Wednesday, March 4, 2009

GENESIS: Chapter 3

Chapter 3
Summary:First we encounter a "talking snake"*, who is explained to be the craftiest creature God had made. The snake asks the woman about God's rules over the fruit in the garden, while the woman replies that it's only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that is forbidden to eat (she further embellishes that they may not even touch it either) or they will die.

The snake tells her that it's all a big fib and that eating the fruit will cause her to have a conscience and become God-like. So she decides to eat the fruit and gave some to her husband. While they eat the fruit they suddenly develop shame* over their nakedness and decide to cover their genitals with fig leaves.

In the evening God is apparently walking around in the garden* making enough noise to warn Adam and his wife of his presence, so they both hide from God. God asks why they hid, and Adam explains that he didn't want God to see him naked. God then asks if Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit, and while Adam admits to this he continues on to tell God that it was the woman God made for him that brought him the fruit. God now turns to the woman asking her how she could do such a thing, and she blames the talking snake claiming that the snake tricked her.

3:16 "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
So God curses the serpent to slither around on his belly and declares the woman and the snake enemies for generations to come. God curses the woman with intense pain during childbirth, but also tells her that she will be obedient to her husband's affections and makes her husband her "master"*. He curses Adam by actually instead cursing the soil making it harder for him to harvest crops from, and also tells him that he is now mortal and will now eventually die. As a parting gift, God gives Adam and his wife (now named Eve) garments made from animal skins.

God banishes them both from the garden and places mighty angels armed with a flaming sword* to guard the entrance to the garden.
Notes:1.) Snakes do not possess the intelligence to communicate, nor do they have any method of vocalizing. While we can possibly suspend belief for the sake of the story that perhaps God had once made talking snakes, this is neither explained or eluded to, nor is the removal of the snakes ability to communicate.
2.) This implies that there was something about nudity to be shameful of, and this shame (in the context of this story) comes from God. If God considered nudity shameful and embarrassing then why didn't he provide Adam and his wife with clothing when he created them?
3.) With God's alleged omnipotence and omnipresence (as we are taught to believe) this is confusing as to why he is "walking around", making noise while he does so, why he has to call out for Adam, and why he has to ask these questions when with his alleged attributes he would have witnessed the entire event unfold. The only logical conclusion is that God allowed this to happen - but if he wanted things to be this way why not create life this way to begin with? It can only be surmised that God had intended to guilt trip Adam and his wife into "making a mistake" to absolve himself from the responsibility.
4.) This is misogynistic, devalues the female gender as "inferior", and is contrary to a just punishment from an all-loving God.
5.) This is very obviously an embellishment from a human writer of the past to embody a sense of deadly force, as obviously iron swords had yet to be invented, and by the angels possessing these instruments it is meant to convey to the terms of the time of writing the deadly force they possessed. The presence of "flaming swords" seems redundant when God has infinite power to guard the garden with whatever force or object he deemed necessary.
Thoughts:It appears very obvious that this chapter borrows from and is inspired by many other mythologies: talking animals, a grand and improbable explanation to questions of the time (why women must endure pain while giving birth, trying to explain mortality, etc.), placing the blame for these "punishments" on early man, explaining why to condone sexism, and invoking objects (such as the flaming sword) which very obviously didn't exist back then - but could be related to in their writers contemporary time.

Quite frankly, this chapter is rather ridiculous in playing a "blame game" among Adam, Eve, and the talking snake while absolving God from the equation. Put into the perspective of the story, both Adam and Eve lack the ability to distinguish right and wrong - or good and evil - much like a young child. God however does know this difference and the talking snake's motives are not clear. Compare this to the following modern day scenario:

A father puts a glass of wine in the middle of his dining room table amongst glasses of other non-alcoholic beverages. He tells his two children they can have any drink they want - except for the glass of wine at the center of the table, and that if they drink from that glass they will die. The children's cousin drops by while their father is away and tells them that the glass of wine isn't poisonous, but will simply make them drunk. The daughter takes a drink of wine and offers it to her brother.

When dad gets home from work he finds his kids hiding behind the couch and wants to know why. The kids tell him that they drank the wine and are ashamed and scared that they are now drunk, so the father gets angry. He tells the cousin that he is disowned, takes away the cousin's bicycle, and proclaims that the cousin and his daughter are now enemies and will be forced to physically fight when they see each other from now on. He then tells the daughter that her punishment will be to become her brother's slave and that she will have to endure intense pain every few years by sitting on a chair littered with tacks. He finally tells his son that he will have to mow his fathers lawn for the rest of his life with a push-mower, and that the father will put rocks in the yard to make the mowing more difficult. He then throws both children out of the house with the clothes on their backs and changes the locks.

As rational and modern people we can see that this contemporary analogy to the third chapter in Genesis is sadistic and extreme, and that obviously the father is partially responsible for what happened and negligent for the outcome of the situation. Regardless of his children's wrong doings in drinking the wine, we have to ask what the wine was doing there in the first place - and the only rational answer is that it is there to test his children - who lack a clear sense of right and wrong - and their obedience to him. The father's threat of "death" for drinking the wine, and the eventual punishments he doles out are both excessive and extreme and not evenly dished out to the parties responsible (both of his children and their cousin, and the negligence of the father).


  1. You know - this would be a good idea for a book, especially if it's going to be as long as I think it's going to be. Are you going to be covering both the old & new testament?

  2. I intend to do both New and Old Testaments.