Paradigmatic Episodes in the Primeval History of Israel

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In the recurring event of curse in the Primeval History we can trace four paradigmatic episodes. a) The story of paradise (Gen 2,4b–3,24), b) The two brothers (Gen 4,1-16), c) The cohabitation of divine beings with human women (Gen 6,1-4), and d) The Tower of Babel (Gen 11,1-9).

In each case, the same theological movement is in play. The sin of human beings is followed by divine judgment/punishment and then by divine grace beyond the judgment.[1] The disobedience of the first parents is punished by expulsion from the Garden of Eden. But Yahweh not only relents from the decree of death but also makes clothes for the ashamed couple.[2] Cain’s fratricide is followed by expulsion from the fertile land.[3] Yet Yahweh puts a sign of divine protection on him.[4] The mixing of divine beings and the daughters of human beings calls down the flood, but not only is Noah spared but Yahweh also commits God-self never again to curse the earth despite the inveterate evil of the human heart.[5]


[1] Cf. R. Boynd, An Introduction to Indian Christian Theology, ISPCK, New Delhi, (1989), 34.

[2] Cf. J. Karsovee, “Punishment and Mercy in the Primeval History (Gen1-11),” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Vol. LXX, no. 1, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Leuven, (1994), 5-33, 6-9.

[3] Cf. J. Karsovee, “Punishment and Mercy in the Primeval History (Gen1-11),” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Vol. LXX, no. 1, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Leuven, (1994), 5-33, 33.

[4] Cf. J. Barton and J. Muddiman (eds.), The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford University Press, New York, (2007), 45.

[5] Cf. J. Karsovee, “Punishment and Mercy in the Primeval History (Gen1-11),” Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Vol. LXX, no. 1, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Leuven, (1994), 5-33, 14-25.

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