13. — CHAPTER II. 8. Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 10. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13. The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17. but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
14. — CHAPTER III. — 1. Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’ 2. The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,’ 3. But God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ 4. ‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. 5. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10. He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11. And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12. The man said, “The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13. Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14. So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” 16. To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 17. To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” 20. Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 21. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23. So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
15. Under a puerile and sometimes ridiculous image, if one regards its form only, allegory often conceals the greatest truths. Is this a more absurd fable than that of Saturn, who is represented as a god devouring stones whom he takes for his children? But at the same time what can be more profoundly philosophically true than this figure if we seek its moral? Saturn is the personification of time. All things being the work of time, he is the father of all that exists. Moreover, all is destroyed by time. Saturn devouring stones is the emblem of destruction by time of even the most enduring forms, which are his children since they are formed by time. And what escapes this destruction according to this same allegory? Jupiter, the emblem of superior intelligence, of the indestructible spiritual principle. This image is so natural, that in modern language, without allusion to the ancient fable, it is said of a thing defaced by time that it has been devoured, corroded, or ravaged by it.
All pagan mythology is in reality only a vast allegorical picture of the good and bad sides of humanity. He who seeks the spirit of it ever finds it a complete course in the highest philosophy, which is also true of our modern fables. The absurdity is to mistake the form for the moral of it.
16. It is so with Genesis, where it is necessary to see great moral truths under material figures, which, taken literally, are as absurd as any of our fables taken literally; the scenes and dialogues attributed to animals, for instance.
Adam personifies humanity. His individual fault is but a figure of the general feebleness of mankind, in whom the material instincts predominate, which man knows not how to resist. *
The tree of life is the emblem of spiritual life. As the tree of knowledge represents the conscious knowledge of good and evil, which man acquires by the growth of intelligence and use of free will, by virtue of which he chooses between the two; it marks the point at which the soul, ceasing to be guided by instinct alone, takes possession of liberty, and incurs responsibility for action.
The fruit of the tree emblematizes the object of the material desires of man. It is an allegory of temptation, and employs under the same figure the influences which lure toward evil. By eating, is meant his succumbing to the temptation. It grows in the midst of a delightful garden, in order to show that seduction accompanies pleasure, and to recall to mind at the same time, that, if man allows material joys to preponderate, he attaches himself to Earth, removing himself far off from his spiritual destiny. **
The death with which he is menaced if he infringes the divine law is the warning of the inevitable physical and moral consequences which the violation of divine law entails upon him — the violation of those laws which God has engraved upon his conscience. It is very evident that corporeal death is not signified, since, after his fall, Adam lived on Earth many years; but spiritual death is unquestionably referred to the loss of acquisitions that result from moral advancement. The image employed is the loss he experiences by his expulsion from this delightful garden.
* Today, it is a well known fact that the Hebrew word “haadam” is not a proper noun, and that it means: “man in general, humanity;” that in itself destroys all the structure created around Adam’s personality.
** In no text is the fruit specially mentioned as an apple. This word apple is only found in infantile versions of it. The Hebrew word is peri, which means the same as in French (“fruit”), but without specification of species, and can be taken in the material, moral, or figurative sense. With the Israelites there is no obligatory interpretation. When a word has many acceptations, each one understands it in his own way, provided the interpretation is not contrary to the rules of grammar. The word peri has been translated into the Latin malum, which signifies “apples” and all other fruits. It is derived from the Greek mélon, participle of verb mé’o, “to interest,” “to take care,” “to attract.”
17. The serpent today passed for something quite other than deceit. It is in connection with its form, rather than with its character, that it is associated with wicked suggestions which glide into the mind with the noiseless subtlety of the serpent, and by which we are so often easily led into temptation. Besides, if the serpent on account of having deceived the woman has been doomed to crawl upon the Earth, it must formerly have had limbs when it could not have been a serpent. Why then impose upon the artless faith of childhood as truths allegories which are so evidently such, and which, in misleading judgment, cause children to regard the Bible later in life as a tissue of absurd fables?
We should remark that the Hebrew word nahasch, translated as the word serpent, originates from the root nahasch, which means: to make enchantment; to practice divination; or the art of revealing occult things; it also means: enchanter, guesser. This is the meaning found in Genesis, chapter XLIV: 5 and 15, regarding the instance when Joseph had someone hide a cup in Benjamin’s sack: “Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? (nahasch) *– “Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?” (nahasch)?” From the Book of Numbers, chapter XXIII: 23 - “There is no sorcery (nahasch) against Jacob, no divination against Israel.” Consequently, the word nahasch began to take the meaning of serpent - the reptile used by the enchanters in their rituals.
It was not until the Septuagint’s version that the word nahasch was translated as serpent. That version, according to Hutcheson, presents the Hebrew text corrupted in several passages. It was written in Greek, during the second century before the Christian era. Undeniably, that version’s inaccuracies resulted from modifications the Hebrew language endured during the elapsed time. Note, still, that the Hebrew language of Moses’ time was already a dead dialect, which differed from ordinary Hebrew, just like ancient Greek and literary Arabic differ from the Greek and the Arabic of modern times. **
It is possible that Moses may have deemed the indiscreet desire to know occult things, provoked by the spirit of divination, to be a seducement of women. This meaning is in agreement with the original meaning of the word nahasch - to guess - and with the words of this parable: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom (leaskil), she took some and ate it.” We should not forget that Moses wanted to ban from amongst the Hebrews the art of divination, which was then practiced by the Egyptians; this fact is evident by his prohibition to question the dead and the spirit of Python. (“Heaven and Hell,” chapter XII)
* Would this fact show that the Egyptians practiced mediumship through the use of a glass of water?
(“Revue Spirite, » June of 1868,” page 161.)
** The word “Nahasch” existed in the Egyptian language, with the meaning of Black, probably because black people had the gift of enchantment and of divination. This is perhaps the reason the sphinx, of Syrian origin were represented by an image of a black person.
18. The passage that reads: “The Lord wandered through paradise after mid-day, when a light wind was blowing,” is a naive and childish imagery, which critics did not fail to point out. This, however, has nothing that should cause surprise, if we consider the conception the Hebrews of primitive times had of the Divinity; for these frustrated intelligences, incapable of conceiving abstractions, God should embody a concrete form. For lack of any other point of reference, they attributed human characteristics to God. Moses spoke to them as one would speak to children, through the use of tender images. In this instance, sovereign potency is personified, as the pagans personified it with the use of allegoric figures, with virtues, vices, and abstract ideas. Later on, man was able to disassociate the idea from the form, like a child who on becoming adult, looks for the moral meaning of the tales he heard throughout his infancy. One should therefore consider this passage as an allegory of the Divinity personally supervising the object of its creation. The great rabbi Wogue translated it as follows: “They heard the voice of the Eternal God echoing through the garden, from the direction where the day arises.”
19. If the fault of Adam is literally that of having eaten fruit, the almost puerile nature of the sin cannot be justly condemned with the severity it has received. We cannot rationally admit what is generally considered to be the fact; otherwise God, considering this fault irredeemable, must have condemned his own work, since he had created man for the propagation of man. If Adam had understood in this sense that he was forbidden to touch the fruit of the tree, and if he had scrupulously obeyed the command, where would humanity be? And would not the designs of the Creator be frustrated?
God had not created Adam and Eve to remain alone upon the Earth. The proof of it is found in the words addressed to them immediately on their formation, when they were unfallen in the terrestrial paradise.
“God blesses them, and says to them, Increase and replenish the Earth, subduing it” (chap. I, v. 28). Since the multiplication of man was a law of the terrestrial paradise, his expulsion cannot be due to the supposed cause.
That which has given credit to this supposition is the feeling of shame with which Adam and Eve were seized at the sight of God, and which caused them to cover themselves. But this shame is a figure of comparison: it symbolizes the confusion that all culprits experience in the presence of him whom they have offended.
20. What then is the definition of this fault which has been able to strike forever with reprobation the descendants of him who committed it? Cain, the fratricide, was not treated so severely. No theologian has been able logically to define it, because all have followed the same circle of faulty ideas about it, departing not from the letter of the tale.
Today we know that this fault is not an isolated action, personal to an individual, but that it comprehends under one unique allegorical fact all the departures from the right which can render culpable all humanity, yet imperfect on Earth, who make an infraction of the law of God. That is why the fault of the first man, symbolizing humanity, is symbolized by an act of disobedience.
21. By saying to Adam that he will draw his nourishment from the Earth by the sweat of his brow, God symbolized the obligation of work; but why does he make work a punishment? What would the intelligence of man be if it were not developed by labor? What would the Earth be if it were not made fruitful, transformed, and rendered healthy by the intelligent work of man?
It is written (in chap. II, v. 5 and 7): “the LORD God had not sent rain on the Earth and there was no man to work the ground, the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground.” This quotation, taken in connection with another, which is: “Replenish the Earth,” proves that man was from the beginning destined to occupy all the Earth, and to cultivate it; moreover, that paradise was not a circumscribed place upon one corner of the globe. If the culture of the Earth was in consequence of Adam’s fall, if Adam had not sinned, the Earth would not have been cultivated, and the views of God would not have been accomplished.
Why did he say to the woman, that, because she had committed this sin, she should bear children in sorrow? How can the pain of child-bearing be a chastisement, since it is a consequence of the organism, and has been physiologically proved to be necessary? How can anything which is according to the laws of nature be a punishment? This is what theologians have not yet explained, and that which they will not be able to do while they look at things from their present point of view. However, theses Bible quotations, which seem so contradictory, can be justified.
22. Lets us remark at first, that, if at the moment of the creation of Adam and Eve their soul had just been taken from nothing, as is taught us, they must have been novices in all things: they could have known nothing of death. Since they were alone upon the Earth, whilst they lived in their terrestrial paradise, they had never seen anyone die. How, then, could they comprehend the menace of death which God made to them? How could Eve comprehend that the pain of child-bearing would be a punishment when she had never borne children, and was, besides, the only woman in the world?
The words of God could have had to Adam and Eve no meaning. Just taken from nothing, they could neither have known why they were created, or whence they came. They could neither comprehend the Creator or his object in forbidding them to eat the fruit. With no experience of the conditions of life, they must have sinned like children who act without discernment, which renders more incomprehensible still the terrible responsibility which God has imposed upon them and the whole of humanity.
23. To that which theology fails to explain, Spiritism gives without difficulty a clear explanation in a rational manner by the anteriority of soul, and the plurality of existences, without which all is mystery and anomaly in the life of men. The admission that Adam and Eve had lived before, makes all things plain. God does not speak to them as children, but as to beings in a condition to comprehend, and who do comprehend him — an evident proof that this knowledge has been acquired in an anterior life. Let us admit also that they have lived in a more advanced world, which was less material than ours, where the work of the spirit took the place of manual labor; that by their rebellion against the law of God, figured by disobedience, they have been exiled as a punishment to this Earth, where man, in consequence of the nature of the globe, is compelled to labor, God was right in saying to them, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food;” and to the woman, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.” (Chap. XI, from item n° 31 on).
The terrestrial paradise for which they have so vainly sought the traces was then a description of the happy world, where Adam had once lived, or rather the race of spirits of whom he is the personification. The expulsion from paradise marks the moment when these spirits have come to incarnate themselves among the inhabitants of this world, and the change of situation which has succeeded to it. The angel armed with a flaming sword, who defends the gate of paradise, symbolizes the impossibility for spirits of lower worlds to penetrate into superiors ones, before having merited them by purification. (See chap. XIV, from item n° 8 on).
24. Cain, after the murder of Abel, said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the Earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. (Chap. IV, v. 13 to 17).
25. If one clings to the literal meaning of Genesis, behold to what consequences one arrives. From it we learn that Adam and Eve were alone in the world after their expulsion from the terrestrial paradise. It is subsequent to that that Cain and Abel were born. Now, Cain having killed his brother, and having been exiled of another country, saw his father and mother no more; and they were again alone. It is only a long time after, at the age of a hundred and thirty years, that Adam had a third son called Seth. After the birth of Seth, he still lived, according to biblical genealogy, eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
When Cain established himself eastward of Eden, according to Genesis, there were only three persons upon the Earth — Adam, Eve, and Cain. However, he had a wife and child. Who could this woman have been? And where could he have found her? The Hebrew text says: He was building a city, and not he built, which indicates a present action and not an anterior one; but many inhabitants are necessary to make a city: for it is not possible or presumable that he made it for himself, wife, and son, or that he was able to construct it by himself alone.
It is necessary to infer, from this recital, that the country was peopled. Now this could not have been by the descendants of Adam, who then had no other children than Cain.
The presence of other inhabitants is also proved by this saying of Cain: “I will be a restless wanderer on the Earth, and whoever finds me will kill me,” and from the reply God made to it. By whom could he have been killed? And for what good could the sign which god placed on his forehead have been needed if he was not to encounter anyone? If, then, there were upon Earth other men outside of the family of Adam, they must have been there before him, whence this sequence, drawn from even the text of Genesis, that Adam is neither the first not the only father of human beings (chap. XI, n° 34). *
* This idea is not new. La Peyrère, the wise theologian of the seventh century in his book “Préadamites,” written in Latin and published in 1655, extracted from the original biblical text, this being subsequently adulterated by the translations, the clear evidence that the Earth was inhabited before Adam; today this is the opinion of many enlightened ecclesiastics.
26. There has come a necessity for the knowledge that Spiritism brings touching the connections between the spiritual and material principles and the nature of the soul; its creation in a state of simplicity and ignorance; its union with the body; its progressive, indefinite march through successive existences, and through worlds which are so many rungs of the ladder on the way to perfection; its gradual release from the influence of matter by the use of its free will; the cause of its leanings toward good or evil and of its aptitudes; the phenomena of birth and death; the state of the spirit in the erraticity, and at length its future reward for efforts made in the improvement of its condition as incentive to its perseverance in well-doing, which throw light upon every part of the spiritual Genesis.
Thanks to this light, man knows henceforth whence he comes; where he goes, why he is upon Earth, and why he suffers. He knows that his future is in his own hands, and that the duration of his captivity here below depends upon himself. Genesis, which previously appeared as a mean and shallow allegory, now appears grand and majestic, worthy of the goodness and justice of the Creator. Considered from this point of view, Genesis will both confound and vanquish incredulity.