[b-hebrew] Gen 1 & Gen 2

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Oct 31 00:25:07 EDT 2007

On 10/31/07, George Athas wrote:

> What I'm saying about Gen 2 is that it is a completely different story
> to Gen 1, even though the subject matter (creation) is the same.

While in its present form, the two are different stories, my own personal
position is that it is possible to trace an original unified story.  This
unified story is different from what Karl, Shoshanna and other
conservatives of all religion will generally accept, however, and is quite
different from an harmonization/"wide angle/zoomed in" approach.

What happens is that it is possible to assume the equation Adam =
Egyptian Geb, literally "Earth" in Egyptian, who was considered to be
the father of all serpents.  Eve is "mother of all living things" but the
root xwy was also a word for snake.  Thus, Eve's name means
"Serpent" and her title can be interpreted in two ways as either
"mother of all living things" and "mother of all serpents."  We therefore
can identify a couple, Adam and Eve, whose titles were father/mother
of all living things/serpents.  Their position in the creation narrative
should therefore be assumed to be originally prior to the creation of
all living things.  In the case of Eve in Gen 2, this means that her
creation as a final act after other living creatures is, from the point
of view of the story's development, a later development.  If we now
compare this to Gen 1, we can identify these two "serpents" Adam
and Eve with the great serpents mentioned in Gen 1:21, the first
creatures ever said to be created in Gen 1.  In terms of story, we
now have in Gen 1/Gen 2 a series of comparable events that take
place in the same order: 1) the watering of the Earth, 2) the
creation of the Serpents, 3) the creation of all life.  It is perhaps
significant that (1) is the one comparable event in both stories
that takes place before (2), as one of the Serpents is identified as
"Earth."  That is, the watering of the Earth may be an action of
breathing in life to the first primordial creature, Adam. In fact,
these events deal solely with the creation of life, not (directly)
with the creation of the Earth: 1) God waters Adam, thereby
breathing life into him and (2) creating the primordial Serpents,
which in turn (3) are the parents of all life.  The only way this
account deals with the creation of Earth is in its dealing with
Adam -- Adam is Earth so by breathing life into him, Earth
comes into being.   The pun "life" = "snake" works only in West
Semitic (maybe even only Central Semitic).  Hence, the concept
of Geb as being "father of all snakes" and a very important figure
in Egyptian creation accounts, should probably be seen as a
borrowing from a West/Central Semitic source.  It also provides
an important step in understanding how Gen 1 and Gen 2,
apparently two disparate and radically different accounts could
have arisen from the same core creation narrative, if one doesn't
take the harmonization approach.  It probably also shows that
we are more at home in ascribing these stories to authentic
West Semitic traditions rather than to East Semitic (Babylonian)
or Egyptian influence, and these authentic traditions probably
go back in West Semitic tradition as far back as we can
determine Geb's function as either father of all snakes and/or a
figure in creation in Egyptian accounts.

Yitzhak Sapir

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