In memory of the Holocaust.
– Genesis: ‘Origins’. The Hebrew word ‘Beresheet’ meaning ‘In the beginning’ –
Have you ever had the desire to read the Bible, from beginning to end? I have, but I haven’t accomplished this. I sometimes read parts of it for research which often becomes sheer pleasure. But I mostly read psychological expositions on it which I find extremely illuminating, by authors whose purpose is to show (inter alia) that while the place and setting, circumstances good or ill have drastically changed, the dynamics of the human condition have changed little. We continue to search for meaning in our lives, for our sense of identity, connection to our neigbour, a connection to our soul -.
Interestingly, the Bible gives no biography of God – we are introduced to Him by His actions which were all good and creative for example: light is created to balance the darkness (ignorance).
He creates Adam and then Eve as a catalyst for his growth, so they that they can be in relationship and dependent upon each other as equals. Yet God is genderless and so it’s interesting that He creates them in His own image. What does this mean? God is surely infinite; so does this mean that we too have an infinite capacity to grow? To keep on developing our potential and our identity – and not be defined by anyone else’s? So that we have, or find within us, the ability to journey to find our own soulful centre?
Adam and Eve each denied that they were to blame for eating the apple. But we see in their expulsion from Paradise that, with this, paradoxically, came the gift of free will, with accountability and responsibility as its partner. And, we gain a psychological insight into the power of denial. The universal story of growing up and leaving home – leaving established boundaries and voyaging into the unknown is apparent.
Cain and Abel – blessed first borns to Adam and Eve – what can we learn from this tragic fratricide? The Lord says to Cain when He questions Cain’s sadness at Abel’s offerings being preferred: ‘But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must master it. And to you shall be its desire, and yet you may rule over it’. God essentially tells Cain that denial will not be accepted and that he has the choice to make the right decision. Cain’s violent impulse was not restrained and he kills his brother. He then challenges God ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ (denying accountability yet again) and is bereft when he is cast out, marked on his forehead, nevertheless with the mercy of God upon him. Thus begins the separation of nations ..
What can we infer from this, today? It’s extremely tricky for me. Was God capricious in favouring Abel’s offering over Cain’s and why allow Cain to live albeit in exile? Why was Abel’s murder not prevented? Is this the first instance of evil winning over good? Does it illustrate the inherent evil in us so graphically enacted? Was this an unjust death? So often this is how it is … God’s favoured ones die unjust and undeserved deaths.
Was Cain envious of his brother as happens within the family? A child who perceives rightly or wrongly that its parent/s favours his sibling over him/her, feels a rejection in the ground of its being. I can only infer that Cain’s violent anger arose from extreme envy. How can we tame the beast that crouches at our door? Sibling rivalry or rivalry between our colleagues, friends, envy between groups, cultures, countries is ever present, in today’s world.
If the first few chapters are read with a psychological and contemporary eye we can see the potency of these human stories. They do not contain sweet and simple tales with happy endings. Rather, the allegories in just these two stories, highlight the contradictions and extreme difficulties and sufferings we all face in our daily lives. We can temper the sadnesses by generating growth in our lives by seeking deeper and deeper – and remembering our genesis –
And which helps me believe in the unfolding of our souls, throughout our lives.