In the Second Beginning: a Midrash on Genesis Chapters 1-3

“In the Second Beginning”
Read by Mike Weber

In the second beginning, after driving forth the man and the woman to dwell in exile, God placed the cherubim and a flaming sword at the gates of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life.  And God judged the man and the woman for their rebellion and cursed the ground because of their sin.  The sun beat down upon the grass, withering it and turning it to brown.  Thistles and thorns grew up in once fertile fields, and a spirit of sadness moved over the face of the earth.  Then God saw the misery of the man, and behold, it was not good.

And God said, “Though the man has sinned and rebelled against me, yet I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.”

So God blessed both the man and the thorns, saying, “Let some of the thorns bring forth raspberries, growing in abundant clusters among the brambles.  And let them be a delight to the eye, and a sweetness to the mouth, and a refreshment for the soul.  And behold, it was so.

The man tasted of the raspberries, and lo, they were very good, for although they still scratched his arms, they were a delight and a sweetness and a refreshment for the soul.  The man gave some of the fruit to his wife, and she ate.  And together they blessed the Lord, their God, and gave thanks for his tender mercies.  And there was evening, and there was morning, a new day.

Now on the second day of the exile from Eden, God looked into the eyes of the woman, and lo, they were dull and sad, for they reflected the dreariness of the world.  God saw the emptiness of the woman, and behold, it was not good.

And God said, “Though the woman has sinned and rebelled, yet I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.”

And God said, “Let there be beauty, and let some of the thorns bring forth roses of red and yellow, pink and orange.  And let their petals be as soft as a baby’s skin, and their smell as sweet as the flowers of Eden; and let them be a delight to the eye, and a pleasure to the nose, and a refreshment for the soul.”  And behold, it was so.

The woman saw the roses and smelled their fragrance, and behold, it was very good, for although the thorns pricked her fingers and scratched her arms, yet her eyes glistened with the beauty of their blossoms, and her soul was filled with wonder.  And the woman plucked some of the flowers, plaited them into her hair, and brought them to her husband, saying, “Behold, the beauty of the Lord.” And the man rejoiced in the beauty of the roses and of his wife, and together they blessed the Lord, their God, for his tender mercies.  And there was evening, and there was morning, another new day.

On the third day of the exile, God looked down upon the man and saw that his back was bowed with labor, his eyes dull with drudgery and his muscles knotted by toil.  God saw that the man took no pleasure in his labor, and behold, it was not good.

And God said, “Though the man has sinned and rebelled, yet I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.”

And God said, “Let the man take joy in his labor.  Let him delight in the strength of his legs and rejoice in the dexterity of his hand.  And let the sweat of his brow be to him as the anointing of the oil of gladness.  And though he grows weary in his labor, let him remember that he is created in my image and that I have given him work to do.”

And behold it was so.  The man plowed a straight furrow, and crafted a chair, and made a home.  The woman, likewise, planted a garden, and sewed a garment, and made a home.  Then the man and the woman gave their gifts to one another, saying, “See what we have wrought together through the strength of the Lord.” And they took delight in their labor and gave thanks to the Lord for his tender mercies.  And there was evening, and there was morning, another new day.

On the fourth day of the exile, God saw that the woman and the man were guarded and lonely.  For though they were husband and wife, yet inwardly they blamed each other for the exile.  And God saw their alienation, and behold, it was not good.

And God said, “Though the man and the woman have sinned against each other and rebelled against me, yet I will have mercy on whom I have mercy.”

And God said, “Let there be forgiveness.”  And behold, it was so.  And the man said, “I’m sorry,” and the woman said, “I forgive you.”  And the woman said, “I’m sorry,” and the man said, “I forgive you, too.”

Then God said, “Let the woman and the man again be naked and unashamed.  And let them take delight in one another, becoming one in body, heart and soul.”  And behold, it was so.  The man and the woman knew each other with passion and delight, and in their knowing they conceived a relationship, a child and a family.  And although there were moments, and even seasons, of loneliness, misunderstanding and strife, nevertheless it was still very good.  And in quiet intimacy they worshipped the Lord, their God, and gave thanks for his tender mercies.  And there was evening, and there was morning, another new day.

Now the fifth day of the exile was the day before the Sabbath.  (For the man and woman had eaten of the forbidden fruit on the first day of the week and the exile had begun on the second.)  And the man and the woman remembered the words of the Lord God when he had cast them out of the garden—“You are dust, and to dust you will return.” And behold, they were afraid.

And God saw their fear, and lo, it was not good.  And God said, “Though the man and the woman have sinned against me and deserve to die, yet I will have mercy on whom I have mercy. ‘For the days are coming when your dead shall live, their bodies shall revive. Dwellers in the dust awake and sing for joy!’” (Isaiah 26:19)

And God said, “Let there be promise and let there be hope.”  And behold, it was so.  And the man and the woman believed the promise and rested in hope, and their fear departed them.  So they blessed the Lord, their God, and gave thanks for his tender mercies.  And there was evening, and there was morning, another new day.

The sixth day of the exile was the Sabbath, and on it God rested from all his labors.  And God saw that although his creation was no longer perfect, nevertheless it was still very good.  And God once again took delight in his creation.

And God said, “I sanctify this day to be a day of redemption and delight.  I decree that, henceforth on the Sabbath, the cherubim and the sword shall no longer block the way to the tree of life.  But let all who are broken, come and find healing.  Let all who are guilty find forgiveness.  Let all who are weary find rest.  Let all who are sad find joy.  Let all delight in my goodness and rest in my tender mercies.

And behold it was so, and remains so, even unto this day.

© August 11, 2001, by Rev. Michael A. Weber.  For permission to reprint this article please contact the author at msnrweber@verizon.net

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