ENGLISH FOOTBALLER RAPIST CAN’T FIND WORK
9 And Jehovah Elohim called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you?
10 And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I feared, because I am naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?
12 And Adam said, The woman, whom thou you have given to bewith me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.
13 And Jehovah Elohim said to the woman, What is this you have? And the woman said, The snake deceived me, and I ate.
14 And Jehovah Elohim said to the snake, Because you have done this, be cursed above all livestock and above every wild beast. On your belly shall you go, and eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they shall crush your heads, and you shall bite their heels.
16 To the woman he said, I will greatly increase your pian in pregnancy; with pain you shall bear children; your desire shall be to master your husband, but he shall rule over you.
17 And to Adam he said, Because have listened to the voice of your wife, and eaten of the tree of which I commanded you saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed be the ground on your account; with toil you shall eat from it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall yield you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return to the ground: for out of it you were taken. For dust you are; and to dust you shall return.
20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she is the mother of all living.
21 And Jehovah Elohim made Adam and his wife coats of skin, and clothed them.
22 And Jehovah Elohim said, Behold, Man is become as one of us, to know everything. So now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever …!
23 Therefore Jehovah Elohim sent him out from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.
24 And he drove out Man; and he set the Cherubim, and the flame of the flashing sword, toward the east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.
This passage follows the story of how the human beings ate fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of Everything, against God’;s explicit orders.
It first of all offers the reader the thrill of a bit of divine detective work. Adam hides and then excuses his behaviour by pleading embarrassment at his nakedness, forgetting that until he ate the fruit he didn’t know he was naked. But God doesn’t forget, he spots the lie, and asks the devastating question, “Who told you that you are naked?”
Adam, exposed, blames the woman and God who created the woman. This is pathetic but also fair comment, as the writer has pictured the woman as the active one. The woman with less justice blames the snake, for after all she has responded very readily to the snake’s suggestion; and in any case, she was not deceived but got the knowledge she wanted.
The storyteller lived in a world where women had pain in childbirth, where men had to labour to gain food from the soil, where men held authority over their wives, and where snakes had no legs. Does he make all these into divine commands so that he can justify them. No, precisely the opposite. By making them divine curses, he signals that they are not “good” or “blessed” like the original conditions of humanity. This is God’s plan B, his second best, introduced to keep his rebellious creatures in check. That motive is made explicit in the expulsion from the garden and the protection given to the Tree of Life.
The heaviest penalty too is made to limit the effect of humanity on the world: death puts a limit on individual wrongness. In spite of our arrogance each person is merely what Shakespeare called a “quintessence of dust.”
The story is told with a calm humour. After all, anyone listening to the tale would have known as soon as it was mentioned that the prohibited fruit would be trouble. How come God didn’t know? Clearly, in spite of his smart detective work he is taken aback by what his creatures have done and has to revise his plan to prevent further damage. He acts with goodwill and without rage to get a grip on his own creation,but is this really God? Indeed, did the writer identify his character, Jehovah Elohim, with the One whom he worshipped? I doubt it. The “God” in the story is a character or even at times a caricature, as indeed are the human beings. The whole thing is a mighty parable about what it means to be human and what it might mean to be God. If we think of the narrative as a kind of manga cartoon, we won’t go far wrong.
The tragicomedy of life on earth as depicted in Genesis matches a world in which the two main stories in the UK press have been a) the jihadist attacks in Paris and their aftermath and b) the problems of a young rapist in continuing his football career. On the one hand, expressions of horror at the taking of human life; on the other, a legal system which gives tiny penalties for violence against the human body.
13 And he went out again by the sea, and all the crowd came to him, and he taught them.
14 And passing by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax-office, and says to him, Follow me. And he rose up and followed him.
15 Now as he lay at table in his house, many tax-gatherers and sinners lay at table with Jesus and his disciples; there were many, and they followed him.
16 And the scribes and the Pharisees, seeing him eating with sinners and tax-gatherers, said to his disciples, Why does he eat and drink with tax-gatherers and sinners?
17 And Jesus having heard it says to them, Those who are strong have no need of a physician, but those who are ill. I have not come to call righteous people, but sinners.
Tax- gatherers were serious scum, collaborating with the foreign invader to make a fortune. They were a kind of mafia.The sinners were either scandalous, as people involved in unclean trades like excrement collection and prostitution, or very poor and unable to keep the religious laws. It would seem that Jesus befriended both. Darby rightly translates “lay at table” as Jews reclined at meals. Again here, the implication is that these meals were in Jesus’ house in Capernaum. You could imagine they gave the place a bad name.
Decent pious people found Jesus’ behaviour a bit regrettable, disappointing really in someone pretending to be a rabbi. Of course, collaborators and sinners have to be confronted, and maybe even converted, but you don’t need to make friends with them or give them the slightest excuse to think themselves the equal of decent folk. To be frank,people like that are sick.
Jesus simply replies, “So what’s a doctor for?” But then he goes further and hints that if God has sent him to heal, only those who recognise that they are ill, need apply. If God has sent out a search party its only concern is with those who are lost. The gospel writer Luke was so concerned about the implications of Jesus’ words as reported in Mark, that he added the words “to repentance” after “sinners” in verse 17 (Luke 5:32)! Doubtless many people had told the tax-gatherers and sinners to repent but only Jesus offered them the advance of trust and friendship which enabled some of them to change. Mark is very clear about this dimension of Jesus’ ministry. From the start of it he occupies the taboo place, the no-go area of public life, where broken people do terrible things and have terrible things done to them, while the more fortunate stand in judgement. That risky place, which is also the place of crucifixion, belongs as much to Jesus in life as in death. I guess Jesus would have befriended Ched Evans, the footballing rapist, in the hope that he’d then be able to admit his sickness.