In which the exiles learn about the Sustainer
And the LORD God said, “It is not good for the human to be alone, I shall make him a sustainer beside him.” And the LORD God fashioned from the soil each beast of the field and each fowl of the heavens and brought each to the human to see what he would call it, and whatever the human called a living creature, that was its name. And the human called names to all the cattle and to the fowl of the heavens and to all the beasts of the field, but for the human no sustainer beside him was found. And the LORD God cast a deep slumber on the human, and he slept, and He took one of his ribs and closed over the flesh where it had been, and the LORD God built the rib He had taken from the human into a woman and He brought her to the human. And the human said:
“This one at last, bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,
“This one shall be called Woman, for from man was this one taken.”
Therefore does a man leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they become one flesh. And the two of them were naked, the human and his woman, and they were not ashamed.
Daniel 4:21-23, 30, 31, 33
…this is its meaning, O king, and the decree of the Most High that is to come upon my lord the king. And you shall they banish from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and grass like the ox shall they feed you, and from the dew of the heavens shall they give you drink. And seven seasons shall pass over you until you know that the Most High rules over the kingdom of man and to whom He chooses He gives it. And as to their saying to leave one of the roots of the tree, your kingdom shall endure for you once you know that the heavens rule.
At that very moment the word was fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar, and from man he was banished and he ate grass like the ox, and from the dew of the heavens his body was moistened until his hair grew like eagles and his nails like birds. And at the end of many days: “I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes to the heavens and my mind returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and extolled the Eternal One…
At that very moment my mind returned to me, and the glory of my kingdom, my grandeur and my splendor, returned to me, and me did my councillors and my nobles seek out, and I was set up over my kingdom, and exceeding greatness was added to me…”
In Genesis 2 and 3, Adam stands for Babylonia, and Eve for Media, the sustainer. Yet the very presence of a sustainer reveals the work of God that takes place as Adam is cast into deep slumber, the exiles deported, Nebuchadnezzar banished, in which we are laid bare and see God as our deliverer in times of trouble.
Sleep is essential for our wellbeing, time when our body resets itself and our subconscious processes what our conscious mind cannot bear. Yet sleep deprivation is endemic in our electrified world, chased away by the energy consumption that is so dangerously overheating our planet. The whole world is presented before us, but no sustainer is found. In Advent, we trust that God is yet not distant when we call out in alarm.
Biblical texts: Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary