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Gen 2:1-5

Home > The Old Testament > Genesis > Genesis 1-11b > Chapter 1 / Verses 1:1-2:3
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Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Scope of page. The creation story related in Genesis 1 is repeated twice in the Pearl of Great Price, in both Moses 2 (the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1) and Abraham 4 (the account taken from the record of Abraham). Discussion of elements that appear in the Genesis account should appear on this wiki page. Discussion of the differences between the accounts is better suited for the wiki pages that address Moses 2 and Abraham 4.

Relationship to Genesis 1-11b. The relationship of Chapter 1 to the rest of the Adam-Noah cycle is discussed at Genesis 1-11b.

Outline. An outline of the complete book of Genesis, including Chapter 1, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.

Story. Chapter 1 is the creation story, which consists of seven sections corresponding to the seven creative periods:

  • Gen 1:6-8: 2. Firmament (heavens) to divide the waters.
  • Gen 1:14-19: 4. Lights in firmament: sun, moon, and stars.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 1 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Genesis 1: The Creation[edit]

  • Chapter breaks.
  • In Genesis, the phrase "These are the generations [or descendants] of X" consistently marks the beginning of a new unit of thought. This can be seen in the complete outline of Genesis#Complete outline and page map. Here the seven days of the creative period are introduced with a similar phrase in verse 1:1, and in verse 2:4 the next unit of Genesis begins with that phrase.
  • The story of the creation concludes with verses 2:1-3. While these verses are not part of the first chapter, they are part of the story told in the first chapter. The original text did not include chapter and verse breaks, nor paragraph breaks (¶). These are all later additions.[1] This is one of many examples where chapter breaks could have been better placed elsewhere.
  • Parallel structure. On the first day, light is created; on the fourth day, the lights are created. On the second day, the sea and the heavens are created; on the fifth day, fish and birds are created. On the third day, the earth (and vegetation) are created; on the sixth day, the animals and humans are created. What is the author suggesting through this parallel structure for the first six days of the creative period? Notice that the seventh day is different. This idea is pursued in Moshe Kline's "The Creation Weave" and in RobertC's summary of Kline's points.
Some passages, if read literally, would suggest very short and contradictory ages of the earth. For example, Abr 3:4 states that a thousand years is a day unto the Lord, and some have interpreted this to mean that the seven "days" of creation took only seven thousand years. Those seven thousand years, plus another six thousand since the Fall of Adam and Eve, would yield an age of the earth of only 13,000 years. On the other hand, D&C 77:6 states that the temporal existence of the earth is only six thousand years, none of it predating mankind. Or, these verses can be read as not intended to state a specific age of the earth. The seven "days" in the account of the creation can be read as unspecified periods of time. And the "temporal existence" referenced in D&C 77 can be read as limited to the time since the Fall of Adam and Eve (see the discussion of D&C 77:6).

Genesis 1:1-5: Day 1: Light[edit]

  • Gen 1:1: Introductory phrasing. We can read the first verse as an introductory clause rather than as a separate sentence: "At the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form, and void . . . ."
  • Gen 1:1: In the beginning of what? It seems ironic that the opening words of Genesis could also be among the most theologically significant, yet also among the most ambiguous passages in the Bible. There are four generally accepted ways to interpret the Bible's first few verses. Translating verse one with the King James Version, it could be the title of what follows, or it could be the first act of creation itself. The latter interpretation means God created the world from nothing, whereas the former has no such implication. Others translate the first verse as a temporal clause ("In the beginning, when God created the heaven and earth . . ." or "When God began to create . . . "). In either of these cases, the earth already existed as a vast wasteland of chaotic matter.
All these interpretations have their academic defenders, though admittedly creation ex nihilo is the traditional Christian interpretation of the first verse of Genesis. It should also be noted that, though the Hebrews probably did not think in such terms, they probably would say God had the power to create the world from nothing. Nevertheless, as Joseph Smith indicated, defending ex nihilo on the basis of the Hebrew word translated "created" cannot be sustained. The word is only used for acts of creation by God, and seems applicable to something only God can do. Beyond that, little else can be said.
The strength of creation from pre-existing matter comes from parallels in Israel's cultural background at the time the account took its final shape. Genesis 2:5-9 is similarly constructed, and there is no doubt matter already existed when God created the world. Isaiah 45 refers to God's creative action in a way that is foreign neither to the pagan tales of creation nor to Genesis 1. It should be noted that Moses 2:1-2 seems to favor the idea God created the heaven and earth from nothing. However, Moses 1:35 introduces a certain amount of ambiguity on the issue. If Moses is ambiguous when it comes to creation ex nihilo, then the Book of Abraham certainly is not.
  • Gen 1:1: Elohim. The Hebrew word translated as "God" is elohim, which is plural in form (-im is a plural ending) but is followed here by a singular verb.
  • Gen 1:1: Created. The Hebrew word translated as "created" is bara. Just as the English word, it can mean to fashion from something that already exists as well as to make something entirely new. The use of this word contradicts neither the Catholo-Protestant view of creation ex nihilo nor the Latter-day Saint view of creation from preexisting matter.
  • Gen 1:1: Earth. Translated from the Hebrew 'erets meaning earth, land, solid ground. Used over 2500 times in the Old Testament, most often translated land, earth, country, or ground. Here it seems to mean the dry land as separated from the heavens and seas.
  • Gen 1:2-4: God saw the light, that it was good. There is a general pattern that the verses in this chapter follow. First God says "let" followed by some creative act and then later we see the phrase "and God saw that it was good." In this pattern, the "it" in the phrase "it was good" doesn't clearly refer to any specific item. Instead, it refers more generally to the results of the creation at that stage. This is clear in verses 10, 12, 18, 21, and 25.
It is often noted that God's last creation, the creation of man, is different from God's other creations in that this creation is not followed with the statement "and God saw that it was good." Interestingly, God's first creation also doesn't quite fit the pattern. In this first case only is the reader told specifically what is good. "God saw the light, that it was good." Further, in this case only, the "it was good" is moved up so that it immediately follows the "let there be" statement. If it were to fall in its normal spot, the statement would fall at the end of verse 5.
It may be that the reason for these differences is similar to the reason for treating the last creative act differently. Man, collectively, is both good and bad. It is not right to say man is good. In the same way light and darkness are not both good. Light is good, darkness is not.
  • Gen 1:3: Light. D&C 88 also addresses the significance of light. John 1 and several other scriptural passages also speak of Christ as the light of the world.

Genesis 1:6-8: Day 2: Firmament to divide the waters[edit]

  • Gen 1:6-8: Firmament. In verses 14, 15, 17 the lights in the sky - sun, moon, and stars - are placed "in the firmament of the heaven." In verse 20 the birds are to fly "in the open firmament of heaven." It thus appears that firmament is used to include everything - whether part of earth's atmosphere or out in space - that is up in the sky or above the surface of the earth - whether that surface is water, land, or both.

Genesis 1:9-13: Day 3: Dry land and plant life[edit]

  • Gen 1:11-12: Grass. The word translated "grass" (dsh) means "vegetation."
  • Gen 1:11-12: Fruit tree. The term "fruit tree" is broader than our modern term. It includes not only what we would call fruit and nut trees (those trees whose fruits are edible), but all trees.

Genesis 1:14-19: Day 4: Lights in the sky: sun, moon, and stars[edit]

  • Gen 1:14-19: Creation of lights in the sky. These verses can be read to mean that the sun, moon and stars were not created until this time. Or, they can be read to mean that, in the process of forming the earth, rain had finally cleared the atmosphere sufficiently of volcanic ash, etc. so that the sun, moon, and stars could be seen in the sky from earth's surface.
  • Gen 1:16: He made the stars also. Does the fact that the phrasing is different for God's creation of the sun and moon on the one hand, and the stars on the other hand, suggest that the stars may have been created at a different time?
  • Gen 1:16: He made the stars also. This phrase reads like an afterthought, almost an intrusion into the narrative flow. If we would like to translate it in more colloquial terms, we might say, "Oh, by the way, God made the stars too."
When this creation account was set down in writing, the cultures surrounding Israel worshiped the sun, moon, and stars as gods. One reason the author avoids using the normal names for the sun and moon is because they are also the names of gods. Thus, the author uses the somewhat cryptic terms “greater light” and “lesser light.” The creation of the stars gets tacked on here just for good measure.
The author was probably not very concerned with the exact timing when God created the stars. Instead, he wanted to place the sun, moon, and stars in their proper place. They are merely creatures made by God to serve a purpose. God explains their purpose in verses 14 and 15; they act as timekeepers and illuminate the earth. That is it. They have no special powers over people, and they are certainly not gods.

Genesis 1:20-23: Day 5: Fish and birds[edit]

  • Gen 1:21: Great whales. The term "great whales" means "large sea creatures."

Genesis 1:24-31: Day 6: Land animals and mankind[edit]

  • Gen 1:26-27: Image and likeness of God. These terms appear to be used interchangeably in Genesis. Compare Gen. 5:1,3, also Moses 2:26. In Gen. 1:27, "God created man in his own image." In Gen. 5:1, man was made "in the likeness of God." In Gen. 1:27 God proposes to "make man in our image, after our likeness." In Gen. 5:3 Adam produces a child "in his own likeness, after his image." It seems more likely that "in our image, after our likeness" is a repetition for emphasis rather than a reference to different things. Such repetition, saying the same thing twice in slightly different ways, is common throughout the Old Testament. Trying too hard to find slight shades of difference in meaning between the two similar and repeated items will often cause one to miss the point, which is usually the similarity between the two items.
  • The word translated "image" is used ten times in the Hebrew Bible outside Genesis. In all but two cases, it refers to a physical object. This includes six times where this term is used for an idol. The word translated "likeness" is used nineteen times outside Genesis. Most of the time, it denotes an object that bears some resemblance to another thing, though the correspondence need not be exact. Ezekiel seems fond of the term, using it thirteen times. It can mean something like a pattern or blueprint (2 Kgs. 16:10). The word can be used metaphorically, as in Psalm 58:4. See the Bible Study Tools lexicon entries for tselem (translated here as "image") and demuth (translated here as "likeness"), which have links to every verse in which each term is used.
  • An argument could be made that "image" and "likeness" in Genesis refers to something more than physical resemblance. Presumably, the author thought of God, Adam, and Seth as beings who possessed qualities beyond mere physical existence. Whether he meant to include those qualities within the terms "image" and "likeness" is another question. The author doesn't make any explicit statement either way. The terms aren't otherwise used this way in the Hebrew Bible. With regard to the author's intent, saying "image" and "likeness" means something besides physical resemblance is an argument from silence.
  • Both men and women are created in the image of God.
  • Gen 1:28: Subdue, replenish, dominion. Like mankind, fish and birds were blessed to be fruitful and to multiply. Only mankind, however, is blessed to subdue and replenish the earth. Mankind is also unique in being given dominion over all the animals.
  • Dominion. The root of the Hebrew word translated dominion (rdd) means literally "to tread down or subjugate." It can connote both treading down (dominion) and going down (descent). In other words, it can connote both dominion over something and descent below it. For other Old Testament uses of the same Hebrew word, see Numbers 24:19, Judges 5:13, 1 Kings 4:24, Nehemiah 9:28, and Psalms 49:14 and 72:8.
  • For discussions of dominion outside the Old Testament, see Matthew 20:25; Romans 6:9 and 14, and 7:1; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 1:21; 1 Peter 4:11 and 5:11; Jude 1:8 and 25; Revelation 1:6; 1 Nephi 14:11 and 22:24; Alma 5:50 and 12:15; D&C 1:35; 76:91, 95, 111, 114, and 119; 109:77; and, especially, 121:4, and 37-46; and Moses 5:1 and 6:15.
  • Gen 1:31: All is very good. At the end of each previous creative period, God said that the things created were good. This also happens in verse 25 partway through day 6 after the creation of land animals. But after mankind is created and given charge over the earth, the entire whole is very good.
  • Gen 1:26-30: Characteristics that distinguish mankind. Adam and Eve are identified in the scriptures as the first man and woman. (Gen 2:21-25; Moses 3:18-25; 5:1-3, 11). Rather than assuming that we know what this statement means and then asking whether it is true, we can instead assume that it is true and then ask what it must mean. The scriptures describe several characteristics of mankind. Arguments can raised that a few other creations have shared some of these characteristics to some degree. But mankind can be distinguished as the only creation to possess all of these characteristics. This approach to the term "mankind" is not focused exclusively on DNA and allows Adam to be called the first "man" without regard to one's view about evolution.
1. Lineage from God. The physical bodies of mankind, male and female, are made in the image of God. (Gen 1:26-27; Moses 2:26-27). The spirits of mankind are the offspring of God. Paul stated that God is the father of our spirits. (Acts 17:28-29). Jesus Christ referred to God as "my father, and your father." (John 20:17). As children of God, mankind has the potential to inherit all that God the Father has. (Rom 8:16-17; Gal 4:6-7; also John 10:34-35).
2. Marriage. Mankind is instructed to be fruitful and multiply. (Gen __, Moses __; Abr __). So is the rest of biological creation. (Gen __; Moses __; Abraham __). But mankind forms families through marriage. (Gen __; Moses 3:18, 21-25). Marriage is a covenant of exaltation. (D&C 130-132).
3. Dominion. Mankind is instructed to subdue and have dominion over the earth. (Gen 1:28; Moses 2:26, 28). Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to dress and keep it. (Gen 2:15). Upon being driven from the Garden, Adam was told to till the ground and to earn his bread by the sweat of his face. (Gen 3:19, 23). These are not the acts of a hunter-gatherer or a predator at the top of the food chain, but of a governor who manages and cares for his food supply. In cities, such as the city of Enoch, people even govern other people. (See the discussion of the religious significance of governing at Gen 3:17-23).
4. Communication. Language. (Moses 3:19-20; Moses 7:13). Writing to preserve gospel truths and other knowledge across time and distance. (Moses 6:5-6). Communication with deity through prayer and revelation. (Moses 5:4).
5. Moral Accountability. Knowledge of good and evil. (Gen 3:22). Commandments. ([ ]). Agency. (Moses 7:32; Moses 3:17). Moral accountability. ([ ]).
6. Redemption. The Plan of Salvation, mortality as a time to repent during a probationary period, and a Redeemer. (Alma 42:4-15). And knowledge of these things. (Moses 5:1-11).
This approach of looking at characteristics related to the potential for exaltation suggests a possible meaning for the stsatement that Adam was the first man on the earth. "Man" is a title applied to God. "Behold, I am God; Man of Holiness is my name; Man of Counsel is my name; and Endless and Eternal is my name, also." (Moses 7:35; also see D&C 19:6-12). "For, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his [God's] name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ." (Moses 6:57). In the New Testament also, Christ referred to himself as the "Son of Man," meaning the Son of God. (Matt 26.24). Adam can thus be understood as the first "man" simply because he was the first creation to possess all of the characteristics listed above, or in other words was the first with the potential to become like God, the Man of Holiness, and thus to receive exaltation. (Also see the discussion of the instruction in Matt 5:48 that people become perfect even like their Father in Heaven).

Genesis 2:1-3: Day 7: Sabbath rest[edit]

  • Gen 2:1-3: Symbolism of the Sabbath. The scriptures tell us that the Sabbath symbolizes three things:
  1. The seventh period of the creation on which God rested from his labors. This symbolism looks backward in history. See Gen 2:1-3.
  2. The Millennium, or the seventh period of a thousand years of the history of mankind on the earth. See Col 2:16-17, which tells us that the symbolism of the Sabbath looks forward in history, and D&C 77:12 (discussion) which compares Millennium rest to the rest during seventh period of creation.
  3. The Lord's deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. This symbolism looks backward in history. See Deut 5:12-15 (discussion), especially verse 5:15, and again suggests Millennial-type rest.
  • Gen 2:1-3: The Sabbath as a day of rest. See Lev 23:2; Moses 7:48, 58, 61-64; Alma 40:12; Rev 20:4-5.
  • Gen 2:3: Blessed and sanctified. In previous verses, when God blesses something, the content of the blessing is immediately explained. In verse 1:22 regarding fish and birds, he "blessed them, saying. be fruitful and multiply." In verse 1:28 he blessed mankind, telling them to be fruitful, etc. Now in verse 2:3 God "blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it." Either the blessing is unspecified, in which case we can hardly be held responsible for knowing the content of the blessing, or as in previous verses the blessing is the same thing as the sanctification.
  • Gen 2:1-3: The Seventh Day of Creation by Janet Lisonbee

“On the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” [Gen. 2:2-3]

I have often wondered whether God really rested after He had created the earth and all things in it. It isn’t logical to me, because after He had created man, it appears His work really got started! He, Himself, stated, “This is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39). Is it possible that the account of the creation of the world was an overview of the plan of God and that the seventh day has yet to occur?

Enoch was told that the “day of the Lord” [Moses 6:45] would come in the last days and that the righteous would be gathered unto Zion, “which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest.” [vs. 64] It is interesting to note that the Lord included Zion as part of His creations and then the rest comes.

Additionally, Enoch, in the vision, he heard a voice from the bowels of the earth saying: “Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?” [Moses 7:48]

Enoch wept and cried unto the Lord, saying “When shall the earth rest? [7:58] The next verse records that he saw Jesus Christ ascend to the Father. Enoch cried unto the Lord saying, “Wilt thou not come again upon the earth?” [7:59]

In answer to those two questions, Jesus Christ answered, “As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfill the oath which I have made unto you…and the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened…and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve.” [7:61] “And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years.” [7:65]

If the “seventh day“ has not occurred yet, then we are still in the “sixth day” of creation in God’s plan. John S. Welch also supports this idea. He wrote, “I first turn to the idea that our creation by God, described in Genesis and the Book of Moses, is, in an important sense, still ongoing. By seeing that the earth’s creative cycle has not ended and that we are still in its sixth creative day, we can situate God’s omnipotence in this temporal world.” [BYU Studies, “Why Bad Things Happen at All” June 18, 2007, p. 77] He explained that chapter two of the Book of Moses is an account of a spiritual creation and that chapter three is the account of the physical creation of the world and of Adam and Eve. The Book of Moses continues on into the history of mankind; stopping with the story of Noah. Welch says, “It is significant, however, that the Book of Moses, never describes or mentions day seven a second time. The book ends, not with the completion of humanity and God resting from His labors, but with the commandment to have faith, repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost, an invitation to become perfected and completed in the future…Day seven in the physical creation is yet to come in the millennial or celestial age.” [IBID, pg. 80]

The Sabbath Day or the Day of the Lord, was instituted for two reasons: to commemorate God’s day of rest in regards to the creation and also the redemption of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. “Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” [Deut. 5:15] It is interesting to note that Paul told the Colossians that the Sabbath Day was a “shadow of things to come.” [Colossians 2:16-17] Hence the Sabbath Day could be designed to be a type and a shadow of the great Millennium where the righteous enter into the rest of the Lord, and the deliverance of the righteous from the “prince of darkness”, for Satan will be bound a thousand years.

The scriptures are clear that the Lord’s rest is to enter into His presence. In the Millennium, the Lord will personally rule and reign. Alma taught that we must repent and do works of righteousness in order that we might enter into the rest of the Lord. The righteous who enter into the rest of the Lord, after this life, are in a state of paradise where they rest from all their sorrow, troubles, and cares. [Alma 40:12] The Millennium is also day of rest from strife, pestilence, war, sickness and sin.

However, the seventh day starts out in darkness. Several scriptural references illustrate this, for example in Joel 2:1-3, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.” Amos also recorded, “The day of the Lord is darkness and not light.” [Amos 5:18]

Why would the “day of the Lord” or the Lord’s Day be darkness? It is interesting to note that in the scriptural account of the creation, each segment or “day” was written as “and the evening and the morning was the first day.” [or second or third day, etc.] In other words, the day started at night! This is why the Jews start the new day at sunset. It seems likely that the Lord would be consistent and start His day symbolically and literally with darkness.

There are other instances regarding the Lord’s second coming starting off in darkness. The Lord has likened Himself as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride. In the parable of the ten virgins, the Lord states, “And at midnight, was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” [Matthew 25:6] Likewise, Peter declared, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” [2 Peter 3:10]

The scriptures state that the darkness and destruction are a prelude to His actual coming. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” [Joel 2:31] “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty men shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.” [Zephaniah 1:14-15]

The Nephites also experienced great darkness and destruction before Jesus actually appeared to them. “And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.” [3 Nephi 8:22] President Ezra Taft Benson stated, “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming. [Ensign, May 1987]

The righteous Nephites/Lamanites were watching for the darkness that would precede the Lord‘s coming. “The thirty and third year had passed away; and the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land.” [3 Nephi 8:2-3] There is no record if there was any preparation for those days of darkness, whether the righteous had gathered to escape the great destructions, whether they stored up food or any other precautions. The Lord did say that the more righteous were spared, however.

All of this darkness and destruction is aimed at the wicked. The earth will be cleansed before the Lord comes to reign. “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay down the haughtiness of the terrible.” [2 Nephi 23:9-11]

Paul, however, counseled the Saints, “For ye yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night… But ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” [1 Thessalonians 5:2-6]

Likewise, the Lord told Joseph Smith, “And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night---therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.” [D & C 106:4-5]

Just as the light of the morning follows the darkness of the night, so shall the second coming of Jesus Christ. In the Pearl of Great Price, we read: “For as the light of the morning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, and covereth the whole earth, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” [JST Matthew 1:26]

The effect of Jesus Christ’s visit to the Americas was so great that these people lived in a state of happiness for many years. “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. And there were no envying, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” [4 Nephi 15-16] Imagine how wonderful it will be when Christ reigns for a thousand years! “For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.” [Doc. & Cov. 29:11]

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” [Rev. 20:4-5]

The Sabbath Day should be our day of rest in that we strive to have the Lord’s Spirit with us, that we rest from our temporal labors and concerns, and that we remember the Lord’s great deliverance of our souls from the bondage of sin in preparation for the great Millennium yet to come.

Joseph Smith recorded, “We are to understand that as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth, even so, in the beginning of the seventh thousand years will the Lord God sanctify the earth, and complete the salvation of man, and judge all things, and shall redeem all things, except that which he hath not put into his power, when he shall have sealed all things, unto the end of all things.” [Doctrine and Covenants 77:12]

[For further study on the Sabbath day, see the article, “Shabbat Hamalka - The Sabbath Queen”, by Janet Lisonbee, Meridian Magazine]

Genesis 1: Identifying principal blocks of text[edit]

Identifying the separate blocks of text that correspond to each of the seven creative periods is straightforward. Days 1-6 each end with the phrase "And the evening and the morning were the X day," which provides a sense of conclusion or completion of a period of activity. Days 2-6 then each begin with the phrase "And God said, Let ..." in which the next step of creation is introduced. While the phrase "And God said, Let ..." appears twice each in Days 3 and 5, each day comes to a conclusion only once with the phrase "And the evening and the morning were the X day.".

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Gen 1:26, 28: God's charge to mankind. How do we comply appropriately with the charge: (1) to be fruitful and multiply (a charge also given to animals), (2) to replenish and subdue the earth (a charge unique to mankind), and (3) to have dominion over all of creation?

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Gen 1: Relation of Genesis, Moses, and Abraham accounts. Why have we been given so many accounts of creation? What is the focus or point of each? What is the significance of the differing sequence in Abraham?
  • Gen 1: What does the term "creation" mean? What is really being "created" in this account? Is the purpose of this account to give us a scientific understanding of the origin of the universe or planet, or is there some other purpose? What is the value of this account given our modern scientific understanding?
  • Gen 1: Spiritual then physical creation. With a similar account in Gen 2:1-5, is this speaking of a spiritual creation prior to the physical creation? Compare Abr 4:1-5 and Moses 2:1-5.
  • Gen 1: Why is creation the first thing we read about in the Old Testament? Is it because that is what happened first, or is there some more important reason?
  • Gen 1:1: What does the phrase "in the beginning" mean? What does it mean that God created heaven and earth "in the beginning" but heaven wasn't created until the second day (vs. 8) and the earth wasn't created until the third day (vs. 9-10)?
  • Gen 1:1: What is "the heaven" and what is "the earth"? Are we being told about the creation of what we would consider the planet earth, or is this something else?
  • Gen 1:1: What is the significance of dividing creation into two parts, heaven and earth? Why not begin, instead, "God created everything"?
  • Gen 1:1: Who is "God" of creation referred to here?
  • Gen 1:1: What does it mean to create?
  • Gen 1:2: What does it mean that "the earth was without form, and void" if the earth wasn't created until the third day (vs. 9-10)?
  • Gen 1:2: What is "the face of the deep"? Is this the same as "the face of the waters?"
  • Gen 1:2: What is "the Spirit of God" and how does it move?
  • Gen 1:2: Some say this verse should read: "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. But the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters." If changing "and" to "but" is correct, what does this verse tell us?
  • Gen 1:3: What is the significance of God saying "let there be light"? Is he creating light, or somehow just allowing it to shine? Where was the light when his Spirit was moving upon the face of the waters?
  • Gen 1:3: Notice how terse this sentence is in each version of the creation story. Does that terseness show us anything?
  • Gen 1:4: Light and darkness. God calls the light "good." What does that mean. How can light be either good or bad?
  • Gen 1:4: Why does he not call the darkness "good?"
  • Gen 1:4: Does the darkness mentioned here have any meaning symbolically as evil?
  • Gen 1:4: Moses 4:4 differs significantly from this verse. What does that difference tell us?
  • Gen 1:5: Among many ancient people, including those in the Near East, the name of a thing was identical to its essential nature and existence. As a result, to name a thing was to bring it into being. This may have a great deal to do with the emphasis on naming in this ancient account. How does understanding the significance of naming help us understand the significance of those related beliefs and practices?
  • Gen 1:6: What is the "firmament" in the midst of the waters?
  • Gen 1:6-7: Waters. What are the waters? Why waters rather than water? How can their be waters below and above the firmament?
  • Gen 1:6-7: It appears that the writer is using an ancient view of the universe, with "waters above" and "waters below," and the land on which we live in between. Is that relevant to understanding this chapter? If so, how?
  • Gen 1:9: How are the waters under heaven gathered together? What does it mean that they are together in "one place"?
  • Gen 1:9: What is the dry land? Why are we just told that it appears, rather than how it appears?
  • Gen 1:9-10: Many ancient people believed that the sea was a divine power, and some portrayed the creation as a battle between the sky god and the sea god. To those people, this is a rebuke: the waters recede because God commands them to do so; there is no battle between God and the elements and God is in complete control. But we no longer think of the sea that way, so there's no point in rebuking us. Are these verses still meaningful? Assuming that they are, what might these verses say to us?
  • Gen 1:9-10: Why is it that the land and the sea only now receive a name? Didn't they already exist?
  • Gen 1:14-15: To what lights are these verses referring?
  • Gen 1:14-15: How does this creation differ from that we saw in verses 3 through 5?
  • Gen 1:14-15: In what ways do the lights in the heavens separate the day from the night?
  • Gen 1:14-15: In what ways are the lights signs? In what ways do they mark the seasons?
  • Gen 1:14-15: What do learn about our Father and his creation from these divisions?
  • Gen 1:19: The evening and the morning. Notice that each of the creative periods ends with the statement that "the evening and the morning were the X day." Why is it not instead the morning and the evening?
  • Gen 1:26: Does this verse and the next teach that God thinks of himself principally as a ruler and that he created us in his image so that other creatures would be subservient to us?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

References cited on this page.

  • Jackson, Kent P., Frank F. Judd, Jr., and David Rolph Seely. “Chapters, Verses, Punctuation, Spelling, and Italics.” In Kent P. Jackson. The King James Bible, 95-117. Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2011.

Other references.

  • Gen 1:1: Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith's comments on the first word of the Bible are here.
  • Gen 1:1: Bet before aleph. See RobertC's creation subpage for a discussion of Jewish lore on why the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, bet, is the first letter of Genesis, as opposed to the first letter, aleph.
  • Gen 1:1: The construct form.; Rav Micahel Hattin describes in his essay "In the Beginning" discusses a grammatical problem with the traditional translation of verse 1. A more correct translation might be "In the beginning of the Lord's creating of heaven and earth". Theological implications are also considered.
  • Gen 1:1: With wisdom. The Targum Yerushalmi translates "In the beginning" as "With wisdom". Implications of this reading can be found here.
  • Gen 1:1: Analysis of other scriptures. See the thread Targum: Genesis 1:1 at et-ha'adam's blog for alternate texts and scriptures talking about the beginning of creation.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

  1. Jackson, Kent P., Frank F. Judd, Jr., and David Rolph Seely. “Chapters, Verses, Punctuation, Spelling, and Italics,” p. 96-101. In Kent P. Jackson. The King James Bible, 95-117. Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2011.

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Gen 2:6-10

Home > The Old Testament > Genesis > Genesis 1-11b > Chapter 2-3 / Verses 2:4-3:24
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Scope of page. The story of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden is related in Genesis 2-3 and is repeated in the Pearl of Great Price in Moses 3-4 (the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 2-3). Discussion of the Genesis account should appear on this wiki page. Discussion of additional understanding derived from the Joseph Smith Translation is better suited for the wiki page addressing Moses 3-4.

Relationship to Genesis 1-11b. The relationship of Chapter 2-3 to the rest of the Adam-Noah cycle is discussed at Genesis 1-11b.

Outline of the text. An outline of the complete book of Genesis, including Chapters 2-3, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.

Story. Genesis 2-3 is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, including the Fall. This story consists of five major sections:

  • Gen 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden. God makes Adam, places him in the Garden of Eden, and instructs him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Gen 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden. Adam names the animals. God makes Eve and also places her in the Garden with Adam. Adam & Eve are married and are not ashamed of their nakedness.
  • Gen 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve. The serpent persuades Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in violation of God's commandment. She gives the fruit to Adam. Their eyes are opened so that they recognize their nakedness, and they sew themselves aprons of fig leaves.
  • Gen 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit. God appears and inquires Where art thou? Adam & Eve admit to being ashamed of their nakedness as a result of eating the forbidden fruit.
  • Gen 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam. God curses the serpent to crawl upon its belly. God curses Eve to bring forth children in sorrow and to be subject to her husband. God curses the ground for Adam's sake so that he will eat in sweat and sorrow. God recognizes that Adam & Eve have become as gods, knowing good and evil, and guards the tree of life so that Adam & Eve cannot eat of it and live forever. God also provides Adam & Eve with coats of skins to cover their nakedness.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 2-3 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Genesis 2-3: Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden[edit]

  • Pattern of a judicial proceeding. This chapter follows the script of a judicial proceeding: rule, violation, conviction, and judgment. The first two episodes in this story introduce Adam & Eve and the commandment to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:4-17; 18-25). The third episode related their violation of that commandment (Gen 3:1-7). The fourth episode is similar to a lawyer questioning witnesses to elicit confessions (Gen 3:8-13). The final episode consists of God pronouncing the judgments that follow from conduct of everyone involved in the violation of his commandment (Gen 3:14-24). This same script is also employed in the following story of Cain & Abel, suggesting that the two should be read together as a pair.

Genesis 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:4-5: Garden Translated from the Hebrew Gan--a garden enclosed by walls, such as in a courtyard or temple, separated off from the rest of the world.
  • Gen 2:8: Eden. The name "Eden" seems to connote "a well-watered place."
  • Gen 2:13: Ethiopia. The Hebrew word translated as "Ethiopia" in verse 13 is kush. In the context, the word more likely refers to a region of Mesopotamia rather than to the African country. Modern translations generally translate the word literally as "Cush."

Genesis 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:18-19: Help meet. The Hebrew word translated as "help meet" in verses 18 and 20 is ezer, usually translated as "helper" in modern translations. Usually when ezer appears in the Old Testament, it refers to God or Jehovah as the help or helper, such as in Psalm 70:5.
  • Gen 2:22: Woman. The English word "woman" does not, in fact, have a meaning of one being taken out of man. See Etymology of Woman for a proper etymology.
  • Gen 2:23: Man. Prior to verse 23, the Hebrew word translated "man" has been "adam," from which Adam gets his name. As an adjective, "adam" means "ruddy." When not used as a name, the noun means "earth." In vese 23, however, the word used is "ish." Its meaning (other than "man") isn't certain, but it may mean something like "that which exists." When used to mean "man," "adam" refers to either an individual or to humans in general. The word "ish," however, refers to specific individuals rather than to men or humans in general. The Hebrew word translated "woman" is "isha." Obviously it sounds very much like "ish," the word for "man," just as the English "woman" sounds very much like "man." "Isha" may be a variation of "ish."

Genesis 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve[edit]

  • Gen 3:1: Subtile. The Hebrew word aruwm, translated as "subtil" in verse 1, in this context probably has meanings such as "sly," "crafty" or "cunning," all negative qualities. However, eight times in the book of Proverbs, such as in Proverbs 22:3, aruwm is translated as "prudent," a positive quality. Perhaps a good English equivalent of this word might be something such as "shrewd" or "highly aware" — a personal quality that can be used for good or evil. The use of this word suggests that the serpent was intelligent and knew exactly what he wanted to say.

Genesis 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit[edit]

Genesis 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam[edit]

  • Gen 3:15: Enmity. The word enmity means roughly hatred. Enmity here is translated from the Hebrew word eybah. In both Hebrew and English the word has the same root as enemy. Enmity is essentially the feeling one has for an enemy. Merriam-Webster's definition suggests that enmity is a positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will.
The Lord puts enmity, or hatred, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The seed of the woman refers to people. The serpent represents the devil. His seed could refer to those who followed him in the pre-mortal life. It also may refer to those who follow Satan in this life; as Alma 5:41 indicates, those who follow Satan in this life become his children.
Why would God put enmity between people and those who follow Satan? One reason may be that hatred of evil can serve as a barrier between us and evil (see also Amos 5:15). This reasoning may be similar to the reasoning the Lord gives for cursing the Lamanites (2 Ne 5:21-22). Nephi tells us that the point of that cursing was to make the Lamanites loathsome to the Nephites unless the Lamanites repented—this loathsome-ness served as a barrier. (Loathsome is less harsh then enmity; note though that we are also told that the Nephites hated the Lamanites because of their curse (Jacob 3:5).)
Verse 15 seems to suggest that this enmity will lead to conflict. Just after God says he will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, he follows by saying that the woman will bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent will bruise the heel of the woman's seed. This verse shouldn't be read though as condoning attacks on evil. Mormon tells us, rather, that it is through the wicked that the wicked are punished Morm 4:5. Further to attack evil is inconsistent with what Jesus's teaches. In Matt 5:39 he tells us not to resist evil. Similarly in Rom 12:21 Paul tells us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Though God gave us enmity for evil, Jesus and Paul place restraints on how that enmity should be exercised. (See also Prov 20:22, Rom 12:9.)
  • Gen 3:15: It. The word translated as it is the Hebrew hu, a singular masculine pronoun that can also be translated as he, which is done in many modern translations as well as the Joseph Smith Translation (Moses 4:21). The argument for translating hu as it is that in Hebrew it grammatically agrees in number and gender with the word for offspring. Some translators have even translated hu in this context as they, since offspring refers to more than one person. Some early translations used by Catholics also have used the word she here, apparently based on some early Latin manuscripts that may have been erroneous.
  • Gen 3:15: Bruise head, bruise heel. Christianity has traditionally, at least as far back as Ireneaus, interpreted Genesis 3:15 messianically: Jesus, the offspring of Eve, would crush Satan on the head. Those advocating this view sometimes quote Paul, who uses similar language in Romans 16:20.
  • See discussion page about these "curses of the Fall".
  • Redeemer of the Fall. When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, not only were they cut off or fell from the presence of the Lord, but their natures as well as all living things upon the earth also became “fallen.” In addition, Adam and Eve — and their posterity — were to suffer more consequences.
To Eve the Lord said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” To Adam, the Lord said, “… cursed shall be the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground, for thou shalt surely die …” [Moses 4:22-23].
Jesus Christ was foreordained to remedy the effects of the Fall and to bring mankind back into the presence of the Lord. He likewise had to suffer the effects of the Fall. As we look at each “curse” in relation to mankind and Jesus Christ, we can more fully understand the aspects of His atoning sacrifice.
  • Gen 3:17-19: Thorns and thistles. The curse of thorns and thistles is obvious to mankind. But as many physical things can teach us spiritual truths, we should also look at this curse with spiritual eyes. In his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul stated, “But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you …”[Hebrews 6:8-9].
In Isaiah 10:17 we read, “And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.”
In these verses, thorns and briars refer to wickedness, not plants. On a spiritual level, we can see the effects of the fall in ourselves as the brother of Jared so succinctly said, “… because of the fall, our natures have become evil continually” [Ether 3:2] — and as King Benjamin stated, “an enemy to God” [Mosiah 3:19]. Instead of naturally “bearing the good fruits” of kindness, patience, forgiveness, and so on, our natural tendencies are “thorns and briars” of pride, selfishness, envy, and other forms of wickedness that if left unchecked, will crowd out the spiritual good fruit. [see parable of the sower, Matthew 13:22]
When we come to a realization of our carnal or fallen nature, we can plead as King Benjamin’s people for the application of the atoning blood of Christ [Mosiah 4:2] and pray that we can have “this wicked spirit rooted out of our breast” [Alma 22:15] — not only to receive a remission of our sins, but to become “born again” and become new creatures in Christ [2 Corinthians 5:17]. It is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that the natural man can be overcome. Not only did Christ pay for the “briars and thorns” of our fallen nature in Gethsemane, He was also “wounded for our transgressions” [Isaiah 53:5] with a literal crown of thorns and pierced to the cross with “thorns” of iron. He bore the symbols of the Fall that He has paid the price for.
  • Gen 3:15: By sweat of brow we earn our bread. Adam was told that by the sweat of his face, he would eat his daily bread. We know that for most of us, long hours and hard work are required to make a living. On a spiritual level, since we are cut off from the presence of the Lord, it requires hard work to earn our spiritual bread. Jesus said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” [John 6:29] Jesus Christ offers us “living bread” if we will come unto Him, for He is the Bread of Life [John 6:33]. Yet it takes effort to obtain the word of the Lord. In the scriptures we read of those who “wrestled in mighty prayer before the Lord’ [Enos 1:2], who fasted and prayed many days to know certain truths [Alma 5:46]. The scriptures clearly indicate that we must nourish our faith with great diligence and good works.
Christ’s work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man [Moses 1:3] also required intense labor. He has declared that He has “suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.” [3 Nephi 11:11] We read in Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19, “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit — and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink — nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Christ “sweat as it were great drops of blood” [Luke 22:55] as He bore the sins of mankind, another symbol of this curse of the Fall.
  • Gen 3:16: Sorrow in Bringing Forth Children. The Lord told Eve, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.” Because of their fallen nature, children do not always grow up obedient, full of patience and willing to serve one another. Parents often experience much sorrow in child- rearing.
Jesus Christ, in order for mankind to become His spiritually begotten sons and daughters, also experienced great sorrow in the conception and bringing forth of His children. In Matthew 26:36-38 we read, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane … and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’” In His sufferings in our behalf, He became the great “Deliverer” and “Father” as He paid the price or “delivered” us from sin. As we partake of the Atonement in our lives, we become His spiritually begotten children. After King Benjamin’s people experienced the cleansing power of the atonement in their lives, they entered into a covenant to be obedient to the will and commandments of the Lord. Because of that experience and the covenant, they were called “the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.“ [Mosiah 5:6-7]
Abinadi also testified, “… that when his soul has been made a offering for sin, he shall see his seed … for these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?” [Mosiah 15:10 & 12] Isaiah said, “He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:11, emphasis added].
  • Gen 3:16: Wives Subject to husbands. Because Eve yielded unto temptation in the Garden, she was told, “And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Throughout the ages, women have been oppressed and mistreated because of unrighteous dominion. However, Jesus Christ has instructed His prophets to teach the people the proper order of marriage. Paul counseled, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself [Ephesians 5:25, 28]. Our latter-day prophets have likewise counseled husbands to love and respect their wives.
Paul used the analogy of the relationship of Christ to the church as husbands to wives. In one way, we can view Adam as a type of Christ and Eve as representative of mankind. It was Eve who succumbed to temptation and was doomed to the Fall, or spiritual death in being cut off from the presence of God. Adam had a choice and he partook that “man might be” (2 Nephi 9:25). Likewise Jesus Christ did not yield to temptation, but “partook that I might finish my preparations unto the children of men” (Doc. & Cov. 19:19). Eve (or all mankind) in order to be redeemed from the effects of the “fall,” needed to covenant to yield her will to her husband, Adam, which is a type of Christ.
The scriptures use the imagery of a marriage covenant with Christ being the bridegoom and the church as the bride [Revelations 19, Doctrine & Covenants 33:17, 65:3, 133:19]. Hosea teaches us of this covenant relationship with the Lord. He also shows that we, the covenant bride, have played the “harlot” and have gone after other lovers, breaking that covenant relationship. When we come to a realization that these other lovers do not bring us happiness, then we shall say, “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” [Hosea 2:7].
When we return to Christ, the faithful husband, He promises, “I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord.” [Hosea 2:14, 19 “And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi (which means husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (which means master) [vs. 16].”
  • Death. Adam and Eve were told, “For thou shalt surely die” as a result from partaking of the forbidden fruit. Spiritual and physical death was a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve and all mankind, because of the Fall and our sinful natures, are cut off from the presence of God — hence the first spiritual death. Jesus Christ suffered spiritual death when he vicariously became unclean when he took upon himself the sins of the world. It was the first time he had experienced the separation from the Father and he exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
And as “In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1st Corinthians 15:22), all mankind suffer physical death. Christ also suffered physical death. He overcame both physical and spiritual death through the resurrection and the atonement in order to open the way for each one of us to be resurrected and redeemed from our sinful nature and to be brought back into the presence of the Father.
In this “fallen” world, mankind was put in a position of spiritual and physical death. Because Jesus Christ chose to be our Savior, He took upon Himself the effects of the Fall and overcame them. He took upon Himself our sicknesses, pains, infirmities, and our sins so that He would know how to truly succor us and blot out our transgressions according to the power of his deliverance (Alma 7:11-13). Truly “there is no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” [Mosiah 3:17].
  • Gen 3:17-19, 23: Tilling the ground as governing or stewardship. Upon creating Adam and Eve, God gave them dominion over all animals (Gen 1:26-28) and gave them plants and animals for food. (Gen 1:29-31). Dominion over the food chain can be exercised in either of two ways. Dominion can be exercised as a predator, or as a hunter gatherer, by raiding available food sources and then perhaps moving on. Alternatively, dominion can be exercised as an agriculturalist, or as a farmer or herder, by raising and caring for a stable food supply. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to dress and keep it. (Gen 2:15). Upon being driven from the Garden, Adam was told to till the ground and to earn his bread by the sweat of his face. (Gen 3:19, 23). Adam was thus instructed to exercise dominion over his food supply as an agriculturalist who raises and cares for his food supply. In other words, Adam was instructed to govern his food supply rather than simply predating upon it.
The first city mentioned in the Bible is wicked Babel. (Gen 11:4-5). But in the Joseph Smith Translation, the first city mentioned is the City of Enoch, which is portrayed as the ideal human society. (Moses 7:19, 63, 68-69). Cities are large population centers with formal power structures that can only exist when mankind effectively governs not only the food chain but also mankind itself. The informal chieftain of a band of nomadic raiders exercises dominion like a hunter gatherer or a predator, moving into an area, taking what is available, and then moving on. The king of a city or a state must exercise dominion like an agriculturalist or a governor, caring for his subjects in order to draw sustainably upon a stable tax base. God is frequently described as a king with a throne (D&C 76:92-93; Rev 4:1-3), and his creations and habitation are often described as kingdoms. (D&C 88:36-39; 1 Ne 15:33-35). God does in fact nurture and care for his subjects in order to take glory to himself (Moses 1:39). And the ideal society in all of human history was a city, a mode of living that requires competent governance.
Within this context, the statement that Adam was to till the ground, and thus learn to govern his food supply rather than merely predating upon it, is not a punishment. To the contrary, it is an important lesson for children of the Eternal King who seek to become like him (Matt 5:48; discussion here) and who seek, as wise stewards over a few things (Matt 24:45-47; 25:21), to inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions (D&C 132:19; also see D&C 121:46), all of which must be governed rather than predated upon.

Genesis 2-3: Identifying the principal blocks of text[edit]

Significant changes in the unity of character and action help to identify the blocks of text that make up the story of the Fall.

  • Gen 2:4-17. The concept of a man to till the ground is introduced in the second verse of this block, and God's dealings with Adam alone continue through Gen 2:17. Thus the first block of text in which God makes Adam and places him in the Garden of Eden consists of Gen 2:4-17.
  • Gen 2:18-25. In Gen 2:18 God shifts from speaking to Adam to instead speaking about Adam and the need for a help meet. The introduction of that help meet Eve occurs in Gen 2:21-25. This block of text introduces a new character, Eve, and most of this block of text is about her. Thus the second block of text consists of Gen 2:18-25.
  • Gen 3:1-7. Gen 3:1 introduces yet another character, the serpent. The next block of text concerns his successful attempt to get Eve and Adam to violate God's commandment by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. His last promise to Eve is that her eyes will be opened (Gen 3:5b), and the last verse of this block relates that Adam & Eve's eyes were in fact opened to the fact of their nakedness (Gen 3:7). Thus the third block of text consists of Gen 3:1-7.
  • Gen 3:8-13. In Gen 3:8 God reappears in the Garden. The fact that Adam & Eve are hiding from God immediately leads to their acknowledgment of violating his commandment. This information comes out through a series of questions and answers. The pattern of questions and answers ends when God has sufficiently developed the evidence and begins to instead pronounce judgment in Gen 3:14. Thus the fourth block of text consists of Gen 3:8-13.
  • Gen 3:14-24. God announces judgments upon the serpent, Eve, and Adam throughout the rest of chapter 3. Thus the fifth and final block of text consists of Gen 3:14-24.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Gen 2:5: The creation story in Genesis 1 is clearly different from that in Genesis 2. For example, in chapter 1, the creation takes six days, in this chapter it takes one (verse 4); in 1 the earth begins as a mass of water, but in 2 the land is already there (verse 5-6); in 1 the two sexes are created at the same time, but in 2 male is created before female; in 1 the plants are created on the third day--before the creation of humans--but in 2 man is created before the plants (verses 7 and 9); and in 1 the living creatures were created before humans, but in 2 they are created afterwards (verse 19). How do we account for these differences? Why is each account important to us? What does each teach that the other does not?
  • Gen 2:7: Is verse 7 purely symbolic? Was Adam also a literal son of God, but not born in the flesh (or in other words mortality)? (See the genealogy of Christ in Luke 3:38, Paul's discussion of the two Adams (or two gods) in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 especially verses 45-50.)
  • This verse is related to a lot of our religions language. For example, inspire means "to breath into," and spirit means, literally, "breath." What is the point of this language? In other words, what does it teach us? (As you think about this question, consider John 3:8.)
  • Gen 2:8: What typological significance might the Garden of Eden have?
  • Gen 2:9: The tree of life is an important symbol in the Book of Mormon. Why do Book of Mormon writers dwell on the tree of life and not on both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge?
  • Gen 2:9: What does the word "knowledge" mean if we are talking about knowing good and evil?
  • Gen 2:11-14: Obviously is it important that Eden is the source of much water. What kinds of things are associated with water? What kinds of things might that suggest?
  • Gen 2:15: What does it mean to dress the garden? What does it mean to keep it? One translator says that Adam's job was "to serve and to guard." What do you think of that translation? What does Adam's job in the Garden mean to us? Do we have any similar job?
  • Gen 2:16-17: How do you explain this commandment in light of the fact that it was necessary for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree? How can God forbid what must be? Do you read "you shall die" as a threat of punishment? Or is it a way of making the choice between the two trees mutually exclusive?
  • Gen 2:17: Could the Father be "responsible" for mortality? Immortality? Or did his two literal or figurative sons have to bear the weight of this responsibility?
  • Gen 2:17: Why did it take one (Michael/Adam) to create the conditions of mortality and another (Christ) to create immortality? Was there no other way to accomplish this?
  • Gen 2:17: According to this story, where did Adam live before he was placed in the garden? Why don't we know more about humans before they enter the garden?
  • Gen 2:17: How does a correct understanding of the Fall change our views of the Atonement? Which event was more essential, or could one exist with out the other?
  • Gen 2:18: Why is it not good for man to be alone? Aside from the things we bring to this story because we know the doctrine, are there things suggested by the Bible itself?
  • Gen 2:18: Notice that the Adam is promised "an help meet" rather than "an helpmeet"--two words rather than one. "Meet" means appropriate. What kind of helper would be appropriate to Adam? What kind of help does Adam need at this point in the story? Later?
  • Gen 2:19: What is the significance of Adam naming the animals?
  • Gen 2:19-20: In this version of the story, Verse 18 prepares us for the woman's creation and verse 21 tells us of that creation, but these two verses break up the story of her creation. Why? What do they have to do with the creation of the woman?
  • Gen 2:20: Does the end of this verse help us understand what verses 19 and 20 have to do with the creation of Eve? What happened to Adam as he named the animals; what did he discover?
  • Gen 2:23: Does this verse help us understand what the story of Eve's creation teaches us? Given the important role naming has played in this story, is there anything significant about the fact that Adam names Eve? If so, what?
  • Gen 2:24: Who is speaking in this verse, Adam or the writer? What does it mean to leave father and mother? What does it imply? What does it mean to cleave to a person? What does it mean to be one flesh?
  • Gen 2:25: What things might the couple's nakedness signify? Why should they be ashamed? What is the purpose of this verse?
  • Gen 3:7: Were both (or all four rather) of their eyes opened at the same time? Did Adam and Eve eat the fruit at the same time? Why the need to clothe themselves?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to be "cursed above all cattle"?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to eat dust? Is there a difference here between God who creates Adam from the dust, and the serpent, who is forced to eat dust but creates nothing? Or a difference between the serpent eating dust and Adam who comes from dust, and returns to dust? Man is created from dust after the mist comes up and makes the dust into clay--does this verse indicate that the serpent is forced to live in a pre-clay (mortal) state of dust?
  • Gen 3:17: Cursed is the ground for your sake. Why is a curse given for Adam's sake? How does a curse over the earth (or the ground, rather) benefit Adam?
  • Gen 3:22: Was there death on this earth prior to Adam partaking of the fruit (before answering see Bible Dictionary entry for the fall)?
  • Gen 3:22: If there was no death previously, how does this fit into popular views of theological evolution, evolution or other controversial issues? Can current views of science be reconciled with the creation account, or is this simply a matter of faith?
  • Gen 3:22: Is the death referred to in verse 22, a spiritual or physical death? Or both?
  • Gen 3:22: How do we find our way to our own "tree?" Can we partake (of the atonement) and live forever after we overcome our sins?
  • Gen 3:22: Did Adam feel guilt for this transgression (See 2 Nephi 2)? What is the role of guilt?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • James Faulconer's exegesis about some aspects of community from Genesis 2 and 3.
  • Gen 3:14-21: In the Fall 1991 General Women's Meeting, Gordon B. Hinckley (then the first counselor in the First Presidency) said that it is to wrong use verse 16 to justify abuse of women by their husbands (Ensign magazine, November 1991, page 97). He went on to say: "My own interpretation of that sentence is that the husband shall have a governing responsibility to provide for, to protect, to strengthen and shield the wife. Any man who belittles or abuses or terrorizes, or who rules in unrighteousness, will deserve and, I believe, receive the reprimand of a just God who is the Eternal Father of both His sons and daughters."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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Gen 2:11-15

Home > The Old Testament > Genesis > Genesis 1-11b > Chapter 2-3 / Verses 2:4-3:24
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Scope of page. The story of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden is related in Genesis 2-3 and is repeated in the Pearl of Great Price in Moses 3-4 (the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 2-3). Discussion of the Genesis account should appear on this wiki page. Discussion of additional understanding derived from the Joseph Smith Translation is better suited for the wiki page addressing Moses 3-4.

Relationship to Genesis 1-11b. The relationship of Chapter 2-3 to the rest of the Adam-Noah cycle is discussed at Genesis 1-11b.

Outline of the text. An outline of the complete book of Genesis, including Chapters 2-3, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.

Story. Genesis 2-3 is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, including the Fall. This story consists of five major sections:

  • Gen 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden. God makes Adam, places him in the Garden of Eden, and instructs him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Gen 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden. Adam names the animals. God makes Eve and also places her in the Garden with Adam. Adam & Eve are married and are not ashamed of their nakedness.
  • Gen 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve. The serpent persuades Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in violation of God's commandment. She gives the fruit to Adam. Their eyes are opened so that they recognize their nakedness, and they sew themselves aprons of fig leaves.
  • Gen 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit. God appears and inquires Where art thou? Adam & Eve admit to being ashamed of their nakedness as a result of eating the forbidden fruit.
  • Gen 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam. God curses the serpent to crawl upon its belly. God curses Eve to bring forth children in sorrow and to be subject to her husband. God curses the ground for Adam's sake so that he will eat in sweat and sorrow. God recognizes that Adam & Eve have become as gods, knowing good and evil, and guards the tree of life so that Adam & Eve cannot eat of it and live forever. God also provides Adam & Eve with coats of skins to cover their nakedness.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 2-3 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Genesis 2-3: Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden[edit]

  • Pattern of a judicial proceeding. This chapter follows the script of a judicial proceeding: rule, violation, conviction, and judgment. The first two episodes in this story introduce Adam & Eve and the commandment to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:4-17; 18-25). The third episode related their violation of that commandment (Gen 3:1-7). The fourth episode is similar to a lawyer questioning witnesses to elicit confessions (Gen 3:8-13). The final episode consists of God pronouncing the judgments that follow from conduct of everyone involved in the violation of his commandment (Gen 3:14-24). This same script is also employed in the following story of Cain & Abel, suggesting that the two should be read together as a pair.

Genesis 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:4-5: Garden Translated from the Hebrew Gan--a garden enclosed by walls, such as in a courtyard or temple, separated off from the rest of the world.
  • Gen 2:8: Eden. The name "Eden" seems to connote "a well-watered place."
  • Gen 2:13: Ethiopia. The Hebrew word translated as "Ethiopia" in verse 13 is kush. In the context, the word more likely refers to a region of Mesopotamia rather than to the African country. Modern translations generally translate the word literally as "Cush."

Genesis 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:18-19: Help meet. The Hebrew word translated as "help meet" in verses 18 and 20 is ezer, usually translated as "helper" in modern translations. Usually when ezer appears in the Old Testament, it refers to God or Jehovah as the help or helper, such as in Psalm 70:5.
  • Gen 2:22: Woman. The English word "woman" does not, in fact, have a meaning of one being taken out of man. See Etymology of Woman for a proper etymology.
  • Gen 2:23: Man. Prior to verse 23, the Hebrew word translated "man" has been "adam," from which Adam gets his name. As an adjective, "adam" means "ruddy." When not used as a name, the noun means "earth." In vese 23, however, the word used is "ish." Its meaning (other than "man") isn't certain, but it may mean something like "that which exists." When used to mean "man," "adam" refers to either an individual or to humans in general. The word "ish," however, refers to specific individuals rather than to men or humans in general. The Hebrew word translated "woman" is "isha." Obviously it sounds very much like "ish," the word for "man," just as the English "woman" sounds very much like "man." "Isha" may be a variation of "ish."

Genesis 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve[edit]

  • Gen 3:1: Subtile. The Hebrew word aruwm, translated as "subtil" in verse 1, in this context probably has meanings such as "sly," "crafty" or "cunning," all negative qualities. However, eight times in the book of Proverbs, such as in Proverbs 22:3, aruwm is translated as "prudent," a positive quality. Perhaps a good English equivalent of this word might be something such as "shrewd" or "highly aware" — a personal quality that can be used for good or evil. The use of this word suggests that the serpent was intelligent and knew exactly what he wanted to say.

Genesis 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit[edit]

Genesis 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam[edit]

  • Gen 3:15: Enmity. The word enmity means roughly hatred. Enmity here is translated from the Hebrew word eybah. In both Hebrew and English the word has the same root as enemy. Enmity is essentially the feeling one has for an enemy. Merriam-Webster's definition suggests that enmity is a positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will.
The Lord puts enmity, or hatred, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The seed of the woman refers to people. The serpent represents the devil. His seed could refer to those who followed him in the pre-mortal life. It also may refer to those who follow Satan in this life; as Alma 5:41 indicates, those who follow Satan in this life become his children.
Why would God put enmity between people and those who follow Satan? One reason may be that hatred of evil can serve as a barrier between us and evil (see also Amos 5:15). This reasoning may be similar to the reasoning the Lord gives for cursing the Lamanites (2 Ne 5:21-22). Nephi tells us that the point of that cursing was to make the Lamanites loathsome to the Nephites unless the Lamanites repented—this loathsome-ness served as a barrier. (Loathsome is less harsh then enmity; note though that we are also told that the Nephites hated the Lamanites because of their curse (Jacob 3:5).)
Verse 15 seems to suggest that this enmity will lead to conflict. Just after God says he will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, he follows by saying that the woman will bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent will bruise the heel of the woman's seed. This verse shouldn't be read though as condoning attacks on evil. Mormon tells us, rather, that it is through the wicked that the wicked are punished Morm 4:5. Further to attack evil is inconsistent with what Jesus's teaches. In Matt 5:39 he tells us not to resist evil. Similarly in Rom 12:21 Paul tells us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Though God gave us enmity for evil, Jesus and Paul place restraints on how that enmity should be exercised. (See also Prov 20:22, Rom 12:9.)
  • Gen 3:15: It. The word translated as it is the Hebrew hu, a singular masculine pronoun that can also be translated as he, which is done in many modern translations as well as the Joseph Smith Translation (Moses 4:21). The argument for translating hu as it is that in Hebrew it grammatically agrees in number and gender with the word for offspring. Some translators have even translated hu in this context as they, since offspring refers to more than one person. Some early translations used by Catholics also have used the word she here, apparently based on some early Latin manuscripts that may have been erroneous.
  • Gen 3:15: Bruise head, bruise heel. Christianity has traditionally, at least as far back as Ireneaus, interpreted Genesis 3:15 messianically: Jesus, the offspring of Eve, would crush Satan on the head. Those advocating this view sometimes quote Paul, who uses similar language in Romans 16:20.
  • See discussion page about these "curses of the Fall".
  • Redeemer of the Fall. When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, not only were they cut off or fell from the presence of the Lord, but their natures as well as all living things upon the earth also became “fallen.” In addition, Adam and Eve — and their posterity — were to suffer more consequences.
To Eve the Lord said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” To Adam, the Lord said, “… cursed shall be the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground, for thou shalt surely die …” [Moses 4:22-23].
Jesus Christ was foreordained to remedy the effects of the Fall and to bring mankind back into the presence of the Lord. He likewise had to suffer the effects of the Fall. As we look at each “curse” in relation to mankind and Jesus Christ, we can more fully understand the aspects of His atoning sacrifice.
  • Gen 3:17-19: Thorns and thistles. The curse of thorns and thistles is obvious to mankind. But as many physical things can teach us spiritual truths, we should also look at this curse with spiritual eyes. In his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul stated, “But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you …”[Hebrews 6:8-9].
In Isaiah 10:17 we read, “And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.”
In these verses, thorns and briars refer to wickedness, not plants. On a spiritual level, we can see the effects of the fall in ourselves as the brother of Jared so succinctly said, “… because of the fall, our natures have become evil continually” [Ether 3:2] — and as King Benjamin stated, “an enemy to God” [Mosiah 3:19]. Instead of naturally “bearing the good fruits” of kindness, patience, forgiveness, and so on, our natural tendencies are “thorns and briars” of pride, selfishness, envy, and other forms of wickedness that if left unchecked, will crowd out the spiritual good fruit. [see parable of the sower, Matthew 13:22]
When we come to a realization of our carnal or fallen nature, we can plead as King Benjamin’s people for the application of the atoning blood of Christ [Mosiah 4:2] and pray that we can have “this wicked spirit rooted out of our breast” [Alma 22:15] — not only to receive a remission of our sins, but to become “born again” and become new creatures in Christ [2 Corinthians 5:17]. It is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that the natural man can be overcome. Not only did Christ pay for the “briars and thorns” of our fallen nature in Gethsemane, He was also “wounded for our transgressions” [Isaiah 53:5] with a literal crown of thorns and pierced to the cross with “thorns” of iron. He bore the symbols of the Fall that He has paid the price for.
  • Gen 3:15: By sweat of brow we earn our bread. Adam was told that by the sweat of his face, he would eat his daily bread. We know that for most of us, long hours and hard work are required to make a living. On a spiritual level, since we are cut off from the presence of the Lord, it requires hard work to earn our spiritual bread. Jesus said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” [John 6:29] Jesus Christ offers us “living bread” if we will come unto Him, for He is the Bread of Life [John 6:33]. Yet it takes effort to obtain the word of the Lord. In the scriptures we read of those who “wrestled in mighty prayer before the Lord’ [Enos 1:2], who fasted and prayed many days to know certain truths [Alma 5:46]. The scriptures clearly indicate that we must nourish our faith with great diligence and good works.
Christ’s work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man [Moses 1:3] also required intense labor. He has declared that He has “suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.” [3 Nephi 11:11] We read in Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19, “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit — and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink — nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Christ “sweat as it were great drops of blood” [Luke 22:55] as He bore the sins of mankind, another symbol of this curse of the Fall.
  • Gen 3:16: Sorrow in Bringing Forth Children. The Lord told Eve, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.” Because of their fallen nature, children do not always grow up obedient, full of patience and willing to serve one another. Parents often experience much sorrow in child- rearing.
Jesus Christ, in order for mankind to become His spiritually begotten sons and daughters, also experienced great sorrow in the conception and bringing forth of His children. In Matthew 26:36-38 we read, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane … and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’” In His sufferings in our behalf, He became the great “Deliverer” and “Father” as He paid the price or “delivered” us from sin. As we partake of the Atonement in our lives, we become His spiritually begotten children. After King Benjamin’s people experienced the cleansing power of the atonement in their lives, they entered into a covenant to be obedient to the will and commandments of the Lord. Because of that experience and the covenant, they were called “the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.“ [Mosiah 5:6-7]
Abinadi also testified, “… that when his soul has been made a offering for sin, he shall see his seed … for these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?” [Mosiah 15:10 & 12] Isaiah said, “He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:11, emphasis added].
  • Gen 3:16: Wives Subject to husbands. Because Eve yielded unto temptation in the Garden, she was told, “And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Throughout the ages, women have been oppressed and mistreated because of unrighteous dominion. However, Jesus Christ has instructed His prophets to teach the people the proper order of marriage. Paul counseled, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself [Ephesians 5:25, 28]. Our latter-day prophets have likewise counseled husbands to love and respect their wives.
Paul used the analogy of the relationship of Christ to the church as husbands to wives. In one way, we can view Adam as a type of Christ and Eve as representative of mankind. It was Eve who succumbed to temptation and was doomed to the Fall, or spiritual death in being cut off from the presence of God. Adam had a choice and he partook that “man might be” (2 Nephi 9:25). Likewise Jesus Christ did not yield to temptation, but “partook that I might finish my preparations unto the children of men” (Doc. & Cov. 19:19). Eve (or all mankind) in order to be redeemed from the effects of the “fall,” needed to covenant to yield her will to her husband, Adam, which is a type of Christ.
The scriptures use the imagery of a marriage covenant with Christ being the bridegoom and the church as the bride [Revelations 19, Doctrine & Covenants 33:17, 65:3, 133:19]. Hosea teaches us of this covenant relationship with the Lord. He also shows that we, the covenant bride, have played the “harlot” and have gone after other lovers, breaking that covenant relationship. When we come to a realization that these other lovers do not bring us happiness, then we shall say, “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” [Hosea 2:7].
When we return to Christ, the faithful husband, He promises, “I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord.” [Hosea 2:14, 19 “And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi (which means husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (which means master) [vs. 16].”
  • Death. Adam and Eve were told, “For thou shalt surely die” as a result from partaking of the forbidden fruit. Spiritual and physical death was a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve and all mankind, because of the Fall and our sinful natures, are cut off from the presence of God — hence the first spiritual death. Jesus Christ suffered spiritual death when he vicariously became unclean when he took upon himself the sins of the world. It was the first time he had experienced the separation from the Father and he exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
And as “In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1st Corinthians 15:22), all mankind suffer physical death. Christ also suffered physical death. He overcame both physical and spiritual death through the resurrection and the atonement in order to open the way for each one of us to be resurrected and redeemed from our sinful nature and to be brought back into the presence of the Father.
In this “fallen” world, mankind was put in a position of spiritual and physical death. Because Jesus Christ chose to be our Savior, He took upon Himself the effects of the Fall and overcame them. He took upon Himself our sicknesses, pains, infirmities, and our sins so that He would know how to truly succor us and blot out our transgressions according to the power of his deliverance (Alma 7:11-13). Truly “there is no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” [Mosiah 3:17].
  • Gen 3:17-19, 23: Tilling the ground as governing or stewardship. Upon creating Adam and Eve, God gave them dominion over all animals (Gen 1:26-28) and gave them plants and animals for food. (Gen 1:29-31). Dominion over the food chain can be exercised in either of two ways. Dominion can be exercised as a predator, or as a hunter gatherer, by raiding available food sources and then perhaps moving on. Alternatively, dominion can be exercised as an agriculturalist, or as a farmer or herder, by raising and caring for a stable food supply. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to dress and keep it. (Gen 2:15). Upon being driven from the Garden, Adam was told to till the ground and to earn his bread by the sweat of his face. (Gen 3:19, 23). Adam was thus instructed to exercise dominion over his food supply as an agriculturalist who raises and cares for his food supply. In other words, Adam was instructed to govern his food supply rather than simply predating upon it.
The first city mentioned in the Bible is wicked Babel. (Gen 11:4-5). But in the Joseph Smith Translation, the first city mentioned is the City of Enoch, which is portrayed as the ideal human society. (Moses 7:19, 63, 68-69). Cities are large population centers with formal power structures that can only exist when mankind effectively governs not only the food chain but also mankind itself. The informal chieftain of a band of nomadic raiders exercises dominion like a hunter gatherer or a predator, moving into an area, taking what is available, and then moving on. The king of a city or a state must exercise dominion like an agriculturalist or a governor, caring for his subjects in order to draw sustainably upon a stable tax base. God is frequently described as a king with a throne (D&C 76:92-93; Rev 4:1-3), and his creations and habitation are often described as kingdoms. (D&C 88:36-39; 1 Ne 15:33-35). God does in fact nurture and care for his subjects in order to take glory to himself (Moses 1:39). And the ideal society in all of human history was a city, a mode of living that requires competent governance.
Within this context, the statement that Adam was to till the ground, and thus learn to govern his food supply rather than merely predating upon it, is not a punishment. To the contrary, it is an important lesson for children of the Eternal King who seek to become like him (Matt 5:48; discussion here) and who seek, as wise stewards over a few things (Matt 24:45-47; 25:21), to inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions (D&C 132:19; also see D&C 121:46), all of which must be governed rather than predated upon.

Genesis 2-3: Identifying the principal blocks of text[edit]

Significant changes in the unity of character and action help to identify the blocks of text that make up the story of the Fall.

  • Gen 2:4-17. The concept of a man to till the ground is introduced in the second verse of this block, and God's dealings with Adam alone continue through Gen 2:17. Thus the first block of text in which God makes Adam and places him in the Garden of Eden consists of Gen 2:4-17.
  • Gen 2:18-25. In Gen 2:18 God shifts from speaking to Adam to instead speaking about Adam and the need for a help meet. The introduction of that help meet Eve occurs in Gen 2:21-25. This block of text introduces a new character, Eve, and most of this block of text is about her. Thus the second block of text consists of Gen 2:18-25.
  • Gen 3:1-7. Gen 3:1 introduces yet another character, the serpent. The next block of text concerns his successful attempt to get Eve and Adam to violate God's commandment by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. His last promise to Eve is that her eyes will be opened (Gen 3:5b), and the last verse of this block relates that Adam & Eve's eyes were in fact opened to the fact of their nakedness (Gen 3:7). Thus the third block of text consists of Gen 3:1-7.
  • Gen 3:8-13. In Gen 3:8 God reappears in the Garden. The fact that Adam & Eve are hiding from God immediately leads to their acknowledgment of violating his commandment. This information comes out through a series of questions and answers. The pattern of questions and answers ends when God has sufficiently developed the evidence and begins to instead pronounce judgment in Gen 3:14. Thus the fourth block of text consists of Gen 3:8-13.
  • Gen 3:14-24. God announces judgments upon the serpent, Eve, and Adam throughout the rest of chapter 3. Thus the fifth and final block of text consists of Gen 3:14-24.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Gen 2:5: The creation story in Genesis 1 is clearly different from that in Genesis 2. For example, in chapter 1, the creation takes six days, in this chapter it takes one (verse 4); in 1 the earth begins as a mass of water, but in 2 the land is already there (verse 5-6); in 1 the two sexes are created at the same time, but in 2 male is created before female; in 1 the plants are created on the third day--before the creation of humans--but in 2 man is created before the plants (verses 7 and 9); and in 1 the living creatures were created before humans, but in 2 they are created afterwards (verse 19). How do we account for these differences? Why is each account important to us? What does each teach that the other does not?
  • Gen 2:7: Is verse 7 purely symbolic? Was Adam also a literal son of God, but not born in the flesh (or in other words mortality)? (See the genealogy of Christ in Luke 3:38, Paul's discussion of the two Adams (or two gods) in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 especially verses 45-50.)
  • This verse is related to a lot of our religions language. For example, inspire means "to breath into," and spirit means, literally, "breath." What is the point of this language? In other words, what does it teach us? (As you think about this question, consider John 3:8.)
  • Gen 2:8: What typological significance might the Garden of Eden have?
  • Gen 2:9: The tree of life is an important symbol in the Book of Mormon. Why do Book of Mormon writers dwell on the tree of life and not on both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge?
  • Gen 2:9: What does the word "knowledge" mean if we are talking about knowing good and evil?
  • Gen 2:11-14: Obviously is it important that Eden is the source of much water. What kinds of things are associated with water? What kinds of things might that suggest?
  • Gen 2:15: What does it mean to dress the garden? What does it mean to keep it? One translator says that Adam's job was "to serve and to guard." What do you think of that translation? What does Adam's job in the Garden mean to us? Do we have any similar job?
  • Gen 2:16-17: How do you explain this commandment in light of the fact that it was necessary for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree? How can God forbid what must be? Do you read "you shall die" as a threat of punishment? Or is it a way of making the choice between the two trees mutually exclusive?
  • Gen 2:17: Could the Father be "responsible" for mortality? Immortality? Or did his two literal or figurative sons have to bear the weight of this responsibility?
  • Gen 2:17: Why did it take one (Michael/Adam) to create the conditions of mortality and another (Christ) to create immortality? Was there no other way to accomplish this?
  • Gen 2:17: According to this story, where did Adam live before he was placed in the garden? Why don't we know more about humans before they enter the garden?
  • Gen 2:17: How does a correct understanding of the Fall change our views of the Atonement? Which event was more essential, or could one exist with out the other?
  • Gen 2:18: Why is it not good for man to be alone? Aside from the things we bring to this story because we know the doctrine, are there things suggested by the Bible itself?
  • Gen 2:18: Notice that the Adam is promised "an help meet" rather than "an helpmeet"--two words rather than one. "Meet" means appropriate. What kind of helper would be appropriate to Adam? What kind of help does Adam need at this point in the story? Later?
  • Gen 2:19: What is the significance of Adam naming the animals?
  • Gen 2:19-20: In this version of the story, Verse 18 prepares us for the woman's creation and verse 21 tells us of that creation, but these two verses break up the story of her creation. Why? What do they have to do with the creation of the woman?
  • Gen 2:20: Does the end of this verse help us understand what verses 19 and 20 have to do with the creation of Eve? What happened to Adam as he named the animals; what did he discover?
  • Gen 2:23: Does this verse help us understand what the story of Eve's creation teaches us? Given the important role naming has played in this story, is there anything significant about the fact that Adam names Eve? If so, what?
  • Gen 2:24: Who is speaking in this verse, Adam or the writer? What does it mean to leave father and mother? What does it imply? What does it mean to cleave to a person? What does it mean to be one flesh?
  • Gen 2:25: What things might the couple's nakedness signify? Why should they be ashamed? What is the purpose of this verse?
  • Gen 3:7: Were both (or all four rather) of their eyes opened at the same time? Did Adam and Eve eat the fruit at the same time? Why the need to clothe themselves?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to be "cursed above all cattle"?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to eat dust? Is there a difference here between God who creates Adam from the dust, and the serpent, who is forced to eat dust but creates nothing? Or a difference between the serpent eating dust and Adam who comes from dust, and returns to dust? Man is created from dust after the mist comes up and makes the dust into clay--does this verse indicate that the serpent is forced to live in a pre-clay (mortal) state of dust?
  • Gen 3:17: Cursed is the ground for your sake. Why is a curse given for Adam's sake? How does a curse over the earth (or the ground, rather) benefit Adam?
  • Gen 3:22: Was there death on this earth prior to Adam partaking of the fruit (before answering see Bible Dictionary entry for the fall)?
  • Gen 3:22: If there was no death previously, how does this fit into popular views of theological evolution, evolution or other controversial issues? Can current views of science be reconciled with the creation account, or is this simply a matter of faith?
  • Gen 3:22: Is the death referred to in verse 22, a spiritual or physical death? Or both?
  • Gen 3:22: How do we find our way to our own "tree?" Can we partake (of the atonement) and live forever after we overcome our sins?
  • Gen 3:22: Did Adam feel guilt for this transgression (See 2 Nephi 2)? What is the role of guilt?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • James Faulconer's exegesis about some aspects of community from Genesis 2 and 3.
  • Gen 3:14-21: In the Fall 1991 General Women's Meeting, Gordon B. Hinckley (then the first counselor in the First Presidency) said that it is to wrong use verse 16 to justify abuse of women by their husbands (Ensign magazine, November 1991, page 97). He went on to say: "My own interpretation of that sentence is that the husband shall have a governing responsibility to provide for, to protect, to strengthen and shield the wife. Any man who belittles or abuses or terrorizes, or who rules in unrighteousness, will deserve and, I believe, receive the reprimand of a just God who is the Eternal Father of both His sons and daughters."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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Gen 2:16-20

Home > The Old Testament > Genesis > Genesis 1-11b > Chapter 2-3 / Verses 2:4-3:24
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Scope of page. The story of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden is related in Genesis 2-3 and is repeated in the Pearl of Great Price in Moses 3-4 (the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 2-3). Discussion of the Genesis account should appear on this wiki page. Discussion of additional understanding derived from the Joseph Smith Translation is better suited for the wiki page addressing Moses 3-4.

Relationship to Genesis 1-11b. The relationship of Chapter 2-3 to the rest of the Adam-Noah cycle is discussed at Genesis 1-11b.

Outline of the text. An outline of the complete book of Genesis, including Chapters 2-3, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.

Story. Genesis 2-3 is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, including the Fall. This story consists of five major sections:

  • Gen 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden. God makes Adam, places him in the Garden of Eden, and instructs him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Gen 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden. Adam names the animals. God makes Eve and also places her in the Garden with Adam. Adam & Eve are married and are not ashamed of their nakedness.
  • Gen 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve. The serpent persuades Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in violation of God's commandment. She gives the fruit to Adam. Their eyes are opened so that they recognize their nakedness, and they sew themselves aprons of fig leaves.
  • Gen 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit. God appears and inquires Where art thou? Adam & Eve admit to being ashamed of their nakedness as a result of eating the forbidden fruit.
  • Gen 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam. God curses the serpent to crawl upon its belly. God curses Eve to bring forth children in sorrow and to be subject to her husband. God curses the ground for Adam's sake so that he will eat in sweat and sorrow. God recognizes that Adam & Eve have become as gods, knowing good and evil, and guards the tree of life so that Adam & Eve cannot eat of it and live forever. God also provides Adam & Eve with coats of skins to cover their nakedness.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 2-3 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Genesis 2-3: Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden[edit]

  • Pattern of a judicial proceeding. This chapter follows the script of a judicial proceeding: rule, violation, conviction, and judgment. The first two episodes in this story introduce Adam & Eve and the commandment to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:4-17; 18-25). The third episode related their violation of that commandment (Gen 3:1-7). The fourth episode is similar to a lawyer questioning witnesses to elicit confessions (Gen 3:8-13). The final episode consists of God pronouncing the judgments that follow from conduct of everyone involved in the violation of his commandment (Gen 3:14-24). This same script is also employed in the following story of Cain & Abel, suggesting that the two should be read together as a pair.

Genesis 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:4-5: Garden Translated from the Hebrew Gan--a garden enclosed by walls, such as in a courtyard or temple, separated off from the rest of the world.
  • Gen 2:8: Eden. The name "Eden" seems to connote "a well-watered place."
  • Gen 2:13: Ethiopia. The Hebrew word translated as "Ethiopia" in verse 13 is kush. In the context, the word more likely refers to a region of Mesopotamia rather than to the African country. Modern translations generally translate the word literally as "Cush."

Genesis 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:18-19: Help meet. The Hebrew word translated as "help meet" in verses 18 and 20 is ezer, usually translated as "helper" in modern translations. Usually when ezer appears in the Old Testament, it refers to God or Jehovah as the help or helper, such as in Psalm 70:5.
  • Gen 2:22: Woman. The English word "woman" does not, in fact, have a meaning of one being taken out of man. See Etymology of Woman for a proper etymology.
  • Gen 2:23: Man. Prior to verse 23, the Hebrew word translated "man" has been "adam," from which Adam gets his name. As an adjective, "adam" means "ruddy." When not used as a name, the noun means "earth." In vese 23, however, the word used is "ish." Its meaning (other than "man") isn't certain, but it may mean something like "that which exists." When used to mean "man," "adam" refers to either an individual or to humans in general. The word "ish," however, refers to specific individuals rather than to men or humans in general. The Hebrew word translated "woman" is "isha." Obviously it sounds very much like "ish," the word for "man," just as the English "woman" sounds very much like "man." "Isha" may be a variation of "ish."

Genesis 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve[edit]

  • Gen 3:1: Subtile. The Hebrew word aruwm, translated as "subtil" in verse 1, in this context probably has meanings such as "sly," "crafty" or "cunning," all negative qualities. However, eight times in the book of Proverbs, such as in Proverbs 22:3, aruwm is translated as "prudent," a positive quality. Perhaps a good English equivalent of this word might be something such as "shrewd" or "highly aware" — a personal quality that can be used for good or evil. The use of this word suggests that the serpent was intelligent and knew exactly what he wanted to say.

Genesis 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit[edit]

Genesis 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam[edit]

  • Gen 3:15: Enmity. The word enmity means roughly hatred. Enmity here is translated from the Hebrew word eybah. In both Hebrew and English the word has the same root as enemy. Enmity is essentially the feeling one has for an enemy. Merriam-Webster's definition suggests that enmity is a positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will.
The Lord puts enmity, or hatred, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The seed of the woman refers to people. The serpent represents the devil. His seed could refer to those who followed him in the pre-mortal life. It also may refer to those who follow Satan in this life; as Alma 5:41 indicates, those who follow Satan in this life become his children.
Why would God put enmity between people and those who follow Satan? One reason may be that hatred of evil can serve as a barrier between us and evil (see also Amos 5:15). This reasoning may be similar to the reasoning the Lord gives for cursing the Lamanites (2 Ne 5:21-22). Nephi tells us that the point of that cursing was to make the Lamanites loathsome to the Nephites unless the Lamanites repented—this loathsome-ness served as a barrier. (Loathsome is less harsh then enmity; note though that we are also told that the Nephites hated the Lamanites because of their curse (Jacob 3:5).)
Verse 15 seems to suggest that this enmity will lead to conflict. Just after God says he will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, he follows by saying that the woman will bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent will bruise the heel of the woman's seed. This verse shouldn't be read though as condoning attacks on evil. Mormon tells us, rather, that it is through the wicked that the wicked are punished Morm 4:5. Further to attack evil is inconsistent with what Jesus's teaches. In Matt 5:39 he tells us not to resist evil. Similarly in Rom 12:21 Paul tells us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Though God gave us enmity for evil, Jesus and Paul place restraints on how that enmity should be exercised. (See also Prov 20:22, Rom 12:9.)
  • Gen 3:15: It. The word translated as it is the Hebrew hu, a singular masculine pronoun that can also be translated as he, which is done in many modern translations as well as the Joseph Smith Translation (Moses 4:21). The argument for translating hu as it is that in Hebrew it grammatically agrees in number and gender with the word for offspring. Some translators have even translated hu in this context as they, since offspring refers to more than one person. Some early translations used by Catholics also have used the word she here, apparently based on some early Latin manuscripts that may have been erroneous.
  • Gen 3:15: Bruise head, bruise heel. Christianity has traditionally, at least as far back as Ireneaus, interpreted Genesis 3:15 messianically: Jesus, the offspring of Eve, would crush Satan on the head. Those advocating this view sometimes quote Paul, who uses similar language in Romans 16:20.
  • See discussion page about these "curses of the Fall".
  • Redeemer of the Fall. When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, not only were they cut off or fell from the presence of the Lord, but their natures as well as all living things upon the earth also became “fallen.” In addition, Adam and Eve — and their posterity — were to suffer more consequences.
To Eve the Lord said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” To Adam, the Lord said, “… cursed shall be the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground, for thou shalt surely die …” [Moses 4:22-23].
Jesus Christ was foreordained to remedy the effects of the Fall and to bring mankind back into the presence of the Lord. He likewise had to suffer the effects of the Fall. As we look at each “curse” in relation to mankind and Jesus Christ, we can more fully understand the aspects of His atoning sacrifice.
  • Gen 3:17-19: Thorns and thistles. The curse of thorns and thistles is obvious to mankind. But as many physical things can teach us spiritual truths, we should also look at this curse with spiritual eyes. In his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul stated, “But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you …”[Hebrews 6:8-9].
In Isaiah 10:17 we read, “And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.”
In these verses, thorns and briars refer to wickedness, not plants. On a spiritual level, we can see the effects of the fall in ourselves as the brother of Jared so succinctly said, “… because of the fall, our natures have become evil continually” [Ether 3:2] — and as King Benjamin stated, “an enemy to God” [Mosiah 3:19]. Instead of naturally “bearing the good fruits” of kindness, patience, forgiveness, and so on, our natural tendencies are “thorns and briars” of pride, selfishness, envy, and other forms of wickedness that if left unchecked, will crowd out the spiritual good fruit. [see parable of the sower, Matthew 13:22]
When we come to a realization of our carnal or fallen nature, we can plead as King Benjamin’s people for the application of the atoning blood of Christ [Mosiah 4:2] and pray that we can have “this wicked spirit rooted out of our breast” [Alma 22:15] — not only to receive a remission of our sins, but to become “born again” and become new creatures in Christ [2 Corinthians 5:17]. It is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that the natural man can be overcome. Not only did Christ pay for the “briars and thorns” of our fallen nature in Gethsemane, He was also “wounded for our transgressions” [Isaiah 53:5] with a literal crown of thorns and pierced to the cross with “thorns” of iron. He bore the symbols of the Fall that He has paid the price for.
  • Gen 3:15: By sweat of brow we earn our bread. Adam was told that by the sweat of his face, he would eat his daily bread. We know that for most of us, long hours and hard work are required to make a living. On a spiritual level, since we are cut off from the presence of the Lord, it requires hard work to earn our spiritual bread. Jesus said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” [John 6:29] Jesus Christ offers us “living bread” if we will come unto Him, for He is the Bread of Life [John 6:33]. Yet it takes effort to obtain the word of the Lord. In the scriptures we read of those who “wrestled in mighty prayer before the Lord’ [Enos 1:2], who fasted and prayed many days to know certain truths [Alma 5:46]. The scriptures clearly indicate that we must nourish our faith with great diligence and good works.
Christ’s work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man [Moses 1:3] also required intense labor. He has declared that He has “suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.” [3 Nephi 11:11] We read in Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19, “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit — and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink — nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Christ “sweat as it were great drops of blood” [Luke 22:55] as He bore the sins of mankind, another symbol of this curse of the Fall.
  • Gen 3:16: Sorrow in Bringing Forth Children. The Lord told Eve, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.” Because of their fallen nature, children do not always grow up obedient, full of patience and willing to serve one another. Parents often experience much sorrow in child- rearing.
Jesus Christ, in order for mankind to become His spiritually begotten sons and daughters, also experienced great sorrow in the conception and bringing forth of His children. In Matthew 26:36-38 we read, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane … and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’” In His sufferings in our behalf, He became the great “Deliverer” and “Father” as He paid the price or “delivered” us from sin. As we partake of the Atonement in our lives, we become His spiritually begotten children. After King Benjamin’s people experienced the cleansing power of the atonement in their lives, they entered into a covenant to be obedient to the will and commandments of the Lord. Because of that experience and the covenant, they were called “the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.“ [Mosiah 5:6-7]
Abinadi also testified, “… that when his soul has been made a offering for sin, he shall see his seed … for these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?” [Mosiah 15:10 & 12] Isaiah said, “He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:11, emphasis added].
  • Gen 3:16: Wives Subject to husbands. Because Eve yielded unto temptation in the Garden, she was told, “And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Throughout the ages, women have been oppressed and mistreated because of unrighteous dominion. However, Jesus Christ has instructed His prophets to teach the people the proper order of marriage. Paul counseled, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself [Ephesians 5:25, 28]. Our latter-day prophets have likewise counseled husbands to love and respect their wives.
Paul used the analogy of the relationship of Christ to the church as husbands to wives. In one way, we can view Adam as a type of Christ and Eve as representative of mankind. It was Eve who succumbed to temptation and was doomed to the Fall, or spiritual death in being cut off from the presence of God. Adam had a choice and he partook that “man might be” (2 Nephi 9:25). Likewise Jesus Christ did not yield to temptation, but “partook that I might finish my preparations unto the children of men” (Doc. & Cov. 19:19). Eve (or all mankind) in order to be redeemed from the effects of the “fall,” needed to covenant to yield her will to her husband, Adam, which is a type of Christ.
The scriptures use the imagery of a marriage covenant with Christ being the bridegoom and the church as the bride [Revelations 19, Doctrine & Covenants 33:17, 65:3, 133:19]. Hosea teaches us of this covenant relationship with the Lord. He also shows that we, the covenant bride, have played the “harlot” and have gone after other lovers, breaking that covenant relationship. When we come to a realization that these other lovers do not bring us happiness, then we shall say, “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” [Hosea 2:7].
When we return to Christ, the faithful husband, He promises, “I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord.” [Hosea 2:14, 19 “And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi (which means husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (which means master) [vs. 16].”
  • Death. Adam and Eve were told, “For thou shalt surely die” as a result from partaking of the forbidden fruit. Spiritual and physical death was a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve and all mankind, because of the Fall and our sinful natures, are cut off from the presence of God — hence the first spiritual death. Jesus Christ suffered spiritual death when he vicariously became unclean when he took upon himself the sins of the world. It was the first time he had experienced the separation from the Father and he exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
And as “In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1st Corinthians 15:22), all mankind suffer physical death. Christ also suffered physical death. He overcame both physical and spiritual death through the resurrection and the atonement in order to open the way for each one of us to be resurrected and redeemed from our sinful nature and to be brought back into the presence of the Father.
In this “fallen” world, mankind was put in a position of spiritual and physical death. Because Jesus Christ chose to be our Savior, He took upon Himself the effects of the Fall and overcame them. He took upon Himself our sicknesses, pains, infirmities, and our sins so that He would know how to truly succor us and blot out our transgressions according to the power of his deliverance (Alma 7:11-13). Truly “there is no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” [Mosiah 3:17].
  • Gen 3:17-19, 23: Tilling the ground as governing or stewardship. Upon creating Adam and Eve, God gave them dominion over all animals (Gen 1:26-28) and gave them plants and animals for food. (Gen 1:29-31). Dominion over the food chain can be exercised in either of two ways. Dominion can be exercised as a predator, or as a hunter gatherer, by raiding available food sources and then perhaps moving on. Alternatively, dominion can be exercised as an agriculturalist, or as a farmer or herder, by raising and caring for a stable food supply. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to dress and keep it. (Gen 2:15). Upon being driven from the Garden, Adam was told to till the ground and to earn his bread by the sweat of his face. (Gen 3:19, 23). Adam was thus instructed to exercise dominion over his food supply as an agriculturalist who raises and cares for his food supply. In other words, Adam was instructed to govern his food supply rather than simply predating upon it.
The first city mentioned in the Bible is wicked Babel. (Gen 11:4-5). But in the Joseph Smith Translation, the first city mentioned is the City of Enoch, which is portrayed as the ideal human society. (Moses 7:19, 63, 68-69). Cities are large population centers with formal power structures that can only exist when mankind effectively governs not only the food chain but also mankind itself. The informal chieftain of a band of nomadic raiders exercises dominion like a hunter gatherer or a predator, moving into an area, taking what is available, and then moving on. The king of a city or a state must exercise dominion like an agriculturalist or a governor, caring for his subjects in order to draw sustainably upon a stable tax base. God is frequently described as a king with a throne (D&C 76:92-93; Rev 4:1-3), and his creations and habitation are often described as kingdoms. (D&C 88:36-39; 1 Ne 15:33-35). God does in fact nurture and care for his subjects in order to take glory to himself (Moses 1:39). And the ideal society in all of human history was a city, a mode of living that requires competent governance.
Within this context, the statement that Adam was to till the ground, and thus learn to govern his food supply rather than merely predating upon it, is not a punishment. To the contrary, it is an important lesson for children of the Eternal King who seek to become like him (Matt 5:48; discussion here) and who seek, as wise stewards over a few things (Matt 24:45-47; 25:21), to inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions (D&C 132:19; also see D&C 121:46), all of which must be governed rather than predated upon.

Genesis 2-3: Identifying the principal blocks of text[edit]

Significant changes in the unity of character and action help to identify the blocks of text that make up the story of the Fall.

  • Gen 2:4-17. The concept of a man to till the ground is introduced in the second verse of this block, and God's dealings with Adam alone continue through Gen 2:17. Thus the first block of text in which God makes Adam and places him in the Garden of Eden consists of Gen 2:4-17.
  • Gen 2:18-25. In Gen 2:18 God shifts from speaking to Adam to instead speaking about Adam and the need for a help meet. The introduction of that help meet Eve occurs in Gen 2:21-25. This block of text introduces a new character, Eve, and most of this block of text is about her. Thus the second block of text consists of Gen 2:18-25.
  • Gen 3:1-7. Gen 3:1 introduces yet another character, the serpent. The next block of text concerns his successful attempt to get Eve and Adam to violate God's commandment by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. His last promise to Eve is that her eyes will be opened (Gen 3:5b), and the last verse of this block relates that Adam & Eve's eyes were in fact opened to the fact of their nakedness (Gen 3:7). Thus the third block of text consists of Gen 3:1-7.
  • Gen 3:8-13. In Gen 3:8 God reappears in the Garden. The fact that Adam & Eve are hiding from God immediately leads to their acknowledgment of violating his commandment. This information comes out through a series of questions and answers. The pattern of questions and answers ends when God has sufficiently developed the evidence and begins to instead pronounce judgment in Gen 3:14. Thus the fourth block of text consists of Gen 3:8-13.
  • Gen 3:14-24. God announces judgments upon the serpent, Eve, and Adam throughout the rest of chapter 3. Thus the fifth and final block of text consists of Gen 3:14-24.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • Gen 2:5: The creation story in Genesis 1 is clearly different from that in Genesis 2. For example, in chapter 1, the creation takes six days, in this chapter it takes one (verse 4); in 1 the earth begins as a mass of water, but in 2 the land is already there (verse 5-6); in 1 the two sexes are created at the same time, but in 2 male is created before female; in 1 the plants are created on the third day--before the creation of humans--but in 2 man is created before the plants (verses 7 and 9); and in 1 the living creatures were created before humans, but in 2 they are created afterwards (verse 19). How do we account for these differences? Why is each account important to us? What does each teach that the other does not?
  • Gen 2:7: Is verse 7 purely symbolic? Was Adam also a literal son of God, but not born in the flesh (or in other words mortality)? (See the genealogy of Christ in Luke 3:38, Paul's discussion of the two Adams (or two gods) in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 especially verses 45-50.)
  • This verse is related to a lot of our religions language. For example, inspire means "to breath into," and spirit means, literally, "breath." What is the point of this language? In other words, what does it teach us? (As you think about this question, consider John 3:8.)
  • Gen 2:8: What typological significance might the Garden of Eden have?
  • Gen 2:9: The tree of life is an important symbol in the Book of Mormon. Why do Book of Mormon writers dwell on the tree of life and not on both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge?
  • Gen 2:9: What does the word "knowledge" mean if we are talking about knowing good and evil?
  • Gen 2:11-14: Obviously is it important that Eden is the source of much water. What kinds of things are associated with water? What kinds of things might that suggest?
  • Gen 2:15: What does it mean to dress the garden? What does it mean to keep it? One translator says that Adam's job was "to serve and to guard." What do you think of that translation? What does Adam's job in the Garden mean to us? Do we have any similar job?
  • Gen 2:16-17: How do you explain this commandment in light of the fact that it was necessary for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree? How can God forbid what must be? Do you read "you shall die" as a threat of punishment? Or is it a way of making the choice between the two trees mutually exclusive?
  • Gen 2:17: Could the Father be "responsible" for mortality? Immortality? Or did his two literal or figurative sons have to bear the weight of this responsibility?
  • Gen 2:17: Why did it take one (Michael/Adam) to create the conditions of mortality and another (Christ) to create immortality? Was there no other way to accomplish this?
  • Gen 2:17: According to this story, where did Adam live before he was placed in the garden? Why don't we know more about humans before they enter the garden?
  • Gen 2:17: How does a correct understanding of the Fall change our views of the Atonement? Which event was more essential, or could one exist with out the other?
  • Gen 2:18: Why is it not good for man to be alone? Aside from the things we bring to this story because we know the doctrine, are there things suggested by the Bible itself?
  • Gen 2:18: Notice that the Adam is promised "an help meet" rather than "an helpmeet"--two words rather than one. "Meet" means appropriate. What kind of helper would be appropriate to Adam? What kind of help does Adam need at this point in the story? Later?
  • Gen 2:19: What is the significance of Adam naming the animals?
  • Gen 2:19-20: In this version of the story, Verse 18 prepares us for the woman's creation and verse 21 tells us of that creation, but these two verses break up the story of her creation. Why? What do they have to do with the creation of the woman?
  • Gen 2:20: Does the end of this verse help us understand what verses 19 and 20 have to do with the creation of Eve? What happened to Adam as he named the animals; what did he discover?
  • Gen 2:23: Does this verse help us understand what the story of Eve's creation teaches us? Given the important role naming has played in this story, is there anything significant about the fact that Adam names Eve? If so, what?
  • Gen 2:24: Who is speaking in this verse, Adam or the writer? What does it mean to leave father and mother? What does it imply? What does it mean to cleave to a person? What does it mean to be one flesh?
  • Gen 2:25: What things might the couple's nakedness signify? Why should they be ashamed? What is the purpose of this verse?
  • Gen 3:7: Were both (or all four rather) of their eyes opened at the same time? Did Adam and Eve eat the fruit at the same time? Why the need to clothe themselves?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to be "cursed above all cattle"?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to eat dust? Is there a difference here between God who creates Adam from the dust, and the serpent, who is forced to eat dust but creates nothing? Or a difference between the serpent eating dust and Adam who comes from dust, and returns to dust? Man is created from dust after the mist comes up and makes the dust into clay--does this verse indicate that the serpent is forced to live in a pre-clay (mortal) state of dust?
  • Gen 3:17: Cursed is the ground for your sake. Why is a curse given for Adam's sake? How does a curse over the earth (or the ground, rather) benefit Adam?
  • Gen 3:22: Was there death on this earth prior to Adam partaking of the fruit (before answering see Bible Dictionary entry for the fall)?
  • Gen 3:22: If there was no death previously, how does this fit into popular views of theological evolution, evolution or other controversial issues? Can current views of science be reconciled with the creation account, or is this simply a matter of faith?
  • Gen 3:22: Is the death referred to in verse 22, a spiritual or physical death? Or both?
  • Gen 3:22: How do we find our way to our own "tree?" Can we partake (of the atonement) and live forever after we overcome our sins?
  • Gen 3:22: Did Adam feel guilt for this transgression (See 2 Nephi 2)? What is the role of guilt?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

  • James Faulconer's exegesis about some aspects of community from Genesis 2 and 3.
  • Gen 3:14-21: In the Fall 1991 General Women's Meeting, Gordon B. Hinckley (then the first counselor in the First Presidency) said that it is to wrong use verse 16 to justify abuse of women by their husbands (Ensign magazine, November 1991, page 97). He went on to say: "My own interpretation of that sentence is that the husband shall have a governing responsibility to provide for, to protect, to strengthen and shield the wife. Any man who belittles or abuses or terrorizes, or who rules in unrighteousness, will deserve and, I believe, receive the reprimand of a just God who is the Eternal Father of both His sons and daughters."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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Gen 2:21-25

Home > The Old Testament > Genesis > Genesis 1-11b > Chapter 2-3 / Verses 2:4-3:24
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This section should be very brief. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Scope of page. The story of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden is related in Genesis 2-3 and is repeated in the Pearl of Great Price in Moses 3-4 (the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 2-3). Discussion of the Genesis account should appear on this wiki page. Discussion of additional understanding derived from the Joseph Smith Translation is better suited for the wiki page addressing Moses 3-4.

Relationship to Genesis 1-11b. The relationship of Chapter 2-3 to the rest of the Adam-Noah cycle is discussed at Genesis 1-11b.

Outline of the text. An outline of the complete book of Genesis, including Chapters 2-3, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.

Story. Genesis 2-3 is the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, including the Fall. This story consists of five major sections:

  • Gen 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden. God makes Adam, places him in the Garden of Eden, and instructs him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Gen 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden. Adam names the animals. God makes Eve and also places her in the Garden with Adam. Adam & Eve are married and are not ashamed of their nakedness.
  • Gen 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve. The serpent persuades Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in violation of God's commandment. She gives the fruit to Adam. Their eyes are opened so that they recognize their nakedness, and they sew themselves aprons of fig leaves.
  • Gen 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit. God appears and inquires Where art thou? Adam & Eve admit to being ashamed of their nakedness as a result of eating the forbidden fruit.
  • Gen 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam. God curses the serpent to crawl upon its belly. God curses Eve to bring forth children in sorrow and to be subject to her husband. God curses the ground for Adam's sake so that he will eat in sweat and sorrow. God recognizes that Adam & Eve have become as gods, knowing good and evil, and guards the tree of life so that Adam & Eve cannot eat of it and live forever. God also provides Adam & Eve with coats of skins to cover their nakedness.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 2-3 include:

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →

Genesis 2-3: Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden[edit]

  • Pattern of a judicial proceeding. This chapter follows the script of a judicial proceeding: rule, violation, conviction, and judgment. The first two episodes in this story introduce Adam & Eve and the commandment to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:4-17; 18-25). The third episode related their violation of that commandment (Gen 3:1-7). The fourth episode is similar to a lawyer questioning witnesses to elicit confessions (Gen 3:8-13). The final episode consists of God pronouncing the judgments that follow from conduct of everyone involved in the violation of his commandment (Gen 3:14-24). This same script is also employed in the following story of Cain & Abel, suggesting that the two should be read together as a pair.

Genesis 2:4-17: Commandment: Adam is placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:4-5: Garden Translated from the Hebrew Gan--a garden enclosed by walls, such as in a courtyard or temple, separated off from the rest of the world.
  • Gen 2:8: Eden. The name "Eden" seems to connote "a well-watered place."
  • Gen 2:13: Ethiopia. The Hebrew word translated as "Ethiopia" in verse 13 is kush. In the context, the word more likely refers to a region of Mesopotamia rather than to the African country. Modern translations generally translate the word literally as "Cush."

Genesis 2:18-25: Eve is also placed in the Garden[edit]

  • Gen 2:18-19: Help meet. The Hebrew word translated as "help meet" in verses 18 and 20 is ezer, usually translated as "helper" in modern translations. Usually when ezer appears in the Old Testament, it refers to God or Jehovah as the help or helper, such as in Psalm 70:5.
  • Gen 2:22: Woman. The English word "woman" does not, in fact, have a meaning of one being taken out of man. See Etymology of Woman for a proper etymology.
  • Gen 2:23: Man. Prior to verse 23, the Hebrew word translated "man" has been "adam," from which Adam gets his name. As an adjective, "adam" means "ruddy." When not used as a name, the noun means "earth." In vese 23, however, the word used is "ish." Its meaning (other than "man") isn't certain, but it may mean something like "that which exists." When used to mean "man," "adam" refers to either an individual or to humans in general. The word "ish," however, refers to specific individuals rather than to men or humans in general. The Hebrew word translated "woman" is "isha." Obviously it sounds very much like "ish," the word for "man," just as the English "woman" sounds very much like "man." "Isha" may be a variation of "ish."

Genesis 3:1-7: Violation: The serpent beguiles Eve[edit]

  • Gen 3:1: Subtile. The Hebrew word aruwm, translated as "subtil" in verse 1, in this context probably has meanings such as "sly," "crafty" or "cunning," all negative qualities. However, eight times in the book of Proverbs, such as in Proverbs 22:3, aruwm is translated as "prudent," a positive quality. Perhaps a good English equivalent of this word might be something such as "shrewd" or "highly aware" — a personal quality that can be used for good or evil. The use of this word suggests that the serpent was intelligent and knew exactly what he wanted to say.

Genesis 3:8-13: Conviction: Adam & Eve admit eating the forbidden fruit[edit]

Genesis 3:14-24: Judgment: God curses the serpent, Eve, and Adam[edit]

  • Gen 3:15: Enmity. The word enmity means roughly hatred. Enmity here is translated from the Hebrew word eybah. In both Hebrew and English the word has the same root as enemy. Enmity is essentially the feeling one has for an enemy. Merriam-Webster's definition suggests that enmity is a positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will.
The Lord puts enmity, or hatred, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The seed of the woman refers to people. The serpent represents the devil. His seed could refer to those who followed him in the pre-mortal life. It also may refer to those who follow Satan in this life; as Alma 5:41 indicates, those who follow Satan in this life become his children.
Why would God put enmity between people and those who follow Satan? One reason may be that hatred of evil can serve as a barrier between us and evil (see also Amos 5:15). This reasoning may be similar to the reasoning the Lord gives for cursing the Lamanites (2 Ne 5:21-22). Nephi tells us that the point of that cursing was to make the Lamanites loathsome to the Nephites unless the Lamanites repented—this loathsome-ness served as a barrier. (Loathsome is less harsh then enmity; note though that we are also told that the Nephites hated the Lamanites because of their curse (Jacob 3:5).)
Verse 15 seems to suggest that this enmity will lead to conflict. Just after God says he will put enmity between the serpent and the woman, he follows by saying that the woman will bruise the head of the serpent and the serpent will bruise the heel of the woman's seed. This verse shouldn't be read though as condoning attacks on evil. Mormon tells us, rather, that it is through the wicked that the wicked are punished Morm 4:5. Further to attack evil is inconsistent with what Jesus's teaches. In Matt 5:39 he tells us not to resist evil. Similarly in Rom 12:21 Paul tells us not to be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. Though God gave us enmity for evil, Jesus and Paul place restraints on how that enmity should be exercised. (See also Prov 20:22, Rom 12:9.)
  • Gen 3:15: It. The word translated as it is the Hebrew hu, a singular masculine pronoun that can also be translated as he, which is done in many modern translations as well as the Joseph Smith Translation (Moses 4:21). The argument for translating hu as it is that in Hebrew it grammatically agrees in number and gender with the word for offspring. Some translators have even translated hu in this context as they, since offspring refers to more than one person. Some early translations used by Catholics also have used the word she here, apparently based on some early Latin manuscripts that may have been erroneous.
  • Gen 3:15: Bruise head, bruise heel. Christianity has traditionally, at least as far back as Ireneaus, interpreted Genesis 3:15 messianically: Jesus, the offspring of Eve, would crush Satan on the head. Those advocating this view sometimes quote Paul, who uses similar language in Romans 16:20.
  • See discussion page about these "curses of the Fall".
  • Redeemer of the Fall. When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, not only were they cut off or fell from the presence of the Lord, but their natures as well as all living things upon the earth also became “fallen.” In addition, Adam and Eve — and their posterity — were to suffer more consequences.
To Eve the Lord said, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” To Adam, the Lord said, “… cursed shall be the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground, for thou shalt surely die …” [Moses 4:22-23].
Jesus Christ was foreordained to remedy the effects of the Fall and to bring mankind back into the presence of the Lord. He likewise had to suffer the effects of the Fall. As we look at each “curse” in relation to mankind and Jesus Christ, we can more fully understand the aspects of His atoning sacrifice.
  • Gen 3:17-19: Thorns and thistles. The curse of thorns and thistles is obvious to mankind. But as many physical things can teach us spiritual truths, we should also look at this curse with spiritual eyes. In his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul stated, “But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you …”[Hebrews 6:8-9].
In Isaiah 10:17 we read, “And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day.”
In these verses, thorns and briars refer to wickedness, not plants. On a spiritual level, we can see the effects of the fall in ourselves as the brother of Jared so succinctly said, “… because of the fall, our natures have become evil continually” [Ether 3:2] — and as King Benjamin stated, “an enemy to God” [Mosiah 3:19]. Instead of naturally “bearing the good fruits” of kindness, patience, forgiveness, and so on, our natural tendencies are “thorns and briars” of pride, selfishness, envy, and other forms of wickedness that if left unchecked, will crowd out the spiritual good fruit. [see parable of the sower, Matthew 13:22]
When we come to a realization of our carnal or fallen nature, we can plead as King Benjamin’s people for the application of the atoning blood of Christ [Mosiah 4:2] and pray that we can have “this wicked spirit rooted out of our breast” [Alma 22:15] — not only to receive a remission of our sins, but to become “born again” and become new creatures in Christ [2 Corinthians 5:17]. It is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that the natural man can be overcome. Not only did Christ pay for the “briars and thorns” of our fallen nature in Gethsemane, He was also “wounded for our transgressions” [Isaiah 53:5] with a literal crown of thorns and pierced to the cross with “thorns” of iron. He bore the symbols of the Fall that He has paid the price for.
  • Gen 3:15: By sweat of brow we earn our bread. Adam was told that by the sweat of his face, he would eat his daily bread. We know that for most of us, long hours and hard work are required to make a living. On a spiritual level, since we are cut off from the presence of the Lord, it requires hard work to earn our spiritual bread. Jesus said, “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” [John 6:29] Jesus Christ offers us “living bread” if we will come unto Him, for He is the Bread of Life [John 6:33]. Yet it takes effort to obtain the word of the Lord. In the scriptures we read of those who “wrestled in mighty prayer before the Lord’ [Enos 1:2], who fasted and prayed many days to know certain truths [Alma 5:46]. The scriptures clearly indicate that we must nourish our faith with great diligence and good works.
Christ’s work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man [Moses 1:3] also required intense labor. He has declared that He has “suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.” [3 Nephi 11:11] We read in Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19, “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit — and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink — nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Christ “sweat as it were great drops of blood” [Luke 22:55] as He bore the sins of mankind, another symbol of this curse of the Fall.
  • Gen 3:16: Sorrow in Bringing Forth Children. The Lord told Eve, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.” Because of their fallen nature, children do not always grow up obedient, full of patience and willing to serve one another. Parents often experience much sorrow in child- rearing.
Jesus Christ, in order for mankind to become His spiritually begotten sons and daughters, also experienced great sorrow in the conception and bringing forth of His children. In Matthew 26:36-38 we read, “Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane … and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.’” In His sufferings in our behalf, He became the great “Deliverer” and “Father” as He paid the price or “delivered” us from sin. As we partake of the Atonement in our lives, we become His spiritually begotten children. After King Benjamin’s people experienced the cleansing power of the atonement in their lives, they entered into a covenant to be obedient to the will and commandments of the Lord. Because of that experience and the covenant, they were called “the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.“ [Mosiah 5:6-7]
Abinadi also testified, “… that when his soul has been made a offering for sin, he shall see his seed … for these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?” [Mosiah 15:10 & 12] Isaiah said, “He shall see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied” [Isaiah 53:11, emphasis added].
  • Gen 3:16: Wives Subject to husbands. Because Eve yielded unto temptation in the Garden, she was told, “And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Throughout the ages, women have been oppressed and mistreated because of unrighteous dominion. However, Jesus Christ has instructed His prophets to teach the people the proper order of marriage. Paul counseled, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself [Ephesians 5:25, 28]. Our latter-day prophets have likewise counseled husbands to love and respect their wives.
Paul used the analogy of the relationship of Christ to the church as husbands to wives. In one way, we can view Adam as a type of Christ and Eve as representative of mankind. It was Eve who succumbed to temptation and was doomed to the Fall, or spiritual death in being cut off from the presence of God. Adam had a choice and he partook that “man might be” (2 Nephi 9:25). Likewise Jesus Christ did not yield to temptation, but “partook that I might finish my preparations unto the children of men” (Doc. & Cov. 19:19). Eve (or all mankind) in order to be redeemed from the effects of the “fall,” needed to covenant to yield her will to her husband, Adam, which is a type of Christ.
The scriptures use the imagery of a marriage covenant with Christ being the bridegoom and the church as the bride [Revelations 19, Doctrine & Covenants 33:17, 65:3, 133:19]. Hosea teaches us of this covenant relationship with the Lord. He also shows that we, the covenant bride, have played the “harlot” and have gone after other lovers, breaking that covenant relationship. When we come to a realization that these other lovers do not bring us happiness, then we shall say, “I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now” [Hosea 2:7].
When we return to Christ, the faithful husband, He promises, “I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord.” [Hosea 2:14, 19 “And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi (which means husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (which means master) [vs. 16].”
  • Death. Adam and Eve were told, “For thou shalt surely die” as a result from partaking of the forbidden fruit. Spiritual and physical death was a result of the Fall. Adam and Eve and all mankind, because of the Fall and our sinful natures, are cut off from the presence of God — hence the first spiritual death. Jesus Christ suffered spiritual death when he vicariously became unclean when he took upon himself the sins of the world. It was the first time he had experienced the separation from the Father and he exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
And as “In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1st Corinthians 15:22), all mankind suffer physical death. Christ also suffered physical death. He overcame both physical and spiritual death through the resurrection and the atonement in order to open the way for each one of us to be resurrected and redeemed from our sinful nature and to be brought back into the presence of the Father.
In this “fallen” world, mankind was put in a position of spiritual and physical death. Because Jesus Christ chose to be our Savior, He took upon Himself the effects of the Fall and overcame them. He took upon Himself our sicknesses, pains, infirmities, and our sins so that He would know how to truly succor us and blot out our transgressions according to the power of his deliverance (Alma 7:11-13). Truly “there is no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” [Mosiah 3:17].
  • Gen 3:17-19, 23: Tilling the ground as governing or stewardship. Upon creating Adam and Eve, God gave them dominion over all animals (Gen 1:26-28) and gave them plants and animals for food. (Gen 1:29-31). Dominion over the food chain can be exercised in either of two ways. Dominion can be exercised as a predator, or as a hunter gatherer, by raiding available food sources and then perhaps moving on. Alternatively, dominion can be exercised as an agriculturalist, or as a farmer or herder, by raising and caring for a stable food supply. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to dress and keep it. (Gen 2:15). Upon being driven from the Garden, Adam was told to till the ground and to earn his bread by the sweat of his face. (Gen 3:19, 23). Adam was thus instructed to exercise dominion over his food supply as an agriculturalist who raises and cares for his food supply. In other words, Adam was instructed to govern his food supply rather than simply predating upon it.
The first city mentioned in the Bible is wicked Babel. (Gen 11:4-5). But in the Joseph Smith Translation, the first city mentioned is the City of Enoch, which is portrayed as the ideal human society. (Moses 7:19, 63, 68-69). Cities are large population centers with formal power structures that can only exist when mankind effectively governs not only the food chain but also mankind itself. The informal chieftain of a band of nomadic raiders exercises dominion like a hunter gatherer or a predator, moving into an area, taking what is available, and then moving on. The king of a city or a state must exercise dominion like an agriculturalist or a governor, caring for his subjects in order to draw sustainably upon a stable tax base. God is frequently described as a king with a throne (D&C 76:92-93; Rev 4:1-3), and his creations and habitation are often described as kingdoms. (D&C 88:36-39; 1 Ne 15:33-35). God does in fact nurture and care for his subjects in order to take glory to himself (Moses 1:39). And the ideal society in all of human history was a city, a mode of living that requires competent governance.
Within this context, the statement that Adam was to till the ground, and thus learn to govern his food supply rather than merely predating upon it, is not a punishment. To the contrary, it is an important lesson for children of the Eternal King who seek to become like him (Matt 5:48; discussion here) and who seek, as wise stewards over a few things (Matt 24:45-47; 25:21), to inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions (D&C 132:19; also see D&C 121:46), all of which must be governed rather than predated upon.

Genesis 2-3: Identifying the principal blocks of text[edit]

Significant changes in the unity of character and action help to identify the blocks of text that make up the story of the Fall.

  • Gen 2:4-17. The concept of a man to till the ground is introduced in the second verse of this block, and God's dealings with Adam alone continue through Gen 2:17. Thus the first block of text in which God makes Adam and places him in the Garden of Eden consists of Gen 2:4-17.
  • Gen 2:18-25. In Gen 2:18 God shifts from speaking to Adam to instead speaking about Adam and the need for a help meet. The introduction of that help meet Eve occurs in Gen 2:21-25. This block of text introduces a new character, Eve, and most of this block of text is about her. Thus the second block of text consists of Gen 2:18-25.
  • Gen 3:1-7. Gen 3:1 introduces yet another character, the serpent. The next block of text concerns his successful attempt to get Eve and Adam to violate God's commandment by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. His last promise to Eve is that her eyes will be opened (Gen 3:5b), and the last verse of this block relates that Adam & Eve's eyes were in fact opened to the fact of their nakedness (Gen 3:7). Thus the third block of text consists of Gen 3:1-7.
  • Gen 3:8-13. In Gen 3:8 God reappears in the Garden. The fact that Adam & Eve are hiding from God immediately leads to their acknowledgment of violating his commandment. This information comes out through a series of questions and answers. The pattern of questions and answers ends when God has sufficiently developed the evidence and begins to instead pronounce judgment in Gen 3:14. Thus the fourth block of text consists of Gen 3:8-13.
  • Gen 3:14-24. God announces judgments upon the serpent, Eve, and Adam throughout the rest of chapter 3. Thus the fifth and final block of text consists of Gen 3:14-24.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Gen 2:5: The creation story in Genesis 1 is clearly different from that in Genesis 2. For example, in chapter 1, the creation takes six days, in this chapter it takes one (verse 4); in 1 the earth begins as a mass of water, but in 2 the land is already there (verse 5-6); in 1 the two sexes are created at the same time, but in 2 male is created before female; in 1 the plants are created on the third day--before the creation of humans--but in 2 man is created before the plants (verses 7 and 9); and in 1 the living creatures were created before humans, but in 2 they are created afterwards (verse 19). How do we account for these differences? Why is each account important to us? What does each teach that the other does not?
  • Gen 2:7: Is verse 7 purely symbolic? Was Adam also a literal son of God, but not born in the flesh (or in other words mortality)? (See the genealogy of Christ in Luke 3:38, Paul's discussion of the two Adams (or two gods) in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 especially verses 45-50.)
  • This verse is related to a lot of our religions language. For example, inspire means "to breath into," and spirit means, literally, "breath." What is the point of this language? In other words, what does it teach us? (As you think about this question, consider John 3:8.)
  • Gen 2:8: What typological significance might the Garden of Eden have?
  • Gen 2:9: The tree of life is an important symbol in the Book of Mormon. Why do Book of Mormon writers dwell on the tree of life and not on both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge?
  • Gen 2:9: What does the word "knowledge" mean if we are talking about knowing good and evil?
  • Gen 2:11-14: Obviously is it important that Eden is the source of much water. What kinds of things are associated with water? What kinds of things might that suggest?
  • Gen 2:15: What does it mean to dress the garden? What does it mean to keep it? One translator says that Adam's job was "to serve and to guard." What do you think of that translation? What does Adam's job in the Garden mean to us? Do we have any similar job?
  • Gen 2:16-17: How do you explain this commandment in light of the fact that it was necessary for Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of the tree? How can God forbid what must be? Do you read "you shall die" as a threat of punishment? Or is it a way of making the choice between the two trees mutually exclusive?
  • Gen 2:17: Could the Father be "responsible" for mortality? Immortality? Or did his two literal or figurative sons have to bear the weight of this responsibility?
  • Gen 2:17: Why did it take one (Michael/Adam) to create the conditions of mortality and another (Christ) to create immortality? Was there no other way to accomplish this?
  • Gen 2:17: According to this story, where did Adam live before he was placed in the garden? Why don't we know more about humans before they enter the garden?
  • Gen 2:17: How does a correct understanding of the Fall change our views of the Atonement? Which event was more essential, or could one exist with out the other?
  • Gen 2:18: Why is it not good for man to be alone? Aside from the things we bring to this story because we know the doctrine, are there things suggested by the Bible itself?
  • Gen 2:18: Notice that the Adam is promised "an help meet" rather than "an helpmeet"--two words rather than one. "Meet" means appropriate. What kind of helper would be appropriate to Adam? What kind of help does Adam need at this point in the story? Later?
  • Gen 2:19: What is the significance of Adam naming the animals?
  • Gen 2:19-20: In this version of the story, Verse 18 prepares us for the woman's creation and verse 21 tells us of that creation, but these two verses break up the story of her creation. Why? What do they have to do with the creation of the woman?
  • Gen 2:20: Does the end of this verse help us understand what verses 19 and 20 have to do with the creation of Eve? What happened to Adam as he named the animals; what did he discover?
  • Gen 2:23: Does this verse help us understand what the story of Eve's creation teaches us? Given the important role naming has played in this story, is there anything significant about the fact that Adam names Eve? If so, what?
  • Gen 2:24: Who is speaking in this verse, Adam or the writer? What does it mean to leave father and mother? What does it imply? What does it mean to cleave to a person? What does it mean to be one flesh?
  • Gen 2:25: What things might the couple's nakedness signify? Why should they be ashamed? What is the purpose of this verse?
  • Gen 3:7: Were both (or all four rather) of their eyes opened at the same time? Did Adam and Eve eat the fruit at the same time? Why the need to clothe themselves?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to be "cursed above all cattle"?
  • Gen 3:14: What does it mean for the serpent to eat dust? Is there a difference here between God who creates Adam from the dust, and the serpent, who is forced to eat dust but creates nothing? Or a difference between the serpent eating dust and Adam who comes from dust, and returns to dust? Man is created from dust after the mist comes up and makes the dust into clay--does this verse indicate that the serpent is forced to live in a pre-clay (mortal) state of dust?
  • Gen 3:17: Cursed is the ground for your sake. Why is a curse given for Adam's sake? How does a curse over the earth (or the ground, rather) benefit Adam?
  • Gen 3:22: Was there death on this earth prior to Adam partaking of the fruit (before answering see Bible Dictionary entry for the fall)?
  • Gen 3:22: If there was no death previously, how does this fit into popular views of theological evolution, evolution or other controversial issues? Can current views of science be reconciled with the creation account, or is this simply a matter of faith?
  • Gen 3:22: Is the death referred to in verse 22, a spiritual or physical death? Or both?
  • Gen 3:22: How do we find our way to our own "tree?" Can we partake (of the atonement) and live forever after we overcome our sins?
  • Gen 3:22: Did Adam feel guilt for this transgression (See 2 Nephi 2)? What is the role of guilt?

Resources[edit]

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  • James Faulconer's exegesis about some aspects of community from Genesis 2 and 3.
  • Gen 3:14-21: In the Fall 1991 General Women's Meeting, Gordon B. Hinckley (then the first counselor in the First Presidency) said that it is to wrong use verse 16 to justify abuse of women by their husbands (Ensign magazine, November 1991, page 97). He went on to say: "My own interpretation of that sentence is that the husband shall have a governing responsibility to provide for, to protect, to strengthen and shield the wife. Any man who belittles or abuses or terrorizes, or who rules in unrighteousness, will deserve and, I believe, receive the reprimand of a just God who is the Eternal Father of both His sons and daughters."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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