Blessings & Condemnations in Genesis 3 (Part the First)

To wel­come myself back to blog­ging (sor­ry for the delay!), I thought I’d walk through Gen­e­sis 3:14–19, the por­tion of Scrip­ture with­in which God lays the prover­bial smack down on Satan, Eve, and Adam for their sins. That order­ing (Satan, Eve, and Adam) is not an acci­dent — they are addressed by God in the exact order in which they sinned. So first, we find God’s word to “the ser­pent of old who is called the dev­il and Satan” (Rev­e­la­tion 12:9).

And the Lord God said to the ser­pent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cat­tle, And more than every beast of the field; On your bel­ly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life;” Verse 14

While the entire ani­mal king­dom was affect­ed by the fall of man into sin, the ser­pen­t’s curse is one of spe­cial focus. Because Satan, being in form a ser­pent, open­ly rebelled against God and caused Eve to do the same, he was to be cast down, hum­bled even low­er than cat­tle. Upon his bel­ly he was thrown, where he would lick the dust per­pet­u­al­ly. This mark of humil­i­a­tion can be seen else­where in Scrip­ture as well (i.e., Mic­ah 7:17).

What an amaz­ing thought to think that so ear­ly on in his­to­ry, Satan has already been debased below all the cat­tle of the field. How piti­ful is a king­dom whose ruler is of less worth than swine!

Or per­haps you think that verse 14 refers only to the ser­pent as an ani­mal and not to Satan him­self. Please, read on.

“And I will put enmi­ty Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Verse 15

In the midst of mankind’s dark­est hour — Adam & Eve had sinned against God, hid­den them­selves from Him, and were about to have their sen­tences read — God decrees bless­ing. In the mid­dle of the curse upon Satan, God pro­claims grace for the seed of the woman.

First, I hope that you’ll see here that verse 14 was refer­ring to Satan. The seed of Satan has been war­ring with the seed of the woman through­out all time, with Jesus declar­ing that cer­tain scribes & Phar­isees were of their father the dev­il (John 8:44).

This enmi­ty between the seed of the woman (God’s peo­ple) and the seed of the ser­pent is kin­dled by God Him­self. What a curse it is to Satan that God’s peo­ple should be set against his peo­ple. The strug­gle finds its cli­max in the promised “He” that shall “bruise [Satan] on the head.” We find that promise ful­filled in Jesus Christ, who though He was bruised on the heel by Satan, smote Satan in the head, mor­tal­ly wound­ing that old serpent.

We also find in this verse an expla­na­tion for the mas­sacres of the Old Tes­ta­ment. Sal­va­tion for God’s peo­ple is always accom­pa­nied by and even requires the destruc­tion of their ene­mies. That is why the impre­ca­to­ry Psalms exist. That is why the Israelites were com­mand­ed to erad­i­cate oth­er peo­ples. They were the seed of the ser­pent — dead in their sins and nev­er hav­ing belonged to God. For the Chris­t­ian, the pre­cise iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the ser­pen­t’s seed is a bit more dif­fi­cult to ascer­tain. All we know for sure is that those who die hav­ing nev­er accept­ed Christ belong to the accursed seed. We can pray along with David in those Psalms when deliv­er­ance from ene­mies via their destruc­tion is prayed for. We can relate with the Israelites in our strug­gle against the ser­pen­t’s seed. And we can rejoice that one day, total deliv­er­ance will come for God’s peo­ple, all his ene­mies — includ­ing the Adver­sary him­self — will be cast down, van­quished for­ev­er and ever.

To the woman He said, “I will great­ly mul­ti­ply Your pain in child­birth, In pain you shall bring forth chil­dren; Yet your desire shall be for your hus­band, And he shall rule over you.” Verse 16

The pre­vi­ous verse’s men­tion of the wom­an’s seed serves as a segue from God’s address­ing of the ser­pent to His address­ing of Eve. Here, our first moth­er faces the con­se­quences of her sin, of her will­ful dis­obe­di­ence of God in eat­ing of the for­bid­den fruit.

God first tells Eve that He will “great­ly increase” the pain which she will endure in child­birth. Pri­or to this, giv­ing birth would have been a sim­ple mat­ter of joy & obe­di­ence to the com­mand to be fruit­ful and mul­ti­ply. Now, the Lord curs­es child­birth, not by strik­ing Eve bar­ren, but by telling her that “in pain you shall bring forth chil­dren.” This curse has been suf­fered by women ever since, and it will be faced by women for ages to come, unless the Lord comes.

Note the dichoto­my of bless­ing & curse here, though. Yes, women will be cursed with much pain dur­ing child­birth, but it is the seed of the woman through which sal­va­tion was to come! It is the seed of the woman which is set at enmi­ty with the ser­pen­t’s seed. What a glo­ri­ous priv­i­lege for Eve to, despite the curse, still moth­er the cho­sen line. How great, her mer­ci­ful is God!

The verse also tells us that Eve’s desire will be toward her hus­band. There are two pos­si­ble inter­pre­ta­tions of this. Per­haps the most com­mon is that the woman would be cursed with exces­sive depen­dence upon the hus­band so that the woman would live her life in a man­ner “exces­sive­ly direct­ed toward her hus­band” (Robert­son, O. Palmer, The Christ of the Covenants).

The sec­ond inter­pre­ta­tion, accord­ing to Robert­son, is that which is war­rant­ed when par­al­lel phrase­ol­o­gy from Gen­e­sis 4:7 is con­sid­ered. That verse says that “sin is crouch­ing at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must mas­ter it.”

In oth­er words, sin lies in wait for us, seek­ing to dom­i­nate us, but we must instead mas­ter sin so that it can­not ensnare us.

Back to Gen­e­sis 3, then, we see that it might be that the curse upon the woman is that she will desire her hus­band, “not in the sense of exces­sive depen­dence, but in the sense of exces­sive deter­mi­na­tion to dom­i­nate … Her long­ing shall be to poss­es him, to con­trol him, to dom­i­nate him” (Ibid).

The reac­tion from man to this dom­i­neer­ing atti­tude of the woman, then, is to rule over her. In sin­ning in Eden, the woman usurped “her hus­band’s pre­rog­a­tive” (Ibid), and this mar­i­tal imbal­ance was devised by God as a curse for her. Although, it would be a gross omis­sion to not say that this par­tic­u­lar curse affects the man as well.

Okay, I’m going to go ahead and post this. I’ve worked on it off-and-on for about two weeks, and I still have vers­es 17–19 to go through. As always, your feed­back is welcome.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet, Trans­form­ers is an excel­lent movie; you can read my review if you wish.

All Scrip­ture quo­ta­tions are from the New Amer­i­can Stan­dard Bible.


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4 responses to “Blessings & Condemnations in Genesis 3 (Part the First)”

  1. Andy Bird Avatar

    I real­ly should not post here as it is not good for my dis­po­si­tion but…

    “First, I hope that you’ll see here that verse 14 was refer­ring to Satan.”

    Well no.. Your rea­son­ing for link­ing the ser­pent to Satan is prac­ti­cal­ly non-exis­tent here and is entire­ly miss­ing from Gen­e­sis (as far as i can see though I have just skimmed it again. You must have more rea­sons for mak­ing the link if so what is it? I have often won­dered why fundies put so much empha­sis on Satan with so lit­tle bib­li­cal evi­dence and was hop­ing you were going to give us that evidence..

    look for­ward to hear­ing more.

  2. Andy Bird Avatar

    just to make clear — i am not being argu­men­ta­tive .. this time ;) I real­ly am just curious

  3. Rick Beckman Avatar

    Andy, your curios­i­ty is appre­ci­at­ed, and I don’t think being open­ly inquis­i­tive about the beliefs of oth­ers is bad for your dis­po­si­tion. After all, isn’t being open-mind­ed a good thing? :)

    Whether or not Adam & Eve had the under­stand­ing that the ser­pent was Satan, I can­not say. I doubt they did sim­ply because they knew him only as the serpent.

    Whether Moses him­self had that under­stand­ing, I have no idea.

    And while I real­ize this may be cast­ed as a myth for­mu­lat­ing over time, it also fits per­fect­ly well with a pro­gres­sion in rev­e­la­tion from Gen­e­sis to Rev­e­la­tion over time. By the time John wrote Rev­e­la­tion, it was clear that Satan was “that old ser­pent” as was quot­ed above.

    It is also clear that the ser­pen­t’s seed and the wom­an’s seed warred through­out the Old Tes­ta­ment, and that these two war­ring groups were either of God the Father or “of their father the devil.”

    I also believe that the ser­pent is Satan as opposed to a com­mon, ordi­nary snake because the ser­pent spoke — ordi­nary snakes do not do that, and there is no men­tion in the curse upon the snake that the abil­i­ty to speak would be tak­en away.

    Last­ly, I believe that the ser­pent is Satan because of the role it played — that of adver­sary against God. The name “Satan” lit­er­al­ly means “adver­sary,” and so that the name is ascribed to the ser­pent lat­er may indi­cate that the ser­pent had no name until ascribed one — much as all the ani­mals had no names until Adam gave them one.

    Not quite “air tight,” you may so, and per­haps you’re right. I do not claim to be a rock-sol­id exegete by any means, and I’m sure there are more in-depth analy­ses out there.

  4. Steve Avatar

    This is well said. Such pas­sages in Scripure should be spo­ken of more often. It is so rich and so helpe­ful. Thanks.

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Rick Beckman