Genesis 1

1:1 This opening verse of the Bible, seven words in the Hebrew, establishes seven key truths upon which the rest of the Bible is based.

First, God exists. The essential first step in pleasing God is recognizing His existence (Heb. 11:6). Second, God existed before there was a universe and will exist after the universe perishes (Heb. 1:10-12). Third, God is the main character in the Bible. He is the subject of the first verb in the Bible (in fact, He is the subject of more verbs than any other character) and performs a wider variety of activities than any other being in the Bible. Fourth, as Creator God has done what no human being could ever do; in its active form the Hebrew verb bara', meaning "to create," never has a human subject. Thus bara' signifies a work that is uniquely God's. Fifth, God is mysterious; though the Hebrew word for God is plural, the verb form of which "God" is the subject is singular. This is perhaps an allusion to God's Trinitarian nature: He is three divine persons in one divine essence. Sixth, God is the Creator of heaven and earth. He doesn't just modify pre-existing matter but calls matter into being out of nothing (Ps. 33:6, 9; Heb. 11:3). Seventh, God is not dependent on the universe, but the universe is totally dependent on God (Heb. 1:3).

1:2 Bible translations since the time of the Septuagint, the translation of the OT into Greek (ca 175 b.c.), have rendered the first Hebrew verb in this verse as was. However, in an effort to explain the origins of evil and/or find biblical evidence for an old earth, some Bible scholars have suggested that this verb should be translated as "became." Citing evidence in Isa. 14:12-21 and Ezek. 28:12-19, they believe a time gap, possibly a vast one, exists between the first two verses of the Bible, during which Satan led a rebellion in heaven against God. This allows interpreters to suggest that the early earth was without form, and void because Satan's rebellion marred God's good creation. However, the construction of this sentence in the original Hebrew favors the traditional translation ("was" rather than "became").

The sense of verse 2 is that God created the earth "without form, and void" as an unfinished and unfilled state. Working through an orderly process over a period of six days, God formed (days 1-3) and filled (days 4-6) His created handiwork. The "forming" was accomplished by means of three acts of separating or sorting various elements of creation from one another. The "filling" was carried out through five acts of populating the newly created domains. The deep, a single word in Hebrew, suggests an original state of creation that was shapeless as liquid water. The Hebrew verb translated moved, translated "fluttereth" in Deut. 32:11, suggests that the Spirit of God was watching over His creation just as a bird watches over its young.

1:3 A foundational teaching of the Bible is that God speaks and does so with universe-changing authority. The command in this verse is just two words in Hebrew.

1:4 Another basic truth of the Bible is that God saw; this means He is fully aware of His creation. Later writers directly declared that God is aware of events occurring throughout the earth (2 Chron. 16:9; Zech. 4:10). The term good, used here for the first of seven times in this chapter to evaluate God's creative work, can be used to express both high quality and moral excellence. The physical universe is a good place because God made it. God found satisfaction in His labor. This first instance where God divided created the twin realms of light and darkness, day and night. God's activity in the material world parallels the role He also performs in the moral universe, that of the righteous Judge distinguishing between those who live in moral light and those who do not (1 Thess. 5:5).

1:5 In ancient Israel, the act of naming an object, place, or person indicated that you held control over it (35:10; 41:45; Num. 32:42; Deut. 3:14; Josh. 19:47; 2 Kings 23:34; 24:17). When God named the light and the darkness, He asserted His lordship and control over all of time. In ancient Israelite and modern Jewish tradition, evening is the transition point from one day to the next.

Word Study: yom

yom

Hebrew Pronunciation[YOHM]
HCSB Translationday, time
Uses in Genesis152
Uses in the OT2, 301
Focus passageGenesis 1:5, 8, 13-14, 16, 18-19, 23, 31

Yom means day, the Hebrew day lasting from one evening to the next (Gen 1:5). Yom describes a working day (Ex 20:9) or day of the month (Zech 1:7). It indicates a time (Pr 24:10) or occasion (Num 10:10). In the day often appears as when (Zech 8:9). The plural can represent age (Job 32:7), lifetime (Jos 24:31), or reign (Isa 1:1). The plural denotes a number of days (Neh 1:4), a time period (Lv 25:8), some time (Gen 40:4), a year (Lv 25:29), or years (Ex 2:11). With the definite article yom suggests today (Dt 4:39), now (Neh 1:6), whenever (1Sam 1:4), one day (Job 1:6), or by day (Neh 4:22). Yom could characterize a particular event such as the day of Jezreel (Hos 1:11). Similarly, the Day/day of Yahweh, or the Lord, is a time or day that belongs to the Lord in a special way (Zeph 1:14).

1:6 Based on a verb that can refer to covering something with a thin sheet of metal (Num. 16:39; Isa. 40:19), the noun firmament always refers to the vast spread of the open sky.

1:7 God's second act of separation was to divide atmospheric water from terrestrial water. Thus He began the process of giving form to the material world. The clause it was so, found six times in this chapter, emphasizes God's absolute power over creation.

1:8 Heaven can refer to the earth's atmospheric envelope (v. 20), outer space (v. 15), or the spiritual realm where God lives (Ps. 11:4).

1:9 God's third and final act of separation created oceans and continents.

1:10 In His third and final act of naming, God demonstrated His authority over all of the Earth and the Seas. This contrasts with what Israel's polytheistic neighbors believed about the range of divine powers. Their gods were not all-powerful, but instead exercised authority over a limited territory. The God of Genesis 1 holds dominion over everything at all times and in all places.

1:11-12 In preparation for the rise of animal and human life, God provided an abundant supply of food. The consistent biblical teaching is that "like begets like" (Luke 6:44; James 3:12); Gen. 1:11-12 establish that principle for plant life. While five of the six days contain at least one act of creation evaluated as good, only the third and sixth days have this statement more than once.

1:14-15 The events of day four complement those of day one, filling the day and night with finished forms of light. The various lights, or "light-giving objects," were worshipped as gods in the cultures that surrounded ancient Israel. In Genesis, however, the sun, moon, and stars are portrayed as servants of God that would fulfill three roles: separating the newly created realms of day and night; marking seasons so that those who worshipped the Creator could keep their appointed festivals (cp. Lev. 23:4, 44); and providing light upon the earth.

1:20 The fifth day's events complement those of day two, filling the newly formed heavenly domains above and the watery regions below.

1:21 The great whales are literally "sea monsters." This Hebrew word (tanninim) is also translated "serpent" (Exod. 7:9) and "dragon" (Deut. 32:33; Ps. 74:13; Isa. 27:1; 51:9). In this context, the word designates all the large mammals and fish of the sea. The reuse of the verb created (Hb bara'; cp. v. 1) emphasizes God's authority over the large sea-creatures. This point was especially significant to the ancient Israelites, whose neighbors worshipped Rahab, a mythical sea monster (Isa. 51:9).

1:22 The first of three blessings God pronounced in the creation narrative occurred when God blessed the water animals and birds. This blessing is similar to the one for persons, but lacks the commands to "subdue" and "have dominion" (v. 28).

1:26 God's use of plural pronouns (us ... our ... our) to refer to Himself has raised many questions (3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8). At least five different suggestions have been put forward to explain them: they may be references to (1) the Trinity, (2) God and His angels, (3) God and creation, (4) God's majesty as expressed by a literary device known as the "plural of majesty," or (5) a polytheistic view of God. Since the Bible teaches elsewhere that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Cor. 8:4), the fifth option is not tenable.

The two Hebrew words translated as image and likeness are often understood as having the same meaning. But some interpreters suggest that "image" refers to the ability to reason, with "likeness" referring to the spiritual dimension. What exactly is the "image" of God? Since the Bible teaches that God is a Spirit (John 4:24), many commentators believe it refers to the non-material aspects of a person—our moral sensibilities, intellectual abilities, will, and emotions. Based on God's commands in Gen. 1:28, others have suggested that it consists of the role humans are to play on earth—their rulership over the planet and its resources, and secondarily the physical, mental, and spiritual abilities that enable them to fulfill that role. The NT teaches that Christians will someday bear the image of Christ (1 Cor. 15:49; 1 John 3:2).

1:27 The creation of humanity is the crowning event of chapter 1, as shown by the fact that created is repeated three times. The verb "created" (Hb bara') is the same one used in 1:1, referring to a kind of creative activity that only God can do. The term "man" (Hb 'adam) is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible to refer to humanity in general, not just males (7:21); all people, both male and female, are created in the image of God (cp. James 3:9). People are the only beings that are created in the image of God (Gen. 9:3-6). The Bible never lumps people into the category of animals. Instead, it separates the creation of people from all other beings and attributes the most privileged roles in creation to humans alone.

1:28 In this the longest of the five blessings found in the account of creation, God gave humanity five different commands. Implicit in the first three commands is God's blessing on the institutions of marriage and the family. The word replenish does not mean to do something that has been done before, but to fill the earth for the first time. The final two commands, to subdue the earth and have dominion over the animal kingdom, express God's blessing on the use of the planet's renewable and nonrenewable natural resources. Of course, only the wise use of these resources permits people to fulfill God's command to fill the earth. A similar command to the survivors of the flood is shorter, having only the first three verbs in it (9:1).

1:29 Here the word meat means food. After the flood in Noah's day, God issued additional dietary guidelines that expanded humanity's permitted food sources beyond herbs (plants) and trees to include meats, that is, "flesh" (9:3-4).

1:30 Here again the word meat simply means food. The Bible does not address the issue of diet for carnivorous and insect-eating animals.

1:31 This is the seventh, final, and most elaborate use of the word good in the account of the seven days of creation.

ESSAY: The Uniqueness of the Genesis Creation Story

The Uniqueness of the Genesis Creation Story

Kenneth Mathews

While there are many similarities between parts of Genesis and ancient Near Eastern (ANE) myths, there are also fundamental differences. These are seen especially in the significantly different views of the Creator and creation. Five features in particular distinguish the biblical creation account and perspective. So distinctive theologically is the biblical teaching from that of Israel's neighbors that it is best explained as the result of divine revelation, not the imagination or "religious genius" of the biblical author.

The Identity of God

The basic identity of God as revealed in Genesis is distinct from all other ANE conceptions. The Lord God did not have an origin and did not have a female counterpart. In fact, Genesis does not present any kind of theogony (origin of the gods). God simply always existed. The concept of fertility was a common explanation among the ancients for how the world was created. It was believed that gods and goddesses joined in sexual union and thus produced the world, just as man and woman can come together to create a child. Israel's God, however, was revealed to be asexual, neither male nor female. According to other ANE religions the world (or parts of it, like the sun) was a divine "Thou," whereas in Genesis the world was revealed to be an "it," a non-supernatural reality brought into existence by a supernatural God.

No Rival Gods

While polytheistic views dominated the ANE, Genesis revealed that God has no divine rivals. A common explanation for creation among the ancients was that an epic battle had raged between creator gods and anti-creation deities. Ultimately, the creator god overcame the anti-creation forces/gods, in some cases using the slain bodies of their enemies to make the stuff of the world. In Genesis there is no rival opposing the Creator. All creation obeyed the voice of God, as expressed in the recurring phrase, "and it was so" (1:7).

Creation out of Nothing

In Genesis the Creator by inherent authority as Sovereign Lord spoke creation into a functional, well-ordered existence. There was no eternal pre-created matter, such as was believed in the ancient myths. Genesis says God spoke all things into origination. This does not mean He uttered words that possessed inherent magical powers. Rather, the irrevocable power of God's creation words was grounded in the authority of God Himself. Unlike the nature deities whose existence was limited to the world system, God existed before creation and above creation. Also, creation was not the emanation of divine person or power. It was separate from Him, a new reality subject to His will.

The Value of Humanity

In Genesis the Creator bestowed special value on humanity. Human beings in the ANE view were not indispensable to the operation of the world, whereas in Genesis they were essential as its chief caretakers. The Lord blessed humanity, assigning man and woman the responsibility to propagate and to rule over the earth (1:26-28). ANE myths explained the purpose of humanity as servants who met the servile interests of the gods. The Bible elevates the person and role of humans who were "crowned... with glory and honor" (Ps 8:5), made in the divine image. God prepared the resplendent Garden of Eden for humanity, giving humanity meaningful work and purpose (Gen 2:8-18). Also, Genesis presents the first humanity as individuals who were the progenitors of the human race.

The Sabbath

In Genesis the Creator provided the seventh day as a holy day of rest and celebration (2:1-3), which was later memorialized in Israel's Sabbath (Ex 20:8-11). The Sabbath was unique to Israel, not tied to the movement of the stars, such as in the ancient preoccupation with astrology. The Lord was revealed as Master of the material universe and of time. All creation was invited to join in the knowledge of God and in the worship of Him as Creator and Sustainer of all things.

Genesis 2

2:1 This verse serves as a complement to 1:1. Together, the two set the first six days of creation apart from the sacred seventh day.

2:2 This is the first use of the number seven in the Bible, a number that will play an especially significant role in the religious and social life of ancient Israel (4:15; 7:2-4, 10; 21:28-31; 29:18-20). On the seventh day God rested, thus setting an example for people—who are made in His image—to follow (Exod. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-14). Though God rested from all his work which he had made, this is not to say that God has abandoned the universe. In the NT Jesus affirmed that God is still at work in the world, even on the Sabbath (John 5:16-17).

2:3 This is the only instance during the creation process when God blessed a unit of time. The term sanctified is applied in the Bible to something set aside for service to God.

2:4 The Hebrew word toledoth, translated here as generations, is used 11 times in the book of Genesis to introduce new units of material (5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2). Here it introduces a detailed elaboration of some key aspects of the creation account that opens the book of Genesis (1:1-2:3). Special emphasis is placed on the events of day six. Here the phrase in the day is a Hebrew idiom for "when" (Exod. 5:13). Verse 4 includes the first use of God's personal name, rendered in English as the Lord, the most commonly used noun in the OT. The Hebrew spelling is transliterated as "YHWH," a word Jews considered so sacred that they would not permit themselves to pronounce it. Its accurate pronunciation is thus unknown, though common suggestions include "Jehovah" and "Yahweh."

2:5 A plant or herb of the field was one which required cultivation.

2:6 This source of water, a bountiful blessing that provided moisture for the whole face of the ground in the time of human innocence, later became a source of judgment on humanity's sin (7:11).

2:7 The Hebrew verb translated here as formed is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe the potter's profession (Jer. 18:4; Zech. 11:13); God acts here as the divine potter, skillfully fashioning man of the dust of the ground. But people are more than just material beings. It was only when God breathed into the man's nostrils the breath of life that Adam became alive. God is Spirit (John 4:24); thus, when God breathed into him, Adam and all later human beings became a unique mix of the physical and the spiritual. The Hebrew phrase translated as living soul is used elsewhere in Genesis to describe other creatures (1:20, 24, 30; 9:12, 15-16). Nevertheless, humans are in a class by themselves since they alone are made in God's image.

2:8 The location of Eden is unknown; suggestions include Armenia, Iraq, Africa, and Arabia. Changes in geography caused by the flood in Noah's day (7:11) make it unlikely that Eden will ever be discovered. The Hebrew word "Eden" literally means "pleasantness."

2:9 God's concern for beauty is seen in the fact that the trees He caused to grow were pleasant to the sight. The Lord's love of beauty will later be extended to Israel's religion, which will make use of furnishings fashioned by expert craftsmen using expensive materials (Exod. 25-40). Of course, God's beautiful created works were also practical, being good for food.

2:10 The abundance of the waters supplied in the garden of Eden is indicated by the fact that it served as the headwaters for four rivers.

2:11 The location of the Pison river is unknown. A land known as Havilah existed in the region of the Arabian peninsula at a later point in time (1 Sam. 15:7), but the preflood land may have represented a different locale.

2:13 The pre-flood locations of the Gihon river and Ethiopia are unknown. Later, biblical Ethiopia was located in the region of modern Ethiopia and Sudan (Esther 1:1; Ps. 68:31; Acts 8:27).

2:14 The Hiddekel (Tigris; Dan. 10:4) and Euphrates rivers, as well as Assyria, probably correspond to geographical features associated with modern Iraq.

2:15 The Hebrew word translated as put literally means, "caused to rest"; this pre-sin state of rest anticipates the "rest" ("relief"; 5:29) that would again come to humanity because of righteous Noah, as well as the rest that God would again give Israel following its episode of calf worship (Exod. 32:1-21; 33:14). As a being created in God's image, Adam, like God, was to be a worker. Without the taint of sin, work was an undiluted blessing. The verb translated here as dress literally means "serve." Adam's second task in the garden was to keep it. The verb is used elsewhere to refer to the action of God toward His people (Ps. 121:3-4) or the work of a military guard (SS. 5:7).

2:16 The seriousness of God's order is reflected in the fact that it is introduced by a two-verb phrase in Hebrew: commanded ... saying. This formula was used frequently to express royal decrees (1 Sam. 18:22; 2 Sam. 18:5). God gave Adam both freedom and limits, the freedoms vastly outnumbering the limitations. After all, Adam could eat freely from every tree of the garden except one.

2:17 The only limit God placed on Adam was eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which apparently imparted divine wisdom (3:22). Eating the forbidden fruit represented Adam's rejection of God as the source of divine wisdom and his choice to pursue wisdom apart from God. God's penalty for disobedience was stated especially forcefully in the original language, with a two-verb construction, "dying you shall die" (thou shalt surely die). Death would certainly come to Adam and all humanity after him; but the death that God warned about would be more than physical (3:19). Besides severing the cord of life, sin would shatter the harmonious relationship that existed between Adam and his environment (3:17-18), his wife (3:16), and God.

2:18 The theme of God providing for Adam's needs (see note at v. 8) is picked up again here, as God declared that Adam's solitude is not good. God created the man with a need to relate to one who was meet, or "complimentary," for him, and now God will fill that need.

2:19 As He did with man, God formed animals out of the ground, but they did not receive the breath of life from God (v. 7) nor the image of God.

2:20 By giving names to the animals, Adam showed that he ruled the animals and that he perceived the nature of each animal (see note at 1:5). Adam's understanding of their nature only highlighted the differences that existed between him and the rest of God's creatures: no helper was found as his complement (see note at v. 18).

2:21 At what must have been a moment of loneliness in Adam's life, God stepped in to create one who would perfectly meet Adam's need. Because God took one of his ribs to use as His raw material, the woman would correspond perfectly—though not identically—to Adam. Like Adam, the woman possessed God's image. The fact that she was not taken either from the man's head or his foot may suggest that the woman was not to rule over the man (1 Cor. 11:3), nor the man to oppress the woman (1 Pet. 3:7).

Word Study: 'ishshah

'ishshah

Hebrew Pronunciation[eesh SHAH]
HCSB Translationwoman
Uses in Genesis152
Uses in the OT781
Focus passageGenesis 2:22-25

'Ishshah may not be related to a Hebrew word for man in Gen 2:22-25 that looks and sounds like it ('iysh). 'Ishshah resembles a word for woman in several Semitic languages, and may derive from a verb meaning "be weak" that could also lie behind 'enosh, "man" (2 Sm 12:15). The phrase born of woman (Job 14:1) points to mankind's weaknesses. 'Ishshah has two basic meanings, woman and wife. Both ideas are present in the word's first occurrences (Gen 2:22-25). 'Ishshah connotes fiancée or bride (Dt 22:24; 24:5). It signifies woman without implying marriage (Ec 7:28). "The way of women" is a euphemism for menstruation (Gen 31:35). Sometimes 'ishshah describes a kind of woman, like a prophetess (Jdg 4:4). Fearful soldiers are compared to women (Nah 3:13). 'Ishshah functions as a feminine distributive meaning each, referring to women (Ru 1:8), animals, or even things. "Each to each" appears as together (Ex 26:5).

2:23 Adam's first recorded words express his delight with God's handiwork and his recognition of the unique suitability of God's last recorded creation in the creation accounts. As with no other piece of divine craftsmanship, this one was singularly suited for the man, being bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh. Adam expresses dominion by choosing a name for God's final created being, yet the divine order calls for a reciprocity exhibited in male servant leadership and female submission, both of which are modeled in Jesus Himself. The Hebrew term 'ishshah, Woman, identifies her as the feminine complement to 'ish, the man.

2:24 God's timeless design for marriage is declared here. The one flesh relationship certainly involves sexual union, but also includes a husband and wife coming together in spiritual, mental, and emotional harmony.

2:25 Because the devastating effects of sin had not yet ravaged nature or humanity, there was no need for clothing. Even without barriers to shield them from their environment and each other, Adam and Eve could live without shame. Later, in the time of the patriarchs and kings, clothing was associated with dignity. Accordingly, prisoners of war were not permitted to wear any clothing, slaves wore very little clothing, and the highest social classes wore the most clothing.

Genesis 3

3:1 The Hebrew word for subtil means crafty or shrewd in a negative sense (Job 5:12), or prudent in a positive sense (Prov. 14:8).

3:3 The woman's claim that God said, neither shall ye touch the tree, lest ye die, goes beyond anything recorded in God's instructions to Adam. Therefore either Adam had given his wife an additional command, or else Eve exaggerated the command as Satan tempted her to view God as selfish and overly restrictive. If Adam added to God's command, he almost certainly had a good motive—after all, if Eve never touched the tree, she certainly wouldn't eat its fruit. However, the sad truth is that when people add to the word of God, they create confusion and trouble.

Word Study: nachash

nachash

Hebrew Pronunciation[nah KHASH]
HCSB Translationserpent, snake
Uses in Genesis6
Uses in the OT31
Focus passageGenesis 3:1-2, 4, 13-14

Although nachash is the most prevalent of eight OT terms for snake (Num 21:6), the usage is broader than that. The nachash in Gen 3:1, 14 was the shrewdest animal and did not crawl on its belly before the curse. The nachash Leviathan was a sea monster (Isa 27:1), and there were other sea serpents (Am 9:3). Associated with nachash are slithering motion (Pr 30:19), flying (Isa 14:29), sudden attack (Gen 49:17), poisonous venom (Ps 58:4), sharp bite (Ps 140:3), hissing (Jer 46:22), eggs (Isa 14:29), and licking of dust (Gen 3:14; Mic 7:17). Five times nachash occurs with words meaning "viper." The Middle East has large desert areas that are habitats for serpents. The serpent of Genesis 3, an enemy of man linked with evil, is particularly identified with Satan in Rev 12:9, where he is also called a "dragon," based on the Greek drakon, which can mean "serpent."

3:4-5 The serpent, recognizing the woman's confusion, found a point of attack. Knowing that the woman would not surely die by merely touching the fruit, he boldly contradicted what she had reported to be God's command. He then skillfully lied (John 8:44) by distorting God's word (Matt. 4:6), implying that God had prohibited people from eating the fruit only to keep them from becoming as knowledgeable as He. The woman was now fully deceived (1 Tim. 2:14).

3:6 Since the woman did not die when she touched the fruit—in contradiction to what she had thought God said (v. 3.)—she did eat. Though Adam was with her at the time, he did nothing to stop her. Perhaps he wanted to eat of it as much as the woman did, but fearing the consequences, used his wife as a "guinea pig" to make sure it would not cause instant death.

3:7 As the serpent had indicated, the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew, but instead of producing godlike power, the knowledge brought only a sense of human inadequacy, fear, and shame.

3:9 God took the initiative in reaching out to sinful humanity. This pattern—humanity sinning, then God seeking out sinners—becomes the primary theme of the rest of the Bible. Its ultimate expression is found in Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save people alienated from God because of their sin (Luke 19:10); in Him God once again walked on the earth in search of sinners. The all-knowing God asked Adam, Where art thou? for Adam's benefit, to encourage Adam to face his sin.

3:10 Rather than walking with God as righteous men of later generations would do (Enoch, 5:22; Noah, 6:9), Adam hid from Him.

3:11 Through the use of two direct questions God brought Adam to accountability for his sin. God does not overlook sin, but He can be gently firm in confronting it.

3:12 Adam answered neither of God's questions. Instead he sought to shift the blame first to the woman and then to God.

3:13 The woman passed the blame to the serpent and admitted that prior to eating, she was beguiled (1 Tim. 2:14).

3:14 Though accountability began with God's confrontation of Adam, judgment began with the serpent. Because of the serpent's key role (being used of Satan) in bringing sin into the human experience, it would be permanently consigned to the position of ultimate shame. Just as conquered kings were made to lie on the ground under the foot of their conquerors (Josh. 10:24), so now the serpent would live under the feet of humanity.

3:15 This verse is known in Christendom as the protoevangelium, or "first good news," because it is the first foretelling of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God announced here that a descendant would someday deal the serpent (meaning Satan) a fatal blow on the head (Rev. 20:2, 7-10). The NT writers understood Jesus Christ to have fulfilled this prophecy (Heb 2:14; 1 John 3:8). The NT also indicates that God would work through the church—those indwelt by the Spirit of Christ—to destroy the works of the devil (Rom. 16:20). The assertion that the snake would only strike his opponent's heel foreshadows that Christ's wounding on the cross would not be permanently fatal.

3:16 Even though the woman had been deceived into eating the forbidden fruit, she was still held accountable for her act. Notably, however, the word "cursed" is not contained in God's words to her (vv. 14, 16). Two penalties were imposed; both struck at the heart of a woman's roles in life. More than would have been the case had sin not entered creation, bearing children would add to the sum of sorrow in the universe (God said he would multiply, not originate, woman's labor pains). Marriage would also be marred; though the woman's desire would be for her husband, sin would mar God's plan for marriage and create tormenting inequality and subjugation. The latter is a description of the ravaging effect of sin on a husband-wife relationship, not a prescription for abusing one's wife. The NT teaches that marriage should reflect the relationship of Christ with the church (Eph. 5:24-25) and be characterized by a husband's understanding of and respect for his wife (1 Pet. 3:7).

3:17 Because Adam listened to his wife's voice in preference to what God commanded (2:17), a curse would strike at the heart of a fundamental relationship in his life as well. Adam's relationship with the ground would now be forever damaged by sin. All the days of his life he would experience sorrow (cp. the woman's labor pains, v. 16) as he worked to bring forth the fruit of the earth.

3:18 Prior to the first couple's sins God is only recorded as having put trees in the garden (2:8-9); now there would also be thorns and thistles. Prior to sin, humanity had only to reach up to get food; now they would have to bend their backs to gather plants of the field.

3:19 The simple plucking of fruit in order to eat food (lit "bread") would now be replaced by backbreaking labor and the sweat of man's face. Working daily in the soil, Adam would be continually reminded that he was dust and that he would return to dust.

3:20 The new name Adam gave his wife (cp. 2:23) emphasizes the woman's life-giving role that counteracts the curse of sin, which is death.

3:21 The Lord God graciously provided for humanity's need for clothing in a way superior to what Adam and Eve had done with fig leaves. The use of animal skins anticipates the OT system of animal sacrifices (Lev. 1; 3-7; Num. 15:1-31). In the NT, the apostle Paul spoke of a day when God would clothe His people with immortality (1 Cor. 15:53-54; 2 Cor. 5:4), thus providing the complete undoing of the curse of humanity's sin.

3:22-23 Because of sin, people now knew good and evil experientially. Since the gift of life was directly tied to obedience, man's sin meant that the penalty of death must be enforced. Ironically, the Lord God sent Adam forth from the garden so that Adam would not reach (lit "send forth his hand") for the garden's fruit.

3:24 Following their sin, the first couple went east, a direction associated with departure from God in numerous biblical examples. Other instances of eastward movement in Genesis include Cain's journeys after judgment (4:16), humanity's migration toward Babel (11:2), and the migration of Keturah's sons (25:6). Cherubims are used as an artistic motif in the tabernacle (Exod. 25:18-22; 26:1) and are also mentioned in Ezekiel 10 and 11. The ironies continue as the man who was once commanded to "keep" the garden (Gen. 2:15) is now kept from the garden.