Monday, April 19, 2010

Genesis 3:7-13's fig leaves, questions, and "the blame game"

Genesis 3:7 describes the famous fig leaves. Given what follows, we know these actions signal far more. But here, we can only infer that it relates to sex—and not just nakedness per se, but its (new/bad) quality. Connecting back to the tree’s purpose, we can infer that the “knowledge of good and evil” is not what they see, but how they see it and what it (now) means. (Again, see: children losing various forms of their “innocence”.)

As God alludes to with the name of the tree (2:17), they know more now. As Satan promised (3:5), their eyes were opened—factually and emotionally/relationally. As Matthew Henry puts it: "They saw the folly of eating forbidden fruit. They saw the happiness they had fallen from, and the misery they had fallen into. They saw a loving God provoked, his grace and favor forfeited...They saw their natures corrupted and depraved, and felt a disorder in their own spirits of which they had never before been conscious."

In Genesis 3:8-10, God calls out to man—a picture of His desire for relationship. The passage is heavy on anthropomorphisms: God “walks”, talks, communicates, seems to deliberate, and be “affected” by our actions. Despite their sin, God intervenes quickly from out of His grace—vs. leaving them (and us) to live perpetually with the consequences of improper living, guilt, etc.

God questions Adam and Eve—again, pointing to the use/power of questions to induce soul-searching (rather than merely eliciting info). God knows, but He still asks—giving Adam/Eve an op for self-revelation and varying qualities of response. Note also that God comes to Adam for an explanation; Adam is primarily or even ultimately responsible.

In 3:10, we get Adam's verbal reply. He evades with a semi-answer at the end (“I hid”). As Kass puts it: he “freely confesses his concern with the divine presence, even as he tries to rationalize his misconduct”. He points to nakedness not disobedience; he largely omits confession. He could have repented before God came looking for him or here, but sadly it doesn’t play out that way.

In Gen 3:11, God provides a leading question about nakedness (Adam’s angle in 3:10) and then tries to connect it to disobedience. And then in Gen 3:12-13, the “blame game” begins: Adam with Eve and God—and then Eve with the serpent.

Adam “takes it like a man”—and blames his wife. Eve has moved from Gen 2:23’s flesh of my flesh—to a thorn in my flesh. In Gen 3:13, Eve is equally quick to avoid blame and then take ownership. You’d just like to see one of them step up and say, “I wear the plants in this family!” Of course, blame-shifting is still with us—in many amusing and sad forms.

Interestingly, God accepts their answers—vs. refuting, arguing, or otherwise continuing the discussion. As Kass notes: “God has good reason to be satisfied with the inquest…shifting blame and denying responsibility for wrong-doing proclaim, despite [themselves] the existence of good and bad, right and wrong. Making excuses for oneself is, in fact, a concession that something needs to be excused. Neither man nor woman says, ‘I did it and I’m proud of it. [vs. Satan]’.”


At April 20, 2010 at 6:59 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

I am reminded of the old story about the Iron Butterfly song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida." The title was originally meant to be "In the Garden of Eden" but when it was accidently slurred (due to drug or alcohol use) by one band member, the band decided to use the slurred version.


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