Commentary on Genesis
By St. Ephraim the Syrian
- [GEN 1:1-5] Day One, Light
- [GEN 1:6-8] Day Two, Firmament
- [GEN 1:9-10] Day Three, Dry Land
- [GEN 1:11-13] Day Three, Vegetation
- [GEN 1:14-19] Day Four, Heavenly Bodies
- [GEN 1:20-23] Day Five, Birds and Fish
- [GEN 1:24-25] Day Six, Land Animals
- [GEN 1:26-28] Man
- [GEN 1:29-30] Allocation of Food--VACAT
- [GEN 2:1-4a] Day Seven, Rest
- [GEN 2:4-6] Primordial Conditions
- [GEN 2:7-9] Molded Man
- [GEN 2:10-14] Rivers of Paradise
- [GEN 2:15-17] Entry into Paradise, Command Given
- [GEN 2:18-19] Naming the Animals
- [GEN 2:20-24] Creation of Eve
- [GEN 2:25] Nakedness without Shame
- [GEN 3:1] Shrewdness of Snake
- [GEN 3:2-3] Eve's Reply
- [GEN 3:4-5] Snake's Suggestion
- [GEN 3:6] Transgression
- [GEN 3:7] Discovery of Nakedness
- [GEN 3:8-9] God's Approach to Paradise
- [GEN 3:10-12] Interrogation of Adam
- [GEN 3:13] Interrogation of Eve
- [GEN 3:14-15] Judgment of the Snake
- [GEN 3:16] Judgment of Eve
- [GEN 3:17-19] Judgment of Adam
- [GEN 3:20] Naming of Eve--VACAT
- [GEN 3:21] Garments of Skin
- [GEN 3:22-24] Expulsion
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," [ Gen 1:1 ] that is, the substance of the heavens and the substance of the earth. So let no one think that there is anything interpretive (turgama) in the works of the six days. No one can rightly say that the things that pertain to these days were symbolic, nor can one say that they were meaningless names or that other things were symbolized for us by their names. Rather, let us know that just as heaven and earth were created in the beginning, so they were truly heaven and earth. There was no other thing signified by the names "heaven" and "earth". The rest of the works and things made that followed were not meaningless significations either, for the substances of their natures correspond to what their names signify.
"In the beginning God created heaven and earth." [ Gen1:1 ] At this point these comprised the only things that had been made, for there was nothing else created along with heaven and earth. Even the elements that were created on that day had not yet been created. If the elements had been created along with heaven and earth, Moses would have said so. But he did not, lest he give the names of the elements precedence over their substances. Therefore it is evident that heaven and earth came to be from nothing because neither water nor wind had yet been created, nor had fire, light or darkness been given their natures, for they were posterior to heaven and earth. These things were created things that came after heaven and earth and they were not self-subsistent beings for they did not exist before [ heaven and earth ].
After this Moses spoke not of the firmament and things that were above [it], but rather of those things that were between the firmament and the earth which is within [ the firmament ]. Moses wrote about [ the things within the firmament ] for us, although he did not write about everything for us, for he did not record for us the day on which the spiritual things were created.
Moses then goes on to write about the earth, "that it was tohu and bohu, " [ Gen1:2 ] that is, void and desolation. This is to show that even the void and desolation were prior to the elements. I am not saying that the void and desolation were something, but rather that that earth which was to become well-known did not exist, for only the [primitive] earth, without any other [adornment] existed.
After Moses spoke about the creation of heaven and earth and showed that the waste and desolation preceded the elements that were created by the length of that moment that followed [their creation ], he turned to write about those elements saying, "Darkness was upon the face of the abyss" [ Gen1:2 ] . For the abyss of waters was created at that time. But how was it created on the day on which it was created? Even though it was created on this day and at this time, Moses does not tell us here how it was created. For now we should accept the creation of the abyss as it is written, while we wait to learn from Moses how it was created.
As for the darkness that was upon the face of the abyss, some posit that it was a cloud of heaven. Now, if the firmament had been created on the first day they would speak rightly. If the upper heavens were similar to the firmament, then there would be a thick darkness between the two heavens, for the light had not been created nor affixed there to dissipate the darkness there by its rays. But if the place between the two heavens is light as Ezekiel, Paul, and Stephen bear witness, then how could the heavens, which had dissipated the darkness with their lights, spread darkness over the abyss?
Because everything that was created was created in those six days, whether its creation was written down or not, the clouds must also have been created on that first day, just as fire was created along with wind, although Moses did not write about the fire as he did about the wind. Thus, the clouds were created along with the abyss although Moses did not write that the clouds were created along with the abyss, just as he did not record the creation of fire along with that of the wind when he wrote about the creation of the wind.
It was necessary that everything be known to have its beginning in those six days. The clouds were surely created along with the abyss, for how many times were these brought forth from the abyss? Elijah saw a cloud rising up out of the sea. Solomon also said, "By his knowledge the depths broke forth and the clouds sprinkled down dew." It was not only because of their substance that they should have been created at this point, but they were created on that first night because they also rendered service on that first night. Just as the clouds covered Egypt for three days and three nights, clouds were spread over all of creation on the first night and on the first day. If the clouds had been dispersed, light would not have been required on the first day because the brightness of the upper heavens would have been sufficient to fill the place of the light that was created on the first day.
After one night and one day were completed, the firmament was created on the second evening and henceforth its shadow rendered service for all subsequent nights. Therefore, heaven and earth were created on the evening of the first night. Along with the abyss that was created there were also created those clouds which brought about the requisite night when they were spread out. After their shadow had served for twelve hours, light was created beneath them and the light dispersed their shadow that had been spread over the waters all night.
After Moses spoke of the darkness that was spread over the face of the abyss, he then said, "the wind of God was hovering over the face of the waters." [ Gen1:2 ] Because Moses called it the "wind of God" and said "it was hovering," some posit that this is the Holy Spirit and, because of that which is written here, associate it with the activity [of creation.] Nevertheless, the faithful do not make this connection, for they are not likely to so relate it. Rather, by those things that are truly said about it, they associate it with that element. To the end that from these names they are not able to consider the Spirit as active in creation. For it is said that an evil spirit of God consumed Saul.
It is also said that "[ the wind ] was hovering," but what came forth from the waters on the first day when [ the wind ] was hovering over the waters? If on the day that it was written that "it was hovering over the waters" nothing came out of the waters, and then on the fifth day when the waters brought forth reptiles and birds, it was not written that the wind "was hovering," how then can anyone say that this wind took part in the activity of creation? For, although scripture says "it was hovering", it did not say that anything came out of the waters on the day that it was hovering.
Just as through the service of the clouds, that is, the shadow of the first night, the creation of the clouds that came to be on the first day was brought to our attention, so too through the service of the wind, which is its breeze, Moses wished to make known to us the creation [ of the wind ]. For just as clouds do not exist without a shadow neither does wind exist without a breeze. It is in their service then that we notice those things that are not otherwise apparent to us. Therefore that wind was blowing because it was created for this purpose. After it blew and manifested its creation through its service on the first night, it became calm once again on the first day just as the clouds were dispersed once again on the first day.
After Moses spoke of heaven and earth, of the darkness, the abyss and the wind that came to be at the beginning of the first night, he then turned to speak about the light that came to be at dawn of the first day. At the end of the twelve hours of that night, the light was created between the clouds and the waters and it chased away the shadow of the clouds that were overshadowing the waters and making them dark. For Nisan was the first month; in it the number of the hours of day and night were equal. The light, then, remained a length of twelve hours so that each day might also obtain its [ own ] hours just as the night possesses a measured length of time. Although the light and the clouds were created in the twinkling of an eye, the day and the night of the first day were each completed in twelve hours.
The light then was like a bright mist over the face of the earth. Whether it was like the dawn or like the pillar that gave light in the wilderness to the people, it is obvious that it was unable to chase away the darkness that was spread over the face of everything, unless it had spread out completely over everything, either by its substance or by its appearance. The light was released so that it might spread over everything without being fastened down. It dispersed the darkness that was over everything although it did not move. It was only when [ the light ] went away and when it came that it moved, so that when [ the light ] went away the rule was given to the night and at [ the light's ] coming there would be an end to [ the night's ] rule.
After the brightness [ of the light ] rendered its service for three days, lest, like nothing, it return to nothing, well did God bear witness concerning it by saying "behold, it was very good." [ Gen1:4 ] Although God did not [ actually ] say that the works that preceded the light were very beautiful, He did [ in fact ] say it about them, for though He did not say it of them in the beginning when only these things had come into existence out of nothing, He did say it of them after everything else had come into existence; for He included all that had been made together with all that was created in six days, when He said on the sixth day: "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." [ Gen1:31 ]
Because that first light was created good, it rendered its service by its brightness for three days and it also served, as we say, for the conception and the birth of everything that the earth brought forth on the third day. The sun was in the firmament in order to ripen whatever had sprouted forth under that first light. It is said that from this light and from the fire, which were both created on the first day, the sun, which was in the firmament, was fashioned, while the moon and the stars also came to be from that same first light.
Just as the sun which rules the day, by the fact that "it gives light to the earth", causes the fruits of the earth to ripen, so also does the moon which rules in the night, tempering the strength of the night by its brightness, also bring forth, according to its first nature, fruits and vegetation. For Moses speaks in his blessings of "the yield which the moon brought forth." Along with the other things on account of which the light was created, we say that the light was created on the first day for the sake of the things that were to come forth. After the earth brought forth everything during the course of the third day then there came [ the moon ] in the manner of the light on the fourth day, so that in the moon as well as in the light the beginning of all fruit might be found, and then through the sun all vegetation becomes ripe.
It was through light, then, and through water that the earth brought forth everything. Even though God was able to bring forth everything from the earth without these things, it was His will to show that there was nothing that was created on earth that was not created for the purpose of man or for his service.
The waters that the earth drank on the first day were not salty. Even if they were like the deep on the surface of the earth, they were still not seas. For it was in the seas that these waters, which were not salty before being gathered together, became salty. When they were sent throughout the entire earth for the earth to drink they were sweet, but when they were gathered into seas on the third day, they became salty, lest they become stagnant due to their being gathered together and so that they might receive the rivers that enter into them without increasing. For the quantity that the seas require for nourishment is the measure of the rivers that flow down into them. The rivers flow down into the seas lest the heat of the sun dry them up. The saltiness [ of the seas ] then swallows up [ the rivers ] lest they increase, rise up and cover the earth. Thus the rivers turn into nothing, as it were, because the saltiness of the sea swallows them up.
Even if the seas were created when the waters were created and were hidden in the waters, and the seas were bitter, the waters above them were not bitter. For just as in the flood there were seas, but they were covered over [ by those waters ], they were not able to change the sweet waters of the flood, which came from above, into their bitter nature, for if these waters had been bitter, how were the olives and all the plants preserved in them? How did those of the house of Noah and those with them drink from them?
Even if Noah had commanded that every food be brought for himself and those with him because there would be no food anywhere, he did not allow water to be brought because those who had entered the ark would be able to take the water from outside of the ark to drink. Therefore, just as the waters of the flood were not salty while the seas were hidden within them, neither were the waters that were gathered on the third day bitter even though the seas below them were bitter.
Just as the gathering of the waters did not precede that word which said, "Let the waters be gathered and let the dry land appear," [ Gen1:9 ] neither did the seas exist until that moment when God "called the gathering of water 'seas'." When they received their name they were changed. In their [ new ] place the [ waters ] attained that saltiness which had not been theirs [ even ] outside of their [ old ] place. For their place became deep at that very moment when God said, "Let the waters be gathered into one place." [ Gen1:9 ] Then either the land [ that contained ] the sea was brought down below the [ level of the ] earth to receive within it its own waters along with the waters that were above the entire earth, or the waters swallowed each other so that the place might be sufficient for them, or the place of the sea shook and it became a great depth and the waters quickly hastened into that basin. Although the will of God had gathered these waters, when the earth was created, a gate was opened for thm to be gathered into one place. Just as in the gathering of the first and second waters there was found no gathering place because there was no place from which they might go out, so now do these waters come down with all the rains and showers and are gathered into seas along paths and roads which had been prepared for them on the first day.
The upper waters, because they were separated on the second day from the lower waters by the firmament set between them, were also sweet like the lower waters (the upper waters are not those that became salty in the seas on the third day, but are those that were separated from them on the second day). They were not salty because they would not have become stagnant, for they had not been left on the land to become stagnant. The air there does not serve to cause [ things ] to grow or to swarm, nor do rivers flow into them to keep them from evaporating for there is no sun there to generate heat that would cause them to evaporate. They remain there for the dew of blessing and are kept there for the floodgates of wrath.
The waters that are above the firmament do not move about, because something made does not move about within something that is made, nor does something move about within nothing. But something that is created within something possesses, at its creation, all of that thing; that is, that thing moves, rises and falls within that thing in which it was created, but nothing surrounded the upper waters. Therefore, the upper waters were unable either to turn or to move about because they did not have something in which they might turn or move about.
Heaven, earth, fire, wind and water were created from nothing as Scripture bears witness. But light, which came to be on the first day along with the rest of the things that came to be afterwards, came to be from something. For when these other things came to be from nothing, Moses said, "God created heaven and earth." Although it is not written concerning fire, water and wind that they were created, neither is it written that they were made. Therefore, they came to be from nothing just as heaven and earth came to be from nothing.
After God began to make [things] from something, Moses wrote, "God said, 'Let there be'" light, and so on. Even though Moses did say, "God created the great serpents," still "let the waters swarm with swarming things" had been [ said ] prior to that. Therefore those five created things were created from nothing and everything else was made from those [ five ] things that came to be from nothing.
Fire was also created on the first day, although it is not written down that it was created, because it was in another element. It did not have its own existence, for it was created together with that thing in which it was. It is not possible that a thing which does not exist of itself can precede that thing which is the cause of its existence. That [ fire ] is in the earth, nature bears witness, but that it was not created together with the earth, scripture affirms, when it says, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth." Fire then, since it does not exist of itself, remains with the earth, even if the wind and the clouds have been commanded at every moment to bring forth fire from their wombs along with the wind and the clouds.
Darkness, too, is neither a self-subsistent being nor a created thing, but is a shadow, as scripture makes clear. It was created neither before heaven nor after the clouds, for it was with the clouds and was brought forth from the clouds. [ Darkness ] too exists in another [ thing ], for it has no substance of its own. When that in which it exists vanishes, the darkness likewise vanishes with it. For whatever comes to an end along with another thing when it vanishes is without its own existence, because that other thing is the cause of its existence.
So, how could darkness, whose existence is due to the clouds and to the firmament and not to the first light or to the sun, exist of itself? It is [ a thing ] which one thing, by its cover, brings forth and another, by its brightness, destroys. If one thing creates it and causes it to become something while another thing turns it back into nothing, how can it be a self-subsistent being? The clouds and the firmament, which were created at the beginning, bring it forth and the light that was created on the first day brings it to an end. If a created thing creates it and another created thing destroys it, and henceforth, one thing, at one moment, brings it into visibility and another, at that very moment itself turns back into nothing, turns it back into nothing, it is by compulsion that [ one thing ] causes it to begin and [ another thing ] causes it to go away. If created things cause it to come into existence and also cause it to vanish then it is a creation of creatures. [ The darkness then ] is but a shadow of the firmament and it is capable of vanishing in the presence of another thing, for it can be destroyed before the sun. Some teachings posit that this [ darkness ], which is at all times subject to created things, is an adversary of creatures, and they make that thing which has no substance of its own a self-existent being.
After Moses spoke of those things that came to be on the first day, he began to write about those things that came to be on the second day, saying, "And God said, 'Let there be a firmament between the waters and let it separate the waters below the firmament from the waters above the firmament.'" [ Gen1:6 ] The firmament between the waters was pressed together from the waters. It was of the same measure as the waters that were spread out over the surface of the earth. Then if, in its origin, it was above the earth (for the earth, water and fire were beneath it, while water, wind and darkness were above it), how do others posit that this [ firmament ], which encloses this world within it like a child in the womb, was created in the middle of everything as the womb of everything?
If, on the other hand, the firmament had been created as the center of everything, light, darkness and wind, which were above the firmament when it was created, would have been confined above the firmament. If the creation [ of the firmament ] had occurred at night, the darkness and wind would also have remained there together with the waters which remained there. But if the creation [ of the firmament ] had occurred in the day, the light and the wind also would have remained there along with the waters. And if the [ wind, water and lights ] had remained there then the [ wind, water and lights ] here would be other things. When, then, could the [ wind, water and lights ] have been created? If, however, they did not remain there, how did those elements that were above [ the firmament ] when they were created move below it?
The firmament was created on the evening of the second night, just as the heavens came to be on the evening of the first night. But when the firmament came into existence, the covering of clouds that had served for a night and a day in the place of the firmament dissipated. Because [ the firmament ] had been created between the light and the darkness, no darkness remained above it, for the shadow of the clouds was dispelled when the clouds themselves were dispelled. Nor did any of this light remain there, for its alotted measure of time had come to an end and so it sank into the waters that were beneath [ the firmament ].
The wind could not have remained there, either, because it did not even exist there. It was on the first night that Moses said "it hovered" and not on the second night. If the firmament had been created on the first night when [ the wind ] was blowing there could then be some debate. But, since it is not written that [ the wind ] was blowing when the firmament was created, who would say that the wind was there when Scripture does not say so?
After the wind hovered on the first day, manifested its service by its blowing and returned to its stillness, then the firmament came to be. It is evident, therefore, that [ the wind ] neither remained above nor descended below, for how can one seek in any place or spot for something whose very substance only exists at the moment of its service and whose service comes to an end when it ceases to blow? The wind underwent three things on the day of its creation: it was created from nothing, it blew in and through something, and it reverted to being hidden in its stillness.
After the wind had undergone these three things, the firmament was created on the evening of the second day. There was then nothing that rose along with it, because there was nothing that remained above it. It made a separation between the waters that it was commanded to separate, but not between the light, the wind or darkness, for this had not been commanded.
There was no light, therefore, on the first night. On the night of the second and third day, it sank into the waters beneath the firmament and sprang forth as we said [ above ]. But on the fourth day, when the waters were gathered into one place, they say that the firmament was formed and that the sun, the moon, and the stars were formed from the firmament and from fire, and there were places set apart for the lights. The moon would rise in the west of the firmament, the sun in the east, and at the same moment, the stars were dispersed in orderly fashion throughout the entire firmament.
Although God said about the light that came to be on the first day that "it was very good," He did not say this about the firmament which came to be on the second day, because the firmament had not yet been finished, neither in its structure nor in its adornment. The Creator delayed until the lights came to be so that when [ the firmament ] was adorned with the sun and the moon and the stars, and the strength of the darkness that was weakened by the lights shining from it, He would then say of the firmament as well as of [ the rest of creation ] that "it was very good."
After Moses spoke of the firmament, which came to be on the second day, he then turned to write about the gathering of the waters and about the grass and the trees that the earth brought forth on the third day, saying, "And God said, 'Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.'" [ Gen1:9 ] From the fact that He said, "Let the waters be gathered into one place," it is evident that it was the earth which bore the waters and that the abysses were not standing on nothing beneath the earth. Although the waters were gathered in the night at the word of God, the surface of the earth still became dry in the twinkling of an eye.
After these two things had occurred, He commanded the earth to bring forth at dawn " grass and herbs [ Gen1:11 ] of every kind and all the various fruit-bearing trees. Although the grasses were only a moment old at their creation, they appeared as if they were months old. Likewise, the trees, although only a day old when they sprouted forth, were nevertheless like [ trees ] years old as they were fully grown and fruits were already budding on their branches.
The grass that would be required as food for the animals who were to be created two days later was [ thus ] made ready. And the new corn that would be food for Adam and his descendants, who would be thrown out of Paradise four days later, was [ thus ] prepared.
After Moses spoke about the gathering of the waters and about the sprouting of the vegetation on the earth on the third day, he turned to write about the lights that were created in the firmament saying, "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night'," [ Gen1:14 ] that is, one to rule over the day and the other [ to rule ] over the night.
That [ God ] said, "Let them be for signs," [ Gen1:14 ] [ refers to ] measures of time, and "let them be for seasons," clearly indicates summer and winter. "Let them be for days," are measured by the rising and setting of the sun, and "let them be for years," are comprised of the daily cycles of the sun and the monthly cycles of the moon.
Indeed Moses said, "God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and [ He made ] the stars." [ Gen1:16 ] Although all that was done before the fourth day was begun in the evening, the works on the fourth day were fashioned at dawn. Because the third day had been completed, in that it is said, "It was evening and it was morning; day three," God did not create the two lights in the evening lest night be changed into day and morning be given priority over evening.
Because the days followed the same order in which the first day was created, the night of the fourth day, like that of the other days, preceded its day. And if its evening preceded its dawn, the lights were not created in the evening, but rather at dawn. But to say that one of them was created in the evening and the other at dawn cannot be allowed for Moses said, "Let there be lights," and "God made the two great lights." If they were great when they were created and they were created at dawn, then the sun would have stood in the east and the moon opposite it in the west. The sun would have been set very low because it was created in the place where it set out over the earth, whereas the moon would have been set higher because it was created in the place where it stands on the fifteenth day. Indeed, at the moment the sun appears over the earth, the lights see each other and then the moon sinks. From the position of the moon, from its size and from the light it produced, it is clear, then, that it was fifteen days old when it was created.
Just as the trees, the vegetation, the beasts, the birds and even mankind were old, so were they also young. They were old according to the appearance of their limbs and their substances, yet they were young because of the hour and moment of their creation. Likewise, the moon was both old and young. It was young, for it was but a moment old, but was also old, for it was full as it is on the fifteenth day.
If the moon had been created a day old or even two, it would have given no light; because of its proximity to the sun, it would not even have been visible. If it had been created about four days old, although it might have been visible, it would still not have given any light. This would have rendered false the verse "God created the two great lights," as well as "He said, 'Let there be lights in heaven to give light upon the earth.'" Therefore, the moon had to be fifteen days old. The sun, although it was only one day old, was nevertheless four days old, for it is according to the sun that each day was counted and will be reckoned. Accordingly, those eleven days that were added to the moon at that first moment, by which the moon was older than the sun, are also added to it each year, for these [ days ] are used in the lunar reckoning.
There was nothing lacking in that year for Adam and his descendants, for any deficiency in the measure of the moon had been filled in when the moon was created. Thus, Adam and his descendants learned from this year that, henceforth, eleven days were to be added to every year. Clearly then, it was not the Chaldeans who arranged the times and years; these things had been arranged before [ the creation of ] Adam.
After Moses spoke about the lights that came to be in the firmament, he turned to write about the swarming things, the birds and the serpents that were created from the waters on the fifth day, saying, "And God said, 'Let the waters cause living things to swarm, and let the birds fly above the earth.' And God created the great serpents and every living creature with which the waters swarmed according to their kind." [ Gen1:20,1:21 ]
When the waters were gathered, which had been ordered on the second day, the rivers were ordered and also springs, lakes, and ponds were revealed. At the word of God, these waters--dispersed throughout creation--brought forth swarming things and fish from within them: the serpents were created within the abysses and the birds soared in flocks out of the waves into the air. As for the great serpents that were created, although the prophets said that Leviathan dwelt in the sea, Job said that the Behemoth dwelt on dry land. David too, speaking of this beast, says that "on a thousand mountains is Behemoth's pasture land," that is "His place of repose." Perhaps it was after they were created that their places were separated so that Leviathan should dwell in the sea and Behemoth on dry land.
After Moses spoke about the creation of the swarming things and of the birds and the sea serpents on the fifth day, he turned to write about the creeping things and the animals and the beasts that were created on the sixth day, saying, "And God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and reptiles and beasts.'" [ Gen1:24 ] Although the entire earth was swarming with swarming things, nevertheless the cattle and the beasts were made on the border of Paradise so that they might dwell at the appointed place of Adam. ,
Then the entire earth stirred with creeping things as it had been commanded. The earth also brought forth the beasts of the field as companions to the wild beasts, and it brought forth as many beasts as would be useful for the service of that one who, on that very day, was to transgress the commandment of his Lord.
After Moses spoke about the reptiles, the cattle and the beasts that were created on the sixth day, he turned to write about the creation of that man who was fashioned on the sixth day, saying, "And God said [Let us create man. . .]" [ Gen1:26 ] But to whom was God speaking? Here as well as in every place where He creates, it is clear that He was speaking to His Son. The Evangelist said about Him that "everything came to be through Him and without Him not one thing came to be." [ John1:1 ] Paul also attests to Him saying, "In Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, all that is visible and all that is invisible." [ Col1:15 ]
"And God said, 'Let us make man in our image." [ Gen1:26 ] According to what has been said up to this point, he is able, as it pleases him, to interpret for us: Moses explains ["in our image"] as follows "Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds, and over the cattle, and over all the earth." [ Gen1:26 ] It is the dominion that Adam received over the earth and over all that is in it that constitutes the likeness of God who has dominion over the heavenly things and the earthly things.
Then Moses said, "male and female He created them," [ Gen1:27 ] to make known that Eve was inside Adam, in the rib that was drawn out from him. Although she was not in his mind she was in his flesh, she was in his flesh with him, and she was also in soul and spirit with him, for God added nothing to that rib that He took out except the structure and the adornment. If everything that was suitable for Eve, who came to be from the rib, was complete from the rib alone, it is well said that "male and female He created them."
"And God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds and over every animal that crawls upon the earth.'" [ Gen1:28 ] Because they were blessed on this earth, it is as if this dwelling spot had been prepared for them prior to their sin. For although they had not yet sinned God knew that they were about to sin.
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill," [ ] not Paradise but "the earth," [ Gen1:28 ] and "have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds and over all the beasts." [ Gen1:28 ] But how was Adam to rule over the fish of the sea unless he were in proximity to the sea? And how was he to rule over the birds that fly throughout every region unless his descendants were to dwell in every region? And how was Adam to rule over every beast of the earth unless his offspring inhabited the entire earth?
Although Adam was created and was blessed to rule over the earth and over everything that was created and blessed in [ the earth ], God had indeed made him to dwell within Paradise. God truly manifested His fore-knowledge in His blessings and manifested His grace in the place in which He caused Adam to dwell. Lest it be said that Paradise was not created for [ Adam's ] sake, God made him dwell there in Paradise. And lest it be said that God did not know that Adam would sin, He blessed him on this earth. And everything with which God blessed Adam preceded the transgression of the commandment, lest by the transgression of him who had been blessed, the blessings of Him who gives blessing be withheld and the world be turned back into nothing on account of the folly of that one for whose sake everything had been created.
Within Paradise, therefore, God did not bless Adam because that place and all that was in it is blessed. But God blessed him on the earth first so that by the blessing with which [ His ] grace blessed beforehand, the curse of the earth, which was about to be cursed by [ His ] justice, might [ thus ] be diminished. But even though it was a blessing of promise, in that it was fulfilled after his expulsion from Paradise, it was, nevertheless, His grace that was effected, for on that same day, God made Adam dwell in the garden, clothed him with glory and made him ruler over all the trees of Paradise.
VACAT After Moses spoke about the reptiles, the cattle, and the beasts, about mankind and about their blessing on the sixth day, he turned to write about God's rest that took place on the seventh day saying, "Thus heaven and earth were finished, and all their host. And God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." [ Gen2:1-2 ]
From what toil did God rest? For the creatures that came to be on the first day came to be by a gesture, except for the light which came to be through His word. And the rest of the works which came to be afterwards came to be through His word. What toil is there for us when we speak one word, that there should be toil for God because of the one word a day that He spoke? If Moses, who divided the sea by his word and his rod, did not tire and Joshua, son of Nun, who restrained the luminaries by his word, did not tire, then what toil could there have been for God when He created the sea and the luminaries by [ His ] word?
Indeed, it was not because He rested on [ that day ] that God who does not weary, blessed and sanctified the seventh day, nor was it so that He might grant that people, who did not set aside a day when they were freed from their servitude, to give rest to their servants and maid-servants. He gave it to them so that, even if they had to be coerced, they would rest. For it was given to them in order to depict by a temporal rest, which He gave to a temporal people, the mystery of the true rest which will be given to the eternal people in the eternal world.
Also because a full week was required, God exalted with a word that seventh day which His works did not exalt so that, because of the honor set apart for it, it might be united to its companions, and so that the numbering of the week, which is required for the service of the world, might be completed.
After speaking about the Sabbath rest, and how God had blessed and sanctified this day, Scripture returns to the narrative of the initial establishment of creation, this time passing over, with only a few words, things it had already spoken of and recounting at greater length matters it had previously omitted. Thus it begins to describe the history of creation for a second time: "These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created on the day that God made heaven and earth. None of the trees of the field was yet in existence, and the vegetation had not yet sprouted, seeing that He had not yet caused rain to fall on the earth, and Adam was not there to work on the earth. A fountain went up and irrigated the surface of the earth." [ Gen. 2:4 ]
You should realize, reader, that even though the days of creation were completed and Scripture had pronounced a blessing on the Sabbath day that had been sanctified and had brought it to a close, it now reverts to narrating the very beginning of the acts of creation, even though the days of these acts had come to an end.
"These are the generations of heaven and of earth," [ Gen2:4 ] that is to say, this is the narrative of the establishment of heaven and earth "on the day that the Lord made heaven and earth, for none of the trees of the field had yet come into being, and the vegetation had not sprouted." [ Gen. 2:5 ] It is quite true that these had not been created, seeing that these were made on the third day. [ cf. Gen. 1:9-13 ] Now it was not without reason that Scripture introduced on the first day mention of things created on the third.
For it says, "The trees were not in existence and the vegetation had not yet sprouted, seeing that the Lord had not caused rain to fall on the earth. A fountain went up from the earth to irrigate the surface of the earth." [ Gen2:5,2:6 ] Since everything was and is born through the interaction of water and earth, Scripture took care to indicate that trees and vegetation were not created at the same time as the earth, seeing that rain had not yet fallen. But after the great fountain of the great primordial deep had gone up and irrigated the entire surface of the earth, then, once the waters had been gathered together on the third day, the earth gave birth to all sorts of vegetation on the very same day.
The waters over which the darkness had been spread on the first day are the same as those which issued from this fountain, covering, in a twinkling of an eye, the entire earth. This is the fountain which was opened up in the days of Noah, covering over all mountains on the earth. Now this fountain did not come up from under the earth, but from the earth, for it explicitly says "the fountain was coming up"--not from beneath the earth, but " from the earth." That these waters in the earth do not precede the earth in time is testified by the fact that the earth carries them in its womb.
So "the fountain went up from the earth," as Scripture says, "and it irrigated the surface of the entire earth." [ Gen2:6 ] The earth then produced trees, vegetation and plants. It was not the case that God was unable to generate everything from the earth in any other way, but, because it was His will that the earth should give birth through the agency of water, He provided an initial beginning for this process, corresponding to the way in which it would be carried on until the end.
Having spoken about what had been omitted and left untold on the first day, Scripture reverts to the description of Adam's fashioning as follows: "And Adam was not there to work on the earth." [ Gen. 2:5 ] Indeed he was not in existence during all the days prior to the sixth, because it was on the sixth day that he was created. [Gen. 1:26-7, 31]
So on the sixth day "the Lord fashioned dust from the ground into Adam, and He breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and Adam became a living being." [ Gen2:7,2:8,2:9 ] Although animals, cattle and birds came into being at the same moment that they received life, in Adam's case God honored him in a variety of ways: first, because it is said that God "fashioned him with His hands and He breathed a soul into him" [ Gen2:7 ] ; He also gave him authority over Paradise and what is outside Paradise; and He wrapped him in glory and gave him reason, thought and an awareness of the Majesty.
Having spoken of the honored way in which Adam was fashioned, Scripture turns to describe Paradise and Adam's introduction into it: "And the Lord planted Paradise in Eden of old, and He placed there Adam whom He had fashioned. " [ 2:8 ]
Now Eden is the land of Paradise. By "of old" Scripture means that He planted it on the third day; it explains this with the words "the Lord caused to sprout from the earth every kind of tree that is beautiful to look upon and good to eat" [ Gen2:9 ] ; and to show that this refers to Paradise, it says, "and the Tree of Life was in the midst of Paradise, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil." [ Gen2:9 ]
After having spoken of Paradise and the day on which it was planted, as well as the introduction into it of Adam, and the Tree of Life and its companion, Scripture turns to describe the river which goes out from its midst, and how it is divided up outside Paradise into four sources: "A river was issuing from Eden to irrigate Paradise. " [ Gen2:10 ] Notice that here too it calls the delightful land of Paradise "Eden."
Had that river not first irrigated Paradise it would not have divided up into four sources outside it. I think it was perhaps for purposes of convenience that it was said to "irrigate," seeing that the spiritual trees of Paradise do not require any irrigation by water. But if, despite their being spiritual, they nevertheless absorbed something of those blessed and spiritual waters there, I should not object to such an opinion.
The taste of the water of the four tributaries which flow from that river is not like the taste of the head of the source. For if water varies in taste in our countries, all of which are subject to the sentence of the curse, how much more would one expect the taste in the blessed land of Eden to be different from that of the land which was laid under the curse of the Just One as a result of Adam's transgression?
Now these four rivers are as follows: the Pishon, that is, the Danube; the Gihon, that is, the Nile; the Tigris and the Euphrates. In between these we live. Even though the regions from which these flow are known, this does not apply to the head of the source; for Paradise is situated on a great height, and the rivers are swallowed up under the surrounding sea, descending as it were down a tall water pipe; having passed through the ground beneath the sea and reached this earth, the earth then spouts forth with one of them in the West-the Danube, or Pishon-the Gihon in the South, and the Euphrates and Tigris in the North.
Having spoken of Paradise and the rivers which issue from it and divide up, Scripture turns to speak of the entry of Adam into Paradise and the law which was laid down for him, as follows: "The Lord God took Adam and left him in the in the Paradise of Eden to till it [or worship Him] and keep [or guard] it." [ Gen2:15 ]
With what did he till it, seeing that he had not agricultural implements? And how would he have been able to till it, seeing that he could not have managed it himself? And what would he have to clear from it, seeing that there were no thistles or thorns there? Again, how could he have guarded it, since he could not walk right around it? And from what was he guarding it, seeing that there was no thief trying to enter it? Now the barrier which came into existence at the transgression of the commandment testified to the fact that no guard was required as long as the commandment was kept.
So Adam had nothing to keep there except for the law which was laid down for him. Nor was any work entrusted to him apart from preserving the commandment that he had been given. But should someone say that he had these two things to do as well as the commandment, I would not oppose him.
Having spoken of the introduction of Adam into Paradise and the reason God brought him there, Scripture turns to describe the commandment which was laid down for him, as follows: "And the Lord God commanded Adam, saying: 'You may indeed eat of all the trees in Paradise, but of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat; for on the day you eat of it you will certainly die.' " [ Gen. 2:16-17 ]
This commandment was a light one, for God had given him the whole of Paradise and held back from him but a single tree. If one tree sufficed for someone's sustenance, and many trees were withheld from him, there would still be relief for his distress, seeing that there still existed food for his hunger. But where it is a case of God's giving him many trees when one would have been sufficient, this means that if transgression takes place, it is not as a result of any real need, but because of contempt. So God withheld from him a single tree, hedging it around with death, so that even if Adam were to fail to keep the law out of love for the Lawgiver, at least the fear of death that surrounded the tree would make him afraid of overstepping the law.
Having spoken of Adam's entry into Paradise and of the law that was laid down for him, Scripture turns to describe the names which he gave to the animals, as follows: "The Lord fashioned out of the earth all the wild animals and the birds of the sky; and He brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. " [ Gen. 2:19 ]
They were not actually "fashioned," for the earth produced the animals, and the water the birds. [ [Gen. 1:20] ] By saying "fashioned" Scripture wishes to indicate that all animals, reptiles, cattle and birds came into being as a result of the combining of earth and water.
It says "He brought them to Adam" in order to indicate his wisdom, and also the peaceful state which existed between the animals and Adam prior to his transgressing the commandment. For they came to him as though to a loving shepherd, passing in front of him without any fear, flock after flock according to their species and varieties. They had no fear of him, nor were they in trepidation of one another; a herd of predators passed by, followed fearlessly by a group of the animals upon which they preyed.
So Adam took care of the earth and became master of everything on this day, in accordance with the blessing he had received--for the word of the Creator had taken effect and his blessing had been fulfilled in actual fact. That very same day did he rule over everything; and even though Adam was quick to rebel against the Lord of all things, God did not just give him the authority over all things that He had promised him, but in addition He gave him the right to allocate names, something that He had not promised him. Now if He had done more for him than what he had expected, how do you suppose He would have deprived him of what He had promised for any other reason than because he had sinned?
If it were a case of someone giving just a small number of names, the remembering of these would be nothing out of the ordinary, but to allocate thousands of names all in a single short moment, and to avoid any duplication between the first ones and the last, this is something which surpasses human ability. For someone to specify a multitude of names for a multitude of species--reptiles, wild animals, domestic cattle and birds--is quite possible, but to avoid ever calling one species by the name of another is something that belongs to God--or to a human being to whom this ability has been given by God. If God gave Adam authority, made him share in the act of creation, wrapped him in glory, and gave him the Garden, what else should He have done for him so that he might keep the commandment, but did not do?
After speaking about the fashioning of the animals and of the names they received, Scripture turns to describe Adam's sleep and the rib which was removed from him, and how woman [or a wife] was established, in the following words: "For Adam there was to be found no helper who resembled himself. " [ 2:20 ] Scripture calls Eve "helper," seeing that, even if Adam had helpers among the animals and cattle, nevertheless a helper of his own kind would be useful to him. For Eve looked after things inside, caring for the sheep, oxen, herds, and flocks in the field; she also assisted him with the buildings and the sheepfolds, and with the crafts that he invented. For even though the animals were subject to him, they were unable to assist him in these sorts of things. For that reason God made him a helper who would take care of everything along with him. And indeed she did assist him in all sorts of ways.
"The Lord cast a stillness on Adam and he slept; He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. And the Lord made the rib that He had taken from Adam into a woman, and He brought her to Adam." [ Gen. 2:21,2:22 ] Now the man, who was wakeful, anointed with radiance, and as yet ignorant of what sleep was, fell naked on the ground and slept. It is quite likely that he saw in his dream what was being done to him in waking life.
Once the rib had been extracted in the twinkling of an eye, and God had closed up the flesh in the flicker of an eyelid, and the bare rib had been fashioned with all kinds of adornments and embellishments, God then took her and brought her to Adam who was both one and two: he was one because he was Adam, he was two because he was created male and female.
Having spoken of the stillness, the extracted rib and the woman fashioned out of it who had been brought to him, Scripture describes how Adam said, "This time it is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh; let her be called woman, for she is taken from man. " [ Gen. 2:23 ] "This time" refers to the fact that she came after the animals and did not resemble them. For they came into being from the earth, whereas she "is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh." He may have said this of her as though in prophecy, or he knew it was the case from the visionary dream he had seen, as we suggested above.
Seeing that all species of animals had received from him a name on that very day, Adam did not call the rib that had been fashioned by her personal name "Eve," but called her instead "woman," the generic name applying to her entire kind.
He said "a man shall leave his father and his mother and attach himself to his wife " [ Gen. 2:24 ] so that they might be united and the two of them become one, without division, as they were originally.
Following this it says, "The two of them were naked, but they were not ashamed. " [ Gen. 2:25 ] It was not because they were ignorant of what shame was that they were not ashamed; for had they been infants, as the pagans say, Scripture would not have said that "they were naked but were not ashamed," nor would it have spoken of "Adam and his wife" had they not been adults. The names which Adam gave should convince us of his wisdom, and the fact that it says that "he was to work it and guard it" is to indicate his strength. Likewise, the law laid down for them is meant to testify to their adulthood--and the transgression of the law to testify to their arrogance.
It was because of the glory in which they were wrapped that they were not ashamed. Once this had been taken away from them, after the transgression of the commandment, they were ashamed because they had been stripped of it, and the two of them rushed to the leaves in order to cover not so much their bodies as their shameful members.
Having spoken of their naked state--which, because it was adorned with a heavenly raiment, was not shameful--Scripture turns to write about the astuteness of the serpent, as follows: "And the serpent was more astute than all the other wild animals that the Lord had made. " [ Gen. 3:1a ] Now even though it was astute, it was only more astute than the dumb animals which are under the control of mankind: it had not yet, just by reason of its having surpassed the level of animals in its astuteness, been raised to the level of mankind. That irrational creature was only more astute than the cattle; that mindless serpent was only more crafty than other animals. For it is clear that the serpent did not have a human mind, seeing that it did not possess human wisdom; whereas Adam, who surpassed the serpent in the way he was fashioned, by having a soul and an intellect, by his glory and by his location, clearly also infinitely surpassed the serpent in astuteness. For Adam, who had been set in authority and control over animals, was wiser than all the animals, and he who gave names to them all was certainly more astute than them all. For just as Israel could not look upon the face of Moses, [ [Exod. 34:33-35] ] neither were the animals able to look upon the radiance of Adam and Eve: at the time when they received names from him they passed in front of Adam with their eyes down, since their eyes were incapable of taking in his glory. So even though the serpent was more astute than the other animals, compared to Adam and Eve, who had authority over animals, it was foolish.
Having spoken of the serpent's astuteness, it turns to describe how the deceitful one came to Eve, as follows: "And the serpent said to the woman, 'Did God really tell you not to eat of any of the trees of Paradise?'" [ Gen. 3:1b ] On the matter of the serpent's words: either Adam knew the serpent's own language, or Satan spoke through it; or the serpent asked the question mentally, and speech was granted it, or Satan asked God that speech should temporarily be granted to the serpent.
Now the tempter's words would not have caused the tempted pair to sin had not their greed abetted the tempter. And even if the tempter had not come, the Tree with all its beauty would have caused them a struggle with their greed. In other words, they used the serpent's counsel as an excuse, for it was their own greed, which conformed with the serpent's counsel and went beyond it, that brought harm upon them.
For it says, "The woman saw that the Tree was good to eat, and was delightful to the eyes; and the Tree was enticing to look upon, and so she took some of its fruit and ate." [ Gen. 3:6 ] Now if she was overcome by the Tree's beauty and by desire for its fruit, she was not overcome by the counsel that had entered her ear, seeing that she was defeated by the greed which issued from within herself.
Seeing that a commandment had been laid down for the tempted pair, it was appropriate that the tempter should come momentarily. Now because God had given to Adam everything inside and outside Paradise through Grace, requiring nothing in return, either for his creation, or for the glory in which He had clothed him, nevertheless out of Justice He held back one tree from him to whom He had given, in Grace, everything in Paradise and on earth, in the air and in the seas. For when God created Adam, He did not make him mortal, nor did He fashion him as immortal; this was so that Adam himself, either through keeping the commandment, or by transgressing it might acquire from this one of the trees which ever outcome he wanted.
God had created the Tree of Life and hidden it from Adam and Eve, first, so that it should not, with its beauty, stir up conflict with them and so double their struggle, and also because it was inappropriate that they should be observant of the commandment of Him who cannot be seen for the sake of a reward that was there before their eyes.
Even though God had given them everything else out of Grace, He wished to confer on them, out of Justice, the immortal life which is granted through eating of the Tree of Life. He therefore laid down this commandment. Not that it was a large commandment, commensurate with the superlative reward that was in preparation for them; no, He only withheld from them a single tree, just so that they might be subject to a commandment. But He gave them the whole of Paradise, so that they would not feel any compulsion to transgress the law.
Because a tempter was required, as I mentioned, Satan was not allowed to have one of the Watchers, or one of the Seraphim or Cherubim, sent to Adam for this purpose; nor was Satan allowed to come to Adam in the Garden in human appearance, or in the divine appearance in which he came to our Lord on the mountain. [ [Matt. 4:1-11 par.] ] Nor did any of the huge and renowned animals, such as Behemoth or Leviathan, come; nor did any of the other animals, or any of the ritually clean cattle, lest some excuse might be found by [or for] the transgressors of the commandment. Instead, a mere serpent was allowed to come to them, which, even if it was astute, was nevertheless utterly despised and despicable.
Moreover, when the serpent came, it did not do so performing any signs, or even fashioning some false apparition; no, it came just by itself in its mean state, with downcast eyes seeing that it was unable to look upon the radiance of her who was being tempted by this creature. Out of fear it did not go to Adam, but went instead to Eve, in order quickly to get her to eat of the Tree from which she had been told not to eat. And this was when she had not yet tasted of the thousands and ten thousands of other trees that had been granted her. And the reason for her not having tasted them was not because she was fasting; rather, hunger had not yet gained any hold over her, for she had only just been created at that very time.
The entire reason the serpent was not prevented from coming hastily was because the serpent's very haste worked against the serpent. For it was the moment that Eve had been created, and she did not yet know what hunger was; and up to now she had not been tormented by any struggle over the Tree's beauty. So, because she was not hungry and was not struggling with the Tree, the serpent was not prevented from becoming a tempter.
If she had vanquished it in a momentary fight, in a struggle lasting but a short time, the serpent--and he who was in the serpent--would still have received the punishment which in the event they received, while she and her husband would have eaten of the Tree of Life and lived forever; with the promised life that they would have acquired through Justice, they would also have had, through Justice, everything that previously they had been given through Grace.
So the tempter made haste to come, and was not prevented. This was so that they might realize that he was the tempter, by the fact that the tempter came at the same time as the commandment, and in this way they would be wary of his deceitfulness. He who was unable to provide himself with even a small reputation came along and gave them momentous counsel.
Satan, who was in the serpent, spoke through the serpent to the woman: "Did God really say that you should not eat of any of the trees of Paradise. " [ Gen. 3:1 ] It is right that we should realize that, had they been commanded not to eat of any of the trees, as the serpent said, it would have been a big commandment. Whereas in fact they were commanded exactly the opposite, as it were, no commandment at all seeing that it was so small and had been given only temporarily, until the tempter had gone away from them.
Now Eve replied, saying to the serpent, "From the fruits of the trees in Paradise we may eat, but from the fruits of the Tree in the middle of Paradise He told us not to eat and not to approach it, lest we die. " [ Gen. 3:2,3:3 ] . The serpent, and he who was in the serpent, having heard that all the trees of Paradise had been provided for fruit, and only one had been withheld from them, supposed themselves to be wrapped in shame, seeing that there was no opportunity for counseling disobedience.
Accordingly, the tempter observed the commandment of God the giver of commandments, how not only had they been forbidden to eat of it, but they were not to approach it at all; and he realized that God had forewarned them away from seeing the Tree, lest they be captivated by its beauty. So, luring Eve to look at it, he said, "It is not the case that you will die, for God knows that the day you eat of these fruits your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil. " [ Gen. 3:4,3:5 ] Now Eve omitted to look carefully at the serpent's words, at how the tempter had said exactly the opposite of what had been uttered by God; and she failed to answer him back and say, "How can my eyes be opened, seeing that they are not closed?" and "How will I know the difference between good and evil by eating the fruit, seeing that I already know this before eating it?" But she neglected everything that she should have said in opposition to the serpent, and, just as the serpent had desired, she raised her eyes from the serpent in front of her and gazed at the Tree she had been commanded not to approach. Now the serpent kept quiet, for it already perceived her guilt. For it was not so much the counsel that had entered her ear that lured her on to eat of the Tree, but rather her gaze, which she had focused on the Tree, enticed her to pluck and eat some of its fruit.
She could very well have said to the serpent, "If I cannot see, how is it that I see everything that is to be seen? And if I do not know the difference between good and evil, how could I discern whether your counsel is good or evil? How would I know that divinity was good and the opening of the eyes an excellent thing, and whence would I recognize that death is evil? But all this is available to me; so why have you come to me? Your coming to us bears witness that we possess these very things; for with the sight that I have, and with the ability to distinguish what is good from what is evil that I possess, I will test your counsel. If I already have the things which you have promised, where is all this cunning of yours which has failed to hide your deception?"
She did not say these things whereby she might have defeated the serpent, but instead she fixed her gaze on the Tree, thereby hastening her own defeat. Thus, following her desire and enticed by the divinity which the serpent had promised her, she ate furtively, away from her husband. Only subsequently did she give it to her husband, and he ate with her. Because she had believed the serpent she ate first, imagining that she would return clothed in divinity to her husband whom she had left as a woman. She hastily ate before her husband so that she might become head over her head, and that she might be giving orders to him from whom she received orders, seeing that she had become senior in divinity to Adam to whom she was junior in humanity.
When she had eaten, she neither grew nor shrank; nor did she acquire enlightenment. For she did not receive the divinity she had been looking to, nor did she find the enlightenment that brings one to Paradise. She took the fruit to her husband and, with many entreaties, got him to eat it--though it is not written that she entreated him. [ Gen. 3:6 ]
Having once eaten, Eve did not die as God had said, nor did she find divinity, as the serpent had said. For had she been exposed, Adam would have been afraid and would not have eaten, in which case, even though he would not have been guilty in that he did not eat, yet he would not have been victorious either, seeing that he would not have been tempted. It would have been the exposing of his wife that would have restrained him from eating rather than love for, or fear of, Him who gave the commandment. It was so that Adam might for a moment be tempted by Eve's blandishments--just as she had been by the counsel of the serpent--that she had approached and eaten, but had not been exposed.
Once Eve had enticed Adam and gotten him to eat, Scripture says that "the eyes of the two of them were opened and they knew that they were naked." [ Gen. 3:7 ] So their eyes were opened, not that they might become like God, as the serpent had said, but that they might see their own exposure, just as the enemy had hoped. For their eyes had thus been both open and closed: open, in that they could see everything; but closed, in that they did not see either the Tree of Life or their own exposure.
The enemy was envious for this reason too, because they surpassed everything on earth in possessing glory and reason, and eternal life which is provided by the Tree of Life was promised to them alone. Thus the enemy was envious of Adam and Eve both for what they had and for what they were to receive; accordingly, he plotted against them and in the course of a momentary struggle he took from them what they should not have lost even if it meant a great struggle.
For had the serpent been rejected, along with the sin, they would have eaten of the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge would not have been withheld from them any longer; from the one they would have acquired infallible knowledge, and from the other they would have received immortal life. They would have acquired divinity in humanity; and had they thus acquired infallible knowledge and immortal life they would have done so in this body.
Thus by what it promised, the serpent annulled what they were to have had: it made them think that they would receive this by transgressing the commandment, thus effecting that they would not receive it as a result of keeping the commandment. It withheld divinity from them by means of the divinity which it promised them, and it brought about that those, to whom it had promised enlightenment from the Tree of Knowledge, should not have their eyes illumined by the Tree of Life, as promised.
Now had they been willing to repent after transgressing the commandment, even though they would not have received what they had possessed prior to their transgression, nevertheless they would have escaped from the curses pronounced over the earth and over themselves. For the whole reason for God's delay in coming down to them was in case they might rebuke one another and so, when the Judge did come to them, they might ask for mercy. The serpent's arrival was not delayed, so that their temptation at the beautiful sight of the Tree might not be too great. The Judge, on the other hand, did delay in coming to them, in order to give them an opportunity to prepare a plea. However, the haste on the part of the tempter did not help them, even though this haste was designed to help them; nor did they profit from the Judge's delay, even though His delay, too, was intended for that very purpose.
"And they heard the sound [or voice] of the Lord as He walked in Paradise at the turn of the day; and they hid themselves from the Lord's presence among the trees in Paradise." [ Gen. 3:8 ] It was not just by the patience that He showed toward them that He wanted to help them, but He also wanted the sound of His footsteps to assist them; for He caused His silent footsteps to make a noise so that, at the noise, they might prepare to make supplication before Him who issued the sound. When, however, they failed to appear before Him with supplication, either as a result of His delay or because of the sound that had been sent forth in advance of Him, God then went on to employ the sound of His lips, just as He had used the sound of His footsteps, saying "Where are you, Adam?" [ Gen. 3:9 ] But instead of confessing his wrong and asking mercy before sentence was pronounced over him, Adam said, "I heard the sound of You in Paradise and I was afraid, for I saw that I was naked and so I hid myself." [ Gen. 3:10 ]
The sound of feet which went before the God who was about to be revealed to Adam and Eve in punishment prefigured the voice of John who was to come before the Son, holding a winnowing fan in his hands as he cleans his threshing floors, about to burn the chaff in fire and clean the wheat in order to bring it into his storehouses. [ [Matt. 3:12] ] their temptation at the be
"I heard the sound of You and I hid myself." [ Gen. 3:10 ] When had you heard the sound of Him as you do now? For you did not hear His sound when He fashioned you and brought you into Paradise, nor when He cast a stillness upon you and extracted your rib, constructing and bringing to you a wife. If it is only just recently that you have heard the sound of Him, you should realize even now that this sound of footsteps was made in order that your lips might make supplication. Speak to Him before He questions you about the coming of the serpent and about your and Eve's transgression, in case the confession of your lips might absolve you of the sin of eating the fruit which your fingers plucked. But they failed to confess anything about what they had done; instead, they told the Omniscient what had happened to them. footsteps
"Where are you, Adam? In the state of divinity which the serpent promised you? Or subject to death which I pronounced over you, should you look to the fruits? Now suppose, Adam, that instead of the utterly despicable serpent there had come to you an angel, or another divine being, would it have been right for you to despise the command of Him who gave you all these things and instead to listen to the counsel of one who had not yet in actual fact performed anything good for you? Would you consider as evil Him who fashioned you out of nothing and made you a second god over creation, instead holding to be good one who had merely with words promised you some advantage? And if it would not be right for you to be deceived by the counsel of some other god, were he to come to you with a show of force, how much more so when it is a serpent that has come to you, without any mighty acts or miracles, but with only the bare words which it addressed to you? You have held your God to be false and your deceiver to be true; you have broken faith with your Benefactor who put you in authority over everything, and you have believed that deceiver who has cunningly managed to take away your authority completely."
Had the serpent been prevented from coming to tempt Adam, the people who today complain about its having come would be complaining about its having been prevented from coming; for they would be saying that the serpent-- who in fact came so that Adam might acquire eternal life by means of a short-lived temptation--had been prevented from doing so out of envy. And those who now say that Adam would never have gone astray if the serpent had not come would instead be saying that had the serpent come, Adam would not have gone astray. For, just as they imagine that they are doing well by saying, "Had the serpent not come, Adam and Eve would not have gone astray," all the more so would they imagine that they did well by saying, "Had the serpent come, it would not have led Adam and Eve astray." Indeed, who would ever have believed it, had it not actually happened, that Adam should have listened to a serpent or Eve been won over by a reptile!
"I heard the sound of You, and I was afraid and hid myself. " [ Gen. 3:10 ] Because Adam omitted what was requisite and instead said something that was not required--for instead of confessing what he had done, which would have benefited him, he related what had happened to him, which did not benefit him--God said to him, "Who showed you that you are naked? You have eaten of the Tree from which I commanded you not to eat. [ Gen. 3:11 ] You have seen your own nakedness with the help of the vision which the Tree bestowed upon you--the same that had promised you a glorious vision of divinity."
Once again Adam failed to confess his fault, laying the blame on the woman who was like him: "The woman with whom you provided me gave me of the Tree and I ate. [ Gen. 3:12 ] I myself did not approach the Tree, nor was it my hand which presumed to stretch out for the fruit." This is why the Apostle too says, "Adam himself did not sin, but Eve transgressed the commandment." [ I Tim. 2:14 ] But if He gave you a wife, Adam, He gave her as a helper and not as a harmer, as someone who receives instructions, rather than as one who gives orders.
When Adam was unwilling to confess his fault, God went down to Eve with a question, saying to her, "What is this that you have done?" [ Gen. 3:13 ] Eve, too, instead of making supplication with tears and taking the fault upon herself in the hope that pardon might come upon herself and her husband, answered back, not saying, "The serpent counseled me" or "enticed me," but simply, "The serpent deceived me and I ate. " [ Gen. 3:13 ]
When the two of them had been questioned and found to be lacking in contrition or valid excuse, God descended to the serpent, not with a question, but with a punishment. For where there was a possibility of repentance He made use of questions, but with a creature that is alien to repentance He employed a sentence of judgment. And you should realize that the serpent cannot repent from the fact that, when God said to it, "Because you have done this you are more cursed than all cattle," [ Gen. 3:14 ] it did not say "I did not do it" because it was afraid to lie, nor did it say "I did it," because it was alien to repentance.
"You are more cursed than all cattle because you deceived those who have authority over all cattle; and instead of being more astute than all other animals you shall be more cursed than all other animals, and you shall go about on your belly because you brought pangs upon womankind. And you shall eat dust all the days of your life [ Gen. 3:14 ] because you deprived Adam and Eve of the food of the Tree of Life. And I will place enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed [ Gen. 3:15 ] because by your fraudulent show of love you deceived and subjected both her and her children to death.
He then indicates the nature of the enmity which was placed between the serpent and the woman, between its seed and hers, saying, "It shall tread upon your head--which wanted to escape from subjugation to her seed--and you will strike it, not in its organ of hearing, but in its heel. " [ Gen. 3:15 ]
Now even though the sentence imposed on the serpent was justly decreed--for punishment reverts to where the crime originated--nevertheless the full reason God began with this despicable creature was so that Adam and Eve might become afraid and repent while Justice was appeasing its anger on the serpent: then there would be an opportunity for Grace to hold them back from Justice's curses. When the serpent had been cursed, however, and Adam and Eve still did not ask forgiveness, God then came with punishment. He came to Eve, since it was by her hand that the sin had been handed over to Adam. Thus he decreed as follows against Eve: "I will greatly multiply your pains and your conceptions, and you shall give birth to children with pangs." [ Gen. 3:16 ]
Even though she would have given birth to children anyway--seeing that she had received the blessing of childbirth along with all creatures--nevertheless she would not have given birth to many children, because those whom she bore would have remained immortal. And she would have been spared the pangs of birthgiving, the anguish of their upbringing and the lamentations at their deaths.
"And you shall turn to your husband" --to be counseled, and not to counsel-- "and he shall have authority over you" [ Gen. 3:16 ] -- since you imagined that by eating the fruit you would from then onward have authority over him.
After He had decreed concerning Eve and repentance failed to spring up in Adam, He then turned to him as well in punishment, saying, " Because you listened to the voice of your wife and were wheedled into eating of the Tree from which I told you not to eat, cursed is the earth because of you. " [ Gen. 3:17 ]
Although it was the earth, which had not done wrong, which was smitten instead of Adam, who had done wrong, nevertheless it was Adam, who is subject to suffering, whom He caused to suffer by means of the curse on the earth, which is not subject to suffering; for it was because of the earth's being cursed that Adam, who had not been directly cursed, was cursed. Thus he did not escape punishment at the curse which the earth received, for God decreed concerning him too, as follows: "With pains shall you eat of it all the days of your life" [ Gen3:17 ] --that is, after breaking the commandment, though you would have eaten of it without any pains had the commandment been kept. "Thorns and thistles" [ Gen3:18 ] will it bring forth after the sin, things which it would not have brought forth had there been no sin. "You shall eat herbage of the field," [ Gen3:18 ] because through your wife's slight enticement you have rejected Paradise's delectable fruits. "With the sweat of your face will you eat bread," [ Gen3:19 ] because it did not please you to enjoy yourself without any toil in the delights of the Garden. All this will be your portion "until you return to the earth whence you were taken," [ Gen3:19 ] seeing that you despised the commandment which, at the very present moment, might have given you eternal life, by means of the fruit of the Tree of Life which you would have been permitted to eat. Since you originate from dust and you forgot yourself, "you shall return to " [ Gen3:19 ] your "dust " and your true being shall be recognized through your low estate "
Even Satan, who was created within these six days along with the womb to which he belonged, was fair until the sixth day, just as Adam and Eve were fair up to the time they transgressed the commandment. Now Satan, who had become Satan in secret on this day, was also secretly sentenced and condemned the same day; for God did not wish to make known his judgment in the presence of the pair who were not aware of his having tempted them--the woman said "It was the serpent," and not Satan, "who led me astray." So Satan was judged secretly, and in him all his hosts were condemned. For since the sin was so great, and any one of them alone would have been too insignificant for the punishment--just as birth pangs were decreed for Eve along with her daughters, and pains and death for Adam and his children, and for the serpent it was decreed that it and all its seed should be trampled--so it was decreed against Satan who was in the serpent that he should go to the fire along with all his hosts. For in the New Testament our Lord revealed what had been hidden in the old, when he said, "Concerning the judgment of the ruler of this world, he is judged," that is, he is condemned." [ John 16:11 ]
VACAT Having spoken of the punishment which the tempter and those tempted received, Scripture describes how "the Lord made garments of skin for Adam and Eve, and clothed them. " [ Gen. 3:21 ] Whether these garments were from the skins of animals, or whether they were specially created, like the thorn bushes and thistles which were created after the other works of creation had been completed, seeing that it is said that "the Lord made... and clothed them," it seems likely that when their hands were laid upon their leaves they found themselves clothed with garments made of skin. Or were, perhaps, some animals killed before them, so that they could nourish themselves with their flesh, cover up their nakedness with their skins, and in their deaths see the death of their own bodies?
Having finished this it says, "Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing good and evil." [ Gen. 3:22 ] By saying that "he has become like one of us," Scripture also revealed symbolically something about the Trinity. But at the same time God was actually addressing Adam ironically, seeing that Adam had been told, "you will become like God, knowing good and evil."
However, although Adam and Eve became aware of both these things from eating the fruit, prior to the fruit they were in practice only aware of the good, hearing about evil by report, but after eating it there was a change, so that they only heard by report of the good, whereas they tasted evil in practice. For the glory in which they had been wrapped left them, and the pains which had previously been kept away from them now dominated them.
"And now, lest he stretch out his hand and take from the fruit of the Tree of Life as well, and eat it and live for ever..." [ Gen. 3:22 ] For if he had the audacity to eat of the Tree of which he was commanded not to eat, how much the more would he make a dash for the Tree concerning which he had received no commandment? But because it had been decreed against them that they should exist in toil and sweat, in pains and pangs, God, who when they were still free from the curse and clothed in glory was prepared to give them immortal life, now that they were clothed in the curse, kept them back from eating of the Tree of Life, lest by eating of it and living forever, they would have to remain in a life of pain for eternity.
God's intention, then, was that this life-giving gift, which they would have received from the Tree of Life, might not be turned to misery and actually harm them even more than what they had acquired through the Tree of Knowledge. For from the Tree of Knowledge they had acquired temporal pains, whereas the Tree of Life would have made those pains eternal. From the Tree of Knowledge they had acquired death which would release them from the bonds of their pains, whereas the Tree of Life would have made them entombed all their lives, leaving them forever tortured by their pains. So it was that God kept them back from the Tree of Life, for it was not appropriate, either that a life of delight should be provided in the land of curses, or that eternal life should be found in the transient world.
Had they eaten, however, one of two things would have happened: either the sentence of death would have been proved false, or the life-giving characteristic of the Tree of Life would have been proved not to be genuine. In order, therefore, that the sentence of death might not be annulled, and the life-giving characteristic of the Tree might not be proved false, God kept Adam at a distance from it, lest he suffer loss from the Tree of Life as well, just as he had already been harmed by the Tree of Knowledge.
At his departure from Paradise it says that God "caused a cherub and a sharp revolving sword to go round, to the east of the Garden of Eden, to protect the way to the Tree of Life. " [ Gen. 3:24 ] The barrier was thus a living one, which of its own accord went around guarding the way to the Tree of Life from anyone who audaciously wanted to pluck its fruit; for it would kill with its sharp sword any mortal who came to steal for himself immortal life.
Copyright © 1995 Gary Anderson, all rights reserved
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