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Eve, Patriarchy’s First Contender

Eve, receiver of the first promise and keeper of the first watch, also had her battles to fight. Namely, the battle of patriarchy which God foretold was a consequence of her unbelief and disobedience in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-7).

Again, as in all things concerning Eve – they are ignored – the way the evil of patriarchy raised its head in the short account of her life never gets told, but the truth is if Eve had reason to hope, then she also had something that made that hope necessary in her life. Something that needed to be changed by the fulfillment of the promise.

Genesis 1-2 presents the happy couple Adam & Eve, enjoying each other and God’s presence and bounty. Genesis 3 show them believing themselves short-changed and disobeying God, resulting in the loss of harmonious experience of God’s presence and God’s bounty. But it wouldn’t be until Genesis 5, that we see what Eve really had to fear – the birth of patriarchy – the manifestation of the consequence whereby man chooses or desires to control woman.

The accounts of the Cain, Abel, and Seth, all show Eve’s faith and trust in God, as well as her hope in the fulfillment of his promise, but in Genesis 5, something happens. There’s a switch and Adam is subtly replacing the place of God in Eve’s life. Let’s take a look at this.

“This is the written account of Adam’s family line.

When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind”  when they were created.” (Gen.5:1-2)

Do you see the change in language for describing human attributes from Genesis 1-2, 5:1-2 to Genesis 5:3???

In the former, both man and woman are created in God’s image and likeness as God’s representative and Eve continues to look for a son from God to destroy the enemy of humans. Three times she has a child she acknowledges ‘from God.’ Three times she hopes for fulfillment of God’s through childbirth.

Then Genesis 5:3, patriarchy which had only been but a shadow, now breaks loose over her life like a cloud filled with rain and we see the beginning of the very issue that women have been fighting since Eve- the erasure of woman as co-image bearer and the introduction of man according to the warped desired in Genesis 3:5 – to be equal to God. Only problem is, it is one human seeing himself as ‘god’ in another human’s life and demanding to be treated as such.

So, suddenly in Genesis 5:3, humans are no longer ‘seen’ as beings made in God’s image. Rather, Adam sees his offspring as beings made in his own image. And suddenly, Eve’s name is no longer mentioned…patriarchy has arrived!

“When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” (Gen.5:3) and suddenly, we are told that Adam sees himself as the benefactor of the gift. How reminiscent of many patriarchal positions that see themselves as owners of children! Where children are property to be done with as the fathers like and not gifts from God!

Adam was one hundred, thirty years before the patriarchal consequences of Genesis 3 set in, but once it did it spread like wild fire, bringing along with it much wickedness as seen in the chapter following Genesis 5.

The image of human, and especially the image which was obscured in Genesis 3 is not what humans are molded after, but the image of God, and to see another human being as being made in our own image, rather than the image of God is the brewing ground for all kinds of evil humans do against each other.

For then, humans choose what image they prefer as the world has experienced in the case of White supremacy.

We don’t know what life was exactly like with Adam & Eve at this time, but we have Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 5:3 to give us a hint.

Yet for the Advent season, what makes this passage significant is the fact that the hope and expectation expressed by Eve in Genesis 4 carries itself into life of some of these descendants of ‘Adam’ and manifested in some ‘righteous’ sons.

Ten generations from Adam to Noah and we are told explicitly that at the time of the second generation when Eve was actively hoping in God, humans began to call upon God and several generations down the road, we see the birth of Enoch and Noah.

Women have often been responsible for passing on the faith to their children as they bonded with them through mothering. Church history is full of women who were responsible for nurturing the strong faith of their sons by their own steadfast example, and since the Bible never says anything for no reason, I’d like to posit that the references to Eve’s hope in God as revealed in the naming of her sons in Genesis 4 was not a hope that she kept to herself. I’d like to posit that the result of people calling upon God in Seth’s generation would be a direct outpouring of God honoring Eve’s hope in His redemption and His faithfulness as a promise keeper.

God never rejected, nor abandoned Eve, so it would make sense that He honored her catechesis of her children in the promised hope. The same way we believe and teach women today that God honors the bringing up their children in the way of the LORD.

I believe Eve kept the candle burning for the fulfillment of the awaited promise by passing on both the story and promise of Genesis to her children and I believe that the faith we see spring up in several generations down the road did not come out of thin air, but out of the faithful witness, waiting and hope of Mother Eve.

So, let us bring Eve out of the bushels and let her light shine as the first woman who had to teach her children about the LORD, about the promise He made to her and about waiting for it. We will later see Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Israel) down the road, receive this promise in a refined form, but it was the same promise that was first made to Eve and for which she actively waited and taught her offsprings and whole generations to wait.

“Therefore, it would appear that Eve contended with her oppressor by teaching her children about the promise and to hope in God. As women, we too must contend with patriarchy’s desire to rule over us by preaching and teaching about God’s promise to all and sundry, including our own children. And by so doing, we contribute to generations who will walk in righteousness of God’s promise, rather than under the consequences of sin.

 

 

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