part 1 of 14
13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Prov 28:)
18Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. (1Cor 3:)
From a child most of us, at least those who have been brought us in what is called a Christian home (I say this because most "Christian" homes never speak of Christ or the Bible outside of church) has heard the story of Adam and Eve presented to us as if it is a simple bedtime story with little application to our daily life. We have been given the picture of a man and a woman living in the lap of luxury with nothing to do but "roam around Heaven all day." We are given this same picture of our abode in Heaven where we, the "saved," will do nothing but float around the stars on a cloud or using our feathery wings while playing on a harp. Is this a true picture of Heaven? Did Adam and Eve have no responsibilities other than to talk to God and reproduce their kind and fill the earth, as was the goal of the animals God had created? Let's take a close look at the Scriptures that tell us what truly occurred in the garden that fateful hour of Man's downfall.
[Please take note that I am not planing to reproduce the entire chapters in this study, rather I will only print those verses pertinent to the subject at hand. You might wish to follow along in your own Bible in order to capture the complete story as it unfolds. I am also going to take this study to great depths, analyzing every word that appears to have any significance whatever in order to make certain all that God is telling us is on the table and is as clear as I am able to present it. Those of you who wish to bypass this intensive study (albeit I advise not doing so if you really wish to understand the context of the story) might want to jump ahead several pages to where the commentary begins.]
When we read the Bible we are not in fact reading what God has said. We are reading what someone, or what some group of people have interpreted the Words God to mean. If we give but a moment of thought we will realize this is so, and that it must be so. Consider the Swahili or the Chinese Bibles. We know they will have different words in them than will our English Bible. What we might not take into consideration is the fact that different cultures have a different understanding of some concepts than do we. For instance the emotion of love. We in modern America have amalgamated and diluted the word into something meaningless and of no value. We speak of love of a candy bar in the same sense as the love of God. Love from the heart is expressed in the same way as is sex and perversion. We do not differentiate between the meanings. However, in the Greek, from which we derive the New Testament, four different words are used to express love, all having very different meanings. There is the Eros form of love, which is not love at all but rather the physical expression of what should be love that we call sex. This word is not in the Bibles containing the 66 canonical books used by most denominations. A second word interpreted as Love in the Bible is that of Thelo in its various forms which means "pleasure, desire," which it is mostly translated as. Jesus used this word when He said the scribes "love" to wear long robes etc.. The third word for Love is that of Agape, which is the word used almost exclusively in the New Testament. This word carries with it the connotation of Charity, a concern for others, and is also the word that has been translated as "Charity" in the New Testament. It does not designate a feeling as we think of feeling, but rather a concern that brings forth an action and a desire to rectify a situation that affects others who are in need. The forth word translated Love used in the New Testament is that of Phileo, which is the highest form or love. This word is used rarely in the Bible, affording it just that much more importance. This word carries with it an emotion of the heart, and has the added concept of friendship. John, when referring to the disciple Jesus loved used this word to express such an attitude. Phileo has also been on occasion translated "kiss," however another word is often used instead. Interestingly enough, most of the time this word has been used to mean kiss it is referring to the kiss Judas gave Jesus as a sign of his betrayal. This causes me to wonder if we, those of us who go by the name of Christian without truly understanding what is implied by carrying such a name might not be doing the same, that is, offering the Judas' kiss of betrayal. Certainly taking on the name of Christian without having surrendered to Him and following Him as His disciple would fall into the realm of taking His name in vain, at least so it seems to me.
Love, the word, as we have seen is a complicated concept to grasp at its best. When we see the word Love in the Bible, without looking into the original language, it tells us nothing as to what God is really saying. And even when we do research the original language we run into difficulties. For instance, I said the word John uses when he refers to the disciple Jesus loved is Phileo. However he also uses the word Agape in other verses when depicting the Lord's attitude toward him. Jesus used the word for desire when saying the scribes love to wear long robes and gain attention. But He used the very highest form, that of Phileo when indicating the Pharisees loved the uppermost rooms at feasts. The exchange between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection where Jesus is asking Peter if he loved Him, both Agape and Phileo are used, and Jesus in His three questionings of Peter used both words Himself. Thus, when we see the word Love in the Bible we haven't the slightest idea what is being expressed, unless we look beyond the obvious statement at hand..
Another complication that arises in the attempt to translate the Bible is that of trying to capture meanings through the use of words. We know there are customs in Old Testament times that create confusion when we of modern society try to understand what is being expressed. We think of emotions as being that of the heart. And indeed the Bible does use a word that means heart to express feeling. However, such as in the Hebrew, the Bible might also use a word that means the interior of a person rather than the heart. For instance we know and quote the phrase "bowels of mercy." The bowels are a long way from being the heart. This word is also used to express such things as courage, an attitude we think of as being a substance of the heart, but not a part of love. The Greek word for heart also has another word that has been translated heart, but the word almost exclusively used is that of Kardia, which of course you will recognize as the word the medical profession uses to indicate the heart. This word carries with it more than just feelings as we would expect it to, but also that of thought.
We hear the word "soul" and we automatically think of the invisible aspect of a person that lives forever. When we see the word soul, this is what we think of. Because of this we lose the concept of what is being expressed. Here, instead of trying to explain the complications surrounding the word soul I will print it out for you so you can see for yourself what is intended:
SOUL (Greek) G5590 psuche From G5594; breath, that is, (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from G4151, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from G2222, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew [H5315], [H7307] and [H2416]: - heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.
Unlike other words we've looked at, "soul," both in the Greek and in the Hebrew is always the same word, so there is nothing to complicate our understanding in this way. Note in the above the word could means "life, mind, heart, you." It does not mean the eternal spirit. When the Spirit is used it means the Holy Spirit. Take a look at other uses of this same word:
33Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. (Luke 17:)
Replace the word "Life" with "Soul" and see if the meaning changes. The words are exactly the same.
Now let's take a look at the word in the Hebrew from which the Greek word was derived:
SOUL (Hebrew) H5315 nephesh From H5314; properly a breathing creature, that is, animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental): - any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, X dead (-ly), desire, X [dis-] contented, X fish, ghost, + greedy, he, heart (-y), (hath, X jeopardy of) life (X in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortality, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-) self, them (your) -selves, + slay, soul, + tablet, they, thing, (X she) will, X would have it.
Did you notice that the word incorporates the entire being of the person, less an eternal spirit?
Here are some usages of the word Soul:
18And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. (Psalm 78:)
9Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire: this is also vanity and vexation of spirit (Eccl 6:)
This verse is particularly interesting in that it also includes the word "Spirit." The word for spirit used is not that of the Holy Spirit, but rather the rational aspect of a person that effects the emotions. We might say we have the spirit of anger. This is the context of the word in use here.
17And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them. 18So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister. (Ezek 23:)
If we try to force the concept that the word for soul has to mean a soul as we understand it to be, then we have to conclude that God (who is speaking here) also has a soul. I would suggest that doing so would put an entirely different spin on our concept of God as we perceive Him to be.
13Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: (Numbers 19:)
And here we have a dead soul, if in fact soul has to mean an eternal entity.
Now let's take a preview look at the creation of man and see how it reads considering what we've learned so far:
7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 2:)
You might also be interested in the word "living." It means the same thing as "life" and has been so interpreted in many places. Genesis 1:20 speaks of every moving creature that has life and uses this same word. I find this particularly interesting in that, as far as we know, God did not breath life into the other living creatures. But take note of John 20:22 and see what you make of it:
22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: (John 20:)
There are other complications which arise when trying to interpret the Bible (or any other book or writing for that matter). Languages use different means to express the same thing, and a gesture in one culture can mean something entirely different in another culture. For instance we've seen how our president (past) has made some innocent comment or gesture and has brought great criticism on himself and on our nation. We in this culture smile to show our pleasure, however in some culture bearing one's teeth means anger and could cause great harm to the one who smiles. The giving of one's possessions, or the offering of the same, might be a show of friendship in one culture, and be an insult in another. Trying to interpret such gestures into words that a certain culture can understand would be difficult at best, and even more so considering that cultures change over time. For instance what was true when the King James Bible was written is very different than it is now, even in that same country. And the centuries that separated the original writing of the Bible to the 1500's has produces many changes hard to express.
Words that have significance in one culture may be absent (or added) into another. An example of this is the Hebrew spoken today in contrast to what it was in Jesus' time. There has been many changes since that time thereby a person who understands Hebrew fully today would have little concept regarding much that was expressed during Jesus' time. Even those living and studying 2,000 years ago were reading a Book that had different symbols and meanings than what they were accustomed to in their daily lives. Hundreds and even thousands of years had passed, and cultures such as the Chaldeans and the Syrian, not to mention the Greeks and the Romans, had altered their way of thinking and their understanding. One example of this is pictured at Pentecost when the people said that those so doing were speaking in their own language, and many of those languages were named. These were all Jews attending their yearly feasts, yet they spoke many different languages. Another example we have is the sign Pilot had posted on the cross in different languages. All interested parties were Jews, but they didn't all understand the same language. Even those Jews living in Israel spoke different languages and dialects as is shown by the fact that Peter was identified as a Galilean by his language (Mark 14:70). The Samaritans, as well as the Galileans were a blend of cultures intentionally created by various conquering nations with the intent of diffusing national loyalties.
In the original Hebrew that the first five books of Moses were written in the text did not contain accent marks. Accents were added so that future generations would better understand what the words mean and how to pronounce them. We might think of these marks as vowel in our English language. That was part of the reason the Bible had to be relayed orally to be understood. However, because of the dispersion when the Jews were scattered throughout the world, much of the meaning would have been lost because of the lack of oral transmission of the Torah. As we know, much can be lost by word of mouth, even in today's world with all our technology we have much difficulty communicating with one another. One look at the thousands of interpretations of the Bible, as understood by the various denominations is evidence of this. And these corruptions all come from the very same written Word. How much more so is this likely with those of the past making use of a primitive language.
Greek, using the common language of the day (Koine), is written in a higher level of accuracy than is the Hebrew. However, even the Greek comes far short of what is needed to make a statement totally accurate, especially when it is translated. This can be seen by looking at a King James Bible and observe the number of italicized words that have been used. Each of those words in italics indicates a word or words missing in the original language. The translators of the King James, in an effort to make the meaning as clear as possible, added the words and so indicated their addition by the use of italics. Try reading the King James without the italicized words and see what you come up with. The fact that these words are not actually present in the Bible creates another problem with interpretation because if we include the words added we are adopting someone else's idea of what is being expressed. If we leave out the italicized words, we then must add our own, and then we have our own distorted interpretation of what is meant. Other translations of the Bible have tried to get around this problem, but in doing so they merely intensify the problem and add others of their own.
A single word can, and does have many different meanings in our language (or any language). We've seen this in the word "Soul." That single word has many ways in which it can be expressed, and to find the true meaning of the word, we must investigate all the ways it has been interpreted, and research all the times those interpretations have been used. In the case of words such as soul, where the word has been used hundreds of times, an extensive study must be undertaken. You may have noticed that some of my studies have up to 40 pages and more of references for this very reason. I do not wish to settle for an easy meaning just because it fits my theology or my desires. I want to know what God is actually telling me to the utmost of my ability. To do this I must leave my comfort zone and investigate every jot and tittle.
At the time the King James Bible (and others of that time and before) the language of the day was used in the translation of various Bibles. Very often this would include such languages as the German and the French, and of course the Latin which was the predominate language used by much of the world up to that time. When the King James was written, all of these previous translations, as well as the original Greek, Hebrew and Chaldeans was consulted. But had the translators used nothing but the very original texts, and if they did not deviate from the meaning of those texts in any way, we would still have the problem of syntax, idioms and semantics. The English used for the King James (as we have it today) was not the language in general use (as was the original Greek texts), but rather it was the polished language of the Shakespearian stage. This made for very clean and fluid reading, but it tends to make the reading difficult for modern readers. Thus we have new and various translations coming out almost yearly it seems with groups addressing the Bible from different perspectives and expressing different conceptual views. Much of this hodgepodge of Bibles make the reading of the Bible easier, but in the process of doing so they have obliterated the original intent of the Words of God, causing the reader to feel content they know what God is saying while actually remaining in a blind state. One such example of this is in the use of feet and inches rather than the cubits God used to explain concepts to us. We may know what the measurements are, but the meaning was not in the measurements but in the number that was used.
All these factors need to be considered when trying to interpret and understand the Bible. What we have before us is truly the Word of God, but the Word is composed of much more than mere words on paper. The words can be committed to memory, yet the intent and the meaning of the Words be entirely lost. Isaiah said:
9Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. 13But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isaiah 28:)
When we read the above it sounds like we're reading the description of a puzzle of some nature. And in fact that is what the Bible is: A puzzle. We hear of the simplicity of the Bible, and it is true, the Bible, as it applies to those who are seeking mere superficial understanding, is simple. But to understand the "Depth and the riches of God" much more effort must be applied. Jesus said:
10And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: (Mat 13:)
We hear that Jesus spoke in parables to make His message clear. Yet Jesus Himself said this is not so. Isaiah realized that God is One who does not make Himself known, even to those who serve Him. He said: 15Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. (Isaiah 45:) And Isaiah is one who was a spokesman for God. We see this in the writings of David and also Jeremiah, and in Job. They wanted very much, even desperately to have God reveal Himself. He did so after a time, but not when He was called for.
Jesus is not the only one who said that God speaks in such a way as to hide His meanings. God Himself said:
3Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. 4I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. (Isaiah 66:)
There are many places where we see that God has sent a lying spirit, or a false prophet to lead someone astray. Why, we may ask, would God do such a thing? Doesn't He want us to understand the truth? Why would He deceive us? The answer is in the Scriptures just quoted: They have chosen their own ways, and they are not interested in hearing the truth. We have the following verses as confirmation of this concept:
10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Thess 2:)
3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim 4:)
If we turn our back on the truth and desire to hear what we want to hear, then God will supply the fables that will lead us even farther from the truth He desires for us to find. Those who want to confirm their own doctrine, to hear God tell them that they are doing just fine will find ample Scripture to confirm their desire. These will, as Isaiah said, fall over backwards and be taken and snared. They will be putting the wrong line with the wrong precept and come up with a picture that makes sense in their own eyes, but will be far from the truth. We see this in the many farfetched concepts that are so popular in the churches today. It's easy to see some of the fallacies believed by those outside our beliefs, just as it's easy for them to see our errors in judgement. But we are blind to our own deceptions because we refuse to listen to the truth God has supplied.
If God is willing to send us fables and deceptions, then how are we to know the truth? The fact is, we can't. It's impossible for us to see the truth of God. It is not in mans capabilities to do so. However, Jesus has made it possible for us to learn the truth, but only if we are willing to surrender all, be His disciple, and follow Him. He said:
25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:)
One of the grand fallacies believed by almost all churches is that baptism automatically brings to us the Holy Spirit and makes us into children of God. Although there is a degree of truth to this belief, there is also a much larger degree of error. This can be attested to by the fact that there are millions of baptized Christians all believing very contrary doctrines. Someone has to be wrong, and someone has to be listening to a wrong spirit, if bothering to listen to any spirit at all other than their own. We know the Holy Spirit isn't creating this controversy by telling one person one thing and someone else something entirely different, so we must look elsewhere for the source of the problem.
Without the Holy Spirit of God it is impossible to understand the Word of God. He has planned it this way. Yet everyone thinks they know what God is saying, because they have been taught that they have the Holy Spirit.
Man is in opposition to God. Man does not want to follow the rules. Man wants to do things his own way. And when man goes his own way, and gets caught doing so, he tries to hide from God and hope He doesn't see him. He hides himself in flimsy excuses and false hopes. He hides himself in fig leaves. And thus we have arrived at the crux of our study:
1The heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2And 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. 3And 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:)
In the first chapter of Genesis we see where God had already created the world and all that is in it. Here we have a reiteration of the event given us in the previous chapter. There could be a number of reasons why God might have taken the time, the effort, and the pages required to repeat Himself, just as He did in the prophets and in the Chronicles. Some believe this has to do with the popularly believed notion that God made a mistake with His first creation and decided to try again. I lean toward the belief that God has given an overall summery of creation in the first chapter, and now He is giving us a more detailed account of the important parts of His creation that effects us the most. If we were rabbits, I suspect this chapter would have been a detailed account of rabbits.
We know that Adam was the first man. He was the man of the flesh. And through this man of the flesh, who we are as well, man has proven his inability to do anything but serve himself. We are selfish. And we think of ourselves even above the Lord who made us.
Man is a failure. But man as a vessel of flesh is not God's ultimate goal. The Adam man is just the beginning, the shell in which God plans on fulfilling His purpose. We see the finished product in Jesus.
The second chapter might just be that second chapter of God's creation. The first chapter of God's creation was in the physical creating of mankind. This second chapter is not about man's creation, but about his duties, his purposes, and his failure. The continuation of this chapter, beginning with the end of the chapter and the beginning of the next is a detailed account of man's attempt to try and make it on his own. And we see, except for a very few examples, man only became worse of a failure than was Adam and Eve.
At the end of this trial period God wiped out His creation and began again with the best of the seed, Noah, available at the time. But it appears Noah was not selected for anything more than as a vessel to preserve the original seed. Once the ark was completed, we do not see Noah or his family serving any other purpose. They essentially disappeared from record.
The next person we see of consequence is Abraham. It is through Abraham, and not Noah, that God set in motion His plan to establish a Spiritual seed that would eventually be in the image of God. Abraham was not this Spiritual man, the completed image of God, but he was vessel through which the final seed would issue forth.
Take note of the progression: We have Adam, the best of his time; then we have Noah, again the best of his time other than Enoch who was taken; then we have Abraham; then the nation of Israel; then Jesus Who gave birth to the Church through the Apostles. Each of these are a Spiritual "Seed" planted with the intent of bringing the very best into perfection. Compare this with the journey through the wilderness where 40 years were devoted to the narrowing down of the nation of priests to bring out the very best while destroying the unproductive plants that refused to follow the Lord's will. Do you have this picture well in mind? Now, read the parable of the Sower and the Seed, and the Book of Revelation with this understanding in mind:
What I've given above is a preview of the course God has set in motion beginning with the Garden of Eden as I see it. Now I want to bring you back to the second chapter of Genesis. The first thing I want to point out is the number of times God uses the words "Created" and "Made." It seems rather odd to me God would repeat these words so often. And it seems even stranger to me that He would say as He did "created and made." Isn't created and made the same thing? I assumed the words to be interchangeable. So I thought I would look into the meaning of these words in the Hebrew:
CREATED - H1254 ba^ra^' baw-raw' A primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes): - choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).
Yes indeed, the word does mean to make, just like I thought. But did you notice the other words that the word for create translates into? Would you have thought "cut down" would mean the same as create? These strike me as being just the opposite of one another. Let's see if we can find a place where "create" means to "cut down."
15And Joshua answered them, If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee. (Josh 17:)
There we have it. The word for create does indeed mean to cut down. What does this mean? I have no idea. I'm merely attempting to make sure I don't miss anything in this study. Maybe some significance will materialize later. I've taken many blind alleys in my studies. What you see in print may likely be only a half or less of what I've come up with. But sometimes the blind alley for one subject will prove to be a key factor for another study. Nothing is ever wasted. As I said earlier (in the first part of this study) my purpose is not only to learn what the story of Adam and Eve has to teach us, but to show you the method by which I study. Boring? No doubt. But if it is for you, it certainly is not for me. I find the study of God's Word highly fascinating, even when I don't learn anything of particular significance.
Now let's look at the other word in question and see if there is anything to learn from it:
MADE - H6213 aw-saw' A primitive root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application: - accomplish, advance, appoint, apt, be at, become, bear, bestow, bring forth, bruise, be busy, X certainly, have the charge of, commit, deal (with), deck, + displease, do, (ready) dress (-ed), (put in) execute (-ion), exercise, fashion, + feast, [fight-] ing man, + finish, fit, fly, follow, fulfil, furnish, gather, get, go about, govern, grant, great, + hinder, hold ([a feast]), X indeed, + be industrious, + journey, keep, labour, maintain, make, be meet, observe, be occupied, offer, + officer, pare, bring (come) to pass, perform, practice, prepare, procure, provide, put, requite, X sacrifice, serve, set, shew, X sin, spend, X surely, take, X thoroughly, trim, X very, + vex, be [warr-] ior, work (-man), yield, use.
Obviously the two words are not the same, and they have somewhat different meanings. The word for Made is very idiomatic, even possessing apparently contradictory terms. Did I learn anything? No, I still don't know why God used the two words He used. Oh well, moving on.
1Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Here we have a passage of Scripture I venture to say we could spend a year on and not come to a full understanding of it. But through such an investigation what treasures of knowledge we would acquire.
First we see that the serpent was one of the created beasts of the field. Many questions arise when we read this short passage: Was the serpent at that time in the form of a snake? We know that later he (or it, we really don't know) was cursed to thereafter move on it's belly. I would assume since it was so cursed that it was, or did,, otherwise before the curse. Did the serpent speak in a human voice? Or did Eve understand the "language" of all the animals? Either way, I would assume that both Adam and Eve did have such an ability since it appears they had full dominion over the animals and the rest of God's creation. That's pure speculation of course and has nothing to do with our study. Questions however have a great deal to do with this study, even questions that neither have, nor need an answer.
Let's take a look at these words and see what we can learn:
SERPENT - H5175 naw-khawsh' From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): - serpent.
Nothing much here to reveal any secrets about that old serpent. Too bad. It might have given us some ways to avoid the old deceiver. There is one thing of interest I found when I looked up the root word that serpent is derived from. "Hiss" is not its only meaning. It also means to "whisper" and to "enchant." These words to me have more significance than does the word to hiss. I doubt when the Bible first speaks of the serpent that it was hissing. I can picture it whispering however. Besides, which came first, the word serpent because of the hiss? Or the hiss because that's what serpents do?
A note on hissing might be appropriate here. We see where God hisses in such verses as Zechariah 10:8 and Isaiah 7:18. The word used in these and other such verses where the word is translate hiss is a different word than the one we're looking at. The word might well be translated "whistle" rather than hiss. I find this an amusing picture, that of God whistling for the flies like a hunter would do for his dogs.
Just for the fun of it I decided to look up the word serpent in the Greek, not that it would help in understanding the verses at hand. I found that every time the word is used it is the same word, just as it is in the Hebrew. Here's what the concordance has to say about the serpent:
SERPENT G3789 ophis of'-is Probably from G3700 (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake, figuratively (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan: - serpent.
Notice two things here: One, the word for serpent comes from the word for sharpness of vision. We associate a serpent with vision, but we also associate an eagle with sharp vision. When doing research of this sort it's important to look beyond the bias of the ones presenting evidence. I have a lot of confidence in the Strong's concordance, but he is not infallible. In this case there is no particular error or misleading statement, but the statement could well misleads a person. Notice that the concordance says "figuratively," and then it has a string of words following. If a person isn't careful they might assume that those words are part of the definition. They are not. Figuratively means "Metaphorical, not literal. When we see Satan listed here we could easily get the idea that serpent and Satan are synonymous. This is far from true. While we're investigating the word serpent, let's take a look at the word for Satan:
SATAN (Greek) G4567 - Satanas Of Chaldee origin corresponding to G4566 (with the definite article affixed); the accuser, that is, the devil: - Satan.
We have two things we might take note of here. First the word is not a name but a designative noun. We capitalize the word as if it was a name, but that is not necessarily so. The word means "accuser," or "devil." Those words we don't capitalize, yet this word is interchangeable with them.. Does this change anything? Not really. But it could make a difference somewhere along the line. There's another word that has been treated in the same way, but that change has created a great conflict with understanding the Word. Let's take a look at it:
LUCIFER H1966 - hay-lale' From H1984 (in the sense of brightness); the morning star: - lucifer.
Note how the word is capitalized even though it is note a proper noun in that it does not say that there is a definite article affixed as did the word for Satan. Lucifer is not a Hebrew word, it a Latin translation of the Hebrew that was not converted to its proper form, that is, it was left capitalized. Legends have been built on this small error that has infiltrated just about every church and culture, yet there is no bases for the legend. The word that lies at the base of the word in question does possess the characteristics and attributed of the legend of Satan before his alleged fall, but so do they apply to the person given the warning in the book of Isaiah.
I find it interesting that those who attribute this passage to Satan in effort to justify their theory point to the King James for their support. Yet modern versions have corrected this error, and such as the Amplified Bible, that those same theologians are apt to use in other investigations, goes to great lengths to correct this mistranslation.
DEVIL G1140 - daimonion Neuter of a derivative of G1142; a daemonic being; by extension a deity: - devil, god.
The use of the word devil is essentially a New Testament concept, as is Satan. Devil was only mentioned four times in the Old Testament (as was Satan, albeit the 14 times in Job), but spoken of numerous times in the New Testament. Take note that devil is also translated "god." Out of the hundreds of times God is found in the New Testament, only once was this particular word used. That one time is in Acts 17:18.
Have we learned anything pertinent to the study of Adam and Eve? Probably not, but as I said, I want to cover all the bases.
Now back to the garden:
SUBTLE - H6175 - aw-room' Passive participle of H6191; cunning (usually in a bad sense): - crafty, prudent, subtle.
As you can see, subtle is only part of the description given the serpent. Crafty and cunning carries with them the attributes we associate with the serpent, as well as with the devil. However "Prudent" means: "showing carefulness and foresight." These qualities I associate with good behavior, not that of the devil or the serpent.
BEASTS - H2416 - chay khah'ee From H2421; alive; hence raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong; also (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively: - + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life (-time), live (-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, + merry, multitude, + (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop.
Although we have many various meanings to choose from, none are particularly significant in regards to this study. It appears the serpent is just another animal. It could have been a cow for all we know.
There is one thing I find interesting in the assortment of attributes given the word beast however. Notice the application of the word "congregation." Could a word used to define the serpent in fact be the same word used to identify a gathering of God's people? It appears as if it can. In the Psalms we find this word used in Psalm 68:10 and 74:19. And in Psalm 68:30 the word is translated "company." Again in Psalm 74:19 the word is translated as "multitude." And again we find the word has been used to portray a troop in 2 Samuel 23:11 and 13. Does any of this mean anything to you? It does to me, but I'll let it slide for now since the explanation would only detract from our purpose here.
FIELD - H7704 - saw-dah'ee From an unused root meaning to spread out; a field (as flat): - country, field, ground, land, soil, X wild.
Another possibility that didn't pan out. At least it's been covered.
FRUIT - H6529 - per-ee' From H6509; fruit (literally or figuratively): - bough, ([first-]) fruit ([-ful]), reward.
Fruit is referred to often in the Bible. We grow fruit, we're to produce fruit, and we will be judged both by man and by God according to our fruit (Luke 8:8; Mat 7:20). We say the fruit Eve was tempted to eat was an apple. We have no way of knowing this, nor does it matter the kind of fruit. In fact, it doesn't even matter if there was an actual fruit involved in the tempting of Adam and Eve. Our lesson is not in the eating of fruit, but in the disobeying of God's commands. Concentrating on the fruit and the incident surrounding the fruit betrays the message God is trying to teach us. If we forget the story as being a matter of fact, and consider it as an object lesson, then we're more likely to see what God is telling us. Am I saying the story of Adam and Eve is not an actual fact? Not at all. I'm just saying it doesn't matter if it is a fact or if it's a parable. God wants us to lean from the episode. Salvation doesn't come from believing in Adam and Eve. It comes by believing in Jesus.
Fruit has another meaning beyond fruit of the tree, our fruit, and fruits of the Spirit. We see here where the word fruit is also translated as "Reward." I find this interesting, especially in view of rewards coming to those who produce fruit. Let's take a look at the only time I can find that this word is translated as reward:
11So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth. (Psalm 58:)
I find it interesting that fruit in the form of "reward" is associated with the righteous. Is there a significance? I don't know. It's a wait-and-see situation.
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