|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:16-19 The woman, for her sin, is condemned to a state of sorrow, and of subjection; proper punishments of that sin, in which she had sought to gratify the desire of her eye, and of the flesh, and her pride. Sin brought sorrow into the world; that made the world a vale of tears. No wonder our sorrows are multiplied, when our sins are so. He shall rule over thee, is but God's command, Wives, be subject to your own husbands. If man had not sinned, he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness. Adam laid the blame on his wife; but though it was her fault to persuade him to eat the forbidden fruit, it was his fault to hearken to her. Thus men's frivolous pleas will, in the day of God's judgment, be turned against them. God put marks of displeasure on Adam. 1. His habitation is cursed. God gave the earth to the children of men, to be a comfortable dwelling; but it is now cursed for man's sin. Yet Adam is not himself cursed, as the serpent was, but only the ground for his sake. 2. His employments and enjoyments are imbittered to him. Labour is our duty, which we must faithfully perform; it is part of man's sentence, which idleness daringly defies. Uneasiness and weariness with labour are our just punishment, which we must patiently submit to, since they are less than our iniquity deserves. Man's food shall become unpleasant to him. Yet man is not sentenced to eat dust as the serpent, only to eat the herb of the field. 3. His life also is but short; considering how full of trouble his days are, it is in favour to him that they are few. Yet death being dreadful to nature, even when life is unpleasant, that concludes the punishment. Sin brought death into the world: if Adam had not sinned, he had not died. He gave way to temptation, but the Saviour withstood it. And how admirably the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus, by his death and sufferings, answered the sentence passed on our first parents! Did travailing pains come with sin? We read of the travail of Christ's soul, Isa 53:11; and the pains of death he was held by, are so called, Ac 2:24. Did subjection came in with sin? Christ was made under the law, Ga 4:4. Did the curse come in with sin? Christ was made a curse for us, he died a cursed death, Ga 3:13. Did thorns come in with sin? He was crowned with thorns for us. Did sweat come in with sin? He sweat for us, as it had been great drops of blood. Did sorrow come in with sin? He was a man of sorrows; his soul was, in his agony, exceeding sorrowful. Did death come in with sin? He became obedient unto death. Thus is the plaster as wide as the wound. Blessed be God for his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 18. - Thorns also and thistles. Terms occurring only here and in Hosed 10:8 = the similar expressions in Isaiah 5:6; Isaiah 7:23 (Kalisch, Keil, Macdonald). Shall it bring forth to thee. I.e. these shall be its spontaneous productions; if thou desirest anything else thou must labor for it. And thou shalt eat the herb of the field. "Not the fruit of paradise" (Wordsworth), but "the lesser growths sown by his own toil" (Alford) - an intimation that henceforth man was "to be deprived of his former delicacies to such an extent as to be compelled to use, in addition, the herbs which had been designed only for brute animals;" and perhaps also "a consolation," as if promising that, notwithstanding the thorns and thistles, "it should still yield him sustenance" (Calvin).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee,.... Not for his advantage, but to give him more trouble, and cause him more fatigue and sorrow to root them up: these include all sorts of noxious herbs and plants, and troublesome weeds, which added to man's labour to pluck up, that those more useful might grow and flourish: and Rabbi Eliezer (e) was of opinion, that if there had not been a new blessing upon the earth, it would have brought forth nothing else, as that which is rejected and nigh unto cursing does, Hebrews 6:8 and this curse continued, at least it was not wholly removed, until the times of Noah, Genesis 8:21 which made it hard and difficult to the antediluvian patriarchs to get their bread.
And thou shall eat the herb of the field; not the fruits of the garden of Eden, but only the common herbs of the field, such as even the beasts of the earth fed upon: to such a low condition was man, the lord of the whole earth, reduced unto by sin; and this was according to the law of retaliation, that man, who could not be content with all the fruits of Eden, save one, by eating the forbidden fruit should be deprived of them all.
(e) Apud Fagium in loc.
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