LESSON 4: Genesis Chapter 3

Merciful Father:

Daily we enter into warfare against our enemy, sin.  Sin greets us around every corner, waiting to lure us into disobedient and unrighteous behavior.  It is only through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that we can resist the temptation to sin and remain clothed in holiness.  But in Your mercy, Father, You have provided a remedy through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation should we fall prey to sin.  Your Sacrament of renewal and restoration is a blessing of untold peace and consolation to human hearts, and it closes the gates of Hell that open wide to receive us when we remain in an unrepented fallen state.  We thank you, Lord, for Your mercy, and we ask that You send Your Spirit to guide us in our study of the consequences of disobedience and willful pride.  We pray in the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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"They were both naked," the text says, remember, "and were not ashamed."  You see, while sin and disobedience had not yet come on the scene, they were clad in that glory from above which caused them no shame.  But after the breaking of the law, then entered the scene both shame and awareness of their nakedness. 
St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Genesis, 15.14

But they, like Adam, transgressed the covenant; there they betrayed Me.
Hosea 6:7

The climax of Creation was a liturgical event: God presided over the marriage of Adam and his bride in the Edenic Sanctuary on the seventh day.  This event established monogamous marriage between male and female as a divinely ordained institution.  Jesus reaffirmed marriage between a man and a woman as a God ordained union and raised marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament.  Quoting from Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 Jesus addressed some Jewish Pharisees who questioned Him on the sanctity of marriage: Some Pharisees approached him, and to put him to the test they said, 'Is it against the Law for a man to divorce his wife on any pretext whatever?'  He answered, 'Have you not read that the Creator from the beginning made them male and female and that he said: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh?  They are no longer two, therefore, but one flesh. So then, what God has united, human beings must not divide' (Mt 19:3-6; also see Mk 10:2-12; 1 Tm 3:12; and CCC 1603-05).

The declaration: This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife and they become one flesh (Gen 2:24), is the language of covenant commitment (CCC 1601-02).  The covenant union of marriage came to symbolize God's covenant commitment to Israel, the Old Covenant Church, and Jesus' commitment to the New Covenant people of God, the Church universal (CCC 1612; 1616-17):

In the 21st century AD, for the first time in human history, there is a movement gaining momentum which is attempting to redefine the institution of marriage both in the secular and religious spheres.


You used to be a model of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, in the garden of God.  All kinds of gem formed your mantle...  I made you a living creature with outstretched wings, as guardian, you were on the holy mountain of God...  Your behavior was exemplary from the day you were created until guilt first appeared in you...
Ezekiel 28:12-13a, 14, 15

Please read Genesis 3:1-7: Free will put to the test

3:1Now, the snake was the most subtle of all the wild animals that Yahweh God had made.  It asked the woman, 'Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?' 2The woman answered the snake, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. 3But the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden Gad said, "You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death." 4Then the snake said to the woman, 'No! You will not die! 5God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.' 6The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give.  So she took some of its fruit and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked.  So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.

Notice the repetition of the verb "to eat," akal in Hebrew.  This verb is repeated nineteen times from Genesis 2:16, when man was first given permission to eat of all the trees in the garden, followed by the prohibition of eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, to Adam's judgment in 3:22, where it is God's verdict that By the sweat of your face will you earn [eat] your food [bread] and he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live for ever! (Gen 3:19, 22)The bracketed words indicate the word in the Hebrew text.  For the repetitions of the verb "to eat" between Genesis 2:16 and 3:22, see Genesis 2:16, 17 (twice); 3:1, 2, 3, 5, 6 (twice), 11 (twice), 12, 13, 14, 17 (twice), 18, 19, and 22 (The Interlinear Bible Hebrew English, vol I, pages 5-8).  In the symbolism of numbers in Scripture, ten is the number of divine order while nine is the number of judgment (see the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture."

Genesis 3:1: Now, the snake was the most subtle of all the wild animals that Yahweh God had made.  In Hebrew there is word play between the holy nakedness of Adam and Eve, clothed in God's glory, and the snake who is "subtle" (also translated as "crafty" or "shrewd").  The Hebrew word is 'arom (naked) in Genesis 2:25 and 'arum (subtle/crafty) in 3:1 (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon, pages 736, 790).  It is the serpent's craftiness that will compromise the holy naked state of our first parents who were created to be clothed in grace. St. Ephraim wrote about our first parent's covering in glory contrasted with their condition after the fall in his commentary on Genesis: They were not ashamed because of the glory with which they were clothed.  It was when this glory was stripped from them after they had transgressed the commandment that they were ashamed because they were naked (St. Ephraim, Commentary on Genesis, 2.14.2; quoted from Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament, vol. I; Genesis 1-11, page 72).

Question: Who is the serpent and what is his role in this covenant ordeal that is the test of the gift of man's free-will in service and obedience to God?  What is the serpent's interest in mankind and what will be his fate? See Rev 12:3-10; 20:1-3; Is 14:12-15; Ez 28:12-19; Wis 1:13-14; 2:23-24; Zec 3:1-2; Ps 109:6; Job 1:6-12; Mt 25:41; Lk 10:17-20; Jn 8:44; 2 Pt 2:4; 1 Jn 3:8; CCC 391-395; 2851-53.  Note: the passages in Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 are judgments against pagan kings who personify Satan.(1)
Answer: He is "the Satan", "the adversary," a spiritual being whose challenge to the sovereignty and authority of God (Is 14:13-15; Ez 28:14-16; CCC 391-92) resulted in his fall from an intimate relationship with God, along with other angels who joined in his rebellion (Is 14:12-15; Ez 28:16; Rev 12:7-10).  He is also called the Devil (from the Greek diablos), and Lucifer, which means "day-star" (Latin).  He has wisdom, but his wisdom is the wisdom of evil.  Hell (Gehenna), the eternal fire (also called the fiery pit and the lake of fire), was created for Satan and his demons (Mt 25:41). Although he was thrown down from his place of intimacy with God (Is 14:12, 15), he still has access to the heavenly court where he accuses man of sin (Job 1:6). He continually attempts to lure man away from fellowship with God and to indulge in sin (Gen 4:7; Lk 22:31; 1 Cor 7:5; Eph 6:11-13; 1 Pt 5:8), because he is deeply envious of man's relationship with God (Wis 2:24).  It is Satan who introduced sin and death into God's Creation (Wis 1:13) - a death that is spiritual (separation from God) with physical death as its consequence, and he works against God's plan to bring man to salvation (CCC 2851-52).  But Satan's powers are limited - it is only sin which places man within Satan's reach (Jam 4:7).  Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan (1 Jn 3:8).  It is Jesus' sacrificial death and Resurrection united to Jesus' Gospel of salvation that has defeated Satan (Lk 10:17-20; Ro 16:20; Heb 1:1-4; 1 Jn 3:8; 14:30; CCC 2853).  He is bound, but he will not be utterly destroyed until Christ's return (Rev. 20: 10).  In the meantime, Christians, the adopted children of the Virgin Mary (Jn 19:25-27; Rev 12:17), who is the "new Eve" and the symbol of the Church (CCC 411; 507), continue to battle against Satan in spreading the Gospel of Salvation across the face of the earth in obedience to Jesus' command (Mt 28:19-20Rev. 12:17; CCC 2853). 

Question: As Christians, is it necessary that we take a vow to renounce Satan and his works? 
Answer:  Yes, in Christian baptism each candidate for baptism (or one's parents and godparents) takes a solemn vow to renounce Satan and his works, and those attending the rites of the Sacrament also participate in repeating their renunciation of Satan (CCC 1237).

Genesis 3:1b-3: 3:1bIt asked the woman, 'Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?' 2The woman answered the snake, 'We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. 3But the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden Gad said, "You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.'

It is ironic that gift of language, which separates man from the beasts and gives him a greater level of communication with his bride and helper, is now turned against him.  The serpent subverts this blessing and uses it to confuse and tempt our first parents into disobedience. 

Question: In what subtle way did the serpent begin his verbal assault?
Answer: The crafty serpent began by testing the woman's understanding of the covenant prohibition by twisting the covenant command and using half-truths.  He avoids mentioning God's generosity in providing for the woman and her husband and instead focuses on the one prohibition, employing the subtle suggestion that God's prohibition is unreasonably harsh and restrictive.

Question: What does the woman's answer indicate?
Answer: She is already succumbing to Satan's half-truths.  In her reply she has minimized God's generosity in giving dominion over every creature and every fruit-bearing tree with the exception of the one tree, and she has misstated the prohibition, making it more restrictive and therefore harsher: You must not eat it, nor touch it...  She does, however, clearly understand that the punishment for disobedience is death.

Genesis 3:4-5: 3:4Then the snake said to the woman, 'No!  You will not die! 5God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.' 

Question: How does the serpent overcome the woman's fear of God's punishment for disobedience?
Answer: When the woman identified the punishment, the serpent immediately countered her statement with a denial, contradicting the word of God and offering a reward for disobedience.

Question: What was the promised reward?
Answer: Knowledge/wisdom: God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.

Question: Does God want to keep man from experiencing wisdom and knowledge?  What is the problem for man in receiving the kind of knowledge that the disobedience in eating this fruit will give?
Answer: Adam and Eve do, in fact, have knowledge of what is good; God has judged everything in Creation to be "good."  Therefore, it isn't practical knowledge for living a good life that entices the woman.  What Satan has offered, and what she finds appealing, is the power that comes from knowledge which can be used for evil and well as for good. 

Genesis 3:6 3:6The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give.  So she took some of its fruit and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.

Question: What is the woman's first act of rebellion?
Answer: In "seeing that the tree was good."  Until this point in the narrative it is only God who "sees" and judges a thing in Creation "good."  God has already judged the fruit of this tree "not good" for them (Gen 2:17). 

Question: What about Adam?  What was his response? What should have been his response?
Answer: He stood next to her - silent (Gen 3:6b).  He was not obedient to the covenant commands God gave him in Genesis 2:15 to guard/protect (samar) and to work in serving (abad) the garden Sanctuary in obedience to the will of God.  These covenant obligations included protecting Adam's bride.  Instead of protecting and defending his bride, Adam followed her in the sin of rebellion against the will of God for their lives. 

All sin is rebellion against the will of God for our lives (CCC 215, 397-98, 431, 1850). The personal sin of Adam is called "originating original sin," and the sin that is passed on to his descendants, with the exception of the Virgin Mary (CCC 490-93) and Jesus (1 Jn 3:5; Heb 4:15, CCC 612), which is not personal sin but instead "transmitted" sin, is called "originated original sin."  Adam's sin affected the whole human family by depriving them of the supernatural life they would have receive at birth were it not for Adam's fall from grace.  A consequence of original sin is the inherited tendency to sin called "concupiscence."  Etymologically, "concupiscence" can refer to any intense form of human desire.  Christian theology has given it a particular meaning: the movement of the sensitive appetite contrary to the operation of the human reason.  The apostle St. Paul identifies it with the rebellion of the "flesh" against the "spirit." Concupiscence stems from the disobedience of the first sin.  It unsettles man's moral faculties and, without being in itself an offense, inclines man to commit sins (CCC 2515)For St. Paul's teaching on the flesh versus the spirit see the Gal 5:16-24 and Eph 2:1-3; also see the documents of the Council of Trent: DA 1515.

The Sacrament of Baptism destroys original sin, but as long as the body has not been "clothed with immortality" as it was prior to the Fall, sin may still find a way to reassert itself in a mortal body (see 1 Cor 15:54; Rom 6:12-14; CCC405; 978-980, 1264; 2520). The baptized person must continue to fight evil through good will, humility, and abandonment to the providence of God (CCC 2554), empowered by the Holy Spirit and called by Christ's Bride, the Church, to conform to the image of Jesus Christ and to live in perfect communion with the Most Holy Trinity (Mt 5:48, 19:21; Jn 17:23; CCC 2559-60).

St. John the Apostle wrote to the faithful about the temptations of the world and why Christians must persevere to overcome them.  St. John's advice was: Do not love the world or what is in the world.  If anyone does love the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him, because everything there is in the world - disordered bodily desires, disordered desires of the eyes, pride in possession - is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world, with all its disordered desires, is passing away.  But whoever does the will of God remains for ever (1 Jn 2:15-17).

Question: In that passage, St. John identified three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence.  Compare St. John's list of temptations in 1 John 2:15-16 to what tempted Eve to place worldly desire over love of God when she decided to take and to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree in Genesis 3:1-6; also see CCC 377, 386, 2514-2516.


1 John 2:15-16 Genesis 3:1-6
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him, because everything there is in the world
Love of God must come before, and not be in conflict with, love of what is in the world
Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees...?
disordered bodily desires
the lust of the flesh
The woman saw the tree was good to eat
disordered desires of the eyes
the lust of the eyes
and pleasing to the eye, and...
pride in possession
the willful pride of life in possessing that which is forbidden by God
that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

The judgment between what is good for man and what is evil is God's prerogative.  For Adam and Eve to usurp that knowledge was to challenge God's authority and sovereignty over mankind.  Rebellion in challenging God's sovereignty was the same sin Satan committed in the test of free will in rebellion of the angels (Rev 12:3-4, 7-9).  

In the indictment against the sinful King of Babylon, a "seed of the serpent," Satan's rebellious sins are attributed to him.  Please read Isaiah 14:12-14.  

Question: What are the boasts the King of Babylon/Satan makes against God in this passage?

  1. I will scale the heavens
  2. I will set my throne higher than the stars of God
  3. I will sit on the Mount of Assembly (Heavenly court)
  4. I will climb above the clouds
  5. I will rival the Most High

The Fathers of the Church taught that the five "I wills" of Satan were answered in the five wounds of Jesus Christ on the Cross: the two wounds in His hands, the two wounds in His feet, and His head wound from the crown of thorns.

Genesis 3:7   3:7Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked.  So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.

Prior to the Fall, Adam and his bride only saw the good of Creation.  Now, their eyes have been opened to sin and their perception of each other has become distorted; love and respect became contaminated by lust.  Sin has stripped Adam and Eve of their covering of grace and divine son-ship, and they are spiritually naked.  They were not ashamed because of the glory with which they were clothed.  It was when this glory was stripped from them after they had transgressed the commandment that they were ashamed because they were naked (St. Ephraim, Commentary on Genesis 2.14.2; quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament, vol I, page 72).

There is a difference between the Hebrew word for naked in Genesis 2:25: Now both of them were naked (arom), the man and his wife, but they felt no shame before each other, when Adam and Eve existed in a state of grace, and the Hebrew word for their nakedness after they failed their covenant obligations to love and serve God in obedience in Genesis 3:7: Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked (erom).  The Hebrew word erom is repeated three times in Genesis 3:7, 10, and 11.  It is only found one other time in Pentateuch where the same word is used to describe the condition of the first generation of Israelites who were punished for their failure to be obedient to God's covenant.  The first generation God's covenant people were condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty years, and they were condemned to die in the wilderness, never to enter the Promised Land because they did not trust and obey Yahweh-God: For not having joyfully and with happy heart served Yahweh your God, despite the abundance of everything, you will have to serve the enemy whom Yahweh will send against you, in hunger, thirst, lack of clothing (naked = erom) and total privation.  He will put an iron yoke on your neck, until he has destroyed you (Dt 28:47-48). (Brown-Driver-Briggs, page 735-36; #s 6174 = arom; 5803= erom).

Question: What is the message in the selected use of these Hebrew words in the Pentateuch, and what is the connection between the Hebrew word "naked" (erom) used after the Fall in Genesis 3:7, 10, and 11 and the same word found in Deuteronomy 28:48, applied to the children of Israel, the members of the Old Covenant Church?  Is there a similar message for those of us who are in covenant with God through Christ Jesus in the universal Church?

Answer: The subtle difference of the Hebrew meaning "naked" before the Fall and the selected use of the word "naked/ erom" after the Fall in Genesis 3:7-11 and in Deuteronomy 28:48 is not so subtle message to the people of the Sinai Covenant to whom this sacred text was first given. The message is that to be "naked" through the introduction of sin is to fall under God's redemptive judgment.  Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, failed their covenant ordeal and test of free will in obedience to God and were "cast out" of Eden into the wilderness, never to return to the garden Sanctuary.  Israel's first generation also failed their covenant ordeal of obedience, and they were "cast out" into the wilderness never to enter the Promised Land which was to be a "new Eden" for the people of God.  The unmistakable message is that to fail to love God, as expressed in covenant faithfulness and obedience, will result in judgment (also see Ez 16:39 and 23:29).   The message for those of us in covenant with Yahweh in the New Covenant in Jesus Christ is an addition burden, since redemptive judgments in the New Covenant that do not lead to repentance and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation can lead one deeply into mortal sin and the possible loss of salvation - exclusion from the "Promise Land" of the Heavenly Eden (CCC 1033, 1452, 1854, 1859-61).

St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople (d. 407 AD), compared the naked condition of God's first children before the Fall with the condition of those who are reborn as children in the family of God through the Sacrament of Baptism.  In a description of the Sacrament of Christian Baptism for adults in the late 4th century, St. John wrote: After stripping you of your robe, the priest himself leads you down into the flowing waters.  But why naked?  He reminds you of your former nakedness, when you were in paradise and you were not ashamed.  For Holy Writ says, "Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed." Until they took up the garment of sin, a garment heavy with abundant shame (St. Chrysostom, Baptismal Instruction 11.28; quoted from Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament, vol I, Genesis 1-11, page 72).

Question: The man and woman were deeply aware of their loss of grace.  What attempt did they make to "cover" their loss of innocence? 
Answer: They attempted to cover themselves with foliage from the fig tree. 

No one knows what fruit the forbidden tree bore.   The word malum in Latin has the double meaning of "apple" and "bad," which branded the apple tree as the tree with the forbidden fruit.  If this tree still exists, it is more likely that the fig was the forbidden fruit.  In Sacred Scripture the fig tree became a symbol for the Old Covenant people of God, especially the Old Covenant people of God in rebellion and under God's judgment.(2)

Please read Genesis 3:8-13: Their Sin Is Revealed
3:8The man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool (ruah) of the day, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. 9But Yahweh God called to the man.  'Where are you?' he asked. 10'I heard the sound (voice) of you in the garden,' he replied.  'I was afraid because I was naked (erom), so I hid. 11Who told you that you were naked (erom)?' he asked.  'Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?' 12The man replied, 'It was the woman you put with me; she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' 13Then Yahweh God said to the woman, 'Why did you do that?'  The woman replied, 'The snake tempted me and I ate.'

Genesis 3:8 3:8The man and his wife heard the sound (voice) of Yahweh God walking in the garden in the cool (ruah) of the day, and they hid from Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.

It is the liturgical hour when God had fellowship with man, in the ruah of the day.  In this passage the word translated "cool" is the Hebrew word (see Gen 1:2) which means "wind, breath, or spirit."  This passage probably does not refer to a specific time of day that God enjoyed fellowship with His children, but while on pilgrimage to Israel in the early fall, I couldn't help but notice that at about 3PM everyday a breeze blew across the land from the Mediterranean Sea.  It occurred to me that Jesus would give up His life on the altar of the Cross at the same hour; 3PM our time is the ninth hour Jewish time (Mk 15:34-36).

Question: How are the man and woman first aware of God's presence?

Answer: They hear the "sound/voice of Yahweh Elohim walking in the garden."

The concept of hearing the sound/voice of Yahweh-Elohim and God "walking" is repeated frequently throughout the Pentateuch.  In the event of the Theophany at Sinai, the people heard the sound of the coming of God (Ex 19:16), and like Adam and Eve they were also afraid.  "Hearing the voice of God" is found fourteen times in Deuteronomy (5:25; 8:20; 13:19; 15:5; 18:16; 26:14; 27:10; 28:1, 2, 15, 45, 62; 30:8, 10).  The Hebrew verb used to characterize God "walking" is used for God presence in among his people in the tabernacle (Lev. 26:12; Deut 23:15; 2 Sam 7:6-7).  Repetition of words unites meaning and function (Letter and Spirit page 107).  The garden was God's earthly Sanctuary and the meeting place between man and God.

Question: What is ironic about the man and woman's hiding place?

Answer: The fruit bearing trees were intended to be a blessing, with the Tree of Life as symbolic archetype of those blessings.  The abuse of the eating the fruit of the one forbidden tree has altered man's relationship with God.  From the beginning of Genesis 1:29, trees became a symbol of man's changing relationship with God (Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative, page 105), and in the final chapter of the Bible trees again become symbolic of God's healing power and His abundant blessings poured out upon the human race (Rev 22:2).

Genesis 3:9-11 3:9But Yahweh God called to the man.  'Where are you?' he asked. 10'I heard the sound of you in the garden,' he replied.  'I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid. 11Who told you that you were naked?' he asked.  'Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?'

Question: Why does God ask "Where are you?" and "Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?"  Doesn't God know where they were hiding or that they have eaten from the forbidden tree? 
Answer: God knows everything.

Question: Why are they afraid of God?  See CCC 397-99.
Answer: Having lost the grace of their original holiness, sin has alienated them from God and has given them a distorted image of Him.  They no longer see God as a loving and protective Father; they now view Him as demanding, controlling, and jealous of His prerogatives.

Question: What four questions does God ask Adam and Eve, and what is the significance of these questions?

  1. "Where are you?" (Gen 3:9)
  2. "Who told you that you were naked?" (Gen 3:11)
  3. "Have you been eating from the forbidden tree?" (Gen 3:13)
  4. "Why did you do that? (Gen 3:13)

The first question, "Where are you?" is not a question of physical location. God, being omniscient knows exactly where Adam and Eve are hiding in the garden. God's question is instead concerned with their spiritual condition: "Where are you in your relationship with Me?" The second question establishes that they are no longer "clothed in grace" but have become "dis-graced" and are deprived of divine son-ship in the family of God. The third calls for an acknowledgement of their sin, and the fourth question is an invitation to turn away from sin in order to turn back to holiness. In asking the four questions God the Father is calling His children to confession: Yahweh is asking Adam and Eve to examine their spiritual state, to acknowledge their sin, to confess their sin, and in expressing contrition and repentance to turn away from sin:

  1. The first question called Adam and Eve to an examination of conscience.
  2. The second question was a call for an admission of sin.
  3. The third question was a call to bear the accountability for the sin committed.
  4. The fourth question was an invitation to repent their sin in an act of contrition and in turning away from sin to turn back to God.

These are the questions God is asking every sinner who comes into His presence in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we come to God as fallen children seeking forgiveness for our sins from a just and loving Father (CCC 980; 1422-24; 1468-70).

Genesis 3:12-13 3:12The man replied, 'It was the woman you put with me; she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.' 13Then Yahweh God said to the woman, 'Why did you do that?'  The woman replied, 'The snake tempted me and I ate.'

Question: What is the man's excuse?  What are the implications of his statement?
Answer: He has denied his bride, disavowing her "goodness" - the last "good" thing created, and he has blamed God for giving him the gift of the bride.  As companions they are no longer united; sin and guilt has turned them against each other. 

Question: When God calls the woman to repentance and accountability, what is her response?
Answer: She blames the serpent. 

Question: Who bears the heavier burden of guilt, the man or the woman?
Answer: While it is true that man and woman are equal in God's affections and equally owe Him their obedience, their vocations are different.  The man's vocation in God's service was to guard and serve the Sanctuary. The woman's vocation was to be the man's helper.  Adam gave the bride her identity as "woman" (Gen 2:23).  He had authority over her only in his duty to maintaining the sanctity of the garden Sanctuary; therefore, it is the man who is ultimately responsible.  The woman was "deceived (Gen 3:13), while Adam stood silent and willing (Gen 3:6).  In memory of this catastrophic event, the Law of Moses ruled that a husband was responsible for any vow his wife made to which he remained silent (Num 30:1-6).

Please read Genesis 3:14-19: Judgment and the consequences of the Fall
3:14Then Yahweh God said to the snake, 'Because you have done this, accursed be you of all animals wild and tame.  On your belly you will go and on dust you will feed as long as you live. 15I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring (seed) and hers (her seed); it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel. 16To the woman he said: I shall give you intense pain in childbearing, you will give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning will be for your husband, and he will dominate you. 17To the man he said, 'Because you listened to the voice of your wife and ate the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat, accursed be the soil because of you!  Painfully will you get your food [by the sweat of your face you will eat bread] from it as long as you live. 18It will yield you brambles and thistles, as you eat the produce of the land. 19By the sweat of your face will you [eat] earn your food, until you return to the ground, as you were taken from it.  For dust you are and to dust you shall return.  [_ ]=literal translation from the Hebrew.

Question: Three judgments are pronounced in Genesis 14-19.  Who are the three defendants who face God's judgment?
Answer: The serpent, the woman, and the man.

Question: What is the judgment against the serpent/Satan?
Answer: The animal form that Satan used is condemned to travel on its belly as a reminder throughout human history of the catastrophic event of the Fall of man and the form Satan took to accomplish his evil intent.  There will also be constant warfare between the "seed of the serpent" the "seed of the woman."

Question: Who are the "seed of the serpent"?  See 1 John 3:1-10.
Answer: The "seed of the serpent" does not mean the offspring of snakes.  This title reflects God's judgment on sinners who stand in opposition to God and attempt to subvert the destiny of the people of God, "the seed of the woman," the faithful children of God, compose in the collective sense as the "seed of the woman," and in the individual sense, the One born of the "seed of the woman" from whom the gift of God's salvation would be extended to all mankind (1 Jn 3:8-10).

Question: Who did St. John the Baptist condemn as the "seed of the serpent" in Matthew 3:4-12 and why?
Answer: Filled with the Holy Spirit, St. John called a group of Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him for the baptism of repentance a "Brood of vipers."  He knew these men were only coming to him for the baptism of repentance as an outward show of their piety to the people.  He knew their hearts were full of willful pride and a lack of genuine repentance. In their refusal to sincerely repent their sins, and in turning away from the will of God for His people, these men had become the "seed of the serpent." 

Question: What is meant by the reference to the "seed of the woman"?  Is there a promise of redemption within these ominous lines of Scripture in Genesis 3:15?
Answer: The words "seed of the woman" in a collective sense refer to the promised line of the "holy seed," those men and women who, despite the difficulties imposed upon them through the curse of sin in the world, will remain faithful to knowing, loving, and serving Yahweh.  It will be these men and woman who will stand in opposition to the "seed of the Serpent/Satan," the men and woman who oppose the will of God.  But the "seed" of the woman can also be understood to refer to one individual who will battle Satan.  In the Hebrew phrase it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel, the pronouns are in the singular and not in the plural, and the pronoun "it" can be translated "he, she, or it."  In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (c. 250 BC), known as the Septuagint, the pronoun "it" was translated as the masculine pronoun "he."  The Hebrew scholars who translated this Hebrew text into Greek in the 3rd century BC acknowledged that this passage offered the first promise of a future Redeemer who will be wounded in His struggle with the Serpent: you will strike its heel, a Semiticism for "do violence to, or to wound," but the promised Redeemer will crush the head of the Serpent: it [he] will bruise [crush] your head; a Semiticism for "to strike a mortal wound."  The words "bruise" and "strike" in the New Jerusalem translation are the same two words in the Hebrew text.(3)

Question: What title have the Fathers of the Church given Genesis 3:15 and why?  Why did they call the Virgin Mary the "new Eve"?  See CCC 410-411.

Answer: The Church Fathers called Genesis 3:15 the Protoevangelium, "the first Gospel/ Good news."  Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of the coming of the Messiah-Redeemer, born from a woman chosen by God.   The Doctors and Fathers of the Church have always identified this woman as the Virgin Mary, who in her perfect obedience to the will of God untied the knot of disobedience of the virgin Eve - the Virgin Mary is the "new Eve:" As Eve was seduced by the word of a [fallen] angel to flee from God, having rebelled against his word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his word.  The former was seduced to disobey God [and so fell], but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve.  As the human race was subjected to death through the act of a virgin, so was it saved by a virgin, and thus the disobedience of one virgin was precisely balanced by the obedience of another (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5.19.1).  Genesis 3:15 is the proof that God was not willing to abandon mankind to the rule of sin and death.

In the Matthew 3 passage, when St. John the Baptist identified the men he called "a Brood of vipers" as the "seed of the serpent," he may also have had the insight (through the Holy Spirit) that these were the leaders of the people who would stand in opposition to the promised "seed of the woman" when they would refuse to accept Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Redeemer-Messiah of Genesis 3:15, acting in opposition to the will of God for His covenant people.  In John 1:29 and 29-30, St. John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Redeemer-Messiah and as a human sacrifice for the sins of the people: Look, there is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).

Question: What was God's judgment against the woman?
Answer: She was to desire her husband who would dominate her, and she was to bear all future generations of man in pain. 

The pain of childbirth is both a reminder of man's Fall from grace and a reminder of God's promise of redemption in the birth of the future Redeemer through the "seed of the woman."  The children of Israel, the bearers of the "promised seed," would see in their struggles and suffering the painful labor in bring forth the promised Redeemer-Messiah (Is 26:17-19).

Genesis 3:16: Your yearning will be for your husband...   The Hebrew word teshuwkah in Genesis 3:16 is translated as "yearning" or "desire" in most Bible translations.  In Hebrew the word literally means "stretching out after; figurative meaning = desire, longing, urge; from a root that literally means "running towards or flowing outward" (Brown-Driver-Briggs, #8667, page 1003).  This particular word is very rare in Scripture.  It is only found in Genesis 3:16 (the woman's "desire" for her husband); in Genesis 4:7 ( sin like a lion "urging" or "desiring" to devour Cain) and in The Song of Solomon 7:11 (the "desire" of the bridegroom for his bride).  This word can be found no where else in Scripture and the true intent of its meaning must be derived from the root word and how the word is used in these three other Scripture passages. In God's judgment, the woman is to be motivated by her desire for her husband who will dominate her - no longer is she an equal partner/ helper.  Woman will not be spiritually freed from this curse until the Virgin Mary's fiat ("let it be done") and her Son's sacrifice upon the altar of the Cross: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by being cursed for our sake... [..].  ...for all of you are the children of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus, since every one of you that has been baptized has been clothed in Christ.  There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be neither male nor female - for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:13, 26-28).

Question: What is the judgment against the Adam? Compare, as you did in the last lesson, the pre and post Fall conditions, but this time include man's/adam's creation in Genesis 2:7 verses his destiny in physical death (in this case, we are using the Hebrew word adam/ man in the collective sense and individual sense).
Answer: The earth will no longer yield a bountiful harvest of food.  Weeds will impede the growth of fruit bearing plants that man must eat to stay alive.  Instead of his holy vocation, working in serving God in the Edenic Sanctuary, man must work to reap substance from the earth, and he will suffer physical death as a result of the spiritual death imposed by sin: For dust you are and to dust you shall return. 

Pre-Fall conditions Post-Fall conditions
No weeds (Gen 2:5) Weeds (brambles/ thrones and thistles (Gen 3:18)
No rain; natural irrigation in a continual flow of water from its source in Eden
(Gen 2:5-6)
The flood = rain (Gen 7:12);
drought (Gen 31:40)
Man did not have to till the soil to produce food (Gen 2:5) Man condemned to struggle to grow food (Gen 3:17, 19a, 23)
Adam and Eve are settled in a garden in the east of Eden (Gen 2:8, 15) Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden in Eden (Gen 3:23-24); as a reminder, the future Tabernacle/Temple, the meeting place between God and His covenant children, is to face toward the East (Ex 40:16-33)
Adam and Eve are to eat from the Tree of Life (Gen 2:9, 16-17) They are banished from the Tree of Life (Gen 3:22)
Man and woman are equal partners (Gen 2:24) Woman is subject to man (Gen 3:16)
They are naked and unashamed, clothed with grace and existing in perfect covenant union with God (Gen 2:25) They are naked and ashamed; fellowship with God has been damaged; they have become "dis-graced" (Gen 3:10).
Man/Adam was molded from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7) Man/Adam is condemned to return to the dust of the earth (Gen 3:19)
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Question: Adam's punishment for the sin of eating the forbidden fruit fits the crime.  How many times will the word "eat" be repeated in Adam's judgment in Genesis 3:17-19 (see the underlined words in the passage above)?
Answer: Five times in the Hebrew text. 

In the Hebrew text, Genesis 3:19 reads: By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread (lechem/ lehem) until your return to the ground. Adam and Eve, in covenant union with God, ate their "bread" in the garden Sanctuary; now they will physically labor to find food.(4)

Question: When would God again extend the gift of eating bread in His Sanctuary?
Answer: In the rites of the Sinai Covenant, the priests, symbolizing redeemed man, ate the weekly "bread of the presence" in the Holy Place of God's Sanctuary (Lev 24:5-9), but it will not be until the gift of the Eucharist that mankind will again receive, by the grace of God, the invitation of the gift of eating "bread" in communion with God in the Holy of Holies of His Sanctuary (Jn 6:51; CCC 1324, 2837).  The "bread" eaten in the Sanctuary will be the Body of He who was born in the village that is named "place/house of bread" - Bethlehem.

Question: When is the curse of toiling for bread temporarily lifted for the children of Israel?  What does this event prefigure?  See Ex 16:35; Jn 6:48-50.
Answer: God fed His covenant people, the children of Israel, "bread from heaven" - manna, on their wilderness journey to the Promised Land.  This event prefigured the Eucharist, which will nourish the New Covenant people of God on their journey through the wilderness of this life on their way to the Promise Land of the Heavenly Eden, where they will banquet in the Lord's Heavenly Sanctuary (Rev 19:9).

After the Fall, physical death became a consequence of spiritual separation from God.  Physical death became a blessing in that it kept man from an eternally fallen condition.  However, from the time of the Fall, Adam's sin closed the gates of heaven, which would not be opened again until the baptism of the Redeemer-Messiah:  At his baptism "the heavens were opened:--the heavens that Adam's sin had closed, and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation (CCC 536; also see CCC 1026; Mt 3:16).  Until that time, in physical death, man descended to the abode of the dead, in Hebrew Sheol, in Greek Hades (2 Mac 12:38-46; Ps 88:3-12).  Sheol/Hades is sometimes translated into English as "hell", but this is not the "Hell" of the damned that was prepared for Satan and his fallen angels (Gehenna in Hebrew, also called the "fiery pit" or "the burning lake;" see Mt 25:41)In the abode of the dead, man was deprived of the vision of God as he waited for the promised coming of the Redeemer. Sheol, which Jesus referred to as "Abraham's embrace/bosom" in Luke 16:23, was the abode of both the righteous and the wicked dead, but their condition was not the same (CCC 633).  The sinners suffered torment in purification of their sins (Lk 16:22-25), while the righteous patiently waited their liberation which came when Jesus, the Redeemer-Messiah, descended to Sheol to preach the Gospel of salvation and to lead those who received Him through the gates of Heaven (CCC 633; Eph 4:7-10; 1 Pt 3:18-19; 4:6; Apostles' Creed, Nicene-Constantinople Creed). 

At the time of Jesus' liberation of the souls in Sheol (1 Pt 3:18-20; 4:6), and His Resurrection that immediately followed, in the New Covenant, sanctified in the blood of Jesus Christ, both blessings and punishments became eternal.  Sheol/Hades then became the abode of those who died and were judged to be worthy of heaven but must account for unrepented venial sins, or for mortal sins forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance for which accountability and purification were required (1 Jn 5:16-17; CCC 1030-32).  We now call this place of purification by a Latin name: purgatio/ Purgatory.  Sheol/Hades/Purgatory will exist until the Final Judgment when it will no longer be necessary, and having been emptied out, it will be destroyed: Death and Hades were emptied of the dead that were in them; and every one was judged as his deeds deserved.  Then Death and Hades were hurled into the burning lake.  This burning lake is the second death; and anybody whose name could not be found written in the book of life was hurled into the burning lake (Rev 20:14-15).  Also see Wis 3:1-12; 1 Cor 3:10-15 and the lesson on "Purgatory" in the Agape Bible Study: The Eight Last Things: Crossing the Threshold to Eternity.

Question: Is there a victory for Satan in the Fall of man?  Is his victory permanent?  See Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 Jn 3:8; CCC 1853.
Answer: Satan was successful in rupturing the perfect union God enjoyed with His masterpiece of creation, and he became the "prince of this world," but his rule is temporary.  It was the mission of the Messiah to restore man to his former glory and to destroy the works of Satan: Whoever lives sinfully belongs to the devil, since the devil has been a sinner from the beginning.  This was the purpose of the appearing of the Son of God, to undo the work of the devil (1 Jn 3:8).

Question: What are the consequences of Adam and Eve's sin, for themselves and for humanity?


Question: How has the Church defined the loss of mankind's original holiness that is transmitted to succeeding generations?  What is the link between mankind's lost of grace and the coming of the Messiah?  See CCC 403, 404-06, 419
Answer: Original sin.  It is because of the consequences of original sin that mankind needs a Redeemer.

Question: What is the remedy that the Redeemer provides for the pandemic of original sin?
Answer: The Sacrament of Christian baptism, through which original sin is forgiven when an individual dies to the family of Adam, through which he was born from his/her mother's womb through the water of natural birth, and is spiritually reborn into the family of God, through water and the Spirit.  To maintain this state of holiness, Jesus established the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Jn 20:22-23; Jm 5:16; CCC 1426; 1486).

Question: What is the promise of a future salvation through the "seed of the woman"?  See Luke 1:38 and Romans 5:18 and CCC 402.
Answer: As sin came into the world through the disobedience of one man and one woman, so will man's redemption be accomplished through the perfect obedience of one woman and her son: the Virgin Mary and her son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God.

Please read Genesis 3:20-24: Banishment from the Sanctuary
3:20The man named his wife 'Eve' because she was the mother of all those who live. 21Yahweh God made tunics of skins for the man and his wife and clothed them. 22Then Yahweh God said, 'Now that the man has become like one of us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live for ever!' 23So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. 24He banished the man, and in front of the garden of Eden he posted the great winged creatures and the fiery flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.

In Genesis 2:23 Adam "called" (qara = to call; to address) his helper "woman."  It was who she was, a reflection of her origin: "out of man."  But in this passage, after the curse, he "names" (shem = a mark or memorial of an individual) the woman, the same Hebrew word that was used when he named the animals.  His naming of Eve is a sign of his dominion over her.  Her naming reflects her destiny. Eve is to be the mother of all humans in the physical sense of motherhood.

Genesis 3:21: 3:21Yahweh God made tunics of skins for the man and his wife and clothed them.  This is the first act of the shedding of blood in animal sacrifice association with sin.  The fig leaves are not enough (Gen 3:7).  God sacrifices an animal to "cover" the nakedness - the loss of grace - of Adam and Eve.  The shedding of animal blood will become the temporary means for remission of sins until a more perfect remedy can be offered for the forgiveness of man's sins: For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives, for blood is what expiates for a life (Lev 17:10; also see Heb 9:22).  In this act of sacrifice, God does for the alienated couple what they are incapable of doing for themselves. He "covers" their sin and restores their fellowship with Him and with each other until a new and more perfect covenant can be established through a "perfect" sacrifice (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 10:1-18).

Under the rites of the Sinai Covenant, the shedding of animal blood will become a part of a liturgical practice that will be fully defined (see the chart "The Levitical Sacrifices of the Sinai Covenant").  But animal blood is not holy and pure enough to completely remove the stain of sin (Heb 10:4).  It is only a temporary measure until another Priest-king of God's Sanctuary, the Redeemer-Messiah, would offer His life-blood in remission for the sins of mankind (Heb 7:26-28).  It is a single blood sacrifice He will continue to offer as Yahweh's Priest-King in the Heavenly Sanctuary until He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead (Heb 9:15-28; 10:11-14; Rev 20:11-15; Apostles' Creed; Nicene-Constantinople Creed).

Genesis 3:22-24:
3:22Then Yahweh God said, 'Now that the man has become like one of us in knowing good from evil, he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and pick from the tree of life too, and eat and live for ever!' 23So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till (abad) the soil from which he had been taken. 24He banished the man, and in front of (at the east of) the garden of Eden he posted the great winged creatures and the fiery flashing sword, to guard (samar) the way to the tree of life.

In this passage the verbs samar and abad, first used in the covenant command to guard/protect and to work/keep/serve the garden Sanctuary (Gen 2:15) are reversed.  In his exile from Eden, it is ironic that the man is condemned to "work/keep/serve" the soil, from which God formed man as a "work" of creation, instead of working and serving God in the garden Sanctuary.  It is now the spirit beings, the two winged cherubim, stationed at the entrance of the Sanctuary to the east, who will "guard/ protect" the Edenic Sanctuary and the Tree of Life with fiery swords, a sign of God's judgment (The Interlinear Bible, vol I, pages 5 and 8, Brown-Driver-Briggs, page 712).

Genesis 3:22 is another example of the use of the first person plural in God's reference to Himself (see the other such reference in Genesis 1:26).  While it is unlikely that God was referring to the angels of the heavenly court in Genesis 1:26, it is possible that this is the reference to both the Trinity and the angels of the Heavenly Assembly.  The angels in the Presence of God were tested in their covenant ordeal of free will during Satan's rebellion.   Now, Adam and Eve, like the angels, have knowledge of both good and evil: "Let a word from my lord the king, restore the peace!" your servant thought, "for my lord the king is like the Angel of God in understanding good and evil." However, the angels in God's Presence only work for the good, while Satan and his fallen angels only work for that which is evil.

Question: Why does God intend to deprive Adam and Eve of the fruit of the Tree of Life, condemning them to physical death?

Answer: Physical death, as a consequence of spiritual death, will become a release from eternal death; otherwise man would eat from the Tree of Life and live in an eternally fallen state.

Question: What is the final judgment on Adam and Eve and how is this judgment a reminder to the children of Israel of the penalty for covenant disobedience?
Answer: They are "cast out" of the paradise of the garden Sanctuary just as the disobedient children of Israel will be "cast out" into the wilderness in a forty year journey to the Promised Land (Num 14:33), as the ten Northern Tribes of Israel will be "cast out" of the Promised Land of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians and disbursed among the Gentile nations because of their covenant disobedience (2 Kng 17:5-12), and as the Southern Kingdom of Judah will be "cast out" of the Promise Land and sent into exile in Babylon because of their failures to live according to the Law of the covenant (2 Kng 17:19-23; 2 Chr 36:14-21).  In each case the penalty for covenant disobedience is judgment and banishment.

Question: What are the cherubim; describe them.  What is their mission?   See Ps 18:9-10; 80:2; 99:1; Is 37:16; Ez 5:10; 10:1-20; 11:22; 41:18, 20, 25; 1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 22:10-11; 2 Kgs 19:15; 1 Chr 13:6.
Answer: The word cherubim is the plural of the word “cherub,” in Hebrew kerubim and kerub; the Hebrew etymology of this word is unknown.  Two winged angelic beings called “cherubim” are given the mission to stand with flaming swords and to guard the east entrance to the garden Sanctuary, God’s Holy of Holies in Eden, and to prohibit man’s access to the Tree of Life.  In the Old Testament Yahweh is depicted as enthroned upon cherubim (1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2; 2 Kng 19:15; 1 Chr 13:6; Ps 80:2; 99:1; Is 37:16).  In the desert Tabernacle and in the Jerusalem Temple, Yahweh’s invisible presence rested between the cherubim of the Ark of the Covenant, God’s earthly throne.  The living cherubim also form Yahweh’s moveable throne—the chariot of God—upon which Yahweh rides in the Theophany described in Psalm 18 and in the Ezekiel passages where these “living creatures”(Ez 1:4ff) are later called “cherubim” (Ez 9:3; 10:1).  The “living creatures”/cherubim described by Ezekiel have humanoid forms.  Each creature has four faces (human, lion, ox, and eagle), human-like hands, and four wings. 

In the New Testament, cherubim are mentioned in Hebrews 9:5. There are also “four living creatures” in Revelation who guard Yahweh’s throne in the heavenly Sanctuary, continually singing the “Holy, holy, holy,” who have six wings and are studded with eyes, in front and behind, with each creature having a separate face like a lion, bull, human and flying eagle (Rev 4:6-9).  However, these angels may be a different class of angelic beings, probably the same beings identified as “seraph/seraphim” described by Isaiah in 6:1-7.

Question: What symbolism will be used in the desert Tabernacle and in the Jerusalem Temple to remind the covenant people of Adam's covenant failure and the beings God called upon to guard the entrance to His Sanctuary? See Ex 25:10-22; 37:7-9; Num 7:89; 1 Kng 6:23-35; 7:36; Heb 9:5.
Answer: Moses is instructed to have artisans fashion two golden cherubim, with out-stretched wings, to sit on top of the Mercy Seat, the lid to the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the desert Tabernacle (Ex 25:17-22; 37:1-9; Heb 9:5).  In Solomon's Jerusalem Temple, two huge winged cherubim, carved from olive wood and overlaid with gold, whose combined wing tips stretched across 30 feet, will stand guard above the Ark of the Covenant within the Holy of Holies (1 Kng 6:23-30).  The Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant was God's "footstool" - His earthly throne and the place of His invisible presence on earth (Ex 40:34-35; 1 Kng 8:10-13), just as the garden Sanctuary was His meeting place with man.  Both the desert Tabernacle and the Temple will face toward the east.

God was faithful to His part of the covenant with Adam and the bride by providing all that was "good" if Adam and the woman would only trust and obey.  Ironically and tragically, the first man and woman sought wisdom which did not come from the "good" that God, in His generosity and love, willingly provided for them.

Question: How would you characterize the wisdom that Adam and Eve sought apart from God?  Is this the wisdom that many in the family of Adam continue to seek today?  What did the inspired writer of the Book of Wisdom write about the search for wisdom in Wisdom 13:1-9?  What did St. Paul write about godly wisdom versus the "wisdom" Adam and Eve sought in Romans 1:18-23 and in 1 Corinthians 1:17-31?
Answer: Adam and Eve sought worldly wisdom above God's wisdom.  St. Paul condemned worldly wisdom - not the human wisdom that is a gift of God and which makes Him known to man (see Wis 13:1-9; Rom 1:19-20), but wisdom that is self-seeking, self-centered, and which is based on the world's definition of "successful" living.  St. Paul wrote that human/worldly wisdom is foolishness because it cannot lead to salvation: It is by him that you exist in Christ Jesus, who for us was made wisdom from God, and saving justice and holiness and redemption (1 Cor 1:30).

Archaeological note: Two ancient artifacts have been discovered among the ruins of non-Israelite cultures which appear to depict the Fall of man.  One artifact, known as the "Temptation Seal," shows the depiction of a man and a woman on either side of a large, fruit-laden tree with an erect serpent behind the woman who appears to be plucking fruit from the tree.  This artifact was discovered near the Zargos Mountains and is in the British Museum.  The second artifact is called the "Adam and Eve Seal," discovered near the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh, which is located on the Tigris River just north of the Sumerian city of Ashur.  It depicts a naked man and woman walking with bowed heads followed by a serpent.  This artifact is now in the University Museum at Philadelphia.  These artifacts date to the Sumerian period, circa 3500 BC (Halley's Bible Handbook, pages 68-69).

Questions for group discussion:

Question: God commanded that the images of the angelic cherubim be included in the earthly Sanctuary.  Did the use of these images contradict the prohibition in the Ten Commandments concerning images (Ex 20:4-5; Dt 4:15-20).  Didn't the created image of the Golden Calf became Israel's fall from grace at Sinai?  Shouldn't all images be condemned?
Answer: God condemned and forbid images used for worship: You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.  For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God... (Ex 20:4-5a).  The children of Israel made the Golden Calf as an object for worship (Ex 32:3-6).  If God instructed Moses to place the images of the cherubim on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, and ordered the use of those same images in Solomon's Temple in the instructions God gave King David before his death (1 Chr 28:19), the prohibition clearly only extended to images for worship.  Therefore, Catholic images of saints are not a violation of the covenant restrictions of the Ten Commandments. Catholics do not worship saints; their images are only a cherished reminder of a beloved family member (like a photograph), and their images also serve as a reminder that they were real people who, despite their earthly struggles and sufferings, faithfully served and obeyed Yahweh, their God.  Likewise, Catholics do not worship images of Jesus; Catholics worship the living and resurrected Jesus-Christ, the man-God, our Savior and Redeemer. 

Pope Leo XIII, in the encyclical on the study of Sacred Scripture, Providentissimus Deus, set forth several important principle that Sacred Scripture teaches the truth, the inspired writers do not err, and it cannot be said that one part of Scripture is true while another is false: it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred...all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can coexist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true" [PD #20].  Therefore, if the images of the cherubim were commanded by God in Old Covenant worship, as stated in the Bible, it is a false teaching to say that all images must be condemned.

Question: Why didn't God prevent Adam and Eve from sinning?
Answer: Real love is not enslavement; real love is given freely through one's exercise of free-will.  God wanted children who loved Him in freedom, and He was able to take their sin and to abolish that fault through a greater gift of His grace.  Pope St. Leo the Great, in response to this question and referring to Wisdom 2:24, wrote: Christ's inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy had taken away (Sermon 73, 4:PL 54, 396).  St. Thomas Aquinas, commenting on the same question and quoting from Romans 5:20 and the Easter Vigil liturgy of the Latin Mass, wrote: There is nothing to prevent human nature's being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good.  Thus St. Paul says, 'Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more'; and the Exultet sings, 'O happy fault ... which gained for us so great a Redeemer! (Summa Theologiae III, 1, 3, ad 3).  Also see CCC 412.

Question: St. Paul wrote in Romans 5:12-21 that Adam "prefigured the One who was to come."  In that passage, St. Paul contrasted Adam and Christ as "alike" but "unalike."  Please read that passage and make a chart contrasting the first and second "Adams," listing "Adam and Christ alike in one column and Adam and Christ unalike in the second column.

The actions of both Adam and Christ had an affect upon the whole human race. Sin and death came from Adam while righteousness and life came from Christ.
Both Adam and Jesus endured the temptation of Satan. Adam failed and Christ was victorious.
Through both Adam and Christ, humanity receives an "inheritance." Through Adam's failure humanity inherits death, original sin and personal sin becomes a plague on mankind. Through Christ's victory humanity inherits adoption into God family and the promise of eternal life.
Both Adam and Jesus were human men. Jesus was both human and divine.
Both the acts of Adam and Jesus invoke a divine verdict. Satan stood behind the act of Adam while the grace of God stood behind Christ; the verdict behind Adam's act is judgment while the verdict behind Jesus' is acquittal.
Both Adam and Jesus exercised their free will. Adam willingly fell from grace and Jesus willingly laid down His life in sacrifice for all mankind.
Both were born into the world as sinless and immortal beings. Adam lost his immortality when he fell from grace while Jesus remained pure and sinless, and through His sacrifice and Resurrection, Jesus has made God's gift of immortality once again available to man.
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2006 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Please read the Gospel of John 2:1-22: The Wedding at Cana and the Cleansing of the Temple. 

Question: Discuss Jesus' cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem as a prophetic act (an ot in Hebrew), and the connection between this act of judging the sanctity of the Temple in casting out that which was unclean in John 2:13-22 to the Creation symbolism found in Genesis chapters one and two and the casting of Adam and Eve out of the garden Sanctuary in Eden.  Hint: the wedding at Cana took place on the 7th day from the first day in John's Gospel which would be in verse 19.  Day #2 is the "next day" of John 1:29; day ## is "the next day" of John 1:35; day #4 is the "next day" of John 1:43 and "3 days later" in John 2:1 yields the 7th day.  What happened on the Gospel of St. John's 7th day and the 7th day of Creation, and what is the connection to Genesis 2:22-24?  Also see CCC 1602.
Answer: On the 7th day of the first Creation God presided over the wedding of Adam and Eve.  After Adam and Eve's fall from grace, when He surveyed His Sanctuary at the hour of communion between God and man, He found that sin had contaminated the Eden Sanctuary and the world.  God judged Adam and Eve in allowing sin to enter the garden Sanctuary where man communed with God, expelling the unclean offenders from His holy place.  In St. John's Gospel, after "the 7th day" wedding at Cana, God the Son came to commune with man in the Jerusalem Temple.   Finding sin present, He cast out that which was unclean from His holy Sanctuary.  Jesus' act of cleansing the Temple Sanctuary is symbolically reminiscent of the first expulsion of offenders out of the Sanctuary that was Eden.

Question: The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ has given His people the Church as Mother and Teacher (CCC 2030-46), to nurture and guide the faithful on their journey to salvation.  But aren't the precepts and teachings of the Church just a collection of the sayings and teachings of men and not of God?  Where in Scripture is there proof of the validity of these teachings?
Answer: Jesus gave St. Peter and the Apostles His authority in Matthew 16:16-19 (also see Mk 8:27-30; Lk 9:18-21), and again in Matthew 18:15-18 before His Crucifixion and Resurrection.  On Resurrection Sunday Jesus encountered two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus and taught them, beginning with the Pentateuch, and going through all the passages throughout the Scriptures that were about Himself (Lk 24:25-27).   Appearing in the Upper Room to the Apostles that same day, Jesus again taught them and opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Lk 24:44-47).  It was at this time that He announced to the eleven Apostles His authority that was now theirs, breathing the Holy Spirit upon them and again affirming the power He was granting them to forgive sins in His name (Jn 20:22).  For forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus taught the leadership of His Church (Acts 1:2-3), giving His Apostles, the spiritual fathers of the New Covenant people of God, the power to increase the Church family through the Sacrament of Baptism (Mt 28:16-20).  It is this sacred deposit of teaching that has been passed down from Jesus to the Apostles, to their disciples the first Bishops of the Catholic Church, and from them the teachings of Christ have been faithfully handed down to the Magisterium of Mother Church today.  No, these are not only the teachings of men on faith and morals; these are the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because the knowledge of what is good and what is evil is God's sole prerogative.   The Most Holy Trinity has given the Church the authority to teach the covenant children of God what is good and what is evil through the teaching authority of the successor of Christ's Vicar, the Pope, and the successors of the Apostles, the Bishops of His Church, the Magisterium (Jn 20:22-23; CCC 816; 862; 888; 890).  In this sense, the Church has become our Mother, nurturing her children, teaching them about holiness, and leading them to eternal salvation (CCC 507; 757). 

Question: Compare the free-will decisions of Catholics in submission to or the rejection of the teachings of Mother Church to Adam and Eve's free-will decision to be obedient or disobedient to God's command concerning the forbidden tree.  Is the result of covenant disobedience today in deciding for oneself what is good and what is evil, instead of submitting to the teaching authority of the Church, the same as that suffered by our original parents - the loss of divine grace and the peril of the loss of eternal salvation?


1. The Fathers of the Church taught that the passages from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 contained the description of Satan's rebellion and fall, and the descriptions that refer to the creature in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 cannot be either the king of Babylon or Tyre, nor any other human (Origen, On First Principles, 1.5, Augustine, Christian Instruction, 3.37).  St. Jerome wrote: He fell because his dwelling place was always in heaven.  He is the one to whom the words of Ezekiel are addressed (Jerome, Homilies on the Psalms 14 [18]); and St. Augustine taught: ...Isaiah, representing the devil figuratively in the person of the prince of Babylon, asks, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of the dawn?" or where Ezekiel says, "You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering."  These texts indicate that the devil was for a time without sin (Augustine, City of God, 11.15). The Church Fathers taught that Satan fell because of his pride; he wanted to be like God (Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 5.14, 12-14; Augustine, Explanations of the Psalms 39 (38).18).  The fate of the mortal kings addressed in the beginning of the passages, who in their pride had become the offspring of Satan (Gen 3:15), is the physical and spiritual death that awaits all who exalt themselves above the laws of God (Chrysostom, Concerning the Statutes, 11.4).  The Fathers of the Church agreed that Satan's five "I wills" in Isaiah 14:13-14 were answered by Christ's five wounds on the Cross (head, two hands, both feet).  See City of God; Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament, vols. X and XIII.

2. See Jeremiah's covenant lawsuit against Judah in Jeremiah 8:13: I shall put an end to them, Yahweh declares, no more grapes on the vine, no more figs on the fig tree only withered leaves... and Jesus' judgment against the Old Covenant Church when it refused to receive Him as the Messiah on His last journey to Jerusalem.   Jesus cursed the fig tree, the symbol of the Old Covenant Church, and it withered, as prophesized by the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 8:13 (Mt 21:18-22; Mk 11:12-14, 20-24; Lk 13:6-9). 

3. #7779, shuf/ shuph, a prime root, to overwhelm, break, bruise, crush, cover; Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon, page 1003; Strong's Hebrew Lexicon page 139.

4. See The Interlinear Bible, vol I, Hendrickson Publishers, page 8; Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew English Lexicon, page 535.  In Genesis 31:43-54, Jacob and Laban swear an oath and form a covenant.  The covenant treaty is ratified by a blood sacrifice and a sacred meal.  In Genesis 31:54 the eating of the flesh of the sacrifice is defined, in the Hebrew text, as eating lechem, "bread": He offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his kinsmen to the meal.  They ate the meal (bread), and passed the night on the mountain.  The concept of covenant formation in the swearing of an oath and in eating a sacred meal will become a repeated theme - in the formation of the Sinai covenant in Exodus chapter 24 and our exercise of covenant continuation in the offering of bread and wine that becomes the sacrificial offering of Christ's Body and Blood in the Eucharist - the sacrificial meal of the Bread of Life.

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2009 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Catechism references for chapter 3 (* indicates Scripture passage is quoted or paraphrased in the citation.

Chapter 3

390, 2795*


1736, 2568








70*, 410*, 489*






392, 398*, 399*, 1850


376*, 400*, 1609


2541, 2847














376*, 400*, 1008*, 1609