Holy Bible

ADAM IN PARADISE After that quick presentation of the creation of the whole world, and the sanctification of the seventh day in which God rested, the divine inspiration manifested the condition of the first man in paradise, revealing the extent of God’s care for his happiness. 1- Sanctification of the Sabbath 1 – 3. 2- Adam in paradise 4 – 14. 3- God’s commandment to Adam 15 – 17. 4- Creation of Eve 18 – 25. 1- SANCTIFICATION OF THE SABBATH “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Gen. 2: 1-3) What is the meaning of “He rested on the seventh day”? Surely, rest here does not imply stopping work, but He rested in the rest of His creation. And as said by St. Augustine: [The rest of God means the rest of those who find rest in Him1.] His rest, as a heavenly Father, is to find His beloved enjoying the true inner rest. That is why St. Augustine says: [We rest when we do good deeds. As an example of this, it was written about God that He “rested on the seventh day,” when He “saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good.” He did not get tired, or got in need for rest, nor stopped working up till now. In this concern Christ the Lord frankly says: “My Father has been working until now” (John 5:17)2.] God ended His talk about the work of creation, by proclaiming His rest in His creation that carried the signs of His love, especially man who carried His image and likeness. God remains in His rest, as long as man also rests in the bosom of His heavenly Father. That is why many Fathers believe that the commandment of “keeping the Sabbath,” which means in Hebrew “the rest,” is actually a symbol of abiding in the Lord Christ, being the rest of the Father, in whom He finds His pleasure concerning us, as well as our own rest, as in Him we enter into the bosom of the Father. As if Christ the Lord, Himself, is our true Sabbath3. This is the source of God’s care for keeping the commandment of the Sabbath, and for making it a main line in His plan for the salvation of His people; whoever breaks would be the breaker of the divine covenant, and would deny himself fellowship in the holy congregation. Let us then keep the true Sabbath as the source of our true rest, by accepting the Lord Christ risen from the dead. Let us accept Him as risen from the dead, by keeping the Sabbath all our life, especially on the first day of the week; as the apostles used to get together on each Sunday, to practice the collective worship around the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as the object of their true rest. If the Lord Christ is the “Seventh Day” or the “True Sabbath” in Whom we were reconciled with the Father by the blood of His cross, so as we abide in Him, we carry His characteristics in us, and get filled with His righteousness and thus become ourselves an object of rest, a “Sabbath” or a “seventh day.” As St. Augustine says: 1 City of God 11:8. 2 On Ps. 93. 3 للمؤلف: المسيح في سر الإفخارستيا، ك ١¡ "سر السبت". 4 [We become, ourselves, a seventh day, when we enjoy and get filled with God’s blessings and sanctification1.] It is to be noted that the Holy Scripture did not mention the seventh day saying “It was the eve and the morning were the seventh day;” and as St. Augustine says: [We find no evening in the Sabbath, because our rest has no end, while the evening necessitates an end2.] 2- ADAM IN PARADISE When God created everything for man: earth, firmament, space, stars, etc., it was to make him feel the Fatherhood of God and His exceeding nurturing. He revealed this Fatherhood later on, when talking in more details about the creation of man, and establishing the Garden of Eden to the east, for his sake. In the second century, it seems that Origen believed that the story of Adam and Eve, and all what happened to them, was a purely symbolic story, presented by the divine inspiration, to reveal spiritual concepts that touch Adam’s life in relationship to God; that the Garden was not on earth but in the third heavens, where Adam and Eve, before their fall, were two spirits with no real bodies; that they descended from paradise to earth as a result of their sin; and that the bodies they acquired were a kind of punishment. St. Epiphanius of Salamis at Cyprus, attacked these views in his correspondence to St. John of Jerusalem3. These views are totally unacceptable by the Church, as they distort the look at the world created by God as a sign of His love for us, and they corrupt our belief in the sanctification of the body. Christ the Lord, as well as His saintly apostles, proclaimed the early incidents of creation as actual and not as symbolic incidents. (1) Both Testaments of the Holy Scripture are built on the revelation of the sacrifice of salvation that humanity needed, after the fall of our parents Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden... (See Romans 5); and on the fact that the fall of Adam had necessitated the redemptive work of Christ, to save man as a whole - spirit and body, and not to save his spirit alone. For if the human body is the product of sins that the spirit has committed earlierin separation from the body, there would be no need for the Divine Incarnation and for the salvation of the body together with the spirit. (2) When Christ the Lord talked, Himself, about marriage, He referred to it on the basis of what happened at the onset of creation, as a historical truth, in order to prohibit divorce (Matthew 19: 3-6; Mark 10:2-9). (3) Christ referred to the episode of the fall of our parents on the onset of creation, clarifying the role of the devil and his deceit (John 8:44). (4) When the apostle Paul talked about the Church as the bride of the Lord Christ, he mentioned the serpent’s deceit of Eve as an actual episode (1 Corinthians 11:3). (5) In the genealogy of Christ the Lord, the Evangelist Luke mentioned Adam as the first man created (Luke 3:38). (6) The apostle Paul talked about Abel (son of Adam and Eve), as an actual person and not as a symbol (Hebrew 11: 4). While we do not deny the existence of that Garden, as actual history lived by Adam, yet we also see in that Garden, a symbol of Christ the Lord who came to us from the East, into Whom Adam enters, to find in Him his fulfillment and the joy of 1 City of God 22:30. 2 On Ps. 93. 3 Cf. St. Jerome: Ep 51. 5 his heart. As the word ‘Eden’ means “joy” or “paradise,” therefore, Christ our Lord is the True Joy and the Source of our eternal Paradise. If the Garden symbolizes Christ the Lord as the Source of our joy, on the other hand, it symbolizes the Church, as the body of Christ that carries, on the inside and in her midst, the ‘Tree of Life,’ symbol of Christ the Lord, the Head of the Church and the Source of her life. Christ the Lord descended to the world, to proclaim Himself as the Tree of Life planted in His Church. Whoever enjoys Him would enjoy life and wisdom. And as St. Jerome said: [Solomon, talking about wisdom, says: “She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her” (Proverb 3:18). So, if wisdom is the tree of life, wisdom is truly Christ the Lord... If that tree is planted in the Garden of Eden, we are all planted there1.] In other words, we would never be allowed as living trees planted in the Paradise, if the Tree of Life had not descended in its midst, and proclaimed Himself as the Source of life, for us. As to the ‘Tree of Knowledge of good and evil,’ this refers to ‘knowledge’ that is, in itself, grace and blessing; yet, if it be deviated to the experience of evil, it will become a cause for doom. St. Theophilus of Antioch says: [The tree of Knowledge is good in itself, with good fruits. That tree had not carried death as some assume, but it is the rebellion that carried death inside it. There is nothing inside that fruit but Knowledge alone, that is good if used prudently2.] Watering that garden was a river, about which is said: “A river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads” (Gen. 2:10). If the Tree of Life refers to Christ the Lord, the Grantor of life, the river that watered the garden refers to the Holy Spirit that floods our earth, through the water of the Holy Spirit, to turn our desert into a paradise that pleases the heart of God. Christ talked about that river, saying: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The Evangelist comments on these divine words, saying: “This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given” (John 7:39). As to its partition into four riverheads, that refers to the Spirit overfilling the Church in the world, from the east to the west, and from the north to the south. If the river refers to the Holy Spirit that descends on the believers to sanctify them, its partition into four riverheads, would refer to its sanctification of the body that is symbolized by the figure 4, being derived from the earth (of four corners). It is as though man, in his relationship with God becomes, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a new Garden of Eden sanctified by the Holy Spirit Who works in the human soul, as well as in the body. As far as the location of the garden is concerned, theologians and geographers have not come to a definite decision. Some assume it has been in Armenia, where the rivers Euphrates and Tegris originate. The prevailing view is, however, that the River of Eden that parted into four riverheads was the River Euphrates- Tegris that flows into Arabian Bank, then into the Persian Gulf, parted into several riverheads. The Garden of Eden, as they believe, was in the fertile southern region of Iraq; referring to the fact that the Land of ‘Havilah,’ where there is gold (Gen. 2:11), is a region of the Island of Arabia, in the neighborhood of the south west of Iraq. As to the Land of ‘Cush’ (Gen. 2:13), it is most probably the Land of ‘Elam,’ known for a long time as 1 On Ps. hom 1. 2 To Autolycus 2:25. 6 ‘Cashshu, Cossean;’ The valley of Babylon was also known as ‘Edinu1.’ 3- GOD’S COMMANDMENT TO ADAM “Then the Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Gen. 2 15). Before presenting the commandment of love and obedience, God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. If, by setting the Garden, He declared His love and care for man, in giving him the responsibility to tend and keep it, is a proclamation of appreciation for man... He provided him with all possibilities of comfort, as well as of thought and prudence. Thus, He did not let him dwell in the Garden just to eat, drink, and have fun, but He set him as a being who has responsibility and esteem in the eyes of God. That was how God sanctified labor, through setting His most perfect earthly creature to labor, and through granting him wisdom to tend and keep the Garden, as though God had set a personal steward to carry out the work with a joy of heart and prudence. Granting him this gift, that of tending and keeping the garden, He presented him with this commandment: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). Some may ask: Is there a need for that commandment? We answer that the commandment raises the value of man, as it proclaims the freedom of his will. God wanted to deal with him on a supernatural level. He gave him that commandment to open up the door for practical debate with him, so that Adam’s obedience to God would not be an instinctive automatic obedience, governed by laws of nature as is the case with other creatures, but based upon his sanctified humanity, and his true love springing up from his depths, with his complete freedom. A commandment is not a deprivation or suppression to man, but a way to enjoy the sanctification of the free will. We have dealt with that issue in a separate work - “Commandment and Love.” Some believe that God granted man great gifts, but even after setting him in the Garden, He intended to commend him and honor him with greater gifts - probably by allowing him to eat from the tree of life - in case he had lived in obedience of the divine commandment, showing his practical love for his Creator and Supreme Friend. St. Theophilus of Antioch says: [God wanted to justify man through submission to the commandment; but, at the same time, He wished for man to stay as a child in simplicity and loyalty, for a longer time2.] As the cost of rebellion had been “You shall surely die,” some assumed that the episode of the fall of our first parents was symbolic, saying that the cost was too harsh compared to the commandment not to eat from a particular tree. Some scholars answer this by saying: (1) The punishment was not for the kind of commandment, but because of the inner intention that met God’s supreme love and care for man by ingratitude. Punishment is a natural consequence of sin, whatever it is; as Paradise in its original joy is suitable for the state of man who is attached to his God. (2) The harshness of punishment is in relation to the extent of the gift of human freedom, and God’s appreciation of man. (3) The harshness of punishment highlights the power of salvation that God offers to man, by delivering His Only-Begotten Son. 1 Concerning the site of the Garden of Eden see: “NewWestminster Dict. Of the Bible, P. 238, 239.” 2 To Autolycus 2:25. 7 (4) It is amazing that the punishment fell with all its weight upon the earth and the serpent, as God did not curse Adam or Eve, but cursed the serpent for deceiving man, and the earth because of who dwelt in it! God, in His love demonstrated the bitterness of sin, but He did not curse man... What greater love than this?! 4- THE CREATION OF EVE “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18) While the creation of the world needed millions of years, yet the divine inspiration recorded it very concisely in one chapter, in order that the Holy Scripture would concentrate on God’s care for man in particular for he is the center of the world in the eyes of God; He cared for his material, psychological, and spiritual needs etc. And now, seeing him lonely in paradise, He intended to make him a helper comparable to him. The expression “comparable to him” came to reveal the concept of the life of marriage, the relationship of Adam with Eve, or that of man and woman. A wife is the helper for her husband, as well as the man for his wife. She is also his equal, not above him or more humble! Married life is based upon a true union through mutual respect. He told us about the creation of Eve as a sole wife for Adam, made by God from Adam’s side after causing a deep sleep to fall on him... Adam said: “This is new bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man” (Gen 2:23). Through that situation, the Holy Scripture established the main principle of marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) The episode of the creation of Eve came to carry a symbol of the creation of the Church, the bride of Christ, for whom the Groom humbled Himself to be joined to her, and to carry her to His heavens. The writings of the early Fathers brought us a flood of talk about the creation of Eve, and her relationship to the Church, the bride of Christ; from these writing we shall quote some of the words by St. Augustine on this subject: [When was Eve created? When Adam slept! When have the mysteries of the Church flowed from Christ’s side? When He slept on the cross!1] [If Christ joins Himself to His Church to become one body, how did He leave His Father and mother? He left His Father in the sense that “Being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of man” (Philippians 2: 6). In this sense, He left His Father, not that He forgot Him or separated Himself from Him, but in His coming in the likeness of man. Now, How did He leave His mother? By leaving the synagogue of the Jews, from which He was begotten according to the flesh, to join the Church that He assembled from all nations2.] [(In his talk about the secret of unity between Christ and His Church, as a Groom and His bride), the apostle Paul says: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:32)... We are with Him in heaven with hope, and He is with us on earth with love3.] [Christ, our Lord, talks in Person as being our head; Likewise, He talks in the 1 On Ps. 41 (See On Ps. 127). 2 In Ioan, tr 2:25. 3 On Ps. 55. 8 Body, which is us, His Church. So words are uttered as though from one mouth; The Head and the body being integrally united together, not separated from one another, the same as in marriage, of which is said: “And they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24)1.] We end our conversation with the words of St. Ambrose who sees in the “One flesh” a unity of will through the love between man and woman, saying, [God has put the feelings of good will in man and woman, proclaiming that they would be one flesh; and to this it can be added: “one spirit2.”] Finally after talking about the creation of Eve and her joining Adam with love, he said: “They were both naked, the man and the wife, and they were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). They were bodily naked, yet spiritually covered, thus there was no cause for shame; as what makes one ashamed is not his body, but the corruption that got into it because of sin. That is why some Fathers consider that entering naked into the font of Baptism is a return to Paradise, where man was, in his purity of heart, naked according to the body, yet not ashamed. 1 On Ps. 41. 2 Duties of clergy 1:32.

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