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On Genesis, Part 3: Sustainable Plausibility
Here we shall continue our discussion of what we have described as the second creation account of Genesis, which is found in chapters 2 through 4, commencing with our commentary on Genesis chapter 3. As we have asserted in relation to the creation account of Genesis chapter 1, it serves to provide a basis for the foundation of a godly society. Then this second account, which begins with verse 4 of Genesis chapter 2, provides a basis for a godly family, which is the primary social unit of that godly society. Laying the foundation for a society of family, after Adam was commanded not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil it had also defined a proper marriage as he found that he had no suitable helpmate among all the beasts of creation. For that reason Eve was created, whereupon Adam himself had described a legitimate marriage as the union of a man with a woman of his own flesh and bone, a woman of his own kind or race, rather than of any of the other creatures in the garden.
Of course, Yahweh God had already foreseen the creation of woman, as it is declared in Genesis chapter 1 that “male and female created He them”, so Genesis chapter 2 further explains that creation process, which is not fully realized until the events come to pass which are described in Genesis chapter 5. Now, as this second creation account continues, it moves past the details of the creation of the Adamic man “male and female”, and begins to explain the reasons for the historic circumstances of man, who was initially created for the purpose of having dominion over the earth and everything in it, but who was quickly reduced to necessity, having to toil at hard labor in order to merely survive.
There are no anciently written narrative histories surviving the flood of Noah. So except for some rather fantastic pagan legends, the only viable records which we may have of our origins, if indeed we are of the race of men which is described as having descended from Adam in Genesis chapter 10, are these accounts of creation in Genesis. But neither are these accounts written as we may expect a history to be written today. Instead, they are parables, written in metaphors and allegories, and they contain some idioms which may no longer even be understood unless the meanings are elucidated where they appear in later books of Scripture. Then even being armed with an understanding of the allegories, very little of these creation accounts of Genesis can be properly and fully understood without the words of Christ in the Gospel and the Revelation. Furthermore, because the creation accounts in Genesis are written in allegory, the sustainable plausibility of any interpretation of these allegories must be verified consistently throughout the balance of Scripture. If later Scriptures uphold the interpretations, then they must be valid. But if later Scriptures explicitly contradict the interpretations, then they are not at all sustainable and they must be rejected as being invalid.
One such interpretation for which plausibility is not sustainable is the concept that since a collective Adamic race of men and women is described as having been created at the end of Genesis chapter 1, therefore a collective Adamic race must be responsible for the sin which is described here in the text of Genesis chapter 3. That proposal cannot survive scrutiny because first, this is not a linear continuation of the Genesis 1 creation account. Rather, it is a separate account which explains some of the events of the chapter 1 creation in further detail, as we have already discussed at length in the first two segments of this commentary. Secondly, Adam is treated as a personal, historical figure throughout the balance of this Genesis account, and later in the Gospel and epistles of the apostles of Christ. So there is no support for imagining the Adam of Genesis chapter 2 to have been a collective entity, and rather, he must have been a historical individual. The Adamic man of Genesis chapter 1 is a collective entity, but that entity does not become manifest in physical reality until the process of successful propagation which is described beginning in Genesis chapter 5.
The historical Adam was commissioned to act as the agent of Yahweh God, since it was decreed that he would have dominion over the earth and over every living creature that dwelled thereon. Therefore with an explicit commission from Yahweh, Adam may have been outnumbered, but so long as he remained in the favor of his God he would be a majority even where he was alone, meaning that he was destined to prevail over all of the beasts, as well as those enemies of God whom he first encounters in this chapter. Those enemies are first described in chapter 2 as a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Adam was commanded not to eat from it. So Genesis chapter 1 also illustrates the fact that Yahweh had foreseen what would become of Adam, where it had mentioned the Adamic race as a collective. But the creation of the collective is not fully described until Genesis chapter 5, which is also parallel in part with chapter 1, where it begins a new account and it reads “1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” So Genesis chapter 5 proceeds by describing how those same words in Genesis chapter 1 had been fulfilled.
Therefore the first creation account is a broad declaration of the things created by Yahweh, with the Adamic man at the pinnacle of that creation, and the account is purposely arranged in a manner upon which the civic life of the kingdom of Israel would also be organized. Then the second creation account recapitulates portions of the final stages of the first account, in regard to some of the plants and beasts, and then it provides more details in regard to the creation of the first Adamic man, his wife, and the reasons for their later historical circumstances. The second creation account also introduces an entity which is hostile to Adam, which would even cause Adam to die if he “touched” it, and which is described only as the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”. Where Adam did fail, and “touched” that tree, Genesis chapters 3 and 4 describe that transgression and its results. Finally Genesis chapter 5 begins a third creation account, which also recapitulates parts of chapter 1, wherein the creation of the collective race is described and therefore it also clarifies how the component individuals within the race were created.
But the transgression of Adam was inevitable, as the Bible, from the beginning and all the way through to the Revelation, describes a process which teaches one all-important and overarching lesson: that only God can justly rule over men, and that man can only survive within the favor of God. For that reason, Paul of Tarsus taught that in the fleshly Adam all men die, but in the Spirit of God in Christ all men shall be made alive, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where he wrote: “22 Just as in Adam all die, then in that manner in Christ all shall be produced alive.” Paul elaborated on that same thing in Romans chapter 5. Yahweh God must have known beforehand that Adam would fall, as we read in Revelation chapter 13 that Christ is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, so a need for redemption was foreseen before Adam was even created. In Romans chapter 8, after admonishing his readers to put away the deeds of the flesh and to live by the Spirit of God, to be spiritually minded by seeking the righteousness of the law, Paul then wrote “20 To transientness the creation was subjected not willingly, but on account of He who subjected it in expectation 21 that also the creation itself shall be liberated from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the honor of the children of Yahweh. 22 For we know that the whole creation laments together and travails together until then. 23 And not alone, but also they having the first fruit of the Spirit, and we ourselves with them lament, awaiting the placement of sons, the redemption of our body.”
The creation to which Paul had referred in that passage is the singular Adamic creation, the collective Adamic man, those who have that spirit which Yahweh had imparted to Adam. So we may conclude that Yahweh God permitted the fall of Adam so that man may learn the consequences of sin, and on account of that experience that he may strive towards obedience. For this we read in Ecclesiastes chapter 1, in the words of Solomon, that “12 I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven: it is a sore travail that God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” So just as Paul had also written, man was purposely subjected to vanity by God, although man had gotten himself into that predicament here in Genesis chapter 3, and therefore he cannot blame God. Then, in his epistle to the Galatians, Paul further explained that “24 … the law has been our tutor for Christ, in order that from faith we would be deemed righteous,” and as Christ had commanded in John chapter 14, His disciples must keep His commandments. That is what Paul had meant where he urged his readers to live by the spirit, because as he also wrote in chapter 7 of that same epistle to the Romans, “14 For we know that the law is spiritual…” However as we shall now see in Genesis chapter 3, it was certainly not long before Adam had transgressed the only commandment which he had heretofore received, which was the admonition that he must not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
But first, yet another figure is introduced to the reader, the true nature of which is never fully revealed until the Revelation of Yahshua Christ:
3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
The word subtil, an archaic spelling of subtle or subtile, in this sense means elusive or cunning, but may also mean sagacious or discerning, among other similar things. The Hebrew word ערום, arum or aruwm, was translated into the Greek of the Septuagint as φρόνιμος, which is wise, sensible or discreet. Here subtil or cunning better fit the context in which the word appears.
The phrase beast of the field is from the Hebrew phrase חי שדה or chay sadeh, which first appears in Genesis 2:19 and 20. The phrase may have been better translated as beast of the land in at least some instances, since by itself it does not imply any particular type of beast. The word for serpent is נחש or nachash, which may literally be a serpent, but according to Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, it has a much wider range of meaning. The same word was also used to describe an enchantment or omen, or to practice enchantment or sorcery. So among other uses, it is defined as to divine or forebode, or primarily, evidently on account of the practices of some sorcerers, to hiss or to whisper. The same word was also used to describe copper or brass, for which Gesenius gives a secondary root meaning to shine. Here, since the serpent has not only the ability to speak, but also a cognitive ability which is even above all of the beasts which Yahweh had created, it becomes evident that the word for serpent is used as a pejorative for a person. Furthermore, simply because Yahweh God had created the beasts to which this serpent here is compared, that does not mean that this particular serpent was an element of His creation as it is described in Genesis chapters 1 and 2.
While throughout history there has been much speculation regarding the identity of this serpent, the plausibility of most of the conclusions are not sustainable in the light of later Scriptures. So we would appeal to our own professed method of interpretation, which we had explained in our commentary on Genesis chapter 1, and which insists that Genesis cannot be understood except through the words of Yahshua Christ. There, in the New Testament, the identity of the serpent is explained in the words of Christ Himself in Revelation chapter 12, where we read in part: “7 And there was a war in heaven, Michael and his messengers fighting with the dragon. And the dragon fought, and his messengers, 8 and they did not prevail, nor was their place found any longer in heaven. 9 And the great dragon had been cast down, that serpent of old, who is called the False Accuser [or Devil] and the Adversary [or Satan]; he who deceives the whole inhabited earth had been cast into the earth, and his messengers had been cast down with him. 10 And I heard a great voice saying: ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God has come, and the authority of His anointed, because the accuser of our brethren has been cast down, he accusing them before our God day and night.’”
This serpent of Genesis, must indeed be “that old serpent” of Revelation 12:9, otherwise there is absolutely no reason for such a reference in the Revelation. There this serpent is also rather explicitly identified as being one and the same with Satan, the Devil and the Great Dragon. Furthermore, although the Great Dragon of that chapter may be identified with Herod, the Edomite king of Judaea who had sought to slay the Christ child, a proper application of the label cannot be limited to Herod himself, since we read in a context long after Herod is dead that “13 … when the dragon saw that he had been cast down into the earth, he persecuted the woman who had given birth to the man-child. 14 And they had given to the woman the two wings of a great eagle, in order that she may fly into the desert into her place, where she is nourished there for a time and times and half of a time from the face of the serpent. 15 And the serpent had cast from his mouth water as a river after the woman, in order that he may have her carried off by the river. 16 And the earth assisted the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and gulped down the river which the dragon had cast from his mouth. 17 And the dragon was angered by the woman and went to make war with those remaining of her offspring who keep the commandments of Yahweh and have the testimony of Yahshua. 18 And he stood upon the sand of the sea.”
Therefore the terms Great Dragon, Serpent, Devil, and Satan all describe a particular collective entity of related individuals, manifest in diverse times and places, just as the name Adam may also describe a particular collective entity of related individuals, as it does in Genesis chapter 1 where we read “and He called their name Adam”. Then while the Hebrew word שטן, or satan, simply means adversary that does not negate the fact that it is used as a label for a particular adversary in many Biblical contexts. As we shall discuss later, there is corroboration for this identification in several places in the Gospel of Christ, and as we continue our commentary on Genesis we hope to continually demonstrate the consistency of the sustainable plausibility of this interpretation in light of later Scripture, and especially the New Testament.
Now here in this opening verse of Genesis chapter 3, the serpent has challenged the woman with a question, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” It is not explained how the serpent had known this, but it shall come to be realized that the serpent here is an agent of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and therefore that also must be an allegory for the Devil, or Satan, and the race of fallen angels described in Revelation chapter 12, and they were already “in the midst of the garden” when Adam was created. While we cannot know how long this tree had been in the garden, or how long it had inhabited the wider earth, it is apparent from certain archaeological discoveries that it had a long and varied history before the creation of Adam. All we know of this from Revelation chapter 12 is that the Devil and his angels had been cast down, and their place was no longer found in heaven. Regardless of how we may perceive that heaven, it is evident that the Devil, or Satan, is no longer there, but is here on the earth.
Neither is it explained in this passage why Adam had left his wife alone, as she appears to be without him in the dialog of these early verses of the chapter, but that we may only conjecture. So now the woman responds:
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
The response reveals that the woman knew the law, which Adam must have passed on to her as it was given to him even before she was created, as it is described in Genesis chapter 2. Then where the woman said “God hath said”, she also knew that the law was from Yahweh. As a digression, while an implicit law of “kind after kind” is expressed in Genesis chapter 1, this is the only explicit law which was given to Adam, as it is recorded in Genesis chapter 2. But in regard to Adam, as we hope to exhibit as we progress through Genesis, this law must have also been intended as a means of upholding that implicit law of kind after kind. Adam had not been commanded not to touch the beasts, because when the beasts were introduced to him he knew better than to touch them. Rather, he was only commanded not to touch this certain Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Now in spite of her knowing the law the serpent deceives the woman by subverting her with a claim that challenges the motives for the establishment of the law:
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Here the serpent lied to the woman, but the lie is indirect. First, the lie presents the claim that Yahweh God had an underlying motive for the law, other than the preservation of His creation, to keep it free from corruption. So it also puts doubt into the heart of the woman concerning truth and the authority of God. Then, there is a deceitful promise that by transgressing the law the woman could elevate herself to some status higher than she already had, when in fact it is something which she had already possessed, even if she herself was not aware. So the lie also exploits the vanity of the woman.
In chapter 2 of the Wisdom of Solomon we read, from the King James Apocrypha: “23 For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.” and then it continues, in a commentary on this very passage in Genesis, and says: “24 Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world: and they that do hold of his side do find it.” There we see another correlation of the Devil to this serpent, and a further assertion that the envy of the tree, as it is described in Genesis, was actually envy of the Devil himself. But there we also have a statement in fact that Adam and Eve were indeed immortal, and made in the image of God, which is His eternity, and which is ostensibly in the form of His eternal spirit which He had imparted to Adam. In the Psalms as well as in the words of Christ these words of Solomon’s are corroborated. That eternal life is a promise of Scripture in the Old Testament as well as the New is evident in many ways, however here we shall cite only the opening verses of Paul’s epistle to Titus: “1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; 2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began…”
In the 82nd Psalm, a Psalm of Asaph, we read: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” These words were fulfilled in the ministry of Christ as He taught His people, which is evident as it proceeds, and then a little further on it says: “6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” While it has been disputed that the word אלהים, or elohim in that passage must have been used in the sense of judges, a meaning which the word also bears, that is not the case here. When Yahshua Christ cited that same passage as it is recorded in John chapter 10, He used the Greek word for god, which is θεός, rather than the word for judge, which is κριτής, where we read that “34 Yahshua replied to them: ‘Is it not written in your law that I have said, Ye are gods’?” Therefore it is evident that the serpent’s lie was to tempt the woman with the prospect of a possibility that she had already unknowingly possessed. This is also the first lie of modern secular humanism, that man can somehow elevate himself to the status of a god, when in reality there is no means by which man can possibly change his own intrinsic character without degrading or corrupting himself instead. Now the woman yields to the temptation:
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Here, while it seemed that initially the woman was alone with the serpent, the text is ambiguous as to whether Adam was with her immediately, or if she had him partake some time after she herself had partaken. In any event, Eve was deceived into transgression by the serpent, but Adam must have made a conscious decision to follow his wife. For that, using this event as an example, Paul of Tarsus wrote in chapter 2 of his first epistle to Timothy that: “11 A woman must learn in quiet, in all submission, 12 and I do not permit a woman to teach, nor to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman had been thoroughly beguiled when the transgression occurred.” Later we shall see that this is indeed how Adam had sinned, by consciously following his wife as she led him into her own transgression. So when Adam’s punishment for this transgression is announced further on in this chapter, it is “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife…”, when it is Adam who should have been the leader.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 11, Paul made an analogy comparing the innocence of the Christian assembly at Corinth to the relative innocence of Eve before she had transgressed, where he wrote: “1 I would be obliged were you to bear with me in a little folly. Rather, indeed bear with me. 2 For I admire you with zeal of Yahweh; for I have joined you to one Husband, to present a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear lest in any way, as the serpent had thoroughly beguiled Eve in his villainy, your thoughts would be corrupted from that sincerity and that purity which is with the Anointed.” Later in the chapter, he made another allusion to these events of Genesis where he wrote of false apostles and said: “13 Such as these are false apostles, treacherous workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself transforms himself into a messenger of light. 15 Therefore it is no big thing if even his ministers transform themselves as ministers of justice; of whom the end shall be in accordance with their deeds.” The apostle Peter, in chapter 2 of his second epistle, also wrote of the false teachers among the people, and also associated them with the “angels that sinned”.
So with Paul’s analogy it may be evident, that Eve was esteemed to be a virgin when she was seduced, and the cost of that seduction was the loss of her innocence, which is her virginity, as Paul feared that same thing would happen, but in a metaphoric sense, to the assembly which he was addressing in his epistle. If Paul did not think that Eve had lost her virginity to the serpent here in Genesis chapter 3, then there is no point in his having described the assembly as a “chaste virgin”. This sort of comparison is an analogy. According to one dictionary, an analogy in logic is “a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects.” So Paul described the assembly as a “chaste virgin”, because he understood that Eve was a “chaste virgin” before she was beguiled by the serpent. The assembly at Corinth was a metaphorical virgin, having received a pure doctrine, but for the analogy to have meaning, Eve must have been a literal virgin.
According to that same source, an analogy is also described as “a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based”. Another such analogy is found in the apocryphal book known as 4 Maccabees. While the book is certainly not canonical, it is known to have existed by the early second century AD, and probably some time earlier. It relates an account of the martyrdom of a certain woman and her sons in the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who had persecuted the pious in Judaea in the 2nd century BC, in the years leading up to the Maccabaean revolt against the Greeks. So the woman is portrayed as having lamented her trial and in the 18th chapter of the book we read: “7 And the righteous mother of the seven children spake also as follows to her offspring: I was a pure virgin, and went not beyond my father's house; but I took care of the built-up rib. 8 No destroyer of the desert, or ravisher of the plain, injured me; nor did the destructive, deceitful snake, make spoil of my chaste virginity; and I remained with my husband during the period of my prime.” While we may not consider this to be canon, it certainly does represent the manner in which the ancients had interpreted the Genesis account of the seduction of Eve.
Now, after Adam and Eve had transgressed, and ate from the fruit of the tree which they had been explicitly commanded not to eat, we read:
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Both Adam and Eve, now being ashamed of their transgression, are depicted as having attempted to conceal the source of their shame, which is evidently their genitals, because they were naked but formerly they had not been ashamed of their nudity. This is found in the very last verse of Genesis chapter 2, which serves to indicate that they were indeed ashamed here, where we read: “25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” The Hebrew word translated here as apron, חגור, chagur or chagowr, is a girdle, loin-covering or loin cloth. In the Septuagint it was translated into the Greek word περιζώμα, which Liddell & Scott define as “a girdle round the loins, [an] apron”.
Now we shall examine some of the idioms of verse 6, because while the literal meaning seems to refer to the eating of literal fruit from a literal tree, the description is actually an allegory for sexual relations. That is why Adam and Eve, when they transgressed, saw that they were naked and covered their loins, rather than wearing masks to cover their mouths.
So leaving one phrase aside for a separate discussion, we shall read most of verse 6 once again: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes… she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
First, nations and races of people are metaphorically described as trees frequently in Scripture. For example, in Isaiah chapter 5 we read: “7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant…” Then in Jeremiah chapter 2: “21 Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” [For the same sin which had occurred here in Genesis.] Again, in Ezekiel chapter 31: “3 Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs…. 5 Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters, when he shot forth.” In that passage, the reference to “all the trees of the field” is an allegory describing all of the other nations, of which Assyria had become the most powerful. One other example out of many which may be found in Scripture is from Zechariah chapter 11, where the trees are metaphors for various portions of the children of Israel: “1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.”
The act of eating is often used as a euphemism for sexual intercourse, for instance in Proverbs chapter 9 where it warns of an adulterous woman and says “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” Where it again discusses such a woman we read in Proverbs chapter 30: “Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.” The act of touching is also often a euphemism for sexual relations, such as in Genesis chapter 20 where Abimelech had designs on Sarah, the wife of Abraham, “6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.” Likewise, we read in a Hebrew parallelism in Proverbs chapter 6: “29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.”
But more striking than these idioms are the even more descriptive allegories which are found in the Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon, or Canticles as it also is sometimes called. This book is replete with descriptions of the eating of fruit from gardens and trees presented as allegorical euphemisms for sexual relations between a husband and wife. Solomon had written his Song about five hundred years after Moses, and in its verses he indirectly explains the meanings of the metaphors contained in these allegories of trees and fruit which are found here in Genesis chapter 3, thus enabling us to determine precisely what act had caused the fall of Adam.
Some commentators claim that Eve merely thought wrong, and that Adam followed her in her errant thought. But thought, wicked or otherwise, by itself is not punished in the law. Punishment only results if there is an actual act of transgression. As we read in chapter 1 of the epistle of James: “13 No one being tried must say that ‘From Yahweh I am tried’! For Yahweh is not able to be tempted by evil, and He tries no one, 14 but each is tried by his own desires being drawn out and enticed. 15 Then the desire conceiving gives birth to sin, and the sin being accomplished brings forth death.” To accomplish sin is not merely having a thought, but to actually partake in or commit a sinful act. Adam and Eve were not punished for a thought, but rather, they transgressed the law by the actual act of eating from a particular tree which they had been forbidden.
The Song of Songs is a love song between a woman, the wife of Solomon, and Solomon himself, but it also serves as an allegory for the relationship between the children of Israel as a nation, which had often been described as being a wife to Yahweh their God. So in chapter 1 of the Song, we read “12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof. 13 A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts. 14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi. 15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes. 16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green. 17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.” There the Bride describes her lover sitting at his table as her own bodily scent fills the air and she confesses that his odor is appealing to her. Then where she further says that “he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts”, it is evident that the table is actually a metaphor for the bride herself, and she compares her lover to camphire or asphalt in the vineyards, something which can burn intensely in a place where one may not expect to find it. Then as she attests to her lover’s appeal she begins to speak of their bed and its surroundings before she describes herself with flowery metaphors, where it is evident that the vineyard is also an allegory for the Bride herself. The meaning of the allegory where camphire is mentioned presents an image of the Bride as a vineyard, and her Husband is burning within her as they engage in their love-making.
This is further illustrated in another allegory where in Song chapter 2 the Bride declares that her husband had brought her to a “banqueting house”, which is also a metaphor since it is there that she becomes exhausted from love-making, and she describes herself as lying in close embrace with her lover, whereafter he falls asleep. She says in part: “4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. 5 Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. 6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.” As he sleeps, the Bride goes to address the Chorus, admonishing them not to awaken him. During that same act of love-making, in verse 3 of chapter 2, the Bride declared that “3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” Having spoken those words in the context of a romantic liaison, we must assert that this language explains the allegories of Genesis chapter 3 where we read: “6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Later, in Song chapter 4, there are further examples where the Husband declares that “12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. 13 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, 14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices….” So in response to that, the Bride extends an invitation and she says: “Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” In the opening verses of chapter 5, the love-making which came from that invitation is described in very much the same manner. Later, at the beginning of chapter 6 of the Song, where the Husband had been away but has once again come to his Bride, she describes his arrival by saying “2 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. 3 I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.” Then after the husband describes the beauty of the Bride in chapter 7, he says “6 How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! 7 This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes [or dates]. 8 I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs [or fruit-stalks] thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy nose like apples…” Where the Bride responds in the last few verses of the chapter, she once again describes herself as fruits laid up in reserve for her husband. So in the time of Solomon, the eating of fruits, the climbing of trees, the embrace of clusters of fruit, were all allegories used as poetic euphemisms in order to describe sexual relations or sexual activity.
From this, we had omitted one phrase of verse 6 from that explanation, where it says “and a tree to be desired to make one wise”, and now we shall discuss that. The words in the lie of the serpent here in Genesis parallel certain pagan beliefs which are found in an ancient writing known as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Large portions of this epic have been found by archaeologists in Sumerian, Akkadian and Babylonian inscriptions, some of which date to as early as the 22nd century before Christ, if not earlier. Moses, a man educated in the house of Pharaoh, certainly must have been familiar with that literature, which seems to predate the time of Abraham by at least three hundred years.
In Gilgamesh, a harlot’s nakedness is described as her ripeness, like a piece of fruit, which is associated with an act of love-making. So now we shall describe some examples from the text of Gilgamesh, as they appear in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, Princeton University Press, 1969, found on pages 73 to 75. Some other translations of the epic translated the word for ripeness here as sex, thereby losing the idiom but more fully conveying its meaning.
Firstly Gilgamesh had a rival, Enkidu, who lived with the beasts in the wilderness. So when he was warned of his rival by a hunter, that Enkidu was harassing the hunters because he loved the animals, Gilgamesh told the hunter what would happen once a harlot was introduced to Enkidu: “She shall pull off her clothing, laying bare her ripeness. As soon as he sees her, he will draw near to her…” There Gilgamesh had explained to the hunter that this would corrupt Enkidu and cause his animals to depart from him. So once the hunter complied, and brought a harlot out to Enkidu, we read that “The lass freed her breasts, bared her bosom, And he possessed her ripeness. She was not bashful as she welcomed his ardor. She laid aside her cloth and he rested upon her… She treated him, the savage, to a woman’s task, As his love was drawn unto her.” Then once Enkidu had finished his sexual liaison with the harlot, it is said of him that “now he had wisdom, broader understanding”, and the harlot is portrayed as having exclaimed to him that as a result, “Thou art wise, Enkidu, art become like a god!”
So in addition to the allegorical use of ripeness as a euphemism for sexual beauty, these statements from Gilgamesh also parallel what we see here in Genesis chapter 3 where the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is described as “a tree to be desired to make one wise”, and the result was that “the eyes of both of them were opened”, and as we read further in the chapter, in verse 22, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” Therefore, comparing the meanings of these allegories from both Gilgamesh and the Song, there should be no doubt concerning the use of the same metaphors as euphemisms for sexual relations in Genesis chapter 3. In this, we also may perceive that certain pagan beliefs had also reflected those same lies of the serpent of Genesis.
With all of this evidence, it is clearly manifest that the sin of Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter 3 is a sin of sexual immorality, that Eve had sexual relations with the serpent himself, as Solomon had interpreted it, where he had written that “through envy of the devil came death into the world”. Then where Adam had followed Eve in her sin, precisely how he had done that is not described. It does not really matter if Adam partook of some sexual relationship with another, or if he merely accepted Eve herself after she had sinned, whereby he becomes a partaker of her sin. As Paul of Tarsus explains in the closing verses of the first chapter of his epistle to the Romans, when one approves of a sinner, one is also approving of the sin which the sinner has committed, and makes himself liable to suffer in the same punishment.
As a digression, there are Talmudic tales that Adam had sexual relations with a certain female demon, Lilith, which are unsubstantiated and which should be dismissed. However it is evident that even the early rabbis of Judaism were familiar with the true meanings of the allegories of Genesis chapter 3. But there are also other even earlier apocryphal or pseudepigraphal works, even supposedly Christian works such as the Protoevangelium of James, which exhibit a similar understanding even if they are clearly not deserving of the status of canon in other respects. While these non-canonical and even spurious works may contain elements of truth mixed with lies, they cannot change or discredit truth. So while there are contentions that this understanding of Genesis chapter 3 has its origins in the Talmud, or the Kabbalah or the Zohar, none of these Jewish books are nearly as old as 4 Maccabees or the Protoevangelium of James. The Talmud, by all historical accounts, began to be compiled no earlier than the 3rd century AD, and the Kabbalah and the Zohar were not written until the 12th and 13th centuries AD, in medieval Spain or Portugal. Here we have explained our interpretation of this event in Genesis chapter 3 from Scripture alone, in the words of Yahshua Christ, Solomon, and Paul of Tarsus. We only cited the Epic of Gilgamesh because it is a demonstrably ancient work with which Moses himself must have been familiar, and it gives further insight into the idioms of this chapter of Genesis. Now, as we proceed through these early chapters of Genesis, we shall indeed see that this interpretation has sustainable plausibility where it is compared to the balance of Scripture.
After Adam and his wife had transgressed, and had become ashamed, their sin is depicted as having been made evident by their own actions:
8 And they heard the voice 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 amongst the trees of the garden.
Where it says “walking about in the garden”, speaking in reference to God, we have an anthropomorphism which is not necessarily to be understood literally. The word for walking, הלך or halak, has a wider range of meaning and may have been rendered as going or moving.
The hiding of Adam and Eve further illustrates the shame which they had felt, for which reason they covered their loins. So their consciences being burdened with their guilt, they did not want to have to face their God. Now Adam rather inadvertently reveals his sin by admitting his newly-discovered circumstances:
9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Of this event we read in Job, in chapter 31, where he had made an analogy and said in part “33 If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom…” As we have already mentioned, the significance of Adam’s shame is illustrated where before the transgression he and his wife were described as having been naked and not ashamed, at the end of Genesis chapter 2. So now, the questions posed to Adam by Yahweh also reveal that the substance of their transgression was sexual in nature:
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
Of course, if the man only ate a piece of fruit, or if he merely had an errant thought, it would not matter whether he were naked or fully clothed, and it would not even have been necessary for the issue of his nakedness to be raised. Furthermore, if the fruit of a literal tree were eaten, and it was harmful to Adam and his wife, they may have been physically ill, and even died, rather than having been ashamed because they were naked. But here it is evident that Adam’s nakedness is an issue only because he is now ashamed of himself on account of the sexual nature of his sin. While the allegorical references continue to be used throughout the entirety of the account, it is apparent here that the state of being naked and the eating of the fruit from the forbidden tree are in fact related. Here Yahweh is portrayed as knowing that Adam must have eaten from the tree because Adam had become ashamed of his nakedness, and therefore his nakedness is directly related to his transgression, so therefore the transgression must have been sexual in nature. Now, to deflect the guilt from himself Adam puts the blame on his wife:
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
For this reason, it is evident that Adam, the first man of his race, was also the first feminist of his race. Rather than accepting responsibility for his sin, he blamed his wife, and in his having blamed her then by necessity he also admitted to having followed his wife. By this we may also see that while feminism plagues our modern society, the men share a greater blame for it than the women, because they are relinquishing their natural role as leaders of the family. So on account of his wife, Adam had first neglected his primary responsibility to his God. But here Adam was also indirectly blaming Yahweh God Himself, as he is portrayed as having said “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me”, as if God were responsible for Adam’s having accepted her actions rather than Adam himself being responsible for accepting them.
But when the woman transgressed, Adam should not have followed her, and he would have been justified if he had appealed to his God. But instead, as Paul had explained in 1 Timothy chapter 2, he had made a conscious decision to follow his wife in her transgression, where Paul wrote “14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman had been thoroughly beguiled when the transgression occurred.” This is a difficult lesson for men to accept, and it is probably also an even more difficult lesson to actually put into practise because it seems that a man’s first impulse is usually to please his wife. This Paul had also explained in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 where he wrote, in part, “33 but he who marries cares for the things of the Society, how he shall please the wife…”, and Paul went on to describe the same predicament of a woman with a husband.
Now that Adam has tried to put the blame for his transgression on the woman, we read:
13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
At least Eve had an excuse for her transgression, seeing that she was deceived, as here she is portrayed as having admitted that she had been. But she is nevertheless held accountable for her own sin, she is destined to suffer the same death which Adam goes on to experience, and her further punishment is announced in the subsequent verses. Therefore being deceived is not an excuse for transgression, it does not allow one to escape punishment for one’s actions, and here it did not even diminish the magnitude of her punishment.
Now, as Yahweh is about to turn to address the serpent, we shall pause our commentary and hope to return to it soon. When we do, we will continue to discuss aspects of the transgression of Adam and Eve, and we shall also hope to continue to elucidate the sustainable plausibility of this interpretation of Genesis, as we would assert that it is the only interpretation which is upheld throughout all of Scripture, and which in turn upholds and explains much of Scripture, from Genesis chapter 1 through Revelation chapter 22, where there is a Tree of Life in the City of God, but no longer is there a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Of course, we may quip that the plausibility of Adam’s attempt to escape blame for his sin was not sustainable, but our title for this presentation is related to the veracity of our interpretation, and not to its content.