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GENESIS - CHAPTER THREE
The Scriptures do not indicate how long the paradisical state of innocence continued. Chapter 3 records what took place to terminate this state. The serpent (nachash, to hiss) was "more subtle" (arum, crafty, cunning; See Genesis 2:25 where the word is translated "naked") than any other creature of the animal kingdom. "Subtle" in the Septuagint translates the word phronimos, meaning "prudent," and it denotes "primarily one who has quick and correct perceptions, hence ’discreet,’ circumspect" (Thayer). This term does not point out a fault in the serpent, but denotes good qualities, although these good qualities were capable of being perverted and used wrongfully.
The Scriptures imply, but do not state, that Satan assumed
control of the serpent in order to approach and tempt (test) the first human pair. Subsequent use of "serpent" to designate Satan confirms this, see Revelation 12:9-15; Revelation 20:2; 2 Corinthians 11:14. It is possible that the subtlety of the serpent may have caused him to be filled with vain pride at his own wisdom and craft, and thus, seek to elevate himself to a position higher than that God ordained for him, much in the same manner Lucifer exalted himself (Ezekiel 28:17); thus the serpent became a willing tool in Satan’s hand.
"The serpent ... said unto the woman..." There is no indication that the woman was surprised when the serpent spoke to her. This implies that there was communication between mankind and some creatures of the animal kingdom. Eve did not recognize that it was Satan who controlled the serpent on this occasion. She was deceived, 1 Timothy 2:14; but this did not mean she was not guilty of sin.
This is the beginning of temptation. "Temptation" means "trial, test, to determine the validity or character of a thing or person." Temptation in itself is not sin. This is evident in Jesus’ temptation, Matthew 4:1-11. The sin lies in responding negatively to the trial.
The serpent introduced the temptation with a crafty question,
"Yea, hath God said..." This raised doubts in the woman’s mind regarding God’s goodness and fairness in providing fully for man’s needs. The woman rose to the bait, and added to what God had said. She quoted the Divine prohibition not to partake of the fruit bf the tree in the midst of the Garden, and added, "Neither shall ye touch it." The sacred record does not cite this prohibition. The second step in yielding to temptation is adding to what God has said.
The temptation was: that man might choose for himself what is good and what is evil. It was not that man and woman might know the difference between good and evil - this is implied in the very fact of the commands God gave. The serpent’s offer was that they might know for themselves, that they might be "as gods, knowing (for yourselves) good and evil." The temptation in Eden was the same as today: that man might become his own judge as to what is right and what is wrong and go his own way.
The forbidden fruit had a three-fold fascination for the woman. It was:
1) Good for food - the appeal to the physical or sensual nature;
2) Pleasant to the eyes - the appeal to the physiological, emotional nature;
3) Desired to make one wise - the appeal to the spiritual nature.
This corresponds to the three-fold temptation of Jesus, Matthew 4:1-11, at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Jesus passed the test, by accepting what God said in His revealed Word regarding each trial. He did not choose to do what He thought right, or even what He was capable of doing. He chose the will of God.
Eve failed the test. She was deceived, and voluntarily partook of the forbidden fruit. She could have said "No," but she chose to do what the serpent suggested, rather than what God commanded. She gave of the fruit to Adam, and he too did eat. Adam was not deceived; he was fully aware of the consequences of his actions, but he disobeyed God deliberately and by his own choice.
There is no way to know the shape or size or nature of the forbidden fruit. Some say it was the act of sexual intercourse. This is an unacceptable position, in view of God’s prior command to them to multiply and fill the earth with their offspring, Genesis 1:28; and God’s benediction on the marriage relationship in Hebrews 13:4, and Proverbs 5:18-19.
The man and the woman committed the fatal deed. Immediately they began to experience the promised results, but not the blessings they had anticipated. Their eyes were opened, to behold that they were not as they had been, innocent in their nakedness. Their mental "eyes" (understanding) were opened to see that they were no longer mentally or emotionally or spiritually innocent. At that point, their spirits became dead - separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). Their minds began the process of degeneration and decay. And their bodies began to experience the debilitation process which would result in physical death. The nature of man became changed, in all aspects of his being. This changed nature is thus transmitted through the DNA molecules which carry the very seed of sin into the life-stream of all subsequent humanity, Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23.
The man and the woman made an attempt to cover their guilt, by fashioning (tying or twisting) fig leaves together to form "aprons" (literally, girdles) to wear as clothing.
Jehovah God was accustomed to commune with man in the "cool of the day" in Eden. Following man’s partaking of the forbidden fruit, God came as was His custom to walk with man. This time, something was different. Adam was not to be found. He had heard God’s voice as he walked in the Garden, and hid himself. This was not from any sense of humility or reverence: it was from a sense of his guilt.
God called to Adam, "Where art thou?" God was not unaware of Adam’s hiding place. This call was to bring Adam to confession of his disobedience. Adam’s responses to God’s questions reflect man’s tendency to shift the blame for his sin to something or someone else. At first Adam tried to explain his hiding from God as due to his insufficient clothing. Adam’s awareness of the effects of his sin was greater than his sense of guilt because he had sinned. God’s response was to ask two other questions, both designed to awaken a sense of guilt and to cause him to admit that what he had done was in direct violation of the Divine command.
Adam then sought to shift the blame to God Himself, by saying "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me." was responsible for his deed. Then in a mild, apologetic admission he added, "I did eat." This indicates no sense of real shame, no personal admission of guilt, but an attempt to cover his sin.
The woman followed Adam’s example, in trying to shift the blame to the serpent, rather than admitting her own personal guilt.
Verses 14, 15:
Jehovah God did not interrogate the serpent. The serpent had no spirit, so there was no sense of sin. And, there could be no confession and repentance and forgiveness on the part of Satan.
In stating the consequences of sin, God started at the source: Satan. It is true that both the man and the woman made their own choice to disobey God. But Satan furnished the opportunity and encouraged them to take it. Thus, he bore the brunt of guilt for the first sin.
"Cursed" does not express a sense of pique or revenge. It is a statement of the consequences of the actions of the serpent. The serpent was from thenceforth destined to crawl upon his belly. This implies that prior to this, the serpent had gone erect. But now by Divine order no serpent from that time forward would ever again so waLu The second aspect of the serpent’s curse was to "eat dust." This symbolizes the basis of shame and degradation. It may apply to Satan, as being degraded and humiliated before those very heavenly beings with whom he had associated before his fall.
The final aspect of the curse is directed primarily to Satan. It is the first recorded prophecy of Satan’s ultimate destruction. And it is the first prophecy of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, see Isaiah 7:14; Galatians 4:1-4; Matthew 1:17-21. This prophetic curse points to Calvary, where Satan bruised the heel of Jesus, the Seed of the Woman. But it was on Calvary that the Seed of the Woman, Jesus, delivered the fatal blow that spells the eternal doom of Satan. There Jesus paid the price for human redemption, See John 3:14; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:8.
God passed a sentence of judgment upon both the woman and the man. He did not pronounce a curse upon them, as He did upon the serpent and the ground.
The woman’s sentence was two-fold. First, there was to be an intensification of sorrow and severe pain in child-bearing. The Scriptures frequently compare the pains of childbirth to the most severe anguish of body and mind, cf. Psalms 48:6; Micah 4:9-10; John 16:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; Revelation 12:2. The special sorrow of the mother does not end with childbirth; she experiences additional sorrow in the bringing up of her child. But there is a special promise to the mother, see 1 Timothy 2:15”: "She shall be saved in childbearing." This does not mean that the woman is saved by the act of bearing a child. It teaches that the normal and natural duty of the woman is the bearing and nurturing of the child.
The woman’s judgment of travail in childbearing corresponds to the man’s judgment of sorrow and toil in providing a livelihood. This sorrow and toil becomes a means of development of character; without it man deteriorates and fails to make progress. In like manner the pains of childbirth contribute to the development of character in the woman.
The second phase of the woman’s judgment is: "thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." This does not refer to the natural desire the woman experiences for her husband, nor to the God-ordained order of authority in the man-woman relationship. "Desire," teshuqah, from shuq, "to run," and means "to have a vehement longing for a thing." The term here is the same as Ge 4:7, and in both instances it denotes "desire to dominate or control." In the face of this desire to dominate, the man is "to rule," mashal the woman. This is the dominating rule of a despotic sovereign, not the loving protection and careful direction of authority as God ordained.
The woman’s judgment set in motion a spirit of conflict between husband and wife. The woman seeks to dominate and control, contrary to the God-ordained order; the man resists and seeks to dominate as a despot, contrary to God’s order. Conflict results. This conflict can be solved only as both man and woman become subject to the authority of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 11:1-12.
God stated Adam’s guilt and the reason for it. Prior to the temptation, Adam had not acted as the woman’s protector, to guard against Satan’s snare. Following her disobedience, Adam had failed to reprove her and try to lead her to repentance. Instead, he had joined her in her sin and had become a co-conspirator in rebelling against God’s command. God pronounced a two-fold judgment upon the man. Prior to this time, the definite article was used with "Adam." Now, for the first time, the article is omitted, indicating that the language now denotes Adam’s representative character as the federal head of the human race. The judgment directed upon Adam applies thus to all his offspring.
The first aspect of Adam’s judgment includes the very "ground" or earth itself. The reason for this: Adam was Earth’s authority, and what affected him affects all under his authority. Sin entered into Adam’s genetic make-up, and the effects of sin began to be felt in all for which he was responsible. In Adam’s sin, "the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity. . ." and now "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:20; Romans 8:22). The curse of sin upon the ground meant that Adam’s work would no longer be pleasant and easy. "In sorrow" he would labor. and make his living. "Sorrow" is etseb (Septuagint lupe), a comprehensive word "designating every species of pain of body or soul." A further consequence of Adam’s sin is that the earth began to produce "thorns and thistles."
The second aspect of Adam’s judgment is that humanity must henceforth experience sorrow and hard labor to find the means of sustaining life. This judgment follows man throughout life, even till the time of his death. The latter part of verse 19 reinforces the penalty of disobedience: death; By Adam’s sin, he forfeited his immunity from death, and brought upon all humanity the consequence of sin, see Romans 5:12; Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:4.
Verses 20, 21:
Following the fall, and preceding the birth of their first child, Adam gave a name,.-to his wife: Eve (chavvah or chayyah), meaning "to live, or living." This was in recognition of her role as the "mother of all living," those who live in the human family.
Jehovah Elohim provided "coats" (cathnoth, from cathan, to cover) to cover Adam and Eve. The fig-leaf garments of their own making were insufficient to cover their guilt. God slaughtered animals and from their sins fashioned tunics or garments, as an object lesson to teach the only Divinely-accepted way to cover man’s sin-guilt. The innocent must die for the guilty, the just for the unjust, 1 Peter 3:18; And the covering of the innocent substitute provides covering for the guilt of the sinner. Thus in the shadow of Eden Jehovah God taught all humanity the first lesson of the Substitutionary Atonement by which the Coming One would provide satisfaction and cleansing for the sins of humanity.
"As one of us" refers to the Divine Trinity, see Genesis 1:26. Adam usurped the power to determine good and evil - to determine for himself, apart from the revealed will of God. This power did not bring the expected blessing; However, it brought banishment from access to the "tree of life," Genesis 2:9. Jehovah acted from mercy in denying Adam access to this tree. Had he partaken of its fruit in his dying condition, he would have entered a state of undyingness in which he would have been doomed to live forever in a body under the sentence of death. Therefore, Jehovah Elohim "sent" (shalach, Piel, denoting force and displeasure) Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden. Humanity was consigned to till the ground in order to secure their food.
To guard against man’s surreptitiously entering the Garden of Eden tcf partake illegally of the tree of life, God established a guard to protect the "way" of the tree. This guard consisted of cherubim (three or more, as indicated by the im suffix), angelic creatures who serve as sentinels under Divine direction and who are described in Ezekiel 10:1-20. Additional references to cherubim are: Exodus 25:18-20; Exodus 26:1; Exodus 26:31; Exodus 36:7-9; 1 Kings 6:23-35; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 7:36; 1 Kings 8:6-7; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 99:1; Isaiah 37:16; Ezekiel 41:18-25.
The "flaming sword which turned every way" is literally "the flame of a sword turning itself." This existed separately an emblem of the Shekinah glory. The purpose of this sword: "to keep (watch over, guard) the way of the tree of life." This was to keep the way open as well as shut. The way to the tree of life is open to those who "wash their robes" Revelation 22:14 (literal translation) and make them clean in the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. There is no other access to the tree of life, than through the means God provides.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
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