Manual Tainted Gardens: An Onyx Triad Novel

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Tiffany Aching has spent years studying with senior witches, and now she is on her own. As the witch of the Chalk, she performs the bits of witchcraft that ar The only thing bigger than the world is fear. Lucy's life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy's childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy's future is settled already--a hous Invisible Sun Gill, David Macinnis. You don't want to mess with Durango.

He left his crew behind. His father is dead. And he's going to prove himself to Vienne, even if he dies trying. But who's counting. Tintin is a boy who has sensational adventures in the company of a little white dog and an odd character known as the Captain. Kids still like these unusual cartoon adventure classics. Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance, all graduates of the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and members of the Benedict Society, embark on a scavenger hunt that turns into a desperate search for the missing Mr.

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But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of Previously published under the title Boy Nobody They needed the perfect assassin. Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school in a new town under a new name, makes a few friends and doesn't stay long.

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It plays a role, albeit a passive one, in the story of the first couple. It sets the scene for the exploration of the relationship between the divine and human worlds…. They are located in the midst of the garden and there is a prohibition against eating from the tree of Knowledge In , desire for this tree gives rise to the disobedience of Yahweh' s command while the tree of life becomes the key to the expulsion of the humans from the garden…. In Gen it would seem that in the development of the narrative one of the motifs of the garden theme has been elevated to a place of major importance.

In the present narrative, two distinct trees are mentioned and , 24 , but there are some points which suggest this might not always have been the case. The two trees are named together in In , while only the tree of life is specifically referred to, it is clear that the man and woman have eaten from the tree of knowledge because they have become like 'elohim, "gods," knowing good and evil. The tree of life is again mentioned in where Yahweh establishes a guard to protect the way to it.

Elsewhere in the narrative only one tree is mentioned ; , 6, 11, It is clear that the tree of knowledge is meant in these cases as well. This can be seen in the fact that in and 11, Yahweh's prohibition against eating from the tree is mentioned, a point directly dependent on Further, the promised and actual effect of eating from the tree is the gaining of the knowledge of good and evil , 22a; cf.

In and 7, the use of the root yd C , "to know," plays on the name of the tree. In spite of these rather clear indications that the single tree is the tree of knowledge, the matter is complicated in It could be argued that b e tok haggan does not mean strictly "in the middle" but rather "within the garden" cf.

While two trees are mentioned in the present form of the narrative, it is clear that only one tree is essential for its development. For the most part, that tree is referred to simply as "the tree" and only the context designates it as the tree of knowledge. The tree of life plays an important role only at the very end and the details regarding its placement and access to the man and woman remain obscure for the most part. In addition there is the small confusion over which tree is in the midst of the garden.

It could be argued from these factors that the two trees of the present narrative were not part of the story as it was originally told. This position has been put forward by scholars in the past and many suggestions as to how the two trees have been combined have been made. Each suggestion has been closely linked to the overall method of analysis adopted by the scholar in studying Gen In the most recent discussions it has generally been recognized that the uncertainties surrounding the two trees have arisen in the pre-J stages of the story.

The duality of the trees is usually attributed to a combination of different traditions…. I f we accept that the original form of the story contained only one tree, then the two trees in the present narrative could be the result of the combination of variants of the one motif. At some stage in the history of the narrative, the variants have been joined and the story has developed the concept of two trees side-by-side in the garden. The small contradictions and inconsistencies are the result of this process.

Tainted Gardens

This seems to us the most reasonable explanation of the present situation, especially considering that only one tree is essential for the story and that there is some confusion between the trees…. The Tree of Life. It is clear that the issue here is one of regaining one's youthful vitality…. Although the substances are somewhat different, we note the similarity with the Gilgamesh event. Through the eating or drinking of something special, humans can gain life beyond that which is normally allotted. The special substances are indeed the gifts of the gods but, by one means or another, humans are deprived of the gift of superhuman life and are destined to live out their life on earth….

In 2 Kgs Josiah breaks down the houses of the qedestm where women weave garments for the Asherah. The connection of the palm tree with fertility can be seen in the fact that the tree is typically depict ed bearing fruit. Thus we can see that there is an association between Asherah and trees or symbols related to trees although the full details of this association are unknown. Since Asherah herself is the great mother-goddess, chief consort of the Canaanite high god El, it stands to reason that the cultic symbols of the goddess could be associated with fertility or the gift of life in some manner.

This is not to say that we can equate the Asherah symbol with the tree of life in Gen ; after all, in the present narrative the tree of life concerns eternal life and not the fertility of womb and field. Nevertheless , if the figure of Eve can be seen to bear some relationship to the Canaanite mother-goddess … it is not out of place that she be associated with a sacred tree s. It is not impossible that a tree which is associated with fertility and the mother-goddess figure in one level of a story could take on other life-giving aspects, also a divine gift, at another level, especially when we remember the broad spectrum covered by the word "life.

The various interpretations of the tree of knowledge can be categorized into three broad areas: a the acquisition of human faculties, b knowledge of sexual relations, and c universal knowledge…. What can we conclude … about the expression "to know good and evil" and specifically about its use in Gen ? We have argued that the interpretations dealing solely with the development of "human faculties" or sexual experience are inadequate for Gen in its present form. The concept of "universal knowledge" offers the best alternative…. From our discussion of the tree of knowledge it can be seen that the main concern of the narrative as recorded is the penetration of the divine realm by the couple.

This is given as both the motivation for, and the result of, their eating from the tree of knowledge , It is also the reason for the final banishment of the couple from the garden Yahweh acts to prevent the possibility of them eating from the tree of life and becoming immortal.

Also bound up with this is the punishment of the couple described in when Yahweh discovers that they have disobeyed him. They are destined to suffer the hardships of human existence. The life described is also one that is experienced outside the garden… We could note here that also in Gen and the prevention of human and divine mixing is connected to Yahweh's imposition on humankind of the limitations of earthly existence….

Eve and the Serpent. In the woman is called Hawwa. There is no need to see here a doublet. Suffix demonstrates. It is not to be understood as a personal name as is the case with Hawwa in …. The name Hawwa has exercized the minds of scholars as far back as one can trace. The etymology recorded by J is based on the wordplay between Hawwa and Hay. At J's level of the text, this etymology was undoubtedly associated with the role of Eve as first woman and progenitress of humankind.

For several reasons it has been regarded as suspect…. One of the most ancient and relatively persistent lines of interpretation has seen a close connection between Eve and the serpent. E… Several scholars have sought to develop the proposed connection between Eve and a goddess. Some of these have taken the epithet "mother of all living" more seriously and have proposed that behind the figure of Eve stands not only a figure associated with serpents but also that of a "mother-goddess.

The etymology of Hawwa, the connection with Punic Hwt and the possible association with mother-goddess figures need further consideration. We have mentioned the difficulty of the etymology proposed by J for the name Hawwa. The relation between Hawwa and Hay in the present form of the text depends more on euphony than on any philological connection evident in biblical Hebrew. An association between the word for "serpent" in other languages and Hawwa has been proposed.

In early Aramaic it apparently is Hwh…. From the data above, Hwt could be related to words for either "serpent" or "life. The other possible etymology of Hwt is from the word for "serpent. We do not mean to imply a simple equation between Eve and Asherah. The possible etymologies for Hawwa suggest that the name and the connection with Asherah are part of a long tradition.

One could posit that Gen was derived from some myth involving Asherah but we have no direct evidence for this. We prefer to think that in the development and retelling of the narrative an allusion to the Canaanite goddess has been made. It had greater significance in earlier forms of the story but has not been highlighted in the present rendition. In this context the origin of the designation of Eve as the "mother of all living" becomes clear with its similarity to epithets of Asherah as the mother goddess, namely "creatress of the gods" and "nurse of the gods.

We would expect a connection between Eve and Asherah to be reflected in the circumstances of the narrative. What we find in Gen , in fact, is that all which we might anticipate … is completely reversed. Rather than the productivity and fertility associated with the mother goddess, we see death, sterility, and hardship. Eve, the "mother of all living," is designated to suffer in childbirth. The interaction between Eve and the serpent, also a symbol of fertility, as we shall see, ultimately leads to death….

This reversal of expectations supports the identification of Eve and Asherah but it also suggests that the identification has been made with a polemical purpose in mind….

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The association of the serpent with prolonged life has long been recognized…. The associations of the serpent with wisdom are extensive. The association of the serpent with fertility has been recognized by many scholars. The evidence for this is principally artistic. The serpent is frequently seen in close association with naked goddesses. Often the reptile is placed in a position near the genital area leaving little doubt as to the sexual significance. In some of these works the serpent is associated with the mother-goddess….

This brief survey shows the variety of functions and attributes associated with the serpent. As in the case of the connection between Eve and Asherah, all which we expect from the mythic associations of the serpent is reversed. The beast of fertility leads the woman and man into disobedience and subsequent hardship, especially in childbirth and working the ground. The serpent itself is cursed, and is destined to a life of humility and enmity with humankind. Thus the serpent fits into the story not only by virtue of its connection with Asherah but in its own right.

The treatment of it once again reveals a polemical trend in the narrative…. Sexual activity among the gods at Ugarit is fairly common and it has some possible connections to earthly fertility There is in the OT a small but consistent body of material which touches on the question of fertility rites or sexual activity in relation to the Israelite cult. There is a consistent polemic against, or resistance toward, such practices which are considered akin to Canaanite ones…. The story Gen could have been used as a polemic against fertility practices in the Canaanite cult.

The couple seeks to imitate the gods in sexual activity. The setting for this is described in terms of the garden of God , the location of the divine marriage itself. The passage is replete with terms and concepts reminiscent of the Canaanite mother-goddess, the serpent with its mythical associations, and concepts of fertility of womb and field. The final outcome, however, is the reverse of what could be expected.

Instead of fullness of life and abundance, there is expulsion into a world marked by sterility, toil, pain in childbirth, and ultimately death itself. The sexual activity leads only to shame. The trees of life and knowledge also fit into this rendition of the story. The former is appropriate in a situation in which elements associated with the mother-goddess are present.

The sexual aspect of the tree of knowledge, suppressed somewhat in the present form of the narrative, could have been more prominent in earlier tellings…. In the form of the narrative recorded by J, the sexual aspect of the polemic has been reduced…. A broader interpretation of the sin in the garden has been introduced. The attempt at becoming like the gods is seen in the narrative recorded by J as an attempt to gain the total knowledge of the gods. In this context the trees of life and knowledge have come into prominence.

The divine qualities available in them, and especially in the tree of knowledge, are now the object of human desire. The knowledge which the tree offers certainly has a sexual aspect … but it is no longer the only, nor the central feature. Remnants of sexual and fertility language used in earlier forms of the narrative have remained.

Many of these are employed in aetiological roles, for example, the woman's desire for the man is alongside the reference to the husband's rule over the wife Gen , thus broadening the issue to one of social and familial structures. The nakedness of the couple is associated with the origin of clothing. Others, such as the concept of the fertility of the earth, still maintain something of their original position in the narrative. The sin of the couple leads to a curse upon the ground, but the direct link between the nature of the sin and the fertility of the earth that was once there has been severed.

Becking , Bob Only One God? Gaster , Theodor H. Hadley , Judith M. Hooke, S. Long, Asphodel P. Olyan, Saul M. Pettey, Richard J. Understanding Genesis by Schoken Books. New York Smith, Mark S. Brill, Speiser, E.

E Alter Orient und Altes Testament. Wilson, Leslie S. Its insignificance is underlined in —19, where God interrogates Adam and Eve, and both respond, while the serpent is not questioned and does not respond. In view of the prominent role played by serpents in Ancient Near Eastern religion and mythology this treatment of the serpent amounts to desecration and demythologization, quite possibly intentional. As a result, the source of evil is denied divine or even demonic status: evil is no independent principle in the cosmos, but stems from the behavior and attitudes of God's creatures.

From early times the serpent has been seen as a symbol, whose meaning is widely debated. Some have stressed the serpent's well-known phallic symbolism and fertility associations, taking the narrative to reflect an attitude toward human sexuality, fertility cults, and the like. Others see the serpent as representing man's own shrewdness. Since in Ancient Near Eastern mythology the forces of chaos which oppose the forces of creation and cosmos are widely represented as serpents, many see the serpent here, too, as a personification of the forces of chaos.

According to this view, disobeying God undermines the cosmic order. Alternatively, the serpent may represent ethical evil in general, a meaning that serpentine mythological motifs are given elsewhere in the Bible e. Jeffrey Howard Tigay in Encyclopedia Judaica. The Hebrew Bible commences with a majestic cosmological account of the genesis of the universe. According to Genesis —a the P account according to the documentary hypothesis , God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. The opening sentence in the story—many commentators think but see Cassuto, Genesis , 1, pp.

The refrain "And God saw that it was good; and there was evening and there was morning" usually follows the completion of each day's activity. The final act of creation, man, is preceded by a solemn declaration of purpose announced in the heavenly council, "Let us make a man in our image, after our likeness" Man is then blessed by God, "Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it," and entrusted with sovereignty over the "fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth" God, having found that all He had made was very good, ceased from further acts of creation and blessed and sanctified the seventh day Another story of creation, Genesis b—24 the J account according to the documentary hypothesis , describes a much more anthropocentric version of the origin of life on earth: with the ground watered at first only by a subterranean flow; the first man formed from the earth of the ground and animated by a breath blown into his nose, the first woman created from a rib of the man; and the two placed in the Garden of Eden.

The main differences between the two accounts, whose sources reflect different epic traditions, are. The second account does not mention the creation of day and night, seas, luminaries, marine life, but commences immediately with the forming of man from the dust of the earth. Conception of God. Though the style of the first account is much more hymnic and sublime than the second, it does not reflect, as is usually assumed, a completely abstract, transcendental conception of God. First of all, though creation by divine fiat is found in connection with light , firmament , gathering together of the waters into one place and the appearance of dry land , vegetation , luminaries , marine life and fowl , animal life , there are also references to the actual making or creating of the firmament , wa-yaas , luminaries , wa-yaas , sea monsters, fish, and fowl , wa-yivra , land animals , wa-yaas , and most important, the pinnacle of creation, man ff.

Moreover, creation by divine fiat is not an abstraction first conceived by the author of the P account, but is found in earlier Egyptian Pritchard, Texts, 5 and Babylonian cosmogonies. Second, that man was created in the image and likeness of the divine beings Gen. For the image of the deity, cf. The terminology employed here has Near Eastern prototypes: In Egyptian literature, specifically in a cosmogonic context, man is described as being the image of his creator god Wildberger; Pritchard, Texts , ; in Mesopotamian literature the king is sometimes called the "image" Akk.

In Israel a "democratization" Horst took place in that not only the king but all of mankind is conceived as being created in the divine image. If this idea originally goes back to royal ideology, it would further explain man's unique task on earth. Just as the divine likeness of the king in Mesopotamia empowers him to be the sovereign of his people, so mankind is entrusted "to rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth" Gen.

Finally, the plural verb naaseh "let us make" and plural nouns be- z almenu "in our image" and ki-demutenu "after our likeness"; Gen. For other references to the divine council, see Gen. Mesopotamian Prototypes. The two versions of the creation story have often been compared to Mesopotamian prototypes. The translation given above in Genesis ff. Tracing a theme to the creation of the universe is a feature also found in as trivial a work as the "Incantation to a Toothache" Pritchard, Texts, —1 , and in as major a composition as the Sumerian King List ibid. For specific cosmogonic details the most important piece of Mesopotamian literature is the Babylonian epic story of creation, Enuma Elish ibid.

Here, as in Genesis, the priority of water is taken for granted, i. The name for this watery abyss, part of which is personified by the goddess Tiamat, is the etymological equivalent of the Hebrew tehom Gen. It should be noted, however, that whereas "Tiamat" is the name of a primal generative force, tehom is merely a poetic term for a lifeless mass of water.

In both Genesis —7 and Enuma Elish —40 the creation of heaven and earth resulted from the separation of the waters by a firmament. The existence of day and night precedes the creation of the luminous bodies Gen. The function of the luminaries is to yield light and regulate time Gen. Man is the final act of creation—in Enuma Elish , too, before his creation the gods are said to take counsel Enuma Elish —and following the creation of man there ensues divine rest. There is, furthermore, an identical sequence of events: creation of firmament, dry land, luminaries, man, and divine rest.

Thus, it appears that at least the so-called P account echoes this earlier Mesopotamian story of creation. Another reflection of very ancient traditions is found in Genesis Since the entire story of creation refers only to general categories of plant and animal life, not to any individual species, the specific mention of "the great sea monsters" alongside, and even before, "all the living creatures of every kind that move about, which the waters brought forth in swarms" is striking. It is most likely part of the biblical polemic against the polytheistic version of a primeval struggle between the creator god and a marine monster which was the personification of chaos see below.

In Genesis this story has been submerged and only appears in the demythologized reference to the sea monsters as being themselves created by God, not as rival gods. The second creation story, too, has Near Eastern prototypes: The creation of man from the dust of the earth Gen. Differences between Genesis and Enuma Elish. Nevertheless, the differences between the biblical and the Mesopotamian accounts are much more striking than their similarities; each of them embodies the world outlook of their respective civilizations. In Genesis there is a total rejection of all mythology.

The overriding conception of a single, omnipotent, creator predominates. Cosmogony is not linked to theogony. The preexistence of God is assumed—it is not linked to the genesis of the universe. There is no suggestion of any primordial battle or internecine war which eventually led to the creation of the universe.

The one God is above the whole of nature, which He Himself created by His own absolute will. The primeval water, earth, sky, and luminaries are not pictured as deities or as parts of disembodied deities, but are all parts of the manifold works of the Creator. Man, in turn, is not conceived of as an afterthought, as in Enuma Elish , but rather as the pinnacle of creation. Man is appointed ruler of the animal and vegetable kingdoms; he is not merely the menial of the gods Enuma Elish. The story in Genesis, moreover, is nonpolitical: Unlike Enuma Elish , which is a monument to Marduk and to Babylon and its temple, Genesis makes no allusion to Israel , Jerusalem , or the Temple.

Furthermore, the biblical story is non-cultic: unlike Enuma Elish , which was read on the fourth day of the Babylonian New Year festival, it plays no ritual role whatever in the religion of Israel. Egyptian Analogues. In addition to Mesopotamian substrata, there are several Egyptian analogues to the biblical stories of creation, e. Other Biblical Traditions. Outside Genesis there are a number of allusions to the vanquishing by YHWH of a great sea monster and his minions, with some traces of a belief that this was connected with the creation of the world.

In the biblical version of this combat, known from Mesopotamia Marduk-Tiamat and Ugarit Baal-Yamm , the forces of the watery chaos, called Yam, Nahar, Leviathan, Rahab, or Tannin, are either destroyed or put under restraint by God cf. Recently it has been suggested see Jacobsen that this epic account, whose source was thought to be in Mesopotamia , may actually have originated in the West though where in particular is not clear , and subsequently influenced both biblical and Mesopotamian literature.

It is noteworthy, however, that the stories of Genesis meticulously avoid the use of such legendary material, even eschewing metaphorical figures of speech based on this mythological conflict. Another poetic version of creation is reflected in Proverbs —31, where Wisdom relates that she attended God during the creation. Weinfeld has drawn attention to the fact that four mythological motifs of Genesis 1—the existence of primordial material ; God's working and His rest; the council of God ; and the creation of man in God's image —27 —are repudiated in the cosmogonic doxologies of Second Isaiah.

Paul ]. They had a story to tell which could only be told by myth and metaphor: what they wrote became a source of vision rather than doctrine. Divergent authorship is indicated, according to the documentary hypothesis, by the two narratives' contradictory orders of creation ch. On the basis of vocabulary and content the first narrative is assigned to the Priestly Document P , while the second is assigned to the Jehovist, or Yahwist, Document J; for a contrary view see Cassuto, Genesis I , ad loc.

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The Eden pericope in itself appears to combine more than one narrative of the same events. Many doublets in the text point to at least two parallel recensions. The following are some of the doublets which have been suggested: and 6 primordial irrigation , and 9 planting the garden , and 15 placing man in it , and naming the woman , and 21 clothing the couple , b and 19a man's future food , a and 17c, d, 19a man's future occupation , b and 19c man's return to the earth , and 24 expulsion from paradise.

Other seemingly disjunctive elements are b the two trees clumsily seem attached to the verse and 10—14 the rivers. On these points there is general agreement, at least in principle. However there is no unanimity at all when it comes to regrouping the variants in order to reconstruct the hypothetical earlier recensions. The primordial absence of produce and standard forms of irrigation resemble the immediately postdiluvian conditions, which presumably duplicate primordial conditions in the Sumerian "Rulers of Lagas" in: JCS, 21 , The notion of a divine garden, paradigm of fertility, is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible Gen.

Yet another paradise narrative is the Sumerian tale of "Enki and Ninhursag" Pritchard, Texts, 37—41 , which describes the land or island of Dilmun, east of Sumer , as a pure, clean, and bright land, where there is neither sickness nor death, and where the animals live in harmony.

One episode in the narrative involves the sun-god's watering Dilmun with fresh water brought up from the earth, thus making it fertile. The earth-goddess Ninhursag gives birth to eight plants, which the water-god Enki proceeds to devour. This leads Ninhursag to curse Enki; this nearly causes the latter's death, but ultimately Ninhursag is made to heal him.

Aside from the Eden narrative's manifest similarities to these stories, the differences are also significant; most noticeable is the far more natural configuration of the narrative in Genesis 2—3, in contrast to the fantastic or supernatural nature of the other accounts, including Ezekiel's. Placing man in the garden "to till and tend it" faintly echoes the Mesopotamian creation stories according to which man was created to free the gods from laboring to produce their own food Pritchard, Texts, 68; cf.

Lambert, Atrahasis , 42—67; A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis 69—71; S. Kramer, The Sumerians , — In the Bible this is not seen as the purpose of man's creation—in fact, the creation of man and the placing of him in the garden are separated by several verses; and there is no suggestion at all that God or the other heavenly beings benefit from man's labor.

The theme of lost immortality appears briefly near the end of the Gilgamesh Epic. From the bottom of the sea Gilgamesh brought up a plant which contained the power of rejuvenating the aged; he called it "The Man Becomes Young in Old Age," declaring, "I myself shall eat [it], and thus return to the state of my youth" in Pritchard, Texts , Later, however, Gilgamesh set the plant down while bathing, and a serpent made off with it and subsequently shed its skin The belief that snakes, or lizards, regain their youth when they cast their skins is common among primitive peoples cf.

This is a reflex of the well-known folklore motif of how the serpent cheated man out of immortality, for the significance of which see below. The loss of immortality is treated in great detail in the Akkadian Myth of Adapa Pritchard, Texts, —3. Priest and sage of the city of Eridu , Adapa had been given "wise understanding The god Ea "had given him wisdom, eternal life he had not given him" A, 4. While he was fishing in the Persian Gulf to supply Ea's temple at Eridu with fish, the south wind swamped Adapa's boat, so Adapa broke its wing with a curse.

As Adapa was summoned before the chief god Anu in heaven to account for this behavior, Ea warned him not to eat and drink the bread and water of death that would be presented to him there. However, Anu had been disposed favorably to Adapa by another of Ea's strategems, so that he in fact desired to supplement Adapa's wisdom by offering him the bread and food of life.

Unaware, Adapa refused it, accepting only a garment and some anointing oil Ea had approved; and so he lost eternal life. The expression is to be construed as a merism -that is, a figure of speech in which contrasting parts are used to convey the notion of a whole, e. That this is the correct interpretation is shown also by the fact that it restores to the tale the same central theme as runs through all the earlier stories in the Book of Genesis, namely, that of God's jealous regard for his own prerogatives against any encroachment by ambitious man.

It is this theme that underlies the stories of the consorting of human women with divine beings and of the building of the Tower of Babel. In both those cases man's present situation is represented as the punishment for aspiring to be like the gods. In the former, to prevent his absorbing immortality, his life-span is immediately curtailed; in the latter, to prevent his scaling heaven, he is scattered over the earth. So here, consideration of the folklore background enables us to recognize that the true theme of the story is a similar abortive attempt on the part of man to usurp divine status and quality-in this case, by feeding himself on that magical fare of Paradise consumption of which makes the gods what they are.

Traditional Modern Analysis - Hooke. Other references in the Old Testament show that the Yahwist is using here a myth which formed part of ancient Hebrew tradition. Similarly the analysis of the text has shown that in the original form of the myth there was only one tree whose nature was not disclosed; so that we may assume that it is the Yahwist himself who has shaped the myth so as to present the two contrasted trees with their different properties, one of them containing the fruit of forbidden knowledge, and the other containing the fruit of immortal life… The … central elements in the Yahwist's presentation of the human tragedy are the related ideas of the forbidden knowledge and the loss of immortality.

In the period in which the Yahwist was writing, the essential knowledge for man, and the knowledge which set Israel apart from all the other nations, was the knowledge of God, and obedience was the condition of life. In Dt. For it is no trifle for you, but it is your life.

In the myths which the Yahwist is using, knowledge of good and evil was not moral knowledge, but knowledge of powerful spells and incantations by which the mysterious forces of the universe could be controlled…. Another version of man's loss of immortality is found in the Epic of Gilgamesh ….

In this myth … Gilgamesh, distressed by the death of his friend Enkidu, sets out … to find his ancestor Utnapishtim, the only survivor of the Flood. He learns from him that the gods have reserved for themselves the gift of immortality, but also learns from him where to find a magic herb which has the power of renewing life. He finds the herb, but loses it by the guile of the serpent who steals it while Gilgamesh is bathing….

So the fatal act of disobedience is committed, the free and happy relationship between man and God is broken, and the curse falls. All the good and useful activities are darkened and turned to evil. The pleasant care of the fertile sail becomes a weary toil, a struggle against useless and hurtful weeds far a bare subsistence, until man returns to the dust from which he was taken.

The natural desire of the man for the woman becomes a thing of shame, and child-bearing becomes a mortal struggle with pangs of the rending flesh. The serpent becomes the age long enemy of God and man, the incarnate symbol of evil…. Finally man is expelled from the Paradise, the garden of God , where he had dwelt in happy companionship with God, the way to the tree of life is barred by Cherubim and a fiery sword, no return is possible.

Modern Commentaries by Jewish Authors. E Speiser. The focal point of the narrative is the tree of knowledge. It is the tree "in the middle of the garden" vs. But the longer possessive construction "the tree of knowledge of good and bad" ii 9, 17 is otherwise without analogy in biblical Hebrew and may well be secondary.

More important, however, than those stylistic niceties is the problem of connotation. The Heb. In the present phrase the actual sense is "to distinguish between good and bad"; cf. II Sam xix 36, where "between" is spelled out; see also I Kings iii 9. The traditional "good and evil" would restrict the idiom to moral matters.

But while such an emphasis is apparent in I Kings ill 9 and Isa vii 15, 17, and might suit Deut i 39, it would be out of place in II Sam xix In that context, the subject Barzilai shows very plainly that he is a keen judge of right and wrong. At the age of eighty, however, his capacity for physical and aesthetic pleasures is no longer what it used to be: he has lost the ability to appreciate "good and bad. For so long as the man and his wife abstain from the forbidden fruit, they are not conscious of their nakedness ii 25 ; later they cover themselves with leaves iii 7. The broad sense, then, of the idiom under discussion is to be in full possession of mental and physical powers.

And it is this extended range of meaning that the serpent shrewdly brings into play in iii 5. Such motifs as sexual awareness, wisdom, and nature's paradise are of course familiar from various ancient sources. It is noteworthy, however, that all of them are found jointly in a single passage of the Gilgamesh Epic. There Tablet I, column iv, lines 16 ff. Indeed, the temptress goes on to tell him, "You are wise Enkidu, you are like a god" 34 ; and she marks his new status by improvising some clothing for him ….

It would be rash to dismiss so much detailed correspondence as mere coincidence. This is not to imply that J had direct access to the Gilgamesh Epic, even though J's account of the Flood reflects a still closer tie with the same Akkadian work…. Such affinities, however, lend added support to the assumption that in his treatment of Primeval History J made use of traditions that had originated in Mesopotamia. Now derivative material of this kind is sometimes taken more literally than the original sources intended it to be ; note, for example, the narrative about the Tower of Babel. It is thus conceivable that the poetic "You are wise Enkidu, you are like a god" … might give rise to the belief that in analogous circumstances man could become a threat to the celestials.

And if the concept reached ancient Hebrew tradition, in common with patriarchal material, J would in such an instance be no more than a dutiful reporter. He could only articulate the transmitted motifs. The concluding verses of the present section appear to be a case in point. On the evidence of vs. Yet all that this need mean is literal application of a motif that Hebrew tradition took over from Mesopotamia centuries earlier. In any event, the specific source and the precise channel of transmission would remain uncertain; nor have we any way of knowing how the author himself interpreted these notions.

We are on slightly firmer ground when it comes to the subject of God's resolve to keep the tree of life out of man's reach. In later narratives, starting with Abraham, the point is never brought up, since man knows by then his place in the scheme of things, and Yahweh's omnipotence precludes any fear of competition from whatever quarter. In other words, here is again a motif from the Primeval Age based on foreign beliefs. And once again, the center of dissemination is Mesopotamia , which provides us this time with at least two suggestive analogues: the tale of Adapa ANET, pp.

Inevitably, both attempts end in failure…. As a whole, then, our narrative is synthetic and stratified. Thanks, however, to the genius of the author, it was to become an unforgettable contribution to the literature of the world. N Sarna - Understanding Genesis. Several of these are redolent of well-known ancient Near Eastern motifs, while some appear to be distinctly Israelite.

There cannot be any doubt that some popular Hebrew story about a " Garden of God " existed in early times [33]. The language and style contain several classical features of rhythm, phraseology and paralelistic structure characteristic of Hebrew poetry. The use of the definite article with the first mention of "the tree of life," "the tree of knowledge" , "the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword" , indicates an allusion to something already well-known to the reader.

As a matter of fact, this situation should not really be surprising, since the notions of paradise and a garden of God are familiar themes in the literature of the biblical world. The Sumerians [34] , … have left us the myth of Enki and Ninhursag [35]. This story tells of an idyllic island of Dilmun , a "pure," "clean" and "bright" land in which all nature is at peace and where the beasts of prey and the tame cattle live together in mutual amity. Sickness, old age and, apparently, death also are unknown…. The two outstanding features of the Garden of Eden are the "tree of life" and the "tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The naturalizing tendencies of the Genesis writer are once more apparent … in the treatment of the two trees. They possess no magical properties which operate independently of God. They are in no wise outside of the divine realm, and their mysterious powers do not exist apart from the will of God. The eating of the fruit of the "tree of knowledge" did not endow the man and his wife with any special supernatural powers.

They were unable to hide from God or to conceal their sin. They made no effort to oppose the divine judgment, and the absolute sovereign will of God is never called into question. The magical element is entirely and conspicuously absent. However, the most remarkable break of all with Near Eastern mythology lies in the subtle shift of emphasis. As far as is known , the "tree of knowledge" has no parallel outside of our biblical Garden of Eden story. Yet it is upon this tree, and not upon the well-known "tree of life," that the narrative focuses its main attention.

The divine prohibition makes no mention of the "tree of life. It is mentioned again only at the end of the narrative in explaining the expulsion from Eden. All this cannot be accidental, particularly in view of the great prominence of the "tree of life" motif in Near Eastern religion and the absence of the "tree of knowledge" idea outside of the Bible The quest for immortality seems to have been an obsessive factor in ancient Near Eastern religion and literature…. By relegating the "tree of life" to an insignificant, subordinate role in the Garden of Eden story, the Bible dissociates itself completely from this pre-occupation.

Its concern is with the issues of living rather than with the question of death, with morality rather than mortality. Its problem is not the mythical pursuit of eternity, but the actual relationships between man and God, the tension between the plans of God and the free-will of man. Not magic, it proclaims, but human action is the key to a meaningful life. Sarna, Nahum M. The two special trees are brought to our attention in a deliberately casual manner; their significance will become obvious later on.

The "tree of life" is mentioned first, the "tree of knowledge" second. Only the first is given prominence in the garden, while the second gives the appearance of being an appendage to the verse. Yet as the narrative unfolds, the sequence is reversed. Only the "tree of knowledge" comes into focus, only its fruit is prohibited, only it is mentioned in the subsequent dialogues.

This shift in emphasis signals another breach with the central pagan theme of man's quest for immortality, as illustrated, for example, in the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh Epic and the Story of Adapa. It is not the mythical pursuit of eternal life but the relationship between God and man that is the primary concern here. It is clear from that the fruit of this tree "tree of life" was understood to bestow immortality upon the eater. What is uncertain is whether a single bite was thought to suffice or whether steady ingestion was needed to sustain a process of continuous rejuvenation.

Either way, the text presupposes a belief that man, created from perishable matter, was mortal from the outset but that he had within his grasp the possibility of immortality. The "tree of life" is not included in the prohibition in verse The tree of knowledge of good and bad The interpretation of this enigmatic designation, which is unparalleled anywhere outside the present narrative, hinges upon the definition of "knowledge" and the scope of "good and bad.

Against this interpretation is the fact that at this stage woman is not yet created, that sexual differentiation is made by God Himself cf. Thus it will not do to take "good and bad" as the human capacity for moral discernment. Aside from the difficulty of understanding why God should be opposed to this, there is the additional argument that a divine prohibition would be meaningless if man did not already possess this faculty. Indeed, from it is clear that the woman knows the meaning of disobedience; that is, she is already alert to the difference between right and wrong, which can have no other meaning than obedience or otherwise.

It is more satisfactory, however, to understand "good and bad" as undifferentiated parts of a totality, a merism meaning "everything. From Wallace. The universalism of J has long been recognized. It is especially evident in the promise repeated to the patriarchs: "I will bless them that bless you, and those who curse you, I will curse. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you…. It is only natural that in a document … with a strong universal outlook the national story should begin with an account of primeval history where Yahweh is seen as creator and ruler over the cosmos….

The association of Yahweh with El traditions also implied the concept of Yahweh as creator. The form of the … primeval history of J possesses many of the traditional motifs and elements of other cosmologies and cosmogonies of the Ancient Near East…. There are several references in the Ancient Near East to places which are, or are associated with, the dwellings of one or more deities. They include the unmediated presence of the deity, the council of the heavenly beings, the issuing of divine decrees, the source of the subterranean life-giving waters which supply the whole earth, abundant fertility and trees of supernatural qualities and great beauty….

We have two well-defined themes in Gen , the garden of God and the creation theme. The mythic background of the garden theme, however, breaks through the surface of the narrative enough to show that the garden of Eden is not just an earthly paradise in which it was the privilege of the first humans to live until they broke the rules. Rather, because of the use of the theme of the garden of God , this earthly abode has been designated a divine dwelling.

One could alternatively say that the divine dwelling has been "historicized. It plays a role, albeit a passive one, in the story of the first couple. It sets the scene for the exploration of the relationship between the divine and human worlds…. They are located in the midst of the garden and there is a prohibition against eating from the tree of Knowledge In , desire for this tree gives rise to the disobedience of Yahweh' s command while the tree of life becomes the key to the expulsion of the humans from the garden….

In Gen it would seem that in the development of the narrative one of the motifs of the garden theme has been elevated to a place of major importance. In the present narrative, two distinct trees are mentioned and , 24 , but there are some points which suggest this might not always have been the case. The two trees are named together in In , while only the tree of life is specifically referred to, it is clear that the man and woman have eaten from the tree of knowledge because they have become like 'elohim, "gods," knowing good and evil.

The tree of life is again mentioned in where Yahweh establishes a guard to protect the way to it. Elsewhere in the narrative only one tree is mentioned ; , 6, 11, It is clear that the tree of knowledge is meant in these cases as well. This can be seen in the fact that in and 11, Yahweh's prohibition against eating from the tree is mentioned, a point directly dependent on Further, the promised and actual effect of eating from the tree is the gaining of the knowledge of good and evil , 22a; cf. In and 7, the use of the root yd C , "to know," plays on the name of the tree.

In spite of these rather clear indications that the single tree is the tree of knowledge, the matter is complicated in It could be argued that b e tok haggan does not mean strictly "in the middle" but rather "within the garden" cf. While two trees are mentioned in the present form of the narrative, it is clear that only one tree is essential for its development.

For the most part, that tree is referred to simply as "the tree" and only the context designates it as the tree of knowledge. The tree of life plays an important role only at the very end and the details regarding its placement and access to the man and woman remain obscure for the most part. In addition there is the small confusion over which tree is in the midst of the garden.

It could be argued from these factors that the two trees of the present narrative were not part of the story as it was originally told. This position has been put forward by scholars in the past and many suggestions as to how the two trees have been combined have been made. Each suggestion has been closely linked to the overall method of analysis adopted by the scholar in studying Gen In the most recent discussions it has generally been recognized that the uncertainties surrounding the two trees have arisen in the pre-J stages of the story.

The duality of the trees is usually attributed to a combination of different traditions…. I f we accept that the original form of the story contained only one tree, then the two trees in the present narrative could be the result of the combination of variants of the one motif. At some stage in the history of the narrative, the variants have been joined and the story has developed the concept of two trees side-by-side in the garden.

The small contradictions and inconsistencies are the result of this process. This seems to us the most reasonable explanation of the present situation, especially considering that only one tree is essential for the story and that there is some confusion between the trees…. The Tree of Life. It is clear that the issue here is one of regaining one's youthful vitality….

Although the substances are somewhat different, we note the similarity with the Gilgamesh event. Through the eating or drinking of something special, humans can gain life beyond that which is normally allotted. The special substances are indeed the gifts of the gods but, by one means or another, humans are deprived of the gift of superhuman life and are destined to live out their life on earth…. In 2 Kgs Josiah breaks down the houses of the qedestm where women weave garments for the Asherah. The connection of the palm tree with fertility can be seen in the fact that the tree is typically depict ed bearing fruit.

Thus we can see that there is an association between Asherah and trees or symbols related to trees although the full details of this association are unknown. Since Asherah herself is the great mother-goddess, chief consort of the Canaanite high god El, it stands to reason that the cultic symbols of the goddess could be associated with fertility or the gift of life in some manner. This is not to say that we can equate the Asherah symbol with the tree of life in Gen ; after all, in the present narrative the tree of life concerns eternal life and not the fertility of womb and field.

Nevertheless , if the figure of Eve can be seen to bear some relationship to the Canaanite mother-goddess … it is not out of place that she be associated with a sacred tree s. It is not impossible that a tree which is associated with fertility and the mother-goddess figure in one level of a story could take on other life-giving aspects, also a divine gift, at another level, especially when we remember the broad spectrum covered by the word "life. The various interpretations of the tree of knowledge can be categorized into three broad areas: a the acquisition of human faculties, b knowledge of sexual relations, and c universal knowledge….

What can we conclude … about the expression "to know good and evil" and specifically about its use in Gen ? We have argued that the interpretations dealing solely with the development of "human faculties" or sexual experience are inadequate for Gen in its present form. The concept of "universal knowledge" offers the best alternative…. From our discussion of the tree of knowledge it can be seen that the main concern of the narrative as recorded is the penetration of the divine realm by the couple. This is given as both the motivation for, and the result of, their eating from the tree of knowledge , It is also the reason for the final banishment of the couple from the garden Yahweh acts to prevent the possibility of them eating from the tree of life and becoming immortal.

Also bound up with this is the punishment of the couple described in when Yahweh discovers that they have disobeyed him. They are destined to suffer the hardships of human existence. The life described is also one that is experienced outside the garden… We could note here that also in Gen and the prevention of human and divine mixing is connected to Yahweh's imposition on humankind of the limitations of earthly existence…. Eve and the Serpent. In the woman is called Hawwa. There is no need to see here a doublet. Suffix demonstrates. It is not to be understood as a personal name as is the case with Hawwa in ….

The name Hawwa has exercized the minds of scholars as far back as one can trace. The etymology recorded by J is based on the wordplay between Hawwa and Hay. At J's level of the text, this etymology was undoubtedly associated with the role of Eve as first woman and progenitress of humankind. For several reasons it has been regarded as suspect…. One of the most ancient and relatively persistent lines of interpretation has seen a close connection between Eve and the serpent.

E… Several scholars have sought to develop the proposed connection between Eve and a goddess. Some of these have taken the epithet "mother of all living" more seriously and have proposed that behind the figure of Eve stands not only a figure associated with serpents but also that of a "mother-goddess.

The etymology of Hawwa, the connection with Punic Hwt and the possible association with mother-goddess figures need further consideration. We have mentioned the difficulty of the etymology proposed by J for the name Hawwa. The relation between Hawwa and Hay in the present form of the text depends more on euphony than on any philological connection evident in biblical Hebrew. An association between the word for "serpent" in other languages and Hawwa has been proposed.

In early Aramaic it apparently is Hwh…. From the data above, Hwt could be related to words for either "serpent" or "life. The other possible etymology of Hwt is from the word for "serpent. We do not mean to imply a simple equation between Eve and Asherah. The possible etymologies for Hawwa suggest that the name and the connection with Asherah are part of a long tradition. One could posit that Gen was derived from some myth involving Asherah but we have no direct evidence for this. We prefer to think that in the development and retelling of the narrative an allusion to the Canaanite goddess has been made.

It had greater significance in earlier forms of the story but has not been highlighted in the present rendition. In this context the origin of the designation of Eve as the "mother of all living" becomes clear with its similarity to epithets of Asherah as the mother goddess, namely "creatress of the gods" and "nurse of the gods. We would expect a connection between Eve and Asherah to be reflected in the circumstances of the narrative.

What we find in Gen , in fact, is that all which we might anticipate … is completely reversed. Rather than the productivity and fertility associated with the mother goddess, we see death, sterility, and hardship. Eve, the "mother of all living," is designated to suffer in childbirth.

The interaction between Eve and the serpent, also a symbol of fertility, as we shall see, ultimately leads to death….

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This reversal of expectations supports the identification of Eve and Asherah but it also suggests that the identification has been made with a polemical purpose in mind…. The association of the serpent with prolonged life has long been recognized…. The associations of the serpent with wisdom are extensive.

The association of the serpent with fertility has been recognized by many scholars. The evidence for this is principally artistic. The serpent is frequently seen in close association with naked goddesses. Often the reptile is placed in a position near the genital area leaving little doubt as to the sexual significance. In some of these works the serpent is associated with the mother-goddess…. This brief survey shows the variety of functions and attributes associated with the serpent.

As in the case of the connection between Eve and Asherah, all which we expect from the mythic associations of the serpent is reversed. The beast of fertility leads the woman and man into disobedience and subsequent hardship, especially in childbirth and working the ground. The serpent itself is cursed, and is destined to a life of humility and enmity with humankind. Thus the serpent fits into the story not only by virtue of its connection with Asherah but in its own right.

The treatment of it once again reveals a polemical trend in the narrative…. Sexual activity among the gods at Ugarit is fairly common and it has some possible connections to earthly fertility There is in the OT a small but consistent body of material which touches on the question of fertility rites or sexual activity in relation to the Israelite cult.

There is a consistent polemic against, or resistance toward, such practices which are considered akin to Canaanite ones…. The story Gen could have been used as a polemic against fertility practices in the Canaanite cult. The couple seeks to imitate the gods in sexual activity.


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The setting for this is described in terms of the garden of God , the location of the divine marriage itself. The passage is replete with terms and concepts reminiscent of the Canaanite mother-goddess, the serpent with its mythical associations, and concepts of fertility of womb and field. The final outcome, however, is the reverse of what could be expected. Instead of fullness of life and abundance, there is expulsion into a world marked by sterility, toil, pain in childbirth, and ultimately death itself.

The sexual activity leads only to shame. The trees of life and knowledge also fit into this rendition of the story. The former is appropriate in a situation in which elements associated with the mother-goddess are present. The sexual aspect of the tree of knowledge, suppressed somewhat in the present form of the narrative, could have been more prominent in earlier tellings….

In the form of the narrative recorded by J, the sexual aspect of the polemic has been reduced…. A broader interpretation of the sin in the garden has been introduced. The attempt at becoming like the gods is seen in the narrative recorded by J as an attempt to gain the total knowledge of the gods. In this context the trees of life and knowledge have come into prominence. The divine qualities available in them, and especially in the tree of knowledge, are now the object of human desire.

The knowledge which the tree offers certainly has a sexual aspect … but it is no longer the only, nor the central feature.


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Remnants of sexual and fertility language used in earlier forms of the narrative have remained. Many of these are employed in aetiological roles, for example, the woman's desire for the man is alongside the reference to the husband's rule over the wife Gen , thus broadening the issue to one of social and familial structures. The nakedness of the couple is associated with the origin of clothing. Others, such as the concept of the fertility of the earth, still maintain something of their original position in the narrative. The sin of the couple leads to a curse upon the ground, but the direct link between the nature of the sin and the fertility of the earth that was once there has been severed.

Becking , Bob Only One God? Gaster , Theodor H. Hadley , Judith M.