adamah - Hebrew, noun, meaning "ground"

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,
till you return to the adamah,
because from it you were taken;
for you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.
Genesis 3:19, God speaking to Adam

"By the sweat of your face." This phrase has always painted an image of a farmer sweating profusely on a sweltering day while hovering over a lonely shovel struggling to break up the dry adamah. I learned today that this phrase is actually an ancient Near Eastern idiom which speaks of perspiration-inducing fear or anxiety. What the Genesis narrative is telling us is that "humanity will now live their lives in an adversarial world with a constant, gnawing undercurrent of dread that there will not be enough, that their labor will not meet the need." (Epic of Eden, p. 111)

Unlike Adam, I don't physically sweat much in my line of work, but I have been increasingly aware of the "gnawing undercurrent of dread that there will not be enough, that [my] labor will not meet the need." And, so the Scriptures once again illuminate the reality of my human experience, and the words point me to Author who alone has written the next chapter for humanity in which the leading role is the Second Adam. I thank God that the story doesn't have to end at adamah, but instead we are beckoned into a restored relationship with our Good Creator Father and his creation through the perfect obedience of our elder brother, God's Son - Jesus the Messiah!


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