osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

A Very Language Based Drash on Breisheit.

I will begin by saying that I am in the camp that does not take Breisheit literally, and also view the standard Biblical criticism of Gen. (e.g., the supposed "two creation stories" (actually three, possibly four, depending on how you count) as being hopelessly mired in anthropological ideas that have been discredited for a good 25-30 years now (for example, the notion that "primitive cultures" are illiterate and that the primary purpose of cosmology myths is to explain the physical world in a rather simplistic Schleiman-esque fashion). This year, I was drawn to the rather obvious parable-like nature of the names of Kayin's descendants.

More below.

O.K., lets focus for a few minutes on Gen. 4. I will suggest that, among other meanings, the story of Cain and Abel is a parable of the rise of agriculture and how it creates civilization. Kayin (who is so named because his mother said "I have acquired a man from God") is a farmer, but Abel has flocks. Despite Cain's good efforts, God turns to Abel's sacrifice. when Cain is upset over unfairness of it all, God assures him that if he works hard and does his best, he -- the good farmer -- will be accepted and rule over his brother -- the herdsman -- in the end. Cain tells this to Abel, the two fight, Cain kills Abel and then tries to hide it. God then says "Where is Abel your brother?" Cain denies knowledge, God calls him on it and passes judgment. Cain takes a wife and goes "to the land of Nod, east of Eden."

Now lets look at 4:17-23. I am going to substitue for the given names the meaning of the Hebrew root word that forms the basis of the name (I gave the Hebrew name and root in parantheses next to the English translation). Tell me if it suggests anything like a parable to you.

And THE ONE ACQUIRED FROM GOD (Kayin, Kuf-Nun-Heh) knew his wife, and she conceived and bore EDUCATION (Chanoch, Chet-Nun-Chaf); and the ONE ACQUIRED BY GOD built a city, and he named the city after his son, EDUCATION. And unto EDUCATION was born THE UPROOTER AND DISTURBER (Irad, Ayin-Raish-Daled) [NB: while the others "give birth" or otherwise use the active, EDUCATIONS "causes to be born" in the passive], and THE UPROOTER AND DISTURBER begat THE ONE WHO DID NOT KNOW GOD (Mechoo Eil -- I rely on the Hirsh analysis for the name), and THE ONE WHO DID NOT KNOW GOD begat THE ONE WHO BLOTS OUT GOD'S NAME (Metusha-eil, again meaning is derived from Hirsch), and THE ONE WHO BLOTS OUT GOD'S NAME begat Lamech (no root word). And Lamech took two wives, one named COMMUNITY (Adah, Aiyin-Daled-Hay) and one named TRANSFORMS BY FIRE (Tzilah, Tzadi-Lamed-Hay the root that means to cook, bake, roast or otherwise transform and prepare things by fire). And COMMUNITY bore PRODUCTIVE LABOR (Yaval, Yud-Bet-Lamed), the father of all who sit in tents and keep herds, and his brother was named THAT WHICH IS PRODUCED BY PRODUCTIVE LABOR (Yuval, same three letter root, but conjegated in the passive rather than the active voice), and he was the father of all who play upon musical instruments. And TRANSFORMS BY FIRE also birthed Tubal-Kayin (a combination of productive labor and Cain), the shaper of all metal, and his sister was SHE WHO BRINGS PLEASURE/PLEASANTNESS (Na'amah, Nun-Ayin-Mem, related to the word "na'im," which means pleasure or pleasantness but not in a sexual manner).

This concludes the geneology of Kayin. The remaining geneology (which concludes Ch 4 and then begins the "third" creation story in ch. 5) is of Seth and his line. Cain and his crew drop out of the picture entirely.

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