Genesis 3:1-7

A closer reading of mankind’s great fall in Genesis 3 has brought a number of things to my attention that I have not seen in the past. One of the greatest aspects of Biblical study is that you never reach the bottom.

Here are some notable things that jumped out in a group discussion as well as some of my own “original” observations.

  • The story starts out describing the snake as more crafty than the other beasts of the field. God obviously made the snake so we don’t know if crafty here is supposed to be a good thing.
  • The identity of the snake is never connected with Satan in this passage. For starters, it seems strange to us that a snake would talk. But Eve doesn’t seem to be affraid or give any sense that a talking snake is odd. The snake could have been possesed by Satan or possibly influenced by demons. On the other hand, there is no textual proof to indicate that the snake acted in malice except Eve’s accusation when confronted by God. Could this merely be a snake that innocently asked the wrong questions?
  • The NT book of Revelation cleerly states the snake in its prophecy is Satan. The concept about Jesus crushing the head of the snake suggests that the snake symbolizes Satan. This issue is hotly debated by Biblical scholars and preachers.
  • The snake framed its question to focus on the liberty of the individual. I find this interesting in a society that focuses on individual rights.
  • Eve replied that they could eat of all the fruit of the trees except for one. Then, she added that they couldn’t even touch the fruit. This goes beyond what Adam was told. He received the instruction before Eve was created. We don’t know if Eve added to what God said or Adam did it. We don’t know if God added some additional parameters to help protect Adam and Eve. This brings up the rabbinic concept of hedges and fences around the law. These extra little rules made it difficult to transgress the law. Maybe this was the first law hedge.
  • No where in the text does it tell us what kind of fruit it was that Adam and Eve ate. Literature has developed the notion that it was an apple. But it could have been almost anything. This shows us that some of our general concepts about a passage may be wrong because we have been more influenced by tradition than what the text actually says.
  • The snake said that you will not surely die. The Hebrew indicates that the snake mentioned death twice in this response. That is where we translate the “surely” part. But this could have meant to describe more than one type of death. The original Hebrew is not clear.
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3 responses to “Genesis 3:1-7

  1. On your first point, about “crafty.” God made the snake and, according to the previous creation text, everything God created was good. Thus, the snake should be good.

    The problem here lies in what type of literature does one think she or he is reading. Is it historical? Mythitcal? A saga or legend? It would be interesting if you study similar texts in other ancient Near Eastern texts.

    On another point, the word “satan” (“accuser”) is late, later than the JE text in Gen 3. Here we are dealing, not so much with the “individual being” Satan, but with the general concept of evil. It would be interesting to relate Gen 3, not so much with Rev, but with James 1:12-18.

    This are just some quick thoughts…

  2. Chaille – it’s fun to read your blog. I’ll enter the conversation….

    Early in the OT, the word for “satan” is adversary and it is not until later that it is a title for a person. Earlier on, it’s used to describe people and not necessarily a personification of evil.

    Re: the two mentions of death – it is two verbs next to each other and, in Hebrew, this does translate as a superlative or emphasis. It doesn’t mean two deaths.

    How’s that for a first entry on your blog? 🙂

  3. Thanks Una,

    Great comments. I’ll have to ask my Hebrew prof about the superlative vs. two deaths concept.

    I do know that world order is a huge deal in the Hebrew that I have studied so far.

    Godspeed,
    Chaille

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