A colleague was mine asked me if I can write a synopsis of the story of Genesis for her first year BA students. They have to study the first part of John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’...
“OF Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden...”
I said okay. As I began to write, I said why not put some spice to the story and make it more interesting. I did. And it turned out something like this...
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a God. He lived in a place called Heaven, somewhere in the space among the clouds (Read D G Rossetti’s ‘The Blessed Damozel’ for an accurate description of how Heaven looks like, a thousand years later). He had several names — El, Elohim, Baal, Yahweh and so on; the meaning of all these names was more or less the same, he was The One. He had a band of angels, called archangels, to follow him, over whom he ruled. Among them, the chief was the one called Lucifer, the morning light. And everyone lived happily ever after for many many years.
Many many years later, God grew little tired of his perfect heaven; there was nothing much to do. So, he set a task for himself. Let’s create something else instead. Till then, there was nothing outside heaven, it was all dark and chaotic. And God said, let there be light, and there was light. God got pretty excited about this new development; so he said, let’s do something else. And he played with the chaos in the space and created the earth; and he separated the water from the land. The land was barren, the sea empty. God said let there be water, and there was water, and there was fish and life in the seas and trees and animals and birds, and everything was green and prosperous and heavenly. God created the sun and the moon, the stars, and everything else. It was all perfect. Yet, something was missing. What? Then God said, let's create man into my own image, as I am, or I was when I was young, and he took the clay from the earth and fashioned a man; he called him Adam.
Adam roamed the earth, the most enchanted part of the earth, called the Garden of Eden. God happily sat back and looked at Adam. But, Adam was not happy; everyone in the garden had their companions, all the birds, all the beasts, all the fishes, all the plants, and he was alone. God felt very bad for him. So when he was asleep that night, God took out a rib from Adam’s spine and created another figure, similar to man, but not so similar too so that it sustains Adam’s interest. She was called Eve and Adam was very, very happy. Then God appeared before them and told them that they are their favourites among all his creations, because, they are made just like him. God gave everything in the world to Adam and Eve and told them to use everything in the world and rule every beast and bird and fish and insects in the world; only just one tiny thing: There is a tree in the middle of the garden, they should never go near the tree and eat the fruit.
Six days had passed while God was busy doing all these. He felt tired and went to sleep; and that’s the reason we get a holiday after working for six days, Thank God.
The next day, he called his minions, the archangels, to show off his creation. After giving them a tour of the world, he introduced them to Adam and Eve. He was so proud with the creation of man that he told all archangels to bow before Adam and Eve. The other angels did as God told them, but not Lucifer. He was as proud as his master. He told God that he won’t bow before anyone except God himself. He argued: He is made of fire, and men are made of clay; hence he is superior to the man. But God would hear none of these arguments. He was furious with Lucifer for not obeying his orders. Lucifer was furious too. What right God has to rule over them? He questioned. He has powers too, he too is handsome, he too has skills — why shouldn’t he rule Heaven instead of God, he asked. Who made God the king, anyway? Lucifer not only stopped at questioning God’s authority, but also persuaded his fellow angels to protest against God’s totalitarian regime. He had a swift tongue and good oratory skills. Soon, he acquired a band of followers, ready to dethrone God.
What happened next was a celestial war, God versus Lucifer, God’s army helmed by Rafael, Gabriel and other archangels. The war raged on for years and years, for centuries. Finally, Lucifer was defeated. God was still angry and banished Lucifer to the fiery pit, far far away from Heaven, among the lakes of sulphur and raging fire, a place called Hell. But Lucifer would show no remorse. He said: “It’s better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Indomitable, he and his followers build a place among the fire and sulphur, and plotted their next move against God.
As he was thinking how to take revenge on God, one day, Lucifer, now called Satan, for he defied God, came up with the ultimate plan. All these wars against God started because of those blasted humans, Adam and Eve. God cares more about them than anything else. What if he, Satan, can make these humans defy God. That would be a sweet enough revenge. Once the plot was ready, it was just a matter of time to execute it.
But how to enter the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve lives? Satan has been banished from wandering around anywhere near Heaven or the garden and God’s spies, his good angels, are everywhere. It was time for a disguise. So, Satan disguised himself a snake and infiltrated the Garden of Eden. That was easy. The difficult part was how to make these humans defy God. Adam and Eve were savage, barbaric, unimaginative; they did not have any clue about their desires, their rights; they did not have any idea what’s good or bad. They had everything they needed, and their needs were very limited.
Disguised as a snake, Satan spied on Adam and Eve for several days, as they walked about the garden, eating fruits, talking to the animals, lazying about, just heaving a good time. He observed that both of them, the man and the woman, would never venture to the middle of the garden, where there’s this massive tree, laden with beautiful fruits, inviting and enticing, fantastic than anything the garden has to offer. Why then these humans avoiding the fruit of this particular tree? Satan the snake asked himself. And he had the answer, why, yes, this is the tree of knowledge. You eat the fruit and you gain intelligence. Satan now realised why these humans are so obedient to God and why they are avoiding this tree. God has forbade them to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge, for he does not want his creatures to be intelligent. Satan had found his key to his revenge against his archenemy.
The next day, he confronted Eve while Adam was away, to have a bath, probably. Lucifer was always a sweet-talker; it was very easy for him to convinced Eve that she is very beautiful and deserve much more than what she has, in fact, she deserves to be next to God, why she deserves to be God herself. But God has denied these things from her. But, said Eve, God, has been very nice to us. Is he, asked Satan. He was about to succeed in his plan. If so, why then the all-loving God has denied you the taste of the most beautiful fruit in the entire garden? Satan asked Eve. Eve had no answer to that question. Probably, the fruit is poisonous or something, God is worried about our safety, Eve said lamely. She was not convinced herself. Yes, why God, who claims to love them, should deny them such a beautiful fruit, she thought.
Satan explained. God is basically a patriarch and very insecure, he does not want anyone to usurp him. Hence, the denial and the forbidden fruit, for the fruit contains knowledge and intelligence, qualities which made God what he is today.
Eve was sufficiently intrigued, and excited even. What happens if I eat the fruit, she asked. That was Satan’s moment. He said, you become like God. That was it. Who doesn’t want to be God.
So, she walked over to the tree and plucked a fruit. She was about to take a bite, she got a little scared. She called Adam and told him her plan. She wants to taste the forbidden fruit and she wants him to taste it as well. Adam refused it outright, nah. But Eve wouldn’t hear nothing. She thrust the fruit in Adam’s hand, and the fruit looked so delectable that Adam could not hold himself. He gave into temptation and took a bite, then he gave the fruit to Eve who took a bite as well.
Nothing dramatic happened. If there was an earthquake, they did not hear it. But something else happened. Suddenly, they realised that they were stark naked. They realised that they were different from each other, and they felt a strange kind of attraction for each other. What was happening? What was the knowledge?
But God knew what had happened. He was upset. He came down to visit Adam and Eve but they cannot be seen. God called out their names. After several utterances, Adam said, God, we are here, but we cannot come to see you. God asked why. Adam said we are naked and we are ashamed. God asked how do you know that you are naked. Did you eat that fruit. Both the man and the woman said yes. God was furious. You were my favourite creatures, and you defy me. You deserve punishment.
Now, Adam and Eve came out from the hiding, with fig leaves covering their genitals. They beg for mercy; they said they were tricked by evil Satan. Whatever it may be, you must pay for your sin, the very first sin, the original sin. And the punishment — you are banished from the Garden to the Earth, where you will toil to feed yourself, clothe yourself, and you will beget children and you will die, then only you will be allowed to enter Heaven. And God left.
It was time for the humans to leave the idylls of the Garden of Eden and come to the Earth, assisted by archangel Rafael. But Eve was not ready to leave just like that when all the other animals would live happily in the Garden. So she plucked a few more fruits, gathered all the animals and told them to eat it. And they did, except for the bird phoenix. Now, a rule is a rule; God had to banish all the other animals from the garden as well and the menagerie followed the first man and the first woman on earth.
Meanwhile, God was so happy at the phoenix’s faithfulness that he granted the bird a boon, that he will never die and will be reborn from his own ashes. And, God was so unhappy with Satan that he said the form he took to seduce Eve, the snake, will forever crawl on Earth.
Thus, this is how we came to be born, according to The Bible.
Just to complete the story of Adam and Eve, they came to the earth and beget two sons — Cain and Abel. When they grew up, Cain killed Abel and run away to meet other tribes who do not worship the God of his father. Later, Adam and Eve had another son, called Seth.