On November 22nd we are going to celebrate our 100th weekly meeting as a community of Hebrew Bible lovers, or as we formally call it, the Webinar. For me, as a Biblical Hebrew teacher, this was and is quite a journey and accomplishment. Since the time I studied Plato's Allegory of the Cave at university, through to today, I have understood that the Bible is an endless story and that I swim in an ocean of Hebrew with paddles that God and my professors at the Hebrew University gave me.
Since we plan to discuss the Garden of Eden story in Webinar #100, I have decided to share with you, ahead of time, one of the most significant aspects of this fundamental story.
The second story of creation describes a different world than the first one relayed in the text. This world is focused in one place, a garden that is found in a place called Eden, a garden from which four rivers flow, a garden that seems to be the center of the world.
In this place we found man- אדם- who was created from the dust of the ground- עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה- a line which in itself is of the most beautiful wordplays that exists in Biblical Hebrew. Man lived in the garden in order to guard and work in it. This is a simpler life than the one that we read about in Genesis 1, which includes both the male and the female, who were created in the image of God- צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים. Noting that the male and female beings were created in God’s image is, by the way, the clue that signifies the distinction between humans and animals. The concept of wisdom according to the first story was illustrated in God reflecting His image in the first couple.
If we consider the second story of creation as separate from the first, we then understand that the creation of wisdom came in the moment when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. While discussing this topic, I would like to share with of my insights on this story. Let us see first of all what The Lord commanded only of the man.
"The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any
tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
for inthe day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
טז וַיְצַו יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים עַל-הָאָדָם
לֵאמֹר: מִכֹּל עֵץ-הַגָּן אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל.
יז וּמֵעֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע לֹא תֹאכַל, מִמֶּנּוּ:
כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת תָּמוּת
If the man had eaten from the tree before the creation of woman or the animals, the world wouldn’t have existed. He would have been put to death at the moment of eating. God’s commandment is clear and unambiguous. Another issue in this verse will be revealed in webinar 100 – don’t miss it! However, in the meantime, pay attention dear friends, that the commandment for the woman- Eve-חַוָּה – is different than the one for the man - Adam – אדם. Why are they commanded differently? Did they discuss that fact? And if so, what was said in that conversation?
Let's see what Eve said to the Serpent, as written:
"The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit
of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from
the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the
garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it
or touch it or you will die.’”(Genesis 3:2-3)
ב וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל-הַנָּחָשׁ:
מִפְּרִי עֵץ הַגָּן נֹאכֵל.
ג וּמִפְּרִי הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹךְ-הַגָּן
אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ
וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בּוֹ: פֶּן-תְּמֻתוּן.
One of the differences here is the addition of being forbidden to touch the said tree. Touching the tree is not mentioned in God’s commandment to Adam. Was it added especially for Eve, who had some additional wisdom, or was it perhaps something Adam told her after she came along?
I look forward to discussing the cognitive abilities of Adam and Eve before the sin. In preparation for such a discussion, I would like to share a verse from Proverbs (Traditionally written by King Solomon), which says:
“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His
way, before His works of old."(Proverbs 8:22)
כב יְהוָה--קָנָנִי, רֵאשִׁית דַּרְכּוֹ:
קֶדֶם מִפְעָלָיו מֵאָז.
Reading this proverb suggests another possible answer about the nature of wisdom. Here we can surmise that perhaps wisdom is inherent, that it is something that existed even before God created the world.
Few answers are given on this topic, for this is the Hebrew Bible, a Garden of Eden for all of its readers.
Join me for the celebration of our 100th Webinar and find more answers about the Garden of Eden!