Genesis 3:9-13

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

It may be noted incidentally that the shame of nudity is no artificial inhibition introduced by the conventions of civilization … It has its source in this primeval awareness of sin, and is only discarded when the moral conscience has been so hardened as to lose all sensitivity to sin. … Except for the brief period of Edenic innocence, nakedness before anyone other than one’s own husband or wife is, in the Bible, considered shameful (Genesis 9:23; Exodus 32:25; Revelation 3:18, etc.) — Morris, page 116-117.

Nakedness was not a sin at the beginning. Genesis 2:25 tells us, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Nakedness had never previously been a hindrance to fellowship with God. It was their shame and guilt, due to their sin, that caused their nakedness to be a problem. — Taylor, page 106. 

So rapidly had sin pervaded the hearts of both Adam and Eve that, when God began to question them, Adam blamed his wife and eve blamed the serpent, neither being willing to acknowledge personal guilt. In fact, Adam, by implication, cast the blame on God Himself, emphasizing that it was all because of “the woman whom thous gavest to be with me.” — Morris, page 117.

Eve was not responsible for Adam’s sin, as we have noted several times already. she was not Adam’s representative. When Eve sinned, it was her own sin. Adam, however, was our representative. Unlike Eve, Satan did not deceive him. in other words, he knew exactly what he was doing. His was the greater sin, and his sin was imputed to you and me. Adam’s foolish comments are not to go unregarded by God, but for the moment he moves on to question Eve. She also has the opportunity to repent. She does not. She also engages in the art of blame shifting. She blames the serpent, who, of course, is guilty, but he is guilty of his own sin, not Eve’s. Eve’s sin is not to go unnoticed, but for the moment God addresses the sin of the serpent. — Taylor, pages 107-108.

God’s response to the sin of Adam and Eve is not merely that of a Creator, nor even that of a God who is merely just: rather, it is the response of a God who desires to be—and be seen as—a Father in every ideal sense of the word. In this respect the detailed description of how God responds to the couple’s sin is not just important, but paradigmatic, insofar as it “sets the course” for the way in which we are to anticipate and assess God’s response ever thereafter to the sin(s) of those whom He likewise considers His children—whether Israel nationally, or individual believer. At the same time, to highlight God’s paternal response to the couple, we are also presented with the foil (i.e., clear contrast) of his unmitigated judgment of Satan—this contrastive purpose of which (i.e., to highlight God’s paternal mercy) is quite likely one of the main reasons that God permitted him to instigate the temptation in the first place. — Wechsler, page 102.

Unexpectedly to Adam and Eve, since they are anticipating God’s immediate (and just) response to their sin, the Son does not call out to them in wrath, but in a tone of gentle and patient questioning. … These questions are not being asked for His own benefit (i.e., to supply Him with information He didn’t otherwise have), but for the benefit of the ones being questioned. Rather than “bash” them over the head with judgment because His honor was offended, God responds in a way reflective of a fundamental concern for their welfare and betterment; He wants them to understand why what they did is so bad, that it might serve as a deterrent to future sin. Thus, the first question (which, is should be noted, God addresses to the man, since He holds him primarily responsible)—”Where are you?”—is intended to bring the couple to a clear recognition of where their sin has led them—namely, to a tragic distance from God with a further barrier (the trees) between them. and by the second question—”What have you done …?”—God’s intention is for them to clearly understand how then ended up at this less-than-ideal distance from God.

God’s paternal—and even gentle—mercy (i.e., not giving them the punishment they do deserve) is further evident in the fact that, in asking the second question, God even supplies the content of their confession (i.e., “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?), in response to which, therefore, the man need only say “Yes,” or “I ate” to acknowledge his sin. And indeed Adam does say this—but only after seeking to mitigate his guilt by shifting much of the blame to the woman—who, after all God Himself gave him. Nonetheless, God plays along, and, in response to His similar question to Eve—the asking of which indicates that His personal interest in the woman’s welfare is just as keen—He receives essentially the same response, with much of the blame being shifted to Satan. That these questions were indeed intended to draw the couple out to confession is underscored by the observation that God asks no question of Satan—precisely for the reason that the point of the questions (i.e., to induce confession) does not have any application to him, for Satan is not God’s child. 

Another significant observation with respect to God’s questions here is that once the man and the woman say “I ate,” God ceases His questioning and moves on. If the purpose of these questions is truly to draw each of them out to confession, one may reasonably conclude from this that God’s purpose has been satisfied—a conclusion which is established as a certainty by verse 21, where God expresses toward the couple one of the most vivid and visual examples of forgiveness to be found anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. Inevitably, therefore, the further conclusion emerges that God is satisfied with less than perfect confession!  In His paternal mercy and perfect love, God fervently desires to express forgiveness towards His children (and what good parent wouldn’t?), the theological-thematic emphasis of this episode therefore being on God’s mercy rather than on the couple’s merit. — Wechsler, pages 102-104.

There’s much in the commentary quotes that isn’t explicitly spelled out in Scripture, but it’s consistent with the rest of Scripture. I think it holds water. I especially like Wechler’s final point that God’s response was based on His mercy and not by man’s merit.

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Genesis 3:7-8

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

knew (v.7) — the beginning of the second dispensation, Conscience

Paintings of Adam and Eve always show them with leaves over the parts of their bodies that we would me most anxious to cover. The word “coverings” is from a Hebrew word for “belt,” or “girdle.”

The serpent had promised that they would acquire wisdom and become as gods, knowing good and evil. Instead, there came over them the realization of what they had done and an awful sense of shame enveloped them. As they remembered that the divine injunction had been to “multiply and fill the earth,” they realized that the very fountainhead of human life had now become corrupted by their disobedience and they became acutely aware of their nakedness. Their children would all be contaminated with the seed of rebellion, so that their feeling of guilt centered especially on their own procreative organs. The result was that they suddenly desired to hide these from each other, and from God. (Morris, page 115).

God was “walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” The more or less offhand way in which this is stated indicates that this was a normal event, perhaps a daily appointment time at which the Lord met with them for communion and fellowship. This is no crude anthropomorphism, but a repeated, or even continual, theophany, i which the Word of God, Christ preincarnate, clothed Himself in human form in order to communicate with those whom He had created in His own image. — Morris, page 116.

[Satan] had said, “your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”; but he had left out a material part of the truth, namely, that they should know good without the power to do it, and that they should know evil without the power to avoid it. — Mackintosh, page 43.

I think this next quote from Mackintosh is brilliant, especially the second paragraph.

It is well … to know how conscience works—to see that it can only make cowards of us, as being the consciousness of what we are. Many are astray as to this; they thing that conscience will bring us to God. Did it operate thus in the case of Adam and Eve? Assuredly not. Nor will it in the case of any sinner. How could it? How could the sense of what I am ever bring me to God, if not accompanied by the faith of what God is? Impossible. It will produce shame, self-reproach, remorse, anguish. It may also give birth to certain efforts on my part to remedy the condition which it discloses; but these very efforts, so far from drawing us to God, rather act as a blind to hide Him from our view. This, in the case of Adam and Eve, the discovery of their nakedness was followed by an effort of their own to cover it—”they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.” this is the first record we have of man’s attempt to remedy, by his own device, his condition, and the attentive consideration thereof will afford us not a little instruction as to the real character of human religiousness in all ages. In the first place, we see, not only in Adam’s case, but in every case, that man’s effort to remedy his condition is based upon the sense of his nakedness. He is confessedly naked, and all his works are the result of his being so. This can never avail. I must know that I am clothed before I can do anything acceptable in the sight of God.

And this, be it observed, is the difference between true Christianity and human religiousness. The former is founded upon the fact of a man’s being clothed; the latter, upon the fact of his being naked. The former has for its starting post what the latter has for its goal. All that a True Christian does, is because he is clothed—perfectly clothed; all that a mere religionist does, is in order that he may be clothed.— Mackintosh, pages 44-45.

“Don’t eat of the tree was law” and the law was given to show our inability to achieve salvation on our own. It was given to make us all guilty before God—even Adam and Eve.

These two verses bear out that the death which God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17 would take place “in the day” that he ate was not an empty threat, as Satan had deceived Eve into thinking. The death which they experienced, however, was not that of immediate physical cessation, nor was it that of becoming “subject to death (i.e., mortal), since this was already the case before they ate (their potential immortality being centered in the unrestricted fruit of the Tree of Life, from which they had not yet eaten (cf. 3:22). Rather, as presented in connection with this first occurrence, death as biblically defined is to be fundamentally defined as separation. In this case, specifically, as an experienced separation—i.e., a separation or “break” in the ideal experience of their relationship with God and with each other—rather than, as elsewhere, a positional separation—i.e., a separation in the fact of their relationship. — Wechsler, pages 98-99.

The sense of this … is that their newly acquired knowledge of what constitutes good and evil “opened their eyes” [gave them wisdom] to see that what they had done was evil and had justly left them “naked”—i.e., exposed—to God’s impending punishment. — Wechsler, page 100.

In this case—an parallel to the impact on their spiritual relationship with God—the “death” or “disjunction,” is not in the fact of their relationship (the couple is still married). but in the ideally intended experience of that relationship, outwardly reflected in the barriers that they set up between those parts of themselves that are most representative of physical intimacy. — Wechsler, page 100

The impact of the couple’s sin on their relationship with God—i.e., “death’ that He warned would occur “in the day” that they ate—is here borne out, just as in their relationship with each other, by a “break” or “separation” in the experience of that relationship. This consequence is presented with especially tragic emphasis by the depiction of “the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” Insofar as the verb “walking,” consistent with its usage elsewhere in Hebrew narrative, logically implies the use of feet, it must be concluded that God has at this point taken human form—and if so, as in Genesis 2:7 it is the Son specifically who is here in view. The verb here translated “walking” moreover, is a relatively infrequent form of the verb that indicates not a walking from point “A” to point “B,” with a specific endpoint in view, but rather a “repeated” or “circular” type of walking that is more precisely represented here by the English verb “strolling.” He wants them (and we who read this) to know that His ideal intention was to enjoy fellowship with His human children to the fullest capacity of our created nature, which is both physical as well as spiritual. … The tragedy in this passage is that God’s first children are pushing away this privileged experience of fellowship by using those very things that their divine Father gave them for their good (i.e., the trees of the garden) as a barrier to His presence. — Wechsler, pages 101-102.

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Genesis 3:6

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

There was not the slightest reason why [man] should sin, but he could if he so desired. God had made him perfect and placed him in a perfect environment, with every need fully supplied. He did not have an inherited sin nature, as we do now; so he was fully capable of resisting any external pressure toward sin.

The tragic fact, however, is that he did sin, and thereby brought sin and death into the world. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin;and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12. “In Adam, all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

As the tendency toward death is inherited by all men, so also is the tendency toward sin. No descendant of Adam has ever lived to an age of conscious awareness of right and wrong without actually choosing wrong. He has become a deliberate sinner because he has inherited a sinful nature, which leads him to sin in practice. thus, “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Each person continues under the divine judgment of death, not only because of Adam’s sin, but because of his own deliberate sin. — Morris, pages 112-113.

It is remarkable that the particular attributes of this fruit that seemed so tempting are the same as the overt characteristics of practically every type of temptation which man faces today.

To [Eve], it seemed that the tree was: (1) “good for food” (that is, something appealing the the physical, bodily appetites); (2) “pleasant to the eyes” (that is something appealing to the emotions—the esthetic senses); (3) “desired to make wise” (that is, appealing to the mind and spirit, and to one’s pride of knowledge and spiritual insight).

This threefold description is perfectly parallel to the outline of 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Temptations thus may be directed against either the body, soul, or spirit—or, as in Eve’s case, against all three at once. The source of the temptation is said by James, again stressing all three aspects, to be “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).

On day, of course, the Second Adam would come into the world, and He would also have to be tempted in all points like as we are (Hebrews 4:15). At the very beginning of His public ministry, He was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). The temptation again was of the same threefold scope: (1) appeal tot he physical appetite, offering bread when He was hungry (Luke 4:3-4); (2) appeal to the covetous and esthetic emotional desires, offering possession of all the world and its kingdoms (Luke 4:5-8); (3) appeal to spiritual pride, offering world-wide recognition as the one of highest intellectual and spiritual eminence, under the special protection of the holy angels (Luke 4:9-12).

It is significant that the Lord Jesus overcame the wicked one (1 John 2:13-14)) by reminding both Himself and Satan of appropriate instructions and promises in the Word of God. — Morris, pages 113-114.

Many have suggested that [Adam ate the fruit] out of love for Eve, choosing to share her sin and guilt rather than leaving her to face God’s judgment alone. … However, this motive would almost make Adam appear noble in sinning, and the Bible never implies such a thing. His sin was deliberate, wicked, and inexcusable, In fact, it was not by Eve’s sin, but by Adam’s that “sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” All future human beings were “in Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:22) and even Eve herself had been formed “of the man” (1 Corinthians 11:8). He was the true federal head of the race and it was “through the offence of the one [that] many be dead” (Romans 5:15). — Morris, pages 114-115.

… Biblical “wisdom,” in its most fundamental sense, concerns not the amount of one’s knowledge, but rather the ability to “divide” or “distinguish” our knowledge into the proper categories of what is morally and theologically good and bad, right and wrong. Adam and Eve at this point do not have this knowledge—or, rather, they are just beginning to acquire it; they are truly in a state of almost absolute “innocence.” In order, therefore, to acquire and develop this ability, they have only one of two recourses: God, who is the source of all truth and moral distinction, or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, by the eating of whose fruit this ability would be immediately and fully imparted. The temptation and potential sin in this instance is thus to take a “shortcut” around God—to remove ourselves from dependence on God. By eating from this tree the couple would immediately gain that knowledge/ability that they could otherwise only acquire over time through constant recourse to and interaction with their divine Father. — Wechsler, page 97.

[Comparing the temptations of Adam and Christ] … in Adam’s case, his yielding to temptation results in the depravity of all mankind, since all mankind is inevitably linked to him through descent, whereas in Christ’s case, His victory over temptation ensures the success both of His own ministry and hence results in the justification (i.e., eternal salvation) of all those who are linked to Him by faith. It is precisely this clear and compelling contrast that stands at the core of the discussion in Romans 5:12-21, “for just as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (v.19). — Wechsler, page 98.

Still thinking this through … Were Adam and Eve capable of sinning before the fall—Eve misquoting Scripture, both of them reaching for the fruit prior to eating it—but not held accountable for that sin because they didn’t “know” it was sin?

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Genesis 3:1-5

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;

but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

There is no way of knowing the timing of this event. Many people believe that the creation of angels occurred during the first six days. All of creation was still good on day 7, so, in this timeline, Satan’s fall must have occurred very shortly thereafter.

Adam and Eve were created perfect in every way, including fruitfulness. And God had instructed them to multiply and fill the earth. So it’s impossible that they were together for very long before Eve became pregnant. But she couldn’t have been pregnant before the fall because then their child would not have been affected by the fall.

All that to say that if angels were created during the six days, then Satan and mankind must have both fallen on day 8 or so. I find that unlikely. That’s one of the reasons I think Genesis 1:1 refers to an earlier angelic creation that was destroyed—perhaps down to the atomic level—before God began on day 1 to create a world for humanity.

But I could be wrong.

Lucifer is spoken of in Isaiah 14:12-15. This passage is in the context of a prophetic warning to the wicked “king of Babylon,” but the prophet seems to go beyond his denunciation of this earthly monarch to the malevolent spirit who had possessed and utilized the king’s body and powers. The statements made in this passage could never be true of a mere earthly king. This same powerful spirit is similarly addressed in Ezekiel 28:11-19, a passage first directed at another later earthly potentate, similarly possessed, the king of Tyre. In the latter passage, he is addressed as “the anointed cherub that covereth” the very throne of God, the highest being in all of God’s creation. 

God had told this high angel that he had been “created” (Ezekiel 28:13-15), and no doubt informed him that he and all the other mighty angels were to be “ministering spirits, sent for to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). …

However, Lucifer’s “heart was lifted up” because of his beauty and he corrupted his wisdom by reason of his brightness (Ezekiel 28:17). Though God had assured him that He had created him, he somehow began to doubt God’s word and deceived himself into thinking he himself could become God. “… I will be like the Most High,” he said in his heart (Isaiah 14:14), evidently thinking that he and God were similar beings and that, therefore, he might lead a successful rebellion and overthrow Him. 

Because “iniquity was found in him” (Ezekiel 28:15), Satan fell “as lightning falls from heaven” (Luke 10:18). God “cast him to the ground” (Ezekiel 28:17) and ultimately he will be “brought down to hell” (Isaiah 14:15; Matthew 25:41). — Morris, pages 107-108.

Demonic spirits evidently have the ability, under certain conditions, to indwell or “possess” either human bodies or animal bodies (Luke 8:33); and Satan on this occasion chose the serpent as the one most suitable for his purposes. There has been much speculation as to whether the serpent originally was able to stand upright (the Hebrew word nachash, some maintain, originally meant “shining, upright creature”). This idea is possibly supported by the later curse (Genesis 3:14), dooming the serpent to crawl on its belly “eating” dust…

In cases of doubtful meanings of Scripture, one must not be dogmatic; but, at the same time, he should not forget the cardinal rule of interpretation; the Bible was written to be understood, by commoner as well as scholar, and that it should therefore normally be taken literally unless the context both indicates a nonliteral meaning and also makes it clear what the true meaning is intended to be. It is at least possible (as well as the most natural reading) that the higher animals could originally communicate directly with man, who was their master. —Morris, pages 108-109.

Has God indeed said — In other words, “Did God really say such a thing as that!” Note the slightly mocking superior condescension to Eve’s “naive” acceptance of God’s command, a technique followed by Satan and his human emissaries with great success ever since. This first suggestion that God could be questioned was accompanied by an inference that God was not quite as good and loving as they had thought. “He has not allowed you to eat the fruit of every tree, has He? Why do you suppose He is withholding something from you like that?”

Eve’s response to the serpent’s insinuations was, of course, to assure him that he was wrong. God had allowed them to eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. It was only the one tree in the midst of the garden which was restricted to them. However, even in the midst of her attempt to correct the serpent’s implication, she revealed that his question had had a deadly effect on her. In  her reply, she both added to and subtracted from God’s actual words, with the effect of making Him seem less generous and more demanding than He really was. She said, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden,” whereas God had said they could freely eat of all the trees. God had told them they should not partake of only one tree in the midst of the garden; but Eve said that He added, “neither shall ye touch it.” God had not forbidden them to touch the fruit, of course; so this further supposed restriction had been purely the product of Eve’s developing resentment. 

Having led Eve first to question God’s authority and goodness and then both to augment and dilute His Word, Satan now was ready for the “kill.” “Ye shall surely not die.” … [God’s] warning, Satan suggested, was merely because of God’s fear that they would learn too much. Not content merely with altering God’s Word, Satan now blatantly denied it, calling God a liar!

“Ye shall be as gods.” This was the same temptation that had led to Satan’s own downfall (Isaiah 14:13-14), and it proved an irresistible temptation to Eve as well. In effect, of course, as soon as one begins to deny God’s Word or to question His sovereign goodness, he is really setting himself up as his own god. — Morris, pages 110-112.

Eve’s security against the influence of all this reasoning would have been simple repose in the infinite goodness of God. She should have said the serpent, I have the fullest confidence in God’s goodness, and therefor I deem it impossible that He could withhold any real good from me. If that fruit were good for me, I should surely have it; but the fact of its being forbidden by God proves that I would be no better, but much worse off by the eating of it. I am convinced of God’s love, and I am convinced of God’s truth, and I believe, too, that you are an evil one come to draw my heart away from the fountain of goodness and truth. Get thee behind me, Satan. This would have been a noble reply; but it was not given. … The moment she took herself out of the hands of God—out of the position of absolute dependence upon, and subjection to, His Word, she abandoned herself to the government of sense, as used of Satan for her entire overthrow. — Mackintosh, pages 38-41.

In seeking to incite the couple to sin Satan focuses his efforts on the woman, since her basis for obedience is potentially less stable, being dependent on Adam’s communication of the command as well as for his guidance in resolving any questions or doubt about it (since, according to the text, it was only to Adam that God communicated the command). Since the couple is at this point inseparable (at the end of v.6 we are told that Adam was “with her”), Satan does not overtly “corner” or isolate the woman, which would undoubtedly raise Adam’s ire and more quickly prompt him to defend his wife; rather, he speaks to them both—as underscored by the fact that all of the “you”pronouns in this exchange are plural, yet he addresses the woman and in so doing subtly marginalizes her husband. — Wechsler, pages 92-93.

Some interpreters have criticized Eve’s (or Adam’s) addition to the command (as presented in 2:16-17) of the words “or touch it,” claiming that this is an example of the unfortunate human tendency to unnecessarily encumber God’s Word, yet such criticism here is unjustified: before eating from the tree they were not depraved, and not therefore sinners. Their sin is identified with eating from the tree, not with a supposedly wrongful addition to God’s command. — Wechsler, page 93

Satan suggests that God’s intention is … petty—namely that He is unwilling to share His divine position with man who, by eating from the tree, would be equally as qualified to be called God (hence “life God, or “as Gods,” as the phrase may also be translated. It is at this point that Eve stood most in need of Adam’s guidance, for not only had Adam heard the command directly from God, but he had also experienced first-hand, in a way that Eve had not, the paternal love and grace of God in receiving from His hand the best fulfillment of His need for Eve herself. Tragically, however, Adam keeps silent, and in so doing gives a certain degree of “tacit approval” to the validity of Satan’s alternative and improper characterization of God’s motive. For this reason it may be truly said that “Eve was deceived” (1 Timothy 2:14)—i.e., she sinned without fully and properly realizing that what she did was inconsistent with the true character of God (and thus that what she did was truly a sin). Adam, on the other hand, knew this quite well, and is therefore ascribed a far greater degree of culpability, as is evident from the fact that God prefaces Adam’s chastisement (but not Eve’s) with explicit reference to his intentional disobedience (3:17). — Wechsler, pages 94-95.

I’m going to have to give this further thought. I though Wechsler had an excellent point when he said that Eve had done nothing wrong by not directly quoting God because she hadn’t eaten of the apple yet and so was still incapable of doing anything wrong. But then he goes on to say that Adam was wrong when he didn’t prevent Eve from eating the apple. But wasn’t Adam also incapable of doing wrong before he ate of the apple and, therefore, not to be held accountable for anything he did before that moment? Perhaps, while the act of eating was the Rubicon from beyond which there was no going back, the sin began with allowing the temptation to take hold.

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Genesis 2:21-25

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.

22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

deep sleep (v.21) — The Hebrew word tardemah, used in [this passage] is not the usual word for “sleep” and does not denote the common nightly slumber but a very special repose brought on by God or by a spirit. The word “shenah” is the regular word for sleep and “shakab” means to lie down. In contrast to these words “tardemah” is not a spontaneous and natural sleep but a stupor that is brought on for some purpose. — Bultema, page 11.

If we consider the three other instances in the Hebrew Bible in which God places people into a deep sleep (i.e., Genesis 15:12; 1 Samuel 26:12; and Isaiah 29:10), it becomes clear that the point in all of these is one and the same—namely, to underscore the people’s need for complete dependence on God and, by the same token, God’s complete and exclusive ability to meet that need in the proper way. In this instance, therefore, God excludes Adam from even a visual participation in the process of creating Eve, that when he awoke he would immediately perceive that his need had been completely and properly met by God. —Wechsler, pages 87-88.

ribs (v.21) — It is likely that the word “rib” is a poor translation. The Hebrew word tsela appears thirty-five times in the Old Testament and this is the only time it has been rendered “rib.” … A “side” would include both flesh and bone, as well as blood, released from the opened side. Adam could later say, “This is not bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” — Morris, page 100.

Eve was thus made from Adam’s side, to work alongside him in carrying out the divine commission to “fill the earth” and to “subdue” it. She not only had the same “flesh” (that is, body) and “life” (that is, soul) as did Adam, but she also had an eternal spirit, as he did; but the spirit (or, better, the “image of God”) was directly from God, not mediated through Adam as was her physical life. This we know from Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in His own image … male and female created He him.” — Morris, page 101.

This next quote, from Taylor, is speculative, but I think it makes sense.

It is entirely logical that God should make Eve from Adam, rather than making her in the same way He made Adam. If Eve had been separately created, then she would have been a representative of all women. … women would need a representative other than Jesus—a female Messiah. However, Eve was made from Adam, so that she contained related genetic material. Adam originally contained all the genetic material of the human race. He therefore represented the whole human race—men and women. Therefore, we need a Last Adam; a new representative, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the new Adam, representing all of us, both men and women. As the Apostle Paul said (with my emphases added), “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). — Taylor, page 95.

made (v.22) — The woman is distinguished in her creation from that of man by the specific use (here for the first time) of the verb fashioned. Whereas the verb “formed” applied to man in 2:7 is otherwise typically employed with reference to the work of a potter, the verb fashioned—which may be translated “built”—is typically applied to the making of more complex and carefully maintained constructions. — Wechsler, page 88.

brought her to the man (v.22) — a semi-formal expression which is otherwise used in Scripture to describe the action of a father when bringing his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom (see Genesis 29:23); and indeed it is described as a marriage in v.24. This also serves to highlight what we have said concerning the relationship of God to man—namely, that the man, as now the woman, are treated by Him as His children. — Wechsler, page 88.

Woman (v.23) — In … the first recorded words of humanity, Adam expressed an immediate and clear awareness of the woman’s intrinsic equality as well as her feminine distinctiveness. He does this by means of a quite adept world-play, describing his mate by the term ishsha, which is typically translated “woman.” From the sound of it, thsi word presents itself as the feminine form of the Hebrew word for man, ish—as also impled by the statement in which they are used: She shall be called ishsha because she was taken out of ish—thus underscoring the woman’s intrinsic equality with the man: all that he is in essence, “beneath” his masculine packaging as a man, so too is she “beneath” her feminine packaging as a woman. The spelling of the word ishsha, however, shows that the feminine ending has not been added to the Hebrew word for man, but in fact to the Hebrew root meaning “soft” or “delicate.” At one and the same time, therefore, Adam is affirming both the woman’s equal value to man (per the sound of the word) as well as her distinctiveness (per the spelling of the word) as “a delicate vessel” (so in 1 Peter 3:7, in which the term typically translated “weaker” can—and should in view of the present passage—be translated “delicate” or even “tender”). — Wechsler, page 89.

Verse 24 was spoken by God — And He [Jesus] answered and said to them [the Pharisees], “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said,‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4-5).

In verse 24 we are presented with the biblical definition of marriage at its most fundamental and essential level—and indeed this is precisely how the passage is treated when later quoted in the New Testament (cf. Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31). Specifically, marriage is described as consisting of three essential actions. 

The first essential action, represented by the statement “a man shall leave his father and mother, is that of clearly shifting one’s primary human loyalty to their spouse. … It is worth noting … that the Bible nowhere actually presents us with the details or “proper form” of a marriage ceremony, yet always refers (in principle, at least) to the “relocation” of allegiance and relationship.

The second essential action is described by the clause, “and he shall cleave to his wife,” in which the word cleave refers not to the sexual union of the couple, but rather, consistent with its usage elsewhere, to an intentional and unbreakable commitment, with the best interest of the other party being both the motivation and the goal of the one making that commitment. Not surprisingly, therefore, this verb is often used to describe the ideal of Israel’s (or an individual’s) covenant relationship with God (cf. Joshua 23:8; Deuteronomy 11:20; 30:20; 2 Kings 18:6; Psalm 63:8; Jeremiah 13:11).

The third essential action is expressed by the statement, “and they shall become one flesh”—referring not merely to the sexual union that takes place within marriage, but in fact to all the physical needs of the other just as they would hope for those same need to be met in themselves. It is precisely this point that Paul makes in Ephesians 5:28-30, which, being an inspired comment on precisely this third clause, is worth citing here in full: So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. — Wechsler, pages 89-91. 

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Genesis 2:18-20

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

not good (v.18) — The last act of creation … was that of woman; hence, prior to this final work, the creation was yet incomplete. Man, especially, was incomplete without woman; and this was not good (this does not mean it was evil, but only that it was unfinished and therefore imperfect). — Morris, page 95.

We are being presented here with a thought that has always been in the mind of the omniscient God, and from which, by its presentation here, we are to understand that God—our divine Father—knows what we need even before we ask (see Matthew 6:8)—or, indeed, even before we realize, as Adam here, that we need it! It is for this reason that God waits to meet that need—and in so doing bring His creative work to completion—that Adam might first realize that he has a need which only God, in His love and wisdom, can meet. The response from Adam when this need is eventually met will therefore be a greater sense of gratitude (and hence more glory) to God as well as a greater appreciation of the woman herself. — Wechsler, pages 85-86.

Some commentaries make a point of saying that Adam didn’t name all the animals at this time. Verse 19 doesn’t mention fish or creeping things. Those may have been named later. Also, at this time, only the created individuals of each kind existed. Kinds wouldn’t have had time (this naming may have happened on day 6) to develop into multiple species.

whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name (v.19) — evidence of the dominion over creation that God gave man in Genesis 1:26. In addition, the exercise would have shown Adam that none of the animals could meet his own needs.

In this description of woman—which occurs in the Bible only here [vs. 18 and 20]—there are two key ideas: first, concerning the woman’s role, the word “helper,” according to its usage elsewhere in Scripture, indicates that she is to assist the man, who bears primary authority as well as responsibility, in accomplishing the task that God gave him—to wit, worshiping and obeying God (see Genesis 2:15). Second, concerning the woman’s value or worth, the expression “suitable for him”— literally “facing him,” as one might describe their image in a mirror—underscores that woman is intrinsically all that man is, yet in the feminine, and hence she is of equal worth. This second part of the description, in other words, serves to balance and “head off” any potential misunderstanding of the first part—to wit, the misunderstanding that the difference in the roles of the man and woman, and specifically the man’s holding of greater authority and responsibility, implies differing value or worth. In God’s eyes we are equally valued, and judged according to the same standard of how faithfully we fulfill the roles that we’ve been given. — Wechsler, page 87

1 Corinthians 11:8-9—For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.

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Genesis 2:16-17

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;

17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

One of the essential questions of faith is, “Why did God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden and thereby introduce sin into His creation?” My commentaries take several views:

Morris says that it’s because there couldn’t be a relationship of true love between God and man if man had no choice.

God then called Adam’s attention to the abundance of His provision for his every need. He was free to eat of any tree of the garden (a better word, in context, than “every”), as much as he wanted. There was only a single minor restraint; but it would be this restraint that would test man’s love for God, giving him an opportunity to reject God’s word if he wished. True love is based on trust, of course; and it would have been altogether natural and appropriate for man to have been so grateful to God for all He had done for him—giving him life, a beautiful home, an abundance of good food in profuse variety, and everything he would need or want—that his own love for God would cause him gladly to follow His will in all things. 

Thus the one restriction placed by God on Adam (and, a bit later, on Eve) was singularly appropriate for its purpose. There was every reason (based on love, not fear) for man to conform to God’s command, and no reason to disobey. If he did disobey, he would be without excuse. Yet he did have a choice, and so was truly a “free moral agent” before God. This was the simplest imaginable test of man’s attitude toward his Creator. Would he “trust and obey” because he loved the one who had shown such love for him; or would he doubt God’s goodness and resent His control, rejecting and disobeying His word on even such an apparently trivial restriction as one forbidden fruit in a whole paradise of abundant provision? — Morris, page 93.

I think Morris’s view makes sense, except that it’s possible to obey an authority without loving it.

Pember seems to be saying that a choice was necessary in order for man to be able to worship.

There was but one commandment; and, therefore, sin was circumscribed, and but one transgression possible. Of all the numerous trees of the garden man might freely eat, even the tree of life was open to him: but he was commanded to do homage to the great God Who had given him all things, to pay a tithe in acknowledgment of the exhaustless bounty bestowed upon him, by abstaining from one tree, that of the knowledge of good and evil. Of this he was not to eat, or he would prove himself a rebel, and lose his kingdom and his life. — Pember, page 111.

Pember is right in saying that obedience for Adam would have been part of his worship. But we will worship God throughout eternity without the option of rebelling, so that doesn’t seem to me to be the whole story.

Taylor takes the legalistic view.

Man is made in the image of God, but man is not God. It follows that man is to obey God, because the creature must obey the Creator. In a perfect world, how is man to obey God? In order for man to obey God, God must give a law for man to obey. Logic alone demands that we accept this. If we have no law, we have no yardstick against which to measure our obedience.

Paul makes it clear that the law was given to prove to us that we couldn’t obey God on our own. Taylor takes Paul’s words about the law as our schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24) and twists it to say that the law is necessary to beat us when we fail.

My personal opinion—the answer I came up with as I was building my own faith—is this: God created man in His image. God has free will. Therefore, man must have free will. In order to exercise free will, there has to be a choice. The tree presented Adam with a choice. Adam and Eve could have willingly avoided the forbidden fruit as a way of showing their love and worship of God, but the basic necessity of free will seems like the foundational purpose to me.

God’s command is not, as commonly thought, that man was not to eat from the tree of knowledge of  good and evil—this statement in v.17 represents the latter (and lesser) part of God’s command, which in fact begins in v.16. Reflective of God’s character as loving and generous Father who desires what is “good” for His children, He begins His command with the emphatic and positive statement, “From any tree of the garden you shall certainly eat!” It is important to note that the verbal expression God employs here is not that of a suggestion, as it is often translated: “you may freely eat”; rather, He employs the most emphatic expression of command that one can use in Hebrew, which is grammatically identical to the equally emphatic expression at the end of v.17—”you shall certainly die!” The tendency to view and so translate the first part of the command in v.16 as a mere suggestion—and hence our unfortunate failure to view it as part (indeed the greater part) of God’s command—is no doubt due to the perception that man would hardly need to be commanded to eat from all the good fruit trees that were permitted to him. Yet it is precisely this point that God is seeking to make here—to wit, that obeying His command, as ideally intended, should not be difficult—indeed, it should be “second” nature, absolutely consistent with man’s sinless (pre-Fall) created nature— as it will one day be when those who believe in Him are perfected (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:10; 15:50). This is absolutely the same point that Jesus makes when He tells the Jewish people of His day who were weighed down by the unbearably heavy burden of the Mosaic law and rabbinic law combined: “Take My yoke upon you”—the expression “yoke” being a rabbinic metaphor for law (in this case the Law of Christ, per Matthew 22:37-40)—”… for My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). When we think of God’s command here in Genesis 2 exclusively in light of the restriction, we are succumbing to the perversion of God’s Word—and hence of His character—as promoted by Satan in the very next chapter. —Wechsler, pages 84-85. 

Knowing well the single prohibition of his God, he [Adam] could at once detect a foe in any being who should tempt him to disobey it. — Pember, page 111.

you shall surely die (v. 17) = “dying, you will die.” Adam’s sin didn’t bring about immediate physical death, but it did bring about immediate spiritual death and the beginning of physical death. Physical death became inevitable.

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Genesis 2:15

15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

As you can see from my index, several years ago I spent a lot of time looking into the meaning of this verse. After much study, and after talking with some theologians and language-experts, I came to the conclusion that the way this verse is translated in almost all Bible versions is wrong.  It should, in fact, read something like this:

God caused man to rest in the garden for the purpose of obeying and worshiping Him.

I’m not going to dig into it deeply again. But since I wrote the study, Wechsler, who is the professor who led me to this translation, has written a commentary on Genesis, so I thought it would be useful to include what he wrote.

With respect to the purpose of man this is the “course-setting” verse of Scripture. It contains the only purpose statement associated with man in these two opening chapters that describe the ideal state of pre-Fall Creation and, as we should rightly expect, sets before the answer to the most fundamental question of theology and philosophy: “Why do I exist?” That answer, however, is not to serve as a gardener, as the traditional reading in order to cultivate it and keep it (the “it” being the garden) would seem to suggest. Indeed, this verse also presents us with a prime—though unfortunate—example of how the level of attention paid both to the grammar of the Hebrew text as well as the canonical meaning of Hebrew words (i.e., how they are used elsewhere in Scripture)—not to mention the immediate context of the verse—will dramatically affect how one understands and translates the text before them.

To begin with, the expression “put him” in the first part of the verse requires a closer look. Though apparently a repetition of the same action described in v.8, a look at the Hebrew text reveals that the verb used in v.15 is different. Of course, this might simply represent stylistic variation, yet when one considers how the verb in v.15 is used elsewhere with God as the subject a quite different idea begins to emerge. The verb in question, literally translated, would be “(and) He set him at rest” which can, on occasion, be understood as a more figurative description of the action of “putting” or “placing” something down. yet this is not the usual meaning of the verb (for this idea the usual verb is the one used in v.8). In fact, when God is the subject (i.e., the “doer” of the action), as He is here, this verb is typically intended to denote the rest that God promises to give His people when they are in the land (in all of which instances it is literally translated, “I/He will give you rest”; cf. Deuteronomy 3:20; 12:10; 25:19; 2 Samuel 7:11). Moreover, as clarified in Hebrews 3–4 (following David in Psalm 95), this divine promise of “rest”—which is one of the “golden threads” that runs throughout Scripture, refers not merely to physical rest and the cessation of warfare, but ultimately and more completely to the all-encompassing rest of faith—that is, the spiritual rest, or salvation, that comes from accepting by faith what God has provided (see esp. Hebrews 4:3-10). Consistent with this canonical usage of the verb, therefore, the point being made in the first half of this verse is that, after creating man and placing him in the garden (so per v.8), God immediately (and sovereignly) then placed him in that state for which man was originally intended—to wit, the state of being in full relationship with God; the state of being at spiritual rest.

It is from this state of spiritual rest, consequently, that man is to live out his intended purpose as described in the second part of v.15. And because of the markedly spiritual tone set by the first part of the verse, it is both natural and necessary that we understand the purpose of man in the second part in a similarly spiritual sense—and not in an exclusively physical sense, as suggested by the usual translation “to cultivate and to keep it.” This usual translation, in fact, contains a crippling grammatical problem—namely, that the object of both verbs—the “it,” which is an English adjustment (to reflect our concept of gardens as gender-neutral) of the Hebrew feminine pronoun “her”—does not agree with the actual gender of the biblical noun “garden,” which is masculine (as is clearly evident from the masculine Hebrew modifiers and referents in, inter alia, Song of Solomon 4:12, 16; Isaiah 58:11; Jeremiah 31:11). There is, moreover, no feminine noun at any reasonable distance before this clause to which the “her” could be referring. There is, nonetheless, a perfectly grammatical solution to this dilemma—and one which, unlike the usual translation, is perfectly consistent with the spiritual context set up by the first part of the verse. This solution is to construe the Hebrew element usually translated “it” (literally “her”) not as a pronoun object, but rather as the otherwise attested alternative ending of a verbal noun—that is to say, as part of the infinitive verb itself—in which case we remove the problem of gender disagreement by removing the pronoun from our translation. This further informs the way in which the infinitive verbs themselves are to be understood, since the same two Hebrew verbs translated “cultivate” and “keep” may also be translated worship (or “serve”) and obey (or “keep charge”)—as in fact they are typically translated when, as here, they aren’t followed by an object and when the context bears a clearly spiritual/theological aspect. Indeed, the simple fact of the matter is that whenever the two verbs here translated “cultivate” and “keep” are used together elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, they are always intended in the sense of worshiping/serving (God) and obeying (see, e.g., Numbers 3:7-8; Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 28:45-47; Joshua 22:5).

Thus, the proper translation of the second part of the verse, and the purpose for which man was fundamentally created, is “to worship and to obey.” Further underscoring the propriety of this reading, it should also be noted, is its perfect consistency with the following verse. In other words, whereas the usual reading of vs. 15 and 16 presents us with two fairly distinct ideas—i.e., tending the garden (v.15) and obeying God’s command not to eat from the one restricted tree (v.16)—the reading that we have here presented presents us with one consistent idea—i.e., that our purpose is to worship and obey God (v.15), which obedience is expressed by keeping His command (v.16). This latter reading is also perfectly consistent with the purpose of man as taught throughout the rest of Scripture, such as in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, where Moses asks rhetorically: “What does the Lord your God require from you, but … to worship the Lord your God with all your hear and will all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments …?; and in Ecclesiastes 12:13, where we are told that the only thing man can do that will have any lasting value at all is “to fear [a biblical synonym for “worship”] God and keep His commandments”; and as Jesus Himself concisely states in John 14:15: “If you love [again, a biblical synonym for “worship” Me, you will keep my commandments.” — Wechsler, pages 81-84.

I’m convinced, and I don’t think I’m open to further debate on the issue.

So why do all the major Bible translations get it wrong? Why are so many Christians unwilling to allow this translation?

I think it’s because most people want first, to think that it is possible to earn God’s favor and, second, that they are in fact doing what’s required to earn His favor. In order to accomplish this, they pick and choose various activities that they feel they do pretty well and consider them the things that will please God.

For example, when I was a kid, most Christians thought drinking alcohol was a sin. So, if they didn’t drink, they felt like they were pleasing God, and they felt good about themselves. Now, drinking has become vogue among Christians, so they look to other behaviors—being tolerant, celebrating diversity—as the litmus test for earning God favor.

Of course, all of the verses that they use to support there position come from the Old Testament, Gospels, or early chapters of Acts, when the economy of the Law was in effect and works were required, or they’re from the kingdom epistles (Hebrews–Revelation) when God’s law will be written on peoples’ hearts and to break the commandments will be deliberate and intentional rejection of the Holy Spirit.

In the grace epistles of Paul, works are a response to God, not a requirement (Colossians 3:1-4). Christians are urged to act in a way that reflects their reality—eternally, unconditionally saved by Christ’s death and resurrection with no requirements except faith. Paul makes this clear at the beginning and end of Romans when he refers to “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26).

In fact, Paul make it clear that the law was given for the express purpose of proving that there is nothing humans can do to earn God’s favor. The idea that God created man in perfect fellowship with Him with nothing that man had to do to please Him drives people crazy. Hence, “dress and keep.”

In every age, salvation comes through faith in whatever God says is necessary at that time. In the garden, it was to not eat the fruit. Under the law, it was to obey the moral laws and observe the ceremonial laws, in the kingdom economy it’s to keep the law that the Holy Spirit writes in people’s hearts. And under grace, it’s simple faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Of course, most people will say, “You can’t expect people to live without laws and guidelines. They’ll use that as license to do whatever they want.” The people who say that—and the people who do use grace as license—both don’t understand grace.

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Genesis 2:8-14

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

Eden (v.8) = delight

Here reference is made for the first time to “the garden of Eden”—though a careful reading bears out that “Eden”—meaning “delight” in Hebrew—is not in fact that name of the garden, but rather of the larger are within which the garden was planted. The idea thus emerging from these verses is that of increasing benefit or “good” as one draws closer to the center—that is to say, to the center of the garden at which were located the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (i.e., the ability to make moral distinction), both of which find their exclusive source in God.  Indeed, it is in the garden, in the proximity of trees, that God later manifests Himself in order to “stroll” with the first couple and instead finds them hiding behind the trees (3:8). Not surprisingly, this pattern of what may be called “concentric circles of increasing benefit” also appears in the layout of the Temple, for just as one there draws closer to the center (i.e., the Holy of Holies), so too does one draw closer both to the locus of priestly work (i.e., the altar and sanctuary proper/holy pace) and, at the same time, to the presence of God (i.e., the “cloud” of “glory” which would “rest” over the Holy of Holies; cf. Exodus 40:34). So too, we are told, the garden was planted toward the east, which phrase in Hebrew is literally “from the east,” the idea being that the entrance to the garden was “toward” the east, and thus to go into the garden you would walk in from the east (i.e., heading west) whereas to leave you would walk out from the west (i.e., heading east, as in Genesis 3:24)—which orientation is precisely reflected in the Temple, in the manner in which one enters and draws further into the Sanctuary and its inner recesses (see also Ezekiel 43:4, where we are told that the “glory” of the Lord will return “by the way of the gate facing toward the east”). This pattern culminates, finally, in the new heavens and new earth (i.e., the new Creation) as presented in the last two chapters of Revelation, where the New Jerusalem takes the place of Eden, with God the Son there at its “center” in place of the Temple. We are thus presented with yet another biblical “frame,” or inclusio, intended to highlight the purpose of redemption history intervening [between?] the Fall and the Final Creation—to wit, to bring mankind fully back to that which we lost: intimate access to the presence of God, and not just for only a short time (such as the Levites, and in particular the High Priest, during their term of service), but for each one of us who are God’s children, forever. — Wechsler, pages 78-81. 

It seems likely that the man (Adam=man) had been created somewhere in the world outside of Eden, but was able to observe God in this special work preparing this beautiful garden for his home. The garden was planted “eastward” (Adam’s location at that time being somewhere west of Eden) in the land of Eden, and then God placed Adam there in the garden. Adam’s firs knowledge of his Creator thus would be on one who loved him and carefully and abundantly provided for him. — Morris, page 87.

The next thing we see is that God put two special trees in the garden. They are the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is the first mention of evil in the Bible. The tree of life is so powerful that even a mortal man eating of it would live forever. It is interesting that the fruit of the tree of life will be available to us again one day, in the New Jerusalem that God puts in His new heaven and new earth.

It is very difficult to understand the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is not possible that the tree could itself actually be evil or contain harmful substances. Otherwise, God could not have looked at the world and said it was very good. — Taylor, page 88

In general, it is evident that the geography described in these verses does not exist in the present world, nor had it ever existed since the Flood. The rivers and countries described were antediluvian geographical features, familiar to Adam, the original author of this part of the narrative. They were all destroyed, and the topography and geography completely changed, when “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6).

This means, in turn, that the names which seem to be postdiluvian (Ethiopia, Assyria, Tigris, Euphrates) were originally antediluvian names. The names were remembered by the survivors of the Flood and then given to people or places in the postdiluvian world, in memory of those earlier names of which they were somehow reminded later.

It is worth noting that the primeval land of Havilah was said to be a land rich in gold, precious stones (though the exact nature of the so-translated “onyx stone” is uncertain), and a precious gum called bdellium (likened to the miraculous substance called “manna” in Numbers 11:7). Havilah later was a name given to a son of Cush (Genesis 10:7) and a son of Joktan (Genesis 10:29), the first a descendant of Ham and the other of Shem. Evidentally both these sons were named after the antediluvian Havilah (a name believed to mean “Sandland”); so it seems that this rich primeval land had made a great impression on the sons of Noah.

Since this account was written in both the past tense (v.10, referring to the garden) and the present tense (vs.11-14, describing the rivers and regions), there is at least a hint that, when Adam wrote this account, the garden in Eden had somehow already been removed. — Morris, pages 89-90.

bdellium (v.12) The word is found only in Genesis 2:12 and Numbers 11:7 and as the translators did not translate, we may safely conclude that they did not know what it was. The Septuagint translates the latter by “krystallos,” which means “ice,” but there is no reason to think that it refers to a mineral at all. Some treat it under the minerals and some under the botany of the Bible. While some regard it as a precious stone, others regard it as the gum of the Balsomodendron. Josephus and the Vulgate think of a sort of aromatic gum. Scholars do not know the etymology of the word “bedolach.” In all probability it is from the verb “badal,” divide, separate. Modern medical science speaks of “Bdellium” as a gum, resin from a tree of India, and another kind from a palm of Africa. It, therefore, must have some medicinal value, and this also points to a plant. — Bultema, page 9.

The purpose [of the description of the garden) is to further emphasize the parallels … between the garden, the Temple, and the New Jerusalem—and thus to further emphasize Israel’s calling to live out the “garden” ideal of humanity and, ultimately, the attainment of this ideal when the “Sons of God”—redeemed Jew and Gentile—are finally redeemed in body and purified in mind, and “creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Romans 8:21). As in the garden, we see precious gems and stones concentrated in the Temple (Exodus 25–27), and as in the garden, where the source of the four rivers present an emphatic symbol of life and abundance (especially to a Middle-Eastern reader), so too did water play a central role in facilitating the ritual service of the Temple—and as a symbol of life especially in the “water-libation” ceremony of the great concluding day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which is almost certainly when Jesus Himself stood up at one point and, carrying over the symbolism of this ceremony, declared that “he who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living (i.e., unending) water'” (John 7:38); and in connection with the Third Temple we read that, in actuality, a true river of living water would flow out “from under the threshold of the sanctuary” and bring life to the Dead Sea and the wilderness around it so that it would once more be like “the garden of the Lord” (see Ezekiel 47:1-12 with Genesis 13:10). and in the New Jerusalem, finally, precious gems are likewise present in abundance (Revelation 21:10-21), as are the waters of the river of Life that flows out “from the throne of God,” flanked on either side by the overspreading branches of the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:1-2). — Wechsler, pages 80-81. 

As I work through Genesis, I’m noticing that many of the commentary writers seem to be on the defensive. They’re trying to interpret Genesis in a way that contradicts the arguments of evolutionists and skeptics. Whether that’s the reason that their commentaries feel largely superficial or not, I don’t know. But then there’s Wechsler, who dives in so much deeper and makes his arguments strictly from Scripture and (for the most part) without reference to opposing views.

For example, in this study, both Morris and Taylor interpret “eastward” in verse 5 as simply meaning that Adam was created somewhere to the west. But that would seem, at best, to be trivial information. Wechsler, by digging into the meaning of the word, compares the garden to the Temple and the New Jerusalem, which not only makes much more sense but is much more satisfying.

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Genesis 2:7

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

First, then, we are told that the Lord God formed man, that is, moulded his bodily shape as the potter does the clay. Indeed the meaning of the Hebrew verb is so decided that its present participle, used as a substantive, is the ordinary word for a potter. To this first act of God, Job refers when he says, “Remember, I beseech Thee, that Thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt Thous bring me into dust again?” — Pember, page 103.

God used the “dust of the ground” to make man’s body, a remarkable phrase conveying the thought that the smallest particles of which the earth was composed (in modern terminology, the basic chemical elements: nitrogen, oxygen, calcium, etc.) were also to be the basic physical elements of the human body. “the first man is of the earth, earthy” (1 Corinthians 15:47). — Morris, page 85

Whereas 1:26-27 refers generally to the fact that God created mankind and underscores the distinctive gift of God’s “image”—i.e., the soul—that He granted them, this verse presents us with a detailed description of the process by which He did so. Extremely significant among the details that we are here given are 1) the proximity of God to that which He is here creating, and 2) the imparting of a “soul” to man from God’s own self.  The first point, concerning God’s proximity to man, is emphasized in this verse by the use of the verb formed, which, when not applied to God’s creation of man (cf. Isaiah 49:5; Zechariah 12:1), is typically employed—especially as a verbal adjective—to describe the role and work of a potter, which perhaps more so than any other human activity, requires the direct, constant, careful, and gentle use of the potter’s own hands. Since God could unquestionably have created man in any other way He chose—such as by simply calling him into being (as He did for everything else up to this point)—the question naturally (and necessarily) arises: Why did He create man in this way? And the answer to which we are inevitably led: to demonstrate His special care (i.e., love) for man and desire to relate to him in an intimate way.

As to the second point, concerning the imparting of a soul to man—it is this that constitutes the “image” of God and which allows us, uniquely among God’s living creations, to commune or “relate” to God at a level that transcends material creation. In other words, as far as the evidence of Scripture itself, it was only into mankind that God breathed that which derives exclusively from Himself—not simply “breath,” though this is often the word employed in translation, but in fact the soul, which is the proper meaning of the term here used (i.e., neshama). Of its 24 occurrences in the Hebrew Bible, this term is applied only to God and man, and hence describes that which is uniquely shared between us and our Creator—the capacity for spiritual relationship, which is fulfilled when we cease from our own attempts to find spiritual “rest” and instead enter that permanent Rest which has been provided for us in Jesus Christ (see Hebrews 4:10). — Wechsler, pages 77-78.

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