Though Biblical commentaries often derive the name “Eden” from the Sumerian edinu (i.e., “a plain”), a more likely meaning, based on an Aramaic-Akkadian bilingual description, is “luxuriance”1 or “abundance”-more specifically referring to an abundance of life-enriching water.2 The idea of luxuriance brings to mind the prominent place-name “Bountiful” in the Book of Mormon3-in fact, one proposed region for the Old World Bountiful was reputed to have been a place of such great plenty that its inhabitants were denounced by Islamic Hud traditions for their “attempt to create an earthly replica of Paradise.”4
Given the picture of the naturally-growing, life-sustaining yields of the Garden of Eden, coupled with the absence of any troublesome weeds, students of the Bible have made various attempts to understand how Adam and Eve managed to stave off the “curse of idleness”5 during their sojourn in that happy place.
For example, thinking that the daily labors of the first parents must have somehow mirrored our own, Matthew Henry imagined that the man and the woman were placed in Eden to improve somehow on God’s arrangements for the beauty and productivity of the fruit trees placed there. He reasoned that: “Nature, even in its primitive state, left room for the improvements of art and industry.”6 Supposing that the “husbandman’s calling. was needed even in Paradise,” he drew out the lesson from God’s instructions to Adam and Eve to “dress” and “keep” the Garden that “[s]ecular employments will very well consist with a state of innocency and a life of communion with God.”7
In contrast to attempts to draw parallels between “secular employments” and the work of the first couple in Paradise, I believe that the very point of the scriptural injunction is to inform Adam and Eve that no labor of the ordinary kind was required so long as they qualified to remain in that place. On the other hand, any conception that they were to focus their energies on digging and pruning the trees of Eden is surely mistaken, since the account makes clear that “man’s food was ever ready at hand.”8
In this article, I argue that a different, and even more strenuous and demanding kind of work was required of Adam and Eve while they lived in the Garden of Eden. Moreover, I will show that the divine injunctions given there to the first couple have not changed in their priority since mankind fell from Paradise.
Adam and Eve’s “Temple Work” in the Garden
A close analysis of Moses 4:15 in its immediate and wider context reveals that Adam and Eve’s occupation in Paradise was “temple work.” The verse states that Adam and Eve were put in the Garden of Eden “to dress it, and to keep it.”The Hebrew terms in Genesis for “to dress” (abad) and “to keep” (shamar) respectively connote to “work, serve, till”9 and “keep, watch (guard), preserve.”10 Of course, these meanings are not, on the face of it, inconsistent with the practice of husbandry. Recalling, however, the temple-like layout of the Garden of Eden11 and the fact that these are the very words that are used to describe the tabernacle duties of the Levites12 the phrase takes on deeper significance. Wenham remarked that “if Eden is seen then as an ideal sanctuary, then perhaps Adam should be described as an archetypal Levite.”13 Sailhamer similarly comments:14
Man’s life in the garden was to be characterized by worship and obedience; he was a priest, not merely a worker and keeper of the Garden.. Throughout [Moses 3] the author has consistently and consciously developed the idea of man’s “likeness” to God along the same lines as the major themes of the Pentateuch as a whole, namely, the theme of worship and Sabbath rest.
In considering what occupied Adam and Eve’s time during their stay in the Paradise, remember that God had not yet declared an end to the period of sanctification He had purposed for the seventh day of Creation.15 The first couple was no doubt meant to “imitate the divine pattern”16 of sacred “rest,” paralleling in a general way mankind’s later weekly Sabbath-keeping.17
The creation account had, however, already anticipated the eventual end of this first “Sabbath,” after the Fall. In Moses 3:5, we read:
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;
The gist of this obscure verse might be summarized as follows: “Before there were any troublesome weeds, before the cultivated grain was grown, before God caused the rain to fall, before man was commanded to till the ground, God made all things spiritually.”
In LDS settings, this verse is often cited in discussions of “spiritual creation.”18 However, this passage tells us much more than that. We note that the “as not yet” pattern is a common opening to ancient creation accounts.19 However, the Genesis/Moses version is unique in that it seems to indicate that the Fall, rather than the first act of Creation, is the principal transforming event with which the story is concerned.
Consistent with this suggestion, Cassuto concludes that the primary function of the formula “every. before” in the Genesis account is to foreshadow the requirement for human cultivation of the earth after the Fall. In support of this reading, Cassuto cites a connection between the initial absence of the plants (siah = shrub) of the field and herb (‘eshebh = grain) of the field mentioned here, and the later introduction of the thorns and thistles (interpreted as a particularization of siah) and herb of the field as a consequence of transgression in Moses 4:24.20 From this perspective, the phrase could be seen as part of the opening bracket to the account that ends in 4:29,21 serving to highlight the fact that neither the troublesome weeds (that depend on rain, rather than the natural irrigation provided in Eden) nor the life-sustaining grains (that depend upon human cultivation, rather than being fruitful of their own accord) were to appear until after the Fall, when Adam and Eve were bereft of the fruit provided by the trees of the Garden.22 From that point on, they would be obliged to till the ground by their own efforts and to call upon God to provide the rain on which the productivity of their fields would depend.23
Consequences of the Fall
In Moses 4:23-25, God describes to Adam the consequences of his anticipated transgression:
23 And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying-Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
24 Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.
25 By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground-for thou shalt surely die-for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Note that, in contrast to the personal nature of the judgment pronounced on the serpent, Adam himself is not cursed. Instead it is the soil, from which the material elements of his own body were drawn, that will now oppose him, disturbing the original harmony between man and nature.
Illustrating the sudden replacement of Eden-like luxuriance and prosperity with desolation and obscurity of the fallen earth are the ruins of the famed city of Ubar, shown above. Also associated with the Islamic Hud traditions described earlier, Ubar was a major trading site and source of water at the crossing of two desert trails whose origins stretch back to nearly the beginning of human history. Then, in the early centuries of the Christian era, after thousands of years of abundance, the city was suddenly swallowed up by the desert sands.24 It was only through the help of special imaging technology from NASA satellites in the 1980s that the location of this lost city was again pinpointed. (Of course, I am not asserting that anything like this happened in the story of Adam and Eve, but only using the story to help imagine the magnitude of the contrast between their situation in the mortal world and their former life in Eden.)
In contemporary commonsense interpretation, the phrase “for thy sake” is often taken to mean that the cursing of the ground was done for the personal benefit or advantage of Adam. However, a more accurate rendering in modern English of “for thy sake” is simply “because of thee.”25 In other words, the Lord is merely saying that the cursing of the ground was an inevitable consequence of Adam’s transgression.
Adam’s first source of sorrow will come from the troublesome weeds that the earth will bring forth in abundance. The following paraphrase of God’s words connects this consequence to the themes of choice and opposition:26 “As you have eaten the fruit, thus knowing good and evil, likewise you will have to distinguish good in what you eat (gramineous plants) from evil (thorns).”27
A second source of sorrow is the loss of the fruit trees of Eden as the source of mankind’s food (whether intended literally or figuratively)-leaving them nothing besides “the herb of the field” to eat. Rabbinical and early Christian literature and commentary formulated a reading of vv. 24-25 that saw in this phrase the consignment of Adam and Eve to a period of humiliating penance, to a degree in the likeness of Nebuchadnezzar’s abasement to a beastlike state.28
Regarding Nebuchadnezzar, we read in Daniel 4:31-33:
O king Nebuchadnezzar,. The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: .until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
In Blake’s grotesque depiction of Nebuchadnezzar shown above, “we see [the king] in exile, animal-like on all fours. Naked, he gazes with mad horror at his own reflection like some kind of anti-Narcissus.”29
Seeking to characterize the typological “children of Nebuchadnezzar” in sacred and secular literature, Doob contrasted the literary convention of the “unholy wild man” with that of the “holy wild man.”30 Nebuchadnezzar is the prototype of the former category, his madness and self-exclusion from society ending only when he satisfactorily completed the process of penance.31 Enoch,32 John the Baptist, and the later Christian adepts of monasticism and asceticism are exemplars of the latter category, voluntarily taking on the rough clothing as “fools for God”33 in a quest for “greater knowledge.”34 The single luxury afforded by their spartan lifestyle was the freedom to dedicate themselves single-mindedly to the preaching of repentance with a loud voice to a deaf generation.
In presenting Adam and Eve as being temporarily reduced to eating the herb of the field like the animals,35 the Jewish scholar Rashi played on the double meaning of veirdu in Moses 2:28. He commented that instead of man’s “having dominion” over the beasts as God originally intended, he now would “fall down” below and be with them.36 The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says that after hearing the consequences of his transgression, Adam pled that he might be spared: “I beseech by the mercy before you, O Lord, let me not be reckoned before you as cattle, that I should eat the grass of the surface of the field. I will arise and labor. and I will eat the food of the earth; and thus let there be a distinction before you between the children of men and the offspring of cattle.”37 Tradition records that God eventually answered Adam’s prayer by showing him how to grow wheat, making it clear that this curse was not meant as an arbitrary “punishment” but rather as a temporary ascetic “discipline for spiritual renewal.”38 To a group of spurned penitents in the Book of Mormon, Alma said: “. it is well that ye are cast out, that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom.”39
Unlike his life before the Fall, Adam was now consigned to work the land to obtain his food. The importance of this labor is underscored when the language about tilling of the earth40 and eating of bread by the sweat of his brow41 is repeated in Moses 5. “The curse lies not in the work itself, which is decreed for man even in Eden,42 but in the uncooperative nature of the soil, so that henceforth the wresting of subsistence from it entails unremitting drudgery.”43 In this regard, temporal death will contribute “something positive here” to man, since it ultimately provides an end to his “toilsome work.”44 Despite such hardships, the subsequent news of the coming Redeemer will enable Adam to exclaim: “. in this life I shall have joy.”45 In his announcement to Adam and Eve of the news of the coming Savior, the angel had also revealed to them something about the nature of the real work that was meant to engage mankind. Significantly, there is no further mention of Adam and Eve’s efforts to cultivate the soil beyond this point, as the focus of the narrative turns exclusively to their efforts to preach the Gospel to their wayward children.
Mankind’s Choice Between Two Kinds of Work
With the fruit of the Garden no longer in easy reach at all times, the test now before Adam and Eve was to see if they could resist the temptation to make their labors on the land their exclusive occupation. Unlike their life in Eden, they were instructed to exercise faith in God’s divine providence for the sunshine and rain needed for the success of their crops, while pursuing the higher vocation mandated by their acceptance of Gospel covenants as their primary concern.46 The story is presented as a stark choice between two ways. “Take no thought of what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink or wherewith ye shall be clothed!”47 is the wise counsel of their generous Benefactor and Friend. “If you leave my employ, what will become of you?”48 is the cynical scare-tactic used by their would-be padrone.
Which of these two perspectives is more realistic? Consider that the second character is someone who neither created nor really owns anything in this world, whose only motive is self-interest, and who is a “liar from the beginning.”49 Contrast that with what you know about the One who is the Maker and Ruler of all things, and then the answer should be easy. Each of these potential masters requests our service in full-time employ-while the former assures us that money is the key to anything we could possibly want in this world, the Latter gives His word that if we seek his kingdom first and foremost, any temporal things that we truly need “shall be added” to us freely as gifts from Him.50 For the truth is, as Hugh Nibley explains, that all our prosperity ultimately relies on God’s unfailing generosity:51
Everything you have is a gift-everything. You have earned nothing. There is no concern for prosperity and survival where the Gospel is concerned. Everything we could possibly need for survival is given us at the outset as a free gift.
“But surely God expects us to work!” Of course he does, but we keep thinking of one kind of work, and he wants us to think of another..
The gifts do not excuse us from work, they leave us free to do the real work. The instrument is given to you; it is up to you to show what you can do with it. I’ll give you the piano or I’ll give you the violin-the real work is showing what you can do with it. The Lord provides the tools. “I’ll give you the stone and the chisel-now you show that you are a Michelangelo.” It is much harder to be a Michelangelo than to work enough to buy a chisel and some stone.
Here is a parable. A businessman had a young child who showed great promise in music and wanted to learn to play the piano. “Very well,” said the shrewd, realistic, hard-headed businessman father, “as soon as you have manufactured a piano for yourself, going out and mining the metals and getting together all of the other materials, doing all the work necessary to make a piano, then I will consider letting you take piano lessons.”
The child protests: “These are two different kinds of work.”
Playing a piano and making a piano are related, but in your short time on earth you can’t do both. That’s just the way it is. I’m not saying that temporal things are not important-they are indispensable. We must have them at the outset free of charge. Our welfare is a very important matter to God. And God has recognized that and has taken care of it. He picks up the tab and expects us not to concern ourselves with it, certainly not as constantly and exclusively as we do, or even give it priority. He supplies us with bodies free of charge and with their upkeep, also free of charge..
Like Adam, we are sent to this earth to go to school to learn things by our own experience, to be tried and tested and to seek ever greater light and knowledge. While we are here at school our room and board are all paid up by our kind, indulgent Father. What are we to study? Are we to spend all of our time at school studying how to get more and fancier room and board? That’s a vote of low confidence in our kindly benefactor; that’s a cynical sort of thing to do. But then I ask myself, “Isn’t that part of the experience of life?” Why ask me? Ask the one who is paying the bills for us what he intends us to study. He is most generous and explicit in his instructions, which are the first commandment given to the Church in these last days: “Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.”52 “Ha! Make you rich after all!” The Father explains that: He who has eternal life is rich. That is the wealth he wants us to have.
“What’s wrong with having both kinds?” Again, don’t ask me. The scriptures are full of answers to that one. You cannot lay up treasures both on earth and in heaven;53 you cannot live the Gospel and be concerned with the cares of the world. That’s what happened [in the story of] the sower: [some] accepted the gospel but did not give up the cares of this world.54 You cannot serve God and Mammon, you must hate the one and love the other.55 The rich man cannot enter heaven except by a very special dispensation.56 You cannot accept the Lord’s invitation to his banquet without neglecting other business. Remember, the Lord said a man gave a banquet. Everything was all ready, and he wanted his friends all to come and enjoy themselves. Ah! But they had more important things to do. The business of the world was more important. One of them said, “Well, I bought some land and I have to go inspect it”; another said, “I’m looking over a few oxen and they are important”; and another said, “I have a social obligation with this wedding I have to go to.” The Lord was angry with them all. “You will never get to my feast, then. You must either come to my feast or do your business.”57
The point of all this is to show that mankind’s current situation is really no different than it was when Adam and Eve lived in Eden: though a certain minimum of distraction with temporal work cannot be avoided in this world, we are not to set our hearts on growing the size of our flocks and fields, but rather to “seek. first the kingdom” and trust God for all the rest.
C. S. Lewis once wrote that there are three kinds of people in the world: “The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.
In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them-the will of God,. or the good of society-and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on.”58 They carefully divide their lives into the categories of what they owe to Caesar and what they owe to God,59 and will vigorously defend, if necessary, the notion that sometimes Caesar just has to come first.
The third class is of those who have truly “forsaken all” for Christ.60 “These people have gotten rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.”61
In the covenant of baptism, we affirm that we do not wish to be people of this first class. By what we do with the rest of our life, we demonstrate to which of the other two classes we want to belong. Are we willing to follow our Savior at all costs? Is there anything that we would not give up if it stood in the way of our serving Him?
Now, I do not wish to be misunderstood. To consecrate one’s life to Christ does not usually require that one quit his job and spend his days preaching on street corners. That may be true at some times for some people, but not for most of us, most of the time. It is a matter of the priorities of our hearts: when we find ourselves being frugal with our commitment of money and time to inessentials and generous in our offerings and in our service, when we give the discharge of our call as Christians more weight than the lure of recreation, when we are willingly doing what we can to “whittle down what is due to Caesar”62 because we truly want to increase what we have left to render to God, then we begin to understand what it really means when the Apostle Paul says that “to live is Christ.”63
In Moses 4:31, we read:
So I drove out the man, and I placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.
Note that the Hebrew term for “to keep” (shamar = keep, watch, guard, preserve) is identical to the earlier term describing one of the two duties given to Adam when he was originally placed in the Garden. Adam’s former function “to keep the Garden”-which, of course, equates to the task of keeping “the way to the tree of life”-will henceforth be assumed by the cherubim.64 However, since no one is now appointed to fulfill the duty to “dress” the Garden (abad = work, serve within it as the archetypical Levite), it must remain unoccupied and unworked until man, prepared with “intelligence and knowledge” gained through “diligence and obedience,” is ready to enter its sacred precincts.65 Meanwhile, mankind’s field of labor is this world-and there is no lack of “temple work” for us to do.
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Tvedtnes, John A. “Nebuchadnezzar or Nabonidus? Mistaken identities in the book of Daniel.” Ensign 16, September 1986, 54.
Vermes, Geza, ed. 1962. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English Revised ed. London, England: Penguin Books, 2004.
Weil, G., ed. 1846. The Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud or, Biblical Legends of the Mussulmans, Compiled from Arabic Sources, and Compared with Jewish Traditions, Translated from the German. New York City, NY: Harper and Brothers, 1863. Reprint, Kila, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2006. https://books.google.com/books?id=_jYMAAAAIAAJ. (accessed September 8, 2007).
Wenham, Gordon J., ed. Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary 1: Nelson Reference and Electronic, 1987.
Westermann, Claus, ed. 1974. Genesis 1-11: A Continental Commentary 1st ed. Translated by John J. Scullion. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994.
Wevers, John William. Notes on the Greek Text of Genesis. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1993.
Wheeler, Brannon M. Prophets in the Quran: An Introduction to the Quran and Muslim Exegesis. Comparative Islam Studies, ed. Brannon M. Wheeler. London, England: Continuum, 2002.
William Blake Online: Blake’s Cast of Characters: Personification of the Fallen Tyrant. In Tate Gallery. https://www.tate.org.uk/learning/worksinfocus/blake/imagin/cast_04.html. (accessed April 27, 2007).
Wise, Michael, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. New York City, NY: Harper-Collins, 1996.
Zlotowitz, Rabbi Meir, and Rabbi Nosson Scherman, eds. 1977. Bereishis/Genesis: A New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources 2nd ed. Two vols. ArtScroll Tanach Series, ed.Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz. Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1986.
1 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 18.
2 T. Stordalen, Echoes, pp. 257-261.
3 E.g., 1 Nephi 17:5; Alma 22:29-31.
4 W. J. Hamblin, Prophets, pp. 137, 146-147, 155 n. 52; G. Potter et al., Lehi, p. 126; Qur’an 2:25, 26:128, 134, 46:21. It is perhaps not coincidental that “Nauvoo,” the name chosen by Joseph Smith for the “City Beautiful” in Illinois, appeared in Seixas’ Hebrew textbook in a Sephardic transliteration as one form of the verb na’ah, means “to be comely” (Isaiah 52:7; Song of Solomon 1:10; K. L. Barney, Nauvoo). See also H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, 16, pp. 200-201. Ezekiel 28:13, 31 further describe the beauty of Paradise.
5 This expression has become well-known because of the First Presidency statement on the Welfare Program in the October 1936 General Conference wherein it was said that “the curse of idleness would be done away with” (H. J. Grant, Teachings 2002, p. 115). However, it seems to have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Victorian preacher and advocate of the British Charity Organization Society. He characterized this society as “a charity to which the curse of idleness is subjected to the rule of the under-magistrate of earthly society: work.” By providing jobs to the poor, the society would fulfill what he saw as the biblical mandate ” to rid the impoverished of the curse of idleness” and to “rebuild self-reliance and productivity.” The phrase “curse of idleness” was further popularized in O. S. Marden, Architects-see esp. pp. 463ff.
6 M. Henry, Commentary, Genesis 2:8-15, p. 9.
7 Ibid., Genesis 2:8-15, p. 9.
8 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 18.
9 F. Brown et al., Lexicon, pp. 712b-713c.
10 Ibid., p. 1036b.
11 J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image, pp. 146-149.
12 G. J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, p. 67; cf. U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, pp. 122-123; D. W. Parry, Service, p. 45. For example, Numbers 3:8 says that the Levites “shall keep (shamar) all the instruments of the Tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service (abad) of the Tabernacle.” Consistent with a general tendency to downplay or omit temple imagery, Islamic sources do not mention the duty of Adam and Eve to care for the Garden (D. C. Peterson, Qur’anic tree of life).
13 Cited in M. B. Brown, Gate, p. 33.
14 J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 45; cf. Deuteronomy 30:16, 1 Nephi 2:20.
15 Moses 3:2-3. Sailhamer observes: “Unlike the other days of Creation,. the seventh day stands apart from the other six days in not having an account of its conclusion. It is this feature of the narrative that has suggested a picture of an eternal, divine ‘Sabbath’. Consequently, immediately after the narrative of the Fall (Moses 4:27), .the verb asah points to an interruption of God’s ‘Sabbath'” when, as a final act of Creation, He made coats of skin for Adam and Eve” (Ibid., pp. 38-39).
16 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 15. Note that the words I have borrowed from Sarna were written in a context describing mankind’s weekly Sabbath, not the seventh day of Creation.
17 Like other events in the story of Genesis, the scriptural account also portrays the past as harbinger of the future. Writes Sailhamer: “At important points along the way, the author will return to the theme of God’s ‘rest’ as a reminder of what yet lies ahead (Moses 3:15; 8:9; Genesis 8:4; Exodus 20:11; Deuteronomy 5:14; 12:10; 25:19). Later biblical writers continued to see a parallel between God’s ‘rest’ in Creation and the future ‘rest’ that awaits the faithful” (J. H. Sailhamer, Genesis, p. 39. See Psalm 95:11; Hebrews 3:11).
In the book of Hebrews, readers are urged to enter into the “Lord’s rest” (Hebrews 4:3, 10). Explains Catherine Thomas: “They had tarried too long in the foothills of spiritual experience. Having ‘tasted of the heavenly gift,. the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come’ (Hebrews 6:4-6), they could no longer delay resuming the climb lest they lose the promise.. The promise that Paul refers to repeatedly is that same promise explained in Doctrine and Covenants 88:68-69: ‘Therefore, sanctify yourselves. and the days will come that you shall see [God]; for he will unveil his face unto you'” (M. C. Thomas, Hebrews, pp. 479-480).
18 For my views on the topic of spiritual creation, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image, pp. 134-144, 153-156, 200, 540, 716.
19 E.g., E. A. Speiser, Creation Epic, 1:1-2, pp. 60-61. See discussion in C. Westermann, Genesis 1-11, pp. 43-47.
20 U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, pp. 101-103.
21 Cf. Moses 5:1, 2 Nephi 2:19.
22 Moses 3:9.
23 R. M. Zlotowitz et al., Bereishis, pp. 88-90.
24 From as early as 3000 BC, Ubar was reputed to have been a major trading site at the crossing of two desert trails. Westerners learned of the city by its Arabic name Iram from the stories of the Thousand and One Arabian Nights but because it had disappeared in the early centuries of the Christian era no one really knew if there were any facts behind the fiction. T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) dubbed the lost city as “The Atlantis of the Sands,” and local traditions said that it had been swallowed up in the sands because of its wickedness. Guided by NASA satellite photographs taken in the 1980s, explorers proclaimed their discovery of the lost city in 1992.
25 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 28. The Greek Septuagint reads “in your labors” (J. W. Wevers, Notes, p. 46).
26 2 Nephi 2:11.
27 S. L. Della Torre, Anxiety, p. 7.
28 See Daniel 4. The Gospel of Philip says: “There are two trees growing in Paradise. The one bears [animals], the other bears men. Adam [ate] from the tree which bore animals. [He] became an animal” (W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 71:21-72:4, p. 152). Philip uses, as Barker points out, “the usual apocalyptists’ code of mortal = animal and angel = man. The text is broken, but the sense is clear enough” (M. Barker, June 11 2007. See M. Barker, Hidden, pp. 45-47; C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Glory, p. 33). Ephrem the Syrian reasoned that since Adam “went astray through [an animal] he became like the [animals]: He ate, together with them as a result of the curse, grass and roots” (Ephrem the Syrian, Paradise, 13:5, p. 170).
Nibley connects the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s “fall” to the Egyptian story of Osiris who, like Adam, was said to have been freed from a split tree (H. W. Nibley, Message 2005, p. 289):
In the book of Daniel, the tree that was split was the king himself (Daniel 4:13-15, 22); however the stump was not destroyed but preserved for a seven-year period (Daniel 4:23), during which time the king was ritually humiliated. (Daniel 4:33; cf. Apis-bull and Horus-hawk), only to resume his throne with all his glory greatly enhanced at the end of the seven-year period (Daniel 4:25, 31-34). This is the Egyptian seven-year throne period of the king. The splitting of the tree is plainly the substitute sacrifice, while its preservation against the time when the king shall be restored recalls the important role of the ished-tree in the coronation.
Although nothing like this episode can be associated directly with the historic King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BCE), both Neo-Babylonian inscriptions and the Prayer of Nabonidus (4Q242) fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls provide evidence of a pre-Danielic tradition associating a similar story with Nabonidus, the last ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire (556-539 BCE) and father of Belsharusur (biblical “King Belshazzar”-see Daniel 5:22, 7:1, 8:1; F. G. Martinez, DSS Translated, p. 289; L. T. Stuckenbruck, Daniel, pp. 104-106; J. A. Tvedtnes, Nebuchadnezzar; G. Vermes, Complete, p. 614; M. Wise et al., DSS, pp. 340-342). In his prayer, the king tells of his suffering with an “evil skin disease” for a period of seven years by the decree of God, and at least one scholar has proposed that a lacuna in the text “originally described Nabunay’s state as comparable to that of a beast (see Daniel 4:25b), or that he was ‘set apart from human beings'” (L. T. Stuckenbruck, Daniel, p. 105. See Daniel 4:25a). After appealing to gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, stone, and clay, his sins were forgiven by a Jewish healer after he finally prayed to the Most High God. A similar healing blessing performed by Abraham with the laying of hands upon the head is described in F. G. Martinez, Genesis Apocryphon, 20:28-29, p. 234.
29 William Blake Online: Blake’s Cast of Characters: Personification of the Fallen Tyrant, Blake Online. See also W. Blake, Illuminated Blake, p. 121; N. Frye, Symmetry, pp. 270-272. It has often been claimed that Blake himself struggled with madness. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image, p. 783.
This picture was painted in 1795. In France, Louis XVI had been executed two years before. Meanwhile, in England, George III, whose yoke the American colonists had recently thrown off, suffered from bouts of insanity[-thus] this picture of a degraded king [could] be an expression of Blake’s republican sentiments.” (William Blake Online: Blake’s Cast of Characters: Personification of the Fallen Tyrant, Blake Online).
“In his outcry against the imposition of any code of uniformity upon contrary individualities,” Blake reminds society that “it tempts the fate of Nebuchadnezzar, a fall into dazed bestiality, if it will not heed the warnings of [the prophet’s transforming] vision” (H. Bloom, Blake’s Apocalypse, p. 96).
30 P. B. R. Doob, Nebuchadnezzar’s Children.
31 Besides the scriptural example of Nebuchadnezzar, Doob includes in the former category the Arthurian knights Yvain, Lancelot, and Tristan, who were driven mad by disappointments in love. See, e.g., C. de Troyes, Yvain, p. 189, where Yvain “dwelt in the forest like a madman or a savage.” Thanks to Professor Jesse Hurlbut for this reference.
32 Described as a “wild man” in Moses 6:38.
33 See 1 Corinthians 4:10.
34 Abraham 1:2.
35 G. A. Anderson et al., Synopsis, 4:2, p. 5E; G. A. Anderson, Penitence, pp. 13-19; G. A. Anderson, Perfection, pp. 141-147.
36 S. L. Della Torre, Anxiety, p. 7.
37 M. Maher, Pseudo-Jonathan, 3:18, p. 28.
38 G. A. Anderson, Original Form, p. 229. As part of this reading of Moses 4:24-25, the phrase “By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” was seen by some early interpreters as God’s promise to provide a less humiliating form of sustenance once Adam’s penance was complete. At its conclusion, “God rescinds [His] initial decree and offers [him] seed-bearing grain from which he can make bread. [thus fulfilling] a prophecy made at the end of the sixth day of creation” (G. A. Anderson, Penitence, p. 19; see Moses 2:29). A Coptic Christian tradition specifically mentions wheat (along with instructions for sowing and reaping) as having been divinely provided in answer to Adam’s cries of hunger:
If Thou art moved with compassion for the man whom We have created, and who has rejected My commandment, go Thou and give him Thine own flesh and let him eat thereof, for it is Thou Who has made Thyself his advocate.” Then our Lord took a little piece of the flesh of His divine side, and rubbed it down into small pieces, and showed them to His Father. When God saw them He said to His Son, “Wait and I will give Thee some of My own flesh, which is invisible.” Then God took a portion of His own body, and made it into a grain of wheat, and He sealed the grain in the middle with the seal wherewith He sealed the worlds of light, and then gave it to our Lord and told Him to give it to Michael, the archangel, who was to give it to Adam and teach him how to sow and reap it. Michael found Adam by the Jordan, who as he had eaten nothing for eight days was crying to God for food, and as soon as Adam received the grain of wheat, he ceased to cry out, and became strong, and his descendants have lived on wheat ever since. Water, wheat and the throne of God “are the equals of the Son of God. (E. A. W. Budge, Coptic Apocrypha, cited in E. A. W. Budge, Cave, pp. 18-19 n. 1. See also M. i. A. A. al-Kisa’i, Tales, pp. 68-70; al-Tabari, Creation, 1:127-130, pp. 298-300; S. C. Malan, Adam and Eve, 1:66-68, pp.78-83; D&C 89:17)
An Ethiopian source asserts that the Tree of Life “is the Body of Christ which none of the Seraphim touch without reverent awe” (B. Mika’el, Mysteries, p. 26). Note that the Egyptian Osiris was thought to have introduced wheat and the vine to mankind, and also saw wheat grains as having been formed from his body.
The notion of wheat being divinely provided for Adam is also found in Islamic sources (G. Weil, Legends, pp. 31, 45. See also M. Ibn Ishaq ibn Yasar, Making, pp. 34, 37; cf. A. I. A. I. M. I. I. al-Tha’labi, Lives, pp. 63-65; B. M. Wheeler, Prophets, pp. 27-28). In addition, the Sumerian text Ewe and Wheat recounts how wool and wheat were divinely provided in primeval times: “The people in those distant days, They knew not bread to eat; They knew not cloth to wear; They went about with naked limbs in the Land, And like sheep they ate grass with their mouth. Then Enki spoke to Enlil: ‘Father Enlil, Ewe and Wheat. Let us now send them down from the Holy Hill” (R. J. Clifford, Ewe, 20-24, 37-38, 40, pp. 45-46).
Linking the situations of Adam and Nebuchadnezzar to that of each penitent Christian, Ephrem the Syrian wrote that “only when [Nebuchadnezzar] repented did he return to his former abode and kingship. Blessed is He who has thus taught us to repent so that we too may return to Paradise” (Ephrem the Syrian, Paradise, 13:6, p. 171). The bread promised to Adam on conditions of repentance and baptism by water can be seen as a type of Christ, the “bread of life” (John 6:35). Christ’s advent was, of course, preceded by John, dressed in the rough clothes of a penitent, eating what he could find in the wild, and baptizing “unto repentance” (Matthew 3:11. See T. G. Madsen, Sacrament, p. 85).
39 Alma 32:12.
40 Moses 5:1, 3. “Tilling the earth” is a frequent theme in the Book of Mormon. Indeed, 2 Nephi 2:19 and Alma 42:2 specifically state that Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden to till the earth. The linking of the themes of obedience and the tilling of the earth is found in Mosiah 6:6-7, and tilling is followed by a mention of children in 2 Nephi 2:19-20 and Ether 6:13-16. Tilling as part of settling a new land can be seen in 1 Nephi 18:24, Enos 1:21, and Ether 6:13, and the making of tools to till the earth is mentioned in Ether 10:25.
41 Moses 5:1.
42 Moses 3:15.
43 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 28.
44 C. Westermann, Genesis 1-11, p. 267.
45 Moses 5:10.
46 Wherefore, seek not the things of this world, but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (JST Matthew 6:38).
47 Matthew 6:31.
48 H. W. Nibley, Work, p. 210.
49 D&C 93:25.
50 JST Matthew 6:38. Note, of course, that our true temporal needs are meant to be very simple. As Nibley explains:
“Having food and raiment,” says Paul to Timothy, “let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8). We must have sufficient for our needs in life’s journey, but to go after more is forbidden, though you have your God-given free agency to do so. “Our real wants are very limited,” says Brigham; “When you have what you wish to eat and sufficient clothing to make you comfortable you have all that you need; I have all that I need” (Journal of Discourses, JD, 13:302). How many people need to eat two lunches a day? We all eat too much, wear too much, and work too much. Brigham says if we all “work less, wear less, eat less, .we shall be a great deal wiser, healthier, and wealthier people than by taking the course we now do” (Journal of Discourses, JD, 12:122). (H. W. Nibley, Work, p. 235)
51 H. W. Nibley, Gifts, pp. 91, 101-102, 104-105.
52 D&C 6:7.
53 See Matthew 6:19-20.
54 See Matthew 13:22.
55 See Matthew 6:24.
56 See Matthew 19:23-26.
57 See Matthew 22:2-14.
58 C. S. Lewis, Three Kinds, p. 21.
59 Matthew 22:21.
60 Luke 14:33.
61 C. S. Lewis, Three Kinds, p. 21.
62 M. Muggeridge, Jesus. See Matthew 22:21.
63 Philippians 1:21.
64 Cf. U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, p. 174. See also D. I. Block, Ezekiel 25-48, p. 113.
65 D&C 130:18-19. See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image, pp. 597-599.