Genesis 3:4
And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 3:4-5. The tempter, finding that the woman began to doubt whether eating this fruit was a crime, and if it were, whether punishment would follow, now became more bold in his attack, and, giving God the lie direct, asserted roundly, “Ye shall not surely die.” So far from it, you shall have much advantage from eating of this tree. He suits the temptation to the pure state they were now in, proposing to them, not any carnal pleasure, but intellectual delights. 1st, Your eyes shall be opened — You shall have much more of the power and pleasure of contemplation than now you have: your intellectual views shall be extended, and you shall see further into things than now you do. 2d, Ye shall be as gods — As Elohim, mighty gods, beings of a higher order. 3d, Ye shall know good and evil — That is, every thing that is desirable to be known. To support this part of the temptation, he abuseth the name given to this tree. It was intended to teach the practical knowledge of good and evil; that is, of duty and disobedience, and it would prove the experimental knowledge of good and evil; that is, of happiness and misery. But he perverts the sense of it, and wrests it to their destruction, as if the tree would give them a speculative knowledge of the natures, kinds, and originals of good and evil. And, 4th, All this presently; In the day ye eat thereof — You will find a sudden and immediate change for the better.3:1-5 Satan assaulted our first parents, to draw them to sin, and the temptation proved fatal to them. The tempter was the devil, in the shape and likeness of a serpent. Satan's plan was to draw our first parents to sin, and so to separate between them and their God. Thus the devil was from the beginning a murderer, and the great mischief maker. The person tempted was the woman: it was Satan's policy to enter into talk with her when she was alone. There are many temptations to which being alone gives great advantage; but the communion of saints tends very much to their strength and safety. Satan took advantage by finding her near the forbidden tree. They that would not eat the forbidden fruit, must not come near the forbidden tree. Satan tempted Eve, that by her he might tempt Adam. It is his policy to send temptations by hands we do not suspect, and by those that have most influence upon us. Satan questioned whether it were a sin or not, to eat of this tree. He did not disclose his design at first, but he put a question which seemed innocent. Those who would be safe, need to be shy of talking with the tempter. He quoted the command wrong. He spoke in a taunting way. The devil, as he is a liar, so he is a scoffer from the beginning; and scoffers are his children. It is the craft of Satan to speak of the Divine law as uncertain or unreasonable, and so to draw people to sin; it is our wisdom to keep up a firm belief of God's command, and a high respect for it. Has God said, Ye shall not lie, nor take his name in vain, nor be drunk, &c.? Yes, I am sure he has, and it is well said; and by his grace I will abide by it. It was Eve's weakness to enter into this talk with the serpent: she might have perceived by his question, that he had no good design, and should therefore have started back. Satan teaches men first to doubt, and then to deny. He promises advantage from their eating this fruit. He aims to make them discontented with their present state, as if it were not so good as it might be, and should be. No condition will of itself bring content, unless the mind be brought to it. He tempts them to seek preferment, as if they were fit to be gods. Satan ruined himself by desiring to be like the Most High, therefore he sought to infect our first parents with the same desire, that he might ruin them too. And still the devil draws people into his interest, by suggesting to them hard thoughts of God, and false hopes of advantage by sin. Let us, therefore, always think well of God as the best good, and think ill of sin as the worst evil: thus let us resist the devil, and he will flee from us.The serpent now makes a strong and bold assertion, denying the deadly efficacy of the tree, or the fatal consequence of partaking of it, and affirming that God was aware that on the eating of it their eyes would be opened, and they would be like himself in knowing good and evil.

Let us remember that this was the first falsehood the woman ever heard. Her mind was also infantile as yet, so far as experience was concerned. The opening mind is naturally inclined to believe the truth of every assertion, until it has learned by experience the falsehood of some. There was also in this falsehood what gives the power to deceive, a great deal of truth combined with the element of untruth. The tree was not physically fatal to life, and the eating of it really issued in a knowledge of good and evil. Nevertheless, the partaking of what was forbidden issued in the legal and actual privation of life. And it did not make them know good and evil altogether, as God knows it, but in an experimental sense, as the devil knows it. In point of knowledge, they became like God; in point of morality, like the tempter.

4. Ye shall not surely die—He proceeded, not only to assure her of perfect impunity, but to promise great benefits from partaking of it. It is not so certain as you imagine, that you shall die. God did say so indeed for your terror, and to keep you in awe; or, he had some mystical meaning in those words; but do not entertain such hard and unworthy thoughts of that God who is infinitely kind and gracious, that he will, for such a trifle as the eating of a little fruit, undo you and all your posterity, and so suddenly destroy the most excellent work of his own hands. And the serpent said unto the woman,.... In reply to her answer:

ye shall not surely die; in direct contradiction to the divine threatening, and which he would insinuate was a mere threatening, and which God never intended to put in execution; so that they had nothing to fear from that, God would never be so rigid and severe, and beat so hard upon them as to put them to death for such an offence, if it was one; he only gave out the menace to frighten them, and deter from it: however, at most it was not a certain thing they should die, and they might safely conclude they would not.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely {d} die:

(d) This is Satan's chiefest subtilty, to cause us not to fear God's warnings.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. Ye shall not surely die] The words are very emphatic, “by no means shall ye die.” The serpent directly contradicts the statement of the penalty of death, and thus craftily removes the cause for fear, before dwelling upon the advantages to be obtained from defiance of the Divine decree.Verse 4. - And the serpent said unto the woman. "As God had preached to Adam, so Satan now also preaches to Eve... The object of Satan was to draw away Eve by his word or saying from that which God had said" (Luther). Ye shall not surely die. Lo-moth temuthun (the negative 16 preceding the infinitive absolute, as in Psalm 49:8 and Amos 9:8; its position here being determined by the form of the penalty, Genesis 2:17, to which the devil's language gives the direct negative. Vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 312). Thus the second step in his assault is to challenge the Divine veracity, in allusion to which it has been thought our Savior calls Satan a liar (cf. John 8:44: ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ ὁτι ψεύστης ἐστιν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ). "Here, as far as we know, is his first begottten lie" (Bush). "The serpent was more subtle than all the beasts of the field, which Jehovah God had made." - The serpent is here described not only as a beast, but also as a creature of God; it must therefore have been good, like everything else that He had made. Subtilty was a natural characteristic of the serpent (Matthew 10:16), which led the evil one to select it as his instrument. Nevertheless the predicate ערוּם is not used here in the good sense of φρόνιμος (lxx), prudens, but in the bad sense of πανοῦργος, callidus. For its subtilty was manifested as the craft of a tempter to evil, in the simple fact that it was to the weaker woman that it turned; and cunning was also displayed in what it said: "Hath God indeed said, Ye shall not eat of all the trees of the garden?" כּי אף is an interrogative expressing surprise (as in 1 Samuel 23:3; 2 Samuel 4:11): "Is it really the fact that God has prohibited you from eating of all the trees of the garden?" The Hebrew may, indeed, bear the meaning, "hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree?" but from the context, and especially the conjunction, it is obvious that the meaning is, "ye shall not eat of any tree." The serpent calls God by the name of Elohim alone, and the woman does the same. In this more general and indefinite name the personality of the living God is obscured. To attain his end, the tempter felt it necessary to change the living personal God into a merely general numen divinium, and to exaggerate the prohibition, in the hope of exciting in the woman's mind partly distrust of God Himself, and partly a doubt as to the truth of His word. And his words were listened to. Instead of turning away, the woman replied, "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 hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." She was aware of the prohibition, therefore, and fully understood its meaning; but she added, "neither shall ye touch it," and proved by this very exaggeration that it appeared too stringent even to her, and therefore that her love and confidence towards God were already beginning to waver. Here was the beginning of her fall: "for doubt is the father of sin, and skepsis the mother of all transgression; and in this father and this mother, all our present knowledge has a common origin with sin" (Ziegler). From doubt, the tempter advances to a direct denial of the truth of the divine threat, and to a malicious suspicion of the divine love (Genesis 3:4, Genesis 3:5). "Ye will by no means die" (לא is placed before the infinitive absolute, as in Psalm 49:8 and Amos 9:8; for the meaning is not, "he will not die;" but, ye will positively not die). "But

(Note: כּי used to establish a denial.)

God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes will be opened,

(Note: ונפקחוּ perfect c. ו consec. See Gesenius, ֗126, Note 1.)

and ye will be like God, knowing good and evil." That is to say, it is not because the fruit of the tree will injure you that God has forbidden you to eat it, but from ill-will and envy, because He does not wish you to be like Himself. "A truly satanic double entendre, in which a certain agreement between truth and untruth is secured!" By eating the fruit, man did obtain the knowledge of good and evil, and in this respect became like God (Genesis 3:7 and Genesis 3:22). This was the truth which covered the falsehood "ye shall not die," and turned the whole statement into a lie, exhibiting its author as the father of lies, who abides not in the truth (John 8:44). For the knowledge of good and evil, which man obtains by going into evil, is as far removed from the true likeness of God, which he would have attained by avoiding it, as the imaginary liberty of a sinner, which leads into bondage to sin and ends in death, is from the true liberty of a life of fellowship with God.)

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