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Terrible and Tender

May 11, 2011

“In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.”

The name of God that is used in chapter one – wherein the creation of the world takes place – is Elohim. “In the traditional Jewish view, Elohim is the Name of God as the Creator and Judge of the universe.” [reference here] It implies power, strength, and justice.

“YHVH Elohim formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” 2:7

In chapter 2 something changes – He is not just Elohim: He is YHVH Elohim. YHVH (Jehovah) is the proper name of the God of Isreal – it implies His closeness to humans, while referencing his being, his “I-am”ness. Consider what it is for Him to be Elohim… consider what it is for Him to be Jehovah  — then combine those two. When God breathes the breath of life into newly formed man, when He creates woman to be his Ezer Kenedgo, when God walks in the garden with them, when they force themselves from Eden by their disobedience, when He both judges and shows mercy… He is Jehovah Elohim.

“The woman said to the serpent…’Elohim did say…'” 3:2,3

It is interesting to note, that when Eve and the serpent have the discussion that shapes history, they refer to Him only as Elohim. I wonder if, for that time, Eve was forgetting that the great and mighty God who judges was also her personal God, her close companion and friend, that one who walked in the fresh new garden with her – the One who “was” and was everything she needed. Perhaps it was easier to believe that the Mighty Creator was cheating her out of a blessing than her Jehovah.

“Jehovah Elohim made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And Jehovah Elohim said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So Jehovah Elohim banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.'”

Jehovah Elohim gave them everything – their existence, each other, a perfect garden, and even Himself. He asked only one thing of them, something that could be summed up in a phrase we know so well: “love, honor and obey.” The one and only thing He asked them not to do was eat from the tree. And they did it anyway. With that one action they brought on their own shame, their own punishment, their own deaths. With that one action they told the Jehovah Elohim that had created them, loved them, given them everything, even Himself….that it just wasn’t enough.

But after they were cast from the Garden of Eden, I believe Eve realizes the part of God she was so woeful to neglect before. When she has her first child she says:

“With the help of Jehovah, I have brought forth a man.”

This gives me shivers. There is something doubly personal about this statement. She recognizes Him, at last, as her personal God, and at the same time experiences what she must have recognized as a sort of redemption:

The woman who brought death into the world, has now, in a tender and personal act of God, brought forth a life.

For Elohim our judge, is Jehovah our mercy.

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