the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of The Scribe,
we reprint selected articles from previous issues.
the Footsteps of Adam
Published in THE SCRIBE Issue 55, October 92
Jewish calendar, Anno Mundi, is supposed to begin from the
creation of the world, but it is absurd to pretend any longer
that the world was created merely 5753 years ago, and that
it will come to a sudden end in the year 6000. New definite
evidence of the Creation has just been discovered by astronomers.
It shows that the Big Bang which created the Universe took
place at least 15 billion years ago, and that the Universe
will finally collapse into nothing in about 20 billion years
time (so much for eternal life!)
the adjoining article, Rabbi Maller dates the Jewish year
from when Adam left the Garden of Eden which makes a lot
of sense, as it marks the start of our civilisation and
the beginning of history. The period before Adams
departure from the Garden can cover all the millennia of
prehistory. It changes our time scale from the ridiculous
to the sublime - Anno Mundi becomes Anno Adam.
the Bible begins with the fascinating account of the creation
of the Universe and the creation of Time, I have always
maintained that the Book of Genesis is essentially the story
of our civilisation, with Adam as the hero of that story.
was this Adam, where did he come from, where did he go,
what did he do and where was the Garden of Eden? Rabbi Maller
focuses his attention mainly on what happened in Mesopotamia,
but the story begins much earlier.
retreat of the last Ice Age climate took place some 9000
years ago starting, obviously, in equatorial Africa, and
that is where Adam lived. Up until then people subsisted
mainly by hunting, but as this became less and less rewarding
Adam was inspired to move with his tribe eastward to southern
Arabia, which was then uninhabitated and was lush with virgin
forests and fruit gardens. The Red Sea was still a lake.
the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there
he put the man whom he had formed". (Gen. 2.8).
the weather was not warm enough, it hadnt started
to rain yet the gardens were watered by mist as Genesis
was the Garden of Eden - Gannat Adam, in Arabic? In Aden,
of course, in southern Arabia. Adam spoke a version of ancient
Arabic, and is reputed to be buried in Hejaz.
discovers the wild wheat
was in the Garden of Aden that Adam discovered the wild
wheat - an event which was, by definition, the start of
our civilisation, as men began to lead a settled life in
agricultural communities. In keeping with ancient tradition,
the historical Adam was honoured by naming him as the First
Man (Adam ha-Rishon). Adam left the Garden to look for watered
land suitable for growing the nourishing grain, which takes
only a few weeks to grow.
the Lord God sent him from the Garden of Eden, to till the
ground... In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread..."
(Gen. 3:23, 19).
circumstances that led to the "expulsion" of mankind
from the Garden, from a life of ease as gatherers of food
to a life of toil as tillers of the ground, made of Adam
a persona non grata and of our new condition as the "Fall"
from Gods grace. This attitude is further confirmed
by the story of Cain and Abel in which God looks favourably
on Abel, the hunter and gatherer, and disapprovingly on
Cain, the farmer. Cains murder of Abel represents
the traumatic transition to a new life-style, and the triumph
of agriculture over hunting.
Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in
the land of Nod, on the east of Aden". (Gene, 4:16).
is interesting to note here that one of the opinions in
the Talmud mentions wheat as being the forbidden fruit that
Adam ate in the Garden. The aphrodisiac quality of wild
wheat promoted Adams eating of the Forbidden Fruit
being associated with the dawn of sexual awareness.
the earths climate continued to warm up, the wades
of southern Arabia soon became dry and civilisation had
to move northwards to Canaan and Mesopotamia, where the
first settled communities were located at the foothills
of Kurdistan. Adams son Seth is reputedly buried in
at the time of Noah, 1656 years from Adam, the rains came
- forty days and forty nights - which also caused the melting
of the ice on the Turkish mountains, which brought about
the Deluge in Mesopotamia. Historians often argue whether
the Bible borrowed the story of the Flood from Babylonian
accounts or vice versa. It was neither. The Flood story
was common to the peoples of the Near East.
the Flood, God said to Noah, "Every moving thing that
liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have
I given you all things". (Gen. 9:3). Bible scholars
are puzzled why the generation of Adam was only allowed
to eat fruit and herbs, while after the Flood animal flesh
was allowed. In the early days of agriculture all animals
were still wild and meat was hard to come by. The place
of Noah in the march of civilisation is that he domesticated
animals. This is graphically illustrated by the story of
the Ark and the zoo that went into it.
who distinguished between clean and unclean animals, is
likewise honoured by naming him and his family as the sole
survivors of the Flood.
the founder of Monotheism
has an even greater claim to fame. He was a great leader
and a prophet. He is honoured as such in Islam; but, alas,
not in Judaism. The story of his encounter with God demonstrates
his belief in the One Supreme Creator. We may infer that
Adam started monotheism, and that movement became widespread
by the time his grandson Enos was born. "Then began
men to call upon the name of the Lord". (Gen. 4:26).
story of the tree of knowledge of good and evil likewise
demonstrates that Adam believed in Free Will - mans
freedom to choose, and that he was not an automaton in the
hands of destiny. Adam believed too that man was created
in Gods image and having many of His attributes -
holiness, wisdom, love, compassion.
story of the Creation in seven days also demonstrates that
Adam and his followers observed the Sabbath as a weekly
day of rest, a "back to nature" interlude, when
we did not have to work, to cook, to build houses, to weave
clothes. A taste of the -good old days", of the bliss
of the Garden of Aden of the past, and of the utopian Gan
Eden of the future.
points to a life of ease, free of toil and of disease, of
simplified food intake and improved human waste, which now
pollutes us and our environment!
rise of idolatry
the Flood, despots in the mould of Saddam arose, who drank
of the violent waters of the Tigris and who promoted the
worship of idols and of themselves. But Monotheism survived
in pockets in Western Arabia and in Canaan. The Bible abounds
with such references. "Noah walked with God. "Noah
found grace in the eyes of the Lord". "Noah built
an altar unto the Lord". (Gen. 6:9, 8; 8:20).
a direct descendant of Noah, journeyed from Ur to Canaan
where he met Melchizedek, king of Salem (Jerusalem) and
priest of the Most High God; the Patriarchs encounters
with various missionaries of God; Mosess father-in-law
was most probably a believer in God; at Jericho, Joshua
met a stranger with a drawn sword who told him, "...
as a captain of the host of the Lord am I now come".
is wrong therefore to attribute the start of Monotheism
is time to rehabilitate Adam and honour him not only as
the father of our agricultural civilisation but also as
the founder of Monotheism. When I was eight years old I
asked my late grandfather Hakham Ezra Dangoor, if our Patriarch
Abraham - Abraham Abinu - had observed the Sabbath. I was
told that Abraham had kept the Commandments by "inspiration".
In fact, Abraham kept many Commandments by traditions handed
down from previous God-fearing ancestors.
Christianity and Islam each committed the mistake of trying
to obliterate and supersede its predecessors, claiming to
have a monopoly of the Truth. In fact, we are all brothers
in Adam, who have to recognise and respect each other as
present Jewish calendar is lunisolar ~ the months being
reckoned according to the moon and the years according to
the sun. According to tradition, quoted in the name of Hai
Gaon of Babylon (d. 1038), the present extremely accurate
Jewish calendar was introduced by Hillel II in 358-59 CE.
In the Biblical period the reckoning was from the time of
the Exodus; then from the erection of Solomons Temple,
or the beginning of the reign of Kings; then from the Babylonian
captivity. In Talmudic and post-Talmudic times, calculation
was from the start of the Sellucid era in 312 BCE. Only
when the centre of Jewish life moved from Baghdad to Europe
did the calculation become Anno Mundi.
at reforming the calendar and making it symmetrical have
repeatedly failed because it would tamper with the 7-day
sequence and result in a roving Sabbath.
the Jewish Calendar
by Rabbi Alien S. Maller
Rabbi of Temple Akiba, Calver City, California
Condensed from an article in Dor le Dor,
Published in Jerusalem by the
Jewish Bible Quarterly
Christian calendar starts from the birth of Jesus. The Moslem
calendar begins with the flight of Mohammed from Mecca to
Medina. By analogy, one might expect that the Jewish calendar
would start either from the birth of Abraham (the first
Hebrew) or from the Exodus out of Egypt (the birth of the
Israelite nation). Yet the rabbis in the second century
who made up the current Jewish calendar chose Adam as their
first Adam represents the beginning of civilised mankind.
The exit of Adam from the Garden of Eden symbolises the
transition of mankind from a Stone Age state of hunters
and gatherers, to the more advanced Bronze Age society of
farmers and city dwellers.
did this take place? The most famous attempt to calculate
"the beginning" was that of Irish Bishop James
Usher who sets the date for the departure from the Garden
of Eden in the year 4004 BCE. The current Jewish calendar
is based on the calculation of Rabbi Yosi-ben-Halafta in
his second century book, Seder Olam Rabba, by adding the
lifespans in Genesis and Exodus. According to him, Adam
exited the Garden of Eden and became civilised 3760 BCE
(5753 years ago).
is another way to estimate when mankind became civilised.
According to archaeologists, this fundamental development
in human evolution first took place in the Tigris-Euphrates
valley almost 6000 years ago. The earliest writing discovered
so far comes from the Mesopotamian city of Uruk (Erech,
Gen. 10: 10) and dates to about 5500 years ago.
beginning the Jewish calendar with Adam, the rabbis equated
human history with urban civilisation and writing. Indeed,
all written references to political events in the archaeological
records can be dated by the Jewish calendar. The first dynasty
in Egypt arose in the 7th century of the Jewish calendar.
The first stone pyramid was built in the 10th century of
the Jewish calendar and the great King Sargon of Akkad (2371-2316
BCE) lived in the 14th century of the Jewish calendar. Abraham
was not born until the 20th century.
homo sapiens has been evolving for tens of thousands of
years, civilised mankind only begins about 58 centuries
ago. The Jewish calendar is the oldest in the world. The
closest to it is the Mayan calendar, only 26 years behind.**
Dangoor adds: Considering the Hebrew calendar to start,
not from the creation of the Universe, but from the beginning
of recorded history, changes our time scale from the ridiculous
to the sublime.
invention of the Hebrew alphabet by Abraham or by his tribe
has had a more far-reaching effect on civilisation than
the introduction of earlier, crude forms of writing.
selected articles from previous issues :
Father of the Middle East
Iranian Jewry Celebrates Cyrus
The Cellar Club
The Arabs Will Never Make Peace with
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