Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bible Study: Genesis 3

by M. J. Joachim


Snakes, slithering sneakily, hissing and gliding…this is the image spawned by the opening verses in Genesis 3. Subtle word plays, something people do all the time – to manipulate, influence and control others. A certain craftiness is involved, an ability to tempt without warning.

Clarification soon follows. “You mean?” or “No, the reality is this.” To no avail, because clever conversation has the ability to entice and diminish fear in its response.

Humanity, the true business of being human and the human experience begins to play out in Genesis 3. Blame, awareness, shame and fault are all woven through the details, along with some amazing symbolic references.

The tree of good and evil is in the middle of the garden. God is at the center of our lives. When everything remains balanced, there is nothing to fear or worry about. But when God is misplaced, put aside or forgotten, anything can happen.

Oh, it might well appear to be good things that happen. The fruit of the tree was delicious, which is probably one of the reasons Adam ate some too. Look what happened when he did though. Suddenly, it was important to cover one’s own nakedness. Temptation is like that. It looks wonderful, lures us in smoothly and snatches away our innocence in a flash.

Once trapped in the throes of temptation, and the acts that follow it, undoing our ill deeds is next to impossible. Ask anyone who’s racked up mounds of credit card debt, broken their marriage vows or become so heavy that they simply can’t function anymore. These are extreme examples. Genesis 3 shows us how a little temptation, regardless of how minor and harmless it seems, can be the ultimate path to personal ruin, destruction and death.

Holy Bible

{3:1} However, the serpent was more crafty than any of the creatures of the earth that the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Why has God instructed you, that you should not eat from every tree of Paradise?”

{3:2} The woman responded to him: “From the fruit of the trees which are in Paradise, we eat. {3:3} Yet truly, from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of Paradise, God has instructed us that we should not eat, and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we may die.”

{3:4} Then the serpent said to the woman: “By no means will you die a death. {3:5} For God knows that, on whatever day you will eat from it, your eyes will be opened; and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.”

{3:6} And so the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and beautiful to the eyes, and delightful to consider. And she took from its fruit, and she ate. And she gave to her husband, who ate. {3:7} And the eyes of them both were opened. And when they realized themselves to be naked, they joined together fig leaves and made coverings for themselves.

{3:8} And when they had heard the voice of the Lord God taking a walk in Paradise in the afternoon breeze, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God in the midst of the trees of Paradise. {3:9} And the Lord God called Adam and said to him: “Where are you?” {3:10} And he said, “I heard your voice in Paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and so I hid myself.”

{3:11} He said to him, “Then who told you that you were naked, if you have not eaten of the tree from which I instructed you that you should not eat?” {3:12} And Adam said, “The woman, whom you gave to me as a companion, gave to me from the tree, and I ate.” {3:13} And the Lord God said to the woman, “Why have you done this?” And she responded, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

{3:14} And the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed among all living things, even the wild beasts of the earth. Upon your breast shall you travel, and the ground shall you eat, all the days of your life. {3:15} I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. She will crush your head, and you will lie in wait for her heel.”

{3:16} To the woman, he also said: “I will multiply your labors and your conceptions. In pain shall you give birth to sons, and you shall be under your husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over you.” 

{3:17} Yet truly, to Adam, he said: “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, from which I instructed you that you should not eat, cursed is the land that you work. In hardship shall you eat from it, all the days of your life. {3:18} Thorns and thistles shall it produce for you, and you shall eat the plants of the earth. {3:19} By the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return to the earth from which you were taken. For dust you are, and unto dust you shall return.”

{3:20} And Adam called the name of his wife, ‘Eve,’ because she was the mother of all the living. {3:21} The Lord God also made for Adam and his wife garments from skins, and he clothed them. {3:22} And he said: “Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Therefore, now perhaps he may put forth his hand and also take from the tree of life, and eat, and live in eternity.”

{3:23} And so the Lord God sent him away from the Paradise of enjoyment, in order to work the earth from which he was taken. {3:24} And he cast out Adam. And in front of the Paradise of enjoyment, he placed the Cherubim with a flaming sword, turning together, to guard the way to the tree of life.

Just the Facts

What was the craftiest creature God ever made?

Did the serpent lie when it said, “By no means will you die a death.”

How did Adam feel when God called him in Paradise?

What punishment did God give to Adam, woman and the serpent, for their roles in eating from the tree in the middle of Paradise?

Why did Adam call his wife Eve?


Adam and his wife realized they were naked after they ate from the forbidden tree.

Man became cursed among all living things.

Woman will crush the serpent’s head, while it lies in wait for her heel.

God clothed Adam and Eve, even though they disobeyed Him.

Cherubim guarded the tree of life, after man was cast out from the garden.

Soul Searching

Life is full of temptations these days – so much so that we often don’t realize we’re engaging in them. Take time to notice those little times in your life, times when you automatically do things that are less than thrilling for those around you. Keep a small notepad with you, and tally those times, or write them down if you must. However, this is not meant to be an exercise in being our own worst critic and beating ourselves up. Rather, this is an opportunity to exercise self-awareness and personal inspiration.

It is said that recognition of something is the first step. It can be a step toward change, or a step of understanding and getting to know oneself better. In time, you will be able to transform your negative tallies into positive acts, simply because you have tuned into your automatic responses, to the world around you.

Active Response

God was merciful with Adam and Eve. Even though they had completely disobeyed him, to the point of being cast from the Garden of Eden, God was merciful. He still loved them and showed it to them in various ways.

The next time you’re mad at someone, take the time to be extra merciful with that person. Consequences for actions can still come into play. It’s how you will establish those consequences that matter. Step back and take the time to be very constructive with your choices here. It’s okay to be angry, but your goal is to avoid letting your anger rule your response.

Thank you so much for visiting Being Catholic today. I wish you every blessing throughout the week.

M. J. 

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Photo credits: Wikipedia, Public Domain - Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568 – 1625), Das Paradies; Titian (1490 – 1576), Sündenfall
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Answers to questions will be posted in my next post.

Biblical text credit: Holy Bible – Catholic Public Domain Version