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Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters

Eve

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ADAM WAS FIRST FORMED, THEN EVE

ACCORDING to Moses, and taking Moses as he has come down to us, Eve, the mother of mankind, was, so to speak, an afterthought of her Maker. And it is surely something remarkable that four of the devoutest, boldest, and most original writers that have ever lived have taken and have gone out upon the same view. The creation of this world was the work of love, for God is Love. God so loved the very thought of this world that lie created it and made it the exquisitely lovely world that we read of in Moses. But love is full of afterthoughts, of new ideas, and of still better intentions and performances. And thus it is that Moses is very bold to write as if God in His growing love for this world had found out a still better way of peopling this world than the way He had at first intended-had finished, indeed, and had pronounced very good. A new kind of love; a love such as even heaven itself had never seen nor tasted anything like it; a love sweet, warm, tender, wistful, helpful, fruitful; a love full of a 'nice and subtle happiness';-the mutual love of man and woman,-took our Maker's heart completely captive as a still better way of replenishing earth with its children than even that noble and wonderful way by which heaven had been replenished with its angels. And thus it is that Moses, in his second chapter, lets us see our Maker coming back to earth; lets us hear Him finding fault with His first work in Adam, very good as it was; and lets us watch Him re-touching His work, till He takes Eve out of Adam and gives her back to Adam a woman to be his married wife, to be an help meet for him, and to be the mother of his children. So Moses in Genesis. And then, Plato in his Symposium teaches his Greeks the same thing; that man cannot live alone, that love is the true and only good of man, and that the best love of earth is but a foretaste and an assurance of the love of heaven. And then, Jacob Behmen has a doctrine all his own of the origin of woman; of the sphere and the functions of sex in this life, as well as of its absence from the life to come: a doctrine to enter on which would lead us too far away from our proper work tonight. Suffice it to say that for philosophical depth, for speculative power, for imaginative suggestiveness, and for spiritual beauty there is nothing better in Moses the Hebrew Plato, or in Plato the Attic Moses, than Behmen's doctrine of Adam and Eve. Behnien's reading of Moses leads him to believe that there must have been something of the nature of a stumble, if not an actual fall, in Adam while yet he was alone in Eden. Adam, at his own and alone creation, was pronounced to be 'very good. There must therefore, Behmen holds, have been some sort of slip or lapse from his original righteousness and obedience and blessedness before his Maker would have said of Adam that he was now in a condition that was 'not good.' And thus it was that Eve was created to 'help' Adam to recover himself, and to establish himself in paradise, and in the favour and fellowship and service of his Maker. 'It is not good that man should be left alone. This shows us,' says Jacob Behmen's best English interpreter, 'that Adam had somehow altered his first state and had brought some beginnings of evil into it, and had made that not to be good which God at one time had seen to be very good. And, therefore, as a less evil, and to prevent a greater, God divided- Genesis 2:21 -the first perfect human nature into two parts, into a male and a female creature; and this, as you will see by-and-by, was a wonderful instance of the love and the care of God toward our new humanity. Adam was at first the total humanity in one creature, who should, in that state of perfection, have brought forth his own likeness out of himself in such purity of love and in such divine power as he himself had been brought forth by God. But Adam stood no longer in the perfection of his first estate as the image and the likeness of God. The first step, therefore, towards the redemption and recovery of Adam beginning to fall was to take Eve out of him, that he might have a second trial and probation in paradise; in which, if he failed, an effectual Redeemer might then arise out of the seed of the woman. Oh! my friends, what a wonderful procedure is there to be seen in the Divine Providence, always turning all evil, as soon as it appears, into a further display and an opening of new wonders of the wisdom and the love of God!' But you will start up as if you had been stung by the old serpent himself, and will angrily demand of me-Do I believe all that? My confident and overbearing friend, I neither believe it nor disbelieve it; for I do not know. But I believe about the first Adam, as I believe about the Second, that had it all been written even the world itself could not have contained the books. And the longer I live and listen and learn, the more slow I become of saying that I disbelieve anything that men like Moses hint at, and that men like Plato and Behmen and Law speak out: all three, all four, men whose shoe latchet neither you nor I are worthy to unloose. But, as Bishop Martensen quotes: 'The time has not yet come, and our language has not yet acquired the requisite purity, clearness, and depth to permit us to speak freely, and without, in some respect or other, provoking misunderstanding, upon a subject in which the deepest enigma of human existence is concentrated.'

But listen, and without interrupting him, to Moses on Eve, the mother of mankind. 'And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And the Lord God made a woman, and brought her unto the man. Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And the serpent said to the woman, Ye shall not surely die. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband with her, and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened.' Eve gave to Adam that day, and Adam took at Eve's hand, what was not hers to give nor his to take. And any woman who gives to any man what is not hers to give nor his to take, their eyes, too, will be opened!

Out of my sight, thou serpent! That name best
Befits thee with him leagued, thyself as false
And hateful; nothing wants, but that thy shape,
Like his, and colour serpentine may show
Thy inward fraud, to warn all creatures from thee
Henceforth … Hate hard by lust.

O Eve, Eve! fatal mother of so many fatal daughters since! Would God thou hadst resisted the devil for thyself, for thy husband, and for us thy hapless children! O Eve, Eve, mother of all flesh! 'And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, and I hid myself because I was naked. Who told thee that thou wast naked? And the man said, The woman Thou gavest me to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. I was alone, and Thou hroughtest this woman to me. I rejoiced over her with singing. I blessed Thee for her. I took her to my heart. I said, This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. And the Lord God said to the woman, Woman, what is this that thou hast done? So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.'

After the mystics, Milton is by far the best commentator on Moses. Masculine, massive, majestic, magnificent, melodious Milton! Hear Moses, then, on Eve, our much deceived, much failing, hapless mother, and then hear Milton.

Moses
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him an help meet for him.
Milton
-I, ere thou spak' st,
Knew it not good for Man to be alone …
What next I brine shall please thee, be assured
Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire.
Moses
And the Lord God made a woman, and brought her to the man. And Adam said, Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife.
Milton
Under His forming hands a creature grew,
Manlike, but different sex, so lovely fair,
That what seem'd fair in all the world, seem'd now
Mean, or in her summ'd up, in her contain'd
And in her looks, which from that time infused
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all thing's from her air inspired
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
On she came,
Led by her Heavenly Maker, though unseen,
And guided by His voice; nor uninform'd
Of nuptial sanctity, and marriage rites:
Grace wag in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring. By thee,
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother first were known.
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets.
Here Love his golden shaft employs, here lights
His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings.
Sleep on, blest pair!
Moses
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast which the Lord God had made.
Milton
-I now must change
These notes to tragic; foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal on the part of man, revolt,
And disobedience: on the part of Heav'n
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke: sad task, yet argument
Not less but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles.
Moses
And she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat.
Milton
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her work gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.
Earth trembled from her entrails, as again
In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan;
Sky lower'd, and muttering thunder, some sad drops
Wept at completing of the mortal sin
Original.
Moses
And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
Milton
To whom the Sovran Presence thus replied,
Was she thy God, that her thou didst obey
Before His voice, or was she made thy guide
Superior, or but equal, that to her
Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place
Wherein God set thee? Adorn'd
She was indeed, and lovely to attract
Thy love, not thy subjection
Moses
And unto Adam He said, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.
Milton
Idleness had been worse;
My labour will sustain me.
So spoke our father penitent.
To whom thus also th' angel last replied:
-Only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, and faith,
Add virtue, patience, temperance, add love,
By name to come called charity, the soul
Of all the rest; then thou wilt not be loath
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A Paradise within thee happier far.
He ended, and they both descend the hill;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They hand in hand, with wand ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.

Great-minded Milton! 'The great number of books and papers of amusement, which, of one kind or another, daily come in one's way have in part occasioned, and most perfectly fall in with, and humour, our idle way of reading and considering things. By this means, time even in solitude is happily got rid of without the pain of attention; neither is any part of it more put to the account of idleness, one can scarce forbear saying, or spent with less thought, than great part of that which is spent in reading.' Thus Butler. Let Moses and Milton and Butler be more read.

But it is high time to turn to Paul, who is a far greater authority and commentator on Moses than Plato, or Behmen, or Milton, or Law. Now, Paul does not say very much about Eve, but what he does say has in it all his characteristic strength, straightforwardness, and evangelical consolation. Adam was the protoplast, says Paul to Timothy, quoting the expression from the Wisdom of Solomon. Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 'Of the woman,' says the son of Sirach in his tremendous attack on women, 'came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.' How it might have been with us today if the serpent had tried his flattery and his lies on Adam we do not know, and we need not ask. Only, let the truth be told. The devil, as a matter of fact, never spake to Adam at all. He approached Eve with his glozing words. He succeeded with Eve, and then Eve succeeded with Adam. Flattery led the woman astray. And then love led the man astray. The man could not refuse what the woman offered. 'The woman was deceived,' says Bengel, 'the man was persuaded.' And, because Eve was first in the transgression, Moses put certain special punishments upon her in his day, and Paul put certain other humiliations, repressions, and submissions in his day. God, in Moses, laid on Eve that day

The pleasing punishment that women bear; as, also, that her desire should be to her husband, and that he should rule over her. O husbands of women! O young men, to whom is their desire! God help all such women! And, if their desire must so be, let us pray and labour at our tempers and at our characters, at our appetites and at our inclinations, lest their desire be their everlasting loss. 'With my soul have I desired Thee, O God, in the night. Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He will give thee the desires of thine heart. Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known My name. With long life will I satisfy him, and I will show him My salvation. As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness.'

That emancipation of women which they owe to Jesus Christ had not had time to work itself fully out in Paul's day. And thus it is that we read in Paul's first Epistle to Timothy that the women are to learn in silence with all subjection, and that they are not to usurp authority, but are always to be in silence.

To whom thus Eve with sad demeanour meek:
Ill worthy I such title should belong
To me transgressor, who for thee ordain'd
A help, hecome thy snare; to me reproach
Rather belongs, distrust and all dispraise.
So spake, so wished, much humbled Eve.

'Let the women learn in silence,' and, 'I suffer not a woman to teach her husband, but to be in silence.' Yes; truth and beauty, Apostle Paul. But who is to be her husband? Who is to fill up the silence? All women would be proud to sit in silence if their husbands were like the husbands in Timothy's diocese; that is to say, if they would but speak out in the silence, and would speak out wisely, and advisedly, and lovingly, and always well. And, once in every woman's life she does sit as silent and as teachable as Paul himself would have her sit. When God takes her by the hand and brings her to the man for whom He has made her, then she for a season puts on the ornament of a meek and a quiet spirit. 'Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.'

'Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in The Child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.' I am glad to see that the Revised Version leans to the mystical and evangelical interpretation of Paul's 'childbearing.' For, as Bishop Ellicott says, nothing could be more cold and jejune than the usual interpretation. And Paul is the last man to be cold and jejune on such a subject. Yes, I will believe with the learned revisers, and with some of our deepest interpreters, that Paul has the Seed of the Woman in the eye of his mind in this passage, and that he looks back with deep pity and love on his hapless mother Eve; and then, after her, on all women and on all mothers, and sees them all saved, with Eve and with Mary, by the Man that Mary got from the Lord, if they abide and continue in faith, in love, in holiness, and in sobermindedness.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Whyte, Alexander. Entry for 'Eve'. Alexander Whyte's Dictionary of Bible Characters. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wbc/e/eve.html. 1901.

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