Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 3:8–10

Genesis 3:8–10
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the orchard.
9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”  10 The man replied, “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
(NET Bible)

Assessing a Disaster

Barriers to communication present some of the worst problems we experience. When a dangerous storm passes over your loved ones, you want to know what is going on right now! All too often critical questions go unanswered.

What causes problems in our communication with God? How can the causes be overcome? What is God doing to reach out to us?

Although the woman was engaged by the voice of the serpent, a different reaction occurs when the man and his wife hear the “voice” (as translated by the King James Version; the same word given as “sound” in NET) of God calling while customarily walking in the garden during the breezy evening (Gen. 3:8). They must hide!

Gordon Wenham says: “A more complete transformation could not be imagined. The trust and innocence are replaced by fear of guilt. The trees that God created for man to look at (2:9) are now his hiding place to prevent God seeing him.”[1]

A more literal translation of Gen. 3:8b would say, “and so they kept themselves hidden from the face of the Lord God in the midst of the trees of the garden” (my rough translation). Fat chance that will work! Parents among us may think of their small children hiding by placing their little hands over their eyes; the ineffectiveness is uppermost.

The trees hide nothing from God’s eyes (Gen. 3:9). Bruce Waltke rightly says: “God models justice. The just King will not pass sentence without careful investigation (cf. 4:9-10; 18:21). Although omniscient, God questions them, inducing them to confess their guilt.”[2]

The call (“the Lord God called” in 3:9) is to give an accounting (as in 12:18; 20:9; 26:9-10). The question (“Where are you?”) is rhetorical (Gen. 3:9) and is directed to the man. Wenham notes: “The couple emerge shamefaced from the trees. Their reply to God’s inquiry shows that they understood the question as an invitation to come out and explain their behavior.”[3]

However, the barriers to communication are shown in the inverse order of the man’s confession (Gen. 2:10). He says he hid because he was naked and therefore afraid. Notice the careful avoidance of how he got that way! He fails to realize that the word “naked” provides more than an explanation; it gives confirmation of his disobedience. How difficult it is for us to admit to God the true depth of our sinful acts.

The thoughtful reader will realize that God could have walked into this scene and simply announced judgment on the basis of what he already knew. But it is vital, now that the man has entered the realm of death, that the man and woman learn the value of confession and restoration of communication with their creator; he is the only one who can save this disaster.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 76.

[2] Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001) 92.

[3] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 77.

 

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!