We left off talking about how the Lord makes his will known to the animals by instinct, passion and desire. That is the temptation of nachash, to rationalize. Instinct is what separates humans from animals. How does the Lord speak to us? The commandments are designed to keep us from “rationalizing” into sin. The nachash forces Adam and Chava to confront what it means to be human beings and NOT animals. The nachash is “arum” which is straight-forward, but crafty. In Gen 3.6 we read that Chava saw that the tree was good. She didn’t see with the senses anything that was “unfit.” It was enticing to the eyes, and the nachash uses the senses to entice her. We can talk about a great steak, nice and thick and cooked to perfection. Now, did you visualize it in your mind? It’s easy to visualize food. What you have is that “voice” within you, “speaking” to you. We like things that look good, that’s what shopping is all about.
We have a progression in Hebrew in Gen 3.6. We learn that the tree is “good” (tov), that it was a “delight” to the eyes (or enticing=”ta’av andah) and “desirable” to make one wise (nachmad). Let’s develop this a little further. In Gen 4.1 we learn that Adam had relations (“knew” or “yada”) with Chava. Yada is a form of the word “da’at” which means “knowledge.” Now, the Hebrew word for faith is “emunah” and biblical faith is based on da’at (raw, first hand knowledge), ahav (love) and mitz’vot (commandments/good works). Now, lets go to Hos 2.20. It says “I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, then you will know the Lord.” This alludes to Gen 4.1, but in a spiritual way. The word “know” is yada’at, a combination of the word in Gen 4.1 when Adam had “relations” with Chava, and da’at (knowledge). Now, let’s go to Hos 4.6 where it says “My people are destroyed for lack of “the knowledge” (in Hebrew it is “ha da’at”= “the” knowledge, not just “knowledge” as it reads in English Bibles). Because you have rejected “the” knowledge (again “ha da’at”) I will also reject you from being my priest, since you have forgotten the Torah of your God, I will also forget your children.” This word “yada” is used for marital relations and not just a matter of passion. It is based on his seeking what is missing in him. This word is related to da’at, and this knowledge is not intellectual knowledge. He is seeking raw, first hand knowledge. He wants to experience the “feminine” in a deep, unfiltered way. With yada/da’at, you know by experience. Emunah (faith) is based on raw, first hand knowledge (da’at), but not head or “intellectual” knowledge. It is when you know because you have experienced it.
Maimonides wrote a book called “The Guide to the Perplexed” which said that Adam and Chava knew right from wrong before they ate from the tree. The tree did not give them a moral awareness, rather it transformed this from one kind to another. Before the incident, they would not have called virtuous behavior “good” and vile behavior “evil.” They would have used different words to describe them, like “true” or “false.” Is everything good “true” or everything “evil” false? However, “true” is an objective reality, it is real, whether you like it or not. God wants to align our behavior to the truth of the Torah and the Scriptures, whether we like it or not.
What else does “good” mean? It can mean ethically correct or pleasing, desirable. Let’s discuss Pre-tree” or before they ate of the tree. This was before “desire” intruded on the intellect. They had desire, but it was before it intruded passion. In other words, before it invaded their intellect and clouded their “vision.” After they ate, it clouded their clarity (post-tree). Now, we “rationalize” God’s commands by the “voice” within us on how we observe it. Desires will direct us. We all do it. We rationalize, and passions and desires “override” what God wants us to do. Truth is “impaired” by our “rationalization.” You have to see “truth” as God sees it, which is not influenced by the world we come out of. That is why we should use Hebrew terms, learn the idioms, phrases and concepts that the Lord uses in his word. Clarity has been lost “post-tree.” The “I want” and “rationalization” with the passions takes over. The “rationalization” of the “voice of God” takes over and it intrudes on that voice. The tree of knowledge becomes the “tree of desire.”
Idolatry appeals to several things: sexual fertility and war. When you break down idolatry in the nations, it usually involves these two things. But, it basically appeals to the “I want.” People get out of balance, and the Torah restores that balance. The Torah recognizes that we do not have the ability to make sound decisions. Without the Torah, we are susceptible to blurring virtue/truth and our desires. Rom 10.4 says that the Messiah is the “target and goal” of the Torah (the word “end” means “target”). The word “Torah” means “bulls eye” and is an archery term. The word for “sin” is “chata’at” is also an archery term meaning to “miss the bulls eye.” In Judges 20.16 it says that the sons of Benjamin (“son of the right hand”) had 700 choice men who were left-handed who could sling a stone and “not miss.” This gives the essence of what Torah means.
Why don’t kids like to eat vegetables? They say “it’s bad” but they aren’t saying it isn’t nutritious. Bring pizza, they will say because “it’s good” but he isn’t saying it is nutritious for them. What he is saying is that he “desires” it and it “tastes good.” Commercials try to appeal to our desires. The advertisers know that we are subject to our passions, and that we “override” what may be good for us. They will pay millions of dollars to put their products before our eyes. Look at how much a commercial is at a Super Bowl. It is so expensive because there are so many “eyes” watching it. As a result, they know a certain percentage of that audience will buy their product. So, the networks charge these advertisers money depending on the viewing audience. The more people that watch it, the more they will charge for a commercial. The advertisers will pay what is required because they know that the bigger the audience, the more business they will generate, so it is worth the money. They present what people perceive as “good.”
We will pick up here in Part 6 and begin to talk about what we think God wants, but it is really what we want.