Genesis 3:22
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
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(22) As one of us.—See Note on Genesis 1:26. By the fall man had sunk morally, but grown mentally. He had asserted his independence, had exercised the right of choosing for himself, and had attained to a knowledge without which his endowment of free-will would have remained in abeyance. There is something painful and humiliating in the idea of Chrysostom and other Fathers that the Deity was speaking ironically, or even with insult (Augustine). All those qualities which constitute man’s likeness to God—free-will, self-dependence, the exercise of reason and of choice—had been developed by the fall, and Adam was now a very different being from what he had been in the days of his simple innocency.

Lest he put forth his hand.—Adam had exercised the power of marring God’s work, and if an unending physical life were added to the gift of freewill now in revolt against God, his condition and that of mankind would become most miserable. Man is still to attain to immortality, but it must now be through struggle, sorrow, penitence, faith, and death. Hence a paradise is no fit home for him. The Divine mercy, therefore, commands Adam to quit it, in order that he may live under conditions better suited for his moral and spiritual good.

Genesis 3:22. The Lord God said — In his own eternal mind: Behold, the man is become as one of us — See what he has got, what advantages, by eating forbidden fruit! This is said to humble them, and to bring them to a sense of their sin and folly, that, seeing themselves thus wretchedly deceived by following the devil’s counsel, they might henceforth pursue the happiness God offered, in the way he prescribed.

Here is another evident proof of a plurality of persons or subsistences in the Godhead. Compare Genesis 1:26; Genesis 11:7. If it be said that God speaks this of himself and the angels, it must be replied that no mention has yet been made of the angels, and that it is unreasonable to think that the great God should level himself with angels, and give them, as the expression intimates, a kind of equality with himself.

Lest he take also of the tree of life — The sentence is defective, and, it seems, must be supplied thus: Care must be taken, and man must be banished hence, lest he take of the tree of life, as he took of the tree of knowledge, and thereby profane that sacrament of eternal life, and persuade himself that he shall live for ever. To prevent this, (Genesis 3:23,) the Lord God sent him forth — Expelled him with shame and violence; from the garden of Eden — So as never to restore him to that earthly paradise.

3:22-24 God bid man go out; told him he should no longer occupy and enjoy that garden: but man liked the place, and was unwilling to leave it, therefore God made him go out. This signified the shutting out of him, and all his guilty race, from that communion with God, which was the bliss and glory of paradise. But man was only sent to till the ground out of which he was taken. He was sent to a place of toil, not to a place of torment. Our first parents were shut out from the privileges of their state of innocency, yet they were not left to despair. The way to the tree of life was shut. It was henceforward in vain for him and his to expect righteousness, life, and happiness, by the covenant of works; for the command of that covenant being broken, the curse of it is in full force: we are all undone, if we are judged by that covenant. God revealed this to Adam, not to drive him to despair, but to quicken him to look for life and happiness in the promised Seed, by whom a new and living way into the holiest is laid open for us. - XVII. The Execution

24. כרוּב kerûb ברך in Aramaic: "carve, plow"; Persian: "grip, grasp." This word occurs about eighty-seven times in the Hebrew scriptures; in sixty of which it refers to carved or embroidered figures; in twenty-two to the living being in the vision of Ezekiel Ezek. 10; in two figuratively to the king of Tyre Ezekiel 28:14, Ezekiel 28:16; in two to a being on which the Lord is poetically described as riding 2 Samuel 22:11; Psalm 18:11; and in the present passage unequivocally to real and well-known beings. The root is not otherwise extant in Hebrew proper. But from the class of actions to which it refers, and from a review of the statements of Scripture concerning these creatures, we are led to the following conclusions:

First. The cherubim are real creatures, and not mere symbols. In the narrative of the fall they are introduced as real into the scenes of reality. Their existence is assumed as known; for God is said to place or station the cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden. The representation of a cherub too in vision, as part of a symbolic figure, implies a corresponding reality Ezekiel 10:14. A symbol itself points to a reality.

Second. They are afterward described as "living creatures," especially in the visions of Ezekiel EZechariah 1:10. This seems to arise, not from their standing at the highest stage of life, which the term does not denote, but from the members of the various animals, which enter into their variously-described figure. Among these appear the faces of the man, the lion, the ox, and the eagle, of which a cherubic form had one, two or four Exodus 25:20; Ezekiel 41:18; Ezekiel 1:16. They had, besides, wings, in number two or four Exodus 25:20; 1 Kings 6:27; Ezekiel 1:6. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides Ezekiel 1:8; Ezekiel 10:8. Ezekiel also describes their feet as being straight, and having the sole like that of a calf. They sometimes appear too with their bodies, hands, wings, and even accompanying wheels full of eyes Ezekiel 1:18; Ezekiel 10:12. The variety in the figuration of the cherubim is owing to the variety of aspects in which they stand, and of offices or services they have to perform in the varying posture of affairs. This figuration is evidently symbolic. For the real being has not a varying number or order of its constituent parts in the same stage of its existence, though it may be readily represented by a diversity of symbols, according to the diversity of the circumstances in which it appears, and of operations it has to perform. The figuration is merely intended to shadow forth its nature and office in sensible forms to those who have not entered the spiritual world.

Third. The cherubim are intelligent beings. This is indicated by their form, movement, and conduct. In their visible appearance the human form predominates: "They had the likeness of a man" Ezekiel 1:5. The human face is in front, and has therefore the principal place. The "hands of a man" determine the erect posture, and therefore the human form of the body. The parts of other animal forms are only accessory, and serve to mark the possession of qualities which are not prominent in man. The lion indicates the active and destructive powers; the ox, the patient and productive; the eagle denotes rapid motion, with which the wings coincide, and quick sight with which the many eyes accord; and the man signifies reason, which rationalizes all these otherwise physical qualities.

The four faces indicate powers of observation that sweep the whole horizon. The straight feet, with soles like those of a calf, mark an elasticity of step appertaining only to beings unaffected by the force of gravitation. Their motion, "straight forward," combined with the four faces, and the wheel within a wheel going according to its quarters, points to a capacity of moving in any direction without turning by the mere impulse of the will. The intelligence of their conduct will appear from the nature of the duties they have to discharge.

Fourth. Their special office seems to be "intellectual and potential" rather than moral. They have to do with the physical more than the moral aspect of being. Hence, they stand related, on the one side, to God, as אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, "the Everlasting, the God of omnipotence;" and, on the other, to the universe of created things, in its material, animal, and intellectual departments, and to the general administration of the divine will in this comprehensive sphere. The radical meanings of the terms "carve, plow, grasp," point to the potential. The hand symbolizes intelligent agency. The multiplicity of eyes denotes many-sided intelligence. The number four is evidently normal and characteristic. It marks their relation to the cosmos - universe of system of created things.

Fifth. Their place of ministry is about the throne, and in the presence of the Almighty. Accordingly, where he manifests himself in a stated place, and with all the solemnity of a court, there they generally appear.

Sixth. Their special functions correspond with these indications of their nature and place. They are stationed at the east of the garden of Eden, where God had condescended to walk with man before his fall, and where he still lingers on earth to hold communion with man, for the purpose of mercy, and their business is to keep the way of the tree of life. They are figured in the most holy place, which was appropriated to the divine presence, and constructed after the pattern seen in the mount. They stand on the mercy-seat, where God sits to rule his people, and they look down with intelligent wonder on the mysteries of redemption. In the vision of the likeness of the glory of God vouchsafed to Ezekiel, they appear under the expanse on which rests the throne of God, and beside the wheels which move as they move. And when God is represented as in movement for the execution of his judgments, the physical elements and the spiritual essences are alike described as the vehicles of his irresistible progress Psalm 18:11. All these movements are mysteries to us, while we are in a world of sense. We cannot comprehend the relation of the spiritual and the physical. But of this we may be assured, that material things are at bottom centers of multiform forces, or fixed springs of power, to which the Everlasting Potentate has given a local habitation and a name, and therefore cognate with spiritual beings of free power, and consequently manageable by them.

Seventh. The cherubim seem to be officially distinct from angels or messengers who go upon special errands to a distance from the presence-chamber of the Almighty. It is possible that they are also to be distinguished in function from the seraphim and the living beings of the Apocalypse, who like them appear among the attendants in the court of heaven.

Here we enter upon the record of the steps taken to carry into effect the forfeiture of life by man, consequent upon his willful transgression of the divine command.

Genesis 3:22

As one of us. - This is another indication of the plurality in unity which is evidently inherent in the Eternal Spirit. It is still more significant than the expression of concert in the creation of man, as it cannot be explained by anything short of a personal distinction.

Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil. - We are now prepared to understand the nature of the two trees which were in the midst of the garden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil effected a change, not in the physical constitution of man, but in his mental experience - in his knowledge of good and evil. There do not appear to have been any seeds of death - any poisonous or malignant power in the tree. "The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and likely to the eyes," as well as a tree to be desired to make one wise. Neither does it appear that the virtue of making wise on the particular point of moral distinctions lay in the digestion of its fruit when received into the stomach. The natural effect of food is on the body, not on the understanding. The moral effect lay rather in the conduct of man in regard to the tree, as a thing prohibited. The result of his conduct, whether in the way of obedience or disobedience to the divine command, was to be the knowledge of good and evil. If man had obeyed, he would have come to this knowledge in a legitimate way. For he would have perceived that distrust of God and disobedience to his will, as they were externally presented to his view in the suggestions of the tempter, were evil; and that confidence and obedience, internally experienced in himself in defiance of such suggestions, were good. And this was the germ of the knowledge of good and evil. But, by disregarding the express injunction of his Maker with respect to this tree, he attained to the knowledge of good and evil in an unlawful and fatal way. He learned immediately that he himself was the guilty party, whereas, before, he was free from guilt; and thus became aware, in his own person and to his own condemnation, of good and evil, as distinct and opposite qualities.


22. And God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us—not spoken in irony as is generally supposed, but in deep compassion. The words should be rendered, "Behold, what has become [by sin] of the man who was as one of us"! Formed, at first, in our image to know good and evil—how sad his condition now.

and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life—This tree being a pledge of that immortal life with which obedience should be rewarded, man lost, on his fall, all claim to this tree; and therefore, that he might not eat of it or delude himself with the idea that eating of it would restore what he had forfeited, the Lord sent him forth from the garden.

The Lord God said, either within himself, or to the other persons of the Godhead, Adam and Eve both are become such according to the devil’s promise, and their own expectation. This is a holy irony, or sarcasm, like those, 1 Kings 18:27 Ecclesiastes 11:9: q.d. Behold! O all ye angels, and all the future generations of men, how the first man hath overreached and conquered us, and got the Divinity which he affected; and how happy he hath made himself by his rebellion! But this bitter scorn God uttereth not to insult over man’s misery, but to convince him of his sin, folly, danger, and calamity, and to oblige him both to a diligent seeking after, and a greedy embracing the remedy of the promised Seed which God offered him, and to a greater watchfulness over himself, and respect to all God’s commands for the time to come.

As one of us, i.e. as one of the Divine persons, of infinite wisdom and capacity. Here is an evident proof of a plurality of persons in the Godhead; compare Genesis 1:26, and Genesis 11:7. If it be said, God speaks this of himself and the angels; besides that as yet not one word hath been spoken concerning the angels, it is an absurd and unreasonable conceit that the great God should level himself with the angels, and give them a kind of equality with himself, as this expression intimates. To know all things, both good and evil.

Lest he put forth his hand: the speech is defective, and to be supplied thus, or some such way. But now care must be taken, or man must be banished hence,

lest he take also of the tree of life, as he did take of the tree of knowledge, and thereby profane that sacrament of eternal life, and fondly persuade himself that he shall live for ever. This is another scoff or irony, whereby God upbraideth man’s presumption, and those vain hopes wherewith he did still feed himself.

And the Lord God said,.... The Word of the Lord God, as the Jerusalem Targum; not to the ministering angels, as the Targum of Jonathan but within himself, or to the other two divine Persons:

behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; which is generally understood as an irony or sarcasm at man's deception by Satan, who promised man, and he expected to be as gods, knowing good and evil; behold the man, see how much like a god he looks, with his coat of skin upon his back, filled with shame and confusion for his folly, and dejected under a sense of what he had lost, and in a view of what he was sentenced to; yet must be understood not as rejoicing in man's misery, and insulting over him in it, but in order the more to convince him of his folly, and the more to humble him, and bring him to a more open repentance for affecting what he did, and giving credit to the devil in it: though I rather think they are seriously spoken, since this was after man was brought to a sense of the evil he committed, and to repentance for it, and had had the promised seed revealed to him as a Saviour, and, as an emblem of justification and salvation by him, was clothed with garments provided by God himself: wherefore the words are to be considered either as a declaration of his present state and condition, in and by Christ, by whose righteousness he was made righteous, even as he is righteous, though he had lost his own; to whose image he was conformed, now bearing the image of the heavenly One, though he was deprived of that in which he was created, having sinned, and come short of the glory of God; and was now restored to friendship and amity with God, favoured with his gracious presence, and having faith and hope of being with him for evermore; the eyes of his understanding were enlightened by the Spirit and grace of God, to know the good things which God had provided for him in Christ, and in the covenant of grace, a better covenant than that under which he was made, and which he had broke; and to know the evil nature of sin, its just demerit, and the atonement of it, by the death and sacrifice of the promised seed: or else the words are a declaration of man's past state and condition, and may be rendered, "behold, the man was as one of us" (o); as one of the Persons in the Deity, as the Son of God, after whose image, and in whose likeness, he was made; both as to his body, that being formed according to the idea of the body of Christ in the divine mind, and which was not begotten, but made out of the virgin earth; and as to his soul, which was created in righteousness and holiness, in wisdom and knowledge, and was like him in the government he had over all the creatures: and besides, he was in many things a type of Christ, a figure of him that was to come; especially in his being a federal head to his posterity, and in his offices of prophet, priest, and King; and being created in knowledge, after the image of him that created him, and having the law of God inscribed on his heart, he knew what was good and to be done, and what was evil and to be avoided: but now he was in a different condition, in other circumstances, had lost the image of God, and friendship with him, and his government over the creatures; and had ruined himself, and all his posterity, and was become unholy and unwise; for being tempted by Satan to eat of the forbidden fruit, under an expectation of increasing his knowledge, lost in a great measure what he had:

and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life; as well as of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; which some take to be a continued sarcasm; and others, that it was in pity to him, that he might not live a long life of sorrow; and others, as a punishment, that having sinned he was justly deprived of the sacrament and symbol of life; or else to prevent a fresh sin; or rather to show that there could be no life without satisfaction for the sin committed, and this in no other way than by Christ, the antitype of the tree of life:

and eat, and live for ever; not that it was possible, by eating of the fruit of the tree of life, his natural life could be continued for ever, contrary to the sentence of death pronounced upon him; or so as to elude that sentence, and by it eternal life be procured and obtained; but he was hindered from eating of it, lest he should flatter himself, that by so doing he should live for ever, notwithstanding he was doomed to die; and very probably the devil had suggested this to him, that should he be threatened with death, which he made a question of, yet by eating of the tree of life, which stood just by the other, he might save himself from dying: wherefore to prevent him, and to cut off all hopes of securing life to himself in this way, it is suggested that something must be done, which may be supplied from the following verse, let us send him out of the garden.

(o) "fuit", Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt. So Abarbinel. apud Abendana in Miclol. Yophi in loc.

And the LORD God said, {x} Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and {y} take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

(x) By this derision by reproaches Adam's misery, into which he was fallen by ambition.

(y) Adam deprived of life, lost also the sign of it.

22–24. The Expulsion from the Garden

22. as one of us] It is not stated to whom Jehovah addresses these words. Two explanations are possible. Either (1) He speaks to the Heavenly Beings by whom the throne of God was believed to be surrounded. See notes on Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 3:5, Genesis 6:1, Genesis 11:7. “As one of us” will then mean, not “like unto Jehovah personally,” but “like to the dwellers in Heaven,” who are in the possession of “the knowledge of the distinction between good and evil.” Or (2) the words are used in the language of deliberation, and represent the Lord moved, as it were, by apprehension or displeasure, because the eating of the Tree of Knowledge had conferred upon man an attribute to which he was not entitled.

According to either line of explanation, the sentence is one which is most easily understood as one of the few survivals of the earlier myth form of narrative.

The Targum of Onkelos, to avoid the phrase “as one of us,” renders “is become one from himself.”

and now, lest, &c.] Man must be prevented from eating of the Tree of Life, and so obtaining another prerogative of Divinity, that of immortality. Man is created mortal. Immortality, obtained by disobedience and lived in sin, is not according to Jehovah’s will.

The verse contains a survival of the naïve trait in the primitive story, which represented Jehovah as jealous of the possible encroachment by man upon the prerogatives of Divinity. The serpent had referred to this (Genesis 3:5); and it appears again in Genesis 11:5.

Verse 22. - And the Lord God said. Verba insultantis (Augustine); ironica reprobatio (Calvin). But "irony at the expense of a wretched, tempted soul might well befit Satan, but not the Lord" (Delitzsch), and is altogether inconsistent with the footing of grace on which man was placed immediately upon his fall. Behold, the man is become as one of us. Not the angels (Kalisch), but the Divine Persons (cf. Genesis 1:26). It is scarcely likely that Jehovah alludes to the words of the tempter (Genesis 3:5). To know good and evil. Implying an acquaintance with good and evil which did not belong to him in the state of innocence. The language seems to hint that a one-sided acquaintance with good and evil, such as that possessed by the first pair in the garden and the unfallen angels in heaven, is not so complete a knowledge of the inherent beauty of the one and essential turpitude of the other as is acquired by beings who pass through the experience of a fall, and that the only way in which a finite being can approximate to such a comprehensive knowledge of evil as the Deity possesses without personal contact - can see it as it lies everlastingly spread out before his infinite mind - is by going down into it and learning what it is through personal experience (cf. Candlish, in loco). And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. On the meaning of the tree of life v/de Genesis 2:9. Neither

(1) lest by eating of the fruit he should recover that immortal life which he no longer "it possessed (Kalisch), as is certain that man would not have been able, had he even devoured the whole tree, to enjoy life against the will of God" (Calvin); nor

(2) lest the first pair, through participation of the tree, should confer upon themselves the attribute of undyingness, which would not be the ζωὴ αἰώνιος of salvation, but its opposite, the ὄλεθρον αἰώνιον of the accursed (Keil, Lange, T. Lewis, Wordsworth); but either

(3) lest man should conceive the idea that immortality might still be secured by eating of the tree, instead of trusting in the promised seed, and under this false impression attempt to take its fruit, which, in his case, would have been equivalent to an attempt to justify himself by works instead of faith (Calvin, Macdonald); or

(4) lest he should endeavor to partake of the symbol of immortality, which he could not again do until his sin was expiated and himself purified (cf. Revelation 22:14; Candlish). The remaining portion of the sentence is omitted, anakoloutha or aposiopesis being not infrequent in impassioned speech (cf. Exodus 32:32; Job 32:13; Isaiah 38:18). The force of the ellipsis or expressive silence may be gathered from the succeeding words of the historian. Genesis 3:22Clothed in this sign of mercy, the man was driven out of paradise, to bear the punishment of his sin. The words of Jehovah, "The man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil," contain no irony, as though man had exalted himself to a position of autonomy resembling that of God; for "irony at the expense of a wretched tempted soul might well befit Satan, but not the Lord." Likeness to God is predicated only with regard to the knowledge of good and evil, in which the man really had become like God. In order that, after the germ of death had penetrated into his nature along with sin, he might not "take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever (חי contracted from חיי equals חיה, as in Genesis 5:5; 1 Samuel 20:31), God sent him forth from the garden of Eden." With וישׁלּחהוּ (sent him forth) the narrative passes over from the words to the actions of God. From the גּם (also) it follows that the man had not yet eaten of the tree of life. Had he continued in fellowship with God by obedience to the command of God, he might have eaten of it, for he was created for eternal life. But after he had fallen through sin into the power of death, the fruit which produced immortality could only do him harm. For immortality in a state of sin is not the ζωὴ αἰώνιος, which God designed for man, but endless misery, which the Scriptures call "the second death" (Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8). The expulsion from paradise, therefore, was a punishment inflicted for man's good, intended, while exposing him to temporal death, to preserve him from eternal death. To keep the approach to the tree of life, "God caused cherubim to dwell (to encamp) at the east (on the eastern side) of the garden, and the (i.e., with the) flame of the sword turning to and fro" (מתהפּכת, moving rapidly). The word כּרוּב cherub has no suitable etymology in the Semitic, but is unquestionably derived from the same root as the Greek γρύψ or γρυπές, and has been handed down from the forefathers of our race, though the primary meaning can no longer be discovered. The Cherubim, however, are creatures of a higher world, which are represented as surrounding the throne of God, both in the visions of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:22., Genesis 10:1) and the Revelation of John (John 4:6); not, however, as throne-bearers or throne-holders, or as forming the chariot of the throne, but as occupying the highest place as living beings (חיּות, ζῷα) in the realm of spirits, standing by the side of God as the heavenly King when He comes to judgment, and proclaiming the majesty of the Judge of the world. In this character God stationed them on the eastern side of paradise, not "to inhabit the garden as the temporary representatives of man," but "to keep the way of the tree of life," i.e., to render it impossible for man to return to paradise, and eat of the tree of life. Hence there appeared by their side the flame of a sword, apparently in constant motion, cutting hither and thither, representing the devouring fire of the divine wrath, and showing the cherubim to be ministers of judgment. With the expulsion of man from the garden of Eden, paradise itself vanished from the earth. God did not withdraw from the tree of life its supernatural power, nor did He destroy the garden before their eyes, but simply prevented their return, to show that it should be preserved until the time of the end, when sin should be rooted out by the judgment, and death abolished by the Conqueror of the serpent (1 Corinthians 15:26), and when upon the new earth the tree of life should flourish again in the heavenly Jerusalem, and bear fruit for the redeemed (Revelation 20:1-15 and 21).
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