(4) Wisdom as a strange woman …

Continuing on our theme of “Folly to be wise ..”.

Wisdom is spoken of highly in the Bible, something to be sort after, something to be treasured.  A gift that will bring a person wealth and prosperity, but if ignored, or treated unkindly, or unjustly, could also turn on the person and cause them great harm.  Is it folly to seek wisdom knowing that it is fickle and untrustworthy?  And why describe it as a woman?  Was that the patriarchal view of the women in the centuries over which the instructions in the Book of Proverbs was collected?  Or could there be a more interesting challenge?  Was Wisdom a being that interacted with the living, much as the angels do today?  People experience God’s grace today, through miracles of many sorts, through visions and prophecy.  Could Wisdom have been one of the messengers that humans were meant to trust, and in falling, then become a being people were warned against?  Could the description in Chapter 9 of the wise woman and the foolish one, so very much alike, be a subtle way of reminding people not to trust someone who offers you treasures from unknown sources? (Proverbs 9:2 compared with 9:17)

If we did a direct comparison between the first section and the second section of the chapter we can clearly see the differences between the wise woman and the the woman given many names ‘strange’ or ‘loose’.  She is described as a prostitute, loud and ignorant, but her words are the same as the woman who would be wise .. so why do we differentiate between the two?  How does this confusing, and often threatening, speech teach us wisdom?  The motto of this Book is “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”.  How do we apply it here?

Wisdom seems to have two different messages.  To the wise she offers food and wine she has mixed herself, to the simple she offers illicit pleasures.  My first thought was what had she mixed in the wine?  She still believes the wise are immature and require her guidance or need to be led.  What measuring stick do we use to review Wisdom’s character?  Do we find it in the New Testament in James 3:13-18?

Proverbs 9:1

1  Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars.

Why does Wisdom specify seven pillars in her house?  The number seven means ‘complete’ – God took six days to create the world and on the seventh day he rested.  Does that relate to what is written?  There does not seem to be a clear answer, so let us begin by reviewing them through James 3:13-18?

James 1:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you?  Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.
15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.
16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full   of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Given Wisdom’s behaviour in Proverbs 1:24-28 I do not think we can describe ‘her’ as pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits or partiality (given she only calls to the simple(-minded)) or hypocrisy .

Another writer (1) says that the seven pillars of ‘wisdom’s solid foundation’ (of her house) are found in Proverbs 8:12-14

12 I, wisdom, live with prudence, and I attain knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.  Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
14 I have good advice and sound wisdom; I have insight, I have strength.

I enjoyed that webpage for the show of confusion that the Wisdom literature creates.  To start with, it was not the best translation, but after the writer says that Wisdom lives in a house with a woman called Prudence I had to keep reading.  I read it four times just to make sure I was not mistaken.  I do not think the writer realised exactly how the words would be taken, but it is a good example of how we see what we want to see in the Bible – myself included.  And to stretch the point, another writer on the internet decided that Wisdom and Prudence were married to each other .. only many churches are not happy with same sex marriages, and certainly not during the centuries when the ‘wisdom’ was gathered, so perhaps we will discount that one.

And this lady (2) gives us another version.  She writes: “I’ve always wondered what the seven pillars of wisdom were. After studying the seven-fold anointing spoken of in Isaiah 11:2, I concluded that the seven pillars of wisdom must be the seven aspects of the Holy Spirit of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2 says, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord“.  But there are only six, so I guess it is disqualified.

Wikipedia (3) gives us a slightly different set, calling them the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord .. which they define as ‘wonder’.

Where does that get us?  We agree that no one is sure what the seven pillars of Wisdom’s house are.  The notes in my NOAB (4) state “9:1 Seven pillars may allude simply to the pillars of Wisdom’s house or may suggest the pillars on which the earth was founded”.  (Job 9:6, 26:11, Ps 74:3)  (Can we read that as the commentator appearing to believe that Wisdom was a living person?)  And everyone appears to agree that we should fear the Lord, apart from me.

And then there is the possibility that the building of the house refers to when Wisdom says she helped create the world, an ‘understanding’ which was anticipated in the Babylonian Talmud (6) where the Talmud explains the purpose of Adam’s creation on the even of the sabbath “that he might straightway go in to the banquet. The matter may be compared to a kind of flesh and blood who built palaces and furnished them, prepared a banquet, and thereafter brought in guests”.

We shall move on …

Proverbs 2 – 18

2  She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.
3  She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls from the highest places in the town,
4  “You that are simple, turn in here!”

Were the servant girls Wisdom’s procurers?  In modern times we see them in the streets outside restaurants, cafes, bars and brothels.  The verse continues ..

To those without sense she says
5  “Come and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6  Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight”.

Why address this to only ‘those without sense’?  Wouldn’t the wise also like to join a feast?  I wonder if the ancients had hallucinogenic drinks that provided ‘insight’, or certainly visions of some kind?  The seers at Delphi would sit over volcanic fumes and then the priests would interpret their ‘prophecies’.  Mixing wine with spices was not unusual, but what was mixed into it  that required a person to ‘grow up’ (something we say to immature people even today) and ‘live, and walk in the way of insight’ (while smoking the peyote smoked by the Amerindians to get advice from their gods? Or modern people getting stoned for fun? (7))

And then did someone so severely doubt her that they said so at which point a comment like this might sound wise.  Was she trying to tell them to “fear the Lord” and they scoffed at her ..

7  Whoever corrects a scoffer wins abuse; whoever rebukes the wicked gets hurt.
8  A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked, will love you.
9  Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

Is this a promise she thought she could make – to multiply the days and years of someone’s life literally, or do we take it as an allegory, that Wisdom will help a person live longer?  Did she think she could do this herself, or that the Lord would do this for anyone she directed to him?

And then the theme changes completely, and we are advised that this next woman is a fool, called Dame Folly in the NIB, and yet her behaviour is much the same as the wise woman ..

13 The foolish woman is loud; she is ignorant and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the high places of the town,
15 calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way,
16 “You who are simple, turn in here!” And to those without sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant”.

Perhaps she was being more honest than Wisdom? She offered the foolish ‘stolen water’ and secret bread, which in the end would kill them (v. 18). My NOAB (5) comments that the ‘stolen water’ is probably a euphemism for illicit sex, with a reference to Proverbs 5:15-21. The comment about those ‘who are going straight on their way’ might suggest that the lady wants to lead them off the straight/right path and into iniquity, if not death?

18 But they do not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Who else would have her guests in Sheol, a name given to hell, than a fallen angel?

Strangely, but not unexpectedly, here is a perfect example of where the commentators choose to ignore what they cannot explain.  The NOAB (8) completely ignores verses 11-16 and the brief comment in the NIB (9) is “9:13-18  The chapter and the book’s first major section now conclude.  Dame Folly is an explicit contrast to Wisdom in v 16, even to the point of making an identical invitation (v. 4 = v. 16).  But this passage also sums up virtually every theme expressed in Proverbs 1-9 by means of its repetition of key words.  In particular, Dame Folly masterfully integrates the portrait of Folly as a seduction to bogus good, in contrast to the genuine good of Wisdom.”

Only Wisdom is definitely not genuinely good.

A few last thoughts – were the sayings gathered together in these chapters of Proverbs because the lady was writing her autobiography, and/or someone later thought them wise?  To some degree this whole section reminds me of God in Job professing the wonder of being God while punishing the innocent.  Either that or someone, in the far future, is going to find a book like Anne Rice’s “Interview with a Vampire” and think its actually history. If someone came to me offering me sweet words and sweet wine, I would be wondering what they wanted. Does that make me wise or the fool? When a couple came from a Christian Sect offering me “God their way”, I tested their waters through their writings briefly and then they ran away. Don’t question someone too deeply or they might get very uncomfortable. Is that what wasn’t done here, the words were accepted, confusion and all, by Irenaeus and his cohort, much as they accepted Job, because it appears they are wise .. but on close reading you find the snake still in the garden whispering “bite the apple, Eve”.

(Yes, I know it wasn’t an apple, but when I was a child I was taught that it was by a number of ministers of various Christian churches, different denominations. You have to wonder who trained them!)

Thank you for reading …

(1)  Wisdom creates confusion http://www.bridgetothebible.com/Bible%20Lists/7%20Pillars%20of%20Wisdom.htm
(2)  Seven Pillars of Wisdom – http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/devotionals/around-the-word-in-365-days/?aid=2939
(3)  Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_gifts_of_the_Holy_Spirit
(4) The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th Edition, New Revised, Standard Version, with the Apocrypha. MD Coogan, Editor, Oxford University Press, 2010, page 907
(5) ibid page 903
(6) The New Interpreter’s Bible, A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1997, Proverbs 9, page 101
(7) Hallucinogenics in Ancient Israel – http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/israeli-town-yavneh-had-thriving-drug-culture-3000-years-ago-003159
(8) The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 4th Edition, New Revised, Standard Version, with the Apocrypha. MD Coogan, Editor, Oxford University Press, 2010, Proverbs, page 907
(9) The New Interpreter’s Bible, A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1997, Proverbs 9, page 103

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(2) The dark side of Wisdom

The original title of this blog was “Wisdom as a bitch”.  For those who have just dropped in, my premise is to examine Wisdom in Proverbs as female, wise and loving in the way that Jesus described his ‘Father’, not Joseph but God.  The chapters I am use specifically define wisdom as female.  Proverbs 1:20-33, 8:1-36 and 9:1-18.

Sticking with the theme from ‘Folly to be Wise’ .. our first example of folly is in deciding that this is an appropriate example of the behaviour of a loving God, or even a creation of God (discussed more in the next article “The nature of Wisdom”); the God who Jesus tried so hard to convince us was watching over us and loving us unconditionally (1 Corinthians 1:1-13).  Paraphrasing … ‘Love one another as I have loved you’ (John 13:34, 15:12).  If Wisdom is the example, it is no wonder living people do not get along with each other.

Wisdom as a female prophet

In Proverbs 1:20-23 Wisdom, as a woman, was outside yelling in the streets, demanding attention.  She called everyone ‘simple ones’.
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I shall extend this a little and suggest she meant ‘simple-minded’ in our language, given that she later refers to fools or foolish people.  The dictionary meaning of simple-minded is:  “not very intelligent, or having or showing a lack of good sense or judgement” (1).  Is she calling to fools in hope they will listen to her, or the innocent who will not look past the covering of sweet words and promises?
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Proverbs 1:24-33
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24 Because I have called and you refused;  have stretched out my hand and no one heeded, 
25 And because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you,
27 when panic strikes you like a storm, and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
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Is this Wisdom, wise and kind?  She turns her back on those who do not listen to her.  She laughs and mocks.  Is that what a loving creation of God would do?  Is this what God does to those who believe in him?  And even to those who don’t?  If God loves all of his creations unconditionally, then those who do not believe are loved as much as those who do.  They are all given the opportunity to choose another path – the one that leads back to him.  Whether God loves unconditionally or not is not a discussion for today, but it will become another blog in the future.
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28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
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Humanity chooses not the fear the Lord, but Wisdom is not ‘The Lord’ so her anger at them is on God’s behalf, or is it?  Given that we are supposed to pay attention to ‘her’ (Proverbs 22:17-18, 5:1-6) and give her the same respect as God, where does she place herself in the hierarchy?
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Her behaviour is not God’s behaviour – “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened”. (Matthew 7:7-8 & Luke 11:9-10)
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30 would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof,
31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way and be sated with their own devices.
A reference to Genesis 3:6 when Eve and then Adam ate the fruit and they were both expelled from the “Garden”.  Humanity was foolish then, and if they do not listen to ‘her’ they will remain that way.
32 For waywardness kills the simple, and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.
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Having done many years research into the concept of fallen angels, I can perfectly see here the storms and rages of an invisible being acting in the mirror image of her* true nature as Wisdom.

  • Please note that when I say ‘her’ I am doing two things, following the theme of wisdom as a female (all emotion) and also that fallen angels (demons) are also driven by emotion (ego).  I am not classifying the female human race as either all emotion or demons.

The nature of Wisdom is to learn and teach.  This being called ‘Wisdom’ offers so much with one hand, and takes it back with the other.  She is, if you like, in two minds.  The angel of Illumination (2) would swap from teaching Love and Wisdom to teaching Hatred and Confusion.  She would act out her dissatisfaction with those who refuse to follow her – in a way that is exactly opposite a loving God, but more like the behaviour of Jehovah, who is not to be trusted.

The Blessings of Wisdom

Proverbs 8:1-36

13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil …
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I could write a whole page on this very short sentence.  To me it has one meaning.  Every commentary I have checked either ignores it, or tries to rewrite it, sometimes in great depth, or explain that it means something it doesn’t say.  They refer to Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, fools despise wisdom and instruction”; and 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight”.  But it does not say either of those things.  It says ‘The fear of the Lord .. is hatred of evil’ .. as if this Lord fears that people will “hate evil”?  Who is this Lord?  9:10 makes perfect sense if it is an entity that should be avoided, such as Wisdom and ‘him’self.  (Lord being a male title). The rest of 13 is …  pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
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14 I have good advice and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength.
15 By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just;
16 by me rulers rule, and nobles, all who govern rightly.
17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
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14 – 17 are all “I am” statements, demonstrating her power.  Like God in Job 38, 39 & 41, some of which appears to be incoherent rantings.  For example, 41:1 “Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook …?” when Job calls God to account for his suffering.
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And then there are these:
Wisdom offers …
18 Riches and honour are with me, enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my yield than choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice,
21 endowing with wealth those who love me, and filling their treasuries.
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Matthew 6:19-21
Jesus offers …
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth; where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;
20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
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Who is this being called Wisdom?   There is more to follow ….
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Turning a new leaf – the Self through Wisdom Literature

In investigating the Self (myself) through Wisdom Literature, my first question has to be – ‘am I any the wiser for this long journey?’  And who measures that wisdom, if not myself?  Am I kinder, more worthy of love, a speaker of peace, less likely to judge, than when I was the child .. right now I would have to say no – for I am still the ashes of the phoenix and have not risen yet to be reborn.  So let me use the Wisdom of others to look upon this Self and see where we are now in the Journey of Life, from birth to rebirth, beginning at the ending … where ignorance is no longer bliss.

Condemned alike to groan;
The tender for another’s pain,
The unfeeling for his own.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise.”
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As many people choose to do with the Bible, I quote only a small part at the end of a long poem by Thomas Gray, who speaks of life at Eton College, but could also be speaking about life in general, the highs and lows .. and asks that final question “Yet ah! why should they know their fate?” Which really leads on to the events in Revelation, but also leads back to the getting of Wisdom through the Bible and Apocrypha – Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Job, Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Judith, and many more.  Some deny the right or importance of the Apocrypha as a reference to our Spiritual past, but to me they show a broader field of understanding of the people who wrote the words we believe are important in understanding not just God and Jesus, but also the mindset and beliefs of the societies from which they came.
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The getting of wisdom can be a very painful process.  Lessons and learning drop into our laps, from multitudes of sources, but they do not become Wisdom until we learn to turn them inwards and apply them to ourselves.  We do not learn compassion from showing compassion, but only from suffering pain and loss of our own, so that we can step into the shoes of the ‘other’ and share, in some small way, the emotions that are driving their life journey.  We can then ’empathise’ rather than just ‘sympathising’.  Then we can ‘be’ Love (1 Cor 13), rather than just an observer, the clanging cymbal.
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“Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

― St. Patrick

Observing Genesis: The Tower of Babel and Faith

Who is God?

.. or even ‘what is God’?

I remember a discussion, well, almost a discussion, with an interesting young male Christian who, when asked not to use the Bible as a source of reference for ‘who is God’ gave up the argument straight away, because the Bible is the only source, or ‘Word’, we have of who or what God is – and the views are conflicting.

And then there is Faith. One daily religious message I get describes faith as a ‘gift from God’. It goes on to say that ‘Faith allows us to perceive the truth’, but I have to question quite a bit of this statement given that other religious people have ‘faith’ in their God, so is their truth different to mine, if I choose to believe in Jesus’ God rather than Job’s, or theirs?

That’s one of the conflicts. Jesus’ God taught ‘love one another’, Job’s taught ‘fear me or I will punish the most innocent among you’. Which would you prefer to follow, given a choice? Allah preaches peace, but some of ‘his’ followers preach Jihad? Whose truth is that?

The daily religious ‘thought’ then says faith ‘persuades our emotions to embrace the truth and then moves our will to act upon it’. Persuades .. does faith nag? Persuasion can be a very quiet and gentle voice, or it can be a nagging irritation .. think of a tired two year old who demands something she or he wants, regardless of what the parent wants. In the end we give in, because there is no other way to stop the noise. Which raises the question ‘does God nag’? And since our emotions are connected to our ego (the inner child who often lives in fear), which demands immediate obedience, particularly when we are unhappy, how does it help us in the search for truth? Do we search only through desperation, or, as sometimes happens .. revelation? Is that why ‘born again Christians’ (and Muslims .. I’ve been nagged by them too ‘the one true religion’) have so much zeal that they sometimes forget good manners and start nagging me to ‘convert’ .. only I don’t have to, I’m already Christian. Why do I have to be ‘born again’, or even baptised again? And which ‘faith’ do I choose .. there are so many that call themselves Christian these days.

In the beginning there was one language in the world, and that one language inspired humanity to reach towards God, or did it? Perhaps it inspired only arrogance? The people even built a tower to try and reach God’s resting place (Genesis 11:1-9) – though I don’t see how that works, given that God is a spiritual being, and heaven is not in the sky around the planet. Down came ‘the Lord’, saw they were gathered as one people (the way he created them to be, given that God created all things) and then decided to punish them for their aspirations by taking away the common language and scattering humanity across the earth. They stopped building the tower for a while.

I’m confused. Why did God decide to do this? The passage says that the Lord then stated “… and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them”. Since humanity was created to create, what is the issue here?

And so I slip down into the notes and find: ‘this theme revisits the “preservation of the divine-human boundary”. God did not want us to live forever (Genesis 3:22-24), nor to bear half-divine children (6:1-4). Not sure what that has to do with stopping people building towers, but perhaps Jehovah didn’t want humanity to gain knowledge that would show its true nature, given its pleasure in disrupting our lives? And was the tower literal, or figurative .. the search for the knowledge of what God actually is, or who it is .. confusing conversations, comparisons, and creativity would definitely stop people finding out who God really is. Such a pity at a time when we truly need it most.

The tower of Babel, or the outcome of its building, still affects the world today. When will we once again find a common language, one based on Love not hatred, one based on Faith and not fear, one based on one Truth .. not my truth, or your truth, but OUR truth. Until that time we are still roaming the world, lost, alone and frightened .. and yet the voice of God is now within us .. so who created the boundary .. who scattered the people? Who is the Lord Jehovah, if God teaches Love? And who took the barrier away .. I think the Christians know the answer to that particular question, or think they do.

God bless you.

Observing Genesis: God and Adam, who created humanity?

God created Adam; we will ignore Lilith for the purpose of this discussion.  We know God created Adam, because he did it twice.  I have to wonder what was wrong with the first version.  That being said, I looked up Genesis and it reads “Let ‘us’ make humankind in our image, according to our likeness …” 1:26 and then in 1:27 “so God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  The next question that arises is who is ‘us’; who was God talking to in an inclusive manner, which then suggests that it took more than God to create humanity. 

Then there’s the question of ‘male and female’- if God created humanity in its image, there is either more than one God, or God is both male and female.  So what is all the screaming about people worshipping the Goddess?  Surely they are the same energy, having been part of our Creation?  Or is that part of the problem with having a jealous God?  And that was just chapter 1.

Chapter 2 of Genesis says the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground 2:7, but not woman; she came later, when Adam (first man) was lonely.  First God created the animals, then, when Adam was still not satisfied, God put him to sleep, and took one of his ribs (he must have had a spare, because males still have the balance of ribs in their bodies today)and created him a mate/partner.  Interestingly enough, Adam was banned from eating from the tree of knowledge ‘before’ the woman (Eve) was created. 2:16-17

On a side note, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could not have had seeds in its fruit because God gave all the trees with seeds to humanity for its consumption, but that’s completely off topic.

Moving on to Chapter 3 we have more of the ‘us’ stuff.  Who is God talking to in 3:22 which says “Then the Lord God said, “see, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil,; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” .. so God sent him, and Eve, from the garden.  He ‘drove out the man’ 3:24 and set a cherubim to watch the gate, so that he (they) could never return.  Just to protect us from immortality?

Is God learning from us, or are we learning from God?  He was very angry when he found that Adam had chosen to eat the fruit that Eve had given him, but why have it in the garden if it could create such harm?  Did he consider humanity was not intelligent enough to avoid eating something life changing, so warned Adam away from the tree?  And why put the innocent newly-created human into this garden, which had no animals or birds or fish within it to feed from? 2:15  I guess Adam was vegetarian, or perhaps, as an innocent, he simply didn’t eat?  No, that can’t be right; otherwise Eve would not have considered eating the fruit.  Did Adam only start eating meat once his innocence was gone?  Before that he had dominion over the animals etc 1:26, he was to protect them, not eat them.

Then there is the question of God’s omnipotence.. he didn’t know that Adam had eaten the fruit 3:11 when they hid from him in the garden?  I was always taught that God knows everything I do.  And why curse them so severely because they now knew good and evil?  How did that make them better people?  As to the serpent, surely God knew that it too was in the garden, and the sort of mischief it might get up to? 

What is original sin – disobedience to God?

The first sin was to disobey God, or was it to listen to any voice but His?  Did God decide to take away humanity’s innocence by letting the serpent be in the garden, so that Eve could actually want to go and take the forbidden fruit?  Are we to blame the devil for Eve’s choice to give it to Adam, or does it all come back to God again, for allowing the ‘serpent’ to sneak into the garden in the first place – given that God is omnipresent and omnipotent, and would have known exactly what the serpent was up to.   Here was the first test, which led to so many others.  Here was humanity’s first failure.  God tests His creations, just look at Job?  So the advice ‘do not pick the fruit from the tree’ was a test humanity was meant to fail – how else could God learn about Himself, unless through His own creations.  Can you think of another reason for creating them? 

And where is the sin?  Considering all the factors, didn’t Adam and Eve simply act in the way God wanted them to, so that we could become the ‘learning and growing’ beings we are today?  Or did God actually want humanity to remain within his private zoo?  I can’t see that myself, even the animals evolve ..

Love & Peace, Ama

God, my way

I had a man come to the door a few weeks ago, clutching some white paper, neatly folded.  I opened the door cheerfully and he told me he was from a local town, specifically a church in a local town.  Being me, I love discussing theology, belief, the bible and people’s opinions about all of it, and we stood on the doorstep and talked for about 15 minutes, before he left me his ‘questions and answers’ sheet to fill in .. two of them, of the twelve that the members of his church give to newcomers to help them learn about God and the Bible.   When we had done all twelve we get a free bible (it’s very pretty, he said).  Pretty?  Ok, I can add another to my collection.  Lovely!

Weeks passed before I had time to sit down and really peruse those little booklets.  We are very busy with renovations at the moment, and everything else had been on the backburner.  When I did sit down, after promising I would when he came to ‘collect’ my answers to the leaflets the last time, I treated them like anything else biblically based – study ‘critically’ (that does not mean judgmental, it means a ‘close review’), check all the quotes, and then corrected a couple .. amazing how small corrections might change a meaning or two.  Then I realised how I was supposed to answer them – copy the text out of the bible, word by word, onto the indicated spaces on the form .. they even gave me one space for each word.  Umm.. that’s not really my way, and I had told the man I was a theologian and would write my thoughts, which he was happy to receive .. so I did.

He arrived for the first lot of answers, we had a brief chat, he left, leaving another pair of readings and questions to answer .. love it.  Great fun! 

Next visit I handed over the next set of answers, and he handed me over to his wife.  The ‘women take care of the women’ in their church.  Ok, no problem, she had written some comments to my first lot of answers, so I commented on her answers (because she wanted to have a ‘discussion’) and presented them with the second lot of answers.  Lovely!  

I could say here ‘after that it was all downhill’?  The first Bible Study had been on ‘Evidence for the Existence of God’.  The second ‘the origin of Evil’.  The third was ‘the Good News’ (who is Jesus etc), the fourth on ‘nations in prophecy’, which really had nothing much except criticisms of various countries around the world, and their leaders, and a world history review .. which was very interesting.  Plus there was a DVD to watch, which wouldn’t work on my TV, so I found the program on YouTube and watched it there.  The concepts ‘reached’ (not stretched) so far, some fell over .. but .. everyone is entitled to their beliefs, whether they agree with mine or not.  So I answered their questions and added comments of my own, and then looked at the next two booklets.  In the meantime the lady had come back to get three and four …

The next day, Sunday, I checked my letterbox and found a letter, neatly written.  In it it said that they were very sorry that their bible study booklets were raising so many questions and doubts in me.  I stood there thinking ‘what doubts’ .. or what ‘new’ doubts and questions had their booklets raised?  None that I could see.  No, instead I had been doing what I usually do .. asking for answers to the tough questions.  I know from a conversation that I had with that lady, the second time she came to the house, that they didn’t ask tough questions, just focused on the ‘good’ stuff .. the good stuff?  That meant they ignored the things they didn’t want to think about, like the story of Job, and other things I have mentioned on this site before.   It puzzles me that people choose to ignore the nasty side of ‘god’, and yet focus on the Messiah of Retribution that Revelation describes is coming to collect all the good Christians, and send the rest of the heathens to hell.  Do they ever stop and wonder which side they will be placed on, when he turns up?  Or if it will actually be Jesus, who taught only love and peace .. this guy with a flaming sword, or a sword in his mouth, and his horde of angels bent on destruction?

Booklet five is ‘Signs of Christ’s second Coming’, and the sixth is ‘the Second Coming of Christ’.  I shall review them too, and write my comments, though the people are no longer interested in the answers.  I regret not getting the other six, perhaps I should have played the game, but it would have been a game, and not truth, if I had answered in the way they expected me to.  There is a huge difference between being a ‘believer’ and being a ‘theologian’, though I know plenty of theologians, including me, who continue to believe in Jesus Christ, as both man and God.  I have my reasons, though they are not based in the infallibility of the bible, which has proved to be full of contradictions.  A friend even asked me about the unicorns mentioned in her KJV just the other day.

I am not you, but you have as much right as I do to find God in your own way.  I will not abandon you when you ask the tough questions, when you tell me where I am going wrong with my thoughts, when you yell and rant .. this has all happened to me.  Oh no, I wasn’t doing the yelling, I was on the receiving end .. from someone a long time ago.  I am going to hell, according to them, because I don’t believe ‘their way’.  Well, I believe that God, being omnipotent, is large enough to encompass all our beliefs and be ‘God for all people’, not just ‘God, my way’.

What do you believe?

 

Why did God require Sacrifice?

Afternoon all,

This one has always been a puzzle for me. A God, who ‘is’ everything, ‘created’ everything, ‘owns’ everything, is omnipotent, omnipresent, very controlling (OT), or not controlling at all (NT), etc, wants the puny humans to go and kill others of It’s creations and lay them on an altar of ‘stone’ or whatever, or burn them to ashes, to appease Itself. Please make that make sense. God wanted us to murder innocent animals, and innocent people, to keep agreements we have made with It; but not all people, no, sometimes It might stay the hand of one or two .. like Abraham and Isaac .. but what about Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11:35) .. what was so special about her that she could not be saved by an angel .. or was it that she was simply unworthy of the gift, in her innocence, something so highly treasured by the Israelite society? And then we have Job, who, while he wasn’t murdered, appears to have been a sacrifice to God’s ego? And Jesus, seen as the ultimate sacrifice .. why was that necessary – why, as someone wrote on a webpage I visited today on this subject .. couldn’t God just simply forgive us without Jesus having to die for our sins? And then there’s Cain, who bore the mark of his betrayal forever .. he murdered his brother because God didn’t like his sacrifice of the fruit of the ground (Gen 4:3) .. no, it had to be a blood sacrifice or nothing .. so Cain ‘sacrificed’ his brother .. was he trying to buy back God’s favour in doing so? Human blood, we assume, is more important, or more full of vitality, than animals – since we have dominion over the animals? Is that what ‘god’ wants, the vitality (life force) from the blood .. the energy of creation returned to the creator .. or was it the creator? Why would the creator of all things need the energy of creation from one of its created beings? Again, that makes no sense to me, knowing what I know about metaphysics. But what feeds on the vital energy of humanity, or the terror of innocence animals as they die? It’s not a god in my opinion.

Love & Peace
Ama