I just came across this note from a lesson a while back:
In Genesis, the creation story is presented as this dividing from that over and over again.
And then, woman divided from man!
I just came across this note from a lesson a while back:
In Genesis, the creation story is presented as this dividing from that over and over again.
And then, woman divided from man!
I am looking through the scriptures for references to parents this morning. I know that’s only kind of a successful way to see what the scriptures might teach me about mothering. But, I did have this question come into my mind: What’s the purpose, or benefit, of describing Adam and Eve as “our first parents” rather than “the first people on earth?”
For example, when Alma is teaching his son in Alma chapter 42, he says,
“For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken…”
And Antionah in Alma 12,
“…lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever?”
And 2 Nephi 2:15
“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air…”
So seriously, why would they refer to Adam and Eve as the first parents, even “our” first parents, rather than other terms like first man and woman or first people, and so on?
Maybe it’s a Book of Mormon thing:
“yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents…”
“but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—”
2 Nephi 9:9,
“like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents…”
1 Nephi 5:11
“and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents…”
“even that same liar who beguiled our first parents…”
Yep, that’s a Book of Mormon thing. Interesting.
They also refer to Lehi & Sariah as their first parents from Jerusalem, and when learning about the Jaredites, the first parents who came from the tower.
There’s also a bit of debate about how parents’ actions affect children. Lehi asks God that if Laman & Lemuel don’t teach their children about the gospel, that future sins of the kids will be answered on the heads of the parents (2 Nephi 4). Later missionaries to the Lamanites say that the state of the Lamanites is because of the tradition of their fathers (for example, their hatred towards the Nephites). But, of course, they can learn and change and repent. Ideally, this notion would mean that the Lamanites were innocent, while also being in a fallen, God-less state. One of the Nephites-turned-Lamanites argues that this attitude implies that these descendants are guilty, and this is wrong because no child is guilty because of the works of a parent (Alma 30).
So back to my original question, what effect does it have to refer to Adam and Eve as our first parents? Is it because of this question of guilt and tradition? Is it because that is simply how they thought about humanity? They also refer to the first people to leave the tower as parents and the first people to leave Jerusalem as parents. Should this teach us something about how they saw their ancestry — of a male and female, not just of a male? Yet, later accounts of lineage don’t focus on mothers at all (“pure descendant of Nephi,” for example). What can we learn from this language?
I’ve noted in the past how important it is to me that in the Book of Moses, both Adam and Eve call upon the name of the Lord. They worship together, they work together, they teach together, and they mourn together. Once there is a child and a grandchild (in total, 3 generations) which believe the Lord, then these three men call on the name of the Lord together, and a priesthood is born (this is my reading of these events in the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price — see 6:4).
But there are other places, of course, where people call on the name of the Lord, or thank God by sacrifice and offering. Individuals do, all of Israel does, etc. But there are a few other interesting scriptures that I want to highlight.
In Alma 12, Alma has just been describing the Garden of Eden story. Then just a few verses later, he is explaining that God had a plan for men to return to him, and “sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory. And they began from that time forth to call on his name.” If we follow this Moses story, then this might mean men as in a group of men who begin to establish a priesthood, or it might mean “men” as in “humans,” and we might be talking about Adam and Eve.
Genesis has a similar verse in 4:26.
I’m sure there are more (that I want to find and think about!) but the last one I want to mention today is Sariah and Lehi. Even though 1 Nephi 5 is sometimes held up as a time where women are shown as weak and complaining — I have a different reaction to the chapter. She strongly shares her concerns, Lehi or the Lord doesn’t repremand her, and when her children return she knows “of a surety” that God is speaking to Lehi. This is the story of how Sariah gains her unshaken faith. Really, it’s a moment between her and God more than anything else.
But that’s a tangent. What I really want to point out is what happens after they are all reunited, after she feels comfort and knows of a surety. It says, “and it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.” Note that they (Lehi and Sariah) did rejoice, offer sacrifice and offerings, and gave thanks to God. There is a sense in which they are playing out the Adam and Eve story, pre-3-generation priesthood creation. 🙂
(Also, Nephi mentions right away that Adam and Eve are on the plates.)
Warning – for anyone actually reading these, I may possibly rework this post at any point. 🙂 Or, I might possibly totally forget I had posted this.)
Moses 5:4 says: “Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord.”
Moses 6:4, 7 says: “And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord … Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.”
I think there is a lot going on here in these three simple verses. What Adam and Eve do (call on the name of the Lord together), is later referred to as “Priesthood” when a group of men do it.
What do we make of that?
Here are some ideas:
1) Here, way back in the book of Moses, in taking about the first man and woman, I think I see the same situation I’ve wondered about recently: women can do Priesthood-like things without an ordination to the Priesthood (i.e., temple endowment, missions, leadership callings)
2) What Adam and Eve do comes first, and Priesthood comes second.
3) The Priesthood seems to be a matter of generations, while Eve-Adam version isn’t?
4) From #3, could we say that the Priesthood is vertical (multi-generational) while the Eve-Adam version is horizontal (immediate, temporal, lateral)?
5) D&C 128 links Priesthood unmistakably to uniting generations.
6) Why today do we have a presidency consisting of 3 men of any generation or family, whereas with Adam, he needed 3 generations? What could we learn about the priesthood from that?
7) Did that change with Abraham? Are we all considered Abraham’s seed, and so any three men will do?
8) Did Abraham’s covenant change anything for women? Do we still operation with the Eve-Adam version?
9) What about women not married? Eve of course was, so I don’t see what we can learn directly there. However, it’s incredibly important to remember that women, married or not, can receive temple endowments, serve missions, and serve in leadership without Priesthood ordination. (Note that when we had a “Priesthood ban” for black member, they could not receive endowments or sealings. The situation for women is actually quite different.)
10) What other things should I note from these 3 verses?
I was thinking today about cursings and marks in scripture. I think it’s a productive reading to assume that those two things go together but are not equivalent. For example, the Lamanites are cursed not with a skin change but with being cut off from the presence of the the Lord. The mark of skin change sets them off as separate from the Nephites. But this isn’t actually to the Nephite’s advantage in the end. The mark shows that the Lamanites have the blessings of God in the long run, because they weren’t taught about the commandments by their fathers, while the Nephites, without that mark, have no such promises because they did know the commandments. The Lamanites will eventually be restored to the presence of God, but the Nephites don’t have that promise in the long-term.
If the curse and the mark are seen two different things, then the mark seems to serve to preserve a people whose parents had a covenant promise. It shows that God is keeping that promise in the long-run by preserving that seed, even though somewhere along the way someone decided to stop keeping and teaching the commandments. The fact that the mark is something genetic is a great clue here: the mark shows that their parents had a promise but misunderstood or left that promise, but that God is still remembering their seed regardless. The Lamanite’s skin color ought not to signal to the Nephites, or to us, that they are an “unfavored” people, but rather a very “favored” and “remembered” people of the Lord! I think this applies clearly to the Lamanites, but also to other people in scripture. I think that the families of Cain, Ham, and others fall into this category.
This morning I was thinking about Adam and Eve. They were cursed too to be cut off from the presence of the Lord, like the Lamanites. Do they have some sort of mark as well? I have played around with the idea that maybe the “coats of skins” (or garments) is a sort of mark. This morning I’m thinking more about that. (Or would the aprons of fig leaves that they make for themselves are more of a mark?) By looking at Genesis 3, I see that God curses the ground for Adam’s sake, that Eve is told she will sorrow too, and these are collectively sometimes called their “cursings” (although I think there is a lot to talk about still there). But if we go with that for now, at least in a broad sense, or if we at least see this as the moment of them being cut of from the presence of the Lord, then I find it cool that right after this is where God make them coats of skins. Perhaps those are a “mark” on their bodies? I know not all of Adam’s children have worn these coats of skins if we think of them as the temple garments, but perhaps we could read it as clothes generally? If a “mark” communicates that God is preserving a people with a covenant, even though their parents have not always kept the commandments, what in that garment communicates that God is preserving people? (I think there are interesting answers to that question for those who have been to the temple!).
There’s a lot to think about (as always) but I like the idea that the garment is a mark showing that God remembers Adam and Eve’s family, and wants them to return to His presence.
I don’t have any particular aim or question I want to answer this morning, but I just feel drawn to the stories of Adam and Eve for some reason. So, here are some thoughts as they occur to me this morning.
From Genesis 1:24-26:
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
“Let the earth bring forth” — what an interesting thing to say! Why is the earth doing the action here? And why is God “letting” it do this? Is the earth naturally want to do this? Some have said evolution is obviously true, some say it’s impossible to be true with there being a God. I don’t come down on one side or the other right now — I haven’t done the reading on it, on the one hand, in order to have much to say about it, but on the other hand, as a Mormon I come from a tradition that sees God using laws of science to perform miracles, etc., so there isn’t any immediate, automatic reaction against evolution, either. I suppose the part that I find interesting is whether or not we can go from one species to the next — I think that is the part that worries people, and the part that I wonder if we can line up with the text of Genesis. Granted, each time scripture is given it is given to a particular people with a particular way of thinking, so, it might not much matter if we can or can not line up evolution with the scriptures. But, what I am noticing here is that the earth is the acting figure, and the idea that all life came from the earth is an idea evolution matches up with. Second, there is still a “kind” after which these animals need to be created. And then third, it also says that “God made” these animals. It sounds like the earth, and God, made these animals. Is it possible that evolution is the “natural” way of things (“let the earth do its thing”), but then God steps in and intervenes at certain points to stop evolution of a particular animal, so then from that point the animal will reproduce after its own kind? Does God stabilize what the earth does naturally? I like the idea, though I know there’s one concern of those against evolution that I still wonder about (but can’t know about): how do spirits fit into this? If animals are developing and changing, of what nature are their spirits? The main concern will be at what point do we have people spirits instead of monkey spirits, if indeed our bodies are evolved from them??
All questions I of course can’t answer. But aside from that last (huge and crucial) question, I think I like the rest of it. The earth has a work it does of producing life out of the ground, and God watches over that and intervenes so that we have the right animals he wants to have in the earth. It’s almost like there are “kinds” of animals like there are “forms” for Plato, and God is watching over the work the earth is doing until it matches up with the “kinds” he wants to have on earth and then stabilizes that species. Who knows of course, but I can see that making sense (besides the question of spirits, which I don’t see any way of working on unfortunately). So if I knew more about that, I could get rid of some ideas or theories, but since I don’t, I both can’t throw them out and can’t settle on anything. So I remain wondering and waiting for more knowledge.
I like though the last verse’s way of pointing out that while the earth brought forth animals after their own kinds, humans are made after God’s “kind.” God made us in his own image and likeness. However that happened scientifically, I think poetically it’s important to notice the difference between the earth bringing forth animals after their own, predetermined “kind,” and God creating man and woman not after their own predetermined kind, but after God’s kind.
(Quick note on “dominion” — Joe was explaining to someone recently that the Hebrew behind this word relates to the idea of “lord,” which comes from the old English “loaf warden” or person who is in charge of distributing food so everyone has enough to eat. It is an idea of being a steward over something and making sure it is taken care of appropriately.)
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
I have learned along the way that Chapter 1 of Genesis and Chapters 2-3 may have been two different versions of the story originally and whoever is editing is trying to find a way to include both versions of the story. But all the same, I’m going to ask a few questions about these verses in relation to Genesis 1.
Why is Adam made from the dust of the ground? In Genesis 1, God let the earth bring forth animals, and then God made them. But here this isn’t the earth bringing something forth, it sounds like God is using the dust that’s sitting on top to make Adam. Is it just that I think of dust as loose soil, but in Hebrew dust can mean earth generally, so there’s actually not much difference?
Also, it’s hard for me to think of something being created and manipulated and changed and prepared without life in it. How does a body grow without a spirit in it? We see the moment of death as when a spirit leaves. Is that always the case though? Obviously God’s not revealing His science here, just a story to help us sense His purposes and work.
So back to the poetic side of things. Why are some things created from the earth, or letting the earth bring them forth, while here Adam is made from dust?
Also, in the Genesis 2 version, God creates Adam and then God makes trees come out of the ground and grow there. Or, at least, the trees in the garden are created after Adam, but that doesn’t mean that the whole of creation or even of plants was done after Adam was created. Perhaps God wanted Adam to see a little bit of the work he had done before Adam was around.
A few thoughts for this morning — kids are waking up. I’ll just add a thought I had a while ago. Every thing in this story, it seems, is created from the ground except one: Eve. Eve is created from bone, but Adam and everything else is created from ground. Why? What does that signify poetically? Is it that bone is harder than dirt? And what does that say about Eve verses Adam? Was it harder to form Eve? Is Eve harder to manipulate? Do the differences in color mean anything? Dirt is varying shades of browns and reds, but bone is white? Is the location important – dirt is on the ground, and a rib bone is several feet off of the ground? Is it that Adam comes from dirt and returns to dirt, but Eve comes from life and gives herself to life? Adam tills the ground, Eve bears children? Adam gives his body to Eve and Eve gives her body to children? Is there an idea of passing on of life?
Questions, questions, questions!
What a nice enigmatic title! This post contains a lot of thoughts but they aren’t developed enough for me to want this post to be found just yet, so I made a nice hard to understand title. 🙂 A summary of the post would go like this: “The reason that there is some sort of mark is to separate them and thereby prolong their days long enough so that the curse can be lifted. Like Adam and Eve, God prolongs days to allow for change. A curse and a mark go together to show the rest of the world that their curse is not their fault but rather the fault of the parents. God intends these curses (of being cut off from God, of being cut off from Priesthood, etc.) to be lifted someday.”
Here are the details: