Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, September 20, 2020
Adam & Eve
by Dr. and Senator Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: Embedded within the Bible’s creation account (Genesis, chapters 1-3) is Moses’ explanation of the creation of the first man and woman.
IN THE BEGINNING GOD…: In the beginning God (Elohim) created the Universe. God said (Genesis 1:26): … “Let Us make man in Our image,….” God made man and woman to walk the earth, as He had earlier created other animals. Man was commanded to rule the earth and to multiply.
Man was created from dust. Importantly, God breathed His “breath of life” into man’s nostrils. Man had the beautiful, bountiful Garden of Eden in which to live, but was commanded not to eat fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, on pain of death (part of the Edenic Covenant, Genesis 2:15-17).
An important question is: Did Elohim make man de novo (as a new, first-time creation), or did He modify an existing humanoid animal (a Neanderthal man?) by giving that chosen man His “breath of life” (eternal soul)? It seems this verse could be interpreted either way, but the two different possibilities are profoundly important in understanding the origin of humans.
God saw that the man, Adam, needed a companion and helper. The man was put to sleep, and a rib was removed. From this rib, God created another human, a woman. The two were intended to live together as husband and wife and to form a family (“be fruitful”). The woman was named Eve (see following comments). The serpent (Satan) tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, that their knowledge might equal God’s knowledge. For their disobedience, Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. God altered His covenant with mankind from the Edenic Covenant (Genesis 2:15-17) to the Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3:14-19). I briefly summarize the Adamic Covenant, following:
** For the serpent (Satan), he would become the most cursed of all creations; everlasting enmity (hatred, opposition) would exist between him and God’s people; and the Seed of the woman (Yeshua) would some day crush (defeat) him. [Promise for Satan’s defeat by Yeshua = Genesis 3:15 || prophecy of Satan’s being cast for eternity into the Lake of Fire = Revelation 20:10]
** For the man (and men who would follow him), the ground would become cursed, requiring much toil to produce food; and death would end the apparently eternal life God had planned for mankind.
** For the woman (and women who would follow her), childbirth pain must be endured; and husbands would rule wives. (Sorry, ladies, see Genesis 3:16.)
SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD ACCOUNT, RIGHT? Moses recorded a simple, straightforward account for us to understand God’s creation of life, including the creation of humans. Or, did he? Anyone who has ever dealt with a legal dispute involving a contractual agreement soon learns that the details are in the fine print of the contract. The details of creation may be in the “fine print” of the Bible. Study with me today, as we delve a little deeper in the Genesis account of the creation of mankind. I will briefly discuss a few items by asking questions, as they pop into my mind. My comments are certainly not complete, but hopefully they will sketch out enough information to whet your appetite for deeper study.
ARE WE CREATED BY A GOD OR GODS? The Tanakh begins with this statement (Genesis 1:1): In the beginning God created… (Parashat Bereshit). “God,” here, translates the Hebrew Elohim. The -im suffix makes Elohim a plural noun. A casual translation could read: “In the beginning the Gods created….” But, Judaism is passionately monotheistic, as affirmed by Judaism’s most sacred verse, the Sh’ma Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6:4): “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
In the Sh’ma Yisrael, the Hebrew echad (translated, “one”) implies unity in diversity. Example: Suppose our daughter, when sixteen, had come to my wife and me to inform us that she planned to backpack through Europe all summer with a boyfriend, get a tattoo of Satan on her face, and needed a generous allowance to buy heroin. Linda and I would be in echad (thinking as one, though two individuals) in adamantly opposing her plans. (Clarification: Our daughter was very well behaved, and we had none of these problems.) If Moses had meant that there was One who was unique (one and only), he probably would have written the Hebrew yachid. Moses would again use the Hebrew echad, when he wrote (Genesis 2:24) that Adam and Eve would become “one flesh” (echad basar). Linda and I think alike on all important issues after more than 58 years of marriage, but we retain enough minor differences to make us unique persons. We, two individuals, are one in agreement. We are echad basar.
Why is this important? We Believers/ Christians see God as a Trinitarian God (God in Three Persons) – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Apostle John reinforced this view (John 1:1-3): In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. [“Word,” here = Yeshua] We believe that God in Three Persons was involved in the creation. “Elohim” should reinforce, not confuse, our views of the Trinity. Elohim, seemingly plural, is matched with a singular verb. We should view Elohim as “One God in Three Persons.” It’s okay– smarter persons than you and I have struggled with this Biblical truth!
WHO WERE THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN? The first man was Adam. Hebrew adam translates to the English “earth,” (adamah). More precisely, adam means “ruddy [reddish] man.” In Middle Easterners’ thought, there were two races of man– black and ruddy (reddish). Today, we call the adam (ruddy) race “white.” CAUTION: God is not a racist. God loves all of His children equally.
The first woman was Chavvah, so named because she was the mother of all living things. Why is her name translated as Eve in our Bibles? I have yet to find a good answer. My guess is this: In designation of time, “eve” precedes a date (New Year’s Eve, etc.). Did translators name her “Eve,” as she would precede future generations? Some of our Bible translations are a little sloppy. Even the King James Version, so highly esteemed by many, has its share of poor scholarship (poorly translated words). Did translators feel that Eve sounded better for English-speaking readers, whereas Chavvah sounded “too Jewish” for the same readers? If you know the reason for the Chavvah-to-Eve switch, please email me your thoughts. I would like to learn this answer.
DID ADAM HAVE A WIFE BEFORE EVE (CHAVVAH)? I now jump out of the Bible into Jewish mythology. I only mention this woman because you may read about her elsewhere. According to Jewish mythology or folklore (Babylonian Talmud, third to fifth century AD), Adam’s first wife was named Lilith. Her name in Hebrew means “night.” Lilith was said to be created from the same clay and at the same time as God created Adam, whereas Chavvah (Eve) was created later from Adam’s rib, supposedly after Lilith left Adam. Lilith left Adam because she refused to submit to him (see Genesis 3:16 about submission). Lilith, a thoroughly evil woman, engaged in adultery with Satan and produced a race of evil beings.
Lilith was regarded as a night monster. Her Hebrew name, present only once in the Tanakh, is the night monster (screech owl) – Hebrew lilyliyth (pronounced, le·leth’) – of Isaiah 34:14. Some people have too much time on their hands. Lilith is a folklore legend– a myth. Do not believe anything written about Lilith as being Adam’s “first wife.” I mention her because you may read about her elsewhere.
WERE THERE TWO CREATIONS? While we careen through the outskirts of the Bible, I will mention the pre-Adamite hypothesis. This hypothesis holds that humans (or intelligent, non-human creatures) existed before Adam. That is, there were two creations. Frankly, I am not smart enough to understand this hypothesis completely, but I think it goes something like this:
There is an implied gap in time between Genesis 1:1 (Elohim created the heavens and the earth) and Genesis 1:2 (the earth was without form and was void and dark). In the seventeenth century, Calvinist theologian Isaac de La Peyrère proposed the Gap Theory (also known as the Ruin-Reconstruction interpretation). In the gap of time after Elohim began creating animals and before Adam was created, He created subhuman (soulless) man-like creatures. These pre-Adamic creatures were, then, replaced with men and women made “in Elohim’s image” – Adam and Chavvah (Eve) and, later, their offspring.
SIDELIGHT: At this point, I will add to confusion by mentioning a commonly quoted chronology of creation. Bishop James Ussher (AD 1581–1656) of Armagh, Ireland was important in the Protestant Reformation, but is best known for his chronology of creation, published in 1654. Ussher counted life span lengths recorded in the Tanakh, concluding that God created the Universe on the evening of October 23, 4004 BC. A table of time from 4004 BC to AD 95, may be seen at: https://biblehub.com/timeline/ . Ussher’s work helped to shape early Protestant thought. However, I would advise not spending any time memorizing these dates, as they are most assuredly erroneous. Ussher’s dates certainly do not fit modern archaeological evidence. END sidelight.
WHY DID GOD TAKE A RIB FROM ADAM TO CREATE EVE? Scriptures are silent on why Elohim took a rib from Adam to make Eve (Chavvah). I suggest:
** The timeline is important. Elohim originally created man (Adam) from dust. The man at this point was only a physical being– a physical body, a shell of tissue with manlike features. Then, Elohim made “man in Our image,” blowing into Adam’s nostrils His neshamah (pronounced: nesh·ä·mä’ || translated: breath, soul, spirit). God is a Spirit (as would be His “image”). Only after Adam was given God’s neshamah was he made in “God’s image.” Only after receiving Elohim’s “breath of life” (neshamah chay) into the clay shell of Adam’s body did Adam become a “living being” or “soul” (Hebrew nephesh, Genesis 2:7).
** For Eve to be equal to Adam, she had to be compatible in every way. Her genetic (DNA) makeup needed to be compatible with Adam so that reproduction could occur (“be fruitful”). Her spirit (soul) also needed to match Adam’s soul. By transferring Adam’s tissue (a rib) into Eve, God gave to Eve from Adam the necessary genetic material and soul. God performed a “transplant” familiar to us. Now, the first man and first woman could be “one flesh,” as decreed by God.
** Elohim established a sacrament (almost a covenant) of marriage– joining Adam and Eve (Chavvah) into “one flesh.” Yeshua has been called “the Second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 45-49; Romans 5:12-15, 17). In ancient times, a covenant animal was divided (cut) and its blood was spilled. The First Adam’s blood was spilled and he was cut to remove a rib, as he became the sacrifice for the special relationship of a man and woman in marriage. The Second Adam’s (Yeshua’s) blood was spilled and He was cut in multiple places (crucifixion), as He became the Animal (Passover Lamb) sacrifice of the New Covenant.
SIDELIGHT: Sadly, some need to be reminded of God’s “formula” for marriage (Genesis 2:24): This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh. Yeshua confirmed this plan (Matthew 19:4-6): “Haven’t you read?” [Yeshua] answered. “He who created them from the beginning ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.” Biblically correct marriage is the joining of one man and one woman to form a family. Period. No Scriptural approval exists for same-sex marriage, bigamy, polygamy, “open” marriage, pedophilic (adult-child) marriage, living together, or similar combinations of human coupling. Period. Fools make simple concepts, complicated; the wise make complicated concepts, simple. END sidelight.
DID GOD CREATE THE UNIVERSE IN JUST SIX DAYS? The Genesis account states that Elohim created the Universe in “six days,” which is in stark contrast with generally accepted scientific views. These days of creation may be summarized as: first day = light; second day = heaven above, water below; third day = earth and sea, vegetation; fourth day = sun, moon, stars; fifth day = living creatures in water and sky; sixth day = living creatures on land, humans; seventh day = rest. Our seven-day week and the observance of rest and worship (Shabbat) are based on this seven-day creation account.
“Day,” in this account, translates the Hebrew yowm (yom). Yom may indicate a twenty-four hour day (example: Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement). But, yom has multiple translations (Strong’s Concordance), including: (1) day, time, year (daytime, as opposed to nighttime); (2) a twenty-four hour period to mark time; (3) days, lifetime (plural); (4) time, period (general); (5) year; or (6) temporal references (past, present, and future).
Did the “days of creation” refer to our twenty-four hour days or to indefinite periods of time? Yom could imply either. We use “day” in idioms that are equally imprecise. For example, we refer to conditions in earlier times as, “back in the day….” Exactly to which day do we refer? It is not a specific day (example: October 17, 1924) but a general time period (example: pre-World War II era). Elohim created the Universe in six yom divisions, whether yom refers to six divisions of twenty-four hours or to six divisions of many millions of years each.
I suggest you not get suckered into an argument about this issue. We Believers should be concerned only about WHO created the Universe, not HOW or WHEN He created it. We worship a Creator, not the process by which He creates.
HOW DO THE WRITINGS OF DARWIN AND MOSES AGREE OR DIFFER? On November 24, 1859, British naturalist Charles Darwin (b. 1809, d. 1882) published a book (short title: On the Origin of the Species). This book has become the “Bible” of atheists. At the risk of over-simplification, Darwin provided a “scientific” theory to explain creation– evolution. (See following sidelight for discussion of “scientific.”) To the evolutionist, human life is the product of diversification and development from chemical compounds to lower life forms to higher life forms. Enormous lengths of time, random combinations, hit-or-miss luck, natural selection (survival of the fittest), and so forth are required.
SIDELIGHT: In the preceding paragraph, I enclose “scientific” in quotation marks for a reason. In a recent RR, I mentioned “conversation stoppers”– racist, Islamophobe, homophobe, etc.– used to squelch opposing thoughts. “Science” and words derived from it can be conversation stoppers. We worship at the altar of “science.” If a smug know-it-all wants to stop a conversation, he/ she states, condescendingly, “You just don’t believe in science.” Science is merely the state of knowledge, as such knowledge exists at that point in time. Science in any subject is merely a snapshot of knowledge held by most students of that subject at that moment. Such knowledge (such science) frequently changes, as new knowledge is acquired. In a previous sentence, I likened science to a snapshot of knowledge at a given time. No, science is more like a movie, and we see scenes, which unfold and change as more information becomes available. Most scientists readily admit that “science” is always subject to change, and they welcome any new information that challenges old information and refines it into better, more correct information. That is, except for evolutionists. Try finding a biologist who believes in creationism in a university or college. A staff member must teach only evolution and never hint at creationism, except to mock it, or he/ she will be expelled from the faculty. The theory of evolution is a rigid religion, which no practitioner dares to blaspheme against. END sidelight.
Two opposing thoughts are obvious. (1)- To the Believer (a creationist), a Creator (a Divine Intelligence) created everything– including man– for a purpose. (2)- To the unbeliever (an evolutionist), no Creator (no Divine Intelligence) was involved. Everything we see on earth and in the heavens just happened, and happened for no purpose. Can an evolutionist be a Believer/ Christian? I judge no one. The test is whether the evolutionist’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and whether Yeshua accepts the evolutionist’s faith.
The theological implications are profound: (1)- To the Believer, a human is created by God; he/ she must live by God’s commandments; and an accounting for his/ her life must be made to God some day. Eternal life is promised. (2)- To the unbeliever, a human is not created by a god; he/ she is not required to live by any god’s commandments; and an accounting for his/ her life will never be made to a god some day. There is no eternal life. Our present life is it.
How do Darwinian evolution and Biblical creation agree or disagree? Following, I list a very few features of the development of humans and whether Darwin’s and Moses’ writings are possibly COMPATIBLE, or whether they are completely INCOMPATIBLE. You likely can think of other ideas to compare or contrast.
** Idea: Mankind developed over many billions of years. COMPATIBLE, if the pre-Adamite hypothesis is true and “day” (yom) represents periods of millions or billions of years. INCOMPATIBLE, if the pre-Adamite hypothesis is not true and “day” (yom) represents a twenty-four hour day.
** Idea: Mankind developed by gradual changes from lower animals. INCOMPATIBLE, unless Elohim modified simpler life to develop higher life.
** Idea: Mankind was created by a Divine Intelligence– God. INCOMPATIBLE. The essence of creationism is the purposeful involvement of Elohim. The Darwinian theory of evolution denies any Divine being.
** Idea: Humans have eternal souls (the spirit of God) indwelling in them. INCOMPATIBLE. In creationism, Elohim gave mankind “His breath” (man’s soul). In evolution, no Creator was involved. Man lives, dies, and that is it.
We humans, made in the image of God, can agree with David (Psalm 139:14): I praise You [Adonai], for I am awesomely, wonderfully made! Wonderful are Your works– and my soul knows that very well. Shalom and Maranatha.