Genesis 3:17 MEANING

Genesis 3:17
(17, 18) Unto Adam (without the article, and therefore a proper name) he said.--Lange thoughtfully remarks that while the woman was punished by the entrance of sorrow into the small subjective world of her womanly calling, man is punished by the derangement of the great objective world over which he was to have dominion. Instead of protecting his wife and shielding her from evil, he had passively followed her lead in disobeying God's command; and therefore "the ground," the adamah out of which Adam had been formed, instead of being as heretofore his friend and willing subject, becomes unfruitful, and must be forced by toil and labour to yield its produce. Left to itself, it will no longer bring forth choice trees laden with generous fruit, such as Adam found in the garden, but the natural tendency will be to degenerate, till "thorns" only "and thistles" usurp the ground. Even after his struggle with untoward nature man wins for himself no paradisiacal banquet, but must "eat the herb of the field" (Job 30:4); and the end of this weary struggle is decay and death. In the renewed earth the golden age of paradise will return, and the tendency of nature will no longer be to decay and degeneration, but to the substitution unceasingly of the nobler and the more beautiful in the place of that which was worthless and mean (Isaiah 55:13).

Verse 17. - And unto Adam he said. The noun here used for the first time without the article is explained as a proper name (Keil, Lunge, Speaker's 'Commentary'), though perhaps it is rather designed to express the man s representative character (Macdonald). Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife. Preceding his sentence with a declaration of his guilt, which culminated in this, that instead of acting as his wife's protector prior to her disobedience, or as her mentor subsequent to that act, in the hope of brining her to repentance, he became her guilty coadjutor through yielding himself to her persuasions. And hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it. For which a twofold judgment is likewise pronounced upon Adam. Cursed is the ground. Ha adamah, out of which man was taken (Genesis 2:7); i.e. the soil outside of the garden. The language does not necessarily imply that now, for the first time, in consequence of the fall, the physical globe underwent a change, "becoming from that point onward a realm of deformity and discord, as before it was not, and displaying in all its sceneries and combinations the tokens of a broken constitution" (vide Bushnell, 'Nature and the Supernatural,' Genesis 7.); simply it announces the fact that, because of the transgression of which he had been guilty, he would find the land beyond the confines of Eden lying under a doom of sterility (cf. Romans 8:20). For thy sake. בַּעֲבוּרֶך.

1. Because of thy sin it required to be such a world.

2. For thy good it was better that such a curse should lie upon the ground. Reading ד instead of ר, the LXX. translate ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις; and the Vulgate, In operetuo. In sorrow. Literally, painful labor (cf. ver. 16; Proverbs 5:10). Shalt thou eat of it. I.e. of its fruits (cf. Isaiah 1:7; Isaiah 36:16; Isaiah 37:30). "Bread of sorrow" (Psalm 127:2) is bread procured and eaten amidst hard labor. All the days of thy life.

3:16-19 The woman, for her sin, is condemned to a state of sorrow, and of subjection; proper punishments of that sin, in which she had sought to gratify the desire of her eye, and of the flesh, and her pride. Sin brought sorrow into the world; that made the world a vale of tears. No wonder our sorrows are multiplied, when our sins are so. He shall rule over thee, is but God's command, Wives, be subject to your own husbands. If man had not sinned, he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness. Adam laid the blame on his wife; but though it was her fault to persuade him to eat the forbidden fruit, it was his fault to hearken to her. Thus men's frivolous pleas will, in the day of God's judgment, be turned against them. God put marks of displeasure on Adam. 1. His habitation is cursed. God gave the earth to the children of men, to be a comfortable dwelling; but it is now cursed for man's sin. Yet Adam is not himself cursed, as the serpent was, but only the ground for his sake. 2. His employments and enjoyments are imbittered to him. Labour is our duty, which we must faithfully perform; it is part of man's sentence, which idleness daringly defies. Uneasiness and weariness with labour are our just punishment, which we must patiently submit to, since they are less than our iniquity deserves. Man's food shall become unpleasant to him. Yet man is not sentenced to eat dust as the serpent, only to eat the herb of the field. 3. His life also is but short; considering how full of trouble his days are, it is in favour to him that they are few. Yet death being dreadful to nature, even when life is unpleasant, that concludes the punishment. Sin brought death into the world: if Adam had not sinned, he had not died. He gave way to temptation, but the Saviour withstood it. And how admirably the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus, by his death and sufferings, answered the sentence passed on our first parents! Did travailing pains come with sin? We read of the travail of Christ's soul, Isa 53:11; and the pains of death he was held by, are so called, Ac 2:24. Did subjection came in with sin? Christ was made under the law, Ga 4:4. Did the curse come in with sin? Christ was made a curse for us, he died a cursed death, Ga 3:13. Did thorns come in with sin? He was crowned with thorns for us. Did sweat come in with sin? He sweat for us, as it had been great drops of blood. Did sorrow come in with sin? He was a man of sorrows; his soul was, in his agony, exceeding sorrowful. Did death come in with sin? He became obedient unto death. Thus is the plaster as wide as the wound. Blessed be God for his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.And unto Adam he said,.... Last of all, being the last that sinned, but not to be excused:

because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife; which was not only mean but sinful, since it was opposite to the voice of God, which he ought to have hearkened to God is to be hearkened to and obeyed rather than man, and much rather than a woman; to regard the persuasion of a woman, and neglect the command of God, is a great aggravation of such neglect; see Acts 4:19.

and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee; saying, thou shall not eat of it; that is, had eat of the fruit of the tree which God had plainly pointed unto him, and concerning which he had given a clear and an express command not to eat of it; and had delivered it to him in the strongest manner, and had most peremptorily and strictly enjoined it, adding the threatening of death unto it; so that he could by no means plead ignorance in himself, or any obscurity in the law, or pretend he did not understand the sense of the legislator. The righteous sentence therefore follows:

cursed is the ground for thy sake; the whole earth, which was made for man, and all things in it, of which he had the possession and dominion, and might have enjoyed the use of everything in it, with comfort and pleasure; that which was man's greatest earthly blessing is now turned into a curse by sin, which is a proof of the exceeding sinfulness of it, and its just demerit: so in later instances, a "fruitful land" is turned "into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein", Psalm 107:34 hence, whenever there is sterility in a country, a want of provisions, a famine, it should always be imputed to sin; and this should put us in mind of the sin of the first man, and the consequence of that:

in sorrow shall thou eat of it all the days of thy life, meaning that with much toil and trouble, in manuring and cultivating the earth, he should get his living out of the produce of it, though with great difficulty; and this would be his case as long as he was in it.

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