GENESISIn the beginning ’ĕlōhîm created heaven and earth
bərē’šîṯ bārā’ ’ĕlōhîm ’ēṯ haššāmayim wə’ēṯ hā’āreṣ:
In the beginning ’ĕlōhîm created heaven and earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. The spirit of ’Ĕlōhîm hovered over the waters and said: ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light, and it pleased ’Ĕlōhîm to see it. The light was separated from the darkness. He called the light day, and the darkness He called night. There was evening and there was morning, a first day. ’Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,’ and it was so. The firmament divided above from below, and He called it Heaven. There was evening and there was morning, a second day. ’Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let the waters under Heaven be gathered together, and let dry land appear,’ and it was so. He called the dry land Earth, and the waters He called Seas, and it pleased ’Ĕlōhîm to see them. ’Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let the Earth bring forth grass, herb-yielding seed, and fruit-bearing trees,’ and it was so. The earth brought forth every kind of plant, herb and tree and it pleased ’Ĕlōhîm to see them. There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
’Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to mark the seasons, the days and the years; and divide day from night upon Earth,’ and it was so. ’Ĕlōhîm made the Sun to rule the day, and the Moon and stars to rule the night. He set them in the firmament of Heaven and it pleased ’Ĕlōhîm to see them. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. ’Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let the oceans swarm with living creatures, and birds fly above the Earth’. He made the creatures of the oceans, and of the air; and it pleased ’Ĕlōhîm to see them. ’Ĕlōhîm blessed them all: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, fill the seas, and the heavens.’ There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. ’Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let the land bring forth living creatures: cattle, beasts, and those that creep upon the earth,’ And it was so. He made the beasts, cattle, reptiles and insects, and it pleased ’Ĕlōhîm to see them.
’Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, to be the custodian of the seas, the air, and over the whole earth’. Man was created, both male and female, in the image of ’Ĕlōhîm. ’Ĕlōhîm blessed man and woman: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply. You are custodians over the seas, the air and the land. Take care of all the creatures of the earth. Behold, herb-yielding seeds and fruit-bearing trees, have I made as food for you to eat. To all other living souls, of the land and the air, I provide green herbs for food,’ and it was so. ’Ĕlōhîm looked upon all of creation, and it pleased ’Ĕlōhîm greatly. There was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The creation of heaven and earth was complete. And on the seventh day ’Ĕlōhîm rested. He blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
’Ĕlōhîm and Yəhwâ
The Creator of Bereshit is known as both Yəhwâ and ’Ĕlōhîm, where ’Ĕlōhîm was probably derived from the more ancient source, and Yəhwâ was more specifically the God of the Hebrews. Directly following the first account, Bereshit goes on to retell the story of Creation, this time with the influence of Yəhwâ:
When Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm created heaven and earth, there were no shrubs, plants, herbs or trees, and no man to till the soil. Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm caused a mist to rise up and water the surface of the earth. And from the damp earth, He fashioned man, and breathed life into his nostrils; and man became a living soul. Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm made a paradise in Eden for man to live, full of every kind of fruit tree. In the heart of the garden of Eden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ’Ĕlōhîm commanded that man must never eat from these two trees, lest he die.
Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm fashioned the beasts, the birds, and every living creature, from the earth, and man gave them all their names; but man had no companion of his own kind. Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and He made woman from one of his ribs. The man said: ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh’ The man and the woman were both naked, but they were not ashamed.
The serpent beguiled the woman to eat the forbidden fruit: ‘O you won’t die; if you eat from that tree, your eyes will be opened with the knowledge of good and evil.’ So the woman ate the fruit, and gave some to her husband. Their eyes were opened and they covered their nakedness with fig-leaves.
Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm said to the woman: ‘What have you done?’ and the woman said: ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I ate the fruit.’ Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm cursed the serpent: ‘Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.’
To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’ And to the man He said: ‘Because thou hast hearkened unto thy wife, and eaten of the tree of knowledge, cursed is the ground for thy sake. In toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’
The man was Adâm (first man) and the woman was Châvâh (Life-giver), as she was the mother of all life. ‘Behold, man has become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he eats also of the tree of life, and lives for ever, Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm banished them from the garden of Eden. He placed an angel with a flaming sword at the east gate of paradise, to guard the way to the tree of life.
The cursing of Cain
Adâm and Châvâh had two sons. Abel was a shepherd, and Cain tilled the earth. They both brought offerings to Yəhwâ, who had respect for Abel but not for Cain. In the field, an argument developed, and Cain struck and killed his brother. Yəhwâ asked Cain ‘where is Abel?’ and he replied: ‘I know not; am I my brother’s keeper?’
‘What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood cries out to Me from the earth. And now art thou cursed by the earth. When thou tillest the soil, it shall not yield unto thee; a fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be on the earth.’ And Cain replied: ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Cain left and dwelt in the land of Nod, in the east, where he built a city called Enoch. From Cain was descended nomadic clans of cattle herders, harp and pipe makers and the forgers of tools from brass and iron.
The Generations of Adâm
Mankind spread around the world. Adam lived nine hundred and thirteen years. The descendents of Adam were Seth (912), Enosh (905), Kenan (910), Mahalalel (895), Jared (962), Enoch (365), Methusalah (969), Lamech (777), and Noah.
The sons of ’Ĕlōhîm chose wives from the daughters of men. They bore children who grew to be Nephilim (demi-gods), like the mighty men of old. Yəhwâ said: ‘My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he also is flesh.’
Yəhwâ saw evil in the heart of mankind. Corruption and violence filled the Earth. Yəhwâ regretted having created such a world, and it grieved His heart. ‘I will blot out man from the face of the earth, and all creatures of the land and air, for it repenteth Me that I have made them.’
Only Noah found grace in the eyes of Yəhwâ He was righteous and wholehearted, and he walked with ’Elōhîm. ’Elōhîm said to Noah: ‘The end of all flesh is come; for the Earth is filled with violence. Make an ark of gopher wood, and cover it with pitch. It will be three hundred cubits in length, fifty cubits in breadth, and thirty cubits in height. The ark shall be three stories high, with a window and a door set in the side.
Behold, I will bring a flood upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life; every thing on Earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt come into the ark, with thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives.
Of every living creature, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, male and female, to keep the seed alive upon the earth. Gather food, for thee, and for all the creatures.’ Noah did all that ’Elōhîm commanded of him.
The windows of heaven opened
Noah was six hundred years old when he entered the ark. He gathered all living things, two and two, male and female, as ’Ĕlōhîm had commanded, and Yəhwâ shut them in.
Then the windows of heaven opened, and it rained for forty days and forty nights. The fountains of the great deep broke open and the Earth was covered in water.
The ark rose up, and the waters prevailed. The highest mountains were covered. Fifteen cubits deep did the waters prevail. Everything that moved, all creatures in whose nostrils was the breath of life, birds and insects, cattle and reptiles, beast and man, they all perished. All were blotted out, all destroyed. Only Noah and his companions in the ark were saved, and the waters prevailed for a hundred and fifty days.
The waters retreated.
When the waters subsided, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah opened the window and he sent forth a raven and a dove. The earth was still covered by water and the dove returned. After seven days he sent forth the dove once again. She returned that evening with a freshly plucked olive-leaf in her beak. After seven more days, he again sent forth the dove, and this time, she did not return.
When the flood-waters had retreated, Elōhîm said: ‘Go forth from the ark with all the living creatures, that they may swarm and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.’
Noah built an altar to yəhwâ, and when He smelled the sweet savour of the offerings, yəhwâ said in His heart: ‘The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake. Elōhîm blessed Noah and his sons: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. Behold, I establish My covenant with you, with your seed after you, and with every living creature that goes out of the ark with you. Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ Elōhîm set a rainbow in the cloud, as a reminder of the everlasting covenant between ’ĕlōhîm and all who dwell on the earth.
The sons of Noah were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth and Ham was the father of Canaan. From the sons of Noah the whole earth was overspread.
The Tower of Babel.
After the flood, the tribe of Shem journeyed east and settled in the land of Shinar, to construct a city with a great tower, made with baked earth bricks, and mud mortar.
This displeased yəhwâ: ‘Behold, they are one people with one language; and now nothing will be witheld from them. Come, let us go down, and confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ Thus the tribe of Shem abandoned the half built city of Babel, and they were scattered abroad. They formed many nations, each with their own language.
Enuma elish la naba shaman
When above, the heaven and the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
The primeval waters of Apsu (Ocean) and Tiamut (Chaos), who begat them both
Were mingled together.
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven,
Lahmu and Lahamu (silt and slime) were called into being…
Ages increased …
Then Ansar and Kisar (sky and earth) were created
Long were the days
Anu, their son (Lord of Heaven)
And Ea (the wisdom of the Earth),
Thus were established the great gods
Extracts from Leonard William King, The Seven Tablets of Creation
Luzac’s Semitic text and translation series. vol. xii-xiii, Luzac and Co. London .
In the Enuma elish, Earth, Heaven, Sky and Ocean were formed as spirits, and from spirit, matter was the ultimate expression. Remnants of this original pluralism are still in evidence in Bereshit.
“Ĕlōhîm said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, to be the custodian of the seas, the air, and over the whole earth”
The Epic of Gilgamish
THE BABYLONIAN LEGEND OF THE DELUGE
THE BUILDING OF THE SHIP
According to the plan its walls were 10 gar high,
And the width of its deck was also 10 gar.
I laid down the shape of its forepart and marked it out.
I covered it six times.
Its interior I divided into nine,
Caulking I drove into the middle of it.
I provided a steering pole, and cast in all that was needful.
Six sar of bitumen I poured over the hull,
Three sar of pitch I poured into the inside.
THE LOADING OF THE SHIP.
With everything that I possessed I loaded it .
With everything that I possessed of silver I loaded it.
With everything that I possessed of gold I loaded it.
With all that I possessed of all the seed of life I loaded it.
I made to go up into the ship all my family and kinsfolk,
The cattle of the field, the beasts of the field,
all handicraftsmen I made them go up into it.
The appointed time drew nigh;
I watched the aspect of the approaching storm,
Terror possessed me to look upon it,
I went into the ship and shut my door.
THE ABUBU (CYCLONE)
A black cloud from the foundation of heaven came up.
Inside it the god Adad thundered,
The gods Nabû and Sharru went before,
Marching as messengers over high land and plain,
Irragal tore out the post of the ship,
En-urta went on, he made the storm to descend.
The Anunnaki brandished their torches,
With their glare they lighted up the land.
The whirlwind of Adad swept up to heaven.
Every gleam of light was turned into darkness.
A whole day long [the flood descended] . . .
the land was laid to waste.
Swiftly it mounted up, [the water] reached to the mountains
[The water] attacked the people like a battle.
Brother saw not brother.
Men could not be known (or, recognized) in heaven.
THE ABATING OF THE STORM.
And all mankind were turned into mud,
The land had been laid flat like a terrace.
I opened the air-hole and the light fell upon my cheek,
I bowed myself, I sat down, I cried,
My tears poured down over my cheeks.
I looked over the quarters of the world, (to] the limits of ocean.
At twelve points islands appeared.
The ship grounded on the mountain of Nisir.
I brought out a dove and let her go free.
The dove flew away and [then] came back;
I brought out a swallow and let her go free.
The swallow flew away and [then] came back;
I brought out a raven and let her go free.
The raven flew away, she saw the sinking waters.
She came not back.
UTA-NAPISHTIM LEAVES THE SHIP.
Then I brought out [everything] to the four winds and made a sacrifice;
I set out an offering on the peak of the mountain.
The gods smelt the savour,
The gods smelt the sweet savour.
Extracts from R. C. Thompson, The Epic of Gilgamish, 1928.
Bereshit – Genesis is a collection of stories, gathered into one account, by the priests of the Hebrew tribes, between 1500 and 500 BC, as the starting point for their spiritual and ancestral archive, The Torah. Bereshit, means ‘In the beginning,’ and it carries the ancestral memory of migrating groups from the dawn of humanity. Besides the Aramaic tribes of the west, and the Hebrews that were descended from Abram of Chaldea, the region of Canaan was heavily influenced by the Anatolian Hittite empire, with its strong links to the Vedic traditions of India.
When Abram migrated to Hebron from Ur, around 1800 BC, Mesopotamia was already an ancient land. The founders of Ur, Erech, and the other cities of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, who we call the Sumerians, had long since slipped into antiquity, and the Babylonians and Akkadians had superseded them. The domestication of plants and animals, a feat spanning thousands of years, was fully accomplished by the biblical era. The builders of the ziggurat star temples had invented writing, discovered the geometry of the circle, and plotted the precession of the Earth’s axis.
The Babylonian creation story, known as Enuma Elish served in the crafting of Bereshit, and the flood of Noah had its root in the Sumerian account given in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Some extracts from the translations of these inscribed cuneiform clay tablets follow on from the story.
The banishment from paradise is an ancestral memory shared throughout the world. It refers to a transition in pre-history, characterized by separation from the natural order. Typical responses to the trauma of separation are grief, nostalgia, remorse, shame and self-reproach. These feelings, rooted in ancestral trauma, are endemic in the heart and soul of humanity.
The story of Cain and Abel depicts the tension between two competing lifestyles, the pastoral nomadic and the settled farmer. The rejection of Cain’s offering symbolized the failure of the crops, and this called for a ritual sacrifice.
In the Sumerian story of Innana and Dumuzi, the Goddess Innana chose the shepherd over the farmer as her husband. In the Babylonian New Year festival, the shrine was purified with the blood of a slain sheep. After the sacrifice, the priest was obliged to flee into the desert. In the Hebrew ritual of Yom Kippur, also heralding the new year,the slaughter and flight ritual was enacted with two goats, where one was slain and the other driven out into the desert. The story of Cain and Abel carried a ritual killing and flight motif at its core, and the mark of Cain was in reference to the tattoo marks reserved for temple priests and prophets in the Old Testament era, although the theme of jealous fratricide and banishment contrasts starkly with the mark of sacred protection.
The geneolgy from Adam to Noah is reported with meticulous attention to age. The timespan between the birth of Adam and the start of the flood is given precisely as 1,656 years. Julius Oppert, a distinguished Jewish Assyriologist, was the first to recognize, in a paper on “Dates in Genesis” presented before the Royal Society for Sciences in Gottingen in 1877, that there are 86,400 weeks in 1,656 years.
The cosmological significance of this list of patriarchs, and the timescale secreted therein, can be detected more clearly with reference to the Sumerian ancient King Lists. Three sources of these lists exist, two on cuneiform tablets and uncovered from the city of Larsa, and a written record in Greek from the third century B.C. by a Babylonian priest called Berossus.
According to the Berossus record, from the first “king” until the flood was a period of 432,000 years. This number is of great interest as we have already seen that a Brama day, a Great Age and the current Kali Yuga are all multiples of the same number 432,000 years.
The discovery that 86,400, which is two times 43,200, is embedded in Genesis can only mean that the wisdom keepers of the Hebrews, who had access to the cachetic records of Babylon, had deemed it important enough to codify and incorporate this ancient archaeological memory into their sacred text.
Such vast time scales can only sensibly relate to geology, astronomy and geophysics. The ten kings period is a record of a cycle of time from the birth to the destruction of the order of creation. The cosmic order alluded to in the sequences of numbers corresponds to the diameter and circumference of the Earth and the cycle of the precession of the planetary axis. It played a central role in the design of the Great Pyramid at Giza. These records were kept meticulously by our ancestors, and were important enough to inspire the construction of colossal temples and megaliths; only in recent times have we forgotten their significance.
The Babel myth serves to reinforce the fundamental flaw that characterises humanity. Despite the banishment, the deluge and the covenant, the original fall from grace is by no means forgiven or resolved. Humanity has reached up to become like the Gods, and there are clearly consequences to be paid.
‘Behold, man has become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he eats also of the tree of life, and lives for ever, Yəhwâ ’Ĕlōhîm banished them from the garden of Eden. He placed an angel with a flaming sword at the east gate of paradise, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
“’Behold, they are one people with one language; and now nothing will be witheld from them. Come, let us go down, and confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”