I had found this bible at this particular time. So I thought I would give it a whirl.
I started with the Evangelists and then I went back to the beginning. I read it like a novel.
Genesis was a fascinating read, I suggest you take a peak as I don’t want to write all the chapters here.
One of the many things that initially stood out for me were the trees. Trees that bear fruit with more seeds to bear a thousand times more fruit.
How incredible is that? Gen 1:11
I grew up in a city and although our garden had 3 large trees, I had never really felt any affinity with nature. I used to like going to our local park but I had always thought that the countryside was pretty boring.
When I read this chapter though, it changed the way I thought about it.
On the piece of land where I lived there were plenty of trees. Fig trees, olive trees, carob trees, pear trees and almond trees. All producing fruit, with seed to grow more trees and more fruit and more seeds. An everlasting cycle.
The Creation of Man (& Woman)
The part about the ‘creation’ of man I noticed a few things.
We go back a little to before the trees and vegetation were created.
5 “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth[a] and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams[b] came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man[c] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”. Gen 1:5–7
Note the word formed :
formed — וַיִּיצֶר֩ (way·yî·ṣer) Conjunctive waw | Verb — Qal — Consecutive imperfect — third person masculine singular.
Strong’s Hebrew 3335: To mold into a form, as a potter, to determine.
I think that was an interesting choice of word. Also the fact that before man was ‘formed’ the earth was wet. It doesn’t just say man was made — but ‘formed’ or ‘molded’.
Anybody that works with clay knows that when you make something from clay — it doesn’t start out as the object you want it to be — it has to be molded into shape and it gradually becomes the object that is determined by your hands.
Could this scripture be in accordance with evolution? Was man gradually molded into something, a few hours in God’s time — but millenia in our own?
After Adam was created, God told him to name all of the Animals. Adam did this willingly. He never turned to God and said, “do it yourself” or “I don’t want to”, he did what he was asked. However, after naming all those animals, none of them were a suitable companion for Adam — they were not on his ‘level’. So God made a woman, from his rib. We laugh at this idea — but in a futuristic world, we may be able to clone people from a rib.
God also made something clear to Adam, he told him,
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Gen 1:16–17
We don’t know if Adam asked why not — he most likely didn’t question it. So God then put Adam into a deep sleep and went off and made Eve. When he brought her back Adam was pretty siked, so much so he declared:
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
The Hebrew for man (adam) sounds like and may be related to the Hebrew for ground (adamah); it is also the name Adam (see verse 20).
Both of them were placed in the Garden of Eden, naked, but they were not aware they were naked.
So along comes the serpent. We can debate if this is symbolic of or not. I felt it could be our conscience or our free will. Adam and Eve were both given free will, the ability to decide for themselves.
After having been told they couldn’t eat from the tree in the “centre of the garden” — Eve was tempted by the serpent. The serpent told her that the reason God didn’t want them to eat from it. “because their eyes would be opened” and that they would gain knowledge of both “good and evil”. I suppose we could compare it to the Garden of Eden equivalent of Google.
There seems to be some debate about what fruit they ate. Was it an apple, a fig or a peach for that matter? Well, it doesn’t say. It just says ‘fruit’.
Fruit can be an actual fruit, like an apple, a peach etc., produce a crop, but definition 3: b. of the Merriam Webster dictionary says this :
the effect or consequence of an action or operation : PRODUCT, RESULT
The fruit also became the fruit of an act, an act that would have consequences — the consequences being — the fruit of disobedience. The fruit itself may have had no power, but the fact that they were told not to eat it, and they did, disobeying that instruction became the fruit itself — are you following? So it wasn’t so much the fruit that made Eve ‘see everything’ like God, it was the act of doing something that she was told not to and seeing what would happen — she didn’t die for example.
This must have been like a huge trip for Eve, suddenly becoming ‘aware’ and was about to reap the ‘fruit’ of her doing.
Awareness is a funny thing. Like if you have a red car, you see more red cars, or women that are pregnant see more pregnant women. It is not that there are more. You just are now more aware of them. Like gaining understanding and then other things fit into place.
It must have been a little like this for Eve. Her understanding of her surroundings was altered. Some say that the fruit may have been hallucinogenic in nature, causing her to have an altered state of mind. We will never know.
She was so into her trip that she convinced her husband to try. Now, he had been in the garden before Eve and had not yet been tempted, why is that? Eve, who was now aware she could convince her husband effectively did the same as the Serpent — she tempted her husband.
So after they spent the afternoon tripping. God called out to Adam, who was a bit paranoid at this point because he hid. (like you can hide from God)
“8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
God didn’t miss a trick and Adam hadn’t gained that much knowledge by the looks of it as he gave the game away.
11 And he (God) said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
What Adam said next was classic. He basically blamed God. Saying that the woman he had given him; “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
When God confronted the woman, she blamed the serpent.
Neither one of them admitted that they had gone against what God had said and done what they were told not to do. They learned that they could blame somebody else. I found this quite interesting. This way of trying to avoid punishment by blaming somebody else. Neither of them said, “I am sorry, I shouldn’t have eaten from the tree”
This is a typical trait we all seem to have inherited. Not owning up to our acts, blaming others. I once heard of a man that walked into a lamppost and blamed his wife, because she wasn’t watching where he was going.
Eve and Adam took on the buren of knowledge prematurely, before it was their time to do so. Since that day, man has continued on this path. Seeking knowledge, even if he doesn’t understand why he seeks it. Man uses that knowledge, knowing and more often than not…without knowing how things will turn out; and many times he screws up. Yet he continues on his quest — to know more. To go to the moon — to go to mars…Knowledge has become a competition.
Almost every invention we have created has been used for good and evil. Nuclear Power, for example, was going to revolutionise energy. We were being told it would make electricity ‘too cheap to meter’, however it was known from day one that it would cost at least 50% more than conventional generation.
“The miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death but consecrated to his life.”
— Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower
That is rich, 10 years after they bombed Nagasaki and Hirishima. Atoms for Peace speech: December 8, 1953
The inventiveness of man meddling with things he often doesn’t really know enough in order to profit from it. Without thinking of the ‘fruit’ of his labour.
Man can never get enough knowledge, it is like a vice. Needing to know more and more. In science the more we learn — the more questions we have. It is a continuous quest without end. All rivers run to the sea, but the sea is never full. Over the years intelligence has become immeasurable. Many years ago in Portugal, compulsory school was 4 years, now it is 12. Has that made us smarter? Just because somebody has a degree does that mean they are intelligent?
Shortly after Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge — they were cursed by God.
The woman — unbearable pain during childbirth and and her desire will be for her husband who rules over her Gen 3:16. Here is a question — Would she have been able to feel pain if she hadn’t eaten from the tree?
The man — would have to toil the land to eat. Gen 3:17–19. Adam needed skills to cultivate. His knowledge would now be a burden him.
He could no longer just pick the fruits — he had to work for them. Recently, when reading the book, Sapiens — I thought it interesting about the early man being a forager and I remembered this part of Genesis. Adam and Eve were essentially foragers until they ate from the Tree of Knowledge. They didn’t really have to work to be able to eat, it was all there and ripe for the picking. Only after eating the fruit and gaining knowledge did they move over to cultivation. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is not fully understood when man went from foraging to cultivation — there are many theories about it. The most likely being that it only happened after he (man) had the ‘know-how’.
In 2012 I did a 5 minute video on Adam and Eve and the Human condition for a talk called ‘Ignite’. When I read Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life — I had to put the book down for a while. I found it uncanny when he also quoted T.S.Eliot
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
I don’t know if he quoted it for the same reason I did.
But I see it like this: Our ‘exploration will problably knock us back to where we started and after much toil we will return to Eden once again — and know it for the first time.