LIFE AFTER THE GARDEN
Here we are in week 4 of our Elephant in the Pew Series and our question is: Where did Adam and Eve go after they left the Garden?
The Bible is pretty cryptic about the life of Adam and Eve after they are kicked out of the Garden of Eden. In fact, it tells us nothing about where they go, other than the fact that God “drove out the man” and that God placed cherubim with flaming swords east of the Garden of Eden to prevent Adam and Eve from having access to the tree of life (v24).
The Bible goes on to tell us of the birth of two of Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel. We can also read of Abel’s death at the hands of his brother Cain.
This is the beginning of humanity’s downfall into a life of major depravity that eventually leads to the flood and the destruction of everything and everyone who is not with Noah and his family on the ark.
So, within scripture, we span several generations and centuries of life in a matter of a few pages and chapters, and that leaves plenty of room for speculation. We aren’t told about many of the details of life. Naturally, we want to know all the details.
Well, Googled the topic and looked through my commentaries – especially the Jewish ones – and there isn’t a lot out there that seems to tell us the “story” of Adam and Eve’s life after the garden.
On Amazon, I found a few resources. One that seemed to fill in some of the blanks is “The First & Second Books of Adam and Eve – the Forgotten Books of Eden Series,” edited by Rutherford H. Platt, Jr, in 1926.
Platt indicates that his writing “is simply a version of a myth or belief or account handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation of mankind…… This is the most ancient story in the world – it has survived because it embodies the basic fact of human life…the conflict of Good and Evil; the fight between Man and the Devil; the eternal struggle of human nature against sin” (p5). While found in the works of numerous near East, ancient writers, this version given in Platt’s book “is the work of unknown Egyptians. Parts of this version are found in the Talmud, the Koran, and elsewhere, showing what a vital role it played in the original literature of human wisdom” (p6).
A 2nd resource I found is entitled, “The Life of Adam and Eve,” which is translated from a Latin text, Vita Adae et Evae” and has been translated by B. Custis with the assistance of G. Anderson and R. Layton. This translation from the Latin has a lot of similarities to Platt’s text.
Platt writes how Adam and Eve, once driven from the garden were led to a new residence called the Cave of Treasures, where they were to live out their days.
For Adam and Eve, moving into the cave was like moving to a different country for us. The land beyond the gates of the garden were very different. They “saw the broad earth spread before them, covered with stones large and small, and with sand” (Platt, p11). Definitely not the lush almost tropical like environment that they had been living in.
According to Platt, every new experience, every little change brought a couple of responses from Adam and Eve:
To better understand, we need to look at Genesis 2:4-25, where we read about the life of Adam and Eve in the Garden in a bit more detail. In this portion of the extended creation story, we see the deep and communal relationship that God has with them. God visits them daily, spending time walking and talking with them. They forge a deep bond together. That bond is severely tested on a particular day when the seeds of doubt and of independence are sown within Eve’s heart and mind when Satan, in the guise of a serpent entices her to try the fruit of the Tree of Life – which God had pointedly forbidden them to eat. Upon tasting the forbidden fruit, Eve’s and Adam’s eyes are opened, they receive knowledge of right from wrong just like the divine beings. And, just like for us today, Adam and Eve learned there were consequences – harsh and lasting ones – for their disobedience and rebellious actions.
After their expulsion from the Garden, in Platt’s writings, we see that God continues to look out for and provide for Adam and Eve. God doesn’t break the relationship even though they have disobeyed God’s commands. The relationship continues, but in a slightly different way.
Platt tells us how Adam and Eve’s days are filled with trying to regain their former place within the garden. They beg God for forgiveness and to let them back in. God patiently, but firmly tells them that their exile will last 5,000 and 500 years, and they would not be readmitted into the garden, God’s kingdom, until the time when “One would then come and save him (Adam) and his seed (children)” (Platt, p12).
Platt tells us that approximately 7 months pass from the time that Adam and Eve were walked out of the Garden for them to come to terms with the fact that they will not be returning to the Garden anytime soon. Throughout those 7 months, Adam and Eve spend most of their time grieving, praying, worshiping, fasting, and begging God for forgiveness.
Also, during those 7 months, Platt indicates that Satan does his best to tempt and further separate Adam and Eve from God’s way. He appears in numerous disguises, plays various tricks on them, and while Adam and Eve start to fall for some of them, God intervenes and “rescues” them over and over. When trickery doesn’t work, Satan tries – and fails – numerous times to kill them.
One thing remained consistent throughout Adam and Eve’s time away from the Garden – God is always with them. At no time did God abandon them. In spite of what they had done, God continued to provide all that they needed – shelter, safety, food (once they are ready to eat it), a place to work, and eventually children to bless their lives.
According to Platt, it was 223 days, or 7 months and 13 days from the time they left the Garden, before Adam and Eve began to start a family (p172), or to “be fruitful and multiply” as God told them to do upon their creation.
Here in Platt’s writings, we find out that Eve gave birth to not just the boys we are familiar with, but at least 2 girls as well. Cain was born along with a twin sister named Luluwa. When the twins were 40 days old, Adam and Eve made an offering to God on behalf of their son; and at 80 days they made an offering on behalf of their daughter.
A couple of years later, Eve gives birth to Abel and his twin sister Aklia. Following their birth, Adam and Eve repeated the cycle of offerings and blessings before God for their new son and daughter.
As the children grew older and stronger, Platt says that Cain was hard-hearted and continually disobedient to their father, while Abel was meek and obedient to Adam. It is said that Cain ruled over Abel.
As the children aged, Satan makes a reappearance and tries to lead both of the young men astray. Abel repels Satan’s efforts by praying to God, who responds and drives Satan away. But, Cain became susceptible to Satan’s manipulations. He believed Satan when he is told that their parents love Abel more than him (Platt, p179-180).
That sounds familiar. Not much has changed in family life today. Sibling rivalry is still strong, and often one child feels less loved than another.
Unfortunately, Platt tells us that the evil one (Satan) remained in the heart of Cain, and worked on him until his jealousy overcomes him. And at the age of 17 ½, he ends up killing his younger brother Abel (15). Why? Because God seemed to favor Abel over him – the first born. As a result of Cain’s jealous and violent actions, he is punished. The most difficult part of his punishment was his permanent removal from God’s presence.
Platt tells us that it is 7 years after the death of Abel that Eve conceives and gives birth to their 3rd son, Seth.
In a lot of ways, not much has changed since Adam and Eve’s time. Life is not easy for us. Families often have difficulties, and relationships are broken apart. We often feel that we live outside of God’s presence, yet in reality, God is merely waiting for us to open our hearts and minds and invite God back into our lives.
Scholars claim that we, like Adam and Eve, are always seeking to return to life in the Garden. We are grieving the loss of our deep and abiding connection with God. We long for the carefree days of abundant blessing when our ancestors once lived inside God’s realm.
Today, we recognize that we are one step away from that Garden. As promised to Adam and Eve – the One, God’s Word made flesh, came to live among us, put on skin and lived within the parameters of human existence outside of the Garden, and died for us that we might be redeemed and find our way back home.
So….How do we return to life in the Garden? By making God our first priority. By opening the channels of communication and inviting God into our lives. By relying on God to provide for all our needs and guide us to live our best lives. By reclaiming our baptisms and our identity as God’s beloved children.
My friends, let today be your first day fully back in God’s presence.
May it be so…… AMEN
Genesis 3:8-13, 22-24
22 Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— 23therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man; and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.
Platt Jr, Rutherford H., The First & Second Books of Adam and Eve – The Forgotten Books of Eden Series. Abela Publishing/London, UK, 2012.
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