CREATION AND HISTORY OF THE EARLY WORLD
Part II: THE COVENANT ORDEAL'THE TEST OF FREE WILL
Biblical Period 1
We thank you for your faithfulness through the ages and for the privilege of studying Your saving Word. Help us now as we go back into the Old Testament to study Salvation History...Your design, Your plan that You gave to draw Your people closer and closer to the coming of the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. Rekindle within our hearts the fire of knowing the truth and the deeper spiritual revelation of Your Holy Word, send Your Holy Spirit to guide us in our study. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
"For God created human beings to be immortal, he made them as an image of his own nature; death came into the world only through the Devil's envy, as those who belong to him find to their cost."" Wisdom 2:23
"How did you come to fall from the heavens, Daystar, son of Dawn? How did you come to be thrown to the ground, conqueror of nations?" Isaiah 14:12
"Then a second sign appeared in the sky: there was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. [...] And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven. The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had led all the world astray, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him."Revelation 12:3, 7-9
We now come to one of the most bizarre accounts in Sacred Scripture.
Please read Genesis 3:1-7.
In Genesis 2:25 we are told that the man and woman were naked but unashamed. In the description of the serpent as "subtle" there is a play on the Hebrews words for "subtle" = aruwm, and "naked" = arom. The serpent addresses the virgin bride Eve in Genesis 3:1 and yet the second person plural form of the verb indicates that he is also including Adam in this discussion: "Did God [Elohim] really say you [plural] were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?"
Notice how subtly he has distorted God's words.
Question: What does Eve reply and is her reply accurate?
Answer: No it is not. God did not tell them they couldn't touch the tree. Notice that even though the serpent is speaking to the couple it is only Eve who replies.
Question: Why is it that Adam is silent and leaves his bride to
respond alone to the serpent's challenge? And why is it that God has allowed
the first couple to under go this temptation [Covenant Ordeal]?
Answer: God has allowed Satan to challenge His covenant with Adam by permitting Satan to subject Adam and Eve to a "covenant ordeal." This covenant ordeal is a free will test of Adam and Eve's fidelity to God and the covenant He has formed with them. Love of God and obedience to Him must be freely given. True love cannot be forced. Domination is the antithesis of love.
Question: Is there an implication that might be drawn in this exchange
between the virgin Eve and the serpent and what we have been taught about of
our covenant obligations?
Answer: Yes. It is important to understand and practice your faith. Pleading ignorance for willful disobedience with full knowledge of God's laws as taught by His Church will not be an excuse.
Notice that the serpent is addressing both Adam and Eve because he again uses the plural "you".
The serpent's enticement in verses 5 and 6 are the same temptations with which he has tempted mankind down through the ages. Satan will use these same temptations when he challenges Christ, the "Second Adam" at the Mount of Temptations [see lesson #11].
Question: What are the three temptations?
Answer: It looks good, it tastes good, it gives knowledge = it gives pleasure, it gives wisdom/knowledge and therefore it gives power.
The New Testament portrays Jesus as the "Second Adam" whose obedience and sacrificial death on the cross undo Adam's disobedience [see Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45]. Jesus, the Second Adam, triumphed over the same temptations to which the first Adam fell into sin. St. John identified these temptations as the lusts of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life in 1 John 2:16 [CCC# 411 & 504].
TEMPTATION: The first and second Adams contrasted
|1 John 2:16||Genesis 3:6||Luke 4:1-13|
|"If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him..."||The First Adam: "Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees...?"||
Second Adam = Jesus
of Nazareth: "Then the devil said to Him...
the lust of the flesh:
"disordered bodily desires"
|"The woman saw the tree was good to eat.."||"tell this stone to turn into a loaf"|
the lust of the eyes:
"disordered desires of the eyes"
|"..and pleasing to the eye, and..."||"the devil...showed Him all the kingdoms of the world"|
the pride of life:
"pride in possession"
|"that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give."||"If you are the Son ...throw Yourself down from here"|
Question: As his bride reaches for the forbidden fruit why
doesn't Adam leap to her defense? Hasn't he been commanded to
"shamar"/ "guard" the garden? Why might he fear the
serpent? Hint: read Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 and
Revelation 12:3 & 7-9.
Answer: This is not your garden-variety snake. Jewish and Christian tradition identifies the serpent as Satan [see CCC# 391]. The Isaiah 14:12-15 passage and Revelation 12:7-9 have been traditionally understood to be a description of the serpent and his fall from the heavenly court while the Ezekiel 28:12-19 passage and Revelation 12:3 have been traditionally understood to be a description of the serpent in Eden and of Satan attacking the Church. Ezekiel 28:12-19: "You used to be a model of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, in the garden of God. All kinds of gem formed your mantle.[...] I have thrown you down from the mountain of God and destroyed you, guardian winged creature amid the coals. Your heart has grown proud because of your beauty, your wisdom has been corrupted by your splendor. [...] You are an object of terror; gone for ever." Revelation 3 "...there was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet." Identified in verse 9 as: "The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil of Satan who had led all the world astray..."
In this confrontation Satan, the serpent, had the power not only to seduce but he also had the power to harm. See CCC# 394-5 [#395: "..Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries--of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physically nature--to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but 'we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.'"
The serpent subtly changes the force of the covenant curse and tells half-truths. He tells Eve, "You will not die". But is his statement an assurance or a threat? Remember when God pronounced the curse associated with eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, He said to them [in the literal translation of the text] "for the day you eat of it you will die to die...". Satan, however only speaks in terms of a single death, "...you will not die!" Isn't it possible that there may be an implied threat: "you will not die/suffer physical death if you eat the fruit"? Could that have been Satan's way of presenting an ultimatum, "eat the fruit of I will kill you."?
Question: If Adam was a sinless, immortal man what did he really
have to fear?
Answer: Adam and his bride had no natural sense of supernatural life but to fear suffering and death is part of the human condition. There was, after all, another sinless man, in a garden who sweated blood in His agony over His impending death, but Jesus, the "Second Adam" would triumph over the same sort of temptation to which the first Adam succumbed.
It is possible that Adam was afraid and so he stood silently and allowed his bride to fall into sin and then he joined her in choosing spiritual death in order to be spared physical suffering? He should have been willing to sacrifice his life for his bride, trusting that God would restore him. Had Adam forgotten the Covenant promise of The Tree of Life, the symbol of immortality? Adam's refusal to sacrifice is what led to original sin, and he committed that sin even before he tasted the fruit. "Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart" Catechism of the Catholic Church #397.
The drama of the Fall describes both the natural and supernatural implications of our first parent's decision:
At that moment our original parents became "disgraced". They lost their covenantal status of divine son-ship [see CCC # 405]. The sin of Adam and Eve is called originating original sin [originale originans]. Their sin was personal and mortal--it affected the whole of human nature. It was personal because it was freely committed; it was mortal because God imposed the serious obligation of double death [physical and spiritual]; and it affected the whole human race by depriving succeeding generations of the supernatural life of divine son-ship and the preternatural gifts they would have possessed on entering the world if Adam and his bride had not sinned.
Original sin is a state and not an act. It is a sin that is contracted by our first parents that will be transmitted by propagation to the entire human race through the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness. Adam's descendants, deprived of a state of divine holiness will become subject to [but not totally corrupted by] the inclination to sin, a condition the Church defines as "concupiscence". See CCC#404-06
Question: How is it that Adam and Eve had aspired to be
"like" God as Satan had promised them in Genesis 2:5 "your
eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil." What
is the implication of their sin in addition to disobedience?
Answer: The knowledge that Adam and Eve acquired by eating the forbidden fruit is a privilege which God had reserved to Himself and which Adam and Eve, by sinning, had usurped. They had usurped the power of deciding for themselves what is good and what is evil and therefore declaring complete moral independence from God. St. Augustan, St. Thomas Aquinas and other Church Fathers saw this first sin as an attack on God's sovereignty; it is a sin of pride that man should aspire to be "like God".
The sin of Adam and Eve became a breach in the divine Covenant relationship man had enjoyed with God the Father. From that time forward the descendants of Adam and Eve would inherit the stain of original sin along with their physically inherited traits. Only Adam's self-sacrificial love would have saved him and his bride and perfected them in the image of God; now only through divine intervention and supernatural means would this stain be healed.
Please read Genesis 3:8-13
Genesis 3:8 "The man and his wife heard the sound [Hebrew = "kol"] of Yahweh God [Elohim] walking in the garden in the cool [ruah] of the day, and they hid from Yahewh God [Elohim] among the trees of the garden." In the "cool of the day" is more literally translated "in the spirit /wind /or breath of the day". It was the hour of the day when God communed in fellowship with His human children.
Note: The "forbidden fruit" was probably not an apple. In Latin "malum" means both "bad" and "apple", hence the "bad" epitaph for the common apple. It is more likely that the fruit was the fig. Both Adam and Eve tried to use fig leaves to cover themselves in their nakedness and in Scripture the fig tree is often the symbol of judgment and of a disobedient Israel. For example, Jesus curses the fig tree His last week in Jerusalem for not "bearing fruit". In this episode, Jesus is performing a symbolic action in which the fig tree represents the Old Covenant people who will be punished for their fruitlessness [see Matthew 21:18-22; also see Jeremiah 5:17; 8:13; Isaiah 34:1-4; Joel 1:7, 12].
In Genesis 3:9 God calls to
His children and asks the rhetorical question "Where are you?"
Yahweh Elohim is all knowing and all seeing and so of course He knows where they are and what they have done. God asks the question in the same way that we might question our children if we found that they had taken the crayons we had given them and marked on the wall. We know what they have done but we may demand of them "What have YOU done!" Genesis 3:9 is the first call to confession and repentance [God essentially will ask this same question of Adam's son Cain in chapter 4].
Question: What is the significance of the
"hour" of the day in Genesis 3:8? What
4 questions does God ask Adam and Eve
in Genesis 3:9-11 and why does He ask these questions? Please read Genesis 3:8-13.
Answer: Our first parents have fallen from grace in Genesis 3:1-7. It is the liturgical "hour" of communion between man and God when Yahweh comes to Adam and Eve in the afternoon in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve are hiding, ashamed of their naked condition. No longer are they "clothed in grace", instead they have become dis-graced and they are ashamed in their condition of sin to be in the presence of God. He asks them 4 questions:
The first question, "Where are you?" is not a question of physical location. God, being omniscient knows exactly where Adam and Eve are hiding in the garden. God's question is instead concerned with their spiritual condition: "Where are you in your relationship with Me?" The second question establishes that they are no longer "clothed in grace" but have become "dis-graced" and are deprived of divine son-ship in the family of God. The third calls for an acknowledgement of their sin, and the fourth question is an invitation to turn away from sin in order to turn back to holiness. In asking the four questions God the Father is calling His children to confession: Yahweh is asking Adam and Eve to examine their spiritual state, to acknowledge their sin, to confess their sin, and in expressing contrition and repentance to turn away from sin:
These are the questions God is asking every sinner who comes into His presence in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we come to God as fallen children seeking forgiveness for our sins from a just and loving Father (CCC 980; 1422-24; 1468-70).
Note: When liturgical worship is established in the Temple in Jerusalem the late afternoon'3PM, is the time of the day when the second Tamid lamb is offered in sacrifice for the covenant community. This time of the day at the hour of this special sacrifice at the Temple is also called "the hour of confession." It is the same hour of the day that the Gospels tell us that Jesus will give up His life on the Cross.
Question: In Genesis 3:9-10 why do Adam and Eve tell God they
were too fearful to come to Him when He called them?
Answer: Because they are naked.
Question: But they were naked previously and they were not
afraid or ashamed. How has their condition changed?
Answer: Some Bible scholars interpret this passage as their eyes being opened to "lust" in their naked condition. Other scholars point out that the catastrophic change is that Adam and Eve are no longer "clothed in grace" and have become "spiritually naked" in their fall from divine son-ship.
Question: When questioned by God Adam and Eve begin to make
excuses for their fall from grace. What are their excuses?
Answer: Adam blames Eve but Adam also blames God for giving him Eve "It was the woman you put me with..." Eve blames the serpent--"the devil made me do it". Neither of these excuses will save them from God's judgment.
Question: When each of us face divine judgment at the end of our
earthly lives what will our excuses be? Will we recite a litany of excuses
like Adam and Eve even though we have been taught our Covenant obligations by Mother Church: "celebrate the Sacraments, keep the Commandments, make God first in
your life, love your brother as yourself...?
Answer: Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 13:25-27. His answer to excuses will be "I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!"
Disobedience to the Covenant results in Covenant judgments usually in the form of curses. Covenant judgments are always meant to be redemptive with the desired result of returning the disobedient to fellowship with God as their Father.
Please read Genesis 3:14-19.
First God curses the serpent and then in Genesis 3:15 there is one of the most significantly prophetic passages in the Bible. The Fathers of the Church called it the "Proto-evangelium" or the "first good news". Genesis 3: 14-19 is both a covenant curse and a covenant promise/prophecy:
Genesis 3:15 "I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and hers [seed]; it [he,she,it = indefinite pronoun] will bruise [or crush] your head and you will strike its [he, she, it = indefinite pronoun] heel."
Initially this curse/prophecy seems to be directed to the serpent and the woman Eve. The "seed" or children of the serpent are humans who reject the One True God and therefore choose the serpent as their father [see Mt 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7]. As in English, "seed" can be understood in the individual or collective sense. Eve, the first to bear the title "woman", gave birth to generations of children by the laws of nature through intercourse with her husband, Adam, and the line of those children who remained in a covenant relationship with Yahweh lived in opposition to the "seed" of Satan. But what about the curious wording "seed" of the Woman? Does a woman have "seed" and can she give birth to a child/children without the "seed" of a man? This is the verse that the Fathers of the Church saw as the prophecy of a future redeemer and therefore called this verse the "first good news", in Greek, the Proto-evangelium.
Question: What did the Fathers of the Church see as prophetic in Genesis 3:15?
Is there another who would
bear the title "woman" who would give birth to a child, her
"seed", without intercourse with a natural man? Hint: see John 2:4
and 19:26-27. Please note that the Greek Septuagint translation in use in the
1st century used the masculine pronoun "he will bruise/crush"
and not "it". The Greek translation therefore ascribed the victory
not to one of "the woman's" descendants in general but to one son
Answer: Jesus' mother's name was Mary, but Jesus called her "Woman" because it was her title [see John 2:4 & 19:26]. She is "the woman" prophesied in Genesis 3:15 whose "seed" (=Jesus), would crush the head of the serpent/Satan. The use of the definite article "the" [ha in Hebrew] is significant considering that an indefinite article could have been used but was not. The use of the definite article implies a specific woman and not just any woman in general. Since the first centuries of Christianity, it has been the teaching of the Church that this verse prophesized a specific woman in Salvation History. The woman whose son would crush the serpent is Mary of Nazareth. It is Mary's son Jesus, the Second Adam, who will defeat Satan. But in the collective sense of this passage, Mary's other children [born to her spiritually'not physically], the New Covenant believers who through their re-birth into the heavenly family, become the sons and daughters of the New Covenant in the blood of Christ, will also do battle with the serpent and his "seed" [see Revelation 12:17]. The prophecy of the "seed of the woman" "crushing the head of the serpent" was beautifully portrayed in the film "The Passion of the Christ" when Jesus, the New Adam, stood and crushed the snake after He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. [see CCC# 411 & 504]
Note: the phrase "strike its heel" at the end of Genesis 3:15 is an idiomatic expression in Hebrew meaning, "to do violence". Such an act of violence is also expressed in John 13:18 where Jesus tells the Apostles: "He who shares my table takes advantage of me." The literal Greek reads "lifts up his heel against me" = does violence against me, referring to Judas Iscariot.
Now God turns to the woman, Eve in Genesis 3:16.
Question: What is Eve's judgment?
Answer: Her judgment is to be dominated by her husband and to bear their offspring in pain. The initial blessings of fertility and domination in Genesis 1:28 have been turned against her.
But Jewish scholars saw the Covenant curse of pain of childbirth linked to the prophecy of the coming of the One who will defeat the serpent. Jewish tradition has always linked pain in childbirth to the suffering of Israel struggling to bring forth the Messiah in the writings of the ancient Jewish scholars and in the prophetic books [see Isaiah 26:16-18; 54:1-6; 66:7-11; Micah 4:9-10, for example]. There is sufficient evidence in both Jewish and Christian tradition that Genesis 3:15-16 was always seen by the Church, both Old and New Covenant, as a promise of the Messiah, the future redeemer. [Also see Revelation 12:1ff. This scene looks back to the prophecy of Genesis 3:15-17. The "woman" in Revelation chapter 12 represents Israel in the messianic era bringing forth the Messiah and also Mary, the new Eve, the daughter of Israel who fulfilled the prophecy and gave birth to the promised Messiah].
In Genesis 3:17-19 God's covenant judgment falls on Adam; for both Adam and Eve and their offspring the initial blessings of fertility and dominion in Genesis 1:28-30 are now subject to struggle and suffering. The inspired writer of Wisdom in interpreting the Fall of man in Genesis chapter 3 writes that the death introduced by the devil is spiritual death, with physical death as its consequence: Wisdom 1:13-15, "For God did not make Death, he takes no pleasure in destroying the living. To exist'for this he created all things; the creatures of the world have health in them, in them is no fatal poison, and Hades has no power over the world: for uprightness is immortal." As a result of Adam and Eve's sin in usurping God's power and authority in their desire to judge good and evil for themselves [Genesis 3:5], they "died" to sin and sin came to "live" in humanity with the consequence that spiritual and physical death became the "reward" of sin.
Please read Genesis 3:20-24
Genesis 3:22 "Then Yahweh God [Elohim] said, 'Now that the man has become like on of us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live forever."
Please note the use of the plural "us" in verse 22 [second person plural also used in Genesis 1:26].
Question: What further judgment is place on Adam and Eve and
Answer: They will be banished from the Garden of Eden because if they eat from the Tree of Life they will continue to live forever in a state of mortal sin. The greatest punishment for our first parents in their dismissal from the Garden was the loss of intimacy with God as Father.
Question: Was there a remedy for the loss of intimacy, the lost
of divine son-ship and immortality through Adam's inability to love God and to
love Eve to the point of sacrificing himself? Was there a remedy to keep
mankind from eternal death?
Answer: Yes, the remedy was sacrifice, exactly what Adam was unwilling to give for his bride. Leviticus 17:11 "For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives, for blood is what expiated for a life."
The first blood sacrifice will be the animals Yahweh sacrifices on behalf of Adam and Eve in order to clothe their nakedness [see Genesis 3:21]'a poor substitution for the clothing of the grace they have lost.
CAIN AND ABEL
Please read Genesis 4:1-16
Adam fathers two sons, Cain the elder son, the re'shiyt, and Abel. Human "fathering" is communicating one's human nature. It is an imperfect act because children born naturally are born without grace, the result of Adam and Eve's fall from grace. They are born literally and physically disgraced.
Question: These two sons of Adam and Eve are commanded to bring
a sacrifice to Yahweh. What does Abel bring?
Answer: a lamb, the firstborn of his flock; the best he had to offer. Hebrews 11:4 says that "Abel's sacrifice was acceptable because he offered God a better sacrifice than Cain and for that he was acknowledged as upright when God himself made acknowledgement of his offerings."
Question: Why is Cain's sacrifice not acceptable? Hint: see
Genesis 4:7 and especially Leviticus 17:11
[also Genesis 9:4;
Deuteronomy 12:16 and Hebrews 9:22].
Answer: The implications of Cain's unworthiness is not clear simply from reading this passage but Leviticus 17:11 establishes that the remedy for sin is sacrifice in the shedding of blood for atonement of sin: "For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives." And in Hebrews 9:22, speaking of the Old Covenant rituals "In fact, according to the Law, practically every purification takes place by means of blood; and if there is no shedding of blood, there is no remission [of sins]."
In other words, instead of the death of the individual for sins committed, the sinner confesses his sins and the animal dies in the place of the sinner, its sacrificial blood covering the sins of the offender. That this is a question of sin and atonement is made clear by God's warning to Cain in Genesis 4:7. Cain's sacrifice is not acceptable because he has not brought a blood sacrifice, which he could have obtained by trading his produce with his brother for a lamb from Abel's flocks.
Question: Is the death of the sacrificial animal the end result
or is it only the first step?
Answer: It is only the first step. First there is atonement and then there is restoration of communion between God and sinner. In addition to bloody sin sacrifices there will also be communion sacrifices to celebrate the restoration of fellowship with God. A communion sacrifice could be an animal sacrifice in association with a grain offering but a grain offering was never used in sin sacrifices'blood expiates for sin. Cain's sacrifice was unacceptable as a sin sacrifice'there was no shedding of blood, but it would have been acceptable as a communion offering.
Question: If Cain was only bringing a communion offering what
was the implication of his gesture?
Answer: Cain was denying that he was in sin. God corrected that misplaced belief when He told Cain "Sin is crouching at the door hungry to get you." God's assurance that "You can still master him" was an opportunity to confess his sins and offer a blood sacrifice but Cain in his sin of pride and self-sufficiency refuses and instead kills his brother.
Question: Why is it that Cain kills his brother? What passion
motivates him to commit such a crime?
Answer: Jealousy. The first murder in history was committed because of the sin of jealousy. For Christians Abel has always been considered a "type" of Christ.
Question: Why did Satan set out to destroy mankind? Hint: see
Wisdom 1:13-15 and 2:24.
Answer: Wisdom 2:24, "Death came into the world only through the Devil's envy, as those who belong to him find to their cost."
Question: Read Matthew 27:18 and Mark 15:10. What reason does
Scripture give for Jesus being condemned to death by His accusers?
Answer: Jealousy. It was this same envy or jealousy that lead to the death of Abel and it was this sin that Satan used to bring those under his power [the "seed of Satan"] to condemn Jesus to death: "For Pilate knew it was out of jealousy that they handed him over." Matthew 27:18 [also see Mark 15:10; 1 John 3:11-12; Hebrews 11:4]. See the prophecy in Wisdom 2:12-24 for an excellent example of the jealously sinners feel against the righteous. This passage in Wisdom is a foreshadow of Christ's Passion and the taunting and condemnation He endured on the Cross.
Question: What two questions does God ask Cain in Genesis 4:9-10
and how is it related to the question God asked Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:9?
Answer: God asks Cain "Where is your brother?" and "What have you done?" These are rhetorical questions because God already knows the answers'the questions are a call to confession, repentance and accountability.
Genesis 4:10 continues "Your brother's blood cries out to me from the soil" [New American translation]. The Hebrew word used for "blood" in this verse, d'mei, is the plural word for blood'literally "bloods." Jewish Rabbis understood the use of the plural to mean that Abel's blood and the "blood of his unborn descendants" cry out from the earth [see Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5]. From the perspective of this first murder, every murder down through history has been the murder not only of a brother but a mass murder since the murderer bears the responsibility not only for his victim but also for the other lives that have been destroyed.
Question: In Genesis 4:9 when confronted by God Cain will ask
the question "Am I my brother's keeper?" What is the answer
to his question?
Answer: The answer for Cain and for all of us is "YES". The core meaning of Cain's story is that every murder committed in the human race is the murder of one family member by another. In Mark 12:33 Jesus identifies our command to love God and our "brother": "To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, this is far more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice." The horror of humanity's inability to love this way without the filling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of redeemed man is hauntingly expressed in the short poem by Israel poet Dan Pagis wrote about the Holocaust entitled "Written in Pencil in a Sealed Freight Car:" Here, in this carload, I, Eve, with my son Abel. If you see my older boy, Cain, the son of Adam, tell him that I...."
[Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, William Morrow Publishers, 2001, page 9]
Cain is banished and loses his position as the "reshiyt", the firstborn son and heir. His place will be taken by Adam and Eve's son Seth and God's covenant will continue through his line. Cain is the first of the many disgraced firstborn sons of Genesis.
GENESIS and the LINE OF THE HOLY SEED
* line of the holy seed leads to the Messiah,
Jesus of Nazareth:
Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38
Question: Sacrifice has been established as the imperfect
temporary remedy for the sentence of eternal death that sin imposes. Why is
this remedy imperfect?
Answer: No animal can be "perfect" enough to completely remove sin. There is no promise of eternal bliss in the presence of God. There is only the grave [Sheol in Hebrew]. In the Old Covenant blessings are temporal and so are punishments. In the New Covenant blessings are eternal but so are the punishments!
Genesis 4:18-24 lists the descendants of Cain. They are only listed to the 6th generation.
Please read Genesis 5 - The Toledoth of Adam and Seth
Chapter 5 signals a major break in the narrative. This section of Genesis is built around the list of the descendants of Adam. In Hebrew is it called a "toledoth." Toledoth in Hebrew means "generations". This family genealogy lists 10 generations from Adam to Noah. We do not know if there are 10 literal generations. The number 10 may be symbolic. In Hebrew tradition 10 is the number for "perfection of order". The toledoth continues until the death of Noah in 9:29 and then a new list of the sons of Noah begins [10:1-11:26]. The second list ends with the birth of Abraham [11:26]. These genealogical lists are important because they link the Old Testament to Jesus of Nazareth.
Please read Genesis 6:1- 9:17
This will be the first of one of the great reoccurring themes of the Bible: creation to de-creation to regeneration.
Genesis 6:1-4 is a very intriguing passage that has caused much speculation. "...the sons of God looking at the women, saw how beautiful they were and married as many of them as they chose." Other translations read "the sons of God looked at the daughters of men and found them to be beautiful...". Some scholars, both ancient [Book of Enoch] and modern have interpreted this verse to mean that angels, sometimes in Scripture referred to as "sons of God", intermarried with human women and produced offspring. However, this interpretation is not compatible with Scripture. In Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25 Jesus clearly teaches that heavenly messengers [the Greek word "angelos" means messenger] are pure spirit and cannot marry. Instead a more reasonable interpretation, and the interpretation the Fathers of the Church commonly take, is that "sons of God" or men from the Covenant line of Seth, intermarried with women from outside the covenant, perhaps daughters of Cain. This "inter-faith" marriage produced men who were "the heroes of days gone by, men of renown." The word translated "heroes" in Hebrew is gibbor, which can be more accurately translated as "warrior", "mighty men", or "fighting men." The Hebrew word translated as "renown" in this passage is in the literal Hebrew "men of their own name [shem]", in other words, "fighting, violent men who made their own name"-- men of political power, men of infamy who operated outside of the covenant as a law unto themselves.
Man had usurped God's sovereignty in judging good and evil. Many men were no longer in communion with God and set for themselves their own moral limits. The result was chaos. "Yahweh saw that human wickedness was great on the earth and that his heart contrived nothing but wicked schemes all day long. Yahweh regretted having made human beings on earth and was grieved at heart." [Genesis 6:5-6]. Human tolerance for sin is incompatible with God's holiness. God's presence is among all men and women but only men and women of holiness commune with God.
THE GREAT FLOOD
There are 7 principal stages in the Great Flood narrative:
The cause of the Flood is directly tied to the earlier account of the Fall in Genesis chapter 3. As a result of man's Fall from grace humankind had obtained the "knowledge of good and evil" but that knowledge has not been beneficial to the earth. Man's sinfulness and willfulness has corrupted the earth. In Genesis chapter 1 God prepared the "good" land for human habitation; now He will take away the good land.
Genesis 6:8: "But Noah won God's favor." Literally won God's grace! Noah's name means "rest" or "comfort" and it is not a coincidence that the reverse of the Hebrew constants of Noah's name form the word "grace" in Hebrew. Noah's faithfulness and righteousness was a "comfort" to God and so God filled Noah with grace. The main story of the Flood is not to show why God sent the great Flood but rather to show why God saved Noah and his family. The focus of the story is clear: God saves those who "walk with" Him and who do not "corrupt His way" [Genesis 6:9-12]. The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews identifies Noah as on of the "heroes of the faith" and records: "His faith was a judgment on the world, and he was able to claim the uprightness, which comes from faith." [Hebrews 11:7]. Noah and his family become a faithful and righteous remnant [Genesis 7:23]--a common theme that will be found in the future writings of the Prophets [for example Isaiah 8:17-18; 10:21; 40:31], in the return from the Babylonian exile [Ezra 2:1-2, 64-70], and in the New Testament [James 5:7-11]. In this context the deliverance of Noah and his family is an image of the future salvation of faithful believers [see Matthew 24:37-39].
Please read Genesis 6:17-9:17.
Question: God tells Noah that He will destroy the whole earth
but what does God promise to establish with Noah?
Answer: God will establish His Covenant with Noah and his family.
Question: How many pairs of animals will Noah take aboard the Ark?
Answer: 7 pairs of clean animals; 2 pairs unclean.
The entire Flood sequence is full of 7s and 40s. I counted seven 7s [7:2,3,4, 10; 8:10, 12, &14] and seven 40s [7:4,4,4,12,12,17, & 8:6]. 7 is the number of perfection and fullness, especially spiritual perfection and 40 is the number of consecration and the number of testing. [see the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture" in the Documents section for further information on the symbolism of numbers in Scripture].
Question: How old is Noah when he enters the ark? See Genesis
Answer: Noah is 600 years old.
Question: How many people are saved aboard the ark?
Answer: Eight. The number 8 in Scripture is symbolically the number of salvation, redemption, and regeneration.
In Genesis 7:11 the flood began in the 2nd month on the 17th day. In Genesis 8:3-4 the waters receded at the end of 150 days and then the ark came to rest on the 17th day of the month. The intervening time was exactly 5 months of 30 days per month. Genesis 8:13-15 records that the waters dried from the earth in the 1st month on the 1st day. And in the 2nd month on the 27th day Noah went out. When you calculate the duration of the flood it is 1 year and 11 days. In the Bible a lunar calendar was used to mark time. A lunar calendar has 354 days. But the when you realize that the flood lasted 1 year [lunar] and 11 days that calculates out to be a solar year of 365 days! In the Jewish calendar the 1st civil month is Tishri which comes in the early Fall. According the Jewish tradition both the old Creation and the restored Creation after the Great Flood occurred in the month of Tishri.
Question: What is the first thing Noah does when he and his
family exit the ark?
Answer: Noah builds an altar and makes sacrifice, reestablishing communion with God. Notice that God does not have to command sacrifice--sacrifice is already an established part of worship and has been since the time of the Fall.
And then God pronounces the Covenant promises:
Question: What are the promises and blessings of the Noachide
Covenant in 8:20-9:5?
Question: What are the Covenant restrictions and obligations?
See Genesis 9:3-7
Answer: Not to eat raw meat or to drink blood [this covenant restriction is going to have a significant impact on future events recorded in the Gospel of John chapter 6!] The law of capital punishment for homicide is enacted. [This covenant prohibition against eating fat, raw flesh, or blood will be repeated 7 times in 5 Biblical passages: Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17; 7:26; 17:10, 12; Deuteronomy 12:16, 23].
In addition to the covenant restriction concerning the prohibition against consuming blood or raw flesh, Yahweh also establishes a rule of law under which those in covenant with Yahweh are bound to live in justice. According to the Jewish oral tradition there are 7 laws of the Noachide Covenant. These laws include prohibitions against:
Noachide Covenant laws: Tanach, Stone Edition, page 2028; Sanhedrin 56a.
Question: In the ratification of the Covenant Yahweh sets a
covenant sign. What is the sign of the Noachide Covenant and what repeated
theme do you see in the choice of this sign?
Answer: The Rainbow, which is formed of 7 colors [red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet], and the 3 time repetition of the "bow" in the sky [Genesis 9:13, 14, & 16].
Question: Is this covenant limited to Noah's family?
Answer: No, for all creation, just as the first covenant [Genesis 9:8-12]. See a list of the Biblical covenants with Yahweh in the Appendix of this lesson.
The word "covenant" is usually translated b'rith in Hebrew and diatheke in Greek. In the Bible there are two kinds of covenants: what scholars refer to as the "covenant grant" and the "covenant treaty" format covenant. The "covenant grant" like the royal decree of an ancient king, is unconditional and in the case of covenants formed by Yahweh, divine. These covenants are usually understood to be an irrevocable divine gift of God's grace. Noah's covenant is an example of a royal grant covenant because God promised the rainbow would be a perpetual sign for all generations. The covenant made with Abraham and later with David is also an everlasting covenant. Other covenants like the covenant with Adam and later with the children of Israel at Sinai are conditional and based upon covenant obligations. In this form of covenant, blessings are upon those who observe the conditions of the covenant but curses fall on those who violate the trust of the covenant. Adam violated the covenant trust to guard Eden and to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the covenant curse fell on him and on his descendants and he was expelled from Eden. See the Chart of Yahweh's Biblical Covenants in the appendix to this lesson.
Question: Is there any archaeological evidence to support the
Answer: Every Mesopotamian ancient culture and most world cultures including the Mayan of Central America have a Great Flood myth but until fairly recently there was not enough archaeological evidence to support the account of the Great Flood in Noah's time. Five years ago the marine scientist Robert Ballard discovered that the Black Sea had once been a fresh water lake. At some time, approximately 6,000 years ago a flood of such gigantic proportions occurred that the sea levels were raised to the point that salt water spilled across the land barrier between the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea forever altering the fresh water lake. When the flood waters receded the salt water trapped in the Black Sea left that body of water an inland salt water sea. Ballard not only discovered the ancient shoreline of the fresh water lake but an ancient house that once existed along the old shore line. Ballard's evidence does not prove that a worldwide flood once swept the entire earth, but it does prove, at least, that a flood of proportions unknown in modern history changed that part of the world approximately 6 thousand years ago.
Genesis 9:18-29 was not on your list of Scripture readings but it is worth commenting on this passage. Shem is the righteous re'shiyt, firstborn son, of Noah. For the first time [Genesis 9:26] Yahweh is identified with one person by name: "Blessed be Yahweh, God of Shem." It is important to the narrative that the text mentions Shem's name in Hebrew literally means, "name". Shem will become the father of all the Semitic peoples of the Near East.
These verses in Genesis 9:18-25 are also a repeated pattern from the Creation narrative and the outcome is remarkably similar to the outcome of the narrative of the Garden of Eden. Adam ate forbidden fruit in a garden and became naked and Noah gets drunk in an orchard and is uncovered in his nakedness. Noah like Adam abuses God's good gifts, and like Adam the effects of that sin were to be felt in the lives of the generations to follow. It is the beginning of the struggle between the Canaanites who take possession of the "good land" and the children of God, to whom it is promised.
Shem, the righteous firstborn, and his brother Japheth cover their father's nakedness but the third son, Ham, has committed a sin that will cause Ham's firstborn son, Canaan, to be cursed. It has been suggested by Bible scholars that the sin is sexual in nature and that Ham has used the opportunity of his father's drunkenness to have intercourse with his own mother. In ancient societies the robe or coat of the ruler is a sign of his power and authority [i.e. Joseph's coat in Genesis 37:3]. It is significant that Noah's robe is found outside his tent. Sexual possession of the woman or women of a ruler is also a claim to power. A Biblical example would be Absalom son of David who usurped his father's harem when he asserted his right to the throne [see 2 Samuel 16:20-23]. It is possible that Canaan is cursed because he is the result of an incestuous union between Ham and his mother. Canaan will usurp the land given to Shem, the land known by his name, Canaan. Ham will become the father of both the Egyptians [Mizraim] and Canaan, the father of the Canaanites, cultures in which incest was part of their religious mythology. History has shown that people celebrate their origins in their worship.
Please read Genesis 11:1-9 The
Tower of Babel
As a prelude to chapter 11 Genesis chapter 10 lists the descendents of Noah's sons, Shem, Japheth, and Ham. A pattern emerges in this toledoth. It is a pattern that is determined by the number 70. There are exactly seventy names represented in the list in which all the nations of the earth find their ultimate origins in the three sons of Noah. It is an important theme in this part of the story that will be repeated later in Scripture, that there was an intended unity among all human beings.
But Genesis chapter 10 is not simply a list of seventy names. Several historical notes are included that will have relevance to a particular event in the future. For example, Ham's grandson Nimrod will found the kingdom of Babylon, home of the Tower of Babel, and Ham's son Mizraim will become the father of the Egyptians. Japheth will become the father of the gentile nations across the seas and Shem the father of the Semitic peoples. In the line of Shem there is a dividing line that runs through the two sons of his grandson Eber [Heber; origin of the word "Hebrew"]. One line, the line of Peleg, becomes the "promised seed" and leads to the family of Abraham. Genesis 10:25 notes that in Peleg's day "the land was divided" meaning two lines of the covenant people diverged. One remaining faithful to Yahweh and His name [the theme of the "faithful remnant"] and the other seeking their own way to make a "name" for themselves.
The central question of the story of the Tower of Babel is why did God judged the builders of the city? The clues lie in the repetition of key words in the story, for example the Hebrew word "shem" which means, "name".
Question: According to the builders of the city what was the
reason for building the city and the tower? Hint: see 11:4
Answer: To make a "shem", or name for themselves, so they do not get scattered over the world. They want to form their own government and to do so they must remain united and powerful to overwhelm their opposition.
Question: Against whom do the people of the city want to
exercise this power? If it is Shem ["name"], the righteousness son of Noah who
now has the power and authority of the Covenant as God's representative to the
people what is it that might motivate of the people of the city to "make
a name for themselves"?
Answer: It may be an attempt to revolt against Shem, the man God has named as His representative, the man who carries God's authority through the Covenant which includes all men on earth. United in their efforts and in a majority against the people of God they are a serious threat to God's plan of salvation: He will need to preserve a faithful remnant from which the promised Messiah will come.
Question: When God saw their plan He initiated one of His own.
What did God do?
Answer: He reversed their plan and scattering them over "all the land"; just what the builders were attempting to prevent [Genesis 11:8], and He confused their languages. The Hebrew root "bll" means "to confuse", but the name "Babel" actually means "gate of god"; but Babel is a "false" gate. Jesus will identify Himself in John 10:9 and John 14:6 as both the true "gate" and the "way" to heaven/ eternal life. It is as St. Rose of Lima said: "The Cross is the only ladder to heaven!" Scattered and confused the city people are now prevented from uniting against and overwhelming the people of God.
The real significance of the story lies in its connection to the themes of the earlier narratives where it was God's plan to bless humanity by providing them with that which is "good" and the human failure to trust God and be satisfied with the good He has provided. The mark of human failure was the attempt to grasp the "good" on their own rather than to trust God to provide it for them. Just as Adam's family became broken through the sin of Cain now the human family is broken and scattered across the earth. It will take a supernatural event in God's plan for humanity to call the scattered children back into a one-world family. The reversal of Babel will take place on the event of the second great Pentecost in 30AD.
THE TOWER OF BABEL COMPARED TO THE SECOND PENTECOST
|Tower of Babel Genesis 11||Second Pentecost Acts 2|
|1. Confusion of tongues; end of one universal language (Genesis 11:9)||1. Reversal of Babel: tongues are understood = universal language of the Gospel of salvation (Acts 2: 5-10)|
|2. In judgment, God scattered the people to the four corners of the earth, bringing to an end one universal family (Genesis 11:8)||2. People will spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and will bring into the New Covenant family the harvest of souls from every corner of the earth (Acts 1:8)|
|3. Language is used to promote a human agenda: "Let's make a name for ourselves..." (Genesis 11:4). The confusion of tongues is a "sign" of the disunity of the human family.||3. Language is used as a "sign" to announce the mighty works of God (Acts 1:6). It is the language of the Gospel of salvation that will be used to reverse the disunity of Babel.|
|4. Results in disunity (Genesis 11:8-9)||4. Results in unity in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Galatians 2:28)|
Questions for group discussion:
Question: In St. Paul's letter to the Romans 5:12-14 St. Paul
writes: "Well then; it was through one man that sin came into the world, and
through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race
because everyone has sinned. Sin already existed in the world before there was
any law, even though sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Nonetheless
death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not
the breaking of a commandment, as Adam's was. He prefigured the One who was
to come..." How did Adam "prefigure" Jesus Christ? What connection is
there to Genesis 3:15?
Answer: The Apostle Paul and the Fathers of the Church wrote of Jesus as the "Second Adam." It was through the man Adam that sin came into the world and that great wrong was undone by Jesus the "Second Adam" who resisted the temptation of Satan and died on the Cross in sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus' sacrificial death was necessary to undo the sin of the first Adam as God had promised in Genesis 3:15. Known as the "Protoevangelium" (first gospel or "good news") Genesis 3:15 contains the promise of the redemption of mankind after the Fall of Adam and Eve. The Incarnation of the Christ was the manifestation of the promise and it was fulfilled with Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. The "Woman" Mary's son Jesus is the "Second Adam" whose obedience and sacrificial death on the Cross undo Adam's disobedience [see Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45]. Jesus, the Second Adam, triumphed over the same temptations to which the first Adam fell into sin and brought sin, suffering and death to the world.
Question: What exactly was the first sin that became a stain on
humanity? Do you see evidence of that sin continuing today? Give some
Answer: In their desire to decide good and evil for themselves [Genesis 2:5] Adam and Eve were usurping the sovereignty of God. When we decide to follow our own conscience, even when we know our choices conflict with the Laws of God and the teachings of Mother Church, we are not only exhibiting the sin of disobedience but we are, like Adam and Eve, deciding to be our own god by usurping the sovereignty of God. The sins of abortion and divorce are two of the more obvious examples of usurping the sovereignty of God the Almighty.
Question: Genesis 1:26 and 5:1-2 records that Adam was created in
the image and likeness of God. However, Genesis 5:3 also records that when
Adam fathered a son, that son [and all future children] were "fathered" in Adam's
likeness after Adam's image. What is the similarity and what is the difference
between Adam's creation in God's image and likeness and the image and likeness
of Adam's "fathered" offspring?
Answer: Every human being receives from Adam a likeness to God which becomes a quality of human nature'the quality of goodness and the gift of an immortal soul. This unique relationship with God separates man from all the other creatures of creation and expresses a resemblance in intellect, will and divine nature. However, because of Adam's fall from grace, human fathering is imperfect and we receive from our original parents the inherited stain of original sin which is passed down through every human generation. It is through God the Father's grace that we also have the means to be freed from original sin, the power to resist the tendency to sin, and the strength to cling to the righteousness for which God intended every human to possess through His perfectly "fathered" Son, Jesus Christ. It is in the Sacrament of Baptism that man can be freed from this inherited imperfection of original sin and be "born again" or "born from above" [John 3:3, 7] and become children of righteousness in the family of God'living in the image and likeness of our Father [see CCC# 389; 402-5; 407-9; 1250; 1263-65].
Appendix: The Covenant's Yahweh formed in the Old and New Testaments:
EIGHT MAJOR COVENANTS OF THE OLD AND
"But Yahweh's faithful love for those who fear him is from eternity and for ever; and his saving justice to their children's children; as long as they keep his covenant, and carefully obey his precepts." Palms 103:17-18
-dominion over the earth
|Tree of Life||Genesis 1:28-30: "God blessed them, saying to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it..."Genesis 2:15-17: "Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it..."|
2. Noah and the earth
-never destroyed by flood again
|Rainbow||Genesis 6:18; 9:9-17: "God spoke as follows to Noah and his sons, 'I am now establishing my covenant with you and with your descendants to come..."|
Abraham = 3-fold, (continues
with Isaac, Jacob & descendants)
-land, nation (descendants)
& world wide blessing
On the 8th day
17:1-27; 18:18 & 22:18; 26:3-5; 28:10-14;
"God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
4. Moses & Israel
-Sinai Covenant establishing divine liturgy & covenant sacraments
Ark of the Covenant
"So now, if you are really prepared to obey me and keep my covenant, you, out of all peoples, shall be my personal possession" Ex 19:5
5. Aaron & Sons
-perpetual ministerial priesthood
"Everything the Israelites set aside for Yahweh from the holy things, I give to you and your sons and daughters, by perpetual decree. This is a covenant of salt for ever before Yahweh, for you and your descendants too."
-perpetual priesthood in Covenant of Peace
|Seamless robe & miter||Numbers 25:11-15: "To him I grant my covenant of peace. To him and his descendants after him, this covenant will assure the priesthood for ever."|
7. David & descendants
-dynasty and throne forever secure
|Throne/ Temple||2 Samuel 7:11-17; 23:5: "Yes, my House stands firm with God: He has made an eternal covenant with me..."|
(Yah-shua = Yahweh saves or I save)
Yehosua = Joshua
the true "Tree of Life"
Luke 22:20: "...This
cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you."
1 Corinthians 11:25: "..This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.'"
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
The next Biblical period will be the Age of the Patriarchs.
The readings for Biblical period #2
#2 THE PATRIARCHS
God calls Abram
Abram's tithe to Melchezedek
God's Three-fold Covenant
The Birth of Ishmael
Abram becomes Abraham/
The Theophany at Mamre
Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
The Birth of Isaac and the banishment of Ishmael
The Binding of Isaac/
Jacob's name is changed to Israel/
The Blessing of Joseph's Sons/
Resources and recommended reading:
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.