On Thursday evening, The Forward unleashed the single most illiterate piece ever written on the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. The piece defies description; it has to be read to be believed. Its central thesis, however, is that God somehow sexually harassed Eve, and that Eve is “the first case of #MeToo.”
This is not a total surprise coming from the same publication that ran a piece this week suggesting that Orthodox Jews are the new white supremacists.
The author, Tamara Kolton, is a female rabbi and psychologist in Birmingham, Michigan. She’s also the author of a presumably unreadable soon-to-be-released book, Oranges for Eve: Walking The Way of the Divine Feminine. But if this essay is any indicator, that book will best be used as a doorstop.
Kolton begins her intellectually execrable journey into Biblical exegesis by praising women coming forward to report sexual assault and harassment. That’s fine. But then she goes wildly off the rails. In fact, she goes so far off the rails she nearly runs down Harrison Ford, who must jump into a ditch in order to escape the engine of stupidity bearing down upon him, churning the earth in his wake.
As a 47 year-old woman rabbi, I’ve become emboldened by these brave young women to speak a truth that I’ve known in my heart for a long time but have been hesitant to share. The time has come for me to step forward, too. It’s time we all acknowledge an overwhelmingly powerful source of shame and silence — in the bible.
Now, does Kolton cite the usual litany of supposedly anti-feminist verses in the Bible? Of course not. That might make a smidgen of sense. Instead, she goes right to the beginning of the Bible: Adam and Eve.
The story that begins the bible, the first one that we learn in Sunday school, the founding story of man and woman upheld for thousands of years by Judeo-Christian religion, is actually the story of the first sexual assault of a woman. The woman’s name is Eve. And the perpetrator? God.
There are no words.
But let me try to come up with a few anyway: stupid. Asinine. Ridiculous. Ludicrous. Imbecilic. Witless. Obtuse. Fatuous. Harebrained. Doltish. Preposterous.
The story of Adam and Eve has literally nothing to do with sexual assault. It has to do with Eve refusing to obey a Godly command not to eat from a certain tree at the behest of the snake, then telling Adam to do so as well, then lying to God about it. End of story.
But here’s Kolton’s take:
I want you to think about this. Here is a young, beautiful, intelligent, naked woman living in a state of Grace. She’s hungry, so she does the most natural thing in the world and eats a piece of fruit. For following her instincts, trusting herself, and nourishing her body, she is punished. Her punishment? She will never again feel safe in her nakedness. She will never again love her body. She will never again know her body as a place of sacred sovereignty.
To paraphrase Shakespeare: Um, wut?
There is simply no way to read the story of Adam and Eve and come away with the notion that Eve wanted to raid the fridge. The snake explicitly discusses with her the consequences for eating the fruit, and tempts her to do so by stating that she will become like God. Here is the relevant verbiage from the book of Genesis:
For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Notice anything about her pangs of hunger here? Anything about starving in a garden filled with other food? No? Didn’t think so.
But Kolton’s not done:
“What have you done?” He God thunders. Eve wants to defend herself, but she is too ashamed to speak. Eve, our first mother whose name means the “mother of all living things,” is silenced, much the way the “patients” of Dr. Nassar were.
To paraphrase Milton: You gotta be freaking kidding me.
Here’s the actual exchange from Genesis between God and Eve:
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
That’s not her being silent. That’s her answering. And it’s also Eve denying responsibility for her own actions, which is the point of the story. But Kolton apparently doesn’t read English, so she continues with her nonsensical point:
The founding myth of Judeo-Christian religion, the story of Eve, granted generations of men permission to violate women. It teaches us that women are liars and sinners. Even if “She” is telling the truth, she deserved it. God told her not to eat that apple, or wear that skirt, or go out after dark, or be pretty, or desirous, or in that bar or on that street or in that car or born a girl.
To paraphrase Milton: What the actual hell?
No, that story is not about men violating women. God commands Adam. He commands Eve. He punishes Adam. He punishes Eve. He punishes the snake. The end. The story doesn’t say that Eve is a liar. And it doesn’t say that Adam can abuse her. In fact, the first time she is known as “Eve” — as an individual, and not just as “woman” — is when Adam names her by saying she will become the mother of the living.
And is God cruelly punishing Eve? Of course not. He promises to kill both Adam and Eve, and doesn’t kill either of them, because He is merciful. He instead says that they will have to labor for that which would have come easily to them in the first place had they abided by His commandments. And then He comforts them by giving Adam and Eve clothing He makes for them in order to respect their own sense of modesty: remember, God never commanded them to make clothing. They made clothing for themselves after eating from the tree.
But Kolton’s not done yet:
This God, this man-made figurehead of the patriarchy, is not my God. He is a fiction, a man-made myth, but yet one so powerful that it’s poisoned and limited our notion of what GOD, the truly divine, is and can be, especially for women. It’s time for the one truly loving, compassionate God — the God who wants nothing more than to see Eve to rise and resume her place as “the Mother of All Living Things” — to make herself seen, known, and available to all of us. The God I believe in is all loving. God is a Divine source of life and healing, not shame and abandonment.
Good news! The Bible touts that same God, if Kolton were capable of comprehending human language properly.
Sadly, she can’t. Thus, she concludes:
I know that at this very moment in time, Eve is with us and she is awed and proud that we are finally finding our voices, one at time, and then hundreds, and thousands at a time. She, who was lost to us so long ago, is actually here with us now, marching in the streets, testifying, raising her voice, at last.
Eve, our blessed mother, is saying, “#Metoo.”
Eve wasn’t sexually harassed or assaulted by God. She wasn’t a #MeToo victim. The only victims in this piece are Kolton’s readers, who all lost IQ points simply by sticking around to read it.