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The Beauty and the Beast

I opted to hang onto the redeemed marriage discussion until a little later.  Hang in there for it – you’ll like the questions that come to your mind.

Remember back in Chapter 4 the comments on the snake:

“he possessed both honesty and stealth.  In other words, the snake really is deceptive; but, on another, perhaps deeper level, he’s very straightforward”.

From one perspective, what he’s saying doesn’t really apply to Adam and Eve, so his words are deceptive to them. But from another perspective, “what you see is what you get.” He’s just telling it like it is – from a snake’s point of view, of course.” ..

Gen 3:1  Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (NKJV)

I had to stop and study up on the wording of the question above.  So I went to Strong’s. Rabbi Fohrman says the snake seems to be saying “even if God said don’t eat, so what, eat it anyway”…..

A primitive particle; meaning accession (used as an adverb or conjugation); also or yea; adversatively though: – also, + although, and (furthermore, yet), but, even, + how much less (more, rather than), moreover, with, yea.

Either way you look at this question you find a challenge.  And looking at how you emphasize the wording in this challenge is important.  The point of this chapter is about hearing.

Rabbi Fohrman shares an approach suggested by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.

“Hirsch suggested that understanding the snake’s words is a matter of emphasis; or to put it another way, it is a matter of where one puts italics in the sentence. “

Even if God said don’t eat, so what?

Even if God said dont’ eat, so what?

Putting the emphasis on “said” puts the snake in the position of not really challenging God’s authority. What he is saying is that God’s spoken words are not the things you should pay attention to.

“To paraphrase Hirsch, the snake would be saying something like the following:

God may have said to avoid the tree, but the question is ‘Do you want to eat from the tree? Do you desire it?’ And let’s say you do desire the tree. Where do you think those desires came from? Who put them inside you? Wasn’t God the one who put them inside you? Certainly He did..He is your Maker.”

In essence the snake is just being a snake.  Naked and straightforward.  Question: “How does God make His will known to a snake? The Almighty doesn’t instruct animals intellectually, doesn’t speak to them in words. There is no Bible, no Torah revealed atop a mountain for snakes, lizards….But just because a snake doesn’t have a law book doesn’t mean no laws exist for him.  The voice of God beats palpably inside of them. God speaks to animals through the passions, desires, and instincts they find within themselves.”  The snake has to survive by instinct because that is all he knows. For the snake the voice of God pulses insistently inside.  That is the essential temptation of the snake.  “It is a temptation that cuts to the core of our humanity.”

Do you remember the question from Chapter 5 – What really is the dividing line between human and animal?  Rabbi Forhman states:

“If God speaks to you primarily through passion and instinct; if all you need to do is examine your desires to find out what God wants of you; if your essential self is easily and naturally identified with your passions – well you are an animal. If you are able to stand outside your passions and examine them critically; if desire is something you have not something you are; if God addresses Himself to your mind and asks you to rise above  your desires, or to channel them constructively – well, then you are a human.

What the snake is really doing, then, is forcing Adam and Eve to confront what it means for them to be human beings and not beasts.  ……What’s right for the snake is not necessarily right for us.  He may walk;he may talk; he may be smart – but we are different from him; we hear a voice that is not relevant to him. When all is said and done, we are more than the sum total of our instincts or passions.  We are not snakes.”

Skip Moen answers this difference from a very practical perspective: “the difference between living according to God’s determination of what is good or living according to my determination of what is good”, in other words the old self gets in the way.

I was inhaling quite a bit here.  Psa 37:4  Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. I have often said the desires of our hearts are not necessarily what God wants for us. With a shiver going down my spine I’m getting a whole new perspective on what circumcision of the heart means in light of digging into the word desire.

We’ll go a little further on this word desire and then I’ll leave you to do some studying on your own.  Genesis 3:6 in a more literal (Hebrew translation) yields not that the tree was “desirable as a means to wisdom” but that it was “desirable to contemplate”.  Think lust of the flesh; lust of the eyes. The tree appealed to Eve aesthetically at the level of beauty or more precisely, at the level of desire.

I recommend you go check out these two links for a little further insight into this whole discussion of desire we will be going into.


Pleasant to the Eyes

We will be looking into this desire thing more completely as we move forward to Cain and Abel.

I leave you with this comment from the book:

“The snake’s challenge to eat the Forbidden Fruit followed naturally from his belief that the voice of desire is the primary way God speaks to us, that desire and instinct are more trustworthy indicators of God’s Will  than God’s words.

How do you hear?