human sin

Temptation: Analysis of a Deception -tmp(Gen 3:1-5)

{{Genesis 3}}, it has been said, is the seed by which the rest of Biblical history grows. Throughout the New Testament arguments are illustrated from this portion. The duplicity of Satan, the deception of the woman, the disobedience of Adam, the death of mankind and the dire need of One to set everything right—all finds its root right here in Genesis 3. Historically the church has struggled in its understanding of Genesis 3 and how it relates to our present day: Are men born good? Was Adam a bad example? Did all men literally sin in Adam? Are women prone to deception? Did snakes walk? Was the sin of Adam and Eve sex? Some of those questions will wind up being touched on as I look at the verses. Let’s start.

The snake is introduced as being craftier than any beast of the field which the Master Ruling Lord Creator God had made. This is important now because no where in the text was cunning or craftiness attributed to any creature. The writer is inviting us to be wary, to watch, what this creature is going to do. He is different than the other creatures and something of intellect and sly wisdom is its marking. Therefore, when sifting through the text, such a description should make us sit up and take notice to what’s going to happen.

The writer doesn’t make us wait.

The serpent says something to the woman that in many texts it reads like a question: “Has God said ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’”

Well, we saw in Genesis 2 that God said no such thing. He told man that he could eat freely from any tree of the garden—this, therefore is a lie.

Or is it?

I mean the snake doesn’t say “God said not to eat of any tree.” Rather he said it as if something he has heard from around the way, perhaps from the yonder beasts of the field whispering “Wow, it’s so messed up that God told Adam and Eve that they can’t eat from any tree of the garden and yet put them both there. So messed up.” The snake, in horror from the gossip goes running off to Eve and asks her, not Adam, if this thing is true! “Oh gasp! Tell me it ain’t so! Did God really say you can’t eat from any tree of the Garden?”

So we see that the snake’s cunning has an obvious level which perverts what God has said by putting a grievous and heavy restriction. Yes, it is a lie—but with formed with a perfect precision.

He refers to God as the Creator God of (Gen 1:1) and not as Lord (Gen 2:4). This subtle shift in the serpent’s language underscores the serpent’s craftiness. He offers an obvious lie, cloaks it in gossip and uses a shift in language in referring to God.

The woman quickly puts down the lie and the rumor that the serpent may have heard (with no question about who he heard it from) stating that God has invited them to eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden…yet one fruit…from the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said ‘Don’t eat it or even touch—or you’ll die’”. Eve (technically Ishshah but referred to Eve for now on) defending God didn’t know the ground she forfeited in this dangerous battleground.

She refers to God not as Lord but as the Creator God of {{Gen 1:1}}—adopting the Serpent’s language. She corrects the lie, squashes the gossip and embraces the Serpent’s lingo.

Names seem to be very important throughout Genesis. Genesis 1 shows God naming (Light, Day, etc), chapter 2 shows Adam naming (animals, Woman) and now here we see a problem brewing via the usage of names. Indeed the chapter will end in a naming as well—from Ishshah (Woman) to Eve (Life).

Eve doesn’t end at adopting the Serpent’s language. She also expands God’s prohibition in three key areas which gives us a peek into her thinking.

Firstly, the Lord God said that they could freely eat of every tree in the garden ({{Gen 2:16,17}})…yet Eve states that they can eat the fruit of the trees. It may seem nitpicky and might even be a slip of the tongue…but this will wind up being the lead-in for the Serpent’s next attack (the questioning of God’s goodness in putting these limitations at all).

Secondly she states that they can’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. Which tree? {{Genesis 2:9}} puts two trees in the middle of the garden—one preeminently so: The Tree of Life. The second tree is mentioned in addition to that tree yet Eve only mentions one tree. True, it is the one that bears the penalty and in a need to clarify this for the serpent she need only refer to the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” yet she doesn’t. Instead she cordons off the general area of the middle of the garden as one of prohibition: there is Knowledge of Good and Evil and yet there is Life. With this blanket generalization she (innocently surely) fuzzes the area where the two reside.

Thirdly she states that if they were to eat…or even touch…that Tree in the Middle she would die. It is a pity that we don’t learn this lesson in our own theologies: expanding our definitions and proscriptions beyond what the Word of God has stated and sometimes delving into the hidden council of God to contrive our own belief statements. Such activities, though done innocently and with good intent, may have disastrous results when the Cunning One takes advantage as he does here in Eve’s case.

For right a way he takes that apparently malleable (and burdensome) Word of God from Eve’s lips and denies it. “You definitely won’t die!” ({{Gen 3:4}}). What’s worst is that Adam doesn’t die for at least 900 years, proving the serpent was right! Unless, of course, the serpent is really cunning and there’s something he knows that equates with death and yet maintains some form of life…

“God knows that the day you eat you’ll be a whole bunch better and be like God knowing good and evil.” He now paints God as being a tyrant trying to keep Eve down…the whole surprise bit in the beginning of the story not even mentioned as he has her wrapped up in his lie. A lie which she participated in by means the Serpent’s ruse, her own reasoning and perhaps (this part is pure conjecture and can be chucked) Adam’s need to insure that the tree wouldn’t be touched (I honestly just mention that without believing it. I think that the deception here is wholly on the part of the Serpent and she was defending an argument that should have relied on the God’s Word and not her interpretation of it: “God said don’t eat and I won’t.”).

The Serpent’s point of showing God as liar and tyrant is further underscored by what Eve can be…different from what she now is. {{Genesis 1}} showed God creating Male and Female and stating “they were good” and {{Genesis 2}} showed that they were good when they were a pair (in contrast to “it is not good that man is alone”). Yet here, Eve is told that she will have something she doesn’t have now: opened eyes which show know good and evil. This also turns out ({{Gen 3:7}}) as vindicating the serpent in that their eyes are later opened and they know good and evil…unless, like death, there is something she is not being told….

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