DIG: What was the significance of Adam naming his wife Eve? What did the garments of skin point to? Why did God drive Adam and Eve out of the Garden? How did He provide a way back?
REFLECT: Are you wearing self-made fig leaves, or garments of skin from God in a certain area of your life? If so, why are you afraid to give that area of your life over to the LORD? When was the last time Elohim drove you out for your own protection?
Adam’s faith and God’s provision are seen in these verses. Elohim would save both him and his wife and ensure that they would not live forever in this state.73 It would be easy to see Adam’s fall as a bitterly disappointing ending to the creation story. The perfection of God’s glorious creation is destroyed. Humanity, created in His image, is fallen. Death and decay now infect all of life. In these verses, Adam and Eve are driven out of paradise and sent into a hostile, sin-cursed world. But this isn’t merely the sad ending to the creation story; it is also the glorious beginning of the redemptive story. Genesis 3 contains the first promise of a Deliverer, and the remainder of the Bible is devoted to telling the old, old story of how God, by that Deliverer, ultimately redeems fallen humanity and the rest of creation from the cursed state into which Adam’s sin had plunged the world and everyone in it.74
First, God provided the means to sustain physical life (3:20). Adam’s faith is seen in naming his wife Eve. Before the Fall, she was merely called woman (2:23), but now she is to be called chavah, which means life. The fact that Adam calls her life shows his faith in the promised Seed in 3:15.
She would become the mother of all the living (verse 20b). Here again we have a play on words between her Hebrew name, chavah, and the mother of all the living. This shows that Hebrew was the original language. Chavah comes from the Hebrew root word chayah, which means to live. And the Hebrew word for living here is chai, again from the same root word chavah, to live. Although physical death was the consequence for Adam violating his covenant with God, the woman would sustain life through her childbearing. So Eve, chavah, would produce the living, chai. Today, there is a group of molecular biologists that support the concept of what is called “mitochondrial Eve.” This is the belief that all modern humans are descended from one woman. It is interesting that we all inherit our usual complement of DNA (nuclear DNA) from both our mothers and fathers, but we only inherit mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from our mothers. The Bible is not a science book per se, but when approached with an open mind, it does confirm many of the facts supported by unbiased scientific research. That should not be a big surprise because God is the Author of both Scripture and the universe.
Second, God provided grace in the context of judgment (3:21). God rejected their fig leaves (3:7) and sacrificed an animal to provide garments of skin. The same word is used in 27:16 for goatskins. For the first time, Adam and Eve saw what physical death meant. When they witnessed the death of the animal, they realized the same thing would eventually happen to them. This is the beginning of the sacrificial system in Leviticus. Later, animal sacrifices would be essential to God’s provision for a temporary antidote to the curse - one life paid for another life. Ezekiel said that the soul who sins is the one who will die (Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23). However, the one who places their faith in Elohim will live, because He has provided a Substitute (22:1-19). The rabbis have a legend about the garments of skin. They teach that Adam gave them to Cain. And when Cain was killed, they became the property of Nimrod. Esau took them from Nimrod and Jacob eventually wore them at the time of Isaac’s blessing (27:1-40).
And God clothed them. Physically, He clothed their nakedness, and spiritually He covered their sin. Elohim Himself would provide a covering by the shedding of innocent blood. This is the start of progressive revelation. It points to the fact that atonement needed to be made. Blood needed to be shed to forgive their sin. More light is shed on this in the Renewed Covenant, where we learn that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22b). There are four great lessons here. First, mankind must have adequate covering to approach Elohim. You cannot come to Him on the basis of your good works. You must come just as you are – a sinner. Second, fig leaves are unacceptable. God does not take a man-made garment. Third, God Himself must provide the covering. Fourth, an acceptable covering can only be obtained through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.75 The garments of skin that God provided them with would continually remind them of His provision. In the same way, God the Father would one day accept the sacrifice of Christ, and on that basis, God the Father would graciously clothe those who believe in the righteousness of His Son (Romans 3:21-26).
Third, God provided a way back toparadise (3:22-24). Like a loving Father, God knows what is best for His children even in His discipline. He already had a plan to restore them to paradise (Revelation 2:7). Therefore, Elohim does not put up a roadblock here, but He keeps open the way of life for Adam and Eve. But now the way of life is not through the tree of life, but through a Sacrifice.
Then the LORD God said: The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil (verse 22a). Notice how Elohim holds Adam responsible. Eve is not even mentioned, yet the man is judged. For although he knew good, he was unable to do it, and he knew evil, but was unable to resist it (Romans 7:18-19). Before the Fall, the man only knew the goodness of God, but now he knew the evil to be experienced in rejecting His Word. So his desire to be like God, knowing good and evil (3:4b), left him with something far less than Elohim. So much for divinity. He wanted to be like God, and he ended up like dust! Isn’t that just like the Adversary? Long on promises, short on delivery.
He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever physically (3:22b). Once again, God is thinking of Adam’s long-term benefit. If he were able to eat from the tree of life, Adam would live forever in an eternal state of sinfulness. He would be like a spiritual zombie, continually walking the earth, but never enjoying fellowship with Elohim. There would have been no chance of redemption. Only God’s salvation in Christ would allow him access to the tree of life again. Jesus said: To the one who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7, 22:2 and 14). Therefore, it was for his own good that Adam be driven out of the Garden.
So the LORD God banished him from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. So Adam began his painful toil because he was held personally responsible: the man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil; he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and also take from the tree of life, and live forever; so Elohim banished him (3:23). No mention of Eve at all, yet they were both equally guilty of sin (see Bf – Your Desire Will Be For Your Husband, and He Will Rule Over You).
And after He drove the man out He placed on the east side of the garden of Eden two cherubim (3:24a). There are at least two cherubim here because the word is plural. There were also two cherubim over the mercy seat in the Tabernacle in the desert (see my commentary on Exodus Fs – The Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place: Christ at the Throne of Grace), and later the Temple in Yerushalayim. The purpose of cherubs over the mercy seat was to symbolize the throne of God. They protected and guarded the way into His presence.
And a flaming sword flashing back and forth, the Shechinah glory, or the visible presence of God Himself, was placed there to guard the way to the tree of life (3:24b). Man had sinned and the LORD, in His judgment, had to drive the man and the woman out of the Garden. But it was mercy as well as judgment that drove them away . . . let us not forget that! To make it back under the right conditions, an innocent sacrifice, a blood substitute, would be needed.
Therefore, after the Fall (3:6), Adam and Eve soon had a sense of guilt (3:8). Then followed a sense of condemnation (3:17). Last of all came the reality of separation (3:24). It was impossible for them to remain in the Garden, and in a state of fellowship with God. Sin and paradise do not mix. So God drove the man and the woman out. Separation from Elohim is always the result of sin. Isaiah would say: Your sins have separated you from your God (Isaiah 59:2). Thus, the threefold punishment of guilt, condemnation and separation piled up on the man because of his sin. Is there any hope?
Looking to the New Covenant, Rabbi Sha’ul answers the threefold punishment with three rhetorical questions. To the question: “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen (Romans 8:33)?” the answer is this, there is no guilt! To the question: “Who is he that condemns (Romans 8:34)?” the answer is this, there is no condemnation! And to the question: “Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah (Romans 8:35 CJB)?” the answer is, there is no separation! 76 This is surely Good News for all of those who are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14).