Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Creation and the Fall of Man
The Old Testament commences with one of its most interesting myths, that of the Creation and Fall of Man. The story is to be found in the first three chapters of Genesis, the substance of which is as follows:
After God created the "Heavens" and the "Earth," he said: "Let there be light, and there was light," and after calling the light Day, and the darkness Night, the first day's work was ended.
God then made the "Firmament," which completed the second day's work.
Then God caused the dry land to appear, which he called "Earth," and the waters he called "Seas." After this the earth was made to bring forth grass, trees, &c., which completed the third day's work.
The next things God created were the "Sun,"[1:1] "Moon" and ["Stars," and after he had set them in the Firmament, the fourth day's work was ended.[2:1]
After these, God created great "whales," and other creatures which inhabit the water, also "winged fowls." This brought the fifth day to a close.
The work of creation was finally completed on the sixth day,[2:2] when God made "beasts" of every kind, "cattle," "creeping things," and lastly "man," whom he created "male and female," in his own image.[2:3]
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh[2:4] day God ended his work which he had made: and herested on the seventh day, from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had resteded all his work which God created and made."
After this information, which concludes at the third verse of Genesis ii., strange though it may appear, another account of the Creation commences, which is altogether different from the one we have just related. This account commences thus:
"These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day (not days) that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens."
It then goes on to say that "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,"[2:5] which appears to be the first thing he made. After planting a garden eastward in Eden,[2:6] the Lord God put the man therein, "and out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the Tree of Life,[2:7] also in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads." Thesefour rivers were called, first Pison, second Gihon, third Hiddekel, and the fourth Euphrates.[3:1]
After the "Lord God" had made the "Tree of Life," and the "Tree of Knowledge," he said unto the man:
"Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Then the Lord God, thinking that it would not be well for man to live alone, formed—out of the ground—"every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them, and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."
After Adam had given names to "all cattle, and to the fowls of the air, and to every beast of the field," "the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept, and he (the Lord God) took one of his (Adam's) ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.
"And of the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto Adam." "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed."
After this everything is supposed to have gone harmoniously, until a serpent appeared before the woman[3:2]—who was afterwards called Eve—and said to her:
"Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
The woman, answering the serpent, said:
"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, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, lest ye die."
Whereupon the serpent said to her:
"Ye shall not surely die" (which, according to the narrative, was the truth).
He then told her that, upon eating the fruit, their eyes would be opened, and that they would be as gods, knowing good from evil.
The woman then looked upon the tree, and as the fruit was tempting, "she took of the fruit, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband, and he did eat." The result was not death (as the Lord God had told them), but, as the serpent had said, "the eyes of both were opened, and they knew they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Towards evening (i. e., "in the cool of the day"), Adam and his wife "heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden," and being afraid, they hid themselves among the trees of the garden. The Lord God not finding Adam and his wife, said: "Where art thou?" Adam answering, said: "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."
The "Lord God" then told Adam that he had eaten of the tree which he had commanded him not to eat, whereupon Adam said: "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, shegave me of the tree and I did eat."
When the "Lord God" spoke to the woman concerning her transgression, she blamed the serpent, which she said "beguiled" her. This sealed the serpent's fate, for the "Lord God" cursed him and said:
Unto the woman the "Lord God" said:
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Unto Adam he said:
"Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
The "Lord God" then made coats of skin for Adam and his wife, with which he clothed them, after which he said:
"Behold, the man is become as one of us,[5:1] to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (he must be sent forth from Eden).
"So he (the Lord God) drove out the man (and the woman); and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life.