Tag Archives: Adam and Eve

The First Thistle

 

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Read Genesis Chapter 3 for the story of thistles and thorns on earth.

Prior to Adam and Eve’s sin, the earth contained only plants that were identified by God as good and desirable for man and animals to eat  (Genesis 1: 12, 29-30). When Adam and Eve stepped outside of God’s plan (sinned), the entire created world changed. One change was that God cursed the ground because of Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3:17-19). No longer would Adam and Eve be caretakers of a sumptuous garden with all it produced. Rather, in sorrow Adam and Eve would be required to toil (work, sweat) for the food they ate. From God’s judgment forward, the soil would grow thorns and thistles as well as plants and trees for food. Cultivating the ground for desirable crops created an environment where certain native plants became weeds, of which thorns and thistles were the most burdensome (Gen. 3:18).

It is not possible to ascertain which thorns and thistles God was referring to when he cursed the earth with thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:13). Over 20 different words are used for thorny plants in Hebrew versions of the Bible. Today the Holy Land is a sunny, largely arid region with many species of thistle. Often thistles are covered with spiny projections which are protective in nature. Many thistle seeds have feathery growths. When blown by the wind, feathery seeds float over a wide region. Following rain, large crops of thistles grow rapidly.  Although some thorns and thistles are beautiful to the eye, gardeners rarely want them in a field or garden; thistles are seen as invasive weeds.

Milk Thistle

One thistle present in Israel for thousands of years is the Silybum marianum, or blessed milk thistle. Milk thistles have both spines and thorns. The milk thistle is adapted to dry, hot, sunny areas to include waste areas. In most areas milk thistle is considered an invasive, noxious weed. Once established, it forms large (2-6 feet) dense clumps that displace desirable forage plants.  Because of its size and spiny leaves, milk thistles interfere with grazing livestock.  Milk thistle accumulates nitrogen and when ingested can be lethal to livestock. Fully mature seeds are glossy, brown to black, with an umbrella-like appendage. When released, seeds blow over a wide region.  A single flower head can produce 100 – 200 seeds.  Seeds can lay dormant in the soil up to nine years, then germinate after a rainfall.

Symbolism: Consequences

When Adam and Eve sinned, the created universe including plants became subject to death (Romans 8: 19-23). Since that time all creation has been groaning together as if under the pains of labor (Vine, 1996).  In the Greek language, mâshash is the word for groan. Mâshash implies a sense of groping, feeling, and searching. Both man and plants are reaching out, groping, for the new heaven and earth when creation will be set free of its death sentence. For both man and plants, freedom from death will occur with the second coming of Christ and establishment of His kingdom on earth.

Man created an environment in which thorns and thistles evolved. Sometimes I do that — I create an environment for thorns and thistles rather than for flowers to grow. In the past I have taken on major projects at home, church or in my job. Like Adam and Eve, I have sweated over the projects, expending tremendous energy and time. Despite my efforts, some project failed completely or partially – thorns and thistles resulted rather than beautiful flowers.

Looking back on these projects, I know that more often than not weeds resulted because of my disobedience. I let pride combined with my desire to “do it my way” block out listening to God, whether He was instructing me through another individual, His word (Bible), or my conscience.  At the same time, I know that I am groping and sometimes even groaning – trying to find my way toward God. I really want to obey His word and submit fully to His plan for my life.

Reflection: What about you – are you obeying God? Do you let Him create beautiful flowers in your life; or, alternatively, do your actions produce thorns and thistles?

Prayer: God, help me to plan and plant the garden of my life so that I am always obeying You. Help me to live so close to You so there are no spaces for thorns and thistles to spring up in my life.

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright July 31, 2013; Carolyn A. Roth.

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What was the Tree of Knowledge?

Sodom Apple Flower

Sodom Apple Flower

Read Genesis chapters 2 and 3.

When God set Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, He told Adam and Eve they could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity. God was explicit – the penalty for eating from the tree of knowledge was that both would die (Genesis 2:17). Adam and Eve knew exactly which tree in Eden God was talking about when He said the tree of knowledge. It was located near the center of Eden and it produced fruit that appeared good to eat and was attractive to the eye.When God confronted Adam and Eve about their disobedience, neither responded with “I didn’t know which tree you meant.”

Even in orthodox Christian communities, there is discussion about the tree of knowledge. Was it an actual tree or a representation (symbol) of mankind’s movement from innocence to awareness of self and sin? If there was an actual tree, what species was it and what kind of fruit did it produce?Some information is available by searching various reference sources, e.g., Hebrew dictionaries, the history and climate of the Middle East, and Latin resources.

Frequently, non Christians and even some Christians assume the tree of knowledge was an apple tree and the fruit that Eve took from the tree was an apple. It is unlikely that the tree of knowledge was an apple tree for two reasons. First, fine varieties of apples were not available in the early Middle East. Second, in the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers when the Garden of Eden was most likely located, the climate is arid. The average rainfall in the plains of Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is low at about 13 inches annually. Apples trees thrive best in temperate and northern climates where they receive ample water to produce their fruit.

Sodom Apple 1

The notion that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil may have been an apple tree could have evolved in two ways: First, the Jewish historian Josephus (37 – c.100 AD/CE) wrote about a fruit which he called the Sodom apple. The Sodom apple tree (Asclepius gigantean variety procera) grew near the site of the biblical Sodom. Its fruit resembled a large, smooth apple or orange and was yellow when fully ripe (click link at top of page for a picture). Sodom apples grew in clusters of three or four. To the eye they appeared delicious and they were soft to the touch. When pressed or struck the fruit exploded with a puff leaving only rind and a few fibers. The beauty of the Sodom apple combined with its ephemeral nature could have caused early Jews to associate it with the futility of reaching for fruit from the tree of knowledge.

Sodom Apple 2

Second, an association between the tree of knowledge of good and evil and an apple tree could have evolved millennia after the Garden of Eden. In Latin, an apple tree is Malus domestica. In the same language (Latin) the word malus means evil, calamity, harm, injury or unlawful. Thus, to Christians the tree of knowledge of evil (malus) became associated with an apple (Malus domestica) tree.

Thought:

Are you as amazed as I am that the God, creator of the universe and maker of man, would explain to Adam (His creation) why he could not eat from a certain tree? Shouldn’t it be enough that God says “no, you cannot do that” and Adam automatically obeys this omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God? Yet, Adam’s behavior was not surprising to God. God knew that even the first man needed a rationale for God-given commands. God also knew that even with an explanation that included consequences, Adam would disobey His injunction.

What about you and me? Don’t we also want explanations and rationales for what God commands us? Are we more obedient when we know the reason God commands us to do or not to do something? No coincidentally, God speaks to us (through the Bible) telling us what to do for a healthy physical, psychological and spiritual life, however,  we sometimes disobey His word even when we know the consequences.

Adam and Eve chose not to obey the prohibition against eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Can you think of a time that you disobeyed God? Were you beguiled and deceived into disobeying as Eve was? Alternatively, did you disobey God because of your self will or because everyone else was doing it? Did you try to blame or shift the reason for your disobedience on others, even on God?

Reflection: What was the outcome of some of your disobedience to God’s word? In retrospect, would you do the same things again?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright: Carolyn A. Roth 3/14

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Fig leaf Cartoon

Fig Leaf Cartoon (2)Notice the coverings on Adam and Eve.  The cartoonist seemed to know a little about the shape of a fig leaf.

In the real story, Adam didn’t even get snake-skin boots out of his disobedience.

I wonder what challenges — even problems — that occurred in my life as the result of disobeying God?

Fig Leaves for Clothing

?????????????????Read Genesis chapter 3 in an Amplified or New International Version Study Bible.

Originally, man was created with free will. Adam and Eve could choose to obey or disobey God. While they obeyed God, Adam and Eve were without sin. Neither wore clothes; they were naked in each others presence and God’s presence yet felt no sense of shame or embarrassment (Genesis 2:25).

When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God’s command, they lost their innocence or sinless state. It was their choice to disobey to God — not solely the act of biting into, chewing, and swallowing a fruit — that introduced sin into the world. Disobeying God word is always a sin. Immediately after disobeying God, Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness. Adam was ashamed and embarrassed for Eve to see his naked body; likewise, Eve was embarrassed and ashamed for Adam to see her nakedness. To hide their nakedness and shame, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to make an apron-like girdle.

Chagawr is the Hebrew word used for the apron-like girdle in Genesis 3:7. When compared with other Biblical references using the word (chagawr), a picture emerges of a belt tied around the waist with fig leaves sewed to the belt and each other that hung down and created a cover for the lower abdominal and genital areas. The underside of fig trees are rough. When disturbed or punctured they exude a y gel-like substance. Fig leaves sewed together and don for coverings would have been very sticky and uncomfortable to wear.

Adam and Eve were wearing fig leaf aprons when they tried to avoid God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8-10). In God’s presence, Adam blurted out, “I was afraid (to come before you) because I was naked.” In reality, Adam was not naked; he was wearing a fig leaf apron. Adam saw the fig leaf apron as adequate to cover his nakedness front of Eve, but not in front of God.

Fig Trees

The fig tree (Ficus carica ) is a deciduous tree indigenous to the Mediterranean Sea area and eastward into Afghanistan.  Figs were identified in written records as early as 9000 BC in the area of Jordan. Fig trees grow as tall as 25 – 30 feet and develop a spreading canopy of branches and leaves. Fig leaves are plentiful and typically 5 – 10 inches long and 4 – 7 inches wide. Leaves contain 3 – 5 deep lobes. Given the size of fig leaves, Adam and Eve would have used multiple fig leaves together to create aprons.

Symbolism: Disobedience

When I read that Adam ascribed his avoidance and fear of God to nakedness, I was skeptical.  Adam knew he disobeyed God; probably Adam’s fear was more related to awareness of his disobedience than of his nakedness.

Today wearing clothes is the norm. Opting to be naked versus being clothed is not something we think about. Automatically, we dress for the day soon after getting out of bed. I don’t know about you, but I want to look good to others. I don’t want them to see the naked, unadorned parts of me. I want to present myself as a person who is attractive and together physically, psychologically, and spiritually. In reality, often I have enough baggage to fill my closet and then some.

Perhaps worse than projecting  false pictures and hiding ourselves from others is trying to hide ourselves from God. Do you lie to God? I do, when I attempt to obscure my true motives from Him in my prayers; often I try to “white wash” my behavior or rationalize my motives. God wants us to be naked and unashamed before Him. He knew us before creation and when we were in our mother’s womb. He knows our circumstance and behavior. God knows us so well that He can identify the exact number of hairs on each of our heads. There is nothing we can do that God doesn’t anticipate or know. Yet, He still loves us and calls us into a personal, intimate relationship with Him. There is no need to hide ourselves from God or to put a “spin” on our behavior when we talk to Him.

Reflection: Are you hiding yourself, to include your motives, from God?

I love Bible plants along with their symbolism. If you want to learn more about them, read my two books: 1) Rooted in God and 2) God as a Gardener. You can purchase them from my website: Carolyn Roth Ministry at http://www.CarolynRothMinistry.com/

Copyright December 9, 2010, Carolyn A. Roth; all rights reserved.

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