SoulBreaths

God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpents, Lies [Part 1b]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 7 months ago ]

 

God sets the stage . . . a Garden of Desire. That’s before two trees, humanity, and a serpent meet up.

 

[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

SUGGEST READING FIRST: GOD’S STORY LENS SERIES: TREES, SERPENTS, LIES [PART 1]

 

READING TIME: 3 MINUTES.

 

THE SETTING

 

The beguiling action begins somewhere in the garden, located within Eden—whose name is associated with the Hebrew root for delight, pleasure (עדנה), per Hebrew University.

 

The root is found in Psalm 36:8 “rivers of delight” and also in Genesis 18:12 when Sarah laughed about the notion she’d become pregnant in her old age, “Am I to have pleasure?”).

 

Living up to its name, the entire garden is a place brimming with desire, God’s good kind, appeasing the senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing, feeling. The delight is a relationship with God. The pleasure is all that He lovingly created for humanity’s enjoyment. The good desire is following His will, surrendering to His majestic kingship.

 

But God honors work and initially gives Adam the job of tending the garden creation. Not by the sweat of his brow. Not battling pest infestation or finagling with irrigation equipment. There’s no Dust Bowl potential or tornadoes to outrun.

 

Instead, the mist rising from the earth waters the entire surface as four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates) sprawl and converge, submerge and appear elsewhere . . . where the land glistens with gems (gold, crystal, and onyx).

 

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree
that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.
The tree of life was in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:8-10

 
 

 
 

TIME OF DAY

 

We presume from the story’s opening that it’s still daytime. But the time right after Adam’s disobedience is said to be nearing the tenth hour. That’s when they heard the sound (קוֹל, qol) of God walking in the garden to the wind of the day (לְר֣וּחַ הַיּ֑וֹם,l’ruach hay yom)—the literal Hebrew phrase that some scholars tie to a particular time of day.

 

Among them is Rashi, an esteemed 11th century French rabbi and Talmudic commentator who suggests it means “toward the way, the direction of the sun.” As in “later in the day as the sun sets.” Hence, the tenth hour.

 

[Side note: Others link the Hebrew to God’s stormy presence, but we’ll address that in Part 3’s story section.]

 

The tenth hour is intriguing from a setting/character perspective—and a soul perspective. The timing is within the last two hours before sunset. Let’s dig a bit . . .
 

First consider that the Hebrew word for morning—boker—has this Hebraic shoresh (root meaning): order, able to be discerned.
 

Now factor in the Hebrew word for evening—erev—whose root meaning is chaos, disorder, when things aren’t so clear, not so discernible.

 

How does that play into the setting-story line?

 

Our co-protagonists’ souls are about to transition from one state to the other, from daylight to evening. From a place of order and harmony to a state of disruption, confusion, disorder.

 

They’re edging away from a level of knowing and walking in good desire for a place of self-desire and naked truth . . . a truth that is anything but completely naked, clear, or discernible.

 

UM, WHERE’S ADAM?

 

As the curtain rises on Genesis 3‘s setting, Adam isn’t there—at least, not right off. (Keep in mind that in God’s storytelling, a lot can happen—not overtly revealed—between paragraphs, sentences, words.) It can appear purposeful on many counts as we’ll see.

 

Later, when Adam is mentioned, the Hebrew indicates (per rabbinic thought) that time has passed between his wife’s encounter with the serpent and her handing him the fruit (hence it’s then noted that he’s “with her”).

 

Seems to me, if he’d been there from the beginning of the whole serpent/Eve chitchat, he’d have added his two cents or stepped in one way or another. And that would mean he too had been beguiled by the serpent.

 

But that doesn’t necessarily fit the narrative.

 

Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

 

Adam obeyed his wife’s lead (handing him the fruit to eat as well) vs the Lord’s.

 

So it’s plausible—and seemingly fits the narrative—that Adam is nearby, tending his work while his helpmate, Eve, is elsewhere.

 

And it’s that elsewhere garden location that stirs the pot in this setting. She’s presumably alone, possibly in the midst of the garden, hanging out near the forbidden tree, primed for seduction as the story begins.

 

SO WHAT’S WITH THOSE TWO TREES?

READ THIS NEXT: God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2]

 
 

RESOURCES
https://www.hebrewversity.com/deeper-hebrew-meaning-garden-eden/
 
 
CREDIT: Garden tree photo by nitish-kadam on Unsplash.com
 

God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 7 months ago ]

 

It’s go-time. God’s creation is in testing mode. But how do two trees impact the human soul’s condition?

 

[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

HIGHLY SUGGEST READING FIRST: God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 1]

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 
 

THE TWO TREES

 

Two trees in the midst of the garden. Meticulously placed‚ set apart from the others, yet growing among them. Resounding in their stillness, their purpose, both trees are about to take centerstage in humanity’s impending soul battle.

 
 

That’s the soul battle of our earthly story back at the beginning with co-protagonists Adam and Eve . . . and the one going on right now. In you. In me. Around us. The connection is undeniable. It’s embedded in the fiber of every decision, every word, every action we make.

 

It’s either self-desire or God-driven desire. Surrendering at His altar or bowing to the altar of self.

 

You can feel it, right? The convergence of the two within and around you? The struggle of choice between the holy (God’s thoughts, ways, commands) and the profane/mundane, the world’s mindset.

 

There are reasons why these two garden trees demand our attention. First, trees apparently mean something to God. He poetically carries the tree-image throughout His storytelling. He uses it in the Garden of Eden (spiritual global impact) but later likens people (Deuteronomy 20:19), Israel, and our soul condition to trees—good and not so good.

 

QUICK EXAMPLES . . .

 

1. fig tree, referring to Israel’s spiritual condition (Hosea 9:10 ESV)

2. green olive tree or well-planted tree that bears fruit/never withers, regarding a wise/righteous person who trusts in the Lord (Psalm 52:8 and Psalm 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8, all ESV).

3. oak tree of righteousness, strong, enduring, withstanding life’s struggles, and a planting of the Lord for His glory. (Isaiah 61:3 ESV).

4. towering tree, warning Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream about a massive tree (world ruler) who would be cut down, leaves stripped, fruit scattered. Sadly, it was Nebby himself. (Daniel 4 ESV)).

 

An orthodox Judaic teaching puts it something like this: we’re like trees, rooted in our past/our ancestral history, canopied (like foliage) by our life choices/life story, bearing fruit (children, good works to help others, community) with more seeds going forth to bear new trees.
 

Nicely put. But there’s another application. Another tree God used. Arguably, the most significant tree . . . one directly linked to God’s two Garden of Eden trees and one that will bring us once again to the garden with the Lord’s promised Millennial Kingdom.

 

We’ll get to that eternity-shifting tree and how it fits into this Genesis 3 story in the last post of this Trees, Serpent, Lies series.

 

For now . . .

 
 

 
 

GARDEN TREES: THE BIGGER PICTURE

 

Both trees “control the state of the world,” according to Gershom Scholem, who is often regarded as the “most important Jewish historian of the 20th century.” He was a Zionist, a preeminent scholar of Jewish mysticism (i.e., Kabbalism), and a prolific author on Judaic/Israeli political, social, and cultural issues.

 

Although I’m not a Kabbalist, I have a particular interest in parts of Scholem’s commentary (as noted below with my bold typeface inserted for emphasis)—because they tangentially strike at the core and intent of this post . . . regarding what lies beneath and within the two-trees story and beneath and within our souls.

 

Scholem made these four observations:
 

(1) “Standing in the center of Paradise and representing higher order of things, the trees control a great deal more than just existence in the Garden of Eden.”

 

(2) “The Tree of Life represents the pure, unbroken power of the holy.”

 

(3) “Since the Fall of Adam, the world is no longer ruled by the Tree of Life as it had been in the beginning, but the Tree of Knowledge.”

 

(4) “Since the Fall of Adam, since the time when the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was eaten, the world is ruled by the mystery of this second tree in which both good and evil have their place. Hence, under the rule of this Tree, the world contains differentiated spheres: the holy and the profane, the pure and the impure, the permitted and the forbidden, the living and the dead, the divine and the demonic.”

 

Agreed.

 

Because whatever generation, whatever scenario, whatever temptation, whatever point on God’s prophetic time clock, it always comes down to the same struggle, wrestling with the repercussions of the Tree of Knowledge debacle, causing us to individually face the question, Which tree are we eating from and what “fruit” are we bearing/spreading?

 

Now step closer to the Promise (Tree of Life) and God’s Love Test (Tree of Knowledge).

 

READ THIS NEXT. God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2b].

 
 

RESOURCES

Targum Onkelos commentary (Genesis 2:9) on Sefaria.org
Gershom Scholem commentary from his book, The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality, as listed on Sefaria.org.
Gershom Scholem biography: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Oxford Bibliographies.
Tree as man: Chabad articles
 

PHOTO CREDITS

PHOTO CREDIT: Green trees by Megan on Unsplash.com

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