3. Genesis: b’reishit

questions and thoughts, seriously.

1.  Chapter one is the first creation story.  All except the seventh day.  The seventh day, the evening and the morning, are in chapter two.  Why does everything happen in the first chapter except for the final day?  Then the second chapter begins with the seventh day and goes backward to before the plants and shrubs and man.  And the seventh day is the day that we celebrate.  It’s the day that means the most, but for some reason it isn’t even included in the same chapter with the first creation story.  It’s separated.  Almost like the first creation story didn’t really happen, or wasn’t important, or was superseded by the second creation story which actually begins with the last day rather than the first day.  Kind of like an Ian McEwan novel that begins with the climax, then follows with the story.

2.  So, in chapter two, the creation story ends with the sabbath, then begins again with much more storytelling detail.  Good guys, bad guys, magical blowing of breath into dust formed into man then placed in a pre-made garden.  But this time, there is no mention that man is made “in the image of God”.  Apparently, however, original man and woman are intended to be vegetarian.  Their “food shall be the grasses of the field”.  I can get behind that.  But why did God’s name change in chapter two?

3.  In chapter three the plot thickens.  The shrewd serpent convinces Eve that eating the apple will not cause her to die.  And I have to wonder, if Adam and Eve have no concept of nudity, do they have a concept of mortality?  Doesn’t true innocence, like the innocence of children, or of Adam and Eve, exclude a concept as complicated as mortality?

4.  Now, in chapter four, since innocence is what seems to have died with the eating of the apple, it seems appropriate that we meet the two sons of Adam and Eve.  And one must be evil.  Or at least must do evil.  Damn that apple.  Or maybe that serpent.  Or was it Eve?  So Cain, who is out of favor with God, kills Abel, who was looked on favorably by God.  This extreme act of jealousy got Cain banished to the east.  Maybe this is why east anywhere is the bad side of town.  Meanwhile, Adam and Eve have Seth who has Enosh.  “then men began to invoke the Lord by name.”  What does that mean?  Now, after 1800 years (see the next chapter), people realize that there is a God that they can call on for help?  Look to for guidance?

5.  So now, in chapter five, we have a long list of Adam’s lineage and the number of years that each man (not woman, just man) lived.  Most over 900 years.  After each son is named, and his years on earth quantified, the final comment is “then he died.”  Except for Enoch, who is six generations beyond Adam and lived the shortest life, only 365 years.  Enoch is the only one who “walked with God; then he was no more for God took him.”  It sounds like Enoch was more favored than the others, yet he died earlier.  Hmmmm.  Maybe an indication that death isn’t something so scary.  Perhaps not recommended, but not to be dreaded either.

6.  Finally, in chapter six, it gets really crazy.  Now the “divine beings”, apparently not descendants of Adam, began taking the “pleasing” daughters of Adam’s descendants.  So does this mean that we now have children born of lesser gods and man/woman?  or fallen angels and man/woman?  Are these the nephilim that are mentioned as well in this chapter?  Nephilim, when I looked it up, could be possibly giants, or fallen angels, or heroes or monsters.  A pretty wide range of definitions.  So are they good, bad or indifferent?  And it is at this point that God says man will only live one hundred and twenty years.  But I cheated and read ahead and see that lives are still hundreds of years long.  We can address that next week.  In the meantime, though, who are the nephilim?  Does God like them?  And what about this?  “And the Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness” and decided to blot out man.  All except for Noah who had found favor with God?  There’s little indication of what this wickedness is.  And seriously, the nephilim are a total wild card.  Actually, this whole chapter will require significant reading between the lines.  What was so great about Noah?  I need a little character development here.

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