Copy Right 2022
Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
Transition From Bloodshed to Theft
1: A Slave to Slaves
After presenting the Rainbow Covenant and its Bloodshed Laws, the Torah tells us about Noah’s mishap, that he got drunk and laid down on the ground naked, then humiliated by his grandson, Canaan. When he woke up, he cursed Canaan by the words: “Cursed is Canaan, a slave of slaves he will be to his brother.” (9: 25)
Many commentaries wonder whether Noah’s generation knew and practiced slavery. The answer is most likely negative. Slavery was introduced to society much after the Flood, when Empires were established by nations, to invade other nations, grabb their land and capture their people for slavery .
Karen Amstrong in her book “History of God” describes that historical era – between 2500 BC and 1600 BC – as typified by what she calls ORGANIZED THEFT. Mankind discovered a new way to get wealthy and gain political power: Assemble an army, invade your neighbors, capture their land and subject their people to forced labor, in short: BUILD AN EMPIRE. A new social class was born, the royalty, whose sole goal was to lead military invasions into other nations, Slavery became the foundation of the new economy. In fact, that era of ORGENIZED THEFT continued to play a role in history through Rome and modern colonialism up to our time.
The story of cursing Canaan therefore must have taken place years after the Flood, as the generations of Mankind had already deteriorated along organized THEFT, when slavery was already established. No0ah saw it and regarded it as a curse.
In other words: The curse of Canaan is written here as a headline, heralding a new era: As if the Torah is saying Slavery is here. Now we’ll see how it came about and how to struggle against it.
2: Different Levels of THEFT
Thus we move in the Text from Noah’s generation’ and their BLOODSHED to Abraham’s generation and their ORGANIZED THEFT. From Adam’s THIRD Commandment to Adam’s FOURTH.
There was a THEFT even in Noah’s generation. We remember Tubal Cain’s gangues who raped and mugged people in the streets and violated THEFT on individual level. But Abraham’s generation committed THEFT
on a large scale, performing it by Empires and armies.
3: History Moving Along the Commandment’s List
With the curse of Canaan, the Torah moves quite eruptively from BLOODSHED to THEFT, from Adam’s THIRD to Adam’s FOURHT. That transition is not incidental. Previously the text moved from the Adam’s sin of IDOLATRY and ADULTERY in Eden, to BLOODSHED on Earth. (Eating from the forbidden fruit is tantamount to a rebellion against G-d’s will, which is IDOLATRY, and if the married Woman slept with the Serpent, she committed also ADUTERY.) in the same line, the Torah takes us from BLOODSHED to THEFT.
And then, after Abraham generation and THEFT, the Torah would take us to Jacob and his struggle against CIVIL ORDER, which is Adam’s FIFTH, then to the selling of Joseph which is sheer BLASPHEMY and desecration of Go-d’s name, Adam’s SIXTH.
Why is that orders? What is the message of the Torah by telling us that history Is moving along Adam Commandment’s list?
4: The Parental, Loving Heavenly Court of Eden
Let’s’ go back to Adam in Eden. As we’ve learned, when YHVH – ELKM “commanded” on Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil, He also Commanded on Adam the entire Six Commandments: IDOLATRY, ADULTERY, BLOODSHED, THEFT, JUSTICE and BLASPHEMY.
But since out of those Six, Adam and his wife could violate in Eden only the first two, the question arises why the rest of them were given in Eden at all? The answer is that they were given to Adam in case he and his wife would fail Eden trial, and be driven out to live on Earth. On Earth, the entire Six would be very relevant. Because they all address Mankind’s most basic and most powerful ‘evil drives.’ Mankind needs those Commandments to overcome our most basic faults.
The Heavenly Court of Eden is not the same as the Heavenly Court that rules Earth. The very name Eden comes from “edna”, a fine sexual pleasure. The Heavenly Court of Eden, YHVH ELKM, is like two Cherubs in Love, holding Wing against Wing, their faces are like a boy and a girl looking at each other with Love. They are like heavenly MOTHER and FATHER , aba and ima, looking at their first child Adam with PARENTAL Love, says the Zohar in the Parsha of Genesis.
And that loving Court gave Adam the Six Commandment, to help him coming back to his purity in Eden. The Court wants us to correct the damage done to our souls by the primordial sin, purify ourselves and return to the spiritual status Adam had before the Sin. “Adam, where are you?” The Court of YHVH ELKM called in Eden after the sin. It wants us back.
Because only from that level of purity Mankind could proceed to the Eternal Sabbath
By sending Adam down to Earth, says Sefat Emeth, Mankind received a mission: use the Six Commandments – and the entire Torah – to climb back to your purity of Eden as it was before the Sin.
Once a year, on Rosh Hashanah, the ‘regular’ Heavenly Court that rules our Day, ascends to the form it had in Eden – two Loving Cherubs looking at their child Adam with Love. Such a Heavenly Court is more open to our prayer and repentance, than the regular Court throughout the year. We therefore use that period of the year – between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – to offer our prayers.
And on Rosh Hashanah, the Loving, Parental Heavenly Court judges us, Mankind, where are we in our path back to Eden? Have we made any strive to purify our souls?
5: The Six Commandments Address
Mankind’s Basic Evil Drives
The Six Commandments were chosen, since they address Mankind’s most powerful evil drives. They work on the individual level, as well on Mankind as a whole.
In fact, we are built to be challenged by the evil drives that are addressed by Adam’s Six Commandments. Every day we should prepare ourselves to be challenged by one or more of those basic moral issues:
We should expect ourselves to be challenged by IDOLATRY to its kind, worshipping any entity but the real G-d.
We should expect ourselves to be challenged by ADULTERY to its kind, by the challenge of keeping the integrity of our marriages and our pure family life, by the challenge to wear modestly and stay away from sexual promiscuity.
Every day we should expect ourselves to be challenged by BLOODSHED to its kind, as entailed in the Rainbow Covenant, as well as by anger and hatred.
We should expect to be challenged by THEFT and ABDUCTION to its kinds, including human trafficking and forced labor, even slavery.
We should expect to be challenged by INJUSTICE to its kind, including spreading lies and false news.
And we should expect to be challenged by BLASPHEMY to its kind, including desecration of G-d’s name. When people who are supposed to present G-d and His Torah misbehave, they are guilty of DESCECRATION of G-d’s name,
So the Loving, caring Heavenly Court of Eden equipped Mankind with Six Commandments that address our most powerful evil drives. The Commandments helps Mankind to overcome the challenge and the attractions of our evil drives so that we would step up towards Adam’s purity as it was before the Sin.
That works on Mankind as individuals, as well as a species. And that is the novelty of the Book of Genesis. It is not only the individual man who is challenges daily by those evil drives, it is also Mankind and society that is challenged by it
IN A PEDICTABLE WAY!
The Book of Genesis shows that Mankind is challenged in history along the Six Commandments of Adam, one by one, in a PREDICATABLE way along the list. The list is logical and is built on the structure of our psyche. You violate one, only to be challenged by the next one.
You violate IDOLATRY by disbelieving in G-d, and you end up with an affair that destroys your family.
You have violated ADULTERY, and someone would rul after you with a pistol or a knife, to commit BLOODSHED.
And once you’ve stolen someone’s spouse, why not stealing his property? Committing THEFT.
And once you’ve done the above, wouldn’t you attempt to cover your deeds and doing INJUSTICE?
And if you live in such a society that tolerate all the above, you’d surely curse your parents for bringing you to such a rotten world, and even curse the Name of the CREATOR who has created it!
6: Precious Souls Given New Commandments
But the Book of Genesis has another message. Yes, humanity is destined to be challenged by the Six Commandments one by one. Humanity might fail, as Adam had failed in Eden. But the Loving Court of Eden that chased us out of Eden, has not only given us a way to come back, but has also kept sending Mankind precious souls of people who struggle against those failures and taught Mankind how to withstand against the evil drives. The Heavenly Court even supported those precious individuals by giving them new Commandments, that enhance their stance.
Thus, it gave Noah the Seventh Commandment, which forbids the consumption of blood and a limb torn from a living animal. It came as a support of Noah’s stance against BLOODSHED and CRUELTY.
Then the Heavenly Court gave Abraham the eighth Commandment, circumcision, which presents the emblem of our Master in our flesh. By this, Abraham announces that we are slaves only to G-d who “Owns the Heaven and the Earth.”
Then the Heavenly Court gave Jacob the ninth Commandment, the sciatic nerve prohibition, which enhances Israel stance against CIVIL DISORDER and INJUSTICE.
And then, at Sinai, the Heavenly Court gave Israel the Ten Commandments which introduces HOLINESS into our world. The Ten Commandments are in fact a repetition of Noah’s Seven, with only one new Commandment added: The Observation of the Holy Sabbath. It chases away BLASPHAMY from our world.
This explains why Noahide should learn not only the story of CREATION, Eden, and Noah Rainbow Covenant , but also the rest of the Book of Genesis. For the entire Book relates to Adam’s primordial Six Commandments given to Mankind in Eden – to help us coming back. .