- The ritual actions in Genesis 3 are unmistakable, but maybe we haven't thought all the way through them. For one thing, the garment of 'skin' in Genesis 3:21 is a garment of 'or in Hebrew, spelled 'ayin-vav-resh (the names of the three Hebrew letters in the word). Well, 'or, spelled aleph-vav-resh, means 'light.' These two words are pronounced identically in modern Hebrew, and have always been pronounced very similarly. God clothes Eve and Adam in garments of light. In verse 22, "Yahweh of the Gods" pronounces that "Man has become like one of us."
- In the same segment, Adam is cursed that he will eat his bread by the sweat of his brow. Eating bread and being dressed by God are both temple ritual actions, and connected in the Sermon on the Mount (more about this in the next class, for those of you who don't already know what I'm talking about). This suggests that the curse is the sweat, not the bread part. Similarly, it suggests that childbirth is not a curse -- the curse is the sorrow. If anything, the implication is that childbirth, at least in some circumstances, is a sacred act.
- Adam is commanded to 'work' ('avad in Hebrew) and 'keep' (shamar) the Garden. These are temple-priestly verbs -- 'avad means to perform ordinances, and shamar means to keep covenants. It is very striking, then, that the same words reappear in the story of Cain. Cain, first of all, is given to Eve by the Lord (like Samuel and Jesus), punning on the sound of the name 'Cain' in Hebrew (Hebrew prophets, including Nephi, thrive on puns and wordplay). In Hebrew, Cain is an 'oved of the earth -- not a 'tiller,' but a 'worker,' using the same word that means 'perform ordinances.' Interestingly, his brother Abel is a shepherd, a common image for priests and kings. In terms of vocabulary, the story we're told here is about a rivalry between two priests. After Cain kills Abel, he justifies himself by asking 'am I my brother's keeper?', where 'keeper' is shomer. Cain is an 'oved, a temple priest, but he does not shamar, keep his covenants.
- After this incident, God marks Cain with a 'sign' ('ot in Hebrew). Elsewhere, the heavenly bodies are said to be or provide an 'ot. So are the Virgin and her sons. Here's another piece of vocabulary for understanding the Visionary Men: stars = angels = priests. Nephi knows this vocabulary. Cain is a priest who falls from his station, but who still should not be killed, because of his priestly status.
Keep up the study!