Genesis Chapter 3, the Fall of Man but Promise of Salvation, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
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We continue with this verse-by-verse study of Genesis Chapter 3 here in Part 2, starting with Gen. 3:2.
(2) The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; (3) but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden [referring to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], God has said, "You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die." ' [See under Gen. 3:1.] (4) The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die! (5) For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God [[The KJV has "gods" instead of "God." ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: The NKJV has "God." The plural Hebrew noun "elohim" can be translated "gods," and some commentators opt for that translation here. The NASB translates "elohim" "gods" 204 times in the Old Testament, but it translates "God" 2,326 times. I believe the translation "God" is correct here. For one thing elohim was used earlier in this verse (verse 5) for God.
The Hebrew plural participle translated "knowing" (later in this verse, Gen. 3:5) ties to the plural "you" used here, which refers to Adam and Eve. Plurals are used throughout Gen. 3:2-5 in that Adam was included with Eve in what was being said: "we may eat" (3:2); "You [plural] shall not eat from it or touch it, or you [plural] will die" (Gen. 3:3); "You [plural] surely will not die!" (Gen. 3:4); "in the day you [plural] eat from it your [the eyes of you (plural)] will be opened, and you [plural] will be like God, knowing [plural] good and evil" (Gen. 3:5).))]], knowing good and evil.' [[Talk about a direct, unrestrained, non-subtle, vicious attack against God: "He is a liar! And a lot more about Him is bad too! But don't worry Eve, I'm here to help you against that mean, oppressive, manipulative, withholding, lying God. Listen to me, Eve, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. You will be exalted to a new dimension; you will have the extreme privilege of knowing good AND EVIL." Adam and Eve did not become more like God by eating the forbidden fruit; they lost their innocence and became more like the devil. As we discussed under Gen. 2:9, 16 (not included in this four-part paper), the knowledge they gained turned out to be evil. They had known the good, and all that was "added" to them was the KNOWLEDGE OF EVIL. We shouldn't expect good to come from doing evil. The apostle Paul hated the charge that some of his opponents falsely and slanderously brought against him, that he taught, "Let us do evil that good may come" (see Rom. 3:8).
By eating the fruit of this tree, which can also be called the TREE OF DEATH, they died as God had said they would. (They died spiritually that day, and the physical death process was initiated in them.) God hadn't been withholding that which was good after all. He was/is a good God! He isn't a liar! He will, however, let His people be tested, and rightly so. Let's wake up if we need to and decide once for all that God's ways are always right; our sin is always against God and is evil; it NEVER works for our good, but ALWAYS works for our evil. Sin and the devil are the liars!
God clearly knows good, and in some limited ways, but only in some limited ways, He knows evil. (He does, of course, know all about evil, but not in an experiential way.) In one sense God had already experienced evil through the rebellion of Satan and his followers that took place before Satan tempted Eve, but He did not know evil in the sense that Adam and Eve came to know it through doing evil. And He did not know evil by suffering the consequences/penalty for doing evil that rebels know. (For Adam and Eve that included having guilt feelings. As far as I know, the devil doesn't have guilt feelings.) It seems to me that it was a total lie for Satan to tell Eve that she and Adam would become like God, knowing good and evil. "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). It is true, however, that Satan can provide those who follow him with supernatural knowledge and power (I believe that was the forbidden fruit), but judgment day is coming.
Genesis 3:22 is relevant to this discussion; it includes the words, "Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us [us], knowing good and evil....' " As we will discuss in some detail under 3:22-24, I believe, in agreement with many, that these words of God were intended in a sarcastic, ironic sense to mock the idea that Adam and Eve would actually accept the devil's lie that they could gain something good and become like God through rebelling against Him and believing His lying accuser, who called Him a liar. Apparently God took these words from what the devil had said (in Gen. 3:5), "you will be like God, knowing good and evil." He did not intend these words to reflect reality/truth.]] (6) When the woman saw that the tree was good for food [[The devil had told Eve "that the tree was good for food." That was a total lie! The fruit on that tree wasn't good in any way; that forbidden fruit was deadly. Eve was deceived (with no excuse) by accepting that lie into her heart and mind. The devil has a million lies (or more) for those who will listen to him. We are not supposed to listen to him; we have no right to listen to him; it constitutes rebellion against God to listen to the devil; we don't have to listen to him. He tries to make sin look good; it NEVER is good. Sin may be fun for a while, and it may make a person feel good for a while, but it NEVER is good, and it NEVER brings real good to the one sinning.
Eve saw the things spoken of in verse 6 (at least for the most part) with the eyes of her heart, not with her physical eyes. This is like verse 7, which speaks of the eyes of Adam and Eve being opened and their then knowing that they were naked. It wasn't that their physical eyes were then opened, but that (after they had fallen though eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good AND EVIL) THEY THEN KNEW EVIL, including the fact that they then knew that they were naked, and they knew shame and were afraid of God because of their nakedness (see verses 8-10).]], and that it was a delight to the eyes [[See 1 John 2:15-17 (1 John 2:16 mentions "the lust of the eyes."); James 1:14, 15 ((James 1:15 mentions being "enticed by his own lust." A. T. Robertson points out that the Greek verb behind "enticed" was derived from a word meaning "bait," "to catch fish by bait or to hunt with snares...." ("Word Pictures in the New Testament," Vol. VI [Broadman Press, 1933], page 18).)) The forbidden fruit (the bait the devil used) was a delight to the eyes because Eve had accepted the lie in her heart and mind that the forbidden fruit was good. Sinful fruit NEVER is good!]], and that the tree was desirable to make one wise [[That was a lie too! The only "wisdom" she gained was the experiential knowledge of evil (of doing evil and experiencing the evil consequences of doing evil); that isn't wisdom.]], she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. [[(This double bracket continues for four paragraphs.) This certainly is a brief account of the rebellion of Adam in that the Bible speaks so much more of his rebellion than Eve's. For one thing, Adam was the authority figure. The apostle Paul spoke of the serious, far-reaching consequences of the transgression/rebellion of Adam. In Rom. 5:12-21, for example, he shows that it was Adam's transgression that caused the death of all his offspring, very much including spiritual death.
Paul makes the point in 1 Tim. 2:14 that "it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression." I believe it is important to see that Adam was deceived too in some ways. It seems clear that he thought that good would come from eating of the forbidden fruit, or he wouldn't have eaten it. And it is quite clear that he was rebelling against God and following the devil just as much as Eve was, and he, like Eve, had no real excuse. The fact that Adam was influenced by Eve certainly didn't constitute a legitimate excuse.
It is clear that pride was involved in the temptation and transgression of Adam and Eve. Satan, who had fallen through pride, knew how to appeal to the pride of man. I'll quote part of what James Montgomery Boice says under the heading "Pride" when commenting on Gen. 3:1-6 ("Genesis," Vol. 1 [Baker, 1982, 1998], pages 168, 169). "What lay at the root of the woman's determination to eat the forbidden fruit and give some to her husband, Adam, if it was not pride? What lay at the root of Adam's determination to go his own way rather than adhere to the path God placed before him, if this was not pride? ...
How terrible pride is! And how pervasive; for, of course, it did not vanish in the death of the first man and woman. Pride [with unbelief] lies at the heart of our sinful race. It is the 'center' of immorality, 'the utmost evil,' that which 'leads to every other vice,' as C. S. Lewis warns us ("Mere Christianity," page 94). It is that which makes us want to be more than we are or can be and, consequently, causes us to fall short of that truly great destiny for which we were created." Pride says I want to do it myself, so I can get the glory. Pride says I don't want to be under anybody in any way, not even God. Pride motivates people to use others, even to try to use God. I believe we can say that pride and unbelief (lack of faith in God) are the two primary roots of sin and rebellion against God. Pride and unbelief are not two totally separate sins; there is much overlap between these two great sins.]] (7) Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked [[They gained knowledge all right, but none of it was good. As fallen beings, who no longer enjoyed a right, life-flowing relationship with God, they knew (for one thing) that they were naked and something was wrong. And, as we learn in the next verse, they now knew that in their new state (with its "increased knowledge") they were guilty before God, which is painful knowledge to have. And they knew that something had changed down inside of them; for one thing, they now knew shame. The contrast with Gen. 2:25 should be noted: That verse informed us that before the fall Adam and Eve "were both naked and were not ashamed." Now that they had eaten of the forbidden fruit, they felt a need to cover their (physical) nakedness, because they were ashamed, and after covering themselves, they still knew shame. Verse 10 shows that knowledge of their nakedness very much involved their relationship with God, not just their relationship with one another.
I'll quote part of what Boice says under Gen. 3:7 ("Genesis," pages 178, 179). "Up to this moment Adam and Eve did not know good and evil. They knew the good but not the evil. (God knows both of course. He knows good because it is an expression of his own nature. He knows evil because it is all that is opposed to his nature.) By sinning our first parents came to know evil as well as good...but they came to know it, not from the standpoint of God, who loves good and hates the evil, but as fallen creatures, who love evil and hate the good. Satan would have been perfectly truthful if he had said, 'For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like me [the devil], knowing good and evil.' "
I'll quote a sentence from what Merrill F. Unger says under this verse ("Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament," Vol. 1 [Moody Bible Institute, 1981], page 16). "They now knew evil experientially, with all its attendant guilt, sorrow, shame, and misery."]]; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (8) They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool ["Literally, wind, breeze."] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. [There is widespread agreement that God had been fellowshipping with Adam and Eve in the garden on a regular basis.] (9) Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?' [God knew, of course, where Adam was and what he had done.] (10) He said, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.' (11) And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?' (12) The man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.' [[Proverbs 28:13 says, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion." Adam's "excuse" didn't fly (as they say), but it did demonstrate the sinful tendency of fallen man to try to pass the blame to someone else. GUILT AND SHAME ARE PAINFUL! Thanks be to God for His marvelous plan of salvation that enables believers to get rid of guilt and shame! We should be thankful that God has given us a conscience to inform us when things are wrong so we can get rid of our sin (repentance, forgiveness, new birth, righteousness, and holiness in and through Christ Jesus). On the other hand, we must reject the devil's condemning accusations against us when they are not true. If we are in sin, we must make repentance top priority - there is no substitute.]] (13) Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.' (14) The LORD God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life [[(This double bracket goes on for thirteen paragraphs before we come to Gen. 3:15.) WHAT GOD GOES ON TO SAY TO THE SERPENT IN 3:15 MAKES IT CLEAR THAT HE IS SPEAKING TO SATAN, NOT TO A LITERAL SERPENT. I have to assume, therefore, that the words of verse 14 speak, in a figurative way, of Satan's judgment (cf. Isa. 65:25) ((The fact that "dust will be the serpents food" (Isa. 65:25) when the other animals are transformed ("the wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox") fits well with the idea that the serpent is Satan; eating dust speaks symbolically of his overthrow (cf. Isa. 27:1). It is significant that Isa. 11:8 (with 11:6-8) shows that the literal snakes/serpents will be transformed along with the other animals for the millennial kingdom.)) Even if Satan had spoken through a literal serpent, there would have been no basis to curse all serpents for what Satan had done. You could even question whether the particular serpent that had been used by Satan would have been cursed. From my point of view, we can abandon the idea of some that initially (before the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve) literal serpents did not move along the ground on their "belly." ((I had a footnote: I'll quote a sentence from what Kenneth A. Matthews says here ("Genesis 1-11:26" [Broadman, 1996, 1997, 2001], page 244). "While some Jewish interpreters surmised that the serpent must have originally been four-legged, there is no compelling reason for this conclusion. [He has a footnote. "E.g., "Tg. Ps.-J," Josephus, "Ant.," 1.1.50; "Gen. Rab." 19.1 and 20.5. It is thought to be reflective of an ancient view that the snake was at first upright and legged; see e.g., Skinner, "Genesis," 78-79 and Sarna, "Genesis," 27."]."))
There is another issue we must consider here. Was God informing us here (in an indirect way) that the entire animal kingdom was now cursed, though cursed to a lesser extent than the serpent(s)? As a matter of fact, the Bible does indicate that the rebellion and fall of man drastically affected everything on the earth, including the animal kingdom. Before the fall, according to Genesis chapter 1 (especially Gen. 1:30), the animals were subordinate to man and were no danger to him, and they didn't kill one another. Everything created in Genesis chapters 1, 2 was good.
Things changed drastically after the fall of man. This concept is strongly confirmed by the prophecies which show that when the Lord Jesus Christ has established His millennial kingdom on the earth the animals will no longer be a danger to man or to one another (see Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25; cf. Rom. 8:19-22).
It would be possible then to argue (and some commentators do) that the idea is included here in Gen. 3:14 that the animal kingdom was cursed because of the fall of man. There wouldn't be any idea that the animal kingdom (non-moral beings) was being cursed for any sin on their part. Genesis 3:17-19 show that everything involved with the production of food would now be cursed. That curse came because of man (see Gen. 3:17) and against man. In the same way, the curse that came on the animal kingdom came as a result of man's sin and against man (consider, for example, the danger that many animals pose to man and the fact that when domesticated animals have problems it hurts man).
The animal kingdom, being part of "the creation" (Rom. 8:19-22), certainly was adversely affected by the fall of man. I doubt, however, that God intended here in Gen. 3:14 to inform us that the animal kingdom was cursed. ((I had a nine paragraph footnote (This lengthy footnote also deals with the translation and interpretation of Gen. 3:1.) I'll quote part of what John H. Sailhamer says in a note regarding the translation and interpretation of Gen. 3:1 and 3:14 ("Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 2 [Zondervan, 1990], pages 50, 51). "The...'min' preposition can have the sense of either partitive ('subtil as none other of the beasts,' GKC [Gesenius, Kautzsch, Cowley's "Hebrew Grammar"], par. 119w) or the comparative...as the NIV's 'more crafty than.' In favor of the partitive sense is the use of "min" in verse 14: 'Cursed are you from [min] all the cattle and from [min] all the beasts of the field' (pers. transl.). In verse 14 it is the serpent who is cursed and not the other animals.... ... The close ties between verse 14 and verse 1 suggest that the partitive sense of the min should be read there also.
The net effect of reading min as a partitive is to suggest that the serpent was not in every respect an ordinary animal. He was not 'craftier than' the other beasts of the field. Rather, he was crafty 'and the other animals were not.' ... There is certainly no mention yet of the identification of the serpent with Satan, but the narrative has not closed the door on that interpretation as some commentators have supposed." Sailhamer holds the view that there was a literal serpent that Satan spoke through. I believe that is the view of all the commentators that I quote in this footnote. As I have mentioned, I believe the serpent is a symbol for Satan, that the serpent is Satan.
I'll quote part of what Edward J. Young says here ("Genesis 3" [Banner of Truth Trust, 1966], page 97). "God curses the serpent 'away from' [min] the cattle and beasts of the earth. The thought is not that of comparison, as though God had said that all the beasts would be cursed, but that the serpent would be cursed more than any. Rather, in the curse the serpent is separated from the other beasts. Whereas they are free, he is now in a peculiar bondage. ...
It is true that the whole creation is under bondage and groaneth and travaileth together, as the apostle says in Romans 8; but this is not the curse mentioned here. ... In this curse the serpent stands alone and unique.... ..."
I'll quote part of what H. C. Leupold says here ("Exposition of Genesis", Vol. 1 [Wartburg Press, 1942], page 161). "The use of the preposition min bears close watching. Although it may be used to express a comparative, and so grammatically one might arrive at the meaning 'cursed above all animals' [KJV], yet nothing indicates that all animals are cursed. ... Consequently, the min partitive in the sense of 'out of the number of' (G. K. 119w; K. S. 278b) is under consideration. This particular or exclusive meaning of min is established by cases such as Ex. 19:5; Deut. 14:2; 33:24. Therefore, this beast is singled out for a curse over against 'all the animals'...in general as well as over against 'the wild beasts'...in particular."
I'll quote part of what George Herbert Livingston says here ("Beacon Bible Commentary," Vol. 1 [Beacon Hill Press, 1969], page 46). "ABOVE ALL [Livingston is using the KJV translation of Gen. 3:14, "thou art cursed ABOVE (min) all cattle, and ABOVE (min) every beast of the field"] is not in the sense 'more than,' thus suggesting that other animals were cursed too, but in the sense 'apart from' or 'separated out from among.' "
I'll quote part of what C. F. Keil says here ("Commentary on the Old Testament," Vol. 1 [Eerdmans, 1976 reprint], page 38). " 'min,' literally 'out of' the beasts, separate from them (Deut. 14:2; Jud. 5:24), is not a comparative signifying 'more than'...; for the curse...was not pronounced upon all the beasts, but only upon the serpent alone."
I'll quote part of what F. Delitzsch says here ("Genesis," Vol. 1 [Klock & Klock, 1978 reprint], page 160). "The 'min'...[used twice] is not comparative (more cursed than...) but selective, like e.g. Jud. 5:24."
I'll make a few concluding remarks in this footnote before leaving this rather important topic. I don't believe it is fully adequate to understand "min" in a "partitive" sense here, though I believe that's quite close to the right idea. Technically the partitive sense applies when the person/thing is viewed as being part of the whole. That could apply in Gen. 3:1 IF the serpent is being considered part of the wild beasts of the field that God had made, that is, IF you are willing to assume that the serpent was a literal serpent (but I rather strongly resist that assumption). And the partitive sense of min could apply to the second use of "min" in 3:14 IF you assume the serpent was a literal serpent and part of the beasts of the field (again, I rather strongly resist that assumption). However, when it comes to the first use of "min" in 3:14, which speaks of the serpent in relation to the cattle, a partitive use of min could hardly apply since the serpent was not part of the cattle. (The Hebrew noun ["behemah"] translated "cattle" here probably includes more that literal "cattle"; the NIV translates "livestock"; but it seems clear enough that the serpent was not part of both the "behemah" and the wild beasts of the earth.) This fact helps steer the translation for min in 3:14 to something like "Cursed are you APART FROM [in the sense "unlike"] all cattle, And cursed are you APART FROM [in the sense "unlike"] all the beasts of the field." We could call this a "separative" use of the Hebrew preposition "min." This same use of min would also be understood in 3:1, where we would translate something like "the serpent was crafty APART FROM [in the sense of "unlike"] all the beasts of the field." This translation for 3:1 has the added benefit that it doesn't infer that the serpent (who I understand to be Satan) is part of the beasts of the field. (This is the end of the nine paragraph footnote.) )) What God says here in Gen. 3:14, 15, it seems to me, doesn't go beyond dealing with the curse coming to Satan/the serpent (and his kingdom). Satan, a fallen being, was already under God's condemnation before he came on the scene in Genesis chapter 3. (This is the end of the thirteen paragraph double bracket. Now we'll go on to Gen. 3:15.)]]; (15)
We will start with Gen. 3:15 in Part 3 of this four-part paper.
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