Adam (Lk 3:38-3:38)

“The son of Enos,

The son of Seth,

The son of Adam,

The son of God.”

 

τοῦ Ἐνὼς τοῦ Σὴθ τοῦ Ἀδὰμ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

These names are listed in 1 Chronicles 1:2-1:3, and Genesis, chapter 5:1-8.  Luke concluded his genealogy with Adam, whom he called the son of God.  This terminology was not part of the Jewish tradition.  Of course, this term was applied to Jesus, the Son of God.  Luke said that Cainan was the son of Enos (τοῦ Ἐνὼς), the son of Seth (τοῦ Σὴθ), the son of Adam (τοῦ Ἀδὰμ), the son of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ).  The grouping has the so-called first man Adam, with his son, and grandson.  His son, besides Cain and Abel who are not even mentioned here, was Seth who lived to be 912 years old.  Seth’s son was Enosh who lived to be 905 years old.  Obviously, there were other brothers and sisters, but they are not mentioned.  This genealogy repeats the theme of Genesis, chapter 1.  God created humans in the image of God, male and female.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image.  He named this son Seth.  Adam had other sons and daughters.  Thus, all the days that Adam lived were 930 years.  The offspring of Seth, and not Cain, were to lead to Noah.  Most of these patriarchs began having children in old age, but they all had other sons and daughters.  Seth became the father of Enosh.  Enosh was the son of Seth, but also the father of Kenan or Cainan.  Thus, Luke completed his genealogy by going from Jesus to Adam, while Matthew went from Abraham to Jesus.  These 77 names of Luke represented a lucky completion or fullness of time.  Jesus would not only be a Jewish leader of the tribe of Abraham, but a worldwide universal leader.

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The innocent blood (Mt 23:35-23:35)

“Upon you

May come

All the righteous blood

Shed on earth.

This included

From the blood

Of the righteous Abel,

To the blood

Of Zechariah,

The son of Barachiah,

Whom you murdered

Between the sanctuary

And the altar.”

 

ὅπως ἔλθῃ ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς πᾶν αἷμα δίκαιον ἐκχυννόμενον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος Ἅβελ τοῦ δικαίου ἕως τοῦ αἵματος Ζαχαρίου υἱοῦ Βαραχίου, ὃν ἐφονεύσατε μεταξὺ τοῦ ναοῦ καὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου.

 

This is a saying unique to Matthew.  Jesus said to these Pharisees and Scribes that all the righteous blood that was shed on earth would come upon them (ὅπως ἔλθῃ ἐφ’ ὑμᾶς πᾶν αἷμα δίκαιον ἐκχυννόμενον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς).  This would be from the blood of the righteous Abel (ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος Ἅβελ τοῦ δικαίου) to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah (ἕως τοῦ αἵματος Ζαχαρίου υἱοῦ Βαραχίου).  He was murdered between the Temple sanctuary and the sacrificial altar (ὃν ἐφονεύσατε μεταξὺ τοῦ ναοῦ καὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου).  Abel was the brother that Cain killed in Genesis, chapter 4:8.  His just blood would cry out from the ground.  This Zechariah was a little more complicated.  2 Chronicles, chapter 24:20-22, has a Zechariah, the son of the priest Jehoiada who was stoned to death in the Temple courtyard.  As he was dying, he asked God to avenge his death.  However, Zechariah, the son of Barachiah in Zechariah, chapter 1:1, was a 6th century BCE prophet from a priestly family.  Genesis was the first book of the Hebrew Bible and 2 Chronicles was considered the last book of the Jewish Bible.  Thus, all the innocent blood from the beginning of the world throughout Israelite history would be upon these Pharisees.  There would be a continuation of this innocent blood with Jesus himself.

Tower of Babel and Abraham (Wis 10:5-10:5)

“Wisdom also,

When the nations in wicked agreement

Had been put to confusion,

Recognized the righteous man.

She preserved him

Blameless before God.

She kept him strong

In the face of his compassion

For his child.”

Here there seems to be a link with the Tower of Babel and Abraham. Once again in this abridgment of Genesis, there is a leap from chapter 11 about the Tower of Babel and Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac in chapter 22. Obviously, we then have this abbreviated history of mankind that jumps from Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, to Noah and the flood, without explicitly mentioning their names. Now the jump is from the Tower of Babel to Abraham. Here it is wisdom and not God who caused the confusion as the men were building the high tower. She also recognized and preserved Abraham as the strong righteous man who was blameless before God (ἄμεμπτον Θεῷ). Just as the idea of God dominates over wisdom, she, wisdom, is the one who had compassion for the child (τέκνου) of Abraham, Isaac.

Fratricide (Wis 10:3-10:3)

“But when an unrighteous man

Departed from her

In his anger,

He perished.

Because in rage

He killed his brother.”

Once again, based on Genesis, chapter 4, we have a reference to the dispute between Cain and Abel, without their names being used. Throughout this chapter of Wisdom, no specific names are used. In this Genesis story, Cain was the first born of Adam and Eve. This unrighteous Cain got angry because his sacrifice was not accepted, while his brother’s was accepted. Cain in a rage killed his younger brother, Abel. There is no clarity on why Cain was so unrighteous and departed from this female wisdom. However, he surely killed his brother, so that the first human murder was fratricide (ἀδελφοκτόνοις). Actually, most murders are not done by strangers.

My understanding of Genesis

These are the great stories of the Bible with unforgettable mythic characters and events that dominate our lives even today. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and Lot, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and the twelve sons of Israel are as real as any super heroes or fictional characters in history.  They are flawed heroes, not gods..  They are anything but perfect.   In what sense are they real people and is this a work of fiction?

History is always an interpretation.  Who knows what really happened over four thousand years ago?  Sometimes we call this period, pre-historic.  These stories are as good as any at trying to explain how the Israelites felt about themselves some 2500-3000 years ago.  These ancient oral traditions were gathered and written down in order to explain what they were doing then.  We know more about the belief of these ancient authors than about the people they were talking about.  These mythic characters had power over their lives.

The Yahweh tradition made no attempt at being historical.  Everything takes place in some vague somewhere and sometime. Yahweh appears a little capricious choosing who he likes and who he does not. The priestly tradition, however, loved order, genealogies, and clear structure, in trying to put things into a wider perspective, yet explaining why they do things the way that they did them. The Elohist tradition tries to put God into a more distant governing, but kind power.

God had special relationships with these archetype patriarch heroes, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The three great belief religious systems of the west, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share in this Abrahamic heritage.  Joseph, the son of Jacob, and his Technicolor coat ended up almost ruling Egypt when his brothers turned against him.

The general narrative is that there is a loving caring God who spoke with these bigger than life characters.  Yahweh has chosen these guys to be fruitful and prosperous, to inhabit a land, to be righteous, to follow Yahweh, and be circumcised.  God is almighty.

The details are shocking as we see these heroes with warts and all. The primordial man, Adam could not even follow a simple divine order not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eve, mother of all, gets duped by a snake of all things.  Cain kills Able because God somehow liked him better.  The world gets populated either by the sons of Adam and Eve having sex with Eve, their sisters, or female animals.  There are no other options if you want to follow the single source theory.  Only the multiple source theory allows for other female humans from other humans.

Noah is an interesting character who follows God’s orders, but he does not get much credit, except as a builder before some giant flood hit the Middle East.  He actually is the origin of all humans according to this story, since all humans were destroyed, except for him and his family.  All of these stories of magic trees, wonderful gardens, and massive floods can be found in most religions of the world.  This seems to be something that humans crave that is part of practically all oral traditions.

The story of Abraham is more complicated.  Somehow he is the father of all the good guys and the bad guys. His two sons Isaac and Ishmael become symbolic of good and evil.  Isaac, born of Sarah, is good, and actually appears as one of the nicer figures in these stories. Ishmael, however, born of the slave woman from Egypt, Hagar, is bad.  When you add in Keturah and her children you can figure out how the Middle East was populated.

Isaac is a very sympathetic figure, if only because Abraham was going to offer him as a sacrifice to God, until he was stopped by an angel.  He marries his cousin, which was quite normal and has twin boys, who fight all the time for his favor.  In a twist of fate and deceit, Jacob and not Esau, who was the oldest by seconds or minutes, gets everything.  Eventually, they make up and all prosper.  None of these characters are poor people.  They have lots of livestock and slaves.

Jacob is the most deceitful.  He tricks his brother Esau all the time.  He meets his match with his uncle Laban, who tricks him also.  Jacob marries two sisters at once, both his first cousins.  Just as Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, as the new names become important.  Jacob who becomes Israel has twelve sons with four different women, the two sisters Rachel and Leah, plus their female maid servants.  This then becomes the twelve tribes of Israel.

The most interesting personality is Joseph, who was not liked by his ten brothers who tried to kill him.  He gets sold as a slave to an Egyptian.  Due to his ability to discern dreams he becomes the second in command in Egypt and even gets an Egyptian name.  When his brothers come to get grain during a famine, they do not recognize him, but he recognizes them.  He puts them through all kinds of demands, until there is a grand reunion and the whole family moves to Egypt.

This all explains why the sons of Israel were in Egypt, where Moses will try to get them out of there.  Joseph seems like a wise man, who speaks his mind.  One of the key concepts of Genesis is genealogy, showing how people are connected to each other via birth.  Marriages seem to be with very close relatives. First cousins are not abnormal.  Another key concept is land, particularly the land of Canaan.  Over and over again, these characters are promised this land.  In some cases they are already there.

Finally the covenant idea is clearly dominant.  God has made a special pact with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to be their God.  The main element of this pact is male circumcision.  It may sound odd to us today, but that clearly was in the minds of the biblical authors.  They made male circumcision a really important religious activity.

Thus Genesis is the foundation book of religious stories about the fallibility of man and his need and fear of God in this life.  These mythical religious persons, who have spoken with God, are not always living up to the ideal, but they keep trying despite themselves.  This is an important lesson of all people and all times.  Be true to yourself and your relationship with a higher power even when you are not perfect.

Seth and his descendants (Gen 4:25-4:26)

Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.’  To Seth also a son was born, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to invoke the name of Yahweh.”

All of a sudden we are back to Adam and Eve.  To replace the killed Abel, Seth is born.  He seems to be the forgotten son of Adam and Eve, but becomes a genealogical hero.  He too, had a son called Enosh, without mentioning where his wife came from.  So we have the same problem as we had with Cain’s wife. Who is this female and where did she come from? His son Enosh was one of the first to invoke the name of Yahweh.

The descendants of Cain (Gen 4:17-4:24)

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch.  He built a city, and named it Enoch after his son, Enoch.” 

All of a sudden, the wandering Cain has a wife, who is nameless.  Where did she come from?  Where did he get a wife?   She is either his mother Eve, or his unnamed sister from Adam and Eve, or his niece from Abel, but there is no mention of Abel’s descendants.  Cain could have had sex with some animals as part of some evolutionary movement.  Okay, it’s a story.  Let’s leave it at that and stop trying to be literal.  Obviously other females were involved, but where did they come from?  The first city is named Enoch after his son, probably in the land of Nod.

 “To Enoch was born Irad.  Irad was the father of Mehujael.  Mehujael was the father of Methushael.  Methushael was the father of Lamech.” 

Anyway, we are into genealogy, and there is a lot of this in Genesis.  The first born males are usually listed.  Although there are more people called Enoch in biblical literature, this is the only mention of his three descendents, Irad, Mehujael, and Methushael.  After six generations, the story gets a little more complicated.  There must have been a lot of incest or family sex, since there is never any mention of other families.

 “Lamech took two wives.  The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.  Adah bore Jabal.  He was the ancestor of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.  His brother’s name was Jubal.  He was ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah bore Tubalcain, who made all kinds of bronze and iron tools. The sister of Tubalcain was Naamah.”

 Lamech gets special attention since he had two wives, Adah and Zillah.  See, the Mormons have a point. Adah had two sons, Jabal, who represents the wandering style of living in tents with livestock, and Jubal the musician.  Neither of these names ever appears again. Now Zillah had a son and daughter.  The son Tubalcain worked with metals, while his sister was called Naamah, the first named female after Eve.

“Lamech said to his wives: ‘Adah and Zillah hear my voice.  You wives of Lamech, listen to what I say.  I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech is seventy-sevenfold.’”

Lamech killed a man who wounded him saying and chanting that as the descendant of Cain, he would have vengeance “seventy-sevenfold,” not just seven times.  Violence was a way of life.