Genesis: The Continued Reverberations of the Fall

The rest of Genesis plots the reverberations of this betrayal of Adam and Eve. Cain’s slaying of Abel is due to the refusal of Cain to give true sacrifice to God, so he ends up offering up the blood of his brother to his anger.1 Cain refuses to serve as a true priest, so he repeats the edenic fall. The building of the tower of Babel is an attempt to recreate Eden, a new garden temple that will reach into the heavens.2 Again, they attempt to lord over creation without reference to God and so further dissolution comes with the dividing of tongues and the failure of the new garden temple. The wickedness and dissolution of mankind reaches its zenith in the account of Noah and the flood. A remnant is maintained by God in an ark, a floating miniature capsule of the created world. But it is not long after the return of man to the renewed earth that the sons of Noah abuse the fruit of the vine and transgress shameful boundaries with their father. An echo of the shameful nakedness of Adam and Eve but now taken to another level of dissolution.

We come to the calling of Abraham, and we encounter the beginning of the formation of Israel. Abraham is called from the land of Ur and is given a promised land wherein his descendants will bless the nations (Gen 12:1–3, 6–7). It is his descendants that will bless the nations. It is his descendant Joseph, who after being rejected by his brothers, saves them from famine in the land of Egypt. And so, the descendants of Abraham sojourn for some time in Egypt. The Book of Genesis ends with Joseph making the Israelites promise to bring his bones back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is in the book of Exodus that God raises up his prophet Moses to bring Israel out of bondage in Egypt, to give them the Law and tabernacle for the right worship of God, and to lead them to the doorstep of the promised land.

Read more: Abraham (opens in a new tab), Passover (opens in a new tab)


  1. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Commentary on Genesis, Section III.2 and III.3.

  2. Towers in those days were ziggurats, palace temples meant for the gods.