Genesis 2 – 2nd Draft
The first and easiest shot which one can take at this chapter is of course to ask the question of why an omnipotent deity would need a day of rest. To admit that such an awesome act of creation could possibly drain away even the tiniest amount of power or energy from god would be admitting that he is in some way limited, which would be a perfectly acceptable assertion were the bible talking about any other god but this one. Yahweh is by definition infinite, and any evidence to the contrary would unravel his entire character.
One could argue that this day of rest was intended for the humans he had just created, except that he makes no commandment as such, contrary to his personal style of authoritarian dictates. Verse 3 notes that the sabbath is sanctified because Yahweh rested on that day, and not that people should rest because he sanctified it.
Verse 1 states “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.” Perhaps this answers the question of when the host of heaven (i.e. angels) were created. It’s possible that this confirms that the were no further acts of creation past this point, and the process of bringing the universe into being was finished which would seem to support the idea that the supernatural entities exist at this point. Curious that they warrant no mention, though.
Verse 4, with its repetitious, almost incantatory style, reminds me of the fact that this and other portions of the bible were in fact chanted. Perhaps the fact that this aspect of religious worship is missing from modern Christianity could go some way in explaining the need for the ecstatic, speaking-in-tongues experience that has become so popular. Just a thought.
I hope I’m not the only one who senses a thematic shift at verse 5. Perhaps it’s because we just went back in fucking time. As far as I know, with the exception of the gospels, the rest of the bible goes chronologically, so it just strikes me as odd that within the first two chapters of this book it is deemed necessary that we must go back, strike the record, and revise previous statements. Sloppy storytelling to say the least.
Suddenly there is no plant life and no human beings again, and Adam is created before the plants. How did the 6th day happen before the 3rd day, I wonder? Regardless, there is something more poetic about Yahweh creating humans by breathing life into the earth than apparating from thin air due to some incantation.
Adam is actually an interesting name because Yahweh never actually names him that. The bible just starts referring to him as that in Gen 2:20. It’s actually something of a pun, because the Hebrew word for earth is adamah (אֲדָמָה). Also, tangentially related, autocthon is an awesome word.
So Adam is created, then the garden, and then, only then, are all the plants allowed to sprout and grow (and how this jives with the original timeline is left unexplained), including a couple of incredibly interesting trees: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But those come later.
The fact that we essentially get a physical location, at the mouth of four specific rivers, for Eden is far more interesting than if it was just said to be in some far off mythic land that nobody’s been to since. It means that we can go there, take a look around, and note that, in all likelihood, “Yup. This place is crap.”
Now, the first commandment in first creation story is “be fruitful and multiply,” but obviously there is not yet anyone for Adam to be fruity or multiplicative with as of yet, so god commands him to eat anything but the fruit of the tree of good and evil, “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” An important phrasing that I’ll return to in later chapters.
Adam’s first role is tender of the garden, but god also decided that this is a lonely planet with just just one naked guy staring dumbstruck around at a bunch of plants, most of which he can’t eat, and so brings all the beasts and birds into existence specifically because he’s looking for a helper for Adam. In the process, Yehweh decides he might as well parade all the creatures in front of Adam to have him bark nonsense sounds at them and use those as their names. Personally I would have had some fun with it, given how vocal I was as a baby, and given them all ridiculous-sounding names filled with too many vowels and raspberry sounds. After all, it seems Adam is only a few hours old, and I’m not sure what we can really assume about his cognitive abilities at this point.
Not to mention the mind-numbingly vast period of time it would take to actually name all the “beasts of the field and birds in the sky” on Earth, most of which don’t even reside anywhere near the Middle East, the glaring omission of the creation of the goddamn fish, which Yahweh spent the whole fourth day on, should be staring us in the face. It’s almost as if this version of the story was created by a completely different culture, one which has never seen an ocean. Oh, yeah, and this version puts the creation of the birds and beasts after the humans.
We can’t even go two chapters in without having internal contradictions, can we?
So there’s no suitable helper for Adam found among the animals, a result which is hardly surprising considering that this helper is supposed to be “corresponding to” Adam. This sounds a lot like more shoddy guess-and-check work to me.
So Yahweh gets all MacGyver and says, “Aha, I can fix this!” and makes a woman from a rib that Adam probably didn’t need anyway. Adam speaks his first words in the book and says that “she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.”
Hold. the fuck. on.
I never really considered it this way before, but it really strikes me as no wonder that the bible is so misogynistic. The origin myth comes right out and says that women were birthed from men. How backwards is that? Makes me think of Athena being birthed from Zeus’s head, but even then she had a mortal mother first.
In fact it reminds me more of a book that I admittedly haven’t read called When God was a Woman, which essentially argues that the shift from matriarchal to patriarchal cultures had a corresponding shift in their religious doctrines in which male deities claimed the roles of supreme creator and giver of life. In most other creation myths, there is some original goddess from which the male god who eventually overthrows or kills her is birthed. I suppose that for a self-begotten male god, it is internally consistent to maintain the male power of life within the origin of humanity.
So Eve is lesser because she is Adam’s helper and came from him, though I have also heard that Eve is merely human 2.0, the improved version. It’s kind of humorous, if only for the anachronism, but ultimately flawed for the same reasons. There was no male or female first; it’s like a more inane “chicken and egg” riddle. As far as I’m concerned, it’s really more of an expression of cultural supremacy and values than anything else.
The chapter closes with an almost external-narrative-storytelling-parenthetical remark, in that all this is why men leave their mothers and fathers to take wives and be one flesh. Adam and Eve would have no experience with this concept, having no mortal parents to leave, so it seems to be some sort of explanatory statement tagged on as the end point of this etiological myth.
And also they’re naked. Just thought you should know.