This week we are in the post-lapsarian garden. We will wrap up our study of Genesis 2-3 next week. For tonight, please read Please read Gen. 3:8-19.
In vv.14-19, the Lord God metes out the punishment for the disobedience. Each of the three characters – the snake, the woman, and the man – have acted against the wishes of the creator, and now must take full responsibility for their actions and the end of their idyllic/Edenic existence. God’s punishment directly affects a central concern on the life of each character and adversely affects a basic relationship between that character and creation itself.
God curses the snake because he started it. The snake that was previously described as “more crafty” (Heb: ’arum mik-kol) is now “more cursed” (Heb: ’arur mik-kol). And just as the snake caused the humans to eat the fruit, so now the snake is condemned to eat dirt through the loss of its legs. The final part of the curse is that the snake and its descendants will have an adverse relationship with the woman and all of her descendants. (In fact, all primates have a special part of our brain attuned to recognizing and fearing snakes.)
The woman’s punishment is related to her fertility. First, she will have sorrow and pain in bringing forth children. This punishment relates not only to the pain in childbirth but the sorrow of historically seeing a quarter of all offspring dying in their first year and only about half of children reaching adulthood. The second punishment is in her relationship with the man. She shall desire her husband and he shall rule over her. She is condemned to be Tammy Wynette. The curse is the subservience of the woman to the man which is why when the curse is lifted, there is neither male nor female. (Gal. 3:28).
The man’s punishment is also related to his function. The Lord God created the man to cultivate the Garden (Gen. 2:15) but now the ground will resist the man’s efforts. The relationship between the man and the ground has been ruptured. And just as in pain (Heb: itstsabon) does the woman bear children, so also in toil (Heb: itstsabon) will the man bring food from the ground. The ground that the man will work of his life, will eventually swallow him himself returns to the ground.
Going back to the early church, Genesis 3:15 has been termed the protoevangelium or “first gospel.” As Irenaeus (130-202) writes in Against Heresies:
He has therefore, in His work of recapitulation, summed up all things, both waging war against our enemy, and crushing him who had at the beginning led us away captives in Adam, and trampled upon his head, as you can perceive in Genesis . . . For from that time, He who should be born of a woman, from the Virgin, after the likeness of Adam, was preached as keeping watch for the head of the serpent. This is the seed of which the apostle says in the Epistle to the Galatians, that the law of works was established until the seed should come to whom the promise was made. (Gal. 3:19). This fact is exhibited in a still clearer light in the same Epistle, where he thus speaks: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman. (Gal. 4:4). For indeed the enemy would not have been fairly vanquished unless it had been a man born of a woman who conquered him. For it was by means of a woman that he got the advantage over man at first, setting himself up as man’s opponent. And therefore does the Lord profess Himself to be the Son of man, comprising in Himself that original man out of whom the woman was fashioned, in order that, as our species went down to death through a vanquished man, so we may ascend to life again through a victorious one; and as through a man death received the palm of victory against us, so again by a man we may receive the palm against death.
March 1 is Fat Tuesday. We will be having savory waffles and wine and spirits here. There will be no lesson only feasting. Anyone is free to join us. Please RSVP.
For Lent we will be reading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2021 Lenten book: Living His Story by The Rev’d Dr Hannah Steele. We will have copies of the book available next Tuesday and on Sunday for $5.
Dinner tonight is at 6:30. The menu is chicken teriyaki. Discussion about 7:15 followed by Compline.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.1979 BCP 265
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