The opening chapters to the book of Genesis reveal details concerning the creation of the earth and of mankind, as well as many firsts (first man, first woman, first marriage, first command, first sin, first sacrifices, first children, first murder —you get the point). Genesis is the book of beginnings. And yet within those early chapters were are some often forgotten or seldom mentioned tidbits. Let’s note some of them here.
What Did God Say?
Genesis 3 begins with a question posed by the serpent to the woman. He simply inquired, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?’’ (Genesis 3:1). From here, the conversation builds, until the woman is convinced by the serpent to eat the fruit of which God said, “You shall not eat of it!”
I find the woman’s response to the serpent curious. She stated:
We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree
which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor
shall you touch it, lest you die.’ (Genesis 3:2-3)
Did God say that? Notice Genesis 2:17:
…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for
in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.
Indeed, God commanded that they not eat from the tree, but where did Eve get the “…nor shall you touch it…”? It is plausible that such a command was given and simply not recorded in Moses’ account. However, it is equally believable that Eve reported God’s command to the serpent incorrectly.
What’s the big deal? Quite simply this—if we do not know God’s commandments, or we are not concerned with the exact meaning of His words, how can we properly obey Him? Eve misquoted God’s command, adding to the command, and making the devil’s task of tempting her easier. She added a restriction which God did not—and the devil convinced her that God was somehow holding out on her. Details are important. We need to know and obey what God commands. It is not enough to have a general idea of what He said. We need to know the will of the LORD. It is not our place to strengthen or weaken a commandment of God. Both the Old and New Testaments tell us that we cannot add to or take away from God’s word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19). We need to know what God said, believe what God said, and obey what God said.
He Shall Rule Over You
After Adam and Eve ate of the fruit which God commanded them not to eat, the Lord spoke to the serpent, the woman, and the man, stating the consequences of their actions. The woman was told:
I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring
forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over
you. (Genesis 3:16)
It is important to distinguish between the consequences of her sin and the Lord identifying her proper abode in relation to her husband. Having affection for her husband and submitting to his leadership was not part of Eve’s punishment. This was a reminder of the position from which she had strayed—resulting in the sin itself. Genesis 3:6 says, “..she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
It seems the woman, on her own, fell to the temptation of the serpent, and then gave the fruit to her husband after she had taken from it. This perhaps indicates that she stepped out from her place of subjection to her husband, and chose to heed the tempting voice of the serpent rather than the voice of her husband and the word of the Lord. Don’t misunderstand—her position is not one of inferiority—it is a matter of leadership, not superiority. Jesus is subject to the Father, but He is not inferior or less than His Father. When one rebels against a God-given role, it brings turmoil.
Making Sacrifice To God
As we enter the fourth chapter of Genesis, we find Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve. They came before the Lord with their respective offerings. I’ve heard the offerings characterized this way: Cain gave an offering of his own choosing, not what the Lord had commanded, and thus the Lord did not respect Cain or his offering; meanwhile, Abel gave according to God’s command, and thus the Lord respected him and his offering.
I acknowledge that as a possibility, but I do believe there is a better explanation. Notice Genesis 4:3-5 from Young’s Literal Translation:
…it cometh to pass at the end of days that Cain bringeth from the fruit of the
ground a present to Jehovah; and Abel, he hath brought, he also, from the
female firstlings of his flock, even from their fat ones…
According to Young’s Literal Translation, Cain brought a single offering—the fruit of the ground, whereas Abel brought two offerings—an offering of the fruit of the ground, and also an offering of his flock. Notice, “…Abel, he hath brought (ie. as Cain did), he also (a second offering), from the firstlings of his flock…” Cain’s offering was basically what would eventually be known under the law of Moses as a grain offering—an offering of the fruit of the ground, produce. Abel brought the same, but he brought another offering also—an animal sacrifice—a sin offering.
Abel acknowledged his sin, and willingly brought a sin offering to the Lorrd. Cain, on the other hand, did not bring an offering for sin; perhaps unwilling to acknowledge that he was guilty of sin. Just a few verses later, the LORD spoke to Cain:
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at
the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. (Genesis 4:7)
Cain’s transgression was not bring an offering of fruit to the Lord; it was refusing to acknowledge his sin, and thus not bringing a sin sacrifice. He refused to confess that he was a sinner.