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Genesis 3: The Day the Harmony Died

Posted by Gary Labels: , ,

I'm once again going to be stealing from "When a Man loves a Woman (Part I)."

A major connection between 2 and 3 is the word "naked." Note that the word "crafty" in 3:1 looks very much like the word "naked," so that provides a clear link between the two chapters. Now, in this land of harmony, the craftiest of all the wild beasts holds a conversation with the woman. The serpent purposefully misquotes God, and then reacts with feigned shock that God would ssssay sssuch a thing. I imagine the serpent was slack-jawed with his tongue hanging out awaiting the woman's reply. And reply she does, for she knew well what she was supposed to do.

But the serpent guffaws and says "you (two) definitely won't die; God just knows that once you eat of it, you'll be like Him -- you'll be able to judge for yourself what's good and what's not." The way the woman heard it, she would understand "knowing good and evil" not as moral choice, but as in autonomy. What flashed through her mind was the situation in the movie Home Alone: stay up as late as you want, watch whatever you want on TV, and (of course) eat whatever you want.

What's ironic is that everything the snake said was technically true. He didn't lie, but he did deceive. Once she (and the man) bit into the fruit (pomegranate?), they were no longer innocent and now knew evil as well as good. They gained moral familiarity with evil, but never had the autonomy that the snake tricked them into thinking they'd gain. That tricky snake! What's more, they didn't "die" right on the spot, but the introduction of sin into the world brought about a decay that is moral (corruption), social (distrust), and physical (death).

Overwhelmed with this new feeling -- guilt, it is called -- they hastily cover themselves physically in an attempt to hide from their own emotions. When God approaches, he asks the man, who is the head of the two, what happened. As woman's leader, he is ultimately responsible and God demands an accounting from him first. He quickly places blame on the woman. So God demands an accounting from her, and she likewise blames the snake.

The snake, being of a class lower than humanity, does not merit an opportunity to explain its actions. Punishment follows for the snake. In poetic justice, since the snake made them eat what they should not eat, God makes the snake eat dirt, which we all know snakes cannot eat. That is the snake's curse. Then God goes back up the hierarchy ladder to the woman, and pronounces something to her. With pain she will bring forth children. Then he goes further up the ladder and pronounces judgment on the man. God will not curse man, but God curses the ground because of man. In case you don't like the idea that God didn't give the snake a chance to explain itself, please realize that the point is not that God is unjust, but that man and woman are special and are given consideration beyond that of a mere beast.

So, the five dialogues of God here are: A: demand accounting from man; B: demand accounting from woman; C: judgment on snake; B': judgment on woman; A': judgment on man. God gives both man and woman exemption from being directly cursed, and allows them an opportunity to explain their actions. As such, both man and woman are special to God and in His image. They are subject to God and it is righteous for Him to punish them, but He grants them dignity. Humans are both a cut above the rest of creation. This is somewhat like how medieval nobles were not supposed to be executed in an undignified manner such as hanging, but they would instead be beheaded (except in cases of high treason).

God allowed them to maintain dignity and cover their shame by making them garments to cover their physical nudity. Then they were expelled from the Garden and moved eastward. Always east with the book of Genesis, for some reason. Despite the fact that every event in Genesis 3 has "death" written all over it, the man names his wife Eve, which means "life-giver." He believed in God's promise in 3:15.

They had rightly earned God's distrust, so he sends them out and sets up the first ever miltary watch: cherubim and a flaming sword. Despite the death of this chapter, the last word, strangely, is "life."

2 comments:

  1. Bryon

    So, naming her Eve is a sign of hope.

    I've never though of it that way before...nice catch.

  1. Divine_Contemplative

    Thank you! It actually comes from Alexander Hamilton's Handbook on the Pentateuch. About 70% of the good stuff, including all the outlines, come from him if I'm speaking about the Pentateuch.