So, I’ve always kind of liked the image of “seed” to describe posterity. We’re like plants; we produce seeds that can grown into their own plants, which can produce not just one seed but many many seeds, each of which grows not just into one, say, apple, but a whole tree of apples all with seeds to produce not just one apple, but a whole tree of apples with many seeds each! The abundance that one seed can produce is extraordinary!
I was thinking today of the phrase from Abraham (and of course elsewhere) where he is seeking after the promise concerning the “seed.” I have lots of things I want to ask here, but for right now I am thinking about that word that he uses there.
I did some research on “seed” in pollination etc. 🙂 But I also did a search on lds.org to see where it was that “seed” was first used to refer to human children rather than plants. It doesn’t take too long: Genesis 3:15. And to my surprise, it wasn’t even a male being addressed! (In all of the technical reproductive definitions I was reading, both human and plant “seed” is the male part of the deal.) It isn’t to Adam, it isn’t to Abraham; the first mention of human seed is to Eve:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Fascinating, to me. This is hers? Why is it hers, and not Adam and Eve’s collectively? Why is the responsibility or lineage through her? Eve is the “mother of all living” but why isn’t Adam then the “father of all living?” Adam is “earth” or “dirt” or “clay.” Why is he that? Let’s see, dirt/earth/clay is what they were created out of. Adam is the material that is molded into life, but cannot actually give life? I did see that in reproductive definitions, the female egg is “dormant” until the male part wakes up the egg to get going. She already has life in her, but it needs to be awakened/activated. Is this why she is so associated with life? But still, what of Adam being dirt? The earth was created first, then Adam out of earth, but then Eve out of him, but specifically out of a bone, not out of his clay-ness or “earthiness.” Dirt sounds easily moldable; bone does not. Why then is she created out of bone? Is she considered more solid? More protected? Already made? = Already containing life? I’m not sure what to make of it, but I think that it is interesting and I want to keep it in the back of my head.
So, the promise concerning the “seed.” At first, though I love Sister Beck’s applications, I wondered if this actually truly was a male promise. But after thinking about this reference first to Eve, I don’t think I can jump that far to that conclusion. Second, I know that I can’t ignore the idea that there was a chosen seed from Adam on down that was supposed to live as long as the earth will stand. I know that sounds odd, because of course whoever is still alive at the end of the world is going to be related to Adam! 🙂 So there is something more to it. I mean, if you are Noah (pre-flood) or Abraham or someone along the way here, then knowing your seed will last until the end does mean something real. Nephi and Lehi receiving the promise that their seed will be preserved means something. They know very well that their lineage could die out at any point (especially with how the contention is going among them…!) But what of the promise given way back when to Adam? Note here what Eve says: (Eve? Again? this is getting interesting!)
And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
“Seed” here means something more than just “child.” Cain was still alive; many other children, it appears, where alive. But something was different about Abel. What? I don’t see Genesis explaining it much, but D&C 107 seems to say it was a matter of Priesthood. But why was the Priesthood only for one person in each generation? I don’t know, but here is some of what D&C 107 has to say:
40 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.
41 This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:
42 From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth; …
There was something about Seth (who replaced Abel) that was different. (Also, why did Adam wait so long to bless Seth? Three years before he died? Could only one person have this promise at a time or something?) So this is where I get the idea that the “chosen seed” means being kept alive and preserved: “that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth.”
But why is this important? From what I can gather from here and Moses 5-6 and elsewhere, it has something to do with a righteous line that would preserve the Priesthood. (That seems to be what Abraham wants to do, to be that link in the chain that keeps his covenants and preserves the Priesthood power on the earth.) (What we do with the “Apostasy” I’m not sure; but of course that could be one reason the Restoration is such a huge event; it not only restored knowledge, it restored the Priesthood lineage that will last until the end of the earth – and, as Abraham is told, it is this lineage that all the other families have to be grafted into in order to be blessed with the gospel blessings..)
Back to Moses 5-6 for a moment. Look at what I just noticed here in Moses 6:2 (!):
And Adam knew his wife again, and she bare a son, and he called his name Seth. And Adam glorified the name of God; for he said: God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.
Here it is Adam, not Eve who talks about being appointed another seed. (What do we make of the role women play in Genesis based on this little difference?) Here Adam rejoices in another seed. Either way, of course, it’s the same person and same purpose, but I do think it’s interesting to see the same words spoken by both parents but in different accounts!
A few verses later (verse 7 to be exact), we get this bit of information:
Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.
I tend to hear “Priesthood” and think “power, ability, authority,” etc. But in fairness, the word I think should also be heard “priest”-hood. Like “neighbor” -hood. A neighborhood is where all the neighbors are collected together. So when this verse mentions “Priesthood” it comes just after three generations all being to call upon the name of God, write, etc. There is a group formed at 3, for some reason, and this “priest”-hood will be in the end of the world also. Hmm. Note that it doesn’t say continue uninterrupted, but that it will “be” in the end also. Interesting.
And for some reason, the “seed” here is important. Why? Why can’t God pick anyone on the earth at any time? What is it about the seed? About generations? About lineage? It seems like an unjustified inequality to us, but yet God chose it and sticks to it. Why?
Also, as Abraham is told, it is by this lineage that “all the families of the earth” will be blessed (see Abraham 1 and 2). So, then, God isn’t proposing to only bless or save one family line. There is one family line with Priesthood – one group who calls upon God? – that then has… the work of saving the others? Is it a specific assignment? A call? A job? A responsibility? And still why make it in one family line?
And do we really seal ourselves in our own lines to Adam, or are we sealing ourselves to Abraham’s family? If there is one chosen seed, are we all really sealing ourselves and our ancestors and our posterity into that line? A sort of skeleton on which everyone else can hang on to? A line which is guaranteed to be connected from Adam to the end?
There is something of that, I think. Abraham is told that whoever accepts the gospel will be counted as his seed, right? And there needs to be with “welding link” Joseph says in D&C 128… but it’s not actually sealing, it’s baptism – baptisms for the dead, in D&C 128, that connects generations together. Is he referring less to family “units” but rather to sealing us all to Abraham? Being counted as his seed? Making a welding link to us and to Abraham? Making everyone thus of the chosen seed? (And only by that do we have any right whatsoever to the Priesthood?)
D&C 128 seems to say some such thing like that. To be bold and half-baked for a moment, could we say that baptisms for us and for the dead put us in Abraham’s family, count us as his seed, open us up to all the blessings of the gospel “even of life eternal” – but, the sealing ordinance is what seals this lineage upon us in such a way that we can then “administer” it to others? (See Abraham 1 again). Abraham wants the promises and he wants to administer them to others. By being sealed, do we become not just a branch on Abraham’s tree, but now a flowering, seed-producing branch that adds to the family? ie, we not only are added, but now we do adding? We do collecting of souls? (Or “winning” of souls? Abraham brings the souls he had “won” with him). Is that the difference, there? Baptism brings us all the blessings of the gospel (we receive them) but sealing makes us like Abraham (we can give them). We become another point on the line that can branch out and include others; we are a grafting point; we are a split off where so many more rely on us as the sure place where they can be hung?
Like I said, bold, and half-baked. But something I’ll also keep around in my mind to see if it sprouts at any point. 🙂