Posts by Standing in the Eleventh Hour

Genesis 3:7-8, Adam and Eve’s Armor

…and they sewed leaves of the fig, and prepared for themselves [chagorot]. And they heard the sound of YHVH Elohim moving toward the breaking of the day… (Gen 3:7-8)

Most Bible translators favor “aprons” here for the rare Hebrew word chagorot, but in its other appearances, chagorot refers to body armor worn by military-aged males (cf. 2 Kings 3:21, 2 Sam. 18:11). Its verb form, chagar (“to gird, to cover”), describes one covering himself with either sackcloth or armor (so the case could be made that one actually “arms” himself with sackcloth). However, every occurrence of chagar, whether in noun or verb form, appears in contexts of adversity. It’s certainly not a word for peacetime!

Some of the final words of King David illustrate this perfectly:

You know what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, specifically to the two captains of Israel… whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war on the [chagorah] around his loins, and on the sandals of his feet.” (1 Kings 2:5)

Yoav-ben-Tzeryahu (Joab son of Zeruiah) was a man of war, so much so that he didn’t know when to retire his armor and listen to his king’s will. Yoav was ever seeking conflict, so the chagorah was the apparel which suit him.

Am I saying that Adam and Eve sewed armor for themselves all night long with the expectation to ambush Almighty God at daybreak? No, I’m not! I think that a word used later in Genesis 3, khetonet (“garment”) might actually describe what Adam and Eve literally tried to make for themselves. However, by God inspiring the war-word chagorot, we get a figurative glimpse of the de facto stance of human beings toward Almighty God, beginning here with Adam and Chavah (Eve).

In other words, it’s in our nature to make war with God, as we prepare “armor” for ourselves in order to resist Him. I speak of pride, which against God is as durable as intertwined fig leaves which are withered and gone with the wind. For like our ancestors Adam and Chavah (Eve) experienced, Almighty God will suddenly appear, and we will also make an account of our works. We will be likewise be naked, armed with only our words which will justify or condemn us (cf. Matthew 12:37).

It would seem our ancestor Adam DID resist Almighty God at the battleground of judgment! His words came from a place of fear, but that is a typical emotion for a conflict, is it not? Adam said:

“That woman, whom YOU put with me….” (vs. 12, emphasis mine)

These are words of war! Adam meant, ‘I didn’t do anything! It was THAT woman, and it’s YOUR fault because YOU put her here with me.’ First, Adam sells out his ally (Chavah) and then hurls accusations against God Himself!

You see, Adam may have sewn physical armor of porous leaves, but his spiritual armor was even poorer. And this armor is still worn today by the billions who blaspheme and accuse Almighty God for their sins and consequences, as well as their circumstances. This pride of life is the armor which blames God for everything and anything.

Had YHVH thought as a fallen man, He would have aborted the entire human race as an inconvenience and started over! However, unlike humans who declare war against Him every day, God instead made for them khetenot (coats) – prototypes of the coats of many colors worn by Joseph and David’s daughters (Gen. 37, 2 Sam. 13:18), but especially the priestly coats worn by Aaron and his sons (Exod. 28, 29; Lev 8 et al).

In other words, though our nature deceives us to be God’s enemy, God instead perceives us as priests and royalty.

Though it may have been too early to utter the words “I love you” we can look through our history on times that God demonstrated tremendous acts of love, including the making of these pre-priesthood coats for the father and mother of us all.

Especially now that Messiah Yeshua has explicitly shown how much God loves us, we understand that He still wants a kingdom of priests (Exod. 19:6, 1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 1:6). We can look at the journey and understand why God gave us a chance at life, even though we come from the womb preparing to make war with Him. ♦

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Genesis 3:7, We Became More Like Serpents than gods

And the eye of them both was opened, and they knew they were naked. (Genesis 3:7)

Many theories are offered as to what changed in mankind when Adam and Chavah (Eve) ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Speculations abound regarding free will, original sin or other ideas. While I don’t ascribe to any theory more than the other, I do find them contradictory. For example, the Jewish sages say free will existed before the Tree while Catholicism teaches it entered after the Tree.

I think the best guide as to what changed is the Word of God.

First, let’s compare things we know didn’t exist before the Fall, with what certainly existed after the Fall:

And the man and his wife were naked, but they were not ashamed. (Gen 2:25)

Shame is an uncomfortable emotion we can relate to today, but in the pre-Tree Adam and Eve, it was unconscionable. However, as soon their “eye was opened” they were certainly ashamed of their nakedness, and experienced even more emotions:

I heard your voice in the garden… and I was afraid. (Gen 3:7)

You see, the phrase ‘your eye will be opened’ is an idiom for ‘your fountain will be opened’ meaning that the serpent was playing the couple in that their freedom was stopped up like a blocked fountain. However, when ‘the eye of the fountain’ was released, the knowledge flooded their souls with fear, shame, panic, and all our inherit sins.

Thus we started experiencing the good, the evil, and EVERYTHING in between. That’s what the text is really saying as “good and evil” is a Semitic merism for “everything”.

Unfortunately, the “everything” that we began to experience hampers our souls from experiencing the presence of God. In the text Adam physically hid himself from God because of shame and fear (3:10), yet it’s also a metaphor that shame and fear causes all humans to hide themselves from God.

There is one mystery in the text that solidifies this reality – one that I think deserves more attention in our studies.

The word says that the serpent was more “arum” (clever or crafty) than any other beast (Gen 3:1). However, the word also says that the man and woman were ayrumim (naked ones, Gen 2:25). You see, both of these words stem from the same root meaning “clever or crafty”.

Now the serpent – the arum one – had promised that they “would be as gods” but in the end, what did humans discover first and foremost? They saw… that they were eyrumim.

It’s a wordplay but an inherent truth: these eyrumim humans discovered they were more like the arum serpent than gods. They had been deceived.

As an offshoot of the Tree of Knowledge, humans gained the capacity to develop traits of an arum person who:

–           operates by schemes (Job 5:12)
–           conceals guilt with words (Job 15:5)
–           covers dishonor by manipulating the simple (Prov. 12:16)
–           doesn’t offer everything he knows (Prov. 12:23)
–           invests in knowledge before acting (Prov. 13:16, 14:18)
–           understands his every step (Prov. 14:8, 15)
–           conceals himself from trouble (Prov. 22:3, 27:12)

Now after they fell, as the scripture shows, God almost immediately descends to the Garden and rectified the situation. However, it’s another metaphor that characterizes the human predicament in three parties: Almighty God, the nachash (diviner) serpent, and humans in between.

As the story continues, we see that God says that we became like God after all, to experience “everything” (Yes, believe it or not, God feels like we feel); however, it’s also true that we gained a propensity to become like the serpent, personified today in those who would manipulate, and carefully calculate the demise of people – especially God’s people. Like the serpent “nachash” (diviner), these are false prophets and teachers, and everyone who wants to out-scheme and destroy you.

The truth is, we’re still stuck in the middle! On the one hand, God is calling us to be more like Him, and “serpents” still want to trample us for personal gain. The only question is, who do you want to be more like?

We do have a natural handicap. We became sinful – we experience fear, shame, guilt, selfishness, and literally ‘everything’ that can prohibit us from enjoying the Presence of God. This was the fruit of the Tree, but yet, God has never stopped calling us to overcome that handicap. He calls us to return to Him, all the while rejecting the crafty serpents that will destroy us in a moment. ♦

Genesis 3:5-6, Calling God a Liar

And the serpent said to the woman, no dying will you die! For God knows that in the day of your eating from it and your eye is opened – then you become like gods, knowing good and evil. (Gen. 3:4-5)

Elohiym can mean ‘gods’ or God, but I chose ‘gods’ because ‘you become’ (hayiytem) is in second plural form, and ‘gods’ was more likely meant to be read in plurality as well. Both translations, however, demonstrate competition with the Most High God, which I believe was the serpent’s intent.

All three parties – the serpent, Adam, and his wife – are complicit in this deception, evidenced by their later judgments (cf. Gen 3:14-20). Their downward spiral featured several errors along the way:

First, the nachash (serpent) lost his power, and could not accept mankind’s dominion (Gen 1:26). It then plotted to destroy mankind and regain its throne as “the wisest of all”. It invested in knowledge, learned God’s commandment verbatim, and waited for the opportune time.

As Adam taught Chavah (Eve) God’s original commandment, parts of it were added and redacted. Most importantly, they lost their thanksgiving. They lumped together every fruit they were given and equated them with that one fruit they just couldn’t have.

So when the serpent entered stage right, it said (basically) ‘God said you can’t eat from every tree, huh?’ The woman replied (basically) ‘we can eat fruit – but yes, you’re right, we can’t eat from that one tree.’ She neither rebuked nor corrected it, because at her core she agreed, showing the couple’s obsession with that forbidden tree.

There was only one thing left for the serpent to do – take advantage of one key misunderstanding.

Consider that God’s original Word was “from the Tree-of-Knowledge… you will not eat… for in the day you eat from it, a dying will you die.” Now I admit, this word is entirely open-ended. God doesn’t answer the ‘why’ of the commandment (as in ‘why would we die if we ate it?’) What God does provide is the truth –mankind would in fact experience “dying” leading to a final death.

However, a ‘why’ of the commandment was answered, but not by God! And obviously, it was answered incorrectly.

Adam and Chavah first sought the ‘why‘ from each other. Chavah obviously misunderstood God’s warning as an immediate “lest we die” (3:3) death from a place of fear. She wouldn’t touch it, nor would she even look at it (cf. 3:3,6). I interpret this as Adam teaching Chavah that the Tree was poisonous.

Now, I have opined before that the Tree of Knowledge was meant to be holy, as the fruit of the tree was meant to be an offering to YHVH – the only arbiter of good and evil.

In other words, Adam had to touch the Tree to prune it, and pluck its fruit for YHVH, but again, they misunderstood and developed their own why of the commandment: ‘God said not to eat it, because it’s poison! We mustn’t touch it, nor look at it!’

If they had only tarried a little while, God would have visit them, and they could have sought His face with their questions (cf. 3:7)! To me, the real tragedy is that Adam and Chavah had more access to The Living God than any other in history… but they just couldn’t WAIT!

The nachash “diviner” was all too eager to fill the void. After it assuaged Chavah’s unnecessary fear, it replaced the couple’s misunderstood why (a poisonous Tree) with a false ‘why’ of its own. And like all diviners, it offered a counterfeit version of truth, which are true statements designed to create enmity between humans and YHVH Elohim. For example, the fortune-teller in Acts 16:16-17 said a truth: “these men have arrived to tell us of the Most High God”, which was in fact true, yet that spirit of divination was attempting to disrupt and minimize the Most High’s messengers, and compete with the ‘Most High’.

The serpent did the exact same thing. Both of its statements were counterfeit truths (pardon the oxymoron), because while true, it did not teach the understanding required for truth to properly function.

So the diviner offered its own representation of “God”, but its success would be determined by the couple’s susceptibility to thinking that the Most High is the enemy (the enmity). The sad truth is, the serpent only provoked what Adam and Chavah were already flirting with: rebellion. They DID want to be equals with the Most High, with no limitations.

For some time, Adam knew the tree’s name: THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL (Gen 2:16). The serpent never broadcast headline news; the couple already knew it would make them wise. It’s just that they harbored enmity within. If you’re paying attention, the humans were just like the serpent – they did not want to be subjugated!

“Let no one say he is tempted by God. For each one is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:13)

And the woman saw the good of the tree to eat, and that it was delightful to her eyes, and that the tree was desired for intelligence, then she snatched from its fruit… (Genesis 3:6)

When Chavah lost her fear and gazed upon it, when she knew it wasn’t poisonous, and when she knew it would make her a god, all three hesitations of Chavah were removed. Her physical hesitations did not trump her spiritual hesitation to obey the voice of the Living God, because at the core, the couple did not believe the Word God spoke to them. They considered God lied to them and was keeping them from being gods themselves. And thus the downward spiral was complete.

These reasonings should sound familiar! These are the same charges levied against God today. Scoffers still say God is a liar, and that humans should be free from His control. When you hear such things, do not marvel – these arguments are as old as Adam and Eve. There is nothing more natural than to rebel against YHVH Elohim, the Most High God. ♦

Genesis 3:4, When False Prophets Quote the Word in Verbatim

And the serpent said to the woman, no death will you die. (Genesis 3:4)

In my last post I proposed that Adam taught the torah (instruction) of ‘you will not eat from the Tree of Knowledge’ (cf. Gen. 2:16) to Chavah (Eve), as she obviously wasn’t there to hear God’s original commandment.

Yet neither was the serpent! It didn’t even know mankind until God brought it (with all other animals) to be named by Adam (cf. Gen. 2:2o). Yet, at the onset of Genesis 3, we see these two absentees have a telling conversation about God’s first torah.

So if we might reasonably assume Chavah learned the commandment from Adam, how on earth did the serpent learn it?

First, we know the serpent was ‘clever from all the beasts of the field’ (Gen. 3:1). From other uses the Hebrew word for ‘clever one’ we can deduce common traits of an arum:

  • operates by schemes (Job 5:12)
  • covers his own dishonor by manipulating the simple (Prov. 12:16)
  • doesn’t tell everything he knows (Prov. 12:23)
  • invests in knowledge before acting (Prov. 13:16, 14:18)
  • understands his every step (Prov. 14:8, 15)

If we didn’t attach the above quotes to a book, chapter and verse, we might say these characteristics describe the serpent’s method of deceiving Chavah, with the exception of ‘investing in knowledge before acting’. There’s no textual evidence the serpent invested in knowledge before slithering over to Eve… or is there?

I think there’s a tell in the Hebrew:

First, Eve quotes God: ‘you will not eat from it… pen t’mutun (“lest you die”-vs. 3:3).

Then, the serpent responds: ‘lo-mot t’mutun (“no dying will you (pl.) die”).

But alas! God originally told Adam: ‘mot tamut’ (“a dying will you (sing.) die”- Gen. 2:16).

Interesting. Although the serpent denies God’s Word – it does so in verbatim.

I can’t offer a concrete explanation for this. The serpent could have eavesdropped on Adam and Chavah’s conversation. It could be that all of creation witnessed and recorded that original Word. Or, which is what I personally believe, the serpent – as its nachash name implies – divined the knowledge from another power – namely, satan – who also quotes the Scriptures in verbatim. (cf. Matthew 4:5-6)

Any of these options are par for the course of a false prophet. They infiltrate God’s people in sheep’s fleece to learn their vulnerabilities and temptations. They study the recorded Word of God and can quote its lingo in verbatim. And the spiritualists, mediums and soothsayers still consult their powers of divinity to this day (e.g. Acts 16:16-17).

So why do false prophets learn Scriptures better than God’s people? Simple! Superior knowledge lends an air of credulity. Therefore, if a false prophet knows the lingo and recites the Word better than the Kingdom – eventually to draw them away – God’s people have only two reactions.

On the one side sits the wise, who act like Bereans, who form a Scripture posse, and study to see whether the things proffered are so (cf. Acts 17:11). Thus they easily spot a serpent tongue that takes quotes out of context or even speaks contrary to God’s word. However, on the other side of the aisle sit the foolish. These are those who were already flirting with temptations, had lost their hearts of thanksgiving, and have itching ears, looking for confirmation biases to justify their desires. These are the ones who listen to false prophets and believe a lie.

It’s obvious that Adam and Eve had vulnerabilities. They too lost their thanksiving. They added and subtracted God’s words, and they also had this air of curiosity about the forbidden underlining their marriage. Eden was already an environment ripe for the serpent to strike, speak the Word of God in verbatim, and entice the couple.

The Take-Away

However the false prophet serpent learned the Scripture in verbatim is open to interpretation and thus inconclusive.

But we did learn one thing: God’s adversaries are not passive. They invest in knowledge before devouring God’s people. They will quote Scriptures verbatim, because they will have to – if they purpose to misrepresent the One True God.

Now memorizing the Bible is one thing, but using verbatim quotes to deceive those who’ve already misunderstood the authentic word is even easier. That’s the serpent’s next trick, which it will prey perfectly on Chavah. That’s where I’ll continue. ♦

Genesis 3:1-3, Adam and Eve’s Not-so-Hidden Narrative

I have previously proposed that the serpent first encountered mankind when Adam “called out names to all the animals.” (Gen. 2:20) At that event, YHVH Elohim was also present “to see what the man would call them” (cf. 2:19). Furthermore, Adam wanted an ezer k’negedo (rescue as his opposite) in the same way God desired all mankind to have an ezer k’negedo (cf. 2:18, 21). At that moment, Adam’s will was the same as God’s will.

So the serpent found it impossible to “divine” and deceive Adam; Adam likely identified its trick and called out the derogatory name ‘nachash’! (Heb. for serpent, from the root for “to divine”).

This is not an earth-shattering revelation; God’s enemies cannot succeed if His people have a ‘let your will be done’ mentality. That’s been true since the Garden of Eden – literally!

So the serpent could not succeed (in regaining its lost power) if Adam continually followed God’s will. It needed a way to divert Adam’s will from YHVH’s. So it waited for the opportune time when the Presence was away:

And the serpent was clever from every beast of the field which YHVH Elohim made. And it said to the woman, “Even so God said ‘You will not eat from every tree of the garden.” (Genesis 3:1)

First, you may have noticed that the serpent’s statement is an incomplete sentence. In full disclosure, I couldn’t fully grasp the Hebrew. I was only slightly encouraged to learn that there is no consensus among Hebrew scholars as to what it says, but they do agree that the sentence is incomplete. The debatable part is the serpent’s first word af. From what I gather, it means something like “yet” or “although” because it seems to connect two sequential thoughts. For example, Psalm 44:9 denotes worship of the faithful… even so God has not turned to them. Or in Job 4:9, a figure says God puts no trust in angels… even so they who dwell in clay houses are destroyed…

So if the word af connects two relative ideas, what’s relative to the snake’s speech if it only seems to offer half a conversation? Well, let’s consider the last information we have before the snake slithers on scene. We see a joyful marriage of man and wife, and they were naked, but not ashamed (Gen. 2:24-25). Everything was awesome, right? Well, that’s what relative.

Everything was perfect; Even so, there was something unsettled in the happy couple. Though it’s not explicitly offered, it’s not hidden. We can still ascertain the couple’s dilemma based on the conversation that ensues.

So let’s compare the false prophet’s statement to the actual word of God. God never said ‘you will not eat of every tree of the garden.’ What He did say was “from every tree of the garden eating you will eat, but from the Tree of Knowledge you will not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it, by dying you will die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) So the serpent spun God’s original commandment in an entirely negative light. It omitted every detail about God’s luxurious gift, and focused on that lone. negative. aspect.

However, the serpent wasn’t the only one to spin God’s commandment:

“And the woman said to the serpent, “from fruit of the tree of the garden we may eat, and from fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the Garden God said “You will not eat from it, and not lay a hand on it, lest we die.”” (Genesis 3:2)

If you compare her statement with God’s, you notice Eve both added and subtracted from the original Word. You may also know how dangerous that can be from the words of both Torah and Messiah:

  • You shall not add to the word which I command you, neither shall you take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of Yahweh your God which I command you.(Deu. 4:2)
  • you no longer allow [a man] to do anything for his father or his mother, making void the word of God by your tradition, which you have handed down. You do many things like this.” (Mark 7:13)

Nevertheless the entire word of blessing “eating you will eat” disappears from Eve’s lips. And likewise, eating from every tree became lumped into the fruit of just one tree. In other words, she makes everything God gave them 50/50 on-par with that one tree they couldn’t have. Next, she added the phrase “and not lay a hand on it.”

I proposed before that there was a purpose to the Tree of Knowledge, but it wasn’t for tempting Adam and Eve. Its purpose is open to conjecture, but it certainly wasn’t poison.

Eve is sometimes unfairly blamed, but she wasn’t there to hear the original commandment. Adam was responsible for teaching it to Eve, so it seems that he shoulders some of the blame for adding and redacting God’s Word.

But basically, Eve agreed with the serpent. The serpent said ‘you can’t eat it’ and the woman said ‘we can eat this… yep, you’re right, we can’t eat it.’ She would never rebuke the serpent as Adam had once done, because by this time the snake had learned their common denominator.

You see, the serpent exploited the unsettled narrative in Adam and Eve’s marriage. That lone tree grew in mystique until it became equal to everything YHVH gave them. Like all marriages, a husband and wife should carefully teach and observe the unadulterated Word without adding or redacting it, all the while thankful for every single BLESSING. However, that didn’t happen. They lost their thanksgiving, and in its place stood a negative narrative on everything… they couldn’t have.

And then the serpent entered stage right.

But the deception had roots in Adam and Eve well before the serpent joined the narrative.

If only I was there! I wouldn’t have focused on the one thing I couldn’t have… right?

Genesis 3:1, The Serpent’s Motive

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. (Genesis 3:1)

In my last post I painted “the talking snake” as a soothsayer who purported to know the mind of God, a predecessor of all false prophets.

Now, I identify the motives of false prophets, which also spawned this serpent into action.

According to the Word of God, it’s really no secret what the ultimate goal of any false prophet is. Messiah Yeshua summarized their intentions in one word: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15) It’s fitting that Yeshua compared false prophets to animals, because that’s exactly what this passage in Genesis does as well – it equates false prophets with a serpent.

Yeshua described false prophets as “ravenous” because they are motivated to devour the people for a particular lust, usually for power or wealth (cf. Jer. 5:27, 6:13, 2 Pet 2:3, 15). False prophets steal wealth by offering false promises for payment, and deceive you into offering them prestige.

In the case of the serpent, the text implies its motivation for power.

Genesis 3:1 says “the serpent was more clever than any beast which YHVH Elohim had made.” When the serpent was created with the rest of land animals – which occurred before mankind (cf. Gen. 1:25-26) – it was the ‘wisest of all’ among living creatures.

However, its short reign was interrupted. A ruler appeared having “dominion… over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26). However, like any false prophet, the serpent despised authority. This new arrangement was unacceptable – the serpent desired to be ruler of the world. Thus it despised the favored one, Adam, and the Word of God who gave him authority.

Thus the snake was programed to deceive before its first encounter with mankind. This occurred when Adam “called out names to all animals” while seeking an ezer k’negedo – a “rescue as his opposite” (Gen. 2:18-20).

Both YHVH and Adam envisioned a confidante who would oppose Adam, to challenge and refine him. Since animals were created to be mankind’s servants, by nature none of them could possibly know Adam’s intentions (cf. Yeshua’s words in John 15:15). Therefore, during the “animals on parade” naming convention, I imagine they tried to please Adam, but could not challenge him. They may have been presented as animals that could plow 50 fields, or  pull 500 pounds, but this is a mindset of servitude, not equality.

When a master confides in a servant, that servant ceases serving, and becomes the master’s friend and business partner. Yet Adam and YHVH couldn’t find any animal worthy of such friendship – especially the serpent.

Adam called out the serpent as ‘nachash’, which in Hebrew means both “to hiss” and “to divine.” Obviously, the serpent didn’t yet hiss – it spoke – thus eliminating the possibility it was named on account of its hiss. Therefore, the snake’s name must’ve stemmed from its tendency to use divination, similar to how the serpent evoked “the mind of God” on Eve (i.e. ‘you will not surely die, for God knows’). However, what soothsaying could the serpent offer in the Presence of the One True God? And thus the “nachash” stood no chance; his divination services were rejected with a derogatory name.

Herein lies an important parable. Witch doctors, shaman, and even church-lurking false prophets exist in every culture, but at the end of the day, they can only provide you a service. They may read your palm or your tea leaves, or offer you a prosperity or security gospel, but they are only soothing your itching ears! This “help” they provide is their “sheep’s cloak” of servitude, but eventually, they will devour you like wolves, tricking you into giving them power and money for their “service”. However, these were supposed to be considered as animals – like stinky swine and vomiting dogs! (cf. 2 Pet. 2:22)

Now true prophets are similar to a faithful spouse in many ways. They neged (oppose) your iniquities, and ezer (rescue) your calling, just as YHVH and Adam sought after an ezer k’negedo. Consider Jeremiah’s words in Lamentations 2:14 as he makes a comparison between false and true prophets:

Your prophets have seen for you [i.e. “divined”]
False and deceptive visions;
They have not uncovered your iniquity, [i.e. “opposed you”]
To bring back your captives, [i.e. “to rescue you”]
But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions. [i.e. “itched your ears”]

May all God’s people value true prophets like a faithful spouse, and cast out false prophets like the mangy dogs they are!

Now after Adam rejected it, the serpent acted predictably. Having failed with Adam, the serpent waited for Eve at a time when YHVH was not present. It then approached her in sheep’s clothing, offering a service disguised as “help”. Specifically, it divined God’s mind, showing her how to become “as one wise.” And the rest is history.

Next I move to what exactly happened at the Tree of Knowledge, and how the serpent convinced mankind to eat it. ♦

Genesis 3:1, What Was the Talking Serpent?

And [the serpent] said to the woman…. (Genesis 3:1)

Comments about the “talking snake” fill the Internet – at least 60,100 of them according to Google – but most center on disproving, reproving, or excusing the serpent’s existence, which is impossible. However, it’s good to find what God wants us to know from the Bible’s perspective, just not from the viewpoint of several thousand years in the future.

As I’ve written before and once again, you cannot understand the Eden scriptures unless you see yourself as Adam or Eve, or Adam and Eve as you and your spouse, or Adam and Eve as your son or daughter, etc. Unless you believe it truly existed, it will be a meaningless myth to you, even for those who think it a “nice story.” Yes, if you call it a metaphor – you have already missed God. If however you can place yourself in the Garden – before the physical and spiritual rules that preserved life therein vanished forever – you will behold it for what it was, an intersection of truths that remain today that can help shape you, you and your spouse, and your own sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.

So, what of that talking snake?

What We Know

It talks. Scripture doesn’t explicitly reveal that all animals used to talk, but it’s certainly implied. From the talking serpent to Bilaam’s donkey and subtle implications elsewhere, it’s easy to conclude that all animals spoke before “the Curse” (More on that in the future).

It was named. We know “Adam called out names to every animal” (Gen 2:20), which includes the serpent, “nachash” in Hebrew. This literally means ‘to hiss’, but I do not believe this serpent hissed at all– that trait would come later. Even if it could hiss, the animals were competing to be mankind’s number two (2:20); it would make more sense to converse. Adam must’ve then seen something in the serpent’s speech that would make him call out “You nachash!”

You see, nachash also means ‘to divine’, a practice common to sorcery, witchcraft, and necromancy (cf. Lev. 19:26, Deu. 18:10). Based on Genesis 3, this describes the serpent! He represented himself as a diviner, one who purportedly knew the mind of God, offering divinations like: ‘You will not surely die, for God knows…’ This diviner is what Adam saw in the serpent and thus called him out as ‘nachash!’

So originally, the serpent was a type of a soothsayer who deceitfully claimed to know the mind of God. [White Rabbit: Because the serpent was first a diviner, its hiss became associated with divination.]

It was clever. In Genesis 3:1, the serpent was identified as “clever” (arum). The Bible further defines arum as:

  • someone who operates by schemes (Job 5:12)
  • someone who conceals his guilt by his words (Job 15:5)
  • someone who covers his own dishonor by manipulating the simple (Prov. 12:16)
  • someone who doesn’t tell everything he knows (Prov. 12:23)
  • someone who invests in knowledge before acting (Prov. 13:16, 14:18)
  • someone who understands his every step (Prov. 14:8, 15)
  • someone who conceals himself from trouble (Prov. 22:3, 27:12)

This is an exhaustive list; these are all the occurances of arum in the whole Tanakh. We may notice that arum is a characteristic only ascribed to a man; the only place it’s ascribed to anything else is here in Genesis 3:1. In other words, the serpent acted like a clever man before cleverness ever existed in mankind!

The False Prophet

Other things are debatable, but we’ve learned enough about this ancient serpent (as it existed before the Fall) to compare him with the rest of history: the serpent acts like a soothsayer, a false prophet who claims to know what God thinks, is well-versed, and devises schemes for his own gain.

Sound familiar? It should! This serpent represents the false prophet, who in later times would constantly infiltrate Israel and the Kingdom of God! Moshe warned against the nachash “diviner” in Torah, especially Deuteronomy 18, an entire chapter devoted to how the nachash spiritualist will attempt to deceive Israel. Amazingly enough – but not at all coincidence – warnings against such diviners and false prophets surround the most important prophecy of Messiah in all of Scripture. In other words, the layout of the Torah itself prophesies that Messiah Yeshua will be preceded and followed by many false prophets, spiritualists, and false messiahs! Read Deuteronomy 18 for yourself sometime and compare the chapter’s contents to Israel and Messiah’s history.

The Prophets contested false prophets, as many kings filled their courts with prophets of the baals and asherahs.

Then, what was true remained true after Messiah’s advent; He also warned against false prophets (e.g. Matt. 7:15-23, Matt. 24:4). In fact, Messiah’s word in Mark 16:18, “they will take up serpents“- actually means that believers will face false prophets and workers of iniquity head-on!

Thus, Messiah’s apostles did take up scores of false prophets – as one example, almost the entire book of Galatians is devoted to countering the “bewitchings” of the circumcising false prophets who would bind the believers with fear and boast in their flesh.

Lastly, Yochanan (John) wrote of false prophets playing a major role in Revelation and the last gasp of evil.

Therefore, the serpent was a prototype of the false prophet who would repeatedly combat Israel and Messiah’s Kingdom over and over again, never stopping until the end of time.

Whatever the serpent had he ultimately lost in his curse, but not before he manipulated Adam and Eve as the closest thing to a clever, fast-talking false prophet with a well-developed scheme to undermine the Kingdom of God. This is the lesson from history.

Many of you might be thinking, “I thought the serpent was s.a.tan!” Well, the Bible doesn’t say that – ever. However, the same power that fueled the false prophets obviously fueled the serpent, and I’ll provide that evidence, with the serpent’s motive, in the very near future.♦

Liberal Christian Beliefs and the Genesis Accounts – Embracing the Future of a Non-Existent Past?

And [the serpent] said to the woman… (Genesis 3:1)

I’ll be the first to admit, the talking snake’ used to make me uncomfortable, so much so that I avoided it, wondering if it were some kind of metaphor. Eventually though, I came to the conclusion that I must face ‘the talking snake’. I realized that it was impossible to claim ‘the Bible is the inerrant Word of God!’ but then substitute metaphor for history when its stories disturbed my modern sophistications.

There are many liberal Christians (and for that matter Jews) who explain Genesis 1-3 as poems or metaphors, but what is the end of such reasoning? Figures like Moshe, David and even Yeshua quoted Genesis as actual history – do we know better than these unenlightened ones? And why not stop at Genesis – why not just explain the Exodus, the words of the Prophets, the nation of Israel, and the Resurrection of the Dead as additional moral metaphors, just like Aesop’s Fables?

So before I dive into Genesis 3 as historical fact and the lessons that transpired, I want to challenge these liberal beliefs. After all, if you cannot picture humanity in the Garden of Eden, then you also can’t picture yourself in the Kingdom of God, can you? …Now what do I mean by that?

Consider Adam’s creation. Let’s say you’re a liberal Christian, and you accept man’s proposal that evolution is the true anthropologic history of human beings. If that’s the case, then you could not literally believe that “Yahweh Elohim formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). But my question is, if you cannot believe the beginning, how can you hope for the end: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2). Did not Adam also awake from the dust? What’s the difference between his creation and your resurrection?

Herein lies my point. Every fulfillment that we hope for in Messiah Yeshua – which includes all the promises of God for the olam haba, are prototyped in Genesis. If we expect to enter the Kingdom of God, we must also embrace our ancestry in the Garden… for our salvation is seen through our past.

Taking another example, if the Tree of Life is a myth andwhich never existed, how then can it grow in the age to come (cf. Gen. 3:24, Rev. 2:7)?

Or, if an orchard of ever-bearing fruit is chalked up to an old farmers’ tale, how could God be expected to plant a tree “offering different fruits each month” (cf. Rev. 22:2)?

Even taking the example of my own faith nemesis, the talking snake – if I couldn’t believe God once gave animals the ability to speak (which would include Bilaam’s donkey -cf. Numbers 22:28), then it stands to reason that four living creatures in Heaven “having voices” would be just as ludicrous (e.g., Rev. 6:1).

So is this Genesis story a fairy tale, or not?

If you call it a myth, and you deny God created and sustained what Genesis portrays… then using the same logic, you must reject what the Bible calls “the restoration of all things” (cf. Acts 3:21)… for how can God restore what never happened?

Can’t you see, that ever-bearing fruit, thornless trees, healing waters, cherubim, gemstones, lush gardens, the Tree of Life, perfect climates, incorruption, even talking animals and ETERNAL LIFE, as well as anything else promised through the mouths of both prophets and apostles… is not new to the earth? Can’t you see when you reject your past you reject your future?

Just believe! The earth as we never knew it may be lost, but you must realize that you’re not waiting for anything new – you’re waiting for things to be re-newed. So, examine yourselves, you quasi-believers, you liberal theologians and cowards in spirit. Get past your insensibilities and comfort-levels. Accept that the Almighty was as powerful as He claims… lest you find your faith to be weak and meaningless when you need it the most.♦

Genesis 2:25, Setting the Scene for Genesis 3

Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)

This is the second time I’ve found a likely improper chapter division. The first occurred within the present-day Genesis 2:4, which was probably where the original Seven-Day Creation account ended and the preamble to the Adam and Eve account began.

The second is here in Genesis 2:25, which follows what was supposed to be a summary of Adam and Eve’s marriage: “for yes, a man will forsake his father and mother, and will enjoin to his wife, and they will be as one flesh.” (2:24)  Verse 24 is quite a beautiful summary, but then we read this rather anticlimactic comment about Adam and Eve’s naked romps.

It makes sense to separate this last verse detailing the couples’ nudity into Genesis 3, as “eyrum” –the Hebrew word for naked – becomes a repeated focus there, as it not only appears Genesis 2:25, but also in vv. 3:1, 7, 10, and 11.

You might be wondering why I included Genesis 3:1, which reads in the NIV:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

If you’re still wondering what this verse has to do with ‘nakedness’, you may be surprised to learn the word for ‘crafty’ (or ‘subtle’, or ‘clever’ – depending on which Bible translation you read) is ‘arum’. Both eyrum and arum are related; they are derived from the same root word: aram (Strong’s 6191, meaning “clever, crafty”).

It is this root word which underlines the general theme of the “Fall of Man” story. Understanding this linguistic tie of aram will provide so many more clues about the nature of human beings. I invite readers to study Genesis 2:25 through the end of chapter 3 in-depth with this knowledge in mind, and see what similarities exist between the aram found in human “nakedness” and the serpent’s “craftiness.” By this we set the scene for the Fall of Man, and can better understand its underlining theme.♦

 

Genesis 2:21-24, The Transformation of Spouses and Parents

“[YHVH] took from one of his sides, and closed up flesh in its place. And YHVH Elohim built the side – which he took from the man – into a woman, and brought her to the man. Thus at last, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; for this she will be called woman, because from man was she thus taken. So will a man forsake his father and mother and enjoin to his wife, and the two will become into one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24)

I recently posted reasons why ‘rib’ should be translated “side”, as Adam’s ripping apart of two equal sides demonstrates the equality of a husband and wife in marriage. However, this tearing-and-repairing of Adam cuts even deeper, as it represents the transformation every couple must go through for a successful marriage.

These verses are still read at religious weddings – as they should be – because they express marriage in a beautiful and poetic way. After all, God didn’t just make Eve out of thin air, He created her in a roundabout way to teach future generations about His serious investment in marriage, just as Messiah said:

“Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.” (Matt. 19:4-6, emphasis mine)

Though the Genesis story details the first marriage, Messiah Yeshua demonstrates that its legacy applies to ALL marriages. Couples must see themselves in Adam and Eve, and follow God’s prescription for a healthy marriage.

It’s interesting that Messiah specifically said “tear apart” because that’s originally what God does to Adam. He tears Adam into two “sides”, but immediately restores Him with a brand new half! This “tearing apart” also translates into modern marriages, but never through divorce, YHVH does however separate spouses… from their parents. This is the “tearing away” that occurs in every marriage. Just as Yeshua taught that God enjoins every couple, YHVH is consequently the one tearing couples away from their parents.

Adam is ripped apart and “closed up” with flesh in its place; this is a foreshadowing of what is ultimately realized in the last word: ‘man forsakes his father and mother… and he becomes one flesh. In other words, a son is ripped from his parents, which may hurt, but only for the briefest of moments. The pain of leaving is quickly replaced by a side of new flesh – in the form of a beautiful new bride. However, all parties must realize the union is ‘closed’ and final.

This principle is not just true for sons. The verb for taken (‘laqach’) is often used (italicized in the block quote above) and for good reason. It’s a synonym for “married”, as in “and Avram and Nahor took wives…” (Gen. 11:29) Therefore, God took a whole side from Adam which parallels the later word “from man was she thus taken”… representing how God takes a daughter away from her family and “re-sides” her with a husband.

Thus a wedding is bittersweet. tears of joy and tears of sorrow are both shed, but not so easily distinguished! It requires a hurtful separation from parents, but a joyous union of two young lives. However, in order for a marriage to work, this transformation must take place. One word in particular underlines how marriage begins and remains a success – the Hebrew verb azav, most often translated “leave” yet meaning so much more, as in “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)

I’m not saying that children are to leave and ignore their parents forever, but it does mean they “loosen” or “forsake” (azav) themselves from their parents’ influence. We must remember that in this passage the woman was labeled an ezer- “a rescue”. If a man continues to seek rescue and sanctuary from his parents after marriage, he doesn’t allow his wife to exercise her God-mandated responsibility. The woman will feel like a kid-sister instead of a wife, and the marriage will be over before it starts. A man and wife are still expected to honor both sets of parents according to the Word of God, but with the difference that the young couple honor them on their own terms… as one flesh.

The responsibility to forsake is commanded to the man and wife in the word “a man will azav…” and every young couple must interpret how to azav in their own marriage. However, this commandment also implies that parents “let go” of their children and know their own limits. According to the words of Yeshua, parents cannot get in the way of God’s work – even they must be careful to not “tear apart” a marriage.

The fact that ‘mother and father’ appear in the text to begin with is not by coincidence. Only one prophecy is recorded by Adam, which is right here. Of all the things to prophesy about, Adam proclaimed that men will leave their fathers and mothers, just as soon as ‘parenthood’ became a possibility! In other words, mothers and fathers were put on notice – even before Adam and Eve became parents themselves!

By laying it out this way, it’s clear YHVH wants parents to prepare their children to be husbands and wives, and marry their children off with joy, even as YHVH led Eve to Adam – with no strings attached.

Marriage is wonderful, and can be a “match made in Heaven” if the recipe in God’s Word is followed. It requires the right mindset for spouses, and the cooperation of parents will ease the transition. When all parties examine and follow the example set by Adam and Eve, we will epitomize a union that Almighty God calls “good”.♦