This Shall be Called Aisha

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter 23

Fred Mayers

Genesis III, v. 21 to 23.

v.21: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh thereof;

v.22: “And the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.

v.23: “And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (English R.V.)

As a preliminary to the understanding of this strange little symbolic passage, it is absolutely necessary not to lose sight of the essential fact that “Adam” was still entirely a spiritual being. He had not yet entered the physical state of existence. He had not yet reached the stage of an individual intelligent being. In his spiritual being there was, as yet, no differentiation of his spiritual “elements” such as would correspond to, or form a stepping stone to the sex separation-which would be a necessity for his existence on the physical plane in which he would become incarnate as the “human race, as individual human beings of “flesh and blood.” In the passages relating to the work of “Adam” in the animal realm we were given, in broad, suggestive outline, the story of the gradual evolution of such a type of physical “body” as “human” beings could eventually inhabit.

Up to the present, however, the story is dealing with the formation of the “essential being” of “man,” that is, of all that separates “humanity” from the lower kingdoms of the created universe, and raises man above them. “Man” is to be a being differing from all other beings in the fact that he is to be able, although a created, finite being, to become the “reflection” or “likeness” of God Himself, capable of conscious intercourse with God, and capable of loving communion with Him.

He is to share in the very nature of God. This does not, of course, mean that man can ever become “God.”

Man, neither as an individual nor as a race, can ever cross the gulf that divides the finite from the Infinite ; and necessarily, what, in God, is infinite, eternal, changeless, and perfectly “good,” must in man be subject to mutation and imperfection.

The unique significance of man lies in the fact that to every individual human being God can say: “I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a son,” and He can say that to nothing in the universe except man. The “key” to the whole creation narrative clearly appears to be that the heart of God craved for beings in His own “likeness,- “ to love and be loved by. To produce a race of such beings, God was obliged to share with them His own nature, and to endow them with powers not possessed by any other creatures. What those powers were, the sequel will show. We have had 1”hints” already, notably in the fact that “Adam” could not find his completion in the animal realm. The most he could do, within the limits of that kingdom of Nature, was to evolve “potential” human bodies, with bodily faculties, and an impersonal “soul of life” that was purely instinctive, involuntary, unreasoning, and therefore un-free, lacking personal initiative, moral responsibility, and the possibility of spiritual progress,- i.e., the power of self-transcendence.

If we keep these facts in mind, we shall see at once the utter absurdity of thinking that the verses we are considering in this chapter were ever intended to be taken in a literal sense. -An examination of the Hebrew text will show us that it contains much more than the surface story suggests. But at the same time we shall become aware that there is a curious and unexpected appropriateness in the use of the seemingly crude and almost fantastic story of the “rib” taken from a physical body (which Adam did not possess) to symbolise the deeper truth beneath.-

We shall also see that the very incoherences which are so obvious in the English Version, are of such a nature as to make clear to us that the translators were, to some extent at least, quite aware of many things in the ancient text, that they were not in a position to explain. We will call attention to these points as we come to them.

Following our usual course, we will examine the principal and most significant words in the original text. Firstly, the word translated “a deep sleep- “thareddemah. The word is built on the two roots, “RD” and “DM.” The significance of the root “rad” can easily be grasped. as we use it in its original sense ourselves in such words as: “radiate,” “radius,” “radical,”“Radium,” and so on. It denotes any force or influence proceeding from a centre of activity. The Hebrew word “radah” means to “rule,” to “govern,” to “subdue” (to control from a -centre). The same root used as a “passive” verb means “to be insensible,” “to be fast asleep,” “to lose one’s consciousness and control of outward things.” The root “dam” has been fully explained in earlier chapters, when dealing with the meaning of the words “blood” and likeness.” It denotes “similarity,” “identity,” “homogeneity,” “kinship.”

The addition of the prefix “th,” and the affix “H” increases the energy of the word considerably. The whole word, therefore, denotes something much deeper than ordinary sleep. It describes a state of trance or deep, hypnotic sleep in which the patient not only becomes unconscious but for the time being loses his very “self-hood,” and becomes subject to, and entirely controlled by, the will of another.

The next words we need to study are the words translated “one of his ribs”- “achath metz-alothaio.” The word “achath” has a double meaning: it may signify “one” as a number, or it may signify “unity” as a quality, i.e., the undivided or unbroken unity,- completeness, or integrity of anything: and that is the sense in which it is used here. The word “tzaloth” is the plural of “tzalaw,” the ordinary word for “rib.” Its root meaning is: something which “envelops,- covers, enwraps, encloses, protects, involves,” How the word applies to a spiritual being and its symbolic appropriateness we shall see shortly.

The phrase: “and closed up the flesh thereof,” has been invariably misinterpreted by commentators. Led astray by taking the story in a purely literal sense, as describing the removal of a physical rib from a physical body, they naturally assumed that this phrase must mean the filling up of the “gap where the “rib” had been. But the Hebrew text, however literally one may render it, cannot be given that meaning. The word translated “thereof” refers-not to any supposed “gap,” but to the “rib” itself. The other words in the sentence confirm this. The word translated “closed up”- “issegor,” means rather “closed in,” “enclosed.” What was done to the “rib” was exactly what was done to the “dry bones” in the Valley of Ezekiel’s dream-(and those “dry bones,” by the way, we were told, were “the whole house of Israel”-in other words, they were quite symbolic “bones.”) The point is that, just as the “bones” of the dream were given human forms and life again so the “rib” was built up into complete “human” form and given “Life.” The “form” given to it was, however, not a physical form but a spiritual one “reflecting” the spiritual form of Adam. The word translated “flesh,” “bashar,” really means the “outward form,” or the “visible substance” of anything. It is only in vulgar usage that it has the meaning suggested by “flesh.” It is really something much more general and spiritual. In fact, the same word in Arabic (which is closely, akin to Hebrew) becomes practically a synonym for “beauty. The word must also have had something of that meaning in – Hebrew,- to account for the fanciful Hebrew allegorical story of Adam “falling in love” with Aisha “at first sight.”

What the whole phrase clearly denotes is that God, having taken a certain element from the being of Adam, gave it a special quality and life. Previously it had merely lain dormant. God made it active-active enough to bring into activity the whole being of Adam; to be his “help-meet,” This means of self-expression to the utmost extent; of making that “Self” fully the Likeness of God-(or the very opposite).

Verse 22 goes on to tell us that God having developed the “rib” “Into Aisha (“l’aisha”), restored it to the Adam”-made it a part of him again. That, obviously, will not fit in with the materialistic interpretation of the story.

Verse 23 then goes on to tell us what “the Adam”-(it is. as usual, “the” Adam)-becomes conscious of as he “awakens,” -in possession of his new faculty. The verse makes the Adam speak to himself- (just as in old fables and stories, animals are made to speak). This is what it says (translated quite literally): “And the Adam said: ‘this’ is actually substance of my sub stance and form of my form. To this he,, gave (the name) ‘Aisha,’ because from Aish ‘this’ was taken.

The reader will notice at once on reading that translation, -the curious way in which the word “this” (zoth) appears in each case where the English Version reads “she.” The Hebrew text does not say “she,” “hoa”-it deliberately substitutes the “impersonal” pronoun “this.” That should have been a sufficient indication to any open-minded translator that no bodily “woman” was referred to.

The word ‘which the English Version translates by “now,” “ha phaam,- “ we have rendered above by “actually.” There is not much to choose between the two words, the difference is very slight; but if we accept the English rendering “now,,-’ it rather suggests a little contradiction to what was said in verse 21. If we put any emphasis on the “now” (as, par ex. in “whereas I was blind, ‘now’ I see”) it appears to state that the “rib” had only become part of the substance of the Adam after it was taken from him. The Hebrew word avoids that vague contradiction, it means “actually” or “really.”

There is another word in verse 23 that we should make some reference to. It is the word translated “bone” in the English Bible: “etzem.” It is not new to us. We explained the word “etz” in connection with the passages in which it was translated “tree” in the English Version. We then said that it denoted “substance” in general, especially any “organic” substance, and that it applied both to physical and spiritual things. (For instance,- in Psalm I it is translated by “counsel.”) “Etzem” is exactly the same word extended by the final “M,” the “universal” sign. This gives the word,- in the present case, the meaning of “general spiritual substance.” “Adam” says “This is spiritual substance. of the very substance of my whole spiritual being.”

Now we come to the two words “aish” and “aisha,” which the R.V. translates by, “man” and “woman.” This is the first time the word “Aish’ appears. Hitherto the word “man” has always been “Adam” in the Hebrew. Why this change of name? Why does verse 22 say: “taken out of Adam,” and verse 23 make Adam say: “Taken out of Aish”? The English Bible translates both names by “man,” without any indication that they are different in the Hebrew. There are other words also in Hebrew denoting “man” regarded in particular ways, which the R.V. does not distinguish from one another in any way, or offer any explanation of. That, of course, causes much confusion of ideas and makes it impossible for anyone without some knowledge of Hebrew to arrive at the real meaning of the original. The writer of Genesis never uses any word, or makes any change in a word or a name, without very definite purpose.

We should know sufficiently well by now that the name “Adam” denotes “man” in a universal, spiritual sense : “that which is human”; “that which distinguishes ‘man’ from any other creatures.” “Adam” was not “a” man; nor “men and women “en masse,” but the “human essence.” His purpose was to bring into the universe the “likeness of God,” to make finite beings “reflections” of “Divine” qualities.* His work began in the very earliest manifestations of sentient life. Then the state arrived when he could go no farther without transcending the limits of the “animal” state. To do that he needed a “help”)-a “faculty” he had hitherto lacked.

We have now come to the point where that “faculty” has been provided for him, though we have not yet been told (except so far as we can gather from the symbolic narrative) what that “faculty” actually was. It is “Adam” himself who describes it as “Aisha,” and adds that he does so because it was “taken out of “Aish.” * The moment he finds himself in possession of the new faculty he realises that he himself is a new kind of being to what he was before. He now sees himself as an independent intelligent being. which he calls “Aish,” and he knows that his new “help” has been produced from his own “intelligent being.”

*Note the passage in Goethe’s “Faust” about “weaving” for finite beings, “the living garments of Divinity.” That expression is really an excellent rendering of the spiritual significance of “ribs.”

Now let us study, somewhat in detail, this word “Aish.” The simple root “ai” denotes merely any “desire,- “ “inclination,” -any way in which a being or individual seeks some “self” expression, or reveals itself. The root “ash” denotes “potential activity, power,” “force,” “directed energy.” “Aish” denotes all activity in which one’s individuality is expressed. It is the manifestation of one’s “intelligent being.” This “intelligent being” it is that gives man any real “Self” to express, and makes him capable of conceiving ideas of his own; but to bring about the realisation of the ideas one creates, something more than creative intelligence is required. That “something” -is the driving power of WILL, and WILL was what God “built up” into a living, active force from its elemental germ, that had till then been lying dormant in the being of Adam. Now we can see the meaning of the name “Aisha.” To the name “Aish,” one sign letter has been added, and one removed. The sign added is “h’ ‘-the sign of “Life,” or of movement towards some purpose or end. It has been referred to and explained many times in ether chapters. “Aisha” is that which gives life and realising power to “Aish.” In the Hebrew text the name transliterated “Aish” is spelt A-I-S-H, and pronounced “Aish,” but that transliterated “Aisha” is spelt A-SH-H, without the “i,” although the i sound is retained in pronunciation. It was omitted from the written word for hieroglyphic purposes. Had it been retained, the word “Aisha” would have been simply a feminine of “Aish,” and would have denoted that “Aisha” was a separate “intelligent being,” or “female intelligence”; but the omission of the “i” showed that “Aisha” was not a separate being but a faculty of the being of Adam.

As a sidelight on the value of much of the so-called “Higher Criticism,” we may mention that Delitzsch and others question the correctness of the statement put into the mouth of Adam, that the name “Aisha” was derived from “Aish.” Delitzsch says naively : “Adam did not speak Hebrew and therefore could not be competent to say what the word was derived from.” It does not appear to have occurred to him that Adam did not write Genesis, and that the man who did, not only spoke and wrote the language, but did more, perhaps, than any other man to make it a great literary language. We therefore think it at least a justifiable assumption that he was quite as competent to state the derivation of any word he used as even a learned XIXth Century AD German professor. Delitzsch’s counter-suggestion that “Aisha” was derived from “neshim” (which means ‘wives or women” in a physical sense). as any careful reader of this chanter will see. makes no sense at all, and merely shows that he had no idea at all of the meaning of the whole story.

‘When we once realise that Aisha was the “faculty of Willing” we can see how precisely correct every word used in the old text was. Will is not an intelligent being In itself. What we “will” is not the creation of Will. Our “intelligent being,” it is. that creates our thoughts, ideas, conceptions, desires, etc., but it requires Will to bring them to fruition. Dante tells us that, in spiritual realms, “Will and Power are one.” Previous to the provision of “Aisha,” Adam was not an “independent” intelligent being; he had no Will of his own; he could only do what the Divine Will which controlled him, permitted. of course, in that state he could do no wrong- “ sin” was an impossibility to him; but so also was all creative power, all moral effort and all spiritual progress. He could get no nearer to being the “likeness” of God than an animal can, and could not realise God’s idea of “man.” Therefore, God could only make the “man” he longed for and needed by giving Adam “Will-power,- “ and “Freedom”;-Freedom even to rebel against the “high powers in Heaven,” but without which he could never attain the “likeness” of God.

The very first attribute of the Divinity which Genesis reveals to us was His Will :- “Let there be,” or “there shall Be,” or better still, the simple imperative “Be.” Adam, to become the “likeness” of God must have Will as a starting point, also for his self-expression.

We close here our study of Genesis Chapter II. Verses 24 and 25 in all probability were no part of the original book. They come at the end of a chapter, where there would very likely have been a blank in the original manuscript. They have every appearance of being a comment added by a later writer.

They are quite different in style and idea from those of the Mosaic writer, and the more closely one looks into them, the more apparent it is that they could not have formed part of the narrative. It would be quite easy to show that the ‘writer, whoever he may have been, did not really understand the meaning of the text, or he would have seen that his comment-good as it may be in itself-was irrelevant. It was just one of those “practical applications” that any preacher might deduce from a text; not part of the text itself.

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