Marc Chagall: Adam and Eve
Musée du Message Biblique Marc-Chagall
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
What's Really Original Here
The LORD God governs by the seat of his pants
In this passage, or so it seems.
He creates the man, and then
Has the idea to put him in the garden.
Why didn't he create him in the garden in the first place, and save a step?
He commands the man that he may eat of every tree.
Oh, wait, he thinks. Maybe not.
Scratch that idea of eating from the tree
Of the knowledge of good and evil.
So why did he start out with "every," anyway, so he had to backtrack?
God comes up with the brilliant punishment
Of death, not just someday, but on that day,
The day when the man might eat from the tree
That's now forbidden.
What kind of God issues idle threats, anyway, unless he's just making it up?
The text doesn't absolve God from responsibility, either:
He's the one who made a crafty wild animal.
Plus (before the invention of Dr. Doolittle),
One who talks! And is understood!
Why create a talking, crafty animal in the first place?
Apparently, God is protective of his place in the scheme of things.
At least (if the serpent knows the score)
God would prefer the man not be like him,
Which means, knowing good and evil.
Okay, the obvious, now: So why make that tree in the first place?
Now, before she has the knowledge of good and evil,
The woman sees that the fruit is good for food.
And was a delight to the eyes,
And was to be desired to make one wise.
Does she have any say in the matter? Whence delight? And who is the subject of that last passive phrase - unless it's God?
Apparently, the man, not quite as quick-witted, didn't see the things the woman did.
He was with her, but maybe he was wondering
How all of a sudden he got to be this woman's husband,
Without benefit of clergy, and all.
And how could he be a husband (and she a wife?) if they didn't know a good thing when they saw it yet?
They eat the fruit, and their eyes are opened.
And all of a sudden they get the concept of nakedness!
And sewing! And metaphor!
(I mean, presumably, nobody had woven loincloth yet!)
There are way too many questions here.
Why do we have to do backflips to make sense of this tale?
Why spoil it with something nowhere to be found in the text?
Why not call it original relationship? Because, really.
Isn't that what this new, astonishing God wants with you and me, a little give and take?
A little, well... love?
Scott L. Barton
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 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 die.”
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’“ But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
When the Spirit Drove Jesus to Have His Retreat
When the Spirit drove Jesus to have his retreat,
It was hardly a route that you'd call Easy Street,
For the things that he saw when he got there were spare,
Such as no food in sight for a forty day prayer!
Then Old Satan arrived with a tempting repast:
"Turn these stones into bread - or have you been miscast?"
Deuteronomy, then, was what Jesus recalled,
When the writer tells Israel their daily haul
Of the manna was given so they'd always know,
(And not only in places and times long ago)
That it's not just by bread that we find we're restored,
But by every word from the mouth of the Lord;
Next, the devil took Jesus way up to the top
Of the temple, where there, it's as if they talked shop!
Yes, the devil quotes scripture, in this case, a Psalm,
To which Jesus responds, with a certain aplomb,
- Deuteronomy still on his mind - that a test
Of the Lord surely misses the point that we're blessed
By the places we've been with the Lord as our guide,
Giving all that we need, since by love, God provides!
Then the tempter took Jesus to see from up high
All the kingdoms below, and then added his lie
About having it all, if for him, he'd declare;
But again, Deuteronomy calls us to swear
Our allegiance to God, and the Lord only serve,
Since for freedom, by grace, have our lives been preserved;
Now the devil was bested, and angels arrived
And they waited on he whom our spirits revive;
Thus we see here in Jesus the road that he took,
Which he did on his own, but he did by the book.
Scott L. Barton
(Written with Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) also in mind, born 3/2/1904, who often wrote in rhyming anapestic tetrameter. Think Yertle the Turtle, tempted to get way up high!)
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written,
'One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. '"
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
'He will command his angels concerning you,'
and 'On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.