20/01/19 Genesis 3:14-24 “The good life has now become the hard slog!”
Genesis 3:14 – 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:
In this passage God pronounces judgment upon all involved with this rebellion against the law of holy God. No-one who sins shall escape. The soul that sins shall die! Those being judged are the serpent, satan, Eve and Adam. Plus, all life in general will suffer, with the first death of any creature made necessary to provide clothing for Adam and Eve in Vs 21 below. But, more than the skins covering the man and woman, the blood of the animal(s) involved would symbolise the first necessary covering of the blood for the temporary atonement for sin.
cattle – or beast. The word is translated “beast” 136 times, but “cattle” 53 times.
And Yᵉhovah ‘elohiym said to (or told) the serpent – This is a pronouncement of certainty, like the judge pronouncing sentence upon the guilty criminal.
thou art cursed above – Mankind’s sin would curse all life on earth; animal would eat animal etc. but the serpent would be cursed more than all beasts, more than all life of the land (= land animals or creatures). It would go (proceed; move; it actually signifies walking, but a creature without legs might find this difficult; the snake would therefore “slither”) on its belly, and eat dust all its life. This has to assume that the serpent was in some way complicit with satan in this act of temptation; otherwise it seems unjust for the serpent to be thus treated if it hadn’t any real involvement with what it had just done. Therefore the serpent must have in some way permitted at the very least the use of its body to tempt Adam and Eve to sin.
And we do know that the snake does slither on its belly. No snake has legs today, yet the serpent must have had legs or else it would have slithered before the penalty of slithering on its belly was pronounced. Of course, many cultures have various stories “explaining’ why certain animals have certain characteristics, such as how the elephant got its trunk. But if we assume that this passage today is true, then we also have to assume that the reason given here is the true reason why a snake has no legs.
Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
But God is not yet finished with the serpent. He continues to pronounce judgment upon all involved in this crime, including the relationship between the woman and the serpent. For it is the woman that the serpent caused to be tempted, not Adam who the Bible says wasn’t deceived (1 Timothy 2:14). Some might say that if the woman had not listened to the serpent, if she had not given in to the beguiling words of the serpent, then nothing bad would have happened. But on the other hand, if the serpent had not worked at beguiling the woman, then she wouldn’t have been tempted to do it in the first place. The one party to this crime demands the involvement of the other. It appears that no crime would have been committed if the serpent hadn’t tempted the woman, or if the woman had refused to listen to the serpent. The crime occurred because both parties did their share of the crime. Therefore what affects the serpent is going to have to affect the woman as well.
The curse is pronounced: from now on the serpent and the woman will be enemies. Not only this but their children or offspring will continue to be enemies. The serpent should not have tried to influence the woman, and the woman should not have listened. If they had acted as enemies in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened. If the serpent, as a hostile creature, had avoided the woman, or the woman had recognised the serpent as a hostile creature, then sin may not have occurred.
But more than this; it is really satan who is running this show, not the serpent. The serpent is involved, or else it wouldn’t be punished as harshly, yet much of the curse in this verse is actually aimed at satan. Satan was man’s enemy then. He always has been, still is, and will continue to be, the enemy of man and in particular, the enemy of God’s people, Israel and then the Church. Satan was doing his best to disrupt God’s perfect plans for His special creation, man.
The whole spiritual conflict can be summarised though. Satan and his angels rebelled against God and were defeated, leaving satan no real authority over anything apart from his immense power that he was created with. (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-18) And weak puny man has been given the world to subdue and have dominion over. Why should such an inferior creature be given that which satan can never have? So satan is like a boy with a bat and ball who cannot run the cricket game, so he takes his bat and ball and goes away. Satan is a sook who cannot bear to think of man having so much. If he, satan, cannot have it, then why should man have it? So satan throws a temper tantrum. If he cannot have it, then no-one else should have it either! Thus, if he cannot have what he wants (that is, dominion over the earth), then he will destroy it so that it is worthless to anyone else.
So he works on the woman because cunning satan has no doubt seen that the man cannot be deceived. The woman is his target, so he hits her with all the fire power he can muster. And she goes down, taking Adam with her. Satan has won the battle, or has he? He didn’t reckon with God pronouncing judgment on him. Slithering in the dust mightn’t be good, but that was the serpent’s problem, not satan’s. And, it was probably worth all the cost if it meant that man would go down also.
But now the cursing also gives the woman some measure of power over satan who is effectively the one being cursed in this verse, not the serpent as merely a creature. This is no longer just about serpents and snakes now. Snakes and man (and their descendants) will continue to be enemies, and truly man can bruise (fall upon; crush) the snake’s head and the snake can truly bruise (bite) man’s heel. However, it is satan who is the real enemy of man here. Man and satan will be enemies for all time now, not just Adam and Eve, but all who descend from them, their seed. Satan has declared war on man as God’s special creation, and God has now declared that there will be no backing down by either party from now on until the end. Satan has made a huge mistake here, for he has not destroyed man, but instead he has destroyed himself – not immediately, but satan’s destruction was ensured from the moment he took on God’s special creation, man. To destroy what God called good was a bad mistake indeed!
Satan might be able to commit serious damage to man through biting his heel, yet the heel can be damaged and man lives on, yet man (through Christ) would crush satan’s head, and that is final.
John 12:31-32 – 31Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.
Satan can hurt man but man (through Christ) will destroy satan.
Hebrews 2:16 – For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham.
Genesis 3:16 – 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.
sorrow – pain; labour; hardship; sorrow; toil
rule – used of the sun and moon in Genesis 1:18a – And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness
Now that the serpent and satan have been dealt with, and man (through woman) has been pronounced the nemesis of satan, the woman next receives her judgment. The serpent might have initiated this crime, but the woman went along with it when she could have stopped it in its tracks. Because Eve sinned, her sorrow (pain; hardship; toil) would be greatly increased. Life would literally become tough. Every pregnancy would signify further sorrow with every person born from now on coming under the curse of sin. No longer could she look forward to the perfectly harmonious family; children would cause sorrow to increase.
This doesn’t necessarily mean just childbearing labour pains, as such as people used to believe. (Women used to refuse any anaesthetics for childbirth because it was allegedly God’s will that the woman should suffer pain during child-birth!) Note that one of Eve’s children killed another of her children! In bringing forth children she would truly have sorrow.
Her desire (craving; longing) would be for her husband, who would rule (have dominion; have authority) over her. This seems to be the consequence of Eve eating the fruit first before giving some to Adam who ate, even though he wasn’t deceived.
1 Timothy 2:11-15 – 11Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Genesis 3:17 – 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;
Because Adam (just “Adam” not “the Adam” here), even though not deceived, ate the forbidden fruit because he listened to his wife, the ground would be cursed with barrenness and weeds. In hard labour (work; toil; pain; hardship) he would have to live off what he could grow from the ground for the rest of his life. (And, of course, this curse would continue throughout time for all mankind.) No longer could Adam collect fruit and food from the plants of the garden. Life was enjoyable then; now it would be hard work for the rest of his life. I wonder whether Adam ever dreamed about the time when he had everything and lost it because of one stupid yet very costly mistake. Truly it was “Paradise lost!”
Genesis 3:18 – Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
No longer would plants grow like they should (because the ground itself was now cursed), but valueless competition (such as thorns and thistles) would also grow, rendering man’s labour less profitable. Getting food would become very much more complicated and difficult, and Adam (and consequently all mankind) would only be able to eat that which he grew himself. No longer would God provide him with a never-ending larder or pantry such as he had in Eden.
Added to this, if man (especially God’s chosen people, Israel) chose deliberately to turn against God, then God would make that agriculture much harder again.
Isaiah 5:5-6 – 5And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; [and] break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
Deuteronomy 28:15-16 – 15But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: 16Cursed [shalt] thou [be] in the city, and cursed [shalt] thou [be] in the field.
Genesis 3:19 – 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.
bread – bread; food; grain
That is, it’ll be sheer hard work from now on to get food for each day. No life on easy street any more. And this hard slog for survival will start when you are born and won’t end until the day you die. There’s going to be no escape from this at all, other than death!
This is also discipline rather than punishment. Punishment merely pays back for the crime, while discipline encourages toward a better course of action.
Genesis 3:20 – And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
Eve – Chavvah (life; living) That is, despite the pain and suffering of bringing up the new generation, there would always be another generation. Mankind would not be killed off after Adam died, but each generation would continue to successively produce the next generation.
living – chay
Eve would be the female ancestor of all people on earth. The evolutionists claim that because man, according to his DNA, has a common ancestor, it therefore demonstrates we have evolved from the one source. But according to the Bible, Adam and Eve are the single source of all mankind’s genetic DNA material, so what has been proven here anyway? In fact, Noah and his wife can also be called the common genetic blueprint for all mankind.
As an added aside, Chavvah becomes the Greek Zoe which is translated “life”. Cf “zoo” and “zoology”.
Genesis 3:21 – Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
coats – kᵉthoneth (tunic; under-garment) “Cotton” is said to be derived from the Arab qutn and probably ultimately from this word kᵉthoneth.
It seems skins are a better option for clothes than fig leaves! I think fig leaves might have been a bit unreliable, anyway. That’s probably why we can buy clothing made from leather, but I have yet to see any fig-leaf clothing for sale! Material can be made out of many plants, such as cotton, flax (linen), bamboo, wood (paper) etc, but it is certain fig leaf clothing will never really catch on!
However, a very important reason for skins being suitable is that they are the consequence of the death of one or more animals, and death means blood spilt, for the life of the flesh is in the blood.
Ellicott says: Until sin entered the world no sacrifices could have been offered; and if, therefore, these were the skins of animals offered in sacrifice, as many suppose, Adam must in some way, immediately after the fall, have been taught that without shedding of blood is no remission of sin, but that God will accept a vicarious sacrifice.
Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul.
Even though the law had not been given yet, the remedy for sin has remained the same from the sin of Adam (even until an end is made of sins and everlasting righteousness is here, as prophesied by Daniel).
Daniel 9:24a – Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness
Sin could never be remitted without the shedding of blood. It appears that this is why Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable while Cain’s sacrifice (or offering) was not.
Hebrews 9:22 – And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
The blood of animals could never take away the guilt of even one sin.
Hebrews 10:4 – For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Yet the shedding of the blood of innocent animals was sufficient to satisfy God’s holiness until the blood of the cross properly atoned for all sin of all mankind.
Hebrews 9:13-14 – 13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
It is interesting to see all the consistency of Genesis 3 & 4 with the gospel of Christ which is able to save to the uttermost all them that trust in Him. It is also interesting to note that without the free will of man, Genesis 3 makes little sense. More than this even, it is ludicrous to interpret Genesis 4 (Cain and Abel) as being foreordained by God in any way. This would make God either a murderer, or the one who ordained that satan should be a murderer from the beginning. If man has no free will. then effectively God, by ordaining what Cain should do, has become the first murderer. This is ludicrous indeed!
Genesis 3:22 – 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:
And, because man now knows (as God does) the difference between good and evil (but without the ability to control that knowledge), then he must be prevented from eating of the tree of life and escaping the penalty of death already pronounced upon man. Man cannot be permitted to have guaranteed eternal life while under condemnation of death for sin. It’s a bit like condemning a person to be executed for a crime, while ensuring that this person cannot die.
Man is now unholy, and cannot come into the presence of holy God without the covering atoning of the shed blood. The consequence of Adam’s sin was death (Romans 6:23) and the gift of eternal life through Christ couldn’t be permitted without man firstly responding to God’s seeking of lost mankind. That is, salvation can never be automatically applied to man who will never seek after God unless God should seek man first through the gospel of Christ. Eternal life can never exist in unholiness.
Having the knowledge of good and evil without the ability to control its use was a curse for all mankind, yet if only man could agree to abide by God’s rules – If you love God, keep His commandments (John 14:15). But unless God should reach out for His lost sheep (through the gospel of salvation through Christ), then man would remain under the curse. It’s the intervention of the gospel which provides that first necessary light by which man may see and believe. This is why satan works so hard to blind men’s eyes from seeing the light of the gospel which permits them to see their guilt (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) and the choice that must be made if they wish to be saved (Romans 10:13).
Genesis 3:23 – Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Therefore, because the tree of life was in the garden, man must not be allowed to live anymore in that garden of Eden. This is a logical consequence of man’s sin. “Easy street” has now become a tough life. Of necessity man had to cultivate the ground in order to survive now.
Genesis 3:24 – 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.
placed – to lay; place; establish; settle; to cause to dwell or abide. From a root word meaning to lie down (as if to sleep).
the east – probably “the front”, thus “at the front of or access to the garden”
This has to assume that the garden of Eden might have remained accessible if the Cherubim weren’t placed there. If Eden had just disappeared from sight, then putting guards on the entrance would have been unnecessary. Thus, the guards were placed there because otherwise man could have entered. Clearly this situation would have changed after the flood, for there is no indication now of where it once might have been. Many assume that the cradle of civilisation has to be connected to the Euphrates River but is the Euphrates the same as the original one? Is it in the same area? Because there is no real evidence, then all we can do is guess, which is quite illogical. Why do we need to know where it once was if there’s no point to that knowledge anyway?
Cherubim (a type of angelic being) were placed (made to dwell or abide) at the front of the garden, and a flaming sword that turned in every direction was also placed there somewhere. The purpose of both cherubim and flaming sword was to keep (watch over; keep watch; protect; defend) the tree of life (logically to prevent from man being able to access it).
God could have just wiped this creation and started again, but what would the point have been? If man had no free will, then God would have just foreordained the same situation. And, if man had free will (as he clearly did have), then the purpose for that free will would have been to establish man’s decision to serve either God or the world (mammon; satan). Perhaps given enough “Adams” and “Eves” God might have got a holy pair, yet if they had children, then those children would also need to establish whose side they were on, and so on and so forth. The problem with the calvinist view here (and it is a mammoth problem indeed) is that the calvinist heaven would be filled with people who had to be influenced (made to want) to be holy as God is holy. Not one would be there because he or she had chosen to be there. And God must desire worship that is spontaneous, yet calvinism cannot promise God spontaneous uninfluenced worship in heaven from any of God’s elect. Everyone in calvinist heaven will be there because God made them willing to come. Not one will have chosen, no not one!
On the other hand, the biblical heaven will be populated by a mankind who has chosen (of their own free will) to worship God with spontaneous uninfluenced worship.
Will mankind be manipulated like calvinist robots or puppets to worship God, or will mankind choose to willingly worship God of his own free will? Who will inhabit heaven: robots and puppets, or thinking people?
Paradise has been lost, but one day Paradise will be regained by free will in heaven.