Genesis 3:24
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
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(24) So he drove out the man.—This implies displeasure and compulsion. Adam departed unwillingly from his happy home, and with the consciousness that he had incurred the Divine anger. It was the consequence of his sin, and was a punishment, even if necessary for his good under the changed circumstances produced by his disobedience. On the duration of Adam’s stay in Paradise, see Excursus at end of this book.

He placed.—Literally, caused to dwell. The return to Paradise was closed for ever.

At the east of the garden of Eden.—Adam still had his habitation in the land of Eden, and probably in the immediate neighbourhood of Paradise. (Comp. Genesis 4:16.)

Cherubims.—The cherub was a symbolical figure, representing strength and majesty. The ordinary derivation, from a root signifying to carve, grave, and especially to plough, compared with Exodus 25:20, suggests that the cherubim were winged bulls, probably with human heads, like those brought from Nineveh. We must not confound them with the four living creatures of Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 1:5), which are the “beasts” of the Revelation of St. John. The office of the cherub here is to guard the Paradise, lest man should try to force an entrance back; and so too the office of the cherubs upon the mercy-seat was to protect it, lest any one should impiously approach it, except the high-priest on the Day of Atonement. The four living creatures of the Apocalypse have a far different office and signification.



Genesis 3:24
. - Revelation 22:14.

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.’ Eden was fair, but the heavenly city shall be fairer. The Paradise regained is an advance on the Paradise that was lost. These are the two ends of the history of man, separated by who knows how many millenniums. Heaven lay about him in his infancy, but as he journeyed westwards its morning blush faded into the light of common day-and only at eventide shall the sky glow again with glory and colour, and the western heaven at last outshine the eastern, with a light that shall never die. A fall, and a rise-a rise that reverses the fall, a rise that transcends the glory from which he fell,-that is the Bible’s notion of the history of the world, and I, for my part, believe it to be true, and feel it to be the one satisfactory explanation of what I see round about me and am conscious of within me.

1. Man had an Eden and lost it.

I take the Fall to be a historical fact. To all who accept the authority of Scripture, no words are needed beyond the simple statement before us, but we may just gather up the signs that there are on the wide field of the world’s history, and in the narrower experience of individuals, that such a fall has been.

Look at the condition of the world: its degradation, its savagery-all its pining myriads, all its untold millions who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. Will any man try to bring before him the actual state of the heathen world, and, retaining his belief in a God, profess that these men are what God meant men to be? It seems to me that the present condition of the world is not congruous with the idea that men are in their primitive state, and if this is what God meant men for, then I see not how the dark clouds which rest on His wisdom and His love are to be lifted off.

Then, again-if the world has not a Fall in its history, then we must take the lowest condition as the one from which all have come; and is that idea capable of defence? Do we see anywhere signs of an upward process going on now? Have we any experience of a tribe raising itself? Can you catch anywhere a race in the act of struggling up, outside of the pale of Christianity? Is not the history of all a history of decadence, except only where the Gospel has come in to reverse the process?

But passing from this: What mean the experiences of the individual-these longings; this hard toil; these sorrows?

How comes it that man alone on earth, manifestly meant to be leader, lord, etc., seems but cursed with a higher nature that he may know greater sorrows, and raised above the beasts in capacity that he may sink below them in woe, this capacity only leading to a more exquisite susceptibility, to a more various as well as more poignant misery?

Whence come the contrarieties and discordance in his nature?

It seems to me that all this is best explained as the Bible explains it by saying: {1} Sin has done it; {2} Sin is not part of God’s original design, but man has fallen; {3} Sin had a personal beginning. There have been men who were pure, able to stand but free to fall.

It seems to me that that explanation is more in harmony with the facts of the case, finds more response in the unsophisticated instinct of man, than any other. It seems to me that, though it leaves many dark and sorrowful mysteries all unsolved, yet that it alleviates the blackest of them, and flings some rays of hope on them all. It seems to me that it relieves the character and administration of God from the darkest dishonour; that it delivers man’s position and destiny from the most hopeless despair; that though it leaves the mystery of the origin of evil, it brings out into clearest relief the central truths that evil is evil, and sin and sorrow are not God’s will; that it vindicates as something better than fond imaginings the vague aspirations of the soul for a fair and holy state; that it establishes, as nothing else will, at once the love of God and the dignity of man; that it leaves open the possibility of the final overthrow of that Sin which it treats as an intrusion and stigmatises as a fall; that it therefore braces for more vigorous, hopeful conflict against it, and that while but for it the answer to the despairing question, Hast Thou made all men in vain? must be either the wailing echo ‘In vain,’ or the denial that He has made them at all, there is hope and there is power, and there is brightness thrown on the character of God and on the fate of man, by the old belief that God made man upright, and that man made himself a sinner.

2. Heaven restores the lost Eden.

‘God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared them a city.’

The highest conception we can form of heaven is the reversal of all the evil of earth, and the completion of its incomplete good: the sinless purity-the blessed presence of God-the fulfilment of all desires-the service which is blessed, not toil-the changelessness which is progress, not stagnation.

3. Heaven surpasses the lost Eden.

{1} Garden-City.

The perfection of association-the nations of the saved. Here ‘we mortal millions live alone,’ even when united with dearest. Like Egyptian monks of old, each dwelling in his own cave, though all were a community.

{2} The richer experience.

The memory of past sorrows which are understood at last.

Heaven’s bliss in contrast with earthly joys.

Sinlessness of those who have been sinners will be more intensely lustrous for its dark background in the past. Redeemed men will be brighter than angels.

The impossibility of a fall.

Death behind us.

The former things shall no more come to mind, being lost in blaze of present transcendent experience, but yet shall be remembered as having led to that perfect state.

Christ not only repairs the ‘tabernacle which was fallen,’ but builds a fairer temple. He brings ‘a statelier Eden,’ and makes us dwell for ever in a Garden City.

Genesis 3:24. So he drove out the man — This signified the exclusion of him and his guilty race from that communion with God which was the bliss and glory of paradise. But whither did he send him when he turned him out of Eden? He might justly have chased him out of the world, Job 18:18; but he only chased him out of the garden: he might justly have cast him down to hell, as the angels that sinned were, when they were shut out from the heavenly paradise, 2 Peter 2:4; but man was only sent to till the ground out of which he was taken. He was only sent to a place of toil, not to a place of torment. He was sent to the ground, not to the grave; to the workhouse, not to the dungeon, not to the prison-house; to hold the plough, not to drag the chain: his tilling the ground would be recompensed by his eating its fruits; and his converse with the earth, whence he was taken, was improvable to good purposes, to keep him humble, and to remind him of his latter end. Observe, then, that though our first parents were excluded from the privileges of their state of innocence, yet they were not abandoned to despair; God’s thoughts of love designed them for a second state of probation upon new terms. And he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, a detachment of cherubim, armed with a dreadful and irresistible power, represented by flaming swords which turned every way — On that side the garden which lay next to the place whither Adam was sent, to keep the way that led to the tree of life.

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.So he drove out the man. - This expresses the banishment of man from the garden as a judicial act. While he is left to the fruits of his labor for the means of subsistence until his return to the dust, his access to the source of perpetual life and vigor is effectually barred by a guard stationed east of the garden, where was no doubt its only entrance, consisting of the cherubim and the flame of a sword waving in all directions. The flaming sword is the visible form of the sword of justice, repelling the transgressors from the seat and source of happiness and life. The cherubim, who are here mentioned as well-known objects, whose figure does not require description, are the ministers of the divine presence and judgment - of his presence which was not entirely withdrawn from man; and of his judgment, by which he was excluded from the garden of delight.

There is unspeakable mercy here in every respect for the erring race. This present life in the flesh was now tainted with sin, and impregnated with the seeds of the curse, about to spring forth into an awful growth of moral and physical evil. It is not worth preserving for itself. It is not in any way desirable that such a dark confusion of life and death in one nature should be perpetuated. Hence, there is mercy as well as judgment in the exclusion of man from that tree which could have only continued the carnal, earthly, sensual and even devilish state of his being. Let it remain for a season, until it be seen whether the seed of spiritual life will come to birth and growth, and then let death come and put a final end to the old man.

Still further, God does not annihilate the garden or its tree of life. Annihilation does not seem to be his way. It is not the way of that omniscient One who sees the end from the beginning, of that infinite Wisdom that can devise and create a self-working, self-adjusting universe of things and events. On the other hand, he sets his cherubim to keep the way of the tree of life. This paradise, then, and its tree of life are in safe keeping. They are in reserve for those who will become entitled to them after an intervening period of trial and victory, and they will reappear in all their pristine glory and in all their beautiful adaptedness to the high-born and new-born perfection of man. The slough of that serpent nature which has been infused into man will fall off, at least from the chosen number who take refuge in the mercy of God; and in all the freshness and freedom of a heaven-born nature will they enter into all the originally congenial enjoyments that were shadowed forth in their pristine bloom in that first scene of human bliss.

We have now gone over the prelude to the history of man. It consists of three distinct events: the absolute creation of the heavens and the earth, contained in one verse; the last creation, in which man himself came into being, embracing the remainder of the first chapter; and the history of the first pair to the fall, recorded in the second and third chapters. The first two fall into one, and reveal the invisible everlasting Elohim coming forth out of the depths of his inscrutable eternity, and manifesting himself to man in the new character of Yahweh, the author and perpetuator of a universe of being, and pre-eminently of man, a type and specimen of the rational order of beings. Whenever moral agents come into existence, and wherever they come into contact, there must be law, covenant, or compact. Hence, the command is laid upon man as the essential prerequisite to his moral deportment; and Yahweh appears further as the vindicator of law, the keeper of covenant, the performer of promise.

Man, being instructed by him in the fundamental principle of all law, namely, the right of the Creator over the creature, and the independence of each creature in relation to every other, takes the first step in moral conduct. But it is a false one, violating this first law of nature and of God in both its parts. "Thus, by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Hence, the prospect of man's future history is clouded, and it cannot be darker than it afterward turns out to be. But still it is tinged even in its early dawn with some rays of heavenly hope. The Lord God has held out signals of mercy to the tempted and fallen pair. The woman and the man have not been slow to acknowledge this, and to show symptoms of returning faith and repentance. And though they have been shut out of the garden, yet that region of bliss and its tree of life are not swept out of existence, but, in the boundless mercy of God, reserved in safe keeping for those who shall become heirs of glory, honor, and immortality.

Let it be observed that we here stand on the broad ground of our common humanity. From this wide circumference Scripture never recedes. Even when it recounts the fortunes of a single individual, family, or nation, its eye and its interest extend to the whole race; and it only dwells on the narrower circle of men and things as the potential spring of nascent, growing, and eternal life and blessing to the whole race. Let us endeavor to do justice to this ancient record, in the calm and constant grandeur and catholicity of its revelations concerning the ways of God with man.

24. placed … cherbim—The passage should be rendered thus: "And he dwelt between the cherubim at the East of the Garden of Eden and a fierce fire, or Shekinah, unfolding itself to preserve the way of the tree of life." This was the mode of worship now established to show God's anger at sin and teach the mediation of a promised Saviour as the way of life, as well as of access to God. They were the same figures as were afterwards in the tabernacle and temple; and now, as then, God said, "I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims" (Ex 25:22). The east of the garden, where the entrance into it was, the other sides of it being enclosed or secured by God to preserve it from the entrance and annoyance of wild beasts. Or, before the garden, i.e. near to the garden; before any man could come at the garden any way.

Cherubims, i.e. angels, so called from their exquisite knowledge, and therefore fitly here used for the punishment of man, who sinned by affecting Divine knowledge.

And a flaming sword in the cherubims’ hands, as it was upon other occasions, Numbers 22:23 Joshua 5:13 1 Chronicles 21:16, 1 Chronicles 21:27. And this was either a material sword, bright, and being brandished, shining and glittering like a flame of fire; or flaming fire, in the shape of a sword. Or, flaming swords, because there were divers cherubims, and each of them had a sword; the singular number for the plural. Or, a two-edged sword,

which turned every way, was brandished and nimbly whirled about by the cherubims; which posture was fittest for the present service,

to keep the way that leads to Paradise, and so to the tree of life, that man might be deterred and kept from coming thither.

So he drove out the man,.... Being unwilling to go out upon the orders given, some degree of force was used, or power exerted, in some way or other, to oblige him to depart; the word it is expressed by is used of divorces: there was a conjugal relation between God and man, the covenant between them had the nature of a matrimonial contract; which covenant man broke, though he was an husband to him, by committing idolatry, that is, spiritual adultery, not giving credit to him, but believing the devil before him; wherefore he wrote him a bill of divorce, and sent him away; drove him from his presence and communion with him, from his house and habitation, from his seat of pleasure, and garden of delight, and from all the comfortable enjoyments of life; an emblem of that separation and distance which sin makes between God and his creature, and of that loss which is sustained thereby:

and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubims; the Septuagint version is,"and he placed him, or caused him (Adam) to dwell over against the paradise of pleasure, and he ordered the cherubim''But the words are not to be understood either of placing man, or placing the cherubim, but of Jehovah's placing himself, or taking up his habitation and residence before the garden of Eden, or at the east of it: while man abode in a state of innocence, the place of the divine Presence, or where God more gloriously manifested himself to him, was in the garden; but now he having sinned, and being driven out of it, he fixes his abode in a very awful manner at the entrance of the garden, to keep man out of it; for so the words may be rendered, "and he inhabited the cherubim, or dwelt over, or between the cherubim, before or at the east of the garden of Eden" (q); so the Jerusalem Targum,"and he made the glory of his Shechinah, or glorious Majesty, to dwell of old at the east of the garden of Eden, over or above the two cherubim;''or between them, as the Targum of Jonathan; and very frequently is Jehovah described as sitting and dwelling between the cherubim, 1 Samuel 4:4 by which are meant not flying animals or fowls, whose form no man ever saw, as Josephus (r); nor angels, which is the more generally received opinion; for these were not real living creatures of any sort, but forms and representations, such as were made afterwards in the tabernacle of Moses, and temple of Solomon; and which Ezekiel and John saw in a visionary way, and from whom we learn what figures they were: and these were hieroglyphics, not of a trinity of persons, as some of late have stupidly imagined; for these were the seat of the divine Majesty, and between which he dwelt: and besides, as these had four faces, they would rather represent a quaternity than a trinity, and would give a similitude of the divine Being, which cannot be done, and be contrary to the second command; to which may be added, that the word is sometimes singular as well as plural: but these were hieroglyphics of the ministers of the word, whose understanding, humility, and tenderness, are signified by the face of a man; their strength, courage, and boldness, by that of a lion; their labour and diligence by that of an ox; and their quick sight and penetration into divine things by that of an eagle, which are the forms and figures of the cherubim; see Gill on Ezekiel 1:10. Among these Jehovah is; with these he grants his presence, and by them signifies his mind and will to men; and these he makes use of to show them the vanity of all self-confidence, and to beat them off of seeking for life and righteousness by their own works, and to direct them alone to Christ, and point him out as the alone way of salvation; and of this use the hieroglyphic might be to fallen Adam, now driven out of Eden:

and a flaming sword, which turned every way; a drawn sword, brandished, and which being very quick in its motion, as it was turned to and fro, glittered and looked like a flame of fire: this is not to be understood as by itself, and as of itself, turning about every way without a hand to move it, nor as with the cherubim, or as in the hands of angels, as in 1 Chronicles 21:16 or as being they themselves, which are made as flames of fire; but as in the hand of the Lord God, that dwelt between the cherubim; for so it may be rendered, "he inhabited the cherubim and that with a flaming sword" (s); that is, with one in his hand, an emblem of the fiery law of God now broken, and of the fire of divine wrath on the account of that, and of the flaming justice of God, which required satisfaction; and this turning on all sides:

to keep the way of the tree of life; showing, that life and salvation were not to be had, unless the law and justice of God were satisfied; and that they were not to be expected on the foot of men's works, but only through Christ, the way, the truth, and the life; that no happiness was to be looked for from the covenant of works, now broke, nothing but wrath and vengeance; and that there must be another way opened, or there could be no enjoyment of the heavenly paradise.

(q) -- "et habitavit super `seu' cum cherubim", Texelii Phoenix, p. 256. So sometimes signifies "upon", "above", or "with". See Nold. Ebr. part. Concord. p. 116, 121. (r) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 6. sect. 6. (s) "idque cum gladio evaginato", Texelius, ib.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
24. So he drove out] The expulsion from the garden is repeated in this verse in stronger terms. In Genesis 3:23, it was “sent him forth” (LXX ἐξαπέστειλεν, Lat. emisit): here, it is “drove out” (LXX ἐξέβαλε, Lat. ejecit). Though there is a repetition which may possibly imply different narratives combined together, the milder tone of Genesis 3:23 is connected with, the description of man’s vocation to work, the sterner tone of Genesis 3:24 expresses the exclusion of sinful beings from the privileges of the Divine presence.

at the east] Implying that the entrance was on the east side. Man is driven out eastward, in accordance with the prevalent belief that the cradle of human civilization was to be sought for in the east.

Assyrian Winged Bull.

the Cherubim] Mentioned here without explanation, as if their character must be well known to the readers. The O.T. contains two representations of the Cherubim: (1) they are beings who uphold the throne of God, cf. 1 Samuel 4:4, 2 Samuel 6:2, 2 Kings 19:15, Psalm 80:2; Psalm 99:1; possibly, in this aspect, they were originally the personification of the thunder clouds, cf. Psalm 18:10. “And he (Jehovah), rode upon a cherub, and did fly,” where the passage is describing the Majesty of Jehovah in the thunderstorm: (2) they are symbols of the Divine Presence, e.g. two small golden cherubim upon the Ark of the Covenant, Exodus 25:18 ff.; two large-winged creatures made of olive wood, sheltering the Ark in the Holy of Holies, 1 Kings 6:23. They were represented in the works of sacred art in the Tabernacle, Exodus 25:18 ff.: and on the walls and furniture of the Temple, 1 Kings 6:29; 1 Kings 6:35; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Kings 7:36, cf. Ezekiel 41:18 ff.

The description of the four living creatures in Ezekiel 1:5 ff; Ezekiel 10:20 ff., gives us the Prophet’s conception of the Cherubim, each one with four faces (of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle), and each one with four wings. But in Ezekiel 41:18-19 the Cherubim have two faces, one of a man, and one of a lion. It is natural to compare the Assyrian composite figures, winged bulls, and lions with men’s heads, and the Greek γρύψ, or “gryphon.” In the present passage, the Cherubim are placed as sentinels at the approach to the Tree of Life, and, therefore, we are probably intended to understand that they stood, one on either side of the entrance to the garden, like the two winged figures at the entrance of an Assyrian temple. They are emblematical of the presence of the Almighty: they are the guardians of His abode.

the flame of a sword] It is not usually noticed that we have in these words a protection for the Tree of Life quite distinct from the Cherubim. The hasty reader supposes that the “sword” is a weapon carried by the Cherubim. In pictures, the sword with the flame turning every way is put into the hand of a watching Angel. But this misrepresents the language of the original Hebrew, which states that God placed, at the east of the garden, not only the Cherubim, but also “the flame of a sword which turned every way.” What the writer intended to convey we can only conjecture. Very probably it was a representation of the lightnings which went forth from the Divine Presence, and were symbolical of unapproachable purity and might.

The student should refer to the description of the Cherub, in Ezekiel 28:11-19, and note particularly the words, Genesis 3:13, “thou wast in Eden, the garden of God,” Genesis 3:14, “thou wast the anointed Cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” (See Davidson’s Notes, in loc. in Cambridge Bible.)

The LXX τὴν φλογίνην ῥομφαίαν τὴν στρεφομένην, and Lat. flammeum gladium atque versatilem, give a good rendering of the original.

to keep the way of the tree of life] That is to “keep,” or “protect,” “the way that led to the tree of life,” so that man should not set foot upon it.

In the N.T. “the tree of life” is mentioned Revelation 2:7, “to him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God,” cf. Genesis 22:2.


I. The following illustrations of the Story of the Fall are from Jeremias (O.T. in the Light of the Ancient East, E.T.).

(a) In Mexican mythology the first woman is called “the woman with the serpent,” or “the woman of our flesh,” and she has twin sons.… In the same way the Indians have a divine first mother of the race of man, who dwells in Paradise (the Indian Meru). Also in the beginning the evil demon Mahishasura fought with the serpent, trod upon and cut off his head; a victory to be repeated at the end of the world, when Brahma will give back to Indra the rulership over all.… The Chinese have a myth according to which Fo-hi, the first man, discovered the wisdom of Yang and Yin, masculine and feminine principle (heaven and earth).… A dragon rose from the deep and taught him. “The woman,” it is said in an explanatory gloss, “is the first source and the root of all evil” (p. 231).

(b) Legend of Eabani. The [Babylonian] epic of Gilgamesh tells about a friend of the hero, reminiscent of Pan and Priapus, Eabani, whose whole body was covered with hair. He is the creation of Aruru when she “broke off clay” and “made an image of Anu.” He is a being of a gigantic strength. “With the gazelles he eats green plants, with the cattle he satisfies himself (?) with drink, with the fish (properly crowd) he is happy in the water. He spoils the hunting of the ‘hunter.’ Out of love to the animals he destroys snares and nets (?), so that the wild beasts escape. Then by the craft of the hunter, who feared him, a woman is brought to him, who seduces him, and keeps him from his companions the beasts, for six days and seven nights. When he came back, all beasts of the field fled from him. Then Eabani followed the woman, and let himself be led into the city of Erech. In the following passages of the epic the woman appears as the cause of his troubles and sorrows. A later passage records that Eabani cursed her. The First Man is not in question here, but a certain relationship of idea in this description to the story of the happy primeval state of Adam must be granted” (p. 232 f.).

(c) Legend of Adapa. Adapa, the son of Êa, was one day fishing when “the south wind suddenly overturned his boat and he fell into the sea. Adapa in revenge broke the wings of the south wind (the bird Zu), so that he could not fly for seven days. Anu, God of Heaven, called him to account, saying, ‘No mercy!’ but at the prayer of Tammuz and Gishzida, Watchers of the Gate, Anu softened his anger, and commanded that a banquet should be prepared, and a festival garment presented to him, and oil for his anointing: garment and oil he accepted, but food and drink he refused. Êa had warned him: ‘When thou appearest before Anu, they will offer thee food of Death: eat not thereof! Water of Death will they offer thee: drink not thereof! They will present thee with a garment: put it on! They will offer thee oil: anoint thyself with it!’ But, behold, it was Bread of Life and Water of Life! Anu breaks forth in wonder. Upon the man who has been permitted by his creator to gaze into the secrets of heaven and earth …, he (Anu) has desired to bestow also immortality. And by the envy of the God the man has been deceived” (p. 183 f.).

Jastrow remarks upon this legend: “Adam, it will be recalled, after eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, makes a garment for himself. There can be no doubt that there is a close connection between this tradition and the feature in the Adapa legend, where Adapa, who has been shown the ‘secrets of heaven and earth,’—that is, has acquired knowledge—is commanded by Êa to put on the garment that is offered him. The anointing oneself with oil, though an essential part of the toilet in the ancient and modern Orient, was discarded in the Hebrew tale as a superfluous feature. The idea conveyed by the use of oil was the same as the one indicated in clothing one’s nakedness. Both are symbols of civilization which man is permitted to attain, but his development stops there. He cannot secure eternal life” (Religion of B. and A., p. 552 f.).

In this legend, the man Adapa who has acquired “knowledge,” is prevented by the deceit of Êa, the creator of man, from acquiring immortality. There is therefore a striking parallelism of idea with the narrative of Genesis 3, but there is no resemblance in its general features.

Hitherto there has not been discovered any Babylonian story of the Fall. But, when we observe the occurrence of such features as “the garden,” “the tree of life,” “the serpent,” “the Cherubim,” it is clear that the symbolism employed is that which is quite common in the records and representations of Assyrian and Babylonian myths.

II. The Story of the Fall does not offer an explanation for the origin of sin. But (1) it gives a description of the first sin; and (2) it presents an explanation of (a) the sense of shame (Genesis 3:7), (b) the toil of man (Genesis 3:17-19), (c) the birth-pangs of woman (Genesis 3:16), (d) the use of clothing (Genesis 3:21). Whether it offers an explanation of the origin of death, is doubtful. The penalty of death, threatened in Genesis 2:17, was not carried out. In Genesis 3:19 it is assumed that man will die, if he does not eat of the tree of life. He is not, therefore, created immortal; yet immortality is not impossible for him.

The story turns upon man’s eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What is this “knowledge of good and evil”? Four answers have been given. (1) Initiation into the mysteries of magical knowledge. (2) Transition to the physical maturity of which the sense of shame is the natural symptom (Genesis 3:7). (3) Acquisition of the knowledge of the secrets of nature and the gifts of civilization, e.g. clothing (Genesis 3:21), arts, industries, &c. (Genesis 4:17 ff.). (4) Arrival at the moral sense of discernment between right and wrong.

Of these, (1) the first may at once be dismissed as quite alien to the general tenour of the story.

(2) The second emphasizes one feature in the story (Genesis 3:7; Genesis 3:10; Genesis 3:21), the sense of shame on account of nakedness. But this new consciousness of sex is only one symptom of the results of disobedience. As an explanation, though possibly adequate for some earlier version of the story, it fails to satisfy the requirements of its present religious character.

(3) The third explanation goes further. It supposes that the knowledge is of that type which afterwards characterizes the descendants of Cain (Genesis 4:17 ff.). It implies the expansion of culture with deliberate defiance of God’s will. It means, then, simply the intellectual knowledge of “everything,” or, in the Babylonian phrase, of the “secrets of heaven and earth.” Cf. Jastrow, p. 553 n.

(4) The fourth explanation has been objected to on the ground that God could not originally have wished to exclude man from the power of discerning between good and evil. Notwithstanding, it seems to be the one most in harmony with the general religious character of the story, which turns upon the act of disobedience to God’s command, and upon the assertion of man’s will against the Divine. It may, of course, fairly be asked whether the fact of prohibition did not assume the existence of a consciousness of the difference between right and wrong. We need not expect the story to be psychologically scientific. But the prohibition was laid down in man’s condition of existence previous to temptation. It was possible to receive a Divine command without realizing the moral effect of disobedience. The idea of violating that command had not presented itself before the Serpent suggested it. Conscience was not created, but its faculties were instantaneously aroused into activity, by disobedience. “It is not the thought of the opposition and difference between good and evil …, but it is the experience of evil, that knowledge of good and evil which arises from man having taken evil into his very being, which brings death with it. Man, therefore, ought to know evil only as a possibility that he has overcome; he ought only to see the forbidden fruit; but if he eats it, his death is in the act.” (Martensen, Christian Dogmatics, p. 156.)

III. (a) It does not appear that the Story of the Fall is elsewhere alluded to in the Old Testament. The passages in Job 31:33, “If like Adam I covered my transgressions,” Hosea 6:7, “But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant,” are doubtful exceptions. But, in all probability, in both cases the rendering of adam, not as a proper name, but as “man” or “men,” is to be preferred. There is, indeed, a reference to the “garden of Eden” tradition in Ezekiel 28:1[8] But there is no instance, either in the prophetical or sapiential writings, in which the Story of the Fall is made the basis for instruction upon the subject of sin and its consequences. “The Old Testament,” as Mr Tennant says2[9], “supplies no trace of the existence, among the sacred writers, of any interpretation of the Fall-story comparable to the later doctrine of the Fall.” At the same time, there is no ancient literature comparable to the writings of the O.T. for the deep consciousness of the sinfulness of man in God’s sight.

[8] Micah 7:17, “to lick the dust like a serpent,” is an illustration of Genesis 3:14 rather than an allusion to the story.

[9] The Fall and Original Sin, p. 93.

The later Jewish literature shews how prominently the subject of the first sin and of man’s depravity entered into the thought and discussions of the Jews in the last century b.c. and in the first century a.d.

(b) The most notable of the passages referring to the Fall, which illustrate the theology of St Paul, are as follows:

Romans 5:12-14, “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:—for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come.” Genesis 3:18, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” 2 Corinthians 11:3, “The serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness.” 1 Timothy 2:14, “Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression.”

In Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 St Paul compares the consequences of the Fall of Adam with the consequences of the redemptive work of Christ. Adam’s Fall brought with it sin and death: Christ’s justifying Act brought righteousness and life. The effects of Adam’s sin were transmitted to his descendants. Sin, the tendency to sin, and death, became in consequence universal. But the effect of Adam’s Fall has been cancelled by the work of Grace, by the Death and Resurrection of Christ.

For a full discussion of St Paul’s treatment of the Fall, see Sanday and Headlam’s Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (chap. v.), Bishop Gore’s Lectures on the Romans (vol. i. pp. 185 ff.), Thackeray’s St Paul and Jewish Thought (chap. ii.), Tennant’s The Fall and Original Sin (chap. xi.), Bernard’s article Fall in Hastings’ D.B. (vol. i.).

(c) The following passages, quoted from Charles’ Apocrypha, will illustrate Jewish religious thought upon the subject of the Fall and its consequences:

Wis 2:23-24, “Because God created man for incorruption, and made him an image of his own proper being; But by the envy of the devil death entered into the world, and they that belong to his realm; experience it.”

Sir 25:24, “From a woman did sin originate, and because of her we must all die.”

4 Ezra 3:21, “And to him [Adam] thou commandedst only one observance of thine, but he transgressed it. Forthwith thou appointedst death for him and for his generations.”

4 Ezra 3:21, “For the first Adam, clothing himself with the evil heart, transgressed and was overcome; and likewise also all who were born of him. Thus the infirmity became inveterate; the Law indeed was in the heart of the people, but (in conjunction) with the evil germ; so what was good departed.” Cf. 4:30, 31.

4 Ezra 7:118, “O thou Adam, what hast thou done! For though it was thou that sinned, the fall was not thine alone, but ours also who are thy descendants!”

2 Baruch xvii. 2, 3, “For what did it profit Adam that he lived nine hundred and thirty years, and transgressed that which he was commanded? Therefore the multitude of time that he lived did not profit him, but brought death, and cut off the years of those who were born from him.”

2 Baruch xxiii. 4, “When Adam sinned and death was decreed against those who should be born.”

2 Baruch xlviii. 42, “O Adam, what hast thou done to all those who are born from thee? And what will be said to the first Eve who hearkened to the Serpent?”

2 Baruch liv. 15, 19, “Though Adam first sinned and brought untimely death upon all, yet of those who were born from him each one of them has prepared for his own soul torment to come.… Adam is therefore not the cause, save only of his own soul, But each of us has been the Adam of his own soul.”

2 Baruch lvi. 6, “For when he [Adam] transgressed, untimely death came into being.”

It will be observed that in some of these passages, e.g. 2 Baruch liv. 15, 19, the spiritual consequences of Adam’s Fall are in the main limited to Adam himself. Jewish thought was not agreed upon the question whether all men inherited from Adam a tendency to sin, or whether each man enjoyed freedom of choice and responsibility. Both views could be supported from St Paul’s words, “Through the disobedience of the one the many were made sinners,” “And so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned.”

(d) The teaching of the Talmud is summed up by Weber: “Free will remained to man after the Fall. There is such a thing as transmission of guilt, but not a transmission of sin (es gibt eine Erbschuld, aber keine Erbsünde); the fall of Adam occasioned death to the whole race, but not sinfulness in the sense of a necessity to sin. Sin is the result of the decision of each individual; as experience shows it is universal, but in itself even after the Fall it was not absolutely necessary” (quoted by Thackeray, ut supra, p. 38). Compare the Midrash Bemidbar Rabba, chap. xiii.; “When Adam transgressed the command of the Holy One, and ate of the tree, the Holy One demanded of him penitence, thereby revealing to him the means of freedom (i.e. from the result of his sin), but Adam would not show penitence.”

(e) Christian doctrine has been much influenced by the teaching of the Fall. But it is not too much to say that speculation upon Original Sin and the effects of the Fall of Adam has too often been carried into subtleties that have no warrant either in Holy Scripture or in reason. “Speaking broadly, the Greek view was simply that ‘the original righteousness’ of the race was lost; the effect of Adam’s sin was a privatio, an impoverishment of human nature which left the power of the will unimpaired. But the Latin writers who followed Augustine took a darker view of the consequences of the Fall. It is for them a depravatio naturae; the human will is disabled; there is left a bias towards evil which can be conquered only by grace.” (Bernard, art. Fall, D.B.)

According to St Augustine, Adam’s sin was the abandonment of God, and his punishment was abandonment by God. Adam forfeited the adjutorium of grace. His will was no longer capable of good. In virtue of the “corporate personality” of Adam, all in Adam sinned voluntarily in him. All shared his guilt. This idea of the whole race being tainted with Adam’s act of sin, rests partly upon the exaggerated emphasis laid upon the Roman legal phrase of “imputation,” partly upon the mistranslation, “in quo,” of St Paul’s words ἐφʼ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον, as if it were “in whom all sinned,” instead of “in that all sinned.”

The Fathers very generally held that original righteousness, which combined natural innocence and the grace of God granted to Adam, was lost at the Fall: and that man, therefore, lost primaeval innocence and the Divine Spirit simultaneously.

(f) Thomas Aquinas went still further in the systematization of the doctrine. Mr Wheeler Robinson gives the following summary: “The immediate result of the Fall was the loss of man’s original righteousness, that is, of the harmonious inter-relation of his nature, through the complete withdrawal of the gift of grace and the decrease of his inclination to virtue (I. b, Q. lxxxv. 1). The disorder of his nature, when uncontrolled by grace, shews itself materially in concupiscentia and formally in the want of original righteousness (I. b, Q. lxxxii. 3), these two elements constituting the ‘original sin’ which passed to Adam’s descendants with the accompanying ‘guilt’ (I. b, lxxxi. 3).… all men are one, through the common nature they receive from Adam. As in the individual the will moves the several members, so in the race the will of Adam moves those sprung from him” (I. b, lxxxi. 1). (The Christian Doctrine of Man, p. 206 f.)

The Council of Trent, Sessio Quinta §§ 2, 3, June 17, 1546, in the “Decree concerning Original Sin,” laid down the following dogma: “If any one asserts that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death and pains of the body into the human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema: whereas he contradicts the apostle who says: By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom (in quo) all have sinned” … “this sin of Adam,—which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propagation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own.…” (Schaff’s Creeds of the Gr. and Lat. Churches, p. 85.)

(g) XXXIX Articles. “Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption (vitium et depravatio) of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone (quam longissime distet) from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to do evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit, and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection (depravatio) of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated (in renatis).…” (Art. ix. Of original or Birth Sin.)

“The condition of man after the fall of Adam (post lapsum Adae) is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God.…” (Art. x. Free Will.)

For a valuable series of discussions, in which traditional Christian doctrine respecting “Original Sin” and the “Fall of Adam” is criticized, see The Origin and Propagation of Sin (1909), The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin (1903), The Concept of Sin (1912) by the Rev. F. R. Tennant, D.D., B.Sc., Cambridge University Press.

The problem has very largely been modified by modern enquiry, both as regards the origin of the race and the character of the Scripture narrative. Christian doctrine is no longer fettered by the methods of the Schoolmen. Modern philosophy of religion, assisted by the newer studies of sociology, anthropology, and comparative religion, is beginning to revise our conceptions both of personality and of sin. It is inevitable, that, in the larger horizon which has opened up, the attempt should be made to restate Christian thought in reference to the nature of “sin,” of “guilt,” and of “personal freedom.”

In conclusion, the following extract from Sanday and Headlam’s Note on Romans 5:12-21 (p. 146 f.) will repay the student’s careful consideration:

“The tendency to sin is present in every man who is born into the world. But the tendency does not become actual sin until it takes effect in defiance of an express command, in deliberate disregard of a known distinction between right and wrong. How men came to be possessed of such a command, by what process they arrived at the conscious distinction of right and wrong, we can but vaguely speculate. Whatever it was, we may be sure that it could not have been presented to the imagination of primitive peoples otherwise than in such simple forms as the narrative assumes in the Book of Genesis. The really essential truths all come out in that narrative—the recognition of the Divine Will, the act of disobedience to the Will so recognised, the perpetuation of the tendency to such disobedience; and we may add perhaps, though here we get into a region of surmises, the connexion between moral evil and physical decay, for the surest pledge of immortality is the relation of the highest part of us, the soul, through righteousness to God. These salient principles, which may have been due in fact to a process of gradual accretion through long periods, are naturally and inevitably summed up as a group of single incidents. Their essential character is not altered, and in the interpretation of primitive beliefs we may safely remember that ‘a thousand years in the sight of God are but as one day.’ We who believe in Providence and who believe in the active influence of the Spirit of God upon man, may well also believe that the tentative gropings of the primaeval savage were assisted and guided and so led up to definite issues, to which he himself perhaps at the time could hardly give a name but which he learnt to call ‘sin’ and ‘disobedience,’ and the tendency to which later ages also saw to have been handed on from generation to generation in a way which we now describe as ‘heredity.’ It would be absurd to expect the language of modern science in the prophet who first incorporated the traditions of his race in the Sacred Books of the Hebrews. He uses the only kind of language available to his own intelligence and that of his contemporaries. But if the language which he does use is from that point of view abundantly justified, then the application which St Paul makes of it is equally justified. He, too, expresses truth through symbols, and in the days when men can dispense with symbols his teaching may be obsolete, but not before.”

Genesis 3:24Clothed 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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