Genesis 3

 

וְהַנָּחָשׁ הָיָה עָרוּם מִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־הָאִשָּׁה אַף  3:1

כִּי־אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן

Gene. 3:1         Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  And it said to the woman, “Moreover, that God said you shall not eat of any tree of the garden, ….”

From the Hebrew in this verse, it can be construed that the serpent is continuing a conversation that started before the action described in this verse.  Also important, the second-person pronoun you is masculine plural.  The serpent is addressing them both.  It continues to do so whenever it speaks throughout this chapter, although the woman is the only one responding.  The man is ignoring the serpent, but the woman cannot resist answering it.

וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ מִפְּרִי עֵץ־הַגָּן נֹאכֵל   3:2

Gene. 3:2         And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat,

וּמִפְּרִי הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹךְ־הַגָּן אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בּוֹ פֶּן־־תְּמֻתוּן   3:3

Gene. 3:3         but of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden God had said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die because of it.’”

וַיֹּאמֶר הַנָּחָשׁ אֶל־הָאִשָּׁה לֹא־מוֹת תְּמֻתוּן   3:4

Gene. 3:4         And the serpent said to the woman, “You shall surely not die.”

כִּי יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם וִהְיִיתֶם כֵּאלֹהִים יֹדְעֵי טוֹב וָרָע   3:5

Gene. 3:5.      “For God knows that in the day of your eating from it, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be like God, knowing of good and evil.”

The two instances of your and the one of you are all masculine plural, as is the participle knowing. The serpent is exaggerating now (and denigrating God) – knowing of good and evil is only a small part of God’s capability.  One knowing only of good and evil would not be like God.  The claim by some scholars that the woman, as well as the man, was tempted to eat so she could be like God, seems to be poorly supported by this conversation.  The conversation is naïve and simplistic, as a child’s fairy tale might be.  Why would totally, unimaginably innocent humans strive to be like God?    It’s only we “knowing” humans who do that.

וַתֵּרֶא הָאִשָּׁה כִּי טוֹב הָעֵץ לְמַאֲכָל וְכִי תַאֲוָה־הוּא לָעֵינַיִם וְנֶחְמָד הָעֵץ לְהַשְׂכִּיל וַתִּקַּח מִפִּרְיוֹ   3:6

וַתֹּאכַל וַתִּתֵּן גַּם־לְאִישָׁהּ עִמָּהּ וַיֹּאכַל

Gene. 3:6         And the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and the tree was to be desired.  Considering, then she took from its fruit and ate.  And she also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

וַתִּפָּקַ חְנָה עֵינֵי שְׁנֵיהֶם וַיֵּדְעוּ כִּי עֵירֻמִּם הֵם וַיִּתְפְּרוּ עֲלֵה תְאֵנָה וַיַּעֲשׂוּ לָהֶם חֲגֹרֹת  3:7

Gene. 3:7         Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed together the leaf of a fig tree and made girdles for themselves.

וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶת־קוֹל יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִתְהַלֵּךְ בַּגָּן לְרוּחַ הַיּוֹם וַיִּתְחַבֵּא הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ מִפְּנֵי יְהוָה   3:8

אֱלֹהִים בְּתוֹךְ עֵץ הַגָּן

Gene. 3:8         Then they heard the sound of the Lord God “walking” in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his woman hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God in the midst of a tree of the garden,

In these early chapters in Genesis the scribe often describes an anthropomorphic depiction of God.  Was God actually “walking” in the garden?  I will have more to say about this later (relating to anthropomorphic emotions in Gene. 6:6, and to walking in Levi. 26:12 and Deut. 23:15).

וַיִּקְרָא יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶל־הָאָדָם וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אַיֶּכָּה   3:9

Gene. 3:9         as the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

In conformity with the discussion relating to Gene. 2:20 (See Gene. 2 notes for this discussion), we might assume that God knew where the man was, but was encouraging him to respond in a responsible way.  However, the next verse hints at something else too.  See below.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֶת־־קֹלְךָ שָׁמַעְתִּי בַּגָּן וָאִירָא כִּי־עֵירֹם אָנֹכִי וָאֵחָבֵא   3:10

Gene. 3:10       And he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

The implication in the man’s response is that God had been calling to him but he had not responded until now, when the Lord probably began to sound insistent.

וַיֹּאמֶר מִי הִגִּיד לְךָ כִּי עֵירֹם אָתָּה הֲמִן־הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִיךָ לְבִלְתִּי אֲכָל־מִמֶּנּוּ אָכָלְתָּ   3:11

Gene. 3:11       And He said, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?”

Why does God ask these questions?  Doesn’t He know what the man and woman have done?  As before, we might guess that the Lord is offering the man an opportunity to exercise his free will, and come clean.

וַיֹּאמֶר הָאָדָם הָאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה עִמָּדִי הִוא נָתְנָה־לִּי מִן־הָעֵץ וָאֹכֵל   3:12

Gene. 3:12      And the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, so I ate.”

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים לָאִשָּׁה מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂית וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה הַנָּחָשׁ הִשִּׁיאַנִי וָאֹכֵל   3:13

Gene. 3:13       And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  And the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, so I ate.”

The woman, who was not shy, passes the buck, blaming the serpent.  This chapter reeks of symbolism.   The man and woman clearly represent humankind.  The serpent is the embodiment of the traps, pitfalls, lures, and dangers of everyday life.  Eden is the safe haven to which we are inevitably headed, whether in the afterlife or at the end of time.  Maybe that’s why the second-person pronouns in the early part of this chapter have been plural.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ כִּי עָשִׂיתָ זֹּאת אָרוּר אַתָּה מִכָּל־הַבְּהֵמָה וּמִכֹּל חַיַּת   3:14

הַשָּׂדֶה עַל־גְּחֹנְךָ תֵלֵךְ וְעָפָר תֹּאכַל כָּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ

Gene. 3:14       And the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you shall be cursed more than all the cattle and more than any beast of the field.  Upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life.”

וְאֵיבָה אָשִׁית בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין הָאִשָּׁה וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ וּבֵין זַרְעָהּ הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ  עָקֵב  3:15

Gene. 3:15       “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed.  He shall crush the front of you, and you shall bruise the heel of him.”

אֶל־הָאִשָּׁה אָמַר הַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה עִצְּבוֹנֵךְ וְהֵרֹנֵךְ בְּעֶצֶב תֵּלְדִי בָנִים וְאֶל־אִישֵׁךְ תְּשׁוּקָתֵךְ   3:16

וְהוּא יִמְשָׁל־בָּךְ

Gene. 3:16       To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain and your travail.  With pain shall you bring forth children, and your longing shall be for your husband that he may rule over you.”

Is this verse the source -- or the evidence -- of anti-female bias?  Were women cursed from the beginning to be subservient to men? 

וּלְאָדָם אָמַר כִּי שָׁמַעְתָּ לְקוֹל אִשְׁתֶּךָ וַתֹּאכַל מִן־הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִיךָ לֵאמֹר לֹא תֹאכַל   3:17

מִמֶּנּוּ אֲרוּרָה הָאֲדָמָה בַּעֲבוּרֶךָ בְּעִצָּבוֹן תֹּאכְלֶנָּה כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ

Gene. 3:17       And to the man He said, “Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate of the tree which I commanded you saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground for your sake.  In toil shall you eat of it all the days of your life.”

Interesting . . . ., The “You” in “You shall not eat of it,” is singular, not plural.  So here the Lord repeats His original admonition, which was indeed only to the man.

וְקוֹץ וְדַרְדַּר תַּצְמִיחַ לָךְ וְאָכַלְתָּ אֶתעֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה   3:18

Gene. 3:18       “And thorn and thistle it shall bring to you as you eat the herb of the field.”

בְּזֵעַת אַפֶּיךָ תֹּאכַל לֶחֶם עַד שׁוּבְךָ אֶל־הָאֲדָמָה כִּי מִמֶּנָּה לֻקָּחְתָּ כִּי־עָפָר אַתָּה וְאֶל־־עָפָר   3:19

תָּשׁוּב

Gene. 3:19       “By the sweat of your nostrils shall you eat bread until your return to the ground, because out of it were you taken, for dust you are and to dust you shall return.

It looks like at this point in the narrative we are still vegetarians.

וַיִּקְרָא הָאָדָם שֵׁם אִשְׁתּוֹ חַוָּה כִּי הִוא הָיְתָה אֵם כָּל־חָי    3:20

Gene. 3:20       And the man called the name of his woman Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

The name חַוָּה, Eve, means living. Is the meaning of this verse that once they left Eden they would begin to have children?

וַיַּעַשׂ יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים לְאָדָם וּלְאִשְׁתּוֹ כָּתְנוֹת עוֹר וַיַּלְבִּשֵׁם   3:21

 

Gene. 3:21    And the Lord God made garments of skin for the man and his wife and clothed them.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ לָדַעַת טוֹב וָרָע וְעַתָּה פֶּן־יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וְלָקַח גַּם   3:22

מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים וְאָכַל וָחַי לְעֹלָם

Gene. 3:22       Then the Lord God said, “Behold the man has become as one of us, knowing good and evil, and now lest he put forth his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever ….”

From this verse, we can conclude that the humans were not immortal, even in the garden of Eden, before eating of the forbidden fruit.

וַיְשַׁלְּחֵהוּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִגַּן־עֵדֶן לַעֲבֹד אֶת־הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר לֻקַּח מִשָּׁם   3:23

Gene. 3:23       So the Lord God took him from the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

וַיְגָרֶשׁ אֶת־הָאָדָם וַיַּשְׁכֵּן מִקֶּדֶם לְגַן־עֵדֶן אֶת־הַכְּרֻבִים וְאֵת לַהַט הַחֶרֶב הַמִּתְהַפֶּכֶת לִשְׁמֹר   3:24

אֶת־דֶּרֶךְ עֵץ־הַחַיִּים

Gene. 3:24       When He drove the man out, then He placed the cherubim at the garden of Eden’s east, and the flaming sword that turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

The words here meaning the flaming sword can also be translated as the flame of the sword.  Otherwise the phrase is an idiom.  Flaming is masculine and sword is feminine.  So the phrase is either correctly translated as the flame of the sword or it is indeed an idiom.  I have assumed it to be an idiom.

 

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