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Take a look at Genesis, chapter 3 (and the last few verses of chapter 2), and see if you find any words or ideas that seem to repeat quite a bit…
So, I think, the word is “nakedness”, the idea is “nakedness”. If you look at the story, a kind of nakedness is everywhere; it’s at the beginning of the story, it’s at the middle of the story, it’s at the end of the story. The beginning of the story is kind of right over here, ‘where Adam and Eve were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed’.
This is the verse which you could really argue marks the start of the whole story. And it’s about nakedness. It’s a fact that man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Then, you kind of have nakedness right at the turning point in the story, when they eat from the forbidden fruit. And here it’s kind of strange. If you read this verse: Vatere haishah ki tov haetz l’ma’achal– ‘the woman saw that the fruit was good for eating, and it was delight for the eyes, and she takes from the fruit and she gives to her husband and they both eat, and then their eyes were opened.’
Now, if you are to kind of stop the tape right there, and you didn’t read the rest of the sentence, you just kind of stop the tape, and then I ask you to fill in the rest of the story, so, you imagine this blank over here - and the eyes of both of them were opened, and then, what happened? What would they realize? If you were reading the story, if it wasn’t a bible story, if it’s was up to you to fill in what happened next, so there is this tree of knowledge of good and evil, the man and woman are not suppose to eat from that, and then all of a sudden they go and they eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the eyes of both of them are opened and they realized stuff they never realized before, what kind of stuff, what would you imagine?
So, I don’t about you, but if you are up to me, if I have to fill in the rest of the story, I might say, “Gee, the whole world of moral dilemma is open to them.” All of a sudden, Adam and Eve, their heads were swimming with this different thoughts, they were wondering the right to life and the right to choice. You know, what should’ve be the abortion debate, ten people in a life boat and the only way that you can survive is if you throw an overboard? All these moral dilemmas! But that’s not what the verse says, the verse says, the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked. There is nakedness, again.
Now, what a strange thing, eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and you know that you are naked? What does nakedness has to do with knowledge of good and evil? So, they have nothing to do with each other. But then, again, there is nakedness right over there. And that of course, finally, the end of the story, if this is the middle of the story over here, the turning point, so the end of the story is when they are banished from Eden, right?
Before they were banished from Eden, God goes, actually, it’s on this verse over here – the LORD God made for Adam and Eve, and his wife of garments of skin and cloth them, so they were no longer naked. Now they have cloths. So, the story begins with them being naked, the story ends with them getting cloths. And in the middle, the transition point, they realized they are naked. There is a kind of nakedness all through there.
And there is actually another interesting point with this nakedness too, which is that right after they eat from the tree, so actually Adam and Eve hide, if you look at the verses right after this, the middle point of the story, Adam and Eve are hiding. Imagine you could have a little conversation with Adam and Eve, imagine that you’re an intrepid reporter and you manage to pin down Adam for an exclusive interview as he is hiding behind this tree from God, you know, what happened in that interview – “I’m Mike Waylays, I Wole Safer, I am Dame Retroit, I am Henry Reasoner, those stories and more, tonight on 60 minutes.” You know, “Excuse me, Adam! I couldn’t help but notice that you are crushing here behind the street and you are hiding, can you please tell us and all the viewers, what are you hiding from? Why are you hiding?”
Would have been Adam’s logical reply?
What would you have said? I don’t know about you. What I would have said is, “I can’t believe God told me that I could eat from all of these trees and there is only one tree that I couldn’t eat from and I just couldn’t help myself, I ate from that tree, I was so stupid, you know, one little thing He gave me to do and I couldn’t do it, I am so embarrassed, I am so ashamed” So, you might have said you are ashamed, you are embarrassed because you didn’t listened to what God had asked you to do. That’s not actually what Adam says. If you read the text, Adam says, I am hiding because va’ira ki-eyrom anochi, I am afraid, because I am naked.
Now, what doesn’t mean? I am afraid because I am naked? I mean, God saw you before like this, and He is going to see you now, He made you like this, you’re ashamed because you are in front of God and you are naked? Why should you be afraid? And also, it’s not even the way we would have thought, we would have assumed that maybe he is embarrassed that he was naked. And it’s not even the language, the language is “afraid”. What are you so afraid of? You are afraid because you are naked?
But, again, there is nakedness front and center. That’s the real reason why Adam is ashamed. So, if nakedness really awe over the place, a place where you won’t even imagine that it would be, what’s going on with the strange prominence of nakedness in the story, how come seems to revolve around something that seems to be tangential to a tree of knowledge of good and evil. So, that’s one question I want you to ponder and we are going to come back to that.
But the next question have nothing to do with nakedness. Is that I even want to suggest that there is another example of nakedness in the story, but it’s not an example that is easy to see. So, we might call it a hidden or a faint example of nakedness. I want you to take a look at the beginning of our story and see if you can find the fathom nakedness. Read through these three verses and see, is there anybody else naked in the story besides the obvious characters?
So, just read this, if you see anything else – “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God has made. And he said unto the woman: ‘Even if God said don’t eat from the tree…’ there was that non circle that we talked about before. “And the woman said to the serpent: out of the fruits of the tree of the garden we may eat…” If you look at these verses, you don’t obviously see any other nakedness, right? The problem though is because we are reading the verses in English. Try reading them in Hebrew, in Hebrew you will see it.
Now, even though if you are not much of a Hebrew reader, even though you can’t read Hebrew at all, you may still see it. Take a look over here, the word for nakedness by the way, over here, vayihyu shneihem arumim, that’s the word, ‘arom’, right? And that’s just the reason why it’s arumim there, just because it’s plural. If it was arum, so it would just be ayin, resh, vav, mem, kind of like that.
So, if you look at that word arum, do you see it anywhere else, do you see it in this verse? And if you look carefully, you will. It’s right over there. There is the phantom nakedness, exact same word. Now, the serpent was more subtle, that’s the way they are translating it. You might say clever, you might say tricky, that’s all the kinds of translations, which we’re talking about the serpent was a real trickster. But if you look carefully at the Hebrew, it strange, because that word which in context seems to mean clever, tricky, subtle, actually is the same word for nakedness as over here.
So, it’s almost as if we could read it, “Now, the serpent was more, what? Like naked? than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” And then, actually, think about it and you think to yourself for one second. If you look at the serpent, there is a kind of way in which the serpent is naked, if you think about all the other animals in the animal kingdom, they all have hair, they all have fur, not the serpent, right? The serpents just have skin like a human being. In almost another way, a snake is human like, he has skin and he is not really covered with a hair. And if you think about, by the way, this different meaning of arum; meaning one, naked; and meaning two, tricky or devious or deceptive. So, if you think about being tricky, devious or deceptive, does that have anything to do with nakedness? Do those ideas have anything to do with each other or they’re completely like apples, oranges and hotdogs or catalogs; sort of, nothing to do with each other.
And, if you think about naked and tricky, really, they are kind of opposite. These two words really are opposite. Think about it. When you are naked, so, you know, what you see is what you get; when you are deceptive, so, you are cloaked, you can’t really see somebody’s actual intentions because they have layers, they are sort of cloths on which are getting on your way of seeing what is really going on in their mind, metaphorically cloaked. But it’s the same idea.
So, what you have is the Torah actually using the same word to mean two opposite things, naked on the one hand and deceptive on the other hand. Why would the Torah do that, why would the Torah be describing the snake as deceptive but sort of naked on the other hand? It almost seems to suggest that in some way in which the snake is not just deceptive but is also naked, not just being tricky but also just kind of telling you like it is
Perhaps the snake is not just “deceptive”, but is also “naked”. In some sense, perhaps he is very straightforward.
Snake = Deceptive = Innocent
Is on some level the snake argument tricky, on one level but just very straightforward and naked and what you see is what you get on another? It seems to be what the Torah is suggesting. But what does that really mean for the snake’s argument? How do we understand that? So, we are going to what to get back to the meaning of nakedness in the story, and especially the meaning of nakedness with the respect of the snake, how might the snake be naked and not just deceptive? So we are going to come back and talk about that too.
1. The Lullaby Effect
2. Kinds of Questions
3. The Mystery of the Pre-Tree World
4. The Tale of Two Trees
5. Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle
6. The Primal Serpent
7. A Perplexing Temptation
8. A Naked Paradox
9. A Snake in the Garden
10. Beasts of the Field
11. Beauty and the Beast
12. What Does It Mean to Know?
13. A World of Broccoli and Pizza
14. Are All Dilemmas Created Equal?
15. The Phantom Boxer
16. The I of the Beholder
17. The Filter of Desire
18. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Disc Jockey
19. Epilogue: God as Knower of Good and Evil (Premium)
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