God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:6-20 (b)

See:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:6-20 (a)

Genesis 5:6 When Seth had lived a hundred and five years, he became the father of Enosh. 7 Seth lived after the birth of Enosh eight hundred and seven years, and had other sons and daughters. 8 Thus all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years; and he died. 9 When Enosh had lived ninety years, he became the father of Kenan. 10 Enosh lived after the birth of Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and had other sons and daughters. 11 Thus all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died. 12 When Kenan had lived seventy years, he became the father of Ma-hal’alel. 13 Kenan lived after the birth of Ma-hal’alel eight hundred and forty years, and had other sons and daughters. 14 Thus all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years; and he died. 15 When Ma-hal’alel had lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Jared. 16 Ma-hal’alel lived after the birth of Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and had other sons and daughters. 17 Thus all the days of Ma-hal’alel were eight hundred and ninety-five years; and he died. 18 When Jared had lived a hundred and sixty-two years he became the father of Enoch. 19 Jared lived after the birth of Enoch eight hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. 20 Thus all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years; and he died.

All of the men listed in this section live unbelievably long lives.  And that is the sum total that we can say about them.  No words of theirs are recorded, no deeds, no discoveries, no inventions, no achievements, no contributions to life.  Men who supposedly lived 800-950 years left nothing behind but a name and a son.  We don’t know where they lived, what occupied their time, what they believed.  We have no knowledge of their relationship to God.  An amazing piece of trivia is that despite the longevity of their lives, the first man mentioned to have gray hair is going to be Jacob in Genesis 42:38 – of course he had 12 sons which might explain the allochromasia of his hair!

“Enoch”     This is the second man in Genesis named Enoch.  Cain also had a son whom he named Enoch (4:17).   In fact the genealogy of Cain listed in Genesis 4 is going to be paralleled by a list of similar names and descendents in Genesis 5 following Seth’s lineage.    Some biblical scholars suspect the lists were perhaps derived from a single lineage which through time got remembered as two distinct lineages – one of them the godly descendents of Seth and the other of the ungodly descendents of Cain.   One idea this might suggest to us is that in every human there is both the potential for good and for evil.    Humans like to categorize “other” peoples, races and nations as good or evil, but the truth is that in each of us possesses the ability to do great good and also to do great evil.  When we understand that truth, we begin to be more realistic and less arrogant about our selves.   We also learn to be less judgmental and have a more balanced view of others.  St. Paul wrote about this very real struggle within himself:   “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin”  (Romans 7:15-25).  He understood that each of us, himself included, is capable of doing good or evil.  It is a war that rages within us as to whether we will choose the good or the evil.  And as was seen in Cain, it is a battle whose outcome is not predetermined but which requires true spiritual struggle, asceticism, to overcome one’s own self-centered selfishness in order to freely love God and neighbor.

Next:  God Questions His Creation: Genesis 5:21-27 (a)

Matins Texts of The Expulsion of Adam & Eve (6)

In this series of blogs I will be quoting and commenting on hymns from the Sunday before Great Lent begins which commemorates the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise.   The first blog in the series was entitled The Expulsion of Adam & Eve from Paradise (Hymns).  The blog immediately preceding this one is Matins Texts of The Expulsion of Adam & Eve (5).

The Matins Canon for the Sunday commemorating the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise mentions a theme found in Patristic Writers that Adam and Eve in Paradise were given by God divine garments to wear based on a notion that to be in God’s presence one would need special garments as were normally required for being in the presence of an earthly emperor or king.  Nudity in this thinking was not connected with innocence and what is natural , but rather with being disrespectfully and  indecently exposed.  The divinely woven garments in some sense protect the human from the pure holiness of God, while enabling the humans to stand in God’s presence  and insuring they can stand there because the provided garments are a sign of God’s favor. 

In Your compassion, Savior,                                                

You clothed me in Eden with a divinely woven garment; 

but persuaded by the devil, I neglected Your commandment

and was stripped naked in my wretchedness.

The story of the Fall in Genesis 3 explains to humans today why we don’t live in the presence of God and why the world is not a Paradise for us but rather a difficult place to live – where sickness, sighing and sorrow are our constant experience.   Stripped of God’s glorious garments, Adam realizes his puny nakedness in the face of the God’s loving holiness.  Adam is exposed as the emperor – the god wannabe – who has no clothes  The realization of what he has lost brings Adam to sorrowful lamentation and repentance.  The story is not Adam’s alone, but is the story of every human being and why we each live outside of a perfect Paradise which we can easily imagine a loving God should have created for us.  He di; we have been exiled from it because of our continued sinfulness.  Now Great Lent is a season for us to remember what we have lost, been exiled from, and blocked from re-entering because of our sins.  We humans cannot re-open the gates of Paradise, only God can do that for us.  These Lenten Hymns do not leave the sorrowful lamentation in Adam’s mouth, for the hymns acknowledge we are in the same sinful and fallen condition as Adam, the prototypical human being.                      

You have departed far from God

through your carelessness, miserable soul; 

you have been deprived of the delight of Paradise

and parted from the angels;

you have been led down into corruption.     How you are fallen!                                                     

Have mercy, Almighty God,

and take pity on the work of Your hands.

I have cut myself off from the choir of Your angels;

but I entreat You, loving Lord:  Do not reject me.

The hymns see Adam’s fall as the story of us all.   In fact more than being a historical account of the first human ancestor, the hymns indicate Adam’s story is our story.  The story of Genesis 3 is not so much ancient history, but the story of you and me today.  It is the story of our own experience of this world and separation and alienation from God, from each other, from creation.  A literal reading of Genesis 3 will miss that point.  Orthodox tradition clearly presents us with the story of what it is to be human, what it means to be human, and what humans can aspire to if they are willing to repent and overcome their self-centered sinfulness.

Mary chosen by God, and Queen of the world,

you have borne the Lord who is King and Redeemer of all.

I am a prisoner and an exile from the glory of Paradise:  Call me back, I entreat you!

The Virgin Mary is the one human whose life was such that God favored her to be the mother of His Son.  Through her God re-establishes communion with His fallen human creatures.  Her womb becomes Paradise where God and humanity are again united in communion.  Through her the gates of Paradise are re-opened, and all of us who are disciples of Christ can experience that communion with God that Adam and Eve knew in Paradise.  Through her we experience the salvation God accomplished for His human creatures.  This is why the Orthodox offer her such laudatory praise.

Next:   Matins Texts of the Expulsion of Adam & Eve (7)