The Great Consummation – Genesis 5

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

TreeAnother genealogy. Be still our beating hearts.

But this one’s a bit different. The previous genealogy in the second half of chapter 4 was meant to be a perfect seven generations, but it ended up in sin and murder. So now we start again with Seth and Enosh and the “signs and symbols” of salvation are laid out in full.

Patriarch Age When Died Meaning of Root of Name
Adam 930 Man
Seth 912 Appointed
Enosh 905 Mortal
Kenan 910 Sorrow
Mahalel 895 Blessed God
Jared 962 Shall Come Down
Enoch Translated to Heaven at 365 Teaching
Methuselah 969 His Death Shall Bring
Lamech 777 Despairing
Noah Not Given in Genesis 5 Rest

Now arguably some will dispute the interpretations of the names based on the Hebrew roots, but there is a strong pattern and interesting connections. Enoch is translated into heaven just before his son is named, so we have a man in heaven and then “His Death Shall Bring”. Likewise, though Lamech’s name is “Despairing”, he is revealed as living for 777 years (three sevens, the numbers of God and Perfection) just before we move onto his son, Noah, whose name means “Rest” and whose age isn’t given here. It’s not that Noah is ascribed immortality, it’s rather that his age doesn’t matter because he is the symbol of the perfect Sabbath that all who are in Christ share.

The other interesting thing about this procreative line is that the only mentions are of men, not women. Though the promise of the future serpent head crusher is given to the woman Eve, none of these Patriarchs are described as sons of women. Men begat men, and whilst there are women clearly involved they don’t get a look in. Despite these men signifiying the work of Christ to come, he himself is not yet here.

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The Great Consummation – Genesis 4:17-26

Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch … To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad fathered Mehujael, and Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain … And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth,

GenerationsGeneration upon Generation, humans fill the earth. The end of chapter 4 details for us seven generations after Adam, with Cain as the first and Jubal and Tubal-Cain as the last. This number is not insignificant – Scripture will time and time again give us generation patterns of seven (see the Matthian geneaology of Jesus), indicating God’s perfect plan.

Despite the fact that Cain is a murderer he is also a Patriarch, fulfilling God’s plan for the multiplication of humanity. The perfect seven generations also end as they begin, with a pair of men who have divergent paths. Cain’s brother Abel is dead, murdered in an act of emotive fratricide. At the other end of the chain, two men, one a worker of bronze, another a musician, illustrate the divide in humanity between the chore of work and the longing for leisure.

And then there is this curious verse at the end.

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’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.
Genesis 4:23-24

Another three line stanza mirrors the verses in previous chapters. Lamech and Cain are both murderers (interestingly Lamech is the sixth generation, the number of man, the number of fallenness) but both despite their sin will be defended by God. God will defend Cain seven times, but he will defend Lamech seventy time seven (Matthew 18:22). Cain’s name means “received” and Lamech’s mean “powerful” – they are both motifs for the salvation of a God who gives freely and abundantly in grace and love.

The chapter ends with another new blood line, this time through Seth and Enosh whose names mean “appointed” and “mortal man” respectively. Although there is one procreative blood line that begins and ends in sin and death, another through the “annointed mortal man” results in humanity calling on the name of YHWH. These are not just lists of men and women, these are signs and symbols of the divine plan and hand of God.

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The Great Consummation – Genesis 4:1-2

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel.
Genesis 4:1-2

Cain and AbelIt is a mistake to view Genesis 4 as somehow different to the first three chapters of the Bible, especially with regard to the procreative motif. The birth of Cain and Abel is the first fulfilment of the command given back in Genesis 1, not just in the provision of offspring but in their life tasks.

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
Genesis 1:28-29

Compare this to what Cain and Abel do.

Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.
Genesis 4:2

Cain works the ground, indicating subjugation of the earth, owning the plants yielding seed, Abel tends sheep, indicating dominion over the rest of the animal kingdom. The union of man and woman produced the fruit that fulfils the command of God.

Eve’s words are curious – literally she says “I have gotten a man – from YHWH”. Does this mean that YHWH has given her a son, or does it mean that the son himself is somehow from YHWH? What would it mean for a child to be specifically “from YHWH”? Does Eve believe that Cain is the fulfilment of the promise in Gen 3:15? If she does she is going to be bitterly disappointed.

When Cain delivers an offering that God has no regard for, he becomes angry and his face falls, indicating that Cain is no longer indicating a loving relationship with him, that Cain does not have his gaze upon God. The comparison is with Adam and Eve in verse 1, who in knowing each other are clinched in that embrace where their faces are not fallen or looking away, but rather focussed in each other. This relational union of husband and wife as they create new life is in stark contrast to the man Cain, consumed by sin and stepping out of relationship with God.

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The Great Consummation – Genesis 3:15

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Genesis 3:15

Red apple with biteAnd now it all goes wrong.

It’s not my intention here to explore the dynamics of the Fall itself – I did that in my Oxford dissertation. Rather I want to draw out one crucial point, that this first messianic prophecy is rooted in the first command given to the two humans. The procreative order from God (“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth“) is the means by which salvation will come into the world. It is the offspring of the archetype humans who will crush Satan’s attack upon them and their descendants. Yes, Satan will cripple them (“bruise his heel”) but the one who is to come will destroy his power in turn (“bruise your head”) as pictured graphically in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”.

That the prophecy is both given in and fulfilled in a garden is no mere coincidence. Eden is poetically described in Genesis 2 as the first place where vegetation springs up at God’s command (less a contradiction with Genesis 1 and more an enhancement on the grain plants and fruit trees of Gen 1:9, themselves the symbols of sacrificial and sacramental offering – grain, olives and wine) and is itself therefore a symbol of procreative reproduction. The name of Gethsemane (lit. “olive press”) picks up that theme and of course olives and olive oil (“press”) play a crucial role in delineating messianic authority and primacy (1 Kings 6:23-34, Psalm 52:8, Gen 8:11, Zec 4, Rev 11:4).

The messianic procreative promise though is tinged with sorrow. Childbirth will be painful (Gen 3:16), and this is both a physical truism and a spiritual foretelling. For humanity to get from Adam to the second Adam will involve the pain (and death) of childbirth alongside the generational suffering of fallenness. Truly humanity brings forth its children in pain.

Finally, within the poetry of God’s curses on the serpent, the woman and Adam, we find a peculiar observation which once again emphasises the fruit of the sexual union of the man and the woman.

Theme Serpent Woman Adam
Guilt Because you have done this, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’
Curse cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. cursed is the ground because of you;
Impact I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Although both the man and the serpent have guilt and a curse proclaimed over them, these aspects are missing from God’s proclamation to the woman. The pain of childbirth is not itself a curse, nor a sign of guilt, and thus the messianic dimension of delivery (and the woman who delivers) is free from these binds. That the fallen world has painful childbirth in it is true – that the pain is a specific curse connected to a specific guilt is not true. That the woman (as all who follow her) is oriented towards desiring and being ruled by her husband is true – that the subordination of the wife is a curse because of guilt is untrue.

Might it even be the case that the reason why the wife has no guilt or curse ascribed to her, despite being the one who sinned first, is because the husband takes upon himself her punishment?

We shall return to this key observation in later verses and see how it has deep significance for the Christological icon of the sexual act and the marital relationship.

The impact of the curse on the serpent is that there will be enmity between his children and the woman’s, but for the woman herself the impact of the wider curses is upon the second physical act of procreation she engages in (the delivery of the child as opposed to conception). The impact on the woman (giving birth) precedes that of the serpent’s (the child that has been given birth too in conflict with the serpent’s offspring) and indeed one creates the other for without childbirth there is no conflict with the serpent’s offspring. Again in messianic terms the primacy here is the appearance of the promise.

Summary

We’re three chapters in, so let’s just reflect on the core theme we have seen. The first command to the humans is procreative and it is the fruit of procreation which encompasses the nature of the curse and proclamation to the serpent and the woman. The second command is to subdue the earth and this is the nature of the curse on Adam. Chapters 1 to 3 of Genesis, though arguably drawing on a number of primary sources have been weaved together to create a coherent whole. The events of the Fall in Genesis 3 rely heavily upon earlier themes established in the first two chapters. Despite the claims of some that the procreative elements of the first command to a married couple are not important in the wider concepts of covenant relationship, we see that actually they form the hub around which the first three chapters of Scripture become a coherent whole.

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The Great Consummation – Genesis 2:24

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Wedding RingsAnd now we have marriage.

In our first blog post we asked the question as to whether the man and woman were in any sense “married”. This was a reasonable question given that the text did not indicate such a thing explicitly. Here however in the next chapter (and in the second Creation narrative) we have the introduction of marriage into the Scriptures. Is the passage above connected to out first text? Well someone certainly thinks so.

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Matthew 19:4-6

Jesus ties the first text (“male and female”) to the second (“man and wife”) indicating that Adam and Eve are the archetypes of marriage in their sexual binary. We have another poetic form of words, this time the first articulated by a human in the Scripture, that echo the words used previously by God (indicating that the knowledge of the creative order has been communicated from Creator to Created).

Genesis 1:27 Genesis 2:23
So God created man in his own image This at last is bone of my bones
in the image of God he created him and flesh of my flesh;
male and female he created them she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Though the two creation narratives are from varied sources, this mirroring of acclamation indicates some level of editorial control over their combination together in this form. The creative act of God in producing a relational being to mirror his eternal relationship is re-emphasised in the acknowledgement by Adam that Eve is the same as him (in a way that all the other animals are not) and yet different. The sexual differentiation is made explicit in the third line of both pieces of poetry (and linked to the marriage a few verses later) but this time the similarity of the binaries is contrasted in shared strength (“bone of my bones”) and weakness (“flesh of my flesh”).

That the humans are both naked and unashamed indicates a high degree of mutual knowledge and understanding. Everything that is physically true about them is known to the other and to God (and by implication, what is spiritually true is also). The simple statement, “And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed” is not simply a physical and emotional description of Adam and Eve at some point pre-Fall. Rather, it is a deep spiritual and relational statement that enters into the heart of what it truly means to be human. Adam and Eve exist in the Garden of Eden ultimately in a state of truth, and that state of truth is a reflection of their relationship with, and open dependence upon God. They are truly Imago Dei – creatures who in their own inter and intra-personal relationships reflect completely the ultimate truth of a God who is eternally, ontologically, true.

Finally, where is the Patriarchy? In verse 24 the bride does not leave her home to join her husband as one would expect in an Ancient society, but instead the bridegroom leaves his place of nurture to join his wife. What is this model of a groom departing from his comforts and safety to come to the place where the bride dwells? Why is it explicit in the text at this point? Why would the culturally dominant partner in the covenant of marriage give up his rights for the sake of the other?

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7

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The Great Consummation – Genesis 1:28

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”
Genesis 1:28

Couple lying togetherOur exploration of sex and marriage in the Bible begins with this simple verse towards the end of Genesis 1. Here, one verse after the poetry of Genesis 1:27 is the command to multiply and fill the earth – the first thing God instructs the man and the woman to do is to consummate their relationship and procreate the human race.

The man and woman are distinguished from the rest of creation in that they are made in the image of God. Other commands to be fruitful and multiply are given to the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea, a pattern of binary that is seen throughout the chapter. Critically though, the unique instruction to humanity is for them to subdue the earth through their procreation. It is a curious usage of the Hebrew – this notion of domination by force is used at the start of the conquest of Canaan (Numbers 32:22) and again at the end when the tribes of Israel divide the Promised Land (Joshua 18:1). It is used to describe the height of power of King David, the arch-type of Messianic monarchical authority (1 Chr 22:18) and it is also a sign of the protection of the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 9:15) of those he saves. It is the same root word used of the footstool of Solomon’s throne (2 Chr 9:18).

Far from being a sinful act, this subjugation is the sign of the rightful power claiming rightful dominion for his rightful people. The procreative expansion of humanity proclaims the sovereignty of the binary that the man and woman signify – their own Creator.

God separates the light from the darkness, the waters above from the waters beneath, the earth from the sea, the evening from the morning, the sun from the moon, the day from the night. It is in the context of these binaries that humanity is created.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

All the binaries are in relationship with each other (earth and sea, day and night) and so the man and the woman are created as a binary themselves and then in their collective humanity as a binary to God (who uses plural self-reference through the chapter). In this way the eternal relationship that is the Holy Trinity is imaged in the relationship of the man and the woman (and their implied procreated family). This key distinction of humanity from the rest of creation is this very reflection of the nature of God. It sets them apart from everything else God has made and it provokes the question whether there is anything else about the commands God gives to humans that speak of who God is.

The first command given to the man and the woman is contingent on their binary nature as male and female. It would be physically impossible to obey God if they were two men or two women. The actions of love (the procreative activity of the human couple and the creative activity of God) a inter-weaved with this binary structure in humanity and creation that is present from the first words of Genesis 1:1 (“the heavens and the earth”). Interestingly, no other aspect of human love is explored here, but the clear understanding of the procreative necessity of conjugal union is recognised within the liturgical rites of marriage.

The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together
in the delight and tenderness of sexual union
and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
It is given as the foundation of family life
in which children are [born and] nurtured
and in which each member of the family, in good times and in bad,
may find strength, companionship and comfort,
and grow to maturity in love.

This raises a question for us. Is the procreative instruction a particular command for a particular time, or is it a universal guiding principle for humanity? The answer to that might help us shape a wider theology around sex as we continue to read through the Scriptures.

One more thought. Are the as yet unnamed couple married? Why has there been no union declared beyond the clear understanding that they are a sexual unit? We’ll explore that in our next post.

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