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Song of Solomon
Genesis 3 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
- How long the paradisiacal state of innocence and felicity continued the historian does not declare, probably as not falling within the scope of his immediate design.
has been thought, though without sufficient reason, to hint that man's Eden life was of comparatively short duration. The present chapter relates the tragic incident which brought it to a termination. Into the question of the origin of moral evil in the universe it does not enter. The metaphysical problem of how the first thought of sin could arise in innocent beings it does not attempt to resolve. It seeks to explain the genesis of evil with reference to man. Nor even with regard to this does it aim at an exhaustive dissertation, but only at such a statement of its beginnings as shall demonstrate that God is not the author of sin, but that man, by his own free volition, brought his pristine state of purity and happiness to an end. A due regard to this, the specific object of the Mosaic narrative, will go far to answer not a few of the objections which have been taken to its historic credibility. Like the Mosaic record of creation, the Biblical story of the fall has been impugned on a variety of grounds.
of a fall, which this chapter clearly teaches, has been assailed as inconsistent with the dictates of a speculative philosophy, if not also with the tenets of a Scriptural theology. While in the present narrative the origin of sin is distinctly traced back to the free volition of man acting without constraint, though not without temptation, in opposition to the Divine will, a more exact psychological analysis, it is alleged, declares it to have been from the first a necessity, either
being involved in the very conception of a finite will (Spinoza, Leibnitz, Baur); or
the expression of the necessary transition of the human race from the state of nature to that of culture" (Fichte, Kant, Schiller), or as developing itself in obedience to the law of antagonism and conflict (John Seotus Erigena, Hegel, Sehleiermacher, Schelling); or
predetermined by a Divine decree (supralapsarianism). Without offering any separate refutation of these anti-Scriptural theories, it may suffice to say that in all questions affecting man's responsibility, the testimony of the individual consciousness, the ultimate ground of appeal, apart from revelation, affirms moral evil to be no all-controlling necessity, but the free product of the will of the creature.
of the fall has been impugned -
On the ground of its
. But unless we are prepared to equate the supernatural with the impossible and incredible, we must decline to admit the force of such objections.
On the ground of its
, resembling as it does, in some slight degree, Oriental traditions, and in particular the Persian legend of Ormuzd and Ahriman (
, 'Traditions of the Fall'). But here the same remark will apply as was made in connection with the similarity alleged to exist between the Mosaic and heathen cosmogonies: it is immeasurably easier and more natural to account for the resemblance of Oriental legend to Biblical history, by supposing the former to be a traditional reflection of the latter, than it is to explain the unchallengable superiority of the latter to the former, even in a literary point of view, not to mention ethical aspects at all, by tracing both to a common source - the philosophic or theologic consciousness of man.
There are also those who, while neither repudiating it on the ground of miracle, nor discrediting it as a heathen myth, yet decline to accept it as other than a
or allegorical narration of what transpired in the spiritual experience of the first pair. History is often a parable of truth.
in Kal, to hiss (unused), with allusion to the hissing sound emitted by the reptile (Gesenius, Furst), though it has been objected that prior to the fall the serpent could hardly have been called by a name derived from its present constitution (Delitzsch);
in Piel, to whisper, use sorcery, find out by divination (
), suggestive of the creature's wisdom (Bush), Which, however, is regarded as doubtful (Furst);
to shine (unused, though supplying the noun
), referring to its glossy shining appearance, and in par-titular its bright glistening eye: cf.
from an Arabic root signifying to pierce, to move, to creep, so that
would be Latin
(Furst). The presence of the article before nachash has been thought to mean
a certain serpent
, but "by eminent authorities this is pronounced to be unwarranted" (Macdonald).
Was more subtle
prudent, in a good sense (cf.
), from '
To make naked; whence atom,
, naked (
To crafty (
1 Samuel 23:22
). If applied to the serpent in the sense of
(Aquila, Keil, Lange, Macdonald),
it can only be either
metaphorically for the devil, whose instrument it was; or
proleptically, with reference to the results of the temptation; for in itself, as one of God's creatures, it must have been originally good. It seems more correct to regard the epithet as equivalent to
(LXX.), and to hold that Moses, in referring to the subtlety of this creature, "does not so much point out a fault as attribute praise to nature" (Calvin), and describes qualities which in themselves were good, such as quickness of sight, swiftness of motion, activity of the self-preserving instinct, seemingly intelligent adaptation -of means to end, with perhaps a glance, in the use of '
, at the sleekness of its glossy skin; but which were capable of being perverted to an unnatural use by the power and craft of a superior intelligence (cf.
γίνεσθε οϋν φρόνιμοι ω
was subtil more than any
beast of the field which the Lord God had made
. The comparison here instituted is commonly regarded as a proof that the tempter was a literal serpent, though Macdonald finds in the contrast between it and all other creatures, as well as in the ascription to it of pre-eminent subtlety, which is not now a characteristic of serpents, an intimation that the reptile was no creature of earth, or one that received its form from God," an opinion scarcely different from that of Cyril (100. Julian., lib. 3), that it was only the
of a serpent. But
the curse pronounced upon the serpent (
) would seem to be deprived of all force if the subject of it had been only an apparition or an unreal creature; and
the language of the New Testament in referring to man's temptation implies its literality (cf.
2 Corinthians 11:3
). "We are perfectly justified in concluding, from this mention of the fall, that Paul spoke of it as an actual occurrence" (Olshausen). Adam Clarke contends with much enthusiasm that the tempter was not a serpent, but an ape or orangutan.
And he said
. Not as originally endowed with speech (Josephus, Clarke), or gifted at this particular time with the power of articulation ('Ephrem., lib. de paradiso,' c. 27, quoted by Willet), but simply as used by the devil (Augustine, Calvin, Rosenmüller,
), who from this circumstance is commonly styled in Scripture '
serpent," "the old serpent," "that old serpent" (cf.
). Nor is it more difficult to understand the speaking of the serpent when possessed by Satan, than the talking of Balaam s ass when the Lord opened its mouth (
). Equally with the idea that the devil was the only agent in man s temptation, and that the serpent is purely the allegorical dress in which the historian clothes him (Eusebius, Cajetan, Quarry, Alford), must the notion be rejected that there was nothing but a serpent (Aben Ezra, Kalisch, Knobel). Why, if there was an evil spirit manipulating the reptile, the historian did not say so has been explained
on the ground that the belief in the devil was then foreign to the Hebrews (Knobel);
that up to this point in the narrative there is no mention of the devil (White of Dorchester);
that Moses simply wished to
be rei gestae scriptor non interpres
that it was unnecessary, those for whom he wrote being sufficiently capable of discerning that the serpent was not the prime mover in the transaction (Candlish);
that "by a homely and uncultivated style he accommodates what he delivers to the capacity of the people" (Calvin);
that his object being merely to show that God had no hand in man's temptation, but that Adam sinned of himself, it was not needful to do more than recite the incident as it appeared to the senses (White);
that he wished "
avoid encouraging the disposition to transfer the blame to the evil spirit which tempted man, and thus reduce sin to a mere act of weakness" (Keil).
Unto the woman
. As the weaker of the two, and more likely to be easily persuaded (
1 Timothy 2:14
1 Peter 3:7
). Cf. Satan's assault on Job through his wife (
). Milton's idea that Eve desired to be independent, and had withdrawn herself out of Adam's sight, it has been well remarked, "
up a beginning of the fall before the fall itself" (Lunge).
. Is it even so that? (Gesenius). Is it really so that! (Ewald, Furst, Keil).
(Calvin). A question either
spoken in irony, as if the meaning were, "Very like it is that. God careth what you eat!" or
inquiring the reason of the prohibition (LXX., -
τί ὅτι εϊπενὁ θεὸς
cur praecepit vobis Deus
simply soliciting information (Chaldee Paraphrase); but
most likely expressing surprise and astonishment, with the view of suggesting distrust of the Divine goodness and disbelief in the Divine veracity (Ewald, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Keil, Macdonald, Lunge). The conversation may have been commenced by the tempter, and the question "thrown out as a feeler for some weak point where the fidelity of the woman might be shaken" (Murphy); but it is more likely that the devil spoke in continuation of a colloquy which is not reported (Kalisch, Macdonald), which has led some, on the supposition that already many arguments had been adduced to substantiate the Divine severity, to render "yea" by "
," as if the meaning were, "How much more is this a proof of God's unkindness!" (Aben Ezra, Kimchi).
Hath God said
. "The tempter felt it necessary to change the living personal God into a merely general
(Keil); but the Elohim of
. He was not a mere
As much astray is the observation that Satan wished to avoid profaning the name of Jehovah (Knobel). Better is the remark that the serpent could not utter the name Jehovah as his assault was directed against the paradisiacal covenant of God with man (Lange). By using the name Elohim instead of Jehovah the covenant relationship of God towards man was obscured, and man's position in the garden represented as that of a subject rather than a son. As it were, Eve was first placed at the furthest distance possible from the supreme, and then assailed.
Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden.
I.e. either accepting the present rendering as correct, which the Hebrew will bear, - "Are there any trees in the garden of which you may not eat?" "
it really so that God hath prohibited you from some?" (Calvin), - or, translating
any - Latin,
(Gesenius, § 152, 1) - "Hath God said ye shall not eat of any?" (Macdonald, Keil). According to the first the devil simply seeks to impeach the Divine goodness; according to the second he also aims at intensifying the Divine prohibition. The second rendering appears to be supported by the fitness of Eve's reply.
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
Verses 2, 3.
And the woman said unto the serpent
. Neither afraid of the reptile, there being not yet any enmity among the creatures; nor astonished at his speaking, perhaps as being not yet fully acquainted with the capabilities of the lower animals; nor suspicions of his designs, her innocence and inexperience not predisposing her to apprehend danger. Yet the tenor of the reptile's interrogation was fitted to excite alarm; and if, as some conjecture, she understood that Satan was the speaker, she should at once have taken flight; while, if she knew nothing of him or his disposition, she should not have opened herself so freely to a person unknown. "The woman certainly discovers some uuadvisedness in entertaining conference with the serpent, in matters of so great importance, in so familiar a manner" (White).
We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden
Omitting the Divine name when recording his liberality, though she remembers it when reciting his restraint;
failing to do justice to the largeness and freeness of the Divine grant (cf. with
); - which, however, charity would do well not to press against the woman as symptoms of incipient rebellion.
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it.
An addition to the prohibitory enactment, which may have been simply an inaccuracy in her understanding of Adam's report of its exact terms (Kalisch); or the result of a rising feeling of dissatisfaction with the too great strictness of the prohibition (Delitzsch), and so an indication "that her love and confidence towards God were already beginning to waver" (Keil); or a proof of her anxiety to observe the Divine precept (Calvin); or a statement of her understanding "that they were not to meddle with it as a forbidden thing" (Murphy).
Lest ye die
. Even Calvin here admits that Eve begins to give way, leading
, with which Macdonald appears to agree, discovering "
doubt and hesitancy
in her language; but -
the conjunction may point to a consequence which is certain - indeed this is its usual meaning (cf.
Where there are so many
grounds for condemning Eve's conduct, it is our duty to be cautious in giving those which are problematical" (Bush); and,
"she would have represented the penalty in a worse rather than a softened form had she begun to think it unjust" (Inglis).
But of the fruit of the tree which
in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
And the serpent said unto the woman
. "As God had preached to Adam, so Satan now also preaches to Eve... The object of Satan was to draw away Eve by
or saying from that which God had said" (Luther).
Ye shall not surely die
(the negative 16 preceding the infinitive absolute, as in
; its position here being determined by the form of the penalty,
, to which the devil's language gives the direct negative.
Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 312). Thus the second step in his assault is to challenge the Divine veracity, in allusion to which it has been thought our Savior calls Satan a liar (cf.
ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος ἐκ τῶν
ἰδίων λαλεῖ ὁτι ψεύστης ἐστιν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ
, as far as we know, is his first begottten lie" (Bush).
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
מאנ ־ כִּי
, for because; assigning the reason
for the devil's, statement, and so,
by implication, for the Divine prohibition)
God doth know
. Thus the serpent practically charges the Deity with
envy of his creatures' happiness, as if he meant to say, Depend upon it, it is not through any fear of your dying from its fruit that the tree has been interdicted, but through fear of your becoming rivals to your Master himself; and
with falsehood -
in affirming that to be true which he knew to be false;
in doing this while delivering his law;
in pretending to be careful of man's safety while in reality he was only jealous of his own honor.
That in the day ye eat thereof
. Cf. the Divine prohibition (
), the exact terms of which are again used - a mark of growing aggressiveness towards the woman, and of special audacity towards God. The prohibition employs the singular number, being addressed to Adam only; the devil employs the plural, as his words were meant not for Eve alone, but for her husband with her.
Your eyes shall be opened.
"To open the eyes," the usual Biblical phrase for restoring sight to the blind (
2 Kings 6:17, 20
), is also used to denote the impartation of power to perceive (physically, mentally, spiritually) objects not otherwise discernible (cf.
). Here it was designed to be ambiguous; like all Satan's oracles, suggesting to the hearer the attainment of higher wisdom, but meaning in the intention of the speaker only a discovery of their nakedness. The same ambiguity attaches to the devil's exposition of his own text.
And ye shall be as gods.
; not &c
(Vulgate), as gods (A.V.), as the angels (R. Jonathan), as the devils (Ainsworth),
(Rosenmüller), as princes (White); but as the supreme Deity (Calvin, Keil, Kalisch,
a promise of divinity. Knowing good and evil. As they knew this already from the prohibition, the language must imply a fullness and accuracy of understanding such as was competent only to Elohim (
on ver. 22)
And when the woman saw that the tree
good for food, and that it
pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make
wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
the woman saw
. "An impure look, infected with the poison of concupiscence" (Calvin); cf.
That the tree was good for food.
"The fruit of this tree may have been neither poisonous nor beautiful, or it may have been both; but sin has the strange power of investing the object of desire for the time being, whatever its true character, with a wonderful attraction" (Inglis).
And that it
(was) pleasant Literally, a desire (
), a lust (
To the eyes
(Vulgate); lustye unto the eyes (Coverdale);
stimulating desire through the eyes (cf.
1 John 2:16
And a tree to be desired to make
to look at, to behold; hence
to be prudent,
1 Samuel 18:30
to look at;
to turn the mind to;
to be or become understanding,
being susceptible of two renderings, the clause has been taken to mean "
tree desirable to look at" (Syriac, Onkelos, Vulgate, Gesenius, Kalisch, Wordsworth), or, more correctly, as it stands in the English Version, the external loveliness of the tree having been already stated in the preceding clause (LXX, Aben Ezra, Calvin, Hengstenberg, Macdonald). This is the third time the charms of the tree are discerned and expressed by the woman - a significant intimation of how far the Divine interdict had receded from her consciousness.
She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.
Thus consummating the sin (James L 15).
And gave also to her husband
. Being desirous, doubtless, of making him a sharer in her supposed felicity. The first time Adam is styled Eve s husband, or man; perhaps designed to indicate the complete perversion by Eve of the Divine purpose of her marriage with Adam, which was to be a helpmeet for him, and not his destroyer.
. An indication that Adam was present throughout the whole preceding scene (Delitzsch, Wordsworth), which is not likely, else why did he not restrain Eve? or that he arrived just as the temptation closed (Calvin), which is only a conjecture; better regarded as a reference to their conjugal oneness (Macdonald).
And he did eat
. And so involved himself in the criminality of his already guilty partner; not simply as being "captivated with her allurements" ("fondly overcome with female charms" - Milton, Par. Lost,' Book 10.), which
1 Timothy 2:14
is supposed to justify'; but likewise as being "persuaded by Satan's impostures," which doubtless Eve had related to him. This much is distinctly implied in those Scriptures which speak of Adam as the chief transgressor (
1 Corinthians 15:21, 22
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they
naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And the eyes of them both were opened
. The fatal deed committed, the promised results ensued, but not the anticipated blessings.
The eyes of their minds were opened to perceive that they were no longer innocent, and
the eyes of their bodies to behold that they were not precisely as they had been.
And they knew that they were naked
corporeally, having lost that enswathing light of purity which previously engirt their bodies (
And they sewed
. Literally, fastened or tied by twisting.
. Not the pisang tree (
), whose leaves attain the length of twelve feet and the breadth of two (Knobel Bohlen); but the common fig tree (
), which is aboriginal in Western Asia, especially in Persia, Syria, and Asia Minor (Kalisch, Keil, Macdonald).
Together, and made themselves aprons
. Literally, girdles,
to wrap about their loins. This sense of shame which caused them to seek a covering for their nudity was not due to any physical corruption of the body (Baumgarten), but to the consciousness of guilt with which their souls were laden, and which impelled them to flee from the presence of their offended Sovereign.
TRADITIONS OF THE FALL.
. "There is nothing in the Chaldean fragments indicating a belief in the garden of Eden or the tree of knowledge; there is only an obscure allusion to a thirst for knowledge having been a cause of man's fall"... The details of the temptation are lost in the cuneiform text, which "opens where the gods are cursing the dragon and the Adam or man for his transgression."... "The dragon, which, in the Chaldean account, leads man to sin, is the creature of Tiamat, the living principle of the sea and of chaos, and he is an embodiment of the spirit of chaos or disorder which was opposed to the deities at the creation of the world." The dragon is in-eluded in the curse for the fall; and the gods invoke on the human race all the evils which afflict humanity - family quarrels, tyranny, the anger of the gods, disappointment, famine, useless prayers, trouble of mind and body, a tendency to sin ('Chaldean Genesis,' pp. 87-91).
. For a time the first pair, Meschia and Mesehiane, were holy and happy, pure in word and deed, dwelling in a garden wherein was a tree whose fruit conferred life and immortality; but eventually Ahriman deceived them, and drew them away from Ormuzd. Emboldened by his success, the enemy again appeared, and gave them a fruit, of which they ate, with the result that, of the hundred blessings which they enjoyed, all disappeared save one. Falling beneath the power of the evil one, they practiced the mechanical arts, and subsequently built themselves houses and clothed themselves with skins. Another form of the legend represents Ahriman as a serpent. So close is the resemblance of this legend to the Scriptural account, that Rawlinson regards it not as a primitive tradition, but rather as "
infiltration into the Persian system of religious ideas belonging properly to the Hebrews" ('Hist. Illus. of the Old Testament,' p. 13).
. In the Hindoo mythology the king of the evil demons, "
king of the serpents," is named Naga, the prince of the Nagis or Nacigs, "
which Sanserit appellation we plainly trace the Hebrew Nachash." In the Vishnu Purana the first beings created by Brama are represented as endowed with righteousness and perfect faith, as free from guilt and filled with perfect wisdom, wherewith they contemplated the glory of Visham, till after a time they are seduced. In the legends of India the triumph of Krishna over the great serpent Kali Naga, who had poisoned the waters of the river, but who himself was ultimately destroyed by Krishna trampling on his head, bears a striking analogy to the Mosaic story (Kitto's 'Daily Bible Illustrations').
The story of Pandora
. According to Hesiod the first men lived wifeless and ignorant, but innocent and happy.
stolen fire from heaven, taught its use to mankind. To punish the aspiring mortals, Zeus sent among them Pandora, a beautiful woman, whom he had instructed Hephaestus to make, and Aphrodite, Athena, and Hermes had endowed with all seductive charms. Epimetheus ("Afterthought"), the brother of Prometheus, to whom she was presented, accepted her, and made her his wife. Brought into his house, curiosity prevailed on her to lift the lid of a closed jar in which the elder brother had with prudent foresight shut up all kinds of ills and diseases. Forthwith they escaped to torment mankind, which they have done ever since (Secmann's 'Mythology,' p. 163).
The apples of the Hesperides
. These golden apples, which were under the guardianship of the nymphs of the West, were closely watched by a terrible dragon named Laden, on account of an ancient oracle that a son of the deity would at a certain time arrive, open a way of access thither, and carry them off. Hercules, having inquired his way to the garden in which they grew, destroyed the monster and fulfilled the oracle (
., p. 204).
Apollo and the Pythen
. "This Python, ancient legends affirm, was a serpent bred out of the slime that remained after Deucalion's deluge, and was worshipped as a god at Delphi. Eminent authorities derive the name of the monster kern a Hebrew root signifying to deceive." As the bright god of heaven, to whom everything impure and unholy is hateful, Apollo, four days after his birth, slew this monster with his arrows. What shall we say then to these things? This - that the nations embodied in these traditions their remembrances of paradise, of the fall, and of the promised salvation (Kitto, 'Daily Bible Illustrations' p. 67).
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God
the noise of his footsteps (cf.
2 Samuel 5:24
; Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch, Macdonald); or
the thunder that accompanied his approach (cf.
Job 37:4, 5
Psalm 29:3, 9
; Murphy, Bush); or
the sound of his voice (Calvin, Lange, Wordsworth); or
probably all four.
Walking in the garden
. If the voice, then increasing in intensity (cf.
; Bush); if Jehovah, which is better, then "wandering or walking about in a circle" within the garden bounds (Macdonald).
In the cool
(literally, the wind)
of the day
. The morning breeze (Calvin); the evening breeze (Kalisch, Macdonald);
auram post meridiem
, "the heat of the day" (
And Adam and his wife hid themselves
. Not in humility, as unworthy to come into God's presence (Irenaeus); or in amazement, as not knowing which way to turn (Augustine); or through modesty, (Knobel Bohlen); but from a sense of guilt.
From the presence of the Lord.
From which it is apparent they expected a Visible manifestation.
And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where
Verses 9, 10.
And the Lord God called unto Adam
. Adam's absence was a clear proof that something was wrong. Hitherto he had always welcomed the Divine approach.
And said unto him, Where art thou?
Not as if ignorant of Adam's hiding-place, but to bring him to confession (cf.
And I was afraid, because I was naked
. Attributing his fear to the wrong cause - the voice of God or his insufficient clothing; a sign of special obduracy (Calvin), which, however, admits of a psychological explanation, viz., that" his consciousness of the effects of sin was keener than his sense of the sin itself" (Keil), "
though all that he says is purely involuntary self-accusation" (Delitzsch), and "the first instance of that mingling and confusion of Bin and punishment which is the peculiar characteristic of our redemption-needing humanity" (Lange).
And I hid myself.
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I
naked; and I hid myself.
And he said, Who told thee that thou
naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
Verses 11, 12.
And he said
. "To reprove the sottishness of Adam" (Calvin); "to awaken in him a sense of sin" (Keil).
Who told thee that thou wast naked?
Delitzsch finds in
an indication that a personal power was the prime cause of man's disobedience; but, as Lange rightly observes, it is the occasion not of sin, but of the consciousness of nakedness that is here inquired after.
Hast thou eaten of the tree
(at once pointing Adam to the true cause of his nakedness, and intimating the Divine cognizance of his transgression)
whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
"Added to remove the pretext of ignorance" (Calvin), and also to aggravate the guilt of his offence, as having been done in direct violation of the Divine prohibition. The question was fitted to carry conviction to Adam's conscience, and halt the instantaneous effect of eliciting a confession, though neither a frank one nor a generous.
And the man said
(beginning with apology and ending with confession, thus reversing the natural order, and practically rolling back the blame on God),
The woman whom thou gavest to be with me
(accusing the gift and the Giver in one),
she gave me of the tree
. Cf. with the cold and unfeeling terms in which Adam speaks of Eve the similar language in
natural affection" is one of the bitter fruits of sin (cf.
). Equally with the blasphemy, ingratitude, unkindness, and meanness of this excuse, its frivolity is apparent; as if, though Eve gave, that was any reason why Adam should have eaten.
And I did eat
. Reluctantly elicited, the confession of his sin is very mildly stated. "
cold expression, manifesting neither any grief nor shame at so foul an act, but rather a desire to cover his sin" (White).
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest
with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What
thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
And the Lord said unto the woman
- without noticing the excuses, but simply accepting the admission, and passing on, "following up the transgression, even to the root - not the psychological merely, but the historical (Lange):
What is this that thou hast done
? Or, "
hast thou done this?" (LXX., Vulgate, Luther, De Wette). "But the Hebrew phrase has more vehemence; it is the language of one who wonders as at something prodigious, and ought rather to be rendered, ' How hast thou done this?'" (Calvin).
And the woman said
(following the example of her guilty, husband, omitting any notice of her sin in tempting Adam, and transferring the blame of her own disobedience to the reptile),
The serpent beguiled me
. Literally, caused me to forget, hence beguiled, from
, to forget a thing (
), or person (
; Stanley Loathes, 'Gram.,' App. 197); or, caused me to go astray, from
(unused in Kal), kindred to
, perhaps to err, to go astray (Gesenius, Furst);
2 Corinthians 11:3
And I did eat
. "A forced confession, but no appearance of contrition. 'It's true I did eat, but it was not my fault'" (Hughes).
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou
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:
- Confession having thus been made by both delinquents, and the arch-contriver of the whole mischief discovered, the Divine Judge proceeds to deliver sentence.
And the Lord God said unto the serpent
. Which he does not interrogate as he did the man and woman, "because
in the animal itself there was no sense of sin, and
to the devil he would hold out no hope of pardon" (Calvin); "
the trial has now reached the fountain-head of sin, the purely evil purpose (the demoniacal) having no deeper ground, and requiring no further investigation" (Lange).
Because thou hast done this
beguiled the woman. The incidence of this curse has been explained as -
The serpent only (Kalisch).
The devil only (Macdonald).
Partly on the serpent and partly on Satan (Calvin).
Wholly upon both (Murphy, Bush, Candlish).
The difficulties attending these different interpretations have thus been concisely expressed: -
Quidam statuunt maledictioncm latam in serpentem solum, quia hic confertur cum aliis bestiis, non in diabolum, quid is antea maledictus erat.
Alii in diabolum solum, quid brutus serpens non poterat juste puniri.
Alii applicant ver. 14 ad serpentem, ver. 15 in diabolum. At vero tu et te idem sunt in utroque versu.
Alii existimant earn in utrumque latam" (Medus in 'Poll Commentsr.,' quoted by Lange). The fourth opinion seems most accordant with the language of the malediction.
Thou art cursed
. The cursing of the irrational creature should occasion no more difficulty than the cursing of the earth (ver. 17), or of the fig tree (
). Creatures can be cursed or blessed only in accordance with their natures. The reptile, therefore, being neither a moral nor responsible creature, could not be cursed in the sense of being made susceptible of misery. But it might be cursed in the sense of being deteriorated in its nature, and, as it were, consigned to a lower position in the scale of being. And as the Creator has a perfect right to assign to his creature the specific place it shall occupy, and function it shall subserve, in creation, the remanding of the reptile to an inferior position could not justly be construed into a violation of the principles of right, while it might serve to God's intelligent creatures as a visible symbol of his displeasure against sin (cf.
separate and apart from all cattle (Le Clerc, Von Bohlen, Tuch, Knobel, Keil); and neither
(Gesenius, De Wette, Baumgarten) nor
(Luther, A.V., Rosenmüller, Delitzsch), as if the other creatures were either participators in or the instruments of the serpent's malediction.
All cattle, and above
every beast of the field.
The words imply the materiality of the reptile and the reality of the curse, so far as it was concerned.
Upon thy belly
Ἐπὶ τῷ στήθει σου καὶ τῇ κοιλίᾳ
(LXX.); "meaning with, great pain and, difficulty." As Adam s labor and Eve's conception had pain and sorrow added to them (vers. 16, 17), so the serpent's gait" (Ainsworth).
Shalt thou go
. "As the worm steals over the earth with its length of body," "as a mean and despised crawler in the dust," having previously gone erect (Luther), and been possessed of bone (Josephus), and capable of standing upright and twining itself round the trees (Lange), or at least having undergone some transformation as to external form (Delitzsch, Keil); though the language may import nothing more than that whereas the reptile had exalted itself against man, it was henceforth to be thrust back-into its proper rank," "recalled from its insolent motions to its accustomed mode of going," and "
the same time condemned to perpetual infamy" (Calvin). As applied to Satan this part of the curse proclaimed his further degradation in the scale of being in consequence of having tempted man. "Than the serpent trailing along the ground, no emblem can more aptly illustrate the character and condition of the apostate spirit who once occupied a place among the angels of God, but has been cast down to the earth, preparatory to his deeper plunge into the fiery lake (
And dust shalt thou eat
mingling dust with all it should eat. "The great scantiness of food on which serpents can subsist gave rise to the belief entertained by many Eastern nations, and referred to in several Biblical allusions (
) - that they cat dust" (Kalisch). More probably it originated in a too literal interpretation of the Mosaic narrative. Applied to the devil, this part of the curse was an additional intimation of his degradation. To "lick the dust" or "eat the dust" "
equivalent to being reduced to a condition of meanness, shame, and contempt" (Bush); "is indicative of disappointment in all the aims of being" (Murphy); "denotes the highest intensity of a moral condition, of which the feelings of the prodigal (
) may be considered a type' (Macdonald; cf.
All the days of thy life
. The degradation should be perpetual as well as complete.
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.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman
. Referring -
To the fixed and inveterate antipathy between the serpent and the human race (Bush, Lange); to that alone (Knobel).
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.
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" (
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.
- or he;
(Vulgate, Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory the Great; later Romish interpreters understanding the Virgin) -
Shall crush, trample down - rendering
(Vulgate, Syriac, Samaritan, Tuch, Baumgarten, Keil, Kalisch).
Shall pierce, wound, bite - taking the verb as -
, to bite (Furst, Calvin).
Shall watch, lie in wait =
- Wordsworth suggests as the correct reading
Gesenius, Knobel). The word occurs only in two other places in Scripture -
- and in the latter of these the reading is doubtful (cf. Perowne on Psalm
). Hence the difficulty of deciding with absolute certainty between these rival interpretations.
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.
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.
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).
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire
to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Unto the woman he said.
Passing judgment on her first who had sinned first, but cursing neither her nor her husband, as "being candidates for restoration" (Tertullian). The sentence pronounced on Eve was twofold.
I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception
. A hendiadys for "the sorrow of thy conception" (Gesenius, Bush), though this is not necessary. The womanly and wifely sorrow of Eve was to be intensified, and in particular the pains of parturition were to be multiplied (cf.
). The second idea is more fully explained in the next clause.
In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children
, daughters being included. The pains of childbirth are in Scripture emblematic of the severest anguish both of body and mind (cf.
Micah 4:9, 10
1 Thessalonians 5:3
). The gospel gives a special promise to mothers (
1 Timothy 2:15
). "By bringing forth is also meant bringing up after the birth, as in
And thy desire shall be to thy husband
to run, to have a vehement longing for a thing, may have the same meaning here as in
Song of Solomon 7:10
(Dathe, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch, Keil, Bohlen, Kalisch, Alford); but is better taken as expressive of deferential submissiveness, as in
(Luther, Calvin, Le Clerc, Lunge, Macdonald, Speaker's 'Commentary'.) Following the LXX. (
), Murphy explains it as meaning, "The determination of thy will shall be yielded to thy husband." According to the analogy of the two previous clauses, the precise import of this is expressed in the next, though by many it is regarded as a distinct item in the curse (Kalisch, Alford, Clarke, Wordsworth).
And he shall rule over thee
. Not merely a prophecy of woman's subjection, but an investiture of man with supremacy over the woman; or rather a confirmation and perpetuation of that authority which had been assigned to the man at the creation. Woman had been given him as an helpmeet (
), and her relation to the man from the first was constituted one of dependence. It was the reversal of this Divinely-established order that had led to the fall (
). Henceforth, therefore, woman was to be relegated to, and fixed in, her proper sphere of subordination. On account of her subjection to man's authority a wife is described as the possessed or subjected one of a lord (
; Deuteronomy 20:22), and a husband as the lord of a woman (
). Among the Hebrews the condition of the female sex was one of distinct subordination, though not of oppression, and certainly not of slavery, as it too often has been in heathen and Mohammedan countries. Christianity, while placing woman on the same platform with man as regards the blessings of the gospel (
), explicitly inculcates her subordination to the man in the relationship of marriage (
1 Peter 3:1
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
the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat
it all the days of thy life;
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.
, out of which man was taken (
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" (
Bushnell, 'Nature and the Supernatural,'
.); 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.
For thy sake
Because of thy sin it required to be such a world.
For thy good it was better that such a curse should lie upon the ground. Reading
, the LXX. translate
; and the Vulgate, In
(cf. ver. 16;
Shalt thou eat of it.
I.e. of its fruits (cf.
of sorrow" (
) is bread procured and eaten amidst hard labor.
All the days of thy life
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
Thorns also and thistles
. Terms occurring only here and in Hosed 10:8 = the similar expressions in
(Kalisch, Keil, Macdonald).
Shall it bring forth to thee
these shall be its spontaneous productions; if thou desirest anything else thou must labor for it.
And thou shalt eat the herb of the field
. "Not the fruit of paradise" (Wordsworth), but "the lesser growths sown by his own toil" (Alford) - an intimation that henceforth man was "to be deprived of his former delicacies to such an extent as to be compelled to use, in addition, the herbs which had been designed only for brute animals;" and perhaps also "
consolation," as if promising that, notwithstanding the thorns and thistles, "it should still yield him sustenance" (Calvin).
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
, and unto dust shalt thou return.
In the sweat of thy face
(so called, as having there its source and being there visible)
shalt thou eat bread
all food (
eat bread" is to possess the means of sustaining life (
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
as a relative pronoun -
cf. Gesenius, ' Lex. sub nom.,' who quotes this and
also Stanley Leathes, 'Hebrews Gram.,' p. 202; and 'Glassii Philologiae,' lib. 3. tr. 2, c. 15. p. 335. This use of
, however, appears to be doubtful, and is not necessary in any of the examples quoted.
And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
- Arraigned, convicted, judged, the guilty but pardoned pair prepare to leave their garden home - the woman to begin her experience of sorrow, dependence, and subjection; the man to enter upon his life career of hardship and toil, and both to meet their doom of certain, though it might be of long-delayed, death. The impression made upon their hearts by the Divine Clemency, though not directly stated by the historian, may be inferred from what is next recorded as having happened within the precincts of Eden ere they entered on their exile.
And Adam called
(not prior to the fall, reading the verb as a pluperfect (Calvin), nor after the birth of Cain, transferring the present verse to
(Knobel), but subsequent to the promise of the woman's seed, and preceding their ejection from the garden)
his wife's name Eve
chavvah = chayyah
, to live (cf. with the arganic rent
, &c., the fundamental idea being to breathe, to respire - Furst), is correctly rendered life - Work) by the LXX., Josephus, Philo, Gesenins, Delitzsch, Macdonald, &c. Lange, regarding it as an abbreviated form of the participle
, understands it to signify "the sustenance,
the propagation of life; while Knobel, viewing it as an adjective, hints at woman's peculiar function -
- to quicken seed (Genesis 19:82) as supplying the explanation. Whether appended by the narrator (Delitzsch, Lange) or uttered by Adam (Kalisch, Macdonald), the words which follow give its true import and exegesis.
Because she was the mother
(am - Greek,
; German and English, mama; - Gesenius)
of all living.
Of Adam's children, though in this respect she might have been so styled from the beginning; and
of all who should truly live in the sense of being the woman's seed, as distinguished from the seed of the serpent. In Adam's giving a second name to his wife has been discerned the first assertion of his sovereignty or lordship over woman to which he was promoted subsequent to the fall (Luther), though this seems to be negatived by the fact that Adam exercised the same prerogative immediately on her creation; an act of thoughtlessness on the part of Adam, in that, "being himself immersed in death, he should have called his wife by so proud a name" (Calvin); a proof of his incredulity (Rupertus). With a juster appreciation of the spirit of the narrative, modern expositors generally regard it as a striking testimony to his faith.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats
, to cover; cf.
, the skin of a man, from
, to be naked, hence a hide). Neither their bodies (Origen), nor garments of the bark of trees (Gregory Nazianzen), nor miraculously-fashioned apparel (Grotius), nor clothing made from the serpent's skin (R. Jonathan), but tunics prepared from the skins of animals, slaughtered possibly for food, as it is not certain that the Edenie man was a vegetarian (
), though more probably slain in sacrifice. Though said to have been made by God, "it is not proper so to understand the words, as if God had been a furrier, or a servant to sew clothes" (Calvin). God being said to make or do what he gives orders or instructions to be made or done. Willet and Macdonald, however, prefer to think that the garments were actually fashioned by God. Bush finds in the mention of Adam and his wife an intimation that they were furnished with different kinds of apparel, and suggests that on this fact is based the prohibition in
against the interchange of raiment between the sexes.
And clothed them.
To show them how their mortal bodies might be defended from cold and other injuries.
To cover their nakedness for comeliness' sake;
To teach them the lawfulness of using the beasts of the field, as for food, so for clothing.
To give a rule that modest and decent, not costly or sumptuous, apparel should be used.
That they might know the difference between God's works and man's invention - between coats of leather and aprons of leaves; and,
To put them in mind of their mortality by their raiment of dead beasts' skins - talibus indici oportebat peccatorem ut essent mortalitatis indi-cium: Origen" (Wilier).
"That they might feel their degradation - quia vestes ex ca materia confectae, belluinum quiddam magis saperent, quam lineae vel laneae - and be reminded of their sin" (Calvin). "As the prisoner, looking on his irons, thinketh on his theft, so we, looking on our garments, should think on our sins" (Trapp).
A foreshadowing of the robe of Christ's righteousness (Delitzsch, Macdonald, Murphy, Wordsworth, Candlish; cf.
Psalm 132:9, 16
). Bonar recognizes in Jehovah Elohim at the gate of Eden, clothing the first transgressors, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, as the High Priest of our salvation, had a right to the skins of the burnt offerings (
), and who, to prefigure his own work, appropriated them for covering the pardoned pair.
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 the Lord God said
(Calvin). But "irony at the expense of a wretched, tempted soul might well befit Satan, but not the Lord" (Delitzsch), and is altogether inconsistent with the footing of grace on which man was placed immediately upon his fall.
Behold, the man is become as one of us.
Not the angels (Kalisch), but the Divine Persons (cf.
). It is scarcely likely that Jehovah alludes to the words of the tempter (
To know good and evil
. Implying an acquaintance with good and evil which did not belong to him in the state of innocence. The language seems to hint that a one-sided acquaintance with good and evil, such as that possessed by the first pair in the garden and the unfallen angels in heaven, is not so complete a knowledge of the inherent beauty of the one and essential turpitude of the other as is acquired by beings who pass through the experience of a fall, and that the only way in which a finite being can approximate to such a comprehensive knowledge of evil as the Deity possesses without personal contact - can see it as it lies everlastingly spread out before his infinite mind - is by going down into it and learning what it is through personal experience (cf. Candlish,
And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.
On the meaning of the tree of life v/de
lest by eating of the fruit he should recover that immortal life which he no longer "it possessed (Kalisch), as is certain that man would not have been able, had he even devoured the whole tree, to enjoy life against the will of God" (Calvin); nor
lest the first pair, through participation of the tree, should confer upon themselves the attribute of
, which would not be the
of salvation, but its opposite, the
of the accursed (Keil, Lange, T. Lewis, Wordsworth); but either
lest man should conceive the idea that immortality might still be secured by eating of the tree, instead of trusting in the promised seed, and under this false impression attempt to take its fruit, which, in his case, would have been equivalent to an attempt to justify himself by works instead of faith (Calvin, Macdonald); or
lest he should endeavor to partake of the symbol of immortality, which he could not again do until his sin was expiated and himself purified (cf.
; Candlish). The remaining portion of the sentence is omitted,
or aposiopesis being not infrequent in impassioned speech (cf.
). The force of the ellipsis or expressive silence may be gathered from the succeeding words of the historian.
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Verses 23, 24.
the Lord God sent
in the Piel conveying the ideas of force and displeasure; cf.
1 Kings 9:7
him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground
the soil outside of paradise, which had been cursed for his sake)
whence he was taken
he drove out the man
(along with his guilty partner);
and he placed
(literally, caused to dwell)
at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim.
, like those of Persian and Egyptian mythology, which protected gold-producing countries like Eden; from
, to tear in pieces; Sanscrit,
; by metathesis for
, to ride (
; Gesenius, Lange).
"Beings who approach to God and minister to him," taking
cerub - karov
, to come near, to serve (Hyde).
The engravings or carved figures; from
(Syriac), to engrave (Taylor Lewis); from an Egyptian root (Cook,
Speaker's Commentary). Biblical notices describe them as living creatures (
) in the form of a man (
), with four (
; 2:23; 10:7, 8-21) or with six wings (
), and full of eyes (
); having each four faces, viz., of a man, of a lion, of an ox, of an eagle (
); or with one face each - of a man, of a lion, of a calf, and of an eagle respectively trey. 4:7). Representations of these
chay ath - LXX
were by Divine directions placed upon the Capporeth (
) and curtains of the tabernacle (
Exodus 26:1, 31
Exodus 36:8, 35
), and afterwards engraved upon the walls and doors of the temple (
1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35
). In the Apocalypse they are depicted as standing in the immediate neighborhood of the throne trey. 4:6; 5:6; 7:11), and as taking part in the acts of adoration and praise m which the heavenly hosts engage (
. 5:11), and that on the express ground of their redemption (
. 5:8, 9). Whence the opinion that most exactly answers all the facts of the case is, that these mysterious creatures were
not of the fullness of the Deity (Bahr), nor of the sum of earthly life (Hengstenberg), nor of the angelic nature (Calvin), nor of the Divine manhood of Jesus Christ (Wordsworth), but
of redeemed and glorified humanity
(Jamieson, Fairbairn, Macdonald, Candlish). Combining with the intelligence of human nature the highest qualities of the animal world, as exhibited in the lion, the ox, and the eagle, they were emblematic of creature life in its most absolutely perfect form. As such they were caused to dwell at the gate of Eden to intimate that only when perfected and purified could fallen human nature return to paradise. Meantime man was utterly unfit to dwell within its fair abode.
And a flaming sword,
which turned every way
the flame of a sword turning itself
; not brandished by the cherubim, but existing separately, and flashing out from among them (cf.
). An emblem of the Divine glory in its attitude towards sin (Macdonald).
(to watch over or guard; cf.
the way of the tree of life
keep the tree of life might imply that all access to it was to be precluded; but to keep
signifies to keep the way
as well as to keep it
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.
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