Author

Bunmi

Browsing

I made an observation.

Mediocrity is often associated with two entities. Africans. And religious folk. But I speak from the religious perspective of the Christian faith.

The average African, homeland  bred or in the diaspora, is religious. Or at the very least, ‘spiritual’.

This causes one to wonder; is the African nature the origin of mediocrity or is religion the origin? Is the African mediocre because he is religious or just because he is African? Has religion made mediocrity out of Africans or was it Africans who infiltrated religion with their own innate smallness?

Well, I observed the religious population of other races, particularly American Caucasians (I still speak from the Christian perspective), and I realized that it is the same story. American christians also struggle with mediocrity, and as a result they are not as powerful/influential, in the matters of secular state as the non-religious folk are.

The Bill Gates, Warren Buffets, Steve Jobbs, Mark Zuckerbergs of America are not religious. A good number of them are even atheists. Yet…they continually churn out so much excellence that christians find shelter in. Christians use internet for ministry and give testimonies in church of how they acquired iPhones and cars manufactured by the ‘heathen’.

These matters are worth thinking about, don’t you think?

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2Ch 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS…

The ‘wicked way’ implies both evil in morals and evil in the things of nature. (Strong’s H7451). That is, the wicked way does not only refer to morality, but it also means living without adhering to the principles in/of nature. That means, for example, you may be a person who forgives others, but if you are a lazy person who is not diligent in your work, you are wicked.

Matt 25:26  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 

To pray while you flout all the principles that make life work is wickedness. It is the way of twistedness; the way of ‘anyhowness’.

And christians, we do ‘anyhowness’…a lot.

Oh, we pray and walk in love…but we pay no mind to principles of nature. We neglect science. We neither propound it nor do we encourage reliance on it. A person who praises science is deemed un-spiritual.

Call for a prayer meeting or a miracle conference and Nigerians will throng the place. Call for, say, a health seminar and the same people will be nowhere to be found. We prefer miracles to instructions. We would rather pray than live right. It’s easier.

We fail to realize that living a life of responsibility is what will yield godliness in us. Because, indeed, you are godly (God-like), not just when you forgive, but when you are healthy.  Lack is not godly. Poverty is not godly. Please note that I did not say these things are sin. Not everything that is not godly is sin. To not be godly largely means to not meet up with the divine ideal, and some examples of this may be sin against God while others are not. Sickness is not godly, but it is not sin.

The blessing is commanded on us so that we may be blessings to others. Thus, we are godly when we are prosperous so much that we can give to others who do not have.

So then, if christians are not being blessings to their world, it only makes sense to presume that they themselves are not experiencing The Blessing. You cannot give what you do not have. Thus, if you are not giving it, it is because you do not have it (yet).

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This is why I criticize the christianity of Nigerians the way I do.  It is not rocket science to discern that christians who have not yet been able to figure out how to make a developed nation out of a decaying country like ours are not living the blessing yet. There is something terribly wrong with the christainity we practice in this country!

The Blessing is that which overflows. It is that which flows out of its carrier into the environment and makes things better. “The blessing of the Lord makes rich.” “How God anointed Jesus Christ with the Holyghost and power and He went about doing good” (Prov. 10:22, Acts 10:38).

That blessing that only solves personal problems cannot be the true blessing. Those are mere bread crumbs. That which only produces a car for you, while the road on which you will ride it remains rickety is not the blessing. It just cannot be! That kind of faith that does not invent anything, but that can only help you ‘claim and receive’ that which another person invented, cannot be the best brand of faith that there is. It is an ill. I will explain what I mean.

It is this ill that has affected God’s children since the beginning of time. That ill where once you are aware of the existence of a God, you immediately enter laziness and complacency mode. The ‘let go and let God’ mode. The religion mode. Not the faith mode. Not the God kind of faith. Religion is when a person is so obsessed with acknowledging some power greater than himself that s/he gets lost in that acknowledgement and forgets to do anything else that is equally important. Religion forgets to take responsibility. It forgets to respond to the ability of that same Higher Power that lies in them waiting to be tapped. The spirit of religion often presents as devotion, but it is actually laziness. It hides its complacency in ‘trust’ in the Divine.

But the spirit of faith is different. It takes responsibility. It says, “if it is going to be, it is up to me.” It looks at mountains and says, “I am going to move you from here to there”. And because she says so, the ability of God within her is released and the earth has to respond.

The spirit of faith is why Cain would leave the presence of God and go ahead to build a city. Think about that!

It is why his (Cain’s) descendants, heathen as they were, were the only ones in that generation who came up with inventions. But the descendants of Seth, wrapped up in the spirit of religion, only worshipped God, with no corresponding evidence of this God in their immediate environment (read Gen.4:16 all the way to Gen.5:32).

It is why even without the blessing, Esau found his way to prosperity much earlier than his brother, Jacob. Yet it was Jacob who was carrying blessing. This same spirit of faith God acknowledged at the Tower of Babel (Gen.11).

Paul and King David, it appears, were the few Bible characters who found the healthy balance between grace and diligence; the presence of God and principles; signs and wisdom.

The spirit of religion shows in our prayers. We say, “Oh God, a little effort and an enormous harvest, let that be my testimony!” And He answers. So, we keep getting only ‘miracles’ that is characterized by little effort, leaving those who do not know how to pray, but know how to put in a lot of effort, to perform the real miracles. Or have you not realized that Facebook, Google Map, are miracles? Or is that operating software on your smart phone that you prayed for not a miracle?

Oh, it’s a miracle too, that God gave you that car. But the greater miracle is that a human being like you thought it up and manufactured it so that you can ‘believe God’ for it.

And yes, it’s a miracle that Africans keep obtaining visas to migrate to developed countries. But the real miracle is that those countries we run to were once upon a time like the one from which we are running now and it was human beings like ourselves that sat down and figured out how to build their own countries to be the wonders that they are today.

It is not their genius that makes us appear mediocre, it is our own complacency. They had, and still have faith. We have religion.

 

 

So, what does the Bible actually say about marriage? What did God say?

Gen 2:24; Therefore, shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

In the past when I read this scripture, the only principle I saw being put forward was marriage. But now I see in this verse of scripture another principle that is equally—if not more—important than the principle of marriage.

 Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother…

God spoke first about the principle of adulthood. What is this about?

It is destined that every offspring should outgrow the direct tutelage of their parents and begin to make their own decisions. It is a phase of life that every human being is supposed to get into. A phase where parents take the backseat in the life of the individual and s/he begins to acts autonomously, independent of parental control (or the control of any elder at all), bearing full accountability for his/her actions.

This principle applies to both male and female.

Another scripture;

Pro 22:6; Train up a child in the way [he] should go, and when [he] is old, he will not depart from it.

Maturity first, then marriage. Maturity not necessarily meaning chronological age, but self-sufficiency. Independence.  Emotional, intellectual, financial, and spiritual independence.

After that He talked about marriage.

and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one (echad) flesh

Mat 19:4-6  And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and [He] said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one fleshWherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder

Two people with independent thought make a decision. No rings, no priest, no church, no parents. It is the two that become one. God does not do the joining …directly. It is their joint decision that God honours. Thus, God’s joining is actually a function of what the two people first did. I don’t know if that makes sense? I will try to explain further.

It seems God attributes great power to agreement.

Gen 11:6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one (echad), and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do

Amos 3:3; Can two walk together, except they be agreed? 

Mat 18:18-19  Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 

The two are joined because they decide to cleave to one another. Not because the parents do any giving or receiving. Not because a priest comes to bless them. Not because they exchange rings.

The fundamental principle here is agreement.

The agreement of the two of them. It is strictly between two of them. Once they agree, God also agrees with them and they are joined. There is nothing religious about this. It is all about principle. Just like with any other principle like faith or thermodynamics, whoever applies the principle of agreement will get the required results. That is, any two people, a man and a woman, who come to an agreement of being exclusively committed to each other, irrespective of whether or not they know God, are married. What God honours is the agreement between the two people, not their religious inclination.

With their mutual agreement they activate a divine principle. It is not only the marriage of christians that are valid in the eyes of God.

So…

Parental consent and/or blessing is not a requirement for a valid marriage in the eyes of God. That is culture. That is human tradition. It has nothing to do with God.

Another thing;

… and they two shall be one flesh.

It is not the man marrying the woman. It is the man and the woman marrying each other. It is two that become one. The joining involves the active participation of two people. People often make the assumption of some divine ideal that it is the man that God ordained to initiate the marital relationship, because He said, ‘a man shall cleave to his wife’. Well, if we decide to look at this scripture that way, then every other assumption that that logic makes room for should also be acknowledged. That means we should also honour the assumption that the man cleaves to the woman and makes a new home with her and her family. After all, it is not written that she will also leave father and mother.

But we don’t do that. We acknowledge that what God said was that two will become one, so it has to mean that they will both leave to form a new unit. Thus, if it that is so—and indeed it is so—that just as he will leave father and mother, she will also leave; then, the divine order is that man will marry woman and woman will marry man. And…woman can initiate the relationship and man can initiate too. God has nothing to do with chivalry and the whole man-hunts-woman-idea. Ruth initiated her relationship with Boaz. The female was not made to be given away to any man. She is made to find her own man, just as he would also find her, and the two will give themselves to each other (in the presence of family if they so choose).

Now we talk about third parties. In laws. He cleaves to her and she cleaves to him. He does not cleave to her family, and she does not cleave to his. We say in Nigerian culture that the wife belongs to her husband and his family. This is wrong and completely anti-God. Marriage is not between the woman, the man and his family. The woman does no belong to her husband’s family. The man and woman belong to each other. The union is strictly between two people. No third parties.

Finally, God did not say, the two shall become him or the two shall become her. He said, the two shall become one. In other words, the two shall become a new, neutral one. Therefore, if there will be any compromises, it should and must be from both sides. God never instituted that kind of marriage where the woman loses herself, while the man remains intact.

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So, there we have it. The principle back of it all is agreement between two adults. Two autonomous people. That is the only thing God instituted. It is very simple; so simple we miss it. So simple we belittle it and decide to complicate it with so many other unnecessary rules.

Does that mean it is wrong to have all these other things and people involved? No, not at all. Only that we must never forget that every other thing aside the mutual agreement and I mean, every other thing, is an extra that the inclusion/involvement of them is subject to the preference and choices of the man and woman involved. They are not needed per se. The man and the woman hold the exclusive rights to decide if they want rings, parents, party, fancy clothes, etc. This is why marriage is for people who have become adults; independent in thought, emotions, spirit and economic might. The adult can exercise his and her God given rights without guilt or manipulation from third parties.

Women, do not just be found. You too find. Why? The hunter is the one in control. God has made man and woman to both be the hunter and the hunted. The two balance each other out and the risk of oppression and tyranny is cancelled out.

What we have today in popular culture is the curse in Gen. 3:7. Women are too needy of men and men take advantage of that to misbehave with impunity. It was sin that birthed patriarchy. That is, that practice where if a woman has no man she feels inadequate. It is why a woman will be desperate to marry, and will marry a clear vagabond of a man. It is why women constantly disgrace the precious image of God that they are, reducing themselves to the base behavior of cat-fighting in public over a man.

This is why Paul taught mutual submission. Paul read Genesis. It is what is written in Gen. 2 that he was talking about in Ephesians 5.

 

 

A Caucasian woman is about to be married to a Nigerian man. Her father, however, is appalled by the African tradition of bride price/dowry. He says it is demeaning, that she, his daughter, is not some item put up for auction sale, to be acquired by the highest bidder.

She gently ‘corrects’ her father’s notion, and educates him on how there is really no price. The money paid is such an insignificant amount and it is only a symbolization of how, to the receiving family, i.e. the family of the male, the woman is valued, and so because she came to them at a price, they would not take her for granted.

It worked. Her father and mother were won over when they finally saw the apparent ‘charitableness’ of this strange tradition. Their daughter would be treasured and cherished. What’s not to like about that?

But…

There are actually many things wrong about this tradition. Very wrong and troubling. The whole practice hinges on many faulty ideologies, many of which take root from traditional church doctrines, which in actual fact have no sound scriptural basis.

Let’s make some observations;

One; there is only a bride price. There are two people being joined, but only one, the woman, is being ‘valued’. Why? Is the man worthless?

Two; small amount or large amount, as long there is a price being paid, something definitely is being sold/bought. And if it is bought, then it is owned by the buyer.  Not only the man pays the bride price, his family too does. So, the married woman is owned by him and them.

Three; the price is paid for the woman/bride by the man and his family to the family of the woman. The woman is in the middle of it all.  Her family on one side and her man’s family on the other. One is paying, the other is being paid. One is family is giving, the other is receiving. The whole day is about an exchange of ownership. Of a person. A person is being tossed from one side to the other like an inanimate thing. Ultimately, she is regarded as one who has no agency of her own.

There are some cultures where it is the woman who pays the price. But… it is still just one person making a payment. So, the imbalance remains. Either the woman pays to be owned or she is paid for to be owned. The problem is not the price as much as it is about how many people are paying and what the payment signifies.

The practice of dowry/bride price payment hails from Biblical/Ancient Jewish Rabbinic tradition (Exo. 22:16-17) where dowries were paid to secure the woman’s financial welfare in the event of a divorce or widowhood. That is, the money the man pays was kept by her (or her family) for her future use. This made sense at the time because most women had no means of livelihood apart from their husbands’. That is, Dowry was a social construct for a certain period of time in history, to protect the female gender, who, as a norm, was weak socially and economically.

But now, in these times, that women are economically empowered, why do we still have this custom in practice? Girls now acquire as much education as well as boys and can be (and are) just as financially independent. Like a worn-out rag, such a tradition is of no more effect and ought to have been put away. But it still exists. And when a method exists outside of its original purpose, it is inevitable that it does so to serve other shady and abusive purposes.  It cannot be good.

The custom of dowry exists now only to serve the purpose of chivalry; a phenomenon that rests firmly on the (ungodly) notion that females are ontologically inferior to males. I will come back to this shortly.

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There are also some cultures, like that of the Caucasian man in the narrative above, where there are no exchanges of price, but there is a giving away. Again, it is not the man and the woman being given away by their families, but only the woman. Yet again, the imbalance remains, the woman is a creature that has no agency. No power. He may come and go as he wishes, but she has to be given away. She has to be ALLOWED.

Only one is ‘valued’.  Only one is given away. Therein is the advent of disequilibrium and imbalance in the marital relationship. When only one is valued, or one is valued more than the other, there will be problems.

Another thought is, what sort of value is this being ascribed to the woman that the man does not also possess? Such value that he is the hunter and she the hunted? He the taker and she the taken? Women often enjoy the privileges of chivalry, but I doubt they stop to ask questions about the true price of these so-called privileges. If… he hunts you down, takes you, pays for you, you are given to him by your father, then…he owns you. That’s it. Beware of so-called charities and privileges. They end up becoming a rottenness in your bones. They ensnare you.

The truth is, in chivalry, the value being ascribed to the woman is not one of honour and high esteem, but of condescension. Benevolent condescension in the best circumstances, while in the worst circumstances it is cruel condescension. It is because the female is perceived to be a weak, fragile thing that she is also paraded as the one to be ‘cherished and treasured’. On the surface it sounds endearing to be called fragile, but I dare say, it is a trap.

The assumption of female fragility gives birth to other baggage that are back of the oppression that women suffer today in the hands of men. It is why a woman is said to need to be taken care of by another one (the man) and needs to be owned.  She cannot own herself, because if she were allowed such autonomy, she would, like a child, make a mess of it all. That is why we hear adult women ask silly questions like, ‘I want to buy a piece of property as an investment, should it be in my name or my husband’s name?”

It is why the female, supposedly, must be led by a male, because she cannot lead herself; her weakness and fragility goes beyond her body, it reaches also into her spirit and soul. Thus, someone else needs to think for her, because, the truth of the matter is, the one who leads is in some measure thinking for the one who is being led.

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The best thing to do, I think, is that there should be no prices at all being paid. But if we would indulge tradition a bit, then there would be a price if, and only if, it were both a bride price and a groom paying. Both are valued, yeah? So they should ‘buy’ each other.

And… the price would be paid by the man to the woman and by the woman to the man. Absolutely no third party or family involvement! It is only two that are being joined and becoming one.

If there will be any weaknesses acknowledged, let both be weak; let it cut across. If there will be any strength, let both be strong. That is, where one is weak the other is strong, and where one is strong the other is weak. They balance each other out and there is no boasting or a strong one preying on the weak.

I do not go against traditions just for its own sake or petty rabble rousing. I love truth. I want to, as much as possible, do the right thing, and for the right reasons. I have a problem with dowry, giving away (amongst other traditional practices surrounding marriage), because I find that they go completely against God’s original intentions as is stated in Genesis 1 and 2 and the New testament tenets.  (P.S When I say ‘New Testament’ I do not categorically mean only the Epistles).

For one, these customs make the solemnization of marriage more difficult and complicated than the simple model God put forward in the Beginning. They have made burdensome what God made easy. Very easy. What God specifically commanded should be between two adults is now contingent on a third party or many, many third parties (in-laws, aunties, uncles, sisters, brothers and so on). ‘Giving away’ also institutionalizes the notion that the woman has no agency, but is, even in adulthood, under the strict authority and control of her father. A clear contradiction God’s words in Gen. 2:24 and other scriptures we will look into later.

Question; How can this situation be turned around?

Answer; We start to do what the Bible actually teaches.

We continue in the next post. Thank you for reading!

Photo by WrappedbyDesign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRINCIPLES DEDUCED FROM THE PREVIOUS STUDY.

  • Principle 1; On the male and the female sides of humanity rests the responsibility and ability to lift up Divinity. On each side of the Ark and the two Altars rest the poles (bad) used to lift/carry them. (Remember previous study on bad and how it connotes strength). God said the poles (lebad) must never be taken out of any of the rings on the two sides of the ark and the altars. That is, strength should never be taken out of any side of humanity. That is, the hand of the woman should never have been weakened or denied entry into any sphere of influence.
  • Principle 2; The female is not the helper of the male. The male and the female help each other. Just as it requires the two sides to help each other to lift the Ark of God, to constitute the altars and the tabernacle, one side is not, and cannot, be said to be the exclusive helper of the other. The divine order is that there should be always be a perfect balance in the partnership between the male and female sides of humanity. Also, this means that there is no divinely assigned boss, assistant, leader and/or follower. God never established any such model between the male and the female—in any relationship context—in the Beginning.
  • Principle 3; God made only the male and the female genders. There were only two sides in the human that came out of God. There was no third or fourth.
  • Principle 4; The two sides, the male and the female, equally represent all these three elements of The Covenant. They both initiate it, establish it, inaugurate it, develop it and shape it! The two of them are the two sides of The Ark of covenant, The Tabernacle, and The Altars. That is, the male and the female constitute the Presence of God, the Priestly ministry and the Worship of God. If one side is absent there can be no complete Altar, no complete Tabernacle, and no complete Ark.
  • Principle 5; In God’s perfect will—for the male and the female—all things cut across equally; responsibility, grace, gifts, honour, and humility. Tsela always depicts two sides of one thing that always possess the same things; the same dimensions and the same properties. There is no respect of persons with God! There was nothing that God gave to one side that He did not also put on the other side, and in the exact same measure. Rom.12:3
  • Principle 6; Female and male are one. The two are sides of one and the same things, and that means that they are essentially one. They are not apart from each other.
  • Principle 7; Between the male and the female sides of humanity there is to be no discrimination. There are no fixed first or second positions between the two, which one fills the first or second positions; what is important is that the two are included. God never specified the sides. He did not fill in the blanks. He just always said ṣê-lāʻ or al-ʻōt-āw. There was no hierarchy or the prominence of one over the other.
  • Principle 8; Humanity should never be alone or work alone. It was always one, then the other/ the second side. The two always went together. The male cannot be without the female and the female cannot be without the male. 1 Cor.11:11

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Where does this leave us?

Equality.

The female is not a mere side of the male and she is not from his side.

There are two sides of humanity. The female is a side, and the male is a side too.

Male and female are equal. They are not the same, but they are equal.

Both are halves of one thing, but each half is one whole on its own. A sperm cell has its own complete identity. So does an ovum. An ovum does not need anything else to be a complete ovum. Neither does a sperm cell. But, if the two were to come together, they would both ‘die’ and give rise to one new entity; an embryo. So is male and female. Each is complete as an individual, but there is a singular entity that they have the potential to become if they come together in unity; ’ā-dām. That is the ‘one flesh’ that God said the two will become. This one flesh, ’ā-dām, is not more of the male or the female, any more than an embryo is more of a sperm cell that it is of an ovum.

In the epitomising of the humanity that is made to represent divinity, the man is as independently un-whole, inadequate and incomplete as the woman is.

The man is not more whole than the woman and he is not more of God’s image than the woman is.

Male and female epitomise divinity and all that that translates to; leadership, dominion and power.

Womanhood epitomises strength, leadership and power just as manhood does, because they are both ’ā-dām and ’ā-dām was made in God’s image.

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Vs. 23 And the human said, “This now [is] bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; they shall be called women (̉iš-šāh), because from man (îš) this was taken.

It was less of an endearing statement and more of a humble admission of the man’s equality to the female and his inadequacy in the face of his mate. And to that, God, in agreement, gave a conclusive admonition;

Vs. 24 For this same reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cling in his woman, and they shall be united in(to) flesh.

The reason is that the man (and woman) needs something. It is because the man is incomplete without woman, and he is aware of his weakness, that he will seek a reunion with her to be complete again. Man and woman make up the complete ’ā-dām. Woman completes man, and man completes woman, therefore, they both leave to cleave.

Some questions;

WOMAN; TAKEN OUT OF ’Ā-DĀM OR OUT OF Ί?

Was the woman taken out of human or out of male?

While the words of the male in vs. 23 above may appear contradictory of the process as stated in 21-22, the understanding of the process still makes it impossible to assert that the human before vs. 21 could have been just a male. What then do we make of this?

We do not really know what ‘taking out a side’ entailed. What we do know for sure, based on the Exodus Study, is that God took out a whole half of the first human. How exactly He did that we do not know, and may never know. We do not know how much flesh was cut open or where God opened or how many places were even opened. What we can be sure of is that the specific gender of that first human is not as clear cut and decisive as we have always thought it, and what God did in the creation of humans was definitely more glorious and mysterious in comparison to the simplistic process we have made of it all this time.

It is also significant to note that in vs. 23 here is where male (îš) is first mentioned, and only after here, in chapter 3, is the term ’ā-dām ever used as a name/a proper noun.

Another question arises if we consider the man’s reply to God in Gen. 3 when he said, “it was the woman whom you gave to be with me…” This statement shows memory of a time when he was without a companion, and also the possibility that the person before the split was the same as the person after. How can the the idea of two sides gotten from the Exodus study be true? Well, it is a possibility that while there were male and female sides in that first human, it was the male side that was in operation. We could also say that because during the split the male side was left to occupy the first body, it makes sense that he would also retain the memory of past events that that first body carried.

At the end of the day it is all at best a mystery that we may never fully unravel. The details revealed in Exodus  about tsela, however, cannot be ignored. I do not presume that I have exhausted all there is to see in this narrative, but, to the best of my knowledge, this is far closer to what was actually recorded of creation that what we have known since times past.

The motive for this study was not just to present every single thing that we have always known as inaccurate. I tried to be as objective as possible. As we can see, either way, the male was formed before the female, because when the flesh was closed up the male-human was ‘made’ first. So, we still have the same end as we have always known it (male was formed first), only that now, there is a huge difference in what we know as how that end was arrived at. This difference has pertinent implications. Knowing how man and woman truly came about answers questions that have plagued us for long about Gender Equality.

 

*Today’s post might come across as a bit complex. I encourage you to read—the scriptures especially—very carefully and patiently*

GOD AND Ê-LĀʻ

EXODUS 25; THE ARK OF COVENANT

The Lord God speaking to Moses…

Vs. 10And they shall make an ark of acacia wood two cubits and a half in length, and a cubit and a half the width, and a cubit and a half the height.

Vs.12 and you shall cast for [the ark of covenant] four rings of gold and put [it] in the four feet; and the two rings [shall be] on one side (al-̒ōw) [of the ark] and the two rings [shall be] on the other side (al-̒ōw) [of the ark].

Vs. 13-14 And you shall make poles (ad-dê) of acacia wood and overlay them with gold; and you shall put the poles into the rings by the sides (al-̒ōt) of the ark to lift the ark with them. The poles (ha-ad-dîm) shall not be removed from the rings of the ark.

EXODUS 26; THE TABERNACLE

Vs. 15 and you shall make boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood…

Vs. 18 and you shall make the boards for the tabernacle; twenty boards to the side (lip̄a) of the south, toward the south…

Vs. 20 And to the side (ū-ləe-laʻ) of the tabernacle, [that is], the second side (lip̄a) to the north, [shall also be] twenty boards.

Vs. 22 For the two rear sides (yar-kəê)  of the tabernacle westward, you shall make six boards.

Vs. 26-27 And you shall make bars of acacia wood; five [bars] for the boards of one side (e-laʻ) of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the other side (e-laʻ) of the tabernacle; and five bars for the boards of the side (e-laʻ) of the tabernacle for the two rear sides (lay-yar-a-a-yim) westward.

Vs. 35 and you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand opposite the table on the side (e-laʻ) of the tabernacle towards the south, and the table you shall put on the side (e-laʻ) of the north.

EXODUS 27; THE ALTAR

Vs.1 And you shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be square [in shape], with the height [being] three cubits.

Vs. 4 And you shall make for the ark a net covering of bronze, and you shall make on the net four bronze rings [to be] in the four corners [of the altar].

Vs. 6 And you shall make poles (ad-dîm) for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze.

Vs. 7 And the poles (bad-dāw) shall be fit into the rings, and the poles shall be on the two sides (al-̒ōt) of the altar to lift it.

EXODUS 30; THE INCENSE ALTAR

Vs. 1 And you shall make an altar for burning incense. You shall make it of acacia wood.

Vs. 2 It shall be a cubit in length, and a cubit in width; it shall be a square. And the height of the horns [of the altar] shall be two cubits.

Vs. 3 And you shall overlay [the altar] with pure gold; the top, the walls around [it], and [also] the horns. You shall make a moulding of gold [all] around [the altar].

Vs. 4 And you shall make two golden rings underneath [it], you shall make the moulding [of the golden rings] by the two corners (al-ʻōt-āw) on the two sides (id-dāw) ; and they [the rings] shall be places for poles(ləad-dîm) which will be used to carry the altar.

OBSERVATIONS

  1. The structures under observation: The Ark of covenant, The two Altars, and The Tabernacle.
  2. There are other Hebrew words in these instances, or in the Hebrew Bible in general, that are used to signify the sides of the objects/structures in question e.g.  lip̄a, yar-ā, id-d.
  3. ê-lāʻ is not used as a word on its own but as an extra description of certain sides of objects or structures. It depicts more significance.
  4. ê-lāʻ is used in reference to only two [things]; two sides, two objects, two sections, two corners; the two sides of the tabernacle, the two sides of the rear (26:26, 27).
  5. The use of e-laʻ for certain chosen sides or sections of a structure or an object connotes the prominence of those specific aspects above others that are apparent.
  • In 26:18, 20, 26, 27; the north and south sides of the tabernacle are referred as the first and second (e-laʻ), one or the other side. There was no reference to a third side. The west side, the rear, was mentioned only as itself, not as a third side.
  • In 25:12; 27:7; 30:4; the ark and the two altars, being square and rectangular in shape respectively, have four sides but e-laʻ is used in all three instances to signify only two sides as though the other sides are non-existent. Please think on that.
  • 30:4 specifically uses tsela to depict ‘two corners’ on the sides, meaning it is not just about the side, but a specific aspect of it.
  1. The two sides take on important, and usually the exact same, tasks.
  • 26:35; the table and the lampstand were each put on one of the two sides of the Tabernacle
  • 25:13; 27:7; 30:4; on the two sides of the Ark of covenant and on the two sides of the two Altars, always rest the two poles (bad) that are used to lift them.
  1. The sides or positions of the structure and objects the word e-laʻ is used for are always opposite to one another, and also facing each other. That is, the two sides of the Altars are opposite and facing each other; the two sides of the Ark; the north and south sides of the Tabernacle. All are opposite and facing each other. Sounds a lot like the word for word translation of ezer kenegedow, right?
  2. The sides referred to with e-laʻ are always of equal dimensions; having the exact same properties. Twenty boards each were to be put on the north and south sides of the Tabernacle; the two opposite sides of the Altars and the Ark that were chosen, whether the length or the breadth, were of the same cubits in dimension.
  3. Poles used to lift the ark and the altar rest on the two sides. The poles must never be removed from the sides.

BACK TO GENESIS 2:21-22

Vs. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the ’ā-dām and he slept. And He took one (’a-a) mial-ʻōt-āw, and closed up the flesh underneath.

Vs. 22 And the Lord God built haê-lāʻ which [He had] taken from (min-) the human into the female species/women (’iš-šāh); and she came towards the human.

The Exodus grants us access to God’s mind about ê-lāʻ, so, with that in mind, we could rewrite the verses above thus,

Vs. 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the human and he slept. And He took out one of his two sides, and closed up the flesh underneath.

Vs. 22 And the Lord God built the [one] side which [He had] taken from the human into the female species/women (’iš-šāh); and she came towards the human (now the male-human).

As we can see, there is no actual anatomical rib in this narrative, and we cannot categorically assert, as we used to, that the first human was essentially a male. God did not take a ‘rib’ from the first human, and He certainly did not make a woman from a man’s rib. There is no missing rib. What God took out was way bigger than a rib.

More accurately, the idea is that in that sixth day of the first week, there was in the garden that God had planted a human with the two essential sides of human nature in him. ‘Sides’ is what al-ʻōt-āw means, not ‘ribs’. And it is not just some random sides, but the major sides of whatever is under observation. Here, the sides of the first human (’ā-dām) are what is in focus.  Also, we know it was only two sides because tsela always depicts just two things. Gen 1:27, and Gen. 5:2 tell us what these two sides of ’ā-dām are; the male and the female.

In the first human resided a male and a female side. Little wonder he could not find a mate among animals. The human mate could not be found outside of him because they were within him.  God did not go back to the mud because he had put the seed for all humans in the first human. Therefore, what God did was put the one to sleep and take out one from the two sides that had been resident in that one body.  The side that was left behind and closed up is what became the male as we know it today. The other one that was taken out of that body is what God built into another body that we know today as the female.

This raises other questions…I think? We will get to them in next post. You can also let me know some of yours in the comments.

Have a great weekend ahead!

 

 

 

 

Hi!!! Thank you for following so far.

So… the key word we will consider today is ezer kenegedow. Yes, I talked about it already in a previous post. But there is more. So much more.

A brief recap.

ʻÊ-zer means ‘help’ and is the same word used to depict the help of God all through the Hebrew Bible. ʻÊ-zer comes to relieve and unburden. An ʻê-zer does not come to be a friend or a companion. Kə-ne-dōw is a prepositional phrase used as a form of adjective to qualify the noun ʻê-zer, one which, this time around occurs only just once in the entire scriptures.  Unlike lə-ad-dōw that occurs numerous times in the Hebrew Bible, kə-ne-dōw is found only once in the entire Bible, here in Genesis 2:18, making its meaning not as easy to decipher, but at the same time revealing (or confirming) that whatever it was that God did was a one-time occurrence that never happened again in human history.

The root word of the phrase is neged, and it means to be in front of, to stand opposite of, face-to-face. Neged always depicts to be opposite and face to face. Keep this in mind, it will come in handy later. Neged is never used to depict one who is in front and backing the other. The frontal position depicted by neged is always a face to face position.

The prefix means ‘as’ or ‘like’, while the suffix ōw, of him. A word-for-word translation of kə-ne-dōw would therefore be, ‘like in front of him’, or ‘as face-to-face of him’, or ‘as opposite of him’.

Why did I come back to this?

Sometimes word-for-word translations suffice, some other times they just totally mislead. That is when the importance of understanding the language comes in. In this case, however, while we may not be Hebrew speaking, and there is still the fact that the phrase kə-ne-dōw is found nowhere else in the Bible, we do have the rest of the context of the passage to show us if what we have come up with so far is true indeed. This would therefore bring us to the next key words which I mentioned in the previous post. These other words are strong anchors to the procedure that was undertaken to produce ʻê-zer kə-ne-dōw. If we can tell what was done in vs. 21 and 22, we would also be able to decode further, or at least confirm what we think we already know of, the meaning of ʻê-zer kə-ne-dōw.

These other words we will consider are ’a-a mial-ʻōt-āw.

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’A-A MIAL-ʻŌT-ĀW

Vs.21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the human and he slept. And He took one (a-a) of his ribs (miṣ-ṣal-̒ō-tāw), and closed up the flesh underneath.

Vs.22 And the Lord God built the rib (tê-lā̒) which [was] taken from the human into women (̉iš-šāh); and [she] came towards the human.

’A-a mial-ʻōt-āw are the two Hebrew terms translated as ‘one of his ribs’ in Gen. 2:21. One is a word, the other a phrase

Let’s unpack them.

’A-a means one. God took one.

Mial-ʻōt-āw is a phrase with multiple words. Mi is a cognate of the Hebrew preposition mim which means ‘from’ (it is rendered as ‘out of’ in some cases).

al-ʻōt-āw is the plural form of the root word ê-lāʻ.

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Ê-LĀʻ

ê-lāʻ  (STRONG’S H6763) is the word translated as ‘rib’ in the English Bible.

We have the traditional reading of verses 21 & 2 as,

“And the Lord God took one from the ribs…and the Lord God built the rib which was taken from the human into ‘is-šāh.” 

That is, to make a mate for the first human, a mirror image of him that would help him, God took out a rib from his body…

Now, the traditional translation of the Hebrew word ê-lāʻ to the English word ‘rib’ should be just fine. Except… we cannot find any other place in the Hebrew Bible where it is translated just as such.

You see, the word ê-lāʻ is a moderately common word in the Hebrew Bible that appear about 40 times. But interestingly, in all of the places that ê-lāʻ (or any of its cognates) occurs in the Bible, none of it is translated as ‘rib’. As a matter of fact, if any one of them were to be translated as ‘rib’, the contexts of the passages would throw it right out, because it would be completely out of place. (You should look them all up on E-sword).

That’s strange, isn’t it?

Well, we do find another place in the Bible where an actual Hebrew word is translated as ‘rib’, in Daniel 7:5, but the word translated is a totally different word, ʻil-ʻîn. Even though some argument could be made that ʻil-ʻîn is of Aramaic origin—a language close to Hebrew—and thus yet another cognate of ê-lāʻ, it would be a loose argument indeed.

Then… there are four other occurrences of the word ‘rib’ in scriptures, found in 2 Sam. 2, 3, 4, & 20 (the story of Joab), and they are all translators’ interpolations. ê-lāʻ does not appear in any of these verses (the story of Joab). Instead the Hebrew word there is ō-meš, and it means ‘belly’. The translators in the bid to make sense of the narrative added the word ‘rib’. It was not present in the original writimgs.

So, what then is the true meaning of ê-lāʻ?

I found 32 verses of the occurrence of this word in the Hebrew Bible, with 41 matches. I observed that all 41 matches can be grouped into four main categories. However, in all four categories, there is a common theme of a building or an edifice of some sort. And this observation reminded me of the second Hebrew word of the only two key words used in the Genesis 2 narrative. Remember yatsar and banah? Well, banah means to build.

I see a pattern; God takes out a ê-lāʻ from the first human to make the female human. ê-lāʻ occurs only in contexts of buildings (banah), and in Gen. 2 we are told that the Lord God built (banah) the female human. I do not see these as coincidence. At all.

The four categories of the scriptural occurrence of ê-lāʻ.

  • The Female-human; Gen. 2:21-22
  • The Tabernacle; Exodus 25, 26, 27, 30, 36, 37, 38.
  • King Solomon’s building projects; 1kings 6 & 7:3
  • Prophet Ezekiel’s vision of a tour of a Temple with God; Ezekiel 41:5-11, 26.

To these four ‘building’ groupings above there are two exceptions found in 2 Sam. 16:13 and Job 18:12. In these two, ê-lāʻ is not used in a context of a structure or building, but a translation of ê-lāʻ to ‘rib’ would still not fit.

Let’s take a look.

2Sa 16:13 And as David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side (ê-lāʻ)

 Job 18:11-12 Terrors shall make him afraid on every side (sabiyb), and shall drive him to his feet. His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side (ê-lā)

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 Why do all these matter?

 God is the one who used this word the most. He is the first Person to use the word ê-lāʻ in the Bible, in the Genesis 2 creation account, and it is the pattern of His usage—building an edifice—that all the other writers followed. The next time after Genesis when He uses the word ê-lāʻ, it is with respect to yet another edifice. This we find in the book of Exodus, when He gives Moses the heavenly pattern to follow to establish the first covenant of God with mankind, i.e. the first ‘church’. In the Exodus narrative, there is a clear and consistent pattern to the usage of ê-lāʻ.  And also, very insightful. So insightful that it totally changed the game of gender equality for me.

What’s more, the Lord God also uses the words badad/le-bad which are equally found in Genesis 2:21. Again, I do not see that as co-incidence at all.

For this cause I would like us to look in the Exodus accounts very closely together to find out more about what God’s usage of ê-lāʻ connotes.  This way we could find out what really happened in Genesis 2:21-22, and maybe also what the phrase ʻê-zer kə-ne-dōw means.  The logic is this; if we can determine how ʻê-zer kə-ne-dōw was made, then we can know what ʻê-zer kə-ne-dōw means, and we can know how God made man and woman.

One thing is sure in all these, the traditional translation of ê-lāʻ to rib in Genesis 2:21-22 is not accurate.

 

Lə-ad-dōw is the word usually translated into English as ‘alone’. It is actually a Hebrew prepositional phrase of the same grammatical structure of the Hebrew phrase in Chapter 1, bə-ṣal-mōw, which is translated as ‘in the images of Him’. Lə-ad-dōw is a very common expression in the Hebrew scriptures, with over 200 usages. Thus, we could say that its meaning would be quite easy to derive, even though, on the other hand, that would also mean many different usages to decide from as to which God meant exactly here.

The main word in lə-ad-dōw is ‘bad’, a word which literally means a pole or bar that is used to lift something.  Figuratively, and by implication, it could connote a variety of related words such as strength, only, self, separate (as in making a distinction among things or people).

Badad is the verb form of bad, and it could mean to be by oneself, i.e. alone as in solitary, to be separated or divided from another; and as well it could mean to do by oneself without any participation or involvement of another. This way it further connotes self-strength that makes one self-reliant, self-sufficient, and in some cases, self-absorbed or self-centred.

The root phrase lə-ḇad has three senses; only, self or in addition to/ separate from, with the most common one scriptural usage probably being ‘self’ and connoting self-strength. When suffixes are added to it the meaning changes.

Examples;

  • If the suffix î is added then it becomes lə-ad-dî meaning ‘by my strength, by myself or I only’.
  • With addition of the neuter suffix, āh, we have lə-ḇad-dāh meaning ‘it only or itself’.
  • If ōw (him) is added, then it will become lə-ḇad-dōw meaning ‘himself’/itself OR he only/it only.
  • If the suffix, ḵā (you), is added to lə-ḇad-dōw, it becomes lə-ad-də-ḵā which would then mean ‘you yourself’ i.e. all by yourself or by your own strength.

A few examples of Biblical usage;

Gen. 26:1 And there was a famine in the land, separate from (lə-ḇad) the first famine that was in the days of Abraham.

Gen.43:32 And they set on for him by himself (lə-ḇad-dōw), and for them by themselves (lə-ḇad-dām), and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves (lə-ḇad-dām): because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians. 

Exo. 18:14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone (lə-ad-də-ḵā); and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?

Judges 6:37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only (lə-ḇad-dāh) and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. 

Neh.9:6 You Lord alone (lə-ad-də-ḵā) have made heaven; the heaven of heavens and with all their hosts…

Isa.37:16, 20…You are the God alone (lə-ad-də-ḵā) of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made the heavens and the earth…that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you [are] the Lord only (lə-ad-də-ḵā).

Job 31:17 nor have I eaten my morsel myself alone (lə-ad-dî) and the fatherless did not eat of it.

1Ki 18:6  So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself (lə-ḇad-dōw), and Obadiah went another way by himself (lə-ḇad-dōw).

What one would readily notice in all these uses of the phrase lebad (cognate forms), is that even though it is most frequently translated as ‘alone’, the contexts of the passages of usage reveal that there was nothing ‘solitary’ about the persons in question. By this observation one would begin to see the insufficiency of the word ‘alone’ in some of the readings.

For example, Moses counselling the people [by] himself did not at all mean that he was solitary or lonely. In fact, Moses was overwhelmed with too many people all around him. Also, Ahab and Obadiah when they split up to look for the lost horses and mules ‘themselves’—each alone on his path—did not mean that they would have been solitary on the different paths they chose. There must have been other passers-by on the same road that they were walking. Instead, Ahab and Obadiah separated (or parted ways) so that each could independently, without the participation or help of the other, search for what they were both looking for.

Also, Job did not mean to say that he had eaten his morsel in the ‘presence’ of the fatherless. He meant that he had not been selfish or self-centred with his resources. What King Hezekiah meant to communicate was not that God is the only God in existence—even though He truly is— but that by Himself, that is, by His own strength and power, and without the help of anyone, God had created all the kingdoms of the earth including Assyria, and thus it was a little thing for Him to defeat the Assyrian might. In other words, Hezekiah said, “God, you, all by yourself, are the God of all the kingdoms of the earth.

Nehemiah 9:6 could also read, “You Lord, [all by] yourself , without the help of any other, have made the heaven and earth”.

SOLITUDE OR SUFFICIENCY?

As we have seen above, while lə-ḇad-dōw does give the sense of being alone, its connotation is not limited to solitude. It also implies selfsufficiency, independence, segregation and self-reliance. That is, the state of doing something on one’s own without any external participation of another.

Based on the context of 2:18-21 we see that the human was indeed solitary to begin with. What is interesting, however, is that even after he was not anymore in solitude—animals were around—he was still alone. His aloneness, therefore, was deeper than solitude. It was not just the need for company, but the need for a mate. All the animals were in twos. Humanity as well was supposed to be in twos. And what would characterise a mate for the human? The same thing that characterised a mate for the animals; one of his own kind, a mirror image of him, one that would be fit to stand with him on the same level of nature. The aloneness of the first human therefore was not just a need for company but the need for another of its kind.

The solution God puts forward for this identified aloneness also proves that the aloneness was not a need for company or companionship. Had that been the case, God would have said He would make him a companion or friend (rê-ʻêh). A solution of ezer, that is, help, suggests a problem of insufficiency of strength.

This takes us back to the literal meaning of bad. It is a pole used in carrying or lifting something. By so doing, in Hebrew, a pole (bad) connotes strength. This kind of understanding of bad is proven in the scriptural usages quoted above.

If we therefore look at the phrase lə-ḇad-dōw in word-for-word, we will have; into (lə) one pole (ḇad) of him (ōw); into one pole of him.

Figuratively, it would mean; [to be] in part strength of him OR [to be] in his part strength. Basically, to not be operating in full strength/capacity/potential.

God is always self-sufficient and self-reliant, but we cannot say the same thing for humanity. In Genesis 2:18, God Himself tells us as much that He did not deem it good that mankind be individualistic in his existence. Jethro, when talking to Moses, meant, “Why are you doing this all by yourself without any help…this thing that you do is not good?” (vs. 14, 17). There were people all around Moses, but he did the counselling work independently with no external assistance. The problem therefore was not solitude or the need for companionship, it was a need for a burden being carried by one to be shared between two (or more people); it was a need for help.

Also, in the light of the exegesis above, it is clear to see that the problem identified in Genesis 2:18 was not a marriage issue. Suddenly, the narrative ceases to have the appearance of a lonely male-human that God went on to form a female companion for. It seems more like a general problem that pertained to all humanity that God identified. In other words, God does not like lone work; He likes to see partnership and community among living beings; among humans and among animals. The world as we know it, and evidently as God created it to be, runs on social interactions.

Jesus sent out His disciples to do ministry in groups. The Apostles in the early church era followed the same pattern. Jesus talked about two agreeing in prayer. This is not to say that God hates one, or that He approves the efforts of individuals any less. I would rather just say that this is because God is love and He has a special liking for relationship and loving togetherness. He Himself is Deity, and He works in partnership with Himself, “And the Gods said, let us make…”

Therefore, we could rephrase the English rendering of Genesis 2:18 with a better understanding of lə-ḇad-dōw, and quote it as follows;

“It is not good for the human to labour [in the earth] all by himself; that is, only by the strength and ability of one; I will make to (or for) him help (ʻê-zer kə-neḡ-dōw)…”

 

 

*quoted scriptures are my translations, except where stated otherwise*

GENESIS CHAPTER TWO

GOD IDENTIFIES A PROBLEM

Vs.4 These [are the] generations the heavens and the earth in [the day] they were created, in the day the LORD Gods made earth and heavens.

Vs. 5 And all grass/bush of the field before they were in the earth and all [green] herbs of the field before they grew: for The Lord, The Gods had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a human (’ā-dām) to till the ground.

On a certain day in the first week of earth’s existence God identifies a problem. The vegetation He called forth on the third day, though having already begun, is not flourishing as it should. There were tiny grasses but there were no trees and tall plants. Two things lacking were the cause of this barrenness; a human and water. Notice that what is said to be lacking is a human (adam). Not a man, as in a male human(zā-kār).

Principle; the establishment of God’s will on earth requires divine input and human input. That is, the partnership of God and man.

GOD MAKES THE FIRST HUMAN

Vs. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground

Vs. 7 And the Lord Gods, formed a human (hā-̉ ā-dām) of the dust of the ground and He breathed in [his] nostrils breath of life and the human (hā-̉ ā-dām) became a soul living.

God does His part of supplying water. Then He forms (yatsar) a human. We are not told the gender of this human.

GOD GIVES THE HUMAN WORK

Vs. 8 And the Lord Gods planted a garden in Eden towards the east and He put there the human (hā-̉ ā-dām) whom [was] formed.

Vs. 15 And the Lord Gods took the human and bestowed [him] in [the] garden of Eden into [the] service [of it] and to guard it.

GOD GIVES THE HUMAN FOOD AND HIS DIET GUIDELINES

Vs. 16 And the Lord, the Godhead commanded over/upon the human, saying, ‘from all wood of the garden freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge [of] good and evil, not eat of, because in the day that you eat of [it] death you will surely die.

Principle; work before food. The food was already available, but mankind had to work first before earning the right to eat. Mankind was not made to work for livelihood. We were made to work as an expression of responsibility. That is the Blessing. And that is the Kingdom of God. Matt. 6:33

GOD MAKES ANIMALS

 Vs. 18 And He said, the Lord Gods, not good that should be a human alone (lə-b̠ad-dōw), I will make to him help that is like face to face of him (̒ê-zer kə-neg-d-ōw).

Vs. 19 And the Lord Gods formed out of the ground every beast of the field and every bird of the air and they [the beasts] came towards the human to see what he[the human would] call out to them, and anything which the human called out to every living soul, that [was] his name.

Vs. 20 And the human called out names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the air and to every beast of the field, but to the human was not found ̒ê-zer kə-neg-d-ōw.

While Gen. 1: 24 just states that God made animals, 2:18 here tells us what facilitated the making of the animals. The first human was alone. So, God forms animals. Gen. 1 tells us the animals were made in twos of each kind. This means God brings all animals to the first human in twos, each one having a mate; each with another one that looks just like it; a mirror image.

Now, we understand why the human did not find, and could not have found, a companion in any animal. The human names all of them in their sets, but when he gets to the end of the roll call, he realises that the last is also a set of two and there is not one left for him to call his own mate. What’s more, none of the creatures brought to him look just like him and mirror him in the way the animals in each group that he has named mirror each other.

GOD MAKES MALE AND FEMALE HUMANS

 Vs.21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the human and he slept. And He took one of his ribs (a-ḥaṯ miṣ-ṣal-̒ō-tāw), and closed up the flesh underneath.

Vs.22 And the Lord God built the tṣê-lā̒ (rib)which [was] taken from the human into women (̉iš-šāh); and [she] came towards the human.

Vs. 23 And the human said, “This now [is] bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; they shall be called women (̉iš-šāh), because from man (îš) this was taken.

These above are the three pivotal verses in this narrative. They are the nuts to crack to make sense of ALL the dots put forward by chapter two of the human-creation account.

For this endeavour, I have isolated some key words in these three verses which in coming posts we will take time to examine in detail. These words (and phrases) are;

  • ā-dām,
  • lə-b̠ad-dōw,
  • ̒ê-zer kə-neg-d-ōw,
  • tṣê-lā̒,
  • ’îš,
  • ’iš,
  • ’iš-šāh,
  • ’î-šāh,
  • a-ḥaṯ miṣ-ṣal-̒ō-tāw.

’Ā-DĀM

Adam is not primarily a name but the name of a species of creatures. It is the Hebrew word translated human, human being or human species. When it is preceded by the Hebrew article ha, it will read ‘a human’ or ‘the human’. This we have seen in quoted scriptures in the previous chapter. I also explained in a previous post the divine usage of the term ’ā-dām.

 ’Ί /’ Î-ŠĀH; ’ î-šāh is the plural of ’îš. Κ is translated as male or man.

 ’IŠ, /’IŠ-ŠĀH; ’iš-šāh is the plural of ’iš. ’Iš is translated as female or woman.

LƏ-AD-DŌW ; the phrase usually translated into English as ‘alone’.

TṢÊ-LĀ̒ ; the word translated to English as ‘rib’.

‘Ê-ZER KƏ-NEG-D-ŌW ; the phrase translated to ‘help meet’.

Next we will look at lə-ad-dōw.

 

*Today we begin a series on in-depth study of Genesis 1 vs. 26-28, and Genesis 2*

THE EXEGESIS OF GENESIS 1; SEARCHING OUT ETERNAL PRINCIPLES

Vs. 26; And [the] Gods said, We accomplish humans in images of Us, for comparability of Us; and they reign over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle and in all the earth, and in all the creeping things that creep on the earth.

 Vs. 27 And created the Gods the humans in images of Him; in images of the Gods created him; male and female created them.

Vs. 28 And blessed them the Godhead, and He said to them the Godhead, “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue and dominate the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and every living thing that crawls on the earth.”

Principle: God is a Deity; In verses 1-3 God introduces Himself to us as a Deity; a Godhead. Nothing is said about the names of the persons of the deity or how many persons that there are in it.

In verse 26, we see a prepositional phrase, bə-ѕal-mê-nū;

  • In ()
  • images (tselem) (Strong’s H6754)
  • of us ();

The Godhead operates as multiple persons in consensus when humans were to be created, saying, “We [shall] make humans in images of Us”, but in verse 27 we see humans made in the images of one Person—Him.

What could be the implication of that?

Principle: The Gods [or Godhead], though consisting more than one person, is one God; Christians do not have or serve multiple Gods; He is one God.

Principle: The human species was made to be just like the Godhead, to be one and also split in multiple persons; God made humans like Himself; to be one while still existing in diverse individual forms. The Godhead is ‘Us’ as much as the Godhead is ‘Him’, The reading, “In His images the Godhead created him; male and female He created them lets us know clearly that God created the human race as one single entity (him), and equally as two multiple forms (them); male and female.

Genesis 5:1-2 also confirms this;

This the book of the generations of ’ā-dām [humans]; in the day that Ĕlōhîm created ’ā-dām [humans] in the likeness of Ĕlōhîm; [He]made him male and female. He created them and blessed them and called out their name ’ā-dām! [humans!], in that day that they were created.

The human species is essentially one; Humanity may be split in varieties but he is one. Thus, the individual forms are first human before they are the forms. That is to say, a male is first human before he is male. It is the same way that a lioness is ontologically a lion, before she is a female lion. The oneness of human nature comes first.

Principle: God is not any gender; This oneness of human nature also explains the reason for the frequent use of the masculine pronoun ‘him’ (ōw) in the scriptural writings. Ōw is often used, not to depict gender, but mainly as a generic pronoun to depict a creature that is not soul-less or inanimate. It is even used with respect to animals. From Gen.5 above, we see that ‘he’ refers to male as well ‘he’ refers to a female. It is in the same way that the Godhead, in reference to themselves as one Person, used the pronoun ‘Him’, in verse 27(and in the rest of scriptures), as against using the pronoun ‘it’. The use of the masculine pronoun this way does not mean that God is male (Or female) any more than it means that the entire human race is made up of only males. God is not a male or a female. It is the same way He is not Jewish, African, Chinese or American. Yet, all these sides of human expression came out of Him, and are equally connected to Him in nature. Males are not more like God than the females. God has both male and female traits, because the two genders indeed came out of Him.

Principle: The ‘male’ and ‘female’ sexual forms of humanity represent a first example of the infinite expressions of one God; The ʻzā-kārʼ (male) and ʻnə-qê-bāhʼ  (female) expressions of God were the first revealed to us in scripture.  This was the gender expression, and to this category God gave a finite number. Every living soul was made in twos; animals and humans alike.

Genesis 1:28 And blessed them God, and said to them, “be fruitful and multiply…;God made ‘him’ into ‘them’ and blessed them to be fruitful. By this divine injunction, it is safe to surmise that the foremost reason God made all living souls into two genders, i.e. the male-female sexual forms, was for the basic reason of specie propagation. That is, male and female sexual forms exist so that all living creatures would be able to continue their species and not die out. While sex (compatibility) is a pleasure to be enjoyed exclusive of the goal of procreation, it appears that the idea of sex did not originate just for its own sake. The Beginning account shows that the context within which the idea of sex was created was the existence of two opposite sexes.

THE BLESSING

Verses 28; And the Godhead blessed them (ō-tām), and the Godhead said to them (lā-hem), “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue and dominate the fish of the sea and the birds of the air…”

Principle; the male and the female were blessed with the same blessing.

Principle: The blessing commanded on humanity was primarily a call to responsibility; The blessing was not a call to recieve things, but to be and do things. It was a call to stewardship and a responsibility to serve; to serve God by taking care of His creations, and to be in the service of the earth by taking care of everything in it. Regency was the responsibility that humanity was called to in the Beginning. The male and the female were made to be co-regents of God; co-heirs to the kingdom of the earth. There was no sharing of the components of the blessing between the male and female humans; each person was expected to fulfil the same requirements.

Also, we find no distinction amongst the two genders on the jurisdiction of responsibility given to them by the Creator. Neither one of them was given a jurisdiction of the field, and another the seas or elsewhere. The options were thrown wide open to all.  The difference of the genders notwithstanding, there appeared to be full capacity in each one to fulfil the divine mandate in whatsoever terrain.

Principle: The human race was blessed as a group; God did not bless him and then blessed her too; God blessed them. God blessed humanity as collective group; every race that would ever be, every tribe, every nation, and the two genders received the blessing. God blessed them and told them to be fruitful.

This also implies that God did not create humans to exist and/or function in isolation, but as teams, groups, and communities. No individual person, or an individual race or nation and tribe has it all and can do it all. We all need each other, because we all are one entity; one body with many parts.

Principle: Humanity’s jurisdiction of regency was outside of himself; The jurisdiction of humanity’s dominion was clearly stated, and there was no mention of his reign in humanity. Ā-dam’s reign was in the sea, over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the animals of the earth. God gave humanity authority that was directed towards entities outside of him. God never gave humans authority amongst themselves over themselves.

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Gen. 1:29-30  And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat; and to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 

Finally, God speaks directly to the man and woman, but not to the animals. He speaks to the humans about all the animals and what they were supposed to eat. This suggests that the animals were being put in the care of the humans, which is same as the divine intention stated in vs. 26.

Conclusion; No imbalance or inequality between male and female is written or implied. There seemed to have been perfect sameness in the status and roles of the two sexes in the Beginning.

Image by Ascending Storm

 

Two days ago I ran into a post someone (I respect) wrote about Eve. This is a review of it.

When I saw the post I was grieved. It reminded of the things about church that nowadays grieve my soul and make it so hard to listen to many pastors preach. So many, many things being preached—albeit with the right intentions—are totally off what the Bible actually says.

It reminded me of why I do what I do now; why I started writing on social media. It reminded of why I say that anointing alone is not enough for Bible study. It can never be enough. Intellectualism is part of it. Hermeneutics is part of it. I don’t know if the pastor who wrote this has had any formal, or informal, theological training, but I know she got many, many things wrong in her exegesis.

Yes, she means well and I respect her for that.  But sincerity cannot make up for required knowledge.

I cannot put up the entire post, so I just linked it up here. I know she may be the sweetheart of some of you, but it is what it is and we have to have these honest conversations about what we preach and teach. It is the only way we can grow. It is the only way we will be perfected as the Church of Jesus Christ. This is not to say, however, that everything she teaches is to be frowned at.

Besides, all of us preachers and teachers are imperfect.

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The crux of the entire post is that she claims, according to the Bible, Eve’s deception was a dilemma of ‘reported speech’. Now, though she meant to pass a strong message across, all the premises presented to support her claim cannot be proven with the Bible. As against presenting actual scriptural arguments, we have many assumptions.

Secondly, with the wrong premises a negative narrative about women and about the Bible is reinforced. It is a total misrepresentation of the scriptures and what the Bible actually says about women.

Premise 1;

The instructions God gave Adam was very straight forward. You shall NOT EAT it! Period..

This, of course, relies on the assumptions about what happened in the Beginning with respect to the command. God talked about it once, and God could not have added to the initial instruction. Both assumptions I debunked in the Eve series, here and here.

Premise 2;

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, NOR SHALL YOU.TOUCH IT, lest you die.’ ”
Genesis 3:3

Wow! Eve has added something God did not say. She said – you shall NOT TOUCH it. Did God say so?

It amazes me how christians, Pentecostals in particular, fling this so-called revelation of Eve adding to God’s word as if it is a trivial thing. Apart from the fact that coming to such a conclusion is only as a result of a simplistic approach to the study of the scriptural text, it is a big deal to add to God’s word (Deut.4:2).

EVE DID NOT ADD TO GOD’S WORD. Nowhere does the Bible does categorically say or imply anything remotely like that. She was deceived is what the Bible says. To be deceived is not the same as being a liar. Only the devil falsified God’s word in the Beginning (John 8:44). Only the devil!

Premise 3;

If only Eve and Adam knew that the devil has NOTHING new or original to offer.

Adam? The man was not deceived. He was not even a part of the conversation. He was there, yeah, but the dialogue was not with him.

Premise 4;

Another error was that she categorized both trees. 👇

And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The TREE OF LIFE was also IN THE MIDST of the garden, AND the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:9

There were 2 trees in the MIDST of the garden. One was NOT okay for eating, the other, no instruction was given so it’s safe to conclude that it was good for eating.

This is the dilemma of reported speech. Eve in the bid to be safe got it ALL wrong. She avoided both trees and lumped them both together and she also added to the instruction. The result: she became a prey for the devil!

Eve did not lump anything. It was the serpent that lumped all the trees with his cunning question. He asked, “Did God say you should not eat of EVERY tree?”

She replied, “we may eat of the fruit of the TREES of the garden, but of the fruit of the TREE which is in the middle of the garden…” She meant ONLY ONE TREE of the two trees in the midst of the garden. She did NOT lump anything up!

Premise 5;

When we crave for something new or more in an unhealthy manner, we become prey.
God already made EVERY TREE grow that is 1. pleasant to the sight and 2.good for food.

But Eve thought there was more and she fell prey.

So when the woman saw that the tree was 1.good for food, that it was 2.pleasant to the eyes, and a tree 3.DESIRABLE TO.MAKE ONE WISE, she took of its fruit and ate.
Genesis 3:6

She added point 3 as told her by the devil. So many things we have added to What God already said and it’s nothing but the flesh and of the devil.

Eve was looking for something new is why she was deceived. Really? Eve already had an inclination before the serpent came?

That is not true!

Nothing in the rest of the Bible, whether in this narrative or elsewhere, corroborates that. The idea that the tree would make her wise, that she would know more, came to her mind because she had a conversation with the serpent. Knowing more was the lie the devil told her. That was the guile that beguiled her. That was the DECEPTION. If anything, we should hinge her fault on having had a conversation with the wrong creature, a cunning serpent. But that she was already tilted to deviate even before the serpent showed up? That is too much of a stretch. Too much.

Premise 6;

We can’t help God.. clarity of instruction is very key in avoiding the tactics of the devil

What does this mean? Where does ‘trying to helping God’ come in in this entire narrative? Clarity of instruction? Where does that come in? If clarity of instruction is the issue here, then why make it about Eve? I thought the assumption was that Adam was the one who told her about the command? Should he not be the one being blamed?

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The arguments are heavily disjointed and distorted.

First the problem is reported speech, then it is trying to ‘help God’. If it was reported speech, then the fault of Eve’s error should be on who passed the message across to her, yeah? It is a dilemma of reported speech, yet she was the one who added to God’s word. Why is it not the person who gave her the info that added to it? It is not her fault she got reported speech. Was that not God’s doing?

Lumping the two trees together is said to be a dilemma of reported speech, yet it is Eve ‘playing safe’, not the person who reported the command to her. And from all these we somehow find ourselves at the conclusion of ‘clarity of instruction’ (Premise 6­).

The whole idea of reported speech is presented with the backdrop of this being some human error, Eve’s error. Yet…  a reported speech having happened is based on the assumption that it was God’s system that she be told the command by someone else; that something be REPORTED to her. So why is reported speech a dilemma if it was God’s plan?

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This is just one instance. But it is what we do in Pentecostal settings ever so often. We just share revelations, not really thinking about the cohesiveness of our points.

That it is ‘revelation’ does not mean it should not be intelligent.

Because it is revelation does not mean that it should not be organized and coherent.

This is why unbelievers think christians to be simpletons. This why though we preach from today till tomorrow, some people WILL NOT hear us. If we cannot seem to get some things so basic…

It is why attending church has become increasingly frustrating for me, but I keep going because I am hopeful for a change.

A little intellectual engagement and anyone can see that all the arguments presented here hold no water. A basic knowledge of the Biblical languages and scriptural hermeneutics, some intellectual engagement in the formulation of doctrine and sermons and we would not be having this conversation.