God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Since Genesis never gives an account of the first couple’s wedding, a fair number of rabbinic writers give us their thoughts of how it went. Below is a condensed version by Howard Schwartz from the midrashic sources. The most entertaining aspects of this story, in my opinion, are the archangels Michael and Gabriel serving as Adam’s groomsmen (I bet the bachelor party was off the hook knowing those two), God’s role as best man and snazzy wedding planner, and the angelic dance party that followed. Continue reading
Male and female He created them.
The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
To explain away this seeming contradiction, later writers of Jewish mysticism proposed that the first chapter is referring to a separate woman; that God had created a partner for Adam before Eve named Lilith who later rebels after refusing to mate with Adam in the missionary position, insisting that she be on top (it should come as no surprise why feminists love her). Never coming to an agreement, Lilith leaves the garden and becomes a demon. Her name appears once in the Bible, Isaiah 34:14, which is believed to refer to a demoness of the night. It is therefore more than likely that Lilith is based off of the Babylonian night demon Lilitu, a succubus who seduces men in their sleep. Her name is also listed among other monstrous creatures in a fragment of The Dead Sea Scrolls. While her demonic identity is known from such early sources, including the Kabbalah, the first and primary source of her story as Adam’s fallen wife comes to us from a medieval text known as The Alphabet of Ben Sira (8th-10th century CE): Continue reading
17th century illustration of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, known originally in Jewish folklore as a Faduah
Little record remains of this myth, which says that prior to his creation of Adam, God constructed a human-like creature known as Faduah or Adne Sadeh. While it resembled man, it was attached to the earth by its naval cord upon which its life depended. Therefore it was confined to the radius of the length of its cord which could grow as long as a mile, surviving by eating whatever grew or walked in its circle. While it could live a very long life, it would die immediately if its cord snapped.  Continue reading
In the image of God he created him; The Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth
—Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:7
Some midrash report that God created two Adams: one who was not made from dust but stamped in the image of God, and the other made from the dust of the earth. The former was placed in the garden of Paradise in heaven while the former, our Adam, was placed in the garden of Paradise on earth. The notion of two Adams derived from a seeming contradiction between the two creation accounts in Genesis where different things are said about man’s creation – an explanation reflected in the works of the first century Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria. It was Philo’s belief that something made in God’s image must be very much like its Creator, far transcendent to human beings. He concluded therefore that the figure created in Genesis 1:27 was not the same as the man created in Genesis 2:7. Philo identifies the transcendent figure as the Heavenly Man, as God’s invisible image, and as God’s Logos, identifying the Logos as the “eldest-born Image of God” (De Confusione Linguarum 62-63). Thus, for Philo, the earthly man was made after the image of the Heavenly Man.
God created man on earth, from one end of heaven to the other.
This verse from Deuteronomy lead some rabbinic writers to believe that God had originally created Adam as a giant, half man, half god; that he was more powerful and had more knowledge than the angels. When the angels saw him, they trembled and asked God if there were now two powers in the universe, one in heaven and one on earth. Being the jealous god that he is, Yahweh placed his hand on Adam and reduced his height to one-hundred cubits and removed his divine knowledge. This shrinking of Adam is also said to be confirmed in scripture: “You hedge me before and behind; You lay Your hand upon me” (Ps. 139:5). Since Adam was formed from the dust of the earth, God placed his hand back upon Adam to reform him down to proper size.
Male and Female he created them.
According to the first creation account in Genesis it is suggested that man and woman were created at the same time, contrasting with the second account in chapter two where Eve is created after Adam from his rib. To reconcile this seeming contradiction, some ancient Rabbis suggested that God originally created an androgynous or hermaphrodite being with two heads, one male and one female, attached to the back. However, this made things understandably difficult and so God split them into two separate beings, which is what Eve’s splitting from Adam in Genesis 2 is actually referring to. Genesis Rabbah and Leviticus Rabbah are two collections of midrash which comment on this unusual interpretation, the former using a passage from Psalms to justify it: Continue reading
You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God…
…You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there.
You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.
By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, and you sinned.
Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God…
…Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you;
it has consumed you.
How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!
But you said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.”
While the above verses tell of God’s judgement against foreign Kings who oppose Israel (i.e. the King of Tyre in Ezekiel and the King of Babylon in Isaiah), later Jews and Christians interpreted them as referring to Satan (2 Cor. 11:14; Luke 10:17-20; Rev. 12:9). The tradition of Satan as the cosmic enemy of God and his fall first appear relatively late in Judaism (post-exile), explaining the figure’s large absence in the Bible. Thus, later writers felt the need to embellish his story.
I plan on writing a more comprehensive article dedicated to the historical origin and evolution of Satan in the near future, but for now I would like to share some fascinating Jewish and Christian myths that expanded upon Satan in relation to Genesis. Here we’ll deal with those relevant to Creation and the Fall of Adam and Eve.
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
The persistent suggestion that angels were created on the first day with a multitude of responsibilities subsequently lead some writers to believe that they helped God with creation, especially that of man. It is said that before creating him God first consults with his heavenly hosts about the endeavor: Continue reading
The heavens and the earth were finished, and all their hosts.
Of the many questions people are often left with after reading Genesis 1-2, one has to do with the noticeable absence of angels. The first indication of their creation is in Gen. 2:1 quoted above. “Hosts” (“army” in Hebrew) is understood to refer to the angels, though that’s about all we get until 3:24 when God stations a type of angel known as cherubim to guard the east side of the Garden of Eden. So on what day were angels created and how? What were they made of? What were their roles? Later writers sought to answer these questions.