Before we get to the answer of why Adam didn’t die immediately, I first have to show you the thought process leading up to this. Props to Tony Robinson for his thematic expertise and chiastic cleverness.
We’re going to look at the close association of death (sin) and exile by looking at the laws pertaining to unintentional and intentional murder.
The equivalence of death and exile is seen in the laws of the cities of refuge. Thematically, we can see that they both are linked.
Num 35:9-15 – Adonai said to Moshe, 10”Tell the people of Israel, ‘When you cross the Jordan into the land of Cannan, 11you are to designate for yourselves cities that will be cities of refuge for you, to which anyone who kills someone by mistake can flee 12These cities are to be a refuge for you from the dead person’s next of kin, who might otherwise avenge his kinsman’s death by slaying the killer prior to his standing trial before the community. 13In regard to the cities you are to give, there are to be six cities of refuge for you. 14You are to give three cities east of the Jordan and three cities in the land of Canaan; they will be cities of refuge. 15These six cities will serve as refuge for the people of Israel, as well as for the foreigner and resident alien with them; so that anyone who kills someone by mistake may flee there.
This next part goes into greater detail by giving an example and giving a little more information on what happens next to unintentional murderers as it relates to the cohen hagadol. (high priest)
Num 35:22-25 But suppose he shoves him suddenly, but without hostility; or he throws something at him unintentionally; or without seeing him, being his enemy or seeking to harm him, he throws a stone big enough to cause death; and the person dies. Then the community is to judge between the one who struck him and the next of kin avenger in accordance with these rules; and the community is to save the killer from the next of kin avenger. The community is to return him to the city of refuge to which he fled, and he is to live there until the cohen hagadol, who was anointed with the holy oil, dies.
So when someone is killed unintentionally, the accidental murderer is to flee to a city of refuge and cannot go back to their ancestral land until the high priest dies.
Num 35:16-21 However, if he hits him with an iron implement and thus causes his death, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. Or if he hits him with a stone in his hand big enough to kill someone, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. Or if he hits him with a wood utensil in his hand capable of killing someone, and he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer must be put to death. The next of kin avenger is to put the murderer to death himself – upon meeting him, he is to put him to death. Likewise, if he shoves him out of hatred; or intentionally throws something at him, causing his death; or out of hostility strikes him with his hand, so that he dies; then the one who struck him must be put to death; he is a murderer; and the next of kin avenger is to put the murderer to death upon meeting him.
Num 35:30 If anyone kills someone, the murderer is to be put to death upon the testimony of witnesses; but the testimony of only one witness will not suffice to cause a person to be put to death.
So we learned that a city of refuge is a place where an unintentional murderer may flee. The word that best describes a person fleeing from their ancestral land is “Exile.” So when an unintentional murderer flees to a city of refuge, it can be seen as an Exile from their ancestral land.
Below, we see that guilt is brought upon the land due to bloodshed which defiles.
We also see this in Gen 9:6 – “Whoever sheds human blood, by a human being will his own blood be shed;…”
This pertains to intentional murder.
Num 35:33,34 In this way you will not defile the land in which you are living. For blood defiles the land, and in this land no atonement can be made for the blood shed in it except the blood of him who shed it. 34No, you are not to defile the land in which you live and in which I live; for I, Adonai, live among the people of Israel.”
From this Parsha, we see that all acts of bloodshed must be atoned for, whether intentional or unintentional.
Taken together, (Num 35:9-15 & Num 35:33-34) we see that exile is thematically connected to death. How? We know that the theme of Num 35:9-15 is exile because of unintentional murder. And we know the theme in Num 35:33-34 is death of one who murders intentionally.
Both intentional and unintentional murderers need atoning for. An intentional murderer must be punished by death – no ransom is allowed to be made for him in lieu of punishment. And, the unintentional murderer must follow the statutes and remain in the city of refuge until the high priest dies. No ransom is allowed to be made for the unintentional murderer that would allow him to return to his ancestral home beforehand.
The theme of death and exile are linked together with the need for atonement in both parties.
Also, you are not to accept a ransom in lieu of the life on a murderer condemned to death; rather, he must be put to death. Likewise, you are not to accept for someone who has fled to his city of refuge a ransom that would allow him to return to his land before the death of the cohen.
To bring this point home, we see the following connections between death and exile.
- Intentional killer vs. unintentional killer
- Ransom of the intentional killer vs. ransom of the unintentional killer
- Giving life to the intentional killer (who is supposed to die) vs. allowing the unintentional killer to return to his ancestral land.
As you can see, life is equated with being able to abide on one’s ancestral plot and death is equated with exile from one’s ancestral plot of land in Israel. So understand that the unintentional killer experiences a type of death as a result of the accidental death he caused.
Now Let’s Talk About Adam & Eve and Their Expulsion from the Garden
Adonai gives Adam this instruction:
Adonai, God, gave the person this order: “You may freely eat from every tree in the garden 17except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die.”
Adam and Eve disobeyed and this is what happened:
Adonai, God, said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, to prevent his putting out his hand and taking also from the tree of life, eating, and living forever”, 23therefore Adonai, God, sent him out of the garden of Eden to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24So he drove the man out, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned in every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
We see that Adam didn’t die but was Exiled out of the garden. And we’ve seen that death is equated with leaving one’s ancestral plot i.e. being exiled!!! The Word of Yahweh stands true! The common teaching is that Adam and Eve died spiritually and I’m not saying they didn’t. But if you look at these things thematically, you’ll begin to get a fuller picture and a greater understanding of what the Torah is really saying.
Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood at your hands. 12When you farm the ground it will no longer yield its strength to you. You will be a fugitive, wandering the earth.” 13Cain said to Adonai, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14You are banning me today from the land and from your presence. I will be a fugitive wandering the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Here we see a few things…
He was “cursed from the ground” which means it won’t yield its fruit. And it won’t yield its fruit because we see below that blood defiles the land.
In this way you will not defile the land in which you are living. For blood defiles the land, and in this land no atonement can be made for the blood shed in it except the blood of him who shed it
We also see that Cain was Exiled from his ancestral land due to intentional murder!
By law, he should have been killed himself because Num 35:16 says “…the murderer must be put to death.”
But there could be a couple of reasons why he was not killed for intentional murder.
- No witnesses. (Num 35:30 If anyone kills someone, the murderer is to be put to death upon the testimony of witnesses; but the testimony of only one witness will not suffice to cause a person to be put to death.)
- His exile is associated with death as we’ve seen earlier.
- To allow for procreation of the human population.
Also notice that in Gen 4:16 Cain goes east.
So Cain left the presence of Adonai and lived in the land of Nod (wandering), east of Eden.
The fact that Cain went East is significant because it tells of his spiritual condition. If you read my post called What Backsliding Really Means from a Hebrew Perspective, you’ll see that to face eastward (and towards the sun) means that you have your back towards the temple by default (where God resides). When you understand what “backsliding” means, you’ll understand that Cain turned his back on God. And for us, if we turn “eastward” meaning we look to other gods, then by default we have turned our backs on the temple where God resides thus we have turned our backs on God.
There are many more examples of people being exiled throughout Scripture. So keep an eye out for this and remember how it equates to death.
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