Friday, November 20, 2009

The Tree of the Knowledge "of the Battle Between" Good & Evil

I happened to be in Borders book store yesterday. I thought I would check to see if they had R. Crumb's new comic style book on Genesis. To read the blog on this book click here. I have been spending a lot of time in the book of Genesis for my studies. I thought it would be interesting to see what translation he used and how he depicted the events in illustration.

Moreover I was curious as to how he had specifically depicted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the event of Eve's temptation. I have recently written a blog in which I suggest that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed in the garden by the devil, not by God. Not that the devil necessarily created the actual tree, but that the devil distorted or manipulated the tree for his own purpose. I base this on the fact that Eve looked on the fruit of the tree in lust. In the NIV the word used is "delight" which is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word "ta'avah" meaning lust or covet. God would have and never does tempt us. (James 1:13-14). Nor would He create something that would cause us to do so. I also believe that a more appropriate name for the tree is "the tree of the knowledge of the battle of good and evil". Click here to read that blog.

To my delight when I read Gen 3:6 in R. Crumb's "Genesis" he uses the correct translation! He writes "And the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and that it was lust to the eyes and lovely to look at." Well I was sold! Not by any means to replace the Word of God but just to have for reference. Upon reading some of Crumb's commentary in the back I found some more interesting facts. One being that upon writing this book he had used the King James version of the bible and "The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary" by Robert Alter for reference. Alter has taken the Torah and translated it into a more Hebraic friendly English and added his own commentary to the tune of 1064 pages! I bought that one too. BTW Alter also uses the word "lust" in Gen. 3:6.

Back to Crumb. In the back of his book he had added a footnote to Gen. 3:6. He made note of an old Sumerian myth about Inanna and the Huluppu tree that is very similar to the Genesis account. I had never heard of it. So when I got home I began to check it out. It is an ancient text that co insides with "The Epic of Gilgamesh". This is part of the text concerning Inanna and the tree. If you wish to read the whole text click here.

"A young woman who walked in fear of no man,
and would not be owned,
Plucked the tree from the river and spoke:
"I shall bring this tree to Uruk.
I shall plant this tree in my holy garden."
Inanna cared for the tree with her hand.
She settled the earth around the tree with her foot.
She wondered:
"How long will it be until I have a shining throne to sit upon?
How long will it be until I have a luscious bed to lie upon?"
The years passed; five years, then ten years.
The tree grew thick,
But its bark did not split.
Then a serpent who could not be charmed
Made its nest in the roots of the Huluppu-tree.
The Anzu-bird set his young in the branches of the tree.
And the dark maid Lillith built her Home in the trunk.
The young woman who loved to laugh wept."

Here is part of a commentary by Diana Wolkstein that I found here...

"The snake, because it sloughs off its own skin, has long been connected with rebirth. Both because of its regenerative aspect and its phallic likeness, the appearance of the snake suggests rebirth and sexuality.
Moreover, the text states that the snake “could not be charmed.” Inanna will not be able to appease, tame, or disregard it. The snake is immune to the laws of the land.
The Anzu-bird was known to the Sumerians from the story “Ninurta-turtle,” in which the Anzu-bird unsuccessfully attempts to steal the Me, the attributes of civilization and knowledge, from Enki, the God Of Wisdom. The mature Anzu-bird, depicted in Sumerian art with the great wings of an eagle and the face of a lion, craves power and knowledge.
Lilth does not appear in any other Sumerian texts. In Zoharic texts, she has dominion over all instinctual, natural beings, over “every living creature that creepeth.” Lilith forms with the Anzu-bird and the snake a triad of sexual, lawless creatures who live outside the bounds of the Sumerian community and seek power only for themselves. These are Inanna's unexpressed fears and desires , which have now been “named.” "

Here is a desripition of Inanna...

"Inanna is the goddess of love and is one of the Sumerian war deities: She stirs confusion and chaos against those who are disobedient to her, speeding carnage and inciting the devastating flood, clothed in terrifying radiance. It is her game to speed conflict and battle, untiring, strapping on her sandals."
Enheduanna pre 2250 BCE "A hymn to Inana" ETCSL translation: t.4.07.3.

And of Lilith...

"Dark is she, but brilliant! Black are her wings, black on black! Her lips are red as rose, kissing all of the Universe! She is Lilith, who leadeth forth the hordes of the Abyss, and leadeth man to liberation! She is the irresistible fulfiller of all lust, seer of desire. First of all women was she - Lilith, not Eve was the first! Her hand brings forth the revolution of the Will and true freedom of the mind!...Look on her in lust and despair!"
—Lilith Ritus, from the German by Joseph Max

Now I am in no means wanting to glorify the devil or any other demon here. But I do believe this information is very interesting concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the bible. Also concerning the spiritual warfare that has been in play since the devil decided to leave the presence of God because of his own lust for dominion. To me it personally confirms my thought that the tree was not placed there by God. There is no where in the bible that I know of that says God put that tree there and I don't think He did.

I think the tree was placed there by the devil as an act of warfare against God for our dominion. I am beginning to entertain the thought that part of the reason that we were created by God was to defeat the devil. See the devil was created with free will just like us. God has the power to destroy the devil. But he won't cross the lines of freewill. So God needed to created another being(mankind) with freewill to destroy the devil. A fair fight shall we say. I think the devil knew this and that was why he tempted us. If he could get us to follow him then we wouldn't destroy him. I think this is why God is so frustrated with us in the garden. If we as humankind would have stayed in the will of God in the garden I think the fight would have been quick and to the point. But we fell for the trick of the devil and gave him some of our dominion.

Now even today the battle rages on. Think of all the suffering, war, disease and death that this creation and humanity has been exposed to over the last few milinia. Both in the spiritual and the physical. Now we know for sure that in the end God has the victory. But the question is How do we live in victory while we wait for the end? How do we bring victory to others? This battle isn't only for those who believe it. We ALL are effected by it whether we like it or not.

One simple thing that we can do is make choices rooted in the principles and truth of God. One of the greatest acts of warfare against the devil is worship. Now I am not just talking about singing. I am talking about doing things in our everyday lives that are edifying to the Lord. Choosing NOT to to things that edify and really in turn worship the devil. All sin is is edification of the devil. We don't want to do that! We must seriously think of our choices as battles in the spirit. You have the choice to give allegiance to God or the devil in all that you do. And it really does make a difference. Remember YOU have dominion over creation, humanity, the devil and yourself. (Ps 6:6-8) Every choice you make effects those things.

The next few blogs I am going to be discussing the concept of sin and punishment in the old testament. Why sacrifice was needed. Why God insisted on a tabernacle. And how all of this is related to the battle we still fight today. Don't be a victim, rise up and fight!


  1. Good stuff. Just want to register a concern about the comic book Bible. A few years ago I found some comic book Bibles on clearance in the children's section of the Christian bookstore. I LOVED that they were NOT cutesy and so realistic. But, I never looked closely at all the pages. My boys decoured them cover to cover repeatedly.
    Leap into the present....I have a son with serious lust/M* issues. I've often wondered, where beyond natural hormones and curiousity, did he pick up this issue? For some reason recently I picked up a few of those comic books and took a closer look. I was shocked at the graphic detail of the women's bodies (Delilah scantily clad, Bathsheba had a full rear view! etc) my house NO. I was really bummed (pardon the pun) that I had not been more careful with what I put into my kids' hands. I know Sear's and Target Ads planted seeds as well....but I for one do not want to be the source of any of my kid's major struggles. I certainly don't allow them on the porn-filled MySpace. "Here, Johnny, pretend this doesn't look like Victoria's Secret and go visit with your 'friends'".
    I will continue to read your site to see if I can find more help for my kids in these crazy days.

  2. Yes! I totally agree. This comic book Genesis is by NO means for children! Funny enough the author even puts a parental warning on the front. R. Crumb is not a Christian and doesn't attest to be. He did the Genesis book as a joke more than anything else. I was just curious to see what he came up with...from a non-Christian view.

    Thanks so much for you comment! And thanks for reading.


  3. You twist and turn the Genesis text to make it fit your own worldview:

    I have recently written a blog in which I suggest that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was placed in the garden by the devil, not by God.

    Note: "Devil" never found in Gen. 1-3. Later theology took the serpent [ancient wisdom figure] and make him/her/it a devil is disguise.

    I base this on the fact that Eve looked on the fruit of the tree in lust. In the NIV the word used is "delight" which is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word "ta'avah" meaning lust or covet. God would have and never does tempt us. (James 1:13-14).

    Note: The knowledge of good and evil is what all children seek because they want to be like their parents.

    Some of the early Church Fathers (Irenaeus, Origen) regarded Adam and Eve as literally children growing up in their Parent’s Garden. Being children, the fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17) was naturally inaccessible to them; yet, God planted this tree in the middle of the Garden because he definitely wanted them to eat of it when he discerned that they were ready. As often happens, however, children rush ahead and seize adult ways prematurely. According to Origen, Eve’s initiative merely represents the well-known case that girls mature earlier than boys. The serpent in this narrative is not what will later be identified as Satan in disguise (Wis 2:24; Rev 20:2) but the wisdom figure of ancient cultures. The serpent, accordingly, reveals quite rightly to Eve that by touching the fruit, she will not die—on the contrary, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened [so as to discern good and evil], and you will be like God” (Gen 3:5). They ate and “the eyes of both were opened” (Gen 3:7)—just as the serpent revealed.

    The fact that they notice, for the first time, that they are naked only demonstrates that they are indeed seeing with adult eyes (and have lost the innocence of childhood). Then, once God discovers what has happened, he does not curse them (as you note). How could he? Rather, God says, “See, the man [lit., “earthling”] has become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:22). Thus, God excludes them from the Garden where they might also eat of the tree of life and live forever.

    There is no fall from grace in this original narrative. It is the story of how God's children became like their Father/Mother in knowing good and evil. And note! Eve is the heroine! She explores, she seeks, she knocks, and the door is opened for her. Then, she shares it with her companion!

    Thank you, Eve, and thank all you daughters of Eve for bringing the gifts of God to us men.

  4. I've sat down to write this review many times, but have never been able to find the words to describe how it affected me. Finally I just decided to go for it and say what's in my heart.


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