8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
From David Guzik:
a. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: Adam and Eve knew that when they heard the LORD coming, He would want to be with them. This was how the LORD had fellowship with Adam and Eve, in a very natural, close, intimate way.
i. Leupold on walking in the garden in the cool of the day: “The almost casual way in which this is remarked indicates that this did not occur for the first time just then … There is extreme likelihood that the Almighty assumed some form analogous to the human form which was made in His image.”
ii. We can assume this is God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, appearing to Adam and Eve before His incarnation and birth at Bethlehem, because of God the Father it is said, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18), and no man has ever seen God in the Person of the Father. (1 Timothy 6:16)
iii. “Cool of the day” is literally “the breeze of the day.” From Hebrew geography and culture, we might guess this means late afternoon.
b. Adam and his wife hid themselves: This shows that Adam and Eve knew that their attempt to cover themselves failed. They didn’t proudly show off their fig-leaf outfits; they knew their own covering was completely inadequate, and they were embarrassed before God.
c. Where are you? This is not the interrogation of an angry commanding officer, but the heartfelt cry of an anguished father. God obviously knew where they were but He also knew a gulf had been made between Himself and man, a gulf that He Himself would have to bridge.
Section aii above states that “God” – with a body walking through the Garden – must be Jesus Christ. This is obviously a potential dilemma to Jews reading Genesis. How supportable is the assertion here within the text of the Old Testament?
“Theophany” is the appearance of a deity to a human. This is not specifically a Christian, Jewish, or even monotheistic term. You will see several occurrences of theophany throughout Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies, for example. But specifically from the Old Testament, here are a few possible examples:
Genesis 12:7: Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. The word used for LORD here is Yahweh/Jehovah. However, we are not told the manner of the appearance. Was it face to face? In a fire? In a cloud? We can only speculate.
Genesis 32:24-29: 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
- In verse 30, when Jacob/Israel says “for I have seen God…” – the Hebrew word used there for God is the plural form, ‘elohiym. As a result, an alternative translation here *could* be “For I have seen the gods…”
- Important distinction: In the story of the Garden, God is referred to as Yehovah ‘elohiym. In the story of Jacob, he wrestles with ‘elohiym. Yehovah/Yahweh is not mentioned specifically.
- As we have seen throughout Genesis, one potential translation hurdle is that the text itself seems to prefer a polytheistic use of “the gods.” Christianity seeks to remedy the translation/polytheism issue, where “God” plural is concerned, with The Trinity. That is certainly a valid and widely held solution. I might offer a middle ground, though. It is possible, in my view, that “the gods” as often written about in Genesis is a reference to both capital G God / Jehovah / Yahweh… and also lesser celestial beings such as angels. Why might that be possible?
- Hosea 12:4 (referring to Jacob/Israel): He strove with the angel and prevailed; If Hosea’s interpretation of ‘elohiym includes an angel, could not ours also? To be clear, the word that Hosea uses for angel is מֲלְאָךְ mălʼâk, mal-awk’; from an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically, of God, i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher):—ambassador, angel, king, messenger.
- HOWEVER: Even if ‘elohiym might broadly be translated to include a wider range of celestial beings, including angels, יְהֹוָה Yᵉhôvâh, yeh-ho-vaw’; Yehovah very clearly does not include lower celestial beings. Is there another instance within the Bible of either Jesus being referred as יְהֹוָה Yᵉhôvâh, yeh-ho-vaw’; or alternatively is there another instance in the Bible of someone seeing Yahweh face to face?
Exodus 3:1-2: Here, Moses is visited by an angel of the Lord in a burning bush. The translation says that a “mal’ak” (angel) of the Lord (Yehovah) appeared to Moses.
Exodus 13:21-22: And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. Here, Lord is “Yehovah/Yahweh.” However, the Lord was not seen face-to-face, but rather inside a pillar of cloud.
Exodus 20:2-3: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. From verse 2: “I am Yahweh ‘elohiym”… “you shall have no ‘elohiym before me.” It seems that God (Yehovah/Yahweh) will have no worship of any other being from the celestial class above him. This is another use of ‘elohiym where clearly it does not refer to the Trinity.
Isaiah 6:1-7: 1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[fn] of his robe filled the temple. This verse is suggestive. Not only does Isaiah see God, but he sees God on His throne. We are also presented with another name for God: אֲדֹנָי ʼĂdônây, ad-o-noy’; an emphatic form of H113; the Lord (used as a proper name of God only):—(my) Lord.
- But in verse 5, this: 5And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Here, LORD is Yahweh. Isaiah again uses Yahweh to describe who he is seeing in verse 12 – though he intersperses “Lord” as Adonai throughout, too.
Ezekiel 1:1-28: Verse 1: He saw visions of the ‘elohiym. Verse 2: The world of Yahweh. The Hand of Yahweh was upon him. By verse 26, though, Ezekiel describes a throne and the appearance of the one who sat upon it was like an ‘adam (a man.) Ezekiel continues in verse 28: Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. He uses “Yahweh” in verse 28 and it is translated LORD.
It seems clear that this picture describes Yahweh/Yehovah on the Throne of Heaven. It also seems clear that Yahweh is described – however majestically – as having the likeness of a man. Is this Jesus Christ? Does the New Testament describe Jesus *on* the Throne? No. The New Testament of the Christian Bible repeatedly describes Jesus as standing at the Right Hand of God.
Acts 7:55 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Ephesians 1:20 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms
Romans 8:34 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Colossians 3:1 1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 1:3 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
1 Peter 3:22 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him
Revelation 3:21 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Matthew 22:44 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’
So where does that leave us with the Garden of Eden? It seems – to me at least – that the most likely explanation is that God the Father, Yahweh, walked in the Garden. This interpretation also has the virtue of being exactly what the text says occurred.
But what then do we make of John 1:18 and 1 Timothy 6:16? It’s not clear. One hurdle is that the writers in the New Testament are not writing in Hebrew.
- I would offer, as a solution, a focus on what the New Testament writers were concerned with as a starting point for searching out answers.
- John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
- 1 Timothy 6:16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
Both New Testament writers are making a point that Jesus Christ was a necessary intermediary between God and mankind. This is not at odds with the Old Testament accounts. Yahweh/Yehovah – after the Garden at least – is described consistently as being difficult or dangerous to actually see. When Isaiah sees God on the throne, he panics over his *sin* in God’s presence. The very next verse addresses this. Isaiah 6:7 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Atonement for sin is a necessary element of seeing God. In other instances where someone sees God on the throne, or God leading the Israelites out of Egypt, God is obscured by something (clouds, fire, rainbow and bright lights, etc.)
It is at least a possible interpretation of John and Timothy that when they mean “no one has ever seen God” they are referring to man in a Fallen status. Man, before the Fall, did not have the barrier of sin.
From Ellicot’s Bible Commentary
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.(8) And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.—The matter-of-fact school of commentators understand by this that there was a thunderstorm, and the guilty pair hearing for the first time the uproar of nature, hid themselves in terror, and interpreted the mighty peals as meaning their condemnation. Really it is in admirable keeping with the whole narrative; and Jehovah appears here as the owner of the Paradise, and as taking in it His daily exercise; for the verb is in the reflexive conjugation, and means “walking for pleasure.” The time is “the cool (literally, the wind) of the day,” the hour in a hot climate when the evening breeze sets in, and men, rising from their noontide slumber, go forth for labour or recreation. In this description the primary lesson is that hitherto man had lived in close communication with God. His intellect was undeveloped; his mental powers still slumbered; but nevertheless there was a deep spiritual sympathy between him and his Maker. It is the nobler side of Adam’s relationship to God before the fall.
Hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God.—This does not imply a visible appearance, for the whole narrative is anthropomorphic. The Fathers, however, saw in these descriptions the proof of a previous incarnation of the Divine Son (see Note on Genesis 12:7). Next, we find in their conduct an attempt to escape from the further result of sin. The first result was shame, from which man endeavoured to free himself by covering his person; the second was fear, and this man would cure by departing still farther from God. But the voice of Jehovah reaches him, and with rebuke and punishment gives also healing and hope.Genesis 3:11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?(11) Who told thee that thou wast naked?—Adam had given as his excuse that which was really the consequence of his sin; but by this question God awakens his conscience, and makes him feel that what he had described as a want or imperfection was really the result of his own act. And as long as a man feels sorrow only for the results of his actions there is no repentance, and no wish to return to the Divine presence. God, therefore, in order to win Adam back to better thoughts, carries his mind from the effect to the sin that had cause
Another mention of Genesis 12:7 – which we looked at above. Here is Ellicott’s note on that verse.
And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.(7) The Lord appeared unto Abram.—This is the first time that any appearance of the Deity is men tioned. Always previously the communications between God and man had been direct, without the intervention of any visible medium. Thus, God commanded Adam (Genesis 2:16); Adam and Eve heard His voice (Genesis 3:8), and He called them (Genesis 3:9); He said unto Cain (Genesis 4:6-9); unto Noah (Genesis 6:13; Genesis 7:1), and spake unto him (Genesis 8:15; Genesis 9:8): but henceforward we read repeatedly of a Divine appearance, and this visible manifestation is subsequently connected with the phrase “an angel of Jehovah” (see Genesis 16:7; Genesis 22:11, &c), and less frequently “an angel of God” (Genesis 21:17; Judges 6:20; Judges 13:9). Upon the question whether this was a created angel, or whether it was an anticipation of the incarnation of Christ, see Excursus on “Angel of Jehovah” at end of this book.
There builded he an altar unto the Lord.—By so doing he took possession of the land for Jehovah, and consecrated it to Him. The altar would, further, be a place of public worship and of sacrifice. In a similar spirit Noah had taken possession of the renovated earth (Genesis 8:20).
Perhaps here is another explanation for Yahweh/Yehovah walking in the Garden. Ellicott’s view then is that perhaps Adam and the woman did not actually *see* God. They merely heard God? This is another valid way to look at it. In fact, actually seeing the Holy God, in their sin, might explain their fear. The text seems to imply that they expected to see a visible God. Perhaps their sin is why God called out to them first? They might not have survived the encounter otherwise.
I would again point out that when the text says God appeared to Abram, the manner of that appearance is not made clear.
From the Pulpit Commentary:
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.Verse 8. – And they heard the voice of the Lord God. Either
(3) the sound of his voice (Calvin, Lange, Wordsworth); or
(4) probably all four. Walking in the garden. If the voice, then increasing in intensity (cf. Exodus 19:19; Bush); if Jehovah, which is better, then “wandering or walking about in a circle” within the garden bounds (Macdonald). In the cool (literally, the wind) of the day. The morning breeze (Calvin); the evening breeze (Kalisch, Macdonald); τὸ δειλινόν (LXX.); auram post meridiem (Vulgate); cf. homhayom, “the heat of the day” (Genesis 18:1). And Adam and his wife hid themselves. Not in humility, as unworthy to come into God’s presence (Irenaeus); or in amazement, as not knowing which way to turn (Augustine); or through modesty, (Knobel Bohlen); but from a sense of guilt. From the presence of the Lord. From which it is apparent they expected a Visible manifestation.Genesis 3:9And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?Verses 9, 10. – And the Lord God called unto Adam. Adam’s absence was a clear proof that something was wrong. Hitherto he had always welcomed the Divine approach. And said unto him, Where art thou? Not as if ignorant of Adam’s hiding-place, but to bring him to confession (cf. Genesis 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 (Calvin), which, however, admits of a psychological explanation, viz., that” his consciousness of the effects of sin was keener than his sense of the sin itself” (Keil), “although all that he says is purely involuntary self-accusation” (Delitzsch), and “the first instance of that mingling and confusion of Bin and punishment which is the peculiar characteristic of our redemption-needing humanity” (Lange). And I hid myself.Genesis 3:10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.Genesis 3:11And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?Verses 11, 12. – And he said. “To reprove the sottishness of Adam” (Calvin); “to awaken in him a sense of sin” (Keil). Who told thee that thou wast naked? Delitzsch finds in 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. Cf. with the cold and unfeeling terms in which Adam speaks of Eve the similar language in Genesis 37:32; Luke 15:30; John 9:12. “Without natural affection” is one of the bitter fruits of sin (cf. 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).Genesis 3:12And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.Genesis 3:13And 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.Verse 13. – And the Lord said unto the woman – without noticing the excuses, but simply accepting the admission, and passing on, “following up the transgression, even to the root – not the psychological merely, but the historical (Lange): What is this that thou hast done? Or, “Why hast thou done this?” (LXX., Vulgate, Luther, De Wette). “But the Hebrew phrase has more vehemence; it is the language of one who wonders as at something prodigious, and ought rather to be rendered, ‘ How hast thou done this?'” (Calvin). And the woman said (following the example of her guilty, husband, omitting any notice of her sin in tempting Adam, and transferring the blame of her own disobedience to the reptile), The serpent beguiled me. Literally, caused me to forget, hence beguiled, from נָשָׁה, to forget a thing (Lamentations 3:17), or person (Jeremiah 23:39; Stanley Loathes, ‘Gram.,’ App. 197); or, caused me to go astray, from נָשָׁא (unused in Kal), kindred to כָשָׁה, perhaps to err, to go astray (Gesenius, Furst); ἠπατήσε (LXX.), ἐξαπάτησεν (2 Corinthians 11:3). And I did eat. “A forced confession, but no appearance of contrition. ‘It’s true I did eat, but it was not my fault'” (Hughes).
I believe that is all I have on these verses. When we come back next time, we will address God’s punishments.