by Robert Brow    (

Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: 2004

Introduction | Genesis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12| 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30

31 | 32 | 33| 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41| 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50| PostScriptTable Of Contents:

Genesis 3:1 Genesis 3:14
Genesis 3:2-3 Genesis 3:15
Genesis 3:4 Genesis 3:16
Genesis 3:5 Genesis 3:17-18
Genesis 3:6 Genesis 3:19
Genesis 3:7 Genesis 3:20
Genesis 3:8-9 Genesis 3:21
Genesis 3:10-11 Genesis 3:22-23
Genesis 3:12-13 Genesis 3:24

GENESIS 3:1-5 (The Snake)

3:1 The Hebrew nakhash is the ordinary word for a snake. But this snake in the original garden is described as more aroum (crafty, prudent, subtle) than any other animal that God had made. It was viewed as lying in wait and its venom could kill. One might conceive of Eve fascinated by the swaying head of a cobra and wondering whether she should not try tasting the forbidden fruit (2:9, 17). Satanic temptation often begins with the question "Did God say?"

Whatever means may have been used, the New Testament names the source of the deception as Satan himself. "The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world." The purpose of the deception is to tempt and accuse. "The accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before God" (Revelation 12:10, 11, Job 1:9-11, see Word Thoughts SATAN).

And the intended satanic result is to plunge the person into guilt and despair. That turns us away from faith. As Paul explained, "I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to the Messiah." (2 Corinthians 11:3).

3:2-3 Eve answered by making God’s command more rigorous than he had intended.. God had said the evil fruit was not to be eaten (2:17) but Eve added the idea that the tree of evil should not even be touched. Adding rules to God’s simple invitation to faith, freedom and love is the root of the religious legalism which Paul had to resist (Galatians 3:2-5, 17-18, 5:1)

3:4 Having caught Eve in a discussion based on adding to God’s word, Satan took the opportunity to twist what God had said. In saying "You will not die" he was literally correct. Eve and her partner did not die physically from eating the forbidden fruit. But Eve should have known that what God had in mind was the spiritual death of this couple’s relationship with himself (see comment on 2:17).

3:5 This first encounter opened the way for Satan to deny the love of God. The Creator had made Eve in his image (1:27), but Satan suggested that God did not really want her to enjoy the freedom of being part of God’s family. He argued that the only way to be like God was to engage in evil (see 2:9). This is still a common reason for any deadly temptation. "You can never really be fulfilled till you have killed, tortured, raped, enslaved, been high on drugs, humiliated others, built a ruthless empire, or rejected God from your life."

3:6 As then, our modern world panders to the demands of our bodies, to all that delights our eyes, and to the longing to be viewed as better educated and wiser than others. And in each case when we succumb to one of these three forms of temptation we want our partner to share the false pleasure with us. There is a good desire for "wisdom from above that is pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy." But wisdom in the wrong sense is "earthly, unspiritual, devilish" (James 3:15-17) and it is sought as a means of becoming rich and powerful. Which is why John wrote "All that is in the world - the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches - comes not from the Father but from the world" (1 John 2:16)

3:7 We suggested that the metaphorical nakedness of having nothing to hide from one another is an essential part of a happy marriage (2:25). But when humans know that they have offended God by their behavior they first try to cover up what they have done. Sewing fig leaves together is a perfect metaphor for the futility of trying to hide wrong doing from one’s partner or from God. But when religions tries to be literal by making rules about clothing we are blinded to the psychological truth of the biblical imagery.

3:8-9 The next step in estrangement from one’s partner, or from God, is "hiding among the trees of the garden." When we feel guilty we may succeed in hiding from another human being. But hiding from God is never possible. God knows where we are and what we are doing (Psalm 139:7-12). His "Where are you?" is the first step in his longing to reestablish the contact we have broken. As Paul described his conversion before the angry crowd in Jerusalem he remembered the words "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 22:7). God of course knew exactly what was driving the vicious behavior, but the question helped Saul into faith. When King David tried to hide his adultery with the wife of one of his officers, he had him killed in battle. His restoration began when the prophet Nathan used a parable to bring him to see the enormity of what he was doing (2 Samuel 12:1-7).

3:10-11 Adam’s fear was not because he was physically naked, but because he was trying to hide from God (3:8). And the sin which he wanted to hide was eating the forbidden fruit (see comments on 2:9, 17; 3:3).

3:12-13 Instead of answering the question that God had asked him, Adam tried to blame his wife. And when she was questioned she blamed the snake in the garden.

3:14-19 (The Fall)

3:14 God outlined the results of the fall into sin for Satan (3:14-15), for women (3:16), and for males (3:17-19), and in all three cases the language is symbolic and/or metaphorical. Snakes were wisely listed by Moses as unfit for eating (Leviticus 11:42), but the LORD does not physically curse snakes among other reptiles. And they do not literally eat dirt - they feed on insects and small animals. It is Satan who is a curse to humans and hides in the grass to inject his venom into us..

3:15 Some snakes may be literally killed by being hit on the head, and they could strike at a bare foot in the grass. But "He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel" can only refer to the offspring of a particular woman. So this seems to be a first reference to the Messiah son of Mary’s defeat of Satan on the cross.

3:16 It is true that human women suffer birthpangs, and child rearing is very costly. It is also a fact that some men use their power to seduce, dominate, and enslave their partners. But Paul assumes that a loving mutuality is possible between Christian men and women (1 Corinthians 7:1-16).

3:17-18 Males are faulted for listening to their partners when they recommend turning engaging in a wrong direction (as with Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1.2, 9). Just as literal snakes are not cursed among other reptiles (3:14), there is no evidence that all arable land is cursed all over the world. What is true is that farming involves hard work, and land that is plowed and then neglected is quickly taken over by noxious weeds.

3:19 It is also a fact that most men have to work hard to earn their family food. And at death the human body we use for this life is disintegrated into the chemicals from which it was made.

Humanity was certainly changed by the consequences of Adam’s sin, and only Jesus the Messiah can correct this. "As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in the Messiah" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Paul defined what went wrong as a spiritual death. "Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all" (Romans 5:12, 15). We have noted this in the comments on Genesis 2:17 and 3:3-4.

Eminent theologians have added the explanation that the sin of Adam and Eve tainted and corrupted the heart of every child born into our world (see Word Thoughts ORIGINAL SIN). Some tell us that if a baby dies before being baptized it deserves to go to hell or limbo. Others say that the sin of Adam was imputed (reckoned and counted against) for all of humanity. But there is no hint of these theories in God’s explanation in this section of Genesis.

In this commentary we prefer to go with the fact that all humans sin and are imperfect. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And as a result they are spiritually dead till they are made alive by the Holy Spirit. "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus the Messiah" (Romans 6:23). "You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived." "Even when we were dead through our trespasses (not Adam’s sin), God made us alive together with the Messiah" (Ephesians 2:1, 5).

Genesis 3:20-21 (The restoration)

3:20 Adam had previously begun to name the mammals and birds (2:20). When he met his partner he had named her ishshaah (2:23) which is the feminine of ish meaning a male. Now, after their restoration, he names her khawwaah (life giver) as the mother of his children (3:20). For a man there is a huge psychological change from viewing a woman as his companion and sex partner to viewing her as the mother of his children. The failure to distinguish this basic difference is at the root of our modern confusion between having sex and a commitment to marriage.

3:21 As we have seen, every detail of what we call the fall (3:9-19) is given in symbolic and metaphorical language. Obviously clothing our original parents was nothing to do with prudery. The garments of skin can only have come as a result of animal sacrifice. Gathering to eat together to share in the death of an animal was part of the original religion of man (see 8:20; 12:8; 13:4, 18, set out more fully in Religion: Origins and Ideas, 1, 2). It expressed the idea that "this animal has died, and its blood has been shed, so that we can eat together and have fellowship with God." The fact that Adam and Eve the life-giver were now metaphorically clothed shows that the couple had accepted forgiveness and their restoration into fellowship with God.

The practice of eating together to share in an animal sacrifice is replaced in the New Testament by the communion service based on the sacrifice of the Messiah on the cross (as explained in Hebrews 9:11-22; 10:12-14).

3:22-23 The fact that God is a Trinity of three Persons is set out more fully in the New Testament. But by the words "one of us" God made clear from the beginning that the eternal oneness of God is a loving family oneness of persons in relation to one another. Obviously God could never love as a solitary mathematical digit.

We noted that the first humans were located in the safety of an enclosed garden (see 2:8). And it seems that in the beginning they were not subject to physical death.

Whereas God knew good and evil without the need or desire to sin, humans had now tasted the destructive power of evil by actually engaging in it. They were forgiven and restored (3:21), but having lost their perfect status they were expelled from the garden to face the hazards of the world outside.

3:24 The Cherubim were angelic beings whose task was to preserve human access to eternal life. They were symbolized by the two eagle like creatures with outstretched wings guarding the holiness of the ark in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:18-22; Hebrews 9:5).

The flaming and turning sword was a metaphoric symbol of the fact that sinful human beings in rebellion against the Messiah can never have access into God’s immediate presence. But this access was opened up for us by the death, resurrection, and giving of the Holy Spirit by Jesus the Son of God. "Since we are justified (put right) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus the Messiah, through whom we have obtained access into this grace which we stand" (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18, 3:12).

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