Updated: May 5
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 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 from 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 from 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 tricked me, and I ate.”
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon 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 hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
This is one of two optional Old Testament reading selections from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 5. If chosen, this selection will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, June 10, 2018. It is important as it tells of God knowing all our sins, just as He knew that one of His holy children in Eden. That judgment means banishment from Heaven for sin unavoidable, such that complete absolution while on earth is the only way for a soul to return to be with God. That absolution can only come through Jesus Christ.
Preface: This short reading is known by most, but understood by few. The first four chapters of Genesis are easy to read, but just as easy to misunderstand. This sliver of Genesis 3 selected for the third Sunday after Pentecost requires one know all of Genesis 3. To fully understand this reading also requires one know Genesis 1, 2, and 4. For that reason, this interpretation will expand beyond these eight verses. That expansion will require extra words of explanation. Be forewarned.
This selection from Genesis can be said to focus on the judgment placed upon both those who sin and the one who promotes sin. Here, we know “the man and his wife” (“hā·’ā·ḏām hā·’iš·šāh”) admitted to having sinned. They immediately blamed the serpent (“han·nā·ḥāš”) as the influence for their sin. Then, we read of God’s judgment against “the serpent,” which includes words linking “the serpent” to “the wife.” as a dual judgment. The punishment of “the man” comes after these words, which are not read today.
This story in Genesis 3 is commonly called The Fall from Grace. That title implies failure, due to “Adam and Eve” having committed the Original Sin, leading to their banishment from Eden. Because this story is set up somewhat like a fairy tale (allegory), where snakes talk and God walks in the garden in the cool of the evening, it is easy for our minds to capture the images as being similar to known life events. We project human qualities onto divine creatures (anthropomorphism), but that view blinds us from the truth told in this story. For instance, we focus more on “Adam and Eve” being evicted from Heaven, but then lose sight of the snake also being cast out.
When we read this story from a human perspective, we see God as human, which He is not. Our personal experiences tell us how surprised we are when we find out someone has sinned. We can get the impression that God turns a blind eye from His creations, from time to time. Thus, we see God as being surprised in this story. However, God is All-Knowing and All-Seeing, so God is in on everything.
He has omniscience as well.
By realizing that given, one has to understand that God made Man as a heavenly being, giving “Adam” (a personalized name for the Son of God, from “hā·’ā·ḏām” – “the man”) immortality. Although God made Adam from clay or dust, he was an immortal entity – like an angel – which means “Adam” had absolutely no reason, nor innate drive to procreate. When God cast a deep sleep over Adam and took a rib to make “Adam’s” wife, it was for the purpose of sending “Adam” and wife to the earth God had created, where males and females in the image of the gods had been in existence since the sixth “day” of Creation (millions of years, if not more). Therefore, it was God’s plan to seed the earth with the first priest of the One God, who could “hear the voice of the LORD of gods” (“way·yiš·mə·‘ū ’êṯ qō·wl Yah-weh ’ĕ·lō·hîm”).
God knew there was a time when “the man and the wife” would be sent to earth to procreate. God knew the whole story before it happened. Still, the males and females of earth (sixth day creations that were being fruitful and multiplying, which was deemed good) did not know God. Mortal human beings did not know right from wrong. God planned to send them teachers.
When we read “Adam” explain to God (his Father), “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself,” the word “erom” (“naked”) meant Adam was aware of his body for the first time. Because “the wife” (“ishshah”) also hid, she too was aware of her body, which meant the fear (“I was afraid” – “wā·’î·rā”) was from also knowing arousal from becoming aware of each other’s nakedness. They had always been unclothed and had never found reason to think (a mental exercise) that state of being was unusual.
That awareness of their physicality was something never known before by “the man and wife” BUT their fear was based on their realization how unnatural it was for immortal beings to become sexually aroused, when immortal beings have no need to procreate. Indeed, in the Spiritual realm none of the elohim (a plural number word meaning “gods”) or angels could produce other elohim or angels, as only God has the power to create new life. Therefore, “Adam” and wife were souls created by God, which were then placed in physical bodies for the purpose of procreating on earth, outside of Eden.
When the allegory is seen in this story, “Adam and Eve” were like children who had reached puberty. They changed into mature beings, no longer able to return to an innocence of youth. That change was by design; but as immortal beings, there can be no age of mortals applied to how long they had lived together. One can even assume that they were made in the same state of maturity, as growth and normal earthbound bodily needs would be unnecessary. The only change that occurred was an awakening of physical attractions, for the purpose of procreation. Because fruit is the offspring of a tree, they ate of the fruit that opened their minds to physicality, in a spiritual environment.
Simply because the man and the wife were made to beget new priests in a world of human animals, they were known by God to reach a point in their development where they could no longer live in a Spiritual realm, where procreation was impossible. Because both were made to reproduce, they had to be placed into the realm what that act was possible. The timing of that event would be when they first experienced arousal for one another.
In this story the serpent plays the role of influencer. When one is immature, nakedness is not seen as anything more than normal. Eden is then the eternal realm where there is no need for maturation, as one is made whole. The mind is therefore immature, in the sense it is pure innocence. One knows all that God allows one to know and that is all one wants to know. The changes of maturity, for physical bodies designed to grow and reproduce, occur within the being, in the brain and chemistry. The serpent then represents the voice within that has one become fixated (lustful) on the physical, once the brain has awakened and this physical state of maturity has been reached.
This makes the tree that bore the forbidden fruit, which was in the “midst of the garden,” be representative of sexual organs. When God said, “You shall surely die” if that fruit was eaten, death was the change from immortal life to mortal life, where death presents a need for procreation. As the “fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” this was the genetic programming that was placed in “the man” when God made him. As “Adam” was made on the seventh day, the day deemed holy, “the man” was made to be holy, as a replication of THE Father. “The man” himself was designed to be “a father,” one who taught his children about THE Father.
This is why “the wife” is identified as such (“ishshah “), where “wife” denotes the sexual partner of a husband. Together, they would need to have children, who they would teach to recognize the difference between good and evil. The good would be their connection to God, who would counsel them in how to act. In a world that only knew the natural urges of genetics, with no knowledge of good [God] nor evil [the craftiness of the serpent], “the man and the wife” (the woman who shared the genetics of “the man,” from his X-chromosome “rib”) would be the first priests sent into the earth.
Rather than entering the “new world” with an army and being “in your face” about religion, Adam and Eve chose the “lead by example” method of ministry.
It then becomes important to realize that “the man and the wife” could not enter a world that knew no value judgments of any kind, without them being accompanied by “the serpent.” That character is described as, “more crafty than any beast of the field.” (Genesis 3:1) Without knowing the Hebrew words that translation comes from, “more crafty” or “more subtle” is a statement of the serpent possessing a big brain, which is always something that gets in one’s way of humans trying to find their way back to God.
The Hebrew, “‘ā·rūm mik·kāl ḥay·yaṯ haś·śā·ḏeh,” which has been translated as “more crafty than any beast of the field,” can literally state: “sensible man (arum) [of] all (kol) age [of man] (chay) soil (sadeh).” This can then be read as a statement of an entity that appeared to be more like “the man and the wife,” rather than one of the beasts named by “the man” [“Adam”].
While this character is clearly identified as a “snake” or “serpent,” the anthropomorphic language causes one to see a talking snake confusing “the wife,” rather than someone who looked like “the man.” His sensibility would be mistaken for honesty to a naïve woman, thinking this being knew what he was talking about. This makes the serpent more representative of the parallel character who tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness (Satan). He came looking trustworthy and helpful, not frightening and scary. As “Lucifer,” whose name means “light-bearer,” the one who tricked “the wife” was shedding light onto why God forbid “the man and the wife” the fruit of one tree. That would be the false light that will forever be offered by the fallen angel.
For anyone who has ever seen a snake, many are known for hiding under rocks and in crevices. Many have coloring that allows them to blend into their surroundings, which means the snake was the influence for “the man and the wife” after they had eaten the fruit, when they were afraid and hid from God. Before the pair encountered the snake, it is doubtful the two had ever experienced fear or any thought that they could be hidden from God’s all-seeing eyes. Thus, because the snake is punished along with “the man and the wife,” all three were hiding in the garden when God called for them. Only the serpent was not afraid. He was staying with his prey.
Again, the questions that followed are not to be read as if God was blind to what had happened. “Where are you? Who told you that you were naked? And Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” cannot be read as God not knowing all of the answers to those questions, before he asked them. Those questions are rhetorical, as God knew precisely where they were, that they were attempting to hide, that the snake tricked “the wife,” and that the pair had eaten from the forbidden tree’s fruit. God’s call and questioning was to solicit truthful responses from “the man.” “The man” responded to his Father, immediately offering the whole truth to God, because God had made him so he would tell only the truth.
The man and the wife admitted they had gone against God’s rule. The serpent was not questioned, which means God knew the truth had been told by the wife and the man. This is then when God issued His judgment upon all three. While this reading does not cover the judgment set upon the wife or the man directly, it does include those against the serpent that include the serpent’s relationship to the wife (commonly translated as “women”). It is this judgment that is difficult to understand.
We first read: “The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures.” This is a quick and easy translation that accurately states the words written. However, the addition of “among all animals and among all wild creatures” makes it easy to lose the impact of the serpent being “cursed.”
If the serpent is an animal, what is the curse of being curse by other animals? This means the additional words add depth to the simple statement, “cursed are you.” To read the additional words, where “animals” or “beasts” are stated (“beasts” is the same word shown above that actually means “age [of man]”), this implies that “animals” and “beasts” are also cursed. That is not the case.
In Genesis 2:18-20, we read how “the man” [Adam] was given all the “animals” of the ground and the air, when “the man” named them all. This naming can be seen as a link between the mind of “the man” and the “animals,” such that the names were based on meaningful communication between the two. In other words, Adam talked to the animals and determined what they should be named (a truly anthropomorphic scenario). By understanding that communication between “the man” and the “animals,” the serpent was cursed “among all animals” by not being able to use his big brain to seduce those creatures to do his will. Despite being the “more crafty” of all the animals, his craftiness (or sensibility or shrewdness) could not have an effect on the lower creatures of earth, whose lives were totally programmed by God’s nature.
When we then read how the serpent is judged to “upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life,” the confusion comes from realizing a snake or serpent always slithers on the ground. It leads many to wonder, was the serpent complete with arms and legs in Eden? Did those arms and legs fly away from him when God punished the serpent?
The punishment can be clearly seen when one realizes “the serpent” was a nickname for a sly devil. Since he was called a “snake,” he would be sent to earth to metaphorically live like a snake.
Snake Plisskin. A character from a bad movie.
However, the description stated as punishment makes the future of the serpent to be more like a worm; and again this is the wrong way to read this metaphor.
The Hebrew word “gachon” (from “gə·ḥō·nə·ḵā”) means “belly” or “abdomen,” but the word becomes synonymous with “stomach” and “uterus” or “womb.” Since the serpent was a male entity, and since the sin committed by “the man and the wife” were from eating fruit, then the punishment was for the serpent to forevermore be driven by his internal urges that seek to devour. The metaphor of “belly” is then being a lowlife, as it travels the lay of the land, which takes it into gutters, hiding under rocks, and seeking the darkness of caves. When “belly” is readily read as the “stomach,” then it becomes a natural subsequent punishment for God to address what the serpent will “eat.”
The Hebrew word translated as “dust” (“aphar,” from “wə·‘ā·p̄ār”) has to be seen than more than “dirt, ground, and earth.” The same word, “aphar,” is found in Genesis 2:7 (“The Lord God formed man of dust of the earth.”) God told “the man” at the end of Genesis 3 (verse 19), “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The focus placed on “earth” means “the man” was a soul in flesh, as both material and spiritual eternally. However, the serpent was just sentenced to forever being an eternal spirit that can only exist on earth.
This association of “dust” should then be read as a reference to mankind in general. As mortals are born to die (and repeat) it will be mankind that the serpent will feed on (as “dust”). In Genesis 1:27, we read, “Male and female elohim created them,” which were “hā·’ā·ḏām” as “mankind.” If the males and females on the physical plane are to be tricked by the serpent, as were “the man and the wife” in Eden, then the “belly” becomes the purpose of a “uterus” and “a wife,” which is to bear new children that God will breathe life into.
The redemption of “the man and the wife” will come more from their producing a holy lineage that will warn humanity against the temptations of the serpent, by teaching mankind how to know the difference between good and evil. However, once new members of mankind are born, the serpent will be attracted to them as innocent and pure, to tempt them to sin. The serpent’s role will be to ensure that an earthbound cycle of souls born into flesh will remain intact.
It is then the last verse of this reading, where God passed judgment upon the serpent, relative to his tricking “the wife” with his craftiness. Genesis 3:15 seems clearly translated as, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” However, this is the most enigmatic statements found in this story and it needs to be grasped properly.
Genesis 3:15 divides into four segments. When read together, one can get an image of a snake eating its tail, which is an icon for the “Ouroboros”.
While this symbol is said to represent, “the perpetual cyclic renewal of life and infinity, the concept of eternity and the eternal return, and represents the cycle of life, death and rebirth, leading to immortality,” (Crystalinks.com) that imagery is secondary to the importance of the individual segments stated in Genesis 3:15.
In the first two segments, a variation of the word “bayin” is found written four times, two times in each segment. The word “bayin” means “between,” but also “above, among, forehead, midst, within, and the interval of.” The first segment is God linking the serpent to “the wife,” such that God said to the serpent, “And enmity I will put in the interval of within the wife.” The second segment then says separately, “In the interval of your children in the interval of her offspring.” Because of the repetition of “bayin” (as “bê·nə·ḵā, uben, uben, and uben”) in these two segments, both can be seen as the “hatred” and “personal hostility” that will be “between” the serpent and “the wife” is relative to “descendants.”
Here, it has to be grasped that the serpent is “cursed” by retaining his eternal state of being, where the heavenly creatures (like angels and elohim) have no sex organs because reproduction was unnecessary, thus impossible. God had created “the man and the wife” for the purpose of having worldly children, so they had been built to procreate, only never in the realm of the divine. This means the “offspring” of the serpent can only be those born of “the wife.” It will be her offspring that will be led to do evil things, having been taught by “the wife,” becoming children knowing the difference “between” God and the “perpetual cyclic renewal of life” into the material plane, not a return to heaven (Eden).
The “enmity” that God will place “within the wife” is less a “personal hatred” in her (as that would be an emotion of evil, not good), but a knowledge of the “hatred” that the serpent has for those who seek to do only good. That will be taught to the children of “the wife,” so they will know to resist the temptations of one who hates them.
The “interval of her offspring” can immediately be seen in the difference in Spirit found “between” Cain and Abel. It can be seen in the 1 Samuel lessons of devoted priests to God not having sons who follow in their holy ways. It can even be seen in the repeated reports of difficulties with conception (barrenness) found in the wives of holy men, such as Abram (his wife Sarai), Manoah (father of Samson), Jacob (his wife Rachel), and Zacharias (his wife Elizabeth). The books of the Holy Bible follow the intervals of those who were taught to know of the hatred held by the serpent for their souls. Because we proclaim Jesus was born of a woman, this can be seen as “of the interval” when “the wife” produced holy offspring.
When God judged the serpent to forever be of the earth, that meant the spirit of the serpent would always locked into that realm. When God then spoke of the association of “the wife” to the serpent, once both were banished from the Spiritual realm of Eden, God was stating that the receptive spirit of females was indeed “of the earth.” Therefore, the joining of the serpent’s judgment with “the wife” is less a punishment of her and more a statement of the physical state that would become the prison for an immortal creature.
While there is no need for procreation in Heaven, procreativity is essential on the earth. Because “the man” was “dust” (physical matter) breathed into by God (the breath of life entering flesh as a spiritual soul), the body of “the man” is essentially feminine, in the sense that it received that breath of life. The sex of all human life is inconsequential in the spiritual realm, making every body of flesh be feminine and every soul be masculine in essence (of the Father). It is in this way that humans refer to God as the Father and the Earth as the Mother of all life, where all that has life needs both mother and father.
In the metaphysic study that is astrology, there is a negative “charge” assigned to the Moon and Venus, such that both orbs are called “feminine.” Conversely, the Sun and Mars are given a positive association, such that both are called masculine. As every human has all astrological planets present within their birth charts, all human beings have both masculine and feminine traits, which is normal. The psychologist Carl Jung called this the anima and the animus. Still, human beings grow into their innate sexuality (the majority do not resist this design), so boys grow up with attractions to masculine acts and girls grow up with attractions to feminine acts (regardless of the excessive weight now put onto cultural conditioning).
This becomes a modern female’s attraction to make-up and clothing, jewelry and homes, as well as family and children. Things become necessary for comfort and security, which the feminine mind is driven towards. This is how the serpent and the wife are both linked, as the serpent will use things to lure the offspring of the wife to make the same mistake the wife made in Eden. Certainly, males have their attraction to things, where sex is a temptation hard to resist; but all the delights of the world are lures to an innate drive of a feminine “body of flesh.”
In the final two segments, which plays on the intervals of good and evil in the offspring of “the wife,” we read, “He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” A more literal translation says, “This will bruise head, and you will bruise heel,” where the words of God are aimed at judgment to “the serpent.” When read this later way, the judgment ceases being a “him-her” scenario, or an action-reaction proposition, and becomes fully focused on “the serpent.” It states the results that can be expected, during the intervals of offspring choosing good and offspring choosing evil.
This now becomes a prophecy that says this interval will produce periods when the crafty big brain (“head”) of the snake will be rebuked by the good priests who will hear God’s voice and do good. Conversely, it says the influence of the serpent’s craftiness and temptations will bruise the thought processes of those taught to know better, leading them to sinful acts. It also says that those who the serpent will influence to choose to do evil will be the dregs (“rear, last, or end”) of the lineage (something Jesus called “dead branches”). However, those who will be holy, such as Jesus in the wilderness, they will strike at the serpent and tell them to get to the rear. Together, this says the serpent has no powers to force a human being to do evil, so all power to walk away from the influence of evil is held by the offspring of “the man and the wife.”
As this whole series of events was totally planned by God, one has to see the powerless state of the serpent on earth is his inability to make matter move physically. The only power of the serpent is intellectual, as a devil that sits on one’s shoulder whispering sinful things.
The presence of Satan on earth is as necessary as was the serpent in Eden. The serpent initiated the order for “the man and the wife” to go to earth and begin a holy lineage of priests, who would teach mankind, with the Son of God being allowed to return as Jesus Christ. On earth, Satan is necessary for those who seek to return to God to defeat. The serpent becomes the test of sincerity for repentance. To enter Heaven, one must totally resist evil; and that can only be done by completely devoting one’s soul to God, and letting ego die so eternal life may come through the union of God and “the wife” (Christians of all sexes), bringing about the rebirth of the Son, Jesus Christ. To defeat Satan, one must be Jesus Christ reborn.
As a reading option from the Old Testament for the third Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry should be underway, the focus placed here is on the extreme restrictions placed on what souls can be allowed back into Eden and again walk in the garden with God. One cannot allow oneself to fall prey to the tricks of the serpent; and one must communicate that warning to all who seek eternal life.
We have all fallen from grace because we all know the difference between good and evil; but we can all find redemption through God’s love in our hearts and the Christ Mind bruising the big brain of the serpent. We must minister to the “heel,” as that is where the dust of sin gathers in the world, such that Apostles must wash each other’s sins clean. That is done by fellowship, where ministry picks each soul up from the ground, so evil’s influence cannot rise against the righteous. Ministry supports others in Christ, in addition to spreading the Word to those who seek redemption.
As a choice to accompany the Gospel reading from Mark, where the people clamored outside the home Jesus and his disciples had sought solitude in, where Jesus said his family was those who believed as he believed, this relates to the offspring of good. You cannot stand outside and call upon Jesus, as did his mother and brothers. They called from fear, not from faith. If they had faith, they would have been with Jesus when he entered the house. Thus, it was the serpent that called for Jesus to come out, just as the serpent tricked “the wife” to become like God in knowledge.
The focus of this reading is the expressed judgment of God placed on the serpent. As the offspring of “Adam,” as Christians, we are the target of the serpent’s enmity. It is a sly grasp that his evil words of influence entwine us in. Sometimes we cannot see the forest from the trees. We think we are doing only good, when we should question just how blind we have become. When ministry is only in our minds and not a reality, we need to realize we are hiding because of our nakedness. We have sinned but don’t want to admit it. We have sinned by hiding from God.
In a world of serpent-like influences, we need to ask God to help and be prepared to suffer His judgment as repentance.