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The Fall of Man

(Extract from The Genesis Account, Ch. 13)


Published: 28 January 2021 (GMT+10)




Genesis 3 is the most tragic chapter in the whole Bible. Here all the horrors of the world began: death, disease, suffering, pain—and worst of all, sin, the progenitor to all these.

Before the events of this chapter, God had made everything “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but then Satan had sinned. From the biblical text, we can narrow the timeframe for the falls of Satan and mankind.

Satan somehow used a serpent to tempt Eve. This involved deception and questioning God’s words and character. Eve fell into temptation and sinned. Then she induced Adam to sin, which he did despite not being deceived.

The results were both immediate and ongoing. Adam and Eve realized they were naked, and clothed themselves. Then God interrogated them, and pronounced judgment.

First, the serpent would crawl on its belly, and Satan, behind the serpent, would be destroyed by the coming seed of the woman. This would be the Messiah. Thus even in God’s judgment, there would be a redeemer for man and woman. This chapter also has the first example of bloodshed covering sin, when God killed animals to make coats of skin for Adam and Eve. This would be a type of the Messiah shedding His blood for the salvation of all believers.

Second, Eve and her female descendants would suffer pains in childbirth. Many would also suffer from oppressive male headship. But the correct roles in marriage are illustrated in the NT by comparing husband and wife with Christ and the Church.

Third, because of Adam’s actions, death and thorns would enter the world. Labour would no longer be easy but painful and sweaty.

The Serpent tempts Eve (3:1b–5)

3:1b–5—He [the serpent] said to the woman, “Did God [Elohim] actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Doubting God’s word

We first notice that the name of God is just Elohim again. This has nothing to do with a different ‘E’ author, as per the Documentary Hypothesis. The different names for God reflect different contexts. Here it would be an absolute travesty for the Evil One to use the sacred covenant name of God, since he has no intention of entering into any covenants with Him. And Eve’s use of the name was just replying to the word Satan used.

Satan’s first attack was inducing doubt in God’s words. He does so with the first recorded question in Scripture. In Hebrew, it’s even more emphatic than most English translations, as Keil and Delitzsch say:

כּי אף [aph kî] is an interrogative expressing surprise (as in 1 Samuel 23:3; 2 Samuel 4:11): “Is it really the fact that God has prohibited you from eating of all the trees of the garden?” 1

Satan also twists what God actually commanded, as if He had prohibited eating from any tree, whereas there was only one tree that was off limits. How often since then has the Tempter made God’s commands seem more onerous than they really were! Eve’s answer was right:

We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”

Eve thus affirmed God’s generosity in allowing them to eat of all but one of the trees. She clearly also understood the penalty that God had ordained for disobedience: death.

Adding to God’s word?

However, Eve added the prohibition, “neither shall you touch it.” But we should not be too hard on Eve by accusing her of ‘adding to God’s words.’ She is never condemned for this—the Bible is clear that her first overt act of sin was actually eating the fruit. And since Jesus said that acts of sin are preceded by evil thoughts in the heart2 (Matthew 15:19), her first sin was making the decision to eat the fruit.

A likely explanation is that God didn’t tell Eve directly. God gave the command to Adam before he created Eve (Genesis 2:17). Adam may well have added the command ‘don’t even touch it’ as a safety measure. Under a complementarian view (see ‘Complementarianism vs egalitarianism’, Ch. 12), this seems to be a morally neutral thus permissible exercise of his authority over the woman. My colleague Dr Carl Wieland provides a similar example:

I personally don’t see the difference as all that drastic; I can imagine myself saying to my child, ‘Don’t touch the strawberries in the garden, or else,’ and in doing so I certainly don’t think that they would be tempted to stroke or pat them—i.e. I mean ‘don’t pick and eat them’ of course. Equally, if I were to say to one child ‘Don’t eat the strawberries in the garden,’ and if that child were to pass on to its sibling the news that ‘Dad said don’t touch those strawberries,’ I would not even bother to correct her, as it gets the point across.3

Denying God’s words

It would seem that Eve successfully deflected Satan’s attempt to induce doubt. It may be that some doubt was lingering, but all Scripture tells us is that she had not sinned by this time. So Satan moved from misleading questions to outright lying and attacks on God’s character. First, the lie: “You will not surely die.” This is the first lie recorded in Scripture. Actually, the Hebrew suggests an even stronger lie, as Currid explains:

The serpent capitalizes on the woman’s ignorance of God’s Word, and he utters the first lie: “You will certainly not die!” The construction of the sentence is an infinitive absolute followed by an imperfect of the same verb, which, as we have seen, serves to emphasize the verb. In addition, the position of the negative is oddly placed. Normally in Hebrew it lies between the intensifying infinitive and the imperfect verb (See Exod. 5:23), but here it comes before both verbs. Apparently the reason for the exception is to keep the two verbs together as they appear in 2:17. The serpent knows God’s Word, and he knows it better than the woman (who does not use the intensifying infinitive in verse 3).4

Thus it’s no wonder Jesus calls Satan “the father of lies” (John 8:44). In fact, He says that Satan has “no truth in him” and that lying is in “his own character”. Even back in Genesis 3:5, we see that Satan is so saturated with lying that even his first recorded lie implies that God is a liar.

In this passage, Jesus also calls Satan “a murderer from the beginning”, because his lies led to the death of Eve and Adam. Indeed, he could be said to be the worst mass murderer of history, because all human deaths are sourced ultimately to these events in Eden. And once more we see that Jesus accepts Genesis 3 as real history. It’s also another blow to millions of years, because Satan was a “murderer from the beginning”, not ‘billions of years after the beginning’—‘murder’ by definition is unlawful killing of humans. (For more on this line of argument, see ‘Jesus and the age of the world’, Ch. 12.)

Then Satan maligns God’s character: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” As explained earlier, the knowing good and evil probably meant the right to decide right from wrong (see Ch. 12, ‘Tree of the knowledge of good and evil’). Fruchtenbaum, in his lucid style, systematizes Satan’s actions:

In verse 5, Satan presented a denial of God’s goodness, because Satan accused God of selfishness and jealousness. Therefore, the good God who gave them good is now charged with withholding the greater good. Satan’s implication is twofold: First, man was capable of knowing good and evil as perfectly and as completely as God did, and so man could be like God; and second, God was jealous of His knowledge of good and evil, in the sense of not willing to share it.
Satan’s methodology5 was threefold: First, he raised doubts as to the wisdom, justice, and love of God; second, he made a direct contradiction of the Word of God; and third, he claimed that disobedience to God will result in the highest good.6

The Fall (3:6)

3:6—So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

I said at the beginning of this commentary chapter that Genesis 3 was the most tragic chapter in the whole Bible. For the same reasons, 3:6 is the most tragic single verse in all the Bible.

Eve yields to temptation

Eve was the first to sin, surrendering to Satan’s temptations. 1 John 2:16 teaches that there are three broad areas of temptation:

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Genesis 3:36 reveals that Eve was tempted in all three ways, in the same order:

  1. “Desires of the flesh”—“tree was good for food.”
  2. “Desires of the eyes”—“a delight to the eyes.”
  3. “Pride of life”—“desired to make one wise.”

Grigg notes:

Many commentators have noted that this account of Eve’s coveting the forbidden fruit is perfectly described in 1 John 2:16: … The (unsuccessful) three temptations of Christ by Satan, described in Luke 4:1–12, followed a similar pattern.7

Eve could be called the patron saint of both empiricism and biblical compromise. That is, she was the first compromiser of God’s Word with fallible science—she made her own interpretation of sense data authoritative over God’s Word. That is, the fruit was good for food and delightful to the eyes, so she allowed this to overrule God’s clear command against eating (Genesis 3:6). Calvin pointed out that they “never would … have dared to resist God unless they had first been incredulous of His word.” 8 The wickedness of Eve’s disobedience is compounded—instead of rebuking Satan as a liar for questioning God’s Word, she implicitly accepted Satan’s claim that God was a liar.

Adam falls

When Satan was tempting Eve, some questions arise: where was Adam, and why had he not intervened to defend his wife up to this point? Some commentators think that Adam was not around. Under this scenario, only now, around the time of Eve’s moral collapse, does he arrive on the scene. Leupold defends this view from the Hebrew grammar and suggests a plausible reason for Satan’s strategy:

The fact, however, that the prepositional phrase ‘with her’ (‘immah), which we rendered as a clause, is first found at this point, strongly suggests that at the outset, when the temptation began, Adam was not with Eve but had only joined her at this time. Here, too, Satanic ingenuity displays itself: to approach both while they were together would have found them in a position where they would mutually have supported one another.9

However, Currid disagrees; he thinks Adam was there the whole time, and explains his reasoning:

The husband appears to have been a full participant in the act. The extreme brevity of the concluding phrase indicates a swiftness of action, as if she immediately turned to her husband and he ate the fruit.10 Indeed, the noun is qualified by with her; in other words, he was standing next to her but not intervening in the situation. Further support for the husband’s presence is found in the fact that, when speaking to the woman, the serpent repeatedly uses the plural as if he is addressing them both.11

Under Currid’s scenario, Adam joined Eve in her disobedience. Instead, he should have remonstrated with her against eating.

I think Leupold was right, if only because the account doesn’t even hint that Adam had sinned before the decision to eat the fruit. If he had been present when the serpent deceived Eve, then it seems to follow that Adam was guilty of sinful negligence before he fell. Thus he wasn’t present during the temptation of Eve.

Some commentators have claimed that Adam fell because of his great love for Eve and desire to support her. But this would entail that he sinned before eating, in that placing Eve—or anyone or anything—over God is in itself sin. This false view was even held by the English poet and scholar John Milton (1608–1674), in his famous epic poem Paradise Lost:

Adam at first amaz’d, but perceiving her lost, resolves through vehemence of love to perish with her; and extenuating the trespass, eats also of the Fruit: The Effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover thir nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.12

However, as will be seen below, when God confronted Adam, Adam blamed her, and blamed God for creating her, with not the slightest hint that he disobeyed out of love for her. Leupold also refutes Milton’s view:

Such notions, then, as Milton’s, that Adam sinned from a kind of sense of chivalry, not desiring to abandon Eve to her fate, have no support in the text. Nor has the opinion any value that Adam was too closely attached to Eve, a thought that would lead to a fall before the Fall, for it involves that he loved her more than he loved God.13,14

The difference between Adam’s and Eve’s sin

The NT clearly differentiates between the two. Paul affirms twice that Eve was deceived:

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:3)

For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:13–14).

Timothy 2:13 shows that Paul affirmed the creation order in Genesis 2. And Paul continues by affirming Genesis 3, in particular the deception of Eve. But he goes on to remind readers that Adam was not deceived. Rather, for Adam, this disobedience was an act of open rebellion against his maker.

So the NT clearly places blame for human death on Adam (Romans 5:12–21,15 1 Corinthians 15:20–2316). And in the OT, Hosea 6:7 identifies Adam as one who “transgressed the covenant.”

First consequences of the Fall (3:7–8)

3:7–8—Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

The disobedient acts of both Adam and Eve had both immediate and lasting results. First, “their eyes were opened,” just as the Serpent foretold. But the results were diametrically opposed to what Satan led them to believe. In the original creation, God knew evil in the same way as an oncologist knows about cancer—not by personal experience but by knowledge about it (in God’s case, by foreknowledge). But after Adam and Eve sinned, they knew evil in the same way as a cancer sufferer knows cancer—by sad personal experience.17

Naked and ashamed

One consequence of this eye-opening was realizing that they were naked. This wasn’t the nakedness of the pre-Fall state of 2:25, which was part of their perfect harmony. Rather, nakedness induced a sense of shame. Leupold comments on this:

The scriptural account goes to the root of the matter. The only gleam of light in the verse is the fact that where shame is felt, the evildoer’s case is not hopeless. He is at least not past feeling in the matter of doing wrong.18

Mathews explains, “Nakedness among the Hebrews was shameful because it was often associated with guilt.” 19 He notes further:

Nakedness is related to “shame” (בשת [boshet]), particularly public ridicule (e.g. 1 Sam 20:30, Isa 20:4, Mic. 1:11). It often occurs as a metaphor for judgment of sin (Isa 47:3, Eze 18:7,22,37,39, Lam 1:8). The figure of “shame” at Job 8:22 connects shame and clothing.20

In fact, there is a slightly different word for ‘naked’ in the Hebrew: in 2:25, Adam and Eve were ‘arûmîm (ערומים), but now they are ‘ēyrumim (עירמם).

The body in itself is a good thing—God created it! After Christ, the bodies of believers are “temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). But the sin of Adam and Eve broke their fellowship with God, and what was once good became a source of shame.

“They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths”

So Adam and Eve made a futile effort to hide their nakedness by sewing fig leaves together. The word for ‘sew’, tāphar (תפר), is rare in the OT, used only three other times (Job 16:15, Ecclesiastes 3:7, Ezekiel 13:18). About the type of leaves, Keil and Delitzsch say, “The word תאנה [tə’ēnāh] always denotes the fig-tree.” The First Couple probably chose fig leaves because they can be very large, up to about 30 cm across. The ‘loincloths’ were chagōrōt (חגרת), and Fruchtenbaum explains:

The Hebrew word basically means ‘girdles’, and it is used of an article of a woman’s dress in Isaiah 3:24; but it is also used of a belt of a warrior in 2 Samuel 18:11; 1 Kings 2:5; and 2 Kings 3:21.21

Sad result of sin: fellowship with God broken

One effect of sin is broken fellowship with the righteous. Up to this time, Adam and Eve had enjoyed perfect fellowship with God. Genesis 3:8 says, “they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” This indicates mid-afternoon or early evening, as explained by Joseph Coleson, Professor of Old Testament at Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City:

The narrative includes the detail that God was walking in the cool of the day (lěrûaḥ hayyôm); Hebrew rûah is usually taken as a substantive, meaning here, “wind” or “breeze”. The phrase, “at the wind/the breeze of the day,” then, indicates midafternoon or a bit later, when the sun’s heat upon the earth had begun to abate and a pleasant breeze had sprung up.22

Hamilton explains something very important: that this was a daily practice for YHWH-Elohim:

Toward sundown the man and the woman heard Yahweh walking in the garden. The verb used here to describe the divine movement—miṯhallēḵ—is a type of Hithpael that suggests iterative and habitual aspects.23 Such walks would take place in the early evening (the cooler time of the day) rather than “in the heat of the day” (cf. 18:1).24

But Adam and Eve could no longer bear to be in God’s presence, and made a futile attempt to evade: “the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

The resulting sin nature of humanity

As a result of his sin, Adam and his descendants acquired a sin nature (Romans 5:12 ff.). The only exception was the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, because the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35) during His virginal conception,25 preventing any sin nature being transmitted (see ‘Christology: Doctrine of the Son’, Ch. 3; ‘Transmission of this immaterial aspect’, Ch. 12). However, all the rest of humanity lost the power of contrary choice. But in this case, it now meant that they could not perfectly (consistently and completely) go against their sin nature (Psalm 51:5, Jeremiah 17:9). So people today don’t get their sin natures by sinning; they sin because of their sin nature. Even the Apostle Paul lamented:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:15–25)

So if even Christ’s chosen Apostle could not totally resist his sin nature, perfect holiness in this life is impossible for the rest of us. This also reinforces what Paul said earlier in his letter, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That is, none of us can perfectly obey God’s command, “be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44, quoted in 1 Peter 1:16).

However, in this life, believers in Christ have the sanctifying power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11). ‘To sanctify’ basically means ‘to set apart’, but its usage is ‘to make holy’. The Apostle John was fully aware of the power of Christ to help Christians attain substantial sanctification and to resist sin. Yet John, when addressing believers, recognized that total sanctification is not possible in this life, but nevertheless our sins are forgiven:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8–9)

As Paul’s comments also imply, this wretched sinful condition won’t be ultimately remedied—total sanctification—until the Eternal State. In their Resurrection Bodies, redeemed humanity will no longer have the potential for sin. So in this sense, the Eternal State, with the new creation of the new heavens and new earth, will be even better than Eden.

In summary, following Augustine:

  • Adam and Eve were created with the ability not to sin.
  • After the Fall, humans had no ability to completely avoid sin.
  • In the Eternal State, redeemed humans will have no ability to sin.

God holds court (3:9–13)

3:9–13—But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Although the first couple avoided God, God didn’t avoid them. He called out to the man (which seems to fit the complementarian view better), “Where are you?” Of course God knew perfectly well. But these questions were for teaching, in this case of their sin and need for repentance. Later on, Jesus, God Incarnate, frequently used questions to teach and to refute critics (sometimes referred to as the ‘Socratic Method’). Hamilton explains further that God is “the good shepherd who seeks the lost sheep”. So he first asks gentle questions rather than “Why are you hiding?”, which would show up the “silliness, stupidity, and futility of the couple’s attempt to hide from him.”26

But the man was evasive and not fully honest in response, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” The sound of responding reveals their position though, so it was implicitly answering God’s question. The words don’t answer the direct question, but rather the implied one: ‘Why are you hiding?’ So Adam explains that he was afraid, and that was truthful.

But the reason he gave for his fear, “because I was naked”, was not. Clearly this wasn’t true. First because he had been naked before the Fall and had no fear of God’s presence back then. Therefore the nakedness in itself was not inappropriate for communion with God. Second, he was not naked anymore, because he had already made girdles of fig leaves before he hid. No, the real reason is, as Fruchtenbaum explains:

So the fear was based on the knowledge of nakedness in that Adam knew that he was in sin. His guilt had been uncovered, and they stood in naked shame before God.27

Therefore the man concluded, “I hid myself,”—’I’, singular; not ‘we’, plural. So thus far, Adam has not incriminated Eve. Also, the text uses a rare word for ‘hide’, chāvā’ (חבא), which the OT uses only in Genesis 3:8,10. The normal OT word for ‘hiding’ is sātar (סתר, Genesis 4:14, Psalm 38:9, Isaiah 65:16, Jeremiah 16:17, Hosea 13:14).

Sin always spreads and permeates—in the Mosaic Law, sin was symbolized by leaven (yeast) for that reason. As the Apostle Paul taught, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). And in this section, Adam and Eve commit one sin after another to try to cover the first. Next, they all try to excuse themselves and shift blame to the other.

The blame game

God then goes to the point. First, “Who told you that you were naked?” since they had not been conscious of this before. But this was really a rhetorical question, and went to the real reason: ‘What sin has made you feel ashamed in my presence?’ So God doesn’t wait for an answer, but moves to the specifics: “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Once again, God knew the answer—He is after all omniscient. The point of the question was to extract a confession.

But first Adam tried to shift responsibility, “The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree.’” First, it was an attack on God, “the woman you gave me.” What a contrast from Adam’s excitement and gratitude when God first brought her to him (2:23, see ‘Adam’s joy at meeting Eve’, Ch. 12). Then Adam blamed Eve, “She gave me fruit of the tree.” Only after these excuses did Adam confess, “and I ate.” But a confession so qualified with self-justification and responsibility-shifting is really no confession at all.

So God questioned Eve directly, the one blamed by Adam: “What is this that you have done?” The woman replied, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Once again, there is the blame of someone else before the qualified confession. But at least there was no blame on God for creating the serpent, or on Adam for not stopping her. And she was right about being deceived, because as shown above, the NT affirms this.

Luther noted how this shows the viciousness of sin—the formerly perfect Adam became insulting and blasphemous. Those in unrepented sin just can’t abide God’s righteousness. And they remained bitter when all they had to contemplate was the knowledge that they had broken the divine Law. So Luther uses this to teach about God’s mercy in the Gospel, which was soon to be announced:

Let me therefore urge you to regard the doctrine of the Gospel most highly, for as long as Adam and Eve were without the (divine) promise of grace, they persisted in (their) sin, hating and blaspheming God, until they were lifted up by the promise of the gracious forgiveness of their sins. God soon gave them the beautiful promise and message of Jesus Christ (their Saviour).28

In this passage, God has established guilt. Both Adam and Eve had to plead guilty of violating the only command that God had given them. There was no need to question the serpent, because the spirit behind it is beyond redemption. This spirit was the fallen angel Satan, and Jesus died only for humans, not for angels—His death would also have the effect of destroying Satan (Hebrews 2:14–15). So now it’s time for God to sentence them.

God pronounces judgment (3:14–19)

3:14–19 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

YHWH-Elohim now pronounces the sentences in the same chronological order of their sin: first the serpent, then the woman, then the man. This order is the reverse of the proper pre-Fall hierarchy: animals should have been under the dominion of mankind, but the serpent was the instigator. The woman (under the complementarian view) was under Adam’s headship, but she persuaded Adam to eat.

The serpent

Although the animal was possessed by Satan, God punishes it. Although animals are not moral agents, they were created for the benefit of man, so when they harm man, they are harmed in return. It was important not only to judge Satan but also his instrument of deception. Keil and Delitzsch elaborate:

The curse fell upon the serpent for having tempted the woman, according to the same law by which not only a beast which had injured a man was ordered to be put to death (Genesis 9:5; Exodus 21:28–29), but any beast which had been the instrument of an unnatural crime was to be slain along with the man (Leviticus 20:15–16); not as though the beast were an accountable creature, but in consequence of its having been made subject to man, not to injure his body or his life, or to be the instrument of his sin, but to subserve the great purpose of his life. “Just as a loving father,” as Chrysostom says, “when punishing the murderer of his son, might snap in two the sword or dagger with which the murder had been committed.” The proof, therefore, that the serpent was merely the instrument of an evil spirit, does not lie in the punishment itself, but in the manner in which the sentence was pronounced. When God addressed the animal, and pronounced a curse upon it, this presupposed that the curse had regard not so much to the irrational beast as to the spiritual tempter, and that the punishment which fell upon the serpent was merely a symbol of his own. The punishment of the serpent corresponded to the crime. It had exalted itself above the man; therefore upon its belly it should go, and dust it should eat all the days of its life. If these words are not to be robbed of their entire meaning, they cannot be understood in any other way than as denoting that the form and movements of the serpent were altered, and that its present repulsive shape is the effect of the curse pronounced upon it, though we cannot form any accurate idea of its original appearance. 29

Also, we see here the first signs that Adam’s sin would have cosmic impact. The animals were also cursed, but the serpent “above all” with symbols of utter degradation. The serpent would slither on its belly, i.e. creep, which later was one mark of an unclean animal (Leviticus 11:42). So one result of sin was that God somehow changed the snake’s body—and its DNA along with it—so that snakes from that day forth would always slither.30 Hamilton notes a word play in the Hebrew:

He who is ‘ārûm, “subtle,” is now ‘ārûr, banned. The most subtle of all the animals now becomes the loneliest and oddest of the animals.31

And it would also “eat dust”. This would certainly imply that they “lick dust”, an expression that appears in Micah 7:17, Isaiah 49:23, and Psalm 72:9. Leupold points out that this

…in every case implies “to be humbled”, “to suffer defeat”. So in addition to a humiliating manner or mode of locomotion there will be a continual suffering of defeat “all the day” of her existence. The serpent will always be a creature that is worsted.32

Certainly we know that a snake’s real food today is other animals, and they have many features that God designed for this purpose in a fallen world.33 But actually, snakes literally do eat dust as well. In the roof of a snake’s mouth, there is an organ called the vomeronasal organ (VNO) or Jacobson’s organ. Like the sense of smell,34 it is a system designed to detect many different kinds of chemicals. But the VNO specializes in non-volatile chemicals, so requires direct physical contact. The snake achieves this with its forked and constantly flicking tongue. This picks up dust on the points of the fork, then carries the samples to the matching pair of sensory organs inside the mouth.35 As with many features of animals in this fallen world, this could have been an adaptation of an existing design, or latent design features that God activated at the Fall. For elucidation of these concepts in principle, see ‘Origin of carnivory’ later this chapter.


After cursing the serpent, God now deals with the real culprit: Satan. First, God explicitly puts “enmity between you and the woman.” Since the next verse is clearly dealing with womankind in general, here also there is animosity between Satan and women. In God’s next statement, we see the basis for this animosity: “and between your offspring and her offspring.” That is, some future offspring or ‘seed’ will be the focus of enmity. Hamilton discusses the possible meanings of seed (zera‘ זרע):

We turn now to a discussion of offspring or “seed.” This divinely ordained hostility is one that takes place between the serpent’s seed and the seed of the woman. In the cast majority of cases where zera‘ (lit. “seed”) refers to an individual child, it refers to an immediate offspring rather than a distant descendant. For example, Seth is Eve’s “other seed” (4:25); Abram laments that he is still without seed (15:3); Lot’s daughters want to bear their father’s seed (19:32,34); Ishmael is Abraham’s seed (21:13); Onan refuses the chance to father a child for his sister-in-law Tamar (38:8–9); Samuel is Hannah’s seed (1 Sam. 1:11; 2:20); Solomon is David’s seed (2 Sam. 7:12).36 This observation alone should caution us about seeing too quickly a clear-cut reference to some remote individual. …
Nevertheless, in a number of passages Heb. zera‘ is a collective referring to distant offspring or a large group of descendants. (Gen 9:9; 12:7; 13:16; 15:5, 13, 18; 16:10; 17:7–10, 12; 21:12; 22:17–18). Although most modern translations use a plural for these references—“descendants”—the Hebrew itself never uses the plural.37

Then God explains how this enmity would be realized: “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Indeed, when it comes to literal snakes, one way to kill it is to step on its head and crush it. But while the foot is coming down, the snake might rear up and bite. If the snake is non-venomous, this bite will bruise but not be fatal, but crushing the head would be. But there is a much deeper meaning that involves the evil one behind the snake.

First messianic prophecy (3:15)

This seed who will finally defeat Satan is no ordinary man. It is not hard to show that the biblical norm is to trace genealogies through the fathers (e.g. Genesis 5, 11; 1 Chronicles 1–9, Matthew 1:1–17, Luke 3:23–38). But this particular seed is of the woman. God later reveals in the Bible that the coming unique seed, the Messiah, would be born of a virgin, i.e. without a human father. So this is the first mention of the Virginal Conception of Christ38 (see also ‘Christology: Doctrine of the Son’, Ch. 3).

A major but partial fulfilment was the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah. The Messiah’s heels were wounded by the nails on the Cross, and Satan was ‘bruised’ in the sense of his power drastically weakened. But the final crushing of the head is still future (Romans 16:20), and will be accomplished when Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Revelation 20:10).

Many have interpreted the seed in Genesis 3:15 as the Messiah. Even before Christ, there was the Talmudic expression ‘heels of the Messiah’.39 Wenham points out:

Certainly, the oldest Jewish interpretation found in the third century BC Septuagint, the Palestinian targums (Ps.-J., Neof., Frg.40), and possibly the Onqelos targum takes the serpent as symbolic of Satan and look for victory over him in the days of King Messiah. The NT also alludes to this passage, understanding it in a broadly messianic sense (Rom 16:20; Heb 2:14; Rev 12, and it may be that the term “Son of Man” as a title for Jesus and the term “woman” for Mary (John 2:4; 19:26) also reflect this passage … .41

Several of the early Church fathers, such as Justin Martyr (AD 160) and Irenaeus (AD 180) regarded this verse “as the Protoevangelium, the first messianic prophecy in the Old Testament.” 42

In comments on 4:1, Eve had this understanding. About 2,300 years later, the Prophet Isaiah likewise understood it this way, referring to “the virgin” in Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew word here for ‘virgin’ is ‘almāh (עלמה)—a word that is never used in the OT of a non-virgin. The LXX translates this word as parthenos (παρθένος), the normal word for virgin. From this word, we derive the biological term ‘parthenogenesis’, literally ‘virgin birth’, meaning that an embryo in some animals develops from an unfertilized egg cell.

Despite this, liberal theologians and many modern Jews argue that the word means ‘young woman’. But one must wonder how a young woman conceiving would be a ‘sign’ (Isaiah 7:11,14), since this happens all the time. They also claim that the correct word for virgin is bətûlāh (בתולה). However, this word emphasizes fertility more than virginity. The Encyclopedia Judaica, hardly supportive of Christianity, while criticizing the translation of ‘almah in Isaiah 7:14 as ‘virgin’, points out:

The biblical betulah, usually rendered ‘virgin’, is in fact an ambiguous term which in nonlegal contexts may denote an age of life rather than a physical state. Cognate Akkadian batultu (masculine, batulu) and Ugaritic btlt refer to ‘an adolescent, nubile, girl’. That the woman who is so called need not necessarily be a virgo intacta is shown by the graphic account in a Ugaritic myth of the sexual relations of Baal with the goddess Anath, who bears the honorific epithet btlt.43

Also, in the Bible, bətûlāh is qualified by a statement “neither had any man known her” in Genesis 24:16, which would be redundant if the word intrinsically included the concept of virginity. Furthermore, unlike ‘almāh, bətûlāh is used of a widow in Joel 1:8. Further evidence comes from clay tablets found in 1929 in Ugarit in Syria. Here, in Aramaic, a word similar to ‘almah is used of an unmarried woman, while on certain Aramaic incantation bowls, the Aramaic counterpart of bətûlāh is used of a married woman.44

Furthermore, Isaiah 7:14 actually has hā’almāh (העלמה), with the article ha (‘the’), so ‘the virgin’. So Isaiah clearly wanted readers to think of a specific virgin, i.e. one who had previously been revealed. The only possible referent is the ‘seed of the woman’ in Genesis 3:15 who had no human father.

The pronoun ‘he’ in “he shall bruise your head” is hû’ (הוא). This can be translated “he”, “it” or “they”.45 A feminine pronoun (“she”) would be a different word hî’ (היא). The LXX translated the pronoun hû’ as the masculine αὐτὸς (autos), although the antecedent σπέρματος (spermatos) is grammatically neuter.46 Since normally a pronoun agrees in gender with its antecedent, the LXX translators deliberately chose the masculine. This suggests that they had a messianic understanding of the passage.

The Latin Vulgate mistranslates hû’ as ipsa (‘she’), which is followed by the Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims English translation of the Bible. Some Roman Catholics use this to teach that Mary, the mother of Jesus, would crush the serpent’s head. Their main justification is that some Hebrew manuscripts pointed the consonants47 of hû’ to pronounce the word in the feminine way.48 But basing dogma on rare vowel-pointing (which is uninspired anyway) is unwise.

However, prominent Roman Catholic Mel Gibson (1956– ) had this right in his famous film, The Passion of the Christ (2004). In a scene right at the beginning where Satan sends a snake to try to kill Jesus, Jesus then crushes the snake’s head. There is no such event in the Gospel, so Gibson must have been alluding to Genesis 3:15 in the correct messianic understanding, not the errant mariocentric view.

Genesis 3:15 also provides a solution, favoured by a number of commentators, of a difficult NT passage, 1 Timothy 2:15:

Yet she [women in general] will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Superficially, some might gain the impression that women can earn salvation by having children. Clearly this is wrong, because it would be salvation by works, contradicting Ephesians 2:8–9. The best solution involves analyzing the original Greek. The word for ‘childbearing’ is teknogonia (τεκνογονία). But it has a definite article in the Greek, which is usually not translated, although Young’s Literal Translation indeed does have, “She shall be saved through the child-bearing.” So this seems to be referring to a specific child-bearing that saves them—the Christ-child. And here is the valuable role of women that Satan hates: one of them would bear the One who would doom him.

We can see this (a general term for child or birth being meant to refer specifically to the Christ-child or his birth) in modern usage too. For example, ‘Nativity’, which means ‘birth’, usually means Christmas or the birth celebrations of Christ. The name ‘Natalia’ and its diminutive form ‘Natasha’ also refer to this. In oceanography, there is a warm northerly current called ‘El Niño’, meaning ‘the (boy) child’, a name given by Spanish-speaking Peruvian sailors because it was most noticeable around Christmas.

The woman

In the sentence upon Satan, God also pronounced the means of deliverance for man and woman—the future Seed who would be the Messiah. And the woman has a key role in bringing Him into the world. So even in judgment, God bestows supreme mercy. Luther commented on 3:15:

The promise and the threat are both clear and obscure. It left the serpent in the dark about which woman should give birth to the Seed of the Woman, so that he had to think of every woman as (possibly) becoming the mother of the blessed Seed (Christ). On the other hand, it gave our first parents great faith that from that very hour they expected the Saviour.49

But God’s mercy is never divorced from His holiness, which must punish sin. So there are more judgments to come, now upon the woman herself and womankind who would descend from her. The Bible is not clear about whether these are active judgments or consequences, but the point may be moot anyway, since ancient Israelites would have attributed it to God either way.50 Indeed, the Ancient Near Eastern languages had no word for ‘religion’, and lacked the dichotomy between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’. Rather, the only important distinction was between spiritual and physical.51

Childbirth pain

God told the first woman, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children”, and in a way that has come on all mothers who descended from her. The Hebrew literally says, “Multiplying, I will multiply.” 52 This entails a change both in Eve’s body, and possibly also in her DNA so that it will be passed on to her descendants. Also, part of her suffering may have been due to God’s withdrawing of some of His sustaining power at the Fall.

The second ‘pain’ in the passage uses ‘etsev (עצב), but the first uses a related word ‘itstsabôn (עצבון). ‘Itstsabôn is the one that’s also used of the consequences for Adam. Hard labour in tilling the ground can be painful, especially to someone not used to it (it is also used by Lamech in 5:29, hoping that Noah would bring comfort from ‘painful toil’). But with Eve, both related words are used, as an emphatic device that’s common in biblical Hebrew, indicating something stronger.

The LXX for 3:16 has the Greek lupē (λύπη) for pain to translate both words, ‘itstsabôn and ‘etsev. This is the same word as in John 16:21, where Jesus Himself said:

A woman giving birth to a child has pain (lupē) because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.

Notice that Jesus accepted the fact that women giving birth suffer pain and anguish—He didn’t blame it on fear, wrong attitude, or anything else. Importantly, He said this was something that occurred during the birth process and was soon over. This speaks against the idea by some that the ‘pain’ Genesis refers to is primarily ongoing sorrow because of the fallen world they are bringing their children into.

There are other biblical teachings that also accept as a given that childbirth is generally painful, not just for fearful women or those in the ‘wrong frame of mind’.

She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth (Revelation 12:2).

Once again, the pain that caused her to cry out was due to childbirth, not to fear, as some have wrongly claimed.53 Here, the word for suffering pain is basanizō (βασανίζω), which is also used for the torments in Hell (Revelation 14:10; 20:10). Childbirth pain is also used as a simile for agony:

Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labour, … (Micah 4:10).

Thus God’s Prophet considered that childbirth agony was a reality, not ‘just in her head.’ And Jesus used it metaphorically of coming troubles:

All these are but the beginning of the birth pains (Matthew 24:8).

Figurative language, such as simile and metaphor, is still important, because underlying the figure is a reality. For example, the expression ‘as strong as an ox’ is figurative, but behind this figure is the reality that an ox is strong. So using birth pangs figuratively for other agonies and troubles shows that there is an underlying reality of pain in childbirth.

Mary Kassian, who has qualifications in both rehabilitative medicine and systematic theology and is a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (USA), writes of her own experience in a fine book:

Childbirth is painful. I had read about it and believed it before the birth of my first child, yet nothing could have prepared me for the intense agony of labor. Labor pain is simply inexplicable to one who has not experienced it. Dr Ronald Melzack, a leading expert in the field of pain, has recently completed research on the intensity of labor pain. He found that, on average, labor pain ranks among the severest. According to his study, it may be exceeded only by the suffering of some terminal cancer patients and often is worse than having a finger amputated without anaesthetic.[54] It is difficult to imagine a relatively pain-free birth process; however, this is what the Creator had in mind prior to the Fall. Thus, the first part of the judgment on woman decreed physical and mental pain as well as emotional grief and turmoil in childbearing.55

There is no doubt that fear can exacerbate pain, and that some fortunate women may experience a pain-free labour on occasion.56 But it’s hard to believe that the pain generally experienced is all in the mother’s mind, i.e. not related to external physical stimuli. A medical doctor friend of mine relates that in most births the perineum is stretched immensely, so much that it not infrequently tears as a result. This is why it is often cut prophylactically.57 Prof. Kassian above makes it clear that the intensity of her own childbirth agony wasn’t expected, so it can hardly have been caused by fear.

God’s revelation that strong childbirth pain was the result of the Fall, like His teaching that He originally made animals vegetarian, is a problem for those who want to allow for billions of years before Adam. Hugh Ross is one who tries to get around the problem as follows:

If we turn back to the passage recounting God’s response to Adam and Eve’s sin, we see evidence that physical pain—closely connected with decay—must have existed before the Fall. In Genesis 3:16, God says to Eve, “I will greatly increase [or multiply] your pains in childbearing.” He does not say “introduce.” He says “increase” or “multiply,” implying there would have been pain in any case.58

First of all, it would be an ‘increase’ even if Eve would have suffered no pain in childbirth had she not fallen before conceiving any children. After all, zero pain to some pain is an increase! But even if we grant Ross’s argument that Eve would have had childbirth pains before the Fall, it would not prove his case. A pain is just an intense sensation, and isn’t always perceived as bad. Many bodybuilders want to have some slight muscular pain a day after training. But the implication, even granting that Ross is right, is that childbirth before the Fall would have involved bearable, and not necessarily unpleasant, pain, rather than excruciating pain.

Perhaps, while below some threshold, it might even have had a pleasurable component. Even now, childbirth stimulates endorphins that reduce pain and produce a sense of well-being. Indeed the word ‘endorphin’ comes from ‘endogenous morphine’, indicating a substance produced by the body that has morphine-like effects. An Australian childbirth site explains:

For many women, endorphins will also positively alter the memory of their birth experience and in some cases induce an amnesic effect (forgetting the pain). Endorphins can therefore have the potential to strengthen the woman’s psyche and provide an internal ‘protection’ against the intensity of labour and giving birth.59

Thus a pre-Fall childbirth may have produced the endorphin ‘high’ without the excruciating pain.

“Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

The second part of the curse on Eve, and on all wives descended from her, involves the marital relationship. The translation ‘desire’ seems positive and even romantic to English readers. But the Hebrew təshûqāh (תשוקה) is very negative in its context, coupled with the word to rule, māshal (משל). That can be seen from the same combination in 4:7, where God solemnly warns Cain, “sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

That is, the desire/təshûqāh is a desire to rule, and must be countered with a will to master this desire. Thus Fruchtenbaum (a complementarian) connects these two passages to explain:

Therefore the woman is placed into a subordinate role, and the point of 3:16 is that the woman will desire to rule over her husband who is to master her. She will seek to gain authority over the husband just as sin desired to rule over Cain. However, Adam should master her. Teshukah is a word that emphasizes a desire to possess. The woman chose to act independently of the man, and now she will have a desire to rule and possess him. She shall desire to control the man, and to dispute the headship of the husband. Man was already in authority over the woman before the Fall, but now she will have a tendency to rebel and try to rule him.60

Egalitarians believe there was no hierarchy before the Fall, while complementarians believe there was a benevolent authority from the man (as above). But both sides agree that after the Fall, there would be a tendency from sinful men to be despotic to their wives, treating them like doormats. But the Apostle Paul wrote unambiguously that husbands were to do no such thing. Rather, he gave very different instructions to men in his Epistle to the Ephesians (and note the almost complete quote of Genesis 2:24, as real history):

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:25–33)

This follows the instructions to wives:

Wives, submit61 to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22–24).62

Both sets of instructions about marriage together paint a great picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church.

The man

God now speaks “to Adam”. Some translations have “to the man”, but according to Wenham, “Many commentators believe this is the first instance of ‘Adam’ being used as a personal name.” 63

First, God says, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife …”. In a complementarian view, this would indicate a dereliction of his responsibility as the authority in their marriage.

Then God pronounces the first judgment, the curse on the ground. God gave Adam dominion over creation, so when Adam fell, the whole creation suffered. And even the ground, over which mankind was given dominion, would now ‘fight back’.

Romans 8:18–25

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

This is a very important passage, showing the cosmic scope of the Fall. That is, the ‘whole creation’ is groaning in pain, because it was ‘subjected to futility’.64 The reason is, God had given Adam dominion over creation. So when he fell, God cursed the whole creation under him.

It’s notable that expert commentators on Romans, regardless of their view of Genesis, agree that Paul was referring back to the account of the Fall in Genesis 3. The New Testament scholar F.F. Bruce (1910–1990), then Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester, affirms that this passage is indeed speaking of the curse which fell on the whole creation—the entire universe—as a result of the Fall.65 Bruce also considered who “subjected the creation to futility” and concluded that the text indicated that it was “most probably God”, and most unlikely that other commentators could be right when they suggested Satan or Adam.66 Moo concurs also that the one who subjected creation to futility was God:

Paul must be referring to God, who alone had the right and the power to condemn all of creation to frustration because of human sin. But this decree of God was not without its positive side, for it was issued “in hope”. Paul probably has in mind the protoevangelium—the promise of God, given in conjunction with the curse, the “he [the seed of the woman] will bruise your [the serpent’s] head” (cf. Rom. 16:21). The creation, then though subject to frustration as a result of human sin, has never been without hope, for the very decree of subjection was given in the context of hope.67

Witherington likewise affirms that Paul was likely alluding to Genesis 3:

In vv. 20–21 Paul probably has the Genesis story of the fall and its effects in view (Gen. 3:17–19). This makes perfectly good sense in view of the contrast between Adam, with those in Adam, and those in Christ (7:5, 6 and 8:1–17). Though the subject in v. 20 is implied, it seems clearly to be God that has subjected creation to futility.68

Another expert commentator on Romans, New Testament scholar C.E.B. Cranfield (1915– ), likewise made it very clear that ‘creation’ in Romans 8:19–20 was universal: “the sum-total of sub-human nature both animate and inanimate.”69 Further, Cranfield explicitly states, ‘[T]here is little doubt that Paul has in mind the judgment related in Genesis 3:17–19, which includes (v. 17) the words “cursed is the ground for thy sake”,70 thus relating the Fall to the creation outside mankind as well. John Murray agrees about Romans 1:20, “In relation to this earth this is surely Paul’s commentary on Gen. 3:17, 18.”71

Yet another commentator on Romans 1–8, James Dunn (1939– ), wrote:

The point Paul is presumably making, through somewhat obscure language, is that God followed the logic of his purposed subjecting of creation to man by subjecting it yet further in consequence of man’s fall, so that it might serve as an appropriate context for fallen man; a futile world to engage the futile mind of man. By describing creation’s subjection as “unwilling” Paul maintains the personification of the previous verse. There is an out-of-sortedness, a disjointedness about the created order which makes it a suitable habitation for man at odds with his creator.72

Thorns and thistles

This is another part of the Curse. These prickly plants are clearly not there before Adam sinned. Actually, a thorn is a modified leaf, tightly curled upon itself. This can be explained as a post-Fall disruption of the growth mechanism for some leaves.

Interestingly, it’s the flatness of leaves that points to amazing design.73 Most leaves are flat, because this shape enables the greatest area for light capture in return for a given amount of material, so the leaf can capture the most sunlight energy. But, surprising though it might seem, flatness is actually a puzzle to explain. It requires that the leaf’s growth be carefully coordinated, as plant physiologists point out:

[ I]t is more difficult to make a flat leaf than to make a curved one because growth of central regions of the leaf must be coordinated with growth at the leaf edges.74
Caleb SalisburyThorns-fossil
Figure 13.1—Christians who believe God’s infallible Word (no thorns before sin) cannot also believe in man’s fallible ‘word’ (millions of years of thorns before people).

So flatness is produced by balancing two different growth rates, which researchers recently discovered are regulated by genes. Precise balance is remarkable, because there are many more ways that growth could be unbalanced:

Although such flatness is often taken for granted, the probability of this happening by chance is low because there are many more ways for a structure to adopt negative or positive curvature than zero curvature.75

However, the biblical account clearly teaches that the imbalanced growth that produces thorns was a punishment for Adam’s sin. Yet according to evolutionary/uniformitarian ‘dating’ methods, there were thorns many millions of years before man. This is a clear contradiction as my colleague Dr David Catchpoole, a Ph.D. plant physiologist, explains:

A s well as being evidence of death and suffering, the fossil record also contains thorns. Cactus spines and rose prickles, thistles and other spiky, thorny plants are found in the Miocene (supposedly 5–23 million years ago), Oligocene (23–35 million years) and Eocene (35–55 million years).76,77,78 In fact, by evolutionists’ reckoning, spiny plant fossils are even ‘dated’ to the Devonian (360–410 million years),79,80,81,82 which is way before their ‘age of dinosaurs’ (65–230 million years ago), in turn way before man.83

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread

The curse on the ground meant that Adam would need to work painfully and sweatily to gain enough food to survive. He would no longer be able to get enough nutrients from eating plants growing naturally, but would need to become a farmer, growing crops. And this from the earth that would ‘resist’ his efforts. If this aspect of the Curse lowered the nutritional value of post-Fall plants, this might explain why some animals became carnivorous (see below).

Physical death

Death pain
Figure 13.2— At the end of day 6, God pronounced his finished creation as “very good”. If evolution were true, would Adam and Eve have been standing on a fossil graveyard of death and struggle over millions of years that God called “very good”. The Bible describes death as “the last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Corinthians 15:26)..

The last part of the Curse was “till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This is a key reason to reject millions of years. It’s so important that it’s hard to over-emphasize.

‘Returning to the dust’ can mean only physical death. Furthermore, there would be no point to this punishment unless there was no physical death before. If physical death had previously existed for hundreds of thousands of years for humans, as uniformitarian ‘dating’ of human fossils claims, Adam could have said, “So what? That was going to happen to me, anyway!”

This is not the way God originally created man. Paul calls death “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26). All (mis-)interpretations of Genesis which deny its plain meaning, and so involve death before sin, must assert that the “the last enemy” was part of God’s “very good” creation.

Jesus made clear his thoughts on human physical death in the shortest verse in the Bible: in response to the death of his close friend Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Considering that Jesus knew that He would soon resurrect Lazarus, this points very strongly to His knowing that death was an unmitigated tragedy, and hardly something He would call “very good”.84

For most of church history, the greatest theologians have understood that physical death was the result of sin. A few examples follow:

Thomas Aquinas explicitly taught that death was not natural to man, but was the result of Adam’s sin (from Summa Theologiae, Question 85: The effects of sin, and, first, of the corruption of the good of nature):

Objection: It would seem that death and other bodily defects are not the result of sin. …

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Romans 5:12), “By one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death.” … In this way the sin of our first parent is the cause of death and all such like defects in human nature, in so far as by the sin of our first parent original justice was taken away, whereby not only were the lower powers of the soul held together under the control of reason, without any disorder whatever, but also the whole body was held together in subjection to the soul, without any defect.85

Objection. It would seem that death and such like defects are natural to man. …
On the contrary, God made in man whatever is natural to him. Now “God made not death” (Wisdom 1:1386). Therefore death is not natural to man. … death and such like defects are the punishment of original sin …. Therefore they are not natural to man. It is in this sense that it is said that “God made not death,” and that death is the punishment of sin.87

Luther, in his commentary on Genesis, concurred that man would never have died or been harmed had Adam not sinned:

Had Adam kept the (divine) commandment, he never would have died, for death came into the world through sin. … Indeed, had Adam not sinned … in all of nature there would be nothing that would be injurious to man, for the text says that God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.88

Calvin, in his Genesis commentary, agreed that physical human death is the result of sin:

And therefore some understand what was before said, “Thou shalt die”, in a spiritual sense; thinking that, even if Adam had not sinned, his body must still have been separated from his soul. But since the declaration of Paul is clear, that “all die in Adam, as they shall rise again in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:22), this wound was inflicted by sin. …Truly the first man would have passed to a better life, had he remained upright; but there would have been no separation of the soul from the body, no corruption, no kind of destruction, and, in short, no violent change.89

Wesley answered the ‘problem of pain’ explicitly by man’s sin, in particular the Fall of Genesis 3:

Why is there pain in the world; seeing God is ‘loving to every man, and his mercy is over all his works?’ Because there is sin: Had there been no sin, there would have been no pain. But pain (supposing God to be just) is the necessary effect of sin. But why is there sin in the world? Because man was created in the image of God: Because he is not mere matter, a clod of earth, a lump of clay, without sense or understanding; but a spirit like his Creator, a being endued not only with sense and understanding, but also with a will exerting itself in various affections. To crown all the rest, he was endued with liberty; a power of directing his own affections and actions; a capacity of determining himself, or of choosing good or evil. Indeed, had not man been endued with this, all the rest would have been of no use: Had he not been a free as well as an intelligent being, his understanding would have been as incapable of holiness, or any kind of virtue, as a tree or a block of marble. And having this power, a power of choosing good or evil, he chose the latter: He chose evil. Thus “sin entered into the world”, and pain of every kind, preparatory to death.90

Human death—huge problem for millions of years

The fossil record is a real problem for millions of years, because it places death before the sin of Adam. A number of old-earthers have tried to avoid the problem by claiming that human death alone is in view. E.g. mathematician and Christian apologist John Lennox claims:

That makes sense. Humans are moral beings, and human death is the ultimate wages of moral transgression. We do not think of plants and animals in terms of moral categories. We do not accuse the lion of sinning when it kills an antelope or even a human being. Paul’s deliberate and careful statement would appear to leave open the question of death at levels other than human.91

Indeed, Romans 5:12–19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 are talking about human death (see ‘Reason for the Gospel’ below). Yet the first fallacy in Lennox’s reasoning is that the Bible elsewhere links death of nephesh chayyah with Adam’s sin.

The second fallacy is that human death alone is enough to refute his claims. That is, according to dating methods accepted by long-agers, there are undoubted human fossils ‘older’ than any possible date for Adam. For example, Homo sapiens fossils with evidence of intelligent cultural activity92,93 have been ‘dated’ at 160,000 years old.94 Also, two partial skulls of Homo sapiens unearthed in 1967 near the Omo River in south-western Ethiopia have been radiometrically re-dated to about 195,000 years old.95,96 And some undoubted Homo sapiens fossils have been found in Morocco that were ‘dated’ to 315 1 34 thousand years.97 This is a real problem for biblical chronology, because the text of the chronogenealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 doesn’t allow for gaps.

But suppose for the moment that we allow gaps, how many missing generations would be needed? To stretch Adam back from about 4,000 BC to 193,000 BC would mean adding 189,000 years to the biblical timeline. Even if we allow the long generation times in Genesis 5, with an average age of fatherhood of 156 years, this would require over 1,200 missing generations.

One must wonder how a genealogy could miss out all these without any trace. And since many of the names that are mentioned include no trace of any deeds or sayings by them, why would the writer bother to mention these when so many others had been omitted?

In fact, there are huge numbers of human fossils ‘dated’—by methods that Lennox implicitly must accept—long before any biblical date of Adam. And many of these humans are victims of sinful violence such as murder and cannibalism, and many others had diseases.98 Once again, they must have died after the Fall, which should undermine trust in any ‘dating’ system that places them before about 4,000 BC.

This problem was accentuated by the discovery of a fully human hand bone ‘dated’ to 1.42 Ma. This was the third metacarpal, which in humans—but not apes or australopithecines—has a distinctive tiny projection called the styloid process. This allows the hand to lock with the wrist while the thumb and finger grip, enabling both precision and strength. The discoverers state, “In all ways, this bone resembles that of a modern human in overall proportions and morphology.” 99,100

Reason for the Gospel

Actually, in one sense, the curse of physical death does have a benefit to man, in that it prevents an even worse evil: living forever in a state of sin. And it provides the means of redemption, via the physical death of the God-man Jesus Christ on the Cross. That is, God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, would take on human nature to become a descendant of Adam, the aforementioned “seed of the woman”, called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:26). A few verses earlier in that epistle, Paul had taught:

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

The whole of 1 Corinthians 15 is about the bodily (physical) Resurrection of Christ, who was physically dead. The above cited passage makes it very clear that the death Adam brought was contrasted with the bodily Resurrection brought by the Last Adam. If Adam died only spiritually, then, logically, Jesus must only have needed to rise spiritually. This goes against the whole tenor of Paul’s chapter, and a non-bodily resurrection would have been nonsense to Jews.101

In Romans 5:12–21, Paul likewise connects all human death to Adam’s sin.102

British apologist and theologian William Griffith Thomas (1861–1924) commented:

[S]in and death are regarded as connected; death obtains its moral quality from sin. Paul clearly believes that physical dissolution was due to sin, and that there is some causal connection between Adam and the human race in regard to physical death … The clause “for that all sinned” (v. 12) establishes a causal connection between the sin of Adam and the death of all.103

And of course, if there was no real first man Adam, the Gospel is cut off from its foundations. John Murray (1898–1975), one of the founders of Westminster Theological Seminary (Glenside, PA, USA), pointed out:

To view the parallel and contrasted disobedience of the one Adam in non-historical terms is to wreck the structure of Paul’s thought and therefore the doctrine set forth in these passages. The consequences for the plan of redemption are apparent.104

This has been a major problem for those who deny that Genesis is real history but want to maintain the authority of the NT. E.g. Kidner must agree that the NT unambiguously treats it as history, but then tries to explain it away:

On its historicity two things should be said. First, the New Testament assumes it and argues from it, making the first Adam as literal as the last, whose genealogy is indeed traced back to him in Luke 3:23 ff. According to Romans 5:18, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 21, Adam was ‘one man’, and his sin ‘one trespass’, as factual as the cross and resurrection. But secondly, granted its historicity, it may still be an open question whether the account transcribes the facts or translates them: i.e. whether it is a narrative comparable to such a passage as 2 Samuel 11 (which is the straight story of David’s sin) or to 2 Samuel 12:1–6 (which presents the same event translated into quite other terms that interpret it).105

This is far from convincing. Both accounts are of David’s sin of adultery with Bathesheba and conspiracy to murder her husband. 2 Samuel 12:1–6 treats the account as just as factual as 2 Samuel 11. But Ch. 12 is the account of the prophet Nathan telling David a parable about a rich man with plenty of flocks who stole the only lamb of a poor man to make dinner for a guest. The purpose was to inflame David’s righteous anger at such a deed, then Nathan pointed out to the king that he was really referring to David’s own deed. That is, Nathan explained the parable right away. There is not the slightest hint that either Genesis or the NT treats Adam like the rich man or poor man in Nathan’s parable.

Challenging a king as Nathan did was risking his life. But David repented and may have named a son after him—Luke 3:31 reveals the Messiah’s biological ancestry came from David through his son Nathan.

Such unconvincing denials of historicity are not confined to OT scholars like Kidner; NT scholar C.K. Barrett (1917–2011) is similarly evasive:

Sin and death, traced back by Paul to Adam, are a description of humanity as it empirically is. For this reason the historicity of Adam is unimportant. It is impossible to draw the parallel conclusion that the historicity of Christ is equally unimportant. The significance of Christ is that of impingement upon a historical sequence of sin and death. Sin and death (to change the metaphor) are in possession of the field, and if they are to be driven from it this must be by the arrival of new forces which turn the scale of the battle, that is, by a new event … . But so far as the ‘second Adam’ or ‘Heavenly man’ figure is mythological, the myth has been historicized by Paul, and that not only because he was aware of Jesus as a historical person, but because a historical person was needed by the theological argument.106

However, New Testament specialist Lita Cosner points out the internal inconsistency of Barrett’s claims:

But this argument fails on its own terms because it does not recognize that the view throughout the Bible is that sin and death were themselves intrusions on human history caused by Adam’s sin, and this is the basis for the contrast with Christ’s actions which affected human history for good.107
Purely mythological figures obviously cannot affect history for good or evil. Furthermore, even Barrett has to concede that Paul himself saw Adam as a historical figure,108 as do most commentators, whether or not they think that Paul was wrong to do so.109

God clothes Adam and Eve, then expels them from the Garden (3:22–24)

3:21–24 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Clothes of skin

Adam and Eve had already tried to clothe themselves with fig leaves. But now God gives them clothes of skin. This entails that God must have killed animals. (It might seem pious to claim that these animals were lambs, but this is unlikely. God created adult animals, and there had almost certainly not been enough time for babies to be born.110) God may well have killed the animals in front of Adam and Eve, so that they saw for the first time what physical death meant. So this was the first lesson for humanity that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). Fruchtenbaum explains:

Physically, He clothed their nakedness, but spiritually, He also covered their sin by making for them their first atonement. The lessons to be drawn from this verse are as follows. First, to approach God, one must have a proper covering. Second, the man-made covering was not acceptable. Third, God Himself must provide the covering. Fourth, the proper covering required the shedding of blood. Fifth, God’s grace provided for them, for the covering was given before the actual expulsion from Eden.111

Animal sacrifices could merely ‘atone for’ sin—the Hebrew word is kaphar, meaning ‘cover’, hence the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, ‘Day of Atonement’. They could not take away sin (Hebrews 10:4–11). Sin would only be taken away by the Messiah’s perfect sacrifice, as Hebrews 10:12 says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” Since the Messiah was sacrificed to take away sin, it is now a grave affront to Him to sacrifice animals for sin as per the Mosaic system. This is because any proposed Mosaic-style ‘covering’ would entail that the sin hasn’t been taken away after all (one can’t cover something that has already been taken away).


So from this point on, and even from the time when Adam and Eve tried to clothe themselves in fig leaves, humans in public are to be clothed, as a covering. In the Bible, it’s clear that there is no further requirement for clothes to be made from animal skin; clothes made from plant-sourced fibres are clearly acceptable.

Another requirement is modesty. In the Law of Christ, women in particular are commanded to dress modestly, although the the teachings clearly apply to men too. For example, women should show consideration not to entice men into lust. But note that the Bible, in contrast to Islamic cultures, doesn’t blame women for this tendency in men—Jesus explicitly said that the one lusting after a woman has committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:27–37). But the main reason for modesty is not that negative one, but a positive one, as Cosner explains:

[T]he reason for modesty is the woman’s standing before God in Christ. Women who declare belief in Christ should dress modestly and simply so that their good works are what people notice. Women should dress modestly to highlight the state of their spirit, which is what God considers precious.
This way of viewing modesty leads to a positive view of women particularly—because the command assumes that women have something better to show than external beauty, not that they are dangerous temptresses that should be covered up as much as possible. It also is an effective answer for Christless legalism that dictates hem lengths without addressing the condition of the heart.112

Divine council

Now we have a divine council among the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, “like one of us”. Leupold says:

The expression “like one of us” cannot be made to include the angels, as though God were saying that He and they constitute the class of higher beings. For, in the first place, in any case such a levelling process that puts God and created beings in one class is precarious; and, in the second place, the like expression 1:26 stands too near to leave room for anything other than a reference to the persons of the Trinity. If, then, it be claimed that the revelation of Scripture is up to this point too meagre to allow for a clear understanding of this fact, we readily admit that in the earlier stages of revelation this word may not have been fully apprehended. But some of the revelation coming from God must be progressively apprehended. The Old Testament pointed in the way of the full truth. The New Testament sheds its light back upon this word too clearly to be ignored. But as Luther already rightly claimed, this word shows the unity of the divine being (‘God said’) and a plurality of person (‘us’), this latter fact, however, primarily in the light of the New Testament.113

God in His mercy could not allow man to live forever alienated from Him, so must stop them from eating from the Tree of Life. As mentioned earlier (‘Tree of Life’, Ch. 12), God had ordained that this would be the means by which humans would remain immortal. So God, true to His word, could not allow sinful man to partake of it.


However, in this mercy, there was a judgment as well: the active expulsion from the garden. There are more word plays in 3:22–23:

  • The man might “reach out” his hand, so God expelled or “sent him” out of the garden, both forms of the Hebrew verb shalach (שלח).
  • Man might “take” from the Tree of Life, but instead he would need to cultivate from the ground from which he was “taken”: using qal and piel forms of laqach (לקח).114

This expulsion was especially severe, since God actively drove the couple out—the Hebrew gārash (גרש) means “drive out, cast out”.115 Leupold comments:

There was something particularly shameful about being driven forth from the garden. Divine goodness aimed to make man feel his altered state very keenly: first blessed fellowship, then harsh expulsion.116

However, they did have the promise of a future Saviour. John Milton’s Paradise Lost adds much to the text, as shown previously, but the conclusion to the poem reflects some hope for the couple:

They looking back, all th’ Eastern side beheld

Of Paradise, so late thir happie seat,

Wav’d over by that flaming Brand, the Gate

With dreadful Faces throng’d and fierie Armes:

Som natural tears they drop’d, but wip’d them soon;

The World was all before them, where to choose

Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:

They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,

Through Eden took thir solitarie way. [Book 12]

No return to Eden

To make sure that they would not return, there were not one but two insuperable obstacles. One was the ‘cherubim’ (Hebrew kərûbîm, plural of kərûb כרוב), a high rank of angels. The other was the ‘flaming sword’, which Fruchtenbaum argues was a manifestation of the Shekinah Glory.117 There is a common misconception that the sword was in the hand of the cherubim, but it was distinct. Rather, the Hebrew literally says, ‘the flame of the sword, the turning one.’ Leupold explains:

This is best taken as meaning a flame, swordlike in appearance and continually rotating or even, perhaps, moving zigzag like flashes of lightning; at any event, a sight effectually deterring man from attempting to enter, so effectually, no doubt, that he did not even venture to approach the garden from any other side.118

If Eden were on a mountain (see ‘The geography of Eden’, Ch. 12), this would also explain how it was necessary for the cherubim to guard only one gate; all other sides may have been inaccessible on foot.

This expulsion meant a loss of fellowship with God. But the garden still might have remained a visible presence of God. So it would have been the logical place where people offered the sacrifices mentioned in the next few chapters. But this is today no longer possible, since the Garden could not have survived the Flood (at least without any miraculous acts, which the Bible doesn’t even hint at).

Were Adam and Eve saved?

The Bible does not say specifically that Adam and Eve are in now in Heaven, so we can’t be dogmatic. But there are certain principles that may apply, leading us to believe that the answer to the question is probably “yes.” Hebrews 11:1–2 explains:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

Although Adam and Eve are not named in this chapter, their actions after their disobedience indicate they did have faith in the promises of God:

  • In 3:20, Adam names his wife in a way that reflects his willingness to obey God’s command to multiply and fill the earth (1:28).
  • We will see next chapter that in 4:1, Eve shows remarkable faith in God’s promise of a redeemer in 3:15.
  • God sacrificed animals to clothe them, covering their sin (3:21).
  • Eve also named Seth, explicitly crediting God with providing another son to replace Abel (4:25).
  • They apparently taught their offspring about who God is and what He required. This was something that the Israelite contemporaries of the righteous Joshua failed to do (and what far too many Christian parents fail to do as well). So after Joshua’s generation died, “there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). This began a disastrous few centuries for the fledgling nation (and it’s repeated in wayward children of parents who don’t train them in theology and apologetics): “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). But Adam and Eve apparently didn’t make that mistake:

    • Cain and Abel were both aware that God had to be approached only through the correct form of sacrifice, i.e. a spotless blood sacrifice (Genesis 4:3–5). This knowledge would have come from their parents, Adam and Eve, who had witnessed God Himself make the first sacrifice by killing an animal to clothe them. They also, presumably, passed on this instruction to Seth, who in turn taught Enosh, setting an example for people to call upon the Lord (Genesis 4:26).

Just as the faith in God’s promises of the people listed in Hebrews 11 was credited to them as righteousness, it’s likely that the apparent faith of Adam and Eve was credited to them as righteousness, thus enabling them to spend eternity with God in Heaven.

References and notes

  1. Keil, C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament 1:94, 1857. Return to text.
  2. Many modern Bible readers misunderstand the word ‘heart’ in the Bible, and sometimes make a false contrast between ‘head-knowledge’ and ‘heart-trust’. When interpreting Scripture, it is important to work out what the authors meant by the term. In this case, one should work out what ‘heart’ meant to ancient Semites, not what it means in Hollywood pop-psychology. In the Bible, the word ‘heart’ is used 75% of the time to mean the mind or intellect. The passage quoted is one example: Jesus explicitly taught that thoughts came out of the ‘heart’. And Genesis 6:5 has YHWH seeing the wickedness of man before the flood: “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was evil.” However, the Bible frequently contrasts the heart and the lips—sincerity vs hypocrisy, for example. See also Sarfati, J., Loving God with all your mind: logic and creation, J. Creation 12(2):142–151, 1998. Return to text.
  3. Wieland, C., Did Eve lie before the Fall? creation.com/eve-lie, 17 March 2007. Return to text.
  4. Currid, J.D., A Study Commentary on Genesis—Volume 1: Genesis 1:1–25:18, pp. 118–119, 2003 (emphasis in original). Return to text.
  5. I would prefer simply ‘method’; ‘methodology’ is the study of method. Thus Dr Fruchtenbaum’s analysis of Satan’s methods of temptation is a ‘methodology’. Return to text.
  6. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p. 95, 2009. Return to text.
  7. Grigg, R., Strategy of the Devil, Creation 16(3):48–49, 1994. Return to text.
  8. Calvin, J., Genesis, p. 154, 1554. Return to text.
  9. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:152–153, 1942. Return to text.
  10. Currid cites in support Cassuto, U., A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, p. 147, 1961. Return to text.
  11. Currid, J.D., A Study Commentary on Genesis—Volume 1: Genesis 1:1–25:18, p. 120, 2003 (emphasis in original). Return to text.
  12. Paradise Lost, Book 9, The Argument [summary of the book]. Return to text.
  13. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:153, 1942. Return to text.
  14. See also Grigg, R., Did Adam sin out of love for Eve? creation.com/did-adam-sin-for-love, 26 January 2014. Return to text.
  15. Cosner, L., Romans 5:12–21: Paul’s view of literal Adam, J. Creation 22(2):105–107, 2008. Return to text.
  16. Cosner, L., Christ as the last Adam: Paul’s use of the Creation narrative in 1 Corinthians 15, J. Creation 23(3):70–75, 2009. Return to text.
  17. MacArthur, J., The Battle for the Beginning, pp. 199–204, 211, 2001. Return to text.
  18. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:153–154, 1942. Return to text.
  19. Mathews, K.A., The New American Commentary: Genesis 1–11:26 (Vol. 1A), p. 225, 1996. Return to text.
  20. Mathews, Ref. 19, footnote 144. Return to text.
  21. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p. 97, 2009. Return to text.
  22. Coleson, J., Genesis 1–11: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, p. 126, 2012. Return to text.
  23. Hamilton notes: See Speiser, E.A., The durative Hithpa‘el: a tan-Form,J. American Oriental Soc. 75:118–21, esp p. 119, 1955; Ward, W.A., Notes on Some Semitic Loan-Words and Personal Names, Or 32 (1963) 421 n. 5. GKC, § 54f, suggests that the Hithpael “often indicates an action less directly affecting the subject, and describes it as performed with regard to or for oneself, in one’s own special interest.” He cites hiṯhallēḵ (‘to walk about for oneself’) as an illustration of this use of the Hithpael, but he does not connect it with any specific verse. Return to text.
  24. Hamilton, V.P., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 192, 1990. Return to text.
  25. Sarfati, J., The Virginal Conception of Christ, Apologia 3(2):4–11, 1994. Return to text.
  26. Hamilton, V.P., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 193, 1990. Return to text.
  27. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p. 99, 2009. Return to text.
  28. Luther, M., Genesis, tr. Mueller, J.T., pp. 77–78, 1958. Return to text.
  29. Keil, C.F. and Delitzsch, F., Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament 1:98–99, 1857. Return to text.
  30. Bell, P. Of snakes, lizards, and mosasaurs—evolutionists puzzle over snake origins, Creation 31(3):15–17, 2009. Return to text.
  31. Hamilton, V.P., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 196, 1990. Return to text.
  32. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:162, 1942. Return to text.
  33. Bell, P., Snakes: designed to kill? Creation 31(4):47, 2009. Return to text.
  34. The sense of smell appears to work via quantum mechanical tunnelling, as discovered by Turin, L., A spectroscopic mechanism for primary olfactory reception. Chemical Senses 21:773, 1996. See also Sarfati, J., Olfactory design: smell and spectroscopy, J. Creation 12(2):137–138, 1998. Return to text.
  35. Wieland, C., Snakes do eat dust! Creation 10(4):38. Return to text.
  36. Hamilton notes: The NT’s application of 2 Sam. 7:12 to Jesus, and not only to Solomon (see Heb. 1:5), supplies one instance where zera‘ points to a distant descendant. For Jesus as the “seed of David” see Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8. Return to text.
  37. Hamilton, V.P., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, pp. 198–199, 1990. Return to text.
  38. Sarfati, Virginal Conception of Christ. Return to text.
  39. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., Apologia 2(3):54–58, 1993. Return to text.
  40. Targums Pseudo-Jonathan, Neofiti, Fragment. Return to text.
  41. Wenham, G.J., Genesis 1–15, pp. 80–81, 1987. Return to text.
  42. Wenham , Ref. 48. Return to text.
  43. ‘Virgin, Virginity’, Encyclopedia Judaica 16:159–160, 1971. Return to text.
  44. Gordon, C.H., J. Bible & Religion 21:106, April 1953; Young, E.J., ‘The Old Testament’; in Henry, C.F.H. (ed.), Contemporary Evangelical Thought, 1957. Return to text.
  45. Hamilton, V.P., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 119, 1990. Return to text.
  46. Hamilton, Ref. 52. Return to text.
  47. A single dot under the consonant (hireq), in this case he ה, indicates a vowel sound like that in “bee’, and would make hû’ sound like hî’. Most vowel-pointed Hebrew texts have a dot midway on the left (shureq) of the vav וּ, making it sound like ‘u’ as in ‘rule’. Return to text.
  48. Brown, R.E. et al., (eds.), Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars, p. 29, 1978. Return to text.
  49. Luther, M., Genesis, tr. Mueller, J.T., pp. 80–81, 1958. Return to text.
  50. Hamilton, V.P., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 201, 1990. Return to text.
  51. Walton, J.H., Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Old Testament, p. 87, 2006. Return to text.
  52. Currid, J.D., A Study Commentary on Genesis—Volume 1: Genesis 1:1–25:18, p. 132, 2003. Return to text.
  53. Sarfati, J., with help from his wife, Sarfati, S., Pain in childbirth: result of the Fall or fear?, creation.com/childbirth, 26 April 2008. Return to text.
  54. Carlisle, J., Labor’s pain still severe—survey, Edmonton Journal, section D, 14 October 1985. Return to text.
  55. Kassian, Mary, Women, Creation and the Fall, p. 25, 1990. Return to text.
  56. External physical stimuli can sometimes be blocked from causing a conscious pain sensation by a process akin to self-hypnosis, as a recent report of pain-free major surgery while a person was awake attests. But this is different from the suggestion that pain during an operation, for example, is invariably due to anxiety and not the surgeon’s knife. Return to text.
  57. However, recent studies suggest that such episiotomy is not necessarily a wise course of action. Return to text.
  58. Ross, H.N., Creation and Time, pp. 67–68, 1994. Return to text.
  59. Endorphin release, Birth, birth.com.au, 2013. Return to text.
  60. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p. 106, 2009. Return to text.
  61. Fruchtenbaum points out, “The Greek word for subjection is tassō [sometimes a variant, hypotasso], which is a military term: ‘to subordinate one to the control of the other.’ However, being in a subordinate position has nothing to do with any inferiority as to a woman’s being.” Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p. 113, 2009. Return to text.
  62. Egalitarians appeal to Ephesians 5:21 before these cited passages, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”, and claim that it teaches ‘mutual submission’. In my view, this is hard to reconcile with the rest of the passage. Rather, v. 21 introduces the passage with a general call to Christians to ‘submit to one another’ in whatever hierarchical relationships they are involved in. The passage itself deals with the hierarchy in marriage; the next passage (Ephesians 6:1–4) commands children to submit to parents; the next (vv. 5–9) commands servants to obey masters. If v. 21 really taught ‘mutual submission’ between husband and wife, then it must logically teach mutual submission between parents and children, and between Christ and the Church. Return to text.
  63. Wenham, G.J., Genesis 1–15, p. 82, 1987. Return to text.
  64. A fine detailed study is Smith, H.B., Cosmic and universal death from Adam’s Fall: an exegesis of Romans 8:19–23a, J. Creation 21(1):75–85, 2007. Return to text.
  65. Bruce, F.F., Romans; in: Tasker, R.V.G. (Ed.), Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, pp. 168–174, 1963. Return to text.
  66. See also Gurney, R.J.M., The carnivorous nature and suffering of animals, J. Creation 18(3):70–75, 2004. Return to text.
  67. Moo, D.J., The Epistle to the Romans, p. 516, 1996. Return to text.
  68. Witherington, B., with Hyatt, D., Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, p. 223, 2004. Ben Witherington III (1951–) is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Return to text.
  69. Cranfield, C.E.B., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1, International Critical Commentaries, 1975. Return to text.
  70. Cranfield, Ref. 78. Return to text.
  71. Murray, J., The Epistle to the Romans, NICNT, p. 303, 1968. Return to text.
  72. Dunn, J.D.G., Romans 1–8, WBC, pp. 487–488, 1988. Return to text.
  73. Catchpoole, D., Flat leaves—a curly problem, J. Creation 19(1):8, 2005. Return to text.
  74. McConnell, J.R. and Barton, M.K., Leaf development takes shape, Science 299(5611):1328–1329, 2003. Return to text.
  75. Nath, U. et al., Genetic control of surface curvature, Science 299(5611):1404–1407, 2003. Return to text.
  76. Chaney, R., A fossil cactus from the Eocene of Utah, American J. Botany 31(8):507–528, 1944. Return to text.
  77. Becker, H., The fossil record of the genus Rosa, Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 90(2):99–110, 1963. Return to text.
  78. DeVore, M. and Pigg, K., A brief review of the fossil history of the family Rosaceae with a focus on the Eocene Okanogan Highlands of eastern Washington State, USA, and British Columbia, Canada, Plant Systematics and Evolution 266(1–2):45–57, 2007. Return to text.
  79. Rayner, R., New finds of Drepanophycus spinaeformis Göppert from the Lower Devonian of Scotland, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences 75:353–363, 1984. Return to text.
  80. Rayner, R., New observations of Sawdonia ornata from Scotland, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences 74:79–83, 1983. Return to text.
  81. Kasper, A., Andrews, H. and Forbes, W., New fertile species of Psilophyton from the Devonian of Maine, American J. Botany 61(4):339–359, 1974. Return to text.
  82. Banks, H., Reclassification of Psilophyta, Taxon 24(4):401–413, 1975. Return to text.
  83. Catchpoole, D., A thorny issue, Creation 34(3):52–55, 2012. Return to text.
  84. Sarfati, J., Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?; creation.com/death, 2 January 2014. Return to text.
  85. Article 5. Whether death and other bodily defects are the result of sin? Reply to Objection 1. Return to text.
  86. Protestants do not accept this Apocryphal book as part of Scripture. However, this is good evidence of learned Jewish thinking between the Old and New Testaments. Return to text.
  87. Article 6. Whether death and other defects are natural to man? Return to text.
  88. Luther, M., Genesis, tr. Mueller, J.T., p. 53, 1958. Return to text.
  89. Calvin, J., Genesis, p. 180, 1554. Return to text.
  90. Wesley, J., On the Fall of Man, Sermon 57 (Genesis 3:19), 1872. Return to text.
  91. Lennox, J., Seven Days that Divide the World, 2011. See also review by Cosner, L., Who is being divisive about creation? J. Creation 26(3):25–28, 2012. Return to text.
  92. Clark, J.D. et al., Stratigraphic, chronological and behavioural contexts of Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Nature 423(6941):747–752, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  93. C. Wieland and J. Sarfati, Ethiopian ‘earliest humans’ find: a severe blow to the beliefs of Hugh Ross and similar ‘progressive creationist’ compromise views, creationon.com/ethiopianskull, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  94. White, T. et al., Pleistocene Homo sapiens from Middle Awash, Ethiopia, Nature 423(6941):742–747, 12 June 2003. Return to text.
  95. McDougall, I. et al., Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia, Nature 433(7027):733–736, 17 February 2005. Return to text.
  96. Wieland, C., Redating Leakey’s Ethiopian human finds: more problems for compromise, creation.com/redating, 18 February 2005. Return to text.
  97. Hublin, J.-J. and 10 others, New fossils from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco and the pan-African origin of Homo sapiens, Nature 546: 289–292, 2017 | doi:10.1038/nature22336. Return to text.
  98. Lubenow, M., Pre-Adamites, sin, death and the human fossils, J. Creation 12(2):222–232, 1998. Return to text.
  99. Ward, C.V. et al., Early Pleistocene third metacarpal from Kenya and the evolution of modern human-like hand morphology, PNAS 111(1):121–124, 7 January 2014. Return to text.
  100. ‘Ancient’ date for ‘toolmaker’ bone find, Creation 36(4):10, 2014. Return to text.
  101. Kumar, S. with Sarfati, J., Christianity for Skeptics, pp. 39–45 and ch. 4, 2012. Return to text.
  102. Cosner, L., Romans 5:12–21: Paul’s view of literal Adam, J. Creation 22(2):105–107, 2008. Return to text.
  103. Griffith Thomas, W.H., ‘Adam’; International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 1:49–50, 1979. Return to text.
  104. Murray, J., ‘Adam’, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 1:50, 1954. Return to text.
  105. Kidner, D., Genesis, p. 57, 1967. Return to text.
  106. Barrett, C.K., The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Black’s New Testament Commentary, p. 353, 1968. Return to text.
  107. Witherington, Ben III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, p. 304, 1995. Return to text.
  108. Barrett, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 352, 1968. Return to text.
  109. Cosner, L., Christ as the last Adam: Paul’s use of the Creation narrative in 1 Corinthians 15, J. Creation 23(3):70–75, 2009. Return to text.
  110. See ‘Timing of the Fall’, which explains the short time between Creation Week and the Fall. The gestation period of a sheep today is about 5 human menstrual cycles, ample time for Eve to conceive in her perfectly fertile pre-Fall state as she had been commanded, yet she had not. Return to text.
  111. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, p. 110, 2009. Return to text.
  112. Cosner, L., Does God care what I wear? creation.com/clothes, 2 July 2013. Return to text.
  113. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:180–181, 1942. Return to text.
  114. Hamilton, V.P., The Book of Genesis, chapters 1–17, p. 209, 1990. Return to text.
  115. גרש, BDB. Return to text.
  116. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:182–183, 1942. Return to text.
  117. Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Book of Genesis, pp. 111–112, 2009. Return to text.
  118. Leupold, H.C., Exposition of Genesis 1:184, 1942. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Mike D.
This is why I think theistic evolutionists have such a theological problem with their compromise. See if death is the result of sin as the inerrant Bible teaches and Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for the sins of all for eternity. Then evolution can’t be correct with God using evolution as His means of creation. Since death was used in evolution’s creative process. One can’t have it both ways. They both can’t be right. Then theistic evolutionist have to explain sin and how and where it entered mankind and how and why Jesus death paid for sin by His death since death was used to create and not a penalty for sin. It therefore totally invalidates the need for Jesus to come, die and rise again and pay the price for all sin since according to them death isn’t the price for sin as it was already used by God in creation method.

Plus God said it was very good when finished and I’ve yet to see how death is very good in creation method. I’ve asked many theistic evolutionists about this, and not one yet has been able to answer this from a theological perspective. See they can’t coexist and both be correct. That is why this ministry and others are so very important in learning the Biblical mandate how to learn how to apologetically defend the inerrant word of God and that would include from the science perspective why YEC is correct scientifically. It builds our faith and not only that but in my case it has given me the ability to worship our Creator with more awe, wonder, and passion than ever before! You can't do that compromised with naturalism, Darwinism. You lose so much in one’s capacity to love and worship more fully! What a terrible shame that is! Why at times when I read the articles and magazines I will just drop them fall into a full worship mode. It’s so great..
Chris C.
Wow! I was so impressed by this article that I immediately purchased the book from your store. Thanks for bringing us such an awesome product!

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