In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
In this fascinating book by the author of A History of God and Jerusalem, one of the best-known and least-understood books of the Bible is clarified for modern readers. Armstrong shows readers how the ancient tales of the Creation, the Fall, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph illuminate our most profound and impenetrable problems.
creatures, he was forced to curse them. Having pronounced the world to be good, God had discovered that some of the qualities he had given to humankind lead to evil and destruction. In the story of Cain and Abel, Adam’s two oldest sons, God appears in an even more dubious light. Cain, the farmer, and Abel, the herdsman, both offered sacrifice and homage to God, but God, without giving any reasons for his preference, found only Abel’s offering acceptable. Immediately, we are told, Cain became
sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother.” (27:39–40) Esau was determined to kill Jacob, who was thus forced to flee to Abraham’s family in Mesopotamia. The family that was supposed to reverse the curse of Babel and reunite dispersed humanity had itself been scattered and fragmented. Jacob’s Ladder THE PATRIARCHAL BLESSING WAS TIED INEXTRICABLY to the land of Canaan; that was to be the element of God’s chosen people, the place where they would fulfill their natures. It was to
terms with the gods. Certain locations were experienced as numinous, as yielding access to the divine in the midst of a profane world. Jacob had reached an apparently unremarkable spot and decided to spend the night there. But in fact he had stumbled upon a “place” (maqωm), a word that could be translated “shrine.” Unbeknownst to him, it was one of those places where the sacred had been known to manifest itself to human beings. That night Jacob dreamed of a ladder planted on the ground with its
flocked there for supplies. Canaan had been grievously afflicted, and Jacob dispatched his sons to buy food in Egypt. Still blindly partial to Rachel’s children, he kept Benjamin with him at home. Recognition AND SO IT WAS THAT THE TEN BROTHERS came into the presence of Joseph. Ever since Isaac mistook Jacob for his beloved Esau, the ability to recognize a person or an object has been an indication of a person’s spiritual insight and capacity for painful truth. Joseph and his brothers not only
(44:18–32) he accepted full responsibility for the crimes of his family. Twenty-two years earlier, he had been ready to sell his brother into slavery. Now he was prepared to remain in Egypt as a slave to ensure that Benjamin went free. He had learned what it was like to lose beloved sons; he had learned to empathize with Jacob and to forgive him for the years of indifference and neglect. Judah had been able to accept the painful truth that had torn siblings apart since the time of Cain: that love