Stones External and Internal
The modern practice of dismantling the Bible into a shambles of documents authored in response to disparate historical events rather than viewing it as a unified testimony inspired by God is a surefire way to miss what is actually going on in the text. This failure is compounded by an outright refusal to accept Genesis 1-3 as the foundation for the entire metanarrative.
Since the first eleven chapters of the Bible are rarely taken seriously as accurate accounts of historical events, few Bible commentators, even in conservative circles, make a connection between the curses upon the fruit of the land and the womb in Genesis 3 and the promises to Abram concerning the land and womb in Genesis 15. And even when they are taken seriously, the foundation which these chapters establish for the rest of the Scriptures is at best imperfectly understood and at worst rejected outright.
Thankfully, our collective understanding of the Bible continues to increase, particularly among those who are willing to submit to it – without flinching – as the Word of God. For instance, ignoring the artificial constraints imposed for self protection by double-dealing academics might just allow us to notice that the various trials through which Abraham passed with flying colors (except for the episode concerning Hagar) before the birth of Isaac are a recapitulation of the history from Adam to Noah.((For more discussion, see Michael Bull, Microcosmic Abram)) A cumulative reading which is sensitive to image and structure enables one to perceive that the Circumcision established a “social microcosmos” through which God would minister to the world. Abram, a man rendered barren in land and womb by God, would see those curses reversed by faith.
The widespread failure to read the entire Pentateuch (let alone the entire Bible) in the light of Genesis 1-3 reveals the magnitude of the danger inherent in the fault lines of modern hermeneutics.
Looking backwards, the arcane stipulations in Exodus and especially Leviticus make little sense without reference to the promises given by God to Adam, the “construction” of Eve, and the subsequent animal sacrifice which enabled a limited dispensation of fruitfulness in land and womb from the hand of God, whose every curse is a dark cloud with a silver lining.
Looking forwards, Exodus and Leviticus reveal the liturgical nature of those primeval events and the divine purpose of clothing beyond physical and social concerns as a rite of investiture, a sign of office. If we have our Edenic wits about us, what we should observe in the descriptions of the establishment of the Levitical priesthood is an “exposition” of the Garden of Eden: all of the physical, social and ethical attributes which were the intended possession of glorified Man are not actually bestowed in their fullness but symbolized in tangible elements fashioned, like Adam, from the raw materials of earth. For example, the High Priest pictured the ultimate Adam, Jesus Christ, but Holiness Unto Yahweh was inscribed across his forehead, just as the Law of Moses was inscribed on stone tablets. Although Israel, through the Aaronic Priesthood, enjoyed Sanctuary access, the promises were all external accoutrements rather than internal attributes. Just like the tassels which were later given to adorn their individual robes, these elementary “exo-traits” were trainer wheels fitted to guide the people of Israel in the ways of God.
In Eden, the law of God was heard by Adam but did not circumcise his heart. At the first Pentecost, the “external” law also failed to become internalized by the Israelites, in contrast to the last Pentecost where the Spirit indwelled believers as human Tabernacles for the first time, the Law engraved on tablets of flesh like never before (2 Corinthians 3:3) and His name “on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4).
The movement from “stones” (seeds and tablets) to “fruit” (righteousness and a future) is the pattern found in every aspect of life on earth. A piece of fruit has stones that it might procreate, and so does Man. Adam’s physical “stones” are external to his body. Eve’s corresponding stones (ovaries), as the bride who receives the bridegroom and bears fruit, are internal. The stones contain the genetic code that is intended to become “incarnate” in flesh and skin. Stones, flesh and skin (a clothing of glory) constitute the triune pattern that underpins the events recorded in Genesis 1, 2 and 3: Adam bore the physical and social image of God but failed to represent Him legally, that is, as one who wisely discerns between moral light and darkness — the ethical image of God. Adam’s historical continuity (the fruit of the land and the womb) was contingent upon him bearing firstfruits to God as a tree of righteousness. But thanks entirely to the mercy of God, he was not “cut off” after his failure.
In the Circumcision, history itself shifted from a Covenant with a physical boundary (resulting in the cutting off of “all flesh” in a global flood) to one whose boundary was social. Yet within this divinely ordained microcosmos of the Abrahamic tent there was still a process of forming and filling, establishing a foundation for the ultimate Covenant which brought the indwelling Spirit (ethical, Galatians 3:24). From Abraham to Moses, the nation was formed under the circumcision of flesh, but after four centuries it was time for a corporate circumcision of heart, a filling with the knowledge of God. As in Eden, this was the good intention of the Law. The nation was being prepared to serve as the legal representative of God to all other nations. The dispensation of the Levitical Law constituted the investiture of Israel for ministry.
This brings us to a consideration of the significance of “stones” and “fruit” in the Law of Moses, and how that theme is developed in subsequent Scriptures until the birth of the Seed of the Woman in Matthew 1. Consider this discussion a “biblical theology of testicles” if you will, but not only does that title offend our unbiblical Victorian sensibilities concerning what God considers “holy,” it fails to do justice to the disarming beauties — and cutting ironies — of biblical symbolism.
Like Cain, those who rejected the mercy offered by God sought their own means of evading the consequences of sin, and it always required the immediate theft from God of good things which He had promised to them via a process of endurance in patient faith. Cain manufactured a fortress in place of the City of God to minimize the curse upon the fruit of his labors in the land. Likewise, the intention of the practice of polygamy (established by Lamech) was to “steal” the fruit of the womb, hording the blessing of offspring as a commodity of the state, in order to create an instant dynasty without the need for submission to God.((For more discussion, see Michael Bull, Big Love: A History of Stolen Fruit.))
This is the principle central to the corruption of all the cities of men, as James Jordan has observed:
Enoch and Babylon are the first cities, but Jerusalem is the last. Jubal is the first musician, but David the “last”. The wicked get there first and do much of the work, laying up an inheritance for the just. Because they are not concerned with morality, the wicked can employ slave labor to build their cultures early, while a righteous culture takes longer to build.”((James B. Jordan, Was Job an Edomite King? (Part 2), Biblical Horizons No. 131.))
Abraham waited years for his promised son. Israel waited centuries for the promised land. The purpose of the delay was the same as it was in Eden: to try the hearts of men in order to prepare them to carry the burden of government over the blessings which God desired to bestow. Priestly humility always precedes true and lasting kingdom.
The sins of the flesh (murder and adultery) are focused on the Land, the domain of kings, but culture is sourced in cultus, and this is found in the Tabernacle’s conflation (or intersection) of physical seed with the required discernment between light and darkness. The ephod worn by the High Priest was a glorified loin cloth, suspended from the shoulders, with a receptacle for the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). Like the Ark which contained the two tablets from Mount Sinai, the Urim and Thummim were an instrument of divination, of prophetic discernment. Worn by the “liturgical Adam,” a son of Aaron, the ephod linked spiritual discernment (the Covenant Oath: submission to heaven) with procreation (the Covenant Sanctions: dominion on the earth). The two “hidden” stones of divination speak of access to the Garden (or Sanctuary). The two onyx stones of the ephod, shoulder pieces engraved with the names of the offspring of Israel (Exodus 28:12), relate to investiture (Oath) and the promise of offspring in the Land (Sanctions). The twelve glorious “bridal” stones upon the breastplate (Exodus 28:21) speak of Israel’s fulfilled testimony to the World (Succession).
According to Jewish scholar Moshe Kline, if we follow the ancient “scroll division” of the Ten Words as St. Augustine did, it appears that the two tablets hidden in the Ark of the Testimony represented Adam and Eve, with the odd (singular/one/head) numbers representing the “Adamic” priesthood, and the even (plural/many/body) numbers representing the “bridal” people.((For more discussion, see Michael Bull, God-In-A-Box.)) The tablets of the Mosaic “code” thus constitute an X and a Y, just as the sex of a child is determined by the seed of the Man.
THE STONES OF MOSES
Covenant Head (Tablet Y) > Covenant Body (Tablet X)
1) No false gods > 2) No false oaths
3) Keep the Sabbath (Land) > 4) Honor your parents (Womb)
5) No murder > 6) No adultery
OATH / SANCTIONS
7) No theft (false blessings) > 8) No false witness (false curses)
9) No coveting a house > 10) No coveting contents
For breaking the Covenant Oath in both “Head” (at Sinai) and “Body” (with the Midianite women), the “Egyptian” generation of Israel died in the wilderness. Moses repeated the Law to their uncircumcised children, but under inspiration he made two modifications to the Succession step of the Ten Words (Deuteronomy 5:21): the status of the wife (womb) was elevated above the house, indicating that she was no longer merely a possession but now a co-regent with her faithful husband, and the list of possessions now included the neighbor’s field (land). Like Adam and Eve after the shedding of blood, Israel was invested as a new Hierarchy, ready to receive the inheritance which God had promised to Abraham. But the future – the fruitfulness of the nation (Sanctions) – still depended upon faithfulness to their Oath, their identification with the “stones” of Moses.
Mike Bull is a graphic designer in the Blue Mountains of Australia, and author, most recently, of Moses and the Revelation.
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