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Noah and the Vineyard
Video 19 of 21
At the top of the story what are the conversations you have? Well we begin with the snake speaking to woman. The snake tempts Eve to eat from the fruit, then what happens? After the snake speaks to woman, the woman speaks to man and offers him fruit. So that's the first series of conversations. How is that mirrored at the end of the story? Well once G-d gets in the picture after they've eaten from the tree of knowledge so we have a second set of conversations, where G-d is speaking to all of these people. First G-d speaks to man, to Adam, and says, so what's the deal? How come you ate this fruit? So man then blames woman and says, well the woman that You gave me she gave it to me.
Notice this recurring word gave over here. Ha'isha asher natatah - the woman that You gave me; Hi natnah li - she is the one who gave it to me. So Adam is sort of in a perverse kind of way blaming G-d. You're blaming me from eating from this tree? I was given it by someone, by the woman that You gave me. Anyway, this word gave over here the first time we have it is actually over here when woman actually talks to man presumably and gives him the fruit. So these gives are kind of playing off of this give over here.
Moving on, what happens after man blames woman? So then G-d speaks to woman and woman and woman blames snake. The snake was the one who tempted me. Then what happens? Then what happens is G-d has conversations with reference to each of these people - in other words, no longer is G-d asking for explanations - over here this is explanations - now G-d is dispensing consequences. First consequence, snake. Second consequence to the woman, the third consequence to man. The snake was going to crawl on his belly from now on, the woman was going to have pain in childbirth and the man is going to work the land by the sweat of his brow.
So what you see over here gets mirrored in its sort of own chiastic structure; A, B, C - C, B, A. All of this conversations I'm going to call one large element of the chiasm, and we're going to put that right over here and over here. So we're going to say conversations between snake, woman, and man are going to occupy what we're going to call the D place on the chiasm. Conversations between man, woman and snake and G-d in a sort of reverse chiastic way, are going to occupy D' over here.
That's going to bring us folks - drum roll please - to the center. We're now up to the last element, what is the center over here? All of this is going to converge, what happens after these conversations, and what happens before these conversations? It's the central moment of what? Of eating from the tree and the immediate consequences which go beyond - remember there's the consequences of what G-d says in these conversations, but even before G-d says everything there's an immediate consequence that just happens. What is that? It's this, realization of nakedness. Adam and Eve realize that they're naked and they hide. That seems to be the number one immediate consequence of eating from the tree of knowledge, even before G-d gets to dispensing punishments. Realization of nakedness and hiding from G-d. That seems to be the very center of this chiasm.
You know, if you we go back to our big picture here, what's really fascinating about this is we're now going to get exactly the same pattern that we saw before. Remember that last time we had two intertextually related stories that were both chiastic, it was over here when the rainbow covenant was intertextually connected with the Sabbath, G-d's seventh day. Plus we saw that they were both chiastically structured and the fascinating thing is, that we saw that these two things were mirror images of each other. They played off of each other, which is to say, the center of each chiasm actually related to each other. Over here we were talking about G-d destroying and destroying and destroying and then stopping at the sign of the covenant. That was the center of this chiasm. The center of this chiasm was man creating, and creating and creating and then stopping at the sign of the covenant.
Well now we're going to get a very similar thing happening over here. These two stories intertextually related; G-d plants a garden and the tree of knowledge story, Noah plants a vineyard and his, "tree of knowledge" story with the vine. Plus, both of these are going to be chiastic; there's a center here and there's a center here. Well, what is the center here? The center of Noah planting a vineyard was what? Well what it was, was sort of a mirror image of this. The center of the vineyard story ends up being right over here, this idea that Noah wakes up from his wine - remember - and then knows what it was that his younger son had done to him and, fascinatingly enough, that is really a mirror of what ended up being the center of the tree of knowledge story. What was the center of the tree of knowledge story? Let's just go back to our chart that compares them side by side. The centers of both these stories ends up being right over here, this purple element. Noah becomes aware of what happened when he was naked actually corresponds to man becoming aware that he is naked.
Again, just as we saw back when it came to the rainbow and the Sabbath, that these two centers mirrored each other, they were not exactly the same, but they sort of played off of each other, so too over here these two centers are not exactly the same, but they're going to kind of play off each other. Yeah, they both have to do with nakedness but they're a little different.
Let's just go back and just explore that difference one last time. Over here in creation, man becomes aware that he's naked. In G-d's world, so to speak, what happens? Man becomes aware of a direct consequence of eating of G-d's tree. That direct consequence more basic than any of the other consequences, any of the punishments that G-d actually dispenses - difficult childbirth for Eve, man working by the sweat of his brow - is his eyes becoming open and having the sense of being naked and being vulnerable and being scared. He hides from G-d because he says, I'm scared that I'm naked. What does that really mean? Going back to our view of this back in the tree of knowledge story, it's not just that man is embarrassed that he's naked, he's scared. Well what is he afraid of? I mean G-d saw him naked before, what is he so scared of?
The idea we talked about that if my mind and my desires are in tune, well then there's nothing unnatural about being naked. But if I have a sense that desire can crush me, that I'm over identifying with desire, that desire plays too strong a role in my life and I'm not confident with my mind's ability to be able to channel desire, well then when I look at something like sexuality, the biological desire to create, that makes me very uncomfortable with being naked. I feel like it can crush me. I start getting scared.
So what the story is about really, is about all of a sudden this imbalance with man's relationship to his own biological creativity. Well, if you take that imbalance and you push it into man's world, into the next world, so what happens? What happens is violence. Noah becomes aware now of what? Of what happens when he was naked. The struggle between him and Cham, as to who is going to have this fourth child in the world; Noah desperate to have this fourth child, Cham desperate to be the one to have Canaan accede to this fourth child status. Whose progeny, whose legacy, whose biological destiny will prevail? Noah or Cham's? Each ends up acting essentially irrationally. Cham ends up committing this act of violence - what happened when he was naked - against his father. Noah ends up cursing Cham, destroying a huge segment, millions of - the legacy of millions of people in humanity. Again, it's biological creativity out of control.
Over here the consequences are not G-d imposed, the consequences are man imposed. It's what Noah acting, so to speak, in the role of G-d ends up doing to his own child, cursing him, uttering a kind of curse that only G-d utters, that Orrur - curse. It's what Cham - a person - does to his own father that are the consequences in this world, in man's world.
But what's happening in both stories is fundamentally the same thing. It's biological creativity careening out of control. It starts here, 10 generations later it ends here.
When we come back next time I want to take one final look at the chiasm in the creation story, in the story of the tree of knowledge. It still has, I think, a couple last things that it needs to teach us before we go on to the next major story in all of this, to see how the story of the Tower of Babel fits into this grand epic emerging picture of creation and recreation. So I'll see you then.
1. The Generations of Heaven and Earth
2. Before the Rain and After the Flood
3. Splitting the Garden
4. Generations of What?
5. Of Rivers and Nations
6. The Vineyard, Introduced
7. God Begins; Noah Begins
8. The Vineyard and the Garden
9. Conflict of Interest
10. Two Hands at the Piano
11. What Cham Did
12. Why Cham Did It
13. The Vineyard's Center
14. What You Know Might Hurt You
15. Why the Drunk Walks the Line
16. The Big Picture
17. Chiasm in the Garden?
18. Chiasm in the Garden II
19. The Center of the Garden
20. The Mysteries of Imperfect Chiasms
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