Aulë, Adam, and Abraham

Aulë’s defense of himself is similarly reminiscent of the Adam and Eve story, yet again with an apparently crucial difference. He admits to Ilúvatar that “the making of things is in my heart from my own making by thee; and the child of little understanding that makes a play of the deeds of his father may do so without thought of mockery, but because he is the son of his father,” words which recall Adam and Eve’s shifting of blame from themselves to the Creator for making and arranging things the way that he did: “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat… And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:12-13). Yet there is arguably a legitimacy and even plausibility to Aulë’s ambitions, misguided as they are, that seem to be absent in the self-justifications of Adam and Eve. His attempt to imitate Ilúvatar was born not out of a sense of jealousy, envy, or rivalry with his maker, but of a love for him and a desire that there should exist other beings who might, like him, enjoy the beauties of Ilúvatar’s world and give him due praise for it.

If Aulë’s transgression is in some ways like Adam’s, it is also like that of the other great patriarch of Genesis, Abraham. Much as Aulë knew by way of both promise (through the Vision) and natural desire that there should and would be “things other” than himself “to love and to teach them, so that they too might perceive the beauty of Eä,” so Yahweh had promised to Abraham that his children would fill the earth as the stars do the sky (Gen. 15:5). And like Abraham and Sarah did in their bareness, Aulë grew “impatient,” as we have seen, with the world’s bareness: “For it seemed to me that there is great room in Arda for many things that might rejoice in it, yet it is for the most part empty still, and dumb.” Moreover, just as Abraham sought to bring the promise about by his own means, conceiving Ishmael through his wife Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar, so Aulë tried to hasten the arrival of the Children of Ilúvatar, Elves and Men, through his fashioning of the Dwarves.

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