1:1 This description of God creating heaven and earth is understood to be: (1) recent, i.e., thousands not millions of years ago; (2) ex nihilo, i.e., out of nothing; and (3) special, i.e., in six, consecutive, twenty-four-hour periods called “days” and further distinguished as such by this phrase, “the evening and the morning.” Scripture does not support a creation date that makes the earth any more than about ten thousand years old. In the beginning. While God exists eternally (Ps. 90:2), this marked the beginning of the universe in time and space. In explaining Israel’s identity and divine purpose for being to her on the plains of Moab, God wanted His people to know about the origin of the world in which they found themselves. God. Elohim, which means “supreme one,” is a general term for deity and a specific name for the true God, though it is used also at times, in a relative sense, for pagan gods (31:30), angels (Ps. 8:5), men (Ps. 82:6), and judges (Ex. 21:6). Moses made no attempt to defend the existence of God, which is assumed; nor did he explain what He was like in person or how He works, which is treated elsewhere (cf. Isa. 43:10, 13). All are to be believed by faith. (cf. Heb. 11:3, 6). created. This word is used here of God’s creative activity alone, although it occasionally is used elsewhere of matter which already existed (Isa. 65:18). Context demands, in no uncertain terms, that this was a creation without preexisting material (as does other Scripture: cf. Isa. 40:28; 45:8, 12, 18; 48:13; Jer. 10:16; Acts 17:24). A simple decree from God brought the created thing into being. Matter emerged from that which was immaterial. Out of nothing, in an instant, the universe—with all its space and matter—was made by God’s decree. The universe—at least its energy and mass—began to exist in some form. the heavens and the earth. All of God’s creation is incorporated into this summary statement which includes all six, consecutive days of creation.
1:2 without form, and void. This means “not finished in its shape and, as yet, uninhabited by creatures” (cf. Isa. 45:18, 19; Jer. 4:23). The Hebrew expression signifies a wasteland, a desolate place. The earth was an empty place of utter desolation, existing in a formless, barren state, shrouded in darkness and water or mist of some sort. It suggests that the very shape of the earth was unfinished and empty. The raw material was all there, but it had not yet been given form. God would quickly (in six days) decorate His initial creation (v. 2-2:3). deep. Sometimes referred to as primordial waters, this is the term used to describe the earth’s water-covered surface before the dry land emerged (vv. 9, 10). The earth’s surface was a vast ocean—a global, primordial sea that covered the entire planet. Water, so vital to the nourishment of the life that was to come, was already earth’s most prominent feature. Jonah used this word to describe the watery abyss in which he found himself submerged (Jon. 2:5). Spirit of God. The earth’s creative agent enveloped, surrounded, and guarded its surface. Not only did God the Holy Spirit participate in creation, but so did God the Son (cf. John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2).
1:3 God said. God effortlessly spoke light into existence (cf. Pss. 33:6; 148:5), which dispelled the darkness of verse 2. light. That which most clearly reveals and most closely approximates God’s glory (cf. Dan. 2:22; 1 Tim. 6:16; James 1:17; 1 John 1:5). Like Him, light illuminates and makes all else known. Without light, all creation would remain cold and dark. What form this light took is not clear. But light itself, the reality of light, was created on day one and instantly separated day from night. The greater and lesser lights (the sun and moon) were created later (vv. 14-19) on the fourth day. Here, God was the provider of light (2 Cor. 4:6) and will in eternity future be the source of light (cf. Rev. 21:23).
1:4 good. This light was good for the purposes it was intended to serve (cf. v. 31).
1:4-5 divided... called. After the initial creation, God continued to complete His universe. Once God separated certain things, He then named them. Separating and naming were acts of dominion and served as a pattern for man, who would also name a portion of God’s creation over which God gave him dominion (2:19, 20). The creation of light also inaugurated the measurement of earth’s time by periods of day and night. Regular intervals of light began to be interspersed with intervals of darkness.
1:5 first day. God established the pattern of creation in seven days which constituted a complete week. Day can refer to: (1) the light portion of a twenty-four-hour period (1:5, 14); (2) an extended period of time (2:4); or (3) the twenty-four-hour period which basically refers to a full rotation of the earth on its axis, called evening and morning. On the other hand, this cannot mean an age, but only a day, reckoned by the Jews from sunset to sunset (vv. 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Day with numerical adjectives in Hebrew always refers to a twenty-four-hour period. Comparing the order of the week in Exodus 20:8-11 with the creation week confirms this understanding of the time element. Such a cycle of light and dark means that the earth was rotating on its axis, so that there was a source of light on one side of the earth, though the sun was not yet created (v. 16).
1:6 firmament. The Hebrew word speaks of something spread out. God commanded the water to separate, and He placed an expanse, or a “firmament,” between the water that remained on the earth and the water that now rose above the expanse. The imagery is that of a vast expanse, a protective layer that overlays the earth and divides the waters below from the waters above. The expanse in-between includes the earth’s breathable atmosphere.
1:7 under the firmament. This refers to subterranean reservoirs (cf. 7:11). above the firmament. This could possibly have been a canopy of water vapor which acted to make the earth like a hothouse, provided uniform temperature, inhibited mass air movements, caused mist to fall, and filtered out ultraviolet rays, and thereby extending life.
|Book||Key Idea||The Nation||The People||God’s Character||God’s Role||God’s Command|
|Genesis||Beginnings||Chosen||Prepared||Powerful Sovereign||Creator||“Let there be!”|
|Exodus||Redemption||Delivered||Redeemed||Merciful||Deliverer||“Let my people go!”|
|Leviticus||Worship||Set Apart||Taught||Holy||Sanctifier||“Be holy!”|
|Deuteronomy||Renewed Covenant||Made Ready||Retaught||Loving Lord||Rewarder||“Obey!”|
1:9-10 dry land. This was caused by a tremendous, cataclysmic upheaval of the earth’s surface, and the rising and sinking of the land, which caused the waters to plunge into the low places, forming the seas, the continents and islands, the rivers and lakes (cf. Job 38:4-11; Ps. 104:6-9).
1:11 whose seed is in itself. This is the basis of the principle of reproduction that marks all life (cf. vv. 22, 24, 28). God made the vegetation not only capable of reproduction, but also ready for it. He created fully mature vegetation with seed already in it, ready to be dispersed.
1:11-12 according to its kind. God set in motion a providential process whereby the vegetable kingdom could reproduce through seeds which would maintain each one’s unique characteristics. The same phrase is used to describe the perpetuating reproduction of animals within their created species (vv. 21, 24, 25), and indicates that evolution, which proposes reproduction across species lines, is a false explanation of origins.
1:14 lights. Cf. verse 16. For three days, there had been light (v. 4) in the day as though there were a sun, and lesser light at night as though there were the moon and stars. God could have left it that way, but He did not. He created the “lights, sun, moon, and stars,” not for light, but to serve as markers for signs, seasons, days, and years. From now on there would be light-bearing bodies that would perpetually shine on the earth at the proper intervals and seasons. What had been a disembodied blanket of diffused supernatural light was superseded by a universe full of light-bearing bodies. The alternation between day and night continued, but now heavenly bodies provided the varying degrees of light. The entire panoply of heaven was complete and fully functioning on the day God made it. signs. The Hebrew word means “beacons” or “signals.” It suggests that the heavenly bodies were set in place to serve as markers to indicate times and seasons. These certainly included: (1) weather (Matt. 16:2, 3); (2) testimony to God (Pss. 8; 19; Rom. 1:14-20; (3) divine judgment (Joel 2:30, 31; Matt. 24:29); and (4) navigation (Matt. 2:1, 2). seasons. It is the earth’s movement in relation to the sun and moon that determines the seasons and the calendar.
1:15-19 two great lights... to divide the light from the darkness. It was God (not some other deity) who created the lights. Israel had originally come from Mesopotamia, where the celestial bodies were worshiped, and more recently from Egypt, where the sun was worshiped as a primary deity. God was revealing to them that the very stars, moons, and planets which Israel’s neighbors had falsely worshiped were the products of His creation. Later, they became worshipers of the “host of heaven” (see note on 2 Kin. 17:16), which led to their being taken captive out of the Promised Land. Tragically, the world’s population would choose to worship the creation rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).
1:20 living creatures. These creatures, including the extraordinarily large ones, included all sorts of fish and mammals, even dinosaurs (see notes on Job 40:15-41:1).
1:22 blessed. This is the first occurrence of the word bless in Scripture. God’s admonition to “be fruitful and multiply” was the substance of the blessing.
1:24-25 cattle... beast. This probably represents all kinds of large, four-legged animals. The Hebrew word translated “cattle” speaks of livestock and animals that can be domesticated. Sheep, goats, and oxen would no doubt be included. All are known primarily for their uses to humanity.
1:24 beast of the earth. Different from and larger than the clan of cattle, this would include dinosaurs like Behemoth (Job 40:15ff.).
1:26 Us... Our. This is the first clear indication of the triunity of God (cf. 3:22; 11:7). The very name of God, Elohim (1:1), is a plural form of El. The plural pronouns introduce a plurality of relationships in the Godhead. They suggest both communion and consultation among the members of the Trinity. They also signify perfect agreement and clear purpose. man. The crowning point of creation, a living human, was made in God’s image to rule creation. Our image... likeness. This speaks of the creation of Adam in terms that are uniquely personal. It establishes a personal relationship between God and man that does not exist with any other aspect of creation. It is the very thing that makes humanity different from every other created animal. It explains why the Bible places so much stress on God’s hands-on creation of Adam. He fashioned this creature in a special way—to bear the stamp of His own likeness. It suggests that God was, in essence, the pattern for the personhood of man. The image of God is personhood, and personhood can function only in the context of relationships. Man’s capacity for intimate, personal relationships needed fulfillment. Most important, man was designed to have a personal relationship with God. It is impossible to divorce this truth from the fact that man is an ethical creature. All true relationships have ethical ramifications. It is at this point that God’s communicable attributes come into play. Man is a living being capable of embodying God’s communicable attributes (cf. 9:6; Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10; James 3:9). In his rational life, he was like God in that he could reason and had intellect, will, and emotion. In the moral sense, he was like God because he was good and sinless. However, it did not bestow deity upon man.
1:26-28 have dominion... subdue. This defined man’s unique relation to creation, i.e., man was God’s representative in ruling over the creation. The command to rule separated him from the rest of living creation and defined his relationship as above the rest of creation (cf. Ps. 8:6-8).
1:27 male and female. Cf. Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6. While these two persons equally shared God’s image and together exercised dominion over creation, they were by divine design physically diverse in order to accomplish God’s mandate to multiply, i.e., neither one could reproduce offspring without the other.
1:28 blessed. This second blessing (cf. v. 22) involved reproduction and dominion. Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. God, having just created the universe, created His representative (dominion) and representation (cf. v. 26, image and likeness). Man would fill the earth and oversee its operation. Subdue does not suggest a wild and unruly condition for the creation because God Himself pronounced it “good.” Rather, it speaks of a productive ordering of the earth and its inhabitants to yield its riches and accomplish God’s purposes.
1:29-30 for food... for food. Prior to the curse (3:14-19), both mankind and beasts were vegetarians.
1:31 very good. What had been pronounced good individually (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) was now called “very good” collectively. There were no flaws or omissions. The work was complete in every sense. God was pleased with it. A whole universe now existed where nothing had existed only a week earlier. It was a vast cosmos full of countless wonders, each of which displayed the glory and wisdom of a good and perfect Creator. The words anticipated God’s conclusion that it was “not good” for a man to be alone (2:18), which occurred on the sixth day.
These words affirm that God had completed His work. Four times it is said that He finished His work, and three times it is said that this included all His work. Present processes in the universe reflect God sustaining that completed creation, not more creation (cf. Heb. 1:3).
2:2 ended... rested. God certainly did not rest due to weariness; rather, establishing the pattern for man’s work cycle, He only modeled man’s need for rest. The entire work of creation was complete. With the dawn of the seventh day, God ceased from creating. When God works there is no dissipation of His energy. He cannot be fatigued, and He doesn’t need rejuvenation. The Hebrew word translated “rested” simply means that He abstained from creative work. He had completed all of creation, so there was nothing more for Him to create. Later, the Sabbath ordinance of Moses found its basis in the creation week (cf. Ex. 20:8-11). The Sabbath was God’s sacred, ordained day in the weekly cycle. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27) and verse 3 stated that God “sanctified” or set apart the Sabbath day because He rested in it. Later, it was set aside for a day of worship in the Mosaic Law (see note on Ex. 20:8). No ordinance mandating Sabbath rest and worship is expressly instituted here. There were no restrictions governing what Adam could and could not do on the seventh day of the week. All of that came later, with the giving of the law to Israel. The specific ceremonial requirements outlined in the Mosaic Sabbath laws would have been superfluous in Eden. Everything about Adam’s life before he sinned was precisely what the Sabbath laws pictured. In a sense, Israel’s Sabbath observances were designed to show in microcosm what life in Eden was designed to be. And this aspect of Moses’ Law was merely a ceremonial reminder of what God’s original design for human life involved. Adam would have lived in a perpetual Sabbath rest, if he had not fallen into sin. Hebrews 4:4 distinguishes between physical rest and the redemptive rest to which it pointed. Colossians 2:16 makes it clear that the Mosaic “Sabbath” has no symbolic or ritual place in the New Covenant. The church began worshiping on the first day of the week to commemorate the Resurrection of Christ (see note on Acts 20:7).
2:4-25 the history of. This section fills in the details of man’s creation on day six which were not included in 1:1-2:3. How did Moses obtain this account, so different from the absurd fictions of the pagans? Not from any human source, for man was not in existence to witness it. Not from the light of reason, for though intellect can know the eternal power of the Godhead (Rom. 1:18-20) and that God made all things, it cannot know how. None but the Creator Himself could give this data and, therefore, it is through faith that one understands that the worlds were formed by the Word of God (Heb. 11:3).
2:4-5 before any plant. Verse 4 gives a summary of days one and two, before the vegetation of day three.
2:6 mist went up. This should be translated “flow.” It indicates that water came up from beneath the ground as springs and spread over the whole earth in an uninterrupted cycle of water. After the Fall, rain became the primary means of watering the earth and allowed for floods and droughts that did not exist originally. Rains also allowed God to judge through floods and droughts.
2:7 formed. Many of the words used in this account of the creation of man picture a master craftsman at work shaping a work of art to which he gives life (1 Cor. 15:45). This adds detail to the statement of fact in 1:27 (cf. Ps. 139:14, 15; 1 Tim. 2:13). Made from dirt, a man’s value is not in the physical components that form his body, but in the quality.
2:8 garden... Eden. The Babylonians called the lush green land from which water flowed edenu; today, the term oasis describes such a place. This was a magnificent garden paradise, unlike any the world has seen since, where God fellowshiped with those He created in His image. It was also a garden with minerals, including every precious stone. The exact location of Eden is unknown; if “eastward” was used in relationship to where Moses was when he wrote, then it could have been in the area of Babylon, the Mesopotamian valley.
2:9 tree of life. There was nothing harmful in the tree itself or in the fruit of the tree. This was a real tree, with special properties to sustain eternal life. Placed in the center of the garden, it must have been observed by Adam, and its fruit perhaps eaten by him, thus sustaining his life (v. 16). Such a tree, symbolic of eternal life, will be in the new heavens and new earth (see note on Rev.22:2). tree... knowledge. Cf. verse 16; 3:1-6, 11, 22. It was perhaps given that title because it was a test of obedience by which our first parents were tried, whether they would be good or bad—obey God or disobey His command. If Adam didn’t disobey, he would never know evil; but when he disobeyed, he experienced evil because evil is disobedience.
2:10 out of. That is to say “the source,” which likely refers to some great spring gushing up inside the garden from a subterranean reservoir. There was no rain at that time.
2:11 Pishon... Havilah. The locations are uncertain. This represents pre-flood geography, now dramatically altered.
2:12 Bdellium. This is a gum resin and refers more to appearance than color, i.e., it had the appearance of a pale resin.
2:13 Gihon... Cush. The river location is uncertain. Cush could be modern-day Ethiopia.
2:14 Hiddekel... Assyria. The post-flood Tigris River runs northwest to southeast east of the city of Babylon through the Mesopotamian Valley. Euphrates. A river that runs parallel (northwest to southeast) to the Tigris and empties into the Persian Gulf after joining the Tigris.
2:15 tend and keep it. Work was an important and dignified part of representing the image of God and serving Him, even before the Fall. Cf. Revelation 22:3. Adam was made the gardener in Eden. This was an easy and pleasant assignment because it was a source of great joy. It was the only work he was given to do—if such an occupation can even be called “work” in a sweatless, weedless, curse-free environment. His only responsibility was to make sure that the trees and plants had appropriate care. He was a guardian and steward of its wonders and resources.
2:17 surely die. To die has the basic idea of separation. It can mean spiritual separation, physical separation, and/or eternal separation. At the moment of their sin, Adam and Eve died spiritually but, because God was merciful, they did not die physically until later (5:5). There is no reason given for this prohibition, other than it was a test (see note on v. 9). There was nothing magical about that tree, but eating from it after it had been forbidden by God would indeed give man the knowledge of evil—since evil can be defined as disobeying God. Man already had the knowledge of good.
2:18 not good. When God saw His creation as very good (1:31), He viewed it as being, to that point, the perfect outcome to His creative plan. However, in observing man’s state as not good, He was commenting on his incompleteness before the end of the sixth day because the woman, Adam’s counterpart, had not yet been created. The words of this verse emphasize man’s need for a companion, a helper, and an equal. He was incomplete without someone to complement him in fulfilling the task of filling, multiplying, and taking dominion over the earth. This points to Adam’s inadequacy, not Eve’s insufficiency (cf. 1 Cor. 11:9). Woman was made by God to meet man’s deficiency (cf. 1 Tim. 2:14).
2:19 This was not a new creation of animals. They were created before man on the fifth and sixth days (1:20-25). Here, the Lord God was calling attention to the fact that He created them “out of the ground” as He did man; but man, who was a living soul in the image of God, was to name them, thus signifying his rule over them.
2:20 gave names to. Naming is an act of discerning something about the creature so as to appropriately identify it; also it is an act of leadership or authority over that which was named. This was Adam’s first task. He had to look at the characteristics of each creature and give it a fitting name. It is the Creator’s privilege to name what He creates. Man was made in God’s image, so it was appropriate that God would delegate to man something of His own sovereign prerogative. There is no kinship with any animal since none was a fitting companion for Adam.
2:21 one of his ribs. Ribs is better translated “sides,” including surrounding flesh (“flesh of my flesh,” v. 23). Divine surgery by the Creator presented no problems. This would also imply the first act of healing in Scripture. The woman was also created in God’s image, but instead of being made out of material in the earth, she was created with material from the man. Eve’s genetic structure was derived from and therefore perfectly harmonious with Adam’s.
2:23 bone of my bones. Adam’s poem focuses on naming the delight of his heart in this newly found companion. The man (ish) names her “woman” (isha) because she had her source in him (the root of the word woman is soft). She truly was made of bone from his bones and flesh from his flesh. (cf. 1 Cor. 11:8). The English words man/woman sustain the same relationship as the Hebrew words, hinting at that original creation.
2:24 leave... be joined to. The marital relationship was established as the first human institution. The responsibility to honor one’s parents (Ex. 20:12) does not cease with leaving and the union of husband with wife (Matt. 19:5; Mark 10:7, 8; 1 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 5:31), but does represent the inauguration of a new and primary responsibility. Joined carries the sense of a permanent or indissoluble union, so that divorce was not considered (cf. v. 16). “One flesh” speaks of a complete unity of parts making a whole, e.g., one cluster, many grapes (Num. 13:23) or one God in three persons (Deut. 6:4); thus, this marital union was complete and whole with two people. This also implies their sexual completeness. One husband and one wife constitute the married pair to reproduce. The “one flesh” is primarily seen in the child born of that union, the one perfect result of the union of two. Cf. Matthew 19:5, 6; Mark 10:8; 1 Cor. 6:16; Ephesians 5:31. Permanent male/female monogamy was and continues to be God’s only design and law for marriage. God has ordained and acknowledges sexual conduct only in the marriage relationship between a man and woman. All other sexual behavior is excluded.
2:25 both naked... not ashamed. With no knowledge of evil before the Fall, even nakedness was shameless and innocent. Shame is produced by the consciousness of the evil in something. They had no shame because they had no knowledge of evil. There was a beauty in the shameless wonder of that original marriage. They found their complete gratification in the joy of their one union and their service to God. With no inward principle of evil to work on, the solicitation to sin had to come from without, and it would.
3:1 the serpent. The word means “snake.” The apostle John identified this creature as Satan (cf. Rev. 12:9; 20:2) as did Paul (2 Cor. 11:3). The serpent, a manifestation of Satan, appears for the first time before the Fall of man. The rebellion of Satan, therefore, had occurred sometime after 1:31 (when everything in creation was good), but before verse 1. Cf. Ezekiel 28:11-15 for a possible description of Satan’s dazzling beauty and Isaiah 14:13, 14 for Satan’s motivation to challenge God’s authority (cf. 1 John 3:8). Satan, being a fallen archangel and, thus, a supernatural spirit, had possessed the body of a snake in its pre-Fall form (cf. v. 14 for post-Fall form). more cunning. Deceitful; cf. Matthew 10:16. to the woman. She was the object of his attack, being the weaker one and needing the protection of her husband. He found her alone and unfortified by Adam’s experience and counsel. Cf. 2 Timothy 3:6. Though sinless, she was temptable and seducible. Has God... said? In effect Satan said, “Is it true that He has restricted you from the delights of this place? This is not like one who is truly good and kind. There must be some mistake.” He insinuated doubt as to her understanding of God’s will, appearing as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) to lead her to the supposed true interpretation. She received him without fear or surprise, but as some credible messenger from heaven with the true understanding, because of his cunning.
3:2-3 In her answer, Eve extolled the great liberty that they had; with only one exception, they could eat all the fruit.
3:3 nor shall you touch it. This appears to be an addition to the original prohibition as recorded (cf. Gen. 2:17). Adam may have so instructed her for her protection. It could also mean that Eve, apparently beginning to feel God’s restriction was too harsh, added to the harshness of it.
3:4-5 not... die. Satan, emboldened by Eve’s openness to him, spoke this direct lie. This lie actually led her and Adam to spiritual death (separation from God). So Satan is called a liar and murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). His lies always promise great benefits (cf. v. 5). Eve experienced this result—she and Adam did know good and evil; but by personal corruption, they did not know as God knows in perfect holiness.
3:6 good... pleasant... desirable. Eve’s deception took three forms. That the tree was good for food appealed to her physical appetite—an illicit appetite provoked by a selfish discontent and a distrust of God. That its was pleasant to the eyes excited her emotional appetite—as covetousness grew in her heart, the forbidden fruit looked better and better. And that the fruit was desirable to make one wise provoked her intellectual appetite—she desired knowledge and was tempted by the false promise that it would make her like God. She decided that Satan was telling the truth and she had misunderstood God, but she didn’t know what she was doing. It was not overt rebellion against God, but seduction and deception to make her believe her act was the right thing to do (cf. v. 13). The NT confirms that Eve was deceived (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14; Rev. 12:9). he ate. A direct transgression without deception (see note on 1 Tim. 2:13, 14).
3:7 opened... knew... sewed. The innocence noted in 2:25 had been replaced by guilt and shame (vv. 8-10) and, from then on, they had to rely on their conscience to distinguish between good and their newly acquired capacity to see and know evil. The serpent had promised them enlightenment—what they received was a hideously twisted caricature. It opened their eyes to the meaning of guilt, but it made them want to hide their eyes in shame. Sin instantly destroyed their innocence. Even the holy gift of their physical relationship was polluted with a sense of shame. Gone was the purity of it. Now present were wicked and impure thoughts they had never known before. Sewing fig leaves together as a covering was a noble effort to cover their sin and mask their shame. Ever since, clothing has been a universal expression of human modesty.
3:8 God appeared, as before, in tones of goodness and kindness, walking in some visible form (perhaps Shekinah light as He later appeared in Ex. 33:18-23; 34:5-8, 29; 40:34-38). He came not in fury, but in the same condescending way He had walked with Adam and Eve before.
3:9 “Where are you?” The question was God’s way of bringing man to explain why he was hiding, rather than expressing ignorance about man’s location. Shame, remorse, confusion, guilt, and fear all led to their clandestine behavior. There was no place to hide. See Psalm 139:1-12.
3:10 Your voice. The sound in verse 8 probably was God calling for Adam and Eve. Adam responded with the language of fear and sorrow, but not confession.
3:11 Adam’s sin was evidenced by his new knowledge of the evil of nakedness, but God still waited for Adam to confess to what God knew they had done. The basic reluctance of sinful people to admit their iniquity is here established. Repentance is still the issue. When sinners refuse to repent, they suffer judgment; when they do repent, they receive forgiveness.
3:12 The woman whom You gave. Adam pitifully attempted to put the responsibility on God for giving him Eve. That only magnified the tragedy in that Adam had knowingly transgressed God’s prohibition, but still would not be open and confess his sin, taking full responsibility for his action, which was not made under deception (1 Tim. 2:14).
3:13 The serpent deceived me. The woman’s desperate effort to pass the blame to the serpent, which was partially true (1 Tim. 2:14), did not absolve her of the responsibility for her distrust and disobedience toward God.
3:14 to the serpent. The cattle and all the rest of creation were cursed (see Rom. 8:20-23; cf. Jer. 12:4) as a result of Adam’s and Eve’s eating, but the serpent was uniquely cursed by being made to slither on its belly. It probably had legs before this curse. Now, snakes represent all that is odious, disgusting, and low. They are branded with infamy and avoided with fear. Cf. Isaiah 65:25; Micah 7:17.
3:15 After cursing the physical serpent, God turned to the spiritual serpent, the lying seducer, Satan, and cursed him. bruise your head... bruise His heel. This “first gospel” is prophetic of the struggle and its outcome between “your seed” (Satan and unbelievers, who are called the devil’s children in John 8:44) and her seed (Christ, a descendant of Eve, and those in Him), which began in the garden. In the midst of the curse passage, a message of hope shone forth—the woman’s offspring called “He” is Christ, who will one day defeat the serpent. Satan could only “bruise” Christ’s heel (cause Him to suffer), while Christ will bruise Satan’s head (destroy him with a fatal blow). Paul, in a passage strongly reminiscent of chapter 3, encouraged the believers in Rome, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:20). Believers should recognize that they participate in the crushing of Satan because, along with the Savior and because of His finished work on the cross, they also are of the woman’s seed. For more on the destruction of Satan, see Hebrews 2:14, 15; Revelation 20:10.
3:16 conception... pain. This is a constant reminder that a woman gave birth to sin in the human race and genetically passes it on to all her children. She can be delivered from this curse by raising godly children, as indicated in 1 Timothy 2:15 (see notes there). Your desire... he shall rule. Just as the woman and her seed will engage in a war with the serpent, i.e., Satan and his seed (v. 15), because of sin and the curse, the man and the woman will face struggles in their own relationship. Sin has turned the harmonious system of God-ordained roles into distasteful struggles of self-will. Lifelong companions, husbands and wives, will need God’s help in getting along as a result. The woman’s desire will be to lord it over her husband, but the husband will rule by divine design (Eph. 5:22-25). This interpretation of the curse is based upon the identical Hebrew words and grammar being used in 4:7 (see note there) to show the conflict man will have with sin as it seeks to rule him.
3:17 Because you have heeded. The reason given for the curse on the ground and human death is that man turned his back on the voice of God, to follow his wife in eating that from which God had ordered him to abstain. The woman sinned because she acted independently of her husband, disdaining his leadership, counsel, and protection. The man sinned because he abandoned his leadership and followed the wishes of his wife. In both cases, God’s intended roles were reversed.
3:17-18 Cursed is the ground for your sake. God cursed the object of man’s labor and made it reluctantly, yet richly, yield his food through hard work. Weeds and thorns would henceforth infest the ground. Pain, weariness, and sweat would make life difficult. Adam was thus condemned to a life of labor, tilling the cursed earth.
3:19 return to the ground. I.e., to die (cf. 2:7). Man, by sin, became mortal. Although he did not physically die the moment he ate (by God’s mercy), he was changed immediately and became subject to all the sufferings and miseries of life, to death, and to the pains of hell forever. Adam lived 930 years (5:5).
3:21 tunics of skin. It is appropriate that those bearing the guilt of sin should cover themselves. God Himself demonstrated this when He killed animals to use their skins as a covering for the fallen couple. This was a graphic object lesson showing that only God can provide a suitable covering for sin, and that the shedding of blood is a necessary part of the process (Heb. 9:22). The first physical deaths should have been the man and his wife, but it was an animal—a shadow of the reality that God would someday kill a substitute to redeem sinners.
3:22 like one of Us. See note on 1:26. This was spoken out of compassion for the man and woman, who only in limited ways were like the Trinity, knowing good and evil—not by holy omniscience, but by personal experience (cf. Isa. 6:3; Hab. 1:13; Rev. 4:8).
3:22-23 and live forever. See note on 2:9. God told man that he would surely die if he ate of the forbidden tree. But God’s concern may also have been that man not live forever in his pitifully cursed condition. Taken in the broader context of Scripture, driving the man and his wife out of the garden was an act of merciful grace to prevent them from being sustained forever by the tree of life.
3:24 cherubim. Later in Israel’s history, two cherubim or angelic figures guarded the ark of the covenant and the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle (Ex. 25:18-22), where God communed with His people. flaming sword. An unexplainable phenomenon, perhaps associated directly with the cherubim or the flaming, fiery Shekinah presence of God Himself.
4:1 Adam knew Eve his wife. The act of sexual intercourse was considered the only means by which God Himself gave children. He was acknowledged as the sovereign giver of all life.
4:2 she bore again. Some think the boys may have been twins, since no time element intervenes between verses 1 and 2. keeper of sheep... tiller of the ground. Both occupations were respectable; in fact, most people subsisted through a combination of both. God’s focus was not on their vocation, but on the nature of their respective offerings.
4:3 fruit of the ground. This speaks of produce in general.
4:4 firstborn... fat. The best animals.
4:4-5 Abel’s offering was acceptable (cf. Heb. 11:4), not just because it was an animal, nor just because it was the very best of what he had, nor even that it was the culmination of a zealous heart for God, but because it was in every way obediently given according to what God must have revealed (though not recorded in Genesis). Cain, disdaining the divine instruction, just brought what he wanted to bring: some of his crop.
4:5-6 very angry. Rather than being repentant for his sinful disobedience, Cain was violently hostile toward God, whom he could not kill, and jealous of his brother, whom he could kill (cf. 1 John 3:12; Jude 11).
4:7 do well... be accepted? God reminded Cain that if he had obeyed God and offered the animal sacrifices God had required, his sacrifices would have been acceptable. It wasn’t personal preference on God’s part, or disdain for Cain’s vocation, or the quality of his produce that caused God to reject his sacrifice. sin lies at the door. God told Cain that if he chose not to obey His commands, ever-present sin, crouched and waiting to pounce like a lion, would fulfill its desire to overpower him (cf. 3:16).
4:8 The first murder in Scripture (cf. Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51; Heb. 12:24). Cain rejected the wisdom spoken to him by God Himself, rejected doing good, refused to repent, and crouching sin thus pounced and turned him into a killer. Cf. 1 John 3:10-12.
4:9 Am I my brother’s keeper? Cain’s sarcasm was a play on words, based on the fact that Abel was the “keeper” of sheep. Lying was the third sin (unacceptable worship and anger being the first two) resulting from Cain’s attitude of indifference toward God’s commands. Sin was ruling over him (v. 7).
4:10 voice... blood. A figure of speech to indicate that Abel’s death was well known to God.
4:11 cursed from the earth. A second curse came from God, affecting just the productivity of the soil Cain would till. To a farmer like Cain, this curse was severe, and meant that Cain would all his life be a wanderer, “a fugitive and a vagabond” (vv. 12, 14).
4:14 anyone... kill me. This shows that the population of the earth was, by then, greatly increased. As a wanderer and scavenger in an agrarian world, Cain would be easy prey for those who wanted his life.
4:15 mark. While not described here, it involved some sort of identifiable sign that he was under divine protection which was mercifully given to Cain by God. At the same time, the mark that saved him was the lifelong sign of his shame.
4:16 Nod. An unknown location.
4:17 Cain knew his wife. Cain’s wife obviously was one of Adam’s later daughters (5:4). By Moses’ time, this kind of close marriage was forbidden (Lev. 18:7-17), because of genetic decay. Enoch. His name means “initiation,” and was symbolic of the new city where Cain would try to mitigate his curse.
4:19 two wives. No reason is given on Lamech’s part for the first recorded instance of bigamy. He led the Cainites in open rebellion against God (cf. 2:24) by his violation of marriage law.
4:20 Jabal.He invented tents and inaugurated the nomadic life of herdsmen so common in the Middle East and elsewhere.
4:21 Jubal. He invented both stringed and wind instruments.
4:22 Tubal-Cain. He invented metallurgy.
4:23-24 Lamech killed someone in self-defense. He told his wives that they need not fear any harm coming to them for the killing because, if anyone tried to retaliate, he would retaliate and kill them. He thought that if God promised sevenfold vengeance on anyone killing Cain, He would give seventy-seven-fold vengeance on anyone attacking Lamech.
4:25 Seth. With Cain removed as the older brother and heir of the family blessing, and with Abel dead, God graciously gave Adam and Eve a godly son through whom the seed of redemption (3:15) would be passed all the way to Jesus Christ (Luke 3:38).
4:26 men began to call on the name of the Lord. As men realized their inherent sinfulness with no human means to appease God’s righteous indignation and wrath over their multiplied iniquities, they turned to God for mercy and grace in hopes of a restored personal relationship.