Genesis 16 – The Birth of Ishmael, Genesis 17 – The painful Covenant for Isaac

In Genesis 16 we read the story of Sarai and Hagar. Sarai says that Jehovah has made her barren (if so, why?), so she tells Abram to impregnate her Egyptian servant Hagar (can we go ahead and say slave here?) so that Abram can bare a seed. This is DESPITE Jehovah already promising Abram that he will bare a child. Despite all the divination and promises, Abram still has to resort to impregnating his wife’s slave servant. Talk about no faith. Abram does so and Hagar conceives. Maybe Abram is under the belief that this is Jehovah’s promise?

Can we see a parallel between Abram/Sarai and Adam/Eve? Jehovah makes a pledge with the man, and the woman has the man break that pledge or go against it. In this case, however, Jehovah does not intercede with punishment. The only one that gets punished, in this case, is Hagar who was already punished by being a slave, and her child Ishmael who, despite receiving Jehovah’s blessings, does not receive a covenant the way his brother Jacob would.

It should be noted that the phrase here was Sarai “… gave her (Hagar) to Abram her husband to be his wife.”

Already knowing polygamy exists here, did Hagar actually become another wife of Abram or his “be his wife” euphemism for the act of creating a child?

Sarai becomes jealous, Abram tells her to treat Hagar as she pleases, and Sarai “dealt hardly” with Hagar and Hagar fled. Sounds like domestic violence.

“The” (note not “an”) angel of Jehovah appears to Hagar. If we take our notion of winged-angels-servants-of-God away then angel in this sense is some sort of physical form of Jehovah whereby he can speak to people publicly. No mentions of wings, white robes, or halos however. Jehovah instructs her to name her son Ishmael.

Genesis 16:12 – And he shall be as a wild ass among men; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s against him; and he shall dwell over all his brethren.

Thus we are foretold about Ishmael’s personality and interactions with not only his brethren but other men.

In Genesis 17, Jehovah appeared to Abram (note the difference between a vision followed by a horror of great darkness) and once again describes the covenant he will have with Abram. But here’s the rub: Jehovah calls himself, for the first time, God Almighty. He changes Abram’s name to Abraham, his wife’s name to Sarah, and reaffirms the covenant of the land. As for a symbol of this covenant, he requires Abraham and his people to circumcise all males in his household, including slaves and Ishmael (who isn’t part of this covenant by the way, so why circumcise him? So now that he is circumcised, is he part of the covenant?)

circum
Why circumcision? God’s creation in Genesis Book 1 was supposed to be perfect, so why, mess with perfection? Why take away what God gave us from our birth? And why the male genital? Is the mutilation of a baby boy’s genital (or in this case, every man and boy) ok? It seems to be normalized these days. Female genital mutilation is abhorrent these days though. Why accept either?

What’s interesting is as, despite Jehovah saying his covenant will not be with Ishmael,  he tells Abraham that Ishmael will birth 12 princes and will become a great nation, much like what he will promise Abraham’s seed in the future. The only thing lacking is the covenant.

  • Ishmael as a child is innocent of the, what nowadays would be considered sinful, actions of his father and step-mother, so why not include him in the covenant?
    • Being a half breed (racially) is bad seems to be the notion here
    • Being inbred with cousin relations seems to be ok in the meantime
  • Why not set up a separate covenant with Ishmael? Will Ishmael’s descendants also live within the borders of the land Jehovah has set aside for Jacob? The more I read the more this covenant deals with land than with anything else.

It is that this point, 17 books into Genesis, that the words God and Jehovah become intermingled. Despite all the contradictions and differences, it seems the author wants us to think they are one in the same by replacing Jehovah’s name with God after Jehovah claims he is God Almighty. Will the contradictions and differences end at this point?

So, the names and titles of our 3 main characters change at this juncture: Jehovah calls himself God Almighty; Jehovah renames Abram as Abraham; Jehovah renames Sarai as Sarah.

Genesis 5 – Gender and the mystery of Adam

We assume Adam was, what we would call today, a Man. Is this really the case? What does the Bible say?

Genesis 5:1 “… In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam, in the day when THEY were created.”

If you didn’t catch that, read it again. THEIR name was Adam. Not his name, not her name, THEIR name. Since when do two individuals receive one name? How about when they are one being? Also note, it does NOT say it was Jehovah God that created man, or in his likeness, but just God. This idea of a differentiation between Jehovah God and God may bother some but trust me it gets addressed in later scripture. Remember, in Genesis Book 1 there is absolutely no mention of Jehovah until Book 2 when the Garden of Eden and a different creation and mandate for man is described. Suddenly in book 5 the label Jehovah is removed when discussing the creation of man.

Just like I pointed out that Eve did not receive her name until they were taken out of the Garden of Eden, I believe there is more to this story than what is currently taught.

What is explained is that Jehovah God put Adam under a deep sleep, took a rib, created the woman, and sewed Adam back up. Jehovah God separated the woman out of the man that God created to create two beings.

  • God: Created Adam, being male and female as the verse describes
  • Jehovah God: Took the female out of Adam to create another being

Is this not what the verse says?

Adam
Adam! Please tell us, is this painting historically correct?

So what do you think? Was Adam initially a different type of being?

Genesis 4 – Cain/Abel, Curse of Cain, Cain’s wife?

Genesis 4:1 “…I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah.” Ok, is she referring to getting a man (Adam)? Or is she referring to a “man” being born to her who was named Cain? With really zero information about how/why they became so, Abel is said to be a keeper of sheep (pastoralist) and Cain a tiller of the ground (agriculturalist). Jehovah favors Abel’s offerings over Cain’s, Cain becomes angry, and he is scolded by Jehovah. He is told that if he does well, his offering will be lifted, but if he does not, then it is a sin, which he is told he does rule over the sin. Cain confronts his brother in the field and slays him.

Cain and Abel
A rendition of the slaying of Abel and the discovery by Jehovah

Jehovah curses Cain to walk the earth as a wanderer and a vagabond, and the earth will not yield to him. Cain, in anguish, says the curse is too much to bear and that all who meet him will want to slay him.

Genesis 4:14 “… and it will come to pass, that whosoever findeth me will slay me.”

Ok, supposedly Cain is the 3rd person to have been created, so then who is he referring to when he says “whosoever”? Is he referring to other people who wander the earth, people not addressed in this particular Jehovah creation? Could he be referring to the beings that God in Genesis 1 refers to when he says “we”?

Cain is still Jehovah’s creation so he puts a curse on anyone who would slay him will receive vengeance 7 fold, and Jehovah appoints a sign for Cain so that anyone who finds him will not kill him. So just what was this “sign”? I hear it often called the “mark of Cain” but it’s not described. Was it an actual sign worn over his neck? Was it a mark on his body, face, or other that would make it apparent to anyone not to slay the wearer?

Cain leaves Jehovah, goes to the land of Nod, east of Eden, and with his wife, conceives his first son Enoch.

Ok, so where did his wife come from? Was she already on the earth just in a different part? Those who believe Adam and Eve were the first two people on earth would just then say “oh well Adam and Eve must have had daughters.” But the Bible does not mention any daughters! Again, it does not even mention that Adam and Eve were the first on earth, only that they were put into the Garden to tend to it. We just ASSUME they were the first.

Mysteries that are just not covered in the text. I believe they are key to our understanding of what the stories of the Bible truly tell. Creation was good in Book 1, but the Creation of Book 2 to this point on is chaotic, bloody, and imperfect and leads to more questions that just aren’t answered in these texts.

So what happens when there are no definitive answers? We come up with our own. “Well Adam and Eve had daughters so that explains where the wives came from.” The Bible does not say that. “Adam and Eve were the first man and woman on Earth”. The Bible does not say that.

When we make up our own answers and conclusions, and the person next to us makes up their own, then we source the divisiveness that has separated individuals, families, congregations and churches since the first “church” was created.

Genesis 3: The “serpent” and Open Eyes

The famous story of the fruit of the tree, Adam’s wife being tempted by what many say was the Devil, and the corruption of the “first” man and woman and the first SIN which the rest of us were supposedly born into.

So big question: Is “the serpent” (note the lower case) in Genesis 3:1 the Devil? Satan? Lucifer? None of the above? Is the Devil, Satan, and/or Lucifer all the same being? Was it really a snake that tempted Eve? The author didn’t say it was the Devil, Satan, or Lucifer (hereby known as DSL), merely that is was a serpent also created by Jehovah God: Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made.” So why would Jehovah God do such a thing?

Since when could serpents and humans communicate? If the phrase “the serpent” really means DSL then this makes perfect sense because we know DSL can communicate with man. If it truly was a mere serpent, than the idea that man and animal could communicate (common knowledge in many ancient and/or indigenous non-Western cultures) isn’t that far off.

Try communicating with a serpent now. Something has changed significantly.

So if it’s either a) DSL or b) a mere serpent, whoever it is obviously knows more than Adam and Eve and also knows the words of Jehovah God as commanded to them. It also knows that death (the sentence proscribed for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge) isn’t the death that we usually define it today. The death Jehovah God was describing was more of a spiritual death which would eventually lead to a physical death. Genesis 3:5 “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”

So, death in this case means: eyes open, realization of good and evil that was only meant for Jehovah God. Does human enlightenment = Death?

It was at this point I came to another conclusion for more thought: Is God not ONE being? Is “he” more than one entity? Obviously more than one being was part of creation whether as observer or participant “Let us make man in OUR image” from Genesis Book 1. Jehovah God is one being. “Elohim” is a plural word, so when we speak of God are we supposed to be speaking of the “host”, or army, that exists in heaven that includes Jehovah, and other entities, including Angels, Cherubim, and all the other beings in the different levels of heaven? Is it safe to assume they had open eyes and the realization of good and evil? In which case they are God (or more correctly part of the collective God) as well?

Atheist/Agnostic perspective: This is another point in the Bible where one could say “well, why couldn’t God just fix everything if he is the creator of the Universe and is All Powerful?”

Interesting question and unfortunately applicable multiple times in upcoming verse without answer (that would appease the typical Atheist/Agnostic. I find that Christians will justify it somehow as saying it’s part of the master plan.)

The result of the eating of fruit: The serpent is is the cursed of all cattle and beast, sentenced to slither along on it’s belly. Wait, what?! Was the serpent moving in a different way beforehand? Before it was cursed? Upright? Flying? Serpent beings in other cultures often show them flying, floating, moving in ways serpents as we know them today don’t move. Dragon’s anyone? The serpent shall be cursed to be bruised in the head by the heel of the seed of Woman (is the seed of Woman different from the seed of Man?) We also learn that the serpent also has seed, hence a lineage the way man has. Adam’s wife, seemingly representing all women henceforth, is cursed to suffer in pain at child birth and her children will bruise the head of the serpent.

Adam got the worst of it. For listening to his wife (where he was culturally mandated to cleave to his wife in Book 2) he will now walk on cursed ground, the works of his tilling will produce thorns and thistles, eating bread in the sweat of his face where he will eventually turn to the dust whence he was created (was the man created in Book 1 also made out of dust?). Here’s another interesting tidbit: NOW Adam’s wife was given a name: and that name was Eve. She was given a name AFTER they were cursed by Jehovah God. Adam named all the animals immediately but did not name Eve until after his eyes were opened and Jehovah God chastised him, cursed them, and removed them from the Garden of Eden. It was up until this point she was simply called “the woman.” Interesting.

garden_of_eden_large
Another illustration of the Garden of Eden. This one shows different stages of Genesis. Jehovah God instructing Adam and his wife, the serpent tempting them at the Tree of Life, Adam and his now named wife Eve being chased off by the Cherubim plus more.

Once again, pointing to the multiple beings that Jehovah God was around he says “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…”

The final verse is most intriguing. Jehovah God “drove out the man”, but what about Eve, we assume she was also thrown out but the verse does not say that. At the east of the garden a Cherubim was placed, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

So just what is the “flame of a sword”? Is this the same as flaming sword? Flaming swords is a weapon of fantasy as far as I know. Is this an analogy for something else?

The questions pile up, and I will come back to this book later, but for now we move on to the birth of the first children of Adam and Eve.

Genesis Book 1 – The Creation and 7 Days

I’ve got to say one of the more fascinating books I’ve read over and over. Absolutely full of potential interpretations… here I go:

What can be said about the first sentence: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Even the non-religious are familiar with this phrase. It’s ambiguous and must be maddening to those of non-faith who want to know exactly how it happened.

God begins to form creation and labels it in its various forms. God creates the “firmament” aka heaven aka I interpret as the sky above. We believe there is water on the surface of the earth, Genesis says there is water above and below the firmament. On the lower surface (God calls Earth) he separates the water on the surface to form land.

What about the waters above the firmament? How does that mesh with modern knowledge? Well it’s not hard to see, when it rains, water comes from above, hence the waters above. Also remember water can be 3 phases, liquid, solid, vapor. Is the reference to the water above reference to the moisture that is ever present in our atmosphere? The blue sky of the day which is reflected in the blue waters below?

For those not familiar, but who believe the words of the Bible, look up “Flat Earth” theory. This theory meshes with the bible description (and other global cultures BTW) that the earth sits on 4 corners and, be careful here, is NOT a spinning globe. Walk softly with this theory because it will bring a wrath upon you from the “globers.”

Genesis 1:11 – God asks the earth to put forth grass and herbs, fruit bearing trees. 1:12 “and the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed… trees bearing fruit…” and the day was complete. My instant impression: We know that grass and trees do not seed and fruit in one day, it can take weeks if not months or, for some trees, years. This “one day” that is referenced, can it possible be referring to another time gauge, one that does not reference the day as defined by the rising and setting of the sun? Could it be that in these days the sun “day” was much longer than the 24 hours we know of? Or, did the plants, upon the command of God, fast forward their growth to put forth their seeds and fruit in one day as commanded. I’ve heard the argument that the days referenced in the Old Testament are different from the 24 hour days of today. I will look for more clues in upcoming verse.

Genesis 1:14 – God creates the lights in the firmament (stars and the two great lights: Sun and the Moon). “… let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years…” Much like today and among cultures around the world, the stars are used for horoscopes (constellation signs), seasons/days/years as sky watchers mapped the star patterns that would indicate to them changes in seasons and other portents that would include planting, harvesting, war, migrations and other important cultural events. Entire calendars can be based on the stars. This is important because I believe there are commands later on in the Bible that people do not participate in the foretelling of the future or portents, so I will be looking for that reference to. The 4th day.

The 5th day: God creates the animals in the water and in the sky. I like the “sea-monster” reference. Most would picture whales, but I wonder what other creature may be being referenced to here. The Leviathan? This day God creates the animals of the sky and the waters and commands them to be fruitful and multiply.

The 6th day God creates earth bound creatures, including man. 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Key word here: OUR. Who was God speaking to? Could there be other “gods”? Was he referring to the Angels that accompanied him during the creation? One thing is for sure, we look like God and whoever else he was speaking to. God is in our form… BUT WAIT! In future verses God walks the earth as man, but when as Jehovah with the Israelites, he is in a form that has to have a container and shield around him. Where I go with this information will not be liked by many and will expound when I get there. For now, I understand we are made in God’s image. Also it is here that God gave man dominion over the rest of the creation, which by many modern humans has been their license to completely ravage God’s creation by poisoning the air, water, food, and life around us. Truly difficult to come to terms with at times.

“And he rested on the seventh day” hence the Sabbath as defined in the Old Testament. When I first read this I wondered: Just what does ‘rested’ mean? We know what it means for us, we are exhausted, our bodies or minds tire, and we need to be in a state of sleep or relaxation to rejuvenate. Why would God need rest? In a sense, I saw God as a machine that was shut down for a day. (BTW by machine I don’t mean an actual powered mechanism that runs on energy sources such as gasoline or electricity, though I have met some who interpret it so.) Or an energy force that no longer worked upon its creation and dissipated away. Fact of the matter, I believe there is more to “God rested” than what most people believe. More on that later.

Genesis Book 1 complete.