In The Beginning
The following is my own mystical translation of the first few sections of the book of Genesis (Bereshit). It is just one of many possible ways of translating this sacred text. I have used both traditional and mystical Judaic sources in the translation of this material in an attempt to capture the transformative qualities of spirit inherent in the original Hebrew text, while retaining the traditional narrative structure. These transformative and mystical qualities include a transcendent quality of time (no past or future tense) and a strict resistance to the naming of or the anthropomorphization of the Divine. I have also sought the deeper meaning of the text by translating proper names into their essential meanings. For example, the Hebrew word for Eden means delight, so the Garden of Eden is thus translated into the Garden of Delight. Additionally, I have attempted to filter out the gender, cultural and egoic biases present in some of the previous interpretations of the text.
In the beginning there was Spirit. The earth was empty and without form. Darkness covered the face of the deep. Then Spirit moved over the waters. And the Word was given: “Let there be light…” And there was light. The light was separated from the darkness. The light was called day and the darkness was called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
- Genesis 1:1-5
And the Word was given: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, dividing upper from lower.” The firmament was called sky. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
- Genesis 1:6-8
And the Word was given: “Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered together, so that dry land may be seen.” The dry land was called earth, the gathered waters were called ocean. And the Word was given: “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and trees bearing fruit with their seed within.” And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed and trees bearing fruit with their seed within. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
- Genesis 1:9-13
And the Word was given: “Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the sky to separate day from night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, the days and the years. Let them be luminaries in the sky to give light to the earth.” And the stars and the two great luminaries were made: The greater one to rule the day, the lesser one to rule the night. They were set in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth, to hold sway over day and night, and to separate the light from the dark. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
- Genesis 1:14-19
And the word was given: “Let the oceans team with living creatures. Let the birds fly above the earth, across the dome of heaven.” And the great sea creatures were created, and every kind of living creature that teems in the waters, and every kind of winged bird that graces the sky. And a blessing was given: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters of the sea; and let birds abound on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
- Genesis 1:20-23
And the Word was given: “Let the earth bring forth every species of living creature: Animals, reptiles and wild beasts.” And the various species of animals, both wild and tame, and all that creeps upon the ground were created. And the Word was given: “Let a Human Being be made in the Divine image and likeness, and let them be custodians of the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, over the animals, over all that creeps upon the ground, and over the whole earth.” And human beings, male and female, were created in the Divine image, in the very image of the Source of Life.
- Genesis 1:24-28
And the Source of Life blessed them and the word was given them: “You shall be fruitful and multiply. You will fill the earth and govern it. You will be custodians over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and every creature on earth. You have been given every seed-bearing plant and tree on the face of the earth as your food. All the animals of the field, every bird of the sky, and everything that walks the land, that has in it a living soul, have been given every green plant as their food. All of creation witnessed itself and beheld that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
- Genesis 1:29-31
Heaven and earth were completed. With the seventh day, the work of creation was finished. All work ceased on the seventh day. The Source of Life blessed the seventh day and declared it to be holy, for it was on this day that the work of creation ceased and the being-ness of creation was set to unfold.
- Genesis 2:1-3
On the day the human being was created a mist rose up from the earth and watered the entire surface. The human being was formed out of the dust of the ground. The breath of life was breathed into the being and thus it became a living creature. Eden, the Garden of Delight, was planted in the east and there the human being was placed. Every tree that is pleasant to look upon and good to eat from grew out of the ground, including the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear.
- Genesis 2:4-9
A river flowed out of the Well of Delight to water the Garden. From there it divided and became four major rivers. The first river is the River of Change (Pishon) and surrounds the entire Land of Bringing Forth (Havilah) where gold, sapphires and precious stones are to be found. The second river is the River of the Valley of Grace (Gihon), which surrounds the Land of Blackness (Cush). The third river is the River of Strength (Tigris), which flows to the east of the Land of Happiness (Assyria). The fourth river is the River That Makes Fruitful (Euphrates).
- Genesis 2:10-14
The human being was taken and placed in the Garden of Delight to work it and watch over it. The human being was told, “You may eat from every tree of the garden. But from the Tree of Knowledge of Love and Fear, you must not eat, for from the moment you eat it, you will know death.”
- Genesis 2:15-17
The word was given: “It is not good for the human being to be alone. A compatible helper must be found.” Every wild beast and every bird of Heaven had been formed out of the ground. They now were brought forth to be named by the human being. Whatever the human being called each living thing would remain its name. The human being named every livestock animal and bird of the sky, as well as all the wild beasts. A compatible helper was not found.
- Genesis 2:18-20
The human being fell into a deep state of unconsciousness and began to sleep. One of the human beings sides was taken and flesh closed in to take its place. The two sides were formed into Man and Woman. The man and woman said to each other, “Now we are bone from our bone and flesh from our flesh. We shall be called man and woman because we are part of the other. We shall be each others home and be united and become one flesh.” The man and woman stood naked before each other without judgment.
- Genesis 2:21-25
The Serpent of Sorcery was the cleverest of all the wild beasts that were created. The serpent asked the woman, “Is it true that you may not eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman replied, “We may eat from the fruit of the trees of the garden. But the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden we may not eat or even touch for it would bring death.”
- Genesis 3:1-3
The serpent said to the woman, “You will certainly not die! In reality, on the day you eat from the tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will have great powers, knowing both love and fear.”
- Genesis 3:4-5
The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and desirable to the eyes, and that the tree was attractive as a means to gain knowledge. She took some of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to the man, and he ate. The eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. They sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves garments to cover their loins.
- Genesis 3:6-7
They heard the Voice of the Source of Life moving through the Garden on the wind of the day. The man and woman hid themselves from the Source of Life among the trees of the Garden. The Voice called to the man and woman and said, “Where are you?”
- Genesis 3:8-9
“We heard Your Voice in the Garden,” replied the man and woman, “and we were afraid because we felt naked, so we hid.” The Voice asked, “Where did you get the idea of nakedness? Did you eat from the tree of knowledge of love and fear?” The man replied, “The woman that is a part of me gave me what I ate from the tree.” The Voice said to the woman, “What is this that has been done?” The woman replied, “I was seduced by the serpent of sorcery and I ate.”
- Genesis 3:10-13
The Voice said to the serpent, “Because of the eating of the fruit of knowledge, you will feel cursed more than all the livestock and all the wild beasts. On your belly you shall crawl, and illusion you shall eat, all the days of your life. Fear and hatred has been planted between you and woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. They will strike you in the head, and you will strike at their heals.
- Genesis 3:14-15
To the woman it was said, “The knowledge of love and fear will greatly increase your suffering and your pregnancy. It will be with anguish that you will give birth to children and you will be dominated by your passions.”
- Genesis 3:16
To the man it was said, “The knowledge of love and fear will cause the ground to be hardened beneath you. You will derive food from it with anguish all the days of your life. It will bring forth thorns and thistles to confound and bewilder you; and you will eat the grass of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat bread until you return to the ground from which you were taken. You have become dust, and to dust you shall return.”
- Genesis 3:17-19
The man was named Adam, because he was now of the earth and of blood. The woman was named Eve, because she had become the mother of all life. The Source of Life made shrouds of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them.
- Genesis 3:20-21
Now that the human being had tasted the knowledge of love and fear, they could not remain in the Garden of Delight and taste the Tree of Eternal Life. The knowledge of love and fear drove them out of the Garden of Delight, to work the ground from which they had come. The veil of life and death arose at the east of the Garden, along with the revolving sword of creation and destruction, concealing the path of the Tree of Eternal Life.
- Genesis 3:22-24
Hitchcock, R. D. (1874). Hitchcock’s bible names dictionary. New York: A. J. Johnson.
Kaplan, A. (1981). The living Torah: The five books of Moses and the Haftarot. Hew York: Maznaim Publishing.
Mitchell, S. (1996). Genesis: A new translation of the classic biblical stories. New York: HarperCollins.
*Image: The Three Trees by Robin Sinclair...The Tree of Knowledge; The Tree of Life; The Tree of the Human Family (Adam & Eve)
*Originally published on KabbalahBlog hosted by Enlightenment.com