What actually happened at the Fall?
Studying Echad has caused a very large paradigm shift in my understanding of sin and our relationship with God that is foundational and explains so much of what the Lord has led me to in my other studies. I’ve preached on the Fall and the loss of Echad as a consequence, but I’m coming to see it as even more than this. As I study Genesis in the Ancient Word Pictures it becomes clear to me that there was a three dimensional picture presented to us in Scripture of what occurred with Adam and Eve and God that has been missed by modern translations into the English and I’m hesitant to share this while I’m still pondering the implications but I want to get the idea out there and then will be moving into even more researched study on this.
The language of Genesis when it comes to the creation of Adam is very rich with wedding imagery from the Ancient Hebrew Wedding. God “took” Adam, the way a bridegroom takes a bride, and put him in the Garden as a place prepared for him (as for a bride) where his needs were all provided for, where he was comfortable within the boundaries of the Garden. He had nothing withheld from him except eating from one tree. At this point it may be necessary to get rid of gender ideas that will be a hang up for understanding what I’m expressing, because I am not using the word “he” to represent the masculine or male. Rather, in the traditional use of the word that encompasses “people”. This is appropriate in two ways. First, God is neither male nor female and both male and female were created in the image of God. God is spirit and is without sexual orientation or anatomy. There is plenty of imagery of God in Scripture that speaks to the feminine as well as the masculine and that Jesus came in the form of a human male does not mean that God eternal is a man. Second, at the point that Adam was put into the Garden he was still Adam “mankind” and not yet Adam, male. The feminine had not yet been taken out of his side and created into a woman—bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. When Eve was removed from Adam there was male and female. Prior to this separation there was Adam—mankind. This means that God put Adam into the Garden the way a bridegroom takes a bride and moves her to a place he has prepared for her.
The Shema in Deuteronomy tells us that God is One—the plural One that expresses God existing in relationship. At creation we find that God deems it “not good” for man to be alone and creates woman so that man and woman can become echad/one and share the same relationship that God experiences. The word “ezer”, often translated “helpmeet” and used of Eve in her relation to Adam, is used in Scripture of God and does not denote any hierarchy. Rather, the nature of Adam and Eve’s relationship is expressed through the use of Echad—they were in plural unity. The deepening of understanding of how they were in relation to God came in learning that the word translated “work”, and referring to the work that Adam was put in the Garden to do, refers to the work done by priests serving in the Temple. God, who exists in plural unity, created a new being and invited him into relationship with himself, and created an earthly ezer to exist in plural unity of relationship with him as well—both expressing the eternal nature of God when they are in echad and being in echad with God as well to expand the character of his love into the physical world he had created.
God walked with Adam and Eve, talked with Adam and Eve, shared with Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve knew God intimately. Then Eve was tricked by the serpent. This is, however, an area where much tends to get murky theologically depending on who is teaching about it. Often what is presented is that the sin of disobedience destroyed what God had given to man and they had to be punished for disobeying. Yet this is not what is presented in the Biblical account or expressed in later references to this story. To present the Fall in such terms has led to a great deal of confusion about the nature and character of God as well as the relationship we have with Him both before and after salvation.
First, if disobedience were what caused the Fall then it would have been Eve who was accountable for the Fall. This is not the case. Adam is the one held accountable for the Fall. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men . . .” Romans 5:12. Adam is held accountable for the Fall, not Eve. This means that the Fall has to do with what Adam did, not what Eve did. Yes, Eve was tricked and did not do as they had been told, but this was not the moment of the Fall. This passage in Romans also reveals that the committing of sin did not cause the Fall. Rather, through the Fall sin entered the world. So disobedience is not the issue to discuss when it comes to studying the Fall. Rather, I believe the answer lies in what the consequence of the Fall is revealed by God to be.
Genesis3, starting in verse 14, we read:
So the Lord God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
God is informing the serpent that Messiah will come and undo what was done. The serpent is cursed because of his actions.
16 To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
This is where going to the original Hebrew becomes very important. For one thing, the “pain” for childbirth is actually the same “labor” that Adam has to do in the fields to get food. It speaks to hard work, the painful toil of laboring in our flesh. But my main area of concern here is the relationship between the man and the woman and what we are being told is a consequence of the Fall. If we accept the premise I’m putting forth about the relationship prior to the Fall being Echad, since that is what we’re told is the purpose of why a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, then after the Fall this very different picture we are seeing is the consequence of sin in the world. The relationship between God and man has changed. The relationship between man and woman has changed as well. The woman who was created to be an ezer, whose purpose towards her husband was to serve along side him and be a co-laborer of his burdens, is now in a hierarchical relationship where she desires that echad but he rules over her.
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”
And it is through Adam’s action that allowed sin to enter the world; it is through Adam’s choice that the ground is cursed and death is imminent. What was his choice, though? It was much more than eating the fruit. He “heeded the voice of his wife” rather than the voice of God. He followed his wife into the path away from God. He chose echad with his wife over echad with God, not realizing that without God there is no echad.
This is a very rich picture that warrants much more attention than it has been given. Prior to the Fall we have man and woman, in the Garden echad with God and with one another. After the Fall we have man and woman cast out of the Garden and the loss of echad—between man and God and between man and woman. That is, until Messiah was to come.
All too often the choice God made to remove Adam and Eve from the Garden is viewed as punishment. In fact, it is presented as punishment for their disobedience of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But God himself presents a very different reason for why he did what he did. In verse 22 of Genesis 3 God decides, “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”– 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.” “Lest he put out his hand and take also from the tree of life” is God’s reason for removing them from the Garden—the only place where the tree of life grew. If they were to eat of the tree of life while in a state of broken echad with God and one another and under the consequences of sin in the world (the wage of which is death) they would have lived eternally separated from God. But God had a different plan—God planned Messiah. Romans 5:17, “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)”
The opportunity to be in right relationship with God is what we are given because of the cross. And when we are in right relationship with God we have the opportunity to be in right relationship with one another. The restoration of echad is what is being discussed in Ephesians 5—from our relationship with God, to our relationship to the Body, to one another, to specifically husband and wife because this is the relationship that God intended from Creation to express to the world who God is and how he desires to relate to us. Not in a hierarchy, but in echad. Plural unity is a very different relationship than one where someone is in control. Unified is the desire of God’s heart; unified is at the heart of relationship.