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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Genesis 3

Verse 1

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

The serpent, [ hanaachaash (H5175) is the generic name of a serpent; `aaruwm (H6175), subtle.] This word is used sometimes in a good sense (Proverbs 12:23; Proverbs 13:16; Proverbs 14:8; Proverbs 14:15; Proverbs 14:18), and as synonymous with wisdom, prudence, and particularly shrewdness in adopting the means of self-preservation-an attribute which is declared to be characteristic of the reptile brood (Matthew 10:16); and taking the word here in this view, the Septuagint has rendered it by phronimootatos, the wisest of any beast of the field. But it is obvious from the whole tenor of this context that the term is employed in a bad sense, implying craft, cunning, guile (cf. Job 5:12; Job 15:5); and, accordingly, others have more appropriately translated it by panourgos (G3835), skilled in all manner of deceit and mischief, any beast of the field. Although it is improper, in a scientific point of view, to class a serpent with brutes, in this simple and artless history objects are popularly described, and the comparison between it and the beasts of the field was apparently suggested by the last scene which the historian had described (Genesis 2:19-20). Now, with regard to the superior subtilty ascribed to serpents, it is impossible to say whether all the stories related in illustration of this characteristic property are worthy of credit.

Assuredly, serpents are not naturally the most sagacious of the inferior creation; because there are several others in the animal kingdom which far surpass them in point of instinctive sagacity; but with respect to craft, artifice, and similar qualities of the baser sort, they have in all ages been pre-eminently distinguished. The common view taken of this first verse is that a material serpent is referred to; but what was the particular kind of serpent has given rise to a variety of conjectures. Bochart thinks it was the Dragon serpent-Dr. Patrick, a saraph, the supposed winged serpent, which, from its bright luminous appearance and springing motions, he conceived, strangely enough, to bear some resemblance to the seraphim (cf. Isaiah 6:2). Dr. Adam Clarke held the opinion that the animal was an orang-outang-an opinion, however, which has found no supporters.

Whatever the species of serpent was (and since no hint is given it would be idle to prosecute an enquiry where certainty is unattainable), it is presented in this narrative as the prominent agent in a wicked scheme of seduction. Josephus considered it the only agent. He represents all living creatures as having had one language at first, and describes the serpent as living in familiar conversation with Adam and Eve, until, becoming envious of their happiness, he resolved to work their destruction. But the views of the Jewish historian are inadmissible; and since the continued management of such a plot as the temptation of our first parents, with a knowledge and skillful use of the insidious arts necessary to carry it into successful completion, seems far beyond the natural capabilities of an irrational animal, there is no way of explaining the mystery except by the light shed on the transaction by later passages of Scripture, where we are informed of the latent influence of an artful and malevolent spirit who had formed the diabolical purpose of accomplishing the ruin of the happy human pair in the garden of Eden. This point, however, will be considered afterward.

And he said unto the woman. His subtlety was displayed in selecting the woman as the object of his attack; and that choice was founded on his knowledge of her frailty. She was naturally the weaker vessel. She had only existed for a short time being-possessed but a limited stock of knowledge and a narrow range of experience; she had perhaps never had an opportunity of learning from Adam, who had been supernaturally informed about the animals in the garden before her formation, whether the inferior creatures possessed the natural gifts of speech and reason; so that on that account she neither displayed nor felt any surprise or alarm when the serpent addressed her.

The conversation which is here related is manifestly fragmentary-the sequel of something which had been said or done before. The first tempter, like all who have practiced the insidious arts of seduction since, was too knowing and wary to open his battery all at once. He began by talking, it is probable, about the beauty, fertility, and various productions of the garden, until he gradually directed the course of conversation to the trees and their pleasant fruit, and then, in the most adroit and crafty manner, without creating any suspicion of his base design, he fixed her attention upon that subject. "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" Gesenius' rendering is more strictly according to the original: 'Is it even so that God has said, Ye shall eat of no tree in the garden?' Is it a fact that He will not allow you to take your will of all the produce of this delightful place? Depend upon it that this is not correct, nor like Him; there must be some mistake in your apprehension of His meaning. It cannot be that a Being so good, so kind, so delighted in promoting the happiness of all His creatures, could have restricted you, any more than He has hindered me, from partaking of this as well as all the fruit trees which the garden contains.

Thus, he insinuated, in the gentlest manner, a doubt that she might have taken up a wrong impression of the Creator's command. He endeavoured to show her the unreasonableness of such a view, if it were as she alleged; and to accomplish that end, he perverted the tenor of the divine injunction-speaking artfully and falsely of it as a prohibition, not of one tree, but of all, and taunting the woman with too nice and scrupulous feelings in standing at a distance from the excepted tree, as if afraid to approach it, while he, with the most perfect freedom, and impunity also, sported among its luxuriant branches, and enjoyed its delicious fruit. The insinuation tended, though in a very unsuspected way, to throw a doubt upon the import of the divine command-to diminish her sense of the reasonableness and obligation of the law, and thus to sap, by the most insidious means, the foundation of her faith and principles.

Verse 2

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. Eve answered well. She displayed wisdom in extolling the extent of the liberty which God had granted to her and her partner, ingenuous honesty in adhering to the divine command as she had received it, and in rehearsing it as of unquestionable certainty; and although, in introducing the phrase, "neither shall ye touch it," (Genesis 3:3) she was adding words not found in the authentic form of the divine command, and apparently mistaking the real ground on which the interdict had been given, she evidently spoke under a sincere and strong impression of the strict and inviolable character of the prohibition.

However, the closing words, "lest ye die," seem to imply that she ascribed the prohibition to the dangerous nature of the tree, and in the expression of that opinion showed the weakness of her faith.

Verse 3

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 4

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Ye shall not surely die. Sensible of the advantage he had gained in arresting her attention, the tempter lost no time in continuing his assault; and, having found that she was firm in her belief as to the certainty of the prohibition, he shifted his ground, and pressed her with an idea of the stern severity of the threatening-a threatening so cruel, so tremendous, so utterly disproportionate to the eating of a little fruit, that he boldly professed his inability to believe it: "Ye shall not surely die." This was an appeal to Eve's self-love. The argument, put in the way the tempter expressed it, was strong; because her understanding could not certainly perceive any just or reasonable proportion between the sin and its punishment; and it was armed with additional strength when followed by the strong asseveration, "God doth know." It was, however, a direct, infamous lie-a lie told in opposition to his own dire experience; but he concealed his own wretched degradation, so that he might have the malignant satisfaction of seeing the human pair involved in the same perdition. Nay, he not only assured his eager listener of perfect impunity, but even held out the assurance of great and invaluable benefits from partaking of that fruit.

Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods - [Hebrew, kee-'Elohiym (H430), 'like God']. His words meant more than met the ear. There was a sense in which the words of the tempter were true; but it was a sense very different from that in which the simple unsuspecting mind of the woman received them.

She, justly setting a high value upon knowledge, probably thought of nothing but acquiring the enviable privilege which was enjoyed by angelic creatures of knowing what was good and what was evil:-He meant that they would have dire and practical experience of the difference between good and evil, between happiness and misery. But he studiously concealed this truth from Eve, who, fired with a generous desire for knowledge, thought only of rising to the rank and privileges of her celestial visitants. The whole conversation of the serpent indicates a vile scheme of seduction, designed to make the human pair discontented with the wisdom and goodness of the divine arrangements as to their condition, and to fill them with an ambitious desire to make themselves higher than what God seemed to wish that they should be. Nay, it was full of the most audacious falsehoods, expressing open and undisguised infidelity in the divine word, and, by the novelty as well as reckless hardihood of his assertions, claiming credit superior to that of God; and, alas, he succeeded in seeing that claim acknowledged.

Verse 5

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 6

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

When the woman saw, ... Her imagination and feelings were completely won. The history of every temptation and of every sin is the same; the outward object of attraction, the inward commotion of the mind, the increase and triumph of passionate desire, ending in the degradation, misery, and ruin of the soul. In the brief account of this temptation there is the world or creature in all the forms in which it is possible that it can become an ensnaring object to mankind. Under the first head, "good for food," there is the gratification of the bodily sensual appetites; under the second, "pleasant to the eyes, there is the indulgence of the tastes and affections of the animal spirit; and under the third, "a tree to be desired to make one wise," there is the gratification of the nobler faculties of the intellect or rational soul (cf. 1 John 2:16). In that passage of the New Testament there is no direct allusion to the original temptation in Eden; yet no one who reads the words can help thinking that the mental eye of the apostle was directed toward it when he wrote this exhortation. If, indeed, this were not the case, then it is an undesigned coincidence, and proves, in no unequivocal manner, that the same Divine Spirit guided the pen of the historian (Genesis) and the apostle (John).

She gave unto her husband, and he did eat. Much is evidently left to the reader's imagination in this brief statement. We are left to picture the tumult of conflicting emotions that filled and distracted the breast of Adam when he heard the woeful intelligence; surprise at the recital of his wife's strange conversation with the serpent, astonishment at her fatal act, and the powerful motives that led him coolly and dispassionately to take the fruit-branch from her hand. Milton represents it as dictated by the generous resolution of self-martyrdom with his beautiful partner, whom his penetrating mind now saw had become the victim of momentary rashness. But while we allow him the poetical license to which he is entitled, we, following the plain and truthful intimations of Scripture, must admit the strong operation of a different cause-that of Adam's loving the creature more than the Creator.

"Adam was not deceived" (1 Timothy 2:14), but he ate without seeing the serpent; and after the scene of deception was past, he yielded to the arguments and solicitations of his wife, whose insinuating influence prevailed over his better judgment. Love in his soul had lost its pure and elevating character; its excess overbalanced the principle of supreme devotedness to God, and led him to adopt the fatal resolve of sharing the penalty of his wife's rash act, rather than hear the painful prospect of spending his life without her. In considering the scene of temptation here described, several circumstances call for notice:

(1) The record is characterized by a peculiarity in the way of mentioning the Creator, which is the more remarkable, as it stands in striking contrast to the designation given to the Divine Being throughout the preceding as well as subsequent context. Moses, in his character of historian, uses the term "Lord God" uniformly throughout his narrative of the transactions detailed from Genesis 2:4 to the end of this third chapter; and it appears (Genesis 4:1) that Eve was also acquainted with the name "Lord" [ Yahweh (H3068)]. But in the reported conversation which the tempter carried on with the woman, a different name occurs; and since the minutest details of that fatal conversation would in all probability be preserved by frequent repetition, we are warranted to conclude that the opening verses contain the pure unaltered form of the primitive tradition. On this hypothesis, which appears well founded, the designation given to the Creator, as it stands in the record, was precisely that which was used on the occasion. It expresses (see the note at Genesis 1:1) the general abstract idea of Deity; and a little reflection will show that the use of that name was more accordant with the character idea of Deity; and a little reflection will show that the use of that name was more accordant with the character of the wicked seducer than any other known title of the Creator.

(2) As to the temptation itself, the eating of a little fruit was not an act essentially sinful; but it became so when that act was done in the face of a stern, positive prohibition; and a just view of its real character can be obtained only when we consider the circumstances in which it was committed. Adam and his wife were not, as has been said, the victims of inevitable fate. They were free agents, capable of being influenced by motives, but still at perfect liberty to follow whatever course they pleased; and as, notwithstanding their avowed knowledge both of the divine will respecting the interdicted tree, and of the awful penalty annexed to its violation, they, deluded by artful sophistry, allowed themselves to receive a different notion of its properties from what God had given them, they betrayed a willingness to be deceived, a proneness to transgress. It was not by any stern necessity, but by a determinate choice of their own will, a voluntary surrender of their hearts to temptation, that they committed the first sin; and that sin, considering their special advantages, was marked by many aggravations.

It was a willful and presumptuous offence-that is, a transgression of a known duty, a departure from the declared will of God-an offence the more criminal that they possessed sufficient power to enable them to remain steadfast in duty, and that it was committed in Paradise-a place consecrated by the presence of God. It implied not only disobedience to the Lawgiver, but a contempt of His solemn declarations as unworthy of credit-horrid ingratitude and discontent amid the most profuse liberality-a dark suspicion, which virtually charged the Creator with designedly debarring them from attaining the inherent perfectibility of their nature-pride, in presuming to apply their own notions of fitness or expediency to judge of the equity and wisdom of the divine arrangements-infidelity and Atheism, in resolving to throw off the submission of creatures, and aiming at the independent government of their own actions. It contained, in fact, the germ of which all other sins have been merely the unfolding. The view which has just been exhibited of the sin of man should be borne in mind, since it is necessary for vindicating the divine goodness from the charge of exposing them to irresistible temptations, as well as for placing in a just light the guilt and folly of Adam and his wife in yielding to temptation. It began in infidelity, and amounted to nothing less than an apostasy from God, to join with a being evidently at variance with Him, whose insinuating language raised in their minds a mistrust of the divine goodness, and taught them to disregard the divine threatenings.

(3) The temptation was from without. It did not originate with man himself, from the ascendancy of any bad passion, or the motions of inborn concupiscence; because there being in the pure bosoms of the first pair no principle of evil to work upon and stimulate, the solicitation to sin must necessarily have been extraneous, as in the analogous case of Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:3). The senses are the natural and most direct channels of communication between the mind and the external world; but since these were as yet unperverted, and could not be engaged as instruments of evil, the temptation was addressed to the intellect. The appeal was made to its desire for greater knowledge, to be obtained, however, not in a natural and legitimate way, but foolishly and absurdly, through means of a tree which they were assured would not only yield far nobler and more excellent enjoyments than those which the Creator had bestowed on them, but raise them to a level with God Himself. Thus, the tempter gave decisive proof, as he has done in every subsequent instance, of his subtilty in working upon that power and propensity of the human mind which was most favourable to his designs.

(4) The tempter was a real living personal agent. Some writers, indeed, have maintained that this narrative, being cast in the form of Eastern allegory the tempter must be considered a mere personification of moral evil. But every unprejudiced reader must be convinced that the language of the sacred historian intimates something far beyond an internal struggle with temptation, and trace the sin of our first parents directly to the guile and malice of a tempter, not within but without them. The objective personality of the tempter is taught throughout the whole Bible. In the fuller revelations of the later Scriptures it is distinctly intimated that the author of the plot upon our first parents was an evil spirit, who is called "the wicked one," "the enemy," and the tempter of mankind (Matthew 13:19; Matthew 13:39; 1 Thessalonians 3:5) and who, in reference to this primitive transaction in Eden, is styled "a liar" and "a murderer" (John 8:44; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10). Whatever was the cause of his hostility to man: whether, as some think, he had been viceroy of the pre-Adamite world, and having been degraded and expelled from it, in consequence of rebellion at the period when "the earth was without form and void," was superseded by the new race of mankind; or whether it proceeded from an innate love of disorder, cruelty, and sin, he had cherished, and by his consummate subtilty succeeded, in the secret purpose of establishing himself as the ruler and "god of this world."

That he was the originator and prime agent in the scheme of temptation, Scripture leaves no room to doubt. But Moses makes mention of a serpent as the prominent actor in that affair; and there are two ways of explaining this difficulty. The one is, that a literal serpent, one of the common reptile tribe, was made use of as the tool or instrument of the unseen spirit; and that, since it was a stranger in paradise, Eve, whose observation and experience were very limited, was struck with its luminous appearance, its peculiar form, and the elastic rapidity of its movements, so far that, her attention being concentrated upon it, paved the way for the scene that ensued.

The serpent is described as addressing the woman; and in answer to the objection, that serpents have not received from nature organs adapted by any training, like parrots, to the formation of articulate sounds, it is said that Balaam's donkey was miraculously empowered to speak, and that the possibility of doing so is as great in the case of the serpent. But the serpent is represented as doing many more wonderful things than even speaking; because, from the tenor of the narrative, it not only possessed an intelligent knowledge of the state and arrangements of the garden, but indicated a capacity of reasoning-of founding subtle arguments on the benignity of the divine character-of removing the objections and scruples of simple innocence by bold assertions, and holding out an alluring prospect of the dignity and the benefits of knowledge; and the explanation commonly given of these difficulties is (for the assertion of Josephus, that all living creatures had at first one common language, is rejected as wholly untenable) that even though the serpent did not utter a word in the ears, all this train of argument might have been represented to the eyes of the woman, by the reptile, which had been playing its varying gambols at her feet, suddenly springing up to coil itself in spiral folds among the branches of the forbidden tree, and luxuriating with ostentatious zest on its fruit.

One may easily imagine, it is alleged, how this spectacle would arrest the attention and engage the interest of a simple, unsuspecting beholder, who saw it all done with perfect impunity, and the highest satisfaction to the creature. That no mention is made of any other than the reptile, is accounted for by the circumstance, either that Moses was relating only the history of the visible world, or that it was not expedient, considering the idolatrous propensities of the Israelites, to notice the existence of a wicked spirit, in case they should be induced to render a blind, superstitious homage to his malignant power. Many, however, have called in question the soundness of this traditional explanation, and support their objections by the following reasons:

(1) There is mention made in the Mosaic narrative of only one serpent, and to interpret it by saying that a material serpent was instigated by the evil spirit is an unwarrantable addition to the statement of the inspired history.

(2) No serpent has ever been known in any age to speak: and to suppose that the serpent in Eden was capable of uttering articulate sounds, it could only be through miraculous agency, which no one can believe that God would delegate to Satan.

(3) Serpents do not subsist on fruit. They are carnivorous animals; and there is no evidence that wild, rapacious creatures had a place in Eden.

(4) The grammatical structure of the first verse clearly shows that it was not an ordinary reptile, one of the serpentine race: for the Hebrew words are [ wªhanaachaash (H5175) haayaah (H1961)]: "and the serpent was more subtil than all the beasts of the field." The prefix of the article determines the reference to be to one particular serpent, and by the insertion of the substantive verb, was, the idea of the serpentine race generally is, according to the rules of Hebrew grammar, also excluded.

(5) The only remaining mode of interpreting the passage, then, is to consider "the serpent" as the name of Satan; and he is actually so designated in various passages of the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:3; 2 Corinthians 11:14; Revelation 12:3-4; Revelation 20:2). These passages, which all contain a manifest allusion to the primal temptation, reflect much light on that transaction, particularly Paul's comment, that Satan, though sadly fallen, had not (lest all his original brightness, and, being "transformed into an angel of light") appeared so like one of the ministering spirits who were accustomed to instruct the newly-created pair that Eve was deluded into the belief that he was one of those messengers of God, who kindly undertook to correct her errors, and to lead her into a right knowledge of the divine will. Such are the two different ways of considering "the serpent who beguiled Eve."

Difficulties attend both of them, which it is beyond the power of anyone entirely to remove; but we must adhere to the old traditional view, which considers that a literal serpent was employed as a tool of Satan in the execution of the plot; because that view is recommended by more numerous and cogent arguments than any other mode of interpretation. It cannot be objected to it that there is a natural impossibility for a superior being to act upon an irrational creature, which seems incapable of receiving spiritual influence, and possesses no organs by which that influence can operate. 'We too easily assume,' says Trench ('Notes on the Miracles'), 'that the lower animal world is wholly shut up in itself, and incapable of receiving impressions from that which is above it. The assumption is one unwarranted by deeper investigations, which lead rather to an opposite conclusion, not to a breaking down of the boundaries between the two worlds, but to the showing in what wonderful ways the lower is subject to the impressions of the higher both for good and for evil. And, indeed, in our common life, the horse and the dog are eminently receptive of the spiritual conditions of their appointed lord and master-Man. With what electric swiftness does the courage or fear of the rider pass into the horse; and so, too, the gladness or depression of its master is almost instananeously reflected and reproduced in his faithful dog.'

These analogies show the practicability of spiritual influences working upon bestial life; and although a serpent is of a grosser nature, and much lower in the scale of animal existence, than the noble race of creatures just mentioned, its viler characteristics might have established a mysterious affinity with the wily and malignant spirit of the tempter, rendering it the fittest of all the animal tribes to subserve his purpose by its susceptibility to his influences. This argument, derived from the analogy of nature, is strengthened by several remarkable circumstances recorded in the Scriptures. Not to dwell on the sovereign control which God exercises over the lower animals, to make them the instruments of His will, as shown on particular occasions (cf. Numbers 22:1-41; 1 Kings 17:4; 2 Chronicles 7:13; Jonah 1:17; Jonah 2:1-10), we find devils entering into the herd of swine, and wielding a violent irresistible power over the unconscious brutes.

Exactly similar, though manifested in a milder manner, was the influence which the prince of devils exercised over the serpent, which he acted upon to such a degree that the reptile was entirely possessed, and therefore became, as it were, so identified with the other that they are spoken of as one. This ideal unity between the tempter and the reptile alone brings out the real force of the words, "THE serpent was more subtil;" for the Hebrew article is found elsewhere prefixed to the term, when it is used to denote, not some particular reptile, but the generic order of serpents (cf. Numbers 21:9; Ecclesiastes 10:11; Amos 5:19). It is an additional confirmation of the correctness of this interpretation, that the belief in the malignant influence of the serpent over the early destinies of mankind has been prevalent in all ages and in all parts of the world; and since the Devil seems, in memory of his signal triumph over our race, to have taken a pride in being worshipped in the world under that form ever since, it must be regarded as an a posteriori argument of his having assumed that guise. 'I appeal,' says Hardwick, 'to universal heathendom in favour of the ancient exposition of the sacred record. There is found to be a singular consent,-as seen in the rites, symbols, and legends of the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, in east and west, in north and south, in civilized and semi-barbarous countries, in the Old world and the New world,-not only to the fact that serpents were somehow associated with the ruin of the human family, but that serpents so employed were vehicles of a malignant, personal spirit, by whatever name he was described.'

Verse 7

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

The eyes of them both were opened. LeClerc considers the meaning of this statement to be that, from internal pain, they felt the fruit was unwholesome or poisonous, that they had committed a fatal mistake, and would, to their bitter disappointment, reap none of the great benefits they had been led to anticipate. The words have a far deeper significance, since they intimate that amid the raptures of enjoyment, reflection was drowned, and Adam and his wife were lulled into dreamy oblivion of all but the present moment; but when that delirium had subsided, the time for reflection came, and then a train of new and painful feelings and emotions, to which they had hitherto been entire strangers, rushed like a torrent into their minds-a sense of their helplessness, grief, shame, remorse, and all the concomitants of guilt, distracted and agonized their bosoms.

And they knew that they were naked. The following clause shows that this is to be taken in a literal sense. But nakedness frequently signifies in Scripture sin or folly, shame or misery (cf. Exodus 32:15; Ezekiel 16:36; 2 Chronicles 28:19); and it includes that meaning here also.

And they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. These English words, "sewed" and "aprons," referring to the artificial accommodations of civilized life, convey ideas altogether unsuitable, as Adam and his partner had no implements, nor did the fig leaves present the appearance of manufactured aprons. [The Hebrew verb taapar (H8609), rendered to sew, signifies simply to connect, to plait (cf. Job 16:15, where the same word is used in the original chªnorot, girdles; cf. 2 Samuel 18:11. `ªleeh (H5929) tª'eenaah (H8384)]. Gesenius and Tuch think that the ficus Indica, or Musa paradisiaca, English plantain tree, is meant. But the leaves of that tree, besides being not of the fig type, are so large and spacious that they would not require to be strung together. Milton long ago enlisted the leaves of the banyan tree in this service. 'The leaf of the common fig tree,' says Dr. Royle, 'is not well adapted, from its lobed nature for this purpose; but the practice of sewing or pinning leaves together is very common in the East even in the present day; and baskets, dishes, and umbrellas are made of leaves so pinned together.' It is somewhat a doubtful view given of this act of our first parents by Jewish writers and several Christian fathers, that the leaves of this tree were chosen in preference to those of every other tree, as, from the prickliness of the upper side of the leaf, it would be a natural sackcloth, which they assumed as emblematic of their contrition.

Verse 8

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking. "The voice of God" is frequently used in Scripture to denote a storm-a war of the elements (Psalms 18:13; Psalms 29:5), and some think that, in addition to the moral tempest of conflicting thoughts that was raging in the breasts of the fallen, they were exposed to a new and sudden convulsion of the elements-some peals of rolling thunder-in which their guilty imaginations recognized the tokens of divine wrath. But such a use of the phrase occurs only in poetry; and to take it in this sense here would lead into those grave errors as to the effects of man's first disobedience in deranging the whole system of the natural world with which the poetry of Milton has so deeply infected the popular theology of this country. The Hebrew participle "walking" agrees in construction with "voice;" and the interpretation commonly given to it is, that the human pair heard "the voice" or Word of God walking in the garden. But the verb [ haalak (H3212)], to walk, when associated with [ qowl (H6963)] voice, frequently bears the meaning of to sound, to resound (cf. Exodus 19:19, where the verb is so rendered), so that the clause before us may be, according to Scriptural usage, rendered, and they heard the voice of the Lord God sounding in the garden.' At the same time, we prefer the translation adopted in our own version of this passage, which is, moreover, sanctioned by the approval of the best and most influential commentators, both ancient and modern. 'This,' says Faber ('Eight Prophetical Dissertations') 'is the sense in which the passage is explained by the Targumists, because they agree to render it, "They heard the Word of the Lord God walking" (see Isaiah 30:27). The prophet, also, in the precise phraseology of Moses, calls this Being "the voice of the Lord," in Isaiah 30:30-31. Hence, "the voice of the Lord" must be considered as the proper designation of the Being who appeared to our first parents (cf. John 1:18).

In the cool of the day - literally, the breeze of the day. Onkelos renders it "in the rest (silence) of the day" -

i.e. the evening, when in hot countries the cool breeze springs up. It seems to have been the usual time for paying such visits to his new-formed creatures. The Divine Being appeared, as formerly, uttering the well-known tones of kindness, walking in some visible form, not running hastily, as one impelled by the influence of angry feelings. How beautifully expressive are these words of the familiar and condescending manner in which He had hitherto been in a relationship with the first pair!

Hid themselves amongst the trees of the garden. The Hebrew word tree may be either singular or plural. It is taken in the latter number (Genesis 3:2), and we think rightly here also. But some prefer to view it in the singular, and render bªtowk (H8432) `eets (H6086), not "amongst the trees;" but, 'in the midst of the tree'-namely, the tree of life, Believing that He who had been their Heavenly Friend would now be their stern Judge and Enemy, they fled instinctively to hide themselves, and with desperate haste, as it were, plunged themselves into the heart of the tree of life, from the terrors of that death which they fancied was impending. The feelings that dictated this anxious desire to escape "from the presence of the Lord are obvious. The consciousness of sin had placed them in opposition to God. Shame, remorse, fear, a sense of guilt-feelings which they had never experienced until now, disordered their minds, and led them to shun Him whose approach they used to welcome.

How foolish to think of eluding the notice of the Omniscient God! (Psalms 139:1-12.) This was the first effect of sin on the nature of man. Guilty fear produced a disordered state of the mind; and it is one of the most striking circumstances in the history of the fall of our first parents, that while the grand inducement to eating the forbidden fruit was their ambition to be like God in the clearness and extent of their knowledge, the lamentable consequence of their rash act was an experience that was the very reverse, in the cloud of error and ignorance which from that moment darkened and impaired their faculties. What a sudden and complete prostration of intellect Adam and his partner must have undergone when they deluded themselves into the belief that, by hiding themselves anywhere in the garden, they could elude the observation of Him who is a spirit, the Omniscient and Omnipresent Yahweh.' But Adam in this respect was the type of our entire race, because the same blindness, of understanding is traceable in the history of his fallen posterity from the cradle to the grave.

Verse 9

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

The Lord God called unto Adam, where art thou? The enquiry was not made from ignorance of his hiding-place, because "all things are naked and open to the eyes of God." But it is characteristic of the simple, condescending style of communication which the Creator established with the first pair, and the summons into His presence was preparatory to a formal process of enquiry into the reasons of their unaccustomed disappearance.

Verses 10-13

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

It is probable, as Kennicott suggests, that God had called more than once, or that the sound of the voice, since it was borne on the breeze, became louder in His advance through the garden. It was upon hearing the first accents of the well-known voice that they fled in precipitate confusion, and hid themselves; so that it was not until summoned anew that they were dragged from the covert in which they endeavoured to conceal themselves and their guilt.

I was afraid for I was naked. The sense of nakedness could not produce fear, because it was only the effect of sin. But Adam tried to evade any reference to the cause, by attracting attention to the effect. There is here an appearance of prevarication-the weak subterfuge of guilt. But concealment of the transgression was impossible; because as the knowledge of his nakedness could only have been acquired by Adam himself, his discovery of that fact afforded a strong presumption of his transgression, and accordingly he was immediately interrogated whether he had eaten of the forbidden fruit.

The language is equivocating, because he had formerly been in the divine presence in the same state, without any conscious feeling of agitation or dread. But it was only a prelude to other statements which were still more reprehensible. When interrogated as to whether he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, he tries studiously to palliate his own conduct and diminish his own criminality, while he is forced to make a tardy and partial admission of his guilt. There is a confession, indeed, reluctantly extorted; but the sin itself which he had committed, and of which, if he had had the spirit of a genuine penitent, he would have made mention at first, as well as acknowledged in all its aggravations, is not hinted until the last; and then, whilst his manner betrays such evident unwillingness to confess his guilt, the circumstance alleged as having been the occasion of his fall still further detracts from the value of his confession. His words evince a cold, selfish consideration of his own individual safety. Provided he could escape with impunity, he was content to leave his wife to reap the fruit of her misdeeds-nay, to be made the scape-goat in bearing the whole guilt and penalties of the transgression. It might be-it was undeniably true, that she had offered the fruit to him, and urged him to partake of it along with her; but that was no excuse. He had been placed in no circumstances of strong temptation; his curiosity had not been stimulated, his passions had not been roused, his understanding was unclouded. He knew, and in spite of all the insinuating arts of the woman to seduce him to eat of the forbidden fruit, he should have acted on the knowledge that it was his duty to obey God rather than listen to his wife. The reference to female influence, then, was an attempt of Adam to palliate his own guilt, as weak and unmanly as it was ungenerous.

But this was not all; because, with daring impiety, he tries to throw the blame of his fall even upon God Himself! His language was virtually this: 'So long as I continued alone, I was steadfast and immovable in my integrity and allegiance. But Thou didst alter my condition; and from the moment I was allied to the wife whom thou didst provide for me, I found elements of temptation and moral danger in domestic and social intercourse from which I was wholly free in my state of solitude.' Without noticing the reply of Adam, which was too foolish and groundless to deserve a response, the Divine Judge turned to the woman to hear what she should advance in her own behalf.

Verse 13. The serpent beguiled me - literally, deceived, imposed on me. No attempt was made at denial; because although she had not been caught in the act of plucking the forbidden branch, the evidences of guilt were already too plain and cumulative to afford her the slightest hope of establishing the plea of innocence. She therefore tacitly admitted the charge, but followed the example of her husband, in endeavouring to screen herself from the heavy penalties of her transgression, by throwing the blame of the whole transaction upon the serpent.

Thus, these poor creatures, so recently united in the closest bonds of mutual affection, are now severed in their distress, and stand aloof as accusers in their weak and desperate attempts at evading the personal consequences of their guilt. If Eve was the first involved in guilt, Adam was the greater sinner of the two, inasmuch as, without the pretext of temptation, or being carried away by the force of excited feelings, but in the most cool, deliberate manner, he partook of the forbidden fruit, and had the impious audacity to charge God with having laid a snare to entangle him through the baneful influence of the woman that had been given to him. In this, as in other respects, he was the type of all mankind, who in every age, and in all circumstances, have discovered an extreme proneness to say, 'when they are tempted, that they are tempted of God,' as if their abusing God's gifts would excuse the violation of His laws (James 1:13-14).

Verses 14-15

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

Unto the serpent. The guilt of the several accomplices in the first act of disobedience having been clearly established, and no just plea being put forward in arrest of punishment, the Righteous Judge proceeded to pass sentence on each of the criminals in succession;-and beginning with the serpent, who being the prime instigator of the rebellion, was to receive no dispensation of mercy, to enjoy no prospect of mitigation, He pronounces upon him the doom of deep and hopeless degradation.

The Lord God said, Cursed art thou above all cattle, [Hebrew, habªheemaah (H929), the singular of behemoth, a word which is used to designate the larger class of pachyderms and ruminants, such as the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, etc.] A curse pronounced by the justice of God carries a meaning and a force with it of a far different and more tremendous kind than any uttered by the lips of man. For while the curses of man are only expressions of blind and impotent rage-words of empty sound, though of blasphemous character, that can do no harm but to the profane swearer who gives vent to them-a curse of God is a prophetic intimation of His anger, which will sooner or later appear in some unmistakable evidences of its infliction.

Thus, the curse pronounced upon the serpent was awful in its character as well as permanent in its effects; and as the agent in seducing the human pair to sin was not only a natural serpent, but chiefly and pre-eminently "that old serpent, the Devil," so in the curse which the Righteous Judge denounced against the serpent for the part he acted in that scene of temptation, they are considered as identical, the language used being in form applicable to the animal serpent, so as to be adapted to the reach of man's apprehension, but extending at the same time in its deeper significance to the spiritual serpent also. That the natural serpent, though only a humble and perhaps unconscious instrument of a superior agent, should be doomed to bear a part of the punishment of its crime was in accordance with the uniform procedure of God, who in the early ages of the world inflicted vengeance on all, even to the destruction of inferior animals (Exodus 22:28), and inanimate things (Exodus 23:24; Lev. 15:45 ), that were in any way connected with the commission of sin. In this view it was worthy of the wisdom and goodness of the Creater to denounce a curse upon the serpent, in order that this reptile race might ever afterward be associated with the memory of the first transgression; and there can be no doubt that the curse has been inflicted, by the deep, inextinguishable feelings, not of fear, but of horror, that mankind have cherished to the reptile tribe above every other class of animals.

The words "cursed above all cattle" do not imply that the serpent was to bear the heaviest weight of a curse which was to fall upon "all cattle, and upon every beast of the field;" because, though the whole inferior creation has suffered in common from the degradation of man its head (Romans 8:20), yet the serpent alone is the subject of this condemnatory sentence. It is specially cursed, because the original does not express a comparative degree-but 'amongst all cattle-apart from every beast of the field;' and though it may be difficult, with our imperfect knowledge of the reptile tribe, to say how the literal serpents, which apparently move in their proper sphere, and have a full enjoyment of existence, have been physically affected by the curse, there is no difficulty in its application to the spiritual serpent, who has become a greater object of divine abhorrence, as well as of human hatred, than any other being in the universe.

Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat. The ordinary view of the effect of the curse is, that by a sudden and signal miracle the appearance and the gait of the serpent tribe were changed from what these were at first; that from originally walking erect, and being a model of grace and elegance in form, it was doomed to creep in a prostrate attitude on the ground, and become a type of all that is odious, repulsive, and low, so that it is now branded with infamy. This old traditionary interpretation, however, the science of modern times has shown to be utterly inadmissible; because 'going upon the belly' is the gait natural to serpents, and not a penal degradation from an erect posture. 'Their progression,' says Dr. Pye Smith, 'is produced by the pushing of scales, shields, or rings against the ground, by muscular contractions and dilatations, by elastic springings, by vertical undulations, or by horizontal wrigglings; but the entire organization-skeleton, muscles, nerves, integuments-is adapted to the mode of progression belonging to the reptile tribe. That mode is sufficiently easy and rapid (often very rapid) for all the purposes of the animal's life, and the amplitude of its enjoyment. To imagine this mode of motion to be, in any sense, a change from a prior attitude and habit of the erect kind, or being furnished with wings, indicates a total ignorance of the anatomy of serpents.'

Moreover, so far from its being the case that serpents were, by a judicial act of the Creator, thrust out of their primitive and allotted place into an anomalous and less favourable condition, they, as ophidia, occupy their proper natural place in the graduated scale of animal life, and are closely united in an intermediate position with other species of the same great reptile family, by such a beautiful progression that their existence and special configuration are necessary to supply an important link in the harmonious chain of nature. Further, they are carnivorous, 'and their food,' as the writer above referred to remarks, 'according to the size and power of the species, is taken from the tribes of insects, worms, frogs, toads, and newts, birds, mice, and other small quadrupeds, until the scale ascends to the pythons and boas, which can master and swallow very large animals. They do not necessarily, from their wriggling motion, "eat the dust;" for they habitually obtain their food among herbage or in water; they seize their prey with the mouth, often elevate the head, and are no more exposed to the necessity of swallowing adherent earth than are carnivorous birds or quadrupeds.'

Lastly, it has been clearly ascertained by geological researches that serpents exactly similar in form and habits to the existing species lived on the pre-Adamite earth. 'It is,' says Professor Owen, 'a palaeontological fact, that the ophidian peculiarities and complexities of organization, in designed subserviency to a prone posture and a gliding progress on the belly were given, together with the poison apparatus, by the Creator, when, in the progressive preparation of the dry land, but few, and those only the lower organized species, now our contemporaries, had been called into existence-before any of the actual kinds of mammalia trod the earth, and long ages before the creation of man' (Exeter Hall Lectures; also, 'Transactions of the Geological Society of London'). The language of the inspired historian, therefore, must be interpreted figuratively, and with reference to that malignant being of whom the animal serpent was the humble instrument. Just as going on the belly indicates lowness of rank in the scale of animal existence, and to bite or lick the dust is a common metaphor for the conquest and ignominious humility of a proud, presumptuous foe, so both these phrases are to be understood as intimating that Satan, from being originally "an angel of light," belonging to a high order of intellectual beings, and formed for pure and exalted objects, would become a wretched creature, groveling in the dust of the basest pursuits, and doomed to a condition of perpetual meanness and ignominy.

I will put enmity between thee and the woman. If there could be any doubt that the language addressed to the serpent involved a two-fold meaning-a reference to the spiritual as identified with the natural serpent-it must be removed by these words, which bear a far deeper significance than at first sight they seem to contain. But true as it is that such a feeling of hatred and horror at the serpent tribe has ever since existed in the human breast, the announcement of this irreconcilable enmity-nay, even of the eventual destruction of those loathsome reptiles-would have tended but little to assuage the tumultuous waves of anxiety, terror, and despair that were so wildly agitating the hearts of the fallen pair. How strangely unsuitable the trivial character of such intelligence would have been to the awful solemnity of an occasion when they were standing overwhelmed with a consciousness of guilt in the presence of their God!

The declaration carried a far deeper import; and although the memory and simple impressions of our first parents might be preoccupied exclusively with the idea of the visible serpent yet every intelligent reader now perceives that, though the language used did necessarily bear a figurative reference to the reptile's form and habits, the denunciation was really directed against the unseen agent, whose wicked and malignant character rendered him a deadlier foe to mankind. The animal might have been still sporting among the trees, and in full view of the parties; but the circumstance of the Divine Being addressing it personally, as well as the mysterious import of the curse pronounced, affords indisputable evidence that not the irrational creature, but Satan, was the serpent on whom the full weight of the condemnation fell. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman." God is often represented as doing that which He permits to be done; and therefore, since it is contrary to His holy and benevolent character to produce disorder or sow the seeds of dissension among any orders of His creatures, the statement here made must be regarded as a prophetic intimation of the moral state of this world, as a theater of conflict between man and the powers of evil. There is a covert allusion to the temporary alliance between the serpent and the woman, because now that she had found in her dire experience that he had ensnared her to her ruin, she would henceforth recoil from him as an insidious and deadly enemy.

And between thy seed and her seed, [ zera` (H2233)] - the act of sowing, as well as seed, though used in reference to an individual (Genesis 4:25; Genesis 21:13), commonly denotes plurality, and is equivalent to children, progeny, posterity (Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 15:13; Genesis 17:7; Genesis 17:10; Psalms 22:23; cf. 2 Kings 11:1). Accordingly, Kurtz-though recognizing the prophetic character of this passage-views the phrase "seed of the woman" as equivalent to all the human race; and the modern Jews also take it as meaning collectively the children whom she shall bring forth-the whole family of man. But "the seed of the women" being contrasted with "the seed of the serpent," a designation, in this context, and conformably to Scripture usage elsewhere, of the wicked portion of mankind (cf. John 8:44; John 13:38, with Matthew 23:33; 1 John 3:8), the expression must evidently be considered as restricted to the children of God, "who are born not of the flesh but of the spirit" (cf. Galatians 3:29); and from its denoting individuality in the following clause, as specially applied to one whose miraculous birth gave him a pre-eminent title to be called "the seed of the woman" (cf. Galatians 4:4). The prophecy points to a continual struggle which would be carried on between the offspring of the woman and the grand enemy of God and man: and no language could more appropriately describe the mighty conflict, of which this world, has ever since been the theatre, between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. To us the words have a higher significance than they could have had to our first parents. Who does not now accept them as an epitomized history of the holy war which, from the moment of the fall, has been waged between the children of light and of darkness, between those who adhere to the cause of God and righteousness, and those who are ranged on the side of the Devil by their love and practice of sin?

It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. - [ huw' (H1931) is a personal pronoun in the masculine gender, agreeing with yªshuwpkaa (H7779) ro'sh (H7218), shall watch or lie in wait, so as to attack; to fall upon suddenly (cf. Job 9:17; Psalms 139:2; cf. Romans 16:20), and the clause is thus rendered by Gesenius, 'He shall seek to crush thy head, and thou shalt seek to bite his heel']. The leading idea is founded on the habit of the insidious serpent to bite its victim in the heel or behind, and that of mankind striking or dashing at a serpent's head with a club. The same verb is used to describe the attack upon the head and the heel, to show that destruction is aimed at in both. But though the bite of a serpent on the heel of a man, when the poison infects the blood, is dangerous, it is not incurable. The crushing of the serpent's head, however, is destruction.

With the exception of Papists, who, contrary alike to sense and grammar, render the words 'she shall bruise,' this clause is considered universally as referring to a Redeemer, who, in human nature, and a son of woman born, should, after partial suffering from a wicked malignant power, obtain a complete victory, and deprive it of all further means or opportunity of doing evil. The seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent's head is connected with a singular verb and pronoun, and, denoting therefore an individual, points to Christ personally in a special and emphatic sense. In Him the prophecy attained its highest fulfillment: He is the representative of the whole race, as well as the source of all the life and energy by which the Church bruises the serpent's head; and by His death on the cross, when His "heel" - i:e., His humanity-was laid low, He successfully encountered Satan in a manner that excludes all idea of any participator either in His sufferings or His triumphs. But although the prophecy does unquestionably refer to Christ's personal conflict with Satan, and His victory over him as its culminating point, yet the Church-which is the spiritual body of which He is the Head-must also, in its ideal unity, be viewed as embraced in this prophetic intimation, which finds its accomplishment in all the conflicts of God's people with the powers of darkness-whether the conflicts of the Church universal, of particular branches of it, or of private believers, issuing in their final triumph at that day when, 'Satan being completely and forever bruised under their feet,' He who was 'made of a woman' shall appear in His glory, and reign, in a better than the earthly paradise regained, over the myriads of His ransomed people.

This prophecy, uttered directly by the lips of the Creator Himself, would be received with very different feelings by the parties in whose hearing it was pronounced. To Satan it must have been a bitter disappointment, since it put a sudden termination to the fiendish glee with which he was doubtless exulting over the success of his recent plot, and held out an awful prospect, not only of greater degradation punishment to himself, but of a death-blow to his empire of darkness. He probably could not penetrate the deep mystery of the prediction; but he must have understood enough of it to perceive that it portended some fatal catastrophe to himself; and that, in the course of time, the mischief he had done would be made subservient to his own eternal infamy, and to the most glorious display of the divine character. But to the fallen pair, is the design of this prophecy is more obvious, so the effects of it are more easily traced. It was calculated in no ordinary degree to relieve and support their deeply agitated and desponding minds. It announced, in terms very figurative and enigmatical indeed, but still intelligible, that their Creator, though grievously offended by their disobedience, cherished purposes of mercy toward them. It gave them a strong and certain assurance that the sin which had unhappily entered into the world through their means, and the evils that flowed from it, would not continue forever. But beyond the fact of this assurance, no determinate information was given. The language was vague, indefinite, and obscure-no particulars being subjoined respecting either the mode in which the deliverance was to come, the time when it would be granted, or the agency by which it would be achieved, whether a collective body or an individual of the race.

Still the drift of the sentence pronounced upon the serpent in the hearing of the fallen pair was exceedingly seasonable to them, and well calculated to afford them present comfort as well as future hope. The significant expression, 'bruising the serpent's head,' implied that his malignant designs against them would be frustrated by the destruction of his power. For, first, as he thought, by seducing the first pair, to have brought on their death, and so have made an end of the whole species, God promises that the woman should live to have seed.

Secondly, since he seduced the woman under the specious pretense of friendship, while he intended her ruin, a war is now declared against the Devil and his party, which should end in the overthrow of them and their devices. And, thirdly, since the Devil thought, by drawing them into sin, and under the wrath of God, to bring them into misery, and deprive them of the happiness that they were made for, God declares the Devil's policy should be defeated by the seed of the woman, in which is implied a positive promise that mankind, though by the envy and malice of Satan become sinful, should receive through the seed of the woman the forgiveness of sins and a restoration to their forfeited possession, with all the peace and felicity resulting from the favour of God (Burnet's 'Boyle Lectures'). Sentence upon the man and the woman was deferred until after they had been assured of victory over their enemy, when they were both informed of circumstances of deterioration that were to take place in their respective conditions.

Verse 16

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. This is by the figure Hendyades, because "thy sorrow" or pain "in conception." Woman's mission is that of bearing children, and the infirmities or sufferings incident to the female frame are greatly increased both in number and degree to those who are in the course of acquiring a maternal character. It is difficult, on physiological principles, to account for the various ailments of women during pregnancy, as well as the agonies attendant on parturition. It has been remarked that other creatures are commonly in a higher state of health and vigour during the period of gestation than at other times, and that they bring forth their offspring with comparative ease, while a woman forms a solitary exception; the most vigorous of the sex being frequently subject to much suffering, and even death, in the act of giving birth to their children.

And thy desire shall be to thy husband. Some connect this with the preceding clause, rendering it thus: 'Although in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, yet thy desire or longing shall be to thy husband.' Others translate, Unto thy husband shall be thy obedience;' meaning that the desires of the woman shall be subjected to the authority and will of her husband. And he shall rule over thee. The husband, as the head is naturally invested with superior right and authority, because "the woman was created for the man, as a helpmate, and consequently dependent on him (1 Corinthians 11:9). But these have been greatly increased since the fall, and the propriety or equity of this penalty to which woman was subjected consisted in this, that as it was while acting independently and apart from Adam she attempted to shake off her allegiance to God, she was, besides being bound by the primary law of obedience to God, brought also under the additional law of submission to the yoke of her husband. In every age of the world's history woman has been found in a state of subjection; in all pagan countries she has been the slave of man, as throughout the East at the present day she is his property-his possession by purchase.

Man exercises a lordship over the weaker sex, and although in Christian nations, where the sexes are more generally restored to their just and proper relations, a wife is raised to a position of greater dignity or honourable equality in rank and privilege, yet even there women are often doomed to bear much from the will, temper, or caprice of imperious husbands. And while the spirit of Christianity is wholly averse to lordly authority, the Gospel rule still is, so long as sin remains in the hearts of believers, "Let the wife see that she reverence her husband," "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord."

Verse 17

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

Unto Adam he said. The term Adam is used here as a proper name for the first time. Gesenius is of the opinion that, having almost always the prefix of the article, it is to be considered as an appellative, and equivalent to 'the human race;' yet there are exceptions (cf. Job 28:28; Job 31:33); and while, as we formerly observed, the whole tenor of the narrative in Genesis 2:1-25 points to an individual man, we find him in this verse addressed personally by his proper name of "Adam".

Cursed is the ground for thy sake. In the rich and smiling garden of Eden the vigorous and prolific soil yielded a spontaneous produce, and the industry of man was confined to the easy and pleasant work of checking or regulating the luxuriant growth of vegetation. This state, because anything we are told to the contrary, would have been perpetuated but for the disobedience of rebellious man, who, with the solemn warning of the penal consequences still ringing in his ears, transgressed, and with the loss of his innocence forfeited the happy place of his primeval abode. The awful curse of an offended God fell not, however, upon Adam himself, as it did upon the serpent, but upon the ground 'for his sake;' so that, as has been quaintly but justly remarked, he was cursed only "at second hand" (as there were blessings in reserve for him); and he found the immediate accomplishment of the curse in the changed character of the soil on which he had to work; because it was thenceforward niggard of its fruits, unless wooed into productiveness by the toil and culture of the fallen race.

Verse 18

Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee - [ qowts (H6975), a thorn (Ezekiel 28:24), but used here and Isaiah 32:13 collectively, and commonly in connection with dardar, rendered thistles (cf. Hosea 10:8), triboloi of the Septuagint, the calthropy of botanists, a kind of thistle armed with long spines]. This latter word is supposed to be derived from a root which signifies 'round,' in reference to its spherical form, or its being surrounded by a downy circlet, which makes it capable of easy and rapid revolution along the surface of the ground. The seed is furnished with means of quick and extensive dissemination, because it has a wing to waft it from place to place, and a hook by which it can fasten on any object that is in the way of its transit. Botanists have reckoned that a single seed of the common thistle will produce in the first crop 2,400, and 576,000,000 in the second crop, and so on in the same extraordinary ratio of increase. Thorns and thistles, which thus possess the natural property of reproducing themselves in so great profusion, are mentioned as prominent parts of the curse pronounced upon the earth for the sin of the first man; and experience shows that weeds of all kinds, particularly thorny or spinous plants, such as those mentioned here, which are the effects as well as the evidence of deteriorated physical conditions, would increase with such dangerous rapidity as to overrun the ground, if they were not eradicated or checked by the industry of man.

Verse 19

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. "Bread" is here put for all that contributes to human sustenance; and since all classes of mankind are dependent on the soil for the necessaries as well as luxuries of life, the words of this clause intimate the source from which they were to derive their food, as well as the condition of hard, persevering, laborious exertion in which that food was to be obtained. The whole tenor of the context implies a great deterioration in man's condition. "The sweat of the face" was to be substituted for a light and pleasant pastime; "the herb of the field" for the delicious fruit trees of Eden; or, at all events, the grain and vegetables fit for the nourishment of man were no longer spontaneously produced, but were to be reared by careful and patient culture; while weeds and thorns, that would prevent the growth of esculent plants, would spread everywhere, unless the industry of man were constantly on the alert. Such was the sentence of labour pronounced upon man on account of his sin; and it was expressly added, at the moment of passing it, that it was not to be a temporary punishment, a corrective discipline, from which, on his evincing a spirit of true repentance, he should eventually be relieved; but one of which there should be no suspension, no mitigation, no end, so long as he continued an inhabitant of this world. Painful, harassing labour was henceforth to be the unalterable law and condition of his fallen nature, and never should he cease to be subject to this law, or to groan under the burden of this heavy yoke, 'until he returned to the ground.'

Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return. Physiologists tell us that all organized beings are subject to eventual dissolution; and consequently man, whose bodily frame comes under that description, would have been no exception to this physical law, but for the sustaining power of God conveyed to him, probably through the virtue imparted to the tree of life, by the leaves or fruit of which he was preserved from the inroads of decay. But this means of perpetuated life and vigour being immediately after the fall withdrawn, man became mortal; although he did not die the moment that he ate the forbidden fruit, his body underwent a change, or, rather, was left to the exhausting operation of natural causes. This sentence of death which was pronounced upon Adam included Eve also, and, through him, as the progenitor and representative of mankind, it fell in effect upon all his posterity (Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:21). For his eating the forbidden fruit 'brought death into the world, and all our woe.' Death, indeed, is known to have taken place all along, in the pre-Adamite world, among the various orders of the inferior creatures; but man, in his primeval state, was exempted from its operation; and though his body, with its exquisitely formed nervous system, was capable of receiving pain from injuries, as well as, being made of dust, was liable, through the processes of nature, to resolve into dust again, it would have been preserved, had he remained innocent, in perpetual youth, health, and vigour, by the special grace and favour of God. But on his disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, this supernatural privilege was forfeited: the first man, deprived not of an original and inherent property of his nature, but of a distinguishing token of the Creator's favour, which would have secured him the continued enjoyment of life, was, by a righteous doom, left to those laws of mortality to which all other creatures on earth are naturally subject; and his children, born under these altered circumstances, inherit, according to the established course of Providence, the mortal condition as well as the fallen nature of their parents.

Such were the sentences pronounced on the three parties connected with the temptation in Eden. While the Tempter, whose conduct was instigated by deliberate malice and wickedness, was doomed to an irremediable curse, the human criminals, who had been the victims of his seductive arts, were mercifully treated. The one having sinned in ignorance, and the other through weakness, were cheered with the hope of recovery from their lamentable fall; and while they were severely punished, the penalties inflicted on them tended, in their altered circumstances, to be virtually blessings to mankind.

Thus, the various acute and often protracted sufferings of woman during the time of child-bearing tend to draw out the affections of the female breast more strongly toward her offspring; while her subjection to her husband, though a memorial of the first transgression, yet, when softened and regulated by Christianity, renders her conduct as a wife a daily expression of delighting and delightful duty.

The toilsome labour to which man has been subjected is a needful discipline, which, though not good in itself, is yet good for his present condition, and what he could not do without. It is the means of developing the faculties of the mind, and of exercising the virtues and graces of the heart; of keeping man in constant wholesome employment, and so of leading him to fulfill the great end of his being by active diligence in the service of God. Again, the thorns and briers which desolate the ground are not only marks of divine wisdom and goodness, but admirably calculated to promote the general good. Nay, the whole tribe of weeds which infest the ground, and are prejudicial to the growth of roots, and vegetables, and grain, though they are to be regarded as part of the curse which the ground inherits for the sin of man, and are in reality a punishment, have been converted by the wise and merciful Creator into the means of producing important benefits to man. By the plentiful existence of these, and the imperative necessity of destroying them, industry is stimulated, ingenuity exercised, patience increased, the productive powers of the soil are augmented by the processes of labour, and thus the general good of society promoted.

Lastly, the goodness and mercy of God are displayed even in that part of the sentence which doomed man to 'return to the dust.' After he had fallen into a state of sin and misery, and been condemned to a life of toil and sorrow, what a dreadful aggravation of his punishment would it have been if his life had been protracted to an indefinite duration! But his life is short, and though it is probable, as the early records of the Bible seem to indicate, that the abridgment was gradual, yet, in mercy to man, his days, if they were to be full of labour and sorrow, were to be comparatively few. Death puts an end to all his labour. But since the promise of a Saviour was graciously given before that doom was pronounced, a cheering light was shed on the dark future of man, while the certainty of his dissolution, together with the uncertain period of its arrival, tends to keep alive in his mind the hope of another and better world, where sorrow and care, labour and pain, are unknown. In regard to these sentences pronounced on the human pair, infidels and Rationalists deny that they are punishments at all, and maintain that they are not real evils, but are the direct effects of those appointments of nature which God has established in the material world. But the obvious tenor of this passage, confirmed and illustrated by the inspired comments upon it which the later Scriptures contain, does represent the pain and labour, the sorrow and death, to which mankind are subjected as the penal consequences of sin; and since there is a difficulty in reconciling this Biblical account with what is the established course of the natural world, the true explanation seems to be, that God, foreseeing the fall of man, resolved from the beginning to adapt the state of the world for being the abode of a fallen yet redeemable race of creatures. While man, if he had continued in unbroken innocence and integrity, would have retained the happiness of primeval Eden, the earth would have worn one universal aspect of smiling beauty, and brought forth her fruits with rich and inexhaustible fertility, as did the virgin soil of the primeval garden-the Creator, anticipating that he would abuse his moral freedom by the commission of sin, transferred him from his paradisiacal state to the earth at large, which had been prepared, under deteriorated conditions, to be the temporary residence of such imperfect beings: and thus, while the present economy of the world is carried on according to the established laws of nature, the mixed character of natural and moral evil it exhibits is an arrangement to which it has been subjected as the penal consequence of man's transgression.

Verse 20

And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

And Adam called his wife's name Eve - [Hebrew, Chawaah (H2332); the Septuagint, Zooee (G2222), life]. Adam had named her formerly (Genesis 2:23) in reference to her sex; now he distinguishes her by another name no less appropriate, however, to her circumstances, while it was a standing memorial, a prophetic intimation, of her important destiny to the whole of her fallen descendants. Formerly he had shown wisdom in naming the beasts; here he showed more than wisdom-namely, faith, and a perception of his better state. At first, as Lightfoot remarks, his wife must have appeared to be the mother of death, having done that which brought it among their posterity. But he, sensible of a better hope to come in by her, calls her "Eve" - i:e. life, since the word signifies "the mother of all living," preeminently of Christ, and all who live by Him (John 1:4). Thus, a whole history was comprised within the folds of a single word, and the name of Eve would, in the early ages of the world, preserve among the people of God the blessed hope of a Redeemer.

Verse 21

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Coats of skins. The Hebrew [ kaatªnowt (H3801) `owr (H5785)], coverings of skin, because the latter word is singular, not plural: one skin was sufficient for both. There are some, says Kennicott, who will have the word [ `owr (H5785), skin] in this passage to refer to the skin of Adam and his wife, and the meaning to be, "The Lord God made for the first pair coats or coverings of their skin." But the Hebrew word would in that case have been in the plural, with the pronoun suffixed to it, "their skins." Besides, it has been proved that the Hebrew word is nowhere found with any other meaning than signifying the skin of the lower animals. There is indeed one place where the word SEEMS to denote the skin of man (Exodus 22:27). I say seems, because all the versions are not agreed to give it that meaning here, the Samaritan text referring the word to the skin of a beast. Yet, if we understand the word to signify human skin in that place, it is used so differently from what it is in this passage of Genesis, that, but little service can arise from the observation.'

There can be no doubt that the skin of a beast is referred to, a portion of which would be fastened as belts around their bodies, which was all that was needed; but since they could not have dreamed of such a mode of covering themselves, unless an express order or permission had been given them by God-for they had not been invested with the right over the lives of the inferior animals-so it is distinctly said that "the Lord God made them the coats of skin," and in all probability showed them how these were to be prepared for a covering. The mention of an occurrence so apparently trivial in the midst of a solemn history must have arisen from its association with some other transaction of higher importance, and that was none else than the institution of animal sacrifices-an institution undoubtedly of divine appointment, adapted to the capabilities of men in early ages, and designed to transmit the instruction given as to the only acceptable mode of worship for sinful creatures, by faith in a Redeemer, through the medium of a symbolical rite, which impressively reminded them of that fundamental truth.

The intertwining of a few leaves, or the plaiting of some small branches, might have helped to hide the conscious shame of the first transgressors for a time. But these were of no use either as an adequate or a permanent covering; and, besides, they stirred no recollections, nor suggested any needful cheering thoughts. Whereas the skin of a lamb or a kid, besides being more durable, could not be procured without the death of the animal; and as its slaughter, if effected by the hands of the first man, must have been as a substitutionary victim, to be offered according to the divine directions, the blood-stained hide of the slain beast, since it was worn on the persons of the fallen pair, would be a constant painful reminder of the death which their guilt deserved. The mention of "the coats of skin," then, which the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, is eminently worthy, considering their origin and their use, of the place it holds among the momentous details of this tragic narrative. They are associated with the institution of a sacred rite of deep symbolical import; and certainly no time could have been more seasonable-rather, none could have been so appropriate-for the appointment of that rite, and the supply of that clothing, as when the announcement of the Redeemer was first made-when the need of his propitiatory death began to be felt, and the benefits of being clad in the robes of his righteousness were held out to man.

There was a subordinate object served by the furnishing of those skins. 'By this clothing,' says Kiel, 'God imparted to the feeling of shame the visible sign of an awakened conscience, and to the consequent necessity for a covering to the bodily nakedness, the higher work of a suitable discipline for the sinner. By selecting the skins of beasts for the clothing of the first pair, and therefore causing the death or slaughter of beasts for that purpose, He showed them how they might use the sovereignty that they possessed over the animals for their own good, and even sacrifice animal life for the preservation of human; so that this act of God laid the foundation for the sacrifices, even if the first clothing did not prefigure our ultimate "clothing upon" (2 Corinthians 5:4), nor the coats of skin prefigure the robe of righteousness.'

It seems that these transactions took place within the precincts of Eden, for the first pair were not instantly expelled from the garden; some time was probably allowed to elapse, in order to furnish them with clear and adequate instruction in the religion suited to fallen creatures, as well, perhaps, as to train them to the use of the new symbolic rites of worship. Nor would that be attained either soon or easily. What a shock must the feelings of the parents of our race have received-what an overwhelmingly painful impression must have been made on their hearts, when the first sacrifice was offered-when they were ordered to sprinkle the blood of the victim on the rude altar-when, with the recent memory of their guilty fall, they stood in mute astonishment at the spectacle of the immolated carcass, and beheld in it the effects of that death to which it was consigned as their substitute! Then for the first time, it may be, they had realized the actual idea of DEATH; their minds had been filled with a threatening of it, but of the nature and effects of it they could form none but vague conceptions. 'Such a deficiency and obscurity of view,' says Dr. Pye Smith, 'may very well be supposed to have existed in the minds of our first parents, notwithstanding the unquestionable facts that the animal creation, in all previous states of the earth, had been often devoured by other animals, and that the creatures contemporary with Adam were also formed to be the subjects of death. Those first human beings might not have continued long enough in the state of sinlessness to have had opportunities of becoming extensively acquainted with the phenomena of death. But undoubtedly they had been more than obscurely aware of what would be the consequences of violating the command of their Maker, though the image of death, in its terrible reality, was brought home to their bosoms for the first time by the slaughter of an appointed sacrifice.'

Verse 22

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Behold, the man is become as one of us. This was not spoken in irony, as is commonly supposed-an expression of feeling that might have suited the mind of Satan, not the character of God; but it was said in deep compassion. The words should be rendered, 'Behold what has (by sin) become of the man who was as one of us!' formed at first in our image, a holy and happy being: How sad his condition now!

To know good and evil - (see the note at Genesis 3:5.) This knowledge, if absolute, is a divine attribute; but man, who was created with the knowledge of good only, acquired by his transgression the experimental knowledge of evil also, and thenceforth brought himself, by that attempt at self-exaltation, into a state of sin and misery.

And now, lest he ... take ... of the tree of life. This tree being a sacramental sign or pledge of that immortal life with which obedience should be rewarded, man lost, on his fall, all claim to this tree; and therefore, that he might not delude himself with the idea that eating of it would restore the inner life of the soul, the Lord sent him forth from the garden. Although incapable, through want of faith, of deriving any spiritual virtue from the eating of its fruit, he might, if permitted to remain, have attempted, by continuing the need of it, to profane the ordinance of God, and was therefore righteously debarred from the sight, when he had forfeited the thing signified. Some think that there was a further reason for the expulsion; because if "the tree of life" possessed the special property of healing wounds, bruises, and preserving in perpetual health and rigour the natural life of man, his continuance in the immediate vicinity of this sovereign remedy against pain, disease, and death must, in his fallen condition, have been not only an unhappy privilege for him, but inconsistent with the economy which God was about to commence in the world. An earthly immortality would, in the condition of the fallen pair, have been a curse instead of a blessing. With a corrupted nature, affections misplaced, passions broken loose, and ready to instigate to the commission of atrocious crimes, of which the first family ere long furnished an example-with the labours and cares, the sorrows and miseries that had become their doom-an endless continuance in this world would have been an intolerable existence. Hence, longer residence in the vicinity of the tree of life was now impossible; because sin and death entered the world together; and it was, therefore, an act of mercy, no less than of justice, on the part of God, to remove the man from all access to a tree, the sight of which must have occasioned only a constant renewal of disappointment and bitter memories.

Verse 23

Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth. The particular form of the Hebrew verb implies ejectment and dismissal, under the influence of moral displeasure, and is equivalent to the word used in the first clause of Genesis 3:24.

To till the ground from whence he was taken - literally, to labour in servile work on the ground. "Whence he was taken;" i:e., denoting either the original substance of his body, which was formed from the ground, or the place from which he had been removed on his introduction into the garden.

Verse 24

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

And he placed at the east of the garden of Eden [ wayashkeen (H7931)] - literally, he caused to dwell; stationed. (The root of the expression Shechinah is to be found in this verb.) [ hakªrubiym (H3742)] "The cherubim," so mentioned, as objects with the form of which the Hebrew people were familiar.

And a flaming sword - literally, the flame of a sword, which, by a common enallage may be rendered a sword-like, or pointed flame.

Which turned (turning) every way - darting its resplendent beams around on every side, so as to present an effectual bar to all access by the old approach to the garden. The justice and judgment of God were on the one hand exhibited by this awe-inspiring and destructive element, while on the other mercy and reconciliation were indicated by the appointment of the cherubim to keep the way of the tree of life, or, rather, 'to the tree of life' [ lishmor (H8104) 'et (H854) ... derek (H1870)]. To "keep the way" is uniformly employed in the sense of observing or preserving (cf. Genesis 18:19; Judges 2:22; Psalms 105:45). The whole passage may be thus rendered. (With a view to debar a return to the primeval paradise) 'He placed at the east of (or before) the garden of Eden the cherubim, and a sword-like flame, which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life.' What were the cherubim? Were they real beings having a personal existence, or mere figures of religious symbolism? That they were actual realities was the opinion which generally prevailed in the ancient Church; and it is a very current idea in the religious world still, that the word describes the delegated presence of angels, standing as sentinels, with a flaming sword, to prevent any presumptuous attempt to re-enter the precincts of Eden. That they were not angels, however, appointed for such a purpose, seems clear from the fact that they continued to be pictorially represented long after the deluge had swept away all vestiges of the terrestrial paradise. But, since angels are beings which have a local and real existence in heaven, any attempt, to represent them in a visible form would have been obviously at variance with the principles of the true religion. Moreover, the cherubim are described both by Ezekiel and by John, in the Apocalypse, not as angels, but as creatures worshipping God, and expressing gratitude for the blessings of salvation. Further still, since the historian deemed it unnecessary or superfluous to do more than name the cherubim, they must have been objects well known to his countrymen; and surely, figures which were considered so important that the dispensation under which Adam was placed after the Fall, the law of Moses, as well as the Christian economy, are all equally marked by their exhibition, must, it is obvious, have a direct and intimate connection with the religion that is revealed for sinners. On all these accounts, then, many eminent writers in the present day, both in Britain and on the Continent, are inclined to regard them as mere emblems, from the symbolical character which attaches to them in all the later books of Scripture-emblems of such moral qualities as are exemplified by the intelligence of man, the courage of the lion, the swiftness of the eagle, the patient and persevering obedience of the ox.

They were, in short, compound emblems of the highest forms of created life, especially the human, affording a high conception of regenerated, enlightened, and sanctified people, who are described as resting neither day nor night from engaging in the divine service, and pointing to the glory of God as manifested in the face of Christ Jesus. Viewed in such a light, this description of the original institution of the refulgent flame, with the cherubic figures, was the grand prototype of the Shechinah, which appeared so frequently to patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and of which a permanent model was placed in the tabernacle and the first temple. The influence of this primeval prototype, which probably differed somewhat from the later descriptions of the cherubim, spread far and wide, and, being preserved by tradition from age to age, was reproduced among pagan nations in the sphinxes of the Egyptians, the winged lions of the Assyrians, the dragons of the Greeks, the griffins of the Indians and other nations of Asia.

All these bear a resemblance to the cherubim both in form and signification; because they are always described as fictitious creatures, compounded from various animals, and placed as guardians of things or places, access to which was forbidden. But here is the grand and essential difference between the Scriptural cherubim and those compound symbols in pagan countries. Cherubim, as they occur in representations of the Bible, from its earliest chapters to the closing visions of John, are not mere guards or watchers, blocking the approach to some forbidden object. In the text (Genesis 3:24), which more than others will at first sight favour such interpretation of their functions, it is not asserted that the cherubim were placed outside the garden; neither is it said that they were planted on that sacred soil to "watch" it merely; because if "watching" was in any sense ascribed to them as well as to the sword-like flame, the word employed will show that these were watchers only as the first man was a watcher: they were doing there what he had signally failed to do (Genesis 2:15). And, in like manner, the position of these emblems in the tabernacle and temple afterward had never been upon the threshold of the sanctuary, nor even before the mercy-seat, but in immediate contact and connection with the throne of God Himself (Exodus 25:18).

A careful survey of these facts will suffice to repel the notion that the cherubim were emblems only of exclusive and prohibitory power; and if we seek, as we are bound to do, the fuller illustration of their form and import in the copious visions of Ezekiel, and especially among the wonders of the Apocalypse, it is evident that, though the pagan symbols, like the Scriptural cherubim, were composite in structure, the figures which make up the symbol, as well as the purposes to which they were devoted, were unlike in the two cases.

How, following in the steps of Scripture, may we characterize the cherubim? Each cherub was a group of figures, or, rather, was one compounded figure, consisting of four parts. The leading or most prominent shape resembled a human being, while the rest were like some portions of the ox, the lion, and the eagle. The whole emblem, it is true, might have been somewhat different at the different points of Hebrew history; but two or more of these distinctive elements had always been the recognized members of cherubic combinations. Now, we gather from Ezekiel that the fundamental thought embodied in such emblems was the property of life: they were emphatically "the living ones;" they represented, therefore, several of the noblest forms of creaturely existence, each excelling in its province, each contributing to the production of a group in which the human form predominated, and the four together constituting an ideal image of all animated nature.

So interpreted, we readily understand, not only their position in the sacred garden, but their office in the sanctuary of God on earth, and also their proximity to God Himself in visions of the blessed. The planting of the cherubim on the ground which man had once inherited, but had failed ere long to cherish as his best possession, was suggestive of the truth that he, and all whose fortunes had been linked with his, had still, in virtue of some gracious mystery, a part and interest in Eden. The appearance of the cherubim in the holiest place of all was further proof of such an interest: it prolonged the hopeful pledge afforded to the Hebrew by traditions of his forefathers; it told him that the representatives of man, and of creation generally, had still their place allotted to them on the mercy-seat of the Most High; and in the glowing scenes of the Apocalypse, when Adam's family have re-assembled around the throne of God, to sing the praises of the great Redeemer, the same mystic creatures show the ardour which that anthem has excited in their bosom by a rapturous Amen (Revelation 5:14). Whatever, therefore, may be urged in proof of some external correspondence, in the Mosaic age, between the cherubim, as already known to members of the sacred family, and the figures sculptured and placed in the approaches to the ancient pagan temples, there can be no doubt that the two emblems were associated in these different systems of religion with very different thoughts. The one might serve to symbolize the best conceptions which a pagan mind could form of properties possessed by favourite kings, or by some nobler inmates of the crowded pantheon; while the other was designed to be a complex image of created nature in its highest, most ideal form, yet always bowing in distinct subordination to the great Creator, and, as such, ascribing "glory, and honour, and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever" (Revelation 4:9).' (Hardwick).

Remarks: This chapter contains information, of painful interest and vast importance, not to be obtained from any other source accessible to us. Ever since men began to think and to speculate, the existence of moral evil under the government of a wise, holy, and benevolent Being has engaged the attention of intelligent and reflecting minds; but it is still an unsolved problem, and, notwithstanding the great scientific attainments of the present age, it probably will remain a mystery which it will baffle the utmost efforts of philosophy to investigate. Whatever may be our ignorance, however as to the origin of evil in the universe, we are in none respecting the introduction of sin into our world, since this chapter informs us, in a most distinct and graphic manner, both when and how man fell from his state of original righteousness.

It is not a myth, although Rosenmuller, Eichhorn, and a host of Rationalists, both at home and abroad, view it in that light; because the supernatural element that enters into the early portion of the narrative, instead of diminishing, confirms its credibility, such an element being inseparable from a scene of temptation in the special circumstances of the primitive pair. Neither is it an allegory, designed to exhibit, under the form of a fictitious story, the philosophic truth, that an ill-regulated, hankering desire for the enjoyment of interdicted good was the bane of man and the cause of his ruin. It must be regarded as a real transaction, because the account of it occurs in a historical book, in the midst of a number of other historical facts; it was followed immediately by disastrous effects on the destiny of the fallen pair; and by regarding it in the character of historical verity, we are furnished with a key to a satisfactory explanation of the strange and sad anomalies in the moral character and condition of the human race. The traditions of every country coincide more or less with the sacred narrative: they all preserve the memory of a golden age, when man was in a higher, purer, and happier state; and in various regions of the East, especially Arabia, Persia and India, these traditions ascribe his sad lapse from original dignity to the successful stratagem of a malignant serpent or dragon. But the purely dogmatic or ethical character of the Scripture narrative, contrasted with the local peculiarities, or grotesque circumstances associated with the Oriental fables, make it easy to distinguish the Hebrew story as the original whence those distorted legends were derived.

The record contained in this chapter, then, is so far removed from the character of a myth or an allegory, that it does not possess the elements of either; because, on the principles laid down in defending the literal sense of the preceding chapter (see Remarks), everything else must be mythical or allegorical, if the serpent be declared to be so. It must be considered a veritable history, giving the only true account of what would be otherwise inexplicable in the present economy of the world, and, above all, furnishing key to the plan of redemption; because if this chapter be divested of its historical character, the whole system of Christianity, as a remedial scheme of Providence, is destroyed, Man, as he now appears, is not in his normal condition, but in a state of sin, degradation, and misery; and this narrative, which is designed alike for the instruction of philosophers and peasants, accounts for the loss of his primitive character in a way consistent with the honour of the divine character, as well as with the principles of the divine government.

It was calculated to preserve the Hebrews from the Manichean heresy of supposing two antagonistic deities-an evil one opposed to the good-since it distinctly traced the disobedience of man to the artifice of a wicked creature, who instigated him to apostatize. Nor did the fall of man, as related in this narrative, indicate any creational defect in his constitution. Though made perfect in the full complement of his physical, mental, and moral powers, he was capable of being governed by the influence of motives; and being a voluntary agent in every thought, feeling, and act, he had to determine between the alternatives of following his own inclination or of bringing his will into complete subjection to the authority of God. Had he been a mere automaton, or a piece of inanimate matter, the divine power might have been directly put forth to prevent his going out of his appointed sphere. But since he was a rational creature, placed under no stern necessity, but free to choose and to act for himself, it was morally impossible to prevent his fall. And how disastrous was that fall in its consequences! It may be supposed to have been easy for God to have overlooked, forgotten, or cancelled the first sin when it had been committed. But that is a superficial view of an offence which in its very nature severed the relations between the creature and his Creator, and, in the moral disorder of man's nature occasioned by it, brought into operation new agencies by which his condition was suddenly changed from a state of happiness to a state of misery.

Moreover, it was the fall not of one individual or of two individuals simply, but of the progenitors of a race; and hence it was, in the very nature of the case, an event affecting all humanity. The posterity of Adam and Eve are placed in circumstances very different from those in which their parents were at the era of creation. Even their immediate children were universally excluded from paradise; nor was there any injustice in this arrangement of Providence, because God offered Eden to none but to the primeval pair, who, having forfeited all title by disobedience, were expelled from its violated bowers; and their children, though born in the exiled condition of their parents, were deprived of no temporal blessing to which they had any natural or inherent right, though they lost high privileges which they would have enjoyed had their parents not sinned. But the loss of Eden is but a small evil compared with other parts of the painful inheritance which the fallen pair bequeathed to their descendants.

The whole race is bearing the penalties of the first transgression; and, without entering into theological theories respecting the transmission of sin, as to whether it is laid on men by imputation from their generic union with Adam as the federal head and representative of the human family, or it is conveyed in the ordinary course of natural propagation, it may be sufficient to observe that both Scripture and experience unite in attesting that all people are sufferers both in soul and body from their connection with Adam; being doomed to live in a world blighted by a curse, being placed under heavy conditions of labour and discipline, subjected to the law of mortality, and inheriting a corrupt and vitiated nature, which makes them necessarily prone to sin, and consequently liable to its penal consequences, both here and hereafter. In short, mankind, through the loss of original righteousness, and by the withdrawal of the image and the favour of God, are universally a race of sinful creatures.

This is so painful a view of the wide-spread and fatal effects of the primal transgression that many are disposed to regard the history of the fall as entirely a myth; and yet rationalists and infidels, when they reject the Scriptural account of the origin of sin as unhistorical, involve themselves in greater difficulties by their fruitless efforts to reconcile the actual state of man and the disorders of the moral world with the attributes of a wise and benevolent Creator. It has been asked, Could not God have prevented the entrance of sin by destroying the sinning pair, and filling their places by the creation of a new race of human creatures. But another Adam and Eve, had they been left to the exercise of their free-will, would have fallen before a new temptation.

If God did not inflict merited death immediately upon the criminals, the alternative might have been to let them live, and successive generations of their posterity come into the world, the degraded objects of His permanent and unmitigated abhorrence. But He spared them for purposes infinitely more worthy of His character; and one of these apparently was, that out of many possible forms of government for this world, the existence of sin in it would afford a larger scope than any other for the exhibition of a new and unparalleled display of divine benevolence. Accordingly, the announcement of a Deliverer was immediately consequent upon the fall of man. The reign of grace commenced with the entrance of sin into the world; and thus the great scheme of mercy, by which, in a way that would illustrate the glory of all His other perfections, God was to accomplish the restoration of the rebellious race, was not, as has been alleged, an after-thought, an expedient for repairing the failure of the divine plan; for it had been designed in the councils of eternity, and this world was prepared as the platform on which the destined interposition of divine love was to be manifested. How far the first promise was understood by Adam and Eve, or their afflicted and despairing spirits were comforted by it, it is impossible to say.

It is not likely, unless they were specially instructed, that they formed any intelligent ideas of the event to which it pointed, or that the obscure terms in which it was expressed left any impression upon their minds beyond a vague but strong assurance that their cause would be vindicated, and deliverance from the sad consequences of their fall obtained through one of the descendants of Eve, who would prove the noblest champion against evil, the most valiant bruiser of the serpent's head. The individuality of this Deliverer was not, indeed, asserted, but it is distinctly implied in the terms of the promise. That they carefully treasured this promise in their own memories, and transmitted the knowledge of it to their children, appears from the fact that the advent of a personal Redeemer continued to be an object of earnest hope and lively expectation in the family of the first pair (cf. Genesis 4:1; Genesis 4:25); and collateral evidence of the deep root it took in the minds of their descendants in early ages is afforded by the traditions everywhere prevalent among the pagan.

Thus, in the Egyptian mythology, Pthah was represented with a distorted foot, implying lameness, with allusion to the bruised heel of the seed of the woman. The Hindu mythology represents, by sculptured figures in their old pagodas, Krishna-an avatar or incarnation of their mediatorial deity, Vishnu-in one instance trampling on the crushed head of the serpent, and in another, the latter entwining the deity in its folds, and biting his heel. In the Scandinavian mythology, Thor, the first-born of the Supreme Deity, and holding an intermediate place between God and man, is said to have engaged in a mortal struggle with a gigantic serpent, to have bruised his head and finally killed him. And in classic mythology, Hercules appears in conflict with the dragon which assailed the daughters of Atlas after they had plucked the golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides: he wields a formidable club, and his right foot rests on the head of the writhing monster. All these, which are distorted traditions of the first promise, not only, by their antiquity, attest the truth of the Scripture narrative, but indicate, to use the words of Hardwick, 'a yearning in the heart of man after some external Saviour-a pre-sentiment that such a Saviour would eventually stoop down from heaven, and, by an act of grace and condescension, master all our deadliest foes, and re-instate us in our lost inheritance.' However obscure and indefinite the first promise might be, and whatever the actual amount of hope and comfort our first parents derived from it, it was a kind of proto-evangelion-a faint proclamation of the Gospel, not designed for the immediate hearers only, but having a world-wide significance.

Moreover, it was destined to have a progressive fulfillment, being the germ which every future promise served only to develop and mature-the primary rock, the substratum on which God, at sundry times and in divers manners (Hebrews 1:1), laid all the subsequent strata of revelation. In fact, this narrative of the fall, and the original promise and prophecy connected with it, form the basis of the whole religion of the Bible; and they are the principles of unity which make one consistent whole of the various dispensations of Providence in the Church. The patriarchal revelations, the call of Abraham, the promises made to him and to his descendants, the Mosaic economy, the mission of the Hebrew prophets, and the introduction of Christianity, are each and all only separate parts, successive developments of one grand remedial scheme for the recovery of fallen man by the discipline of revealed religion and the merits of a Redeemer. 'The fall is the fact which lies at the foundation of the whole superstructure, and unites the various parts; which, without reference to a ruin by man's disobedience, and to a restoration by God's mercy, in a manner consistent with His justice, have no agreement or consistency the one with the other. Insomuch, that it is impossible to conceive that any man can, in good earnest, believe the Gospel, who can find no vestige in this third chapter of Genesis of a seducing Devil or a redeeming Saviour.'

If it should be asked, Why was the fulfillment of the promise deferred for the long period of 4,000 years after its announcement, and what became of the vast numbers of mankind who died before the advent of Christ? The answer is: That the benefits of His expiatory sacrifice reached backward as well as forward; and that the people of former ages obtained salvation through faith in a Messiah to come, as those of later ages do in a Saviour who has come. The promise of His advent, so immediately consequent on the occasion occurring for His interposition, must obviate all objections founded on the delay of His appearance; and many weighty reasons rendered a protracted delay necessary. An early advent would have obscured the evidences of his character and mission; and not until full scope had been allowed for the experiment, and unmistakable proof had been furnished that no natural nor ordinary means could remedy the disastrous effects of the fall; not until civilization and philosophy had utterly failed, and the ignorance, superstition, and wickedness of mankind had reached their acme; not until the Jewish dispensation had been seen to be unprofitable and inadequate; not until a host of prophecies had been fulfilled, all of which concentred in one eminent personage; not until the political state of the world was, by an extraordinary combination of circumstances, settled for the first time in universal peace;-not until then did the proper season for the Redeemer's advent and death arrive (Romans 5:6).

It remains only to notice that there is a striking correspondence between the close of the Bible and this opening portion of the sacred book. The objects that were withdrawn from view after the fall are reproduced upon the scene: Paradise is restored, the ends of the sacred history are united, and the glorious circle of revelation completed. The tree of life, whereof there were but faint reminiscences in all the intermediate time, again stands by the water of life, and again there is no more curse. But a great advance has been made during the interval. Even the very differences of the forms under which the heavenly kingdom re-appears are deeply characteristic, marking, as they do, not merely all that is won back, but won back in a more glorious shape than that in which it was lost, for won back in the Son. It is no longer paradise, but the New Jerusalem-no longer the garden, but now the city of God, which is on earth. The change is full of meaning: no longer the garden, free, spontaneous, and unlaboured, even as man's blessedness in the state of a first innocence would have been; but the city-costlier, indeed, more stately, more glorious, but, at the same time, the result of toil, labour, and pain-occupied, not by a single human pair, but by a vast multitude, "whom no man can number," - reared into a nobler and more abiding habitation, yet with stones which, after the pattern of "the elect corner-stone," were each, in his time, laboriously hewn and painfully squared for the places which they fill (Trench, 'Hulsean Lectures')>.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/genesis-3.html. 1871-8.