- 1 Lesson 2 – The first 11 chapters of Genesis
- 1.1 The first story of the creation (Genesis 1,1 to 2,3)
- 1.2 The second narrative of creation (Genesis 2,4-25)
- 1.3 Man’s revolt against God (Genesis 3)
- 1.4 Cain and Abel: man kills his brother man (Genesis 4)
- 1.5 The increase of evil and punishment by the flood (Genesis 6)
- 1.6 The Flood (Genesis 6,5 to 7,24)
Lesson 2 – The first 11 chapters of Genesis
Now you are going to begin reading the first Book of the Historical Books: Genesis. It is also the first Book of the “Torah” or “Pentateuch”. Genesis is composed of 50 chapters, the first eleven of which tell us about Prehistory, of what happened before Abraham since the creation of the world, of the creation of Adam and Eve, of their revolt against God, up to the Flood with Noah. These first eleven chapters form a distinct block from the rest of Genesis and Biblical history in general. A lot was written about these first eleven chapters and many religious thinkers have devoted books to them.
In the first eleven chapters, the sacred writers attempt to answer the questions concerning the supernatural and life on earth: where does the universe come from? Why is life on earth so difficult? Why is there pain, sorrow and death? The answers: There is a unique God, Creator. He created man happy, but he disobeyed and departed from his Creator; in doing so he experienced misery. God then drew up a plan to save man from his foolishness.
From chapter 12, Genesis tells us about religious history with the appearance of Abraham, the first among men whom God called, to establish with him a plan aimed at saving from spiritual ignorance all those who would believe in his words.
Begin by reading chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis only, then continue reading this course. You will remark that Genesis reports two different narratives of the creation, due to the different oral traditions.
The first story of the creation (Genesis 1,1 to 2,3)
You must have found some “non-scientific” points in this narrative. You are right because the Bible is spiritual, not a scientific treaty. What is asked of it is spiritual accuracy; it gives it by asserting that God is the unique creator of the universe. Whether He created it in 6 days or otherwise is not important. The intention of the Bible is to reveal the existence of the One Creator.
To dare to reveal the existence of one God and Creator, 2000 years BC, in a polytheistic and idolatrous world, requires extraordinary courage. Socrates was condemned to death 1500 years after this revelation for having believed, in Greece, land of philosophy and civilization at that time, that there is only One God (called by him “The Prime Engine” because it gives vital movement to everything). Even today, there are atheist societies that forbid talk of God in countries at the vanguard of scientific progress. There are still millions of polytheistic fetishists in the African and American bush. When you think of all of that, you can better appreciate the level of difficulties and dangers that our ancestors in the faith were exposed to, when they began writing the Bible three thousand years ago to reveal the existence of the One God.
In order to better understand this first account of creation, you must know that its writers, had a very elementary knowledge of God, and a false concept of the cosmos. They only knew of the existence of God and did not know that the earth was round and circled around the sun. They thought that God needed light to see clearly before creating. Therefore, He first created light on the first day, and “separated light from darkness. God called the light day and the darkness night… the first day.” (Genesis 1,4-5).
Conception of the cosmos
It was only in the XVIIth century that Galileo discovered that the earth was a sphere and that it orbited the sun. Prior to that, man believed that it was flat and that it floated on a huge expanse of water, stabilized by 7 columns deeply entrenched in that water (1 Samuel 2,8 / Proverbs 9,1).
To explain the rain, they thought that water was stored very high in the sky, above the vault. This water did not fall onto the earth because the Firmament was holding it back. They believed that this solid vault divided “the waters under the vault from the waters above the vault” (Genesis 1,7).
Vision of the world in antiquity
This vault had windows and locks that God opened to let the rain fall. The only difference between what believers and pagans said about it was that the latter thought that the gods had created the universe and opened the locks of the sky to let the rain pass.
They still believed that the sun, the moon and the stars were divinities. The Revelation explained that they were created by God. Believers thought that they were hung from the vault to light the earth, just as you hang a chandelier from the ceiling.
One should not ask the Bible to reveal that the earth is round, not flat and that it is it which turns around the sun, not the contrary. The Bible has a specific purpose: to reveal God to men. This is what the sacred writers tried to explain from their conception of the cosmos.
Knowing that, you can now better understand why Genesis 1,6 says that God created the Firmament “to divide the waters under the vault from the waters above”. There is nothing scientific about that. The writer’s aim is to reveal the One God who created the whole universe and that the gods of mythology never created anything, non-existent themselves. So, there is no god who created the sun, another the sea, another the moon, etc… Polytheism is thus swept away by the knowledge of the unique Creator of the universe.
As some people worshipped the sun and the moon, the writers of Genesis postponed their creation to the 4th day to depreciate them in the eyes of their worshippers. The Book of Deuteronomy reveals, indeed, that even among the Jews, some worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars (Deuteronomy 17,2-3 / 2 Kings 23,5). Notice that the names of the sun and the moon are not even mentioned; instead, they are called “the two great lights… the greater light to govern the day, the smaller light to govern the night…” Here again, it is scientifically wrong to say that the sun was created on the 4th day, since science shows that the sun existed millions of years before the earth. And how could the sun have been created on the 4th day when, according to Genesis itself, there had been 3 evenings and 3 mornings before? Mornings without sun? Genesis also says that these two lights were created “to divide light from darkness” (Genesis 1,18). Now, on the first day God had already “divided light from darkness” (Genesis 1,4). It is therefore necessary to grasp the spiritual intention of the writer: to reveal that God is the unique Creator, and to abolish the idolatrous worship of the sun, the moon and the stars.
This brings us to an important point: should we understand the Bible to the letter (from the “literal sense” of the text) or in spirit (from the “allegorical” or “spiritual” meaning of the text)? Should we believe immutably that God created in 6 days of 24 hours, that the sun was created on the 4th day, neither before nor after, or rather should we take into consideration the scientific level of that time? What counts for us, is the spiritual meaning: to discover what God wants to tell us through the partial knowledge, the literary form, and the style of the Biblical writers of the time.
A modern Biblical writer would have written the stories of creation differently, saying for instance: “In the beginning, God created neutrons and protons evolving at a temperature of 100,000,000 degrees centigrade, millions and millions of years ago. These molecules condensed while re-cooling to form the “raw material” from which God formed the cosmos. He first created the sun, a part of which tore off and cooled down to form the earth, etc…” This way of presenting creation does not change anything of the essential: it is still God alone who created everything. This is what matters for spiritual Knowledge.
As some adored the “great sea-monsters” (sharks, whales, crocodiles etc…), especially among navigators, Genesis 1,21 also intentionally placed them among the animals created by God. Today, aimimg at some Asians who worship the white cow, the Biblical writer would have added that this animal is a creature of God; the readers would have concluded for themselves that it is nothing divine at all, and would have stopped worshiping it.
Remark that man only, among all the creatures, was made in God’s image (Genesis 1,26). This “likeness” of man to his Creator is not physical but spiritual: man is also spirit, he is not only made of flesh, bones and blood. God endowed man with a conscience, unlike animals, which only live at the level of instinct. It is a fall for mankind to live only at the corporal level.
Man’s elevation spiritually means that he is “dominant” over all animal creation. Also, when God finished creating man, and only then, “God saw all He had made, and indeed it was very good”, not just “good” as with other creatures. Man is therefore, the goal of the creation of the universe (Genesis 1,31).
Have you noticed that in this narrative of creation, mankind is created both male and female, man and woman being created at the same time (Genesis 1,27)? To the contrary, in the second story, the woman was created after the man and was taken from the latter’s rib. Another difference between the two narratives: in the first, man is created on the 6th day, after all the other creatures; according to the second story, the man was created first, then the animals, and finally, the woman. Here is another example of the different oral traditions.
What is common to both narratives is the intention of the writer, which is:
- It is God who created the first human couple. The mode of creation does not matter.
- The man should respect the woman and deal with her as his equal, because:
– She was created at the same time as him (according to the first story) or from him, from his own rib, very near to his heart (according to the second story).
– The man was fashioned from the earth, but the woman, from a more evolved material: man’s flesh.
These texts aim then, to promote woman in times when she was not appreciated. We should not therefore understand human creation literally, since we have two different texts. Discover, through these two forms, the moral lesson: God created both man and woman equal, to love and respect each other, because they were made for each other, one complementary to the other. And, above all, because they are in God’s image, Who is love, respect and dignity.
God asks the first human couple to multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1,28). That is why man, who owes much to his parents, should not leave them except to live with his wife, with whom he “becomes one body” (Genesis 2,24). This atmosphere of love should reign in a couple who want to keep the image of God. Read what Jesus says on this matter in Matthew 19,1-2, and also Paul’s advice to couples in his letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5,21-33). You will see later that the first human couple will lose the image of God by disobeying Him. Our effort aims to reconquest our resemblance to the Holy Father. This is the purpose of Divine Revelation.
A final point to consider in this first account is God’s “rest” on the 7th day (Genesis 2,2-3). God does not rest like men because He does not get tired like them. The mention of “rest” on the 7th day is intended for man, so that they rest, one day a week, instead of spending all their time worrying about earthly life and accumulating money. God invites man to devote one day a week to step back and think about spiritual life (Exodus 35,1-3).
The aim of these last two texts of Genesis and Exodus is to save man from materialism, as the majority of people only think of money. Some have understood them to the letter, believing that God has rested, and still rests, every Saturday, and that man should not do anything on this day. This is the case of the Jews who interrupt all activity on Saturdays, even good ones (exercise, etc…), to the point of almost total paralysis (it is forbidden for buses to run, planes to take off, etc…) They were angry with Jesus because he healed on Saturday (the Sabbath); Jesus answered them that, contrary to what they thought, God works constantly (John 5,16-18). In Israel, religious Israelis “respect” Saturdays to the extent that they do not walk more than a kilometer, do not take neither taxi, bus, or plane. Jewish fundamentalists got the airport to close on Saturdays: they stone the buses in circulation on that day. But when it comes to taking the initiative for war on a Saturday, they never hesitate… ! Jesus -predicting the disasters that will destroy Israel- advised the Jews in these ironic terms: “Pray that you will not have to make your escape on a Sabbath…” (Matthew 24,20) It is then that they will have to run far, a distance that those who understand the Torah literally cannot afford on a Saturday… This is the danger of literal interpretation: “The written letters bring death, but the Spirit gives life”, says Paul (2 Corinthians 3,6)
The second narrative of creation (Genesis 2,4-25)
I have already mentioned that in this narrative, the woman was created from the man’s rib; three other points should be considered:
- The Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil,
- The names given by man to the animals,
- The condition of the first human couple.
“The Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil” (Genesis 2,17)
It stands in the middle of Paradise, it is not a botanical reality but a metaphor, an action or an attitude that God judges as bad, and that man must avoid under penalty of suffering the consequences. Man must have a certain comportment towards God: a filial and affectionate relationship, simple and totally trusting. Note that it is a tree “of knowledge” and not an apple as some think. It is a reality of moral order, not a vegetable.
How should we understand the nature of this “tree of knowledge of Good and Evil”? It is to appreciate yourself, without reference to God, on what is good and what is bad, to feel free to judge good what the Creator advises against. We often hear today, some people say: “Why is such a forbidden action bad?” And they go so far as to conclude in the name of liberty that it is good… even if, for God, it is bad (drugs, homosexuality, pedophilia, violence, pornography, etc…)
It is why the prophet Isaiah had said: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, etc…” (Isaiah 5,20).
Some allow themselves to be attracted by the desire or the curiosity to know Evil, to experience it. It is useful to know Good by practicing it, but always harmful to indulge in Evil. One must pray not to “succumb to temptation” of evil which knows how to make itself attractive by taking on the aspect of good (Matthew 6,13). “Satan himself goes disguised as an angel of light”, says St Paul (2 Corinthians 11,14).
The tree of knowledge of Good and Evil therefore represents a temptation: the desire to liberate oneself from God to judge like him, to be his equal and render no account to Him, no advice to ask Him, to decide for yourself, “like an adult”, to be independent of God. Now, it is not in this spirit of conflict that we live with God, but in a spirit of divino-human collaboration, a spirit of exchange between father and son. We all need advice on one thing or another; a man at work consults those who have more experience than him and, to obtain a professional diploma, one should have the humility to first go through university. You cannot be a good teacher without having been a good student. Maturity cannot be reached without going through childhood. Why then, when it comes to God, the Master of Life, should we think of taking one’s “independence” to judge on vital things, often so complex and delicate? That kind of independence is “a tree of knowledge” of Evil which one does not touch with impunity. One should triumph over the desire for this false independence, chase away such arrogant ideas if one wishes to live well. For too much mulling over a temptation -as Eve did in Genesis 3,6- one ends up falling into the trap. So let us accept to attend the school of God if we want to learn what real life is. Let us be neither agents, nor victims of Evil.
This is the teaching of Genesis 2,17. Its purpose is to keep man in the life-giving mentality of God, the Holy Spirit.
Names are given by men, not by God, to animals
Notice, indeed, that the Creator does not give animals their names: “These he brought to the man to see what he would call them; each one was to bear the name the man would give it.” (Genesis 2,19) It is a manner of expressing man’s freedom and a certain independence which renders him a collaborator of God, superior to the animal. Here appears an aspect of the collaboration between God and man in the administration of the world, an administration counseled by God who would have given happiness to man, if he had respected it from the start.
To give a name is a significant and important act by which one establishes an affectionate and intimate bond with the named being, like the names given to domestic animals that we keep at home or, of much greater importance, those that we give our children. In the case of John the Baptist and Jesus, and because they were sent by God, it is God Himself who imposed their name even before their birth (Luke 1,13 / 1,31). He manifests thus, that they are his envoys. For us, it is still important to know a person’s name or even a domestic animal’s name. All carry a name, and what is nameless has no valor. It is why the writers of Genesis did not give the sun or the moon names when they were created (Genesis 1,14-19).
The state of the first couple in Paradise
It is about the state of mind, the psychological and spiritual condition of the first couple. According to the second narrative, Adam, without Eve, felt all alone: “Yahweh God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’” (Genesis 2,18) Yet, no animal among them was found to fill the emptiness of the man’s heart: “But no helpmate suitable for man was found for him” (Genesis 2,21). The man was in need of a person, a companion with whom he could dialogue with and who would be, like him, created in the image of God, endowed with intelligence and capable of loving to understand him. It is the only “helpmate suitable for him”.
God decided therefore that man should be a human couple, complementary to each other: male and female. Amazing decision! God did the first “surgical operation” under anesthesia in human history: “So God made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, He took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh. God built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2,21-22).
Have you noticed how, at the sight of the woman drawn from him, the man exclaimed with enthusiasm, all joyful: “This at last (unlike the other times with the creation of the animals) is bone from my bones, and flesh from my flesh!” The man is evidently very happy to find himself before a being like him, a person of another sex who emanated from him.
Man’s first reaction was wanting to name the charming person standing there in front of him. He does not ask her her name, he knows that she does not have one; he names her by referring to himself: “She is to be called Isha (Woman)”, because in Hebrew “man” is “Ish”, “Ish” names his female complement after his own name: “Isha”. In English, the word “woman” comes from “man”. Man’s name was given exclusively to his human partner. Unlike animals, she is the feminine reflection of his own face. He recognizes himself in her. Having emanated from his flesh, “a man thus leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body.” (Genesis 2,24 / Matthew 19,3-6)
So, by uniting himself with his wife, he finds himself, completes himself; he replaces in himself the extracted rib. It is why God condemns, in the Gospels, those who, in the end times, prohibit marriage (as some religious do): “The Spirit (God) has explicitly said that during the last times there will be some who will desert the faith and choose to listen to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from the devils… they will say marriage is forbidden…” (1 Timothy 4,1-3). This does not mean that marriage ought to be a moral obligation: some find in God the Spouse Whom their heart yearns for. That spiritual union with God is a divine call to all men; whether it is done directly, through a freely chosen celibacy, or through marriage. In all cases, God should be the First Love; it is He who will then, orient believers towards celibacy or towards a matrimonial union. There is no absolute law with or against marriage. To each his vocation, all vocations are equally holy since they are a practice of the divine will. Happiness is nothing but the fruit of the accomplishment of this will.
What was the state of mind of the first couple in Paradise? Man and woman bathed in happiness because God created them pure, innocent, spotless: their conscience was clear. Where then did evil come from? No bad thoughts were put into them by the Creator. And how is it possible that God, who is Absolute Good, put Evil in the soul and mind of man created by Him? Good only comes from good. It is why Ish and Isha were happy, without any worries of life or any psychological complexities which gnawed at them. At peace with God and with each other, “they felt no shame in front of each other.” (Genesis 2,25) They looked at each other in the face without having to be ashamed of a thought unworthy of their condition, and they were able to look at God in the face”.
It is only after their revolt against God that man and woman will experience shame. This situation still prevails in the world today, because of the evil designs and unjust behaviors of men along the centuries. We no longer really look at each other in the face, and the shadow of evil hangs over the majority of the world. Few people for example, are able to resist the attraction of money, glory, power, or look at a naked body without having unhealthy, imbalanced or repressed desires. But at the beginning of humanity, it was not so: man and woman used to look at each other with a true, deep and pure love. They were immaculate, “naked” of all sin and clothed in the Grace of God, living in permanence with the Creator.
Since God created man in innocence, how did evil enter the world? This is what Chapter 3 of Genesis will reveal. Read it before you continue this course so to better understand the explanations that will follow. But first, be aware of the joy you felt in understanding what you have already learned. Have you felt the lungs of your soul expand and breathe the oxygen of spiritual joy when you discover the truth about Biblical points that were obscure to you?
Man’s revolt against God (Genesis 3)
Through this symbolic narrative that you have just read, Genesis teaches us how evil entered into the world: man committed the error of believing the devil, instead of listening to God’s advice. Here, the snake symbolizes the cunning devil. It is man himself then, who introduces evil into the world. Indeed, he alone is responsible for it. He preferred to believe the devil and neglected God’s selfless advice. Seduced by the misleading prospects of this enemy, man became Satan’s slave. He quickly spread harmful ideas and diabolical desires into the hearts of subsequent generations. Henceforth, the devil had had his agents, his brood on earth, to drive humanity away from God. The whole story of salvation consists of exorcizing man by reintroducing into him the thoughts of God, thus liberating him from this diabolical influence. The man freed from the devil gets to ask God ardently: “May your will be done…” and never mine again.
The devil approached the woman, not the man, because the latter, having spoken with God, was more difficult to seduce. Remark the craftiness with which the evil serpent engages the woman. To make sure that he will not rejected by her, he initiates the dialogue with malice by posing a simple question, but in such a way as to distort the divine advice: “Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” That way of presenting the problem contained the seeds of a revolt against God. Satan wanted to push the woman into rebellion by making her believe that she was not to eat from “any of the trees”. Before the satanic intervention, the human couple was satisfied with their fate.
And the woman explains to the devil: “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, ‘You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.’” The devil knew that! But the dialogue was already initiated and for him that was what counted. This was the first satanic triumph over humanity. Satan could henceforth, after having won the attention of the mother of mankind, pursue this ancient internal dialogue with mankind in its entirety. He boldly continued to speak to the poor and reckless woman: “No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.” The woman was seduced by the idea of being independent like God, of deciding for herself what is good and what is not.
What is worse is that the devil gave a false image of God, that of a dictator, jealous of his prerogatives, miserly with his privileges and wanting to prevent man from evolving by forbidding him to eat from the tree of knowledge. And yet it is the contrary that is true: God advised man not to touch it, in order not to die, but be immortal like God, living and happy forever. Because the death of man is due to the false discernment of good and evil. To be “like God”, we must think “like Him”, discern according to Him. This is the Holy Spirit that Jesus has asked us to demand from God (Luke 11,13). This Spirit gives us eternal life and, through Him, we become like God, immortal.
What attitude should the woman have had in front of the devil’s advances? Indifference! It is the greatest contempt. She should at least have been cautious and asked for the identity of her interlocutor: “Who are you?” She who was made in the image of God should have compared that image to the one who spoke to her. That was the attitude of Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth, before the Angel Gabriel: “She asked herself what the Angel’s greeting could mean”. (Luke 1,29) If “Isha” had asked herself what her malignant interlocutor’s words meant, she would have surely embarrassed the accursed serpent. Indeed, the devil knew very well that God had not forbidden man to eat from all the trees in the garden: the woman also knew that; and she should have armed herself with discernment to confound the devil. But she was blinded by pride: to become like God. It is, however, “like God” that God Himself wants us to become. We can only become so through Him. Man wanted without Him. In that resides his fault.
The woman yielded and dragged her husband in her outburst against God. After having “eaten” the forbidden fruit, their eyes, both of them, opened, indeed, as the devil had said to the woman, but to see how ridiculous was the situation in which they had willingly put themselves. They were ashamed of their fault, realizing that they were no longer contemplating the life-giving face of God, but the cynical face of their satanic seducer. Their eyes were opened to this heart-breaking spectacle, realizing that they were deceived. Jesus came to reopen the eyes of his faithful to the vivifying Face of God: “Happy are the pure in heart: they shall see God”. (Matthew 5,8)
This experience was a shock for the first couple. Nothing was ever the same again, everything had changed between God and them and between themselves. They no longer dared to look at Him, or face themselves. They realized that their happiness was due to divine grace and that they had lost it. Now they felt naked, deprived of the benefits of the divine rays. Man wanted to experience evil and got to know its bitterness instead. This bitter taste of emptiness is due to God’s withdrawal from the soul that resists Him, leaving it in solitude, plagued by sadness. Because God offers Himself, and never imposes Himself.
The devil succeeded in separating man from God. So misfortune, sadness and shame were the “fruit” picked by man from “the tree” that he was not supposed to touch. These depressing feelings are the source of human complexes; they generate all sorts of imbalances: guilt, inferiority, false modesty, etc… Man often tries to pick himself up, but to fall into the opposite extreme: cheekiness, pride and arrogance, liberalism, etc… Man cannot recover without God.
The first human couple’s fall is known as “the original sin”. Its consequences were not limited to the first parents, but contaminated their descendants. All of us have inherited the stains of this original sin, just as a child suffers the consequences of a family or social imbalance.
The shame choked the man and the woman to the extent that their corporal nudity became unbearable. The fig leaves they used as a loincloth to dress themselves are symbolic: to hide the fault committed spiritually by covering the body. And yet, it is at the level of the soul that the fault occurred. The Bible often uses the expression “stripped bare” to reveal the true intentions of the soul, to denounce crimes and sins (see Jeremiah 13,26 / Lamentations 1,8 / Nahum 3,5 / 2 Corinthians 5,1-5). Man and his wife did not want to be seen by God in their miserable state, so they covered their bodies. For the first time, they were afraid to face Him. When God approached them, in their stained conscience, they turn away the eyes of the soul, like any guilty person who feels uncovered. Adam and Eve run away when they hear God approaching, instead of running towards Him spontaneously. This flight before God has marked mankind: man is afraid of God, avoids his gaze and moves away from Him. This is the heritage of original sin.
Note that neither the man, nor the woman ask for forgiveness. The man throws the blame on the woman and, indirectly, on God Himself for having given her to him: “It was the woman you put me with; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” He seems to blame God for giving him the companion who was his joy at first. The woman, in turn, places the responsibility on the devil. It would have been so wonderful if the man and his wife, together, had apologized to the One they had offended: “A fault confessed is half forgiven”, as the saying goes. But man often prefers to exculpate himself and make others responsible for his faults.
Adam and Eve… are us too! How can we repair the error? Who cares about this? When we do a fault, we should apologize for it. How many people ask God forgiveness from the bottom of their hearts, and not from the tips of their tongues?
What exactly was the condition of the first human sin? Several commentators and interpreters have sought to understand it. I believe, like some interpreters do, that it was a human attempt to usurp the divine sovereignty: to dethrone God and reign in His place, to be self-sufficient and decide on life’s issues without God, to choose by oneself what is good and what is bad, to decide alone on what makes a person happy or unhappy. Man’s failure opened up his eyes: he considered that, without God, he cannot be entirely happy. He was ashamed of that. Jesus came to re-give us God, to put us back in His vivifying company. It is why the prophets who announced His coming called Him the “Immanuel”, which means in Hebrew “God-with-us” (Isaiah 7,14 / Matthew 1,22). Jesus brings man back to God. There is no other way (John 14,6); divine forgiveness is obtained through faith in Jesus (1 John 2,12 / Colossians 2,13).
Some think that original sin was sexual. This does not seem to be the case because God asked the first couple to multiply and to fill the earth (Genesis 1,28). However, if that sin took place in the form of a sexual act, then that act was performed without God, or in a spirit of defiance to God, in a spirit of pure sensuality, on the level of pure instinct and the unique pleasure of the flesh (as so many do in the world of pornography), excluding feelings of profound love and of the couple’s spiritual communion with God.
That would explain why, after the fault, God says to the woman: “your yearning (sexual desire) shall be for your husband…” (Genesis 3,16). After the fault, the heart will no longer regulate relationships between man and woman, but sexual desire: and henceforth men will “dominate” women, as we can see in several societies since ancient times. The couple’s harmony was ruptured, giving way to a growing imbalance that was difficult to overcome. We see this imbalance which leads to divorce, polygamy, adultery, and the so often tragic family situations around the world. This is the fruit of the devil’s spirit introduced by man into the heart of mankind from the moment of original sin.
We must not believe that only our first parents are responsible for this tragic fault: billions of people after them, to this today, continue to aggravate the situation, proclaiming their solidarity with the first couple’s sin, without thinking of drawing the lesson from the past. And still, by the millions, people resist the Spirit of God, preferring their own or that of the ancient viper, who sidetracked the first man.
The modern man, dazzled by false science and swollen with pride, persists in believing that he can do without God; he wants to judge by his small head what is good for him and what is bad. Mankind has thus contributed to pollution and nuclear danger which threaten the very existence of mankind. Spiritual pollution is even more serious and results from the fact that man neglects Heaven’s advice and only listens to Hell’s suggestions. And when man is doing badly, instead of questioning his attitude, he resents God… who had however advised him not to do what made him sick and sad. Think of the drug addicts and homosexuals who demonstrated against God after having been infected with “Aids” … That resembles the patient who refuses to take the medicine prescribed by the doctor; his illness worsens and his anger spills out at the doctor… instead of blaming himself.
Note that God only curses the devil because He knew very well what he was doing. But the man and woman were not fully aware of the gravity and the consequences of their act. Also, God leaves us a glimpse of hope of future redemption in announcing that the children of the woman will take their revenge and will one day triumph over the children of the devil. God indeed says to the devil: “Be accursed beyond all cattle… I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.” (Genesis 3,14-15) This verse is the first announcement of the coming of a human descendant -the Messiah- who will save men from the psychological and spiritual prison into which the demons threw them. The woman and her descendants who crush the devil’s head are the Virgin Mary and her Son, Jesus, with all his people, men of good faith from all over the world.
In his infinite mercy, God gives man the opportunity to redeem himself, to repair his fault. This possibility is symbolized by the clothes made out of skins with which the Creator covers the nakedness of man. Adam and Eve wanted to cover their shame with “fig leaves” (Genesis 3:7). This garment is not resistant. Also, God, as a good Father, “made clothes out of skins” to express His compassion and encourage man to find a way out of his confusion. This allows those who love God to find the way back to Him, knowing that He is understanding, that He will help them remodel themselves to His image lost by sin (Romans 5,12-16 / Colossians 3,10). For sin destroys the image of God in us. Through sin, Satan fashioned humanity in his image. Jesus came to re-give man the image of God.
After the fall, “the man called his wife” Eve, “because she was the mother of all believers” (Genesis 3,20). This new name of Isha indicates a new situation: the woman is no longer classified after the man, but according to her great mission: to give life to humanity. Because Eve, in Hebrew is “Havva”, which means “life”. Notice that the man’s name “Adam” is not mentioned. Later, Adam’s name was given to him in relation to his origin, because “Adama” in Hebrew means “earth”, “clay” or “mud” from which God formed man. Hence his name “Adam” which translates to “Earthly”, “Clayey” or “Muddy” in relation to his extraction. The name of Adam is first mentioned in Genesis 4,25.
After the fall, God’s attitude changes towards man: with a touch of irony, he says of his creature: “See, the man has become like one of us, with his knowledge of good and evil!” The man deserved this mockery. He also deserved to be removed from Paradise before committing another act of stupidity: “He must not be allowed to stretch his hand out next and pick from the tree of life also, and eat some and live for ever!” (Genesis 3,22). Another deserved and humiliating irony. For man would want to live forever… as God… without dying, but on earth, and without having to appear before the Eternal Judge. Is this not the desire of many men who are looking for serums of longevity? And by the most ridiculous means: companies embellish the bodies of interested customers at a high price and keep them in special refrigerators while waiting for the uncovering of the “miracle” product that when injected into the body, “resuscitates” the client… delighted to find life in this underworld… These “resurrection” companies must however at that time still be alive!
What does it mean for man to be expelled from Paradise? Is it to be exiled from an earthly place? No, it is not about that: the Paradise in question is a state of mind: happiness. Man was totally happy before deciding to take charge of himself, of “liberating himself” from God. The Creator gave everything to man, for free. He lacked nothing, neither spiritually nor psychologically as he was fulfilled by the love of his Creator; nor materially, being fulfilled by the abundance of the earth’s produce. Life was problem-free in every way. What makes life difficult, if not impossible at times, are the economic systems introduced by men hungry for possession, a harmful lifestyle (luxurious social life, alcoholic beverages, cigars, cigarettes, gambling, casinos, clothing branded haute couture etc…) Yet the earth produces calmly and constantly for all. The products are so abundant that some rich countries have them in surplus; this surplus is destroyed to maintain high prices, instead of being distributed to the starving Third World. International trusts and consumer societies have not made people happy: it is unemployment, inflation, dissatisfaction in the world. The greater part of the world economy is devoted to weapons destined for destruction… And the earth that God created continues to give man what is best… And man is bent on making the earth less and less habitable and capable of feeding it, polluted and saturated by toxic waste (nuclear and other).
Man has always persisted in wanting to lead his own life as he wishes, without God. The result? The rich have everything that money can buy yet are not satisfied: because money can neither buy happiness nor a clean peaceful conscience. Despite the abundance in which they live, many rich people prefer suicide rather than life. That is because they live without God. Man’s “independence” made his life hard and unpleasant. That is why God said to the man: “Accursed be the soil because of you (by your fault). With suffering shall you get your food from it, every day of your life… With sweat on your brow shall you eat your bread (because of your bad management)…” (Genesis 3,17-19). Man always tends to reject God’s advice, preferring to surround himself with less effective human counselors. And yet, God is that “Marvelous Counselor” of Whom the prophet Isaiah speaks (Isaiah 9,5).
Thus, man was banished from happiness by rejecting the Source with his own hands. From then on, he’s a vagabond in search of a substitute for true happiness, thinking that he finds it sometimes in money, sometimes in pleasures or in vain glory. The text of Genesis says that “God expelled him from the Garden of Eden to till the soil” (Genesis 3,23). If God sent man away, it was because he wanted to lead his own life without God’s intervention; so let him go and wear himself out cultivating the soil, that soil which was ready to give him everything without fatigue (Read Matthew 6,24-34). But man preferred to be engulfed by material things.
Thus, original sin had two unfortunate consequences on the whole of humanity.
1. The first, the most harmful, is psychological and spiritual:
The spirit of man and his soul fell into the body, becoming submissive to the flesh, insensitive, as if anesthetized. The shock received literally made them lose consciousness. Man thus lost his spiritual and psychological faculties, becoming fragile, unable to orient himself from within. This fall led to the wandering of the heart and the intellect; anguish settled in the human soul. Poets, philosophers and intellectuals of all times sought in vain to understand and analyze the reasons for human anxiety. Only Divine Revelation enlightened us.
Man’s disobedience has introduced Satan into the subconscious of all mankind. Satan obtains the right of residence and intervention in the will of man and henceforth speaks on his behalf. He disguises himself by usurping the identity of the man. So when we say “I” or “I want”, we have to discern who is speaking. Who is this “I”, who speaks in us? Who wants? God, Satan or I? Therein lies the crux of discernment. Christ comes to “reconnect” us to God and to free us from satanic interference. That is why Jesus says to his enemies: “The devil is your father, and you prefer to do what your father wants” (John 8,44). They were not aware of it, but nevertheless very willing. It is always beneficial to make sure that what one desires is in harmony with God’s Will, with His plan for the liberation of mankind.
Fallen entirely into his body, man could only discover the life of the soul through physical sensations, since reflection and sentiments were locked up in the body. From now on, man lives earth to earth, unable to find by himself and in himself the life of the soul of which he only feels a vague nostalgia.
In spite of this, God, through Jesus, reaches out to man. He who grasps this divine hand sees his soul rise to its destination of origin. This return of the soul to life is called by the Gospels, “The First Resurrection” (Revelation 20,5-6 / John 5,25-26).
2. The second consequence is of a material and temporal nature:
The life of man on earth is made difficult by the fault of man himself.
The whole history of human salvation aims at getting man out of trouble where he has voluntarily got stuck. It took all the love and the genius of God, his tender Creator, to get him out the error of his ways through his Envoy: Jesus.
The moral of this story is that we must not engage in a dialogue with temptation: we do not argue with the devil, just as we do not play with fire. Let us not be like Eve who lingered on contemplating what was forbidden, finding it good when God said it would give death. Let us believe God, even if evil “seems” good to our eyes. May Eve’s fault serve in unmasking death which presents itself to us in a seductive form. Let us be like Mary, that young pure-hearted girl who merited to be the worthy Mother of the Messiah, the Savior of man. She never accepted to listen to the seductive voice of the satanic “serpent”, she simply ignored it, having eyes and ears solely for God, wanting to fulfill save His plan. This is why we call her the “New Eve”, the new Mother of the living, ie believers, She whose children crush the devil’s head (Genesis 3,15).
I have explained the first three chapters of Genesis at length to instill in you a spirit that allows you to understand the Bible according to God’s intention. Be careful of literally understanding the stories you read about creation and the fall. Seek the deep spiritual meaning through allegories, without letting yourself be chained by the literal meaning that closes the horizon of research and comprehension. The world was not created in 6 days, nor the sun on the 4th day; a snake did not physically appear to Eve: this snake symbolizes the ideas inspired by the devil to mankind in general, not necessarily to the woman, in a subtle and tortuous way, like a snake, to seduce without being recognized.
On the other hand, we can believe in the theory of evolution without ceasing to believe in God. In this case, God would have created evolutionarily. There is no scientific basis to support those who claim that evolution demonstrates the non-existence of God: if there is evolution, then there is “the One” who makes the things evolve: God. It is He who will have “programmed” this evolution, as an embryo develops (evolves), from the tiny seed, to adult human size. Those who believe in the fixist theory (ie that God created man as he is, without evolving from an inferior animal stage) and the proponents of evolution thus agree on the essential point for the Bible: God is the only Creator. It is up to science to determine the mode of creation! …
Now read chapter 4 of Genesis before continuing the course.
Cain and Abel: man kills his brother man (Genesis 4)
You have just read a symbolic story, which reveals how evil spread on earth between man and man, his brother, after what was perpetrated by man against God, his “Father”.
This narrative, like those that precede it, is allegorical and should not be understood literally, for it did not exactly occur in this way. If there was on earth, literally speaking, only Adam, Eve, and their two children; who else then did Cain fear to be killed by when he says to God: “whoever comes across me will kill me” (Genesis 4,15)? So it is about the generations, and the names of Cain and Abel are only symbolic: they are not historically true. Everyday Cain kills Abel.
Why did God refuse Cain’s offering and accept Abel’s offering? There is a lesson that the Bible wants to give us. Many stop at the historical development of this narrative, without trying to discover its morality.
To understand this text, you have to read between the lines. Note that Cain presented “products of the soil” (… anything… bad things in order to get rid of them… and to get over with this cumbersome task of offering something to Yahweh). On the other hand, Abel “offered the first-borns (what was best) of his flock, and even of their fat (very precious to guard for cooking… But for Abel nothing was too good for God)”. This means that Cain offered reluctantly, with avarice and restraint, without love. On the contrary, Abel spontaneously offered his best, and with all his heart. We then understand the attitude of God. We act the same way and often refuse, we too, gifts offered to us from people with bad intentions.
To refuse a gift from someone is to reject the person who presents it. One must have good reason for doing so. Facing God’s rejection, Cain should have become aware of his own shortcomings, out of respect for dignity of the One to whom he wanted to offer his imperfect gifts. He should have pulled himself together, apologized, and then redeemed himself by presenting a good offering in good heart.
God said to the Jewish priests through the prophet Malachi, “You disdain me… You bring the stolen, lame or diseased animal, you bring that as an offering! Am I to accept this from your hands? Cursed be the rogue who owns a male which he has vowed to offer from his flock, and instead sacrifices a blemished animal to me!” (Malachi 1,13-14)
The prophet Amos also said to the Jews on the part of God: “I take no pleasure in your solemn festivals. When you offer me holocausts, I reject your oblations” (Amos 5,22), then it adds that the offering that is pleasing to God is the practice of good and justice (Amos 5,24). It was because these offerings were made in the spirit of Cain that God refused them.
All that is given without love has no value in the eyes of God. Jesus praised a poor woman who had put only some small change in the money basket of the poor, judging that she had put more than the rich, having given wholeheartedly and from her necessity, not superfluously (Luke 21,1-4). In this same spirit, Paul says that giving all his money to the poor without giving love serves to nothing (1 Corinthians 13,3).
Seeing himself rejected, Cain attacks his brother instead of repenting. He thus poisons his state, lets himself be enveloped in jealousy and envy to the point of killing his only brother. And when God asked him for news of his brother, he replied arrogantly, “Am I the guardian of my brother?” Far from being his guardian, he was his executioner! So God curses Cain for his crime, for his impenitence and impertinence.
Cain’s curse is the second one mentioned in Genesis. The first divine malediction fell on the devil. Cain represents the descendants and image of the devil on earth. This accursed progeny will be Satan’s instrument throughout the centuries. The Woman’s children, the “New Eve’s”, are called by God to fight and overcome this diabolical progeny (Revelation 12,17).
What is the meaning of the sign that God marks on Cain so that no one kills him? It is symbolic and represents this felon’s fury whose face is marked as such forever. His grim forehead, his stern face and his wicked gaze reflect the hatred anchored in his soul. It is not Cain then, who must be afraid of “whoever comes across”, but, on the contrary, each person will now have to keep their distance from this criminal, just by his appearance.
It is Cain and his fellowship who terrorize people, for if a Cain is killed, he will be avenged by “7” others. Cain, driven out by God, hesitates to distance himself under pretext that he would be killed. He wanted to stay with God, not to repent and change his life, but to be safe… all whilst committing evil. God then said to him, meaning: “Go, get out of here: it is not you, criminal, who should fear the others; it is rather you who instills fear into 7 others”, ie a multitude (Genesis 4,15). The number 7 is symbolic: it designates plenitude; Jesus told Peter to forgive 77 times 7 times who repents sincerely, ie an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18,21).
Cain eventually “left the presence of Yahweh and settled in the land of Nod” (Genesis 4,16). This country is symbolic: Nod means “wandering” in Hebrew and symbolizes the perdition of the soul. It is not a geographical place, but a wretched state of mind, even worse than that due to original sin. For this kind of fault which deserves the curse of God, there is no hope of the liberation of the soul: it is the sin against the Spirit of God for which forgiveness is not possible, since there is no repentance (Luke 12,10 / 1 John 5,16-17).
Through Cain and his kind, evil spread and worsened in the world, the sons of Cain became even worse than their criminal father. This is the meaning of the story of Lamech (Genesis 4,19-24). Read it again: Lamech threatens his two wives, Adah and Zillah, with the worst retaliation, exteriorizing his intractable and bestial character: he killed a man who had only wounded him and a child because he had hit him; because “if Cain is avenged 7 times, Lamech is avenged 77 times more…!” After Cain, violence increased, and his descendants are infinitely more violent than their criminal ancestor. You now better understand the expression “to be avenged 7 times”; remember that the symbolism of the number 7 is fullness or plenty, as when we say, “I repeated that 100 times…”; what we want to say is that we have repeated such a subject a sufficient number of times to be understood.
God, wanting to restore good on earth, gives Adam and Eve another son: “When Adam was 130 years old he became the father of a son, in his likeness, as his image” (Genesis 5,1-3). This new son is the ancestor of man who must fight evil spread by Cain and his descendants.
Notice that this new son, named Seth, is in the image of Adam, not in the image of God, deformed in Adam through his fault. A distorted image, but not completely and irretrievably destroyed, as was the case with Cain and Lamech. Restoration of the divine image is thus possible in the case of Seth and his ilk. This spiritual “cosmetic surgery” aims to reshape the moral aspect of man to that of God’s. It is modeled on the luminous Face of Jesus who, in turn, gives us the prototype of the face approved by God, that of Mary his Mother. Abandoning herself to divine will, Mary replied to the Angel Gabriel announcing the birth of Jesus: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.” (Luke 1,38) May Mary help us regain the image of God to evolve towards human perfection, whose summit is to resemble God.
So then, after Adam’s sin, man begot his children in his image, not God’s, who was perfect in Adam before the fall. This is the sad heritage of original sin: a divine image that has become blurred, almost unrecognizable according to the case, but recoverable under certain conditions. Therein lies the responsibility of parents. What image of God do parents give to their children? What idea do they themselves have of God? Do they, at least, care to know God, to discover his true “Name”, his true face, who He really is, to reveal Him to their offspring? Do they want to be good parents by helping their children evolve, or to stop them by their own distorted image? There are many questions that this text invites us to ask ourselves in the deconditioning and awareness program written in the beginning of this spiritual itinerary. The prayer taught by Jesus: “Father, Hallow be thy name”, employs all its importance and means: “Father, may I know your true face, in order to reflect it”.
Eve called her newborn Seth (in Hebrew “Shat” means “Granted”). She called him Seth because God “granted her another son” to replace Abel. Seth is after Adam’s image, not God’s. Remember well his name because the Biblical writers had him as Adam’s successor and the ancestor of the “sons of God” on earth, the lineage of “the Woman” who will crush the head of the evil serpent (Genesis 3,15).
Read chapter 5 of Genesis and pay attention to the phrases that are repeated rhythmically and intentionally: “Such and such (the name is said) fathered such and such (the name is said) and (others) sons and daughters (whose names are not reported)”. There is an intention for that: those whose names are mentioned are considered ancestors of the Jews. Those who are not mentioned are ancestors of other peoples. Remember, giving a name is to give valor, and refraining from doing so means disdain. This imaginary genealogy has a goal to separate man into two categories: the chosen who are named, and the fallen who are not named.
The writers of Genesis (scribes and Jewish priests) believed that only Jews were “after the image of God”. This genealogical tree was invented by them to raise the dignity of the Jews to the detriment of Pagans (goyim) of that time. Therefore, it has no historical reality.
Jews consider themselves the only “sons of God” on earth, direct descendants of Seth and his lineage that carries a name. They present themselves as the “chosen people”. According to them, the “other sons and daughters” of Seth’s lineage, those who are not named, are not after the image of God, not being after the image of Seth and his named descendants. That is why they are not considered by the Jews as men, but creatures a degree lesser than men (the Jews), and a degree above animals, somewhere in between the Jew (who is man) and ape.
The spiritual interpretation of this genealogy is the following: Seth’s descendants who are “named” and their lineage, represent all the righteous and good men of all races and nations; the other “sons and daughters” not named, represent the bad and homicidal descendants.
Two symbolic names to be retained in this fictitious genealogy are Enoch and his son Methuselah. Enoch, for he did not die, but rather “vanished (from the earth) because God took him” without letting him pass through physical death because of his rectitude: “Enoch walked with God”, Genesis tells us (Genesis 5,21-24). Notice Enoch’s age: 365 years old, the number of days of a solar year. Another man of integrity shared Enoch’s fate and did not die: the prophet Elijah, who went up to heaven alive. You will read his story later (2 Kings 2,11-13). Enoch and Elijah are two great figures to know: they became symbols of an ardent and courageous faith. Their going up to heaven can be understood as a symbolic or real fact; one must above all retain the moral of the story: faithful believers do not die, as Jesus taught (John 8,51). As for Methuselah, he is the one who, according to Genesis, lived the longest on earth: 969 years.
This brings us to comment on the longevity of these men’s lives. Is it real or symbolic? A bit of both at the same time. It is real, even though exaggerated, because the more evil and the more materialism increase in the world, the more are men susceptible to various diseases and often die relatively young. It is common for example, nowadays, where daily life demands stressful activity from some, to see a young person be struck down dead by a heart attack. Cigarettes and a hyperactive life shorten life. The turbulent rhythm of modern life is contrary to human nature. Our ancestors managed a calmer pace of life. Moreover, “they walked with God”. The lesson to draw from our ancestors’ longevity who bore God’s image is the following: we should walk with God if we want to live long. It is why the sacred writers reported that God, after the increase of evil, decided to shorten “man’s life on earth to no more than 120 years” (Genesis 6,3-5).
Read Genesis 6, then continue reading the course.
The increase of evil and punishment by the flood (Genesis 6)
According to Genesis 6,2, evil increased on earth because “the sons of God, looking at the the daughters of men, saw they were pleasing, so they married as many as they chose.” Who are these “sons of God” and these “daughters of men”? For the scribes and rabbis who wrote that text, solely the Jews are “sons of God” (in Hebrew “beni Elohim”), from a divine race. This mentality was acquired with time; it is due to the fact that 4000 years ago, the Jews were the only ones who believed in the one God when the rest of humanity were pagans, polytheists and idolaters. The Jews thought they will be for all time, the only “sons of God”, like the Canaanites were “sons of Baal”, the Greeks “sons of Zeus”, and the Egyptians “sons of Râ”. Jesus shocked the Jews when he taught that all who will believe in Him, of every race and nation, will become sons of God (John 1,12).
The fault of the Jews was to think they were the only ones worthy of God. They wanted to monopolize Him, to own Him. God was uniquely their God and should belong to no other people. Also, when Jesus’ Apostles wanted to teach the Pagans, the Jews prevented them from doing so (1 Thessalonians 2,16). Paul rose up against them: “Is God the God of Jews alone and not of the pagans too? Of the pagans too, most certainly!” (Romans 3,29)
According to the scribes and rabbis, the Jews, being sons of God and of a divine race, should not marry non-Jews; they would be lowering themselves if they took for wives the “daughters of man”. Children born from such marriages were not considered Jews, as Jews are only those born of a Jewish mother. Only the “sons of God” should marry the “daughters of God”. They were not even supposed to frequent non-Jews for fear of being dragged by them to the worship of idols (Numbers 25,1-2).
Mixed marriages were severely condemned (Deuteronomy 7,3-4 / 1 Kings 11,1-2 / Ezra 10,44 / Nehemiah 10,31). However, there are numerous examples of mixed marriages mentioned in the Bible, even amongst the kings (king Solomon: 1 Kings 11,1-2 / king Ahab: 1 Kings 16,31). The Book of Ruth reports Ruth’s story, a non-Jewish Moabite who married a Jew. When he died, she married another Jew, “Boaz”, and is listed with the latter among the ancestors of the Messiah (Matthew 1,5). This confuses the narrow and fanatic mentality of the scribes who fabricated stories from anything to justify their racism in the name of God.
Genesis 6,2 should not be understood literally; we should seek its spiritual meaning, which is: the “sons of God” are those who seek God, believers and persons of good will from throughout the world. Jesus teaches us that “all the peacemakers shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5,9). This concerns all men, not just the Jews. These “sons of God” (men or women) must not be seduced by the body and physical beauty, but by the spirit of the person to marry. They must make sure that the spouse is a divine choice and will be an aid in ascending to God, not an obstacle to the soul’s elevation. The purpose of marriage is to be closer to God, not to have material interest.
The expression “son of man” was understood pejoratively and applied to non-Jews. Jesus, to oppose this chauvinistic spirit, applied this title to Himself (John 3,14), with that of “God’s only Son” (John 3,18). He is this “Son of man” announced by the prophets (Daniel 7,13), the head of the human lineage of the woman who shall crush the infernal serpent’s head, but He is also God’s only Son; and “to all who accept Him, He gives power to become children of God” (John 1,12). By this verse, the Gospel enlightens us on the spiritual meaning of Genesis 6,2, considering that all true disciples of Jesus are “sons of God”. In that sense, Paul says: “Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham” (Galatians 3,29). The lineage by blood is of no valor to God.
Seeing that man desires to be carnal rather than spiritual, God withdraws his humiliated Spirit from this ill-considerate creature. As a result, human life was shortened to 120 years. That means that we cannot live long without God. We should not understand these 120 years numerically, since there are holy people who do not live that long, and others who live more, without caring about God… These latter will not taste the joys of Eternal Life. This is the teaching of Genesis 6,3: to have a long life means taking part in eternal life.
As for the “Nephilim” (giants) mentioned in Genesis 6,4, “the heroes of days gone by”, they represent man before the propagation of evil on earth: it was man’s dignity that was great. Men who came after God have withdrawn his Spirit from humanity, seem like dwarfs compared to their ancestors.
The greatness of these ancestral “giants” was due to God’s Spirit which inspired them, giving them a spirit of grandeur. It was God’s Spirit in them that made of them “the heroes of days gone by, the famous men” such as Seth, Enosh, Enoch and Methuselah, etc…
This text of Genesis, like many others, should not thus be understood literally, one should not think of the large physique of these giants (the “Nephilim”). We must not, moreover, compare them to dwarfs (physically), nor to the race of pygmies, who are able, they too, of becoming children of God and spiritual giants. Indeed, Jesus came specifically to give back to His disciples of all races the Spirit of God which had left an unworthy humanity (Genesis 6,3). Read John 14,16-17. This gift of the Divine Spirit is granted to true believers, independently of the size of their physique.
The Flood (Genesis 6,5 to 7,24)
Archeology has discovered, buried under the Atlantic, a continent which we named “Atlantis”. Under the waters of the Pacific is buried another continent called “Mu”. These continents crumbled into the 2 oceans following a general cataclysm which took place 25,000 years ago. Traces of a very evolved civilization was discovered in the two continents. This civilization was exterminated. Survivors had transmitted the information to the following generations and humanity had thus guarded its memory.
Additionally, archeology informs us of this cataclysm: some pre-Biblical > Babylonian narratives mention a flood that destroyed humanity. These narratives were written in 2000 BC, so 1000 years before Genesis was written. When the Biblical writers wrote the story of the flood, they were only narrating a story already known centuries before, and put down in writing by other people.
The Babylonians had written it in “Cuneiform” letters, ie in the form of nails, the Babylonian alphabet consisted of little stems in the form of nails, placed together differently for each letter of the alphabet.
There is an essential difference between the Babylonian and Biblical narratives: the Babylonian narrative says that “the Gods decided to destroy humanity because of its errors. Ea (or “Enki”, one of the Babylonian gods) averted Uta-Napishtim and made him build a boat, etc… The Biblical editors took up the story in their own account, monotheizing it, saying: “YAHWEH God decided to destroy humanity because of mankind’s wickedness”. Uta-Napishtim’s name was changed to Noah, to give it a Hebraic consonance.
The following is a reproduction of the text from the book translated from French “DELUGE ET ARCHE DE NOE” (“The Flood and Noah’s ark”) by André Parrot (Edition: “Cahiers d’archéologie Biblique”, 15 February 1955 p.32). He explains how the Biblical writers of Genesis were inspired by stories which existed elsewhere, but made them monotheistic, purifying them thus, from their mythological and polytheistic content, and giving Hebraic names to the protagonists:
THE FLOOD AND NOAH’S ARK
And so, the flood marked an extremely clear-cut event in History, without any contestation. Its memory endured very well in Mesopotamia and in Palestine, where Jesus referred to it during his last days of preaching (Matthew 24,37-39 / Luke 17,26-27).
In summary, we have at our disposal, in the Biblical and Babylonian literature, an ensemble of texts that refer to a devastating cataclysm, from which, thanks to an “ark”, a family managed to escape: Noah’s in the Bible and Uta-Napishtim’s, Athrahasis’, Zinsudra’s, Xisuthro’s, for the Babylonians. The connection between all these stories is undeniable; it is obvious to the less informed. We can do a synopsis, with some variances without a doubt, but also with an impressive agreement on the basics. We point out some striking connections:
|Yahweh decides to destroy humanity because of man’s wickedness.||The gods decide to destroy humanity because of its faults.|
|Yahweh averts Noah and lets him build a boat.||Ea (Enki) averts Uta-Napishtim (Ziasudra) and lets him build a boat.|
|The boat would be filled with animals, in order to preserve the each race all over the earth.||That boat shall be filled with animals and seeds from every life.|
|The flood arrives. Yahweh erases all beings from the surface of the earth.||The flood arrives. All humanity is returned to mud.|
|Noah realizes that the water is lowering in letting birds go (crows, doves).||Uta-Napishtim realizes the lowering of the water in letting birds go (dove, lark, crow).|
|Noah builds an altar and offers a sacrifice to Yahweh.||Uta-Napishtim offers a sacrifice to the gods.|
|Yahweh smelled the soothing scent.||The gods smelled the good scent.|
|Yahweh stops cursing men (version J).||Enlil makes up with Uta-Napishtim.|
|Yahweh blesses Noah and his sons (version P).||Enlil blesses Uta-Napishtim and his wife.|
Fragment of a tablet from the epic of Gilgamesh
The text of the cuneiform tradition (Babylonian), is an excerpt from the famous epic of “Gilgamesh”, a legendary king who gave his name to the story spread in the Near-East since the XXVIth century BC. The general theme of the story is the pursuit of immortality, the secret of which is to capture, in the bottom of the sea, a plant which gives back youth (think of the tree of life in Genesis). Several nations translated this account into their language, one finds a Sumerian version and, more recently, the Assyrian and Babylonian versions. The Assyrian version is the most complete and numbers 326 lines, of which around 200 are dedicated to the flood.
After having exposed a brief parallelism between the Genesis narrative and the Babylonian version, André Parrot concludes saying:
“Which narrative is the basis of all the others? We should answer: the oldest, and the oldest is, evidently, the Babylonian narrative (not that of Genesis). That frightens some exegetes who propose a suspicious average solution, likely to safeguard, in their eyes, the doctrine of inspiration: there would be a primitive tradition (not found yet) of which we possess two versions, the Sumero-Babylonian on the one hand, the Israelite on the other. We admit, very frankly, that this theory satisfies us rather poorly and we prefer to consider that, in the narrative and only with the Biblical account of the flood, we have the Israelite version of a Mesopotamian tradition, whose originals on clay tablets are in our possession, and that the Biblical storytellers have rethought in the light of monotheism. That tradition (oral) of the flood was brought, along with many others, most of the traditions of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, by the patriarch (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) emigrants from the countries of the two rivers (the Tigris and Euphrates where the Assyrian and Babylonian versions of the flood were well known) and came to settle in the land of Canaan. The Israelites never detected that their ancestors had, at this period, worshiped “other gods” (Joshua 24,2), therefore shared beliefs far removed from the Yahwist faith. Here is why we have, in chapters 6 and 8 of Genesis, the story of the flood that the Mesopotamians copied in cuneiforms, long before the Yahwist authors (Jewish) had thought of fixing in writing. The extraordinary fidelity of the oral tradition in Israel had ensured for a millennium the preservation of this moving tradition”.
André Parrot’s conclusions do not undermine in any way the “doctrine of inspiration” as those attached to the literal interpretation of the Bible fear. The Biblical writer’s intention was to spread monotheism through the polytheistic narrations of that period in the Near-East. Their goal was to sacralize the human story by stripping it bare of any mention of mythological gods, in order to reveal the one and only God: the God of Abraham.
I have explained at length these first chapters of Genesis to give you the spirit with which they should be understood. Henceforth, I will only point out the most important points:
Genesis 9,12-17: Speaks of the Rainbow as the sign of the Eternal Covenant between God and man. Remember well this symbolism of the rainbow because you will find it again in the Book of Revelation (10,1) around the head of the envoy of Christ in the Apocalyptic times; for it is he who will restore the true Eternal Covenant between God and man. This Covenant was already reestablished by Jesus, but later betrayed by the Christians. The mission of the Apocalyptic envoy is to restore it.
Genesis 9 to 10: These chapters present the 3 symbolic sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth. This genealogy has no historical foundation whatsoever; it was established by the scribes with a racist aim favorable to the Jews like that of Seth in Genesis 5. Thus:
- Canaan, the ancestor of the Arabs is cursed and relegated to the rank of “the lowest of slaves”, ie the slave of Shem (ancestor of the Jews) and Japheth (ancestor of the Westerners). Notice that the scribes hasten to curse Canaan, not Shem, their guilty ancestor; it is the progeny that is mainly targeted: the Palestinians and Arabs in general (Genesis 10,14). This curse, according to the scribes and rabbis, is valid for all times: no Palestinian, no Arab, for eternity, will ever be spared. They should be “the slaves of the slaves” forever, destined to serve Shem and his descendants, as well as Japheth and his descendants, the latter only being “slaves” in the service of Shem’s progeny. But Canaan is “the slave of slaves”.
- Is there further need to mention that Shem was blessed! It goes without saying, is he not the ancestor of the Hebrews? … It is “Shem’s God” who was blessed by Noah. He is neither Japheth’s God nor, for stronger reason, Ham’s.Shem “is the ancestor of all the sons of Eber” (Genesis 10,21). We should understand this verse according to its Hebraic nuance (that we find in the Hebrew Bible translated into French by the rabbinate of France): “Shem, the father of all the race of Eber (the Hebrews)”. The Israelites are hardly considered a race. According to them, the blessing of their ancestor Shem would be passed down exclusively, to each individual of their “race”, making them solely the “sons of God”, who is uniquely the God of Shem and his descendants: “the chosen people”. The scribes thought that other nations could never get near to God. He is exclusively the God of Shem, the God of the Jews… Remember Paul’s remark: “Is God the God of Jews alone and not of the pagans too? Of the pagans too, most certainly” (Romans 3,29). Here clearly appears the universal dimension of the teachings of Jesus and New Testament.
- Japheth is set off, “may he live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave!” (Genesis 9,27), the Bible of the French Rabbinate says: “may Canaan be their slave”.
This amounts to saying that:
- The Jews (descendants of Shem) are the absolute masters of the world and of men.
- The Indo-European-Americans (descendants of Japheth) are their “slaves”; they can “live in the tents of Shem”, therefore cohabit with the Jews, but without having rights to any personal possessions: they do not live in tents of their own, but “in Shem’s tents” (a nuance not to be underestimated! …) That makes Jews the undisputed owners of all earth’s produce.
- The Canaanites (the Arabs) are at the unconditional service of the two precedent categories or races. That is why they are “the lowest of slaves”, since they are the slaves of the “first” slaves, the descendants of Japheth, who are, in their turn, the slaves of the “Semites”.
The authors of this genealogical fable did not hesitate to make Noah the only righteous man of that era, who deserved to escape the flood, a drunk, reduced to losing his senses to the extent of ridiculously stripping himself: “He drank some of the wine, and while he was drunk he uncovered himself inside his tent…” (Genesis 9,21).
Such rantings have divided humanity into a hierarchy of three races to the advantage of the Hebrew “race”. Here is why Paul tells us to be wary of “Jewish myths” (Titus 1,14) and to “avoid pointless speculations, and those genealogies” (Titus 3,9) which some are fond of. The prophet Jeremiah denounced “the lying pen of the scribes” for having introduced into the Bible, in the name of God, proposals alien to God (Jeremiah 8,8); Jesus also revolted against the “hypocrite scribes and Pharisees” for having diverted the meaning of Divine Revelation in favor of their earthly advantages (Matthew 23 and 15,6-7).
We are invited today to exorcize the Old Testament from the Bible, emptying it of its racist content, introduced by the “lying pens of the scribes”. On the contrary, there is nothing to exorcize in the New Testament, which is itself an exorcism. We are called to be experts in the Divine Word, believers who discern, in the Bible, what is from God and what comes from men. For us not to be misled, we have to be like financial experts who recognize real money from fake. This is not difficult when the Spirit of God guides us. Whoever knows God knows how He thinks, what He said in the Bible… and what He never said.
To exorcize the Bible is a holy task!
Genesis 11: The “Tower of Babel” symbolizes man’s pride, who wants to build ever higher to impress and dominate. “Eiffel Tower”, “sky-scrapers”, or “Pyramids” are, but in another spirit, the current replicas of the high towers, the “Ziggurat”, which were once built in Babel.
God exposes man’s vanity by man. They, who speak but one language, ie that they understood each other, here they are now who no longer understand each other, each speaking his own language, seeing only his own interest. That means that selfishness and pride have divided men, each wanting to possess everything and be superior to the other, hence the conflicts which arise. This is how the story of the Tower of Babel should be understood. It is therefore not the construction of high rises that is to be condemned, but the spirit of vanity with which it is done that makes the act bad. Today, even those who speak the same language may no longer understand each other when one wants to dominate the other.
The true disciples of Christ have the Spirit of God, which unites the children of God. They are those who understand each other, even if they speak different languages. Because the language of love is unique, understood by a gaze, a gesture, a smile. At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles, they amazed foreigners who understood them, each in their own language: “All these men (the Apostles) speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language?” (Acts 2,7). It is because the Spirit of Jesus was there to restore what human pride had destroyed. The Pentecost heals the wound of the Tower of Babel.
Genesis 11 ends with a genealogy that aims to link –by any means– Abraham to Shem. The aim of this “genealogy” is the following: to present the Hebrews as existing on earth even before Abraham, to make believe that God, by choosing Abraham, chose a race, that of Shem, the ancestor of “Eber” (Genesis 10,21 / 11,10-26), an imaginary personage, supposedly the ancestor of the Hebrews, the “sons of Eber”. I explain in the beginning of the 3rd lesson why it is false to believe that Abraham is of “Hebrew” descent.
Genesis 11,27-32 presents Abraham’s family: Terah, his father, his two brothers: Nahor and Haran (who died leaving his son Lot to Abraham) and Sarah, his wife, who was also his half-sister. They lived in “Ur”, a big city at that time (in the south of Iraq), they then emigrated to Haran, in the North of Syria, where God appeared to Abram.
Here ends the study of the first 11 chapters of Genesis.