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pent said to the woman, Surely you will not die: 5. For God knoweth that when you eat thereof, then your eyes will be opened, and you will be as God, knowing good and evil. 6. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to behold, she took of its fruit, and ate, and gave also to her husband with her; and he
human families; but it cannot dare to oppose God any more than the lowest and feeblest of His creatures (see note on vers. 14, 15).
The serpent is not only malicious, but, like every tempter, astute, cunning, and bland. It addresses the woman, because she is more easily persuaded; it does not abruptly introduce the object of seduction, but approaches it by an archly devised circuit; it puts, in fact, the question so shrewdly, that the woman is the first who mentions the tree of knowledge; and it is thus enabled to proceed securely with the work of mischief.
2–6. For, the seduction does not come from without; it has its first source in the human heart. A will entirely and strongly imbued with virtue, is inaccessible to the darts of temptation. The tenth commandment forbids covetousness; thus, the Decalogue concludes with seizing and destroying the sin as it arises in the desireful bosom. The evil thought is the parent of the evil deed. But the pure hcart is free from sinful thoughts. This purity began to vanish from the breast of the first pair. A lurking desire to disobey the Divine command was awakened; and a conversation with the serpent commenced. An internal voice, at first gentle and timid, argued about the justice of the prohibition;— this is the question of the serpent, throwing a significant light upon the previous coloured and partial statement of Eve. Now, the first step was done; and the following stages of the sin are more rapid, and more daring. The answer of the woman bears a certain vehement character; it is exaggerated; it contains the untruth, that God had forbidden even to touch the fruit of the tree of
life;—this is the fanaticism of passion and its self-deception; it revolts against the laws and restrictions; it considers them as capricious, conventional fetters, which it is meritorious and noble to break. It is left uncertain whether this untruth was the fault of the woman, or of Adam, who may have reported the command so incorrectly But it certainly furnishes the serpent with the desired weapon to wield the last stroke; the unreasonable interdiction not to touch the wonderful fruits, makes the whimsical tyranny of the whole injunction manifest the woman is not bound to bow to so arbitrary a behest; the less so as, in fact, that fruit does not bring death, but God-like knowledge and wisdom; - this is the sophistry of sin; the infatuated intellect matures the fatal plants which shoot forth from the deluded heart; the selfishness of the motives which dictated the prohibition seems evident; envy and jealousy deserve no respect. The sin is committed; and as if afraid to bear alone its dire consequences, the sinner induces others to the same transgression: “ Eve gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat." The history of the first sin describes the nature of all human failings in every succeeding age. The simple narrative embodies truths which neither philosophy nor experience have been able to modify or to enlarge.
The text itself explains the words "your eyes will be opened” (ver. 5), by the addition: “and you will be as God, know- . ing good and evil”; they refer, therefore, not to a mere external sense of decorum; they point to the opening of the mind's eye, to the discernment of what is morally eligible and despicable, and to the judgment which considers and argues.--The woman saw, that the forbidden tree great
ate.—7. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed figleaves together, and made themselves girdles.-8. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9. And the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, Where art thou? 10. And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked; and I hid myself. 11. And He said, Who told thee that thou art naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12. And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate. 13. And the Lord God said to the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.-14. And the Lord God said to the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou shalt be cursed among all cattle, and among every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her sced; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise its heel.- 16. To the woman He said, I will indeed multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain shalt thou bring forth children, but thy desire shall be to thy hus
ly resembled, in its external appearance, all the other trees of the garden; it was, like them, beautiful and inviting to the siglt, and promised to be as pleasant to the taste; it “was a delight to the eyes, and desirable to behold.”
7. The mysterious fruit had been tasted: the Rubicon in the lives of the first pair had been passed. The time was gone when “both were naked, and were not ashamed" (ii. 25); their eyes were opened, and “they knew that they were naked.” They were no more one with nature. They felt the necessity of supplying, by art, a want which they had not known before; and “they sewed fig-leaves together.” A feeling of shame came over them. They avoided the presence of God at first not so much from compunction of conscience, as from a keen sense of decency (ver. 10). Though they had made themselves girdles, their feeling of shame was not conquered; they still considered themselves as naked (ver. 10); they were frightened, and concealed themselves at the approach of God. Perfect garments only appeared to suffice them (ver. 21). So entirely had they at once passed from the state of nature to the state of conventionalism: and quite as suddenly, the transition from boyhood to manhood takes usually place in every individual man. But although this bashfulness happened to be the first result of their newly acquired judgment, it was neither its only, nor its most important manifestation. The power of distinguishing between good and evil applies to the whole moral and intellectual world; it is the faculty which,
more than any other, impresses upon man the resemblance to God. Therefore, the first pair could not long remain unconscious of their disobedience; they must soon feel, that they had acted against the express will of their beneficent Creator; that they had rebelled against His authority; and had repaid ingratitude for goodness and love. Therefore, the blush of guilt soon mingled with that of bashfulness, and the worm of remorse gnawed at the precocious fruit of knowledge. The question of God (in the eleventh verse) marks the transition from mere shame to consciousness of guilt.To appear in a state of nudity in the temple was strictly forbidden, and many measures of precaution were taken to prevent it; the construction of the altars, and the nature of the priestly garments were regulated after this consideration; and heathen nations observed the same customs of decency.
8-13. God was in familiar intercourse with man in the happy days of his innocence. He was loved like a father; fear was unknown; the severe rule, “nobody beholds God and lives," did not yet exist. As man was scarcely aware of his superiority over the animal creation, so he was hardly impressed with that awe of God which the consciousness of His grandeur inspires. His eyes were not yet opened. He knew neither pride nor humility. He walked in simplicity, careless, but sure of the right path. But now he was awakened to a sense of duty. HIO cannot bear the presence of God; it overwhelms his spirit. He hears His step; he hides himself; he answers timidly to
the question of God; he fears His anger; he tries to avert it, by laying the fault partly upon his wife, and partly upon God Himself: “ The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat"; and Eve, not less terrified, accuses the serpent as the cause of the transgression. The voice of conscience troubled for the first time the internal peace. The harmony of the mind was disturbed.-We abstain from developing the many and important practical truths contained in this narrative; we cannot wonder that many have here abandoned themselves to the strains of the preacher; it is, indeed, tempting to pursue the inimitable and unparalleled description of the consequences of sin, the uneasiness and timidity, the cowardice, the internal wretchedness which, as a last resource, impeaches even God as the primary cause of the offence. It is sufficient for us to have indicated the general course of ideas which our section suggests, and to have pointed out the successive stages of innocence, temptation and conflict, sin, remorse, and punishment, which are represented by the Paradise, the serpent, the forbidden fruit, the concealment, and the curse.—We remark, therefore, but briefly, that “the voice of God walking in the garden” is His foot-step (as in 1 Ki, xiv. 6), not His thunder (Ps. xxix. 3—5), nor the whispering voice which indicates His presence (1 Ki. xix. 12); and that the “wind of the day” is the breeze which, in the East, generally refreshes the evening air, and invites the inhabitants to the walks, or the places of public meeting
(xix. 1); it describes, therefore, the hours towards the evening, as "the heat of the day” designates the time of noon. Those only who wish to kill the spirit by insisting upon the letter, will take offence at these familiar expressions with which the Deity is here mentioned, and will toil to spiritualise and symbolise them. This“ sound. ing footstep of God” reminds us, perhaps, more strongly than any other part of our narrative, that the form and contents, language and thought, must be carefully and distinctly separated.
14, 15. All expressions conspire to prove, that the serpent is the reptile, not an evil demon that had assumed its shape; it is cursed “ of all the cattle, and of all the beasts of the field"; it “goes upon the belly," "eats dust,” and “bruises the heels” of man. We have already alluded to this characteristic difference between the Mosaic and the other Eastern narratives on the fall of man (see on ver. 1). If the serpent represented Satan, it would be extremely surprising that the former only was cursed; and that the latter is not even mentioned in this chastising judgment of God. It would, indeed, be entirely at variance with the Divine justice, for ever to curse the animal whose shape it had pleased the evil one to assume. But it is most remarkable to add, that later Hebrew writers also speak of this serpent as the Satan; thus we read, in the Wisdom of Solomon (ii. 23, 24): “For God has created man for imperishable existence, and made Him after the image of His own being. But by the envy of Satan death came into the world; and it befalls have been dangerous in the earlier times, when the Israelites were still wavering in their faith, when the separation of monotheism from paganism was still weak and recent, and the serpent Satan might have been by many identified with the serpent Ahriman: therefore the Pentateuch did not introduce Satan. But this could not be injurious in periods when paganism had been long and completely extirpated, and when no danger of a relapse into dualistic systems could be apprehended: therefore later writers had no reason to avoid mentioning Satan, whose perfect subordination to the omnipotent will of God was a deep and universal conviction (see Job i, 12;
all those who belong to him.” Satan is frequently called
“the first serpent”; the Samaritan text reads here liar instead of serpent; and the same notion occurs repeatedly in the New Testament (so distinctly in John viii. 44; Revel. xii. 9; XX. 2), and in later Jewish writings. Thus, while the common oriental tradition concerning the tempter was designedly abandoned in the Pentateuch, it was resumed in later times, and seems to have passed into a general belief. But this apparently strange fact offers no real difficulty; it involves no retrogressive step in the religious notions. The Satan of the later Biblical and apocryphal writers is not identical with the Ahriman of the Persians; the latter is frequently, by way of adaptation, designated by the former name; but this proves no internal identity of both. Ahriman is the enemy of a rival god, Ormuzd; Satan is only the tempter of man; the former is the creator of evil, the latter merely the embodiment of the evil propensities lurking in the human heart; the former is a deity, the latter only an instrument of the Divine will; from Ahriman proceed all the irregularities in nature; the hurricane, the earthquake, and the fatal comet, the blast which destroys the crops, and the terrible wind which spreads pestilence, are all his creatures; but the God of Israel rules in the hurricane as in the zephyr; He sends famine and plenty, blessing and curse, according to His wisdom; and whatever He sends is the emanation of His love; and “all discord is harmony not understood." Equally striking is the difference between Satan and the evil demons of other Eastern religions. If Satan, therefore, is represented as having caused the fall of man, this is no step towards heathen notions; but is only the embodiment of the former ideas in their natural development. This embodiment would
God announces with rigour the punishment of the serpent, which, by cunning temptation, had roused and instigated man to be disobedient to God (ver. 13). First a general malediction is pronounced : the serpent shall be cursed alone of all the beasts. While the other animals remained in the same state in which they had lived in Paradise, the serpent was doomed to suffer a degradation and wretchedness which should make it a horror and a warning to the whole crcation. For three other maledictions are added: the serpent shall go upon the belly, shall eat dust, and shall live in perpetual and deadly enmity with the seed of woman, whose happiness it had just wickedly destroyed. We must, therefore, suppose that our author represented to himself, previous to the curse, a time when the serpent was not affected with those debasing qualities; and the prophets declare that, in the time of the Messiah, when concord will be restored between man and beast,“ the only food of the serpent will be dust” (Isai. Ixv. 25). It was then believed, that in a remote future the nature of the reptile would again be changed, but only in so far as not to destroy the general peace in nature, and the undisturbed happiness of man; just as even the wolf would then no more tear the lamb, and the lion would eat straw like the ox; the beasts of prey would assume a harmless and unsanguinary dis. position: but as the serpent was the cause of its own degradation, as it sinned before man, it was deemed but just that it should retain a mark of its humiliation, even after the restoration of the bliss of Paradise. We need, therefore, here not suppose an allusion to the fable of the infernal dragon of the ancient Persians, the impure Asmogh, which was represented with two feet; or to the winged gryph of the Indians, which was used as a sacred emblem.—The great scantiness of food on which the serpents can subsist, gave rise to the belief entertained by many Eastern nations, and referred to in several Biblical allusions, that they eat dust; whilst the Indians believed them to feed apon wind. In many Eastern religions the extirpation of the reptiles, and especially of the serpents, was enjoined as an important duty; among the Persians it was considered as equivalent to the war for Ormuzd, and against Ahriman; and the most sacred festival was consecrated to this “ destruction of evil”; the Hindoos celebrated similar great feasts for the same purpose; and in Cashmere solemn sacrifices were offered for the annihilation of the serpents. Thus the open“ enmity between man and serpent” recurs in the whole Orient; it is everywhere impressed with a religious character; it bears a hidden symbolical meaning; it is the combat either against the tempter, or against the prince of evil. The propriety of selecting just that reptile for such purpose has been made more manifest by the scientific study of zoology. It is agreed that the organism of the serpents is one of extreme degradation; their bodies are
lengthened out by the mere vegetative repetitions of the vertebrae; like the worms, they advance only by the ring-like scutæ of the abdomen, without fore or hinder limbs; though they belong to the latest creatures of the animal kingdom, they represent a decided retrogression in in the scale of beings.
The Chaldee version of the Pentateuch, known under the name of Targum Jonathan, renders the fifteenth verse thus: “And I shall put enmity between thee and between the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and it will be, when the children of the woman observe the commandments of the Law, that they will tread thee on thy head, and when they forsake the commandments of the Law, thou wilt be able to bite them in their heels; but they will be healed, and thou wilt not be healed; and they will, in the days of the Messiah, be able to make a bruise with the heel.” The Targum Jerusalem offers a similar paraphrase. In the New Testament this symbolical interpretation is re. peatedly given. Christ is the “ seed of woman” (Gal. iv. 4); the serpent is the devil, or the sinful works perpetrated through him (1 John iii. 8); in the fulness of time, God sends forth Christ (Gal. iv. 4), “to destroy, by his death, the devil, who had the power of death” (Heb. ii. 14), or “to bruise Satan under the feet " (Rom. xvi. 20). — Our passage is hence called the “first promise,” or protevangelium."
16. As the woman sinned before man, judgment was pronounced over her first. She also suffers a threefold curse: agonising pain in her travail, yet the continued desire to her husband; and subordination under his will and his authority. The two first imprecations, considered in connection, might indeed be called a curse. Why should the woman, after the first sad experience, so eagerly wish to renew