Genesis 3:15 MEANING

Genesis 3:15
Verse 15. - And I will put enmity between thee and the woman. Referring -

1. To the fixed and inveterate antipathy between the serpent and the human race (Bush, Lange); to that alone (Knobel).

2. To the antagonism henceforth to be established between the tempter and mankind (Murphy); to that alone (Calvin, Bonar, Wordsworth, Macdonald). And between thy seed and her seed. Here the curse manifestly outgrows the literal serpent, and refers almost exclusively to the invisible tempter. The hostility commenced between the woman and her destroyer was to be continued by their descendants - the seed of the serpent being those of Eve's posterity who should imbibe the devil's spirit and obey the devil's rule (cf. Matthew 23:33; 1 John 3:10); and the seed of the woman signifying those whose character and life should be of an opposite description, and in particular the Lord Jesus Christ, who is styled by preeminence "the Seed" (Galatians 3:16, 19), and who came "to destroy the works of the devil" (Hebrews 2:4; 1 John 3:8). This we learn from the words which follow, and which, not obscurely, point to a seed which should be individual and personal. It - or he; αὐτος (LXX.); not ipsa (Vulgate, Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory the Great; later Romish interpreters understanding the Virgin) - shall bruise.

1. Shall crush, trample down - rendering שׁוּפ by torero or conterere (Vulgate, Syriac, Samaritan, Tuch, Baumgarten, Keil, Kalisch).

2. Shall pierce, wound, bite - taking the verb as - שָׁפַפ, to bite (Furst, Calvin).

3. Shall watch, lie in wait = שָׁאַפ (LXX., τηρήσει - Wordsworth suggests as the correct reading τερήσει, from τερέω, perforo, vulnero - Gesenius, Knobel). The word occurs only in two other places in Scripture - Job 9:17; Psalm 139:11 - and in the latter of these the reading is doubtful (cf. Perowne on Psalm in loco). Hence the difficulty of deciding with absolute certainty between these rival interpretations. Psalm 91:13 and Romans 16:20 appear to sanction the first; the second is favored by the application of the same word to the hostile action of the serpent, which is not treading, but biting; the feebleness of the third is its chief objection. Thy head. I.e. the superior part of thee (Calvin), meaning that the serpent would be completely destroyed, the head of the reptile being that part of its body in which a wound was most dangerous, and which the creature itself instinctively protects; or the import of the expression may be, He shall attack thee in a bold and manly way (T. Lewis). And thou shalt bruise his heel. I.e. the inferior part (Calvin), implying that in the conflict he would be wounded, but not destroyed; or "the biting of the heel may denote the mean, insidious character of the devil's warfare" (T. Lewis).

3:14,15 God passes sentence; and he begins where the sin began, with the serpent. The devil's instruments must share in the devil's punishments. Under the cover of the serpent, the devil is sentenced to be degraded and accursed of God; detested and abhorred of all mankind: also to be destroyed and ruined at last by the great Redeemer, signified by the breaking of his head. War is proclaimed between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. It is the fruit of this enmity, that there is a continual warfare between grace and corruption, in the hearts of God's people. Satan, by their corruptions, buffets them, sifts them, and seeks to devour them. Heaven and hell can never be reconciled, nor light and darkness; no more can Satan and a sanctified soul. Also, there is a continual struggle between the wicked and the godly in this world. A gracious promise is here made of Christ, as the Deliverer of fallen man from the power of Satan. Here was the drawn of the gospel day: no sooner was the wound given, than the remedy was provided and revealed. This gracious revelation of a Saviour came unasked, and unlooked for. Without a revelation of mercy, giving some hope of forgiveness, the convinced sinner would sink into despair, and be hardened. By faith in this promise, our first parents, and the patriarchs before the flood, were justified and saved. Notice is given concerning Christ. 1. His incarnation, or coming in the flesh. It speaks great encouragement to sinners, that their Saviour is the Seed of the woman, bone of our bone, Heb 2:11,14. 2. His sufferings and death; pointed at in Satan's bruising his heel, that is, his human nature. And Christ's sufferings are continued in the sufferings of the saints for his name. The devil tempts them, persecutes and slays them; and so bruises the heel of Christ, who is afflicted in their afflictions. But while the heel is bruised on earth, the Head is in heaven. 3. His victory over Satan thereby. Christ baffled Satan's temptations, rescued souls out of his hands. By his death he gave a fatal blow to the devil's kingdom, a wound to the head of this serpent that cannot be healed. As the gospel gains ground, Satan falls.And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,.... Between whom there had been so much familiarity, not only while they had the preceding discourse together, but before; for it is conjectured by some (y), that she took a particular liking to that creature, and was delighted with it, and laid it perhaps in her bosom, adorned her neck with its windings, or made it a bracelet for her arms; and being a peculiar favourite, the devil made choice of it as his instrument to deceive her; but now being beguiled hereby, she conceived an antipathy against it, and which is become natural between the serpent and man; man abhors the sight of a serpent, and the serpent the sight of man; and the spittle of a man and the gall of a serpent are poison to each other; and this antipathy is observed to be stronger in the female sex: and this was not only true of the particular serpent that deceived Eve, and of the particular woman, Eve, deceived by him, but of every serpent and of every woman in successive ages; and is also true of Satan and the church of God in all ages, between whom there is an implacable and an irreconcilable hatred, and a perpetual war:

and between thy seed and her seed; the posterity of Eve, mankind, and the production of serpents, between whom the antipathy still continues, and mystically the evil angels and also wicked men called serpents; and a generation of vipers on the one hand, and the people of God on the other, the seed of the church; the latter of which are hated and persecuted by the former, and so it has been ever since this affair happened: and especially by the seed of the woman may be meant the Messiah; the word "seed" sometimes signifying a single person, Genesis 4:25 and particularly Christ, Galatians 3:16 and he may with great propriety be so called, because he was made of a woman and not begotten by man; and who assumed not an human person, but an human nature, which is called the "holy thing", and the "seed of Abraham", as here the "seed of the woman", as well as it expresses the truth of his incarnation and the reality of his being man; and who as he has been implacably hated by Satan and his angels, and by wicked men, so he has opposed himself to all them that hate and persecute his people:

it shall bruise thy head; the head of a serpent creeping on the ground is easily crushed and bruised, of which it is sensible, and therefore it is careful to hide and cover it. In the mystical sense, "it", or "he, Hu", which is one of the names of God, Psalm 102:27 and here of the Messiah, the eminent seed of the woman, should bruise the head of the old serpent the devil, that is, destroy him and all his principalities and powers, break and confound all his schemes, and ruin all his works, crush his whole empire, strip him of his authority and sovereignty, and particularly of his power over death, and his tyranny over the bodies and souls of men; all which was done by Christ, when he became incarnate and suffered and died, Hebrews 2:14.

And thou shall bruise his heel; the heel of a man being what the serpent can most easily come at, as at the heels of horses which it bites, Genesis 49:17 and which agrees with that insidious creature, as Aristotle (z) describes it: this, as it refers to the devil, may relate to the persecutions of the members of Christ on earth, instigated by Satan, or to some slight trouble he should receive from him in the days of his flesh, by his temptations in the wilderness, and agony with him in the garden; or rather by the heel of Christ is meant his human nature, which is his inferior and lowest nature, and who was in it frequently exposed to the insults, temptations, and persecutions of Satan, and was at last brought to a painful and accursed death; though by dying he got an entire victory over him and all his enemies, and obtained salvation for his people. The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase this passage of the days of the Messiah, and of health and salvation in them: what is here delivered out in a way of threatening to the serpent the devil, carries in it a kind intimation of grace and good will to fallen man, and laid a foundation for hope of salvation and happiness: reference seems to be had to this passage in Psalm 40:7 "in the volume", in the first roll, , as in the Greek version, at the head, in the beginning "of the book, it is written of me, to do thy will, O my God."

(y) See the Universal History, vol. 1. p. 126. (z) Hist. Animal. l. 1. c. 1.

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