Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Fall: Man

God cursed the man last
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.
God rebukes the man for listening to his wife. It may be suggested that this interpretation is a problem in itself; rebuking listening would seem to conflict with other Scripture where women give wise advice, consider Abigail and Deborah. A possibility is that this a rebuke for listening and doing as she suggested, that is obeying his wife. There may be some credence to this view as it seems that Adam knew his action was rebellious. The curse hints at this and Paul distinguishes the behaviour of the man and woman in his letter to Timothy.
Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived (1 Timothy 2)
Though perhaps the rebuke is because he listened to his wife over God's explicit command. Paraphrased
You listened to your wife and did as she said,
but I said not to do this.
Therefore the possibilities for the rebuke to the man are
  1. Listening to his wife (heeding her opinion rather than just listening to God)
  2. Obeying his wife
  3. Obeying his wife over a direct command from God otherwise
The first is unlikely, the third is true regardless, and the second is a possibility as to the meaning here.

Understanding this preamble to the curse may give us insight into how the state of affairs were between husband and wife before the Fall. Although pre-Fall relationship can be garnered from other passages which then aids us in interpreting this verse.

The curse God gave to the man affected his work and his life. Work is not a result of the Fall, rather toil is.
God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." (Genesis 1)
Dominion over the earth was given to the man and the woman. While such dominion involved more than the provision of food, it would take work. Provision of food perhaps could be seen as merely sustenance in the face of the command to fill the earth and subdue it.

Though working the earth was still a significant component of the subduing,
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2)
In the same way that filling the earth with people became difficult thru the curse on the woman, subduing it became difficult because just the provision of food was now toilsome.

The curse of the ground is seen as the fault of the man. God says, "Because of you..." Is there a hint of a necessity here? The only appropriate response from God was to curse the land. Not cursing was not a possibility, there were no other options.

The word pain (`itstsabown) is repeated here. The woman has pain in childraising, the man has pain in provision of food. Eating being a metonymy; it is not the eating that is painful, it is the growing of food to eat. The sweat on the brow shows that these are not just nuisances, they are a very burdensome toil.

The curse has a passive and active component. The soil would not produce food easily, and the soil would produce harmful vegetation.

And the end of it all? Death. The poetical irony, man was made from dust, yet animated by God's Spirit. But at the end of his days he will become mere dust again. God's warning came to pass,
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for when you eat of it you shall surely die.

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