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In The Beginning

The following is my own mystical translation of the first few sections of the book of Genesis (Bereshit). It is just one of many possible ways of translating this sacred text. I have used both traditional and mystical Judaic sources in the translation of this material in an attempt to capture the transformative qualities of spirit inherent in the original Hebrew text, while retaining the traditional narrative structure. These transformative and mystical qualities include a transcendent quality of time (no past or future tense) and a strict resistance to the naming of or the anthropomorphization of the Divine. I have also sought the deeper meaning of the text by translating proper names into their essential meanings. For example, the Hebrew word for Eden means delight, so the Garden of Eden is thus translated into the Garden of Delight. Additionally, I have attempted to filter out the gender, cultural and egoic biases present in some of the previous interpretations of the text.

In the beginning there was Spirit. The earth was empty and without form. Darkness covered the face of the deep. Then Spirit moved over the waters. And the Word was given: “Let there be light…” And there was light. The light was separated from the darkness. The light was called day and the darkness was called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
- Genesis 1:1-5

And the Word was given: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, dividing upper from lower.” The firmament was called sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
- Genesis 1:6-8

And the Word was given: “Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered together, so that dry land may be seen.” The dry land was called earth, the gathered waters were called ocean. And the Word was given: “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and trees bearing fruit with their seed within.” And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed and trees bearing fruit with their seed within. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
- Genesis 1:9-13

And the Word was given: “Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the sky to separate day from night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, the days and the years. Let them be luminaries in the sky to give light to the earth.” And the stars and the two great luminaries were made: The greater one to rule the day, the lesser one to rule the night. They were set in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth, to hold sway over day and night, and to separate the light from the dark. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
- Genesis 1:14-19

And the word was given: “Let the oceans team with living creatures. Let the birds fly above the earth, across the dome of heaven.” And the great sea creatures were created, and every kind of living creature that teems in the waters, and every kind of winged bird that graces the sky. And a blessing was given: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters of the sea; and let birds abound on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
- Genesis 1:20-23

And the Word was given: “Let the earth bring forth every species of living creature: Animals, reptiles and wild beasts.” And the various species of animals, both wild and tame, and all that creeps upon the ground were created. And the Word was given: “Let a Human Being be made in the Divine image and likeness, and let them be custodians of the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, over the animals, over all that creeps upon the ground, and over the whole earth.” And human beings, male and female, were created in the Divine image, in the very image of the Source of Life.
- Genesis 1:24-28

And the Source of Life blessed them and the word was given them: “You shall be fruitful and multiply. You will fill the earth and govern it. You will be custodians over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and every creature on earth. You have been given every seed-bearing plant and tree on the face of the earth as your food. All the animals of the field, every bird of the sky, and everything that walks the land, that has in it a living soul, have been given every green plant as their food. All of creation witnessed itself and beheld that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
- Genesis 1:29-31

Heaven and earth were completed. With the seventh day, the work of creation was finished. All work ceased on the seventh day. The Source of Life blessed the seventh day and declared it to be holy, for it was on this day that the work of creation ceased and the being-ness of creation was set to unfold.
- Genesis 2:1-3

On the day the human being was created a mist rose up from the earth and watered the entire surface. The human being was formed out of the dust of the ground. The breath of life was breathed into the being and thus it became a living creature. Eden, the Garden of Delight, was planted in the east and there the human being was placed. Every tree that is pleasant to look upon and good to eat from grew out of the ground, including the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear.
- Genesis 2:4-9

A river flowed out of the Well of Delight to water the Garden. From there it divided and became four major rivers. The first river is the River of Change (Pishon) and surrounds the entire Land of Bringing Forth (Havilah) where gold, sapphires and precious stones are to be found. The second river is the River of the Valley of Grace (Gihon), which surrounds the Land of Blackness (Cush). The third river is the River of Strength (Tigris), which flows to the east of the Land of Happiness (Assyria). The fourth river is the River That Makes Fruitful (Euphrates).
- Genesis 2:10-14

The human being was taken and placed in the Garden of Delight to work it and watch over it. The human being was told, “You may eat from every tree of the garden. But from the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear, you must not eat, for from the moment you eat it, you will know death.”
- Genesis 2:15-17

The word was given: “It is not good for the human being to be alone. A compatible helper must be found.” Every wild beast and every bird of Heaven had been formed out of the ground. They now were brought forth to be named by the human being. Whatever the human being called each living thing would remain its name. The human being named every livestock animal and bird of the sky, as well as all the wild beasts. A compatible helper was not found.
- Genesis 2:18-20

The human being fell into a deep state of unconsciousness and began to sleep. One of the human beings sides was taken and flesh closed in to take its place. The two sides were formed into Man and Woman. The man and woman said to each other, “Now we are bone from our bone and flesh from our flesh. We shall be called man and woman because we are part of the other. We shall be each others home and be united and become one flesh.” The man and woman stood naked before each other without judgment.
- Genesis 2:21-25

The Serpent of Sorcery was the cleverest of all the wild beasts that were created. The serpent asked the woman, “Is it true that you may not eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman replied, “We may eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden. But the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden we may not eat or even touch for it would bring death.”
- Genesis 3:1-3

The serpent said to the woman, “You will certainly not die! In reality, on the day you eat from the tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will have great powers, knowing both love and fear.”
- Genesis 3:4-5

The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and desirable to the eyes, and that the tree was attractive as a means to gain knowledge. She took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to the man, and he ate. The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. They sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves garments to cover their loins.
- Genesis 3:6-7

They heard the Voice of the Source of Life moving through the Garden on the wind of the day. The man and woman hid themselves from the Source of Life among the trees of the Garden. The Voice called to the man and woman and said, “Where are you?”
- Genesis 3:8-9

“We heard Your Voice in the Garden,” replied the man and woman, “and we were afraid because we felt naked, so we hid.” The Voice asked, “Where did you get the idea of nakedness? Did you eat from the tree of knowledge of love and fear?” The man replied, “The woman that is a part of me gave me what I ate from the tree.” The Voice said to the woman, “What is this that has been done?” The woman replied, “I was seduced by the serpent of sorcery and I ate.”
- Genesis 3:10-13

The Voice said to the serpent, “Because of the eating of the fruit of knowledge, you will feel cursed more than all the livestock and all the wild beasts. On your belly you shall crawl, and illusion you shall eat, all the days of your life. Fear and hatred has been planted between you and woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. They will strike you in the head, and you will strike at their heals.
- Genesis 3:14-15

To the woman it was said, “The knowledge of love and fear will greatly increase your suffering and your pregnancy. It will be with anguish that you will give birth to children and you will be dominated by your passions.”
- Genesis 3:16

To the man it was said, “The knowledge of love and fear will cause the ground to be hardened beneath you. You will derive food from it with anguish all the days of your life. It will bring forth thorns and thistles to confound and bewilder you; and you will eat the grass of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken. You have become dust, and to dust you shall return.”
- Genesis 3:17-19

The man was named Adam, because he was now of the earth and of blood. The woman was named Eve, because she had become the mother of all life. The Source of Life made shrouds of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them.
- Genesis 3:20-21

Now that the human being had tasted the knowledge of love and fear, they could not remain in the Garden of Delight and taste the Tree of Eternal Life. The knowledge of love and fear drove them out of the Garden of Delight, to work the ground from which they had come. The veil of life and death arose at the east of the Garden, along with the revolving sword of creation and destruction, concealing the path of the Tree of Eternal Life.
- Genesis 3:22-24

 

Index
Welcome
Introduction
In Beginning
In The Beginning
Before The Beginning
Endlessness
Eternal Light
Darkness
The Divine Orchard
The Awakening Self
The Divine Name
Season of Liberation
The Ten Lessons
Kabbalah Q&A

 

References

Hitchcock, R. D. (1874). Hitchcock’s bible names dictionary. New York: A. J. Johnson.

Kaplan, A. (1981). The living Torah: The five books of Moses and the Haftarot. Hew York: Maznaim Publishing.

Mitchell, S. (1996). Genesis: A new translation of the classic biblical stories. New York: HarperCollins.

 


 

 

Comments

 

Mark,

As I read your translation, it does not strike me as odd or quirky or that different from what I would expect to be there. Now, I know that if I went back to the text that I grew up with, that it would, in fact, be quite different. Reading this, however, I am pleased to see that much of what I expect to be in there is in there -- maybe this is just the result of my having been in California too long, or maybe it does reflect some kind of change in the zeitgeist.

Which sections, in particular, should one pay attention to as indicating a change from commonly received wisdom? I noticed, for example, that man and woman are co-created from each other here, not simply woman coming from the side of man. Very nice.

Thanks for posting this.

-- Jordan

Posted by: Jordan Gruber

 

Jordan,

Thank you for your thoughtful reflections on my translation of the first few sections of Genesis and for asking such a wonderful question. I am glad the text didn't seem that different from what you would expect to be there. I was trying to retain the familiar story structure while bringing the hidden mystical elements closer to the surface.

To answer your question, here are some reference notes to assist the reader in bringing awareness and attention to the sections of the text that represent changes from commonly received wisdom:

1:6. "And the Word was given..." Traditionally translated "And God Said..." - In the creation cosmology of Kabbalah (Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan and Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi), the Voice of the Divine is more like a vibrational wave rising out of the Divine void, than an active voice speaking from a corporal being.

2:4. According to one Kabbalistic interpretation, the first human being that was created was both male and female.

2:9. "The Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear" Traditionally translated "the Tree of Knowledge" - From a Kabbalistic perspective, the knowledge received from this tree represents the knowledge of duality (Kaplan), of right and wrong, life and death, and love and fear.

2:10-14. The four rivers and three lands, traditionally translated by name (Pishon, Havilah, Gihon, Cush, Tigris, Assyria, and Euphrates), are translated into their essential meanings to convey the mystical dimension of the Garden of Eden, which in Kabbalistic cosmology exists on many levels of reality.

2:21-25. There are several different possible interpretations of the separation of man and woman, with the traditional interpretation favoring the man. This interpretation seeks to find the balance of the male and female energies that is inherent in the hidden mystical elements of the text.

3:4-24. The eating of the apple and the "fall" from the Garden, normally translated as a harsh fall from grace, is interpreted here through the lens of the Kabbalistic perspective that the descent from the garden is a description of the metaphysical descent of human (male and female) consciousness into physical form.

3:22-24. Traditionally translated to convey a sense that man and woman were expelled from the garden by God's judgment; this translation seeks to reveal the mystical interpretation that it was and is the knowledge and awareness of duality that brings consciousness into physical form.

In gratitude for the gift of your response,

- Mark

Posted by: markallankaplan

 

Mark,

This is a very beautiful translation; the English version flows well and sounds good to the ear.

You wrote above (to Jordan)that "2:4. According to one Kabbalistic interpretation, the first human being that was created was both male and female." In your translation, Adam, when questioned about eating the fruit, replies, “The woman that is a part of me gave me what I ate from the tree.” Thus, here I am assuming that one can imagine this being as a whole psyche, male and female, speaking of an aspect of itself, the female aspect. . .(?) And if so, what are the metaphysical implications of the female's action, and the male side's relation to her actions?

I am not asking this as a feminist concerned about the female getting a "bad rap." Rather, I am interested in the intrapyschic dynamics of our two sides.

Another comment-- it's odd, but in your version, there is not so much the sense of Adam laying blame on Eve for the predicament they find themselves in. My version of the Tanakh really seems to portray Adam as trying to hide behind Eve's guilt. Your version works better for me, as there is more a sense of this event is an inevitable "turning" rather than a Sin.

Ruth

Posted by: Ruth Henriquez Lyon

 

Ruth,

Thank you for your kind words, thoughtful comments and probing questions.

You are correct in the assumption that this interpretation of the creation story holds that the first human being represents a whole psyche that is both male and female, and that the line you point to is indeed this psyche speaking about an aspect of itself, the feminine aspect. The metaphysical implications of the actions taken by the feminine side and the masculine side's relation to those actions are vast and deep, and can be viewed from various perspectives and angles. This makes your question a beautiful point of reflection where one can begin to deeply explore the meaning of the text, both personally and transpersonally.

So instead of an answer I would like to offer some of the possible entry points in exploring and reflecting upon this very profound questioning...

If the descent or fall is viewed as a necessary and needed process, then the actions of Eve or the feminine aspect of our psyche, can be seen as a positive act of opening to and accepting of the Divine call of the descent. It is the feminine within us that yearns to receive understanding, and it is through this yearning, this curiosity, this seeking, that we begin our journey of experiential learning and growth so we can come to know more fully all aspects of the Divine..."Only after a descent through all the worlds will we come to know in experience all the aspects of Divinity, perceiving in ourselves and in the universe the Face of God." - Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi

On another level, the process of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear can also represent both negative and positive tendencies within the masculine and feminine aspects of our psyche. For example, Eve (the feminine) is influenced by external forces (the serpent, the beauty of the tree, etc.), while Adam (the masculine) is influenced by internal forces (the voice of his feminine self). This can be both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on circumstance.

On still another level, the masculine and feminine within us represent the two outermost pillars of the Tree of Life (to be explored in more depth in a future entry). From this perspective, the feminine part of the psyche is that part of our inner selves that represents passive/receptive energy, and the masculine part of the psyche represents that which is active within us. When looked at from this positive perspective, the necessary descent is received first by the feminine side of the psyche, the side that receives, and this receiving is then transmitted to the active side (the masculine), and thus our descent begins.

I too have always had a problem with the original versions guilt and sin aspects, and when I began to explore the hidden mystical dimensions of the story I was pleasantly surprised to find a story of grace and hope and transformation.

In gratitude for your deepening of our journey through this story,

Mark

Posted by: markallankaplan

 

I have recently fell in love with a man on the internet, we have been experiencing this awesome onenss.
of each other, we have yet to meet in form but both feel this oneness you translated in Genesis2:21-25. I can not believe that God has it taken to the next step in consciousness. May all believe in his holy name shall live forever.

Posted by: Punalakshmi

 

Here's a suggestion as well, Mark: put up an audio version of your reading of your translation (audio or video), on your site, but have a link to it from here as well. I feel it would be valuable to hear you speak the word of The Word.

Posted by: Jordan Gruber

 

Thanks for the great "sound" suggestion, Jordan. I will meditate on it and see what unfolds.

Posted by: markallankaplan

 

To me, the first three chapters of genesis contain all of the wisdom of the bible; everything else is basically commentary on the fall of humanity. What's important, is how the fall occurred, for if one understands that, then there is the potential to get back to paradise. It's all rather simple, which in our increasingly complex ego structure, makes it so difficult to grasp. The first two chapters describe a creative, good, blessing God. One God, with three qualities indicated, many more implied. Third chapter, this God creates two children to inhabit the paradise he has created. The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (separation, duality) is denied them. A serpent, (ancient symbol of the mother Goddess) tempts Eve, with the promise she and Adam will become like God (separate, dividing the world into the false duality of good and evil). They eat the apple and become aware of nakedness, that is separateness, they have entered God's world of good and evil. God discovers what they have done and becomes angry; his anger frightens Adam, the son. The serpent (the mother, the earth, nature) is cursed by God, as well as the daughter Eve, cursed with sorrow and quilt. One God has entered the garden, three fallen aspects of God exit the garden, an angry jealous vengeful father God, a frightened insecure son, and a guilty sorrowful daughter. Look inside yourself and you will find an angry controlling judgmental father God, an insecure, frightened son (spirit), and a hurting guilty daughter (soul). Three aspects of One God, Truth (the father God), Trust (the spirit son), Love (the daughter soul). Three veils of darkness separating the God within from himself and the world: Anger, the blinding, deafening veil of the father God, Fear, the crippling veil of the spirit son, and Pain, the dark veil tormenting the human soul. This is the secret contained within genesis. Three veils of darkness and separation; anger, fear and pain. Three veils destroying individual lives, and collectively destroying the world. Out of these three veils grows all the false beliefs, all the defenses, all the madness that is now known as the ego, and was previously known as the beast within. These veils can be cleared rather simply through a simple watching meditation. Simple, not easy. To clear these veils brings you back to Eden consciousness, which leads into God consciousness, and beyond. Watch fear and pain as sensations in the body, detach, watch, neither for nor against, and everything unfolds, the clouds start to clear and you begin to see.

Posted by: anurag shantam

 

 
 

 

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