Exposition of Genesis 1–11: Genesis 3:6–7

Genesis 3:6–7
6 When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.  7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
(NET Bible)

Looking at the Wrong Thing

Everyone knows that good eyesight is a tremendous help in life. What we seldom consider is that spiritual sight is even more vital. Many people have 20/20 physical-vision, but they are experiencing inner, spiritual darkness. What is worse, they think it to be wisdom.

Jesus tells us: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matt. 6:22-23).

How does one acquire darkened spiritual-vision? Unfortunately, Eve learned the secret.

It is hard to write a sentence to summarize such far-reaching tragedy as Genesis 3:6 presents. Gordon Wenham relates how the narrator approaches the story: “The fatal steps are described in eleven . . . clauses that suggest the rapidity of the action—‘she saw,’ ‘she took,’ ‘she gave’ . . . . ‘and he ate’ employs the key verb of this tale—‘eat.’”[1]

We who read English cannot readily see the artistry embedded in the narrator’s writing. Victor Hamilton notes how the narrator has selected words that are very difficult to speak: “Such ‘extremely difficult pronunciation . . . forces a merciless concentration on each word.’”[2] In other words, when the priests and Levites taught these words to the Israelites, their speech had to slow to pronounce each awful word, thus branding them on the minds of their listeners.

In describing the essence of the sin itself, Hamilton says: “Indulgence here would give the woman something she did not, in her judgment, presently possess, and that is wisdom. . . . Here is the essence of covetousness. It is the attitude that says I need something I do not now have in order to be happy.”[3] To our discredit, we have all done the same and reaped the same result.

It is difficult to understand what goes on in the man’s mind because we are not told. What leads him to follow the woman’s fatal act? Is it the emotional, one-flesh bond? Could he not simply obey what God had commanded? Does he not know what fruit he is getting? Again, Hamilton observes:

The woman does not try to tempt the man. She simply gives and he takes. He neither challenges or raises questions. The woman allows her mind and her own judgment to be her guide; the man neither approves nor rebukes. Hers is the sin of initiative. His is the sin of acquiescence.[4]

Genesis 3:6 is the climax of the entire section from Genesis 2:5 through Genesis 3:24. But the surprise for the man and woman comes in Genesis 3:7 when those who sought to become shrewd now know they are nude. Why do they feel the desire to cover up? The most obvious explanation is that each can look upon the other and see an outward, visible change commensurate with the inner change brought by the fresh experience of sin.

Describing the sequel to the fatal sequence, Hamilton says, “Rather than driving them back to God, their guilt leads them into a self-atoning, self-protecting procedure: they must cover themselves.”[5] Again, we have all tried to save ourselves from sin by good deeds, to no avail.

Wenham invites us to look back and see something profound about the sequence of actors: “God-man-woman-animal in [Genesis 2:18-25] becomes snake-woman-man-God in [Genesis 3:6-8]. The order of creation is totally inverted.”[6] Sin twists everything beyond anything humanity can do.

In the next Genesis post, help will arrive at the scene of devastation.

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) 75.

[2] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990) 190.

[3] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 190.

[4] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 191.

[5] Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, 191.

[6] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 51.


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