“…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you and you shall eat the plants of the field.By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Bereishit/ Genesis 3:17b-19
I remember the first time I heard the words of the Torah mentioned above. I was just a kid that couldn’t sit still to save her life but all of a sudden I heard them loud and clear. Not from some angel or special revelation as one might suspect, but through an old man than was reading these verses in the most monotone voice you can ever imagine. Still, I heard them. And I remember thinking “Why curse the ground? The ground did nothing wrong…” It all sounded like a break-up, so … final.
When I grew up and starting following after Adonai, I tried to understand it for the longest time. One might say, ‘It’s plain as the day is long what these verses mean, what didn’t you get?’ My dear all-knowing reader, I think you’re expecting a more academic explanation than ‘because I’m slow’, but that’s all I can tell you.
In Hebrew thought there are 4 ways of interpreting the meaning of a text. Pshat (surface, simple, plain, direct meaning), Remez (hints, hidden, or symbolic, beyond the literal meaning), Derash (inquire, seek – finding similar occurrences) and Sod (secret – mystical meaning given through revelation).
While I did get the Pshat, I wanted to know what it meant deeper than that, and more importantly what it meant for me. I don’t claim to have found some secret meaning, but I will share some thoughts.
‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” – Bereishit/ Genesis 1:27
Adam had the ability to know HaShem’s heart because he was made in God’s image. But Adam was created from the ground. When Adam broke Adonai’s heart, Adonai could have killed him right then and there, but instead He cursed the ground.
Adam was Adonai’s ground. He worked it and cared for it and instead of bearing good fruit that lump of earth, whom HaShem loved, gave thorns. So HaShem basically told him, ‘You know what Adam? From now on you get to feel My pain. You get to see what it’s like to work on something and give it everything it needs and still be torn when instead of rewarding your labor it will give you nothing.”
And man carried on living. And history went on. And Adonai then chose a nation out of faithfulness to Avraham and Adonai gave them a land. And that land was blessed and beautiful and if you don’t believe me go visit Israel in spring, it will melt your heart with its beauty.
But according to the covenant HaShem made with Israel, if they were obedient and followed in His ways, the land would be prosperous, but if the people strayed from HaShem’s ways, then living there would be agony. And you can read it time and time again throughout the Scriptures how the nation of Israel struggled when they turned away from God. The very ground was mimicking them. Acting just like them. They got to work it and see no reward.
There is a prophecy in Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 49 about Mashiach. In verse 4 Mashiach says “I have toiled in vain…”
Yeshua is HaMashiach. Jesus is The Christ. The Anointed One. He came as a promise to make a way back to HaShem, He is The Way back to HaShem.
He is Adonai’s beloved Son in whom He is well pleased, yet Adonai treated Him like He should have treated Adam. He allowed Yeshua to work on people’s hearts as if it was soil, and at the end of all His labor, they gave him thorns… literally. And as the Second Adam, He took the punishment for all mankind. At the cross He ended it all. He made peace between us and Adonai once more. And when He fulfilled His plan, Yeshua declared “It is finished!” – No more Him working and getting no reward. Because all those that believe in Him, are a new creation. A new type of ground. One that is not bound to give back thorns and thistles but bare good fruits. And those that believe in Him are known according to their fruits. Every time you bring forth fruit, He sees the reward of His labor.
Bat Melech בת מלך