Eve and Clothing

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter Twenty 28

F. J. Mayers

Genesis HI, v. 20: “And the man called his wife’s name Eve (“havah”), because she was the mother of all living.”

We said in Chapter XXII that the “helpmeet” needed by Adam must, among other things, be a “stepping-stone” to sex differentiation. As long as Adam remained a purely spiritual being, the spiritual prototype of “humanity,” he was, of course, bi-sexual, “male and female.” (Gen. I, v. 27.) The separation of “universal man” into individual “man” and “woman” takes place only when Adam enters the physical state. That occurs when, having “eaten of the tree” and discovered his ignorance and undone-ness, he seeks to hide himself from the eyes of God within the “substance,” “etz,” of the “garden,” i.e., by entering physical bodies.

In “Adam,” as Spiritual man, the “intelligent principle (Aish) and its complementary, the “volitive Faculty” (Aisha) were unseparated elements of one being. But in physical humanity, “Aish” becomes the male principle and “Aisha” the female. So, in the physical state, “Aish” becomes synonymous with “husband,” and “Aisha” with “wife” or “woman.

Thus the realisation of sex-differentiation on the physical plane was the means by which Adam became able to be “fruitful and multiply.” And as every human being owes his or her being to his or her mother, “Aisha” becomes the “mother” of all “being,” and Adam gives her the new name, “Eve,” “havah.” The name is derived directly from the verb “hoh” = “To be.” By changing the initial “h” into “ch” and making the “vav” as “O” into a consonant, the result is a word which denotes the “realisation” or “materialisation of being or beings.”

That is the meaning of verse 20 as simply as we can explain it.

(The reader will note again how invariably, whenever a “name” is given, in the Bible, to anyone or anything, it is always significantly descriptive. It is never merely an arbitrary appellative “label.”)

It would have been impossible, except in a purely metaphorical sense, to have spoken of “Aisha” having “children.” Her offspring were nothing but the realisations of the mental and spiritual purposes and desires of Adam. “Eve’s” children on the other hand, are “beings” of flesh and blood, creatures time and space. Aisha’s” activities were in the spiritual realm; “Eve’s” children were “mortals” – subject to change, transformation, transmutation, and the alternation of states of being which we call “death’ ‘-all which things are essential in their existences.

This verse has the appearance of being a preliminary introduction to the subjects to be treated of in Chapter IV and onwards. Many scholars think that it got misplaced, and should have followed verse 24. We do not agree with that view; the verse seems to us to be needed here to make the real meaning of verse 21 clear.

Genesis II, v. 21: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins and clothed them,”

This verse reads much like a continuation of Genesis III, V. 7, in which Aish and Aisha were said to have “sewed fig leaves together to make themselves aprons.” A reference to the explanation given of that verse would help us to understand what a very different matter this verse deals with. Verse 7 described what Aish and Aisha did for themselves-how they “covered” themselves with “confusion,” sorrow” and “trouble.” Verse 21 tells us of what God does for them.

The translators, having once got into their minds the idea that the narrative was concerned with two naked bodies that needed clothing, were, of course, obliged to “keep the tale moving” along the same lines. It would be difficult to explain or excuse their translation: “coats of skins,” in any other way. The word translated “coats,” “che-thanoth” (as it is “pointed) loses sight of the fact that the letter “ch” is simply the “assimilative participle” meaning “as,” “like,” “as it were.” The real word is the root “th-n” or “thanah”; this root expresses the idea of “adding substance” or “giving body” to anything. In the word “nathan” it denotes a “gift” or something imparted. “Thanah” means, literally, “bodylike forms,” “envelopes,” but we cannot fully determine its meaning here, apart from the word that follows, “or,” which they translated “skins.” This word means “shelter,” “protection,” “defence.” As a verb, it means “to watch,” “to guard,” “to defend”; “or,” for instance, denotes a “fortified town.” The word could, of course, be applied, as an adjective, to the “skin” of an animal because the “skin” is the animal’s protection against weather or cold; but one could just as well apply it to the “shell” of a tortoise, or to the “spikes” of a hedgehog; or to the “camouflaging” of animals or insects. In other words, ‘or” does not mean either “skin,” “shell,” “spikes” or “camouflage,” but simply the “purposes” that those things serve.

Another point we have to notice is that the word “or” denotes here, something which is to replace the “gan” or “garden” in which Adam is now unfitted to work as a spiritual being, and so must quit. We must remember that it was a sphere for “spiritual” activity, although it was organised in the sphere of “time and space.” It is plain, therefore, that what God was providing for “Adam” (that is, for all humanity) were suitable bodily forms for the exercise, the protection and the development of his “human” qualities, in the physical world.

We have already seen that the “Adam,” as the spiritual formative force in the animal realm, had developed animal bodies nearly approaching, in a general way, to what would be necessary for the habitation of primitive human beings. (The bodies of the anthropoid apes, for instance.) It would be fully in accord with scientific evidence to assume that such bodies were the first tabernacles for human souls. But that was only man’s physical beginning. And now a new phenomenon appears: bodies which continued to be animated by ape-souls retained their forms unchanged, so that, to all intents and purposes, the ape-body of to-day is the same as it was 50,000 years ago. Something very different took place in connection with bodies inhabited by “human” souls. Human bodies-ever since man began to occupy them-have never ceased to develop characteristics exactly corresponding with the development of his mind, soul and spirit. The more man thought, the larger his brain became; the more intellectual his thought became, the higher and the less receding became his forehead, the less brutal he became, the less projecting and massive became the lower jaw. The more “manly” he became, the more upright, well poised, and harmoniously balanced became his figure, until he reached the highest perfection of physical form and beauty. Then the development of purely spiritual qualities produced a corresponding development of “expression” and “beauty” which can hardly be called “physical”; that something, it is rather, which can make a face with little physical beauty more spiritually beautiful than the most perfect features and complexion.

It is in that continual development of all the constituents of his being, that man differs entirely from the animal kingdom. We do see developments, often very striking developments, in animals and also in plants, but they are always brought about by human activities, by training, scientific selection, and breeding; they are never brought about by “nature,” and another thing that is very significant is that these artificially-produced developments must be maintained by human activities. If the improved breeds of animals produced by the scientific breeder are turned loose to live in the purely natural conditions in which their ancestors lived; or if the choicest productions of the horticulturist are left to run wild, they gradually revert to the original state of their species-or die out altogether.

Man, on the contrary, possesses the power of continual self-transcendence. That is God’s special gift to him.

Now the above is exactly what is told us in this 21st verse. God-working, of course, through the natural processes He had brought into activity- “makes” for humanity “bodily forms,” “envelopes” and “environing conditions” in which man can continuously develop his ‘‘human’’ qualities, and give fuller expression to them. He “enfolds,” as the text explains, every human soul in forms, “and clothed appropriate bodily forms. The word translated “and clothed them,” is “va-ialebbish-em.” The root of the word is “bash.” We explained that root in connection with the word “bashar” in Gen. II, v. 21, where it was applied to the building up of the so-called “rib” taken from Adam into complete “bodily form and beauty.” (The word “bodily” in that case must obviously not be understood as meaning a material bodily form. It was applied to the “volitive faculty,” Aisha. Spiritual qualities have their own spiritual bodily forms. We speak, for instance, of minds as being “broad” or “narrow,” or “deep,” or “warped,” etc., and we describe thoughts as “ugly” or “beautiful.”)

It will be seen from the foregoing that the “clothing” of Adam and “his wife,” is God’s counter-measure to take away the “nakedness” which Adam became aware of after his first experiment in gaining “knowledge.” “Clothing” in Biblical language, even in passages which appear to have a clear literal meaning, very seldom really refers to the putting on of “clothes.” It will almost invariably be found to be a metaphorical expression for the’ putting on of some spiritual quality, whether it be the “sackcloth of humility” or the “white robe of righteousness,” or the “making wise” of the ignorant; or the covering of a bare hill with fruitful olive trees. Whenever “clothing” is mentioned, a spiritual meaning underlies it. It would be superfluous to say more or to quote examples, which are “legion.” God makes every human body the outward expression of the soul that inhabits it. In other words, He “clothes” the inner man-the true individual-with bodily form appropriate for his needs and expressive of his character. This applies on every moral or spiritual level; even without Shakespeare’s description, we could not conceive of the body of a “Caliban”* being less ugly and distorted than his soul ; and we know perfectly well what is meant, when we are told of the first Christian martyr, that “his face was, as it were, the face of an angel.”

Truly, if an “offended and angry” God “avenges” Himself by blessing the transgressor with such generous and thoughtful care and provision for his well-being, “His ways are not as our ways, or His Thoughts as our thoughts.” We cannot have known Him aright ; He has been all the time “Ain Soph” to us.

*By a curious coincidence (?) the Hebrew word “keleb” means a “dog” or a “bad, cruel man,” and even the final “an” of “Caliban” is equivalent to the Hebrew “on,’:’ which adds to the intensity of the wickedness suggested by the’ name. It would be interesting to know how Shakespeare obtained the name, as it so strongly suggests a Hebrew origin.

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