I wanted to skip writing about stones, river and more dirt. My questions were: Can this be exciting? Can it be practical? Can I pull off looking like a smart pants as I write it? I think the answer is yes to the first two and if I’m lucky on the third (or better that it should not matter). But I must confess that the mysteries of God overwhelm me at times and I hope to unpack it enough for any reader and I can be thirsty for more of who this God is.
“A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates (Genesis 2:10-14).
I am finding an emerging pattern as I look at related narrative later in the Bible of Eden being like Church. There is sustenance, structure and communion with the Creator through creation.
Sustenance in the context of communion comes to mind because there is a river from Eden that branches out to four major rivers. And that sustenance perpetuates things in the world that draw the heart of creation to that which is divine. The first branch, Pishon, goes to a land that has gold. “And the gold of that land is good” may seem out of place since one would think that all the talk about “it was good” should have ended after the seven days of creation. But what can stain gold? Nothing. What can stain holiness? Nothing. That is why if you see the Eucharist in the monstrance made of gold, it can be reflected that the holy presence is not meant to leave a mark on absorption except in being received into that which is organic.
But before we go to far ahead to the Eucharist found in the mass, remember that along the way in salvation history is the temple. The temple of the Jews is something that prefigures Christ and the Church.
Scott Hahn noticed this and writer in “Kingdom of God As Liturgical Empire” the connection.
The temple is adorned with gold, onyx, and “all sorts of precious stones” found also in Eden (1 Chr. 29:1-2, 2 Chr. 3:6; cf Ge. 2:12). The Chonicler calls the gold used in the temple “ fine” (tob; 2 Chr. 3:5-8), the same work used to describe the gold in the land of Havilah, near Eden (Gen. 2:12). Theses stones are also associated with the gold in the land of Havilah, near Eden (Gen. 2:12). These stones are also associated with the high priest of the temple (Exod. 28: 4-43; Beale 2004: 41-42).
So Adam was in a place that foreshadowed the temple which in turn foreshadowed the fulfillment of the kingdom in Christ.
But the foreshadowing of Church is here too. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (v. 15). In the same book listed above, Hahn shows that the linguistics of “to till and keep” connect to related wording in Hebrew for what a priest would do in performing his priestly duties.
But the delegated authority on earth given to Adam keeps on going.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name”
So is that priestly? No. But pope-like.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”(Matthew 16:18-19). What should be in appearance at first glance, naming animals, ends of having objective connotations. Likewise, what should be subjective for Simon Peter, binding and loosing (a term in the first century used for establishing what was accepted doctrine) has its own objective context since heaven will see things the same way that Simon Peter declares.
So what do we learn from this?
Though God was getting ready obviously to create Eve, He does not yet as Adam sets the names down. If God wanted Even to have the same declarative authority as Adam, they would have done it together. Keep this in mind as you look at how the “new covenant is concealed in the old” (Augustin) and consider that women’s glorious calling is something other than the priesthood. I would submit that as we see later, her nature was to perceive and intercede. She does this with Satan tempting her and then bringing the forbidden fruit to Adam. This is not something to celebrate but to point out that she performed a perverted function of her calling. To come to grips with what the real mddl would look like is through the next passage and a little bit of a linguistic bridge.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman
for out of Man this one was taken.”
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:21-25).
The key sod here is “Woman” “Yeah, classic case of religion keeping women down!” Not really.
1: If she was taken from his head, she would be over him. If she was taken from her feet then she would be under him. But the rib was considered a central part of his essence.
2: The word for woman when it was translated from Hebrew into Greek in the Old Testament around 200 BC was Guneh. But very important to know was that this was a title of distinction and used only the handful of times related to Eve. But in the New Testament it was used with Mary the mother of Jesus and her only.
John wrote of the wedding at Cana where they needed wine after running out. Jesus said, And Jesus said to her, “Woman [guneh], what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:4-5). We know then that Jesus proceeded to exercise His authority and water was changed into wine. Furthermore, many of the early Church fathers referred to Mary as the New Eve who did right in saying yes to a holy angel where the prior Eve said yes to a fallen one. There is even a thread between the Eves if you look at the Queen Mother role where many times people would come to the king through his mother.
So if Eden leads us toward priestly and royal thinking, what is it for? For us it is a coming together in biblical imagery that is sacrificial by Christ the New Adam and matrimonial with Christ as the Bridegroom and us the Bride. But to appreciate that, you would have to go to the end of the Bible.
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift” (Revelation 22:17).