Adam and Eves Sentence
Ain Soph – The Unknown God
F. J. Mayers
Genesis III, v.9: “And the Lord God called unto the man and said unto him, Where art thou?”
As the darkness of night falls upon the soul of Adam, he becomes conscious that the voice of God is calling him. He had not thought of calling on God; his soul was dumb in the darkness. What does God say? Just one little word- “aicha.” It is a little word that says, and asks everything necessary. How much one little Divine word can convey! And how much the meaning of it depends on the way in which it is uttered! This is a word that scarcely lends itself to translation. It just simply means: “?”
Nothing could be simpler, yet it expresses “good will,” “deep, personal, questioning interest”-and there was in it just that which made it possible for Adam to find his voice, and make his confession.
Verse 10: “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
The word “and I was afraid” is “va-aira.” It is a composite of two roots, “ir,” which denotes ideas of “respect”; “fear”; “reverence”; “veneration”; and “ra,” which suggests “fixing one’s eyes on anything”; “regarding”: “considering”; “seeing,” etc. The word here means that Adam was “overawed” by God’s presence and his realisation of what he himself had become.
“Because I was naked”- “chi-eirom anochi.” He had realised that he was ignorant and blind. The word “anochi” is the full form of the personal pronoun “I.” It is only used in cases were we should strongly emphasise the “I.” He realised the utter contrast between himself and the “All-Wise” Elohim. (We explained the word “naked” as “denuded of light or intelligence” in our last chapter.)
Verse II: “And He said: who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”
Literally, “who ‘taught’ you that you were so denuded? Did the knowledge come from eating of the tree which I warned you to avoid?”
Verse 12: “And the man said: The woman thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.”
That was really quite a frank and correct confession; we have already explained that the expression “to be with me” is equivalent in the original to “be an actual part of myself.” Adam was quite aware that “Aisha was in reality himself, his own Will. So there is no justification for the charge usually brought against him of “meanness” and “disloyalty”; that he, as “husband.” “blames” his “wife” for what he himself has done. We are not dealing here with a “husband” and a “wife.” The story, however, does read as if Adam attributes some responsibility to God, for having given him the power to Will and act “on his own. It may not have been in Adam’s mind to make that suggestion, but in any case what he said was very natural” (just like a saying of a child)-and it was literally correct. Adam did not yet understand why God gave him “Aisha” nor the necessity for doing so. Neither could he have understood; so God gave no reply. He knew how often He would be misjudged and misunderstood in a similar way. It was but the beginning of His sufferings.
The whole story,- of course, is an analysis, given in dramatised form of all those processes which take place in the human mind, heart and Will, and which lead to evil and sin, -although they arise from good and necessary elements of our being.
Verse 13: “And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me and I did eat”
The only word in this verse which needs explanation is the word “beguiled,” “hishiani.” It is the word “shoa” which denotes “disorder of thought” or a “mental blank.” It is used here as a verb in the “causative” or “excitative” form. The root is “sha,” which symbolises anything of a “delirious” or “frenzied” nature; a “whirl” of thought or emotion. That definition is obviously more in harmony with the facts related than the interpretation of some commentators that “Nahash” “deceived” Aisha by a “falsehood.” The insidious “desire” or “lust”-(using the word in its original meaning, in old English,-which had no particular reference to sexual sensuality)-of Na-hash for the “knowledge” and “experience,” which appeared “good” to the “Intelligent being” of Adam (the “Aish), takes hold, as it were of Aisha (the Will) and brings “disorder” into her thought; she is “carried away” by it and “Wills” what Na-hash desires. We must keep in mind that they were spiritual or mental processes that were taking place, and there-fore “Will” and the “Power” to carry out what was “willed” were still “One.” To “will” was to “effectuate.” This is important in view of what follows later.
Verse 14: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Be-cause thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly thou shalt go and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.”
The word translated “cursed” is “aroor.” That is the root “arr” verbalised. When we find the “r” doubled in a root, it denotes some activity which becomes evil by “excess”; “something carried too far”; a “self-undoing.” For instance: a joke carried too far, becomes anything but a joke; it becomes something that breaks all reasonable bounds, and so becomes “hateful”; “unpleasant”; “deprecated”; “resented.”
We have a strong echo of the meaning of the root in our old word “arrant.” Also in words such as “horror,” “abhorrent,” “corrupt,” we have the same original idea. But however “hateful,” “objectionable,” “abhorrent” the thing may be, we cannot help feeling that the word “cursed” is not exactly the right word to use here. “Cursing” is utterly contrary to the nature of God. He Who taught men to “Bless and curse not” was by no means likely to be the “Father of Curses” Himself, and to give mankind its first object lesson in a devilish art. The word as we understand it now gives the idea of “wishing evil” to someone, of “praying down vengeance” on someone.
The essence of a “curse” is “vengeance”: the rendering of “evil for evil”; it is an angry desire for “retaliation”; the calling on some super-natural power to bring some evil fate on someone whom for some reason we hate, or with whom we are indignant. It would be blasphemous to attribute any of those things to God. Vengeful retaliation brings the avenger down to the moral (or immoral) level of the criminal. The old law of “An eye for an eye” was only tolerable for a very low state of human development; and even then it did aim at a strict equality between the crime and the punishment; it was at least better than the cruel “vengeance” which will take twenty eyes for one if it has the power. (As par ex. “Lidice.”) No; we cannot consider “cursed” quite the right word here. What God really says to “Na-hash is: “Because thou hast done this, thou hast become abhorrent beyond anything to be found in the whole range of animal natures. You have dragged the essence of humanity down below the level of the beasts. An animal never seeks more than the necessities of its life and such simple comfort and shelter as it can find. It never seeks to usurp the control and guidance of its “group soul.” You have led man so to use the higher qualities I have given him as to seek to be independent of My Will and guidance; and in So doing you have caused him to quit his spiritual state and bury his soul in the ‘substance’ of the earthly. You have chosen the earthly, now you will grovel in it. You will ‘feed” upon earthly exhalations and the illusions of the material realm all the days of your life.
“Na-hash,” as we have tried to explain, was a “concentrative” activity. We may compare it to the. physical force of “gravitation” by which any mass of matter, according to its size and weight, attracts towards itself other masses with a force proportionate to their relative size, weight and distance.
To the concentrative forces of the Universe we owe the formation of the material (mineral) kingdom of Nature. By successive concentrations and modifications we get a graduated gamut of states: spirit, heat, ether, air, vapour, liquid, and solids, in which “concentration” reaches its limits. Na-hash, among the elements of Adam’s spiritual being, was the one which, by its “concentrative” nature, had a special inclination towards the material, physical state. When physical bodies were formed for the habitations of men, it was Na-hash that drew the spiritual elements of Man into those physical bodies, ever more and more deeply, until the “consciousness of every human being became centred in its physical “I.”
It is in the physical body that Man first becomes aware of his separate individuality. And it was an essential part of the Divine plan that man should acquire that individuality. Even in purely spiritual conditions Na-hash tends to form an individual nucleus or centre of attraction, which draws into itself all that the soul needs to gather from the infinite realms of spirit. (See Chapter IX.)
Working in those realms it is of infinite value to man. For instance, when we “recall” some past experience, it is really “Na-hash that draws the ‘substance’ of the memory out from the infinite spiritual reservoir in which all that has been, spiritually exists.
Had “wise old” Omar Khayyam knows more and been wiser than he was, he would not have written the bitter, flippant lines:
“Oh Thou who Man of baser Earth didst make
And who with Eden didst devise the snake For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
Is blacken’d, Man’s forgiveness give – and take.”
The expression : “On thy belly thou shalt go” is a purely figurative description of grovelling, crawling-. earthly inclinations. The word ‘gechon.’’ translated ‘‘belly,’’ -actually means to be ‘bent”; “bowed down”; “inclined earthwards.” The word translated “go,” “thalech,” has been mistakenly derived from the word “haloch,” “to come and go,” to “walk about.” It really comes from the radical word “loch,” which means to act in a “low-down” manner.
The expression “Dust thou shalt eat” is also figurative; it resembles our expression: “to lick the dust.” Adam had been “formed” of the “dust” of the “Adamah”-the spiritual elements. Na-hash, having brought Adam out of the spiritual state (and being himself but an activity of Adam), can now only “feed” on earthly elements.
Verse 15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel”
In this verse God explains what He intends to bring about: a mutual “antipathy” between Na-hash and Aisha, which will prevent co-operation between them. Without the “Will” of Aisha, the “desires” of Na-hash will be unrealisable.
The word “seed,” “zera,” represents “potential fruitfulness” The idea is that the desires which Na-hash produces are “seeds” which by the opposing will of Aisha will be rendered sterile.
There is a profound perception revealed in this verse of the way in which the inner unity of man becomes disrupted when evil enters. It is the beginning of that sense of frustration which seems to have become universal in human nature.
“The things I would, those I do not; and the things I would not, those I do.” This feeling of frustration runs through the whole of man’s being; his intelligence, his emotions, his purposes, and his “Will,” all become disordered and incapable of working in harmony. The result is continual discontent, disappointment and disillusionment: “Man never is, but always to be blessed.”
The last part of the verse contains some words we shall need to examine carefully. In the expression “It shall bruise thy head,” the word “it,” “hoa,” refers to the “seed” of Aisha. The present writer is fully aware of the generally accepted interpretation of this passage as the “first Messianic prophecy,” and he may say without hesitation that he believes that interpretation to be quite true, and that it will be fully confirmed if we proceed far enough. But it would be going too far ahead of our text if we were to discuss that subject here. We wish to follow the Genesis narrative step by step, exactly in the order in which everything is told. At present we are dealing with the organisation of the inner being of universal and individual man, and with the origins of the great mysteries of human life.
As regards the word “bruise,” “ishouph,” there has been much discussion. The best translation we can give of it is: “to compress” or “crush.” The word “head,” “resh,” was discussed at length in notes to Gen. I, v. 1, where it is the basis of the first word, “Bereshith.” We showed that “resh” covers a wider field of meaning than just “head” or “beginning.” It denotes the “starting principle” of anything. That is its meaning here. What the passage says, it that the “seed” (the willing” of Aisha) shall ultimately compress or “crush down” the very “principle” of the Na-hash activity. In other words, it will overcome the “source” of all self-centredness, of covetousness, greed, selfishness, and all the ills and wrongs that spring from self-love and selfish desires. Na-hash (in its evil expression) shall be ultimately crushed by the same “Will” that it had in the first case “beguiled.” But Aisha’s conquest will not be easy or painless. There will be long and bitter experiences of failures, difficulties, disappointments and many days of “despair,” even, before “Will” finally overcomes the urge of the “Self” Principle. It was necessary that God should give man free-will and an individual “ego,” but man has to learn that so long as separate Wills are each seeking their own desires, conflict- “war”-must inevitably continue to exist in every department of human activity. The quest for happiness, satisfaction, peace of soul, harmony of life, and peace and goodwill in all human relationships can never succeed until man comes to recognise the absolute necessity of a Will, infinitely greater and wiser than all human wills, and decides of his own free-will to submit his personal will to the Divine Will. Everyone individually can do that, and in so doing, solve his own life-problem. The moment that any man can say in complete sincerity: “Not my Will but Thine be done. Rule Thou in me,” the self-inflicted curse of the ages falls away from him, and he finds at last true “freedom” and “peace.” The “salvation” of the world will not come about in any mass movement; it will come by the reunion of individual Wills with God. The surrender of the personal Will must be entirely voluntary. If God used compulsion He would be taking away the very faculty by which man becomes a responsible moral being.
“And thou shalt bruise his heel” Some translations use the word “bite” in this place, instead of “bruise.” The English Version uses “bruise” in both cases as being more consistent -with the fact that the Hebrew text uses the same word in each case. Why either “bruise” or “bite” should be associated with a “serpent” is not obvious. We will keep to our translation “crush down” or “repress.” But let us see what the word “heel” means. We do not as a rule associate “heels” or toes or any other part of the body with the “Will.” Neither do we associate heels with a serpent! The Hebrew word is “akeb.” Here are a few of the different meanings of the word given in dictionaries :- “Heel”; “impression of heel”; “footstep”; “track”; “spoor”; “traces”; “in consequence of”; “for the sake of’; “the consequence or fruit of any action”; “because”; “for that purpose”; “fraud”; “deceit,” and so on. With so many different interpretations (according to various contexts), why choose “heel”? One thing we know is that the word is clearly intended to be an antithesis to “resh,” and “resh,” as we showed, is the “starting principle” of anything. Obviously, the antithesis of a “starting principle” must be the resulting “consequences.” If we accept that meaning it throws light at once on the whole matter. “Aisha,” having set human Will in action, contrary to the Divine Will, had separated man from his unity with the spiritual realm. Yet Aisha is not evil in nature. When she realises her error, it is too late to undo the direct consequences of it; but her disillusionment causes antipathy between her and Na-hash, and that “represses” in her any “following-up” of the fault. This interpretation is confirmed by what follows:
Verse 16: “Unto the woman He 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.”
The English translation continued, of course, to be dictated by the idea in the translators’ minds that “Aisha” was a woman. But as we are prepared for that, we shall find this verse contains very little difficulty.
The first impression we get from reading the verse is that God inflicts a heavy arbitrary punishment on Aisha. We hope to show that that is quite a misunderstanding. The idea that God “takes vengeance” for all breaches of His “Law” or opposition to His Will is contrary to the truth. His purpose is always to “cure,” to “save,” not to punish.
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; or rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy (loving kindness) toward them that fear (reverence) Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from Him. Like as a father pitieth his children so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are dust.” Psalm 103, v. 10-14.
We might add the lines of Tennyson:
“All the windy ways of men Are but dust that rises up,
And is lightly laid again.”
We are quite aware of the many passages in the Bible in which God is said to “take vengeance”; to punish; to bring plagues, calamities, or destruction, on people or nations for their sin. It was the universal habit of thought in olden days to attribute all such “visitations” directly to God-they were expressions of His “anger.” It was that habit of thought that accounted for so much being attributed to God that was utterly contrary to His nature, and that even shocks our poor and imperfect ideas of justice and goodness.
The minds of ancient peoples did not distinguish between arbitrarily imposed “punishment” and consequences directly arising out of wrong-doing and reacting on the wrong-doer. They are indeed “punishments” to the wrong-doer, but be inflicts them on himself. They come through the workings of natural “laws,” admittedly, but they are direct, relevant results of his own deed, and are not arbitrarily imposed by God.
Ancient peoples also failed to see the difference between
“error” and “sin.” They saw an evil deed just as a fact, without being able to “place” it in its true moral perspective. We have gradually come to see that the “sinfulness” of a deed depends entirely on the, more or less, “responsibility” of the doer, i.e., on the more or less completeness of his “self-consciousness,” the extent of his “rationality” and his “knowledge” of what he does and what its results will be. The reason why the ancients failed to see that “sin” depends on “responsibility” is simply that they had not developed rational self-consciousness themselves; and only in proportion to that development can man come to understand what “responsibility” really is.
Verse 16 (continued). The word “itzebonech,” translated “thy sorrow” (English R.V.) is the word “etzeb” extended and made more general in meaning by the affix “on.” It is a -contraction of the two roots “etz” and “tzb.” The first is familiar as meaning “tree” or “organic substance,”‘‘ etc. The second denotes anything in the way of “obstacles,” “difficulty,” opposition,” “prevention.” Combined in “etzeb,” the meaning is : “physical obstacles”; “difficulties of all kinds”; “anxieties,” and so on, in realising one’s “conceptions,” “ideas,” “desires” and “purposes.’
So long as “Will” was exercised only in the spiritual realm it was free and efficient. Whatever was willed” was, “ipso facto,” realised.
In Spirit everyone is “free.” We can think, feel, create mentally, anything we wish, and no earthly power can prevent us. But when we try to realise our conceptions in the physical realm, and have to adapt ourselves to physical conditions, we are at once hedged about with obstacles and difficulties of a thousand kinds, and many of our conceptions prove to be -absolutely impossible of realisation. That is exactly what God explains to Aisha, that “she” will inevitably find in physical conditions “she” could be no longer “free,” and her powers would be greatly curtailed.
The word “heronach” (“thy conception”) is extended in the same way as “etzeb” by the “on.” It extends the idea of “conception” to apply in any sense, either physical, mental, or spiritual; and as it is connected in this place with “Aisha,” the “Will,” the “conceptions” referred to would not be “children,” but “intentions,” “purposes,” etc. In fact, the words “theledi banim,” translated “bring forth children” quite agree with that. The first word means to “generate,” “produce,” “give birth to,” “realise,” etc. It is a very common word, used without any regard to sex, and by no means limited to a woman S function. The ‘word “banim” also denotes any “productions” of mind, body or Will ; any “ideas,” “purposes,” “children,” “intentions,” even “buildings.” The great French writer and poet, Lamartine, in his autobiography, says in reference to certain mental experiences: “J’etais malade d’un poeme que je ne pouvais pas enfanter” (I was ill with a poem I could not give birth to). That use of the expression is exactly identical with its meaning in this verse.
“Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” The word here translated “thy desire” is “te shoukathech.” It means “thy inclination,” “leaning,” “tendency,” “attachment,” etc. The idea in the word is similar to what we mean when we say that water will find its own level. Water will run through any ups and downs of piping until it reaches its starting level. In a similar way, Aisha ‘is, of her own inclination, to be carried by a natural tendency towards Aish; her activity will be determined by his intelligence and his ideas in future, not by Na-hash to whom she is now antipathetic. There is no shadow of suggestion of “domination’ or compulsion” by Adam, so there is nothing whatever in the text to countenance the idea that “inferiority” of woman to man, or anything in the way of “enslavement” to him, was “part of her punishment.” That is “just another of the many absurdities credited to the writer of Genesis which are not to be found in Genesis at all”-as Dr. Campbell Morgan once remarked.
Now let us see what God is made to say to Adam :-
Verses 17 to 19: “And 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 toil 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 of the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken; for dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” (English R.V.)
In verse 6 it was “Aish” who listened to “Aisha,” and it was “Aish” who ate of the “tree” with her. Here it is “Adam” who listens to his Aisha, thus confirming what we have said a bout the actors in the drama being elements of the being of A dam. “Aish,” the “Intelligent being” of Adam, was Adam.
It was the intelligent faculty of Adam that listened to the volitive faculty, and the volitive faculty that was “beguiled” the desire element. There was also a further reason for dropping the name “Aish” here and reverting to “Adam”; that was that when the intelligent reasoning part of our being is turned aside, so to speak, by a Will that has also been turned aside by surrendering to the suggestions of an unreasoning desire, it obviously loses its “intelligent” character. “Wishful thinking” is the opposite of sound intelligent thinking.
Adam, in his heart, coveted the “knowledge of good and evil”-not from any evil or rebellious motive at all-but just because he thought knowledge must be a good thing, desirable to make him “wise,” and, therefore, nearer to the “‘likeness of Elohim.” This “coveting” of knowledge led him to subordinate intelligence and reason to desire, and so brought chaos and disorder into his inmost being. That is exactly .the meaning of the “ground” being “cursed” through him.
Ail the misunderstanding of this passage has been caused by the mistake, which we have pointed out again and again of confusing the two words, “ground”- “Adamah,” and “earth”
- “aretz.” It is the Adamah-the spiritual elements which compose the “human” principle-the very elements which separate man” from the animal realm of beings-that Adam has brought into disorder and made the means of bringing about trouble of a kind that no animal can produce. No animal can “sin” because it possesses no moral qualities. That power to know “good” and “evil” belongs to man alone, so that man is able to become either saint or sinner: the very power that can make him the one can make him the other.
He begins to exercise his human qualities while in a state of complete ignorance and, obviously, can only acquire the knowledge of himself and of the latent potentialities of his being through experience. Without actual experience he could not know what good and evil are; and in the getting of experience. is it any wonder that he continually errs? The disorder he brings into the workings of his inner being can only result in what the narrative poetically expresses as “producing thorns and thistles,” wild, uncultivated, disordered growths in his life. One evil breeds another incessantly, and so man finds himself in an increasingly bitter struggle against evils of his own making. That is a perfectly true picture of the course of human life in the gaining of “experience.” But it is no “curse” laid upon man by God, neither is it an arbitrarily imposed “punishment” for his misdeeds.* It is nothing more nor less than the direct and inevitable results of blind and irresponsible error. In the narrative, God states the position clearly and dispassionately. There is not a word of anger or blame in anything He says. He shows Adam that his upward path will be full of difficulties, but He at once begins to provide him with the means of overcoming those difficulties. All that on a casual reading sounds like punitive measures, proves, on closer examination to be remedial and helpful, intended to lead man to happiness and to strengthen him with Hope. The disturbance and disordering of the Adamah results in human development becoming a matter of anxiety and labour. But the first thing God says is that,, in spite of “thorns and thistles” (of the mind and soul), “Adam” shall “eat” of the green herb -the grass of the field. That was exactly the food provided by Nature for the higher animals (taking the words quite in a literal sense); and in their limited animal existences – it suffices for their needs; they flourish on it happily enough.
What more peaceful or pleasant sight can we wish for than to watch the cattle leisurely browsing in a meadow or quietly “chewing the cud” as they take their “siesta”? t Just as He “gives” the “cattle on a thousand hills” their “meat in due season,” so God promises to provide for the simple material needs of man. But it means more than that. Adam’s trouble was “human” trouble, trouble of the mind and spirit, ignorance of the way to use his higher faculties aright. He was no longer an “animal,” but he was yet very far from being fully human,” so God promises to continue to him, while his human elements are developing, the “instinctive” guidance by which the lives of animals are ordered. God will guide him until he is able to “stand on his feet” as a “man and rule his own life.
“Neither is anything whatever said of any so-called “Curse” on the material earth, the soil from which man gets his material food. It was the spiritual elements of man that were “disordered.” But we may point out here a striking phenomenon of the correspondence between spiritual and physical movements. It is that any changes taking place in the spiritual world-either for good or evil, always closely coincide with corresponding changes in physical Nature.
This recalls the story of Nebuchadnezzar: how pride turned his head, he lost his reason and was turned out into the field to “eat grass” like the oxen until reason re-awakened in him, and seeing the folly of his pride in setting himself up above the “most High,” becomes man again. One suspects a very close connection between the inner meaning of that story and this Genesis narrative.
So it came about that humanity, in its very earliest stages of development, was almost entirely instinctive, and that its-:’rational, self-conscious qualities have been the slow growth of ages. God guided man at first directly through the subconscious mind.
Now the narrative reveals a second stage of development -which is distinctly above the animal stage:- “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat ‘bread.” The mention of bread here is surprising, especially if we come to the narrative with the idea that it is dealing with a historical incident in the life of the “first man.” As the “first” man he would not have the work of any other man around him, all he could learn by observation was what animals did and how they lived, and what the earth around him produced-and that did not include “bread.” One can imagine that he would have replied to God with the question: “What is bread?” To have explained to any “first man -on earth” what “bread” was, would have been as impossible as to discuss, on a scientific level, “Relativity,” or “Fission of the
4 Atom” with a Patagonian native or a bushman.
Bread is, in an important respect, very different from the “grass of the field” which Nature provides freely. It is something that man has a large part to play in the production of; it is something he has to work for. It is essentially “human” -food- the very symbol of human food-whether for the body or the soul. “Man” is on the upward path when he commences to get “human” food from the “earth” by his labour. Does it look like a “punishment” inflicted by an angry God when He starts mankind off in the industry of Agriculture?*
The present writer does not know the history’ of the English word “farm,” but there is a curiously Hebrew suggestiveness in it. If the reader will refer to our chapter on the “Fourfold River of Eden,” he will see what was said about “phrath.” Note the consonants. Our “F” is the equivalent of the Hebrew “ph.” “Ph-r,” we said, was a root denoting “fertility” or fruitfulness.” The “M” is the “Universal” sign. So if “farm” is traceable to Hebrew roots, “to farm” is the science of universal fruitfulness.
Of all the various types of work that man can be occupied in, surely no other so combines everything necessary and good for the bodily, mental and spiritual development of the race as Agriculture? It is healthy work, and work that keeps man close to Nature and to God. Its very nature makes him continually conscious of his dependence, not only on his own work, but also on the Power that makes his work ultimately fruitful. Man cannot provide “rain and sunshine in due season,” and so could not of his own powers make one single grain to grow and multiply. It is work in which one is always looking forward. It is disciplinary; it has to be done in “faith,” and it lives on Hope. Summed up in this symbology, “Agriculture” is the whole range of human culture to the end of time.
But this was not all that God had to say for the helping and cheering of so-called “fallen” man. He goes on to say that earth life, with all its labour, discipline, troubles, sorrows, and ultimately growing “wisdom,” is not an “end” in itself, but merely a prelude to life that is “Life” indeed.’
And yet this last, best word of God to “Adam” is one that, through the general misunderstanding of Genesis, we have been taught to read as if it were a funeral dirge, closely akin to Dante’s “Lasciate ogni sperariza, voi che entrate.”-(“Abandon every hope, ye who enter.”)
The words were: “till thou return to the ‘ground,’ for out of it wast thou taken : for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.”
The whole meaning of these words is destroyed when we read into them a sentence of “death.” They are the very opposite of that. The cause of the misreading is again the same old error of taking “Adamah” as a synonym of “earth,” which we have continually been pointing out. Man was not taken from the “earth”; he was “formed from the Adamah,” the spiritual element. He left his native element when he entered the physical state (although in doing that he was in reality carrying out an entirely necessary part of God’s plan). “Return,” “restoration,” “re-establishment” “. . . . a speedy return to his native land, if so be he desires and deserves it” (some readers will doubtless be familiar with that quotation) would have no meaning, at all unless they applied to the spiritual native state of “MAN.
The word “dust,” “aphar,” as we have said before, does not refer to “dust of the earth,” but to refined spiritual elements. The whole sentence really means: “for of finer elements than earth is thy being, and unto that being thou shalt return.” Note the positive assurance of those last words “thou shalt return.”
They are a message of final conquest-self-conquest, the attainment of true “Manhood.”
To do real justice to this Genesis narrative is a task far beyond the competency of the present writer. He can do no more than sketchily indicate the barest skeleton of the ideas he finds in it, and hope that others of much greater learning, general knowledge and literary ability will deal with the subject more efficiently. They would certainly be doing good work for mankind and the Church on earth by so doing.