Posts tagged “Yeshua

Genesis 4:17-5:31, The Two Enochs and the Two Lamechs

In my last post I described “profaning the name of YHVH” as the gateway transgression, after which come all other transgressions.  As we read about this profaning, or polluting, of the Name (which could literally be understood as YHVH’s reputation, or legacy), it’s sandwiched between Cain’s geneaology – which ends with multiple blasphemies and evils spoken by Lamech – and Seth’s geneaology – which ends with stressful words of the other Lamech, who was the father of Noah.

The former Lamech is fifth from Cain, but the latter Lamech is seventh from Seth.  Thus, Cain’s ancestral line (at least, our written record of it) ends abruptly, but I believe this is completely by design.

This was recorded for our benefit, so that Mankind can be portrayed in that pre-Flood world as one “Lamech” or the other.  Ever prophetically speaking to us, the Bible shows that all descendants of Adam – whether they hail from Cain’s line or Seth’s – had reached their personal breaking point of “Lamech”, for better or for worse.  The former Lamech spouts off elitist and violent words, while the latter Lamech agonizes over the stress and adversity of life.  There are no other quotes in either genealogy, except from these two who share a namesake.

This is no accident; both men’s words show how Mankind had shifted to two extremes – one to the uber-violent while the other became ultra-oppressed.

Adam and Eve attempted to raise their children to be righteous as Abel was righteous, by Eve’s own admission (cf. Genesis 4:25).  However, just two generations later, Mankind as a whole “began to profane the name of YHVH.” Therefore the question becomes: ‘how did the descendants of Seth stray?’  By all appearances, Cain’s descendants reached the point of ‘Lamech’ within five generations, while Seth’s ancestors reached their tipping point in seven.  Thus it appears that Cain’s ancestors were on a fast track to perdition, while the descendants of Seth gradually followed the influences of Cain’s descendants.  This is exactly what I believe Genesis 5 shows (aside from the genealogy of Seth of course).

Anyone can spot that some of the names are common between the two geneaologies.   My question is, why?  I don’t believe in biblical coincidences; I think that such “coincidences” are invitations to dig deeper, so let’s shovel some ideas.

The first similarity is the name “Enoch”, which first appears as the name of Cain’s son, who became the namesake of a fortress Cain was building at the time (cf. Gen. 4:17).  That must’ve been some fortress, because there’s a chance that Enoch – a descendant of Seth – was named after it. (Gen. 5:18). Now I realize that’s complete speculation, but at any rate, Enoch might’ve been named after a fortress of Cain, but he definitely didn’t go the “way of Cain” – he “walked with God, and was not, for God took him.” (Gen. 5:24).

Assuming that Enoch was named after an impressive fortress, the fact remains, Enoch broke from the trajectory the rest of his peers were headed towards.  The very fact that Enoch “walked with God” is an indication that his contemporaries were not; they were more concerned with fortresses, their fields, eating and drinking, building harems, and so forth (cf. Gen. 5:28, 6:2; Matt. 24:37-38).  And who was Enoch’s most famous contemporary?  That’s right, it was Lamech, the violent entrepreneur in the line of Cain. (For an explanation of why Lamech was so famous, read this recent post).

Seth’s genealogy includes ages as benchmarks, and if we do the math, Enoch was still alive to see the birth of his grandson, which was a brisk 113 years before he taken.  However, the name given to his grandson was “Lamech”.  Thus this a hint that Enoch’s son Methusaleh was inspired by… the violent entrepreneur, even as his father was demonstrating intimacy with the One True God.

I like to imagine that God was so want of intimacy with men in those days that He literally took it where He could find it – in this case, the soul of Enoch.  Clearly no one else was joining Enoch in his walk, in fact it appears that in those days Enoch’s relatives were looking to the successes of Cain’s line, as well as the other distractions mentioned by both Moses (Gen.  6:1-5) and especially Messiah Yeshua:

As the days of Noah were, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away…” (Matthew 24:37-39)

It wasn’t that these men were necessarily egregious in their sins.  As a collective whole, mankind was certainly violent and sensuous, but in the end, they all died because “they didn’t know” (as Messiah is quoted above).   They could have known, had they followed Enoch’s example, but it appears no one wanted to know except God, so God took him.

There will come a time again when we will have a chance to be taken, but if we envy successful people while ignoring their injustices done to others, or are preoccupied with entertainment, our careers, working, the opposite sex, and anything else aside from doing God’s will, we too will miss our Enoch moment, and perish like those in the Great Flood. ◊

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Genesis 4:23-24, Why Lamech’s Words Must Be Understood

In my last post I addressed the oxymoron of Cain “settling down” in a “land of wandering” and identified God’s riddle: if you’re apart from the Presence, it doesn’t matter how you reinvent yourself – you’re “wandering”.

Although Cain and his descendants appeared to be somewhat successful, it’s only according to the success of this life.  In the end, Cain’s lineage couldn’t separate themselves from the “way of Cain” (James 1:11). They would all ultimately drown in the Great Flood.  The last words we hear from Cain’s descendants are from a man named Lamech, the fifth from Cain:

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.   (Genesis 4:23-24, KJV)

[Note: Several Bible translations offer “wounding” and “hurting” as past progressive verbs, but in Hebrew these words are not in verb form. Additionally, there are attempts to portray that Lamech smote a man due to a cause, i.e. “for my wound”; if that were the case, we’d expect the Hebrew kiy – which indicates a causal relationship.  However, the –l proclitic is used instead which indicates an action toward something. Therefore, I think the KJV’s translation and others like it are correct. ]

God allowed Lamech’s words for a reason, even if they seem completely out of place.  After all, these are the only words recorded from any of Cain’s descendants.  Could Lamech’s words be an out of place signal – like a road flare on a dark country road -designed to get our attention?

I believe they are. So let’s slow down and understand how God is warning us through Lamech’s words.

Understanding the context, Lamech’s speech occurs right after the Bible reveals how successful his three sons had become.  They were innovators who changed the world – rapidly, within one generation (vv. 20-22).  They taught men a better way to acquire wealth: they taught the dwelling in mobile tents instead of fixed fortresses which allowed for flocks and herds,  smithing metal into specific tools advancing agriculture and (perhaps) weaponry, and even taught entertainment through music and song – a respite from “the toil and stress of life” (ref. Gen. 5:29).

So these men became the “father of” an innovation and profession, which influenced the entire world.  But the one to benefit the most from their successes was… Lamech, the “father of the fathers of”!  He was likely well respected – so much so that Methuselah – a contemporary to Lamech’s three sons – might have named his own son “Lamech” in honor of Cain’s descendant (cf. Gen. 5:25).  So it’s likely Lamech was an influential man, and it’s therefore important to know what kind of man he was.

So when examining Lamech’s words to his wives, the first thing we must understand these are Lamech’s words – not the Almighty’s.  He said, “hear my voice… harken to my speech.”  Lamech is not prophesying.  Quite the contrary, actually. These are words that reveal the type of man he was, which is why God gave us them.

Lamech smote a young man of some stature, enough to make Lamech reasonably expect some level of retribution.  But Lamech never regretted murdering someone – he regretted that his victim might be avenged!  In other words, Lamech reacted like his forefather Cain, but this is not just Cain 2.0 – Lamech is far worse.  While Cain seemed resigned to his fate, Lamech promoted additional violence on top of his original murder! Indeed, Lamech was a diabolical character, a violent tyrant who would never face his guilt.

So in effect, Lamech instructs his two wives – the mothers of his three influential sons – to direct the family’s power toward such a vengeance that would make God’s wrath seem weak.  We don’t know if Lamech believed those words God once spoke over Cain, but it does seem like he’s mocking them, as if he could exceed God’s punishment by inventing more grandiose ways to destroy people.  So even if Lamech believed that YHVH God existed, he didn’t fear Him.  In fact, the brutal tyrant blasphemed God.

So now we understand Lamech’s words in their proper context.  Now let’s interpret them as a warning to future generations.

There are two lessons to learn from Lamech’s life, and they’re actually primers for the foundations taught in the Torah, reinforced by the Prophets, and solidified by Messiah Yeshua and His apostles.

The first lesson is: those with much destroy those with little.  These powerful types may not always destroy lesser-thans in a physical sense, but they nevertheless devour through threats, extortion, frivolous lawsuits, slanders, persecutions, and many other abuses of power.  The second lesson is connected to the first:  The rich and powerful own justice, too.  In other words, after the haves abuse the have-nots, and the abused cry out for justice, those have-nots are exterminated “seven and seventy” times over.

There is an oft-repeated torah that forbids perverting justice for the poor (e.g. Exo. 23:6, Lev. 19:15, Deut. 16:19), and should we forget those commandments, they’re rehashed throughout the Prophets (Isa. 1:17, Jer. 5:28 et al).  Following suit, Messiah Yeshua taught that justice was one of the weightier matters of the Law (i.e. Matt. 23:23).   In short, justice is important to God, evidenced by His teaching of it throughout all of time.

So Lamech’s life is marred by the same injustices and transgressions which provoked God’s judgment of the pre-Flood world.  For example, Lamech’s wives’ names suggest beauty (Adah = adorned; Tzillah = respite), as does his daughter’s (Naamah = beautiful). Comparatively, the judgment before the Flood was “the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful” (Gen. 6:2).  Lamech was also one of those who took multiple wives, (Gen. 6:2) and Lamech’s violent murder  fits the bill for “the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Gen. 6:11)  Indeed, Lamech’s life exemplifies every judgment of the pre-Flood world.

So now we know Lamech’s life and words in context, and he seems to exemplify everything God detested about that pre-Flood civilization.

What we know so far is:

Lamech was the ‘father of the fathers of’, a highly influential man.
Lamech was a brutal and diabolical man.
Lamech blasphemed God.
Lamech’s life exemplified every judgment of the pre-Flood world.

With this knowledge, I interpret Lamech’s speech as a warning of “the beginning of the End.”

There are even more prophetic clues bringing clarity to Lamech’s words; see if you can find them!   The clues begin right after Lamech’s speech in Genesis 4:24, and end with the judgments I’ve already mentioned in Genesis 6.  In the meantime, ask yourself the following questions:

How did Seth get his name?
Two family lineages are listed (Cain’s and Seth’s).  Who was Lamech’s contemporary?
Does the Bible offer any hints at how influential and respected Lamech was?
What happens when brutal tyrants are highly respected?
What did Messiah Yeshua say of the Pre-Flood world? How does that compare to Lamech’s family?

If we answer these questions, we will not only understand Lamech’s words in context, but understand them prophetically as a warning of the beginning of our end as well. ♦

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 4:9, If You Can’t Love Your Brother, How Can You Love Your Brethren?

The LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel, your brother?” He said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

After Cain smote his brother Abel, God begins to interrogate Cain even though He already knew the right answer (I’ve already written about why God would do this here).

It doesn’t surprise me that an all-knowing God asks questions of men, but what does surprise me is all the chatter over how Cain killed Abel.  Apparently it’s something inquiring minds want to know, but I think any investigation to uncover the murder weapon is just following a red herring.  The truth is, the weapon would’ve been included in the text had it been something we NEED to know.  That being said, there is one way we can uncover the lesson here that YHVH, the King of the Universe, wants our puny human minds to grasp.

If we read the text in Hebrew and identify trends in any words used repetitively, we can reduce some of our speculation.  It just so happens there is one word here that sticks out like a sore thumb, not just in this highlighted verse (of Genesis 4:9) but throughout the whole chapter.  That Hebrew word is “akhi”, the word for “brother”.  In the verses concerning Cain and Abel, akhi appears seven times (yes, there “seven” is again).  In fact, after YHVH asks, “Where is Abel your brother (akhi)?”, God ONLY refers to Abel as “your brother”.

The simple answer is that God isn’t concerned with us identifying the murder weapon. What He wants us to understand is that Cain targeted his akhi, his flesh and blood.

In response to God’s question (which is literally “Where did Abel your brother go?“), Cain literally responds, “the keeper of my brother is… me?” (If he would have said ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’ as is traditionally translated we’d expect shamartiy or shamartiy-o, as in the literalDo I keep my brother?). In other words, from my chair it looks like he’s implying “you’re laying this on me!?”  I believe this is fitting for Cain, the quintessential narcissist, who responds to adversity by eliminating the competition.

There is a big change from the backstory of Abel’s life once Abel’s sacrifice was looked upon by God.  Whereas at first Abel was almost an afterthought, Adam and Eve suddenly changed their minds and began to see the younger Abel as the seed to carry out God’s favor (cf. Gen. 4:25).  So when Abel gained this newfound favor by both God and their parents, Cain – as a narcissist – probably assumed that he lost their favor.

Thus Cain’s response “the keeper of my brother is me!?” might be understood with an air of both jealousy and insidiousness.  Cain thought everyone else was Abel’s keeper… everyone except himself, that is.  Cain’s unspoken narrative here is ‘You, O God, accept him, my parents favor him now… if you all love him so much, why didn’t you all protect him – why are you looking at me?)  Yes, I believe this reads like Cain was testing God, to see if YHWH would deliver Abel when Cain attacked him!

Cain failed to understand is that there was no reason to be enraged, as God told him (cf. 4:6).  The favor that comes from both God and parents isn’t a competition. Favor is meant to be shared; it’s not an exclusive entitlement!  I think this is the parshat (simple) and fundamental message of this early Scripture – a common truth that anyone reading the Bible would hopefully learn right away:  If you don’t love and preserve your brothers and sisters, you won’t have a home to come home to.  Like Cain, you will be a wanderer in the earth. You will ruin your life, and will set back the lives of your family as well.  As we continue to read this story, that’s exactly what we find.  Cain ruined his life and set back what his parents were hoping to accomplish.

And now for the prophetic implications of this verse.

The crux of the whole of Scripture, and the crux of what Messiah taught is:  you will not receive God’s favor if you are at odds with your greater “brethren”.  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ is well known throughout Scripture, but the spiritual implication is: if you can’t love and shomer (keep/watch over/preserve/protect) your mother’s son who is your akhi, how could you love your neighbor who is also your “akhi”?  In other words, with the Cain and Abel story, God prepares everyone to love his family that he may grow up to love his neighbors… even the brethren… our fellow believers in the Kingdom of God.  In fact, there is one akhi in particular that we are to cherish and keep.

In Psalms 22:22, David foresaw that the Messiah is THE akhi, who says in the Spirit: “I will recount Your Name to my brethren (akhi) in the great congregation.” Of course, the entirety of Psalm 22 depicts Messiah as being surrounded by the wicked, pierced feet and hands, with great thirst – basically, everything that occurred at Yeshua’s final Passover when the great congregation was assembled for a major feast (cf. Exodus 23:17)- we also see this word “akhi” to describe how Messiah viewed Israel as his brethren, his family.

So Messiah Yeshua was an akhi to Israel as Abel was to Cain… and like Abel, the favored One was murdered.

Psalms 22 reads He trusts in Yahweh; let him deliver him. Let him rescue him, since he delights in him” (vs. 8).  In other words, David foresaw that Israel would treat Messiah the same way Cain treated Abel – “I’m not his keeper… why didn’t You, O God, deliver him from my hand?”

And like Cain, Israel was allowed to survive… into a period of wandering, with a declaration that none should harm Israel if they find him, and so forth…  a great topic for another time. Ω

Genesis 4:8, Outside the Camp

After God shows Qayin (Cain) how to regain His favor, and warns him about the marriage-like entrapment with sin, we read Cain’s response:

And Cain saith unto Abel his brother, ‘Let us go into the field;’ and it cometh to pass in their being in the field, that Cain riseth up against Abel his brother, and slayeth him. (Genesis 4:8, YLT)

About half of our Bibles follow the Masoretic text (Mst) omission of Cain’s last words to Abel, but the other half DO include the words which both the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and Septuagint (LXX) reveal: “let us go into the field”.  This may seem trivial, but in reality it’s anything but. Cain’s words help shape a deep, mysterious secret (sod) that points to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).

First of all, without this phrase the Masoretic text doesn’t make sense. It basically says “And Qayin said to Hevel his brother […] and it was, in their being in the field…” The Masoretic text leaves the reader to wonder ‘what did Cain say?’ and doesn’t make any grammatical sense without the omission.  However, the other two sources (DSS and LXX) make complete sense.  “A matter must be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses.” (Deut. 19:15)

This is an important to witness because Cain’s own words accuse him of premeditated murder. Without his words, the text looks like Cain acted in a spontaneous fit of rage while working alongside Abel in the fields.  With them, the text proves that Cain planned the murder for some time.  It’s the evidence we need for a first-degree murder verdict of “guilty”.

Cain’s words are also important for uncovering prophetic patterns.  If you study the story of “Cain and Abel” for any length of time you might uncover allegories to the Messiah; for example, “the last shall be first, and the first last” (cf. Matt. 20:16) is comparable to Cain’s expectation of being the favored one.  ‘Hating his brother without cause’ (John 15:25) would be another.  Several such parallels are embedded in this story, and Cain’s words “let us go into the field” is yet another.

Messiah’s death outside Jerusalem fulfills major prophecies.  The Torah is filled with symbolism of the scapegoat (the goat on whom all the sins of Israel were laid) being banished and eradicated from the Tabernacle every Yom Kippor (The Day of Atonement).  Thus Messiah Yeshua fulfills the prophecy of becoming the scapegoat for all our guilt, shame, and transgressions.

Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul) saw this very thing. Commenting on the Torah (cf. Lev. 16:27), he wrote how Messiah died “outside the camp”:

We have an altar from which those who serve the holy tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside of the camp. Therefore Yeshua also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside of the gate.  Let’s therefore go out to him outside of the camp, bearing his reproach.  (Hebrews 13:11-14, WMB)

Yeshua Himself also emphasized his own death would be associated with the prophetic pattern of dying “outside the camp”:

There was a man who was a master of a household, who planted a vineyard, set a hedge about it, dug a wine press in it, built a tower, leased it out to farmers, and went into another country.  When the season for the fruit came near, he sent his servants to the farmers, to receive his fruit.  The farmers took his servants, beat one, killed another, and stoned another.  Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they treated them the same way.  But afterward he sent to them his son, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But the farmers, when they saw the son, said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?” (Matt. 21:33-40, emphasis mine)

Therefore, we must understand that Cain’s premeditated murder of his brother Abel was an ancient foreshadowing of the murder of Messiah Yeshua.  Spawned by jealousy and an effort to eradicate the competition, the motives behind murdering both of these innocents were identical.  The sign was also exactly the same – as both men were led away from the place of sacrifice and worship, and died outside the camp!

For whatever reason, Cain’s words were not included in the Masoretic text.  However, when we read them in the two older witnesses we can be confident we are looking at a prophetic pattern, pointing to the premeditated murder of Messiah Yeshua forced from the place of worship, recorded by God for eternity, so that we might recognize Messiah through the prophecies that foretold of Him. Ω

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 3:17-19, 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 3:14-15, The Serpent’s Sentence

The Scriptures make a big deal about the talking serpent, because God is trying to teach us something. However, if this story is unsettling to you, I recommend this primer here.

Setting the scene, God initially requires an explanation from Adam, but Adam plays “The Blame Game”. Adam blames his wife (although he blames God more!), who in turn blames the serpent. Yet the serpent was unable to ‘pass the buck’… because it was already cursed, and lost its ability to speak.

And YHVH Elohim said to the serpent, “Because you made this, you are cursed more than all the livestock, and every beast of the field. Over your belly will you go, and dust will you eat every day of your life. And I will place hostility between you and between the woman, and between your seed and between her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:14-15)

Christians teach that the serpent is ‘Satan’, citing other obscure scriptures as justification, but I think it’s an incorrect assumption. There is no solid biblical evidence that the serpent was possessed, or otherwise was one-in-the-same as ha-shatan (“the accuser”). Now, I do believe that ha-shatan was implicated somehow, because “from the Beginning the Adversary has kept on sinning” (1 John 3:8). But for whatever reason, we aren’t given the accuser’s role; it remains a mystery. However, emphatically teaching “the serpent is Satan!” distracts us from this passage’s intent. The following attempts to explain my position.

First of all, the phrase “cursed from all cattle…” says that the serpent was cursed from all other animals, as it would become “the adder in the way”. Additionally, Mankind would forever have a specialized hostility to them, unlike how the majority of us humanely treat our pets, livestock, and wildlife.

The same phrase (because you made this, you are cursed more than…) is constructed similar to Genesis 3:1 — “the serpent was clever, more than any beast of the field which YHVH Elohim had made.” This is by design. Both phrases feature the verb asah (to make), and compare the serpent to other wild animals. Combined, the two teach a lesson: God made the serpent within a “good” creation (cf. Gen 1:31). But God’s reward for making it? The serpent makes something of its own… mischief!

We must remember that the talking serpent, like its Hebrew nachash name implies – was a “divining” false prophet figure which claimed “God knows” such and such (cf. Gen. 3:5), who deceptively convinced men to question and transgress the law of God.

This is an important lesson, because as a result of the Fall, we became just like serpents (gaining cleverness, deceptiveness, etc.). Now, anyone can be a false prophet or teacher! So if this serpent “made” a deception, we can also “make” deceptions of our accord. Or, we can choose to make righteousness in the earth –love, peace, charity, etc. Whatever we choose, we the Creation are sub-creating something. Let’s be sure we’re making acts that last for eternity.

With a curse God put the serpent beneath us once again, but the serpent did NOT lose its ability to walk, as many have claimed. It was created slithering, just as Chavah was created to bear children to “fill the earth” (cf. Gen. 1:28, 3:16), and just as Adam was made to till the ground (cf. Gen. 2:15, 3:17-18). When God judges all three parties, He’s reminding each guilty party of what they really are (slitherers, mothers, and “dust”). Let’s remember that Adam and Chavah wanted to be gods on par with YHVH Elohim. Now, when a woman has labor pains – pains that could claim her own life – she remembers that she is NOT a god. When men pour blood sweat and tears into labors, knowing that all it leads to us death, he remembers that he is NOT a god.

So there IS a reason God specifically tells the serpent the obvious: “over your belly will you go, and dust will you eat.” Without its deceptive words, the serpent is NOTHING. It is a literal “low life” that always has its body and tongue in the dirt. And God ensures that Mankind would never be its prey again.

Comparatively speaking, if you took away the words of a false prophet, what do you have?

Someone who is also moved by his “belly”:

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put snares alongside the teaching in which you have been trained — keep away from them. For men like these are not serving our Lord the Messiah but their own belly (Romans 16:17-18a)

And consumes the “dust”:

by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the simple. (Romans 16:18b)

God said in the Scriptures that we would always have “hostility” with serpents. We ought to have the same in regards to the false prophets and teachers, as Rav Shaul (Paul) says: “keep away from them!” Like serpents, wherever they go, so does their belly. They move from congregation to congregation, seeking material things like your money and seat of authority. Like serpents, they are smooth talkers and deceivers, and they want to consume the “dust” – us! For dust we are, and to dust we shall return (cf. Gen. 3:19).

However, false prophets are no match for the Power and authority of Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua said that we would “take up serpents” – and he wasn’t talking about us judo-chopping snakes with garden rakes. He was talking about facing the false prophets of the world! The best that natural snakes can do is yip at our heels, but we have the power to lop off its head. The same rule applies in a spiritual environment. The false prophets will target our “heels” – meaning those among us most ignorant and susceptible to deception – but we have a mandate to face these soothsayers, and to rebuke their leaders (their “heads”). We must expose them for being moved by their bellies (by their works will you know them), and not by the Spirit of YHVH Elohim.

Somewhere in the world, there is a snake ready to startle an unsuspecting gardener. Somewhere else in the world, there is a false prophet deceiving the ignorant. There is no way to rectify either situation without hostility and confrontation. It’s simply been the way of the world since Genesis.

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.