The Penal Clauses
Genesis 3:17
And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying…

Then come the penal clauses, and it is wonderful how the curse is tempered with mercy, so much so indeed that it is difficult to tell whether there is not more blessing than cursing in the sentence. The seed of the woman is to be mighty enough to crush the serpent; and the ground is to be difficult of tillage for man's sake. Hard agriculture is a blessing. To get harvests for nothing would be a pitiless curse indeed. To be sentenced to "hard labour" is really a blessing to great criminals; it breaks in upon the moodiness that would become despair; it taxes invention; it keeps the blood moving; it rouses energy. Many a man has been made by the very hardness of his task. But terrible are the words — "unto dust shalt thou return." According to these words it is plainly stated that man was to be exactly what he was before he was made at all — he was to be dead dust, by reason of his sin. Whether any way of escape can be found out remains to be seen. The law is plain; whether mercy can modify it will be revealed as we proceed in the wondrous story. Perhaps there may yet be made a Man within a man, a Spirit within a body, a Son within a slave. That would be glorious, surely! Night has fallen upon the guilty pair, but in the night there are stars, large, bright, like tender eyes shining through the darkness — perhaps these stars will lead on to a manger, a Child, a Saviour!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

WEB: To Adam he said, "Because you have listened to your wife's voice, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

The Ordinance of Toil
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