For the week of October 28, 2000 / 29 Tishri 5761
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 1:1 - 6:8
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5 - 43:11
Replaced by: 1 Samuel 20:18-42

The Promise: Part 1

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel (Bereshit / Genesis 3:15).

The first book of the Torah is called in Hebrew Bereshit, meaning "in the beginning." In English it is commonly called "Genesis," meaning "origins." A lot of fuss is made over this book because of its descriptions of the origins of life. But only very few chapters are concerned about these very early origins. Bereshit is far more concerned about the origins of God's promise: his promise to rescue his creation from the grips of evil.

According to the Torah evil entered the creation through Adam and Eve's eating of the forbidden fruit. God had told them that they could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden but one. But Eve listened to the temptation of the serpent and ate the fruit as did her husband. This act of disobedience resulted in their having to leave the Garden. Not only did they have to leave that idyllic place, but this was the beginning of their alienation from God, trouble between people, as well as trouble between people and the rest of creation.

But as God pronounced judgement upon our first parents, he also spoke to the serpent who tempted them saying,

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel (Bereshit / Genesis 3:15).

These words foretold the struggle that humankind would have with the serpent's descendants as well as his ultimate defeat. It is doubtful that we should understand the serpent as representing only the actual animal, but rather to all who follow in his ways. It may just be that the person of Satan, who is not revealed to us by name until much later in the Hebrew Scriptures (See Zechariah 3, Job 1 & 2, and 1 Chronicles 21), is working through this creature.

What we can take comfort in is that God promised that the serpent (that is Satan) will one day be destroyed. One day a descendant of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. One day the one who instigated our demise will be eradicated. No more will we have to live with the taunts and schemes of evil.

There is a hint here of what it will take to destroy Satan: "You will strike his heel." While the woman's descendant will deliver a fatal blow to the Evil One by crushing his head, in the process the descendant's heel will be struck. So while the Tempter receives the greater blow, the coming Deliverer suffers harm.

It won't be until much later in the Scriptures that we are provided with more details as to the identity and acts of the Coming One. But these words call us away from the daily struggles we face as a result of the introduction of evil into human life. While we continue to experience the enmity with evil that God spoke of, we do not have to live bound by evil's clutches. As we accept and ponder God's promise, we will find ourselves freed from the despair and fear that the Evil One still seeks to stir in us.

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