Is there reason to think that the book of Genesis instituted the observation of Saturday as the Sabbath? Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses wrong in teaching that the human soul resides in the blood? Why did God create Eve from Adam’s rib? We continue the series of talks on the book of Genesis of the Old Testament by Andrei Solodkov.
At our last meeting we analyzed the first chapter of the book of Genesis, which tells us about the creation of this world. Today we will examine how man was created, as the second chapter narrates. But at the beginning let us examine the first verses of the second chapter and the important problem of the Sabbath day related to them.
Which day of the week should we observe?
The second chapter of Genesis reads:
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made (Gen. 2:1-3).
As we see, the seventh day is particularly singled out in the Holy Scriptures. Why? The very context of the book of Genesis explains this: The seventh day was the day of completion of creation of the world. The seventh day in the Old Testament was understood only as a memorial to creation. It is only in the law of Moses, in the fourth commandment that we read: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… in it thou shalt not do any work, thou,… nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant,… nor thy stranger that is within thy gates (Exod. 20:8;10).
But the Lord concludes the New Covenant in His Blood, giving the cup of the Eucharist. In the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians we read: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17)—the new creation. The old things have passed; all things are become new.
Why do I pay attention to this? There is a neo-Protestant group called the Seventh Day Adventists who, referring to the texts of the Scriptures but making very erroneous conclusions, maintain that Christians of the New Testament should observe Saturday and totally reject the celebration of Sunday.
It should be noted that the Orthodox Church has never abolished the observation of Saturday. We do honor Saturday, but we also celebrate Sunday (the day on which Christ rose from the dead). This should be remembered.
Our Lord Jesus Christ warns us in the Holy Scriptures, in the Gospel of John: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (Jn. 5:39). Studying the Scriptures is not an idle occupation; it is not a question of philosophizing either. Our eternal destiny depends on our thorough and careful study of the Scriptures, as Christ the Savior Himself declared. I will repeat these words once more: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And of which scriptures does the Lord speak to His disciples? Of the Old Testament. As the apostle Paul said, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
The soul and… blood
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7).
We see that God created man in a special way that is different from the way He created the world. Earlier He commanded, when speaking to earth: Let the earth bring forth, when speaking to water: Let the water bring forth, and when speaking to earth: Let the earth bring forth the living creature,… and creeping thing, and beast. But God created man in a particular way. We already touched upon this subject briefly when we were reading the first chapter whose twenty-sixth verse reads: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Here, in the second chapter, we learn the details of creation of man and his soul: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. As a researcher of sects I would like to pay special attention to these words.
Why? Because there is a sect called the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which gives a wrong answer to the question: Where is the human soul located? Referring to the ninth chapter of Genesis (which, God willing, we will examine with you later), they insist that the human soul is in the blood and therefore they forbid blood transfusion. Let me now digress from the main subject and tell you a story. Once a father whose daughter had died came to the St. Joseph of Volokolamsk Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Sects in Moscow (it is attached to the Transfiguration Church in the Staroye Belyayevo district, and it is there that I see patients every Tuesday from 15:00 to 19:00). He was a Jehovah’s Witness. One day their family got into an accident while driving the car. Their daughter was very seriously injured and taken to the hospital’s resuscitation unit. The injured girl lost too much blood and needed a blood transfusion. But the elder of their Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation arrived to the hospital, sat down by the door of the operating room and forbade the doctors to administer any blood transfusion to the girl, saying, “Not for anything! You must not infuse someone else’s blood. Rely on Jehovah. Jehovah will help you.” The girl finally died.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are seriously mistaken in thinking that a blood transfusion is accompanied by “a soul transfusion”. They accuse us of practicing a sort of reincarnation, that we “pour” souls back and forth. Utter nonsense! Our souls are not in our blood! We see that the Bible speaks quite differently about blood. By the way, soon after that incident the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who have a doctrine of “progressive revelation” of God, altered their teaching and approved that a transfusion of plasma, that is, a blood substitute, is acceptable.
But where is the source of this error of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which causes many people (who have not walked their life’s path to the end and have not come to repentance) to perish both in this life and for eternity?
The point is that there are three words for “soul” in Hebrew: “nefesh”, “neshamah” and “ruah”. The word “nefesh” is used in the Biblical narration for how God breathed the breath of life into man; but it is never used in relation to animals in the Holy Scriptures. The ninth chapter of the book of Genesis only talks about animals when it says that their souls are in their blood.
“Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh”
But let us read the second chapter of Genesis further:
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it (Gen. 2:15-17).
God provided man with all that was necessary for his wellbeing, so there was no shortage of anything. This is precisely what the modern world is craving for—all the good things and comforts of life. And God said to the first family, to Adam and Eve: You shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it (Gen. 2:16, 17).
Why such a veto? Because it was not for their benefit to get to know evil in practice. In theory they knew what evil was like, but in practice they should not have experienced it. Likewise today, people unfortunately first need to kill in order to understand that killing is very bad.
We read further:
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him (Gen. 2:19-20).
One Greek philosopher said that the man who gave names to all things was the wisest man in the world. Indeed, how very perfect one must have been to name everything so wisely!
But Adam needed a helper for the upkeep of Eden, and none of the animals was fit for this role.
Therefore, as we read further:
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him (Gen. 2:18).
The Lord created all field beasts and birds out of earth, but He created a wife for Adam out of his rib. Why did He use Adam’s rib? God made the woman out of a rib because this part is the closest to the man’s heart. If, for example, God had created Eve out of a cranial bone, she would probably have become conceited and said, “I am your head.” If the Lord had created her out of a heel, then the man would probably have said to her, “As a matter of fact, you are only my heel.” But the Creator made the woman out of a rib—the part that is the closest to the man’s heart.
And when Adam saw the woman that the Lord had made for him out of his rib, he said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man (Gen. 2:23).
“Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones.” Such a poetic image! Truly this is a poetic dialogue. Now when spring comes on, no one should be surprised that men recite poetry and sing songs to ladies.
All people are descended from Adam and Eve, and this is fact of a common nature, which unites all mankind.
Thus, God created this world, which is “very good”; He created it in six days; He created man in a special way that is different from the way He had created animals and plants. And we will not find in the whole Bible any evidence that human souls pre-existed the creation of the world in some other state. This is my answer to the people (who also err seriously—the so-called Neo-Platonists, Neo-Hinduists, followers of Nicholas Reorich and Helena Blavatskaya) who claim that a human soul first exists somewhere and then somehow enters into a person’s body. I repeat: that is an error. A human soul appears at the moment of creation of a person. Likewise, a child’s soul appears at the moment of his conception.
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Brothers and sisters, it is so important to study the Holy Scriptures! And the Lord Jesus Christ instructs us—I will now repeat these words once more: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Any delusion appearing after reading the Holy Scriptures leads to one’s spiritual death, therefore let us be careful. And let us obey the words of Apostle Paul, who exhorts us: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2).
We see that in order to accept and perceive the Holy Scriptures in the Holy Spirit, we need to deepen our knowledge of the patristic works and the texts of the Holy Scripture itself—in order not to choose the path of delusion and lose the path of salvation.