By Al Lane
Grand Rapids, MI
Last month we took a long, hard look at the word “Elohim.” We learned that there are real reasons why the word “Elohim” is a feminine noun. We gave many examples both in biblical thinking, as well as in theology that the word is a feminine noun.
This month we will be examining another word which is also another feminine noun...and that word is “ruach.” We hope to more fully explain the reasoning why it is legitimate to believe that there is a logic in believing in not only the multiplicity of the Godhead, but also that at least one member is feminine; not only feminine...but that this info was known and later rejected by the many church fathers.
As always we must start at square one...with the Hebrew language and the scripture:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2).
Spirit of God, in the original Hebrew, is ruah Elohim. Ruah, the word meaning “Spirit”, is a feminine noun. Elohim is a grammatical feminine plural form of God. Nothing is said about a bearded old man in flowing white robes. What is said is that Spirit, denoted by a feminine word and a feminine plural word, is Creator and moves. The notion of a bearded old man with a long white beard is solely a human invention.
As we read the Bible, we should not forget that all life springs from Spirit. There is no fearsome Father to run from, no overbearing Mother, no absent parent to search for. Remind yourself: The Creator is not a large man. The God of the Bible is described as feminine Spirit.
To begin with the idea that God is solely male and not as the text clearly says, feminine-plural creative force is to force the reading of the text under a dark sinister shadow of negativity.
In the original third day, dry land appears and the seas are gathered. The same ruah Elohim says:
“Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, seed-bearing plants of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that this was good. And there was evening and morning, a third day.” Genesis 1:11-13
We need to set the framework for our understanding. Right at this point in Genesis' account of creation there is no creation of; or division of male and female. All is one in the universe. One sex...not an androgynous sex...an absence of sex. It is not until later in the creation when sex and gender are brought into focus. It is then that the woman is attacked. Not only the woman is attacked, so is her offspring. Why? Are these attacks aimed solely at the woman? Or are these attacks aimed at the Spirit of God and creation?
If we trace the word seed in our concordances, as well as the lives of women in Scripture through the Bible, the answer becomes clear: the woman is the surrogate for the attack on the Creation of ruah Elohim. Woman is the scapegoat, not merely for men or society, but for attacks on the Creation revealed in the first chapter of Genesis.
There is another word that also indicates the feminine in Hebrew...and that word is fourth.
Genesis 1:14 we read “Let there be two great lights.” These lights separate the day from the night. In verse six we read that the firmament divides the “waters from the waters.” The lights are “set in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness.” The light has already been divided on the second day. If these two great lights are to mean the sun and moon, their appearance indicates a feminine context. The lights appear for “signs and seasons” as well as for days and years. The two lights are to rule over “the day and night,” and the Hebrew word for “rule over” is also a feminine gender word Memshalah indicating the rule of God. And the stars also appear, as they will throughout the Bible, as a sign of fertility and birth.
In all of creation, the female is the very last thing that God creates.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.......
So God created man in his own image. (Genesis 1:26-27)”
Robert Alter wrote in his tome, The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary, that the feminine -plural ruach elohim says: “Let us make a human in our image, by our likeness, to hold sway over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens and the cattle and the wild beasts and all the crawling things that crawl upon the earth.”
In his copious notes, Alter adds that “The term 'adam (a human) is a generic term for human beings, not a proper noun (suggesting a person's name). It does not automatically suggest maleness......and so the traditional rendering 'man' is misleading, and an exclusively male 'adam would make nonsense of the last clause of verse 27.”
The creation that has been outlined in Genesis one, it matters not if one reads male and female to mean two separate genders or one image, including both genders as a compound idea; the female is the highest idea in the revelation of Spirits in the unfolding of Creation.
The popular perception of several thousands of years has always assumed the male God is the center of the Creation account. Not so fast! The Creator is Spirit, a feminine-gendered word. This feminine word becomes overturned in Genesis chapter two when another account is introduced and life soon becomes more complicated under a male-gendered word for God.
In Genesis chapter two, where is the ruah elohim in the story of Adam and Eve? It is totally missing in this revised, redacted version of our beloved Bible! Suddenly, the Spirit of God is no longer the name of God. A totally new, different name appears as if by magic.
Not only is the name of God a new name, but there are other changes as well. A totally different version of the Creation is laid out for us. There is a larger problem, if you will, in this revised, redacted version of the Creation story, evil is introduced.
In chapter one, no evil. Chapter two, evil is introduced. Why?
Such is the story of heaven and earth as they were created. When the LORD God made earth and heaven—no shrub of the field being yet in the earth and no grains having yet sprouted, because the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil, but a flow would well up from the ground and water the whole surface of the earth---the LORD God formed man from the dust of the earth, and He blew into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed. And from the ground the LORD God caused to grow a tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and bad. A river issues from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon, the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where the gold is. The gold of that land is good; bdellium is there, and lapis lazuli. The name of the second river is Gihon, the one that winds through the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, the one that flows east of Asshur; and the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden, to till it and tend it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall be doomed to die.”
The LORD God said, “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” And the LORD God formed out of the earth all the wild beasts and all the birds of the sky, and brought them to see the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts; but for Adam no fitting helper was found. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep upon the man and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that spot. And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib that He had taken from the man, and He brought her to the man. Then the man said,“This one at last Is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh, This one shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken.”
Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.
The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, yet they felt no shame. Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that the LORD God had made. He said to the women, “Did God really say: you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the other trees of the garden. It is only about fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said: You shall not eat of it or touch it, lest you die.” And the serpent said to the woman, “You are not going to die. God, who knows good and bad.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some to her husband also, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were open and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loin cloths.
They heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of day; and the man and his wife hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord God called out to the man and said, “Where are you?” He replied “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid. Then He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat of the tree from which I had forbidden you to eat?” The man said, “The woman You put at my side---she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” and the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done!” The woman replied, “The serpent duped me, and I ate.” And the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you did this, Banned shall you be from all cattle And all wild beasts; On your belly shall you crawl And dirt shall you eat All the days of your life. I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your offspring and hers; They shall strike at your head, And you shall strike at their heel.”
And to the woman He said, “I will make most severe Your pangs in childbearing; In pain shall you bear children. Yet your urge shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” To Adam He said, “Because you heeded your wife and ate of the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it,' Cursed be the ground because of you; In anguish shall you eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall feed on the grains of the field. By sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground, for from it you were taken: For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”
The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. And the LORD God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins, and He clothed them.
And the LORD God said, “Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and bad, what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!” So the LORD God banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken. He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.*
*Taken from The Torah, The Five Books of Moses, published by the Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia Pa, printed 1962.
With all of this being said, let's put Genesis chapter two into some type of perspective even if it is somewhat paraphrased. God created the earth and everything that was in it and God says, “It is good...” Then God creates man (Adam...remember a title and not a pronoun). Adam asks for a wife. Now where did Adam learn about needing a wife? This really bugs me. Adam was living in this plush, rich, verdant greenery all about him when he decides to ask God for a wife. Where did he learn that he needed a wife? This is answered in the study of Kabbalah. According to the traditions and teachings of Kabbalah Adam and Eve weren't alone. Yes, I know that the Bible is basically silent on this issue, but what so of it? With them were two other members of Creation...which totally reduces the sin of Eve, not one of actually eating of the Tree of Good and Evil; but rather a sexual sin of both Adam and Eve. With that being said we must continue...the word “married” in the Bible holds many different meanings.
I will include them for analysis..but please, don't expect me to break down the Hebrew grammatical tenses. That aspect tis still being debated some three thousand years since the Old Testament times.
The Hebrew root word for marriage is לָקַח. Transliterated the word is laqach. It is a primitive word meaning a lot of different things. Such as:
1) to take, get, fetch, lay hold of, seize, receive, acquire, buy, bring, marry, take a wife, snatch, take away
1) to take, take in the hand
2) to take and carry along
3) to take from, take out of, take, carry away, take away
4) to take to or for a person, procure, get, take possession of, select, choose, take in marriage, receive, accept
5) to take up or upon, put upon
6) to fetch
7) to take, lead, conduct
8) to take, capture, seize
9) to take, carry off
10) to take (vengeance)
1) to be captured
2) to be taken away, be removed
3) to be taken, brought unto
1) to be taken from or out of
2) to be stolen from
3) to be taken captive
4) to be taken away, be removed
1) to be taken unto, be brought unto
2) to be taken out of
3) to be taken away
1) to take hold of oneself
2) to flash about (of lightning) (see footnote).
Just take a look at some of the terms and what they mean. All of them are active. These words deal with anything but love.
Imagine this, there is this groomer named Adam living in his garden and he asks God for a wife. I hate to say this, but Adam and Eve were never formally married. They were never introduced to one another. All Adam knew was that he woke up and there was Eve. Imagine being Eve! She totally had nothing to say in the matter. She was brought into this world not because she was chosen. Not because Eve had any choice in the matter. Instead, she was because she was a female. This practically reduces the tale of Adam and Eve into more of a history of rape.
This really bugs the daylights out of me because it reduces God to some Spirit that roves around the multiverses, making life and then dumping that life on earth. In a way, it compares God to a young child who enters a pet store, sees a hamster,whines until the child receives the hamster, the child brings the hamster to its room where the child then dumps the hamster into an old aquarium. Eve must have felt the same way!
So, who was the first woman? And what happened to her? There is a lot of intrigue ahead!
Next month, we will continue more research into the word “ruach” (I promise that I will not allow get side tracked as I did in this months column.)