Posts tagged “Marriage

Genesis 3:17-19, Adam’s Intentions Led to his Downfall

“And to Adam he said: Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, which I commanded you, saying ‘you shall not eat from it’, cursed is the ground in your cause. In stress will you eat from it all the days of your life. Brambles and thorns will it sprout to you, and you will eat the crop of the field. In the sweat of your face will you eat bread, until you return to the ground, for from it you were taken, because dust you are, and to dust will you return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Let’s remember how this scene was originally set. At the beginning of Genesis 2, the writer offers a preamble which basically says ‘when God made heaven and earth, and before any shrub was cultivated, and any crop had grown… no man had ever tilled the ground…’ (ref. Gen. 2:4-5) Finally, the writer has brought us full circle, explaining why men share their lives with back-breaking physical labor – especially in the fields.

The author also reiterates why it happened, but first, there are two minor points which can help us understand the context a little better:

1) Stress. I think ‘stress’ is the emphasis to humans, in order to contrast the stress-free Eden with the post-rebellion world. God speaks the Hebrew itzavon to both Adam and Chavah (Eve). Read this post to understand why I think itzavon = “stress”.

2) Brambles and Thorns. We shouldn’t focus on the physical aspect of “brambles and thorns”, but rather the stress it causes. Yes, these two words are associated with the verb for “prick”, but the aggressive nature of these types of plants is the real focus, i.e. Hosea 10:18, where they are depicted as rapidly overtaking the altar of an idol. Every plant with stingers and thorns – such as blackberries, nettles, thistles, etc. – sprouts rapidly from seed, and can aggressively take over a disturbed field if left to its natural devices.  The main takeaway is that though man cultivates a field, thorny weeds would also “sprout”, causing frustration and many man hours to eradicate in the “sweat in his face”… and unnecessary stress.

Aside from these minor points, there is one specific phrase that seems to jump off the page:

“arurah ha-adamah ba-avurekha”

This is an obvious rhyme meaning “cursed is the ground in your cause”. Though the majority of Bible translations read “sake” in place of the Hebrew “abur”, this is a confusing choice. In modern English “sake” is synonymous with “benefit”, which is the exact opposite of a curse! Secondly, abur usually means “cause” or “intent” elsewhere, as in the following examples:

  • “And yet for this I have caused thee to stand, so as to show thee [Pharaoh] My power… (Exodus 9:16, YLT)
  • “For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.” (2 Samuel 17:14, KJV
  • In order to bring round the appearance of the thing hath thy servant Joab done this thing… (2 Samuel 14:20)

The ground was cursed not for man’s “sake” or “for his own good” as some commentators have suggested, but for Adam’s intentions – chief among them his desire to be his own, autonomous god separate from the Most High’s sovereignty. Adam became carried away with the luxurious fruit of Eden, its running (living) waters, the gemstones, and a physical body continually in its prime – in other words, Adam lived like a god long enough to think he was one! Now, he would find it more difficult to think that way, when he fought aggressive weeds, the sweat in his eyes, and of course, the aging process leading to an eventual death. Real “gods” do not experience any of these stresses of life.

This specific word abur solidifies a lesson reiterated throughout the Word of God: that what we do in rebellion is only sequential to the original intentions within us. This is exactly the same as Messiah Yeshua taught:

“But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies. (Matthew 15:18-19)

God has always emphasized from the Beginning that mankind’s intentions are what actually lead to his downfall. Nevertheless, though God seems to be harsh here, I find grace in these songs to both Adam and Chavah, especially in light of the rest of Genesis.

Forsaking today’s political correctness and its lies about gender expectations, the truth is that men and women are better off in intimate marriages. In fact, it’s the only way for society to preserve itself. Genesis 3:16-19 is not just a poetic judgment, it contains commandments designed to set Mankind on a course back to God! Because as soon as we turn the pages of Genesis, what do we see? Instead of the one-man-one-woman pattern of marriage, man “corrupts his way” (cf. Gen. 6:12). Harems were formed by the celebrity-like “Nephilim”, who eventually learned that the easiest way to feed their clans was through violence and unjust gain (cf. Gen. 6:1-13). Presumably, they robbed and killed other clans who grew crops (a serious commodity in times of a curse) “in the sweat of their face.” In the end, God says something similar to what He previously had said about Adam’s “cause”:

And YHVH said… I will not alter again the ground for the intentions of man, though the conceptions in the heart of man is evil from his youth…” (Genesis 8:21)

Yes, the Hebrew for “intentions” is once again abur, and is synonymous for what we imagine in our minds. It’s the same intentions that led to our expulsion from Paradise, to drown in the Great Flood, and by any and every other course leading to our demise.  By that time our intentions will have destroyed us in the End of Days will have destroyed us countless times since the Beginning of time. This is what God says to Adam, and what He’s also telling all of us. Ω

Genesis 2:21-24, The Transformation of Spouses and Parents

“[YHVH] took from one of his sides, and closed up flesh in its place. And YHVH Elohim built the side – which he took from the man – into a woman, and brought her to the man. Thus at last, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; for this she will be called woman, because from man was she thus taken. So will a man forsake his father and mother and enjoin to his wife, and the two will become into one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24)

I recently posted reasons why ‘rib’ should be translated “side”, as Adam’s ripping apart of two equal sides demonstrates the equality of a husband and wife in marriage. However, this tearing-and-repairing of Adam cuts even deeper, as it represents the transformation every couple must go through for a successful marriage.

These verses are still read at religious weddings – as they should be – because they express marriage in a beautiful and poetic way. After all, God didn’t just make Eve out of thin air, He created her in a roundabout way to teach future generations about His serious investment in marriage, just as Messiah said:

“Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6, emphasis mine)

Though the Genesis story details the first marriage, Messiah Yeshua demonstrates that its legacy applies to ALL marriages. Couples must see themselves in Adam and Eve, and follow God’s prescription for a healthy marriage.

It’s interesting that Messiah specifically said “tear apart” because that’s originally what God does to Adam. He tears Adam into two “sides”, but immediately restores Him with a brand new half! This “tearing apart” also translates into modern marriages, but never through divorce, YHVH does however separate spouses… from their parents. This is the “tearing away” that occurs in every marriage. Just as Yeshua taught that God enjoins every couple, YHVH is consequently the one tearing couples away from their parents.

Adam is ripped apart and “closed up” with flesh in its place; this is a foreshadowing of what is ultimately realized in the last word: ‘man forsakes his father and mother… and he becomes one flesh. In other words, a son is ripped from his parents, which may hurt, but only for the briefest of moments. The pain of leaving is quickly replaced by a side of new flesh – in the form of a beautiful new bride. However, all parties must realize the union is ‘closed’ and final.

This principle is not just true for sons. The verb for taken (‘laqach’) is often used (italicized in the block quote above) and for good reason. It’s a synonym for “married”, as in “and Avram and Nahor took wives…” (Gen. 11:29) Therefore, God took a whole side from Adam which parallels the later word “from man was she thus taken”… representing how God takes a daughter away from her family and “re-sides” her with a husband.

Thus a wedding is bittersweet. tears of joy and tears of sorrow are both shed, but not so easily distinguished! It requires a hurtful separation from parents, but a joyous union of two young lives. However, in order for a marriage to work, this transformation must take place. One word in particular underlines how marriage begins and remains a success – the Hebrew verb azav, most often translated “leave” yet meaning so much more, as in “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)

I’m not saying that children are to leave and ignore their parents forever, but it does mean they “loosen” or “forsake” (azav) themselves from their parents’ influence. We must remember that in this passage the woman was labeled an ezer- “a rescue”. If a man continues to seek rescue and sanctuary from his parents after marriage, he doesn’t allow his wife to exercise her God-mandated responsibility. The woman will feel like a kid-sister instead of a wife, and the marriage will be over before it starts. A man and wife are still expected to honor both sets of parents according to the Word of God, but with the difference that the young couple honor them on their own terms… as one flesh.

The responsibility to forsake is commanded to the man and wife in the word “a man will azav…” and every young couple must interpret how to azav in their own marriage. However, this commandment also implies that parents “let go” of their children and know their own limits. According to the words of Yeshua, parents cannot get in the way of God’s work – even they must be careful to not “tear apart” a marriage.

The fact that ‘mother and father’ appear in the text to begin with is not by coincidence. Only one prophecy is recorded by Adam, which is right here. Of all the things to prophesy about, Adam proclaimed that men will leave their fathers and mothers, just as soon as ‘parenthood’ became a possibility! In other words, mothers and fathers were put on notice – even before Adam and Eve became parents themselves!

By laying it out this way, it’s clear YHVH wants parents to prepare their children to be husbands and wives, and marry their children off with joy, even as YHVH led Eve to Adam – with no strings attached.

Marriage is wonderful, and can be a “match made in Heaven” if the recipe in God’s Word is followed. It requires the right mindset for spouses, and the cooperation of parents will ease the transition. When all parties examine and follow the example set by Adam and Eve, we will epitomize a union that Almighty God calls “good”.♦

Genesis 2:18-24, God Appoints Spouses

And said Yahweh Elohim, “Not good the man be to his self! I will eseh 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 would call them. And all by which the man called the living beast – it is so named. And the man called out names to all livestock, and to birds of the sky, and to all beasts of the field; but for Adam there was not found help as his opposite. Yahweh Elohim befell 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 literal interpretation except for eseh)

The Hebrew word eseh is universally translated “to make” in Genesis 2:18, but I’m not sure it fits the context of the next six verses. Eseh appears often in the Hebrew Bible –2,633 times – and is translated at least 100 different ways according to the Strong’s reference. As Strong’s suggests, it can fit “a wide variety of applications.” It is very similar to “make” in English, as in “I make dinner.” “Make dinner” doesn’t mean dinner is created out of thin air; ‘make’ describes several actions with just one word. “Make” sums up the washing, prepping, mixing, cooking, and serving of dinner. The same logic must be applied to the eseh of Genesis 2:18.

Translators seemingly favor “make” because they equivocate verse 18 with the formation of Eve from Adam (vs. 23), but the context uses different verbs to describe how God eseh-s a rescue for Adam (“helpmate” is closer to rescue). God orchestrates many actions to bring about the man’s “rescue”.

In vs. 19, the verb bo (to come/to bring) is used instead. In vs. 20, matza (“did not find”) appears. In verse 22, banah (to build) describes the construction of a woman. Finally, in the actual matchmaking event, bo describes the presentation of Eve to Adam. All these verbs elaborate God’s originally intent: to eseh a rescue for Adam. The eseh refers to the overall process – it doesn’t necessarily refer to the creation of Eve.

I believe that the choice of eseh in vs. 18 was by design. The reason being, couples may feel like God makes, brings, finds, appoints, establishes, or any of the 100+ arbitrary translations used to describe how God enjoined them – just like the Adam and Eve story. 100 couples might each use 100 different descriptors to tell their own marriage story, but they’d all be “right”.

I think the best all-encompassing translation for this eseh is “appoint”. For example, God eseh-s the sun and moon for a purpose… “to RULE over day and night” and “for seasons” (Genesis 1:7, Psalm 104:19). Translators also favor “make” in Genesis 1:7, but “appointed” makes more sense as “rule and dominion” reflect a royal appointment. Genesis 1 is poetry and metaphor, but it’s the same description of God eseh-ing Shaul (Saul) and David to RULE the kingdom of Yis’rael, or God appointing Moshe and Aharon (1 Samuel 12:6). There are several other examples showing eseh’s association with royalty, which is why “appoint” should usurp biblical translations for eseh in Genesis 2:18. I believe this would assist readers in the following ways:

1) Along with ezer properly translated as “rescue” (instead of the implied inferiority of “helpmate”), a translation of “appoint” for eseh will undoubtedly show women were created as equal counterparts to men.

2) It will give men a sense that women are likened with royal authority, as they are appointed to be mens’ rescue. They are in charge of mens’ well-being, and respite from labor. A man should keep his wife happy as his co-regent “queen”, as she keeps him happy.

3) “Appoint” would ease the contrast between women and animals throughout the next six verses. It will easily teach how animals do not meet the standard of male companionship. However, as the passage ends with the first marriage “appointed” as one flesh, it will teach males to speak to women as a queen, not as an animal!

4) No man or woman should fear asking God for help in finding a spouse. God longs to bring marriages together; a good translation of “appoint” establishes that truth starting in Genesis and continuing throughout the Scriptures – including the words of Yeshua:

He answered, “Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.(Matt. 19:4-6)

God IS actively interested in appointing a wife to every man! If God appointed the sun and moon to their courses, then how much more will He appoint a bride? We can say it 100+ different ways, but God appoints spouses. He gets it done. He makes marriages happen. He does it out of love.♦

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.♦

Genesis 2:18, There is No Such Thing as a “Help-Mate”

And Yahweh Elohim said, “Not good the man be to his self! I will appoint him [ezer] as his opposite.” (Genesis 2:18, my interpretation)

What if “helpmate” did not actually appear in Genesis 2:18?

“lo-tov heyot ha-adam l’vad-o / eeseh-l’o ezer k’neged-o” (not good be to his self / I will appoint for him aid as his opposite)

This is the only passage “ezer” is translated as “helper”, “helpmate” or “help-meet” in the whole Hebrew Bible, which is quite suspect. Such a translation makes it seem like a woman was designed for a support role, an ‘executive assistant’ to a man’s entitlement of ‘CEO’. The rest of the passage hangs on the proper translation of ezer; if it implies a sense of inferiority, then women would be viewed slightly more valuable than the cattle or birds of the air which Adam would eventually name (see vv. 19-20).

The fact is, the rest of God’s Word does not define ezer with even a hint of inferiority. In actuality, it fits a context similar to:

And the name of the one- Eliezer, for [Moses said] “the God of my father (brought) my ezer, and he would take me from the sword of Pharaoh.” (cf. Exodus 18:4)

Moshe felt rescued from the hand of Pharaoh, as ezer describes a type of deliverance or relief from distress. In the Psalms, the power to “ezer” is ascribed to Yahweh, continuing the praises of Moshe in the Torah. According to the rest of Tanakh, YHVH brought ezer by swallowing up Pharaoh’s armies in the Sea of Reeds, or becoming an ezer to shield Israel. Therefore, Almighty God didn’t just “assist” Israel, He brought about great rescues!

Thus, it seems the real reason God created a woman was for a man’s rescue… and how does she rescue him? As the text literally says “not good the man be to his self” it’s apparent she rescues a man… from himself!

This is not to say that men are complete messes before women enter their lives… sorry ladies. The text also says that a man’s alternative is “to be to his self.” God calls such solitude as “not good”, a paraphrased way of saying “it’s evil.” Therefore, a woman’s open arms rescue him from a boring, lonely, and thus evil life. Yet there is even another way a woman rescues a man from himself.

The word ezer is paired with neged, meaning a “counter, opposite, side.” When placed together in the phrase “ezer k’negedo“, it means “rescue as his opposite.” This phrase appears not once, but twice in the passage (vv. 18 and 20) to emphasize the role of a woman, which reads like an oxymoron! So how does a woman rescue but oppose a man at the same time?

She does this by providing her point of view. You see, women have to counter the rationale of their men with her intuition and reasoning, which may save him from making mistakes and error. For this reason, society makes a grave error by condoning that women be and think exactly like men. The Bible would argue that she must be a type of opposite to think differently and provide such intelligence to her spouse! Otherwise, the world would be trapped in man-think and be doomed.

A man with his wife is like a man talking to himself in a mirror… but his reflection – his opposite – answers. So it is when a man looks at his wife. For this reason the Scriptures are filled with words such as:

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28)

Such words are a continuation of the precedent set forth by God in the Beginning. From Genesis to Ephesians and beyond, it’s quite clear the text of the Bible calls woman complete and utter equals to men, a valuable rescue in the life of man. It is not right to call her a “helper”. She can and does provide so much more. ♦