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Genesis 3:3-10

Context
3:3 but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, 1  or else you will die.’” 2  3:4 The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die, 3  3:5 for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open 4  and you will be like divine beings who know 5  good and evil.” 6 

3:6 When 7  the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, 8  was attractive 9  to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, 10  she took some of its fruit and ate it. 11  She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. 12  3:7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

The Judgment Oracles of God at the Fall

3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about 13  in the orchard at the breezy time 14  of the day, and they hid 15  from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard. 3:9 But the Lord God called to 16  the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 17  3:10 The man replied, 18  “I heard you moving about 19  in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

1 sn And you must not touch it. The woman adds to God’s prohibition, making it say more than God expressed. G. von Rad observes that it is as though she wanted to set a law for herself by means of this exaggeration (Genesis [OTL], 86).

2 tn The Hebrew construction is פֶּן (pen) with the imperfect tense, which conveys a negative purpose: “lest you die” = “in order that you not die.” By stating the warning in this way, the woman omits the emphatic infinitive used by God (“you shall surely die,” see 2:17).

3 tn The response of the serpent includes the infinitive absolute with a blatant negation equal to saying: “Not – you will surely die” (לֹא מוֹת תִּמֻתען, lomot tÿmutun). The construction makes this emphatic because normally the negative particle precedes the finite verb. The serpent is a liar, denying that there is a penalty for sin (see John 8:44).

sn Surely you will not die. Here the serpent is more aware of what the Lord God said than the woman was; he simply adds a blatant negation to what God said. In the account of Jesus’ temptation Jesus is victorious because he knows the scripture better than Satan (Matt 4:1-11).

4 tn Or “you will have understanding.” This obviously refers to the acquisition of the “knowledge of good and evil,” as the next statement makes clear.

5 tn Or perhaps “like God, knowing.” It is unclear how the plural participle translated “knowing” is functioning. On the one hand, יֹדְעֵי (yodÿe) could be taken as a substantival participle functioning as a predicative adjective in the sentence. In this case one might translate: “You will be, like God himself, knowers of good and evil.” On the other hand, it could be taken as an attributive adjective modifying אֱלֹהִים (’elohim). In this case אֱלֹהִים has to be taken as a numerical plural referring to “gods,” “divine beings,” for if the one true God were the intended referent, a singular form of the participle would almost certainly appear as a modifier. Following this line of interpretation, one could translate, “You will be like divine beings who know good and evil.” The following context may favor this translation, for in 3:22 God says to an unidentified group, “Look, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” It is probable that God is addressing his heavenly court (see the note on the word “make” in 1:26), the members of which can be called “gods” or “divine beings” from the ancient Israelite perspective. (We know some of these beings as messengers or “angels.”) An examination of parallel constructions shows that a predicative understanding (“you will be, like God himself, knowers of good and evil,” cf. NIV, NRSV) is possible, but rare (see Gen 27:23, where “hairy” is predicative, complementing the verb “to be”). The statistical evidence strongly suggests that the participle is attributive, modifying “divine beings” (see Ps 31:12; Isa 1:30; 13:14; 16:2; 29:5; 58:11; Jer 14:9; 20:9; 23:9; 31:12; 48:41; 49:22; Hos 7:11; Amos 4:11). In all of these texts, where a comparative clause and accompanying adjective/participle follow a copulative (“to be”) verb, the adjective/participle is attributive after the noun in the comparative clause.

6 sn You will be like divine beings who know good and evil. The serpent raises doubts about the integrity of God. He implies that the only reason for the prohibition was that God was protecting the divine domain. If the man and woman were to eat, they would enter into that domain. The temptation is to overstep divinely established boundaries. (See D. E. Gowan, When Man Becomes God [PTMS], 25.)

7 tn Heb “And the woman saw.” The clause can be rendered as a temporal clause subordinate to the following verb in the sequence.

8 tn Heb “that the tree was good for food.” The words “produced fruit that was” are not in the Hebrew text, but are implied.

9 tn The Hebrew word תַּאֲוָה (taavah, translated “attractive” here) actually means “desirable.” This term and the later term נֶחְמָד (nekhmad, “desirable”) are synonyms.

sn Attractive (Heb “desirable”)…desirable. These are different words in Hebrew. The verbal roots for both of these forms appear in Deut 5:21 in the prohibition against coveting. Strong desires usually lead to taking.

10 tn Heb “that good was the tree for food, and that desirable it was to the eyes, and desirable was the tree to make one wise.” On the connection between moral wisdom and the “knowledge of good and evil,” see the note on the word “evil” in 2:9.

sn Desirable for making one wise. The quest for wisdom can follow the wrong course, as indeed it does here. No one can become like God by disobeying God. It is that simple. The Book of Proverbs stresses that obtaining wisdom begins with the fear of God that is evidenced through obedience to his word. Here, in seeking wisdom, Eve disobeys God and ends up afraid of God.

11 tn The pronoun “it” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied (here and also after “ate” at the end of this verse) for stylistic reasons.

sn She took…and ate it. The critical word now discloses the disobedience: “[she] ate.” Since the Lord God had said, “You shall not eat,” the main point of the divine inquisition will be, “Did you eat,” meaning, “did you disobey the command?” The woman ate, being deceived by the serpent (1 Tim 2:14), but then the man ate, apparently willingly when the woman gave him the fruit (see Rom 5:12, 17-19).

12 sn This pericope (3:1-7) is a fine example of Hebrew narrative structure. After an introductory disjunctive clause that introduces a new character and sets the stage (3:1), the narrative tension develops through dialogue, culminating in the action of the story. Once the dialogue is over, the action is told in a rapid sequence of verbs – she took, she ate, she gave, and he ate.

13 tn The Hitpael participle of הָלָךְ (halakh, “to walk, to go”) here has an iterative sense, “moving” or “going about.” While a translation of “walking about” is possible, it assumes a theophany, the presence of the Lord God in a human form. This is more than the text asserts.

14 tn The expression is traditionally rendered “cool of the day,” because the Hebrew word רוּחַ (ruakh) can mean “wind.” U. Cassuto (Genesis: From Adam to Noah, 152-54) concludes after lengthy discussion that the expression refers to afternoon when it became hot and the sun was beginning to decline. J. J. Niehaus (God at Sinai [SOTBT], 155-57) offers a different interpretation of the phrase, relating יוֹם (yom, usually understood as “day”) to an Akkadian cognate umu (“storm”) and translates the phrase “in the wind of the storm.” If Niehaus is correct, then God is not pictured as taking an afternoon stroll through the orchard, but as coming in a powerful windstorm to confront the man and woman with their rebellion. In this case קוֹל יְהוָה (qol yÿhvah, “sound of the Lord”) may refer to God’s thunderous roar, which typically accompanies his appearance in the storm to do battle or render judgment (e.g., see Ps 29).

15 tn The verb used here is the Hitpael, giving the reflexive idea (“they hid themselves”). In v. 10, when Adam answers the Lord, the Niphal form is used with the same sense: “I hid.”

16 tn The Hebrew verb קָרָא (qara’, “to call”) followed by the preposition אֶל־ or לְ (’el- or lÿ, “to, unto”) often carries the connotation of “summon.”

17 sn Where are you? The question is probably rhetorical (a figure of speech called erotesis) rather than literal, because it was spoken to the man, who answers it with an explanation of why he was hiding rather than a location. The question has more the force of “Why are you hiding?”

18 tn Heb “and he said.”

19 tn Heb “your sound.” If one sees a storm theophany here (see the note on the word “time” in v. 8), then one could translate, “your powerful voice.”



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