Jump to content


Photo

Genesis 1-2-3-4


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
104 replies to this topic

#41 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:32 PM

2:5a. And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew:

 

From this point on there is a marked difference of emphasis between this renewed account of creation and what has gone before. Now the emphasis is on man and his relationship to all that God has made.

 

The assertion is constantly made (by those who reject the divine authority of Genesis) that there is a sustained disharmony between the details of chapter 1 and those in chapter 2. The following five items are the main grounds for this over-confident pronouncement. It makes a useful exercise in careful Bible reading to seek out the answers provided by the text to these confident assertions.

 

1. Plants were created spontaneously (1:11). No, they grew out of the ground (2:5,9).

 

2. Man and woman were created together (1:27). No - in chapter 2 first the man and then the woman.

 

3. Man was appointed to “have dominion” (1:28). No, he was to till (Heb: serve) the ground (2:5).

 

4. Birds and beasts came before man (1:20,24). No, after man (2:19).

 

5. Birds emerged from the water (1:20). No, they were formed out of the ground (2:19).

 

In verse 5, an ambiguity regarding one Hebrew word presents the possibility of two translations quite different in meaning. AV follows LXX in reading “before” (as in 27:4; Ex. 1:19; Jer. 1:5). In that case verse 5a is a continuation of verse 4: “in the day that the Lord God created the earth and the heavens and every plant of the field before it was in the earth …..”

 

The other meaning is “not yet” (as in 1 Sam. 3:7; Ex. 10:7). In that case RV is correct: “And no plant was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up:,”



#42 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:35 PM

2:5b. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

 

Since there was no man to till the ground, at first the angels did it - and there was a remarkable crop: first, man, and then the garden (v.7,8); in the New Creation “Christ the firstfruits.” The idea is extended to those in Christ: “We (the apostles) are labourers together with God: ye (the believers) are God’s husbandry (i.e. tillage)” (1 Cor. 3:9). “He (Timothy) worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do” (16:10). “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought” (2 Jn. 8). These passages use the same LXX Greek word as in the verse under review. It is important for those in the New Creation to note that it was primarily for this purpose that the Man was made - to make things grow well, to the glory of God for his own sustenance and satisfaction.

 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Eph. 2:10).



#43 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:35 PM

2:6. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

 

Precise explanation of this apparently simple verse is difficult because of a double problem: (a) the meaning of the word “mist;” (b) the question whether or not there should be a carry over of the negative from verse 5.

 

The Hebrew word ‘ed comes in only one other place, where certainly it means ‘mist’ or ‘cloud’. But over against this not very considerable support is the fact that the identical word in Assyrian means a flood or inundation (see RSV margin); it is the technical term for the overflow of the waters of Euphrates (because of the melting of the Armenian snows).

 

The idea of a mist fits the physical geography of the Holy Land, where that has always been a summer phenomenon. But the idea of a river overflowing its banks fits Mesopotamia, where (as will be seen on v. 10-14) the Garden of Eden was most probably sited.

 

On the other hand, LXX has a word which means a well or a fountain, as in 2 Pet. 2:17; Jn 4:14; Rev. 21:6. This last passage - “the fountain of the water of life” - coming near the end of Revelation where there are copious allusions to Genesis 1-3, may well be intended as an allusion back to this place, thus interpreting it.

 

Next, the question of the possibility of an implied negative: “there went (not) up ...” This grammatical phenomenon of the word “not” carried over from the preceding sentence, crops up often enough in the Old Testament; e.g. Ps. 9:18 (note the italics); 75:5; Is. 38:18; Pr. 24:12; 25:27; 1 Sam. 2:3; and in the Heb. text: Ps. 26:9; Ex. 20:17; Dt. 7:25. So it is quite possible for the negative of Gen. 1:5 to carry over to v.6.

 

The most likely resolution of these ambiguities is, disallowing this negative: “there went up an inundation from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” If “mist” were to be insisted on, could it be said that it goes up from the earth? In a country like England, yes; but not from the dry soil of a Middle Eastern country. The negative probably has to be rejected, for otherwise there would be no means of subsistence for the creatures already made.



#44 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:36 PM

2:7. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.

 

In place of “created,” this record has “formed.” The Hebrew word described the action of a potter shaping clay. In what can only be regarded as a sustained allusion to Gen. 1:27; 2:7, Isaiah 45 repeats these key words: “I form the light, and create darkness ... I the Lord have created it. Woe to him that striveth with his Maker ... Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? ... I have made the earth, and created man upon it ...” (45:7-12); cp. also 64:8; 29:16. This figure of speech of the Almighty as “the former, the shaper, the potter” appealed to Isaiah. He passed it on to later prophets (Jer. 18:6; Zech. 12:1) and to Paul (Rom. 9:20-23). Zech. 12:1 makes direct allusion back to Genesis: “... the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundations of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.”

 

Man was not formed out of rock nor even out of the black fertile alluvial soil but from fine dry unstable useless red dust. Thus his feebleness was emphasized: Adam out of adamah. In fact, the emphasis is yet more strong, for the AV margin is correct here: “formed man, dust of the ground” - even when fashioned he was still basically dust, as was grimly emphasized yet again in the curse after the Fall (3:19). The other living creatures were made of the same material (2:19), but in their case there was no point in stressing the fact. But with Man, yes: “He knoweth our frame (our fashioning; s.w. Gen. 2:7); he remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14; cp. 119:25). So also Isaiah: “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of” (2:22).

 

This expression is used only with reference to Man. Even Genesis 7:21,22 is no exception: “All flesh died ... fowl, cattle, beast, creeping thing, and every man (all in whose nostrils was the breath of life), of all that was in the dry land, died.”

 

There can be no manner of doubt that the encounter of the Lord Jesus with his disciples after the resurrection was designed to recall and repeat the creation of Adam, for “he breathed on them, and said, Ye are receiving the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 20:22). The divine kiss of life which made Adam into a living man was now imparted to the New Man in Christ. In him the Twelve were the beginning of God’s New Creation (cp. also Acts 2:2).

 

Is there also the same idea in the Lord’s making clay and anointing the eyes of the blind man with it? (Jn. 9:6,7). Was he intimating by acted parable that in his blindness the man was as one dead, and needing Christ to bring him the Light of Life?

 

N’shamah, breath of life, is very commonly associated with the power of God in action (Job 4:9; 33:4; 37:10; Ps. 18:15; Is. 30:33; 57:16). It is doubtful if any distinction is to be made between “breath” and “spirit,” for in a clear allusion to this place Ecclesiastes 12:7 uses the second term in place of the first: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit (ruach) shall return to God who gave it.” The key to an understanding of this last phrase lies in the word “return,” which clearly means going back to the original place. But no man has any memory of an earlier existence in heaven before his birth. Then the spirit, the life-power in man, can and does return to God without any continuation of conscious existence in heaven.

 

Kidner (Tyndale Commentary) bids his reader “note that man neither has a soul, nor has a body.” He is both. But it needs always to be remembered that “living soul” describes both man and animal (1:30 margin). The expression simply means “a living creature,” nothing more.

 

In the New Testament the broad distinction between “soul” and “spirit” is that “soul” has reference to the natural man and his natural inclinations, whereas “spirit” describes the new man in Christ and the outlook which characterizes his new life (e.g. Heb. 4:12; 1 Th. 5:23; Lk. 12:19,20; Jn. 12:27; Gal. 3:2,3,5; 5:16-22).

 

The question is often raised: Was Adam created mortal or immortal? Important theological conclusions have rather foolishly been made to depend on the answer supplied. (As though an incorrect answer to such a question could invalidate a man’s Christian baptism!).

 

Clearly Adam was not immortal, or he would still be alive. The glib answer not infrequently heard: “Neither mortal nor immortal, but very good” is meaningless, for (a) “very good” is far too vague to be useful, without further definition; (b) every living being in the universe is either mortal or immortal, for the two states are mutually exclusive. “Mortal” means “subject to death” (OED), and Paul’s handling of this passage in 1 Corinthians 15 declares emphatically that Adam was created mortal (but of course with an opportunity of being sustained in being indefinitely until his Maker either made him immortal or condemned him to the grave. More on this on 2:16).

 

Paul’s sustained antithesis (in 1 Cor. 15:42-49) between the natural man and the resurrection life is very striking:

 

Sown in corruption.   

 

 

 

Raised in glory.

 

Sown in weakness.     

 

 

 

Raised in power.

 

Sown a natural body. 

 

 

 

Raised a spiritual body.

 

The first man Adam was made a living soul.

 

 

 

The last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

 

The first man is of the earth, earthy (lit. of dust; 2:6).

 

 

 

The second man is the Lord from heaven.

 

As we have borne the image of the earthy.

 

 

 

We shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

 

 

Here every phrase in the first column describes the weakness of mortality, and one of its expressions is the statement of Genesis 2:7 about Adam when he was created. Then what did Paul understand about Adam’s primeval condition?

 

The conclusion just reached is strongly supported by the simple fact that both animals and Adam are described as “living souls” - and there is no possibility of doubt that the animals were created mortal, dying creatures. (But by all means see the further comment on 2:16,17).



#45 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:37 PM

2:8. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden: and there he put the man whom he had formed.

 

The words are often read as though the name of the garden was Eden, but in fact the language requires that Eden be a larger area, part of which was made into a garden of the Lord (see v.10). The actual site of the garden will be discussed later (v.10-14).

 

“Eastward in Eden” might mean “in the eastern part of Eden,” but more probably it means “to the east, from the point of view of the compiler of this record.” If Moses was busy on this when he was in Midian or Sinai, then there is support here for the common identification with the plain of south Mesopotamia, and difficulty for the also popular suggestion that Eden was in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

 

Eden is a Hebrew word meaning delight, and for this reason it crops up as a Biblical name related to more than one area; e.g. near Damascus (Amos 1:5), Lebanon (Ez. 31:16,18), and somewhere unidentified in Mesopotamia (2 Kgs. 19:12).

 

In support of an identification of Eden with part of southern Mesopotamia, Eden is equated with a Sumerian word which describes that plain (HBD).

 

The garden was later called Paradise, a name which has been confidently derived from a Persian word for a park (Neh. 2:8; Ecc. 2:5; S:S.4:13), but it could with equal probability be seen as a combination of two Hebrew words meaning fruitful of herbs.

 

The New Testament occurrences of the word are interesting. Rev. 2:7 is straightforward: ‘the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” But why, when the dying malefactor asked to be remembered in Christ’s kingdom, was he promised paradise? The two are obviously intended as equivalents. But why the change?

 

If, as seems almost certain, the malefactor was a renegade disciple, one of those who had wanted to make Jesus king after the feeding of the five thousand, mention of paradise would remind him of how, like Adam, he had lost his paradise (Jesus, the tree of life), but would yet know its joy much more fully. It is perhaps relevant also to mention that at the feeding of the multitude the people are described as “garden plots” (companies; Mk. 6:39).

 

Paul’s mysterious reminiscence of how he was “caught up (away) to the third heaven ... to paradise” (2 Cor. 12:2,4) is more difficult. A hint comes from his allusion to the sanctuary of the Lord: “that the power of Christ may tabernacle upon me” (v.9), for in several places the temple appears to be referred to as heaven (1 Kgs. 8:30; 2 Chr. 30:27; Ps. 20:6,2; 11:4; Heb. 7:26), with the Holy of Holies, the third and innermost part of the Sanctuary, as “the third heaven.”

 

The clear implication of the text of verse 8 is that Adam was made from the red unfertile soil, and was then installed in the supra-fertile garden (of black soil). What symbolism is intended by this?

 

“The man whom he had formed” is in sharp contrast with the next verse: “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree ...,” and also: “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind ...” (1:24). Thus in advance Genesis anticipates and disallows evolution.



#46 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:38 PM

2:9 “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

 

The trees mentioned here were probably a fresh creation, special for the garden. Certainly the two specified trees were; and it is easier to read this verse as additional to 1:12, not merely a repetition of it.

 

Both trees were “in the midst of the garden,” and therefore, probably, within a short distance of each other - one of them forbidden, and the other (as will be argued from v.16) permitted along with the rest. Their proximity would make the test of obedience all the more explicit: This tree, but not that one! “The tree of life was designed to sustain and refresh the life infused into man at his creation” (Wordsworth).

 

Peter refers to our Lord as being “hanged on a tree” (Acts 10:39; 1 Pet. 2:24). But it wasn’t a tree, it was dead wood - but dead wood now become a tree of life, with flowers and fruit, like Aaron’s rod. And whereas Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge, those in Christ are commanded to eat of the tree of life. “Do this in remembrance of me” - “Take, eat; this is my body” (Mt. 26:26).

 

Scripture encourages its reader to think of the tree of life as an almond tree, for the candlestick in the sanctuary of the Lord (Ex. 25:31ff) was clearly intended to be seen as a tree - the tree of life. It had a trunk, branches, buds, flowers, calyxes, and fruit - and its fruits were almonds. Also, Aaron’s rod that budded, a dead stick come to life again (and thus obviously a branch of the Tree of Life), “bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds” (Num. 17:8). Is it for natural reasons or because of Aaron’s rod that the almond is called “the awakener” (shōqēd)? - no true life without resurrection.

 

But if the tree of life in Eden was an almond, it was a very special almond, for in the creation of fruit trees (1:12) almonds were certainly included.

 

In the rest of Genesis a surprising prominence is given to trees (12:6RV; 13:18; 18:1; 21:33; 35:4,8). Was an effort being made by the patriarchs to keep alive the ancient tradition about the tree of life, and the hope of renewed access to it? 35:8 is specially significant from this angle.

 

The rabbis indentified the tree of knowledge as a vine, which more than any other tree has certainly been fruitful of a vast amount of both good and evil. And there seem to be Biblical reasons to support this conclusion.

 

But the phrase: “knowledge of good and evil” requires more far-reaching reference than this. All kinds of guesses have been made; e.g.

 

a. A figure of speech (called oxymoron) for ‘the seeming good which is really evil.’ But even allowing this, there is still a lack of definition.

 

b. An idiom for “the tree of all knowledge”; cp. 2 Sam. 14:17,20. This helps to explain reference of the same phrase to the angels (3:22). There are similar comprehensive expressions in Dt. 29:15; 32:36.

 

c. Or is there here a ‘genitive of relation,’ meaning: a tree about which there was a law of obedience and disobedience. But in that case, use of the same expression regarding the angels (3:22) would strongly imply that they too had been earlier subjects of a similar probation to that of Adam. If that possibility can be accepted, this could be the simplest and most satisfactory of the suggestions listed here.

 

d. Dr. Thomas had the definite opinion (Elpis. 68,93) that sexual knowledge is referred to. Certainly, both good and evil. In that case, eating of the tree of knowledge offered a different kind of immortality from that of the tree of life - living on in succeeding generations. This became the belief of the Sadducees (Mt. 22:24 uses the word for ‘resurrection’). The difficulty about this view is that the place of sex in human life was blessed by God when man and woman were made (1:28). And repeatedly the New Testament sanctifies Christian marriage as a holy thing, a sacrament. Yet, would not sex as the fruit of the first sin imply the opposite?

 

e. Knowledge from Nature and experiment rather than from God - good knowledge which is evil because of its mode of acquisition and its effects on the human mind. The pursuit of science has been precisely this. Eve followed this method - “after observation and reasoning, try it and see” (3:5,6).



#47 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:42 PM

2:10-14 “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

 

There is, then, a river of life as well as a tree of life. But it is not so called here because it is more specifically a river of life for the garden rather than for the people in it. This theme of a river in Paradise Restored is much emphasized in the prophecies: Rev. 22:1; Zech. 14:8; Ez. 47:1ff; Ps. 36:8; 46:4.

 

This river (the place of its rising is not specified) flows through the Eden territory surrounding the garden, and so through the garden itself. The phrasing seems to require that after leaving the garden it sub-divides into four branches (“heads”). This suggests the idea of a delta.

 

Since two of the four streams are given the names of specific well-known rivers - Euphrates and Tigris (Hddekel) - location of the garden must be in lower Mesopotamia.

 

There have been determined, but ill-judged, attempts to site Eden and the garden in the vicinity of Jerusalem. When it is pointed out that Tigris and Euphrates are hundreds of miles from the Holy Land, the rejoinder is made: “But the Flood would later bring all kinds of alterations in geographical configuration.” Maybe! But such an argument, with its vast importation of unknown quantities, is not argument or evidence but pure supposition. Would not Moses write of the rivers as he knew them to be in his own time? It is suggested, then, that the most likely - though not certain - identification of Eden is as in the sub-joined diagram:
 

HAWEdenBW.jpg

 



#48 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:43 PM

It is true that Babylonian legend concurs in this location of the garden. But in this instance it is to be expected. So no special weight is to be attached to such a fact, pro or con.

 

The four branches of the delta would naturally enough take their names from the four rivers. It is known that through silting up the delta has moved some 70 or 80 miles further to the south-east from where it once was. (Ur of the Chaldees, now a long way inland, was once a seaport).

 

The early church was fond of comparing the four rivers of Eden to the four gospels, four sources of fertility, making the garden nurtured by Christ marvellously fruitful. In view of the many examples already encountered (and with more to come) of New Testament insistence on deeper meanings in the details of the creation story, who shall say that this instance is far-fetched?

 

The details given about the rivers are full of interest but by no means without uncertainty. However, none of them seems to conflict with the identification suggested.

 

The purpose of “watering the garden” is not easy to harmonize with earlier mention (v.6) of a mist watering the ground. If that passage is intended to have a negative carried over from the previous verse, as suggested earlier, then the implication would be: In Eden there was no night mist as in Israel, but there was a river and its branches.

 

Pison and Gihon are unidentifiable with any degree of certainty. The former, “compassing the whole land of the Havilah” was probably a river flowing (in the rainy seasons) out of N. Arabia, being a recognized boundary of “the sandy land.” Pison may mean “spreading out,” possibly in the sense of getting lost at times in the sand. Havilah occurs more than once as a geographical term (Gen. 10:7; 25:18; 1 Sam. 15:7) appropriate to several “sandy lands.” There is Bible evidence of some sources of gold in N. Arabia (Num. 31:52; Jud. 8:26; Josh. 7:21) in ancient days. Evidently it was found in nuggets: “the gold of that land is good.”

 

“Authorities” differ markedly about the identification of bdellium. Josephus (Ant. 3.1.6) says it was an aromatic gum from N. Arabia; and it is argued that the Hebrew text, carefully attaching the word “stone” to “onyx,” by that very fact implies that bdellium was not a precious stone. Even so, LXX took it to be a black or crystalline precious stone. The alternative “beryl” (RVm) could well be correct, for it needs only the (very frequent) confusion between D and R in Hebrew to give the word for beryl. Another suggestion is that “pearls” are intended.

 

The fact that Gihon “borders the whole land of Ethiopia” has led to dogmatic equation with the Nile. This is an absurd conclusion, for how could the Nile have any confluence with Euphrates and Tigris? Also, there is the oversight that the original name Cush (=black) applies in Scripture not only to Ethiopia, the land of black people, but also to Midian, the land of black tents (Hab. 3:7), and to Elam, the land of black mountains (Is. 11:11), where the Kassites lived. AV has been influenced by LXX which, made in Egypt, naturally took Cush to be Ethiopia. Almost certainly, a river flowing from Elam is intended. Gihon means “bursting forth,” so probably one should look for a river which emerges from a gorge between the mountains.

 

Hiddekel, “the great river” (Dan. 10:4) is certainly the Tigris, as the mention of Asshur shows. Hid is said to be a Babylonian word for “river”, but an attempt at Hebrew significance would make the name mean “the great thorn river” (with reference to some of the territory it flows through?).

 

“Towards the east of Assyria” (AV) is an impossible reading. But “that which goeth east, or in front of, Asshur (the ancient capital of Assyria)” is quite likely.

 

It is noteworthy that no details at all are given about Euphrates - for the very simple reason that in the time of Moses there was familiar knowledge of that great river, even in Egypt.



#49 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:43 PM

2:15 “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”

 

There is further indication here that Adam was made of sterile red clay outside the garden (v.8; 3:23). It is implied that the angel of the Lord (or, angels) led Adam (whom he had formed; LXX) into the garden to introduce him to a life of unalloyed pleasure there. The garden was already in superb condition - Adam inherited it from angelic gardeners!

 

Although this verse is practically a repetition of verse 8, the Hebrew word for “put” is different. There it means just that: “put”. But here the meaning is: “comforted, cause to rest” (cp. 5:29).

 

So, although words meaning “serve, work” (3:23) and also “guard” are used, there is no suggestion of servitude or hard drudgery. LXX neatly turns the first word to imply: “work for his own benefit or pleasure.” And since “garden” implies cultivation, it would be necessary to protect the garden plots from invasion by birds or animals intent (naturally enough) on using the garden as their paradise.

 

Even so, although the garden was Adam’s, it was not his simply for indolence or self-indulgence. So also in Christ: those who “labour to enter into his rest” (as a present experience) do so by recognizing that there is useful work to be done, and due vigilance necessary, and all of it satisfying: 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14 (4:15).



#50 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:44 PM

2:16,17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

 

Adam was the first creature God had made endowed with a will of his own, with the power of choice to do this or that. A test of obedience was necessary, to show that Adam purposed fully to submit himself to the will of his Maker: “To this man will I look, even to him ... that trembleth at my word” (Is. 66:2).

 

Of course, God could have made a remarkably clever robot, more clever than the electronic chess-players man has himself devised. But what glory would there have been to God in that, compared with the honour given Him through devout and humble obedience rendered by a being with a mind and will of his own?

 

The law imposed on Adam was a very simple trial by abstinence - from which it may surely be inferred that it is a good thing for a man to learn to say “no” to his natural inclinations, including also those about which there is no law.

 

“Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat,” except the tree of knowledge, fairly plainly implies that eating of the tree of life was not forbidden. This consideration leads to an interesting sequence of ideas:

 

a. Adam was made mortal:

 

(i) for he was certainly not made immortal;

(ii) like the animal she was made “a living soul”(1:30; 2:7);

(iii) the sequence of antitheses in 1 Cor. 15:42-50 (see p.33) makes Gen. 2:7 (v45) equivalent to “natural body”

 

b. Since, in Rev. 22:2, “the leaves of the tree (of life) are for the healing of the (mortal) nations,” it is reasonable to suppose that during his probation Adam’s mortality was kept in abeyance by his eating of the leaves of that tree.

 

c. But if there had been fruit, since he had license to eat of that tree he would have eaten it also.

 

d. But this would have endowed him with immortality (Rev. 2:7).

 

e. Therefore it may be inferred that during his probation there was no fruit on the tree.

 

f. But, according to the picture of paradise restored (in Rev. 22:2), there was a monthly fruit-bearing.

 

g. Therefore Eve and Adam broke the commandment within the first month of their probation. (For reasons not known, the rabbis somehow deduced within six hours).

 

Since God said: “Of every tree thou mayest freely eat,” it may perhaps be inferred that in this state of primeval innocence there was no need for the growing and processing of crops. That was to come later (3:18,19).

 

It is interesting to note that apparently the law imposed on Adam came before he was provided with “a help meet for him.” So it would seem that from the beginning the man was intended to be the teacher and guide of his wife. And this he evidently did very faithfully (3:2,3).

 

Indeed, it ought to be inferred from Eve’s first response to the serpent that the prohibition here in verse 17 was accompanied also by an angelic word of warning: “neither shall ye touch it, lest you die.” The assumption often made, that Eve set herself on the slippery slope by distorting the original divine command, is really not warranted.



#51 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:45 PM

There was, of course, wisdom in this added warning, for assuredly the best way to defeat temptation is to keep as far away from it as possible. If needful for Adam, who had no fallen nature to incline him to disobedience, how much more needful for his descendants who have?

 

Also, by this commandment Adam was being taught to mistrust his own intelligence, for he might well have reasoned: This garden has been prepared for me. It is all very good. Then why should I not eat of that tree also?’ And the only reason was that, whether Adam understood or he didn’t, God forbad it.

 

LXX turns the singular pronouns in this passage into plurals - with reference to the man and the woman. Was the change made in order to emphasize that the woman also was a sinner and not her husband only?

 

The command was quite explicit: “Thou shalt not;” and so also was the enunciation of the penalty: “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

 

The words mean just what they say in the AV text. And the word “die” would be clearly understood, for from the very first, the cycle of life and death in the lower creatures (Ps. 49:20) would be part of Adam’s experience and comprehension (and angelic education).
 

But when the sin was committed, Adam and his wife did not die in the very day in which they ate. Quite a variety of explanations who have been advanced to cope with this problem:

 

a. They died spiritually. If by this is meant that their essential nature was changed, this is true. From the time of the Fall human nature has been sullied with a humanly incurable bent towards evil. Every innocent little baby grows up to be a naughty child, a self-willed teenager, a chronic moribund sinner.

 

But is this what the words meant? They seem to be intended in a strictly literal sense.

 

b. In ‘Elpis Israel,’ p.69, 4th ed., Dr. Thomas translates the Hebrew words literally: “dying thou shalt die” (see AV mg.), and reads this as meaning that a gradual process of dying began from the moment of disobedience. However, this misses the force of the Hebrew idiom, for this form of expression, very common in Old Testament Hebrew, is simply an emphatic way of saying, as AV: “thou shalt surely die;” e.g. in v.16: “eating thou shalt eat;” and in 3:16: “multiplying I will multiply.” Accordingly C.C.W. has added a footnote of correction on that p.69.

 

c. The rabbis have gone in for some characteristic juggling.

 

One school of thought speculates: ‘In mercy God submitted one of his own days (1000 years; Ps. 90:4) for one man’s. But when it was revealed to Adam that in years to come David would die in the day of his birth, he gladly gave up 70 of his 1000 years. So Adam died at 930, and David 70!

 

Alternatively: “‘In the day” has reference to the day of the week. Adam was created on Friday, and sinned on Friday (the same?), and died, 930 years later, on Friday.’ Judaism was capable of even such childishness.

 

d. The penalty was conditional. Adam repented, and therefore the punishment was modified.

 

This is the correct explanation as will be shown later in this commentary (see on 3:20,21).

 

Jonah’s message was: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (3:4). But because of repentance this apparently unconditional threat was not fulfilled. Nineveh lasted for more than a century after Jonah.

 

There are many examples of this principle at work (see Appendix in “Revelation: a Biblical approach,” by H.A.W.)



#52 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:46 PM

2:18 “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him”.

 

In the midst of a wonderful creation Adam was palpably alone and lonely, a state that is not good for any man. So, as in 1:26, there was a carefully thought-out plan to provide him with the society he needed. “Let us make” here becomes “I will make.” But three of the ancient versions repeat the plural form of 1:26. And since this is the only place in these early chapters where the divine pronoun is singular, it looks very much as though the versions are to be followed.

 

There seems to be a studied vagueness about the AV: “help meet for him” (there is no reason to hyphenate into “help-meet” or “help-mate”). But there is ambiguity about the Hebrew also: before him, in the front of him, close to him, corresponding to him; all of these are possible. But if there is here any hint of sex, it is fairly well hidden.

 

It has been argued from these words, and a careful ignoring of 1 Cor. 7:32,33, that all men ought to marry (and presumably, all women). But can it be truly said of a man in Christ that he is ever alone, even when without a wife (or the woman without a husband)?

 

God carefully provided that the second Adam should not be alone: “He that hath sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone” (Jn. 8:29). Just as the prime function of Eve was to be a help to her husband, so also during the Lord’s ministry there were women who gladly “ministered unto him of their substance” (Lk. 8:3), and also in the end of his ministry Martha provided practical help in the hospitality of her home, and Mary gave the understanding and encouragement which Jesus valued even more (Lk. 10:38-42; Jn. 12:2,3).

 

A none-too-easy problem arises as to how the record here (v. 18-23) is to be reconciled with 1:26-28. If indeed the “days” of chapter 1 are meant to be longer periods, there is of course no difficulty. But how to include the whole of 2:7-23 in the space of 24 hours is not easy, but neither is it outrageously impossible.



#53 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:46 PM

2:19-20 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field: but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

 

The natural way to read this text is as signifying that the animals were made after Adam, and LXX supports this. But it is agreed that the meaning could be: “the Lord God had already made ....” Is it possible that there was a further creation of animals, as of trees, special for the garden?

 

Naturally there is no mention of fishes or creeping things, for the point of this exercise was, in the main, to demonstrate to Adam that there was as yet nothing in all God’s wonderful creation with which he could share fellowship. A man can find pleasure in making a pet of an animal or a bird but not of a fish or a creepy-crawly. With hindsight, and fuller knowledge of God’s purpose in Christ it is possible to recognize that the main intention behind creation was fellowship. Barriers to fellowship are therefore to be erected only when God demands such action, as in the expulsion from Eden, and from the Holy Land.

 

Is it necessary to assume that the angels led (LXX) to Adam all the enormous variety of creatures already made? A wide and diverse selection, those living in the garden, would surely suffice to demonstrate to Adam’s high intelligence (no Neanderthal low-brow!) that amidst them all he was really alone (apart from his occasional fellowship with the angels). The animals learned that Adam was their master, made to have dominion (Ps. 8:6), and in turn he was impressed with their essential inferiority. Thus, one of Adam’s first school subjects (though not the first) was zoology.

 

The names were given (in Hebrew? v.20) according to the character of each. It makes an interesting exercise to trace correspondences between the Hebrew names for various animals and the meaning of their Hebrew roots.

 

God Himself had named Day and Night, Heaven and Earth and the stars (Is. 40:26), and Man. But those specifically under man’s dominion were to be named by him (including v.23). In the New Creation the Second Adam is content to concentrate his attention on sheep - “he calleth his own sheep by name” (Jn. 10:3).

 

The angels led the creatures to Adam “to see what he would call them.” Always in the early chapters of Genesis, and indeed in nearly every occurrence (out of hundreds) of this Hebrew word, the meaning is ‘to see with the naked eye’ not ‘to perceive, with the understanding.’ So it seems scarcely outrageous to read this passage as implying that Adam not only invented names for the animals but also wrote them down.

 

In harmony with this is the literal reading of the Hebrew text: “But for Adam he (i.e. God) did not find a help meet for him.” The exercise was fully successful. Not only did Adam recognize that he was without a true partner, but his Maker also took knowledge of his human consciousness of a great loneliness. 



#54 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:47 PM

2:21,22 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, he made a woman, and brought her unto the man.

 

Jeremiah had a vision of paradise restored, and as part of it “the Lord created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man. Upon this I awakened, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me” (31:22,24-26). This, assuredly, was Adam’s experience in and after his “deep sleep.”

 

And why was Eve made from a rib? Because a rib is the only bone (strictly, cartilage) which when removed will grow again. So Adam was not thereafter a man with an uneven number of ribs. Christ also lost nothing by his sacrifice and saving work.

 

And she was made from a rib taken from Adam’s side, not from his head that she might be his superior, nor from his feet that she might be trampled on at will, but that she might be his equal - and taken from near his heart that she might be cherished.

 

An interesting rabbinic comment is the following: “Woman is strong by nature, because she was created of bone; but man is weak by nature, because he was created of earth, and earth is weak.” But how correct?

 

The word “rib” means also “side,” and that is where a man’s wife is always to be. Out of forty occurrences (approx.) of the Hebrew word well over thirty of them refer to the side of the sanctuary of the Lord.

 

This was appropriate, for Jesus was “the Sanctuary which the Lord pitched, and not man”; and in death his side (Jn. 19:34, s.w. LXX) was pierced, to become the symbol of life (“blood and water”) for those whom the Lord God brings to him.

 

Also, it is implied that with the rib the Creator also took flesh adhering to it, for Adam said: “This is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” This too is appropriate, for in the New Testament there is much emphasis on our Lord truly sharing human nature - “flesh” - with all its weakness and propensities to self-will.

 

The New Testament also makes much of this fact that Adam was created first, and Eve from him: “For the man is not out of the woman, but the woman out of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.” The relative status of man and woman in the ecclesia is made to depend on this argument (but not on this only).

 

Again, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over her husband ... For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:12,13) - and again this is reinforced by the ensuing verses.

 

This essential difference notwithstanding, marriage is for fellowship, and specially fellowship in godliness. There is no word said here about the woman’s sex or her bearing of children. She is valued for her own self. “Whoso findeth a wife, such a wife, findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” (Pr. 18:22).

 

It is only such a wife who can fulfil the type woven so sensitively into this narrative.

 

Yet, with all these designed resemblances, there is one marked contrast: “The Lord hath created (bará) a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man (gibbōr Is. 9:6)” (Jer. 31:22). God’s New Creation begins with a Redeemer brought forth out of a woman (Gen. 3:15), and not conversely, as before.



#55 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:47 PM

Adam’s rib was not made but “built” (Heb.) into a woman, as though she were to be not only a human being but also a temple: “In him all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21,22). “Then had the churches rest ... and were edified, built up (s.w. LXX)” (Acts 9:31).

 

Paul surely thought of the early church in just this way: “Ye are God’s husbandry (Adam), ye are God’s building (Eve)” (1 Cor. 3:9).

 

The fashioning of Eve was not done there in Adam’s presence, but in his absence whilst he communed with angels, for “the Lord God (this is God’s Covenant Name, the Name which enshrines His Purpose) brought her unto the man.” Here was the Father giving away the Bride. “She (the Bride of Christ) shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework” (Ps. 45:14) - not in the nakedness of innocence, because this Bride has not been accepted by her Lord in paradise but as one at first alien to it, so she must needs be clothed with garments of righteousness. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, comes down from God, brought by Him, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2). “Behold, the Bridegroom! Come ye forth to meet him” (Mt. 25:6). “And them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring (to him to be) with him” (1 Th. 4:14).

 

And now (a sharp contrast of a different sort) consider the supposed resemblances of this Genesis story to the Assyrian-Babylonian creation epic:

 

There is a watery chaos. The sun, moon, and stars are made after light, but before plants and animals. There is a paradise naturally irrigated.

 

So far the details are right. But then:

 

Man is made of clay and blood (soul?). His wife is called Nin-ti (which is said to mean ‘lady of the rib’ or else ‘lady who makes alive; cp. Eve). A curse follows the eating of a plant, but thereafter child birth is without pain or travail.

 

Which account, one wonders, is the original, and which the distortion?



#56 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:48 PM

2:23 “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

 

There is almost a gasp of relief between “there was formed a help meet for him” and this use of “now.” After increasing conviction that there was no creature yet made to match himself, Adam is able to say: “At last! (RSV) this (fem.) is now bone of my bones.” The Hebrew phrase might even imply: “a step forward!”

 

Since the fashioning of the rib was done whilst Adam was in a deep sleep, and away from him, he would only know that she was made out of himself when angels of the Lord told him. It is another hint that he did not need a tree of knowledge.

 

From this earliest time “my bone and my flesh” became a well-established idiom for the closest possible relationship - used, for example, by the as yet unaffiliated tribes of Israel when they asked David to be king over them all (2 Sam. 5:1).

 

It is another hint of the type so vividly presented in Genesis where the Bride of the Second Adam comes into existence only through his experience of the sleep of death and a fashioning out of the same “flesh and bones as ye see me have” (Lk. 24:39). No passage emphasizes this essential, vitally essential, truth more than does Hebrews 2:14.

 

Some pernickety grammarians try to insist that there is no connection between the Hebrew words for Man and Woman, but this verse positively insists on the link between the two words being recognized. But the blithe assumption that Ishah means ‘out of Ish’ simply cannot be sustained, for it has in it no hint of “out of.”

 

There are two possibilities:

 

a. that the - ah is just an ordinary feminine suffix, just as “this” also is feminine;

 

b. that this is an example of what is known as He locale; e.g. Hebrew for Egypt is Mitzraim, and Mitzaimah means “into or towards Egypt;” thus, Ishah means the very opposite of “out of Man”? and was it not intended that her whole life should be devoted to his well-being? The type of Christ and his Bride fills out the idea.

 

But why did Adam call himself Ish and not Adam (the one who was made from adamah and was destined to return to it)? It is difficult to be sure. But one possibility is through connection with the word yesh, a kind of emphatic positive, as though meaning, when applied to Adam “I very definitely am.” If this is correct, it is an expression of a newly-dawned conviction (after his systematic inspection of the animals) that he and he only possessed personality and self-consciousness; by contrast they were entirely creatures of instinct.



#57 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:48 PM

2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

 

Clearly these are not Adam’s words. Jesus says explicitly that they are God’s words (Mt. 19:4,5). There could be no better vindication of the inspiration of the creation record. This verse must be part of a divine revelation made after the birth of children, for until then the mention of father and mother would be meaningless.

 

In all generations this truth about marriage must stand. In modern times it is not at all unknown for parents to be so possessive (usually a mother for her son) as to create strains in a marriage which needs no added problems.

 

The spiritual meaning of this forsaking of parents is both simple and eloquent. All who become affianced to Christ must be ever ready to give first loyalty to this divine Husband. Yet just as the commandment to honour father and mother still stands for the married as for the unmarried, the one joined to Christ is not called upon to live a hermit life without any kind of physical contact with the world. The dissociation from the old life is essentially an attitude of mind. It is thus that a man can be “in the world,” but not “of the world.”

 

The Bride of Christ is commanded: “Forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord” (Ps. 45:10,11).

 

The man is bidden “cleave” to his wife, and of course she to him. In Eden it would be unnatural not to do so. And so always, argued Jesus when asked by the Pharisees about divorce: “Have ye not read (here is a brusque ‘Go home and read your Bible!’), that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Mt. 19:4, i.e. one man and one woman - then was divorce and re-marriage part of the divine intention when God first made our race?

 

And the word “cleave” (Mt. 19:5) means, very literally, to be glued together. So when the psalmist declares fervently: “I have stuck (s.w.) unto thy testimonies” (Ps. 119:31), he means: “Lord, I am wedded to thy Word.” And when Solomon “clave in love” to his many women he was debasing the true idea of marriage and also himself (1 Kgs. 11:2). It is not easy to reconcile with this stark fact about him the many contemptuous references in Proverbs to “the strange woman.” Every woman who is not a true wife is to be reckoned a stranger. Adam had other ribs, but there was no move in Eden to provide him with other women, not even after Eve had failed him.

 

In this passage the Hebrew text seems to be definitely defective, for LXX reads: “they twain shall be one flesh.” Other versions also have this reading. But what is utterly decisive is that both Jesus and Paul quote the passage thus (Mt. 19:5; 1 Cor. 6:16) the former using the words as a final authority against divorce, and the latter in an equally strong passage against fornication. And to this day that word “twain” forbids multiple marriages, even though spiritual giants like Abraham and Jacob and David took more than one wife. Such saints must all have known the divine principle in Genesis: one man, one woman. The unprotesting grace of God regarding this is something to marvel at.

 

The emphasis on “one flesh” stresses that marriage without a physical union is not a marriage. But also, by implication it disallows any kind of promiscuity. Can a man or a woman be “one flesh” with more than one other? The logic of the situation requires that an act of fornication automatically puts marriage with any other out of question, except by the grace of God - “for the hardness of your hearts”, He suffers it. This is the main point of the Lord’s “permissive clause” regarding divorce: “except it be for fornication” (Mt. 19:9). There the careful distinction between “fornication” and “adultery” (as in Mt. 15:19; Gal. 5:19 also) requires that Jesus be understood as legislating for the case of a newly-married man finding that his wife has earlier had a promiscuous relation with another man, so that (ideally) she has been thenceforward qualified to marry only the one she had earlier illicitly accepted. (Yet even in such an instance, the marriage of Hosea shows God’s mind on this problem).

 

It remains to consider the force of the “therefore” with which this highly important passage is introduced.

 

In effect it declares that since Adam and Eve had no parents, the union with wife or husband is to come first before that of duty to parents. As it was first in time - marriage before generation - so it is first in importance. Also, as marriage came in the time of Edenic innocence it is superior to generation (and therefore sonship) which belongs to the Fall. This is Paul’s argument in Eph. 5:30,31, that “for this cause” one who is joined to Christ is to forego as fully as he knows how his natural relationship to the old Adam from whom he has sprung.

 

It is surely not without significance that in a passage about the family rejoicing before the Lord (Dt. 16:11) there is no mention of the wife - not that her participation is unimportant but that her being “glued” to her husband, in this as in all family matters, is taken for granted.



#58 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:49 PM

2:25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

 

This word “naked” is remarkable, for in Hebrew it is identical with the word “subtle” in the next verse. The two usages are both very common. Is it possible that the connection between them is via the fact that the crafty man usually appears to be bland, frank, and honest, with nothing to hide?

 

This stress on Adam’s and Eve’s childlike innocence prepares the way for the success of the serpent’s beguiling. What a dramatic change in tone between this chapter and the next. The chapter division, is superbly chosen.

 

As might be expected, this passage has become the focus of a number of incisive New Testament comments:

 

a. Hebrews 4:10-13:

 

“For he that is entered into his (God’s) rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his (Gen. 2:2). Let us labour therefore ... lest any man fall (as Adam did) after the same example of disobedience. For the Word of God (the voice of the Lord God in the midst of the garden) is ... sharper than any two-edged sword (the flaming sword which turned every way), piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit (outside and inside the garden), and of the joints and marrow (the sacrifice offered), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Adam, hast thou eaten ...?). Neither is there any creation that is not manifest in his sight (even though hiding amidst the trees): but all things are naked and opened (and ashamed) before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

 

b. Revelation 3:18:

 

“I counsel thee to buy of me ... white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.”

 

c. Romans 5:5:

 

In a chapter packed with allusions to the Fall: “hope maketh not ashamed.” What hope? “Hope of the glory of God” - the cherubim of Gen 3:24. Hence “he that believeth shall not be ashamed” (10:11), with the last word deliberately altered from Isaiah 28:16.



#59 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:49 PM

Commentary on Genesis, Chapter Three

 

3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle 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?

 

The narrative now to be examined is by far the most important in the book of Genesis. Just how important may be judged from the fact that the impressive and fascinating details of chapters 1 and 2 are a mere curtain-raiser to what is coming.

 

With his great drama “Paradise Lost,” John Milton is probably more responsible than any one individual for the common, almost universal, assumption that the serpent in Eden was the Devil in disguise. Which is somewhat remarkable, for a careful reader of “Paradise Lost” can hardly escape the conclusion that John Milton (whose theology was almost 100% Christadelphian) certainly did not intend the readers of his fine poetic drama to take his purple plot literally.

 

However, there it is. Most readers of Genesis 3 (and most non-readers of it!) blithely assume that a malign Satan, disguised as a snake, set himself to bring about the downfall of Eve.

 

Yet this first verse should be sufficient to set the record straight: “more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” What point in comparing a rebellious immortal archangel with a created beast?

 

And later the penalty pronounced on the serpent requires reference to a serpent: “Thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go” (v.14). How palpably unfair, and indeed absurd, to lay such a curse on the inferior animal, a mere tool, and to let the rebel-spirit, the real culprit, go scot-free! Compare also the phrase “all the days of thy life” (v.14). Addressed to a serpent these words hold no difficulty, but spoken to a superhuman Devil what do they mean?

 

And if it be argued that in Revelation 12:9 the serpent-dragon is called the Devil and Satan, the simple answer is that, even apart from all the complex symbolism of that chapter, this name merely sums up the adversary character of the serpent in Eden, just as Peter was called Satan (Mt. 16:23) when he unwittingly became his Lord’s adversary. The allusions in Revelation 12 to Genesis 3, however they be interpreted, are quite unmistakable - the woman and her seed, and the enmity between the woman and the serpent.

 

It has been very plausibly argued that since Adam was appointed “to dress and to keep (guard)” the garden, then he was at fault in allowing the serpent into the garden at all. In the apocalyptic picture of paradise restored there is only blunt exclusion for “whatsoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 21:27; 22:14,15). And in a passage which (as will be shown later) is full of allusions to the serpent in Genesis 3, Paul exhorts that “them which cause divisions and offences” be excluded from the ecclesia.

 

But these arguments overlook two very simple considerations - that the serpent was part of the creation which was pronounced “very good” (1:31); also, until Eve had been seduced into disobedience, how was Adam to know that there was an evil influence?

 

Another problem - a great favourite with the unbeliever - is the question why God allowed the temptation at all, since the serpent’s success meant such disaster for the human pair and for all their progency.



#60 Resource Manager

Resource Manager

    Forum Management

  • Administrators
  • 14460 posts

Posted 13 June 2020 - 04:50 PM

To this a three-fold answer may be offered:

 

a. Men have no right to challenge the wisdom of God in this way. Since God’s thoughts are so much higher than man’s thoughts, even a puzzling uncomprehended act of God is to be accepted in faith, and not argued against.

 

b. Temptation may be a good thing, a test demonstrating inner worth, as in the experience of Abraham (Gen. 22:1); and so it would have been in Eve’s experience, had she come through it successfully. Temptation in the sense of an intention to bring to ruin is an evil thing (Jas. 1:13,14). God attempts that with no man. “He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” (1 Cor. 10:13).

 

c. The ultimate outcome - salvation and glory in Christ - is the final vindication of God’s counsel in creating a tempting serpent and a temptable man, and thus allowing Adam to fall and suffer. Christ may be a stumbling block and foolishness to some, but to those who know his salvation he is “the Wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23,24).

 

Why should the serpent be “more subtle than any beast of the field”? Why a talking serpent, so unique among the creatures God had made? Was it endowed with this remarkable power so as to make it an efficient tempter? The parallel of Balaam’s ass (a favourite illustration) is no parallel at all, and if it were, it would not answer, but only intensify, the problem.

 

Explanation is available on different lines. There is evidence that the serpent itself ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and thus acquired powers above its normal endowment. The possibility was certainly there. “Had the serpent, or any other animal, eaten of it (the tree of knowledge) he would not have transgressed, because the eating, or touching, of the tree was only prohibited to man” (Eureka 3.51).

 

This eating of knowledge-fruit by the serpent seems to be implied in an impressive sequence of details:

 

a. Its power of speech is thus readily explained as having been imparted by the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

 

b. Its subtlety is likewise explained. No other serpent has had this cleverness.

 

c. “Ye shall not surely die” seems to read as just a bald statement, a flat denial of the word of God. What subtlety was there in this? But if the serpent was able to say: “See, I’m eating it, and no harm comes to me,” there would be real cogency and persuasiveness.

 

d. “Ye shall be as Elohim” is now seen to be an argument of considerable power, as who should say: ‘I am only a beast of the field over whom you were given power, but eating of this fruit enables me to talk and puts me on level terms with yourself. So if you eat of it, will not you likewise be upgraded to be equal to the angels of God?’

 

e. “the woman saw that the tree was good for food.” How did she see this? The attractive appearance of the fruit would hardly prove this. There are plenty of berries and fruits which are a delight to the eye but which are definitely harmful as food. But seeing the serpent eat of the fruit would be demonstration enough.

 

f. The curse on the serpent now takes on a special fitness: “Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat” - an eloquent contrast with climbing the tree of knowledge and eating its fruit.

 

g. Paul evidently read his Genesis 3 in this way, for in the middle of a series of comparisons between false teachers and the serpent comes this censure: “They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own belly” (Rom. 16:18). This can hardly be an allusion to the curse on the serpent, but it is very appropriate to its self-indulgence.






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users