Open Bible: May 2002 

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The Garden of Eden




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The Garden of Eden

paradis, Peter Breugel  Certain rabbinical comments are made about the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise on Earth, a description of inter-uterine life. In effect, Adam and Eve didn't have to do anything to feed themselves and the verb used in the Bible to describe their leaving the Garden is "to expel", the same word used to described a birth when the baby is expelled from his mother's stomach. 

Eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil was not a mistake, but a desire to understand. It is the normal process of birth which allows understanding (knowledge) of the outside world, with its advantages and disadvantages, with its beauty and its ugliness, with the good and the bad that it brings. It is also opening one's eyes to the discovery of sexuality. "Their eyes opened and they discovered that they were naked" (Gen.3,7). Adam and Eve could procreate. In effect, since leaving the Garden, The Bible tells us that Adam took Eve, his wife, that she conceived and gave birth. Food was no longer available without effort, they had to work hard to get it "with the sweat of their brow". They had to make their own bread; picking fruit was no longer sufficient. At last, with the birth, came the inescapable prospect of death. He who is born is condemned to return to dust.

Was woman wrong to have eaten the forbidden fruit and, thereby, punished by the loss of happiness? On the contrary, wasn't her quest for knowledge the origin of the human condition? It was at the moment when she took them from a protected childhood that Adam called his wife "Eve": she who lives, the mother of mankind, which pleads for this second interpretation. Woman is thus delivered from this original sin which has weighed heavily on the feminine condition.. The expulsion from the Garden of Eden seems inevitable: it was the beginning of human history and it was Eve who was the instigator.

Admittance to the Garden was forever denied. It is impossible to return to the mother's breast. God placed cherubs with flaming swords to bar access.

expulsion du jardin d'Eden  Created in the image of God, it is only after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, that Adam and Eve strove to resemble Him. It is now in their hands. 

The serpent was not completely wrong: "You will be like gods", knowing the good and the bad,. blessed with understanding. It is the grandeur of humanity, more problematic to manage than to resist a protected environment, that is God's breast.

God's role, as envisioned by the authors of Genisis, seems to be ambiguous in the face of such an interpretation, because it is He who prohibits the eating of the Tree of Knowledge and it is He who had them expelled. This man who created Man and Woman in His image conceived them and , for Him, the separation, like giving birth for a woman, was a tearing and a rupture. "Post partum blues", experienced by many women after the birth of a child, is because of this separation, the first in a long series, that make the child an adult, the peer of his parents. Also inescapable, God, in the image of a mother, fears this time of rupture but at the same time pushes mankind to grow without hope of returning. He does not permit Himself to get involved in the history of humanity in order to allow it to use all the gifts with which it is blessed. Finally, the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, was God's wager on mankind.