Monday, June 12, 2006

Genesis 3

Genesis 3

This chapter introduces Satan (I think), and recounts the fall of man into sin, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Note that it wasn’t an apple, as is commonly depicted.)

Synopsis

The book of Genesis has a way of setting out very important things in a very matter-of-fact style of speech. For the history of the world, this is a very important set of events, but it’s an easy read, without any emphasis; it’s left up to the reader to realize how important these events are.

The following happens, in this chapter:
  • The “serpent” is introduced in verse 1, as being “more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made”.
  • He tempts the woman to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She does so, and gives some to Adam as well.
  • Once they do, their eyes are opened. They immediately become ashamed of their nakedness, and sew together fig leaves to create clothing.
  • God takes a walk through the garden, and Adam and Eve hide, because they’re ashamed. God confronts them with what they have done, Adam immediately blames Eve, and Eve immediately blames the serpent.
  • God curses the serpent, the woman, and the man.
  • The LORD creates “garments of skin” for Adam and Eve, and banishes them from the garden.
In this chapter, Adam also gives Eve her name (verse 20).

Thoughts

Again, a lot happens in this chapter.

I’m not 100% sure if the “serpent” is Satan, or simply a messenger of Satan. I think he is; verses 14 and 15—which we’ll get to momentarily—definitely seem to indicate it. But, on the other hand, I don’t know why the Bible didn’t just say so. For all intents and purposes, I guess you can assume that it is Satan, since, even if he’s not, he’s doing the work of Satan.

Whoever he is, he was pretty crafty in the way he tempted the woman to eat the fruit. In chapter 2, God had instructed the man that he was allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So the serpent’s first question is trying to get the woman to think God is being unfair: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” She told him that, no, God didn’t say that. They’re allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the serpent says something very disingenuous:

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (verses 4–5)

Actually, there are two parts of this that are disingenuous:
  • “You will not surely die.” This is disingenuous because it hinges on what you mean by “die”; it’s true that the man and the woman didn’t immediately drop dead after they ate the fruit. However, by eating the fruit—or, more specifically, by disobeying God—the man and the woman brought sin into the world. God wasn’t telling them that if they ate the fruit they would die immmediately—He was telling them that if they ate the fruit, they would die, period. If they had not disobeyed God, Adam and Eve would have lived forever, without sin.
  • “…you will be like God…” this part is disingenuous and straight-up temptation. Who wouldn’t want to “be like God”? Unfortunately, this is pride; the serpent is tempting the woman to be less reliant on God, and more reliant on herself. A temptation that we all fall into, to this day.
People make a big deal out of God asking Adam and Eve questions, in verses 8–13; “Where are you?” and “What have you done?” “If he is God”, people ask, “then why didn’t He know? Why would He need to ask?” And my answer is that He did know. God didn’t ask Adam and Eve “What have you done?” because He wanted to find out what they had done; He asked them because He wanted to confront them with their sins, and make them answer for themselves. It’s simply a rhetorical device, but people like to make a very large mountain out of this particular molehill.

But bringing death into the world wasn’t the only result of Adam and Eve’s sin; there are also the curses. Because of this, women’s pain in childbirth is also, ahem, somewhat noticeable, and mankind is forced to go through “painful toil” in order to get food. It’s not only Adam and Eve that were affected by the fall; the whole Earth is affected, and the ground now produces “thorns and thistles”. Instead of simply eating the fruit that the garden produces for them, they are now forced to eat “the plants of the field”. (Remember in chapter 2, when we were talking about the “plants of the field” as opposed to wild plants?)

In verses 14–15, we see the serpent’s curse. The only thing I would point out in this passage is that in verse 15, God says “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers…”—but Hebrew used in this passage is using the singular form of “offspring”—it’s “offspring”, not “offsprings”. This passage is talking about Jesus. Satan will “bruise His heel” (through the death on the cross), but Jesus will “crush his head” (through the death on the cross).

And a final thing to note, although I don’t really have a comment on it: In verse 21, it says that “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” God actually killed an animal, to make clothes for Adam and Eve. That’s pretty strange to read.
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