God doesn?t give the serpent a chance to defend himself. Firstly it?s cursed more than all cattle and all the beast of the field. Secondly it will go on its belly and eat dust all the days of its life. Thirdly enmity will be put between the serpent and the woman and between its seed and her seed. Fourthly, the seed of the woman will injure the head of the serpent and the serpent will injure the seed of the woman on the heel. Let the fantastic musings begin!
Some have taken the whole belly thing to mean that the serpent once walked but then it was cursed to go on its belly. Maybe, although the statement ?eat dust? would make me wonder at how literal this passage is being about the serpent?s physiology. Egyptians, well acquainted with serpents, would have known that snakes eat eggs, frogs, birds and even other snakes. Moses, raised in an Egyptian household, as well as the Israelite slaves would know the same thing. So the concept of the serpent eating dust could refer to something else which I think ?cursed are you more? seems to be implying. The serpent would be humiliated more than all the other beasts of the field and its position was low?in the dust?all the days of its life.
The enmity between the serpent?s seed and the woman?s seed might be taken as the literal problem that women have with snakes (I know my wife hates them). It could be a Messianic promise as in the Serpent would injure Him but the Messiah will crush the serpent?s power. Satan would work to have Christ rejected by his own, crucified and buried. It was not until three days later when He rose from the grave, taking away the sting of death that He would injure the Serpent?s Authority found in Death. The Serpent would still have power, but only temporary power and one without real effectiveness in that Death has been given a Death-Sentence.
That aside, the woman?s judgment consists of the following: Firstly, multiplied pain in childbirth; secondly a desire for her husband; thirdly her husband ruling over her.
Now some have taken this to mean that labor pain is a result of the fall and that the second bit consists of the woman loving her husband but the husband lords it over her. I take it to mean that the woman?s labor pain is actually greatly increased instead of just given. I imagine that passing something that is about 8 pounds and nineteen inches through a two inch hole always hurts?the problem is that now it will hurt a whole lot more. But, I could easily be wrong. The previously mentioned overviews point at multiple possibilities. As for the desire part I was happy to see that a lot of the commentators said something I had long believed, that the desire the woman would have is to master her husband but her husband would be her master and lord it over her. The support for this is the same usage of language in regards to Cain and Sin crouching at his door.
As for the man God first sums up his offense: (1) You have listened to the voice of your wife (instead of listening to the voice of God, (2) You have eaten from the tree (about which I have commanded you not to eat of it). Because of these offenses, God now outlines the punishment.
First the ground is cursed because of Adam. All of creation is unwillingly subjected because of Adam?s sin. Secondly, Adam will still eat from it (as God commanded) but it will be under hard work consisting of thorns, tough work, and sweat. Thirdly this will be man?s portion until he returns to the dust (which happens a long time from now and makes this punishment poignant).
Now a few things happen in quick succession here.
(1) Adam changes Ishshah?s (Woman) name to Eve (Life) because she is the mother of the living. Some have taken this as a sign of faith on Adam?s part and I guess that?s fine although I think Adam pretty much now understands that God?s Word stands.
(2) God makes garments from animal skins instead of the flimsy vegetable loin-cloths they were wearing before. Some have taken this to be an example of the type of sacrifice God demands for worship (although that doesn?t hold up when we later see the Levitical drink and grain offerings) or the type of sacrifice God demands for atonement (that might hold more water). Something, they would say, had to die so that Adam and Eve could be covered and no longer be naked before the Lord. Others have taken it to mean that what Men do of their own power to cover themselves before God is flimsy but what God does to cover demands a death and is effective. Some have taken this to mean that God showed man how to clothe himself as part of his training before sending him out unprepared and unable to survive.
(3) God notes that man has actually become like God in his ability to know good and evil and then speaks of the danger of man reaching out and eating from the tree of life and then living forever. Some have taken this as a mythology that God sees man?s potential rivalry and denies him the one thing that would make him a true equal although I think that doesn?t hold water with Genesis 1 and the creation of all and Genesis 2 and the creation of man. Others have taken this to mean that God looks at man?s experiential condition (unlike God) that allows Man to know what?s right and wrong (like God). This position is horrid if it is extended forever and thus God, in His grace, bars man from the tree of life. Others have taken it that God?s Word must stand and God has already stated that man was turn return to the dust and die. Therefore the way to Life was automatically banned and man of necessity had to be sent out of the garden.
(4) Man is driven out of the Garden at the east (which is interesting when considering the tabernacle?s single opening faced east) and God stationed Cherubim there and the flaming sword (I don?t have a clue what this means and the text makes no apologies in not explaining it except that it turns in ?every direction to guard the way to the tree of life?)
So, why isn?t Adam dead? Or is he dead? We?ll deal with that later.