Tag Archives: genesis 3

Who Was the Serpent in the Garden of Eden?

IndiancobraThe temptation of Eve is one of the most well-known stories of the bible. Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, she shares a bite with Adam, and they realize their nakedness. God discovers their futile efforts to cover their private parts and curses them to a hard life of toil and pain outside the Garden. If the bible is the story of mankind’s tumultuous relationship with God, then that tumult starts right here with mankind’s first ever exercise of free will and the first time that he defied his maker.

But who was that mysterious serpent that started the wheels of rebellion turning? Jews and Christians approach this bible story differently. Christians at least have a clear answer to this question: the serpent was Satan who has snuck into the Garden to lead God’s new creation astray. But for Jews, the answer is less easy. Was the serpent a metaphor? A talking animal? Something else?

This post will explore the ways that Jews and Christians have come to understand the bible’s first antagonist. The serpent is a slippery beast so read on for more!

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Marriage in the Bible – Part 1: Genesis and the Creation Story

Today is my first wedding anniversary! Married life is wonderful, and I have a wonderful person to share it with. In part because of my anniversary, I have been pondering marriage in the bible. (Why? It’s better than laundry.) As I reread, I am struck again and again about how much marriage in the bible sucks, especially if you happen to be a woman. The Torah might as well be Sharia Law(*) for its depiction of the rights of women. Even the New Testament isn’t much better: in 1 Corinthians, Paul recommends that if you aren’t married, you should stay that way. Jesus is at least known to have attended a wedding…

In honor of my anniversary, I’m going to do something different. Over the next week, I will be positing my thoughts on a different aspect of biblical marriage, one post every day. For simplicity, I’m limiting myself to the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament / Hebrew Bible. Next year, I hope to be able to move forward into the later books and possibly even the New Testament.

Read on for Part 1: Marriage in Genesis, in which we discover that woman was created for man… or sometimes also his brother.

(*) Note: I know next to nothing about Sharia Law, except by reputation. My suspicion is that its reputation is tainted by the Judeo-Christian sources that report on such things. I have a distinct suspicion that it’s probably not that far off of early Jewish teaching.

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Va-Yera – Justice in the Torah (So Far)

Obviously, my posting schedule has not been what I would hoped it would be. But, I have promised a friend that I would post weekly again and so I will desperately try to do that, despite whatever other challenges life throws at me. And to start, I’m picking up where I left off: a brief survey of justice in the bible prior to Abraham.

As I said in my previous post, the genius of Abraham was not just that he argued with God’s punishment (the first biblical figure to do so), but rather that he seemed to articulate a UNIQUE (to Genesis) view on justice. Up to that point, I postulated, all punishments and rewards were to families and clans rather than individuals. With one huge exception, that’s true. His view was that a small number of good people could keep from punishment a larger number of bad people. What he didn’t do was what we really might wish he had done: request individual justice. Save the good people, punish the bad ones. That’s what we all look for in divine justice, isn’t it? Sadly, it wasn’t to be. But, this is the closest we come up to this point, so that’s something. “Sins of the father”, or clan-guilt, is never fully expunged from the Bible, though later passages will also stress individual justice and the Book of Job will suggests that not all apparent punishments are for crimes anyway.

More after the break.

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Bereishit – Adam and Eve

In Chapter 2 of Genesis, we have possibly the only scene in the Bible that is not only funny, but funny at God’s expense. Picture this: God has created the very first man and he (the man) is already hard at work tilling and tending the fields of the Garden of Eden. (And work he did. Genesis 2:15 is quite clear that Adam was to work, although presumably this wasn’t difficult work yet.) But God realizes, “Hey! This guy needs a helper.” And so God creates and brings to Adam all of the animals of the world (or at least the “wild beasts and birds of the sky”), one after the other, to see if one of them would be a fitting companion. You can just imagine Adam, sitting bored (but hopeful) under a tree while God leads an ill-behaved elephant up to him on a leash. “How about this one?”

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