Posts from the “Apologetics” Category

Genesis 4:16-24, Cain’s Descendants and Implications for Today

Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. (Genesis 4:16, NASB)

Many Bibles read that Cain lived in a place called “Nod”. However, what many readers lose in translation is that nod means “wandering”, and that nod is used just earlier in the phrase often translated as “a fugitive and a vagabond will you be in the Earth” (cf. Gen 4:12).  That phrase should probably be translated as “you will be wavering and wandering [nod] in the Earth”, which would put vs. 16 in proper context: as Cain enters a “land of wandering”, thus living out his judgment.

Previously I suggested there was a prophetic undertone to righteous Abel’s murder, which was followed by Cain’s “desolation” from the “Presence of God” (in other words, a prototypical “holy land”).  I believe this is a prophetic forecast for future “desolations” which occurred in the days of Moses, Judges, Prophets, the Babylonian captives, and ultimately, when Rome destroyed Israel in accordance with the prophecies of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).  Thus the pattern of desolation is imprinted here early in the Scriptures – as a prophecy of warning to future generations.

So Cain’s “desolation” begins in verse 16 – which is a glorious oxymoron.  How does Cain “settle” (Heb. yeshev) in a “land of wandering”?  Which is it – did he settle down or wander aimlessly?  Adding to this conundrum is what happens next:

Cain knew his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch. He built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. (Genesis 4:17)

The Hebrew word for “city” is iyr, which can designate any fortified place. Given that Cain was preoccupied with “anyone who finds me will smite me” (vs. 14), he likely built some sort of fortress.  At the same time, he named his son “Chanokh” (anglicized as “Enoch”) which is the same Hebrew word used when “dedicating” or “establishing” a memorial – i.e. how King Solomon “dedicated” the Holy Temple (ref. 1 Kings 8:23).  Therefore, when Enoch was born, it appears Cain was intending to re-establish himself!

So Cain built a fortress, he had a new family, and thus he “settled down” …but only according to man’s standard.  Prophetically speaking, Cain was still nod-wandering …according to the Word of God.  So the answer to the riddle is hiding in plain sight: Cain went out from the Presence… and was in the land of wandering.   If you are separated from the Presence of God, you’re “wandering”.  It doesn’t matter if you have the tallest castle with the thickest walls, or married to the prettiest wife with ten sons to carry on your legacy!  It doesn’t matter how you re-establish yourself; without the Presence, it’s vanity.

Let’s consider that Cain and his descendants (cf. Genesis 4:18-24) had quite the accomplishments – specifically, three of Cain’s fourth-great-grandsons revolutionized agriculture, the performing arts, and metallurgy (vv. 20-22).  In fact, these three sons – along with their father Lemech – would yield tremendous power and influence over the rest of the world, for it is written of them that they were “fathers of” all those who followed their trade.  In fact, Methusaleh, who was the same generation as Lemech the descendant of Cain –might have named his own son “Lemech” (who turned out to be the father of Noah, see. Gen. 5:25-30) in honor of him.

Cain’s descendants were sons of a desolation, and I write about their accomplishments and influence because of a strange trend I’m witnessing in Christian churches and especially in the Messianic faith.  You see, there is another group of people who are sons of a desolation, and who are likewise highly influential and successful all over the world.

I speak of today’s Jewish community.

Now, I don’t want to be misunderstood as anti-Semitic.  It’s not anti-Semitic to identify how disproportionately successful Jewish people are in today’s society when compared to the success of other cultures and communities.  I find zero fault in anyone capitalizing on opportunities.

The fault I find is actually with Christians and Messianics.  As Christians/Messianics, we believe that the last desolation of Jerusalem occurred for a reason, one which was specifically prophesied by Messiah Yeshua.  Like Cain, these men went into all nations – wandering you might say, and immediately built shtetls and communities, and “settled down” so to speak.  As the centuries passed, Jews were unfairly persecuted, but eventually, they began to be innovators in the sciences, arts, and various industries.

However, while no one claims the descendants of Cain were successful because of Providence, why are Christians and Messianics claiming that today’s Jewish community is successful because of God’s favor?  This type of success is only measureable in this life, and doesn’t have any bearing on the age to come.

Just ask Cain’s descendants.  Their success and influence couldn’t save them from the Great Flood; in fact, we could argue that it helped contribute to the Great Flood!  And the success of anyone today – Jewish or Gentile – will not him in the upcoming Yom haDin (Day of Judgment).

Therefore, we must stop calling “favor” what the world calls “success”.  They are not necessarily compatible.

Now, in future posts I’ll discuss how Cain’s descendants could’ve been saved from the flood, just as Jews are returning to Israel in preparation for end-time fulfillments.  For now though, let not sons and daughters of God be swayed by anyone’s success in this life.  For as the ancient world was swayed by the influences of Cain’s descendants and drowned, what would become of us if we falsely confused God’s favor with human success? ♦

Genesis 4:7, Sin Wants to Marry You

“But if you do not do good, sin rests against the gate. And toward you will be its attention, and you will rule among it.” (Genesis 4:7, my translation)

This is a difficult passage, and while I apologize for any offense caused by using my own translation, I wanted to record how I interpret this.

Sometimes we don’t always pick up God’s eloquence in Hebraic symmetries, but that’s exactly what’s occurring through the words of Genesis 4:7.  He is making a point we need to understand.

Many rightly interpret these words as a warning to Qayin (Cain) about the dangers of chatta’ah (sin)… and that’s true for the first half of the verse. “Sin” (Heb. chatta’ah) is portrayed like an animal that “rests” (Heb. rabats) right up against an entryway (Heb. pethach). In other scriptures, this “rest” describes flocks lying down in a well or in good pasture – because they know they will be watered or fed there (cf. Gen. 29:2, Eze. 34:14).  In other words, sin “rests” next to an “entryway” because it knows it will soon be well-fed there!

The question then becomes, what is the “entryway”?

All of this symbolism was likely familiar to Qayin. He likely saw, for instance, how Hevel’s (Abel’s) flocks lay in wait for his brother’s feedings at some pethach of an animal pen.  This pethach – likely a “gate” – guarded the animals from devouring Qayin’s fields.

In God’s words to Qayin, we perceive this “pethach” is a type of spiritual gateway that one “opens” – to sin!  God is saying is that when anyone refuses to “do good” (yatav) – which is to say, to do evil – he opens a gateway to his own ruin! Sin will destroy everything he wishes to protect!

And this spiritual gateway we know: it’s the heart.  It’s why all throughout Scripture we read things such as “these commandments I give you today will be on your heart” (Deut. 6:6) or “the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). The heart is the only thing YHVH sees in us: let’s make sure we’re pure in heart, and not open to the pollution of sin! For this reason this “gateway” appears at the very beginning – it establishes where sin actually occurs.

As for the second part of Genesis 4:7, most Bibles translate it something akin to “it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (i.e. the NIV). These translations cause the reader to see these words as a mitigation, but not so – it’s a consequence of opening up the gates to sin.

Before showing the extent of that consequence, we must first realize that the latter half of this verse is phrased exactly similar to an earlier verse. Transliterated from Hebrew, Genesis 4:7 reads:

w’eleykha t’shuqat-o w’atah tim’shal-b’o (“and toward you will be its attention, and you will rule among it”).

and this is the transliteration from Genesis 3:16:

w’el-iyshekh t’shuqat-ekh w’hu yim’shal-b’akh (“and toward your husband will be your attention, and he will rule among you”).

These are phrased the same for a reason, but God is not showing Qayin how to “mitigate” sin any more than he was showing women how they would be “mitigated” by husbands.

In Genesis 3:16, those words were indeed spoken to Havah (Eve), which showed her (and thereby all women) that after a long day with the children, she would turn her attention toward her husband. Due to her obligations (in child-rearing, breastfeeding, etc.) he would “rule among her” meaning that he would be responsible for providing for her, elevating her, and expanding their dominion “as one flesh” (cf. Gen. 2:24).  Meanwhile, she provides support, counsel and – at times – opposition, for her own benefit as “one flesh” with her husband.

In Genesis 4:7, God is showing Qayin that sin wants to attach itself as “one flesh” with human beings.  Thus man “rules” among sin – feeding, nurturing, listening to the counsel of… sin! Thus sin wants to expanding its dominion by influencing man, as “one flesh” walking away from the goodness of God.

What God told Havah was a consequence of life after the Fall – at a point when she could no longer do anything about it. What God told Qayin is a consequence of choosing sin. The difference is, Qayin could do something about it!  In fact, according to His own words, God was trying to bring Qayin into “exaltation”  (cf. 4:7a). He offered Qayin “exaltation” first by the way, even before showing Qayin the downfall of his choices.

That is so God. God always pleads with people first, even before showing them the consequence of their actions. In the future He would do the same with prophets, but at His core He wants as many people to be “exalted” as possible. This “God of the Old Testament” is not the vengeful tyrant He’s made out to be – He was always not desiring anyone should perish, as Messiah Yeshua said (in John 3:16). In his words to Qayin, we can even see that YHVH doesn’t even want anyone to even open the door to sin – and begin a “spiritual marriage” for obligations and dominions that only lead us further away from the dominion of the One True God. Ω

Genesis 4:3-7, There Was Nothing Wrong with Cain’s Offering…

As time passed, Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the ground. Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. The LORD respected Abel and his offering, but he didn’t respect Cain and his offering… (Genesis 4:3-5, WEB)

I know during my lifetime I’ve heard dozens of sermons or teachings that identify Hevel’s (Abel’s) sacrifice as better because it was a blood atonement, as opposed to Qayin’s (Cain’s) non-blood sacrifice, which was supposedly from “abundance”.

There are problems with this interpretation for a number of reasons, but most of all, it dilutes the main point!

First and foremost, the Word explicitly says that YHVH “did not look upon (lo sha’ah) Qayin.” There was something wrong with Qayin – not his offering!

For further evidence of this, we need look only at the next few words (in my own translation from the Mst and DSS):

“…and Qayin became exceedingly angry, so that his face fell. And YHVH said to Qayin, why have you become angry? Is there not – if you do good – exaltation?” (Genesis 4:5-7)

Put another way, the word for “good” is tov and Qayin wasn’t doing good (yatav). Remembering that the only standard human had in those days was to choose between the spectrum of tov and ra (evil), YHVH was reminding Qayin that he should pursue “good”. But that’s not all – as they often do, God’s words contained a promise: that YHVH will “exalt” (s’et) Qayin if he would just choose the “tov”!

Most of our Bibles say “will you not be accepted?” but s’et means “elevated” in the context of God’s elevated state in His “majesty” and “excellency”. YHVH was actually showing Qayin how he could be “elevated” just as He did for his brother Hevel.

The bottom line is that if God does not “see” you, neither will he “see” your sacrifice. I love that this occurs with Qayin and Hevel in the Beginning, because this theme resurfaces throughout history, as the Prophets demonstrate:

–“As for the sacrifices that are made by fire unto Me, Let them sacrifice flesh and eat it, For the LORD accepteth them not.” (Hosea 8:13, YLT)

–“Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh.”For I did not speak to your fathers… concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’… (Jeremiah 7:21-23, GNT)

–It’s useless to bring your offerings. I am disgusted with the smell of the incense you burn… No matter how much you pray, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with blood… Yes, stop doing evil and learn to do right. See that justice is done—help those who are oppressed, give orphans their rights, and defend widows.” (Isaiah 1:13-17, GNT)

Not surprisingly, THE Prophet (Messiah Yeshua) equated this same principle with the Kingdom of God, thus expanding earlier precedents:

–“…to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” Now when Jesus saw that [the scribe] answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” (Mark 12:33-34)

So, the truths that the Prophets spoke were the same as Messiah spoke, which is the same as YHVH spoke to Qayin, because of you know, the whole “I am in the Father and the Father is in Me” thing. The message is, was, and always shall be the same: ‘Love me by being obedient, and I will accept your holy days, your sacrifices, your prayers, and your offerings.’

It’s clear that Qayin didn’t understand this, because he couldn’t be obedient, even when YHVH pleaded with him and showed him the path to “exaltation”. Hevel, on the other hand, DID get it.

Earlier I posted about the backstory of Qayin and Hevel, and by this point their life’s story reached its first culmination. Hevel had learned that the favor of parents didn’t equate to the favor of God, and that God wouldn’t limit him to his weaker (perhaps handicapped) physique. Hevel knew what he was in this life, but that didn’t stop him from offering in trust (cf. Hebrews 11:4). Hevel recognized a greater life and Universe – specifically, that YHVH was a faithful God, who would accept Hevel.

It’s not that Qayin lacked belief or even thankfulness, but what he did lack was humility. He was groomed to be “the Man” from childhood but wasn’t so in God’s eyes… at least not yet. The way I see it, he had options. He had been provoked to jealousy – a tactic God has always used to bring people into righteousness – but use that jealousy to learn from his brother Hevel in humility. After all, it’s not as if Qayin was rejected by YHVH forever; there is no reason to think Hevel and Qayin couldn’t be exalted together!

There are still believers that are comparable to Qayin. We all know them; they think they are the only learned ones, anointed ones, the best worshippers, etc. Yet this competitiveness is offensive to the Almighty, especially if it’s “the man”. If one has the whole “field” so to speak – i.e. the pastor – what occurs? Jealousy, followed by a move to thwart, silence, and/or hijack an authentic work of YHVH!

Whoever is elevated by YHVH should be elevated by all, that we may all be preserved and exalted with God.

To the believer, I’m sure he can draw even more similarities with Qayin and Hevel and the manifestation of Messiah Yeshua – the last being first, pride vs. humility, provoking to jealousy, rejecting the Way, etc. And yet, it will get even deeper as the story continues! Ω

Genesis 3:16, No Place for a Woman?

In my last post I proposed that Genesis 3:16 is a song designed to recall the lessons of God. This of course proffers the question, ‘what’s important about this word to women that needs remembering?’

I’ve already proposed why Genesis 3:16 can be dangerous – it can cause unfair judgments about a woman’s “place”, and also God, who supposedly “cursed” her. There are also several deviations in this verse’s translations, my fear being that one can make this verse say anything he wants!

However, an accurate understanding can alleviate these concerns.

The first phrase in the song is:

el-ha-ishah amar har’bah ar’beh itz’vonekh w-heronekh

Our focus should be on “itzavon” because it is a common theme of another song. God also says that MEN will experience “itzavon”: “Cursed is the ground because of you, in itzavon will you eat of it all the days of your life… (Gen. 3:17)

So if we interpret itzavon correctly, we can identify the theme of these poetic songs spoken to both men AND women. We will ALL experience itzavon; these songs merely elaborate HOW we will experience it. In this case of women, itzavon is directly related to how many pregnancies and (therefore) children she will have. In the case of men, itzavon results from hard labor, primarily in the production of food.

The word itzavon only appears three times in the Hebrew Bible, two of them occurring in these two songs. However, it’s its third and final occurrence – seemingly evoked over a millennia later while recalling these songs – that really shapes our interpretation:

This one will console us from our work and from the <itzavon> of our hand. (Gen. 5:29)

Therefore, itzavon is something needing consolation or comfort. It has nothing to do with the physical pain of childbirth. If itzavon is what a tired mother feels, or a farmer worrying if his crop will feed his family, then I understand itzavon as “stress”.

We can also look at itzavon’s close relative, etzev, which comes from the same root and appears in the next line of Chavah’s song:

b’etzev tel’diy baniym

This is simply a poetic parallel to the first line. In the first line God says, “I will multiply your stress and your pregnancies” and then He reiterates in the second, “in <etzev> you will bear sons.Etzev has multiple meanings (vessel, hard work), but in a negative context, it describes work that keeps one so busy as to cause the loss of sleep:

It is vain for you to rise up early, to stay up late, eating the bread of <etzev>; for so he gives his beloved sleep. (Psa. 127:2)

Therefore, the “bringing forth” of sons is not describing the birth process. It describes a mother’s hard work that causes stress and sleep deprivation! If that were not enough, the song continues to describe how she will inevitably, after a full day of dealing with the children, interact with her husband as he returns from the fields:

w’el-ishekh t’shuqatekh w’hu yim’shal-b’kh

Most of the controversy surrounds the two verbs, t’shuqah and mashal. Most translations render t’shuqah “desire” despite its mere three occurrences in the Hebrew Bible (cf. Gen. 4:7, Songs 7:10). However, t’shuqah comes from a primitive root meaning “stretching out”, as all concordances attest. Fortunately, the Septuagint allows us to see the consensus of 70 Jewish scribes who utilized the Greek word “apostrophe” in place of t’shuqah. Apostrophe means “turning”, which I interpret as a turning of attention that wives and husbands commonly afford each other at day’s end. This translation also fits the Beloved’s attention to the Shulamite in lieu of the fields (Songs 7:10), and sin’s attention toward Qayin (Cain) when he stumbles (Gen. 4:7).

Let’s remember that both the woman’s and man’s day is spent in itzavon. Their only relief from such stress is each other, but the problem is this “attention” (t’shuqatah) leads to… more children! Additionally, many children were required to help in the unforgiving fields “on account of the land which YHVH had cursed” (Gen. 5:29). In those days children weren’t a choice, they were a matter of survival.

Fields can be neglected for other duties (trading, bartering, selling, etc.), but children cannot. Generally speaking, the woman was always the de facto caretaker, because she had to (for breastfeeding and so forth), while the man completed other tasks “in the sweat of his face” – scavenging, plowing, etc. However, because the mother had to be there, the Word says that the husband “will rule among you.” I think “rule over” invites a negative connotation that is NOT present. The –bet (b) proclitic is used; this has a sense of saying “the husband will rule in your presence”.

Additionally, the verb mashal is often used in conjunction with the duties of a ruler – specifically, how he divides and provides the key resources of his kingdom, household, empire, etc. Examples of this include Yosef (Joseph) “ruling” over Egypt (Gen. 45:8), Avraham’s servant Eliezer “ruling” the goods of Avraham’s house (Gen. 24:2), even the sun and the moon “ruling” in the day and night (Gen. 1:17-18).  In the context of Genesis 3:16, it appears Adam is put on notice, as he is the one to responsible for the provisions and survival of his wife and children. Thus, man is judged by the real head of the family – God – on how he “ruled” on behalf of his family.  This is hardly divine privilege (neither man nor woman gained anything that day – everything was a demotion), it’s another thing to be stressed about, because as everyone knows, life is tougher now.

These words to Chavah are NOT a curse, nor do they condemn women to a lesser state.  Men and women were created as equals, but it’s obvious that women are bound to their children for their well-being and survival as a matter of circumstance.  Children need breast milk. Families need food. The mother and father had to provide both, respectively, if their families were to survive.  And it’s precisely this element of provision that is the X-factor in the post-Eden world. Before the Tree, God provided everything, and humans wanted for nothing. Now, humans must provide everything just to survive!  This element of provision is what causes so much itzavon in life – “stressing” about finances, resources, children etc, etc. The stress we carry daily started right here immediately after the incident at the Tree.

We mustn’t denigrate women to a lower state because of what Chavah did or think this a curse. This is only a circumstance within the context of a marriage with many children – a normalcy throughout history. However, throughout the Word of God, many women, such as Devorah (Deborah), Miriam (Moses’s sister), the Queen of Sheva, Anna the prophetess, and Junia the apostle appear to be highly regarded leaders in the company of men.

When the days of childrearing become stressful, and mothers are at wits’ end, they recall this poetic, rhyming and rhythmic song, as a memorial to what she lost in Eden. All the while the fathers sing their own song.

And these are not just songs, they’re actually commandments to follow to remain in the will of God. All will be explained, God willing.

To be continued! Ω

Genesis 3:16, The Song of Women

As I studied my next topic – Genesis 3:16 – I was challenged to understand exactly what it said. Judging from its various biblical translations, I’m the rule, and not the exception!

The NIV, ESV, and NASB seemingly agree that a woman’s lot in life is the physical pain of labor, but are ambiguous about her relationship to her husband, as witnessed by this example:

“To the woman [the LORD] said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”” (Genesis 3:16, NIV)

The reason it’s “ambiguous” is because the phrase “your desire will be for your husband” can mean a) ‘all women will desire to marry a husband’, b) ‘your desire will be for your husband to succeed’ or c) anything you desire will be reserved for your husband’s approval.

This latter point is the trajectory of the KJV family, akin to:

“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.” (KJV)

Note that the KJV versions read that women will experience emotional pain – “sorrow”, as opposed to physical labor pains, as read in the other most popular translations.

However, these translations are mild compared to the NLT or NET Bible:

“I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” (NET Bible)

OK then! This translation paints ALL women with the same strokes appropriate for Jezebel. It’s apparent that the NET Bible took this verse’s ambiguity to a whole new level.

What I’m trying to show is that interpretations of this verse are all over the map. Furthermore, some variations lead the reader down a dangerous path, ultimately portraying an unfair picture of both women and God. Consider the quotes from some of the most popular commentaries:

Matthew Henry: “The woman, for her sin, is condemned to a state of sorrow, and of subjection…”

Gill’s Exposition: “this is to be understood of her being solely at the will and pleasure of her husband; that whatever she desired should be referred to him…”

Ellicott’s Commentary: “Among the heathen the punishment was made very bitter by the degradation to which woman was reduced; among the Jews the wife, though she never sank so low, was nevertheless purchased of her father, was liable to divorce at the husband’s will, and was treated as in all respects his inferior.”

This was a small sample, but as we can see from the example of Ellicott, this verse is dangerous that it can be a pre-textual lens for interpreting other scriptures, which does nothing but produce incorrect assumptions about the role of women.

In such cases as these where translations and interpretations differ so greatly, it is usually due to the murkiness of the Hebrew which can cause confusion in the minds of translators. Upon further review, Genesis 3:16 is such a case. It does contain rare and uncommon words, and there’s even something different about its construction.

The transliterated Hebrew of Genesis 3:16 is:

el-ha-ishah amar har’bah ar’beh itz’vonekh w-heronekh’ b’etzev tel’diy baniym w’el-iyshekh’ t’shuqatekh w-hu yim’shal bakh’

Even those with no experience with Hebrew can hopefully still see the poetic license within this verse. Some phrases rhyme (i.e. “amar har’bah ar’beh”, “itz’vonekh w’heronekh”, “w’el-iyshekh t’shuqatekh”) and when pronounced in its entirety, the words are constructed to flow right off the tongue. Obviously, this is by design, because it’s a song.

Songs are strategically written for ease of memory, a benefit for societies steeped in oral tradition (like ancient Israel). In other words, when God inspires poetic justice within the pages of Scripture, it is because He wanted those words to sink deep into the recesses of Israel’s collective memory.

This is why the Song of Moses (see Exodus 15) – which celebreates the Exodus – appears in poetic form. It is why David put the “Song of the Bow” and the rest of his psalms in poetic form; his songs were designed to teach and commit to memory (2 Kings 1:17-25). Moshe wanted the Children of Israel to remember the horse and rider falling into the sea, while David wanted Saul and Jonathan to have a memorial as Yahudah’s first royal family.

So while there is a benefit to incorporating lessons into a song format for the sake of oral tradition, it does carry a disadvantage for modern cultures relying on a more literal tradition. In the case of Genesis 3:16, we seek literal lessons from a poetic context, which is definitely a problem.  We fail to consider that the normal construction of the Hebrew was deliberately altered for the sake of rhyming and flow, and also was constructed with rare and uncommon words for the sake of Semitic poetry.

In short, Genesis 3:16 is a challenge!  However, we will investigate it further, Lord willing. But let us go forward with the understanding that this is a loose poem that may not mean what we think it means. At a minimum, we must not make brash judgments about women based on how it reads (or how we think it reads) in English, and use it as a backdrop to judge other scriptures about a woman’s purpose. There is a fair amount of grief in life since the fall of Man, but I believe that God can bring beauty from that grief, and an inheritance for both men and women. Ω

Genesis 3:12, It’s All God’s Fault!

And said the man, “the woman which you gave with me – she gave it to me from the Tree, and I ate.”

Note that Adam specifically used the word immad, which always means with”. He did not say ‘the woman you gave TO me’, but “the woman you gave WITH me”, including himself with the woman as having been given by God to that place – near the Tree of Knowledge.

If we reverse engineer what Adam said, we read similarities to what scoffers say – that God set Adam and Eve up for failure:

“I ate, but only after the woman gave to me from THE Tree, which YOU put near us after YOU created us and put us together in the first place.”

Basically, Adam absolved all responsibility by deferring to God! We can’t interpret Adam’s tone, but depending on how we read his words, he was either justifying his actions or blaming God, but is there really any difference? They both place the onus for the transgression on God. After all, God designed everything, right? He created the snake with its craftiness, He put the Tree of Knowledge right there in front of them, ad infinitum – it’s as if God wanted Adam to fail, right?

God’s people – or at least, those we’d expect to be God’s people – still use this same justification today for the most ungodly acts imaginable. Usually, the proximity of the temptation (the Tree) is linked to the Creator in some way, even if they are subtle. Here are two real-world examples:

1. The Intern: A certain Christian leader is separated from his wife while leading a charismatic renewal. He becomes close with an intern (the Tree) on his staff and began what he called an “emotional affair”. The revivalist did not call it simply an “affair” or what it is, “adultery” – instead he deferred to his emotions. Though it’s subtle, He was inwardly blaming God for temptations he experienced within his natural flesh-and-blood prison, evoking emotions we all feel (which by the way was a result of what Adam did at the Tree). Basically, he said, “I’m only a fallen human, right?” To this day, that man and his now-second-wife admit they sinned, but “do not regret marrying (each other)”, which is to say that they don’t regret sinning.

2. The Prostitute: A certain televangelist spots a prostitute (a Tree) on the side of the road, and solicits her for sex. When confronted, the televangelist defiantly told elders of his denomination, “The Lord told me it’s none of your business.” It’s apparent that the televangelist thought that God wanted him to satisfy his sexual urges, making it an arrangement between “the Lord” and himself. In other words, he doesn’t regret sinning because ‘It’s the Lord’s business.’

In the first example the revivalist leader was subtly blaming God for his lack of self-control, while in the second example, the ‘prophet’ justifying his lack of self-control by bringing the Lord “in on it”. This follows in the manner of Adam, because whether blame or justification is deferred to God, the bottom line is:

It’s all God’s fault.

Let’s be clear, I think that the motivations for eating from any of these “trees” – lust, loneliness, power, jealousy, spite – are natural. So too is the manner of which these men reacted, out of places of panic, pride, or even shame. However, surrendering to nature, or having any reaction other than a fearful repentance is contrary to the meaning of life. We are to be a kingdom of overcomers, a tried but blameless people, who find forgiveness in Almighty God.

It would have been better for these men to react like David, after he fell at his own Tree (Bath-Sheva) and said, “I have sinned against YHVH.” (2 Sam. 12:13)

Adam’s reply (well you put the woman and that Tree here in the first place) is eerily similar to what scoffers say, as in: ‘God gave you those desires, so why should He be mad if you sin?’ Adam’s reply is also a near paraphrase of what deceived people say, which is similar to ‘well God must’ve put her in my path for a reason, she understands me, unlike my wife’.

Scoffers mock God for putting the Tree right next to Adam, accusing God of tempting mankind into sin. But I suggest that ‘the Tree in the midst’ is a lesson to us, as Adam and Eve’s posterity. There is no Tree of Knowledge anymore, but there’s an intern in our office, a prostitute in our path, and a Bath-Sheva off our balcony. There are drug dealers next door, and pornography with a click of the mouse. Indeed, every temptation is in our midst!

We are designed to overcome, but that only comes with obedience to God’s commandments. I know of One only – Messiah Yeshua – who was tempted in every way that we were, and yet overcame every sin (cf. Hebrews 4:15). That’s why He’s the Anointed One, and consequently why He kept His anointing forever.

If we fail, it’s best to repent immediately like David, and not make it worse. Otherwise we blame God, or justify it to God, the penalty of which is the same as Adam’s – death! Therefore, let us react to the temptations all around us, not as Adam by blaming God, but as Messiah Yeshua, who would have no part of it. God has put us here to overcome, just as Messiah overcame, and sat down at the right hand of God.

Genesis 3:9-11, Is God Truly Omniscient?

And YHVH Elohim called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)

Skeptics cite this verse to levy charges against YHVH, with the accusation that God is not as omniscient as He claims. For example, the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible says, “There are some things that God doesn’t know and can’t see. God couldn’t see Adam and Eve when they hid in the Garden of Eden.”

This is a completely ignorant accusation, because it presumes that there is no logical reason for ever asking a question in which one already knows the answer. However, investigators, lawyers, and other leaders ask these ‘known answer questions’ every day, usually in the context of an investigation, cross-examination, or hiring process. When asked in the right way, these questions help establish truth and/or justice, for through one’s words is he vindicated or condemned (or hired or fired, or rewarded or punished, etc.). This is the same as Yeshua taught: “by your words shall you be justified, and by them shall you be condemned” (Matt. 12:37).

Known answer questions are asked against a backdrop of pre-existing laws, rules, or other expectations, such as in the following examples:

Peter answered [Shappirah], “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” She said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter asked her, “How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? …She fell down immediately at his feet and died… Great fear came on the whole assembly, and on all who heard these things. (Acts 5:8-11)

“Yeshua …seeing that a great multitude was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” He said this to try him, for he himself knew what he would do.” (John 6:5-6)

And within our featured context:

God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat?(Gen. 3:11)

In these examples, the trying questions established truths included for others’ benefit, based on some preexistent standard. In the case of Shappirah, the standard was “you shall not tempt the LORD your God.” (Deut. 6:16) Peter confirmed her lie through her own words, but the result was a warning for anyone in a new covenant who maybe wanted to tempt God. In the case of Philip, Yeshua was testing him on his faith, based on Yeshua’s recent testimony that all would see “greater works” (cf. John 5:20). Yeshua was looking for someone else knowing “what God was going to do.” Lastly, in our featured context, the standard was YHVH’s previous commandment to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The cross examination that followed was a type of trial, to show Adam had transgressed the law by his own words.

If we think bigger, we can see that YHVH and His emissaries asked these questions for our benefit, because they were recorded in the Good Book – that we who follow in Adam and Eve’s footsteps may learn from mistakes of the past.

God knows, and will always know, everything. He will however afford each and every person a trial, in order for him to account of everything he or she has done in this life – even if God already knows. The results of this judgment-to-come prove that YHVH is just, but it also reproves the righteous – that God is serious about His law, which shows who He is and who He’s not.

I wish that skeptics could see that the prototype of the judgment-to-come, when God cross examines Adam in a human-esque form – which I believe is a prophecy of Messiah Yeshua judging humanity in His resurrected body – is not an indication of his lack of omniscience, but rather proof of a trial prosecution – that He will administer to vindicate or condemn every soul according to their works.

Liberal Christian Beliefs and the Genesis Accounts – Embracing the Future of a Non-Existent Past?

And [the serpent] said to the woman… (Genesis 3:1)

I’ll be the first to admit, the talking snake’ used to make me uncomfortable, so much so that I avoided it, wondering if it were some kind of metaphor. Eventually though, I came to the conclusion that I must face ‘the talking snake’. I realized that it was impossible to claim ‘the Bible is the inerrant Word of God!’ but then substitute metaphor for history when its stories disturbed my modern sophistications.

There are many liberal Christians (and for that matter Jews) who explain Genesis 1-3 as poems or metaphors, but what is the end of such reasoning? Figures like Moshe, David and even Yeshua quoted Genesis as actual history – do we know better than these unenlightened ones? And why not stop at Genesis – why not just explain the Exodus, the words of the Prophets, the nation of Israel, and the Resurrection of the Dead as additional moral metaphors, just like Aesop’s Fables?

So before I dive into Genesis 3 as historical fact and the lessons that transpired, I want to challenge these liberal beliefs. After all, if you cannot picture humanity in the Garden of Eden, then you also can’t picture yourself in the Kingdom of God, can you? …Now what do I mean by that?

Consider Adam’s creation. Let’s say you’re a liberal Christian, and you accept man’s proposal that evolution is the true anthropologic history of human beings. If that’s the case, then you could not literally believe that “Yahweh Elohim formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). But my question is, if you cannot believe the beginning, how can you hope for the end: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2). Did not Adam also awake from the dust? What’s the difference between his creation and your resurrection?

Herein lies my point. Every fulfillment that we hope for in Messiah Yeshua – which includes all the promises of God for the olam haba, are prototyped in Genesis. If we expect to enter the Kingdom of God, we must also embrace our ancestry in the Garden… for our salvation is seen through our past.

Taking another example, if the Tree of Life is a myth andwhich never existed, how then can it grow in the age to come (cf. Gen. 3:24, Rev. 2:7)?

Or, if an orchard of ever-bearing fruit is chalked up to an old farmers’ tale, how could God be expected to plant a tree “offering different fruits each month” (cf. Rev. 22:2)?

Even taking the example of my own faith nemesis, the talking snake – if I couldn’t believe God once gave animals the ability to speak (which would include Bilaam’s donkey -cf. Numbers 22:28), then it stands to reason that four living creatures in Heaven “having voices” would be just as ludicrous (e.g., Rev. 6:1).

So is this Genesis story a fairy tale, or not?

If you call it a myth, and you deny God created and sustained what Genesis portrays… then using the same logic, you must reject what the Bible calls “the restoration of all things” (cf. Acts 3:21)… for how can God restore what never happened?

Can’t you see, that ever-bearing fruit, thornless trees, healing waters, cherubim, gemstones, lush gardens, the Tree of Life, perfect climates, incorruption, even talking animals and ETERNAL LIFE, as well as anything else promised through the mouths of both prophets and apostles… is not new to the earth? Can’t you see when you reject your past you reject your future?

Just believe! The earth as we never knew it may be lost, but you must realize that you’re not waiting for anything new – you’re waiting for things to be re-newed. So, examine yourselves, you quasi-believers, you liberal theologians and cowards in spirit. Get past your insensibilities and comfort-levels. Accept that the Almighty was as powerful as He claims… lest you find your faith to be weak and meaningless when you need it the most.♦

Genesis 2:21-24, Why I No Longer believe Eve Came from Adam’s Rib

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam 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.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24, NKJV)

This story used to make me uncomfortable.

I’d heard all the anecdotes proffered in commentaries – perhaps the curve-shaped “rib” represented a woman’s curves, or that ‘marriage requires losing something to gain even more’, etc. – but these explanations didn’t dissuade my dissonance. ‘Why did God need anything from Adam at all? Couldn’t He have just made Eve from the ground like he already did with Adam?’

I resisted calling this word ‘absurd’ because I didn’t want to sound like the skeptics and scoffers. After all, they claim ‘the rib story’ is a paraphrased ancient myth like Ninti, while the Web is full of memes and atheist jokes about “the rib woman.”

Yet once again, Hebrew came to my rescue, and studying reproved my ignorance. The Hebrew word for ‘rib’ (tsela) also means ‘side’ –and appears as such throughout the Tanakh, most often as sides are constructed into the Ark of the Covenant, Tabernacle, and Solomon’s Temple. After YHVH took Adam’s tsela, the verb used with the making of Eve is yiven, literally “He built”. This of course is a prophetic hint -that YHVH built our women like a sanctuary, and should be offered respect and honor men afford to the House of God.

Additionally, Adam just named all the animals, yet couldn’t find his neged, a word meaning “equal” at its core. If the overall point of the story teaches that women should be valued far above animals as men’s equals – then it’s easy to see that “YHVH took from one of his sides…” This makes much more sense than breaking off one-twelfth of a rib cage, as “side” is yet another term signifying the equal-footing of women in the context of the story’s lesson.

The translation of ‘rib’ is a red herring which distracts from the focus of the story. It isn’t what was taken from Adam, but what was ADDED to him. The text reads wa-yisgor basar tach’teh-nah: “closed up flesh in its place.” The text doesn’t say God “closed up the flesh in its place” as there is no –ha representing a “the” article. Although Bibles commonly read “the flesh” here it’s incorrect. This suggests that God healed Adam’s own flesh after supposedly extracting one of his ribs, but we also see no possessive pronoun, which if it were present, would read ‘wa-yisgor basar-o tach’teh-nah’ (-o representing “his”, as in “his flesh”). Therefore, the text suggests that God takes from Adam’s side, but immediately repairs him with flesh – brand new flesh to be exact. This is key, because “flesh” is the real focus of the story. “Flesh” represents things added to Adam. The mini-parable then becomes apparent: Just as God uses real flesh to repair Adam’s physical body, Eve comes and is called “flesh of my flesh” – because she repairs the breaches of Adam’s companionship. This sums up the story nicely, which started with God declaring “it is not good the man be to his self!” The original problem was that Adam was destined to his own flesh, but God’s solution was to add new “flesh” in the form of a wife!

Thus my discomfort with the “rib story” was turned into inspiration. The reason God just didn’t create Eve from the ground or out of thin air was to teach future generations. In this teaching point, the “side story” is one of many reproofs equating women with men, and the choice of words hint at a greater truth – that women are sanctuaries for men.

There are other beautiful revelations hidden in this text which demonstrate the majesty and fingerprint of God, but it so happens that there are too many to include in one post! For now, I am assured that elaborate works of God – even when they seem unnecessary or absurd – hide revelations for those who are diligent enough to seek them. Scoffers will always miss the Holy One, but those who love Him will surely be blessed in uncovering His veiled Word.

Genesis 2:18-24, God’s Premarital Counseling

And Yahweh Elohim said, “Not good the man be to his self! I will appoint him a rescue as his opposite.” And Yahweh Elohim had formed from the clay every beast of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see how he called to them. And all which the man called the living creature – it’s its name. And the man called names to all animals, and therefore to birds of the sky, and to all beasts of the field; but there was not found a rescue for Adam as his opposite. So Yahweh Elohim fell a deep sleep over the man, and he slept. And He took first from his side, then closed up flesh in its place. And Yahweh Elohim built the side – which he took from the man – into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said, “This is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. Thus I will call her ‘woman,’ because she was thus taken from man.” For yes, a man leaves his father and his mother, and clings to his wife: and they become as one flesh. (Genesis 2:18-24, my personal interpretation)

Recently I proposed that there is no such thing as a “helpmate”, which implies a subtle inferiority in women. On the contrary, the text identifies women as equals, who are a type of “rescue” for men… but the question is, rescue from what?

As the text literally says “not good the man be to his self” I suggest that a woman rescues a man… from himself! While this does not mean that men are complete messes until they are “rescued” (sorry ladies), it clearly suggests that men are not meant to be ‘lone rangers’. In fact, a remez (the implied or hinted interpretation) of “not good the man be to his self” shows that a mark of manhood is to long for a woman’s companionship. This text speaks to a man – not to a boy. It’s natural for a man coming into his own to want a wife, and God calls this “good”. King Shlomo (Solomon) repeats this in his proverbs: “whoever finds a wife finds good, and secures delight from the LORD.” (Prov. 18:22)

Refusing Commitment = Evil

However, the alternative to marriage is “not good”, which is another way to say “evil”. A man who refuses commitment will not secure any delight from YHVH. Such men show their evil through their words and actions. The ‘ladies’ man’ flaunts his sexual promiscuity; the hermit lives in his fears of failure and rejection. There are also workaholics who choose careers over a family, but this shows they are really slaves to work and greed – yet another evil. With the exception of men who remain single for furtherance of the Kingdom of God (ref. Matt. 19:11), any refusal to marry is founded on a path of evil intentions.

As this story ends with the man calling the woman “flesh of my flesh”, a rejection of female companionship equates to hatred of a man’s own soul. In Genesis 2:18, God specifically calls the future wife man’s “neged” “opposite”, which is understood as if a man looked at his “opposite” in a mirror. All single men await a “neged” but the thought is terrifying to some. A man can hide a multitude of voids gazing at his reflection, but a neged sees him as he truly is. A man’s soul is… naked before his neged!

Animals are Help, Women are Rescue

Obviously, most men seek marriage’s benefits and make the ‘good’ choice to find a wife. This featured passage of Genesis 2:18-24 was written for men, to have the right mindset when meeting their neged for the first time. In other words, this story is God’s pre-marital counseling!

Through most of history, and even today, man lived with an agarian point of view. I previously suggested the preamble to Genesis 2 showed the chapter was written with such a perspective, and this sort-of-strange story about Adam naming animals further supports that position.

Mankind has shared most of his days with animals – shepherding flocks, using beasts of burden, raising birds for eggs, hunting game, etc. Animals are a gift for men, as they make life a little easier. However, even with their help, life is rough. Life was still laborious in agrarian society, and still is for most of the world. However, young men can grow up with a hope that a rescue is on the way!

In this story, God makes a vast contrast between women and the animal kingdom as a type of reminder. Men may become attached to his horse or his dog, but that companionship falls far short of a woman’s love. A woman’s arms are his rescue from the day. As such, men must take heed how he talks to his equal; he mustn’t beckon to her like she’s his donkey or his ox.

Animals are taken from flocks and herds, but Adam knew knew his woman “was taken from man“. By this account God warns young men to know the difference prior to finding his neged. This word ends with “A man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and they become as one flesh.” When he leaves his parents, he mustn’t speak to his wife like his father’s cattle.

This may seem superfluous, but many cultures throughout history and even some today denigrate women to the status of livestock or slave. However, it is not so with Yahweh Elohim. He commands men to view their women as complete equals – as their counterparts, their true companions, their queens.♦