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Theology

I grew up in a protestant church. Then in my teens, I moved to a charismatic-pentecostal church. In my twenties, I moved again to a neo-charismatic church.

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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

 

It is written that Genesis chapter 1 is seven days. Six days of which God finished all his work and on the seventh day He rested. If God indeed finished all (kole) He began in chapter 1, the creation of humans and animals inclusive, why then do we see some of the supposedly already finished works unfinished in chapter 2? Plants, animals, human beings?

Why is chapter 2 seen as yet another day of work, like another week? Did God not finish indeed? If chapter 2 is another week—the one in which God created man and woman—who then were the male and female that God blessed in Gen. 1:29?

How about the animals God made, saw and blessed in chapter 1? Their creation precedes that of man and woman in chapter 1, but ‘male’ creation precedes animals in chapter 2 and the female is made after animals. How is all this possible?

Why do Genesis 1 and Genesis 5:1-2—and even Matt. 19:4—state that the creation of man and woman was finished on the same day [the sixth day] of the first week, yet we largely work with the understanding that chapter 2 is another time different from chapter 1, and that even within that time frame there are different days in which the man and the woman were created?

Could it be that Gen. 1:25-28; Gen. 2 & Gen.5 all speak of one and the same day in the same first week, each account emphasizing different details of a singular event (like how the gospels written by different authors show different perspectives of the earthly life of Jesus)? Could it be that we are supposed to see all details in both chapters as dots to be connected—by the help of the Holy Spirit—so as to form one big picture?

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Five Hebrew words stand out in the creation accounts of the two chapters;

Bara, Amar, Asah, Yatsar, and Banah.

  1. Bara means to choose, to decide, to plan, or to organise. It is the word that is translated as ‘create’ in the English Bible. In the creation account it is usually written in the Hebrew as way-yi-rā, meaning ‘and He created’.
  2. Amar means to say, to declare, to command. It is usually written as way-yō-mer, that is, way yi amar. Translation; ‘and He said’.
  3. Asah means to accomplish, to make happen, or to make something to be(come) physically real. It is translated in English Bibles as ‘to make’. It is usually written as na-̒ ă-śeh (we make), or way-ya-̒ ăś (and He made).
  4. Yatsar means to mould into form. It is written as way-yî-er meaning, ‘and He formed
  5. Banah means to build like an edifice. It is written in the account as way-yi-en; translated as ‘and He built’.

A major observation; Bara, amar, asah occur only in Chapter 1, while yatsar and banah occur only in Chapter 2.

In Chapter 1 God created/planned (bara) everything. And He created by speaking (amar). Everything God said was accomplished (asah). They were made. That is, all of it happened. It is because they happened indeed that God saw them and rated them satisfactory. And it is also because they all happened that when it was said that God finished, He finished indeed.

What we see in chapter 2 are things formed (yatsar) and built (banah). There is no creating by speaking (bara and amar). That is, chapter 2 is not another Beginning of creation. Also, there is no accomplishing (asah) of anything in chapter 2, because everything is already accomplished as stated in chapter 1.

What does this mean?

Chapter 2 tells more about a concluded occurrence. Genesis 2 is not a continuation of the Beginning, but in fact an elaboration of it. Genesis chapter 2 gives more details on how the things created on the sixth day were executed.

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GENESIS CHAPTER ONE

In the beginning there is water everywhere.

DAY ONE; Light

Vs. 3 God creates light by commanding (amar) it to be, and it is accomplished.

Vs. 4-5 Then He separates the light from the darkness to establish the first full day.

DAY TWO; The Skies

Vs. 6 God speaks out His intention/choice (bara) creating something that would be a demarcation between the waters.

Vs. 7-8 He accomplishes what He says; He makes (asah) the demarcation in between the waters. Some fall above and the others below. He names the demarcation, ‘skies’.

DAY THREE; Land, Seas and Vegetation

Vs. 9 He turns to the waters under the skies, and speaks to divide waters from dry surface. It is accomplished.

Vs. 10 He names the dry surface, ‘Earth’ and the waters he named, ‘Seas.

Vs.11He speaks to the dry surface/land and commands it to bring forth vegetation, and everything is accomplished.

Vs. 12 The vegetation; grasses (deshe), herbs (eseb), and trees (ets) come out of the dry ground. All in different species and He also put the seed of each in itself so that it can reproduce itself.

DAY FOUR; The Sky Lights

Vs. 14-15 God spoke (amar) His intention of sky lights and their purposes, and commanded them to be.

Vs. 16-18 He goes ahead to make (asah) these lights He had spoken forth and puts them where He said they would be, to fulfil the function He intended them to.

DAY FIVE: Sea Animals and Birds

Vs. 20 God turns to the gathered waters, and commands them to bring forth living souls.

Vs. 21-22 God goes ahead to create (bara) all the sea animals, each according to its own kind. There is no mention of the seed of each in itself, because unlike for plants where the seed is in each to reproduce itself, for living souls, the ‘kinds’ (min) are the ones that reproduce the species. That is, two different kinds of each type of animal exist so that they can increase. See Genesis 6:20.

Vs. 23 God blesses the sea animals and birds, commanding them to be fruitful.

DAY SIX

Land Animals

Vs. 24 God turns to the dry ground and commands it to bring forth living souls.

Vs. 25 God accomplishes it (asah), what He says (amar). Like the sea animals, all land animals are created each after its own kind (min). Each animal was made in twos.

Humans

Vs. 26 God turns to Himself and speaks (amar) to Himself His intention to make (asah) the human species. This way, humans are the only living souls made in the image of God.

Which explains the purpose of the human creation; to reign over all things previously made; the earth, the animals, all of it.

Vs. 27 God creates (bara) the humans in His image, and He also creates them in two kinds, just like all other living souls He had been making. For the first time in the narrative we hear the name of the two sorts; male (zā-kār) and female (nequebah).

Please note that the Hebrew words used here are not îš and iš-šāh(which mean ‘man’ and ‘woman’ respectively). Zā-kār and Nequebah are generic terms for the male and female forms of any kind of animate creature. This gives the idea that this account means to show the common grounds amongst all the living souls that God made. They are all in twos.

Vs. 28 God blesses the human species, giving them work and responsibility.

Vs. 29 Next, He gives them food; herbs (eseb) and fruits.

Vs. 30 Then, as though they were standing by, God speaks to the animals as well as regards what they were to eat.

The work is finished.

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GENESIS CHAPTER TWO; A wider view of the sixth day

God made humans and animals on the sixth day.

On day three, God had made grasses (eseb), herbs (dese) and trees (ets). But on day six there is no plant (siah) in the earth. The grasses (eseb), though already in the earth, are not growing like they should. The reasons for this barrenness are twofold; lack of water and a human. No human being is in existence yet.

So, God forms (yatsar) a human (’ā-dām) from mud made out of soil (adamah) and put him in a garden that He plants.

What we see God form first in chapter 2 vs. 8 is not specified to be either a zā-kār or a nequebah. It is just ’ā-dām . It is just a human with no specific gender mentioned.

Let’s look again at Gen. 1:27

So God created man (’ā-dām) in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male (zā-kār) and female (nequebah) created He them. 

P.S. the pronoun ‘him’ in the phrase ‘created He him’ indicates an animate creature. It has nothing to do with gender.

God instructs this human on what to eat or not eat. Afterwards, He sees it unfit that the human should be working by himself, and proposes to make an ezer kenegedow.

God first forms (yatsar) animals out of the soil (adamah), but the human sees all of them in twos, each of their own kind. He does not see any of his own kind. After this, God makes humans into two, just like all other animate creatures are in twos.  He builds (banah) another human from the living one.

After this making of two out of one is when we first hear of is and isah, that is zakar and nequebah. this is when a narrative in Gen. 2 replicates Gen. 1:27.

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

Thus, the male and the female human emerge on the same day.

This was a brief sketch. Next the details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did the animals know? The serpent said, “Did God really say that you should not eat…”

He knew about the command. But no animal was around when God spoke to the first human in Gen.2:17. Animals arrived much later in Gen.2:19. So, how did the snake know about any command given to human beings?

Did the man tell him? Or was it because all the animals had heard God speaking to the man and the woman about the tree at some point.

Gen. 1:25-30 makes the latter argument more plausible.

Gen 1:25  And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind…

Gen 1:27-29  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply…And God said {to them}, 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

Gen 1:30 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. 

This is the sixth day when animals and humans were made. God calls a meeting where He speaks to all animate beings. He talks about what each group is allowed to eat. humans know what animals should eat, animals know what humans should eat…and not eat.

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Another possibility I explore is whether what the woman said was just her personal interpretation of the command. It is not out of place to sometimes impose on ourselves personal ‘laws’ as measures to ensure our adherence to the actual instructions of God.  However, it is never okay to refer to these personal interpolations as the very word of God. That is where it would all go wrong, because that would tantamount to adding to God’s word, and that would be sin

Quite noticeably, the speech of the woman includes a direct quote of Ĕlōhîm’s actual words.

This is what I mean. Notice, that the woman did not say, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, we shall not eat from it, neither shall we touch it, lest we will die.

Instead she said, [first her own words] We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: [now a direct quote of God’s word] But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, Ĕlōhîm has said, “Ye shall not eat from it, neither shall you touch it, or you will die.”

She quoted God directly. She said, Elohim said. And ‘You’ was in plural (ye). She quoted an instance where God speak to more than one person. Gen. 1:25-30 comes to mind.

As we already discussed in yesterday’s post, according to the Lord Jesus’ testimony, the only one who told a falsehood in the beginning was the devil, not the woman (or the man). This quote cannot be interpolation, then. The woman must have in fact been speaking truth and God must have indeed said what she quoted Him to have said.

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Lastly, I consider the orderly and organised nature of God. I think that a good number of our common assumptions about what might have transpired between God, the first woman and man is as a result of not being fully conscious of how deliberate and orderly God is. That, to me, might be where the trouble lies.

This is my line of thought. No employer brings in a rookie and leaves it to chance that such a person would be well furnished with the rules of the company. There is always some system consciously put in place to ensure that new intakes are well orientated on all that they needed to know about the company. If humans, being sinful and imperfect, take time with such organisation, then I doubt very much that God, the Creator of humans himself, and on such a matter as important as death, would have done any less with the first woman and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I doubt the possibility that God would have just assumed that the man would definitely tell her when He had not specifically told him to instruct her. What if the man had even assumed that the command was only meant for him? What if it did not just occur to him to tell her about it? Who knows, the command might have been just for one person and the man would have been being presumptuous to go ahead and impose same on another person.

I think that concerning the commandment, God would have done more deliberately than we like to imagine. I think that God would have made sure that the woman got to know on the very day she ‘arrived’, before she went into the garden to take her first meal, so that she would eat from the right tree. That, to me, rules out any possibility that the instruction got to the woman by hearsay, independent of a deliberate move on God’s part, which would have been to either tell her Himself or specifically tell someone to tell her.

Now, for the possibility that the man was told by God to inform his wife of anything there exists absolutely no scriptural evidence. Just silence. Not one verse. Nothing in Genesis or in any other portions of scripture in the remotest way corroborates the possibility of such a happenstance. Jesus never alluded to any such occurrence. Paul never did. Not Peter or James. Or John. No one mentioned the first man having taught his wife anything or been saddled with the responsibility of teaching her anything. Not even in Chapter 3 when God was assigning judgments did He blame anyone of the two for the deeds of the other. At no point was the man blamed for not taking responsibility for his wife. The only thing God blamed the man for was for listening to his wife over Him, (not for listening to her at all). God never said the man was being punished for not teaching her the command properly or not ensuring that she adhered to it.

But…for the possibility that God Himself might have at another unrecorded instance spoken to the woman and the man about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, there exists two scriptural references. Gen. 1:25-30 and Gen. 3:3.

The woman’s testimony is more believable than it is doubtful. 

Women are not spiritually or intellectually less competent than men. Women are not easily deceived or confused.

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The worlds were framed by the word of God. It is what God said that is law. God did not at any time, in The Beginning, single out males to lead. God at no time, by His word, put females in the care of males. God never told females to follow males, nor did he tell males to lead females, within or without the context of marriage.

In the Beginning, God said men and women will rule the the earth and all animals. By His word, He put all things in the care of humans. If God wanted to put females in the care of males, He had opportunity to say so. But He did not say so and no other scriptures tell us that He did. Gen. 1  tells that God said the two should rule together. Gen. 2 tells us that God said the two shall be one. Gen. 5:2 says God called male and female, adam (humans).

CONCLUSION; As we can already see, even with the old narrative, one could still prove equality between man and woman from The Beginning. But, I find gaping holes of inconsistencies in the old narrative. I feel the story we work with now is incomplete. I feel that there is more to see and that there is yet another story told in Genesis.

Why do chapters one and two of the Book of Genesis seem contradictory of one another? Is one a continuation of the other?

Was the first human, the ’ā-dām, really a male?  Κ means male, while ’ā-dām means human. ’Ā-dām is used for an individual who exists as a prototype; a form from which many others like it would be made. Christ was called the last ’ā-dām . Paul referred to him as anthropos. That is, the human, Christ Jesus. Not the man, as in a male, like most English translations suggest. Though in human flesh He identified as a male, Christ was primarily a prototype human. Was the first ’ā-dām also a prototype?

These questions and more, I will try to answer in the coming days.

 

*This post contains many scriptural references, each linked to the words/phrases concerned*

It is a common practice in church to hear the first woman’s speech in Genesis 3:3 made light of. Sometimes it is even ridiculed. The accusation is usually that Eve misunderstood God’s word or that she added to it. On this basis, there is a gender stereotype whereby men are taken more seriously than women, especially when it comes to matters of intellect. The testimony of a male—on almost any issue—is usually regarded as more authentic than that of a female’s.

The reason she is disbelieved is because of two major assumptions Christians have made from the creation story;

  • Only one time, in Gen. 2:17, did God ever give a commandment about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to human(s).
  • The reason for this assumption being: in the woman’s testimony there was some ‘erroneous’ added detail.

From these two parent assumptions spring many, many others;

  • The woman got to know of God’s command definitely through the agency of the first human (who was supposedly a male).
  • The one who, supposedly, conveyed the message was in the lead in the relationship. Thus, every husband has the divine mandate to be his wife’s teacher (of God’s word).
  • The first woman was misinformed; her husband did not teach her well. Or, she was just dull.
  • The woman was easily deceived because she was not the one God spoke to directly.

Now, as a matter of philosophy, if a parent assumption(s) is wrong, its offspring would also be wrong.

But…even if we do move away from that logic. Even if we go with the parent assumptions, does the Bible show these resultant assumptions to be true? That is;

  • Does the Bible—even from the time of the old covenant—unequivocally portray men as the only agencies through whom God speaks to families? And if we do find in the Bible, cases where God used wives, was it always as a damage control because the husbands were spiritually dull?
  • Does the conveyor of a message automatically translate to the leader and all-time teacher of the receiver of the message?

God used Sarah for her family in protecting Isaac’s divine inheritance. Abraham was a man given to keenness in the spirit, but God asked him to hearken to, that is, obey, his wife. God spoke to Rebekah concerning her family, Isaac was not a spiritually dull man. He was a man who heard God constantly. The woman of Shunem was the one God used for her family twice (2Kings 4:9-10;8:1); to save them from childlessness, and to save them from famine. Her husband might, or might not, have been dull spiritually, we cannot say for sure. The Bible offers us no clues to make an educated guess, so we make none. There is no need for it. Jochebed, Moses’ mother, was spiritually perceptive and was used for her family, we never hear of any role her husband, Amram, played. Also, we cannot assert that he must have been a spiritually dull man. Maybe God just wanted to shine light on a woman who played a major role. We need not assume anything else. Samson’s mother was the agent through whom God reached her family. In her case, Manoah, her husband, seemed to be not as spiritually keen as she was. She believed at first encounter. But he did not. He feared, she trusted. She was not being gullible. On the other hand, he was being doubtful. Moreover, the Lord did not repeat all the instructions already given to his wife to him. We can say the same for Abigael. She was more spiritual than her husband.

Clearly, God did employ the agency of the females in the marital context, both in cases where the man was obtuse and when he was not.

There is also no scriptural evidence of any instances where a person, for the singular reason of having conveyed a spiritual/prophetic message, automatically became the leader of the receiver of the message. Ananias did not become Paul’s leader. Neither did Agabus. Whenever a person became someone’s leader, it was by command. Moses became Israel’s leader through the agency of God’s word. It was not a presumption. Prophets were called before they conveyed messages. People did not assume leadership over God’s people just because they bore a message. As a matter of fact, God condemned in His people the practise of assuming the followership of anyone He did not specifically choose.

We also see nothing like this in Genesis. If God had established some mediatorship in the male, we would have seen it written as an injunction He made, something He specifically said. But there is no such thing. Instead we see both male and female, hear God and speak to Him directly. No mediator. (Gen. 1:28-28; 3:6-19).

 Because the resultant assumptions are at odds with the rest of scripture, then the parent assumptions (listed below) cannot be right. We may not know, yet, what actually happened, but we know that these definitely are not what happened in the Beginning.

  • Only one time, in Gen. 2:8, did God ever give a commandment about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to human(s).
  • In the woman’s testimony there was some ‘erroneous’ added detail.

So, the question we ask now is; is it really unusual for God to speak about the same issue twice? Is an added detail really that big of a deal?

Well, the Bible actually shows that God has a penchant for saying the same thing more than once and also changing some details in each repetition. It is no strange trend at all in the scriptures, Hebrew and Greek Bibles alike, for God to repeat a command. One time we are told to love our neighbour as ourselves, another time we are told to love as Christ loved us.

When God told Abraham that he would have descendants as many as stars in the sky, it was equally true when God came back and added that they would be as sand on the sea shore. Different words, same intent. Eve’s extra detail in Gen. 3:3 does not contradict the one in Gen. 2:17, because the intent remained the same. We do not note this when we talk about the woman’s testimony.

And yes, God came back to Abraham five different times to promise him a son. I think that if God did not mind repeating a promise or a blessing, He would also not be hesitant to reiterate a warning that would prevent death and destruction. Makes sense?

Repetition of commands with change of details is really not that big a deal. The extra detail in Gen. 3:3 does not necessarily, and unequivocally, make the woman an unreliable source.

Another angle to this; the sources of the Gospels are not completely consistent. Yet we do not believe Matthew over Mark, nor do we trust Luke’s gospel more than we trust John’s. We excuse the seeming inconsistencies in the Gospels and say that it is perfectly normal that different people viewing the same thing would have different perspectives of it. Yet we have not given the first woman as much credit. Once again preconceived notions get the better of us in interpretation of scriptures. I like to think that we should see the testimony of the command recorded in Gen.3:3 as credible as the one in 2:17, just as we see the Gospel of Mark as authentic as that of Luke’s, especially because the two accounts are more complementary than they are contradictory. Moreover, we have a scriptural evidence of a likely second encounter. Genesis 1:29 does reveal an instance in which God speaks to two people about their food and their work. Maybe that was when there was an added detail?

Also…

It is sin to lie or add to God’s words. Rejecting the woman’s testimony is nothing short of saying she either lied or twisted God’s word. But according to scriptures the first sin of mankind was disobedience (parakoē) to an express command of God. To disobey is different from lying. Nowhere in scriptures do we see Eve referred to as a liar. Disobeyed, yes. Deceived, yes. But not a liar and a falsifier of God’s word. But someone did lie in the beginning, and Jesus tells us who that was. It was the serpent’s testimony that contradicted God’s instruction. Not the woman’s.

One more thing…

The fact that one woman was deceived that one time does not mean that all women for all time are gullible and easily deceived. No other time in scriptures are we told of any woman who was deceived. Instead we have more instances of women showing witty perceptiveness. But scriptural examples of deceived men abound. Isaac was deceived, Laban was deceived. Jacob deceived others and was deceived. Samson was deceived. King Saul was an unstable man. Sisera was deceived.

Next post I share two other possible sides to this story  and afterwards present my conclusions.

Image By Dieffi

 

 

Help meet’ or ‘Suitable helper’ is the genesis of people’s belief in divinely orchestrated gender roles and gender statuses. The idea is, if it was there from the beginning of time, then that must be the way that it is supposed to be.

Thoughts from previous post under consideration:

#1. The male is the ‘main (hu)man’, and the creation of a female was an afterthought.

#2. The work was his actually. It was not their work. God ‘handed over’ the garden—the earth—to the first male. The female was made to help and support him. There was no equality (of responsibility) from the beginning. The male has always had to do more.

#3. The male was made to excel the female in all things. A real man should always excel a woman. Know more, have more, be more. If he does not excel her, he is failing to conform to his divine design.

P.S. Responsibility is what confers honour. The more value you create, the more honourable you are.

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To arrive at these points, many rules of doctrine formulation and scriptural interpretation have been flouted. Context, a clear divine injunction, scriptural harmony, etc.

#1 springs from looking at just one verse of scripture in isolation, away from the entire account of creation. Genesis 1 and 2 tell one creation story. The two accounts must agree, because all scripture must agree. The interpretation of the person of the female that is drawn from Gen. 2 is divergent from what is written of her in Genesis 1:26-28. That cannot be. Granted, two readings may say two different things. There can be elaborations. But there cannot be negations.  Deducing the idea of ‘female afterthought’ from the narrative in Gen. 2 results in a conflict with what is written in Genesis 1 about how humans, particularly the female, came to be.

 Gen 1:26-27  And God said, Let us make man (adam) in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 

So God created man (adam) in his own image, in the image of God HE created him; male and female He created them

Notice that humanity is described as one entity (him) as well as two (male and female). The idea of creating humans—male and female—was conceived in the heart of God at the same time. There is no such thing as the female being an afterthought creation. That’s nonsense! Not only that, male and female were created at the same time, on the same day (vs. 27). (More on the two creation accounts later).

#2; The worlds were framed by the word of God. It is what God says that we uphold as principle. The idea that there was some ‘handing over’ of work to the male—it was his work and she came to help him—is just an assumption. God said no such thing. It actually negates what God said.

 Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 

 God said to male and female humans their responsibility. There was no handing over of anything to the male. There was no sharing of roles. There is also no injunction that the male must excel the female. He is never told to do more, be more, or know more. God blessed them and said the exact same thing to the two of them.

Please discard such ideas from your mind. They have no divine backing. Both man and woman were given the work. That was the plan from the get go. The fact that we see first, one human working, as stated in Gen. 2, does not mean that there was a ‘main man’. Such a thing does not exist! As a matter of fact, it was because the work was actually meant for two people that God said it is not good for one person to do it alone.

In the beginning, there was equality of responsibility between male and female humans. Thus, equality of honour. It was their work. Not his work. The female human was not made to help the male human in his work. They were both made to work together in their work. Partnership. No side-kicks.

Human beings were made primarily to work. Work is the definition of humanity, whether male or female. Work is the blessing. Work is what gives humans honour. There was nothing said here about relationships. The female was not made for the male, she was made for the Blessing, made for dominion just as the male was (Gen. 1:26). Relationships appear to have been secondary in the Beginning.

Perhaps God said something about the female being made for the male in Gen. 2? Perhaps He said something about gender roles?

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Gen 2:22-25  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 

 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 

(God speaking) “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 

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

We know it is God speaking in vs. 24 because of what Jesus said here. Here God institutes a unique relationship that will exist between males and females. We know he instituted it because He said it. This is no assumption. Marriage is not a social construct.

But…we find no instance here, where God by His Word instituted any power play between male and female. We find no mention of gender roles. So, where did all those beliefs come from? It seems all we have always had as basis for the claims of hierarchy between male and female in the Beginning are mere assumptions. Preconceived notions. Nothing objective. Teaching males to excel females is a revert to what God said is not good; working alone.

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Now to the ‘help-meet’ phrase itself. The Hebrew phrase translated to English as helpmeet is ezer kenegedo. Ezer for ‘help’, kenegedo for ‘meet/suitable’. The erroneous deductions it elicits ought to make us question whether this translation to English is indeed accurate or not. Let us do a re-examination.

ʻÊ-zer means ‘help’. It is the same word used to depict the help of God all through the Hebrew Bible. Therefore, we understand that this could be no small kind of help. It is literally salvation and deliverance. It is a strong, formidable kind of help that is employed for great, important tasks. An ʻÊ-zer comes to relieve and unburden. An ʻê-zer does not come to be a friend or a companion. Maybe in the process of help, a friendship could ensue; in many instances a friend could be a mighty deliverance out of trouble for a person. The point here is, companionship is not the primary understanding of the purpose of ʻê-zer.  Loneliness is not what informs the need for an ʻê-zer. Work is. Responsibility is.

The first man was not lonely. He was alone. There was work to be done. Females are not the divinely designated cure for the loneliness of males. Females were made for work just like males.

 Kə-ne-dōw is a prepositional phrase used as a form of adjective to qualify the noun ʻê-zer. The root word of the phrase is neged, and it means ‘to be in front of’, or  ‘to stand face-to-face’.  The frontal position depicted by neged is always a face to face position. The prefix means ‘as’ or ‘like’, while the suffix ōw is translated asof him’ or ‘his’. A word-for-word translation of kə-ne-dōw would therefore be, ‘as (a) face-to-face of him’, or ‘as his face-to-face’.

What could this mean? You are free to make of this as many connotations as the spirit of God enlightens you.

These are mine; A mirror image. An equal. A contemporary. A mate. No indication of a subordinate or side-kick. A very, very far cry from the traditional ‘help meet’ translation.  ʻÊ-zer kə-ne-dōw, to me, means someone that would stand on the opposite side of another and together they would carry one burden.

Conclusion; There is no divinely ordained female-as-assistant-and-help-meet-for-the-male. But there is, ”Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour (Ecc. 4:9).” In the Beginning, the work was theirs, and not just the man’s; the man helped the woman as much as the woman helped him; man and woman operated a perfect balance of mutual exchange of help.