In a previous article it was pointed out that the words ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’ in the second chapter of Genesis have been translated from īš and ‘iššă. This led to three assumptions:
The first man and woman of Genesis 2 were deities.
These deities were Siva and Parvati, who is also Osiris and Isis.
Humans had no part in a catastrophe called the Fall of Man.
There is evidence that īš and ‘iššă have the general meaning of ‘Lord’. Following are two examples provided by Edward Moor:
“When they consider the divine power exerted in creating, they call the deity Brahma, in the masculine gender also; and when they view him in the light of destroyer or rather changer of forms, they give him a thousand names: of which, Siva, Isa, or Iswara, Rudra, Hara, Sambhu, Mahadeva, or Mahesa, are the most common…
“Mahesa is maha, great, and Isa, Lord; the epithet is prefixed to many names of gods…”
The Hindu Adam, Swayambhuva, is called ‘the first of men’, but he is clearly something more than human.
“Swayambhuva, or the son of the self-existing, was the first Manu, and the father of mankind: his consort’s name was Satarupa. In the second Veda the Supreme Being (Brahm) is introduced in this way: ‘From me Brahma was born: he is above all; he is pitama, or the father of all men: he is Aja and Swayambhu, or self-existing.’ From him proceeded Swayambhuva, who is the first menu: they call him Adima (or the first, or Protogonus): he is the first of men; and Parama-Parusha, or the first male. His help-mate, Pracriti, is called also Satarupa: she is Adima, (the feminine gender) or the first: she is Visva-Jenni, or the mother of the world: she is Iva, or like I, the female energy of nature; or she is a form of, or descended from, I: she is Para, or the greatest: both are like Mahadeva, and his Sacti (the female energy of nature), whose names are also Isa and Isi. ((Moor, Edward, F.R.S.. “The Hindu Pantheon”. T. Bensley, London. 1810))
In “The Hindu Pantheon” īš and ‘iššă are more strongly associated with Siva and Parvati. And Moor associates Siva/Parvati with the Egyptian goddess Isis. Because Hinduism is fundamentally monotheistic, many deities who have their own attributes melt into each other and become one. It is also true that each of the deities has a consort, but the consorts can be reduced to one as well. The goddesses, in turn, are merely the female energy or ‘sacti’ of their lord. For this reason, the Supreme Being of any particular sect, whether it is Vishnu, Siva or Brahma, is said to be a hermaphrodite, with male and female attributes combined. So it is not really clear in what way the mythology should be applied to human men and women.
For Christians, the doctrine of original sin is at least partly responsible for policies concerning women, but that doctrine is not a universal belief. Judaism and Islam have no such doctrine, but they have all proscribed the rights and equality of women to some degree. This is particularly true of Islam. So there seems to be a common tendency that aligns with the conception of woman as portrayed in the story of the Fall of Man, and which is independent of the doctrine of Original Sin. It could be argued that a rationale for subjection is the main function of the story of the Fall of Man. But on the other hand, maybe it is the attempt to say in mythological language what really happened. We just don’t happen to understand the language.
There are similarities in the creation stories of many cultures between Noah and Adam. For example, Noah and Adam both had control over animals, as did the Chinese Shang-te, the Hindu Siva, and the Greek Hermes. Additional shared elements include the ark and the dove.
In Chinese mythology, the Yin, or darkness, or the female principle is the ovum mundi and becomes the Earth, the ark or the Great Mother. Heaven, or Shang-te is the son of Earth, (or the ark), as he is ‘born’ from her womb. But he is also the builder of the ark, and the creator of Mother Earth. So she is his daughter. And since they are both born from the same circle, they are brother and sister. Heaven or Shang-te marries his mother or daughter or sister. In other words, their union is incestuous.
Since Eve was created from Adam’s rib they are brother and sister, or father and daughter. This is true of the Greek Jupiter and Juno and of the Hindu gods, as well. “Brahma, the Supreme Being of Hinduism, is an androgynous conjunction of Adam and Eve, the universal parents of the human race.” ((The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal”. Vol. 4, Rozario, Marçal & Co. Foochow, 1872. p. 217.))
It is interesting that Chinese, Hindu and Greek myths also identify the snake with both Adam and Noah. The woman seems to be connected indirectly. Ancient legends say that in the golden age there was no distinction of sex. According to Plato, “in the first arrangement ordained by Jupiter there were neither human politics, nor the appropriation of wives and children, but all lived in common upon the exuberant productions of the earth.” It was the hero-god, also called the snake-king, who instituted marriage.
In Greek mythology marriage was instituted by Cecrops. Cecrops was a native of Egypt, who led a colony to Athens about 1556 B.C. He was a culture hero who introduced the worship of Zeus Hypatos, and forbade the sacrifice of living things. His marriage decree came about in this way:
“He was arbitrator at the ‘strife’ of Athena and Poseidon. The women, who exceeded the men by one, voted for Athena, and to appease the wrath of Poseidon they were henceforth disenfranchised and their children were no longer to be called by their mother’s name. The women’s decision came as a shock to old Cecrops and he forthwith instituted patriarchal marriage.”
All of the hero-gods of Greece were serpents.
“Cecrops is a snake, Erichthonios (Cecrops’ son) is a snake, the old snake-king is succeeded by a new snake-king…What the myths of Cecrops and Erichthonios tell us is that, for some reason or another, each and every traditional Athenian king was regarded as being also in some sense a snake.”
Harrison thinks this came about because of the ceremonial carrying of snakes or figures of snakes. This was like the carrying of phalloi, a fertility charm. A Hermes of wood was the votive-offering of Cecrops, and it was possibly snake-shaped. ((Harrison, Jane Ellen. Epilegomena & Themis. University Books, New York. 1927″))
In Chinese mythology, the dragon is the symbol of Shang-te. In this way, the Chinese gods resemble the fish-gods Vishnu and Dagon. The serpent was the symbol of the transmigrating diluvian god, who was reborn. It was also the token of regeneration for those initiated into the mysteries.
Shang-te also gave the first couple coats of skins and instituted marriage. In Hinduism, Siva is depicted with a coat of skins.
Demon-god, Hero-god, and snake-king are the terms used by Christian missionaries in the Chinese Recorder. In that publication, these names referred to non-Christian myths. But according to the same publication, Shang-te’s dragon is identical with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. However, in the bibical story, it was God Yahweh who provided coats of skin and instituted pariarchal marriage. Patriarchal marriage is clearly implied in the following verse:
“I will make intense your pangs in childbearing.
In pain shall you bear children;
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
And he shall be your master.” (Genesis 3:16)
In the notes on verse 16 concerning ‘pangs in childbearing’ we are told that this is a parade example of hendiadys in Hebrew. The literal rendering would read “your pangs and your childbearing,” but the idiomatic significance is “your pangs that result from your pregnancy.”((Speiser, E.A. “Genesis: The Anchor Bible”. Doubleday & Co. Inc. New York, 1986″))
And the sentence Yahweh pronounced on the serpent becomes more interesting as well.
God said to the serpent:
I will plant enmity between you and the woman,
And between your offspring and hers;
They shall strike at your head,
And you shall strike at their heel. (Genesis 3:15)
It seems the serpent who became the mortal enemy of the woman and her offspring (perhaps in their human character) was the serpent-king. Both male and female are affected. The verse says “the woman and her offspring”. In a strict comparison with the Chinese myth, the serpent-king would be God Yahweh and also his son, Adam/Noah. (According to the Anchor Bible, the deity in the Garden of Eden was “God Yahweh” rather than “Yahweh”. This may be the personal name of another deity.) It seems that these myths refer to a political development that has adverse consequences for the woman and her offspring.
In the following verses from the New Testament, Jesus seems to have claimed membership in the ranks of the demon-gods.
“For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, an destroyed them all.
Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:24-30)
Lot’s connection with Noah in this passage is explained by the fact that Lot was saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which he believed had destroyed the whole world. He also had incestuous relations with his daughters. Something similar may have happened between Noah and his son Ham. This is the pattern of a snake king.
In the Chinese Recorder,
“This Demon-god or First Man or Noah is a reappearance of Adam in his deified character…or ‘Imperial Heaven’, and also the Son of Noah as being the eldest of the triplication Fuh-he, Shin-nang, Hwang-te; or Shem, Ham, and Japhet…. ‘Noah, in every mythological system of the pagans was confounded, or rather identified with one of his three sons. Fab. Vol. I. p. 343. Vishnu (one of the triplication of Bram or Monad) appears distinct from Menu (First Man) and personates the Supreme Being: yet, single, he is certainly Noah or Menu himself: as one of a triad of gods springing from a fourth still older deity (the Monad, or elder Noah) he is a son of Noah. Ibid. vol. II. 117. Considered then as Noah, we find Jupiter (the elder Monad or Chaos) both esteemed the father of the three most ancient Cabiri (Cælus, Terra, and First Man), and himself also reckoned the first of the two primitive Cabiri (Cælus and Terra); Bacchus being associated with him as the younger. This however is a mere reduplication, for Jupiter and Bacchus are the same person. &c., i. e. the First Man.”
This, in turn, agrees with the following etymology of īš and ‘iššă.
“Linguistically, the name Issa (‘Isa) is the Aramaic form of the Arabic Al-‘Ays, meaning ‘the water of the male’, in reference to the masculine semen, the suffixed ‘a’ in ‘Isa being the Aramaic definite article. Related to this term is the Arabic ‘Aysh, meaning ‘life’ (as in Al ‘Ayyash). The Jesus of the ‘I am’ statements was none other than the God Jesus who was Al ‘Isa or Al ‘Ays–the ultimate source of the fertilizing ‘power’ of the male.” Al ‘Ays is ‘the God of Semen’, and Al ‘Ayyash is the ‘Life-Giving God’. ((Salibi, Kamal, S. “Who was Jesus?: Conspiracy in Jerusalem. Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2007″))