Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The first firsts after sin

Genesis 4-7

The first family
The first thing Adam and Eve do after leaving Eden is have children. Eve names her sons, showing her authority over them, with Adam. Her wonder-filled exclamation about bringing forth a man reminds me of Adam's about Eve in ch 2. It also reminds me of my own wonder when my kids were born. What an incredible gift God has given women to bear children even in the midst of a painful curse.

Continuing the mothering/farming domains, the first men are farmers. After committing the first murder, Cain is cursed in the same way as his father--with bad crops. Interesting that when Cain is dejected about his bad offering and response from God, God tells him "Sin is . . . eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master." This echoes what God said to Eve about how she would feel toward her husband. It this a dig at women for introducing sin?

When Cain leaves, his wife seems to come out of nowhere. And she has no name.

Lamech marries 2 women. Is he the first polygamist? His children are the first shepherds, instrumentalists, and iron workers. One daughter is named. Lamech is also a murderer and proclaims to his 2 wives that he wants 11 times more protection from vengeance than Cain received from God. In fact, he declares he has it. Why would his wives need to hear this? Were they the avengers he was worried about?  So much that is recorded about life after Eden but before the flood befuddles me. 

It seems we are flashed back a bit when Eve gives birth to Seth. But perhaps not, if all the generations of Cain were still during Eve's reproductive years. These people were living almost 1000 years! Eve says with the births of her children, that God helped her bring them forth. I wonder, having walked with God in the garden, disobeyed and been cursed by him, whether she came to repentance and reconciliation with him as a protobeliever. It would have been the height of pride and folly to uttterly reject the Lord who actually made you the mother of all. We don't hear anything from Adam after the fall but he is in the same situation. When Seth is born, Eve mentions her loss of Abel. She has also lost Cain. God grants her another son to replace what sin has taken. She would be the first woman the Lord did this for, after being the first woman to experience the unimaginable grief of losing a child.

At the end of ch 4, people first begin to worship the Lord by name. (As opposed to what Cain and Abel were doing? Also, did they really know his name?) But at the same time as they were beginning to worship the Lord, sin was spiraling our of control. Chapter 6 talks more about that. But as an interlude to the history, we get the first human genealogy chapter 5. At the start of it, we are again reminded that God created humans as male and female. But the genealogy is exclusively male.

Interestingly, the genealogy is traced through Seth, but has some very similar names and orders to Cain's descendants listed in ch 4. They both end with Lamech. Lamech, Noah's father, was part of the climax of sinfulness that came before the flood. Cain's Lamech seems like he would have fit right in with his attitude of sin, power-grabbing, and lack of repentance.

Only evil all the time
At the start of chapter 6 there is some funny business about the sons of God and the daughters of men. They took any they wanted as wives, and this was a problem the Lord could not put up with. So he cut short the human lifespan to 120 years. Then we hear about giants who were "heroes and famous warriors" sired  by the sons of God and daughters of men. What on earth could this mean? It seem to be an example of wickedness to do with sex, whatever it means. But in verse 5 we hear that everything humans thought or imagined was evil all the time. The Lord is brokenhearted about his sin-ruined creation and decides to wipe it out. But Noah has his favor.

The story of Noah and the flood follows. A relevant detail for women here is that God saves his creatures from the flood in families. He views people as truly united with their families, it seems. You only need Noah to imply also his wife and children. This is not the individualism we are used to today. Saving animals in pairs is mentioned 7 times at least in the story from 6:17 through 7:16.

Chapter 7 ends with the destruction of all living things.