Barry Newman's Blog

May 5, 2011

Science and Genesis 3: 1 – 24 (part V)

Filed under: Genesis,Science — barrynewman @ 5:07 am

Genesis 3: 6 – 8 – The disobedience and the result

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (NIV)

The man, the woman and the act

Where was the man when the serpent was talking to the woman?  Walton points out that all the relevant verbs in the dialogue between the serpent and the woman are in the plural (p. 206).  The “you” of verses 1 – 5 is always a plural “you” and Walton argues that the man, who is described as being “with her” in v. 6 was with her throughout the dialogue.  If this is the case then the man’s silence throughout the dialogue is deafening.

Why did the woman assume that the fruit of the tree was good for food?  I guess because it was one of God’s trees in God’s garden.  It had to be good for food.  It also looked good.  Did it have a more pleasing appearance than other fruit? And she was correct, the fruit would give her insight of a sort, wisdom of a kind – discernment in a certain area. The attraction for eating the fruit was obvious – it will taste good, it looks good, and it promises an intellectual good.

And she took and she ate and she gave to her husband.  Here he is defined in terms of his relationship to her.  She is not defined in terms of her relationship to him – the way she is referred to at her creation.  It would appear that by means of this description his status is lowered.

“The actions of the woman are described with breath taking rapidity: three “ands” [my word] in four words.  Yet the extremely difficult pronunciation (six double consonants in the four words, all of them voiceless plosives) forces a merciless concentration on each word.” So writes, Walsh.  He continues, “Suspense about the man’s response to the woman’s initiative is created by the unnecessarily long phrase”. He is referring to the three Hebrew words describing what the woman does, two of which words, translated as, “also to her husband with her” , Walsh describes as semantically superfluous.

Walsh argues that among other things, the difficulty in pronunciation and the created suspense focuses with considerable emphasis on the one Hebrew word that follows what the woman did. We translate the word: “and he ate.”  For Walsh, this is what the hearers, who may have heard the account read many times, will understand as pivotal in the narrative that begins at 2: 4b and ends at 3: 24.  This is the offence of the man.  The part the serpent played and what the woman did will by no means be ignored by God. However what the man did is of even greater magnitude.


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