Month one, day 15: Beelzebub has been watching the pair for any interest they might show in the wonderful but forbidden, for now, tree. But neither has cast a glance that way, so Beelzebub has kept his distance.
But today Beelzebub adopted a new strategy. He took up a position about 50 feet from the Tree, and just stared at it whenever he sensed Adam and Woman were near, so they would think he sat there, staring, day and night. He adorned his stares with a rapturous smile and heaved sighs.
Adam, seeing this from a distance, remarked to Woman, “There’s that tree we are not to eat of. Wonder what that beast sees in it? Of course, I don’t know that God has told that beast to stay away from it. But to just stare? Strange.”
Woman added, “And what an ugly beast! Everything else God made is so beautiful. But something about that creature gives me the creeps.”
“‘Creeps’. I like that word. It describes just what I sense: some undesirable thing making very slow, but very steady, progress. I love your way with words, Sugar Plum!”
“Oh, Adam! ‘Sugar Plum’! I just love the pearls that slide off your tongue!”
And so on and on they went, working themselves slowly but steadily into a state which struck me as, well, very nearly embarrassing.
At a later time as they again passed by, and saw Beelzebub, Beelzebub looked away from his precious Tree only long enough to shout “Hi!” to the pair. Then he returned to his staring and sighing.
During that brief communication, the pair saw Beelzebub smile warmly, an act which can render the ugliest creature endearing.
Wo-man saw Beelzebub’s charm, and dropped her defenses a notch. But Adam’s suspicion only increased. “I sense greater intelligence in that creature than I had previously expected”, he explained to Wo-man. “Almost as great as ours. But if the creature has intelligence to that degree, it strikes me that God has probably told it, as well as ourselves, to stay away from that Tree. But just look! Its obsession is unnatural.”
Woman didn’t answer, but just nodded.
Still later, when Adam was alone, he came upon Beelzebub and the Tree again. This time he decided he would find out what was going on. It occurred to him that perhaps Beelzebub didn’t understand the danger he contemplated. So he walked determinedly up to Beelzebub, stretched out his hand, and said “Hi. I’m Adam. Remember me, from when I named all the animals? Except that I can’t quite place you. You did come that day, didn’t you?”
Beelzebub smiled, and shook Adam’s hand, but answered “I’m not an animal. My name is Beelzebub.”
Adam’s lower jaw dropped the distance of a hen’s egg. “Well if you’re not an animal, what are you?”
Lucifer answered, “I am much like yourself, though I have lived much longer, and seen much more. But of all the things I have seen, nothing seems so remarkable as the Tree.” Beelzebub’s wistful gaze turned from Adam to the subject of his remark.
Adam was irritated. Naturally curious, he wanted to know more about this creature, and what it knew, and yet right here at the door to new, entertaining information, the door seemed locked by the creature’s obsession with some crazy Tree it probably shouldn’t have been thinking about anyway.
Adam retorted, “Well, if you’ve been around as long as you say, you should realize that Tree is bad news. Why are you so interested in it, anyway?”
Beelzebub acted offended. “Bad news, you say? My precious Tree? This wondrous source of nourishment for body and soul?”
Adam wondered if he had judged hastily. He asked respectfully, “Has God exempted you from the warning He gave me and Woman?”
Beelzebub looked down, shook his head, and smiled. “No, God told me the same thing he told you.”
Adam was startled by Beelzebub’s claim that he knew what God had told him. He didn’t remember seeing anybody else present when God gave Adam the warning.
“But”, Beelzebub went on, “experience tells me otherwise.”
Adam had three new ideas to startle him.
First, the possibility of actually opposing God! Of holding an opinion contrary to God’s clear statement of fact! How could anybody be so, so…Adam struggled to think of a word. “Amazing” was the best he could think of, but Beelzebub’s audacity demanded something stronger!
Second, Beelzebub’s statement that he not only disbelieved God, but had already actually acted upon his disbelief and “experienced” this forbidden delicacy.
And third, that Beelzebub was still alive, though God had warned of a quick death upon eating of it!
“You mean you have eaten of this accursed Tree?” Adam scanned Beelzebub’s great body for any sign of waning health.
“Quite some time ago.” Beelzebub was amused, knowing what Adam was looking for but willing to play with him a bit before satisfying his curiosity.
“How many days ago?” Adam thought he saw a shadow behind one of Beelzebub’s tree-trunk-sized rear legs that looked unhealthy.
“Since before there were days.”
Adam forgot about looking for signs of failing health. He peered straight into Beelzebub’s grinning eyes. Beelzebub warmed to the attention. His great tail wagged a little, knocking over a couple of medium-sized trees. His wings fluttered a bit, sending a cool breeze Adam’s way. But with the fresh air was a smell. Something pungent; with a touch of rancid. Subtle, this time, but Adam sensed greater movement might stir up more. Could this be the smell of Death, Adam wondered?
Adam didn’t know how to process this new possibility: that one might say something is true which another says is not possible. How could both be right? But if Lucifer has not really lived these many days since eating of the Tree, how could he possibly say he has? Could there be something wrong with his mind, that he has forgotten, or does not know? The intelligence in his gaze argues otherwise. Could he deliberately say something he knows is not true? But why? How? It didn’t make any sense.
Adam tried to imagine what a mind would have to accomplish in order to deliberately affirm something known to be not true. He pictured a mind lying down and going to sleep. Thus Adam coined a new word for saying what is not true: “lying”. He thought it an appropriately humorous a word for so, uh, “amazing” an action. So, uh, is there a better word than “amazing”? Adam pressed his brain for another word. We whispered our proposal from Heaven, and finally Adam received it into his mind.
“This is STUPID!” Adam blurted out. “God said if you eat of that Tree you will die the same day! Yet you say you ate of that Tree, and you have lived many days! You could not possibly have actually eaten of that Tree, or you would be dead. Not to mention the problem of how your body could survive before there was a Planet! But how could you possibly Lie? Who are you? What are you? How can you stand there and contradict God? Are you calling God a Liar?”
Beelzebub enjoyed Adam’s frustration. Beelzebub intended to milk Adam’s challenges until Adam had no spirit left in him to doubt Beelzebub. But Beelzebub chose not to answer Adam’s questions directly, logically and honestly. Such a course would allow Adam to question his way to the Truth. Nor was Beelzebub brave enough to rashly contradict God with an utter lie. Much safer to contradict God with a half truth, a truth which, through incomplete explanation, seemed to contradict God.
“I am Lucifer, the Morning Star, who has lived since before the Earth evolved.” Beelzebub claimed one of his names before he rebelled, a pleasant sounding name no longer appropriate. Beelzebub, meaning “Lord of the Flies”, is so much more fitting.
VerseScout: Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
VerseScout Relevance Report: Satan is often called “Lucifer” just as if that is Satan’s other name in the Bible. But as Bible commentator John Gill observes, this single verse where the name appears in the KJV means
“not Satan, who is never in Scripture called Lucifer, though he was once an angel of light, and sometimes transforms himself into one, and the good angels are called morning stars, Job 38:7 and such he and his angels once were; but the king of Babylon is intended, whose royal glory and majesty, as outshining all the rest of the kings of the earth, is expressed by those names; and which perhaps were such as he took himself….”
Bible commentator Adam Clarke, frustrated at the common use of the name “Lucifer” to mean “Satan”, says
“And although the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar, yet this has been, I know not why, applied to the chief of the fallen angels, who is most incongruously denominated Lucifer, (the bringer of light!) an epithet as common to him as those of Satan and Devil. That the Holy Spirit by his prophets should call this arch-enemy of God and man the light-bringer, would be strange indeed. But the truth is, the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, nor the occasion of that fall, which many divines have with great confidence deduced from this text. O how necessary it is to understand the literal meaning of Scripture, that preposterous comments may be prevented! Besides, I doubt much whether our translation be correct. הילל heilel, which we translate Lucifer, comes from ילל yalal, yell, howl, or shriek, and should be translated, “Howl, son of the morning;””
Evolved? The earth evolved? Adam wished God had said something about “evolving” to help Adam analyze this new claim. Morning Star? What sort of ‘Star’ could this be, which existed before the rest of the stars were created on the Fourth Day? Beelzebub was just digging his hole deeper, Adam thought. But another part of Adam was intrigued.
“I am the leader of a race of Supermen, superior to men, who do not need planets in order to live. I created this body only after the Earth evolved, that I might move about on the Earth.”
OK, outright lie number one: Beelzebub’s body is the body Beelzebub asked God to create for him. Beelzebub isn’t smart enough to create a blade of grass! We whispered this to Adam, but he was preoccupied.
Beelzebub continued, “I owe my great knowledge to that tree. It must be obvious to you how much knowledge I have that you do not; you have already marveled at many of my statements for which you have no explanation. As for whether I am dead, your eyes should answer that for you. As for whether God is a liar, I have not raised such an impolite question. Since it is you who have raised it, it should be you who must answer it.”
Adam was as outraged as we were! “Impolite”?! To question God’s honesty is merely “impolite”?! Beelzebub’s gaze held steady, as if he expected Adam’s reaction, assuring Adam that Beelzebub’s outrageous insinuation was calculated.
Adam’s suspicion was on high alert, but he was intrigued. Sure, Lucifer had said many things Adam could not explain. But that could be either because they were genuinely beyond Adam’s experience, or it could be the alternative explanation: they were stupid.
But God had created within Adam a spirit of fairness: an intellectual curiosity, a hunger for all the facts before reaching conclusions. Adam had to acknowledge that although Lucifer was a long way from proving his wild claims of having eaten of the Tree and of having lived many days since, Adam was not yet able to disprove Beelzebub’s claims. And perhaps there remained some new perspective, some context, in which Beelzebub’s claims and God’s claims could be resolved.
But for all Adam’s intellectual curiosity, his mind also suffered from weariness at holding such heavy questions in the air before his mind. He was tiring of this conversation, and ready for an exit line.
Beelzebub made his last claim on Adam’s attention count. “You, too, can acquire Superhuman Knowledge, even as I have, from this Tree. Until you are ready to share it with me, I am willing to share a sample of its Knowledge, by answering for you all the Great Questions of Existence. Just ask, and I will freely share all I Know. But when you eat, yourself, then you will Know all that I Know.”
“Thanks”, Adam muttered warily, suspicious of the “knowledge” he had heard already, without the stomach for more. “Some other time. Gotta go now, though. My wife’s expecting me home for dinner by now. See you later.”
Beelzebub didn’t answer, as if acknowledging the insincerity in Adam’s polite excuses, but locked eyes with Adam, in a gaze which simply repeated Beelzebub’s generous offer, as if to say “any time you’re ready, I’ll be here for you.”
Adam told Wo-man later, “I saw Lucifer today.”
“Lucifer?” Wo-man asked. “What is ‘Lucifer’?”
“The ugly creature. It can talk. It calls itself ‘Lucifer’.”
Wo-man remembered Lucifer’s beautiful smile, such a surprise on that strange body. “Oh?” she answered hopefully, ready for a positive report.
“Stay away from him. There’s something about him that doesn’t add up.”
Woman noticed that Adam expected her to stay away from Lucifer, but it was perfectly all right for him to while away enough of the afternoon with him to render him late for dinner. But Woman didn’t articulate this observation presently. She instead stored it up in her memory banks, to be served up later when her platter was full.
Adam recounted his conversation with Beelzebub, detailing the train of logic and the want thereof. But Woman was more interested in voice inflections, facial expressions, the clues to emotions. Adam had to struggle to answer Woman’s questions; first because he had difficulty understanding their significance, and second because, not understanding their significance at the time, he had not observed them carefully.
“I don’t understand how you could not notice whether Lucifer’s voice rose or fell as he told you he has lived since before there were days”, Woman said, making a note to herself that if she is going to properly analyze these things, she will have to observe Beelzebub for herself.
The next day Adam and Woman planned an elaborate gardening project. They had found some beautiful roses in a tangle of grass. They had visualized how beautiful the roses would be if the grass were cleared out so the roses could grow alone.
It was tedious work. They pulled grass in quite a large area. They didn’t remove all the grass, but shortened it from about four feet high to a few inches high. What a pleasant difference, and pleasant to walk upon and lie upon, too!
They saw that the roses, without the support of the grass, laid limply on the ground. “Look Adam, wouldn’t they be pretty if they were up this high, so I could walk right up to them and smell them without getting on my hands and knees?”
Adam studied the problem. He picked them up, but they just fell back down again. What could hold them up permanently?
He spotted a small tree several feet away. “Maybe if I could just drag this tree over by the roses?” he suggested.
“Excellent! Then I could wrap the roses around it!”
Adam pulled the tree, but it wouldn’t move. Surprised, he pulled harder. The tree, a little taller than himself, bent, but would not move. It remained firmly planted in the ground. But after much tugging and huffing, he heard and felt a crack in the wood. Stooping down, he inspected the damage he had caused to the tender trunk.
“Have I killed it?” He asked Wo-man.
“I don’t think it has any purpose, if we can’t move it. I think if you can keep breaking it like that, then let’s just leave behind the portion that loves the ground that much, and we can use the portion which is willing to be useful.”
So Adam continued working on the trunk, focusing on putting stress on the portion already damaged. He found that by pulling from another direction, he could cause a crack on another side of it. Finally it was cracked enough that he could twirl the trunk around and around, until the last wood fibers surrendered their hold.
Over by the roses, Adam and Woman pondered how to replant their prize. Adam stood it on the ground, but it fell over. He stood it up again and held it. “It won’t take root. How can we make it stay?” he asked Woman. But as he asked, his body slumped for want of a reason to maintain its tension, there being nothing he could think of to do. As he slumped, his weight shifted to the sapling, driving it a couple of inches into the ground. Surprised, he stepped back, fearful of falling if he held on to the sinking tree. When he stepped back, he was astonished to see that the sapling stood!
Incredulous, Woman stepped up to it and pulled it, to see if it had taken root as firmly as it had before. Not so. It fell over in her hand. But now Adam knew what to do. He leaned on the tree with all his weight, driving it farther into the ground. He stepped on its lower branches, driving it in farther. Now it was fairly sturdy; not as much as before, but enough for roses.
“Let’s wrap the roses around it now.”
They began, but they decided the number of branches interfered with wrapping, plus they detracted from the beauty of the roses. So they broke most of them off.
And so the next couple of days proceeded, one idea upon another, until by the end of the week they had an arbor of four small trees placed vertically, a square of trees at the top, placed horizontally, and woven grass covering the frame to provide shade!
When they were all finished, God stopped by for a visit. That is, God manifesting in a physical body; of course we knew God was ever present, everywhere. But Adam and Woman didn’t know that yet.
They talked of many things. They joked about the antics of cats and baby rabbits. Adam thanked God for the many delicious fruits upon which they had feasted. God responded by pointing out more, as they walked about, and suggesting novel ways to prepare them. They sat in the shade of the Arbor, enjoying the change from the warm sun.
God waited for Adam or Woman to talk about Beelzebub, but in vain. Adam nearly brought it up, but didn’t want to trouble God. Actually there were a jumble of feelings within Adam which even he could only barely sort out, and that only if he took the trouble, which he was ill inclined to do on such a pleasant, warm, sunshiny day.
Adam told God about the eagle he watched. The eagle was watching two baboons carrying a luscious fruit into a covered nest. The eagle knew better than to rob the nest because even one baboon is too strong for him.
Never mind the eagle’s incapacity for perceiving that the fruit “belongs” to the baboons, we thought.
But the eagle saw one of the baboons leave the nest, and went after the fruit, much to his subsequent regret!
Adam marveled. “Did the eagle think no baboon remained to guard the fruit? The eagle saw two go in, and one come out. Two minus one leaves one. Can’t eagles count?”
God laughed gently. “That’s like the story about the kittens you mentioned.”
“Yes! The very same thing! I saw a mother cat carry her babies to a new location, one at a time. After she carried them all, she went back one more time to see if she left any behind! Was she incapable of determining that all her babies were with her, merely by counting them?”
God laughed again. “No, Adam. Animals can’t reason. They cannot know facts about their world derived from reason. They cannot know what their five senses do not tell them.
“Language as we know it is meaningless to them, not because they lack the physical ability to make a variety of sounds, but because most language expresses concepts not perceivable to the five senses.
“Not that there is anything wrong with animals! Not that animals aren’t amazing, wonderful creations by Myself which make the Earth a place of delight! Not that animals are not incredibly complex creatures far beyond the capacity of any soul to create!”
There was a lesson in this that God yearned for Adam to understand. “My Son….”
VerseScout: Luke 3:38 …Adam, which was the son of God.
“…I gave you Freedom which no animal can imagine. I gave you Choice. You can even choose whether to believe me, when I warn you what to avoid. I gave that ability to no animal. Animals are unable either to obey or disobey. They can only behave the way I programmed them.
“Therefore, never imagine the warning I gave you, which I gave no animal, proves you are less ‘free’ than animals! Or that you can be jealous of animals because they have no commands!”
Amen! What a special blessing for Adam and Wo-man, that even just one single tree was forbidden!
Chapter Eighteen: Preparing Adam