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TALK ON THE HOLY BIBLE

Part 2

10th October 2013

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Last week we began a new series of talks on the Holy Bible with an introduction proving the credibility and authenticity of Genesis. Today we will begin our study on the first chapters of Genesis and the creation story. The Bible quotations will be from the Septuagint Bible because as I said last week this is the official text used by the Orthodox Church. References to the Old Testament, quoted by Christ and the Apostles in the New Testament are from the Septuagint, thus making it the most authoritative and authentic. But besides this, where there are differences, and there are many, the Septuagint comes across much clearer and understandable than the Masoretic text used for the translation of the KJB.
Genesis begins: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Much is revealed in this first sentence. With the words "In the beginning" is revealed that God is eternal before the creation of the world, because in the beginning reveals the beginning of time and for God to create time he must exist outside of time. God created: here is preached that God is one, in contrast to the two gods of the Persians: the good and the bad gods, the many gods of the Greeks, Egyptians and Babylonians. "The heaven and the earth:" In the Hebrew tongue, this term expresses the whole universe, because the heaven and the earth are what are clearly visible to every man. According to the fathers of the Church, the heaven and the earth means everything visible and invisible, material and spirit. Thus heaven must mean the spiritual heaven and the angels. From the very beginning the Biblical origins of the universe are engraved with great truths concerning the world and God. To be more precise: 1) the world had a beginning, 2) it is not a result of chance, 3) the world was created by God, 4) it is not a procession or extension of God's nature, 5) God is before and above all things. Science can increase the age of the earth all it wants through its various systems of calculating to millions, billions or trillions of years. In no way does it come into conflict with Holy Scripture, because with the words "In the Beginning" no time is determined for the creation and the duration of the universe's evolution. Also as God created Adam fully grown and not as a baby to evolve into an adult, as he created the trees fully grown with mature fruit, we can also apply this to the rest of creation that God created the earth fully mature appearing as having an age millions of years old.
The Bible speaks of six days of creation and a seventh of rest. The span of each day is sometimes interpreted as meaning long periods of time, possibly thousands or millions of years, but the text clearly speaks of a normal day and night because it literally says that there was evening and there was morning. Thus it speaks of a day consisting of a period of darkness and a period of light. But we can say that these days may not have been actual 24hour days, because the sun, which determines the day, was created on the fourth day. Or was it created on the first day? Verse three to five reads: "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided between the light and between the darkness. And God called the light day and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day." Further down from verse fourteen we read: "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven for light upon the earth, to divide between the day and between the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years. And let them be for light in the firmament of heaven, to give light upon the earth. And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the great light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night and the stars. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth and to rule over the day and over the night and to divide between the light and between the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day."
This is a problem that has baffled many Biblical interpreters and scholars. Is this a contradiction? On day one God creates the light then on day four he creates the sun, moon and stars. If the sun was created on the four day then how is there light on the first day? The answer is not to be found in the chain of creation events, but in the purpose of the six days. The sun was actually created on the fourth day, but for technical reasons light and the separation of night and day is also mentioned on the first day. Light is the bases for all order and work and so that God can teach us to work six days and rest on the seventh, he appears as a common worker creating the world in six days. For this purpose it was essential to have a separation of the day from night on the first day, otherwise there would be no day one or day two or day three. There is no contradiction between the first day, where there is light and the separation of day and night from God, and the fourth day where the vessel of light, the sun, determines the day and night, because on the fourth day is revealed the material reason for the separation of the day and night and on the first day the ulterior reason which is God.
But there is more we can say concerning the order of the six days. If we look carefully at the contexts of the six days we will notice that it is divided into two corresponding groups of threes. These two corresponding threes have a connection between them. The first group of three days are separations while the second group of three days are supplementary. To be more precise, during the first day there is a separation of light from darkness. On the second day the heaven is separated from the sea. The third day the sea is separated from land. The second group now comes and supplements these first three days. The fourth day we have the sun to supplement the light of the first day. The fifth day we have the supplement of heaven and earth with the fowls of the air and the fish of the sea and the sixth day we have the land animals and man to supplement the land and plants of the third day, because on land and by eating of the plants will both man and animal live.
The purpose of the six days is religious and educational. It is not meant to be a scientific report on the creation and should not be studied as such. The creative energy of God is portrayed in human images and speaks of six days and a day of rest emphasizing in these divine works a simplicity which can be understood by simple people. The text is simple that even a child can understand. The interpretation has no right to stray from the literal sense if there is no real need for this. The words day, light, morning, evening etc, must be understood in their usual literal sense. God speaking as a human is a Biblical expression denoting that in creation the divine thoughts became a reality and that the things created are the physical revelation of the power, the wisdom and goodness of God. Thus the creation is revealed as a work made in six days followed by a day of rest symbolizing the six working days in which man is obliged to work and the seventh, the Sabbath, in which he is obliged to rest and glorify God.
The day of rest is not because as some have stated, that God was tired like some common worker after his six days of work. The Bible states that God finished his creative work on the sixth day meaning that after this there was no other new creation. According to St. Augustine, the creation and the Sabbath have a deeper meaning for the recreation of the world by the Son of God. In other words, as the Father created the world and rested, so also the Son of God worked for the salvation of mankind and rested on the Sabbath in the tomb after saying on the cross "it is finished". For us Christians, in place of the seventh day Sabbath, is Sunday, the first day of the week. This is because of Christ's Resurrection on the first day, which was then sealed with the descent of the Holy Spirit after 50days again on a Sunday. The work of salvation, the new creation and recreation is by far superior, wonderful and magnificent than the first creation because it leads us to the blessed Sabbath Ė the eternal and blessed rest. The old Sabbath was a type of the new Sabbath which is the reality. The divine rest has an educational character. God separates the seventh day from the other days and gives it a special character, not because God needed to rest, but so that on this day man can rest from his daily routine and during this day of rest to find time to think of God, to rejoice with this rest, to profit from prayer and become a partaker of the eternal rest which God prepared for him before the foundation of the world. This is the meaning of the day of rest, which in the New Testament, Christ had to remind the Pharisees that: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
Not only the Sabbath, but all of creation was made for man. Man was not created as just another animal to fill up the earth. Man is God's special creation and everything he created, he created for man. He was created to be king and lord over all the earth. This is seen by Godís words to him: "Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of heaven, and all the cattle and all the earth, and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth."
Three actions of God separate man as a special creation. With all the other creations God said "let there be" this or that and it was so. When it came to creating man God said "Let Us make man according to Our image and according to Our likeness." Before we see what this means we should note that here in the first chapter of Genesis is clear testimony that God is triune. God is represented as speaking in the plural and carrying on dialogue with other persons: "Let Us make man according to Our image and according to Our likeness." (Genesis 1: 26) In chapter two God says: "It is not good that the man should be alone; let Us make for him an help meet for him." In chapter three after eating of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, God again speaks in the plural saying: "Behold, Adam is become as one of Us" (Genesis 3: 22), and again in Chapter eleven ďCome, and let Us go down and confound their languageĒ (Genesis 11: 7). If there was only one occasion of God speaking in the plural, then we could say that it was a grammatical error, but can four occasions with six plural pronouns be considered a mistake? The Prophet Moses, the great leader and lawgiver of Israel and author of the Book of Genesis, would not have made such a simple mistake, to attribute to God a plural character four times, if he was not inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so. Also, if it was accidental, why didnít the God-inspired prophets of Israel notice and rectify the mistake?
Let's now see what the image and likeness of God means. This has nothing to do with the external appearance of man because God is Spirit and does not have a body so the image must refer to the soul. We understand that the image is manís spirit, the soul, which is endowed with intelligence, with thought, wisdom and prudence, so as to be able to discern good from evil. It is manís sovereign state and free will to choose his own destination: to choose between knowing and having communion with God, or to separate himself from God. These are specials gifts that God bestowed only upon man, his very special creation. The likeness of God is manís ability to put the special gifts he has been granted to their proper use to acquire knowledge of God which is obtained only through his relationship with God. This was and is manís destination - to be united with God, to be deified by the Holy Spirit and become a god. In other words, to be united to God by using his own free will and accepting Godís will as his own.
The second action of God that separates man as a special creation is that God formed man from the dust of the earth. With the animals God said let it be and they were created, but when it came to the creation of man we are not told that he was created with the Word of God, but we have an image of God forming man with his hands.
The third action of God that makes man extremely special is that after forming man from the dust, God breathed into his face a breath of life, and the man became a living soul. Man therefore is not part of the animal kingdom, he is a special creation like no other creation: he is a psychosomatic being, in other words he is both body and soul.
The first chapter of Genesis is a chronological order of creation and gives the general lines of creation showing that the visible world was created as the habitat for man whom God created to have dominion over the fish, fowl, animals and any other living thing. The second chapter again mentions some of the creations and the creation of man, which some scholars have claimed proves that there are two creation stories and probably two different authors. The second chapter is not a different version of the general line of creation, it doesnít follow a chronological order because it has already done so in chapter one so it must be trying to say something else. The second chapter is supplementary to the first chapter and gives more emphasis on the supernatural gifts with which man has been endowed with so that he may be capable of partaking in the eternal and perfect divine blessing. Thus in the first chapter it simply says that: "God made man, according to the image of God made He him, male and female made He them." In the second chapter we are given the details of how man was created, how God formed man from the dust of the earth and how he breathed into his face a breath of life. The first chapter simply says that he made them male and female, the second chapter gives the reason and details of how Eve was formed from Adam's rib. Also in the second chapter there is mention of paradise as the perfect habitat for the man that God has endowed with such special gifts that make him stand above all other creatures. There is also mention of the first commandment, and a hint on their still innocent condition.
Between the two chapters there is a difference in the order of creation e.g. in the first chapter man is created last, but in the second chapter man is presented as being created before the animals. If we accept the fact that the two chapters are not a contradiction in terms then we are open to see that they are harmonious to each other. The first chapter as already said follows the chronological order but the second follows the honorary order. It wants to stress that the whole world was created for man and by mentioning him before the animals and plants it doesnít want to show that man was created before them, but to show manís value, dominion and honour above everything else.
After creating man we are told that God planted a paradise eastward in Edem, and there He put the man, whom He had formed. Note that the Septuagint uses the word Paradise whereas the Masoretic text says: God planted a garden. Paradise denotes much more than a garden, a place of exquisite pleasure, beauty, delight and bliss.
This paradise or garden is a place on earth and has a river going through it to water it, which then parts into four heads meaning four main rivers. We are given the names of these rivers and the lands through which they run. The Phison which runs through the whole land of Evilat, where there is gold. It then tells us that the gold of this land is good and that there also is carbon and the green stone. Carbon must refer to diamond and the green stone to the Emerald. In the KJB it says "there is bdellium and the onyx stone." bdellium has been identified as an aromatic gum, but it is very unlikely that gum would be specifically mentioned with gold and gems as some remarkable gift of nature. The onyx stone also is not clearly identified as it could mean any number of stones that were known as onyx in ancient times. The Septuagint carbon and green stone is more credible because they are precious stones worthy of being specially mentioned to identify a country.
The second river is named as Geon which compasses the whole land of Ethiopia. The country mentioned as Ethiopia does not necessarily refer to the African country known today as Ethiopia. The Hebrew for Ethiopia is Chus, named after Noah's grandson. His land was an Asiatic area north of Babylon. In early Christian times a land that was part of Armenia was known as Ethiopia. The third river is the Tigris which runs through Assyria and the fourth the Euphrates. Today only the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers are known and many have tried without success to identify where paradise was. It has been suggested that it was in Babylon or Persia, modern day Iraq and Iran. The Tigris indeed runs through the Assyria capital of Nineveh and the Euphrates runs through the city of Babylon, but these rivers did not run through paradise. The source of the headwater began in paradise and then separated into four main rivers of which two are the Tigris and Euphrates. The source of these rivers is in Ancient Armenia near Mount Ararat. If paradise was around Mount Ararat then the place twice served as the cradle of the human race, the first as the homeland of Adam and Eve and the second after the Great flood where Noah's ark came to rest and from where mankind began again.
A Hebrew myth says that Adam was created in Hebron with earth taken from Damascus, placing Adam and paradise both in Palestine. Here in Hebron Abel was killed and Adam was buried. Noah is said to have taken Adam's relics with him in the Ark and later distributed them to his sons. His son Shem received Adam's skull, which in Christian times is said to have been buried at Golgotha from which it received the name as the place of the skull mentioned in the New Testament.
Genesis then gives us the first commandment of God to Adam: "Of every tree which is in the paradise thou mayest eat for food, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall not eat of it; but in whatsoever day ye shall eat thereof, by death shall ye die." We will look at this in detail shortly when we come to the fall. But first we must look at the creation of Eve.
God says that it is not good that the man should be alone; let Us make for him an help meet for him. Immediately after this the narration seems to change subject and we are told that "out of the earth God formed yet further all the wild beasts of the field, and all the fowls of the heaven; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them. And whatsoever Adam called any living creature, that was the name thereof." This mention of the animals being created after Adam has led to many scholars suggesting that it is a second creation story. Also some sickly minded have suggested that because God said "it is not good that the man should be alone; let Us make for him an help meet for him" which is then followed by the presence of the animals, that Adam was to pick a mate from among the animals. This is not a second creation story neither was it for Adam to pick a mate.
The Bible clearly mentions that the reason why the animals were brought to Adam was so that he would give them their names and not to pick a mate from among them. The reason why it is mentioned immediately after God said ďlet Us make for him an help meet for himĒ is because the bringing of the animals to Adam had a double purpose. The one to name them and the other as educational so that Adam could see that all the animals were in male and female pairs and by seeing them as such it would stimulate and arouse in him the desire to also have a mate. Once this desire had been aroused God then proceeds to create woman from Adamís rib.
Why didn't God create woman from the dust as he did with Adam? If Eve was made from the dust she would be another creation and would not have any connection to Adam. Adam is the source of mankind and if Eve was created as a separate creation she also would be a source of creation. Eve was taken out of man so in reality Eve is Adam and all their descendants are Adam. We are all Adam. The fathers say that God didn't take a bone from Adam's head neither from Adam's foot which could have been interpreted that woman is above man or a slave to man, God fashioned Eve from Adam's rib to show that man and woman are equal standing side by side. In the salvation plan one man caused the fall and Christ the New-man brought salvation. Also as Eve is the bride of Adam created from a bone of his side, the Church is the bride of Jesus created from his side when he was pierced with the spear and henceforth poured out Blood and Water, symbolizing the two mysteries of salvation; Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
Having created Eve from Adam's rib, God then brings her before Adam. When the animals were presented before him so that he could name them, Adam noticed that none of the species resembled himself, but now when Eve is presented to him he immediately recognizes that she is the same as himself and says: "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of her man." Adam is prophetically instigating the future bond of marriage and continues saying: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife: and they two shall become one flesh." One flesh refers not only to the sexual union of man and woman, but also to the fruit of this union; a child which is one flesh from two.
We must now ask if Adam and Eve are literally the first man and woman or are they figurative characters? Was there an Adam or does he just represent mankind in general? In our introductory talk we saw that the Biblical creation story is credible and does not come into conflict with the scientific explanation and many of the biblical events or persons mentioned in Genesis can be verified historically. This is enough proof to say that everything in Genesis is not fictional of myth, but God-inspired and therefore genuine and trustworthy. Sceptics who brush off Genesis as fictional storytelling have to do so to justify themselves to others why they don't believe in God, but Christians have to believe that Adam and Eve were real people otherwise there is no sense in believing the rest of Holy Scripture and no sense believing in Christ as our Saviour. If we believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, we must believe in the New Testament that records his incarnation, his preaching, his death on the Cross, his Resurrection and everything else concerning his person and our salvation. Christ himself accepted the literal historicity of the Genesis account. He affirmed that the Genesis account is true by quoting word for word from Genesis ďHave ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (Matt. 19: 4-6)
But there is more proof in the New Testament, as far as faith is concerned, that Adam was a genuine person and not only that, but that he was the son of God. In the Holy Gospel according to St Luke (3:23-38), we find the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ which begins: ďAnd Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi,ÖĒ and ending ďWhich was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.Ē What we have here is a genealogy of Jesusí ancestry right back to Adam which is proof that Adam was indeed a real person and not a representation of mankind. Adamís genealogy is of course mentioned in the Old Testament in much more detail as also his childrenís generations, but the fact that it is mentioned in the New Testament verifies that the genealogy is true.

We commonly say the Gospel of Matthew, or Mark or Luke or John, but this is not actually correct. It is the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. The Gospel meaning "Good News" is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; it is the Word of God. The genealogy is very important to us and we will discuss it in detail when we come to the study of the New Testament. For now I will just say that it is important because not only does it cement together the Old and New Testament but confirms that Adam was a real person and everything in the Old Testament and the New Testament happened because of Adam. Our whole faith, everything we believe in is based on the fact that Adam was created in Godís image and likeness and then through original sin and the fall, he lost or distorted that divine image. The whole of the Bible, the Old and New Testaments is an account of Godís promise to save man from the fall and to restore in him once again the image of God.
So having established that Adam was a real person we now enter chapter three of Genesis and the account of the fall and exile from Paradise. "Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And the serpent said unto the woman, Wherefore hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the paradise?"
The devil, being a bodiless fallen angel, appearing as a serpent should not surprise us, because angels have appeared in bodily form so that they can be perceived by human eyes and the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove. Spirits can appear in many forms, but from the punishment that follows the fall, it is clear that the serpent is not an apparition, but rather that the devil uses the serpent to speak to Eve. Eve still in an innocent and childlike state would not have been astonished or frightened on seeing and hearing the serpent speak. She had just been created and there were many things in this new creation that she was continually learning of. What she must have known was that according to nature serpents cannot speak. She would have known this by divine knowledge innate in both Adam and Eve as divine gifts. Thus she must have understood that some kind of other power was within the serpent and this is what drew her attention.
The serpent begins with a question to arouse doubts in Eve's mind. "Why has God said you shall not eat of every tree of Paradise?" As soon as this doubt appeared in Eve she should have turned away and left, but instead she starts up a conversation with the serpent telling him that they were allowed to eat of every tree except of the fruit of the tree situated in the middle of Paradise and if they eat of it or touch it God has said they will die.
Let's look closer at this commandment. What was its purpose? Adam was created immortal, that is to say, as long as he lived in Godís will and likeness, he would live forever. He was as yet innocent and sinless, one can say almost perfect, except for his knowledge, which was only theoretical. We say theoretical because by nature, Adam possessed theoretical knowledge of good and evil, i.e. it was innate and natural to him. This knowledge was included in the ďaccording to the imageĒ, which was his wisdom and prudence, his gift of discernment. ďAdam could discern both these things [good and evil]Ē, says St. John Chrysostom, and ďit was impossible for him not to know what was good and what was badĒ, for ďGod from the very beginning in creating man placed within him natural lawĒ. Thus man knew from the moment of his creation what was good and what was evil; what was beneficial and salutary and what was harmful and destructive. But this knowledge was theoretical. He possessed knowledge but not experience. He knew that his aim was to reach perfection and union with God, but perfection could only be achieved through practical and experiential knowledge. But how was he to gain this knowledge? Precisely by trusting and obeying God's commandment.
Many people speculate on what this forbidden fruit might have been. In truth it doesnít matter what the fruit was. The reason for the commandment was not to deprive them of the fruits of paradise, but to give them the opportunity to exercise their free will, either to follow Godís will or to reject it. It was a simple command, which gave them the opportunity to practice and advance in obedience, virtue and sanctity, an opportunity to gain the much-desired experiential knowledge. The Devil, appearing in the guise of a serpent told Eve that if they eat of the tree ďBy death ye shall not die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3: 4-5). At this point Eve should have recognized that the serpent was evil, and should have stopped the conversation with him immediately, but instead she listened to him with great trust as he slandered God. She chose to believe in the devil rather than God who created her. St. John Chrysostom says, ďEve was puffed up with the hope of becoming equal to God and imagined great things for herselfĒ. Thus the tree, which she had seen many times before and only identified it with Godís command, suddenly looked different. She looked upon it as for the first time and saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant for the eyes to look upon, and fair to contemplate. Believing therefore the serpent, she ate of the fruit and gave to Adam also with her, and they ate.

At first glance one might say that their intention was good because their one desire was to reach perfection, and according to the devil's deceit, eating of the forbidden fruit would have been a shortcut to perfection and a godlike state, but they sinned because they disobeyed Godís commandment [not to eat of the fruit]. They freely chose not to follow Godís will and this destroyed or distorted in them the likeness of God.
The significance of their action has a much deeper meaning for by doing what the seducer suggested, man appeared to be saying to God: I have no need of you. I shall live by myself, self-sufficient and independent. I donít need your guidance and protection. Iím able by myself to live and to achieve great things. Indeed manís original sin revealed his unbelief in God, his egoistic rebellion against the Divine Majesty, his thanklessness and ingratitude toward the beneficent Creator and Father, his contempt, insult and blasphemy against the Holy and Heavenly King.
Having eaten of the fruit or rather having disobeyed God's commandment, they now had experiential knowledge of good and evil. What was good they knew before when they were innocent and now they knew what evil was because they chose to follow the devil, the father of evil. They lost their innocence and holiness and as a result they were ashamed of their nakedness. They were ashamed of both their spiritual and bodily nakedness and tried to hide themselves from God. In an attempt to hide at least their bodily nakedness from God, they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons to go about them.
The story continues saying: "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the paradise in the evening, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the paradise." So much was their mind darkened by the sin that Adam and Eve, who before were full of grace, now think that it is possible to hide from the eyes of God in the middle of Paradise.
God calls to Adam and says: "Where are you." God is angry at what has happened but at the same time he is full of love for Adam and approaches him in the hope that Adam will ask forgiveness. Adam did not conceive and discover evil by himself, but was tempted from without by the devil and thus led into sin, thus God gives him the opportunity to repent and ask for forgiveness. The "Where are you" does not mean where are you hiding: God knows and sees exactly where Adam is. God is telling Adam, where were you before you sinned and where are you now, where are the promises of Satan, why do you now avoid him whom before you desired, where is your trust, your innocence, why are you ashamed?
Adam replies that he was afraid because he was naked and so hid himself. He does not have the courage to confess what he had done so God helps him by revealing the sin. Who told you that you were naked, unless you have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? Being faced with the accusation Adam should have admitted his mistake and ask for God's mercy and forgiveness, but instead pride takes over him and to justify what he had done does not admit that he made a mistake, but passes on the blame to God himself: "The woman whom you gave me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat." So the mistake was not his, but God's for giving him the woman. If God had not made woman he would not have fallen into sin.
Having failed an apology from Adam God then says to the woman. What is this that thou hast done? Eve replied: "The serpent deceived me, and I did eat." Like Adam, Eve was too proud to accept her mistake and ask for forgiveness and passed on the blame onto someone else, in this case the serpent, or even God himself for allowing the serpent to tempt her. The first sin therefore was disobedience to Godís will and this immediately produced an offspring in pride, and subsequently a long chain of other sins.
The fact that God gave them the opportunity to repent does not necessarily mean that if they had taken this path, they would have regained the likeness of God. God never lies; He said that on the day they eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would surely die. This did not mean that they would undergo an immediate physical death. Eternal life can only be lived as long as it is lived in the likeness of God. They freely chose to separate themselves from Godís likeness by following their own free will. This separation was therefore death as opposed to immortal life.
Having heard the evidence and determining who is guilty, God now passes judgement and punishment. The main guilty party is the devil and God doesn't ask him what he has done, because he has already been judged when he fell from the rank of the angels. Neither does he ask the serpent what he has done because the All-knowing God realises that the snake did not act of his own initiative. Nevertheless the snake is punished because he allowed the devil to work through him. God therefore punishes him saying: "Because you have done this, you are cursed above all animals of the earth; "upon thy breast and thy belly shalt thou go and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." This doesn't mean that the snake had legs before, but its possible that most of his body was upright and when he spoke to Eve he was in an upright position. Since the fall the snake has became a symbol of evil and using this symbol God gives us the first promise of salvation. He tells the snake or rather the devil: "And I will put enmity between thee and between the woman, and between thy seed and between her seed: he shall crush thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel." The Church refers to this as the ďProto-EvangelioĒ, the first Gospel or the first Good news. The woman in mention is the Virgin Mary whose offspring Jesus Christ will crush Satanís head, but at the same time Satan will crush his heel which is a reference to Christís crucifixion. Christ will conquer the Devil and save man, but for this, He Himself must suffer. Satan deceived the first woman Eve, but through another woman Satan would be crushed. Notice that it says that Satan will be crushed through a woman's seed. It doesn't say seeds, but a single seed, meaning Christ. It also reveals the virginity of the woman, because it does not say of the seed of man, but the seed of a woman meaning someone without a human father.
Next in line for judgement is Eve. She was the first to sin and so is the first to be punished. God's tells her: "I will greatly multiply thy pains and thy groanings; in pains thou shalt bring forth children, and thy recourse shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Woman's punishment is twofold. Firstly she will be punished with pains in giving birth. This means that before the fall childbirth would have been without pains. The pains of childbirth are a curse or punishment of the fall. The Orthodox Church believes that because the Mother of God was cleansed of the consequences of the fall, her giving birth to Christ was without the normal pains of childbirth we now take for granted as natural. Woman's second punishment is that she will be a slave to her husband. Her lust for the forbidden fruit is punished with pains and her deceit in tricking her husband to also eat of the fruit is punished with her being submissive to him.
Lastly, judgement is passed on Adam. "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife and hast eaten of the tree of which alone I commanded thee not to eat, cursed is the ground in thy labours; in pains shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life: thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread, till thou return unto the ground out of which thou wast taken; for earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return."
God's loving care is lifted and Adam's kingship over nature comes to an end. Both plants and animals were submissive to man and now they become obstacles, some dangerous and poisonous. In Paradise, man's food was the fruit of the trees; God took care of everything for man. Outside of Paradise his food will continue to be the fruit of trees, but also vegetation and by choice animal meat because Abel, as we shall see next week, was a shepherd of sheep. Without God's care, man will have to till the earth which now will bring forth thorns, thistles and all kinds of weeds making tilling the earth very hard work. Adam will eat of the earth until he dies and returns to the earth from which he was taken. This is not God's punishment, but a consequence of the fall. Man chose to follow his own will and disobey God. Of their own free will Adam and Eve chose to separate themselves from God and eternal life, because eternal life can only be in God: separation from God means death. The last verses of chapter three endorse the above punishments with the exile of man from Paradise. Adam first gives his wife a name and calls her Zoe meaning life, because she is the mother of all the living.
Next we are told that God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them. It is generally understood that these skins were animal skins, but where did they come from? Did God create them? We have already seen that God did not create anything new after the sixth day. Did God then, kill animals and skin them to make the coats? It is very unlikely that God would kill something that he created. So where did these skins come from? The Church understands the skins as something completely different. The skins in question are the skins of our bodies. It was the transformation from the immortal bodies into mortal bodies. If Adam was originally immortal his skin had to be different from the skins of our bodies which die.
This drastic change was necessary for manís salvation, otherwise sin would have reigned in Adamís immortal body and union with God would have been eternally impossible. This change was in fact their death, because they had lost immortality. They were in a state of death and subject to cold, hunger, illness, diseases, pain, suffering and ageing bodies, which eventually would bring about their bodily death by the separation of the soul from the body.
Having transformed man to live in death, God then proceeds to exile him from the Paradise of bliss. This was essential for man's eternal salvation. In Paradise was another tree, the tree of life which if Adam should have eaten would again have become immortal, but he would have been immortal in a sinful state not having communion with God. Mercifully, God did not permit this to happen. Adam was cast out of the Paradise. No longer could he even contemplate eating from the Tree of Life. It was beyond his reach. God is not punishing Adam, his mortal existence is of his own doing, but God does not abandon him. God knew the risk of the fall when he created Adam with a free will and had already a plan of salvation that would allow Adam to re-unite with him. Part of this plan was the process of regeneration, which through children, Adam or Adam's nature continued to live until the plan of salvation should be fulfilled with the incarnation of God himself.