Expulsion from Eden. 1Now the snake was the most cunning* of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” 2The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3a it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” 4But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!b 5God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know* good and evil.” 6The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.c 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
8When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day,* the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.d 9The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? 10He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” 11Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat? 12The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” 13The LORD God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”e
14Then the LORD God said to the snake:
Because you have done this,
cursed are you
among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl,
and dust you shall eat
15I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head,
while you strike at their heel.* g
I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain* you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.
17To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,
Cursed is the ground* because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield
all the days of your life.h
18Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
and you shall eat the grass of the field.
19By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.i
20The man gave his wife the name “Eve,” because she was the mother of all the living.*
21The LORD God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. 22Then the LORD God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?j 23The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. 24He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.
* [3:1] Cunning: there is a play on the words for “naked” (2:25) and “cunning/wise” (Heb. ‘arum). The couple seek to be “wise” but end up knowing that they are “naked.”
* [3:5] Like gods, who know: or “like God who knows.”
* [3:8] The breezy time of the day: lit., “the wind of the day.” Probably shortly before sunset.
* [3:14] Each of the three punishments (the snake, the woman, the man) has a double aspect, one affecting the individual and the other affecting a basic relationship. The snake previously stood upright, enjoyed a reputation for being shrewder than other creatures, and could converse with human beings as in vv. 1–5. It must now move on its belly, is more cursed than any creature, and inspires revulsion in human beings (v. 15).
* [3:15] They will strike…at their heel: the antecedent for “they” and “their” is the collective noun “offspring,” i.e., all the descendants of the woman. Christian tradition has seen in this passage, however, more than unending hostility between snakes and human beings. The snake was identified with the devil (Wis 2:24; Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9; 20:2), whose eventual defeat seemed implied in the verse. Because “the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8), the passage was understood as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen humankind, the protoevangelium. Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. A.D. 130–200), in his Against Heresies 5.21.1, followed by several other Fathers of the Church, interpreted the verse as referring to Christ, and cited Gal 3:19 and 4:4 to support the reference. Another interpretive translation is ipsa, “she,” and is reflected in Jerome’s Vulgate. “She” was thought to refer to Mary, the mother of the messiah. In Christian art Mary is sometimes depicted with her foot on the head of the serpent.
* [3:16] Toil…pain: the punishment affects the woman directly by increasing the toil and pain of having children. He shall rule over you: the punishment also affects the woman’s relationship with her husband. A tension is set up in which her urge (either sexual urge or, more generally, dependence for sustenance) is for her husband but he rules over her. But see Sg 7:11.
* [3:17–19] Cursed is the ground: the punishment affects the man’s relationship to the ground (’adam and ’adamah). You are dust: the punishment also affects the man directly insofar as he is now mortal.
* [3:20] The man gives his wife a more specific name than “woman” (2:23). The Hebrew name hawwa (“Eve”) is related to the Hebrew word hay (“living”); “mother of all the living” points forward to the next episode involving her sons Cain and Abel.
b. [3:4–5] Wis 2:24; Sir 25:14; Is 14:14; Jn 8:44; 2 Cor 11:3.
e. [3:13] 2 Cor 11:3.
f. [3:14] Is 65:25; Mi 7:17; Rev 12:9.
g. [3:15] Rom 16:20; 1 Jn 3:8; Rev 12:17.
h. [3:17] Gn 5:29; Rom 5:12; 8:20; Heb 6:8.
i. [3:19] Gn 2:7; Jb 10:9; 34:15; Ps 90:3; 103:14; Eccl 3:20; 12:7; Wis 15:8; Sir 10:9; 17:2; Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 9:27.