Genesis (Part 14)

Genesis 3: 1-7

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

TRANSLATIONS:

Verse 1:

“serpent” = נָחָשׁ nâchâsh, naw-khawsh’; from H5172; a snake (from its hiss):—serpent.

“crafty” = עָרוּם ʻârûwm, aw-room’; passive participle of H6191; cunning (usually in a bad sense):—crafty, prudent, subtil.

“and he said” = אָמַר ʼâmar, aw-mar’; a primitive root; to say (used with great latitude):—answer, appoint, avouch, bid, boast self, call, certify, challenge, charge, (at the, give) command(-ment), commune, consider, declare, demand, × desire, determine, × expressly, × indeed, × intend, name, × plainly, promise, publish, report, require, say, speak (against, of), × still, × suppose, talk, tell, term, × that is, × think, use (speech), utter, × verily, × yet.

“to the woman” = אִשָּׁה ʼishshâh, ish-shaw’; feminine of H376 or H582; irregular plural, נָשִׁים nâshîym;(used in the same wide sense as H582) a woman:—(adulter) ess, each, every, female, × many, none, one, together, wife, woman. Often unexpressed in English.

“god” = אֱלֹהִים ʼĕlôhîym, el-o-heem’; plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative:—angels, × exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), × (very) great, judges, × mighty.

Verse 3:

“eat” = אָכַל ʼâkal, aw-kal’; a primitive root; to eat (literally or figuratively):—× at all, burn up, consume, devour(-er, up), dine, eat(-er, up), feed (with), food, × freely, × in…wise(-deed, plenty), (lay) meat, × quite.

“touch” = נָגַע nâgaʻ, naw-gah’; a primitive root; properly, to touch, i.e. lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemistically, to lie with a woman); by implication, to reach (figuratively, to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.):—beat, (× be able to) bring (down), cast, come (nigh), draw near (nigh), get up, happen, join, near, plague, reach (up), smite, strike, touch.

“die” = מוּת mûwth, mooth; a primitive root; to die (literally or figuratively); causatively, to kill:—× at all, × crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy(-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro(-mancer), × must needs, slay, × surely, × very suddenly, × in (no) wise.

Verse 5:

“your eyes” = עַיִן ʻayin, ah’-yin; probably a primitive word; an eye (literally or figuratively); by analogy, a fountain (as the eye of the landscape):—affliction, outward appearance, before, think best, colour, conceit, be content, countenance, displease, eye((-brow), (-d), -sight), face, favour, fountain, furrow (from the margin), × him, humble, knowledge, look, (+ well), × me, open(-ly), + (not) please, presence, regard, resemblance, sight, × thee, × them, + think, × us, well, × you(-rselves).

“will be opened” = פָּקַח pâqach, paw-kakh’; a primitive root; to open (the senses, especially the eyes); figuratively, to be observant:—open.

“good” = טוֹב ṭôwb, tobe; from H2895; good (as an adjective) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masculine and the feminine, the singular and the plural (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; the good, goods or good things, good men or women), also as an adverb (well):—beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, × fair (word), (be in) favour, fine, glad, good (deed, -lier, -liest, -ly, -ness, -s), graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh (best), loving, merry, × most, pleasant, pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, (be) well(-favoured).

“evil” = רַע raʻ, rah; from H7489; bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral):—adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displease(-ure), distress, evil((-favouredness), man, thing), + exceedingly, × great, grief(-vous), harm, heavy, hurt(-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief(-vous), misery, naught(-ty), noisome, + not please, sad(-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked(-ly, -ness, one), worse(-st), wretchedness, wrong. (Including feminine raaah; as adjective or noun.)

Verse 6:

“husband” = אִישׁ ʼîysh, eesh; contracted for H582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation):—also, another, any (man), a certain, champion, consent, each, every (one), fellow, (foot-, husband-) man, (good-, great, mighty) man, he, high (degree), him (that is), husband, man(-kind), none, one, people, person, steward, what (man) soever, whoso(-ever), worthy. Compare H802.

Verse 7:

“naked” = עֵירֹם ʻêyrôm, ay-rome’; or עֵרֹם ʻêrôm; from H6191; nudity:—naked(-ness).

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And so… humanity Fell into sin.

Let’s start with “the serpent” and the David Guzik study:

1. (Gen 3:1) The serpent begins his temptation.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

a. The serpent: The text here does not, by itself alone, clearly identify the serpent as Satan, but the rest of the Bible makes it clear this is Satan appearing as a serpent.

i. In Ezekiel 28:13-19 tells us that Satan was in Eden. Many other passages associate a serpent or a snake-like creature with Satan (such as Job 26:13 and Isaiah 51:9). Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 speak of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan.

ii. The representation of Satan as a serpent makes the idea of Moses saving Israel by lifting up a bronze serpent all the more provocative (Numbers 21:8-9), especially when Jesus identifies Himself with that very serpent (John 3:14). This is because in this picture, the serpent (a personification of sin and rebellion) is made of bronze (a metal associated with judgment, since it is made with fire). The lifting of a bronze serpent is the lifting up of sin judged, in the form of a cross.

iii. Ezekiel 28 tells us Satan, before his fall, was an angel of the highest rank and prominence, even the “worship leader” in heaven. Isaiah 14 tells us Satan’s fall had to do with his desire to be equal to or greater than God, to set his will against God’s will.

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In the video below is a longer and FASCINATING discussion on the “nachash” from Dr. Michael Heiser. He includes a translation for “nachash” that goes beyond our Blue Letter Bible Strong’s dictionary definition. He explains in much more detail in the video. However, an alternative way to define “nachash” is either as a verb meaning “deceiver” or as an adjective meaning “shining one.” Dr. Heiser argues that the word likely was intended to mean all three.

I include this video, in particular, to show that even with my effort to provide translations from the original Hebrew, for the words as they appear in English, there are limitations to my endeavor without my also knowing the language. Dr. Heiser earned his Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is ahead of us here.

Knowing now to look for it, here is nachash as both a verb and then as an adjective:

נָחַשׁ nâchash, naw-khash’; a primitive root; properly, to hiss, i.e. whisper a (magic) spell; generally, to prognosticate:—× certainly, divine, enchanter, (use) × enchantment, learn by experience, × indeed, diligently observe.

נְחָשׁ nᵉchâsh, nekh-awsh’; (Aramaic) corresponding to H5154; copper:—brass

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Allen Cooper, from The Harvard Theological Review, published an article: A Medieval Jewish Version of Original Sin: Ephraim of Luntshits on Leviticus 12 which you can read here:

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From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

Ellicott’s Commentary for English ReadersGenesis 3:1Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?III.

(1) Now the serpent.—Literally, And. The Hebrew language, however, is very poor in particles, and the intended contrast would be made plainer by rendering “Now they were both naked (arumim) . . . but the serpent was subtil (arum)more than every beast of the field.” This quality of the serpent was in itself innocent, and even admirable, and accordingly the LXX. translate prudent; but it was made use of by the tempter to deceive Eve; for, it has been remarked, she would not be surprised on finding herself spoken to by so sagacious a creature. If this be so, it follows that Eve must have dwelt in Paradise long enough to have learnt something of the habits of the animals around her, though she had never studied them so earnestly as Adam, not having felt that want of a companion which had made even his state of happiness so dull.

And he said unto the woman.—The leading point of the narrative is that the temptation came upon man from without, and through the woman. Such questions, therefore, as whether it were a real serpent or Satan under a serpent-like form, whether it spake with a real voice, and whether the narrative describes a literal occurrence or is allegorical, are better left unanswered. God has given us the account of man’s temptation and fall, and the entry of sin into the world, in this actual form; and the more reverent course is to draw from the narrative the lessons it was evidently intended to teach us, and not enter upon too curious speculations. We are dealing with records of a vast and hoar antiquity, given to man when he was in a state of great simplicity, and with his intellect only partly developed, and we cannot expect to find them as easy to understand as the pages of modern history.

Yea, hath God said . . .?—There is a tone of surprise in these words, as if the tempter could not bring himself to believe that such a command had been given. Can it really be true, he asks, that Elohim has subjected you to such a prohibition? How unworthy and wrong of Him! Neither the serpent nor the woman use the title—common throughout this section—of Jehovah-Elohim, a sure sign that there was a thoughtful purpose in giving this appellation to the Deity. It is the impersonal God of creation to whom the tempter refers, and the woman follows his guidance, forgetting that it was Jehovah, the loving personal Being in covenant with them, who had really given them the command.Genesis 3:5For 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.(5) Ye shall be as gods.—Rather, as God, as Elohim himself, in the particular quality of knowing good and evil. It was a high bait which the tempter offered; and Eve, who at first had answered rightly, and who as yet knew nothing of falsehood, dallied with the temptation, and was lost. But we must not comment too severely upon her conduct. It was no mean desire which led her astray: she longed for more know ledge and greater perfection; she wished even to rise above the level of her nature; but the means she used were in violation of God’s command, and so she fell. And, as usual, the tempter kept the promise to the ear. Eve knew good and evil, but only by feeling evil within herself. It was by moral degradation, and not by intellectual insight, that her ambitious wish was fulfilled.Genesis 3:6And 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.(6) And when the woman saw . . . she took.—Heb., And the woman saw . . . and she took, &c. In this, the original form of the narrative, we see the progress of the temptation detailed in a far more lively manner than in our version. With awakened desire the woman gazes upon the tree. The fruit appears inviting to the eye, and possibly was really good for food. The whole aspect of the tree was beautiful; and, besides, there was the promise held out to her that it possessed the mysterious faculty of developing her intellectual powers. To this combined influence of her senses without and her ambition within she was unable to offer that resistance which would have been possible only by a living faith in the spoken word of God. She eats, therefore, and gives to her husband—so called here for the first time—and he eats with her. The demeanour of Adam throughout is extraordinary. It is the woman who is tempted—not as though Adam was not present, as Milton supposes, for she has not to seek him—but he shares with her at once the gathered fruit. Rather, she is pictured to us as more quick and observant, more open to impressions, more curious and full of longings than the man, whose passive behaviour is as striking as the woman’s eagerness and excitability.Genesis 3:7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.(7) The eyes of them both were opened.—This consciousness of guilt came upon them as soon as they had broken God’s commandment by eating of the forbidden fruit; and it is evident from the narrative that they ate together; for otherwise Eve would have been guilty of leading Adam into sin after her understanding had been enlightened to perceive the consequences of her act. But manifestly her deed was not without his cognisance and approval, and he had shared, in his own way, her ambition of attaining to the God like. But how miserably was this proud desire dis appointed! Their increased knowledge brought only shame. Their minds were awakened and enlarged, but the price they paid for it was their innocence and peace.

They sewed fig leaves together.—There is no reason for supposing that the leaves were those of the pisang (Musa paradisiaca)which grow ten feet long. Everywhere else the word signifies the common fig-tree (Ficus carica)one of the earliest plants subjected to man’s use. More remarkable is the word sewed. The Syriac translator felt the difficulty of supposing Eve acquainted with the art of needlework, and renders it, “they stuck leaves together.” But the word certainly implies something more elaborate than this. Probably some time elapsed between their sin and its punishment; and thus there was not merely that first hasty covering of themselves which has made commentators look about for a leaf large enough to encircle their bodies, but respite sufficient to allow of something more careful and ingenious; and Eve may have used her first advance in intellect for the adornment of her person. During this delay they would have time for reflection, and begin to understand the nature of the change that had taken place in their condition.

Aprons.—More correctly, girdles.

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Here are some interesting notes regarding the Fall, and other belief systems and cultures, from the Pulpit Commentary:

TRADITIONS OF THE FALL.

I. ORIENTAL.

1. 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 in-eluded in the curse for the fall; and the gods invoke on the human race all the evils which afflict humanity – family quarrels, tyranny, the anger of the gods, disappointment, famine, useless prayers, trouble of mind and body, a tendency to sin (‘Chaldean Genesis,’ pp. 87-91).

2. 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,’ p. 13).

3. 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 Sanserit appellation we plainly trace the Hebrew Nachash.” In the Vishnu Purana the first beings created by Brama are represented as endowed with righteousness and perfect faith, as free from guilt and filled with perfect wisdom, wherewith they contemplated the glory of Visham, till after a time they are seduced. In the legends of India the triumph of Krishna over the great serpent Kali Naga, who had poisoned the waters of the river, but who himself was ultimately destroyed by Krishna trampling on his head, bears a striking analogy to the Mosaic story (Kitto’s ‘Daily Bible Illustrations’).

II. OCCIDENTAL.

1. 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).

2. 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).

3. Apollo and the Pythen. “This Python, ancient legends affirm, was a serpent bred out of the slime that remained after Deucalion’s deluge, and was worshipped as a god at Delphi. Eminent authorities derive the name of the monster kern a Hebrew root signifying to deceive.” As the bright god of heaven, to whom everything impure and unholy is hateful, Apollo, four days after his birth, slew this monster with his arrows. What shall we say then to these things? This – that the nations embodied in these traditions their remembrances of paradise, of the fall, and of the promised salvation (Kitto, ‘Daily Bible Illustrations’ p. 67).

Genesis 3:8And 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.

It is quite interesting to see how many religions separately recount an evil figure represented as a serpent or a dragon.

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If you are paying careful attention, I want to draw your attention to a couple of details:

  • Adam has not named Woman, yet. When she acted in this chapter, she was doing so unnamed.
  • Adam was with the woman when she sinned. “She gave some to her husband who was with her.”
  • These verses are translated to state that Adam and the woman are married. However, we saw in the previous verse that the translator decided to translate the word for “woman” as “woman” one time and then as “wife” another time. In verse six, above, the word for “husband” – as translated – can also mean “man.”

I will look into the “marriage” of Adam and Eve more closely for the Creation and Fall topical wrap-up post I am planning to write

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We will see how God deals with sin in the next set of verses.

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