God sets the stage . . . a Garden of Desire. That’s before two trees, humanity, and a serpent meet up.
[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]
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SUGGEST READING FIRST: GOD’S STORY LENS SERIES: TREES, SERPENT, LIES [PART 1]
READING TIME: 3 MINUTES.
The beguiling action begins somewhere in the garden, located within Eden—whose name is associated with the Hebrew root for delight, pleasure (עדנה), per Hebrew University.
The root is found in Psalm 36:8 “rivers of delight” and also in Genesis 18:12 when Sarah laughed about the notion she’d become pregnant in her old age, “Am I to have pleasure?”.
Living up to its name, the entire garden is a place brimming with desire, God’s good kind, appeasing the senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing, feeling. The delight is a relationship with God. The pleasure is all that He lovingly created for humanity’s enjoyment—the vibrant colors, lush foliage, fragrant scents, tantalizing food, calming rivers, amazing animals. But really, the good desire is following His will, surrendering to His majestic kingship.
But God honors work and initially gives Adam the job of tending the garden creation. Not by the sweat of his brow. Not battling pest infestation or finagling with irrigation equipment. There’s no Dust Bowl potential or tornadoes to outrun.
Instead, the mist rising from the earth waters the entire surface as four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates) sprawl and converge, submerge and appear elsewhere . . . where the land glistens with gems (gold, crystal, and onyx).
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree
that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.
The tree of life was in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
TIME OF DAY
We presume from the story’s opening that it’s still daytime. But the time right after Adam’s disobedience is said to be nearing the tenth hour. That’s when they heard the sound (קוֹל, qol) of God walking in the garden to the wind of the day (לְר֣וּחַ הַיּ֑וֹם,l’ruach hay yom)—the literal Hebrew phrase that some scholars tie to a particular time of day.
Among them is Rashi, a noted 11th century French rabbi and Talmudic commentator who suggests it means “toward the way, the direction of the sun.” As in “later in the day as the sun sets.” Hence, the tenth hour.
[Side note: Others link the Hebrew to God’s stormy presence, but we’ll address that in an upcoming Trees, Serpent, Lies post.]
The tenth hour is intriguing from a setting/character perspective—and a soul perspective. The timing is within the last two hours before sunset. Let’s dig a bit . . .
First consider that the Hebrew word for morning—boker—has this Hebraic shoresh (root meaning): order, able to be discerned.
Now factor in the Hebrew word for evening—erev—whose root meaning is chaos, disorder, when things aren’t so clear, not so discernible.
How does that play into the setting-story line?
Our co-protagonists’ souls are about to transition from one state to the other, from daylight to evening. From a place of order and harmony to a state of disruption, confusion, disorder.
They’re edging away from a level of knowing and walking in good desire for a place of self-desire and naked truth . . . a truth that is anything but completely naked, clear, or discernible.
UM, WHERE’S ADAM?
As the curtain rises on Genesis 3‘s setting, Adam isn’t there—at least, not right off. (Keep in mind that in God’s storytelling, a lot can happen—not overtly revealed—between paragraphs, sentences, words.) It can appear purposeful on many counts as we’ll see.
Later, when Adam is mentioned, the Hebrew indicates (per rabbinic thought) that time has passed between his wife’s encounter with the serpent and her handing him the fruit (hence it’s then noted that he’s “with her”).
Seems to me, if he’d been there from the beginning of the whole serpent/Eve chitchat, he’d have added his two cents or stepped in one way or another. And that would mean he too had been beguiled by the serpent.
But that doesn’t necessarily fit the narrative.
In fact, a pharisee (Saul Paulus) during the first century temple period wrote this about the duo: Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
Adam obeyed his wife’s lead (handing him the fruit to eat as well) vs the Lord’s.
So it’s plausible—and seemingly does fit the narrative—that Adam is nearby, tending his work while his helpmate, Eve, is elsewhere.
And it’s that elsewhere garden location that stirs the pot in this setting. She’s presumably alone, possibly in the midst of the garden, hanging out near the forbidden tree, primed for seduction as the story begins.
SO WHAT’S WITH THOSE TWO TREES?
READ THIS NEXT. God’s Story Threads: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2]
Garden tree photo by nitish-kadam on Unsplash.com