Genesis Chapter 3

Chapter: 3  has 24 verses

Author: J (According to Documentary Hypothesis)

Attributed Author: Traditionally Moses

Historical ContextJ is attributed to an author that favors the kingdom of Judah. At the time of the writing, there are two regions known as the kingdom of Israel (E) and the kingdom of Judah (J). Probably written around 950 BCE. P is the Priestly source written after the Babylonian exile.

Theme: Garden of Eden/Fall of Mankind

Content:

  • The serpent was described as the most “crafty” of animals.
  • The serpent questions the woman as to God’s declaration about not eating the fruit from the center of the garden of which the woman confirms God’s order not to eat the fruit.
  • The serpent tells the woman that in eating the fruit she will not die and receive knowledge of good and evil and be “like” God
  • The woman, now persuaded, eats the fruit and gives some to her husband.
  • Their eyes are opened and become aware of their nakedness. They then make fig leaf loincloths.
  • In the evening, both Adam and Eve, hear God walking through the garden and hide themselves.
  • God calls out to them.
  • They state they wanted to hide out of fear because of their nakedness. God inquires how they know they were naked.
  • Adam blames eve for giving him the fruit. The woman exclaims she was tricked by the serpent.
  • God curses the serpent to slither and “eat dust all the days of their lives” and women and her offspring will hate snakes.
  • He curses the woman by increasing pain during childbirth and to desire the husband to rule over her.
  • Because Adam listened to his wife, God curses the ground because of him and toiling for food and bread will be difficult (the verbiage is very peculiar: “in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.) God also curses Adam with death; to return to dust.
  • Adam officially calls his wife Eve, the mother of all, and God makes garments for them out of skins
  • God reflects that man has become like “one of us”, knowing good and evil and he must deny them immortality by preventing them from eating from the tree of life. (It seems to be addressed to a council of gods)
  • Man is punished to till the soil.
  • Man is driven out and God places a cherubim, armed with a flaming sword, to guard the garden in the east from preventing man from eating from the tree of life.

Scholarly Annotations:

  • God is referred to LORD God in most translations. LORD in this case is the word YHWH so it reads as “YHWH God”
  • The story has much in common with the Enûma Eliš which is the Babylonian Creation story.
  • The word for Man is Adam; Eden means Delight
  • Mesopotamia has been described as the land between the Tigris and Euphrates
  • Nakedness has been thought to imply that man at this time is uncivilized
  • Common motif among ancient near east religion is man’s brief opportunity for immortality
  • Gate of the garden is in the east as is the “processional” gate to the temple
  • The word “sin” does not appear in this story even though many assume the episode to be the origin of “original sin

TSA Annotations:

  • References to tilling the soil are reminiscent of specific Babylonian stories which allude to the gods creating man to till the earth and to serve the gods
  • The forbidden fruit has been suggested to be an apple, fig or a pomegranate, but in either case the actual species of fruit is never explicitly stated.
  • Snakes and serpents were worshiped by many groups in Mesopotamia as symbols of fertility
  • In Sumerian/Babylonian mythology Tiamat is usually represented as a serpent or dragon and is the antagonist of the gods of many Mesopotamian belief systems
  • Ningishzida is a god of the underworld who was depicted with the head of a serpent and the body of a human. This God’s name translate’s to “lord of the good tree.”
  • Trees and plants feature prominently as ways of imparting supernatural abilities in Sumerian Mythology. Some trees may be the proto tree of knowledge of good and evil or of the tree of life.
  • It is important to note that God in this story lied to his creation and the serpent did not.
  • It is weak to claim freewill as a defense since knowledge is required to wield it. While Adam and Eve may have had freewill it is no different than placing a sharp knife in the middle of a daycare with the instruction “don’t touch” on it. Even if the children understood the meaning of the words and the words placed there were for the benefit of the children, it is irresponsible to do so.
  • If God is supposedly all knowing, how is it that he didn’t see this coming? If he did see this coming, why not prevent it if the consequence was considered undesirable?

Misc and or Trivia: It’s important to note that as far as kingdoms go,  at the height of each, the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah combined are about the size of NJ.

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