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- נָחָשׁ serpent; r. hiss, Ges.; sting, Mey. עָרוּם subtle, crafty, using craft for defence.
- תָּפַר sew, stitch, tack together. חֲגֹּורָה girdle, not necessarily apron.
Genesis 3:1–7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, 3 but from the tree that is in the midst of the garden, God said, ‘You shall not eat from it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 And the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 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 desirable to make one wise, and she took of its fruit and ate, then she also gave some to her husband when with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
This chapter continues the piece commenced at Gen. 2:4. The same combination of divine names is found here, except in the dialogue between the serpent and the woman, where God (אֱלֹהִים) alone is used. It is natural for the tempter to use only the more distant and abstract name of God. It narrates in simple terms the fall of man.
Genesis 3:1. The serpent is called a beast of the field, neither a domesticated animal nor one of the smaller sorts. Jehovah God had made it; therefore, it was a creature created on the same creative day with Adam. It is not the wisdom but the wiliness of the serpent which is here noted. This animal is destitute of arms or legs by which to escape danger. It is therefore thrown back upon instinct, aided by a quick and glaring eye and a rapid dart and recoil, to evade the stroke of violence and watch and seize the unguarded moment for inflicting the deadly bite. British zoologist H. W. Parker, in his book Snakes: A Natural History (1977, p. 49): “Even when the last line of defence has been reached, the counter-attack in its initial stages may be more simulated than real; frequent lunges are made with apparent ferocity, but they fall short of the objective and sometimes the mouth is not even opened. It is also not unusual at this stage for the snake to uncoil itself stealthily to be ready for a speedy withdrawal and flight if the enemy recoils. But when an all-out attack finally develops, it follows the pattern usually employed in securing prey, though with increased ferocity; species that would normally bite and then release their victim, or merely hold it, bite repeatedly or worry their molester.”
Hence, the wily and insidious character of its instinct is noticed to account for the mode of attack here chosen and the style of the conversation. The whole is so deeply designed that the origin and progress of evil in the breast is as nearly as possible such as it might have been had there been no prompter. No startling proposal of disobedience is made, no advice, no persuasion to partake of the fruit is employed. The suggestion or assertion of the false only is plainly offered; and the bewildered mind is left to draw its own false inferences and pursue its own misguided course. The tempter addresses the woman as the more susceptible and unguarded of the two creatures he would betray. He ventures upon a half-questioning, half-insinuating remark—God said, ‘You shall not eat from it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” This seems to be a feeler for some weak point, where the fidelity of the woman to her Maker might be shaken. It hints at something strange, if not unjust or unkind, on the part of God. Why was any tree withheld? he would insinuate.
Genesis 3:2-3. The woman gives the natural and distinct answer of unaffected sincerity to this suggestion. The deviations from the strict letter of the law are nothing more than the free and earnest expressions of her feelings. The expression, “neither shall ye touch it,” merely implies that they were not to meddle with it as a forbidden thing.
Genesis 3:4-5. The serpent now makes a strong and bold assertion, denying the deadly efficacy of the tree, or the fatal consequence of partaking of it and affirming that God was aware that on the eating of it their eyes would be opened, and they would be like himself in knowing good and evil.
Let us remember that this was the first falsehood the woman ever heard. Her mind was also infantile as yet, so far as experience was concerned. The opening mind is naturally inclined to believe the truth of every assertion until it has learned by experience the falsehood of some. There was also in this falsehood that which gives the power to deceive, a great deal of truth combined with the element of untruth. The tree was not physically fatal to life, and the eating of it really issued in a knowledge of good and evil. Nevertheless, the partaking of that which was forbidden issued in the legal and actual privation of life. And it did not make them know good and evil altogether, as God knows it, but in an experimental sense, as the devil knows it. In point of knowledge, they became like God, in point of morality, like the tempter.
THE PROBLEM OF EVIL EXCURSION
Later Bible texts establish Satan the Devil as the one using a serpent as his mouthpiece like a ventriloquist would a dummy. Anyway, take note that Satan contradicts the clear statement that God made to Adam in Genesis 2:17, “you will not surely die.” Backing up a little, we see Satan asking an inferential question, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” First, he is overstating what he knows to be true, not “any tree,” just one tree. Second, Satan is inferring, ‘I can’t believe that God would say . . . how dare he say such.’ Notice too that Eve has been told so thoroughly about the tree that she even goes beyond what Adam told her, not just that you ‘do not eat from it,’ no, ‘you do not even touch it!’ Then, Satan out-and-out lied and slandered God as a liar, saying that ‘they would not die.’ To make matters much worse, he infers that God is withholding good from them, and by rebelling, they would be better off, being like God, ‘knowing good and bad.’ This latter point is not knowledge of; it is the self-sovereignty of choosing good and bad for oneself and act of rebellion for created creatures. What was symbolized by the tree is well expressed in a footnote on Genesis 2:17 in The Jerusalem Bible (1966):
This knowledge is a privilege that God reserves to himself and which man, by sinning, is to lay hands on, 3:5, 22. Hence it does not mean omniscience, which fallen man does not possess; nor is it moral discrimination, for unfallen man already had it, and God could not refuse it to a rational being. It is the power of deciding for himself what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to recognize his status as a created being. The first sin was an attack on God’s sovereignty, a sin of pride.
The Issues at Hand
(1) Satan called God a liar and said he was not to be trusted about the life or death issue.
(2) Satan’s challenge, therefore, took into question the right and legitimacy of God’s rightful place as the Universal Sovereign.
(3) Satan also suggested that people would remain obedient to God only if submitting to God was to their benefit.
(4) Satan all but said that humankind was able to walk on his own, there being no need for dependence on God.
(5) Satan argued that man could be like God, choosing for himself what is right and wrong.
(6) Satan claimed that God’s way of ruling was not in the best interests of humans, and they could do better without God.
Job 1:6-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan also came among them. 7 Jehovah said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered Jehovah and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8 Jehovah said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” 9 Then Satan answered Jehovah, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have you not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse you to your face.”
Job 2:4-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 Satan answered Jehovah and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 However, put forth your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse you to your face.”
This general reference to “a man,” as opposed to explicitly naming Job, is suggesting that all men [and women] will only obey God when things are good, but when the slightest difficulty arises, he will not obey. If you were put to the test, would you prove your love for your heavenly Father and show that you preferred His rule to that of any other?
God Settles the Issues
There is one thing that Satan did not challenge, namely, the power of God. Satan did not suggest that God was unable to destroy him as an opposer. However, he did challenge God’s way of ruling, not His right to rule. Therefore, a moral issue must be settled.
An illustration of how God chose to deal with the issue can be demonstrated in human terms. A neighbor down the street slandered a man with a son and daughter. The slanderer said that he was not a good father, i.e., he withheld good from his children and was so overbearing to the point of being abusive. The slanderer stated that the children would be better off without their father. He further argued that the children had no real love for their father and only obeyed him because of the food and shelter. How should the father deal with these false, i.e., slanderous accusations? If he were to go down the road and pummel the slanderer, it would only validate the lies, making the neighbors believe the accuser is telling the truth.
The answer lies with his family, as they can serve as his witnesses. (Pro 27:11; Isa 43:10) If the children stay obedient and become successful adults, turning out to be loving, caring, honest people with spotless character, the accusations are false. If the children accept the lies and rebel and grow up to be despicable people, it just further validates that they would have been better off by staying with the father. This is how God chose to deal with the issues. The issues that were raised must be settled beyond all reasonable doubt.
If God had destroyed the rebellious three: Satan, Adam, and Eve; he would not have resolved the issues of
(1) Whether man could walk on his own,
(2) if he would be better off without his Creator,
(3) if God’s rulership were not best, and
(4) if God were hiding good from man.
(5) In addition, there was an audience of untold billions of angelic spirit creatures looking on.
If God destroyed without settling things, these spirit persons would be following God out of dreadful fear, not love, fear of displeasing God. Moreover, say He did kill them and start over, and ten thousand years down the road (with billions of humans now on earth), the issues were raised again, He would have to destroy billions of people again, and again, and again all throughout time, until these issues were laid to rest.
What God has done is allow time to pass and resolve the issues. Man thought he was better off without God and could walk on his own. In addition, man has attempted every kind of rulership imaginable, and one must ask, ‘have they proven themselves better than rulership under the sovereignty of their Creator?’ (Proverbs 1:30-33; Isaiah 59:4, 8) Sadly, the issues must be taken up to the brink of destroying man. (Rev 11:18) Otherwise, the argument would be that they could have turned things around if given enough time. If man goes up to the point of destroying himself and Armageddon comes at the last minute, it will have set a case law, solved the issue, and the Bible can serve as an example forever. If the issues of God’s sovereignty or the loyalty of His created creatures, angelic or human, is ever questioned again, we would have the Holy Bible that will serve as a law established based on previous verdicts of not guilty; please see below.
What Have the Results Been?
(1) God does not cause evil and suffering. Romans 9:14.
(2) The fact that God has allowed evil, pain, and suffering has shown that independence from God has not brought about a better world. Jeremiah 8:5, 6, 9.
(3) God’s permission of evil, pain, and suffering has also proved that Satan has not been able to turn all humans away from God. Exodus 9:16; 1 Samuel 12:22; Hebrews 12:1.
(4) The fact that God has permitted evil, pain, and suffering to continue has provided proof that only God, the Creator, has the capability and the right to rule over humankind for their eternal blessing and happiness. Ecclesiastes 8:9.
(5) Satan has been the god of this world since the sin in Eden (over 6,000 years). And how has that worked out for man, and what has been the result of man’s course of independence from God and his rule? Matthew 4:8-9; John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 1 John 5:19; Psalm 127:1.
Satan’s impact on the earth’s activities has carried with it conflict, evil, and death, and his rulership has been by deception, power, and self-interest. He has demonstrated himself as an unfit ruler of everything. Therefore, God is now completely vindicated in putting an end to this corrupted rebel along with all who have shared in his evil deeds.―Romans 16:20.
God has tolerated evil, sickness, pain, suffering, and death until our day in order to resolve all the issues raised by Satan. We are self-centered in thinking that this has only pained us. Imagine that you are holding a rope on a sinking ship that 20 other men, women, and children are clinging to when your child loses her grip and falls into the ocean. You can hold the rope, saving 20 people, or you can let go and attempt to rescue your daughter. God has been watching the suffering of billions from the day of Adam and Eve’s sin. Moreover, it has been His great love for us which causes Him to cling to the rope of issues, saving us from a future of repeated issues. Nevertheless, he will not allow this evil to remain forever. He has set a fixed time when He will end this wicked system of Satan’s rule.
Daniel 11:27 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
27 As for both kings, their heart will be inclined to do what is evil, and they will speak lies to each other at the same table; but it will not succeed, for the end is still to come at the appointed time.
Unlike what many people of the world may think (the world that lies in the hands of Satan), being obedient to God is not difficult. We simply must set our pride aside, accept that God’s wisdom is so far greater than our own, and accept that He has worked for the good of obedient humankind, as He loves each one of us.
Matthew 7:21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
1 John 2:15-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and its lusts; but the one who does the will of God remains forever.
As Christians, there is a love we must not have. We must ‘not love the world or anything in it.’ Instead, we need to keep from becoming infected by the corruption of unrighteous human society that is alienated from God and must not breathe in its mental disposition or be moved by its sinful dominant attitude. (Ephesians 2:1, 2; James 1:27) If we were to have the views of those in the world who oppose God, “the love of the Father” would not be in us. (James 4:4)
Was Satan Punished?
COMMON QUESTION: Why did God not destroy Satan, Adam, and Eve immediately?
I would follow up with what would have happened if God had chosen that path. Hundreds of billions of angels with free will were watching, and they knew of the issues raised. What would their love of God have been like if God did not address the issues raised? Was Satan, right? Was God lying? Would free will creatures: spirits and humans be better off? Will God just destroy us over anything? First, the spirit creatures would have followed God out of dreadful fear, rather than fear of displeasing the one they loved so much up to that point, like a child to a parent. Second, what happens if the issue is raised a hundred thousand years after a restart and there are 30 billion perfect humans on the planet? Would God simply destroy everyone again and start over. Do we think it wise that he does this reboot every time or was it not better that he settled the issue once and for all?
POINT: Satan raised Issues of sovereignty in the Garden of Eden.
POINT: Can humans walk on their own; do they really need their Creator? Are they better off without God?
POINT: Was God lying and withholding?
When a teenager becomes a rebel in our house, we have a choice: (1) severe punishment or (2) teach them an object lesson.
HUMANS AND ANGELS are created products no different from a car coming off an assembly line, i.e., (1) they owe their existence to their creator, and (2) they were created to function based on the creator’s design. What will happen if we take a ford escort and treat it like a heavy-duty four-wheel-drive truck and go off-roading (not what the car was designed to do)?
God wisely chose to teach both angels and humans an object lesson. Neither was designed to walk on their own. Both angels and humans were given relative freedom (under the sovereignty of God), not absolute freedom. They were not designed to choose what is right and what is wrong on their own. They were given God’s moral standards by way of an internal conscience. How can we tell a rebel that we do not have absolute freedom, are better off under the umbrella of our creator’s sovereignty, and cannot walk on our own? They will just reject it as a rebel teenager would.
OBJECT LESSON: We let them learn from their choice, no matter how painful it is, and hard love means that we do not step in until the lesson is fully learned. Humankind was essentially told, “Oh, you think you can walk on your own, well go ahead, we will see how that works out.” After six thousand years, God could actually use a common saying among young people today: “How is that absolute freedom working out for you?”
When will the lesson fully be learned? Humankind will walk right up to the very edge of the cliff of killing themselves, actually falling over, when God will step in and stop the object lesson. To stop it anytime before will cause doubts. If it had been stopped a century ago, the argument would have been; that God simply stepped in before we got to the scientific age because he knew we were going to find true peace and security, along with something to give us eternal life. However, if humanity has actually fallen over the edge of the cliff and the destruction of us is definite, and God steps in, no argument can be raised, and the object lesson is learned.
Why Was Satan Not Kicked Out of Heaven Right Away?
Satan stayed in his realm, just as humans stayed in theirs. God changed nothing right away because he would have been accused of adjusting the pieces on the chessboard to get the desired outcome, i.e., cheating. When will Satan be kicked out of heaven? Satan and the Demons lost access to the person of God long ago, and they lost some of their powers, such as being able to materialize in human form, like they did when they took human women for themselves at the flood, producing the Nephilim.
Satan would be thrown to the earth very shortly before the end of his age of rulership, when “he knows that his time is short.” (Rev 12:9-12) This means that Satan will be thrown from heaven sometime before the Great Tribulation and Christ’s return. Revelation 12:12 says,” ‘Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath because he knows that his time is short!’”
Notice that it is at a time when “Satan knows that his time is short!” What comes next for Satan? He will be abyssed, thrown into a super-maximum-security prison for a thousand years (lacking a better way to explain it), while Jesus fixes all that Satan has done. After the thousand years, he will be let loose for a little while, and he will tempt perfect humans, and sadly some will fall away. In the end, Satan and those humans will be destroyed, and Jesus will hand the kingdom back over to the Father.
END OF THE PROBLEM OF EVIL EXCURSION
Genesis 3:6. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes. She saw the tree, no doubt, and that it was likely to look upon, with the eye of sense. But only with the eye of fancy, highly excited by the hints of the tempter, did she see that it was good for food, and to be desired to make one wise. Appetite, taste, philosophy, or the love of wisdom, are the great motives in the human breast that fancy assumes this tree will gratify. Other trees please the taste and the sight. But this one has the preeminent charm of administering not only to the sense, but also to the reason. The Hebrew (תַּאֲוָה taavah) means delight, desire, an inclination to want things in this context. It means “longing, desire, craving, i.e., the state having a wish or want for something for the pleasure it brings (Ge 3:6; Nu 11:4; Ps 10:3, 17; 21:3[EB 2]; 38:10[EB 9]; 78:29, 30; 106:14; 112:10; Pr 10:24; 11:23; 13:12, 19; 18:1; 19:22; 21:25, 26; Isa 26:8+)” You will notice that the tree looked not different than any of the other trees and Eve is just not seeing that it was a delight to the eyes after being tempted by Satan. This ploy from the beginning trying to cultivate in us inappropriate desires, inclinations, cravings. The apostle John also speaks of “the lust of the eyes.” (1 John 2:16) This would include, of course, costly and beautiful things that attract one’s attention away from spiritual things. The object refers to the excessive feelings of pride in this world, the thing on which the eye delights to rest where there is no higher object of life. It does not, of course, mean that the eye is never to be gratified, or that we can find as much pleasure in an ugly as in a handsome object, or that it is sinful to find pleasure in beholding objects of real beauty—for the world, as formed by its Creator, is full of such things, and he could not but have intended that pleasure should enter the soul through the eye, or that the beauties which he has shed so lavishly over his works should contribute to the happiness of his creatures; but the apostle refers to this when it is the great and leading object of life—when it is sought without any connection with our godly devotion and pure worship or reference to the world to come. So, here in Genesis, Satan draws Eve’s attention to the innocent-looking tree with its prohibited fruit. His intent was to arouse her interest in the fruit of the tree. Eve then took notice “that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desirable.” So what happened? “She took of its fruit and ate.” (Genesis 3:6) The hundreds of millions of demons will use similar methods, playing on our imperfect natural desire for desirable-looking things.
Then she also gave some to her husband when. Was Adam standing beside Eve when she had the conversation with the serpent, was deceived, and chose to rebel against God? The Bible shows no indication that this is the case. Other translations make it appear as though that is the case, “she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” The Hebrew verb translated “gave” is in the imperfect waw consecutive; as a result, it points to a temporal or logical sequence (usually called an “imperfect sequential”). Hence, a Bible translator or committee can translate the several occurrences of the waw, which tie together the chain of events in verse 6, with “and” as well as other transitional words, such as “subsequently,” “then,” “after that,” afterward,” and “so.” One must ask themselves, would Adam have passively stood beside his wife Eve, listening to the conversation between her and the serpent, as Satan spewed forth lies and malicious talk through this serpent, especially when Paul tells us explicitly that the serpent did not deceive him? Supposedly, Adam just stood there and remained silent? Adam just chose not to interrupt the peddling of lies.
It would be rash to suppose that we can analyze that lightning process of instinctive thought that then took place in the mind of the woman; and worse than rash, it would be wrong to imagine that we can show the rationale of that which in its fundamental point was a violation of right reason. But it is evident from this verse that she attached some credit to the bold statement of the serpent that the eating of the fruit would be attended with the extraordinary result of making them, like God himself, acquainted with good and evil, especially as it did not contradict any assertion of Jehovah, God, and was countenanced by the name, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” It was evidently a new thought to her, that the knowledge of good and evil resulted from eating it. That God should know this, if a fact, was undeniable. Again, to know good and evil as the effect of partaking of it, implied that the consequence was not a cessation of existence, or of consciousness; for, if so, how could there be any knowledge? And, if death in her conception implied merely exclusion from the favor of God and the tree of life, might she not imagine that the new knowledge acquired, and the elevation to a new resemblance, or even equality to God himself in this respect, would be more than a compensation for such losses; especially as the disinterestedness of the divine motives had been at least called in question by the serpent? Here, no doubt, is a fine web of sophistry, woven by the excited fancy in an instant of time. Murphy, in this paragraph, is partially correct. But I would contend that Adam and Eve were not simpletons. The fact that God could make such a command meant that they understood good and evil. It was bad to eat from the tree and good to not eat from the tree. Obedience was good, and disobedience was bad. The acquisition of knowledge of Good and evil was the usurping of the sovereignty of God, in that Adam and Eve would reject God, rebel, and choose for themselves what was good and what was bad.—Andrews.
It is easy to say the knowledge of good and evil was not a physical effect of eating of the fruit; that the obtaining of this knowledge by partaking of it was an evil, and not a good in itself and in its consequences, as it was the origin of an evil conscience, which is in itself an unspeakable ill, and attended with the forfeiture of the divine favor, and of the tree of life, and with the endurance of all the positive misery which such a condition involves; and that the command of God was founded on the clearest right,—that of creation,—occasioned by the immediate necessity of defining the rights of man, and prompted by disinterested benevolence toward His intelligent creatures, whom He was framing for such intellectual and moral perfection, as was by them attainable. It is easy to cry out, How unreasonable was the conduct of the primeval pair! Let us not forget that any sin is unreasonable, unaccountable, essentially mysterious. In fact, if it were wholly reasonable, it would no longer be sin. Only a moment before, the woman had declared that God had said, “Of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, ye shall not eat.” Yet she now sees, and her head is so full of it that she can think of nothing else, that the tree is good for food and pleasant to the eyes,—as if there were no other good and pleasant trees in the garden, and, as she fancies, desirable to make one wise, like God; as if there were no other way to this wisdom but an unlawful one, and no other likeness to God but a stolen likeness,—and therefore takes of the fruit and eats, and gives to her husband, and he eats! The present desire is without any necessity gratified by an act known to be wrong, at the risk of all the consequences of disobedience! Such is sin.
Genesis 3:7. Certain immediate effects of the act are here stated. Their eyes were opened. This cannot mean literally that they were blind up to this moment; for Adam, no doubt, saw the tree in the garden concerning which he received a command, the animals which he named, and the woman whom he recognized as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. And of the woman, it is affirmed that she saw that the tree possessed certain qualities, one of which at least was conspicuous to the eye.
It must therefore mean that a new aspect was presented by things on the commission of the first offense. As soon as the transgression is actually over, the sense of the wrongfulness of the act rushes on the mind. The displeasure of the great Being whose command has been disobeyed, the irretrievable loss which follows sin, the shame of being looked upon by the bystanders as a guilty thing, crowd upon the view. All nature, every single creature, seems now a witness of their guilt and shame, a condemning judge, an agent of the divine vengeance. Such is the knowledge of good and evil they have acquired by their fall from obedience,—such is the opening of the eye that has required their wrong-doing. What a different scene had once presented itself to the eyes of innocence! All had been friendly. All nature: had bowed in willing obedience to the lords of the earth. Neither the sense nor the reality of danger had ever disturbed the tranquillity of their pure minds.
They knew that they were naked. This second effect results immediately from the consciousness of guilt. They now take notice that; their guilty persons are exposed to view, and they shrink from the glance of every condemning eye. They imagine a witness of their guilt in every creature, and they conceive the abhorrence it must produce in the spectator. In their infantile experience, they endeavor to hide their persons, which they feel to be suffused all over with the blush of shame.
Accordingly, they sewed the fig leaves, which, we may suppose, wrapped around them and fastened with the girdles they had formed for this purpose. The leaves of the fig did not constitute the girdles, but the coverings which were fastened on with these. These leaves were intended to conceal their whole persons from observation. Job describes himself sewing sackcloth on his skin (Job 16:15) and girding on sackcloth (1 Kings 20:32; Lam. 2:10; Joel 1:8) is a familiar phrase in Scripture. The primitive sewing was some sort of tacking together, which is not more particularly described. Every operation of this sort has a rude beginning. The word girdle (חֲגֹורָה) signifies that which girds on the dress.
Here it becomes us to pause for a moment so that we may mark what the precise nature of the first transgression was. It was plainly disobedience to an express and well-understood command of the Creator. It matters not what was the nature of the command since it could not be other than right and pure. The more simple and easy the thing enjoined, the more blameworthy the act of disobedience. But what was the command? Simply to abstain from the fruit of a tree, which was designated the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death. We have already seen that this command arose from the necessity of immediate legislation and took its shape as the only possible one in the case circumstances. The peculiar attraction, however, which the forbidden tree presented, was not its excellence for the appetite or pleasantness to the eyes, since these were common to all the trees, but its supposed power of conferring moral knowledge on those who partook of it and, according to the serpent’s explanation, making them like God in this important respect. Hence, the transgressor’s real and obvious motive was the desire for knowledge and likeness to God. Whatever other lusts, therefore, may have afterward come out in the nature of fallen man, it is plain that the lust after likeness to God in moral discernment was that which originally brought forth sin in man. Sexual desire does not appear here at all. The appetite is excited by other trees as well as this. The desire for knowledge, and the ambition to be, in some sense, divine, are alone peculiar and prevalent as motives. Hence, it appears that God proved our first parents, not through any of the animal appetites, but through the higher propensities of their intellectual and moral nature. Though the occasion, therefore, may, at first sight, appear trivial, yet it becomes awfully momentous when we discover that the rectitude of God is impugned, his prerogative invaded, his command disregarded, his attribute of moral omniscience and all the imaginable advantages attendant thereupon grasped at with an eager and willful hand. To disobey the command of God, imposed according to the dictates of pure reason, and with the authority of a Creator, from the vain desire of being like him, or independent of him, in knowledge, can never be anything but an offense of the deepest dye.
We are bound, moreover, to acknowledge and maintain, in the most explicit manner, the equity of the divine procedure in permitting the temptation of man. The only new thing here is the intervention of the tempter. It may be imagined that this deceiver should have been kept away. But we must not speak with inconsiderate haste on a matter of such import. 1st. We know that God has not used forcible means to prevent the rise of moral evil among his intelligent creatures. We cannot with reason affirm that he should have done so; because to put force on a voluntary act and yet leave it voluntary seems to reason a contradiction in terms, and, therefore, impossible; and unless an act be voluntary, it cannot have any moral character; and without voluntary action, we cannot have a moral agent. 2nd. We know that God does not immediately annihilate the evildoer. Neither can we affirm with reason that he ought to have done so; for, to lay an adequate penalty on sin and then put the sinner out of existence so that this penalty can never be exacted seems to reason a moral inconsistency and, therefore, impossible in a being of moral perfection. 3rd. We know that God does not withdraw the evildoer from all intercourse with other moral agents. Here, again, reason does not constrain us to pronounce that it is expedient so to do; for the innocent ought, and it is natural that they should learn a holy abhorrence of sin, and a salutary dread of its penalty, from these waifs of society, rather than follow their pernicious example. The wrongdoers are not less under the control of God than if they were in the most impenetrable dungeon, while they are at the same time constant beacons to warn others from transgression. He leaves them to fill up the measure of their iniquity while the intelligent world is cognizant of their guilt, so that they may acknowledge the justice of their punishment and comprehend the infinite holiness of the judge of all the earth. 4th. We know that God tries his moral creatures. Abraham, Job, and all his saints have to undergo their trial. He suffered the Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, to be tempted. And we must not expect the first Adam to be exempted from the common ordeal. We can only be assured that his justice will not allow his moral creatures to be at any disadvantage in the trial. Accordingly, 1st, God himself in the first instance speaks to Adam and gives him an explicit command not arbitrary in its conception but arising out of the necessity of the case. And it is plain that Eve was perfectly aware that he had himself imposed this prohibition. 2nd. The tempter is not allowed to appear in his proper person to our first parents. The serpent only is seen or heard by them—a creature inferior to themselves and infinitely beneath the God who made them and condescended to communicate with them with the authority of a father. 3rd. The serpent neither threatens nor directly persuades; much less is he permitted to use any means of compulsion: he simply falsifies. As the God of truth had spoken to them before, the false insinuation places them at no disadvantage.
Man has now come to the second step in morals—the practice. Thereby he has come to the knowledge of good and evil, not merely as an ideal but as an actual thing. But he has attained this end not by standing in but falling from his integrity. If he had stood the test of this temptation, as he might have done, he would have come by the knowledge of good and evil equally well but with a far different result. As he bore the image of God in his higher nature, he would have resembled him, not only in knowledge, thus honorably acquired by resisting temptation, but also in moral good, thus realized in his own act and will. As it is, he has gained some knowledge in an unlawful and disastrous way; but he has also taken in that moral evil, which is the image, not of God, but of the tempter, to whom he has yielded.
This result is rendered still more lamentable when we remember that these transgressors constituted the human race in its primeval source. In them, therefore, the race actually falls. In their sin the race is become morally corrupt. In their guilt the race is involved in guilt. Their character and doom descend to their latest posterity.
We have not yet noticed the circumstance of the serpent’s speaking and of course, speaking rationally. This seems to have awakened no attention in the tempted and, so far as we see, to have exercised no influence on their conduct. In their inexperience, it is probable that they did not yet know what was wonderful, and what not; or, in preciser terms, what was supernatural, and what natural. But even if they had known enough to be surprised at the serpent speaking, it might have told in opposite ways upon their conclusions. On the one hand, Adam had seen and named the serpent and found in it merely a dumb irrational animal, altogether unfit to be his companion, and therefore he might have been amazed to hear him speak, and, shall we say, led to suspect a prompter. But, on the other hand, we have no reason to suppose that Adam had any knowledge or suspicion of any creature but those which had been already brought before him, among which was the serpent. Therefore, he could have no surmise of any superior creature who might use the serpent for its own purposes. We question whether the thought could have struck his mind that the serpent had partaken of the forbidden fruit and thereby attained to the marvelous elevation from brutality to reason and speech. But, if it had, it would have made a deep impression on his mind of the wonderful potency of the tree. These considerations apply with perhaps still greater force to Eve, who was first deceived.
But to us, who have a more extensive experience of the course of nature, the speaking of a serpent cannot be regarded otherwise than as a preternatural occurrence. It indicates the presence of a power above the nature of the serpent, possessed, too, by a being of a malignant nature, and at enmity with God and truth; a spiritual being who is able and has been permitted to make use of the organs of the serpent in some way for the purposes of temptation. But while for a wise and worthy end, this alien from God’s home is permitted to test man’s moral character, he is not allowed to make any appearance or show any sign of his own presence to man. The serpent alone is visibly present; the temptation is conducted only through words uttered by bodily organs, and the tempted show no suspicion of any other tempter. Thus, in the disposal of a just Providence, man is brought into immediate contact only with an inferior creature, and therefore has a fair field in the season of trial. And if that creature is possessed by a being of superior intelligence, this is only displayed in such a manner as to exert no influence on man but that of suggestive argument and false assertion.
What Issues Did Satan Raise With Eve and in the Book of Job? What Made Eve Susceptible to Error? How Does Satan’s Deceiving Eve Show the Method Teaching of Falsehood?
By James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews
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- Edward D Andrews, BIBLE DIFFICULTIES: How to Approach Difficulties In the Bible, Christian Publishing House. 2020.
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- Hermann J. Austel, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).
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- James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
- John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, vol. 1-4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).
- John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
- Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).
- Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler. Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. Kindle Edition.
- Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Chronology, Old Testament,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988).
- W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996).