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Home Scripture Jesus Hebrew Genesis by Renato Marini

Hebrew Genesis by Renato Marini

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What is written in Genesis
(Renato Marini)

If we read the Genesis considering the Hebrew meaning of the words used by the ancient writer we can draw more interesting teachings than we could do considering only the English translation. The Hebrew tongue used letters of the alphabet that had specific and proper meanings by themselves, therefore when three or more letters were combined to form a word, a complex meaning was created, similar to that of a sentence in our language, made of several words. If we
do not consider the meaning of the original Hebrew words we miss the more profound teachings of Genesis. Let us see a few examples.

Barah (Create).
This Hebrew term literally means "Draw something tangible out of an abstract idea" or else "make visible something out of invisible elements". The idea of creating out of nothing was taken from the first meaning, but in fact the act of creating made by God is much more like that of a mason who builds a house, giving real form to an abstract idea and using basic elements like bricks. The Book of Abraham describes a creation made of two different phases: a first spiritual creation, something like making a mold, a model made of spiritual matter more fine and invisible. Then there was a second creation, a physical making of visible matter, to reproduce in the physical world the creations done in the spirit world.
The word Barah in fact describes well both these actions: make something in the shape of a former spiritual mold, using unorganized and invisible elements. The same thing happens every time a flower blossoms.

Elohim (God).
Wonderful word that reveals much richer and more profound meanings than those offered by the English term God. It is the plural form of the term Elohà, which is a combination of two ancient roots: El and Hoa. Hoa is a root to indicate the Supreme Being, "He who exists by Himself", who is not begotten but has life in Himself. The prefix El means He and indicated the abstract person. "He who has life in Himself" is therefore the meaning of the term Eloha. In its plural form it becomes "They who have life in Themselves" that is, "who are the Fountains of Life". However the verb used before this name is in the singular form, something like "They who have life in themselves creates the heavens and the earth".
Setting aside the explanation that it could be a grammar mistake, we are forced to give to this choice a specific meaning. Also in the English language a collective noun takes a singular verb when the several components are considered a unity. If I say "The family is the basic cell of a society" I mean that a family is a unity even though it is made of several members. The Hebrew grammar rule chosen by the writer of Genesis compels us to admit that Elohim is a collective noun, a plural unity. Those Who Have Life in Themselves are therefore a Couple, as suggests the creation of Adam and Eve.

Adam, in the image of God.
When Elohim decides to create Man (the verb used in Genesis for the creation of Man is the same used for the creation of the heavens and the earth) He says: "Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness". Here the verb is plural: since the Hebrew tongue does not have the Majestic Plural used in other languages, we can not suppose that God is single person speaking to Himself; it is One of the Couple who speaks to the Other, saying: Let us make Man like Us". The name Adam is a collective noun meaning "The Humans". The term translated as Image is Zèlem and refers to the form of something: a statue has the same image of a person. A modern word could be Form. Let us make Man with the same form we have. The term translated as Likeness is Demut and refers to the substance of something: a wooden comb has the same substance of a wooden stick, but not the same form. A modern term could be Substance. "Let us make Man with our own substance". And God made Man, male and female, able to think and to choose.

Adam and Eve.
The first description of these two parts of Adam has been rendered as "male and female" but the Hebrew words say much more than their English twins. Zachar (male) comes from an ancient root meaning that which is visible, external, active. Nekebah (female) comes from a root that means hidden, interior passive. Other two names to describe Adam and Eve are Ish and Ishà. The root Ish means "to start, to give shape, to sow". Adding the suffix Ah we get "what comes from Ish" that is "What brings to completion the sowing". Also in this cooperation first comes the blueprint and then follows the actual creation, to create the sons and daughters who would fill the earth.
As proper names the Genesis calls Adam the man, and Hewa the woman. Adam is the same word used before to indicate the collective noun Humans, and it means "that which is composed of various parts, well combined". As the collective Humans, the individual Adam is also made of various components. Hewa is the name given by Adam to his wife; it come from the verb To Be, like the sacred name Yahwe. Literally it means The Foundation of Life, and the given explanation is "because she is the mother of all living".

The Seventh Day.
After six days of creation God rests on the seventh day. The word used in Genesis to describe the work performed by God is Mela'kà, that always has a clear meaning of assigned work, performed under command. The sacredness of the Sabbath Day is fixed by saying that God the Creator did perform a subordinate work, and fulfilled a commission. In the Sabbath Day even God rested and also Man is invited to rest. The account of the Creation is not an act performed by a single Being , living alone in the universe; rather it is a complex task, planned, executed and completed by a plurality of
Beings, all united in the term Elohim, among whom there was a hierarchy.
The Gospel of John tells of the Logos (the material Word) who was in the beginning with God, and He was God, and through Him all things were created. In the Divinity there were the Word and He who commanded Him to create all things. In Genesis we find two names for these two Persons: Elohim and Yawhè. They acted together in the creation: one was the Project Maker and the Sender; the other was the Constructor and the Sent.

The Garden of Eden.
The English text says Garden of Eden, as if it were a name of a place like "the city of Boston". In the Hebrew tongue these two words have specific and mind awakening meanings. Gan is anything that is enclosed, separated from the rest, as it happens in a garden that is encircled by a fence. The translation Garden is good if it means "an encircled space, different from the rest around". The word Eden come from a root that means anything that has limits, fixed boundaries. The Garden of Eden is therefore a specific place, encircled and peculiar, wherein certain limits are fixed that can not be crossed. Limits of space and time. God places Man inside this closed space.

The Tree of Knowledge.
The word Hetz translated as Tree does not refers only to a tree but to anything that brings forth fruits by transforming in itself energies and elements coming from outside. A tree takes the elements from the earth by its roots, and the energy from the sun by its leaves. Then it produces flowers and fruits. Added to the term Ha- dahat (knowledge) this tree can not be simply a tree; Dahat comes from two roots that means Hand and Skin and it can be translated as "the hand over the skin" or "learning by direct experience" . In the Hebrew tongue knowledge is a matter of marriage between physical senses and intellectual reasoning. The Tree of Knowledge is therefore a style of life, using life to touch and learn. It is the symbol of those experiences that allow to grow and produce fruits by internal workings of the mind. Man should not be only a "tiller of the ground" but should become a Creator himself, through learning and thinking.

The Forbidden Fruit.
Although the Christian tradition sees in this fruit the sexual intimacy, which God forbade and Eve decided to taste seducing Adam, the Hebrew text gives a much different teaching. When forbidding the fruit, God explains that "in the day you shall eat of it as food, you shall surely die the death". After the disobedience God explains that "the soil will be cursed as far as you are concerned, with painful labor you will eat from it during all the days of your life, until you will return to the soil". The price to pay in order to live the type of life Adam and Eve selected, was death and sorrow. Adam is separated from the Tree of Lives and he must go through death. On the other hand God confirms that this was the right choice for Adam, when He says "Now the man is become as one of us, knowing good from evil". Adam and Eve made the right choice and entered in a status of life that would make them not only "Garden Keepers" but true "Creators".

Last Updated on Friday, 24 September 2010 12:55  

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