The mother of all living

And she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” (Gen. 4:25)

Eve understood that the conception and birth of Seth was an act of God, whose objective it was to replace one who was dead with one who was alive. This may be the key to understanding the meaning of Eve’s name. Immediately after Adam heard from the mouth of Yahweh the words, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” he turns to his wife and names her Eve, “because she was the mother of all living.”

Being cut off from one source of life inside the garden, Adam recognizes that his wife will be the source of life outside the garden. Adam will die, but adam (humanity) will live forever as Yahweh raises up offspring through Eve. One form of eternal life is granted through the son, anticipating the other form of eternal life that will come through the Son.

Published in: on March 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Genesis 2 and the Virgin Birth

Terje Stordalen writes,

Usually toledot is a superscription naming the progenitor of the characters in the following section (i.e. toledot Adam in 5.1 opens the list of Adam’s offspring, toledot Terah in 11.27 initiates the story of Abraham, etc.). Reading Gen. 2.4 in the same way, it relates the story of Adam, Eve as ‘the story of the offspring of heaven and earth’. [1]

The association between the earth (eretz) and a mother’s womb (cf. Psalm 139:13-15; Job 1:21; 10:9-11; Isaiah 34:1; Jeremiah 20:17; Sirach 40:1; also Romans 8:19-22) would position the earth as “mother” and the heavens as “father” in Genesis 2:4a.

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Insofar as life comes out of the earth in Genesis 2, the biblical association between it and a womb is reasonable. In what way, however, might heaven be imagined as “father”? Verses 4b-5 provides the clue:

In the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up — for Yahweh God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man (adam) to till the ground (adamah)…

This verse affirms that life normally sprouts from the earth as a result of heaven showering it with rain [2]; no rain normally means no life… unless Yahweh directly intervenes. Verse 7:

Then Yahweh God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Whereas life typically sprouts from the ground through the cooperation of both heaven (as it gives rain) and earth, the first life to come from the earth is through the personal agency of Yahweh. Created before it had rained, the first Adam was born of a “virgin,” anticipating Yahweh’s work of new creation in the last Adam.


[1] Terje Stordalen, “Mother Earth in Biblical Hebrew Literature: Ancient and Contemporary Imagination,” in: J. Middlemas, D. J. A. Clines, and E. Holt (eds.), The Centre and the Periphery: A European Tribute to Walter Brueggemann (Hebrew Bible Monographs 27), Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2010, p. 119. See also idem, “Genesis 2,4. Restudying a locus classicus,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 104, 1992.

[2] Assuming an environment such as that of Canaan (Deut. 11:11). See Theodore Hiebert, The Yahwist’s Landscape: Nature and Religion in Early Israel, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996, 2007, pp. 36-37.

Published in: on March 22, 2015 at 6:15 pm  Comments (1)  

The earth and the womb

The association between adamah (the ground, from whence came Adam) and Ishah (the woman, from whence comes all humanity/adam forever after) seems to have been so taken for granted that the one could seamlessly transition into the other:

Job 1:21 – “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there.”

Psalm 139:13, 15 – “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb… My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”

Published in: on March 3, 2015 at 8:57 pm  Leave a Comment