January 29, 2000
Proper Hierarchy and the Disorder of Separation
Throughout the text of the Bible, and especially evident in Chapter 3 of Genesis, there is a system which God has set up to denote the proper relationships each of his creations share with each other and with Him. An analysis of this reoccurring theme will help to establish that God’s intended system is a hierarchy in which there is an apportionment of “servants” and “masters,” with God having the final authority. This motif is first introduced in chapter 1 of Genesis where God sees that His creations are “good,” already establishing a higher standard, “good,” from a lower one, “bad.” In the system that follows, the hierarchy runs with God foremost as the creator; then humans come next as subservient to God, but are put in charge of ruling all the “lesser creatures;” and then all the other animals, who feed on the vegetation of the land. We see that the intention of the author(s) was not to promote a belief in equality, but rather principles governing a highly organized structure separating those who serve and those who rule.
Chapter three delineates the fall of both man and woman by God who asserts and maintains the relationships within the hierarchy. In response to their actions, God punishes Adam, Eve, and the serpent. It is also interesting to note that when God approaches, then questions Adam about whether or not he ate the fruit, His advance immediately implies that God will take man’s word first over woman, and over all other creatures. Once again we see distinct levels of importance among the three: God values the man’s word first, as he is created in the likeness of Him; the woman second, since she is Adams derivative; then the serpent, whom God will hear last, as in this case. When Adam responds to God’s inquiry, instead of accepting any form of responsibility, he tells God of how Eve had handed the fruit to him – “It was the woman you gave to be with me who gave the me the fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12) Adam, instead of accepting the responsibility for his actions, blames both Eve and God for his unfortunate actions. Likewise when Eve receives the blame, she attributes her poor judgment to the serpent, which she claims “deceived [her] into eating it.” (Genesis 3:13) And when it comes the serpent’s turn, the blame cannot be shifted to another since according to the two humans he is the source for their lapse of judgment as a tempter. In addition, God attributes the least credibility to him because of His apparent favoritism towards humankind. Through this show of favoritism, the author(s) reveals a set structure that the Lord has already assigned to each of his creations.
... certain candies and foods, so does God. God tells Adam and Eve never to eat from the tree of ... faire persuaded him to fall; / No subtle Serpents falsehood did betray him,” (Lanyer in ... King James Version. Woods, Susanne. Lanyer: A Renaissance Woman Poet. New York: Oxford University Press. 1999 Woods ... Poems of Aemilia Lanyer: Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum: Women Writers in English 1350-1850. New York: ...
While God had warned Adam that the tree would bring him death, He did not mean actual physical death, but rather He meant spiritual death, for as soon as he ate of the fruit his innocence was lost and his relationship the Lord, which had been one of fulfillment and reward, had been violated. Moreover now that “the eyes of both of them were opened…” they viewed their God with fear. But what lead Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of knowledge was a lack of judgment at the moment and curiosity. Yet while Adam should bear the most responsibility for the crime rather than the serpent (it merely told the literal truth, and never told either humans to eat the fruit) the severity of the punishment is reversed according to God’s hierarchy. God begins by designating the proper positions for each of the three. The serpent was put in the most submissive position; it was fated to crawl on its belly and eat the dirt of the ground. God also created a natural enmity between the serpent and Eve. Yet in God’s hierarchy Eve in addition to Adam is set above all living creatures, which is hinted by the fact that the snake can only strike at the heel, while Eve and her brood will strike at the serpent’s head, the heel being lesser than the head.
... , foolish because she is not as fearful of God's warning as Adam. Eve goes about her labors and is portrayed by Milton ... in which the serpent could attack an alone and vulnerable Eve. Adam pleads for her to "leave not the faithful side / that ... ignorance of Good and Evil/Of God and Death, of Law or penalty?" (ix, 753-755). Eve cogitates that if she does not ...
Because Eve had persuaded Adam to eat the fruit, her pain in childbirth was dramatically increased as punishment. In addition, for her wrongly taking authority over Adam who had superior knowledge to her own, and making the decision for herself and her husband that she would eat, she is made subject to Adam for the remainder of her life. As for Adam, he was made to toil the landscape “until [he] return[s] to the earth.” (Genesis 3:19) And these punishments apply not only to the first man, woman, and serpent, but all their generations to follow. In humankind’s alienation from God, they are given new roles and instructions to follow as they are banished from Eden. While Adam and Eve still follow the word of God, their former relationship has been replaced by a fear of the creator and his power.
Mankind violates this sacred relationship held with God by committing the first sin, the attempt of separation from one’s designated position as subordinate. Acting on their own, Adam and Eve believe that they can alter this relationship that they hold with God, by leaving their position as God’s obedient sheep and become equals. However, the two face the consequences of their actions and are driven to a separation between themselves and God. Humans are then removed from Eden and are given the additional tasks of toiling hard and laboring over the land in order to yield a few crops. Their lowered state of being arises from their failure to embrace their role in the divine hierarchy. Deviation leads to intense consequences. To assume mastery over others for whom you were not meant to rule constitutes arrogation, and to serve a new master constitutes idolatry. God’s intended lesson forbids the violation of the proper relationship between subordinate and superior. It is this breach that translates into sin.
This breach or separation is also associated with death, pain, and punishment. The expulsion of the first two humans from Eden, the pain of separation of offspring from mother during childbirth, and the pain that will accompany the separation of husband and wife are a few examples. Iain D.Campbell asserts that, “in the Bible, the essence of death is separation…. There was a spiritual alienation between man and his creator, where before there had been harmony, friendship and shalom…. Now [Adam] has asserted his independence of God, and that separation is spiritual death for his soul.” (www.freechurch.org) Campbell also talks of how death is the separation of body and soul. Here we see that the body is the soul’s subordinate, and disruption of that arrayal would result in death. Furthermore, Campbell states that, “Hell is eternal death – not annihilation, not the end, not a stamping out of existence, but an incessant, eternal separation from God.” (www.freechurch.org) In this light it can be argued that the purpose of religion serves to bring one closer to God, an attempt to reconnect that lost relationship that humankind once shared with the Lord. We see that sin causes humankind to slowly separate from the existing relationship we have with God.
... numerous offenses that were punishable by death. The first was murder. In Exodus 21, God commanded capital punishment for murderers. Premeditated ... , capital punishment was to be used against perpetrators of sexual sins such as rape, incest, or homosexual practice. Within this ... life. In a sense, God used capital punishment to deal with Israel's sins and the sins of the nations surrounding Israel. ...
The conception of hierarchy in the Bible it is constructed around the proper relationship shared between master and servant. When this relationship cannot be maintained, there is disorder and what results is sin, which is accompanied by severe consequences. Therefore unity defines God’s ideal, whereas separation results in instability that can lead to death. The further we separate from God, the closer we approach death or internal fracturing, which is the separation of the spiritual soul and the corporeal body. Similarly suffering is also associated with sin and separation, for when you separate a unity of people into individual elements, you get conflict and opposition, which translates to coercion, strife, and war. The Bible attempts to remedy these problems by teaching that only the maintenance of order and the set hierarchy can prevent separation and sin from becoming rampant.