[The following is part three of an occasional series on the Garden of Eden (Genesis chs. 2-3).]
Ever have one of those days? You know, with the kids underfoot, so many other things clamoring to get done, then hearing the ominous silence . . .
As a sometimes manny (male nanny) of three year old twins, I know that the most scary noise they can make is absolute silence, when you know they are up to something, and therefore they are not making even a peep! Better, screaming, running, crashing noises, than that ominous silence. What are they up to now?
In a largish house marked here and there by errant Disney stickers and a few permanent-marker scribbles (sort of like youth-gang hash-tags), these twins can get into mischief pretty quickly. (Wait until they are four or five years old!) To be sure, most of their mischief ends up as quite harmless, and even comical at times. Yet, when permanent markers are involved, I guess I may end up with “one of those days,” when the punishment does not fit the crime. Stern pronouncements of doom thunder from my lips (or as the blonde twin pronounces it, “whips”). “Never again . . . ” I pontificate, and my quick, urgent interrogations lead to evasive responses: “but she found it, and gave it to me . . . ,” “no, it was her idea . . . “; you get the idea. And from the Garden, no, ahem, protected play area, they are expelled. “Never again!”
As you have surmised, I find clear parallels here with the Garden of Eden story (especially Gen 3:1-19). Yahweh, the busy “parent” (hey, he has an entire universe to take care of), can’t watch his Eden (aka protected play area) all the time. The kids are silent, in fact, they quickly go into hiding when he finally takes his walk in the garden in the early evening (see v. 8). “Where are you?” he calls out to Adam. Soon he learns that Adam has found out that he is “naked” and therefore embarrassed and in hiding. “Who told you this?” is the next quick question, and we remember the immediate followup, “Have you eaten from the tree I told you not to eat from?” (My now-grown children always wondered why we parents knew almost immediately what they as children had done in secret—as if we had never been children ourselves!)
Now, of course, comes passing the buck: “the woman (girl) you put here with me—she gave me some fruit . . . ” So the girl is immediately inquisitioned (I just created a new verb): “the serpent deceived me . . . ” (And why do harried parents allow serpents [or permanent-magic-markers] to be found in supposedly child-proof play areas is a mystery for the ages, I admit.) And finally, of course, the harsh pronouncements of doom: “never again . . . you will regret this forever . . . cursed . . . all the days of your life . . . ” (you get the idea). Maybe Yahweh the manny overreacted here a bit?
The story ends of course with the permanent removal from the Garden. But at least the errant couple are dressed in proper style (in garments of skin [leather], no less) before their forced banishment from “Paradise” (see v. 21). I remember “back in the day” when in primary school the scary pronouncement that “this will be in your permanent record” successfully deterred at least some childish criminals from their nefarious actions—actions usually undertaken in strict silence. Threats of permanence can at least deter temporarily some petty criminal acts. And, yes, some “original” sin is not all that original. And some parental (or care-take-orial) over-reactions are not all that original either.
Some food for thought this December solstice. Have a blessed Holiday Season!