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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Curse of Eve - a bedtime story*

By The Special Correspondent

*This awesome piece was written by The Special Correspondent, a very special personal friend of mine, for the magazine Homme, which in turn published it some time back. I would like to share this with all of you. Many thanks to The Special Correspondent for his consent for the republication of this story here. For the record, The Special Correspondent is part man part computer chip who owes his life to the chip more than anything else. He is currently at the tail end of his mid-life crisis but is fast sliding into an old life crisis. According to him, he had had nine near-death experiences. One thing for sure though, he can only count up to one.

Our story begins thus, as do all bedtime stories …

Once upon a time, far, far away, there lived a poor sod called Adam. God made him from dust. He was immortal. Our hero lived in a beautiful garden called Eden. In the garden there was a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If Adam ate its fruit, he would know the difference between … yes, good and evil. And that would be bad, or must have been, because God told Adam that if he ate from it, he would surely die (Genesis 2:16). Our hero got lonely. So God created Woman from his rib to be his ‘helper’. God loved them. He made them in his image, perfect and sinless. They would never be ill, never be harmed and never die. And God was a real sport when he said, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:27).

And how could they not live happily ever after? …

I must pause here. There is a tiny dispute of fact. This tale in Genesis of the Christian God, his Adam and Eve, suggests that Eve was the first woman. However, a Jewish book called The Alphabet of Ben Sira (circa 8th Century A.D.) tells the story of Lilith; that she and not Eve, was Adam's first wife, created at the same time and from the same dust. Claiming to be thus created equal, Lilith refused to sleep “under him”. This was a problem for our hero who, ever the ladies man, insisted,

I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the superior one.

Lilith freaked. She flew away into the air where she ‘knew’ many demons, spawning hundreds of baby demons a day. And thus was coined the oath “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you were the only man in the whole universe”. Adam sobbed to God, “O Sovereign of the Universe, the woman you gave me has run away”. Oh boo hoo. But God was good to Adam, so he sent three angels after her. They threatened to drown her if she refused to return to him. “O piss off” she must have said, because they did. So God, perhaps regretting Free Will a little, made Eve, but this time from Adam’s rib to prevent her from leaving him.[1]

I readily accept this version as Genesis 1:27 suggests a woman before Eve, but more so because Lilith sounds really hot. Despite Lilith, the consensus is that Eve represents Woman and that She did not come into existence in her own right but only to fulfill man’s needs. This is significant, as we shall see.

Where was I?

Ah yes. There was a serpent in the garden who was actually Satan (Revelations 12:9). Before he lost the War in Heaven, he was called Lucifer, God’s first and most beautiful angel, the Angel of Light. The Morning Star. He felt that although Adam and Eve would be eternally happy in paradise, they would also be eternally ignorant. So he persuaded Eve to eat the forbidden fruit for then her eyes would be opened, and like God, she would have knowledge. She ate. The now wicked Eve then seduced poor Adam into taking a bite himself. Immediately his eyes were opened. With all this knowledge, he realised he was butt naked and so put on an apron (Genesis 3:7).

But then he heard God walking in Eden in the cool of the day. ‘O bummer’, he must have thought and he hid. But God called for him and Adam said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10). (What happened to the apron?).

God figured it out (well, of course He would) and asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam blamed Eve, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed the snake, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate (Genesis 3:13).

God didn’t buy it. The serpent got off lightly though, probably because it was Satan and he was only doing his job. But it was off on its belly for the rest of its life. And to be hated by Eve and her children (oh that must have hurt).

Adam was cursed (for listening to evil wifey, of course), (Genesis 3:17-19):

And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, You shall not eat of it’, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

But Eve’s curse was worse (Genesis 3:16):

To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

And God banished them from Heaven, to the East of Eden. And Death did come to Adam and Eve.

The Christians, in another one of their cool euphemisms like ‘the Rapture’, call it ‘the Fall’. I think ‘the Almighty Cock-Up’ would be more appropriate. But I don’t get what’s so awful about knowledge. Certain Gnostic sects actually honour the snake for bringing knowledge to Adam and Eve. But it is the treatment of Eve that is truly baffling.

Her curse is two-fold. The first was increased pain[2] during childbirth and in raising children.[3] There is also the post natal extra fat, wider hips, stretch marks and of course, the sag. And children will always find ways to break a mother’s heart. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Women have more pain in childbirth than any other creature.

God 1, Woman 0.

And the Puritans took the Curse very seriously. In 16th and 17th century Europe, midwives were tried and burned at the stake as witches for administering any form of pain relief. There was an outcry from the Church when chloroform was discovered and used in childbirth by Sir James Simpson in the early 19th century. It was seen as an unholy attempt to rebel against God’s curse on Eve. Even Queen Victoria was heavily criticized for having used anaesthesia with the birth of her 8th child.

But Eve’s second curse is the real cracker: “… yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” I confess I am thoroughly enjoying the very suggestion of a man’s divine right to rule over his wife. After all, Adam did name her Woman because she was created of man (Genesis 2:18-23). This is no slip of the quill; Genesis earlier recognised the headship of man before the Fall (Genesis 2:18 and 2:22). This means that God’s later ruling ‘he shall rule over you’ cannot be a punishment in itself and is accordingly, simply the way things are. So to obey God’s edict the wife must submit to her husband, I surmise with glee. What’s worse is ‘desire’ is interpreted as Woman’s need to ‘control’[4] her husband. This is a curse because her need can never be fulfilled, as man’s headship is an edict of God that cannot be usurped.

God 2, Woman 0.

St. Paul himself did not accept Woman’s control over man. He said (I Timothy 2:11-15), “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

The Twentieth Century New Testament provides a truly brave translation of this clause, “But women will find their salvation in motherhood”. Try telling Liz Taylor that childbearing and submission to her husband (singular) are her salvation.

But the puritans condemn Eve for the consequence of her deeds. This is what they say. She disobeyed God and seduced Adam to follow suit. Adam was then punished because he ‘listened’ to her over God. Consequently, God cursed the Earth. Their sin, which had not been forgiven by God, was bequeathed to all their descendants. To absolve Man of this ‘original sin’, God sacrificed Jesus, his son in Christian dogma. (Umm, why God did not simply forgive us all without crucifying Jesus is not for me to ask.)

So Eve caused Adam’s sin, the original sin of all Man, the death of Christ and the end of the world. It’s like blaming the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil for a tornado in Texas.[5] All butterflies should have their wings removed and like Woman, find salvation in raising larvae.

The reality, however, is that women are attributed with the qualities of the Biblical Eve, unworthy, manipulative and filled with deception and guile.[6] As an example, see Ecclesiastes 7:26-28: “I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare ... while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all”.

Orthodox Jewish men in their morning prayers recite the following benediction to Yahweh, “Blessed be [God] King of the universe that Thou has not made me a woman.[7] And another: “Praised be [God] that he has not created me a gentile. Praised be [God] that he has not created me a woman. Praised be [God] that he has not created me an ignoramus.” Equating Woman with gentiles is a little harsh.

But there are limits to this sexist Biblical nonsense. The joke ends with the original Protestant, Martin Luther, if he actually[8] said: “If they become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there”.

Ironically, there is no Quranic condemnation of the Muslim Eve and her purdahpracticing daughters. In the Islamic version of our story (2:31-36), (7:19-25), (20:115-123), Allah never blamed Eve for Adam’s sin and neither Eve nor her daughters were cursed with the misery depicted in the Bible. The Hadiths may say otherwise, but not the Quran.

The real disappointment is Adam, or at least the Genesis/Ben Sira version. He is a wuss. He was given Lilith but went whinging to God when she left him for demons. He was then given Eve. But he could not even say ‘No’ to her for God’s sake. He hid behind aprons and even blamed Eve for disobeying God. Clearly, he was no match for Woman. He was conned by Eve and bollocked by Lillith; but in her defence, Lilith cannot be blamed for refusing to spend eternity with a poof like Adam.

God, of course, is far more formidable. So after more than 3,000 years, Christian puritans must be appalled at Woman’s late charge in the 21st century in meeting her Curse.

The epidural has all but rendered pain in childbirth obsolete. God 2, Woman 1. And in the modern home, her control over her domesticated husband (inexplicably called a pussy) is all but complete. God 2, Woman 2. And even without a Hilary win, we have women prime ministers and presidents who, despite St. Paul, rule over nations of men. God 2, Woman 3. Oh ... and what was that Curse again?

Thus endeth the story. Oh, I almost forgot. … And Woman lived happily ever after.


[1] This is the version of the Armenian writer Avetik Isahakyan.

[2] There has been some argument about the translation: the word translated as ‘pain’ is the Hebrew etzev. The Christian apologist will argue that to ensure consistency, etzev means ‘toil’ as is used in relation to Adam in Genesis 3:17 and not ‘pain’. This remains a minority view. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible to translate etzev in Genesis 3:16 made by 70 scholars in 300 B.C. uses the Greek wordlupĂȘ, meaning also pain of body.

[3] The curse could not have been of actually having children as the earlier command was “be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:27).

[4] In the same sense as in Genesis 4:7: “[Sin's] desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

[5] See Edward Lorenz’s lecture in 1972 for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

[6] The following quotes are taken from the controversial article Women in Islam Versus Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition, The Myth and The Reality by Sherif Abdel Azim, Ph.D. But see the rebuttal in A Response to Sherif Abdel Azeem's Eve's Fault and Eve's Legacy by Anthony Wales.

[7] Daily Prayer Book. (Phillip Birnbaum translator) (NewYork: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1977) pg. 18.

[8] See The Gospel According to Woman by Karen Armstrong for the source of this quote.

31 comments:

Kris said...

Hohohohohohhahahahahahaha!!!!!! Absolutely loved this :)

Tiger said...

Alamak, "desire shall be for her husband".
So the OWC took their cues from the Bible?

Anonymous said...

OK, now, Mr/Ms The Special Correspondent, its a funny piece.

Not funny, as in ha-ha.

Funny, as in whether you'd dare do a similar "satirical" piece on Islam.

Anonymous said...

Hahhahaha,

Nice one..

By the way Mr Harun. me, and some of us would like to convert. We are tired of Islam.

PLSSSSS.. show us how?

selvarajasomiah said...

Really enjoyed this, cool!!!

Anonymous said...

without the fruit of knowledge : u dan aku would NOT be around cos adam & eve din even know SEX !!

Anonymous said...

God made women good helper to men, with that they are made to be very capable. As you probably notice.

St. Paul also commanded all men to love their wife like how Christ love his church! very tall order!
'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up...'

/eng
Epidural only temporary take javascript:void(0)away women's pain during the moment of labor but ask any women... and you will know it's the months of child bearing, contractions, during and after care + bringing up the kinds that sums up all the pain.

what you have written seems very unfair to women but men carry heavy responsibility in a family, if you look closely in the bible. Something that men will struggling to do without the help from their wife.

Anonymous said...

Not to worry if the verses are incomplete. Now that Steve Jobs are safely tugged in, he can upgrade all the tablets over there.

- Job Upgrading archive banks

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to prove how wrong the bible is???

Next time try fishing atleast it's more productive

Robert Hagedorn said...

Saint Augustine couldn't do it. But can YOU explain what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate in the story? After 1600 years it's time to think, read, and give the real explanation based only on the facts in the story. No guesses, opinions, or beliefs. We've already had way too many of these. Treat the whole thing as a challenge. You can do it! But first do a quick Internet search: First Scandal.

Anonymous said...

Art, You are good!

Anonymous said...

OI - this is blasphemy lah!! how dare u make fun of de holy bible by posting this article here! imma gonna chop off your cow's head, set fire to your temple and report u to the authorities so's they chuck u into ISA !!!
oops, sowwi - wrong call LOLOLOL...

Q14 said...

there is no such mention about apron in the bible...

Anonymous said...

Q14,

There could be aprons in Eden.

Unless, Eve only serves, breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and many many bites in between! :)

In any case there must have been ants in Eden. What with all the sweet apples around!

Then, too, it seems the Snake was not competition for Adam at all! :)

Seriously, old languages were very flowery ...you can't tell the profane from the divine. Stands to reason that kids never learnt sex till much later when it was too late... and kids had kids! :)

Anonymous Ignoramus said...

who needs john doe when there's art harun around

anikrusdiantini said...

We hear all types of preachings from all types of religions, great and small. We can be very confused by religions as to which one represents the truth. Of course the atheists also come out with sensible arguements. Though I follow a certain religion,I have come to a stage when I also start to ponder if God exists?

mojo said...

The story of Adam & Eve which is the basis of Judaism Christianity and Islam can easily be picked apart just by applying a little common sense. If God is all-powerful and the Creator why couldn't he just remove the apple tree from the garden of Eden? How come God was looking for Adam in the garden, being God shouldn't he have known where everybody was at all time. & if God is all-knowing how come he didn't know Adam & Eve would disobey him and the chief culprit would be Satan, another creation of God? Looks like a lot of his creations have gone "bad". Something wrong with God's production process? Just goes to show that the more educated we become the less plausible religious stories like this become. While our uneducated and fearful ancestors would have accepted these stories without question education is giving us the ability to question more and more.

Anonymous said...

Mr Art Harun and his so called correspondent friend delights in putting down that which he does not understand. The entire Chapter of Genesis is an allegory of the spiritual evolution of man told in a simple story like structure.

Anonymous said...

I didn't finish reading the story because I could not figure out 4 points.

Point #1
If God does not want Adam & Eve to eat those fruit, why in the first place plant the tree in the garden of eden and then tell A&E not to eat them. It's like putting chocolates on the dining table and telling the children not to eat them.

Point #2
Adam & Eve were the first people on earth. They give birth to children ... how did it get past the 2nd generation ... to present times when we now have 7 billion people on earth. Unless Adam & Eve's children 'knew' each other and continue to multiply. In modern times, this will be called "incest" and is punishable. But are we all incestuous since the dawn of MAN.

Point #3
We are pray to God (in whatever name he is called). We say he is all powerful, can do no wrong and loves all people. Well, looking at where we are now in 2011 ... would it be more appropriate to say God messed up big time. And if he is so loving, why put MAN through all these sufferings like natural disasters, crime, corruption ... Why doesn't God just create utopia, where Man and Woman is happy all the time?

Point #4
Satan seems to be a formidable opponent of God, so God is not the Almighty after all. We have always painted Satan as evil ... but we only know this through the servants of God ... not seen it with our own eyes. Could it actually be the other way round in reality. This could well be a propaganda war between God and Satan ... and Man is just a pawn.

I better stop here ... lest they arrest me for being blasphemous.

malaysian said...

Dear Art, it was definitely a very interesting read. I can understand why anybody's view and understanding of the story of creation can be skewed.

First and foremost, the Bible is not the literal word of God. It is inspired word of God, written by man. Hence, the words in the Bible are not to be taken literally, but they are to be carefully studied, ascertaining the intention and message behind the words. The Bible is infallible in terms of the intended message.

The story of Adam and Eve is a symbolic story, which intends to give us an understanding on the origins of mankind, his place with the Creator, the fall of mankind through sin, and the consequences that came with it. It is not intended to paint the so-called women's temptress behaviour, or man's mistake of seeking to know right and wrong. That is, unfortunately, a narrow and wrong interpretation of the passage.

Adam's sin was not seeking to know good from evil, it is mistrusting God's goodness and the disobedience that resulted from that mistrust. Do you not think God, the all powerful, the all good, would have wanted to give Adam the gift of knowing good from evil. God would have given Adam the eye to differentiate the two, in due time. Adam's sin was mistrusting God's goodness, and wanting to attain that gift, independent of God's involvement.

I respect freedom of expression. But i just wished we took more responsibility for what we write. I understand your confusion on the passage, but do you not think it would have been wiser for you to seek the Truth and explanation behind the story before concluding rather recklessly on the message of the story of creation without proper investigation?

art harun said...

Dear Malaysian,

Thank you so much for your reminder. I value it and really appreciate it.

This story was written by a dear friend for a life style magazine 2 or 3 years back.

It is intended as a satire and light reading. It is not a theological, philosophical or a contemporary analysis/study of Biblical texts or religious teachings.

If you had read my previous articles, I am sure you would realise that I try my darndest best to seek the truth.

Thank you again anyway for your reminder.

Have a good weekend.

malaysian said...

Dear Art,

I must apologise if I was hard on you in anyway. I am sorry that it slipped my mind that it was not written by you but a friend. I suppose, it was the realisation of how an article written by your friend and shared by you can cause an escalation of the cynicism some people have for religion itself and/or christianity in particular (judging from the comments), that resulted in my response. It was out of disappointment more than anything else.

I still think you write some really amazing pieces.

God bless and have a good weekend too.

Anonymous said...

Man 2: Woman 4

YAY!!!! Go, gal go!!!

art harun said...

Dear Malaysian,

No apology is needed Bro. You have been very kind.

This is actually the 2nd time I am publishing this story. The 1st time though, attracted about 10 comments, none of which contained any statement about the religious sensitivity issue which may arise from the story.

This time around though, it attracts about 20 comments, with some commentators bringing up the religious issues.

I thus conclude, rightly or wrongly, that:

a) I now have more readers;
b) Some of my new readers are more sensitive about matters affecting their faith;
c) The comments I received this time reflect contemporary religious sensitivity on the ground in Malaysia where political and perhaps religious correctness are being sought more than ever.

Singam said...

Art, I salute you for daring to publish such an article. Religion is such a sensitive subject that many people are not amused when such parodies are written. I imagine God has a better sense of humour than that.

IMHO ancient religious texts are revered far more than they are due.In our deification of those texts, we ofttimes gloss over some rather trivial contents that suggest such texts were perhaps public records of a more mundane nature. We also refuse to countenance the possibility of different crumbling sources being gathered together and concatenated into purportedly complete texts even if the content challenges logic.

Be that as it may, humour about religion is not for everyone.

Peace.

Spook the Spinx said...

Malaysians think Eve wore a sarung.

But in the old days even Adam could have worn Eve's sarung. Hey! Give the guy a break. He could have mistaken his for hers.

Malaysian fishermen on the East coat might still wear some. It's the wealth index, remember?

Perhaps, God told Eve, aside, in the strictest of confidence, that Adam really came later! ;)

Anonymous said...

Tarzan = Adam & Jane = Eve. NO !???
B4 they ate the 'fruit of knowledge'
they dun know SEX & cant talk SO they could only yell : Oye ...O...O !

Anonymous said...

PAS is a taliban party, be careful.

Pawi said...

Hahahaaa... Enjoy reading this one.

Ipoh said...

ONLY For those interested to verify and read further on this topic...
please click on the links to verify and refer to the Quran verses

If you read the same story in Quran, (See 2:31-36),( 7:19-25),( 20:115-123) you will find that God in Quran :
1. never blamed Adam's wife for the sin that Adam committed. God spoke about both Adam and his wife being duped by Satan, and never singled the wife out.
2. Adam is held responsible for the sin he committed, he cannot blame it on on his wife, since he is as a responsible human being as she.
3. Both Adam and his wife were punished for their sin by being ousted from Paradise.
4. The wife did not receive any harsher admonition than Adam and was not threatened by misery for herself and all her female offsprings as the Bible depicts.
5. In Islam (Submission in English), all the stories about Adam's wife being responsible for getting Adam to sin can only be found in the Hadiths Books and never found in Quran.
Like many Hadiths in the Hadiths books, you can easily recognize the influence of Jewish beliefs on those who wrote these books, alleging the false stories and sayings to the prophet Muhammed.
In summary, while the Bible ( and the corrupted hadiths ) blame it on Eve, Quran holds both Adam and his wife responsible for the sin of eating from the forbidden tree. Islam (Submission) holds everyone responsible for his/her sins. No blaming of parents, spouse, teachers, preachers, brothers, sisters, friends, or any one is accepted.
[Quran 6:164] Say, "Shall I seek other than God as a Lord when He is the lord of all things ? NO SOUL BENEFITS EXCEPT FROM ITS OWN WORKS, AND NONE BEARS THE BURDEN OF ANOTHER. Ultimately, you return to your Lord, then He informs you regarding all your disputes.
Recommended following articles for further reading
Blame it on Eve! Eve in the Bible vs Quran
Women in Islam VS Judeo-Christianity
Women’s Status in Christianity & Islam
WOMEN IN ISLAM

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