Cursed Cain, the Master Architect. Paradise Lost Gives Rise to the Birth of City-States – Part I
Mankind has always endeavored to revive the paradise lost to Adam and Eve and in so doing managed to originate the concept of city-states.
What is considered a State?
According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, “A state is an organized community living under a unified political system, the government.” Other authors, like Frederic Bastiat, wrote, "Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." The state according to Ludwig von Mises is, "the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion that induces people to abide by the rules of life in society.” Mises further adds, "It has the monopoly of violent action. No individual is free to use violence or the threat of violence if the government has not accorded this right to him.” Hans-Hermann Hoppe defines the state as, "a compulsory territorial monopolist of protection and jurisdiction equipped with the power to tax without unanimous consent.”
Every definition is correct from its most basic explanation to the most brutally honest explanation. The question now is how did the pre-state evolve into the institution we know today?
Writings on the origins of the state are widely available. Books like “ The Rise and Decline of the State ” by Martin van Creveld or Bruce D. Porters’ book “ War and the Rise of the State ” are well known and have done an excellent job documenting the rise of this institution throughout the course of human history.
The topic presented is not new when compared to the authors and their respective books mentioned. However, we shall look into the origins of the state from a Biblical viewpoint. In no way am I stating that the Biblical stories are completely accurate or to be taken literally. However, I do believe they provide a framework one can build on in order to understand the history of states from a none religious viewpoint. To explore this subject, it is important to focus on the different attributes between nomadic and sedentary lifestyle.
Bedouin tents and occupants Holy Land CC-BY-SA-2.0 Nomads are satisfied with tents.
Nomadic vs Sedentary lifestyles
Let us explore the difference between nomadic culture versus sedentary culture. Nomadic people travel from one place to the other and do not establish permanent settlements. A sedentary lifestyle can be defined as a society or way of life where people are permanently settled in one place. Nomadism includes hunting and gathering societies, so nomadic people are not concerned about the fertility of the land; while sedentism includes cultivation of crops, so they are very concerned about the fertility of the land. Sedentism involves building houses, storage units, etc. which guarantees better shelter, but waste disposal and diseases can affect sedentary societies much greater than nomads. Nomads do not build settlements such as houses and are satisfied with tents.
The Beginning: Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve in Paradise by Johann Wenzel Peter (Public Domain)
The story of Adam and Eve is well known. God created Adam from the clay of the earth and Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But what is usually overlooked is the garden itself. “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden.” Adam was not created in the garden, for the garden did not exist.
The garden was abundant with food: “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
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Cam Rea is an author and military historian. He has written numerous articles for Ancient Origins, Classical Wisdom Weekly, and has authored several books, including: The Wars of Israel: A Military History of Ancient Israel from the End of Judges to Solomon
Top image: Expulsion from Paradise , painting by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (Public domain)
By Cam Rea
Genesis does not present the garden _in_ Eden as being a city garden. It is simply a garden _in_ a location called Eden (Genesis 2:8). The Sumerian myths understand that the gods built cities to dwell in, in a location called the EDIN, and because the gods had bodies of flesh they had to eat earthly food or they would starve to death, so they created fruit-tree gardens to provide themselves with nourishment. Hence, the gods' gardens were city-gardens (every Sumerian city had its god's garden, so there were many city-gardens in the EDIN). Tiring of the back-breaking labor in maintaining their city gardens they create man to be their gardening slave, freeing them of toil. The New Testament book of Revelation (Revelation 22:1-2) hints at a restoration of the Garden of Eden at the city of Jerusalem, its trees will heal mankind, a stream from under the Temple of Solomon and God's throne, will water this garden. We have come full-circle here, Sumerian city-gardens of the gods have been recast as a Jerusalem city-garden of the Hebrew God Yahweh-Elohim.
Walter R. Mattfeld
As regards the notion of the Garden of Eden being a paradise lost, my research indicates that Genesis' author is recasting Sumerian and Babylonian myths about the origin of man, why he was created, why he was at first naked, why he had no knowledge it is wrong to be naked, why he is not immortal, how he came to acquire knowledge like a god, and why he was later nearly annihilated in a world-wide flood. I understand Genesis Garden in Eden is an ANTI-THESIS, a refutation of an earlier Sumerian THESIS. The Sumerian gods are portrayed as being sinner-gods, they lie, break oaths, have incest with daughters, sex with animals, and generally hold mankind in contempt. Man, made in the image of sinner-gods, is a sinner too. The Hebrews refuted these ideas, their God is just and righteous, thus man, made in God's image, is expected to be just and righteous too. The gods created man to care for their city-gardens in the midst of the EDIN, tiring of the back-breaking toil in maintaining the irrigation canals that constantly clog-up with silts. Man, the gardening slave, will perform the labor in EDIN'S gardens that the gods abhor. The gods would never remove man from their gardens in EDIN, for to do so would mean the gods must care for their city-gardens themselves and endure again the back-breaking toil. Genesis refutes all this, God made the garden to provide food for man, not food for God to consume. The Mesopotamian gods have fleshly bodies, they will starve to death is they do not eat earthly food, so they made fruit-tree gardens to feed themselves. Twice a day, morning and evening, naked male gardeners present the garden produce to the gods to consume in temple sacrifices, just as Yahweh is fed twice a day, morning and evening, by Levitical priests at the Temple of Solomon. The Sumerians portray man in beginning as a naked hairy beast, wandering the animal trails in the EDIN, his companions are hairy naked beasts, wild cattle and antelope, like the beasts he has no knowledge of good and evil, for he is not aware it is wrong to be naked in EDIN, for he has the reasoning of a beast. Only the gods know it is wrong to be naked, for only they wear clothes. Adam is a recast of Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh and Eve is a recast of Shamhat. They meet at a watering hole in the EDIN. Her assignment? She is to accomplish the fall of EDIN"S naked man, to separate him from his animal companions with her companionship, via sex with him. She succeeds and his beasts run away from him, after sex with her. He now accepts her as his new companion in lieu of EDIN'S beasts. She gives him thereupon part of her clothes to cover his nakedness, EDIN'S naked man has learned after contact with EDIN's naked woman, it is wrong to be naked in EDIN. Clothed, and hand-in-hand, and, side-by-side, EDIN'S formerly naked man and woman leave EDIN for a better life in Sumerian UNUG (Babylonian Uruk), where they will meet Gilgamesh, recast as Cain who built Enoch in the land of Nod. See my book published in 2010 _The Garden of Eden Myth: Its Pre-biblical Origin in Mesopotamian Myths_ available via several book-sellers at Amazon.com on the internet. In summary: The Hebrews have recast motifs and events associated with the Sumerian polytheistic EDIN into a monotheistic EDEN. They are refuting the Sumerian account of man's origins.
Walter R. Mattfeld
The Bible portrays Cain, expelled from the Garden of Eden, as being a wanderer, who settles down and builds the first city called Enoch. My research into pre-biblical Mesopotamian myths suggests that Genesis is recasting motifs in such a way as to refute them. Sumerian myths have the world's first city being Eridu (modern Tell Abu Sharein in Iraq), which lies 12 miles southwest of Ur of the Chaldees, where lived Abraham, according to some scholars. Archaeologists have excavated Eridu to its foundations and it came into being circa 5,000 BC. According to Sumerian myths the god of Eridu, Enki (Babylonian Ea) sends demi-gods out to teach man how to build more cities, one of which is nearby Sumerian Unug (Babylonian Uruk). As Uruk was the largest and most important city in Mesopotamia circa 4900 BC, I suspect it was recast as Cain's city of Enoch. Cain being a recast of Gilgamesh. The wilderness about the Sumerian cities was called EDIN, it applies to uncultivated land, and is rendered alternately, by scholars as "steppe," "the Wilderness," "the Wild," and "the desert." The earliest writing is preserved at Uruk and dates circa 3200 BC in the form of crude pictograms, from which, eventually, cuneiform would evolve.
Walter R. Mattfeld