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. Psalm
49:12 has been thought, though without sufficient reason,
to hint that man’s
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 recta-physical 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.
1 “Now the serpent was more subtile 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?” Now (literally, and)
the serpent. Nachash, from nachash:
(1) in Kal, to hiss (unused), with allusion to the hissing sound emitted by
(2) in Piel, to whisper, use sorcery, find out by divination (ch.30:27);
(3) to shine (unused, though supplying the noun nechsheth, brass,
ch. 4:22), referring to its glossy shining appearance, and in partitular
its bright glistening eye: compare δράκων – drakon – dragon - from
δέρκομαι – derkomai – to look or see; and ὅφις – ophis - snake – from
ὄπτομαι – optomai – look; perceive; see.
(4) from an Arabic root signifying to pierce, to move, to creep, so that
nachash would be Latin serpens (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”
Was more subtle. ‘Arum:
(1) crafty (compare Job 5:12; 15:5);
(2) prudent, in a good sense (compare Proverbs 12:16), from ‘
(a) To make naked; whence atom, plural arumim, naked
(b) To be crafty (I Samuel 23:22). If applied to the serpent in the
sense of πανοῦργος - panourgos – trickery; sophistry;
craftiness; subtlety -
it can only be either:
(1) metaphorically for the devil, whose instrument it was; or
(2) 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 φρόνιμος – phonimos –
wise; subtle - (Septuagint), 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 ‘arum, 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 (compare Matthew 10:16: γίνεσθε οϋν φρόνιμοι ὡς –
ginesthe oun phronimoi hos – be ye becoming then prudent as. Than any (literally,
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
simulacrum of a serpent. But
(1) the curse pronounced upon the serpent (ch. 3:14) would seem
to be deprived of all force if the subject of it had been only an
apparition or an unreal creature; and
(2) the language of the New Testament in referring to man’s temptation
implies its literality (compare II Corinthians 11:3). We are perfectly
justified in concluding, from this mention of the fall, that Paul spoke
of it as an actual occurrence.
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, et alii), who from this circumstance is
commonly styled in Scripture ‘The serpent,” “the old serpent,” “that old
serpent” (compare Revelation 12:9; 20:2). 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 (Numbers 22:28-30).
Unto the woman. As the weaker of the two, and more likely to be easily
persuaded (I Timothy 2:14; I Peter 3:7). Compare Satan’s assault on Job
through his wife (Job 2:9).
independent, and had withdrawn herself out of Adam’s sight, it has been
well remarked, “sets up a beginning of the fall before the fall itself”
(Lunge). Yea. אַפ כּי . Is it even so that? Is it really so that! A question either
(1) spoken in irony, as if the meaning were, “Very like it is that. God careth
what you eat!” or
(2) inquiring the reason of the prohibition (Septuagint — τί ὅτι εϊπεν ὁ θεὸς –
ti hoti eipen ho Theos – has God really said - Vulgate, cur praecepit vobis
(3) simply soliciting information (Chaldee Paraphrase); but
(4) most likely expressing surprise and astonishment, with the view of
suggesting distrust of the Divine goodness and disbelief in the Divine
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; but it is more likely that the devil spoke in continuation of a colloquy
which is not reported, which has led some, on the supposition that already many
arguments had been adduced to substantiate the Divine severity, to render
“yea” by “quanto mary’s,” as if the meaning were, “How much more is this
a proof of God’s unkindness!” Hath God said. “The
tempter felt it necessary to change the living personal God into a merely
general numen divinum” but the Elohim of ch.1. Satan’s assault was directed
against the paradisiacal covenant of God with man. 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?” “Is it really so that God hath prohibited
you from some?” — or, translating lo-kol as not any — Latin, nullus
(Gesenius, § 152, 1) — “Hath God said ye shall not eat of any?” 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. (Compare Romans 7:7 – CY –
2015) The second rendering appears to be supported by the fitness of Eve’s reply.
2 “And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees
of the garden:” 3 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, lest ye die.”
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. We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden.
(1) Omitting the Divine name when recording His liberality, though she
remembers it when reciting His restraint;
(2) failing to do justice to the largeness and freeness of the Divine grant
(compare ch.2:16); — 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; or the result
of a rising feeling of dissatisfaction with the too great strictness of the
prohibition, and so an indication that her love and confidence
towards God were already beginning to waver; or a proof of her
anxiety to observe the Divine precept; or a statement of her
understanding that they were not to meddle with it as a forbidden thing.
Lest ye die. Even Calvin here admits that Eve begins to give way, leading
פֶן־, as forte, discovering “doubt and hesitancy” in her language; but:
(1) the conjunction may point to a consequence which is certain — indeed
this is its usual meaning (compare ch.11:4; 19:5; Psalm 2:12);
(2) Where there are so many real grounds for condemning Eve’s conduct,
it is our duty to be cautious in giving those which are problematical”
(3) she would have represented the penalty in a worse rather than a
softened form had she begun to think it unjust.
4 “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 his word or saying from that which God had said.
Ye shall not surely die. Lo-moth temuthun (the negative lo preceding the
infinitive absolute, as in Psalm 49:8 and Amos 9:8; its position here being
determined by the form of the penalty, ch. 2:17, to which the devil’s language
gives the direct negative. 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 (compare John 8:44: ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ
ὁτι ψεύστης ἐστιν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ - hotan lalae to pseudos ek ton idion lalei
hoti pseustaes estin kai ho pataer autou – when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh
of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it - Here, as far as we
know, is his first begottten lie.
The Tempter’s Chief Weapon (v. 4)
Narrative of the fall is of interest not only as the record of how mankind
became sinful, but as showing the working of that “lie” (II Thessalonians 2:11)
by which the tempter continually seeks to draw men away (II Corinthians 11:3).
Eve’s temptation is in substance our temptation; Eve’s fall illustrates our danger,
and gives us matter whereby to try ourselves and mark how far we “walk by faith.”
THE SUBSTANCE OF THE TEMPTATION was suggesting doubts:
(1) As to God’s love.
(2) As to God’s truth.
The former led to self-willed desire; the latter gave force to the temptation
by removing the restraining power. We are tempted by the same
suggestions. The will and unbelief act and react upon each other. Where
the will turns away from God’s will doubt more easily finds an entrance,
and having entered, it strengthens self-will (Romans 1:28). Unbelief is
often a refuge to escape from the voice of conscience. But mark — the
suggestion was not, “God has not said,” but, It will not be so; You have
misunderstood Him; There will be some way of avoiding the danger.
Excuses are easy to find: human infirmity, peculiar circumstances, strength
of temptation, promises not to do so again. And a man may live, knowing
God’s word, habitually breaking it, yet persuading himself that all is well.
Note two chief lines in which this temptation assails:
Ø As to the necessity for Christian earnestness. We are warned
(I John 2:15; 5:12; Romans 8:6-13). What is the life thus spoken of?
Nothing strange. A life of seeking the world’s prizes, gains, pleasures.
A life whose guide is what others do; in which the example of Christ
and guidance of the Holy Spirit are not regarded; in which religion
is kept apart, and confined to certain times and services. (This
is the idea that SECULARISM PROMOTES in our society! CY –
2015) Of this God says it is living death (compare I Timothy 5:6);
life’s work neglected; Christ’s banner deserted. Yet the tempter
o times have changed,
o the Bible must not be taken literally,
o ye shall not die.
Ø As to acceptance of the gift of salvation. God’s word is (Mark
16:15; Luke 14:21; John 4:10) the record to be believed (Isaiah
53:5-6; I John 5:11). Yet speak to men of the free gift, tell them of
present salvation; the tempter persuades — true; but you must do
something, or feel something, before it can be safe to believe;
God has said; but it will not be so. In conclusion, mark how the
way of salvation just reverses the process of the fall. Man fell
away from God, from peace, from holiness through doubting
God’s love and truth. We are restored to peace through believing
these (John 3:16; I John 1:9), and it is this belief which binds us to
God in loving service (II Corinthians 5:14).
5 “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.”
For (מא – nam - γαρ – gar – for; because; assigning the reason
(1) for the devil’s, statement, and so,
(2) by implication, for the Divine prohibition)
God doth know. Thus the serpent practically charges the Deity with; ;
(1) 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
(2) with falsehood:
(a) in affirming that to be true which He knew to be false;
(b) in doing this while delivering His law;
(c) 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. Compare the Divine prohibition (ch.2:17), 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
(II Kings 6:17, 20; Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 42:7), is also used to denote
the impartation of power to perceive (physically, mentally, spiritually)
objects not otherwise discernible (compare ch.21:19; Isaiah 35:5).
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.
Literally, as Elohim; not &c θεοὶ - theoi – gods - (Septuagint), sicut dii (Vulgate),
as gods (Authorized Version), ostensibly a promise of divinity (which Satan
did not have authority). 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 (vide on v. 22)
6 “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that
it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one
wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto
her husband with her; and he did eat.” And (when) the woman saw. “An impure
look, infected with the poison of concupiscence” (Calvin); compare Joshua 7:21.
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 (Psalm 10:17), a lust (Numbers 11:4). To the eyes.
ἀρεστὸν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς – Apeston tois ophthalmois - a delight to the
eyes - (Septuagint); pulchrum oculis (Vulgate); lust ye unto the eyes (Coverdale);
i.e. stimulating desire through the eyes (compare I John 2:16). And a tree to be
desired to make (one) wise. לְהַשְׂכִּיל (from שָׂכַל —
(1) to look at, to behold; hence
(2) to be prudent, I Samuel 18:30.
(1) to look at;
(2) to turn the mind to;
(3) to be or become understanding, Psalm 2:10)
being susceptible of two renderings, the clause has been taken to mean “a
tree desirable to look at” or, more correctly, as it stands in the English Version,
the external loveliness of the tree having been already stated in the preceding
clause. 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 1:15). 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. With her. An indication that Adam was present throughout the
whole preceding scene? - 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. 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”
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 (vide Romans
5:12; I Corinthians 15:21-22).
The First Sin (v. 6)
· THE TEMPTATION.
Ø The fact. That sin is possible even in pure beings without the intervention
of solicitation, at least ab extra, must be held to be the doctrine of Scripture (vide James 1:14 and Jude 1:6). Hence man might have fallen, even had he not been tempted. The fact, however, that he was tempted is explicitly revealed; a circumstance which notes an important distinction between his sin and that of the angels. Does this explain Hebrews 2:16
and II Peter 2:4?
Ø The author. Though ostensibly a serpent, in reality the devil. Besides being expressly stated in the inspired word, it is involved in the very terms of the Mosaic narrative. If the reptile possessed the malice to conceive and the skill to manage such an assault upon the first pair as this book describes, then clearly it was not a serpent, but a devil. It is doubtful if all man's temptations come from the devil, but many, perhaps most, do. He is pre-eminently styled "the tempter" (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). From the days of Adam downward he has been engaged in attempting to seduce the saints; e.g. David (I Chronicles 21:1); Job (Job 2:7); Christ (Luke 4:13); Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3). At the present moment he is laboring to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9).
Ø The instrument. The serpent, which was a proof of Satan's skill, that
particular reptile being specially adapted for his purpose (The devil can
always find a tool adapted to the work he has in hand); and is an
indication of our danger, it being only a reptile, and therefore little likely
to be suspected as a source of peril; whence we may gather that there is
no quarter so unexpected, and no instrument so feeble, that out of the one
and through the other temptation may not leap upon us.
Ø The nature. This was threefold. A temptation (compare the three assaults
o The first aimed a death-blow at their filial confidence in God;
o the second removed the fear of punishment from their path;
o the third fired their souls with the lust of ambition.
Separation from God, disobedience of God, opposition to or rivalry
with God—the devil's scala coeli.
Ø The subtlety. That great art should have been displayed in the conduct
of this campaign against the citadel of human holiness is what might
have been expected from such a general. In these respects it was evinced.
Ø Its guilty perpetrators. Not the serpent or the devil, but the first pair.
The devil may tempt man to sin, but he cannot sin for man. A creature
may be the unconscious instrument of leading man aside from the path
of virtue, but it cannot possibly compel man to go astray. Men are
prone to blame other things and persons for their sins, when the true
criminals are themselves.
Ø Its impelling motive. No temptation, however skillfully planned or
powerfully applied, can succeed until it finds a footing in the nature
that is tempted. (I Corinthians 10:13) Unless the devil's logic and
chicanery had produced the effect described in v. 6, it is more than
probable that Eve would have stood. But first it wrought a change
upon herself, and then it transformed the tree. First it created the
need for sinful motives, and then it supplied them. So works
temptation still. As with Eve, so with us. Sinful motives are:
o demanded by the heart;
o supplied by the evil which the heart contemplates; and
o are generally as weak and insufficient as Eve’s.
Ø Its essential wickedness, as consisting of:
o unbelief, revealing itself in disobedienc;
o selfishness, making self the center of all things;
o desire, love of the world, gratification of the senses,
the fundamental elements in all sin, corresponding to the three
fundamental elements of man's being and consciousness:
o soul, and
Ø Its sad results.
o A discovery of sin. “Their eyes were opened,” as the devil said,
and as he meant. They felt that they had fallen, and that they had
lost their purity. It is impossible to sin and not to have this
knowledge and feel this loss.
o A consciousness of guilt. “They knew that they were naked.”
Sin reports itself quickly to the conscience, and conscience
quickly discovers to the guilty soul its true position as an
unprotected culprit before the bar of God.
o A sense of shame, which impelled them to seek a covering for their
persons. “They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves
girdles.” A picture of men’s fruitless efforts to find a covering
for their guilty souls.
Ø The responsibility of man.
Ø The duty of guarding against temptation.
Ø The contagious character of moral evil.
Ø The havoc wrought by a single sin.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they
were 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.
(1) The eyes of their minds were opened to perceive that they were no
longer innocent, and
(2) the eyes of their bodies to behold that they were not precisely as they
had been. And they knew that they were naked.
a. Spiritually (compare Exodus 32:25; Ezekiel 16:22; Revelation 3:17),
b. corporeally, having lost that enswathing light of purity which
previously engirt their bodies (vide ch. 2:25). And they sewed.
Literally, fastened or tied by twisting. Fig leaves. Not the pisang
tree (Muss Paradisiaca), whose leaves attain the length of twelve
feet and the breadth of two; but the common fig tree (Ficus Carica),
which is aboriginal in Western
Asia, especially in
περιζώματα – perizomata – aprons - (Septuagint), i.e. 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,
but to the consciousness of guilt with which their souls were laden,
and which impelled them to flee from the presence of their offended
The Moral Chaos before the Moral Restoration (vs. 1-7)
Hitherto the moral nature of man may be said to be absorbed in his
religious nature. He has held interaction with his Creator. He has ruled
earth as “the paragon of animals.” The introduction of a helpmeet was the
commencement of society, therefore of distinctly moral relations. It is in
the moral sphere that sin takes its origin, through the helpmeet, and as a
violation at the same time of a direct Divine commandment, and of that
social compact of obedience to God and dependence upon one another
which is the root of all true moral life. The woman was away from the man
when she sinned. Her sin was more than a sin against God; it was an
offence against the law of her being as one with her husband. There are
many suggestive points in the vs. 1-7 which we may call the return of
man’s moral state into chaos, that out of it may come forth, by Divine
grace, the new creation of a redeemed humanity.
IT IS BY THE CONTACT OF A FORMER CORRUPTION WITH
MAN that the evil principle is introduced into the world. The serpent’s
subtlety represents that evil principle already in operation.
responsibility IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DISCONNECT THE ANIMAL
NATURE FROM THE FIRST TEMPTATION. The serpent, the woman,
the tree, the eating of fruit, the pleasantness to taste and sight, the effect
upon the fleshly feelings, all point to the close relation of the animal and
the moral. There is nothing implied as to the nature of matter, but it is
plainly taught that the effect of a loss of moral and spiritual dignity is a
sinking back into the lower grade of life; as man is less a child of God he is
more akin to the beasts that perish.
through a question, a perplexity, then passing to a direct contradiction of
God’s word, and blasphemous suggestion of His ill-will towards man,
together with an excitement of pride and overweening desire in man’s
heart. The serpent did not directly open the door of disobedience. He led
the woman up to it, and stirred in her the evil thought of passing through it.
The first temptation is the type of all temptation. Notice the three points:
Ø falsification of fact and confusion of mind;
Ø alienation from God as the Source of all good and the only wise
Ruler of our life;
Ø desire selfishly exalting itself above the recognized and appointed
limits. Another suggestion is:
IMMEDIATELY THAT IT BECOME A FACT OF THE LIFE.
Temptation is not sin. Temptation resisted is moral strength. Temptation
yielded to is an evil principle admitted into the sphere of its operation, and
beginning its work at once. The woman violated her true position by her
sin; it was the consequence of that position that she became a tempter
herself to Adam, so that the helpmeet became to Adam what the serpent
was to her. His eating with her was, as
Ø a testimony to their oneness, and therefore to the power of that love
which might have been only a blessing; and
Ø a condemnation of both alike. The woman was first in the
condemnation, but the man was first in the knowledge of the
commandment and in the privilege of his position; therefore the
man was first in degree of condemnation, while the woman was
first in the order of time.
The knowledge of good and evil is the commencement of a
conflict between the laws of nature and the laws of the human spirit in its
connection with nature, which nothing but the grace of God can bring to an
end in the “peace which passeth understanding.” That springing up of
shame in the knowledge of natural facts is a testimony to a violation of
God’s order which He alone can set right. “Who told thee,” God said, “that
thou wast naked?” God might have raised His creature to a position in
which shame would have been impossible. He will do so by His grace.
Meanwhile the fall was what the word represents a forfeiture of that
superiority to the mere animal nature which was man’s birthright. And the
results of the fall are seen in the perpetual warfare between the natural
world and the spiritual world in that being who was made at once a being
of earth and a child of God. “They sewed fig-leaves together, and made
themselves aprons.” In the sense of humiliation and defeat man turns to the
mere material protection of surrounding objects, forgetting that a spiritual
evil can only be remedied by a spiritual good; but the shameful
helplessness of the creature is the opportunity for the gracious
interposition of God.
TRADITIONS OF THE FALL.
Ø Babylonian. “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
included 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).
Ø Persian. 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 “an infiltration into the Persian system of religious ideas
belonging properly to the Hebrews” (‘Hist. Illus. of the Old Testament,
Ø Indian. In the Hindoo mythology the king of the evil demons, “the king
of the serpents,” is named Naga, the prince of the Nagis or Nacigs, “in
which Sanscrit 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
the waters of the river, but who himself was ultimately destroyed by
story (Kitto’s ‘Daily Bible Illustrations’).
Ø The story of Pandora. According to Hesiod the first men lived wifeless
and ignorant, but innocent and happy. Prometheus (“Forethought”)
having 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).
Ø 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
(ibid., p. 204).
Ø 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
name of the monster from 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).
8 “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. Either:
(1) the noise of his footsteps (compare Leviticus 26:23-24; Numbers 16:34;
II Samuel 5:24; or
(2) the thunder that accompanied his approach (compare Exodus 9:23;
Job 37:4-5; Psalm 29:3, 9; or
(3) the sound of his voice; or
(4) probably all four.
The Working of the Sin-Stricken Conscience (v.8)
God represents to men the knowledge of themselves, which, like light,
would be intolerable to the shamefaced.
MEET HIM. While the darkness of the thick foliage was regarded as a
covering, hiding nakedness, it is yet from the presence of the Lord God
that the guilty seek refuge.
is a testimony to the moral nature and position of man. So it may be said:
righteousness and the sense of transgression in the same being. (Perhaps
there is a reference to the working of the conscience in the description of
the voice of God as mingling in the facts of the natural world; “the cool of
the day” being literally the “evening breeze,” whose whispering sound
became articulate to the ears of those who feared the personal presence of
Walking in the garden. If the voice, then increasing in intensity (compare Exodus
19:19; if Jehovah, which is better - In the cool (literally, the wind) of the day.
The morning breeze; the evening breeze); τὸ δειλινόν – to deilinon - (Septuagint);
auram post meridiem (Vulgate); cf. hom ha’ yom, “the heat of the
day” (ch18:1). And Adam and his wife hid themselves. Not in
humility, as unworthy to come into God’s presence; or in
amazement, as not knowing which way to turn; or through
modesty, but from a sense of guilt. From the presence
of the Lord. From which it is apparent they expected a Visible
9 “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where
art thou?” 10 “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid,
because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 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
(compare ch. 4:9). 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, 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), “although all that he says is purely involuntary self-accusation, and
“the first instance of that mingling and confusion of sin and punishment which
is the peculiar characteristic of our redemption-needing humanity” (Lange).
And I hid myself.
The Searching Question (v. 9)
We can picture the dread of this question. Have you considered its love —
that it is really the first word of the gospel? Already the Shepherd goes
forth to seek the lost sheep. The Bible shows us:
1. The original state of man; what God intended his lot to be.
2. The entry of sin, and fall from happiness.
3. The announcement and carrying out God’s plan of restoration.
THE GOSPEL BEGINS not with the promise of a Savior, but WITH
SHOWING MAN HIS NEED. Thus (John 4:15-18) our Savior’s
answer to “Give me this water” was to convince of sin: “Go, call thy
husband.” That first loving call has never ceased. Men are still straying, still
must come to themselves (Luke 15:17-18). We hear it in the Baptist’s
teaching; in the preaching of Peter at Pentecost; and daily in his life-giving
work the Holy Spirit’s first step is to convince of sin. And not
merely in conversion, but at every stage He repeats, “Where art thou?” To
welcome God’s gift we must feel our own need; and the inexhaustible
treasures in Christ are discerned as we mark daily the defects of our
service, and how far we are from the goal of our striving (Philippians
3:13-14). Hence, even in a Christian congregation, it is needful to press
“Where art thou?” to lead men nearer to Christ. We want to stir up easygoing
disciples, to make Christians consider their calling, to rouse to higher
life and work. Our Savior’s call is, “Follow me.” How are you doing this?
You are pledged to be His soldiers; what reality is there in your fighting?
How many are content merely to do as others do! What do ye for Christ?
You have your Bible; is it studied, prayed over? What do ye to spread its
truth? Ye think not how much harm is done by apathy, how much silent
teaching of unbelief there is in the want of open confession of Christ. Many
are zealous for their own views. Where is the self-denying mind of Christ,
the spirit of love? Many count themselves spiritual, consider that they have
turned to the Lord, and are certainly in His fold. Where is Paul’s spirit
of watchfulness? (I Corinthians 9:26-27). “Where art thou?” May the
answer of each be, Not shut up in myself, not following the multitude, but
“looking unto Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2)
11 “And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten
of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?”
12 “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me,
she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” And he said., Who told thee that
thou wast naked? Delitzsch finds in מִי 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. Compare with the cold and unfeeling
terms in which Adam speaks of Eve the similar language in ch. 37:32; Luke 15:30;
John 9:12. “Without natural affection” is one of the bitter fruits of sin (compare
Romans 1:31). 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. “A cold expression, manifesting neither any grief nor
shame at so foul an act, but rather a desire to cover his sin” (White).
13 “And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that 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: What is this that thou hast done? Or, “Why hast thou
done this?” (Septuagint, Vulgate, Luther, De Wette). “But the Hebrew phrase
has more vehemence; it is the language of one who wonders as at
something collossal, 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 נָשָׁא;, to
forget a thing (to forget a thing Lamentations 3:17), or person (Jeremiah 23:39;
or, caused me to go astray, from כָשָׁה; (unused in Kal), kindred to;, to נָשָׁא; perhaps
to err, to go astray; ἠπατήσε aepataese – deceived - (Septuagint), ἐξαπάτησεν –
exapataesen - deludes; out-seduces - (II 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).
14 “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done
this, thou art 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:
(1) in the animal itself there was no sense of sin, and
(2) to the devil he would hold out no hope of pardon” (Calvin); “because
the trial has now reached the fountain-head of sin, the purely evil purpose
(the demoniacal) having no deeper ground, and requiring no further
Because thou hast done this. I.e. beguiled the woman. The incidence of this curse
has been explained as:
1. The serpent only
2. The devil only.
3. Partly on the serpent and partly on Satan.
4. Wholly upon both.
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 (v. 17), or of the fig tree (Matthew 11:21).
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 (compare ch. 9:5; Exodus 21:28-36).
Above. Literally, from, i.e. separate and apart from all cattle . All cattle, and above
(apart from) 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 - Epi to staethei sou kai tae koilia – On your belly you
shall go - (Septuagint); meaning “with, great pain and, difficulty.”
As Adam s labor and Eve’s conception had pain and sorrow added to them
(vs. 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 THE
PROPER RANK,” “recalled from its insolent motions to its accustomed
mode of going,” and “at 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 (Revelation 20:10).
(What is the spirit that occupies us today? CY – 2015) And dust shalt thou eat,
I.e. 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 (Isaiah 65:25; Micah 7:17) — that
they eat dust. 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” is equivalent to being reduced to a condition of meanness, shame,
and contempt; and is indicative of disappointment in all the aims of
being; denotes the highest intensity of a moral condition, of
which the feelings of the prodigal (Luke 15:16) may be considered a
type’ (compare Psalm 72:9). All the days of thy life. The degradation should be
PERPETUAL as well as COMPLETE!
15 “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.
1. To the fixed and inveterate antipathy between the serpent and the human
2. To the antagonism henceforth to be established between the tempter and
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 (compare Matthew 23:33; I 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” (Hebrews 2:14; I 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. It — or He; αὐτος – autos –
(Septuagint); shall bruise.
1. Shall crush, trample down — rendering שׁוּפ by torero or conterere.
2. Shall pierce, wound, bite — taking the verb as — שָׁפַפ, to bite.
3. Shall watch, lie in wait = שָׁאַפ; (Septuagint, τηρήσει - taeraesei – bruise.
Wordsworth suggests as the correct reading τερήσει – teraesei - from τερέω – tereo –
The word occurs only in two other places in Scripture — Job 9:17; Psalm 139:11 —
and in the latter of these the reading is doubtful. Hence the difficulty of deciding
with absolute certainty between these rival interpretations. Psalm 91:13
and Romans 16:20 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.
Thy head. I.e. 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. And thou shalt bruise His
heel. I.e. 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.
See the wondrous mercy of God in proclaiming from the first day of sin,
and putting into the forefront, a purpose of salvation.
16 “Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy
conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy
desire shall be 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,” 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
(compare Jeremiah 31:8). The second idea is more fully explained in the next
clause. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children. Literally, sons,
daughters being included. The pains of childbirth are in Scripture
emblematic of the severest anguish both of body and mind (compare Psalm 48:6;
Micah 4:9-10; I Thessalonians 5:3; John 16:21; Revelation 12:2). The gospel gives
a special promise to mothers (I Timothy 2:15). By “bringing forth” is also meant
bringing up after the birth, as in ch.50:23” (Ainsworth). And thy desire shall be to
thy husband. תְּשׁוּקָה from שׁוּק to run, to have a vehement longing for a thing,
may have the same meaning here as in Song of Solomon 7:10; but is better taken
as expressive of deferential submissiveness, as in ch.4:7. Following
the Septuagint (ἀποστροφή - apostrophae), 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.
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 (ch.2:18), 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!
(here, v.17). 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 (ch.20:3), and a husband as the lord of a woman
(Exodus 21:3). 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 (Galatians 3:28), explicitly inculcates her subordination
to the man in the relationship of marriage (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18;
I Peter 3:1) (One of my favorite scriptures is I Peter 3:7 – CY – 2015)
17 “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 is the ground for thy
sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of 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, though perhaps it
is rather designed to express the man s representative character. Because
thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife. Preceding his sentence with a
declaration of his guilt, which culminated in this, that instead of acting as
his wife’s protector prior to her disobedience, or as her mentor subsequent
to that act, in the hope of brining her to repentance, he became her guilty
coadjutor through yielding himself to her persuasions. And hast eaten of
the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it.
For which a twofold judgment is likewise pronounced upon Adam. Cursed
is the ground. Ha adamah, out of which man was taken (ch.2:7);
i.e. the soil outside of the garden. The language does not necessarily imply
that now, for the first time, in consequence of the fall, the physical globe
underwent a change, becoming from that point onward a realm of
deformity and discord, as before it was not, and displaying in all its
sceneries and combinations the tokens of a broken constitution. It simply
announces the fact that, because of the transgression of which he had been
guilty, he would find the land beyond the confines of
doom of sterility (compare Romans 8:20). For thy sake. בַּעֲבוּרֶך.
1. Because of thy sin it required to be such a world.
2. For thy good it was better that such a curse should lie upon the ground.
Reading ד instead of ר the Septuagint. translate ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις - en tois ergois –
in toil - and the Vulgate, In operetuo. In sorrow. Literally, painful labor (compare
v. 16; Proverbs 5:10). Shalt thou eat of it. I.e. of its fruits (compare Isaiah 1:7;
36:16; 37:30). “Bread of sorrow” (Psalm 127:2) is bread procured and
eaten amidst hard labor. All the days of thy life.
18 “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
Hosea 10:8; there are similar expressions in Isaiah 5:6; 7:23. Shall it bring forth to thee.
I.e. 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, but
the lesser growths sown by his own toil, 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 “a consolation,” as if promising that, notwithstanding the thorns and thistles,
“it should still yield him sustenance” (Calvin).
19 “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 art, 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. I.e. all food (vide Job 28:5;
Psalm 104:14; Matthew 14:15; Mark 6:36). “To eat bread” is to possess the means
of sustaining life (Ecclesiastes 5:18; Amos 7:12). Till thou return unto the ground
(the mortality of man is thus assumed as certain); for out of it thou wast taken. Not
declaring the reason of man’s dissolution, as if it were involved in his original
material constitution, but reminding him that in consequence of his
transgression he had forfeited the privilege of immunity from death, and
must now return to the soil whence he sprung. Ἐξ η΅ς ἐλήφθης - Ex aes elaephthaes –
out of it you were taken - (Septuagint); de qua sumptus es (Vulgate); “out of which
thou wast taken” (Macdonald, Gesenius).
The First Judgment Scene (vs. 8-19)
Ø It is the instinct of sinful men to flee from God. “Adam and his wife hid
themselves from the presence of the Lord God” (v. 8). So “Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).
o Through a consciousness of guilt. A perception of their nakedness
caused our first parents to seek the shelter of the garden trees
(v. 10). Doubtless it was the burden lying on Jonah’s conscience
that sent him down into the ship’s hold (Jonah 1:5). So awakened sinners ever feel themselves constrained to get away from God.
o From a dread of punishment. Not perhaps so long as they imagine God to be either unacquainted with or indifferent to their offence,
but immediately they apprehend that their wickedness is discovered
(Exodus 2:15). The sound of Jehovah’s voice as He came towards
our first parents filled them with alarm. How much more will the
full revelation of His glorious presence in flaming fire affright the ungodly.
Ø It is God’s habit to pursue transgressors. As He pursued Adam and Eve in the garden by His voice (v. 9), and Jonah on the deep by a
wind (Jonah 1:4), and David by His prophet (II Samuel 12:1), so
does He still in His providence, and through the ministry of His
word, and by His Spirit, follow after fleeing sinners:
o to apprehend them (compare Philippians 3:12);
o to forgive and save them (Luke 19:10);
o if they will not be forgiven, to punish them (II Thessalonians 1:8).
Ø It is the certain fate of all fugitives to be eventually arrested. Witness
Adam and Eve (v. 9), Cain (ch.4:9), David (II Samuel 12:1),
Ahab (I Kings 21:20), Jonah (Jonah1:6). Distance will not
prevent (Psalm 139:7). Darkness will not hinder (ibid. v.11).
Secrecy will not avail (Hebrews 4:13). Material defenses will not ward
off the coming doom (Amos 9:2-3). The lapse of time will not make it
less certain (Numbers 32:23).
Ø God s questions are always painfully direct and searching. “Adam,
where art thou?” (v. 9). “Who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou
eaten of the tree?”(v. 11)., “What hast thou done?” (v. 13).
o Because He knows the fact of the sinner s guilt. The nature and
aggravation, the time, circumstances, manner, and reason of the sinner’s transgression are perfectly understood.
o Because He aims at the sinner’s conviction; i.e. He desires to bring
sinners to a realization of the sinfulness of their behavior corresponding to that which He Himself possesses.
o Because He wishes to elicit a confession from the sinner’s mouth.
Without this there can be no forgiveness or salvation (Proverbs 28:13; I John 1:9).
Ø Man’s apologies are always extremely weak and trifling.
o As attempting to excuse that which must for ever be inexcusable, viz., disobedience to God’s commandment. Nothing can justify
sin. God’s authority over man being supreme, no one can relieve man from his responsibility to yield implicit submission to the Divine precepts. Jehovah’s question rests special emphasis on
the fact that Adam’s sin was a transgression of his commandment (v. 11).
o As seeking to transfer the burden of guilt from himself to another.
Adam blames his wife: Eve blames the serpent; and ever since, sinners have been trying to blame anything and everything except themselves — the companions God has given them; the circumstances in which God has placed them; the peculiar temperaments and dispositions with which God has endowed
o As failing to obliterate the fact of transgression. Even Adam and Eve both discern as much as this. Beginning with apologies, they were obliged to end with avowal of their guilt. And if man can detect the worthlessness of his own hastily-invented pleas, much more, we may be sure, can God pierce through all the flimsy and trifling arguments that sinners offer to extenuate their faults.
o As not requiring to be answered. It is remarkable that Jehovah does not condescend to answer either Adam or his wife; the reason being, doubtless, that any reply to their foolish speeches was unnecessary.
Ø The Divine verdict is always clear and convincing.
o Though in this case unspoken, it was yet implied. Adam and Eve did not require to be informed of their culpability. And neither will sinners need to be informed of their guilt and condemnation when they stand before the great white throne. It is a special mark of mercy that God informs sinners in the gospel of the nature of the verdict which has been pronounced against them (John 3:18-19).
o It was so convincing that it was not denied. Adam and Eve we can
suppose were speechless. So was the disobedient wedding guest
(Matthew 22:12). So will all the condemned be in the day of judgment (Revelation 6:17).
Ø On the serpent — judgment without mercy.
o Degradation on both the reptile and the tempter.
o Hostility between the serpent’s brood and the woman’s seed.
o Ultimate destruction of the tempter by the incarnation and
death of the woman’s seed.
Ø On the sinning pair — mercy, and then judgment.
o Mercy for both. Great mercy — the restitution of themselves
and of their seed (or at least a portion of it) by the complete annihilation of their adversary through the sufferings of a distinguished woman’s seed. Certain mercy — the entire
scheme for their recovery was to depend on God, who
here says, “I will put… “ Free mercy — neither solicited
nor deserved by Adam or his wife.
o Judgment for each. For the woman, sorrow in accomplishing her
womanly and wifely destiny, combined with a position of dependence on and submission to her husband. (How far from
the ideal is the modern woman who aborts her child and despises
man! CY – 2015) For the man, a life of sorrowful labor, a
doom of certain death.
Ø The folly of attempting to hide from God. It is better to flee to God than
to run from God, even when we sin (Psalm 143:9).
Ø The expediency of confessing to God. It is always the shortest path to
mercy and forgiveness (Psalm 32:5).
Ø The gentle treatment which men receive from God. Like David, we have
all reason to sing of mercy as well as, and even rather than, judgment
20 “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
prior to the fall, reading the verb as a pluperfect (Calvin), nor after the
birth of Cain, transferring the present verse to ch.4:2 (Knobel),
but subsequent to the promise of the woman’s seed, and preceding their
ejection from the garden) his wife’s name Eve. Chavvah, from chavvah =
chayyah, to live (cf. with the arganic rent chvi the Sanscrit, giv; Gothic,
quiv; Latin, rive, gigno, vigeo; Greek, ζάω – zao - &c., the fundamental idea
being to breathe, to respire, is correctly rendered life) by the Septuagint, Josephus,
Philo, Gesenins, Delitzsch, Macdonald, &c. Lange, regarding it as an abbreviated
form of the participle mechavvah, understands it to signify “the sustenance, i.e.
the propagation of life; while Knobel, viewing it as an adjective, hints at woman’s
peculiar function — חִיָּה וֶדַע — to quicken seed (ch.19:32) as supplying the
explanation. Whether appended by the narrator or uttered by Adam, the words
which follow give its true import and exegesis. Because she was the mother
(am — Greek, μαμμα – mamma - Welsh, mani; Copt., man; German and
English, mama – of all living.
(1) Of Adam’s children, though in this respect she might have been so
styled from the beginning; and
(2) 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 negated 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
21 “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 (cathnoth, from cathan, to cover; compare χιτών – chiton – coat –
Sanscrit, katam; English, cotton) of skin (or, the skin of a
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 (ch.1:29), 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 Deuteronomy 22:5 against the
interchange of raiment between the sexes. And clothed them.
1. To show them how their mortal bodies might be defended from cold and
2. To cover their nakedness for comeliness’ sake; vestimenta honoris
3. To teach them the lawfulness of using the beasts of the field, as for food,
so for clothing.
4. To give a rule that modest and decent, not costly or sumptuous, apparel
should be used.
5. That they might know the difference between God’s works and man’s
invention — between coats of leather and aprons of leaves; and,
6. To put them in mind of their mortality by their raiment of dead beasts’
skins — talibus indici oportebat peccatorem ut essent mortalitatis indicium:
7. “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).
8. A foreshadowing of the robe of Christ’s righteousness (compare Psalm 132:9,16;
Isaiah 61:10; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Bonar recognizes in
Jehovah Elohim at the gate of
Christ, who, as the High Priest of our salvation, had a right to the skins of the
burnt offerings (Leviticus 7:8), and who, to prefigure His own work, appropriated
them for covering the pardoned pair.
Covering (v. 21)
God’s chief promises are generally accompanied by visible signs or symbolical
o bow in the cloud,
o furnace and lamp (ch.15:17),
o the Passover.
The time here spoken of specially called for such a sign. Man
had fallen; a Deliverer was promised; it was the beginning of a state of
grace for sinners. Notice four facts:
1. Man unfallen required no covering.
2. Man fallen became conscious of need, especially towards God.
3. He attempted himself to provide clothing.
4. God provided it.
Spiritual meaning of clothing (Revelation 3:18; 7:14; II Corinthians 5:3).
And note that the root of “atonement” in Hebrew is “to cover.” Thus
the covering is a type of justification; God’s gift to convicted sinners (compare
Zechariah 3:4-5; Luke 15:22; and the want of this covering, Matthew 22:11).
With Adam’s attempt and God’s gift compare the sacrifices of Cain and Abel.
Abel’s sacrifice of life accepted through faith (Hebrews 11:4), i.e. because he
believed and acted upon God’s direction. Thus atonement, covering, through
the sacrifice of life (compare Leviticus 17:11), typical of Christ’s sacrifice,
must have been ordained of God. And thus, though not expressly stated, we may conclude that Adam was instructed to sacrifice, and that the skins from the animals
thus slain were a type of the covering of sin through THE ONE GREAT
SACRIFICE! (Romans 4:7). We mark then:
The natural thought of a heart convicted is, “Have patience with me, and I
will pay thee all.” (Matthew 18:26) Vain endeavor. The “law of sin”
(Romans 7:21, 24) is too strong; earnest striving only makes this more clear (compare Job 9:30-31; Isaiah 64:6). History is full of man’s efforts to cover
sins. Hence have come sacrifices, austerities, pilgrimages, &c. But on all
merely human effort is stamped FAILURE (Romans 3:20).
mistake that if we love God He will love us. Whereas the truth is,
I John 4:10-19. We must believe His free gift before we can serve Him
truly. The want of this belief leads to service in the spirit of bondage.
might be not merely forgiven, but renewed (II Corinthians 5:21). The
consciousness that “Christ hath redeemed us” is the power that
constrains to willing service (I John 3:3).
22 “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:”
Ane the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us. Not
the angels, but the Divine Persons (compare ch. 1:26). It is
scarcely likely that Jehovah alludes to the words of the tempter
(ch.3:5). 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.
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 vide ch.2:9.
(1) lest by eating of the fruit he should recover that immortal life which he
no longer “it possessed, as it is certain that man would not have
been able, had he even devoured the whole tree, to enjoy life against the
will of God”; nor
(2) lest the first pair, through participation of the tree, should confer upon
themselves the attribute of undyingness, which would not be the ζωὴ αἰώνιος
zoae aionios – life eternal of salvation, but its opposite, the ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον
olethron aionion – eternal ruin, destruction - of the accursed; but either
(3) 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; or
(4) 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 (compare
Revelation 22:14). The remaining portion of the sentence is
omitted, anakoloutha or aposiopesis being not infrequent in impassioned
speech (compare Exodus 32:32; Job 32:13; Isaiah 38:18). The force
of the ellipsis or expressive silence may be gathered from the succeeding
words of the historian.
23 “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from whence he was taken.” 24 “So He drove out the
man; and He
placed at the east of the
flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
Therefore (literally, and) the Lord God sent (or cast, shalach in the Piel
conveying the ideas of force and displeasure; compare Deuteronomy 21:14
I Kings 9:7) him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground (i.e. the
soil outside of paradise, which had been cursed for his sake) whence he was
taken. Vide v. 19. So (and) 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
1. Griffins, like those of Persian and Egyptian mythology, which protected
gold-producing countries like
grivh; Persian, giriften; Greek, γρυπ, γρυφ – grup, gruph - German, grip, krip,
2. Divine steeds; by metathesis for rechubim, from rachab, to ride
3. “Beings who approach to God and minister to him,” taking cerub —
karov, to come near, to serve
4. The engravings or carved figures; from carav (Syriac), to engrave;
from an Egyptian root (Cook, vide Speaker’s Commentary). Biblical notices
describe them as living creatures (Ezekiel 1:5; Revelation 4:6-7) in the form of
a man (Ezekiel 1:5), with four (Ezekiel 1:8; 10:7-21) or with six wings
(Revelation 4:8), and full of eyes (Ezekiel 1:18; 10:12; Revelation 4:8); having
each four faces, viz., of a man, of a lion, of an ox, of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10; 10:16);
or with one face each — of a man, of a lion, of a calf, and of an eagle respectively
Representations of these chay ath —Septuagint, ζωά - zoa - — were by Divine
directions placed upon the Capporeth (Exodus 25:17) and curtains of
the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, 31; 36:8, 35), and afterwards engraved
upon the walls and doors of the temple (I Kings 6:29, 32, 35). In the
Apocalypse they are depicted as standing in the immediate neighborhood
of the throne Revelation 4:6; 5:6; 7:11), and as taking part in the acts of
adoration and praise in which the heavenly hosts engage (ibid. 5:11), and
that on the express ground of their redemption (ibid. 5:8-9). Whence the
opinion that most exactly answers all the facts of the case is, that these
mysterious creatures were symbolic not of the fullness of the Deity,
nor of the sum of earthly life, nor of the angelic nature, nor of the Divine
manhood of Jesus Christ, but of redeemed and glorified humanity.
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. Literally, the flame of a sword
turning itself; not brandished by the cherubim, but existing separately, and
flashing out from among them (compare Ezekiel 1:4). An emblem of the
Divine glory in its attitude towards sin (Macdonald). To keep (to watch
over or guard; compare ch. 2:15) the way of the tree of life. “To keep
the tree of life might imply that all access to it was to be precluded; but to
keep the way signifies to keep the way open as well as to keep it shut.”
The Word of God in the Moral Chaos (vs. 9-24)
These verses bring before us very distinctly the elements of man’s sinful
state, and of the redemptive dispensation of God which came out of it by
the action of His brooding Spirit of life upon the chaos.
CONSCIOUSNESS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW WORLD. “The
Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” Before
that direct intercourse between the Spirit of God and the spirit of man
there is no distinct recognition of the evil of sin, and no separation of its
moral and physical consequences. The “Where art thou?” begins the
IS ONE THAT LEADS US FROM THE
RESPONSIBILITY TO THE
CONVICTION AND CONFESSION. “I was naked,” “I was afraid,” “I
hid myself,” “The woman gave me of the tree,” “I did eat;” so at last we
get to the central fact — I broke the commandment, I am guilty towards
God. Each lays the blame on another — the man on the woman, the
woman on the serpent. But the main fact is this, that when once the voice
of God deals with us, when once the Spirit of light and life broods over the
chaos, there will be truth brought out, and the beginning of all new creation
is confession of sin. After all, both the transgressors admitted the fact: “I
did eat.” Nor do they dare to state what is untrue, although they attempt to
excuse themselves for there may be a true confession of sin before there is
a sense of its greatness and inexcusableness.
CONDEMNATION. It is upon the background of judgment that
redemption must be placed, that it may be clearly seen to be of God’s free
grace. The judgment upon the serpent must be viewed as a fact in the
sphere of man’s world, not in the larger sphere of the superhuman
suggested by the later use of the term “serpent.” God’s condemnation of
Satan is only shadowed forth here, not actually described. The cursed
animal simply represents the cursed agent or instrument, and therefore
was intended to embody the curse of sin to the eyes of man. At the same
time, v. 15 must not be shorn of its spiritual application by a
merely naturalistic interpretation. Man’s inborn detestation of the serpent
brood, and the serpent’s lurking enmity against man, as it waits at his heel,
is rightly taken as symbolically representing
Ø the antagonism between good and evil introduced into the world by
Ø the necessity that that antagonism should be maintained; and
Ø the purpose of God that it should be brought to an end by the
destruction of the serpent, the removing out of the way both of
the evil principle and of the besetments of man’s life which have
arisen out of it.
This “first promise” as it is called, was not given in the form of a promise,
but of a sentence. Are we not reminded of the cross which itself was the
carrying out of a sentence, but in which was included the redeeming mercy
of God? Life in death is the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice. “It pleased the
Lord to bruise Him “ (Isaiah 53:10). “Through death He destroyed him
that had the power of death,” (Hebrews 2:14). It must have been
itself like a revelation of redeeming love that God pronounced sentence
first upon the serpent, not upon man, thereby teaching him that he was in
the sight of God a victira of the evil power, to be delivered by the
victorious seed of the woman, rather than an enemy to be crushed and
destroyed. The sentence seemed to say, Thou, the serpent, art the evil
thing to be annihilated; man shall be saved, though wounded and bruised
in the heel; the “woman’s seed” shall be the conqueror, — which was the
prediction of a renovation of humanity in a second Adam, a dim forecasting
of the future, indeed, but a certain and unmistakable proclamation of the
continuance of the race, notwithstanding sin and death; and in that
continuance it was declared there should be a realization of entire
deliverance. The sentence upon the woman, which follows that upon the
serpent, as she was the first in the transgression, is a sentence which, while
it clearly demonstrates the evil of sin, at the same time reveals the mercy of
God. The woman’s sorrow is that which she can and does forget, for “joy
that a man is born into the world.” Her desire to her husband and her
submission to his rule do come out of that fall of her nature in which she is
made subject to the conditions of a fleshly life; but from the same earthly
soil spring up the hallowed blossoms and fruits of the affections, filling the
world with beauty and blessing. So have the law of righteousness and the
law of love from the beginning blended together IN THE GOVERNMENT
OF GOD! In like manner, the sentence upon the man is the same revelation
of Divine goodness in the midst of condemnation. The ground is cursed for
man’s sake. To thee it shall bring forth thorns and thistles, i.e. thy labor shall
not be the productive labor it would have been — thou shalt put it forth among
difficulties and obstacles. Thou shalt see thine own moral perversity
reflected in the stubborn barrenness, the wilderness growth of nature. Yet
thou shalt eat the herb of the field, and depend upon it. With sweat of thy
face all through thy life thou shalt win thy bread from an unwilling earth.
And at last the dust beneath thy feet shall claim thee as its own; thy toil-worn
frame shall crumble down into the grave. It was:
Ø a sentence of death, of death in life; but at the same time it was
Ø a merciful appointment of man’s most peaceful and healthy occupation
— to till the ground, to grow the corn, to eat the bread; and it was
Ø a proclamation of welcome release from the burden “when the dust
shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God
who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:7) There is no allusion in any of these sentences to spiritual results of transgression, but that is only because
the whole is a representation of the fall, objectively regarded. Just as
the serpent is spoken of as though it were only an animal on the earth, so man’s sin is spoken of as though it were only his life’s error, to be paid
for in his life’s suffering; but as in the former case the deeper spiritual meaning lies behind the form of the serpent, so in the latter the condemnation which brings toil and suffering and death upon man’s bodily frame brings upon his whole nature that which the external infliction symbolizes and sets forth. The life goes down into the dust,
but it is the life which by sin had become a smitten, cursed thing;
that hiding of it in the dust is the end, so far as the mere sentence is
concerned. We must, however, wait for the revelation which is to be
made in the new man, — the life coming forth again, — which, though but dimly promised, is yet suggested in the story of paradise. Adam
gave a new name to his wife when she became to him something more than “a help-meet for him.” He called her, first, woman, because she was taken out of man. He called her, afterwards, “Eve,” as the life-producing, “because she was the mother of all living.” The coats of skin — which were not, like the fig leaves sewn together, man’s own device for hiding shame, but God’s preparation for preserving that reverence between the sexes so vital to the very continuance of the race itself — betokened again the mingling of mercy with judgment; for, apart altogether from any theory as to the slain animals whose skins were employed, the Divine origin of clothing is a most significant fact. When we are told that “the Lord God made them coats of skins, and clothed them,” we must interpret the language from the standpoint of the whole narrative, which
is that of an objective representation of the mysteries of man’s primeval life. It would not be in harmony with the tone of the whole book to say in what method such Divine interposition was brought about. To the
Biblical writers a spiritual guidance, a work of God in the mind of man,
is just as truly God’s own act as though it were altogether apart from any human agency. The origin of clothing was an inspiration. Perhaps it is
not putting too much into the language to see in such a fact an allusion to other facts. Man is directed to use skins; might he not have been directed to slay animals? If so, might not such slaughter of animals have been first connected with religious observances, for as yet there is no allusion to the use of animal food, save in the indirect form of dominion over the lower creation? In the fourth chapter, in the extra paradisiacal life, the keeping
of herds and flocks is mentioned as a natural sequel. Doubtless from the time of the fall the mode of life was entirely changed, as was its sphere. Before sin man was an animal indeed, but with his animal nature in
entire subordination; after his fall he was under the laws of animal life, both as to its support and propagation. Death became the ruling fact of life, as it is in the mere animal races. Man is delivered from it only as
is lifted out of the animal sphere and becomes a child of God. The expulsion from
the redemptive work which commenced immediately upon the fall. The creature knowing good and evil by disobedience must not live forever
in that disobedience. He must die that he may be released from the
burden of his corruption. An immortality of sin is not God’s purpose
His creature. Therefore THE LORD GOD SHUT UP
First Fruits of the Promise (vs. 20-24)
at this particular juncture in his history is best discerned when the action is
regarded as the response of his faith to the antecedent promise of the
Ø It is the place of faith to succeed, and not to precede, the promise.
Faith being, in its simplest conception, belief in a testimony, the
testimony must ever take precedence of the faith. “In whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13).
Ø As to the genesis of faith, it is always evoked by the promise, not the
promise by the faith. Adam’s faith was the creation of God’s promise;
so is that of every true believer. “Faith cometh by hearing, and
hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Ø With regard to the function of faith, it is not that of certifying or
making sure the promise, but simply of attesting its certainty,
which it does by reposing trust in its veracity. “He that receiveth His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true” (John 3:33). And this
was practically what was done by Adam when he called his wife’s
Ø The power of faith is seen in this, that while it cannot implement, it is
able to anticipate the promise, and, as it were, to enjoy it beforehand,
in earnest at least, as Adam did when he realized that his spouse
should be the mother of all living. Even so “faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1).
Ø In the Divine scheme of salvation acceptance ever follows on the
exercise of faith. See the language of the New Testament generally
on the subject of a sinner s justification. The covering of our first
parents with coats of skin, apart altogether from any symbolical significance in the act, could scarcely be regarded as other than
a token of Jehovah’s favor.
Ø According to the same scheme the clothing, of a sinner ever
accompanies the act of his acceptance. In New Testament theology
the Divine act of justification is always represented as proceeding
on the ground that in the eye of God the sinner stands invested with a complete covering (the righteousness of Christ) which renders him
both legally and morally acceptable. That all this was comprehended
with perfect fullness and clearness by the pardoned pair it would be foolish to assert; but, in a fashion accommodated to their simple intelligences, the germ of this doctrine was exhibited by the coats
of skin with which they were arrayed, and it is at least possible that
they had a deeper insight into the significance of the Divine action
than we are always prepared to allow.
Ø In the teaching of the gospel scheme the providing of a sinner with such
a covering as he requires must ever be the work of God, Though not
improbable that the coats of skin were furnished by the hides of animals,
now for the first time offered in sacrifice by Divine appointment, the simple circumstance that they were God-provided, apart from any other
consideration, was sufficient to suggest the thought that only God could
supply the covering which was needed for their sin.
of Jehovah nor that of Moses warrants the idea that the expulsion was
designed as a penal infliction; but rather as a measure mercifully intended
and wisely adapted for the spiritual edification of the pardoned pair. Three
elements were present in it that are seldom absent from the discipline of
Ø Removal of comforts. The initial act in the discipline of Adam and his
was to eject them from the precincts of
does God begin the work of sanctification in His people’s hearts by the infliction of loss. In the case of Adam and his spouse there were special reasons demanding their removal from the garden, as, e. g.,
o its non-suitability as a home for them now that their pure
natures were defiled by sin; and
o the danger of their continuing longer in the vicinity of the tree of life.
And the same two reasons will frequently be found to explain God’s
dealings with His people when He inflicts upon them loss of creature
comforts; the non-suitability of those comforts to their wants as spiritual
beings; and the presence of some special danger in the things removed.
Ø Increase of sorrow. Besides being ejected from the garden, the first pair
were henceforth to be subjected to toil and trouble. Adam in tilling the
ground, and Eve in bearing children. And this, too, was a part of God’s
educational process with our first parents; as, indeed, the sufferings of
this present life inflicted on His people generally are all commissioned
on a like errand, viz., to bring forth within them the peaceable fruits of
righteousness, and to make them partakers of HIS HOLINESS!
Ø Sentence of death. The words “whence he was taken” have an echo in
thou art,” &c., and must have extinguished within the breasts of Adam
and his wife all hope of returning to
the grave; perhaps, too, would assist them in seeking for a better
even an heavenly.
To prevent saints from seeking
the earth seems to be one of the main designs of death.
without cheering ingredients of hope in his condition.
Ø The Divine presence was still with him. The cherubim and flaming
sword were symbols of the ineffable majesty of Jehovah, and tokens
of His presence. And never since has the world been abandoned by
the God of mercy and salvation.
were appointed “to keep the way of the tree of life;” not simply to
guard the entrance, but to protect the place. So is heaven a
RESERVED INHERITANCE (I Peter 1:4).
Ø The prospect of readmission to the tree of life was yet before him. As
much as this was implied in the jealous guarding of the gate so long as
Adam was defiled by sin. It could not fail to suggest the idea that when
purified by life’s discipline he would no longer be excluded (compare
Ø The gate of heaven was still near him. He was still permitted to reside in
cherubim, though denied the privilege as yet of dwelling with Him in the
interior of His abode. If debarred from the full inheritance, he had at least
its earnest. And exactly this is the situation of saints on earth, who, unlike
those within the veil, who see the Lord of the heavenly paradise face to
face, can only commune with Him, as it were, at the gate of His celestial
1. To believe God’s promise of salvation.
2. To be grateful for God’s gift of righteousness.
3. To submit with cheerfulness to God’s paternal discipline.
4. To live in hope of entering God’s heaven.
The Dispensation of Redemption (v. 24)
did not root up its trees and flowers.
and seek for and, at last, BY DIVINE GRACE, obtain once more his
CHERUBIMS AND THE FLAMING SWORD TURNING EVERY
WAY, emblems of His natural and moral governments, which, as they
execute His righteous will amongst men, do both debar them from perfect
happiness and yet at the same time testify to the fact that there is such
for those who are prepared for it. Man outside
under law, but man under law is man preserved by DIVINE MERCY!
redemption is more than deliverance from condemnation and death; it is
restoration to eternal life. “
shall be hereafter “paradise regained.”
THE TREE OF LIFE” as closed and guarded, and therefore a way
which can be afterwards opened and made free.
surely, to ignore in such a representation the reference to a POSITIVE
REVELATION AS THE MEDIUM OF HUMAN DELIVERANCE
AND RESTORATION. The whole of the Scripture teaching rests upon
that foundation, that there is “a way, a truth, and a life” (John 14:6) which
is Divinely distinguished from all others. Gradually that eastward gate of
made clear in “THE MAN JESUS CHRIST!”
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