Sunday, December 19, 2004

Adam and Eve

God formed Adam out of earth ("adama"), and set him in the Garden of Eden, to watch over it. Adam is allowed to eat of all the fruit within it, except that of the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." God then brings all the animals to Adam, to serve as company for him. Adam gives names to all the animals, but finds no comfort in his loneliness. God then puts him into a deep sleep, takes a rib from his side, and from it forms a woman (called later "Eve"), to be a companion.
Eve is convinced by a talking serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit. Eve wisely questions the serpent and hesitates to take a bite. But after she finds it pleasant, Eve offers the fruit to Adam to eat it as well (the "original sin"). Adam asks no questions. He immediately takes a bite. As punishment the ground is cursed, the death sentence is imposed (although it takes some time to be fulfilled), and Adam and Eve are driven out of the garden. The entrance to the garden is then guarded by cherubim with a flaming sword.
Adam and Eve initially have two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain grows envious of the favor found by his brother before God, and slays him. The first murder is that of a brother. Cain is sentenced to wander over the earth as a fugitive. He finally settles in the land of Nod.
Enoch, one of Cain's sons, builds the first city. Another descendant, Lamech, takes two wives. Lamech's sons are the first dwellers in tents and owners of herds, and they are the earliest inventors of musical instruments and workers in brass and iron. Cain's descendants know nothing about God.
Another son, Seth, has in the meantime been born to Adam and Eve in place of the slain Abel. Seth's descendants never lose thought of God. The tenth in regular descent is Noah. Adam and Eve also have other sons and daughters. In line with most of the other biblical characters born before the flood whose ages are provided, Adam lived until the age of 930.
Note: the stories of Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel also appear in the Qur'an (see Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an).

Genesis

There is only one God, who has created the world. God has called all objects and living beings into existence by his word.
The universe when created was, in the judgment of God, good. Genesis expresses an optimistic satisfaction and pleasure in the world.
God as a personal being, referred to in anthropomorphic and anthropopathic terms. God may appear and speak to mankind.
Genesis makes no attempt to give a philosophically rigorous definition of God; its description is a practical and historical one. God is treated exclusively with reference to his dealings with the world and with man.
Mankind is the crown of Creation, and has been made in God's image.
All people are descended from Adam and Eve; this expresses the unity of the whole human race.
The Earth possesses for man a certain moral grandeur; man must include God's creatures in the respect that it demands in general, by not exploiting them for his own selfish uses.
Unlike other ancient religious texts from the near-east and middle-east, Genesis posits the existence of a one and only being that may properly be called God. All other non-human intelligences implied or stated to exist in the text may only be considered angels or the like. God is presented as being the sole creator of nature, and as existing outside of it and beyond it.
Some historians believe Genesis to be a more recent example of monotheistic belief than Zoroastrianism, interpreting the commandment "have no other gods before me" as an artifact of early henotheism among the Jews -- i.e., as evidence that the Hebrews were not to worship the gods of other peoples, but only their own tribal god. On the other hand, Genesis, in its present form, purports to give a record of beliefs prior to any surviving religious texts, describing the worship of other gods and local deities as a gradual development among the nations, who departed from original monotheism.
The primary purpose of the book is not historical or legal, but to explain man's origins, and to describe man's relationship to God, and how man's relationship to man must be seen in that light.
God created an eternal, unbreakable covenant with all mankind at the time of Noah; this is known as the Noachide covenant. This universal concern with all mankind is paralleled by a second covenant made to the descendants of Abraham in particular, through his son Isaac, in which their descendants will be chosen to have a special destiny.
The Jewish people are chosen to be in a special covenant with God; God says to Abraham "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you; and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed". God often repeats the promise that Abraham's descendants shall be as numerous as the stars in heaven and as the sand on the seashore.
The article on Biblical cosmology discusses the Bible's view of the cosmos, much of which derives from descriptions in Genesis