Yes, it’s a reference to The Karate Kid. I like the image of doing one thing with one hand, and doing another with the other.
It’s just that I am absolutely fascinated these days with the bare beginnings of the Bible.
You have a forest of sorts. A magical forest. Who knows, perhaps there were even unicorns. You have a few specifically named trees. The tree of life. That has no distinct limitations attached to it.
Then you have the tree of the knowledge. Of good and evil. Of that we are not allowed to eat.
It doesn’t take a snake (who at this point walks around, one assumes, like a Wall Street banker, confident and full of himself) to step back and wonder about this.
God creates man to be like him (God). God, presumably, at this point knows about good and evil.
But then, maybe not. Perhaps that’s the key to the solution of the craziness that follows.
God didn’t know what was up.
Nah. Can’t be that. We’ll go with God as all-knowing. We have no choice but that, do we?
Let’s just move on as though nothing happened. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.
Where were we?
Oh, yes, a tree of good and evil. A tree of knowledge. That we can’t eat from. Because God doesn’t want us to know the difference between good and evil.
So Adam and Eve are not supposed to know that the snake is up to no good. They are specifically designed to not know that the snake is going to come along and lie to them.
I’m not allowing you to study mushrooms, says God, blinking, smiling. But, here’s a basket of mushrooms for you to try out for supper. Have fun!
And possibly die.
You are not allowed certain knowledge. Now here’s a bit of chaos for you to deal with. Have fun!
I’m back to God being stuck on a learning curve at this point, to be honest.
Close your eyes, tie your hands behind your back, and go into that cave; you are not allowed to open your eyes or untie your hands. Fight the man-eating tiger that lives in the cave. Good luck!
Oh, and have fun!
Fine. God knows everything. God just likes tests.
Tests that are slanted unfairly against the test-taker.
Good luck! Forgot your pencils? Don’t know what a pencil is? Well, do your best anyway.
Fine. A forest. A couple of labeled trees. And two clueless pinball-humans that get to trip over their own ignorance for want of an apple.
Fine, then, pear.
So the first two fail their test.
OUT YOU GO!
But there’s not just the eviction. There’s the curses. Eve gets to submit to her husband. (Why is that touted as a virtue to wives these days when it is presented to the world as a curse? The first curse uttered by God, in fact.) Adam gets to toil a barren Earth. (So Earth gets to be cursed along the failure-bound couple. Poor Earth.)
And the snake loses his je ne sais quoi. His joie de vivre. His three-piece suit. Down on your belly. And watch your head.
It seems to me that it’s a lot to go from a full, first-class membership to degradation, humiliation, and complete rejection.
Just over, essentially, doing what God wanted from us in the first place: to be like him.
If knowing good and evil isn’t being like God, then what is? And now that Adam and Eve are classified as those kind of houseguests that are most unwelcome to return, how will they ever know?
So here we are. Outside the gate of Eden. Not even a backpack with food and tools and a change of clothing to our name. Nothing.
Well, except knowledge. We did eat the apple.
Fine, then, mango.
So we do the deed. We conceive our son. And he grows up to kill his brother. It’s his claim to fame.
That and his sign.
I killed my brother, but I’m not going to tell you, God. After all, you didn’t like the daisies I gave you. Spit on my spelt.
So killing Abel is a bad thing. At least the dirt thinks so. Cain is judged and punished for killing Abel. Everyone, every single one, since that time has pointed at Cain and declared: EVIL!
Abel gets to be GOOD because he’s dead. Because he raised the lambs? Because he drew the right card at birth?
(Where’s that snake when you need him? I need some answers here.)
But where does this definition of evil come from? The apple tree? (OK, OK, kumquat.) Did the ingestion of that fruit turn into a quality that is passed through Eve to her unborn child, a new genetic makeup? Or do Adam and Eve, over dinner, go through all the things that they learned from that succulent, fleshy seed cover? Or do they pound into the heads of their children, every night before bed, the strident principles gained from the act that also got them kicked out of Heaven?
I mean, Eden.
So we’ve got murder = EVIL. We’ll assume this “knowledge” comes from that damned tree. The one that got us into this trouble in the first place.
Are we to assume that if we hadn’t eaten that piece of peach pie and never learned the difference between good and evil, that evil acts would never have been committed?
Why is that? Does lack of knowledge keep us good?
Is that why Abel is good? He was stupid?
Intelligence is our downfall?
Back to God having a bad hair day.
Focus, Julia. This is, after all, about curses.
Eve gets cursed. Adam gets cursed. The snake gets cursed.
And now Cain gets cursed.
It’s a family pattern, it seems. Passed down like a gold watch.
You get a curse, and you get a curse, and you get a curse.
You get the idea.
And the curses, at this point, sort of look alike.
Out you go.
But wait. That’s too much, cries Cain.
So how much does he know, in fact, about the nature of evil?
Not much, it seems.
So the curse is lifted.
No death in your exile. And a sign. (A neon blinking finger pointing at Cain’s head, perhaps?)
And anyone who kills you will suffer untold sufferings.
Again. Think the snake can explain this?
You are cursed. And you are blessed. At the same time.
And how minutes later does God command Abraham to murder his own son?
Is there any real difference between sacrifice and murder, when it’s your own son?
No, the fact that it’s a trick doesn’t count.
But, then, look at it.
Adam and Eve “fail” their test.
Cain, one could say, “failed” his test. (I’m going to disgrace you in front of your family. I’m going to raise your brother up to make it look like he’s the “good” child. Don’t take it personally. Be like Job. Oh, that’s right, Job hasn’t been tested yet. Sorry about that.)
But, Abraham, Abraham, now, somehow, passes his test. He makes to kill his own son.
And he wins.
But what exactly is the prize?
The worst parent of the universe award?
I’m lost. Completely and utterly lost.
And I’m only on page 23.
How does killing get Cain cursed/blessed and Abraham blessed?
Perhaps it’s all explained on page 24.
I certainly hope so.