Saturday, December 02, 2017

A child is born 2: Eve bears Seth

Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, because Cain killed him.”

As we heard yesterday, Eve lost her first two children when Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain was then banished, becoming a fugitive “East of Eden”. But God had not forgotten Eve, and she bore another son. She named this child Seth, because God had given her another child in “place” of Abel. Cain marries and has children (with whom? the Biblical writers don’t seem to be bothered about where this mysterious wife comes from!) and has children, but it will be Seth’s descendants who will now take the story forward.

Those who have lost children, before birth, in infancy or in adulthood, may rightly protest at this story. There can be no “replacement” for a child who has died. There will always be a gap in their family, however many other children they have. The child they have lost will always be mourned and missed. If God did not “replace” Abel, however, the grand story the Bible tells would end here. .

We have to wonder, though, what it might have felt like to be Seth, growing up under the shadow of a terrible family story and being reminded  in his very name that he is a “replacement” for the children Adam and Eve have lost to death and to exile.

·         What do you think Seth would have to say about his role in the family?
·         Was your childhood overshadowed by any painful family stories or events?
·         Pray for families who have lost children, and for  children born after the loss of a previous child. – help and information on stillbirth and neo-natal death.

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