Farming Rejected by God

resulting in civilization

Photo by Raphael Rychetsky on Unsplash

It’s all right there in Chapter 4 of Genesis. Adam and Eve have been booted from Eden. They had violated the only prohibition God had given them: do not eat of the fruit if the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

For some reason, that last part always gets left out. Their/our Original Sin was to presume to know right and wrong, good and evil.

Such knowledge necessarily precedes judging. Judging is for God, not us.

But, you say, we can’t have civilization without having some system of justice, and that means defining right and wrong. That, however, is precisely the point: civilization is the ongoing result of the material equivalent Adam and Eve’s Original Sin — but I run ahead of myself.

So anyway, there they are, banished from Eden — but still with God. God ‘walks’ among ‘them’ — at the least, Adam and Eve and their sons Cain and Abel. They have direct interactions with God as they go through their daily lives. They have conversations with God.

For those who have forgotten, Abel was a husbandman, a herder (so at least seasonally nomadic). Cain was a farmer.

God let it be known that, though “He” loved Cain, God preferred husbanding to farming. So Cain murdered Abel.

There was no death penalty: Cain was banished from among those who were still with God. One thing he did was to ‘get married’ (the first mention of marriage, in that sense, in the Bible, which seems to taint that institution). The last mention of Cain in Genesis is that he “built the world’s first city.” So Cain brought civilization into the world — along with farming, marriage, and murder.

The connection between farming and civilization is about as absolute as a historical fact as exists. Human beings learned how to farm, which caused people to cease being nomadic and to settle in one place, which led to the development of cities. So the Bible in this instance agrees with the secular view of the matter. (When people use the Bible to calculate the age of Earth they get numbers that are ridiculous for that — but excellent estimates of the age of civilization.)

Now, for those who believe that the Bible is literally the word of God, that is all we need to know. Others of us think that we, living with the sins that have been passed down to us (from near and far), have no choice but to use the brains the good Lord gave us to ruminate on things to learn how to live decent lives.

The question is, why would farming be displeasing to the Lord? I think it is because it was the material equivalent of eating the ‘forbidden fruit’.

The development of farming was human beings learning to be dependent on ourselves for our ‘daily bread’. It was the beginning of us providing for ourselves, rather than depending on God to provide for us, as non-civilized people have ways done. The rest is the horrific history of civilization.



Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid: M.A. in political economy (where philosophy and economics intersect) with a focus in money/distributive justice