A Bahá'í View of
Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden


Bahá'ís believe that Adam truly existed, and He was a Manifestation of God; meaning the "incarnation" (in the flesh) of a Name/Attribute of ALLAH.

ALLAH has 99 Names, and these Names are also attributes: such as "Merfiful" and "Just" and "Truth" etc. These 99 Names/Attr4ibutes are mentioned in the Qu'ran (khoor-rawn), the Holy Book of Islaam; which we also accept as the Infallible Word of God.

Most Christians interpret the Garden of Eden Story literally:

*The talking-serpent was a literal talking snake.

*Adam was made from clay.

*Eve was made from one of Adam's ribs.

*They were the first humans on Earth.

*The planet was made in six 24-hour days.

Bahá'ís believe that the Garden of Eden story is not a "myth" (invented tale), but an "allegory" (non-literal symbols that represent literal things).M

For example, "Santa Claus" is not a "myth" (invented tale), but an allegory about a literal man (Saint Nicolas of Turkey), who used to make toys for poor children and deliver them every December 24th, in and around his small village in Turkey. So, there is no "Santa Claus" but there was a "Saint Nicolas". Santa Claus is an "allegory" of Saint Nicolas, but it is deeper than that. "Santa Claus" is a "symbol" for giving; especially to children.

The Garden of Eden story one has Adam, one Person, whom God causes to sleep, then God takes a rib of Adam and makes Eve from the rip. Bahá'ís reject this literal view of the Garden of Eden Story.

'Abdu'l-Bahá (awb-dull baw-HAW), the Eldest Son of Bahá'u'lláh, taught that by "Adam" the "spirit of Adam" is meant, and by "Eve" the "soul of Adam" is meant. He said:

"In the Bible it is written that God put Adam in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and take care of it, and said to Him: “Eat of every tree of the garden except the tree of good and evil, for if You eat of that, You will die.” 1 Then it is said that God caused Adam to sleep, and He took one of His ribs and created woman in order that she might be His companion.

After that it is said the serpent induced the woman to eat of the tree, saying: “God has forbidden you to eat of the tree in order that your eyes may not be opened, and that you may not know good from evil.”

Then Eve ate from the tree and gave unto Adam, Who also ate; their eyes were opened, they found themselves naked, and they hid their bodies with leaves. In consequence of this act they received the reproaches of God. God said to Adam: “Hast Thou eaten of the forbidden tree?” Adam answered: “Eve tempted Me, and I did eat.” God then reproved Eve; Eve said: “The serpent tempted me, and I did eat.” For this the serpent was cursed, and enmity was put between the serpent and Eve, and between their descendants. And God said: “The man is become like unto Us, knowing good and evil, and perhaps He will eat of the tree of life and live forever.” So God guarded the tree of life.

If we take this story in its apparent meaning, according to the interpretation of the masses, it is indeed extraordinary. The intelligence cannot accept it, affirm it, or imagine it; for such arrangements, such details, such speeches and reproaches are far from being those of an intelligent man, how much less of the Divinity—that Divinity Who has organized this infinite universe in the most perfect form, and its innumerable inhabitants with absolute system, strength and perfection.

We must reflect a little: if the literal meaning of this story were attributed to a wise man, certainly all would logically deny that this arrangement, this invention, could have emanated from an intelligent being. Therefore, this story of Adam and Eve who ate from the tree, and their expulsion from Paradise, must be thought of simply as a symbol. It contains divine mysteries and universal meanings, and it is capable of marvelous explanations. Only those who are initiated into mysteries, and those who are near the Court of the All-Powerful, are aware of these secrets. Hence these verses of the Bible have numerous meanings.

We will explain one of them, and we will say: Adam signifies the heavenly spirit of Adam, and Eve His human soul. For in some passages in the Holy Books where women are mentioned, they represent the soul of man. The tree of good and evil signifies the human world; for the spiritual and divine world is purely good and absolutely luminous, but in the human world light and darkness, good and evil, exist as opposite conditions.

The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world. This attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused Him to turn from the Kingdom of Unity to the human world. When the soul and spirit of Adam entered the human world, He came out from the paradise of freedom and fell into the world of 124 bondage. From the height of purity and absolute goodness, He entered into the world of good and evil.

The tree of life is the highest degree of the world of existence: the position of the Word of God, and the supreme Manifestation. Therefore, that position has been preserved; and, at the appearance of the most noble supreme Manifestation, it became apparent and clear. For the position of Adam, with regard to the appearance and manifestation of the divine perfections, was in the embryonic condition; the position of Christ was the condition of maturity and the age of reason; and the rising of the Greatest Luminary 4 was the condition of the perfection of the essence and of the qualities. This is why in the supreme Paradise the tree of life is the expression for the center of absolutely pure sanctity—that is to say, of the divine supreme Manifestation.

From the days of Adam until the days of Christ, They spoke little of eternal life and the heavenly universal perfections. This tree of life was the position of the Reality of Christ; through His manifestation it was planted and adorned with everlasting fruits.

Now consider how far this meaning conforms to the reality. For the spirit and the soul of Adam, when they were attached to the human world, passed from the world of freedom into the world of bondage, and His descendants continued in bondage. This attachment of the soul and spirit to the human world, which is sin, was inherited by the descendants of Adam, and is the serpent which is always in the midst of, and at enmity with, the spirits and the descendants of Adam. That enmity continues and endures. For attachment to the world has become the cause of the bondage of spirits, and this bondage is identical with sin, which has been transmitted from Adam to His posterity. It is because of this attachment that men 125 have been deprived of essential spirituality and exalted position.

When the sanctified breezes of Christ and the holy light of the Greatest Luminary 5 were spread abroad, the human realities—that is to say, those who turned toward the Word of God and received the profusion of His bounties—were saved from this attachment and sin, obtained everlasting life, were delivered from the chains of bondage, and attained to the world of liberty. They were freed from the vices of the human world, and were blessed by the virtues of the Kingdom. This is the meaning of the words of Christ, “I gave My blood for the life of the world” —that is to say, I have chosen all these troubles, these sufferings, calamities, and even the greatest martyrdom, to attain this object, the remission of sins (that is, the detachment of spirits from the human world, and their attraction to the divine world) in order that souls may arise who will be the very essence of the guidance of mankind, and the manifestations of the perfections of the Supreme Kingdom.

Observe that if, according to the suppositions of the People of the Book, the meaning were taken in its exoteric sense, it would be absolute injustice and complete predestination. If Adam sinned by going near the forbidden tree, what was the sin of the glorious Abraham, and what was the error of Moses the Interlocutor? What was the crime of Noah the Prophet? What was the transgression of Joseph the Truthful? What was the iniquity of the Prophets of God, and what was the trespass of John the Chaste? Would the justice of God have allowed these enlightened Manifestations, on account of the sin of Adam, to find torment in hell until Christ came and by the sacrifice of Himself saved them from excruciating tortures? Such an 126 idea is beyond every law and rule and cannot be accepted by any intelligent person.

No; it means what has already been said: Adam is the spirit of Adam, and Eve is His soul; the tree is the human world, and the serpent is that attachment to this world which constitutes sin, and which has infected the descendants of Adam. Christ by His holy breezes saved men from this attachment and freed them from this sin. The sin in Adam is relative to His position. Although from this attachment there proceed results, nevertheless, attachment to the earthly world, in relation to attachment to the spiritual world, is considered as a sin. The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the Near Ones. This is established. So bodily power is not only defective in relation to spiritual power; it is weakness in comparison. In the same way, physical life, in comparison with eternal life in the Kingdom, is considered as death. So Christ called the physical life death, and said: “Let the dead bury their dead.” 8 Though those souls possessed physical life, yet in His eyes that life was death.

This is one of the meanings of the biblical story of Adam. Reflect until you discover the others. Salutations be upon you." (Some Answered Questions Chapter 30, underlines not in original)

What did 'Abdu'l-Bahá mean by this?

'Abdu'l-Bahá (awb-dull baw-HAW) never explained what He meant by saying that Adam means the "Spirit of Adam" and Eve means "his soul". We are left to our own efforts to de-cifer what He meant.

Bahá'ís accept Adam as a Manifestation of God; a true Prophet Who lived 6,000 years ago. But, what is the "meaning" of the "rib story"?

In my personal opinion, the meaning is this:

About 1500 B.C., there was a Pharoah in Egypt named Amunhotep IV, but when he became Pharoah he changed his name to Akhenaten ("servant of Aten"). He rejected the worship of Amun and the gods of Eygpt, and started worshipping the One God he called "Aten". The name probably comes from the Syrian word "Adon" which means "Lord". Aten was believed to dwell in the Sun, or be the "light" of the Sun.


Akhenaten worships Aten

The chief advisor of Pharoah Akhenaten was called "Aye" (eye), who was called the "Son of Yahu". He was not Egyptian, but perhaps Syrian. He was the "Prophet" of Aten; the one who taught Akhenaten about Aten.

Akhenaten closed down all the pagan temples of Egypt, and built a massive temple-complex and garden on the east bank of the Nile River in what is now called El-Amarna.

Along with various temples and palaces, a great Garden, called Meru-Aten (Garden of Aten) was planted; with four canals named after the four great rivers the ancient Egyptians were aware of:

*Tigris
*Euphrates
*Indus
*Nile

In the midst of the Garden of Aten, there was planted a "Tree of Life".

Akhenaten was married to Nefertiti, the daughter of Aye, and they had a one son (Tutenaten--later renamed TutenkhAmun), and daughters; one who was named Ankhesenamun, but she was called (nickname) "Khiyah"; which means "sprite little animal" in ancient Egyptian.

For reasons not clear, Akhenaten died. There is evidence that Nefertiti ruled as Phaorah briefly, but she died. We do not know "how" they died. Some scholars speculate that the Priests of Amun poisoned them. We don't know.

Aye, the Grand Visier (minister), was chosen as the new Pharoah. He married his own grand-daughter, Khiyah, and she became the new queen. After six years Aye died, and Khiyah married her brother "King Tut". Then Tut soon died, and that was the end of that dynasty. Meru-Aten was destroyed, brick by brick, and the pagan temples and gods returned.

Could the story of Aye and Khiyah be the literal story behind the "parable" of Adam and Eve?

I believe so.

Here is my own Personal Belief:

1) Adam appeared 6,000 years ago somewhere upon this planet, and died.

2) His RUH (Spirit) returned thousands of years later as a Man (Prophet) born of a woman, and His NAFS (Soul) returned as a woman; also born of a woman. The Man was a Prophet, and the woman was a Chosen One.

3) The Man was Pharoah Aye (eye) of Egypt, and the woman was His wife Princess Khiyah.

4) The Garden of Eden refers to MERU-ATEN ("Garden of Aten"), a garden/temple complex that once existed along the Nile in what is now Tell-Amarna.

5) Adam (Aye) and Eve (Khiyah) "sinned" against God, and were "cast out" of the Garden (i.e. lost power and were exiled).

6) Eve being taken from Adam's "rib" is a metaphor; since in Hebrew "rib" can mean "rib" (literal) or "penis" (metaphorical). Khiyah was the grand-daughter of Aye (i.e. "taken from his rib"), and later his wife. This was not forbidden in Egyptian law, but it violated God's Law.

7) The name "Khiyah" (Egyptian: "Sprite Little Animal") is very close to the Hebrew name for Eve which is "Khivah" which means "life".

8) Khiyah was "tempted by the Serpent in the Garden"; i.e. she desired the Cobra-Crown ("symbol of the wisdom of the gods and their power by which the Pharoah ruled), so she "tempted" Adam with her "forbidden fruit" and he partook (married her).

Again, this is NOT official Bahá'í doctrine, but a personal interpretation.

A Chosen One is not a Prophet, but rather a man or woman with super-human spiritual abilities.

In the Garden of Eden story we see how a Prophet (Adam) can "return" as a Man (Adam) and a Woman (Eve) in a later Dispensation.


Pharoah Aye and Khiyah (Adam and Eve?)

Before becoming Pharoah, Aye was the "Prophet" of Aten; the "One God" worshipped by Pharoah Ankhenaten and his wife Nefertti (daughter of Aye). Ankhenaten built a huge temple-complex and garden next to the nile called Meru-Aten ("The Garden of Aten") that had four canals; named after the four great rivers the Egyptians were familiar with: Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, and the Indus.

But Ankhenaten and Nefertti died (unknown reasons), and King Tut also died. Then Aye was made Pharoah, and all Pharoahs of Egypt had the "Combra-Serpent" on their crowns; symbolizing the "Wisdom of the Gods" by which they ruled.


The Cobra was the symbol of the Wisdom of the Gods

Khiyah, the surviving dauther of Ankhenaten and Nefertti, was "tempted by the Serpent" (i.e. she desired the cobra-crown), and the only way she would become co-ruler was to marry her grand-father, Pharoah Aye. This was NOT against Eygptian law. But it was against the Law of God. She then "tempted" Aye with her "forbidden fruit" and Aye succummed and married her. But Aye and Khiyah was "cast out of the Garden of Aten" (i.e. the priesthood of Amun overthrew them).

'Abdu'l-Bahá gives us "one" metaphysical interpretation, which means the Serpent means "attachment to the human world." In other words, Khiyah ("Eve") wanted power and wealth (attachment to material things of this world), so she "tempted" Aye with "forbidden fruit" (i.e. the fruit that hangs from the human tree which is "good" but also can be "evil" and is "forbidden" in most situations).

Again, this is NOT Accepted Doctrine, but Personal Belief.

Bahá'ís do not accept the belief that the Earth is only 6.000 years old, and that Adam and Eve were the frist humans on this planet.

Bahá'ís accept Divinely-guided Evolution; that Man has always been a separate species, but at one time resembled a fish, at one time resembled four-legged creatures, at one time resembled an ape, until finally Man reached his zeneth as homo sapien. Mankind did not evolve "from" animals, but evolved "along-side" animals until he became Man. This is also called "Parallel Evolution".

So, in conclusion, we believe that while Adam and Eve truly existed, we do not know FOR SURE Who they were. We believe that the "talking snake" is a "symbol" and not literal. Eve being taken from Adam's "rib" is also symbolic. The "forbidden fruit" is also not a literal apple or fig, but also "symbolic". Or what? We do not know. We can "guess".

Not all the Holy Writigs of the Faith have been translated into English. As more are translated, we may find the answers to these questions. But, until then, all we know for sure is the following:

1) Adam existed and was a Manifesatation of God.

2) The talking snake, the forbidden fruit, the "rib" sory, are all "metaphors" (symbols that represent literal things), but not 'literal' in themselves.

That is all we know at this point.

Conclusion

1) Adam (and presumably Eve) existed as real people, and Adam was a Prophet.

2) The Faith rejects the literal interpretation of a talking snake, Eve taken from a literal "rib", Adam and Eve as the first humans, etc.

3) The Adam and Eve story is a "symbol".

4) Only those "initiated" into the Mysteries of God are are "near His Court" will understand the true meaning of he story.

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