Myth in Genesis 4

The beauty of the earth and sky

The beauty of the earth and sky

The Old Fool continues to ponder the myths of Genesis and the beginnings found in them.  Mythical, because supernatural beings are the primary actors in these ancient stories that originated in the times before writing was invented.  Though filled with unproven data, The Old Fool sees truth emerging from the old stories.

The Old Fool notes various names for the supernatural beings in these first chapters of Genesis.  In Genesis 1:1-2:3 the name of the supernatural actors is the plural Elohym, which suggests the existance of a pantheon of gods.

In Genesis 2:4 through chapter 3 the name of the supernatural actor is Jehovah Elohym. The exception to this rule is in the conversation attributed to the serpent who neglects to acknowledge Jehovah and uses only Elohym to refer to God.. Otherwise, Jehovah seems to emerge as the lead god of the Pantheon.

In Genesis 4 the supernatural actor is known simply as Jehovah.  The First Couple are outside the garden.  They make love and the pregnant First Woman gives birth to a First Son.  The first couple make love a second time and First Woman gives birth to a Second Son.

Second Son kept flocks, and the First Son was a gardener.  The Old Fool sees the beginning of diversity in human culture.

The First Son brought some produce as an offering to the Lord. The Second Son brought fat portions from the best of his flock as an offering to Jehovah.  The Old Fool sees the beginning of the sacrificial system of offerings continued and refined in the book of Leviticus.

The brothers believed that Jehovah honored the blood offering of the Second Son more than the produce offering of the First Son.  The Old Fool sees this as the beginning of the notion that a blood offering was needed for the expiation for sin. This notion continued through the Old Testament to the crucifixion of Jesus and is perpetuated in the Catholic mass and protestant communion services to this day.

The First Son was jealous of his brother and became so angry that he killed him.  The Old Fool understands this murderous act to be the harbinger of the religious and cultural wars that plague the earth to this day.

Jehovah rebuked the First Son for his jealousy, anger, and murder.  The murderer  feared that he would suffer capital punishment for his crime.  Jehovah put a mark on him so that no one would kill him.  The Old Fool understands this to be an act of a merciful Jehovah.  Mercy is first evident when the First Man and First Woman do not die on the day that they eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and of Evil, and now this first murderer did not suffer capital punishment for his crime.

The First Son lived, married a wife, and built the first city.  Among his descendants were nomads who lived in tents and raised livestock, musicians who played on stringed instruments and pipes, and others who forged all kinds of tools from bronze and iron.  The Old Fool sees still more diversity in culture.

The First Couple made love again and the First Woman gave birth to a third son named Seth.  His descendants began to call on Jehovah.  The Old Fool understands this be the beginning of a chosen people. In this last verse of Chapter 4, the name Jehovah Elohym is again used for God.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 91 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the “Old Fool” moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.

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3 Responses to Myth in Genesis 4

  1. Raymond Martin says:

    You write “The brothers believed that Jehovah honored the blood offering of the Second Son more than the produce offering of the First Son. The Old Fool sees this as the beginning of the notion that a blood offering was needed for the expiation for sin. This notion continued through the Old Testament to the crucifixion of Jesus and is perpetuated in the Catholic mass and protestant communion services to this day.”

    I do not believe the fable that God will not forgive unless God sees blood. I believe that Jesus who is that of God who became flesh, came to lead aright a world gone astray. Jesus would not take away the freedom God gave humans from the beginning and with that freedom we crucified him. Had I been there I hope I would have been one of those who followed Jesus. Nevertheless, I am a sinner and I know that it’s Jesus who brings me into His kingdom. I take my place in the human family as a sinner; one who crucified Jesus.
    So, I participate in communion with a thankful heart. I wish we could separate the wine or grape juice from the idea of blood to something that goes more directly to the love Jesus has for me. In fact once when I was asked to help serve communion I offered the cup with the words “Jesus loves you” instead of ” Jesus blood shed for you.”
    So, is there a way this blood symbol can be changed? I certainly want always tro have a ritual that remembers Jesus giving his life in such a horroble way, in pure love for a world gone astray-for me!”

    • Raymond, it is good to hear from you. My pondering leads me to the warning of Jesus to his disciples: if you follow me, take up your cross. It seems to me that Jesus was telling them, if you live the life I live be prepared to die. If the world is to be changed more of us (of every religion) must truly live like Jesus and be prepared to give up life on earth. Our congregations need to be reminded that communion is not simply enjoying a memory. It is that, but it is more. It is ritual intended to prepare us for the worst by remembering what happened to Jesus. I’m thinking of Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

      • Raymond Martin says:

        More than a memory…It’s a call. I’ll live into that for a few more communions and maybe I’ll have something new.

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