Genesis 3:19 MEANING

Genesis 3:19
(19) Dust thou art . . . --It appears from this that death was man's normal condition. A spiritual being is eternal by its own constitution, but the argument by which Bishop Butler proves the soul to be immortal equally proves the mortality of the body. Death, he says, is the division of a compound substance into its component parts; but as the soul is a simple substance, and incapable of division, it is per se incapable of death (Analogy, Part 1, Genesis 1). The body of Adam, composed of particles of earth, was capable of division, and our first parents in Paradise were assured of an unending existence by a special gift, typified by the tree of life. But now this gift was withdrawn, and henceforward the sweat of man's brow was in itself proof that he was returning to his earth: for it told of exhaustion and waste. Even now labour is a blessing only when it is moderate, as when Adam kept a garden that spontaneously brought forth flowers and fruit. In excess it wears out the body and benumbs the soul, and by the pressure of earthly cares leaves neither time nor the wish for any such pursuits as are worthy of a being endowed with thought and reason and a soul.

Verse 19. - In the sweat of thy face (so called, as having there its source and being there visible) shalt thou eat bread. I.e. all food (vide Job 28:5; Psalm 104:14; Matthew 14:15; Mark 6:36). "To eat bread" is to possess the means of sustaining life (Ecclesiastes 5:16; Amos 7:12). Till thou return unto the ground (the mortality-of man is thus assumed as certain); for out of it thou wast taken. Not declaring the reason of man's dissolution, as if it were involved in his original material constitution, but reminding him that in consequence of his transgression he had forfeited the privilege of immunity from death, and must now return to the soil whence he sprung. Ἐξ η΅ς ἐλήφθης (LXX.); de qua sumptus es (Vulgate); "out of which thou wast taken" (Macdonald, Gesenius). On the use of כִּי as a relative pronoun - אַשֶׁר cf. Gesenius, ' Lex. sub nom.,' who quotes this and Genesis 4:25 as examples. Vide also Stanley Leathes, 'Hebrews Gram.,' p. 202; and 'Glassii Philologiae,' lib. 3. tr. 2, c. 15. p. 335. This use of כִּי, however, appears to be doubtful, and is not necessary in any of the examples quoted.

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.In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,.... Or "of thy nose" (f), sweat appearing first and chiefly on the forehead, from whence it trickles down by the nose in persons employed in hard labour; and here it takes in all the labour used in cultivating the earth for the production of herbs, and particularly of corn, of which bread is made; with respect to which there are various operations in which men sweat, such as ploughing, sowing, reaping, threshing, winnowing, grinding, sifting, kneading, and baking; and it may have regard to all methods and means by which men get their bread, and not without sweat; and even such exercises as depend upon the brain are not excused from such an expense: so that every man, let him be in what station of life he will, is not exempt, more or less, from this sentence, and so continues till he dies, as is next expressed:

till thou return unto the ground, his original, out of which he was made; that is, until he dies, and is interred in the earth, from whence he sprung; signifying that the life of man would be a life of toil and labour to the very end of it: and nothing else can man expect in it:

for dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return; his body was composed of the dust, was of the earth, earthly, and should be reduced to that again by death, which is not an annihilation of man, but a bringing him back to his original; which shows what a frail creature man is, what little reason he has to be proud of himself, when he reflects from whence he came and whither he must go; see Ecclesiastes 12:7.

(f) "nasi tui", Picherellus.

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