The First Red Light

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter 20

Fred Mayers

Genesis II, v. 15 to 17,

v. 15:“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it’

v.16: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

v. 17:“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (English R.V.)

Verse 15. “And the Lord Good ‘took’ the man.”

The ordinary Hebrew word for “took” is “la-kach,” which means “to take hold of”; “to take possession”; “to take away”; “to capture”; “to spoil or loot,” etc.

In the present case, the author omits the “extensive” sign, “1,” which gives the word the suggestion of putting out the hand to grasp something, and writes simply “ikach.” This reduces the word to the original root, “kach,” This root denotes a “tending” or “being borne towards something”; of “becoming” something, or “being made a part of something.” The word means that God gave to the Spiritual man, “Adam,” an “inclination,” a “tendency,” or a “desire” towards activity in the special sphere which had been prepared for him in the “sensible” realm of time and space.

“And put him into the garden.” The word “put” here, is not the ordinary word “isham,” “he placed,” but “innach.” The root “nach” (see Chapter XV, “Sabbath”), signifies “rest” or “repose,” not necessarily in the sense of resting in sleep, or lying down when one is tired. It has that meaning; but it also may denote the reposeful, satisfied feeling one has when a musical melody -naturally ends on its key-note; or when a picture or other “work of art” leaves one with the feeling that it is quite “satisfactory,” harmonious, free from discord or restlessness. It denotes also the feeling that comes when a period of unsettlement or unrest has passed; or the feeling of being “at home.” The word in this verse means that God, having made the “garden” agreeable and attractive to “Adam,” “settled” him down in it happily; it also means that the “garden” was to be the permanent “home” for Adam. The verse goes on to say that Adam was put into the garden “to dress it and keep it.” In spite of the “Century Bible’s” comment on the narrative, that “in paradise man was to be spared the labour of ploughing, sowing, reaping, threshing, etc., Adam was not put into the garden to lead an idle existence, by any means. He could find satisfaction and enjoyment there, but he was to find it in work, not in “il dolce far niente.” The word translated “dress” is just simply the ordinary word for “to work” or “to labour.” The same word used as a noun, means a “servant” or a “workman.” Adam was to labour” in the garden to till it, to improve its productiveness, to make it an ordered” garden, and to “beautify” it. Some of these meanings, as well as the meanings of “watching over,” “tending with care,” “guarding,” and “preserving,” are also included in the word “shamerah,” translated “to keep.”

All the above has a general application to the purpose and work of “our present” humanity in the world; but we must not lose sight of the fact that “Adam” was still a spiritual universal being, and the “garden” which the writer of Genesis was concerned with, was a spiritual garden. although it was “set out” in the “sphere of time and space.” If we refer back to what was said in our notes to Genesis I, v. 28 (page 92), we shall have no difficulty in understanding what is meant by Adam’s work in the “Garden.” It was the activity of the spiritual force (lacking in materialistic presentations of the idea of “Evolution”) which was the real cause of the upward progressive movement in the development of life forms on earth. And if we recall what was said in our last chapter about the “fourfold stream” of formative forces, we shall see that, concurrently with the spiritual work of “Adam,” those forces were at work producing -the physical forms corresponding to, and necessary for, the final expression on the physical plane of that work,

verse 16 . “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying. .

The word translated “commanded” is the only word in the sentence which we have not, at some point in our previous chapters, discussed and explained. It happens to be an out-

· standing example of the way in which Hebrew words take on quite unexpected meanings when we correctly understand their roots. The word is “itzaw.” The “yod” is merely the pro-nominal prefix, “he.” “tzo” is a simple root word meaning “to point out,” “to mark” or “indicate” something for a purpose; to “prescribe”; to “guide”; to “advise,” etc. If the “vav” were definitely used as a consonant, as it is, for example, in the word “tzahvah,” then the word would mean commanded,” “gave an order”; but the confext shows that that meaning is not intended here. The word is followed by the phrase: “thou mayest eat freely.” Obviously “command” and

mayest” are incompatible. A “command” leaves no choice, it is positive and arbitrary, but “thou mayest” denotes a matter of choice. If “itzo” meant “command” it should have been followed by “thou must.” We therefore consider that the meaning of the word here is, clearly, that God gives guidance, advice, or a forewarning.” This small detail is really of much more importance than may at first appear, as many quite incorrect deductions have been drawn from the word “command.” We shall see when we get a little farther on, that, for a supremely important reason, God never, under any circumstances, prevents any human being from exercising freedom of choice in his activities – even when they are wrong and evil. God did not give an arbitrary command” to “Adam” that he should not “eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” but, knowing perfectly well what “eating” meant, He gave Adam an advance warning. He put up the “red light.” God knew that Adam would be certain to “eat of the tree,” but did not wish him to do so without a warning of the total change that would be brought about in his being, as the result. If it had been possible for Him to save Adam from himself, without destroying His final purpose in creation, He would have done so. If Adam brought suffering and endless trouble upon himself, God Himself also suffered. It was He Himself who was afflicted in all the afflictions of mankind. But let us continue our examination of the narrative. The verse goes on to say, “of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.” The expression “freely eat” is expressed in Hebrew idiom by “eating, thou mayest eat.” All the words in that sentence have already been to some extent discussed, so it is only necessary to recall the results.

In the first place, the word translated “tree” – “etz,” has a much wider meaning than merely “tree.” It denotes the material or spiritual “substance” of anything.

The word translated “every” – “chol,” also means “all”; it contains all ideas of “entirety,” “completeness,” etc. “Every tree” means the “whole essence” of all that grew naturally in the spiritual garden.

We have also shown that the word “to eat,” “achol,” is built on that same root, “col.” It means “to feed upon”; “to nourish oneself”; “to sustain or extend our strength and powers,” and in that sense to make ourselves more “complete.” The word describes the process of “consuming”; “assimilating”; “taking into ourselves” anything on which we live and grow, either physically, mentally or spiritually. So to “eat of the tree” is to assimilate; to take into ourselves the substance or essence of anything. Every natural growth of the garden of life we can “freely eat” – it is valuable experience by which our souls grow. It is all good. The attempt to gain know-ledge of good and evil, alone constitutes a danger to man,-and it is a fatal danger.

Verse 17. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

The meaning of the original might he rendered more literally, perhaps, in this way: “except from the tree of knowledge of good and evil . . . Eat thou not of any of that tree, because, in the day of thy eating of any of it, dying thou wilt die.”

The Hebrew idea of “knowledge,” as we have said before, was that it was something acquired personally, and made our own by actual experience. Anything that we are told by another-that is not first hand: and that has not been experienced by us, is not “knowledge” to us. We acknowledge that that idea is correct in our legal axiom that “hearsay is not evidence.” Now, if we apply that idea of “knowledge” to matters of “right and wrong,” “good and evil,” it is at once evident that we can only get “knowledge” of what is good by doing good and experiencing the effects of so doing; and also of evil by doing evil and experiencing the effect of that,-and then comparing the results. It is only b the comparison of the results that we can judge what is g and what is evil for ourselves. That means having experience of both good and evil. By the time we have that experience the evil is one, and, once done, cannot be undone. The harmony of our existence, the “rightness” and “perfection” of our lives is destroyed, and the unity of man with the Divine Will and Eternal’ Life” is broken. Something has come in to separate God and man. What is that “something”? It may be a paradox, but the answer is that the very thing which makes it possible for man to become the “Likeness of God” is also the very same thing which makes it possible for him to destroy that “Likeness.”

It is always our safest course, in these studies, to avoid going ahead of the original text. The reader may have noticed that throughout this chapter we have not made use of the word “sin.” Thus far the Bible has not used the word; we have to go some distance yet before we find “sin” mentioned, and then it is mentioned, not as existing but as potential, in the phrase: “sin lieth at the door.” This means that an “error can open the door to “sin” (Gen. IV, v. 7). The word we find used throughout this chapter is “evil,” and that word is used for the first time when the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is mentioned. The significance of that is, of course, that there is a difference of idea involved in the word “sin.” Not all that is “evil” or “wrong-doing” is sin. Sin” involves the idea of moral responsibility and “guilt.” It is “knowledge” that makes a breach of what is divinely right into a “sin.” (See John IX, v. 41: “If ye were blind ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see: therefore your sin remaineth.”) Trespasses” may arise involuntarily or from ignorance; “sin” is conscious, wilful, wrong-doing.

But anything that breaks the perfect working of God’s good ordering of the universe, whether it’ arises from error, miscalculation, absent-mindedness, etc.,- or whether it arises from wilful wrong-doing, is always followed inevitably by certain direct, evil consequences. These consequences are exactly related to what is done, not to the cause or motive of the deed. To illustrate what we mean :-As a little child, the present writer was often cautioned to “keep away from the fire, or he would be burned.” Normally, he obeyed the injunction quite carefully,- but one day he was playing “blind man’s buff” with some playmates, and while blindfolded, accidentally tripped on something and fell against the fire. The fact that the fall was quite accidental did not prevent him from getting badly burnt. The burning was not a “punishment” for a misdeed. (If it had been it would have been grossly unjust.) It was simply the inevitable result of contacting the fire.

Now, “Adam” had been put into an environment in which he could find everything he needed for his sustenance, for the development of the “human” qualities which he, thus far, possessed, and for his enjoyment. He was still a spiritual. universal being; and he was still in unity with the Divine Will. His activities simply reflected that Divine Will, therefore the question of what was “good” or “evil” did not arise, and did not concern him in any way. The Will of God was “The Good” in itself, and the only standard of good. So long as he remained in that “Unity of Spirit,” Adam could not sin or go astray.” But, if he should ever desire to take over the direction of his own life, and decide for himself what was good or’ evil, the result would be’ disastrous.

What the result would be, the writer of Genesis describes symbolically as “dying thou wilt die.” The words are “moth tamoth.” The root of the words, “moth,” denotes a change from one state of being to another. (It is the same natural “root” which we have in our words “motor,” “motive,” “mutable,” etc.) It is ordinarily used for the “change” from life in the physical body to some other state, which we call “death.” It does not refer to the death of the physical body here because “Adam” was still a spiritual being; he had not yet received physical bodies. He was still a Unity: the not-yet incarnated spirit of “humanity” in general. The words in themselves do not involve the idea of the “ending” of life, or “annihilation,” but rather the idea of passing into an “alternative” or “complementary”* state of being; some “opposite” state. Adam, as a spiritual being was immortal”; his essence was eternal. If he separated himself from the divine “Unity,” that involved his passing out of Eternal conditions, and becoming transmuted into a “mortal” state of being.

Many of the questions that arise from this section of the narrative can be cleared up when we get a little farther on with it. What we wish to make clear at the present point is that these verses (15 to 17) do not contain any arbitrary “command” imposed upon Adam; still less anything in the nature of a “threat,” and most certainly nothing in the way of a “trap” by which the “obedience” of Adam would be put to the test. Such a suggestion as that-though, unfortunately, it has been very generally adopted, is utterly repulsive to any decent-minded man, and a libel on the character of God. The farther we go with these studies the more we shall discover that there is nothing which God ever does that does not spring from Eternal Love towards man. Every step He takes proves to be a step -towards “blessedness” for man. Everything He does, is done -with complete knowledge of all things-from the beginning to the end. It was Omniscience that pronounced His creation: “good to the utmost.”

Before closing this chapter we may refer to the words: ‘in the day that thou eatest thereof,” etc. Those words have been a serious stumbling block to “literalists” because they were obliged to read all that follows in the same literal way, and they found themselves “up against” the disturbing fact that, in the only way they could read the story, Adam did not die in the day he ate the “fruit”-nor for several hundred years! We do not think the words will present any difficulty to those who -have followed our analysis of the text. The narrative, as it began by explaining, is the “symbolic” story of all humanity, of every man and woman. There is no one of us who has not eaten of the same tree and died the same “death.” The “day,” -as we saw in the chapter on the “Sabbath,” is the “day” which includes the whole history of human error-but also ends in human salvation.

We use the word “complimentary” in the same sense as when we speak of “red” as the “complementary” of green,” or “orange” of “blue.” The only possible “complementary” of a colour must be another colour of exactly the opposite colour nature. The same applies to states of being.

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