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The Judaic Classic Library is a program put up by Davka Corp. It’s a search program that lets you search through all these different books, one of them is the bible.
You can search in the original Hebrew with this program with other programs. You can search in English, but it’s always good to able to search in Hebrew if you know Hebrew, because it’s the original text and you can get a more accurate sense of where words are.
And sometimes where words are and where they appear tells you a tremendous amount. And in this case I think we have much to learn from that.
I had left you last time with some questions about why this digression is right here in the middle of the story of the Tree of Knowledge. The Tree of Knowledge being created, and then you have the strange story about God deciding to create Eve, and then the creation of all these animals before we get back to the Tree of Knowledge, with the story of the Snake.
And the question is – why that digression is there? What is it doing in the middle of that story?
What’s this stuff about the creation of animals, and a mate for Adam, even doing here?
What I want to argue to you is that that’s actually not a digression, that’s part and parcel of the story. You cannot understand the story of the Tree of Knowledge without understanding the story of the creation of the animals.
Tree of Knowledge is Created
Creation of Animals, then Woman
Serpent Tempts Mankind to Eat
from Tree of Knowledge
And the bible tips you off to the existence of a link and you will see it if you do a quick search. Here is the word chayat hasade; I am going to be searching for that word throughout the entire book of Genesis.
And that word chayat hasadeh, that phrase chayat hasadeh, means “Beasts of the Field”. The first time you have that phrase is when God creates all the beast of the field and that sort of digression which we are talking about.
So let’s search for how many times this fairly popular phrase you will imagine comes up in the book of Genesis. We do the search, you find out that it actually only comes up a few times. It comes up four times, but really, in only two different contexts.
These are the four times:
First time is in the story we have just been talking about, that’s the story when God originally creates all the beast of the field – Vayitzer Elokim mi-haadamah kol-chayat hasadeh v’et kol-of hashamayim.
The second time it appears is again in that story when Adam names all the beast of the field.
But what is interesting is – the only other time it appears is at couple of sentences later, and the only other time it appears it appears in connection with the snake.
Listen to how the snake is introduced. “Vehanachash hayah arum mikol chayat hasadeh asher asah Elokim – And the snake was more crafty than all the beasts of the field.” Which beast of the field? Well, the answer to that is clear, the beasts of the field which we had earlier; the same beasts of the field that God had created and then He brought to man. What’s the implication here? The implication is that these stories are connected.
But, actually, here we get to the missing motivation of snake. Of course, we know the missing motivation of the snake, of course we know why he is crafty; he is just one of the beasts of the field. Which beasts of the field? These beasts of the field; but except, he is more crafty than all this beasts of the field. He’s going to succeed where they failed.
They presented themselves as possible soul mates for mankind, and one at a time man rejected them. And then along comes the snake and all of a sudden the snakes says, “I’m going to succeed where they failed. I’m going to present as a soul-mate.”
Might the story be suggesting that the snake is presenting itself as Making’s potential soul mate?
You actually find this alluded to in a very strange Midrashic teaching. The Rabbis in the ancient Midrash, they said, “one of the earliest forms of commentary in the bible.” They actually said this. And if you just listen to it, it sounds like the strangest thing in the world.
But if you see in the context of this influence, it actually doesn’t seem so strange. The Rabbi say that what was the snake motivation in trying to offer the forbidden fruit to Eve; and they said, his motivation was the hope that Eve would offer the fruit to Adam, that Adam would die, and that the snake would marry Eve.
Now you think about that, you think to yourself, “oh my gosh, the snake would marry Eve? What a ridiculous idea. What would the children look like? I mean it’s crazy, the story that the snake wants to marry Eve.”
But if you think about it, it’s actually in a certain way not so crazy. The Rabbis were talking allegorically. And not only that the snake wants to marry Eve, but what the snake is doing, seemingly, in the story is presenting itself as the animal that could succeed where the other animals failed, as the one who could possibly be the soul mate for man.
And there are couples of other indications for this. Let’s come back to some other points which we made earlier about how close the snake is to, sort of, humanity.
Again, the primal snake in the garden talks, he’s smart, walks, enjoys good food. And that’s what we talked about before. These are sort of the classic hallmarks of what it means to be humans.
Normally we think of human beings as the unique animal that can talk, the unique animal that has intelligence, the unique animal that walks, but the snake confounds our vision of all these different things; walks, talks, he is intelligent.
And it’s almost as if the closest representative of the animal world is trying to make a play for being considered co as a human, and suggesting that – what do you need another human for, you can have me. And I think once you see this you can go back to the story of the creation of Eve; and a lot of things over starts to make sense.
Let’s go back to that story for a second, right? Look at how the story begins. “It’s not good for man to be alone.” God, the ultimate parent in the sky says there is something about the man’s loneliness that I don’t like; it’s not good for man to be alone.
Well, as a parent why don’t you want your child to be lonely? What’s wrong with a lonely child? What’s wrong with a lonely child is that they start making friends with people they shouldn’t be making friends with. And I think in this case, in a larger kind of way, that’s really perhaps God’s fear with the snake. Will Adam co-make friends with those that he shouldn’t be friendly with, namely, the animal world? Will he confuse himself with an animal?
Mankind in one sense is above the animal world, right? He is given complete mastery over the animal world. He is told to dominate it. But this is a king who is not exactly the same as his subject who is everyone else. And when you are not exactly the same, the temptation is to try to find companionship where it ought not to be sought.
So God tries to inoculate mankind. What does God do? Instead of directly creating Eve, of course, God knows that Eve is the answer; God knows Eve is the answer, but the question is, does man know whether Eve is the answer?
So what God does, He says, the only way that man is going to understand his uniqueness, the only way I can inoculate him to not trying having confuse himself with an animal, with every other creatures in the world is to see, let him try it, let him see if any of this feel like they can really be soul mates. So God formed every wild beasts, every bird of the heaven and brings them before man to see what he will name each one, whatever the man called each living thing will remain his name. And man goes on this expedition of naming all the animals.
And, of course, when you name a child, when you name anything, you sort of try to identify what it really is; you identify essence when you name. And what mankind is doing is getting in touch with what these animals are all about. And in doing so, man is frustrated; he doesn’t find anybody who can really be a companion for him.
And it is only at that point that God says he is ready to really appreciate Eve. And this is the declaration that Adam makes. Adam has a sense that something is taken from him; his feminine side is taken from him. It’s a fascinating mitosis that Adam was actually created as an androgynous being, half male and half female.
And then when God took the rib from Adam, so to speak, He was taking Adam’s female part of himself and breaking it away from the male, such that the male will yearn for that which he was missing, yearn for that female part of himself; and that’s what, really, man says when he sees Eve for the first time. “Now this is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken from man.”
He understand that what makes her unique is that she is ishah, she was actually taken from him. And that is why, “therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be united with his wife.” But why is the man not want to leave his father and his mother, why is it so hard to leave home?
Why is it that we all yearn so much for home?
“There is no place like home” “There is no place like home” “There is no place like home”.
Or because I was once part of my mother and father; I actually came from them, I was once in unity with them? Well, that’s really the common denominator between wife and mother and this is really where the edible stuff comes from in a certain way, which is that man was also unified with his female part too.
And he sensed that he wants to come back, the sense that he wants to recapture that unity, male and female together. He is able to leave one thing that he was unified with, his father and mother, because he is able to go back to another thing he is unified with, which is his wife. And it’s only that that inoculates mankind from the snake.
The snake is the most human-like representative of all the animals. After these all episodes, finally creating Eve and appreciating Eve, then there is a temptation and the temptation takes the form of a serpent saying are your really sure that you need another human to be your soul mate? What about me, the snake says; I walk, I talk, right, I’m smart.
Somehow, what the story is about, the texts seems to be telling us, is humanity trying to define itself and distinguish itself from an animal. What makes us human and not an animal? Somehow, the strange story about the Tree of Knowledge is going to tell us the answer to that. But what would the tree or an apple or some fruits that gives you a knowledge of all thing of good and evil, what would that have to do with being and animal or not being an animal. That’s really, I think, the new $64,000 question and that’s what we need to come back to.
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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