The Proto-Evangel: Redemptive Blessing Through Penal Curse
After God’s juridicial inquest follows his penal sentence pronounced on the three culpable parties. But there emerges a blessing out of the divine curse! What spells “doom” for the Serpent and his “offspring” actually spells “hope” for the human race. Satan’s ultimate demise will result in the humans’ ultimate deliverance. Justice and mercy kiss at this primeval tribunal and the proto-evangel or “first gospel” is proclaimed.
God’s Curse on the Serpent
The order of the sentencing actually follows the historical order of sinful action: the Serpent, the woman, and then the man (3:14–19). One may also note the chiastic structure of the narrative. In the inquest, Yahweh begins with the man and ends with the Serpent (3:8–13). In the sentencing, Yahweh begins with the Serpent and ends with the man (3:14–19).
That God first addresses and condemns the Serpent seems to indicate that the humans’ shift of the blame ultimately to the Serpent was formally correct. This does not imply that Yahweh relieves them of personal responsibility for their role in the crime, as the subsequent narrative demonstrates. At the same time, Yahweh does not identify Adam and Eve’s “blameshifting” as a crime in addition to their eating of the fruit. Thus, Yahweh-Elohim’s “curse” (ארור אתה) on the Serpent exceeds in severity the general curse on humans and beasts1 and functions as a doom-oracle (3:14). The substance of the curse, “on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life,” should not be interpreted in a literal sense—as if the verse provides a prescientific explanation for why snakes have no legs or why snakes “eat dust” (which even the ancients would not have taken literally!). The words should be understood, as elsewhere in Scripture, as a metaphorical description of disgrace and defeat (Lev 11:43; Ps 72:9; Mic 7:17). Thus, Yahweh’s statement here puts beyond a shadow of a doubt the outcome of the struggle depicted in 3:15.
An Epic Battle
Of special interest is the timing and manner of the Serpent’s ultimate demise. Genesis 3:15 portends a divinely imposed hostility between the Serpent’s “offspring” and the woman’s “offspring” that will issue in mortal combat, resulting in the Serpent’s ultimate defeat. Some scholars read 3:15 as nothing more than a perpetual struggle between the respective offspring with no clear victor indicated. Gerhard von Rad offers a pessimistic reading, “The terrible point of this curse is the hopelessness of this struggle in which both will ruin each other.”2 Walton’s interpretation is not much brighter, “The verse is depicting a continual, unresolved conflict between humans and representatives of evil.”3 But these readings ignore the already portended defeat of the Serpent in 3:14 (i.e., laying on one’s belly and licking the dust) and discount the significance of the Serpent’s “underfoot” position, which elsewhere signals defeat (Josh 10:24–25; 2 Sam 22:29; 1 Kgs 5:3; Pss 18:38; 47:3; 110:1; Mal 4:3; Matt 22:44; Mark 12:36; Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 15:25, 27; Heb 2:8). That the man and woman are yet to multiply, fill, and subdue the earth (3:16–19) suggests that the battle will be protracted.
The Beginning of the Gospel
The Serpent’s eventual defeat will come through the agency of woman’s offspring. This vital detail implies a divinely effected realignment of the allegiance of at least a portion of humanity away from the Serpent and towards Yahweh. Here, then, is the first reference to a monergistic work of regeneration. Divine imposed enmity (ואיבה אשית) towards Satan is the flipside of divinely restored love and loyal towards man’s heavenly Suzerain (see Deut 30:6; Jer 31:33; 32:40; Ezek 36:26; John 1:13; 3:3, 5–7; Eph 2:1–10; 1 Pet 1:3, 23). It also implies a reversal of the Serpent’s plan to thwart Yahweh’s creation intentions for humankind. So a redemptive blessing arises from the midst of a penal curse! Indeed, as subsequent revelation demonstrates, redemptive blessing (i.e., saving grace) must come through the divine curse (i.e., the satisfaction of divine justice and pacification of divine wrath). For this reason, Christ’s propitiatory death becomes a consequent necessity in order that God might be just and the justifier of the one who believes in Jesus (Rom 3:23–26; Gal 3:13; Heb 2:9–10, 17).
So with justification, the reader may interpret the curse upon the Serpent as the proto-evangel. Warren Gage neatly summarizes the gospel message implied in the curse:
It was by the death of the last Adam that the Serpent of old encountered death and the first Adam found life. The nails that pierced the feet of Christ would bruise the heel, but they would crush the head of the Serpent (1 Cor 2:8). The last Adam wore the thorns of the first Adam, but by these wounds he was healing his people (Isa 53:5). Christ knew the nakedness of Adam, but by this shame he was clothing his people in righteousness (Gal 3:27). For the first Adam the tree of knowledge brought death. But the last Adam knew death upon the tree bringing life (1 Pet 2:24). Adam had made a grave of a garden, but Christ would make a garden of a grave (Luke 24:5).4
God’s Curse on the Woman
God next renders a judicial sentence on the woman (3:16). On the one hand, her punishment may be viewed as punitive in nature.5
She will suffer pain6 in connection with motherhood. The first clause literally reads, “I will surely increase your pain and your conception” (author’s translation). The infinitive absolute (הרבה) preceding the finite verb (ארבה) may serve either to affirm the certainty of an action or outcome (IBHS § 35.3.1f) or to intensify the idea expressed (IBHS § 35.3.1i). The former may be rendered, “I will surely multiply” (ESV), and the latter, “I will greatly increase” (NIV). The prepositive position of the infinitive absolute favors the former sense, namely, God affirms the certainty of the punishment. On the surface, it would appear that an increase in pain and an increase in pregnancy are the result of God’s curse. However, it does not seem appropriate to view increased “fruitfulness” as a facet of the divine curse since the narrative has already identified it as a result of God’s blessing (1:28). David Tsumura has argued that והרונך derives not from הרון, the noun for “conception,” but from the root הרר, meaning “trembling.”7 But the synonymous parallelism favors the traditional reading of “conception.” The reader should interpret the two nouns as a hendiadys and translate them, “your painful conception” or “your pain in conception.” The fact that the event of conception does not involve physical pain need not preclude this interpretation since both conception and giving birth function here as a synecdoche for the woman’s entire role as mother.8
Furthermore, the woman will also suffer disharmony in connection with her relationship to the man. The noun describing the woman’s “desire” (תשוקה) for her husband is only found in two other contexts. In the Song of Solomon, it describes the sexual craving of a man for a woman (7:11). Accordingly, some interpret this as statement as an affirmation of Eve’s ongoing sexual desires for her husband despite the pain that will result from the childbearing.9 But the other place where תשוקה is used (4:7) precludes the sense of sexual desire. Moreover, neither Scripture nor common human experience suggests that a woman’s libido is stronger than a man’s. If anything, the opposite is true (Matt 5:27–30). Others suggest that the woman’s desire is simply a reference to her innate longing for appropriate intimacy. Therefore, the curse resides not in the woman’s orientation towards her husband but in his orientation toward her: “but he shall rule over you,” that is, the man will abusively oppress the woman.10 More recently Susan T. Foh has compared the vocabulary and syntax of 3:16b with 4:7. In Genesis 4:7, God warns Cain, “[Sin’s] desire is for you, but you must rule over it (ואליך תשוקתו ואתה תמשל בו). In this case, sin desires to have its way with Cain. Similarly, argues Foh, the woman will desire to dominate her husband.11
That leaves the question of how to interpret the husband’s response: “But he will rule over you” (והוא ימשל בך). Looking again at 4:7b, ואתה clearly appears to be adversative (“but you”), and the imperfect verb with its object—תמשל בו—may have an obligatory force (“you must master it,” IBHS § 31.4g) or a potential force (“you are able to master it,” IBHS § 31.4c). The latter rendering would introduce an inanity into 3:16b (i.e., of course the man can dominate the woman!). The former makes sense: the woman will desire to have her way with the husband, but the man must retain his God-given headship over her.12 On the other hand, the imperfect verb with its object in 3:16b (ימשל בך) may, in contrast with 4:7b, have a future or predictive force (“but he will master you,” IBHS § 31.6.2). In this case, God may be predicting the potential abuse of male authority without necessarily denying its proper place. The verb משל (“rule”) can denote a lordship that is either benevolent (Gen 45:8, 26; Ps 22:28; Prov 17:2) or oppressive (Judg 14:4; Prov 22:7: Isa 1 9:4). Context must decide as Scripture and history bear witness to both good and bad examples of male leadership and female submission. This interpretation preserves most of the symmetry between 3:16b and 4:7b while also recognizing that part of the woman’s curse will include not merely a difficulty on her part to submit to her God-ordained head (see Isa3:12) but also, at times, an oppressive retaliatory response on the part of her husband. The apostle Paul alludes to this dual aspect of the curse when he exhorts the Christian wife to submit to her husband and the Christian husband to love his wife (Eph 5:22–29; see also 1 Pet 3:1–7).
Hope Yet Remains
A remedial or redemptive element appears in Eve’s punishment. Yahweh has not completely withdrawn the creation blessing of fruitfulness. She will bear children. Moreover, she will mother an offspring who will realign himself with the interests of Yahweh’s kingdom and eventually overcome the works of the Serpent. It is likely that Adam discerned these redemptive implications in Yahweh’s punishment of the woman and responded by assigning her a new name (3:20). Adam “calls his wife’s name Eve.” The Hebrew name Eve (חוה) occurs only here and in 4:1. The LXX translates the name here as “Life” (Ζωη), but in 4:1 transliterates it (Ευαν), which the apostle Paul follows (2 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13). In light of the reason given for Adam’s assigning her this name and in light of the apparently etymological relationship to חיה, it seems likely that the name derives from the Hebrew noun for “life.” The fact that the Hebrew חוה; has a median waw rather than a median yod may suggest that it derives from a more primitive form of the word. In support of this possibility, it may be noted that the Ugaritic verb “to live” contains the medial consonant yod in the Qal form but the medial consonant waw in the Piel. This fact suggests a factitive meaning for Eve, such as “giver of life,” or the intensive idea of “propagator of life.”13
God’s Curse on the Man
Yahweh concludes his judicial sentencing with Adam (3:17–19). God’s curse on the man, as the woman, is indirect.
He does not pronounce the man “cursed” (ארור) as he did the Serpent. Instead, he curses the ground (ארורה האדמה). Collins argues, “Nowhere does [the curse] imply that somehow human sin has distorted the workings of the natural elements; rather, agriculture is the arena in which God brings his chastisement upon human beings.”14 But just as “childbearing” is a synecdoche for the woman’s larger role of mother and wife, so “the soil” does not limit God’s curse merely to the sphere of agriculture. On the contrary, the curse here pertains to the entirety of man’s task “under the sun.” Thus, the reader should interpret the punishments on the woman and man together: God is withdrawing his unqualified blessing and imposing a curse upon the filling and the subduing of the earth, that is, humankind’s creational mandate (1:26, 28). Collins’ concern to limit the curse to Adam’s agricultural task is probably motivated by scientific objections to the idea of God interjecting new elements into nature that did not previously exist (e.g., “thorns and thistles”).
It is difficult, however, to evade Paul’s all-inclusive assessment of the scope of the curse: “For the creation [η κτισις] was subjected to futility” and is in “bondage to decay.” Moreover, “the whole creation [πασα η κτισις],” analogous to the woman, “has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Rom 8:20–22). Hence, Paul, following the teaching of Genesis and the rest of the OT, believed human sin had ecological ramifications.15 Thus, God touches Adam at that point in his life related to the primary focus in his role of fulfilling the creation mandate.16 Man was to rule over the ground joyfully and successfully. Now the ground will rule over him. He will enjoy the fruit of his labor only through painful toil.17
From Dust To Dust
This painful toil will haunt man’s steps all the days of his earthly existence (כל ימי חייך) until it reaches its inevitable end in human death (3:19). The phraseology עד שובך אל האדמה (“until your return to the ground”) obviously alludes to human death and the dissolution of the body. Many modern commentators understand human death to be a natural phenomenon and part of God’s original intent for man. Therefore, these words are merely descriptive, indicating that mankind will find no reprieve from the curse the entire duration of his earthly life.18 Some conservative commentators believe mortality was man’s original created lot and that immortality or freedom from death was only possible by means of immediate access or future access to the tree of life.19
However, both Old and New Testament writers link human death with God’s wrath and curse and identify it as a consequence of human sin (Ps 90:3–12; Ezek 18:4; Rom 5:12ff.; 6:23; 8:6; 1 Cor 15:21–22; 56a; Heb 9:27; Jas 1:15). Nor is it possible to limit Yahweh’s death-sentence sanction to “spiritual death,”20 since 3:19 clearly includes physiological death as part of Yahweh’s punitive sentence on humanity. Hence, Yahweh’s words should be read as prescribing man’s punishment not merely describing the outcome of man’s disobedience.21 Moreover, the very language employed of being taken from the dust (creation) and returning to the dust (uncreation) is suggestive of judgment (see Gen 6–8).
With respect to the question of whether man’s original constitution prior to the fall was mortal or immortal, one may again use the analogy of Adam’s original moral condition. In his original state, Adam was neither sinful nor indefectibly holy. Similarly, Adam was neither mortal nor immortal. The “seeds of mortality” were not naturally active at the point of Adam’s creation, only held in bay by access or potential access to the tree of life. Mortality, like human sin, only existed as a potentiality. Likewise, immortality only existed as an eschatological potentiality, a royal grant to be conferred for fealty rendered in man’s accomplishment of his covenantal obligations specified in Genesis 1:26–28 and 2:15–17. This explanation is at least as old as Theophilus of Antioch, who lived in the last half of the second-century AD. Theophilus writes,
But some one will say to us, “Was man made by nature mortal?” Certainly not. “Was he then immortal?” Neither do we affirm this. But one will say, “Was he then nothing?” Not even this hits the mark. He was by nature neither mortal nor immortal. For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God[-like]. Again, if He had made him mortal, God would seem to be the cause of his death. Neither, then, mortal or immortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God[-like]; but if, on the other hand, he should turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he should himself be the cause of death to himself.22
Life From Death!
But just as a remedial or redemptive design resided within Eve’s punishment, so too with Adam’s. The fact that Yahweh does not terminate Adam’s commission to subdue the earth suggests that the Creator has not abandoned his original intentions for humanity and the rest of creation. Moreover, one may infer that just as Yahweh would raise up a deliverer-offspring to defeat the Serpent’s kingdom of darkness through the woman’s painful childbearing (compare 3:15 with 3:16), so too God’s chosen deliverer would attain that victory, ironically, through man’s (i.e., the deliverer-offspring’s own) painful death23 resulting in the reversal of Yahweh’s curse, the restoration of blessing, and the fulfillment of God’s original intentions for humanity and the world.
That Adam evidenced hope in a redemptive reversal that would emerge from Yahweh’s curse is suggested in his naming of Eve, which Moses positions immediately following the curse-sanction (3:20).24 That Adam’s response is an act of saving faith is intimated by Yahweh’s reciprocal action of clothing the human couple to hide their nakedness, which signifies that Adam and Eve’s “fig-leaf” coverings (3:7) were inadequate to cover their nakedness. Human nakedness, which in this context includes guilt and shame, can only be remedied by a covering that God himself provides (cf. Exod 28:42), which covering signals the expiation of guilt (3:21).25
Note: the entry above is excerpted and adapted from my recently published monograph Where Sin Abounds (a theological commentary on Genesis). Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. www.wipfandstock.com
- Yahweh does not curse either Eve or Adam directly, but only indirectly. Some interpret the מן preposition in the clause מכל הבהמה ומכל חית השדה as an ablative, “designating movement away from a specified beginning point” (IBHS § 11.2.11b). Thus, God is banishing the Serpent from the other animals. See Brichto, The Problem of “Curse” in the Hebrew Bible, 82–85; Speiser, Genesis, 22, 24. This assumes, however, that the Serpent is merely a species of the animal kingdom and is destined to live a solitary life. But the exegesis presented above has already demonstrated that “the tempter” is more than a mere beast. On the other hand, one may interpret the מן preposition in Genesis 3:14 as a comparative marker (IBHS § 11.211e), denoting a comparison of degree, i.e., “cursed are you more than” (IBHS § 14.4d) or a comparison of exclusion, i.e., “cursed are you rather than” (IBHS § 14.4e). In this case, Yahweh curses the Serpent instead of the animals or more than the animals. The latter option makes better sense here since the animal kingdom (and all creation) suffer the effects of the Fall (3:17–18; 6:7, 13, 17; 7:21–23; Rom 8:20–22). Hence, God’s curse on the Serpent is graver than his judgment on the humans and the rest of creation. [↩]
- Genesis, 93. [↩]
- Genesis, 226. [↩]
- The Gospel of Genesis, 46–47. [↩]
- Some commentators try to play down the punitive nature of God’s sentence on the woman and the man. Cassuto, for example, sees God’s pronouncements here as in effect taking up where the account of man’s creation in Genesis 1:26–27 left off. In other words, the choice between taking of the tree of life vs. the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a choice between simple immortal existence vs. responsible freedom and morality. The human couple chose the latter against Yahweh’s counsel, yet Yahweh remedies the situation by giving the woman and man power to procreate and survive as a species in the hostile environment outside of Eden. From Adam to Noah, 161–64. This interpretation, however, mingles the blessing of Genesis 1 with the curse of Genesis 3 in a way that erases any real distinction. It is true that Yahweh’s curse on the Serpent is direct, whereas his curse on the man and woman is indirect. God does not curse Adam and Eve per se, but he curses their vocations, relations, and environment. But the “indirectness” of the curse on humanity does not preclude a punitive element. The curses God threatened on Israel for disobedience and covenant infidelity were also indirect (Lev 26; Deut 28), yet they were clearly to be viewed as acts of divine retribution and punitive in nature. [↩]
- The first expression (עצבון) may refer to physical (Gen 3:16; 5:29) and psychological pain (Pss 13:3; 146:3; Prov 15:13) and can lead one to despair of life itself (Job 7:15). The second word (עצב) usually refers to psychological pain (see especially 6:6; 34:7; 45:5; 1 Sam 20:3, 24; 2 Sam 19:3 [Heb 3]; 1 Kgs 1:6; Neh 8:10, 11; Pss 78:40; 127:2; Prov 10:22; Isa 54:6). It can also refer to the pain God feels in response to human sin (Gen 6:6; Pss 78:40; 139:24; Isa 63:10). It is significant that God does not merely describe what will happen but pledges to take an active part: “I will surely multiply your pain.” Hence, human pain must not be interpreted as merely natural phenomenon but as the consequence of God’s penal activity. [↩]
- “A Note on הרון (Gen 3, 16),” 398–400. [↩]
- Moreover, the nouns and along with the cognate verb may denote emotional pain (Gen 3:17; 5:29; 6:6; 34:7; 45:5; 1 Sam 20:3, 34; 2 Sam 19:3; Neh 8:10; Prov 10:22; Isa 54:6; 63:10) as well as physical pain. Hence, the woman’s punishment will entail a broad spectrum of suffering and misery in connection with her role as mother. [↩]
- See Driver, The Book of Genesis, 49; Gunkel, Genesis, 21; Skinner, Genesis, 82–83. [↩]
- See von Rad, Genesis, 93; Westermann, Genesis 1–11, 262. Some who adopt this reading, identify male headship as a facet of the curse. Phyllis Trible, for example, writes, “[The husband’s] supremacy is neither a divine right nor a male prerogative. Her subordination is neither a divine decree nor the female destiny. Both their positions result from shared disobedience. God describes this consequence but does not prescribe it as punishment.” God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, 128. See also Sarna, Genesis, 28; Walton, Genesis, 228–29. The Vulgate apparently has a similar idea in view and renders 3:16b: et sub viri potestate eris et ipse dominabitur tui. The LXX does not help matters when it apparently reads תשוקה as תשובה and translates with the noun αποστροφη (“returning”?). [↩]
- “What Is the Woman’s Desire,” 376–83. [↩]
- See Foh, Ibid., 383; Collins, Genesis 1-4, 159–60; Culver, “The Traditional View,” 40–41; Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, 250–52; Ortlund, “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship,” 108–09. [↩]
- Hamilton argues for the factitive, Genesis 1–17, 205–06, and Sarna for the intensive, Genesis, 29. [↩]
- Collins, Genesis 1–4, 164. [↩]
- For a further development of the ecological ramifications of human sin in the OT, see Dyrness, “Stewardship of the Earth in the OT,” 50–65. Bible interpreters debate the precise manner in which human sin brought about changes in man’s environment. Creationary scientist Henry Morris suggests that God, by removing his blessing, allowed mutations that would give rise to changes in physical structures, resulting in phenomena such as thorny plants, carnivorous teeth, or deadly viruses. The Genesis Record, 125–26. Taking a different approach, Kline agrees that the curse involved the entire creation but argues, “Man’s state of blessedness is thus seen to be primarily a matter of God’s providential authority over creation, controlling and directing every circumstance so that everything works together for man’s good and nothing transpires for his hurt or the frustration of his efforts. God gives his angels charge over the one who stands in his favor lest he should dash his foot against a stone (Ps 91:12). Blessing consists not in the absence of the potentially harmful stone, but in the presence of God’s providential care over the foot. Adam’s world before the Fall was not a world without stones, thorns, dark watery depths, or death. But it was a world where the angels of God were given a charge over man to protect his every step and to prosper all the labor of his hand.” Kingdom Prologue, 56–57; see also Walton, Genesis, 236–38. Perhaps the moral state of pre-fallen Adam may serve as an analogy of the natural state of creation prior to the fall. Adam was created without moral defect (innocent) with the ability to refrain from sin (posse non peccare) but also with the potential for moral defect (sinfulness) and sinning (posse peccare). Similarly, it is possible that the genetic elements that would give rise to aberrant and harmful facets of nature were already potentially present in the original creation but held in bay by God’s beneficent providence. [↩]
- Hamilton observes, “Both divine messages are directed to a point of highest fulfillment in the life of the female and the male. For the female that is, among other areas, her capacity of mother and wife. For the male that is, among other areas, his capacity of breadwinner and family provider” Genesis 1–17, 203. [↩]
- As with the woman’s pain in childbearing, the pain here envisioned is both physical (Gen 3:16; 5:29) and psychological (Pss 13:3; 146:3; Prov 15:13) and can lead a man to despair of life itself (Job 7:15). Thus, man’s quest for eschatological fullness (i.e., ultimate meaning, fulfillment, and purpose of life) will now meet with frustration. The canonical book of Ecclesiastes explores this theme of human frustration in a curse-world more fully. See W. Anderson, “The Curse of Work in Qoheleth,” 99–113; David M. Clemens, “The Law of Sin and Death,” 5–8; Starikov, “The Mercy of Vanity,” 124–30. [↩]
- See Fretheim “Genesis,” 364; Skinner, Genesis, 84; Vawter, On Genesis, 85; von Rad, Genesis, 95; Westermann, Genesis 1–11, 266. [↩]
- See Munday, “Creature Mortality: From Creation or Fall?”, 51–68; Collins, Genesis 1-4,160–62; Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 56–57; Hamilton, Genesis 1–17, 203–4; Walton, Genesis, 183–85. [↩]
- Contra Collins, Genesis 1-4, 175. [↩]
- Contra Walton, Genesis, 236–38. [↩]
- ANF, 2:105. For an extended treatment of the subject of human mortality before the Fall, see Terreros, “Death Before the Sin of Adam.” [↩]
- Yahweh’s oracle that the woman’s offspring would crush the Serpent’s head signals the Serpent’s ultimate demise. Nevertheless, the fact that the Serpent would strike back and bruise the offspring’s heel suggests the possibility of a mortal wound. The immediate and typical fulfillment of this prophecy, as seen in the Cain and Abel story, demonstrates that the Serpent (through his offspring, i.e., Cain) may mortally wound the woman’s offspring (i.e., Abel). Therefore, though Adam and Eve may not have initially read “and you shall bruise his heel” as a reference to death, they later would have both the grammatical and also the historical warrant for such an interpretation. Eve’s celebration of Seth’s birth as “the offspring” to replace Abel (4:25) suggests that she may have drawn that hermeneutical conclusion. [↩]
- That Eve would become the mother of all the living [human beings] is an obvious biological fact arising from God’s creative design for the man and the woman. Thus, her name signals the perpetuation of God’s original creation blessing despite the curse. See Hamilton, Genesis 1–17, 206–07. There is, however, reason to believe that Adam intended more in his name conferral. It seems more likely that Moses would have placed Adam’s giving the woman a new name in the context of chapter 2 or 4 if the name merely served to highlight her biological function. If someone objects and argues that Moses placed it after the curse simply because he wanted to reflect historical sequence, one may counter that argument by noting that (1) Moses is highly selective in his narrative of the creation and Fall, usually only including what serves a theological aim, and (2) Moses elsewhere inserts statements dischronologically for thematic purposes (e.g., 2:19). If Moses wanted to highlight the woman’s biological function as Urmutter, he probably would have placed Adam’s statement in chapter 2 or 4. But since Moses places Adam’s giving of his wife the new name immediately after the curse, he seems to want his audience to read the seeds of hope in Adam’s expression (i.e., through the woman “Life” would be restored). See Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 150; Waltke, Genesis, 95; Reymond, “An Investigation of the Covenants of the OT and their Significance in the Theocratic Program of God,” 149. [↩]
- As Brueggemann remarks, “With the sentence given, God does (3:21) for the couple what they cannot do for themselves (3:7). They cannot deal with their shame. But God can, will, and does.” Genesis, 50. Moreover, since Yahweh’s covering of the couple’s nakedness counters the exposure of their nakedness (3:7), it would seem quite natural to interpret Yahweh’s action redemptively. God’s act of clothing the man and woman signifies or symbolizes a divinely instituted remedy for guilt and shame, and it portends God’s redemptive intentions for the fallen human race. See Hamilton, Genesis 1–17, 207. Some commentators believe that the implied death of animals in order to acquire the skin-coverings would have suggested the institution of animal sacrifice to the original Israelite reader. See Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 152; Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, 255; Ross, Creation & Blessing, 140; Schaeffer, “Genesis in Time and Space,” 75. [↩]