Creation Story The image that I have on the right is a Christian image from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. While Jews do indeed have religious art, they do not have religious art that depicts a face for God. Christians often get around this, because of the traditional understanding that Jesus is “God in the form of man.” The next slide features a side-by-side comparison of Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:1-23. I will have a question that I would like to ask you.
And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28) The heaven and earth were finished, and all their array. On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation that He had done. Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created. When the LORD God made earth and heaven—when no shrub on the field was yet on earth and no grasses of the field had yet sprouted, because the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil, but a flow would well up from the ground and water the whole surface of the earth—the LORD God formed man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed. And from the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and bad. A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and it then divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon, the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where the gold is. The gold of that land is good; bdellium is there, and lapis lazuli. The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, the one that flows east of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till and tend it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.” The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” And the LORD God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but for Adam no fitting helper was found. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep upon the man; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the LORD God fashioned the rib that He had taken from the man into a woman; and He brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken.” (Genesis 2:1-23) I apologize for the small print, but I want you to notice side-by-side these two passages from Genesis, and ponder this question: If you take these two passages literally, what do you have?
Creation Story: Mrs. Cain Genesis 4:16-17 Cain left the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. From the creation story in Genesis, there are supposed to only four people in existence at this point: Adam, Eve, Cain, and Able. Therefore, where does “Cain’s wife” come from?
Creation Story: What’s in a Name? Adam Eve Cain Abel Man Life To Create Breath The name Adam means “Man” or “Humanity” in Hebrew. The name Eve means “Life” in Hebrew. The name Cain means “to create” in Hebrew. And the name Abel means “breath” in Hebrew. I am sure that some of you are familiar with these characters in the Bible, while others are not. For those who are familiar, why do you think these characters might have names like this?
Creation Story: In the Garden Consider Job 1:6-7 and Wisdom 2:22 (To those of you using a Protestant or Jewish text, the Book of Wisdom will not be in your Bible. Use the weblink that I sent you under Bible translations, and look for it in one of the Catholic Bibles mentioned.) I am sure that many of you will consider that serpent figure to be Satan or the Devil. However, Jews have no belief in Satan or the Devil. The early Christian community used the Book of Wisdom as part of their scriptures, while the Jews eventually rejected it. But can you see how a Christian view of the Devil is found in the Book of Wisdom?
Abraham The Hebrew meaning of Abraham is “Father of Many,” because God tells him that his descendents will be as many as the stars in the sky. The Hebrew meaning of Sarah is often translated as “princess,” because it will be through her offspring that God will maintain the covenant. The Hebrew meaning for Hagar is “stranger,” while the Hebrew meaning for Ishmael is “God has harkened.” This is due to Hagar being a “stranger” in this covenant with God, but Hagar’s birth of Ishmael does give a childless Abraham a son.
Abraham Cont… The Hebrew meaning for Isaac (Abraham’s second son) is “May God laugh in delight, smile upon.” Abraham is said to have laughed, when God told him that Sara would give him a boy, because she was considered past her child birthing age. The most important role of Abraham to Judaism is circumcision. Circumcision is the ritual that brings Jews into the covenant with God. However, it is important to realize that one is born Jewish through the mother, so one can actually be born into the Jewish nation and have no part in the religious side of that nation.
Moses and the Exodus The dates for the Exodus are listed somewhere around 1440-1250 BCE. We don’t know the exact dates, because the Book of Exodus never explicitly states who was the pharaoh ruling Egypt. The Angel of Death flies over (Exodus 12:1-30). Jews commemorate this event with the holiday called Passover. The number of people for the Exodus (Exodus 12:37, Numbers 1:44-46) and Forty years in the desert: If we take the numbers literally on the Exodus story there would be anywhere from 3-6 million people, which means that Moses could be looking down at the Promised Land, but the end of the line would be back in Egypt. The Hebrews, and Christians would pick up on this as well, use large numbers that are not meant to be taken literally, but are used to explain that a huge number of people were on this journey. The same is true with the number “40.” This does not refer to a literal “40” years, but to a long journey. Remember five years in the desert would be a LONG time!
Moses on Mt. Sinai Moses receives the Torah and the Oral Torah from God. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible, and considered the most important for Jews. The Oral Torah is what God told Moses that is of equal importance. However, the Oral Torah was not written down, which is what makes it different from the first five books of the Bible. The written Torah contains 613 commandments. Of these, ten have always stood out.
You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.
Remember the Sabbath, keep it holy
Honor your father and mother
You shall not kill
You shall not commit adultery
You shall not steal
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
You shall not covet
I have numbered the commandments, how they are numbered in Judaism. At first it was understood with the second commandment that while there may be other gods, the Jewish community was not going to pay any attention to them. Later, in Deuteronomy, it was shown that only the Jewish God (Yahweh) exists, and all other gods are false.
Concluding the Exodus Story Traditionally the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (the Torah or Law) is Moses. Deuteronomy 34:5-8 (Based on that final note, Moses should also have been the author of his own obituary as well.)