The third chapter of Genesis reads like a juicy drama, with deception, lies, placing blame, punishment, and exile. Unfortunately, it’s not a juicy drama, it’s the true story of the fall of man. There is a lot to cover in this chapter and I thought about breaking it into two posts, but we’ll just dive in.
Read: Genesis 2 HCSB
‘Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’? ” ‘ Genesis 3:1
Within the Garden of Eden, there were many living creatures, one of which was a serpent who the Bible describes as “most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made.”
The Serpent as Satan
Genesis 3:1 doesn’t directly state that the serpent is Satan. However, God created the Garden of Eden and all of the creatures in it, and God didn’t create sin. Sin is a product of the Devil.
1 John 3: 8 says:
‘The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works. ‘ 1 John 3:8
A Serpent Who Speaks
As many times as I’ve read these verses in my lifetime, it never struck me until this study that the serpent spoke, and that was unusual. I guess I’ve always just read right through the verses without giving that part a second thought.
Verse 1 in chapter 3 clearly states that the serpent spoke to the woman. The serpent spoke intelligently to the woman and she understood what he said. After some research, here is what I found out:
- When this conversation occurred, the earth was pre-sin: literally a perfect world.
- God created the animals according to their kind. It is not too far-fetched to imagine that God created a serpent with the ability to make verbal sounds with its mouth.
- Satan used the serpent’s abilities for evil, to speak to the woman and deceive her.
Source: Answers in Genesis
Lies and Deceit
‘But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” ‘ Genesis 3:3-5
When the woman was asked by the serpent about what she was told she could eat, she embellished (aka lied) about what God said, stating that not was it forbidden to eat, but it was also forbidden to touch. It is not known if the woman assumed this on her own or if this was something her husband told her in order to insure she didn’t attempt to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Either way, it was false information, and a lie follows a lie. The serpent then lies to the woman saying she will not die. The serpent confused the woman and acted on her weakness, planting a seed of doubt about God’s intentions.
Remember in Genesis 2:17, God instructed man not to eat from the tree. He didn’t say not to touch it. Also remember that God did not mean a literal, physical death. When God said, “…you will certainly die” in Genesis 2:17, he was referring to a spiritual death, a separation of the relationship between man and God. (Read Genesis 2 notes HERE.)
After the lies, deceit followed.
‘Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. ‘ Genesis 3:6
Eve took the fruit and realized she didn’t die when she touched it, so she ate it. Adam was with her when this took place, and did nothing to stop her. She gave the fruit to her husband and he ate it as well, without hesitation, it seems.
No Knowledge, Just Shame
‘Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.‘ Genesis 3:7
I can imagine this scene unfolding: the serpent lies and deceives the woman, convincing her to question God’s authority and eat the forbidden fruit, who in turn gives it to her husband. As they eat the fruit, and the shame sets in, the serpent smiles a conniving, evil smile at what he has done – convinced the first man and woman to commit the first sin.
God Seeks Out The Sinful
‘Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you? ”’ Genesis 3:8-9
An interesting thing happens after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. Our all-knowing God seeks out the sinners in a gentle, inviting way. He walks into the garden and calls out, “Where are you?” God knew where Adam was and He knew what he had done, yet God gave Adam an opportunity to own his sin.
Job 34: 22 says, “There is no darkness, no deep darkness, where evildoers can hide themselves.”
Blame Was Pointed
‘Then He asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ” Then the man replied, “The woman You gave to be with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” So the Lord God asked the woman, “What is this you have done? ” And the woman said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate.” ‘ Genesis 3:11-13
If you’re a mom, you’ve dealt with this many, many times, right? You ask, knowingly, “Who did this?” and your child immediately points the finger at the cat. I’m sure that’s how God felt.
He already knew what happened – He’s omniscient! Just as God walked into the Garden of Eden to give Adam an opportunity to confess, He asked what happened, giving Adam yet another opportunity to confess his sin.
Instead, Adam pointed the finger at Eve, who then pointed the finger at the serpent.
Interesting word choice: In the Holman Christian Standard version, verse 13, Eve says the serpent “deceived” her. I also checked the King James Version and discovered she used the word “beguiled”, which seems to be a more accurate translation and depiction of what happened.
Think of the snake, Ka, from Jungle Book. He beguiled his potential victims by putting them into a trance. I imagine the serpent in the Garden of Eden did a similar thing to Eve. To “beguile” means to “charm or enchant”.
Judgment for All & Proto-Evangelium
When God begins to dole out punishment, He starts with the serpent:
‘Then the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. ‘ Genesis 3:14-15
INSIGHTS FROM THE SERPENT’S JUDGMENT:
- The serpent may have originally walked, by God’s design, since part of God’s judgment was to have serpents move on their bellies all the days of their lives.
- The original sin caused Adam and Eve to feel shame. Part of God’s judgment for the serpent was also meant to be shameful – lifelong shame on its belly and under the foot of man and his descendants.
- God used the term “cursed” to describe the serpent’s punishment.
These verses are also representative of proto-evangelium, or “first good news”. To understand what this means, look at the following two verses. The first is from today’s reading, Genesis 3: 15:
“He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel. ‘
And this one from Romans 16:20 in the New Testament:
‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. ‘
Do you see the similarities? Genesis 3:15 is the “first good news” of the coming of Christ and His defeat of Satan. “Mankind is given the tactical advantage over the serpent. There will be real war, but God will graciously give His people the victory.” (Source)
The next punishment goes to the woman:
‘He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.‘ Genesis 3:16
Woman was given two punishments:
- God said her labor pains would intensify, meaning she would experience painful labor before sin, but sin made the pain worse.
- Rather than being an equal help mate for her husband, the purpose for which she was designed, she would now be his subordinate. She will love and desire him, though, but will no longer be his equal.
INSIGHTS FROM THE WOMAN’S JUDGMENT:
- God doesn’t curse her like He cursed the serpent. He simply tells her what will happen.
- Woman sinned voluntarily and independently, then easily convinced Adam to sin with her. Her role as help mate was to help Adam, which she failed to do. Part of her judgment involved being a subject of her husband rather than a help mate.
- In Galations 3:28, Christ repeals this judgement: ‘There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ‘ Galatians 3:28
Finally, judgment is passed on Adam.
‘And He said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘Do not eat from it’: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”’ Genesis 3:17-19
INSIGHTS FROM THE MAN’S JUDGMENT:
- God uses the word “cursed” again, cursing the ground from which man would have to work to obtain food.
- God gives labor pains to man, as He did for woman, but the labor pains of man will come from manual labor.
- Prior to sin, food was easily attainable. Man and woman could simply walk through the Garden of Eden and pluck food from the trees. After sin, man would have to work hard to grow food amidst the thorns and thistles.
A New Name & New Clothes
‘Adam named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living. The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.‘ Genesis 3:20-21
When woman was created from man’s rib, she was given the name “woman” because she was his equal, created from his own flesh. After sin, Adam named her “Eve”, the mother of all the living.
Now our God is a gracious, loving God. He could have turned His back on Adam and Eve and sent them off to fend for themselves, but He knew they now felt shame in their nakedness. As a loving Father, God committed the first animal sacrifice, making clothing out of animal skins for Adam and Eve to wear.
Adam & Eve Cast Out of the Garden
‘The Lord God said, “Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life. ‘ Genesis 3:22-24
The Garden of Eden was a place of divine perfection. There was no place for sin, so God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden, placing cherubim (heavenly angels) as guards on the east side of the Garden.
There is significance of the east in the Bible. However, we’ll end our discussion of Genesis 3 here and I will plan a future post to discuss the significance of the east in a future blog post.