New English Translation
2 The heavens and the earth[a] were completed with everything that was in them.[b] 2 By[c] the seventh day God finished the work that he had been doing,[d] and he ceased[e] on the seventh day all the work that he had been doing. 3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy[f] because on it he ceased all the work that he[g] had been doing in creation.[h]
The Creation of Man and Woman
5 Now[n] no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field[o] had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.[p] 6 Springs[q] would well up[r] from the earth and water[s] the whole surface of the ground.[t] 7 The Lord God formed[u] the man from the soil of the ground[v] and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,[w] and the man became a living being.[x]
8 The Lord God planted an orchard[y] in the east,[z] in Eden;[aa] and there he placed the man he had formed.[ab] 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow from the soil,[ac] every tree that was pleasing to look at[ad] and good for food. (Now[ae] the tree of life[af] and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil[ag] were in the middle of the orchard.)
10 Now[ah] a river flows[ai] from Eden[aj] to water the orchard, and from there it divides[ak] into four headstreams.[al] 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it runs through[am] the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is pure;[an] pearls[ao] and lapis lazuli[ap] are also there). 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it runs through[aq] the entire land of Cush.[ar] 14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it runs along the east side of Assyria.[as] The fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and placed[at] him in the orchard in[au] Eden to care for it and to maintain it.[av] 16 Then the Lord God commanded[aw] the man, “You may freely eat[ax] fruit[ay] from every tree of the orchard, 17 but[az] you must not eat[ba] from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when[bb] you eat from it you will surely die.”[bc]
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.[bd] I will make a companion[be] for him who corresponds to him.”[bf] 19 The Lord God formed[bg] out of the ground every living animal of the field and every bird of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would[bh] name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man named all the animals, the birds of the air, and the living creatures of the field, but for Adam[bi] no companion who corresponded to him was found.[bj] 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep,[bk] and while he was asleep,[bl] he took part of the man’s side[bm] and closed up the place with flesh.[bn] 22 Then the Lord God made[bo] a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
The Temptation and the Fall
3 Now[bz] the serpent[ca] was shrewder[cb] than any of the wild animals[cc] that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Is it really true that[cd] God[ce] said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the orchard’?”[cf] 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat[cg] of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; 3 but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it,[ch] or else you will die.’”[ci] 4 The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die,[cj] 5 for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open[ck] and you will be like God, knowing[cl] good and evil.”[cm]
6 When[cn] the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food,[co] was attractive[cp] to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise,[cq] she took some of its fruit and ate it.[cr] She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.[cs] 7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
The Judgment Oracles of God at the Fall
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about[ct] in the orchard at the breezy time[cu] of the day, and they hid[cv] from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard. 9 But the Lord God called to[cw] the man and said to him, “Where are you?”[cx] 10 The man replied,[cy] “I heard you moving about[cz] in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” 11 And the Lord God[da] said, “Who told you that you were naked?[db] Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”[dc] 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave[dd] me some fruit[de] from the tree and I ate it.” 13 So the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this[df] you have done?” And the woman replied, “The serpent[dg] tricked[dh] me, and I ate.”
14 The Lord God said to the serpent,[di]
“Because you have done this,
cursed[dj] are you above all the cattle
and all the living creatures of the field!
On your belly you will crawl[dk]
and dust you will eat[dl] all the days of your life.
15 And I will put hostility[dm] between you and the woman
and between your offspring and her offspring;[dn]
he[do] will strike your head,
and[dp] you[dq] will strike[dr] his heel.”[ds]
16 To the woman he said,
17 But to Adam[dx] he said,
“Because you obeyed[dy] your wife
and ate from the tree about which I commanded you,
‘You must not eat from it,’
the ground is cursed[dz] because of you;
in painful toil you will eat[ea] of it all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
but you will eat the grain[eb] of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow[ec] you will eat food
until you return to the ground,[ed]
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”[ee]
20 The man[ef] named his wife Eve,[eg] because[eh] she was the mother of all the living.[ei] 21 The Lord God made garments from skin[ej] for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “Now[ek] that the man has become like one of us,[el] knowing[em] good and evil, he must not be allowed[en] to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God expelled him[eo] from the orchard in Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken. 24 When he drove[ep] the man out, he placed on the eastern side[eq] of the orchard in Eden angelic sentries[er] who used the flame of a whirling sword[es] to guard the way to the tree of life.
- Genesis 2:1 tn See the note on the phrase “the heavens and the earth” in 1:1.
- Genesis 2:1 tn Heb “and all the host of them.” Here the “host” refers to all the entities and creatures that God created to populate the world.
- Genesis 2:2 tn Heb “on/in the seventh day.”
- Genesis 2:2 tn Heb “his work which he did [or “made”].”
- Genesis 2:2 tn The Hebrew term שָׁבַּת (shabbat) can be translated “to rest” (“and he rested”) but it basically means “to cease.” This is not a rest from exhaustion; it is the cessation of the work of creation.
- Genesis 2:3 tn The verb is usually translated “and sanctified it.” The Piel verb קִדֵּשׁ (qiddesh) means “to make something holy; to set something apart; to distinguish it.” On the literal level the phrase means essentially that God made this day different. But within the context of the Law, it means that the day belonged to God; it was for rest from ordinary labor, worship, and spiritual service. The day belonged to God.
- Genesis 2:3 tn Heb “God.” The pronoun (“he”) has been employed in the translation for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 2:3 tn Heb “for on it he ceased from all his work which God created to make.” The last infinitive construct and the verb before it form a verbal hendiadys, the infinitive becoming the modifier—“which God creatively made,” or “which God made in his creating.”
- Genesis 2:4 tn The Hebrew phrase אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת (ʾelleh toledot) is traditionally translated as “these are the generations of” because the noun was derived from the verb “beget.” Its usage, however, shows that it introduces more than genealogies; it begins a narrative that traces what became of the entity or individual mentioned in the heading. In fact, a good paraphrase of this heading would be: “This is what became of the heavens and the earth,” for what follows is not another account of creation but a tracing of events from creation through the fall and judgment (the section extends from 2:4 through 4:26). See M. H. Woudstra, “The Toledot of the Book of Genesis and Their Redemptive-Historical Significance,” CTJ 5 (1970): 184-89.sn The expression this is the account of is an important title used throughout the Book of Genesis, serving as the organizing principle of the work. It is always a heading, introducing the subject matter that is to come. From the starting point of the title, the narrative traces the genealogy or the records or the particulars involved. Although some would make the heading in 2:4 a summary of creation (1:1-2:3), that goes against the usage in the book. As a heading it introduces the theme of the next section, the particulars about this creation that God made. Genesis 2 is not a simple parallel account of creation; rather, beginning with the account of the creation of man and women, the narrative tells what became of that creation. As a beginning, the construction of 2:4-7 forms a fine parallel to the construction of 1:1-3. The subject matter of each תּוֹלְדֹת (toledot, “this is the account of”) section of the book traces a decline or a deterioration through to the next beginning point, and each is thereby a microcosm of the book which begins with divine blessing in the garden, and ends with a coffin in Egypt. So, what became of the creation? Gen 2:4-4:26 will explain that sin entered the world and all but destroyed God’s perfect creation.
- Genesis 2:4 tn See the note on the phrase “the heavens and the earth” in 1:1.sn This is the only use of the Hebrew noun תּוֹלְדֹת (toledot) in the book that is not followed by a personal name (e.g., “this is the account of Isaac”). The poetic parallelism reveals that even though the account may be about the creation, it is the creation the Lord God made.
- Genesis 2:4 tn Heb “on the day.” In contrast to the numbered days in ch. 1 (see note on “day” at 1:5), “day” appears here in a phrase which means “at the time when.” It may but does not need to refer to a particular day. It can refer to a broader period of time (cf. Obad 11), though typically a short period of time pertaining to a particular event. Here it summarizes the seven days of creation as “when” the Lord created.
- Genesis 2:4 sn Advocates of the so-called documentary hypothesis of pentateuchal authorship argue that the introduction of the name Yahweh (Lord) here indicates that a new source (designated J), a parallel account of creation, begins here. In this scheme Gen 1:1-2:3 is understood as the priestly source (designated P) of creation. Critics of this approach often respond that the names, rather than indicating separate sources, were chosen to reflect the subject matter (see U. Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis). Gen 1:1-2:3 is the grand prologue of the book, showing the sovereign God creating by decree. The narrative beginning in 2:4 is the account of what this God invested in his creation. Since it deals with the close, personal involvement of the covenant God, the narrative uses the covenantal name Yahweh (Lord) in combination with the name God. For a recent discussion of the documentary hypothesis from a theologically conservative perspective, see D. A. Garrett, Rethinking Genesis. For an attempt by source critics to demonstrate the legitimacy of the source critical method on the basis of ancient Near Eastern parallels, see J. H. Tigay, ed., Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism. For reaction to the source critical method by literary critics, see I. M. Kikawada and A. Quinn, Before Abraham Was; R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, 131-54; and Adele Berlin, Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative, 111-34.
- Genesis 2:4 tn See the note on the phrase “the heavens and the earth” in 1:1; the order here is reversed, but the meaning is the same.
- Genesis 2:5 tn Heb “Now every sprig of the field before it was.” The verb forms, although appearing to be imperfects, are technically preterites coming after the adverb טֶרֶם (terem). The word order (conjunction + subject + predicate) indicates a disjunctive clause, which provides background information for the following narrative (as in 1:2). Two negative clauses are given (“before any sprig…”, and “before any cultivated grain” existed), followed by two causal clauses explaining them, and then a positive circumstantial clause is given—again dealing with water as in 1:2 (water would well up).
- Genesis 2:5 tn The first term, שִׂיחַ (siakh), probably refers to the wild, uncultivated plants (see Gen 21:15; Job 30:4, 7); whereas the second, עֵשֶׂב (ʿesev), refers to cultivated grains. It is a way of saying: “back before anything was growing.”
- Genesis 2:5 tn The two causal clauses explain the first two disjunctive clauses: There was no uncultivated, general growth because there was no rain, and there were no grains because there was no man to cultivate the soil.sn The last clause in v. 5, “and there was no man to cultivate the ground,” anticipates the curse and the expulsion from the garden (Gen 3:23).
- Genesis 2:6 tn The conjunction vav (ו) introduces a third disjunctive clause. The Hebrew word אֵד (ʾed) was traditionally translated “mist” because of its use in Job 36:27. However, an Akkadian cognate edu in Babylonian texts refers to subterranean springs or waterways. Such a spring would fit the description in this context, since this water “goes up” and waters the ground.
- Genesis 2:6 tn Heb “was going up.” The verb is an imperfect form, which in this narrative context carries a customary nuance, indicating continual action in past time.
- Genesis 2:6 tn The perfect with vav (ו) consecutive carries the same nuance as the preceding verb. Whenever it would well up, it would water the ground.
- Genesis 2:6 tn The Hebrew word אֲדָמָה (ʾadamah) actually means “ground; fertile soil.”sn Here is an indication of fertility. The water would well up from the earth (אֶרֶץ, ʾerets) and water all the surface of the fertile soil (אֲדָמָה). It is from that soil that the man (אָדָם, ʾadam) was made (Gen 2:7).
- Genesis 2:7 tn Or “fashioned.” The prefixed verb form with vav (ו) consecutive initiates narrative sequence. The Hebrew word יָצַר (yatsar) means “to form” or “to fashion,” usually by plan or design (see the related noun יֵצֶר [yetser] in Gen 6:5). It is the term for an artist’s work (the Hebrew term יוֹצֵר [yotser] refers to a potter; see Jer 18:2-4.)sn Various traditions in the ancient Near East reflect this idea of creation. Egyptian drawings show a deity turning little people off of the potter’s wheel with another deity giving them life. In the Bible humans are related to the soil and return to it (see 3:19; see also Job 4:19, 20:9; and Isa 29:16).
- Genesis 2:7 tn The line literally reads “And Yahweh God formed the man, soil, from the ground.” “Soil” is an adverbial accusative, identifying the material from which the man was made.
- Genesis 2:7 tn The phrase נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat khayyim, “breath of life”) appears for certain only here. In Gen 6:17; 7:15 the phrase is רוּחַ חַיִּים (ruakh khayyim, “breath/spirit of life”), where רוּחַ can mean “breath, wind, spirit.” And in Gen 7:22 the phrase is נִשְׁמַת רוּחַ חַיִּים (nishmat ruakh khayyim, “breath of the breath/spirit of life”). T. C. Mitchell (“The Old Testament Usage of Neshama,” VT 11 : 177-87) suggests the possibility that נְשָׁמָה (neshamah, “breath”) may not be used for animals but only God and man. BDB 675 s.v. נְשָׁמָה 4 states that the word refers to the human “spirit” in Prov 20:27. Many versions, including the NET, take it that way at Job 26:4 (KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV). Job 32:8 asserts that God’s “breath” gives people understanding. If so, this may be part of indicating that God made humans differently than other breathing living organisms (נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, nefesh khayyah). However Gen 7:22 and Job 34:14-15 may use the term נְשָׁמָה of animals.sn Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way.
- Genesis 2:7 tn The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phrase נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה (nefesh khayyah, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19).
- Genesis 2:8 tn Traditionally “garden,” but the subsequent description of this “garden” makes it clear that it is an orchard of fruit trees.sn The Lord God planted an orchard. Nothing is said of how the creation of this orchard took place. A harmonization with chap. 1 might lead to the conclusion that it was by decree, prior to the creation of human life. But the narrative sequence here in chap. 2 suggests the creation of the garden followed the creation of the man. Note also the past perfect use of the perfect in the relative clause in the following verse.
- Genesis 2:8 tn Heb “from the east” or “off east.”sn One would assume this is east from the perspective of the land of Israel, particularly since the rivers in the area are identified as the rivers in those eastern regions.
- Genesis 2:8 sn The name Eden (עֵדֶן,ʿeden) means “pleasure” in Hebrew.
- Genesis 2:8 tn The perfect verbal form here requires the past perfect translation since it describes an event that preceded the event described in the main clause.
- Genesis 2:9 tn Heb “ground,” referring to the fertile soil.
- Genesis 2:9 tn Heb “desirable of sight [or “appearance”].” The phrase describes the kinds of trees that are visually pleasing and yield fruit that is desirable to the appetite.
- Genesis 2:9 tn The verse ends with a disjunctive clause providing a parenthetical bit of information about the existence of two special trees in the garden.
- Genesis 2:9 tn In light of Gen 3:22, the construction “tree of life” should be interpreted to mean a tree that produces life-giving fruit (objective genitive) rather than a living tree (attributive genitive). See E. O. James, The Tree of Life (SHR); and R. Marcus, “The Tree of Life in Proverbs,” JBL 62 (1943): 117-20.
- Genesis 2:9 tn The expression “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” must be interpreted to mean that the tree would produce fruit which, when eaten, gives special knowledge of “good and evil.” Scholars debate what this phrase means here. For a survey of opinions, see G. J. Wenham, Genesis (WBC), 1:62-64. One view is that “good” refers to that which enhances, promotes, and produces life, while “evil” refers to anything that hinders, interrupts or destroys life. So eating from this tree would change human nature—people would be able to alter life for better (in their thinking) or for worse. See D. J. A. Clines, “The Tree of Knowledge and the Law of Yahweh,” VT 24 (1974): 8-14; and I. Engnell, “‘Knowledge’ and ‘Life’ in the Creation Story,” Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East [VTSup], 103-19. Another view understands the “knowledge of good and evil” as the capacity to discern between moral good and evil. The following context suggests the tree’s fruit gives one wisdom (see the phrase “capable of making one wise” in 3:6, as well as the note there on the word “wise”), which certainly includes the capacity to discern between good and evil. Such wisdom is characteristic of divine beings, as the serpent’s promise implies (3:5) and as 3:22 makes clear. (Note, however, that this capacity does not include the ability to do what is right.) God prohibits man from eating of the tree. The prohibition becomes a test to see if man will be satisfied with his role and place, or if he will try to ascend to the divine level. There will be a time for man to possess moral discernment/wisdom, as God reveals and imparts it to him, but it is not something to be grasped at in an effort to become “a god.” In fact, the command to be obedient was the first lesson in moral discernment/wisdom. God was essentially saying: “Here is lesson one—respect my authority and commands. Disobey me and you will die.” When man disobeys, he decides he does not want to acquire moral wisdom God’s way, but instead tries to rise immediately to the divine level. Once man has acquired such divine wisdom by eating the tree’s fruit (3:22), he must be banned from the garden so that he will not be able to achieve his goal of being godlike and thus live forever, a divine characteristic (3:24). Ironically, man now has the capacity to discern good from evil (3:22), but he is morally corrupted and rebellious and will not consistently choose what is right.
- Genesis 2:10 tn The disjunctive clause (note the construction conjunction + subject + predicate) introduces an entire paragraph about the richness of the region in the east.
- Genesis 2:10 tn The Hebrew active participle may be translated here as indicating past durative action, “was flowing,” or as a present durative, “flows.” Since this river was the source of the rivers mentioned in vv. 11-14, which appear to describe a situation contemporary with the narrator, it is preferable to translate the participle in v. 10 with the present tense. This suggests that Eden and its orchard still existed in the narrator’s time. According to ancient Jewish tradition, Enoch was taken to the Garden of Eden, where his presence insulated the garden from the destructive waters of Noah’s flood. See Jub. 4:23-24.
- Genesis 2:10 sn Eden is portrayed here as a source of life-giving rivers (that is, perennial streams). This is no surprise because its orchard is where the tree of life is located. Eden is a source of life, but tragically its orchard is no longer accessible to humankind. The river flowing out of Eden is a tantalizing reminder of this. God continues to provide life-giving water to sustain physical existence on the earth, but immortality has been lost.
- Genesis 2:10 tn The imperfect verb form has the same nuance as the preceding participle. (If the participle is taken as past durative, then the imperfect would be translated “was dividing.”)
- Genesis 2:10 tn Or “branches”; Heb “heads.” Cf. NEB “streams”; NASB “rivers.”
- Genesis 2:11 tn Heb “it is that which goes around.”
- Genesis 2:12 tn Heb “good.”
- Genesis 2:12 tn The Hebrew term translated “pearls” may be a reference to resin (cf. NIV “aromatic resin”) or another precious stone (cf. NEB, NASB, NRSV “bdellium”).
- Genesis 2:12 tn Or “onyx.”
- Genesis 2:13 tn Heb “it is that which goes around.”
- Genesis 2:13 sn Cush. In the Bible the Hebrew word כּוּשׁ (kush, “Kush”) often refers to Ethiopia (so KJV, CEV), but here it must refer to a region in Mesopotamia, the area of the later Cassite dynasty of Babylon. See Gen 10:7-10 as well as E. A. Speiser, Genesis (AB), 20. The man Cush had a son named Havilah (see 2:11: “land of Havilah”). Another son was Nimrod, the centers of whose kingdom were in Babylon, Ninevah, and similarly placed cities. Eden was in the East, which was where the headwaters of the four rivers were.
- Genesis 2:14 tn Heb “Asshur” (so NEB, NIV).
- Genesis 2:15 tn The Hebrew verb נוּחַ (nuakh, translated here as “placed”) is a different verb than the one used in 2:8.
- Genesis 2:15 tn Traditionally translated “the Garden of Eden,” the context makes it clear that the garden (or orchard) was in Eden (making “Eden” a genitive of location).
- Genesis 2:15 tn Heb “to work it and to keep it.”sn Note that man’s task is to care for and maintain the trees of the orchard. Not until after the fall, when he is condemned to cultivate the soil, does this task change.
- Genesis 2:16 sn This is the first time in the Bible that the verb tsavah (צָוָה, “to command”) appears. Whatever the man had to do in the garden, the main focus of the narrative is on keeping God’s commandments. God created humans with the capacity to obey him and then tested them with commands.
- Genesis 2:16 tn The imperfect verb form probably carries the nuance of permission (“you may eat”) since the man is not being commanded to eat from every tree. The accompanying infinitive absolute adds emphasis: “you may freely eat,” or “you may eat to your heart’s content.”
- Genesis 2:16 tn The word “fruit” is not in the Hebrew text, but is implied as the direct object of the verb “eat.” Presumably the only part of the tree the man would eat would be its fruit (cf. 3:2).
- Genesis 2:17 tn The disjunctive clause here indicates contrast: “but from the tree of the knowledge….”
- Genesis 2:17 tn The negated imperfect verb form indicates prohibition, “you must not eat.”
- Genesis 2:17 tn Or “in the very day, as soon as.” If one understands the expression to have this more precise meaning, then the following narrative presents a problem, for the man does not die physically as soon as he eats from the tree. In this case one may argue that spiritual death is in view. If physical death is in view here, there are two options to explain the following narrative: (1) The following phrase “You will surely die” concerns mortality which ultimately results in death (a natural paraphrase would be, “You will become mortal”), or (2) God mercifully gave man a reprieve, allowing him to live longer than he deserved.
- Genesis 2:17 tn Heb “dying you will die.” The imperfect verb form here has the nuance of the specific future because it is introduced with the temporal clause, “when you eat…you will die.” That certainty is underscored with the infinitive absolute, “you will surely die.”sn The Hebrew text (“dying you will die”) does not refer to two aspects of death (“dying spiritually, you will then die physically”). The construction simply emphasizes the certainty of death, however it is defined. Death is essentially separation. To die physically means separation from the land of the living, but not extinction. To die spiritually means to be separated from God. Both occur with sin, although the physical alienation is more gradual than instant, and the spiritual is immediate, although the effects of it continue the separation.
- Genesis 2:18 tn Heb “The man’s being alone is not good.” The meaning of “good” must be defined contextually. Within the context of creation, in which God instructs humankind to be fruitful and multiply, the man alone cannot comply. Being alone prevents the man from fulfilling the design of creation and therefore is not good.sn The statement about Adam being alone precedes the naming of the animals, and the command to be fruitful (1:28) came after the creation of woman (1:27). Naming the animals will show that none of them qualify as a companion for Adam (v. 20).
- Genesis 2:18 tn Traditionally “helper.” The English word “helper,” because it can connote so many different ideas, does not accurately convey the connotation of the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (ʿezer). Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role, a connotation which English “helper” can have. In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.” The woman would supply what the man was lacking in the design of creation and logically it would follow that the man would supply what she was lacking, although that is not stated here. See further M. L. Rosenzweig, “A Helper Equal to Him,” Jud 139 (1986): 277-80.
- Genesis 2:18 tn The Hebrew expression כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (kenegdo) literally means “according to the opposite of him.” Translations such as “suitable [for]” (NASB, NIV), “matching,” “corresponding to” all capture the idea. (Translations that render the phrase simply “partner” [cf. NEB, NRSV], while not totally inaccurate, do not reflect the nuance of correspondence and/or suitability.) The man’s form and nature are matched by the woman’s as she reflects him and complements him. Together they correspond. In short, this prepositional phrase indicates that she has everything that God had invested in him.
- Genesis 2:19 tn Or “fashioned.” To harmonize the order of events with the chronology of chapter one, some translate the prefixed verb form with vav (ו) consecutive as a past perfect (“had formed,” cf. NIV) here. (In chapter one the creation of the animals preceded the creation of man; here the animals are created after the man.) However, it is unlikely that the Hebrew construction can be translated in this way in the middle of this pericope, for the criteria for unmarked temporal overlay are not present here. See S. R. Driver, A Treatise on the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew, 84-88, and especially R. Buth, “Methodological Collision between Source Criticism and Discourse Analysis,” Biblical Hebrew and Discourse Linguistics, 138-54. For a contrary viewpoint see IBHS 552-53 §33.2.3 and C. J. Collins, “The Wayyiqtol as ‘Pluperfect’: When and Why,” TynBul 46 (1995): 117-40.
- Genesis 2:19 tn The imperfect verb form is future from the perspective of the past time narrative.
- Genesis 2:20 tn Here for the first time the Hebrew word אָדָם (ʾadam) appears without the article, suggesting that it might now be the name “Adam” rather than “[the] man.” Translations of the Bible differ as to where they make the change from “man” to “Adam” (e.g., NASB and NIV translate “Adam” here, while NEB and NRSV continue to use “the man”; the KJV uses “Adam” twice in v. 19).
- Genesis 2:20 tn Heb “there was not found a companion who corresponded to him.” The subject of the third masculine singular verb form is indefinite. Without a formally expressed subject the verb may be translated as passive: “one did not find = there was not found.”
- Genesis 2:21 tn Heb “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man.”
- Genesis 2:21 tn Heb “and he slept.” In the sequence the verb may be subordinated to the following verb to indicate a temporal clause (“while…”).
- Genesis 2:21 tn Traditionally translated “rib,” the Hebrew word actually means “side.” The Hebrew text reads, “and he took one from his sides,” which could be rendered “part of his sides.” That idea may fit better the explanation by the man that the woman is his flesh and bone.
- Genesis 2:21 tn Heb “closed up the flesh under it.”
- Genesis 2:22 tn The Hebrew verb is בָּנָה (banah, “to make, to build, to construct”). The text states that the Lord God built the rib into a woman. Again, the passage gives no indication of precisely how this was done.
- Genesis 2:23 tn The Hebrew term הַפַּעַם (happaʿam) means “the [this] time, this place,” or “now, finally, at last.” The expression conveys the futility of the man while naming the animals and finding no one who corresponded to him.
- Genesis 2:23 tn The Hebrew text is very precise, stating: “of this one it will be said, ‘woman’.” The text is not necessarily saying that the man named his wife—that comes after the fall (Gen 3:20).sn Some argue that naming implies the man’s authority or ownership over the woman here. Naming can indicate ownership or authority if one is calling someone or something by one’s name and/or calling a name over someone or something (see 2 Sam 12:28; 2 Chr 7:14; Isa 4:1; Jer 7:14; 15:16), especially if one is conquering and renaming a site. But the idiomatic construction used here (the Niphal of קָרָא [qaraʾ] with the preposition ל [lamed]) does not suggest such an idea. In each case where it is used, the one naming discerns something about the object being named and gives it an appropriate name (See 1 Sam 9:9; 2 Sam 18:18; Prov 16:21; Isa 1:26; 32:5; 35:8; 62:4, 12; Jer 19:6). Adam is not so much naming the woman as he is discerning her close relationship to him and referring to her accordingly. He may simply be anticipating that she will be given an appropriate name based on the discernible similarity.
- Genesis 2:23 tn Or “from” (but see v. 22).
- Genesis 2:23 sn This poetic section expresses the correspondence between the man and the woman. She is bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh. Note the wordplay (paronomasia) between “woman” (אִשָּׁה, ʾishah) and “man” (אִישׁ, ʾish). On the surface it appears that the word for woman is the feminine form of the word for man. But the two words are not etymologically related. The sound and the sense give that impression, however, and make for a more effective wordplay.
- Genesis 2:24 tn This statement, introduced by the Hebrew phrase עַל־כֵּן (ʿal ken, “therefore” or “that is why”), is an editorial comment, not an extension of the quotation. The statement is describing what typically happens, not what will or should happen. It is saying, “This is why we do things the way we do.” It links a contemporary (with the narrator) practice with the historical event being narrated. The historical event narrated in v. 23 provides the basis for the contemporary practice described in v. 24. That is why the imperfect verb forms are translated with the present tense rather than future.
- Genesis 2:24 tn The prefixed verb form יַעֲזָב (yaʿzov) may be an imperfect, “leaves,” with a gnomic or characteristic nuance, or a jussive, “should leave” (possibly indicated by the short o-vowel). The next two verbs, each a perfect consecutive, continue the force of this verb. For other examples of עַל־כֵּן (ʿal ken, “therefore, that is why”) with the imperfect in a narrative framework, see Gen 10:9; 32:32 (the phrase “to this day” indicates characteristic behavior is in view); Num 21:14, 27; 1 Sam 5:5 (note “to this day”); 19:24 (perhaps the imperfect is customary here, “were saying”); 2 Sam 5:8. The verb translated “leave” (עָזָב, ʿazav) normally means “to abandon, to forsake, to leave behind,” when used with human subject and object (see Josh 22:3; 1 Sam 30:13; Ps 27:10; Prov 2:17; Isa 54:6; 60:15; 62:4; Jer 49:11). Within the context of the ancient Israelite extended family structure, this cannot refer to emotional or geographical separation. The narrator is using hyperbole to emphasize the change in perspective that typically overtakes a young man when his thoughts turn to love and marriage.
- Genesis 2:24 tn The verb is traditionally translated “cleaves [to]”; it has the basic idea of “stick with/to” (e.g., it is used of Ruth resolutely staying with her mother-in-law in Ruth 1:14). In this passage it describes the inseparable relationship between the man and the woman in marriage as God intended it.
- Genesis 2:24 tn Heb “and they become one flesh.” The retention of the word “flesh” (בָּשָׂר, basar) in the translation often leads to an incomplete interpretation. The Hebrew word refers to more than just a sexual union. The man and woman bring into being a new family unit (הָיָה plus preposition ל [hayah plus lamed] means “become”). The phrase “one flesh” occurs only here and must be interpreted in light of v. 23. There the man declares that the woman is bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. To be one’s “bone and flesh” is to be related by blood to someone. For example, the phrase describes the relationship between Laban and Jacob (Gen 29:14); Abimelech and the Shechemites (Judg 9:2; his mother was a Shechemite); David and the Israelites (2 Sam 5:1); David and the elders of Judah (2 Sam 19:12); and David and his nephew Amasa (2 Sam 19:13; see 2 Sam 17:25; 1 Chr 2:16-17). The expression “one flesh” seems to indicate that they become, as it were, “kin,” at least legally (a new family unit is created) or metaphorically. In this first marriage in human history, the woman was literally formed from the man’s bone and flesh. The first marriage sets the pattern for how later marriages are understood and explains why marriage supersedes the parent-child relationship. See NT use of this passage in Matt 19:5-6; Mark 10:8; 1 Cor 6:16; and Eph 5:31.
- Genesis 2:25 tn Heb “And the two of them were naked, the man and his wife.” sn Naked. The motif of nakedness is introduced here and plays an important role in the next chapter. In the Bible nakedness conveys different things. In this context it signifies either innocence or integrity, depending on how those terms are defined. There is no fear of exploitation, no sense of vulnerability. But after the entrance of sin into the race, nakedness takes on a negative sense. It is then usually connected with the sense of vulnerability, shame, exploitation, and exposure (such as the idea of “uncovering nakedness” either in sexual exploitation or in captivity in war).
- Genesis 2:25 tn The imperfect verb form here has a customary nuance, indicating a continuing condition in past time. The meaning of the Hebrew term בּוֹשׁ (bosh) is “to be ashamed, to put to shame,” but its meaning is stronger than “to be embarrassed.” The word conveys the fear of exploitation or evil—enemies are put to shame through military victory. It indicates the feeling of shame that approximates a fear of evil.
- Genesis 3:1 tn The chapter begins with a disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + predicate) that introduces a new character and a new scene in the story.
- Genesis 3:1 sn Many theologians identify or associate the serpent with Satan. In this view Satan comes in the disguise of a serpent or speaks through a serpent. This explains the serpent’s capacity to speak. While later passages in the Bible indicate there was a satanic presence behind the serpent (see Rev 12:9 and 20:2), the immediate context first pictures the serpent as one of the animals of the field created by God (see vv. 1, 14). An ancient Jewish interpretation explains the reference to the serpent in a literal manner, attributing the capacity to speak to all the animals in the orchard. This text (Jub. 3:28) states, “On that day [the day the man and woman were expelled from the orchard] the mouth of all the beasts and cattle and birds and whatever walked or moved was stopped from speaking because all of them used to speak to one another with one speech and one language [presumed to be Hebrew, see 12:26].” Josephus, Ant. 1.1.4 (1.41) attributes the serpent’s actions to jealousy. He writes that “the serpent, living in the company of Adam and his wife, grew jealous of the blessings which he supposed were destined for them if they obeyed God’s behests, and, believing that disobedience would bring trouble on them, he maliciously persuaded the woman to taste of the tree of wisdom.” However, Scripture does not mention all the animals speaking, and there is no evidence of animals with capacity for intelligent speech. So more probably Satan, like God with Balaam's ass (Num 22:28), enabled the serpent. He spoke through it. Arnold Fruchtenbaum (The Book of Genesis [Ariel’s Bible Commentary], 91), citing Baba Batra and Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 18:6, gives quotes to show this was the view of rabbinic writings.
- Genesis 3:1 tn The Hebrew word עָרוּם (ʿarum) basically means “clever.” This idea then polarizes into the nuances “cunning” (in a negative sense, see Job 5:12; 15:5 [cf. 2 Cor 11:3]), and “prudent” in a positive sense (Prov 12:16, 23; 13:16; 14:8, 15, 18; 22:3; 27:12). This same polarization of meaning can be detected in related words derived from the same root (see Exod 21:14; Josh 9:4; 1 Sam 23:22; Job 5:13; Ps 83:3). The negative nuance obviously applies in Gen 3, where the snake attempts to talk the woman into disobeying God by using half-truths and lies. But since God's original creation was good (Gen 1:31), the serpent’s natural sagacity has been perverted and exploited. His second comment shows that he used feigned ignorance for the first. He was aware of the emphasis on “surely” dying (see Gen 2:17) and aware of knowing good and evil by the tree, ideas Eve had not mentioned. He showed knowledge beyond the capacity of animals. He lied and so was disloyal to God. These facts indicate control of the serpent by a supernatural being.sn There is a wordplay in Hebrew between the words “naked” (עֲרוּמִּים, ʿarummim) in 2:25 and “shrewd” (עָרוּם, ʿarum) in 3:1. The point seems to be that the integrity of the man and the woman is the focus of the serpent’s craftiness. At the beginning they are naked and he is shrewd; afterward, they will be covered and he will be cursed.
- Genesis 3:1 tn Heb “animals of the field.”
- Genesis 3:1 tn Heb “Indeed that God said.” The beginning of the quotation is elliptical and therefore difficult to translate. One must supply a phrase like “is it true”: “Indeed, [is it true] that God said.”
- Genesis 3:1 sn God. The serpent does not use the expression “Yahweh God” [Lord God] because there is no covenant relationship involved between God and the serpent. He only speaks of “God.” In the process the serpent draws the woman into his manner of speech so that she too only speaks of “God.”
- Genesis 3:1 tn Heb “you must not eat from all the tree[s] of the orchard.” After the negated prohibitive verb, מִכֹּל (mikkol, “from all”) has the meaning “from any.” Note the construction in Lev 18:26, where the statement “you must not do from all these abominable things” means “you must not do any of these abominable things.” See Lev 22:25 and Deut 28:14 as well.
- Genesis 3:2 tn There is a notable change between what the Lord God had said and what the woman says. God said “you may freely eat” (the imperfect with the infinitive absolute, see 2:16), but the woman omits the emphatic infinitive, saying simply “we may eat.” Her words do not reflect the sense of eating to her heart’s content.
- Genesis 3:3 sn And you must not touch it. The woman adds to God’s prohibition, making it say more than God expressed. G. von Rad observes that it is as though she wanted to set a law for herself by means of this exaggeration (Genesis [OTL], 86).
- Genesis 3:3 tn The Hebrew construction is פֶּן (pen) with the imperfect tense, which conveys a negative purpose: “lest you die” = “in order that you not die.” By stating the warning in this way, the woman omits the emphatic infinitive used by God (“you shall surely die,” see 2:17).
- Genesis 3:4 tn The response of the serpent includes the infinitive absolute with a blatant negation equal to saying: “Not—you will surely die” (לֹא מוֹת תְּמֻתוּן, lo’ mot temutun). The construction makes this emphatic because normally the negative particle precedes the finite verb. The serpent is a liar, denying that there is a penalty for sin (see John 8:44).sn Surely you will not die. Here the serpent is more aware of what the Lord God said than the woman was; he simply adds a blatant negation to what God said. In the account of Jesus’ temptation Jesus is victorious because he knows the scripture better than Satan (Matt 4:1-11).
- Genesis 3:5 tn Or “you will have understanding.” This obviously refers to the acquisition of the “knowledge of good and evil,” as the next statement makes clear.
- Genesis 3:5 tn Or “like divine beings who know.” It is unclear how the plural participle translated “knowing” is functioning. On the one hand, יֹדְעֵי (yodeʿe) could be taken as a substantival participle functioning as a predicative adjective in the sentence. In this case one might translate: “You will be, like God himself, knowers of good and evil.” On the other hand, it could be taken as an attributive adjective modifying אֱלֹהִים (ʾelohim). In this case אֱלֹהִים has to be taken as a numerical plural referring to “gods,” meaning “divine or heavenly beings,” because if the one true God were the intended referent, a singular form of the participle would appear as a modifier. Following this line of interpretation, one could translate, “You will be like divine beings who know good and evil.” The following context may support this translation, for in 3:22 God says to an unidentified group, “Look, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” It is possible that God is addressing his heavenly court (see the note on the word “make” in 1:26), the members of which can be called “gods” or “divine/heavenly beings” from the ancient Israelite perspective (cf. KJV, NAB, JPS). (We know some of these beings as messengers or “angels.”) An examination of parallel constructions shows that a predicative understanding (“you will be, like God himself, knowers of good and evil,”) is possible (see Gen 27:23, where “hairy” is predicative, complementing the verb “to be”). Other evidence suggests that the participle is attributive, modifying “divine/heavenly beings” (see Ps 31:12; Isa 1:30; 13:14; 16:2; 29:5; 58:11; Jer 14:9; 20:9; 23:9; 31:12; 48:41; 49:22; Hos 7:11; Amos 4:11). In all of these texts, where a comparative clause and accompanying adjective/participle follow a copulative (“to be”) verb, the adjective/participle is attributive after the noun in the comparative clause. The translation of “God,” though, is supported by how אֱלֹהִים (ʾelohim) is used in the surrounding context where it always refers to the true God and many translations take it this way (cf. NIV, TNIV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, HCSB, NLT, NASB, REB, and NKJV). In this interpretation the plural participle refers to Adam and Eve.
- Genesis 3:5 sn You will be like God, knowing good and evil. The serpent raises doubts about the integrity of God. He implies that the only reason for the prohibition was that God was protecting the divine domain. If the man and woman were to eat, they would enter into that domain. The temptation is to overstep divinely established boundaries. (See D. E. Gowan, When Man Becomes God [PTMS], 25.)
- Genesis 3:6 tn Heb “And the woman saw.” The clause can be rendered as a temporal clause subordinate to the following verb in the sequence.
- Genesis 3:6 tn Heb “that the tree was good for food.” The words “produced fruit that was” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.
- Genesis 3:6 tn The Hebrew word תַּאֲוָה (taʾavah, translated “attractive” here) actually means “desirable.” This term and the later term נֶחְמָד (nekhmad, “desirable”) are synonyms.sn Attractive (Heb “desirable”)…desirable. These are different words in Hebrew. The verbal roots for both of these forms appear in Deut 5:21 in the prohibition against coveting. Strong desires usually lead to taking.
- Genesis 3:6 tn Heb “that good was the tree for food, and that desirable it was to the eyes, and desirable was the tree to make one wise.” On the connection between moral wisdom and the “knowledge of good and evil,” see the note on the word “evil” in 2:9.sn Desirable for making one wise. The quest for wisdom can follow the wrong course, as indeed it does here. No one can become like God by disobeying God. It is that simple. The Book of Proverbs stresses that obtaining wisdom begins with the fear of God that is evidenced through obedience to his word. Here, in seeking wisdom, Eve disobeys God and ends up afraid of God.
- Genesis 3:6 tn The pronoun “it” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied (here and also after “ate” at the end of this verse) for stylistic reasons.sn She took…and ate it. The critical word now discloses the disobedience: “[she] ate.” Since the Lord God had said, “You shall not eat,” the main point of the divine inquisition will be, “Did you eat,” meaning, “did you disobey the command?” The woman ate, being deceived by the serpent (1 Tim 2:14), but then the man ate, apparently willingly when the woman gave him the fruit (see Rom 5:12, 17-19).
- Genesis 3:6 sn This pericope (3:1-7) is a fine example of Hebrew narrative structure. After an introductory disjunctive clause that introduces a new character and sets the stage (3:1), the narrative tension develops through dialogue, culminating in the action of the story. Once the dialogue is over, the action is told in a rapid sequence of verbs—she took, she ate, she gave, and he ate.
- Genesis 3:8 tn The Hitpael participle of הָלָךְ (halakh, “to walk, to go”) here has an iterative sense, “moving” or “going about.” While a translation of “walking about” is possible, it assumes a theophany, the presence of the Lord God in a human form. This is more than the text asserts.
- Genesis 3:8 tn The expression is traditionally rendered “cool of the day,” because the Hebrew word רוּחַ (ruakh) can mean “wind.” U. Cassuto (Genesis: From Adam to Noah, 152-54) concludes after lengthy discussion that the expression refers to afternoon when it became hot and the sun was beginning to decline. J. J. Niehaus (God at Sinai [SOTBT], 155-57) offers a different interpretation of the phrase, relating יוֹם (yom, usually understood as “day”) to an Akkadian cognate umu (“storm”) and translates the phrase “in the wind of the storm.” If Niehaus is correct, then God is not pictured as taking an afternoon stroll through the orchard, but as coming in a powerful windstorm to confront the man and woman with their rebellion. In this case קוֹל יְהוָה (qol yehvah, “sound of the Lord”) may refer to God’s thunderous roar, which typically accompanies his appearance in the storm to do battle or render judgment (e.g., see Ps 29).
- Genesis 3:8 tn The verb used here is the Hitpael, giving the reflexive idea (“they hid themselves”). In v. 10, when Adam answers the Lord, the Niphal form is used with the same sense: “I hid.”
- Genesis 3:9 tn The Hebrew verb קָרָא (qaraʾ, “to call”) followed by the preposition אֶל (ʾel) or ל (lamed) “to, unto”) often carries the connotation of “summon.”
- Genesis 3:9 sn Where are you? The question is probably rhetorical (a figure of speech called erotesis) rather than literal, because it was spoken to the man, who answers it with an explanation of why he was hiding rather than a location. The question has more the force of “Why are you hiding?”
- Genesis 3:10 tn Heb “and he said.”
- Genesis 3:10 tn Heb “your sound.” If one sees a storm theophany here (see the note on the word “time” in v. 8), then one could translate, “your powerful voice.”
- Genesis 3:11 tn Heb “and he said.” The referent (the Lord God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 3:11 sn Who told you that you were naked? This is another rhetorical question, asking more than what it appears to ask. The second question in the verse reveals the Lord God’s real concern.
- Genesis 3:11 sn The Hebrew word order (“Did you from the tree—which I commanded you not to eat from it—eat?”) is arranged to emphasize that the man’s and the woman’s eating of the fruit was an act of disobedience. The relative clause inserted immediately after the reference to the tree brings out this point very well.
- Genesis 3:12 tn The Hebrew construction in this sentence uses an independent nominative absolute (formerly known as a casus pendens). “The woman” is the independent nominative absolute; it is picked up by the formal subject, the pronoun “she” written with the verb (“she gave”). The point of the construction is to throw the emphasis on “the woman.” But what makes this so striking is that a relative clause has been inserted to explain what is meant by the reference to the woman: “whom you gave me.” Ultimately, the man is blaming God for giving him the woman who (from the man’s viewpoint) caused him to sin.
- Genesis 3:12 tn The words “some fruit” here and the pronoun “it” at the end of the sentence are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied for stylistic reasons.
- Genesis 3:13 tn The use of the demonstrative pronoun is enclitic, serving as an undeclined particle for emphasis. It gives the sense of “What in the world have you done?” (see R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).
- Genesis 3:13 sn The Hebrew word order puts the subject (“the serpent”) before the verb here, giving prominence to it.
- Genesis 3:13 tn This verb (the Hiphil of נָשָׁא, nashaʾ) is used elsewhere of a king or god misleading his people into false confidence (2 Kgs 18:29 = 2 Chr 32:15 = Isa 36:14; 2 Kgs 19:10 = Isa 37:10), of an ally deceiving a partner (Obad 7), of God deceiving his sinful people as a form of judgment (Jer 4:10), of false prophets instilling their audience with false hope (Jer 29:8), and of pride and false confidence producing self-deception (Jer 37:9; 49:16; Obad 3).
- Genesis 3:14 sn Note that God asks no question of the serpent, does not call for confession, as he did to the man and the woman; there is only the announcement of the curse. The order in this section is chiastic: The man is questioned, the woman is questioned, the serpent is cursed, sentence is passed on the woman, sentence is passed on the man.
- Genesis 3:14 tn The Hebrew word translated “cursed,” a passive participle from אָרָר (ʾarar), either means “punished” or “banished,” depending on how one interprets the following preposition. If the preposition is taken as comparative, then the idea is “cursed [i.e., punished] are you above [i.e., more than] all the wild beasts.” In this case the comparative preposition reflects the earlier comparison: The serpent was more shrewd than all others, and so more cursed than all others. If the preposition is taken as separative (see the note on the word “banished” in 4:11), then the idea is “cursed and banished from all the wild beasts.” In this case the serpent is condemned to isolation from all the other animals.
- Genesis 3:14 tn Heb “go”; “walk,” but in English “crawl” or “slither” better describes a serpent’s movement.
- Genesis 3:14 sn Dust you will eat. Being restricted to crawling on the ground would necessarily involve “eating dust,” although that is not the diet of the serpent. The idea of being brought low, of “eating dust” as it were, is a symbol of humiliation.
- Genesis 3:15 tn The Hebrew word translated “hostility” is derived from the root אֵיב (ʾev, “to be hostile, to be an adversary [or enemy]”). The curse announces that there will be continuing hostility between the serpent and the woman. The serpent will now live in a “battle zone,” as it were.
- Genesis 3:15 sn The Hebrew word זֶרַע (zera‘, “seed, offspring”) can designate an individual (Gen 4:25) or a collective (Gen 13:16) and may imply both in this line. The text anticipates the ongoing struggle between humans (the woman’s offspring) and snakes (the serpent’s offspring). An ancient Jewish interpretation of the passage states: “He made the serpent, cause of the deceit, press the earth with belly and flank, having bitterly driven him out. He aroused a dire enmity between them. The one guards his head to save it, the other his heel, for death is at hand in the proximity of men and malignant poisonous snakes.” See Sib. Or. 1:59-64. For a similar interpretation see Josephus, Ant. 1.1.4 (1.50-51). The text may also allude to a larger conflict, as Tremper Longman (Genesis [The Story of God Commentary], 67) suggests that the author and the ancient audience of Genesis would have seen the serpent as representing spiritual forces of evil. This verse can be seen as a piece of the same fabric discussing the conflict between good and evil, where the serpent also represents Satan (cf. Rev 12:9) and the woman’s seed also represents God’s people and the Messiah. The promise of seed in the Books of Moses and the rest of the Old Testament is a developing motif of anticipatory hope. After referring to humanity here, in subsequent contexts it refers to Israel (Abraham’s seed), the Davidic line, and to the Messiah. Interpreters who understand this verse as an allusion to the spiritual conflict vary in how incipient or developed they view the theme to be here.
- Genesis 3:15 tn The singular pronoun refers to the offspring. As a collective noun, זֶרַע (zeraʿ, “seed, offspring”) may be replaced by a plural pronoun (Isa 65:23; Ezra 2:59; Neh 7:61). When the referent is singular it must have corresponding singular forms. But it may also take a singular verb (Gen 16:10; 22:17; 24:60) or be replaced by a singular pronoun even when referring to a collective group (Deut 31:21). So by form alone, the referent may be to a group or an individual. The LXX translates “seed” with a neuter noun (σπέρμα, sperma) but then uses the masculine singular pronoun, indicating the translator may have taken the pronoun to refer to a person. Gordon Wenham (Genesis 1-15 [WBC] 80-81) notes that the Palestinian targums (Pseudo-Jonathan, Neofiti, Fragment-Targums), and possibly the Targum Onqelos in the East, had a messianic interpretation.
- Genesis 3:15 tn Or “but you will…”; or “as he attacks your head, you will attack his heel.” The disjunctive clause (conjunction + subject + verb) is understood as contrastive. Both clauses place the subject before the verb, a construction that is sometimes used to indicate synchronic action (see Judg 15:14).
- Genesis 3:15 sn The address in the second person singular can extend to the descendants of the one being addressed. For example in Gen 28:14, the Lord says to Jacob, “Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you [second masculine singular] will spread out to the west, east, north, and south.” Jacob will not personally “spread out” in all directions, but rather his offspring will. Applied here the reference is to the ongoing conflict between humans and snakes. Not viewing this device at work here would distinguish the continuing battle of this snake against humanity, suggesting to some interpreters that the serpent stands for Satan.
- Genesis 3:15 tn The nuance of this rare verb is difficult to know with certainty. The woman’s offspring and the serpent’s offspring are both said to שׁוּף (shuf) at each other. Some have supposed two homonymous roots meaning “to bite” and “to crush,” but this appears to force the context (the results of striking) into the verb. Cognates in West and South Semitic include meanings of spreading, rubbing out, smearing, stroking, and polishing (HALOT, 1446). Perhaps a back and forth motion is central to the meaning and this can easily be pictured in a confrontation between a person and a snake, whether striking at each other or swaying before the attack. LXX uses τηρέω (tēreō) “to watch, keep, guard,” apparently envisioning the two watching each other in anticipation of attack. Others emphasize the act of striking, “bring blows against” (Josephus Ant. 1.1.11) or the result of the striking motion, “bruise, bite.” In the other two uses of the verb the subjects are darkness (Ps 139:11) and a storm (Job 9:17). Gordon Wenham (Genesis 1-15 [WBC], 80-81) suggests “batter,” as a storm would strike in Job. For Ps 139:11 a conjectural reading from סָכַך (sakhakh; “to cover”) has become widely accepted in place of שׁוּף. Others propose that שׁוּף (shuf) and שָׁאַף (shaʾaf) are related, the latter including meanings “to pester, to attack” (HALOT, 1375). sn Rom 16:20 may echo Gen 3:15 but it does not use any of the specific language of Gen 3:15 in the LXX. Paul’s Greek word for “crush” in Rom 16:20 may reflect use of the Hebrew of Gen 3:15 rather than the LXX. Paul chose imagery of God soon crushing Satan’s head under the feet of the church. If Paul was interpreting Gen 3:15, he was not seeing it as culminating in and limited to Jesus defeating Satan via the crucifixion and resurrection, but as extending beyond that.
- Genesis 3:15 sn Ancient Israelites, who often encountered snakes in their daily activities (see, for example, Eccl 10:8 and Amos 5:19), would find the statement quite meaningful as an explanation for the hostility between snakes and humans. (In the broader ancient Near Eastern context, compare the Mesopotamian serpent omens. See H. W. F. Saggs, The Greatness That Was Babylon, 309.) This ongoing struggle, when interpreted in light of v. 15, is a tangible reminder of the conflict introduced into the world by the first humans’ rebellion against God. Many Christian theologians, going back to Justin Martyr (a.d. 160) and Irenaeus (a.d. 180), additionally understand v. 15 as the so-called protevangelium, prophesying Christ’s victory over Satan (see W. Witfall, “Genesis 3:15 – a Protevangelium?” CBQ 36 : 361-65; and R. A. Martin, “The Earliest Messianic Interpretation of Genesis 3:15, ” JBL 84 : 425-27). According to this view, the passage would give the first hint of the gospel. Satan delivers a crippling blow to the Seed of the woman (Jesus), who in turn delivers a fatal blow to the Serpent (first defeating him through the death and resurrection [1 Cor 15:55-57] and then destroying him in the judgment [Rev 12:7-9; 20:7-10]). In this view, v. 15b must be translated in one of the following ways: “he will crush your head, even though you attack his heel” (in which case the second clause is concessive) or “he will crush your head as you attack his heel” (the clauses, both of which place the subject before the verb, may indicate synchronic action).
- Genesis 3:16 tn The imperfect verb form is emphasized and intensified by the infinitive absolute from the same verb.
- Genesis 3:16 tn Heb “your pain and your conception,” suggesting to some interpreters that having a lot of children was a result of the judgment (probably to make up for the loss through death). But the next clause shows that the pain is associated with conception and childbirth. The two words form a hendiadys (where two words are joined to express one idea, like “good and angry” in English), the second explaining the first. “Conception,” if the correct meaning of the noun, must be figurative here since there is no pain in conception; it is a synecdoche, representing the entire process of childbirth and child rearing from the very start. However, recent etymological research suggests the noun is derived from a root הרר (hrr), not הרה (hrh), and means “trembling, pain” (see D. Tsumura, “A Note on הרוֹן (Gen 3, 16),” Bib 75 : 398-400). In this case “pain and trembling” refers to the physical effects of childbirth. The word עִצְּבוֹן (ʿitsevon, “pain”), an abstract noun related to the verb (עָצַב, ʿatsav), includes more than physical pain. It is emotional distress as well as physical pain. The same word is used in v. 17 for the man’s painful toil in the field.
- Genesis 3:16 tn Heb “and toward your husband [will be] your desire.” The nominal sentence does not have a verb; a future verb must be supplied, because the focus of the oracle is on the future struggle. The precise meaning of the noun תְּשׁוּקָה (teshuqah, “desire”) is debated. Many interpreters conclude that it refers to sexual desire here, because the subject of the passage is the relationship between a wife and her husband, and because the word is used in a romantic sense in Song 7:11 HT (7:10 ET). However, this interpretation makes little sense in Gen 3:16. First, it does not fit well with the assertion “he will dominate you.” Second, it implies that sexual desire was not part of the original creation, even though the man and the woman were told to multiply. And third, it ignores the usage of the word in Gen 4:7 where it refers to sin’s desire to control and dominate Cain. (Even in Song of Songs it carries the basic idea of “control,” for it describes the young man’s desire to “have his way sexually” with the young woman.) In Gen 3:16 the Lord announces a struggle, a conflict between the man and the woman. She will desire to control him, but he will dominate her instead. This interpretation also fits the tone of the passage, which is a judgment oracle. See further Susan T. Foh, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” WTJ 37 (1975): 376-83.
- Genesis 3:16 tn The Hebrew verb מָשַׁל (mashal) means “to rule over,” but in a way that emphasizes powerful control, domination, or mastery. This also is part of the baser human nature. The translation assumes the imperfect verb form has an objective/indicative sense here. Another option is to understand it as having a modal, desiderative nuance, “but he will want to dominate you.” In this case, the Lord simply announces the struggle without indicating who will emerge victorious.sn This passage is a judgment oracle. It announces that conflict between man and woman will become the norm in human society. It does not depict the NT ideal, where the husband sacrificially loves his wife, as Christ loved the church, and where the wife recognizes the husband’s loving leadership in the family and voluntarily submits to it. Sin produces a conflict or power struggle between the man and the woman, but in Christ man and woman call a truce and live harmoniously (Eph 5:18-32).
- Genesis 3:17 tn Since there is no article on the word, the personal name is used, rather than the generic “the man” (cf. NRSV).
- Genesis 3:17 tn The idiom “listen to the voice of” often means “obey.” The man “obeyed” his wife and in the process disobeyed God.
- Genesis 3:17 sn For the ground to be cursed means that it will no longer yield its bounty as the blessing from God had promised. The whole creation, Paul writes in Rom 8:22, is still groaning under this curse, waiting for the day of redemption.
- Genesis 3:17 sn In painful toil you will eat. The theme of eating is prominent throughout Gen 3. The prohibition was against eating from the tree of knowledge. The sin was in eating. The interrogation concerned the eating from the tree of knowledge. The serpent is condemned to eat the dust of the ground. The curse focuses on eating in a “measure for measure” justice. Because the man and the woman sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, God will forbid the ground to cooperate, and so it will be through painful toil that they will eat.
- Genesis 3:18 tn The Hebrew term עֵשֶׂב (ʿesev), when referring to human food, excludes grass (eaten by cattle) and woody plants like vines.
- Genesis 3:19 tn The expression “the sweat of your brow” is a metonymy, the sweat being the result of painful toil in the fields.
- Genesis 3:19 sn Until you return to the ground. The theme of humankind’s mortality is critical here in view of the temptation to be like God. Man will labor painfully to provide food, obviously not enjoying the bounty that creation promised. In place of the abundance of the orchard’s fruit trees, thorns and thistles will grow. Man will have to work the soil so that it will produce the grain to make bread. This will continue until he returns to the soil from which he was taken (recalling the creation in 2:7 with the wordplay on Adam and ground). In spite of the dreams of immortality and divinity, man is but dust (2:7), and will return to dust. So much for his pride.
- Genesis 3:19 sn In general, the themes of the curse oracles are important in the NT teaching that Jesus became the cursed one hanging on the tree. In his suffering and death, all the motifs are drawn together: the tree, the sweat, the thorns, and the dust of death (see Ps 22:15). Jesus experienced it all, to have victory over it through the resurrection.
- Genesis 3:20 tn Or “Adam”; however, the Hebrew term has the definite article here.
- Genesis 3:20 sn The name Eve means “Living one” or “Life-giver” in Hebrew.
- Genesis 3:20 tn The explanatory clause gives the reason for the name. Where the one doing the naming gives the explanation, the text normally uses “saying”; where the narrator explains it, the explanatory clause is typically used.
- Genesis 3:20 tn The explanation of the name forms a sound play (paronomasia) with the name. “Eve” is חַוָּה (khavvah) and “living” is חַי (khay). The name preserves the archaic form of the verb חָיָה (khayah, “to live”) with the middle vav (ו) instead of yod (י). The form חַי (khay) is derived from the normal form חַיָּה (khayyah). Compare the name Yahweh (יְהוָה) explained from הָיָה (hayah, “to be”) rather than from הָוָה (havah). The biblical account stands in contrast to the pagan material that presents a serpent goddess hawwat who is the mother of life. See J. Heller, “Der Name Eva,” ArOr 26 (1958): 636-56; and A. F. Key, “The Giving of Proper Names in the OT,” JBL 83 (1964): 55-59.
- Genesis 3:21 sn The Lord God made garments from skin. The text gives no indication of how this was done, or how they came by the skins. Earlier in the narrative (v. 7) the attempt of the man and the woman to cover their nakedness with leaves expressed their sense of alienation from each other and from God. By giving them more substantial coverings, God indicates this alienation is greater than they realize. This divine action is also ominous; God is preparing them for the more hostile environment in which they will soon be living (v. 23). At the same time, there is a positive side to the story in that God makes provision for the man’s and woman’s condition.
- Genesis 3:22 tn The particle הֵן (hen) introduces a foundational clause, usually beginning with “since, because, now.”
- Genesis 3:22 sn The man has become like one of us. See the notes on Gen 1:26 and 3:5.
- Genesis 3:22 tn The infinitive explains in what way the man had become like God: “knowing good and evil.”
- Genesis 3:22 tn Heb “and now, lest he stretch forth.” Following the foundational clause, this clause forms the main point. It is introduced with the particle פֶּן (pen) which normally introduces a negative purpose, “lest….” The construction is elliptical; something must be done lest the man stretch forth his hand. The translation interprets the point intended.
- Genesis 3:23 tn The verb is the Piel preterite of שָׁלַח (shalakh), forming a wordplay with the use of the same verb (in the Qal stem) in v. 22: To prevent the man’s “sending out” his hand, the Lord “sends him out.”
- Genesis 3:24 tn The verb with the vav (ו) consecutive is made subordinate to the next verb forming a temporal clause. This avoids any tautology with the previous verse that already stated that the Lord expelled the man.
- Genesis 3:24 tn Or “placed in front.” Directions in ancient Israel were given in relation to the east rather than the north.
- Genesis 3:24 tn The Hebrew word is traditionally transliterated “the cherubim.”sn Angelic sentries (Heb “cherubim”). The cherubim in the Bible seem to be a class of angels that are composite in appearance. Their main task seems to be guarding. Here they guard the way to the tree of life. The curtain in the tabernacle was to be embroidered with cherubim as well, symbolically guarding the way to God. (See in addition A. S. Kapelrud, “The Gates of Hell and the Guardian Angels of Paradise,” JAOS 70 : 151-56; and D. N. Freedman and M. P. O’Connor, TDOT 7:307-19.)
- Genesis 3:24 tn Heb “the flame of the sword that turns round and round.” The noun “flame” is qualified by the genitive of specification, “the sword,” which in turn is modified by the attributive participle “whirling.” The Hitpael of the verb “turn” has an iterative function here, indicating repeated action. The form is used in Job 37:12 of swirling clouds and in Judg 7:13 of a tumbling roll of bread. Verse 24 depicts the sword as moving from side to side to prevent anyone from passing or as whirling around, ready to cut to shreds anyone who tries to pass.