The Flaming Sword

    We will remember that Adam (and his wife) had been forbidden to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil but they were free to partake of the Tree of Life.

    When Adam and Eve sinned  the whole situation changed.  As we read we see that the Tree of Life, was just that, an antidote to environmental effects, possibly cosmic radiation, that caused ageing and dying. If you read the next verse carefully, you will see, I do not exaggerate. Free access to this 'antidote' changed after Adam's disobedience. Note: Genesis 3:22 "And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever".

    Of course, if we adhere  to the school that says this account is myth or only a "type" of a deeper and hidden truth, we can make the story say whatever our vivid imaginations can conger up. If, on the other hand we believe it has been revealed and is written to be understood by ordinary people then the message is clear and more so  in the light of our current understanding of the nature of the universe.

    Here we have the picture of our original forebears, Adam and Eve being ejected from Eden where resided all they could require, for life without end.  They break the rules and are ejected from this wonderful place and "guards" is put in place to prevent their re-entry for the reason given in v22, "take also from the tree of life  and eat, and live forever."  The typical artists' impressions of this event  is usually a single being standing erect and holding a flaming sword. Let's read the verse in 3 versions, the NIV, the King James and the Jewish Publications Society as this is after all the Jewish Bible. Genesis 3:24

NIV After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side [ Or placed in front ] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

KJV So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life .

JPS 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.

    Now the first interesting point is that there where more than one being, Cherubim (the terminal "im" = Hebrew plural), the KJV translates 'Cherubims', a sort of grammatical concession that makes the point to the uninformed. The New King James reverses this assuming, I suppose that we are better educated in our Hebrew these days.  So, from the record we know for sure that there were at least two guardians (Cherubim) and there could have been any number, a whole company.

    But, there was only one 'sword' and it was not 'with' anybody but "and a flaming sword flashing back and forth" or "fiery ever turning sword", according to the Jewish version, more exactly the Hebrew says it was "whirling around", (like the roof light on a Police car) obviously a description of an automatic barrier or alarm device which could be described more accurately today with our knowledge of surveillance mechanisms from the simplest roving searchlight to any number of high tech warning systems or even defensive or offensive weapons.  I know that the idea of anything so technical offends the spiritual sensitivities of some folk, but it is without dispute that 'the sword' was there as a visible and physical barrier to prevent Adam and Eve access to the tree of life.

    Now, you may ask, what is the point of all this? Simply to help us approach the Scriptures with an open mind, uncluttered by ages of 'conditioning' based on ideas conceived, usually apart from the record and then the record zealously 'interpreted'  to support those ideas.  So often, the Scripture is clearer and easier to understand than some 'teachers' would make it appear. *

    This is only one small part of the most fascinating account of our 'beginnings' which we write of elsewhere. While many races have legends and myths about creation, the Biblical account is the only one that is rational and makes sense with what we can know and observe. Paul said in Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."  So it must make sense.

    It occurs to me therefore, that it is helpful to our understanding of God if we first get our understanding of the early part of Genesis in order.  (See item "Unified Theory of Creation")

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* Other examples of simple physical detail often overlooked is described in the short Essays on "Air Pollution" and "Where Adam and Eve Immortal?"