We saw that the content of Genesis 2 is meticulously arranged as a “social” version of Genesis 1, that is, a human temple. However, the formula is triune, which brings us to the third cycle in this literary architecture: Genesis 3. Where Genesis 1 describes “being,” and Genesis 2 describes “knowing,” Genesis 3 brings humanity to “doing.” The focus moves from the physical, to the social, to the ethical: Father, Son, Spirit.
For Adam, this was a “day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10), the humiliation of servanthood. God tried his heart, that he might be given greater responsibility. If he would be faithful in little things, then he would be faithful in great things (Luke 16:10). He had been promised dominion over the earth, but this rested on the condition of his submission to heaven. Like Israel, Adam would have to be priestly before he could be a true kingdom. Thus, the prohibition upon the Tree of Knowledge was only temporary, much like Israel’s humbling in the wilderness before the nation could inherit the land of Canaan.
The structure of Genesis 3 is more complex than that of the preceding chapters, and I have come to the opinion that this is because it is in fact three separate cycles. This makes the first three chapters “fivefold,” and much like the fivefold Torah, this initial Covenant document brings us to the border of the Land. This also means that the first five chapters of Genesis are potentially sevenfold.
For Moses, Leviticus was the Ethics, in Numbers he enacted the Sanctions upon Israel, and Deuteronomy was his legacy, his Succession.
But for Israel, the Ethics was threefold, and it was Israel bearing the sword of Sanctions in Joshua, with Judges as their failure to enter into rest (Day 7). Perhaps the best way to communicate this is a visual representation (the following chart is from Bible Matrix II: The Covenant Key). Notice the position of the Sanctions “sword.” Moses judges Israel in Numbers, and Israel judges the nations in Joshua.
So, as with the Trinity, what is threefold in character becomes fivefold in Law, and what is fivefold in Law becomes sevenfold in history. I hope that makes sense. What this boils down to is the fact that Genesis three is ETHICS – SANCTIONS – SUCCESSION for Adam, but only ETHICS for his family.
I have pondered the shape of this chapter for a number of years, and it is wonderful to (possibly) discover the beauty of the internal logic of texts which are so familiar.
This ethical qualification was to be Adam’s “Pentecost,” but instead of being filled with the “breath” from heaven,1For more discussion, see “The Spirit of Adam” in Inquietude: Essays for a People without Eyes. like Israel he instead bowed to a shining beast. The first commandment concerns worshiping false gods, and as the Ethics section of Genesis 1-5, the structure begins with an idol in the sanctuary of God and the breaking of the Law of God.
CYCLE 3: ADAM’S ETHICS
It is understood that the serpent approached Eve rather than Adam not only because she was more vulnerable, but also because she represented his future and his glory. She was his Covenant Succession embodied.
But look at the architecture of this stanza. Rather than working from Above to Beside to Below (as we see in the Ten Words, and Exodus 20:4), the serpent comes from the World, via the Land, into the Garden, and rests his offer upon a glorious tree, whose roots are in the earth (like Adam) but whose branches and fruits are lifted up, uniting heaven and earth. The serpent starts at the bottom and works his way up to the very throne of God via the elimination of Man. His real target within Creation — Adam — is not mentioned. Eating from any tree in the Garden was indeed God’s goal, but this was to be achieved via Adam’s obedience to the Ethics of the Covenant. The temporary Food Law was first omitted, and then slandered.
It is assumed that the prohibition upon even touching the fruit came from Adam, since this was not mentioned by God. So it is interesting that this appears in line 6, which concerns Adam’s role as priestly mediator, God’s “palace servant.” Adam was actually off to a good start, but now he was being presented with a better offer: kingdom before God’s time. It is also fascinating that this stanza corresponds well with the subject matter of the first seven books of the Bible. The prohibition upon touching that which belonged to God also led to the death of Achan and his family, and put at risk Israel’s inheritance of the Land.
But the serpent (Creation)
said to the woman, (Division)
“You will not surely die. (Ascension)
and you shall be as gods, (Conquest)
knowing good and evil.” (Glorification)
This stanza is a kind of “false Leviticus.” It works through the Covenant process but every single step is a lie. What the serpent presented as a “stairway to heaven,” a means of ascension, was in fact a sudden fall. Choosing between the Word of God and the lies of the devil is a long game of snakes and ladders, but in God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, which were united once and for all in Christ, nothing is left to chance. Notice that the knowledge of good and evil corresponds with the book of Judges. Adam and Eve were indeed intended to be “gods” (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34) wise judges, co-regents, sitting on thrones (Matthew 19:29; Revelation 20:4). God was offering driving lessons, that Adam might have some “executive experience,” that is, shoulders to bear godly government, but the serpent was jangling the keys to a stolen car. Structurally, however, Adam and Eve were being called to offer their firstborn to this false god (Abraham and Isaac), to sell their birthright for food (Jacob and Esau), and abandon their inheritance to barrenness (Judah and Joseph). It is no coincidence that Genesis begins and ends with a young man in charge of the harvest.
|COVENANT||Garden | Priest||Land | King||World | Prophet|
|Transcendence||And saw||that desirable it was||and she took|
|Hierarchy||when the woman||to the eyes||from its fruit|
|Ethics||that good||and to be coveted||and did eat|
|Oath/Sanctions||was the tree||a tree||and also gave
to the man with her
|Succession||for food,||to make one wise,||and he did eat.|
The stanza does not seem to work in the standard fashion, but appears to be a triple fivefold column, moving from the Garden (Priest), to the Land (King), to the World (Prophet). The text reads down each column, but there is also a progression horizontally. I will let you take that in, but one thing I would mention is that this is further proof that Adam was to be the “third tree” in the Garden. Just as the Temple possessed two bronze pillars, symbolising Priesthood (Jachin – Garden) and Kingdom (Boaz – Land) and was filled with the fiery pillar of God’s presence, so Adam was intended to become a prophetic “tree of righteousness,” food and shelter, glory and wisdom, for all humanity. Just as Ezekiel saw the glory of God pause on the threshold of the Temple before its departure, so Adam saw the flaming sword before his departure, the sword of the Spirit. Of course, the cross eventually became the “third tree,” the fruit of the Land and womb returned to God, uniting Priesthood and Kingdom, bread and wine, Jew and Gentile, in a new Prophetic Body, the Spirit-filled Church. Only prophets eat and drink with God, and here the first “false prophet” and the first “harlot” eat in the prophetic “pillar of fire.” Indeed, this threefold pattern prefigures the entire history from Adam to Noah, ending in the consumption of all flesh.
Then the eyes of both were opened,
and they knew that they were naked.
And they sewed fig leaves together (Land)
and made themselves loincloths. (Womb)
As far as I can tell, the central line is missing. As in the second stanza of Genesis 1, this is to indicate the absence of Filling in what has been Formed. The Spirit has been quenched, and Adam is left with only the “breath” of man (1 Corinthians 2:11).
The fig leaf “loincloths” here are a covering for the genitals, relating nakedness to the loss of the glory of marriage, offspring, and dominion of the earth. The priestly ephod containing the Urim and Thummim was also likely a loincloth, containing two stones which related the will of the Lord, used notably on the “day of coverings” (Yom Kippur), when the covering of Israel’s sins would allow the blessings upon Land and womb promised to Abraham to continue.
The pattern of investiture here is replicated in the Levitical priesthood, but also, wonderfully, in the book of Esther. She puts on her royal robes as the legal representative of her people before entering the court of the king to face judgment and possible execution.
The ambiguity between the Lord’s “sound” or “voice” is found in many other passages, including the “trumpets” upon Sinai. Only Yahweh’s sheep can discern His voice.
When the Bible Matrix is arranged in its cruciform/humaniform “Tabernacle” pattern, Conquest/Atonement/Coverings corresponds to the Laver, which is situated as a girdle or a robe flowing down to the feet, speaking of the “living waters” from the belly of Adam (John 7:38). See also the description of Jesus in Revelation – Cycle 2), where He comes to inspect the “Lampstand” trees of the seven churches for spiritual fruit. Adam himself was intended to be a holy mountain with a spring and four rivers. That spring would now be a mix of bitter and sweet, cursing and blessing.
Adam and Eve disguised themselves as “holy trees” (i.e. food and shelter, earthly riches), but the Lord was coming to inspect them for the fruits of the Spirit (richness towards God, Matthew 6:33). If there was no fruit, He would strike the Land with a curse (Malachi 4:5-6). As in Malachi, and in Matthew, the “prophetic wind” comes first as a warning, and this “day” is history’s first Day of the Lord.
The trees of the Garden in line 7 are the original “Booths” or “Tabernacles.” Like Israel, Adam and Eve were being purified that they might be a blessing to the future nations. Like Israel, they despised the nations whom they were intended to serve.
Aptly, there is no stanza 7 in this cycle.
CYCLE 4: ADAM’S OATH/SANCTIONS
The separation of the Oath from the Sanctions found here later becomes the dual approach of the High Priest to the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, first for the priesthood, then for the people. The same process occurred in the Ascension offering (Leviticus 1), where the “clean” head of the sacrifice was offered first, and then the body. The final fulfilment was the ascension of Christ in AD30, and His coming “in like manner” for the saints just before the Jewish war (this process also explains the structure of events predicted in Daniel 7, which describes the ascension of the Body).
Moreover, the separation of the Oath from the Sanctions reveals that the Oath concerns voluntary submission to heaven as a Son of God (of which baptism later comes to speak) and the Sanctions concern the subsequent fruitfulness upon the earth as a father of men (Land and womb, related to circumcision). Even Genesis 3 tells us that the baptismal “laver” has nothing to do with offspring or territorial (tribal or civic) boundaries.
But the Lord God (Transcendence)
Of course, the Lord knew where Adam was. At Oath, He is calling Adam into His presence (as the High Priest) for a corporate confession of sin, perhaps even to offer him a second chance. The Succession is missing because the future all hinges on the answer of a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21).
And he said, (Initiation)
The matrix sequence here seems to be the sacrificial order. Adam has dressed himself and his wife as sukkoth, but in reality there are no fragrant “clouds” of bridal smoke to please God. At Conquest/Vindication, the “Day of Coverings” (line 6), Adam is like those who call on the rocks and hills to cover them, because their sin will be exposed.
He said, (Transcendence)
The Lord’s authority over the serpent is reversed and restored in their placement at Transcendence and Hierarchy. The order of the triune Ethics is also reversed and restored: investiture was to come before the proto-bread and proto-wine, just as baptism comes before access to the Lord’s table.
The final word (“eaten”) may be intended to remain in line 6, leaving no Succession, but the fruit of the second tree was indeed intended for the “judges” of Day 7.
Once again, the Lord already knew the answer to His question. He asked it to obtain a confession, a legal testimony in the court of God. Investiture requires a profession of faith, an oath. But as it does in the Ten Words, the pattern moves from theft to false witness — perjury for the purpose of shifting the blame.
The man said, (Transcendence)
Here, the act of eating is indeed the Succession.
The placement of the various persons within this miniature Covenant structure makes Adam’s false testimony even worse. He is in charge, his subordinate is to blame, but worst of all, the Lord is “ethically” at fault. Notice the chiasm of persons: Adam – Eve – God – Eve – Adam. Adam is claiming to be the first and the last. God is to blame, therefore God must die under His own law. Adam has seized equality with God (Philippians 2:6-7), switching positions with God, intending a “substitutionary sacrifice” which would end at the cross.
Then said the Lord God (Creation)
Adam was to outsmart the serpent and plunder (or inherit) his craftiness, becoming a king like Solomon, or an elohim like God (Psalm 18:26). Instead, he became like the serpent (and later, the Pharisees) in his intention to use the good law of God as a weapon of death for the means of self-protection. Eve’s testimony, however, is entirely true. Adam’s sin was high handed, worthy of death. Eve’s sin was a “wandering astray,” which is the meaning of the word “deceived/beguiled” (Numbers 15:27-31; Hebrews 5:2). As a kind of High Priest, Adam failed to shepherd her, then failed to advocate for her, which made him a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Like the Pharisees, he had made Satan his spiritual father.
But it is interesting that no confession is required from the famous talking snake. As the first “hybrid of heaven and earth,” a false Shekinah, he had achieved his goal: a legal right as a prosecuting attorney in the court of God in heaven (Job 1:6; Zechariah 3:1). He would not be cast out until the ascension of Christ (Luke 10:18; Revelation 8:10), when the accuser would be replaced with an advocate. Satan would fall like lightning, a blazing torch, a false Pentecost, to raise up a false “Abrahamic” church (the circumcision) to war against the first century saints. But that is another story.
A minor observation is the possible correspondence between the Lord’s question “What is this?” at Ascension (Table of Showbread) and the naming of the miraculous priestly bread in the wilderness, manna, which means “What is it?”
The text now moves from legal testimony (Oath before heaven: nakedness) to the execution of the sentence (Sanctions on earth: barrenness).
The Lord God said to the serpent, (Creation)
The serpent is the first to fall. Whether it actually had legs or simply raised itself up, this was an iconic humbling. The repeated use of “above” is terribly ironic. You wanted to be “the most.” You will be cursed to the utter-most. You wanted “rest and rule.” You will lie down eternally. The story is replayed many times in Scripture, most notably in the history of Haman in the book of Esther.
At Testing, the beasts of the field are positioned in the “wilderness” of this stanza, and there were beasts present when Jesus was tempted by Satan (Mark 1:13). Wild beasts devouring men and their offspring were a Sanction of the Levitical Covenant (Leviticus 26:22; 2 Kings 2:23-25; Ezekiel 14:15; 14:21; 34:25; 34:28).
Perhaps related to this at Maturity is the Hebrew word for the serpent’s “belly.” It is used only of reptiles (here and in Leviticus 11:42) but it is related to the name of the second river in Genesis 2, meaning “bursting forth.” It might be a bit of a stretch, but this seems to contrast the abundant “bursting forth” of life from the “spring” of Adam’s belly, and the bursting forth of uncleanness from tyrants like Eglon (Judges 3:22) and serpents like Judas (Acts 1:18). Of course, the remedy for this was the blood and water which flowed from the body of Jesus (John 19:34). So the dusty belly of the serpent is recompense for the curses upon the Land (Adam) and the womb (Eve). After each terrible judgment throughout the Old Testament, each new covenant brought greater dominion, and greater authority, pictured in a more glorious diet. Again and again the Man would die. Again and again he would be called to “rise (Maturity), kill (Conquest) and eat (Glorification)” (Genesis 9:3; Matthew 26:29; Acts 10:13).
Some say that the reference to eating dust in line 6 refers to the consumption of fallen Man. In the Levitical order, dust is certainly a reminder of the curse. Shaking the dust off one’s feet is the expression of a curse, so it is more likely that this is the removal of “clean food” from the serpent. This once glorious creature would now be an outcast, shedding its skin like a leper “outside the camp.” Biblical leprosy was “scaled” or “dusty” skin.2See “Scales of Justice” in Sweet Counsel: Essays to Brighten the Eyes. It would now be exiled to poverty in outer darkness, scavenging in its barrenness, eating the crumbs, gathering the gleanings from the edges of the fields of the rich, and preying on the weak. It wished to curse man, and now it would be forced to eat its words. This is also wonderful background for the language in Genesis 13:16, the promise that Abraham’s seed (womb) would be as uncountable as the dust of the earth (Land). Only those destined for the sword of circumcision, sacrifice, martyrdom or execution were counted (Exodus 30:12; 2 Samuel 24:1; Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:37; Acts 1:17; Revelation 7:4; 7:9).
And enmity I will put (Creation)
Division takes us from “seed” to “fruit.” The dichotomy between the belly of the woman and the belly of the serpent does find its expression eventually in the civic divide of the priesthood of Seth from the kingdom of Lamech. But since all men find their origin in Eve, the word “offspring” cannot refer to sons of men but to Sons of God, that is, fruits rather than roots. The offspring of the serpent is the firstborn of the womb, a history of men who seized their inheritance,3See Big Love: A History of Stolen Fruit. but the offspring of the Woman (the singular “he”) is the firstborn from the dead.
To the woman he said, (Transcendence)
In stanza 1, God spoke to the serpent. In stanza 2, He spoke to the serpent concerning the Woman. In stanza 3 He speaks to the Woman concerning the Man. At the center of this cycle, the Lord deals with the rulers of the Land, the kings and queens, and it is not surprising that subsequent kings resorted to polygamy to bypass this particular curse.4Again, see Big Love: A History of Stolen Fruit, as well as “Guns, Girls and Gold” in Inquiétude.
The phrase at Oath/Sanctions is ambiguous, but based on the biblical pattern, I believe it refers to the process of redemption by Covenant. Eve was given to Adam as a possession, and based upon his faithfulness to God, she was to become a co-regent, enthroned with him. When Adam is bound (by oath, as a living sacrifice), Eve is loosed.5For more discussion, see “Binding and Loosing” in God’s Kitchen: Theology You Can Eat & Drink. This pattern can be discerned throughout biblical history, and of course it pictures the ultimate glory of the Church.6For more discussion, see “Mad Maxine” in Inquiétude: Essays to Brighten the Eyes.
And to Adam he said, (Creation)
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife (Division)
and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, (Ascension)
in toil you shall eat of it (Conquest)
all the days of your life; (Glorification)
This stanza is the basis for the subsequent curses upon Cain and Canaan, who put kingdom before priesthood. At Ascension, the tree is the bread and beer/wine on the Table of Showbread. The command at Testing is a burning bush that is not consumed. The abundance at Maturity is plagues rather than plunder, a multiplication of woes.
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; (Booths)
and you shall eat the plants of the field. (Atonement)
By the sweat of your nose you shall eat bread, (Trumpets)
for you are dust, (Passover)
and to dust you shall return.” (Sabbath)
Although the Bible Matrix is symmetrical, it is always a process of maturity, and thus it has a direction. This makes it possible to discern when the pattern is running backwards (which it infrequently does), and I believe that is the case in this stanza. It takes the fruitless “tree of righteousness” and works from its barren branches down to the ground, reversing the process of Genesis 2:77See the analysis on pages 62 and 135 of Inquiétude.. Understood in this light, Adam’s desacralising and decommissioning is a terrifying process of “de-Creation.” The fruits of the Land which Adam was to inherit are now corrupted with spikes, like the horns of the altar. The bread is not linked with Adam’s “face” or brow but his “nose,” corresponding to the breath of life at Trumpets in Genesis 2:7. The fragrance of the offerings of the earth would be corrupted with the stench of labour. Where Adam the failed priest ate the prophetic food, now Adam the failed prophet eats the bread of humility.
CYCLE 5: ADAM’S SUCCESSION
And called Adam (Transcendence)
Every stanza in this cycle concerns the future. It begins with the “physical origin” of all men, Eve. He now knows that he will not die immediately, ruling over her for better or worse, blessing or cursing, and thus names her as he named the animals.
And made the Lord God (Transcendence)
Like fruit, men and beasts are threefold, consisting of seed, flesh and skin. Rather than being clothed in white robes of righteousness, Adam and Eve were covered in the skins of those whom they were intended to shepherd. In the Levitical system, the skins of the blameless animals were given to the priests (Leviticus 7:8). I believe that the threefold covering of the Tabernacle (linen, red dyed ramskin, and variegated beadwork or “tachash”) gives us a hint of what glory lay in store for them: white robes (Garden – Priesthood), then scarlet robes (Land – Kingdom), then multicoloured robes like Joseph (World – Prophecy).8For more discussion, see “Robed in the Sea” in Inquietude. The redness of servant-kingdom is the prism through which the purity of the white light of God becomes the bridal rainbow around the throne.
Creation: Then the Lord God said, (Ark of the Testimony)
like one of us (Golden Table)
The Tabernacle architecture is the matrix thread which seems to shine in this stanza. Adam seized kingdom without being a faithful priest. Now even that priesthood — access to the Sanctuary — would be taken from him (Matthew 13:12).
Creation: and sent him forth the Lord God (Initiation)
Ascension – Table: from which he was taken. (Presentation)
Just as Adam was lifted up from the Land into the Sanctuary as a kind of tithe, so now he was being returned, although not entirely fruitless. This stanza is a three-and-a-half, which makes Adam an offering of flesh without the holy fire, much like the priestly ministry of Jesus which culminated in the Day of Pentecost. In some sense, typologically at least, through the mercy of God and the shedding of blood, Adam was a kind of “firstfruits from the dead.”
He drove out the man, (Initiation)
Israel was under the sword in Egypt, but bore the sword against Jericho. Adam was under the sword in Genesis 2, but through his failure was still under the sword at the end of Genesis 3. As a failed prophet, not another word from him is ever recorded.
The Hebrew word for “turned” is interesting. It usually means “overthrow” but in Exodus 7:15 it is used to describe the transformation of a rod of authority into a serpent. Satan was simply a rod of discipline for Adam in his youth, a teacher sent by God to enlarge him. We should not be dismayed when false doctrine enters the Church. It is always allowed by God to purify His people. We have a Father who gives us stones and serpents that by faithful obedience the wilderness may be transformed, turned into bread and fish, dominion over the Land and the Sea.
The “way” was represented in the Veil of the Tabernacle, and in Genesis 4 we see the sons of Adam as priesthood and kingdom making their offerings for Land and womb at the threshold of the Sanctuary.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||For more discussion, see “The Spirit of Adam” in Inquietude: Essays for a People without Eyes.|
|2.||↑||See “Scales of Justice” in Sweet Counsel: Essays to Brighten the Eyes.|
|3.||↑||See Big Love: A History of Stolen Fruit.|
|4.||↑||Again, see Big Love: A History of Stolen Fruit, as well as “Guns, Girls and Gold” in Inquiétude.|
|5.||↑||For more discussion, see “Binding and Loosing” in God’s Kitchen: Theology You Can Eat & Drink.|
|6.||↑||For more discussion, see “Mad Maxine” in Inquiétude: Essays to Brighten the Eyes.|
|7.||↑||See the analysis on pages 62 and 135 of Inquiétude.|
|8.||↑||For more discussion, see “Robed in the Sea” in Inquietude.|