Genesis 3:5
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
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(5) Ye shall be as gods.—Rather, as God, as Elohim himself, in the particular quality of knowing good and evil. It was a high bait which the tempter offered; and Eve, who at first had answered rightly, and who as yet knew nothing of falsehood, dallied with the temptation, and was lost. But we must not comment too severely upon her conduct. It was no mean desire which led her astray: she longed for more know ledge and greater perfection; she wished even to rise above the level of her nature; but the means she used were in violation of God’s command, and so she fell. And, as usual, the tempter kept the promise to the ear. Eve knew good and evil, but only by feeling evil within herself. It was by moral degradation, and not by intellectual insight, that her ambitious wish was fulfilled.

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.

5. your eyes shall be opened—His words meant more than met the ear. In one sense her eyes were opened; for she acquired a direful experience of "good and evil"—of the happiness of a holy, and the misery of a sinful, condition. But he studiously concealed this result from Eve, who, fired with a generous desire for knowledge, thought only of rising to the rank and privileges of her angelic visitants.If you would have the whole truth of the matter, and God’s design in that prohibition, it is only this, He knoweth that you shall be so far from dying, that ye shall certainly be entered into a new and more noble kind of life; and the eyes of your minds, which are now shut as to the knowledge of a world of things, shall then be opened, and see things more fully and distinctly.

Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil, or, as God, like unto God himself in the largeness of your knowledge; the very name that God hath put upon the tree may teach you. But this is a privilege, of which, for divers causes best known to himself, some of which your own reason will easily guess at, he would not have you partake of.

For God doth know,.... Or "but (k) God doth know", who knows all things, and has foreknowledge of all future events; he foreknows what will be the consequence of this event, eating the fruit of this tree, that it would be so far from issuing in death, which he has threatened, that the effect of it would be a clearer understanding, and a greater degree of knowledge of things, which he is unwilling should be enjoyed, and therefore has endeavoured to prevent it by this prohibition; suggesting hereby, even in God, hatred of the creatures he had made, and unwilling they should be as happy as they might:

that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened; not the eyes of their bodies, as if they were now blind, but the eyes of their understanding; meaning, that their knowledge should be enlarged, and they should see things more clearly than they now did, and judge of them in a better manner; yea, even together with the light of their mind, the sight of their bodily eyes would receive some advantage; and particularly, that though they saw the nakedness of their bodies, yet it was as if they saw it not, and were unconcerned about it, and heedless of it; did not see it as unseemly and indecent, and so were not ashamed; but now they should see it as it was, and be filled with shame and confusion:

and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil: as "Elohim", which word is sometimes used of civil magistrates, sometimes of angels, and sometimes of God himself, and of the divine Persons in the Godhead: the Targum of Onkelos seems to respect the former, rendering it "as great personages", princes, judges, civil magistrates, who ought to know the difference between good and evil, or otherwise would be unfit for their office; but this cannot be the sense here, since there were no such persons in being, to whom the reference could be made; nor could it convey any proper idea to the mind of Eve, unless by them are meant principalities and powers, or "the mighty angels", as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases the word; and so it intimates, that upon eating this fruit they should be as wise and as knowing as those intelligent creatures: though perhaps Satan might mean, such angels as himself and his were, and that they should by sad experience know the difference between good and evil, as they did: but rather it is to be understood of that Elohim that made the heavens and the earth, for as yet the word had never been used, but of the true God, and of the divine Persons in the Trinity: and this agrees with what is ironically said, Genesis 3:22 "behold the man is become as one of us", as the devil told him he should, and as he believed he would: this was the bait laid for than, suited to his intellectual mind, and to the ambitious desires of it, not being content with finite knowledge, but aiming at omniscience, or something like it: now the temptation began to take place and operate.

(k) "sed", Piscator; "quin", Schmidt.

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, {e} knowing good and evil.

(e) As though he said, God forbids you to eat of the fruit, only because he knows that if you eat of it, you will be like him.

5. for God doth know, &c.] Having denied the fact of the penalty, the serpent proceeds to suggest that there is an unjust motive for the threat. It is not, he says, for the good of the man and the woman, but in order to exclude them from their privilege and right. No reason had been assigned: the serpent suggests one, that of jealous fear, lest men should be as God. According to the story, there is a half-truth in each utterance of the tempter; (1) “ye shall not surely die”: and it is true that the penalty of Genesis 2:17 was not literally carried out. The man did not die in the day that he ate of the fruit: (2) “in the day ye eat thereof your eyes shall be opened”; the prediction is verified in Genesis 3:7 : (3) “Ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil”: the prediction is confirmed by the words of Jehovah Himself, Genesis 3:22, “Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” These three assertions, the denial of penalty, the promise of knowledge, and the prospect of independence, therefore, are not lies capable of direct refutation, but half-truths requiring explanation.

your eyes shall be opened] An expression denoting the sudden acquisition of discernment to apprehend that which before had been hidden from ordinary sight. Cf. Genesis 21:19; 1 Samuel 14:29; 2 Kings 6:17.

as God] or as gods. Both translations are possible, as in the Hebrew the word for God, Elohim, is plural; and consequently it is sometimes impossible to say whether “a god,” or “gods,” is the right translation: e.g. 1 Samuel 28:13, “and the woman said unto Saul, I see a god (or ‘gods’) coming up out of the earth.” In favour of the plural “gods” is the expression in Genesis 3:22, “the man is become as one of us.” The word “Elohim” may be used of the Heavenly Beings, “Sons of God,” who living in the presence of God are spoken of as sharers in His Divinity; see note on Genesis 1:26. But as the purpose of the serpent is to implant distrust of, and disaffection towards, the Lord who had made the man and woman, the singular, “as God,” is to be preferred.

Verse 5. - For (מאנ ־ כִּי, γαρ, for because; assigning the reason

(1) for the devil's, statement, and so,

(2) by implication, for the Divine prohibition) God doth know. Thus the serpent practically charges the Deity with

(1) envy of his creatures' happiness, as if he meant to say, Depend upon it, it is not through any fear of your dying from its fruit that the tree has been interdicted, but through fear of your becoming rivals to your Master himself; and

(2) with falsehood -

(a) in affirming that to be true which he knew to be false;

(b) in doing this while delivering his law;

(c) in pretending to be careful of man's safety while in reality he was only jealous of his own honor. That in the day ye eat thereof. Cf. the Divine prohibition (Genesis 2:17), the exact terms of which are again used - a mark of growing aggressiveness towards the woman, and of special audacity towards God. The prohibition employs the singular number, being addressed to Adam only; the devil employs the plural, as his words were meant not for Eve alone, but for her husband with her. Your eyes shall be opened. "To open the eyes," the usual Biblical phrase for restoring sight to the blind (2 Kings 6:17, 20; Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 42:7), is also used to denote the impartation of power to perceive (physically, mentally, spiritually) objects not otherwise discernible (cf. Genesis 21:19; Isaiah 35:5). Here it was designed to be ambiguous; like all Satan's oracles, suggesting to the hearer the attainment of higher wisdom, but meaning in the intention of the speaker only a discovery of their nakedness. The same ambiguity attaches to the devil's exposition of his own text. And ye shall be as gods. Literally, as Elohim; not &c θεοὶ (LXX.), sicut dii (Vulgate), as gods (A.V.), as the angels (R. Jonathan), as the devils (Ainsworth), daemonibusque, diisve similes (Rosenmüller), as princes (White); but as the supreme Deity (Calvin, Keil, Kalisch, et alia) - ostensibly a promise of divinity. Knowing good and evil. As they knew this already from the prohibition, the language must imply a fullness and accuracy of understanding such as was competent only to Elohim (vide on ver. 22) Genesis 3:5"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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