Questions from the book of Genesis chapter 3

Okay, this post is for those who enjoy trying to look at Scripture through fresh eyes instead of what you have been taught for years on end.  I started this post about six months ago and came back to it recently.  It is now out for all to see so let me know if I am way off base here or not.  Keep in mind, most of these are just questions, not answers.  So don’t expect me to elaborate on a lot that I bring up. Also, it will help you tremendously to have a Bible opened to Genesis 3 as I go through.  This is almost verse by verse.

In verse 1 God is credited with having made a “cunning” animal in the snake.  What is the original word for “cunning” and its various meanings?  What is the insinuation?

Okay, verse 2 is where things start getting interesting.  The woman said that she and Adam would die if they ate from or touched the tree in the middle of the garden.  First off, the fact that touching the tree would lead to death is a testimony to the enactment of sin through temptation.  James 1:14-15 reads, “but each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.  Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” So you have enticing desires which happen in the body and then sin (whether externally or internally) leading to death.  God never told Eve that she couldn’t touch the tree.  God only said not to eat of it (at least as recorded).  I think that is important.  It shows that Adam and Eve were aware of temptation to an extent.  When you know you will want something that you shouldn’t have, don’t you impose further restrictions on yourself to prevent a possible compromising situation?  To avoid premarital sex for example, some people will not kiss until their wedding day.  They do not see kissing as fornication, but they do know that it is part of the enticing desires to get to that point. So I propose that Eve at least had put an additional restriction on herself to keep her from eating the fruit from the tree – not touching the tree.

Secondly, in verse 2 we hear what God said repeated about the duo dying if they eat of the tree containing the knowledge of good and evil.  The reality is that the Bible only has God telling Adam, so Eve might have heard things from Adam or from God.  I am going to go with Adam for parental motivation reasons that I will explain shortly and for the possibility that he was with her when she was talking to the snake, so he could have intervened if there was false information presented.

The key here is that they were warned about death prior to eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  There is a tree of life, and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The instructions are to avoid the knowledge of good and evil because they will die if they eat it.  There is so much here. They didn’t die immediately when they ate the fruit.  Meaning, God told them the result but didn’t tell them the process.  So were they not going to die before they ate of the fruit?  It is implied that they would have died prior to this because God shut them out of the garden to keep them from getting to the tree of life.  Why have a tree of life if everyone is already living forever at this point?

It seems highly plausible that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a metaphor or allegory or something along those lines.  If it was an actual tree it works as well, but the key here is theology not historical accuracy – before going crazy on me because of what I just said read the rest.  God gave a command.  To violate the command was to choose evil.  When they chose to violate the command then they now had knowledge of evil.  Thus by going down the path to break the command they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The result was not a physical death.  The result was a spiritual death – eternal separation from God.  The warning of death was immediate in its inception but not in its fruition.  Keep reading…

The problem with this line of thought is that there was a second tree that could give eternal life.  First off, this doesn’t seem to fit the Jesus story.  If a tree could give eternal life back then, even after they had sinned, then where did the need for Jesus come into play?  Second, if it is metaphorical then does the tree of life represent the cross of Jesus where the payment for our sins was made?  That kind of fits because if Adam and Eve had gotten to partake of that tree before it was time then they would not have known death – the payment everyone must give for their sins – and the timeline for when Jesus was revealed would be all messed up.  But this presents other issues to…if the Jesus tree was there then why not go ahead and inact it to stop all the suffering, pain, hell-boundness, etc… that this world was going to experience as a result of sin?  And by Jesus tree, I mean the foreknowledge of the crucifixion – our atonement for our sins.

In verse 6, the HCSB reads, “So she took some of its fruit and ate it, she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it.”  That is my rationale for saying that Adam was with her when she was confronted by the snake.  Let me throw this out there too, what if Adam’s sin occurred before Eve’s?  His unrecorded response(s) could have been his downfall and once he knew something was different then he decided not to intervene so Eve would fall with him.  “What do you mean, Keith?”  I mean that Adam’s sin occurred before he even ate the fruit because he did not intervene as she continued down the road towards sin.  His failure to do so was sinful because God has given him the command directly and here he was allowing the command to be broken.  Just a thought and not much to base it on other than omission and knowing sin on a first hand basis (that sin doesn’t always show external signs to those around them).

The whole naked thing is interesting in verse 7.  There are tribes who have barely any covering on to where you can see the genitalia of the sexes very easily.  I think they wear the coverings for protection more than anything.  So why was it important that they felt shame at being naked?  We cannot comprehend thinking that being naked is okay… typically.  But that could be culture influencing us.  I do not know.  Our children do not care a lick about being naked until certain developmental stages come into play where they want to be like mommy/daddy/guardian and the rest of the world they see.  But children do eventually feel embarrassed about being naked, at least here in America.  Why don’t those tribes feel ashamed? I have no idea.

That is enough for now.  I don’t think anything I am suggesting is new, and some of it has been called heresy or progressive by others, but what I am trying to do is look at a very familiar passage and ask some tough questions because it just doesn’t make sense the way I have been taught it in light of the questions above.


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3 thoughts on “Questions from the book of Genesis chapter 3

  1. Some interesting questions.

    Here is the origin of cunning:

    early 14c., prp. of cunnen “to know” (see can (v.)). Originally meaning “learned;” the sense of “skillfully deceitful” is probably 14c.

    Since this says “(see can (v.))” here is what else I found:

    can1    [kan; unstressed kuhn]
    to be able to; have the ability, power, or skill to: She can solve the problem easily, I’m sure.
    to know how to: He can play chess, although he’s not particularly good at it.
    to have the power or means to: A dictator can impose his will on the people.
    to have the right or qualifications to: He can change whatever he wishes in the script.
    may; have permission to: Can I speak to you for a moment?
    to have the possibility: A coin can land on either side.
    verb (used with object), verb (used without object)
    Obsolete . to know.
    before 900; Middle English, Old English, present indicative singular 1st, 3rd person of cunnan to know, know how; cognate with German, Old Norse, Gothic kann; see ken, know

    So cunning originally meant “to know” or “learned”. Interesting.

    As far as the Tree of Life goes, Genesis 3: 22-24 says: “22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

    I have thought that by Adam and Eve being banned from the garden, they were no longer able to eat from the Tree of Life which they were already eating from (cause they weren’t told they couldn’t) allowing them to live forever. Once they were banned, they could not eat from the tree and therefore, no longer had the ability to keep recharging (so to speak) with the power bestowed upon it by God. The reason they were banned from the garden was so they could not have knowledge and eternal life which they gained from both trees.

    Here’s my question to you: When God says, “The man has now become like one of us…” who is this “us” he’s referring to? God and the angels? God as The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Who is “us”?

    As far as “the whole naked thing” goes, even now Lil Man still has no shame. He doesn’t see much wrong with being naked most of the time. He used to run around with no clothes on often & now wears underwear freely until we make him get dressed. Matter of fact, I seem to recall your bare bottom running around as a baby yourself. There’s a sense of freedom about it, I guess. Hence nudist colonies. I think much of the embarrassment comes from us being self-conscious of what we look like without clothes on. I think people who are comfortable with their bodies probably have less of an issue with nakedness than those who judge their bodies harshly. Those who live in those other places have never been taught to “cover it up” & just see it as that’s the way we were made and “it’s too dang hot around here to wear much more than a leaf! And even THAT’S got to go!” Ha! Well, maybe.

    • Keith Wadley says:

      The “Us” has always been taught in Protestant circles that it is the Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. My honest answer: I have no idea. It baffles me and doesn’t make any sense for a religion that claims to be Monotheistic. Us is not one. Us is plural. Whether it is a language barrier thing or not I have no idea. So wrestle with that one on your own. Without further information I am just letting it go as more than likely being the Father, Son, Holy Spirit thing just with the understanding that those three really only make up One. Don’t see how, but whatever at this point in life.

      As far as being naked goes, my question is not for us today, but why did Adam and Eve feel shame at being naked? They were naked to begin with. Not only did Adam feel shame but he hid from God because he was ashamed of being naked. Maybe it isn’t talking about physical nakedness. Maybe it is referring to spiritual nakedness. His sin showed up before God and just like we do today, he tried to cover it with something other than Jesus. We make our own payments up all the time: buy people gifts, through words, through repentant actions, pleading ignorance, not hanging around those who will call us out, etc… What if the nakedness was spiritual?

      Your view of them eating of the Tree of Life up until they were banned is interesting. The reality is that we have no evidence either way. We only know that they were banned so that they wouldn’t eat from it. The grammar seems to indicate that up until that point they had not eaten of it. Which takes me back to my reasoning that man was going to die prior to sinning, but I can’t confirm that in Genesis. Later teachings say that death entered the world through Adam. I still believe it was a spiritual death that entered the world through the sin, not physical. It just makes more sense. Adam would have physically died before but he was going to spiritually live forever prior to sinning. Now that sin was activated he couldn’t live forever anymore spiritually. I actually have a scientific argument that lends support to my reasoning on Adam’s physical death as well but that is for another post.

      Cunning. To know, huh. Interesting. So it almost reads like, “Now the serpent was the most intelligent gangster of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made.” Kind of seems like the serpent was already a bad apple, ha, no pun intended…

      Lil’ Bro

  2. amandajewel says:

    You crack me up! And I see your point on everything you just wrote. I agree about the spiritual nakedness. That makes much sense. All of this is quite interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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