The Covenants: Two Kinds of Relationships

Many of us read the Bible in linear fashion in which every narrative, piece of poetry, legal text, and other forms of prose merit equal weight to every other, with every text representing God’s ideal will equally. As a result we have no defining way to resolve texts that conflict with one another. Consequently, we often take sides supporting one set of “key texts” over against another set.

The hermeneutical method here delineated involves reading the Hebrew Bible more as story than as a collection of key texts. It follows Jesus’ interpretation of the Old Testament in terms of divorce. Jesus pointed back to “the beginning” as the ideal, preferred will of God, stating that Moses allowed divorce because “you were so hardhearted, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt. 19:8, NRSV).[1] Following a form of canonical criticism, I propose that the entire Bible contains two voices, one that represents God’s preferred will, the other that signifies God’s will adapted or acquiesced to people’s choices not to follow God’s preferred will. My criteria for determining which scripture speaks in which voice states that the voice of the divine preference is 1) tied to the Genesis creation stories, 2) comes first in a thematically-bound narrative sequence (covenants, conquest, etc.), and 3) stands as unique in the ancient Near Eastern context. 4) The Prophets and the Writings of the Hebrew canon, depending on the theme, will either endorse the minor voice of God’s preferred will or represent the major voice of his adapted will. (Here I use “minor” because it occurs less frequently, and “major” because this adapted voice dominates the Hebrew Bible.) Finally, 5) the divine preference often, though not always becomes major in the New Testament. I will now apply this hermeneutic to the covenants in the entire Hebrew canon and the New Testament.

While no covenant seems present in the two Genesis creation stories, God blesses the first humans. However, Genesis 2:24 states: “This is the reason that a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife, and they become one flesh.” This verse may suggest a covenant, not of words, but in the very action of becoming “one flesh.” Such a covenant naturally denotes equality because genuine “one flesh” cannot occur in the setting of domination. Indeed, this state can only occur in a setting of mutual trust and trustworthiness. This may represent the divine ideal for a covenant.

In Hebrew, the usual verb for making a covenant means literally, “to cut” a covenant. But in the first expressly stated covenant that God gave to Noah, the verb used means, “to establish” (Genesis 8:8). Any cutting taking place prior (8:20) to God’s initiation of the covenant (9:8) is therefore not part of it. The divine blessing and stipulations precede the covenant rather than follow it, which means that, if these are really part of it, this covenant is in reverse order of ancient Near Eastern treaties. When God initiates the covenant, it has no direct linkage to what precedes it and contains no response from Noah. This covenant is truly a “covenant of promise,” initiated by God, giving Noah the privilege of trusting God to keep his promise. Because it is first in the covenant narratives, it represents the minor voice of God’s preferred will.

In the second covenant, God promises Abram a biological heir (15:4). Once again, God initiates the covenant with a promise, only this time the term “covenant” is absent. Here “Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character” (15:6). This forms the initial Abrahamic covenant and again represents the minor voice of divine preference.

God next promises Abram the land of Canaan. Instead of trusting God, Abram asks, “How can I know that I will really possess it?” This question of doubt transitions the story from the minor to the major voice as God adapts to Abram’s will. The ceremony of the animals resembles a Neo-Assyrian Treaty.[2] Though not borrowed from these sources, it finds its roots in ancient Semitic cultures who used a legal means to achieve trust. The passing through of the body parts by God (symbolized by smoking pot and flame) represent his taking on the curses of the covenant himself (i.e., you may cut me in pieces as you cut these animals in pieces). “That day the Lord cut a covenant with Abram” (15:18, italics supplied), a statement clearly made in adaptive language. Still, this covenant entailed a promise to Abram that God stooped low to ensure.

In the next chapter, Abram decides to fulfill the terms—the promise—of the initial covenant himself. Ishmael, one from Abram’s own body, would be his heir. In response, God graciously gives Abram a name change to Abraham and promises him many descendants. Then he addresses Abraham’s self-fulfillment of God’s promise with these words: “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants in every generation. This is my covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Circumcise every male. You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it will be a symbol of the covenant between us” (17:9-11). Instead of continuing to trust God, Abraham chose to fulfill the promise of an heir himself. In consequence, he must now cut the covenant with God in his own terms and cut it in the part of his own body that had produced an heir outside of the promise. In every generation thereafter, his descendants would show in their bodies this reminder of Abraham’s self-made covenant.

Graciously, God promises again a son, this time specifically through Sarah. But before that can happen, Abraham jeopardizes God’s promise by half-lying about Sarah so that King Abimelech takes her as part of his household, forcing God to intervene. This time God says nothing but waits patiently for Isaac’s birth and development. Then he tests Abraham’s trust. It’s a test that will try Abraham to his very core: one more time he was to cut, this time to cut off the promised heir. In the Hebrew Bible the verb “to cut” a covenant also applies to someone being cut off from the covenant and its community. Abraham passed the test, not because he cut off his son’s life, but because he trusted God to fulfill the promise. The covenant of promise remains, then, the preferred will of God.

At Sinai, God calls the Israelites his “most precious possession” and promises to make them a royal priesthood and holy nation, stipulating only that they faithfully obey him and remain true to his covenant (Exodus 19:5, 6). The people respond, “Everything that the Lord has said we will do” (v. 8). Once again, this human response to God’s promise seems connected to God adapting to the people choices. The Sinai covenant involved similar features to ancient Near Eastern treaties: a preamble, a list of stipulations, and cutting—with the blood sprinkled on Israel. Yet it lacked something that Hittite treaties had—blessings and curses (Assyrian treaties had only curses). Furthermore, it resembled a theophanic covenant, a unique feature to ancient treaty-making. Therefore, the two voices—divine preference and divine adaptation blend together. In Deuteronomy, however, the major voice of adaptation wins and the Sinai covenant resembles most fully an ancient Near Eastern treaty with its historical prologue, its stipulations, its blessings, and its many curses. It also seems to rest more fully with Israel to keep its terms. The original promise of a royal priesthood and holy nation gets reduced to one line, changed from a promise to a motive clause: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God” (14:21).

In the prophets, both the minor voice of God’s preference and the major voice of divine adaptation speak. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Amos uphold the Deuteronomic curses that intend to enforce the keeping of the covenant. Hosea, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel especially reflect and understanding of ancient Near Eastern treaty curses.[3] Hosea and Ezekiel treat the covenant as a blend of suzerain-vassal treaties and marriage covenants. Yet both Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak in the minor voice to bring readers to a “new covenant” in which God makes only promises. In both of these statements of the new covenant, divine promises predominate, followed by no stipulations (the words “you shall . . .” and “they shall . . .” remain promises, not commands), blessings, or curses. This covenant God will perform for his people. Furthermore, God promises to create in them a new heart.[4]

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus begins the new covenant with blessings (not the externally granted covenantal “blessed” [bārûk], but the more intrinsic “happy” [’ashere]), followed by an explanation of the stipulations and their involvement of the heart. The divinely enforced “curses”—on the religious guardians of the covenant in chapter 23—wind up being intrinsically caused “woes.” Jesus, in Matthew, also institutes a supper in place of Passover in which he refers to the cup as the blood of the covenant. In all of this, he begins a transformation of the Deuteronomic covenant into the terms of the new covenant, thus translating the major voice back into the minor.

Though the book of Hebrews cites Jeremiah’s version of the new covenant twice, and highlights salvation through trust and faith’s heroes (10:39; 11:1-40), it is Paul who most clearly explains the covenants. Utilizing Hagar and Sarah as an allegory of the Sinai covenant versus the covenant of trust, Paul asserts that obeying the Sinai covenant through our own works amounts to slavery whereas receiving the promise of salvation brings freedom. The only covenant for salvation is a covenant of trust, he contends, and brings his hearers back to Abraham (Genesis 15:6). Before Abraham’s cutting of the animals, Ishmael, and circumcision, grace, through faith, is what saved us. For this reason, he contends that circumcision has no salvific benefit, and if the Galatian Christians allow themselves to be circumcised, they “have fallen away from grace” and “having Christ won’t help” them (5:2-4). In an effort to meet his legalistic hearers where they were, Paul proclaims that Christ became a curse for us to redeem us from the curse of the law. This has not only set us free from the curses of Deuteronomy, but allows us to receive Abraham’s blessings. Here he uses major voice language to set his hearers free to appreciate the “minor voice” covenant.

In my canonical critical methodology, using the criteria that seems most naturally to derive from the Bible, I have followed the biblical narrative sequence of the covenants and have found Paul’s conclusions embedded in its story. This was not my deliberate intention initially, nor did I read Paul backwards into the Old Testament. Instead I carefully followed the story line and wound up seeing what Paul saw. Due to lack of space, I did not give my full treatment, especially regarding the ancient Near East. Anciently, human beings sought legal ways out of their human predicament of loss of trust: contractual relationships, binding agreements, laws, and treaties. They chose a parallel course in their worship of the gods through divination and sought to appease them, an ancient form of external manipulation. When Israel joined their neighbors in their legal path, God patiently trod it with them. But the Israelite God has ever preferred to establish trust by internal means, creating and recreating with us a relationship of trust.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scriptural citations are from the Common English Bible (CEB).

[2] See Simo Parpola and Kazuko Watanabe, Neo-Assyrian Treaties and Loyalty Oaths (SAA 2; Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project and the Helsinki University Press, 1988), 9;

[3] See Delbert R. Hillers, Treaty Curses and the Old Testament Prophets: A Dissertation (BibOr 16; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964), 54-66-68-74; Brian Neil Peterson, Ezekiel in Context: Ezekiel’s Message Understood in Its Historical Setting of Covenant Curses and Ancient Near Eastern Mythological Motifs (Eugene: Pickwick, 2012).

[4] Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-28.

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1 Like

This makes so much sense. “Everything old is new again”.

… had more time to think …

This set up (the two voices of God) explains so much - for starters, God wanting us to forgive 70X7, while he kills off various peoples in the OT for some minor infractions. It also back up the Heb. 9 , where distinctions between old and new covenants is explained - YET, we have the voice of authority insisting that the two are the same, never mind “Sarah and the handmaid”.

Thank you for this article. There is much to mull over.

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Thank you Jean for an illuminating valid description of a great concept. It makes perfect sense… Blessings Jim


It’s truth that sets us free and what greater truth than the new covenant of grace by which Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, set us free.

Thank you Jean and we’d love to have more challenging articles like this.

It is interesting to note how this same Common English Bible (CEB) version translates Romans 4:3.

Romans 4:3 Common English Bible (CEB)
3 What does the scripture say? Abraham had faith in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

CEB on Genesis 15:6 can easily be misunderstood and the weight of evidence of the translations is in line with the AMP. The Footnote is worth noting.

Genesis 15:6 Amplified Bible (AMP)
6 Then Abram believed in (affirmed, trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord; and He counted (credited) it to him as righteousness (doing right in regard to God and man).

Genesis 15:6 This was crucial to God’s plan of salvation, as can be seen in Rom 4. There was simply no way that anyone except Christ could ever be sufficiently righteous to meet God’s standards and avoid condemnation. Having faith in God and placing one’s trust in Him was not in itself something that could be a substitute for perfect righteousness, but God graciously determined to accept faith as an equivalent for that righteousness nonetheless. So in a sense, Abraham—and all believers since him, who are his spiritual descendants—received righteousness on credit, and the bill for that righteousness was paid by the death of Christ on the cross.


Thanks Jean for some additional insights…

Here is a clue for what it means to have the law written on the heart…

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Ps 40:8

It would help if pastors & SS teachers would present what the will of God is.

Just the use of this verse alone, from the CEB version, would throw a kink in the usual thinking/presentations in pulpits & Sabbath school.

SDA bible commentary (1957): "The legal implications of the reckoning of Abraham’s faith for righteousness have been the source of earnest debate by many students of the bible."
Chances are that this comment (Rom 4:3) is from A Graham Maxwell. Though he even admits that some parts of his commentary from Romans were later edited by others.

I checked EG White comments on this as well and it refers to the vicarious , substitutionary righteousness that is usually taught in imputed righteousness.

From Monday’s section of SS lesson
"Abram had done nothing to earn or merit God’s favor, neither is there any indication that suggests that God and Abram had somehow worked together to come up with this agreement."

Notice what is written about Abram in SOP.

"The son of Terah became the inheritor of this holy trust. Idolatry invited him on every side, but in VAIN. Faithful among the faithless, uncorrupted by the prevailing apostasy, he steadfastly adhered to the worship of the one true God."
Patriarchs & Prophets p 125

This passage supports the CEB version of Gen 15:6

The SDA denomination is still reeling from the damage done to it by Walter Martin in 1957 during the QOD doctrinal polemics.

So many SDA’s claim to the robe of Christ righteousness because there isn’t a child around to yell, “The emperor has no clothes!”
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” 1 JN 3:7

“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matt 24;24

Happens all the time in SDA churches where overemphasis on imputed righteousness promotes NEO-legalism.

Thank you for this-whoever the author (I did not see byline)

I have often likened marriage, in the context of a metaphor for the God-mankind relationship as a
"daily palpable parable". We will not want marriage in heaven, for we will be dissatisfied by the foretype,
the representation. Unfortunately, perhaps the puritanical (KJV?) nay-saying voice has been cercively imposed, and drowns out the voice of the lover who says “I AM” LOVE.
Have we muzzled the Song of Solomon?

The first book, a marriage, act one, scene 7.
The center, “heart” book, a romance of the Shulamite.
The last book, a marriage feast to end all marriage feasts.
Now tell me what thje book is really about.

There are two things on earth reverenced in writ as being in the image of something in heaven.
The sanctuary, or temple, being one.
The other, “mankind (both man and woman)”, the other.
Here on this land are we not mere “tents of skin dragging through an alien desert”?

God desires that my own personal “tent of skin” become HIS temple.
Imagine-superimpose mankind-a three room tent of sorts-onto the sanctuary.
Both are three room tents of skin.
I have a physical tent, the"hand"; where I do my deeds.
I have an intellectual tent-the “head”, where i hold my doctrines, beliefs…
I have an inner room in my tent, the “heart”, where my identity-who, and whose, I am.
Does any of this sound familiar?
What is done on the porch of the temple?
What, and how, do I study in “the library”?
How about the master bedroom, the most holy place?

No, the wrong voice yields the sanctuary message as mere feng-shui.
Color of thread, type of drapes, placement of furniture etc.

The marital bed is referenced as, and we are exhorted to treat it as “holy and undefiled”,
suggesting it is more than mere a pleasurable panacea for our angst,
more than fulfillment of futile procreative biological imperative.
Is it also more than a means to have “a helpmeet” to look pretty, do the wash,serve potluck,
or a “husband” to kill the tiger, hoist a shelter, bring home meat (and run the GC)?
What if marriage is a metaphor for worship, for oneness with God, a selflessness.

Perhaps prayer is pillowtalk, and we have not been listening to the right voice-or answering it in kind.
Soon we will have the real thing-face to face. Imagine! More than I can, for certain.
No need for the image, when one is “one” with the real deal.

Thanks, Ray! I always enjoy your posts.

I find that Paul’s use of, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited/counted to him as righteousness,” seems to vary slightly in emphasis from Galatians to Romans. While Romans 4 seems to lay more stress on the forensic aspect, to me, Paul seems to have been speaking of the Torah largely as covenantal arrangement in Galatians.

The Law/Torah was what separated Jew from Gentile, and the works of the law, especially the entry point of circumcision, as well as practices such as food laws, Sabbath and holy times, were the visible badges of identification that marked off Jews as the people of God, the distinctive children of the covenant, in this world. This is why, after speaking of Abraham’s faith (lit. he said Amen to God), as being counted to him as righteousness in Galatians 3:6, he says that, all "…those who believe (say Amen to God in Christ, and join up with him), are the __children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify/put right the Gentiles by faith…"_ This seems to speak more to covenantal and family belonging than forensic/legal standing before God. A belonging that had nothing to do with being Jewish by physical descent, or the works of the Law/Torah.

It also speaks to the gospel as primarily God’s promise and act. Just as he did for Abraham, as seen in Genesis 15, God makes extravagant and incredible promises to all people. Abraham said Amen to those promises, “let it be as you said,” and God counted him as his friend, as one who belonged to him and was in a right covenant relationship with him. What adds to this view is God cutting the covenant with Abraham after his response of faith. It speaks to God’s faithfulness, his power, and his continued promise to Abraham of posterity, and land, all signs of Abraham’s belonging, and the new future he now looked forward to. Abraham’s entire life was changed forever, solely by faith in the promise/covenant keeping God. A faith that seemed totally at odds with his present, visible circumstances.

Gentile believers had grasped the ultimate fulfillment of this by responding to God’s invasive action into this world through his Son. Their lives, their futures, and their relationship and belonging to God had been radically altered by joining Jesus and his movement in the world. They were now part of his covenant people, put right with God as his new creation in this present age. To turn to the Law through circumcision and its obligation to keep it in its entirety was to was to go backwards into the old age and all that characterized it, when Christ had already inaugurated the new. It was to exchange the blessing for the curse, freedom for enslavement, the unity and equality of all who believe (regardless of religion, ethnicity, race, gender, and social status) for the dividing walls of human distinctions, and the leading and power of the Spirit for the activity and prompting of the flesh. In short, it was to fall from the grace of God, and to be alienated from Christ himself…to be out of right covenant relationship with God.

I have said this repeatedly, but I wonder how a religious movement that divides itself from the rest of Christianity by visible badges of law (food laws and sabbath holy time) as the remnant people of God, that bases its eschatology and eschatological belonging to God on such as well, and that seems to try to combine faith in Christ with law observance in its own peculiar way, can truly uphold the gospel that Paul preached, and is so radically presented in Galatians. To me, this quarterly, and the mess it often presents, is evidence that it can’t be done convincingly.




Dr. Sheldon,
Thank you this interesting article on the covenants. I agree with the basis of what you are saying but have some reservations (especially with your terminology). They stem from how I have come to see the relative roles of God and man in the plan of salvation.
To me, your choice of the terms major and minor is problematic. You define them by stating minor refers to those which happen less frequently (and refer to divine preference) and major are those appearing more often and concerned with God reacting to man’s will by modifying His will and thus His dealings with man. (I think your choice of the terms major and minor is unfortunate because of potential confusion with the normal meanings of these words. They usually refer to relative importance. In that sense I see the covenants you call minor as major and vice versa. I will try to illustrate below). That, plus your choice of the terms ‘God’s preferred will’ and ‘God’s adapted will’ (acquiesced to man’s choices) are both reminders of the very anthropocentric view of Adventism. To me you are saying that God reacts to man and must modify His actions to meet our choices (i.e., the real power is the will of man and God either chooses to or is forced to submit to it. As a matter of fact you say Abraham ‘jeopardizes’ God’s promise thus ‘forcing’ God to act. I do not agree. An unconditional promise of God cannot be abrogated by man). God knows the end from the beginning. There is no plan ‘B’. I am thankful that He operates on a higher level than we do and with a deep and unfailing love for His creation.

Rather than preferred will or adapted will, in my studies I have come across the terms ‘God’s will’ and ‘God’s plan’. For example, some clarity can be brought to the NT if one examines some of the original Greek words used. Unfortunately translators have rendered two different Greek words both as ‘will’. This obscures the fact that God’s will or desire (Gk: thelema) that we believe in Christ, follow His teachings and fully obey His commands is different from God’s plan (Gk: boulema) which involves evil and sin and the essential lessons He is teaching us through our mistakes and failures. Thus, God’s plan starts with His will but always involves the shortcomings of humanity plus time.
Everything that happens is part of His plan. An OT example is found in the Exodus story. It was God’s will that the children of Israel enter Canaan soon after the Exodus, but it was God’s plan that they spend 38 years in the wilderness first. Moses relates that God ensured the delay by not giving them ‘…a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.’ (Deut 29:4). One of the reasons had to do with a time element inherent in a covenant made many years earlier between Abraham and a representative of the Canaanites named Abimelech. You can read about it here:

It is quite amazing to begin to understand the detail in God’s sovereign plan for us.

Biblical prophecies have been categorized as conditional or unconditional. For simplicity, why not stick with that for covenants? The various covenants are either conditional (based on the people making a vow to God involving an obligation to do something) or unconditional (based entirely on a promise or vow of God). For example, God said to Solomon, ‘If you will walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you and will keep My statues and My ordinances, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever…’ (1Ki 8:4-5). We all know that Solomon, the wisest man on earth, did not hold up ‘his end of the bargain’ and so this conditional covenant eventually failed.

In fact, the Bible shows that failure resulted for all the covenants contingent on the vows and pledged commitments of man to God. The Old Covenant is the prime example. As you say, at Mt Sinai, God said, ‘If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My Covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples…’. The Israelites replied, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do!’ (Ex 19:5&8). The golden calf soon followed. To me, these failed, conditional covenants built on the sand and fragility of the human will should be called the minor ones.

The unconditional covenants are really divine promises of God to us. They should be the foundations of our faith. (As the old hymn states, we are to be ‘standing on the promises of God’.) These vows or promises of God cannot fail because they are not contingent upon weak humanity but are based solely on God’s faithfulness and ability. Indeed, in some of them God actually put the people involved to sleep to make it perfectly clear that these promises are completely and solely His doing and He alone is responsible for carrying them out. This is true for the Abrahamic Covenant (see Gen 15:12). I think the same thing happened in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus’ arrest when God put the three disciples to sleep as Jesus entered into covenant with the Father to proceed with the plan of salvation by His death (see Luke 22:42).

The New Covenant that resulted is the one that should be our focus. Like the other divine promises it cannot fail. If any covenant deserves to be called major, it is this one. It is essential for each of us and the coming kingdom. It is the wonderful, unconditional promise of God to us that He will place His law in our hearts (Jer 31:31-34; Ez 36:25-27; Heb 8:7-12). We are to become a new creation having a new nature. The critical question is, do you have faith (a gift of Jesus, see Heb 12:2) that God is willing and able to do this in you? If so, then God imputes or counts you as righteous already (Rom 4:17) even though you are not yet there. In God’s eyes you are righteous by faith. A changed life is the result as one appreciates the great love (and resulting sacrifice) of God that motivated this promise.

The apparent strong dualism in the Biblical narrative personality of God in the Bible has always been a puzzling factor in “organised” objective hermenutics. Since we are not living in tmes when God was actually residing on the earth , and overseeing work on the Edenic Steppe , no one can be sure if her/his conclusions are accurate. However, God is not a neccessarily a capricious hard taskmaster in one instance , and a loving father figure in the next breath. It seems that some of the scriptural narratives are describing two different celestial entities. God, the stern disciplinarian, determined to employ but a FRACTION of his power to achieve his aims for the moral education of mankind; and THE LORD who displays a more nurturing modus operandi. In this interpretation, YAHWEH is God, the ruler of all things on earth , the God whose permission and acquiescence are required for any decision of major import. The people apparently also turned ton the LORD in times of trouble for consolation, and sometimes even for rescue. The LORD was the “snake of Eden” the eloha geneticist , who was ordered to do work resulting in the creation of Homo sapiens. The people of heaven had pled with Yahweh that he not allow the creation of an intelligent being on earth, because, from past experience, such creatures tended to becpme stricken with “pride of heart” and would eventual fashion weapons of mass desgtruction which would endanger even the Elohim themselves, not to mention dirty up the galaxy with toxic, poisonous matter. The “snake” however did cfreate an intelligent species, but offered the excuse that these were infertile. However when he later, proud of his work himself, wanted his creation to self reproduce and so become like the Elohim in controlling his population on his own, ionstead of being reproduced by cloning, he did the Adam’s rib operation. Eve was now fecund and both even hoid from God when called , because “they were abashed at being naked”. This is what we can gather from the pre-Biblical texts of the human story regarding early relationships between mankind and God. In fact the olden texts indicate that Yahweh and 'the snake" were related (half brothers) but that Yahweh was more of the Ruling bloodline since he was born of a half-sister. Abraham was ordered to follow this reproductive covenant so that Sarai’s son prevailed over Hagar’s son in the blessings and inheritancew of the promised land. Only FEMALES carry mtDNA which is not mixed with males during mating , and so later European royals practiced incest, alledgely to preserve cefrtain bloodlines. This was a mistake when practised by humans ,since it was practiced ignorantly, leading to all sorts of maladies , as the history books relate. mtDNA is the reason some geneticists declare that all women are “sisters”.

Somehow off topic :

Seeng Rembrandts first illustration of this crucial issue here I was shocked. When my mother died after a road accident, for weeks and months I dreamed of Abrahams left hand, cruelly placed on the face of Isaac. This very hand then reached after me out of the fresh burial mound. She was a fourth genertion Adventist. kind, strong woman, she herself suffering the most by the hardness in her education imposed on her in all her childhood and adolencent years, shaping her and suppressing her original humnity – - -. and I find traces of this hardness sometimes also in myself. , mitigated, the rersult of a lifelong fighting for fee breathing.

Young Rembrandt had his view (St. Petersburg, Eremitage), a few years after, the erly death of his son, he again painted the scene (Munich, Pinakithek) much milder. And at the end of his life a thirrd time,an etching, where the angel, Abraham and Isaak suffer together.( Vienna, Albertina)

Dona nobis pacem.