As with a missionary plane, searching for a gap in the clouds, the meaning of some verses in the Bible has been clouded as well. For me, insight came when my wife, Dr. Joy Fleming, told me she had unlocked God’s words to the woman in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:16.
In her doctoral research my wife discovered a clear pattern written into Genesis 2-3—a seven-part pattern that is a chiasm. A chiasm can be pictured as a rainbow or as a bell curve.
Exercise #1: Describe the chiasm.
1. Read Genesis 2:25 (Review from Lesson 1)
Genesis 2-3 is formed as a chiasm. Genesis 2:5-24 is the upward curve of God at work, and Genesis 3:1-24 is the downward curve of sin at work. Genesis 2:25 is at the summit. Compare the two sides of this chiasm. What do you see?
a. Genesis 2:5-15 with Genesis 3:8-24 (A and A’)
b. Genesis 2:16-17 with Genesis 3:6-7 (B and B’)
c. Genesis 2:18-24 with Genesis 3:1-5 (C and C’)
d. How does Genesis 2:25 act as the summit? (D)
2. Read Genesis 2:7-9 with Genesis 3:15-17in the passage provided below.
a. How does the word “planted” in 2:8 connect with verse 9 below it? How does the word “formed” in 2:8 connect with verse 7 above it?
7 Then the Lord God formed the man
out of dust from the ground;
He breathed in his nostrils a breath of life
and the man became a living being.
8 The LORD God planted a garden in Eden toward the east
and there He placed the man whom he had formed
9 and the LORD God caused to sprout from the ground
every tree pleasing to the sight and good for food
including the tree of life in the midst of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
b. How does the word “sorrowful-toil” in 3:16 act in the same way with 3:17? How does the word “conception” in 3:16 act in the same way with 3:15?
15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her-offspring;
he will bruise you on the head,
and you will bruise him on the heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
(Line 1) “I will greatly multiply your-sorrowful-toil and-your-conception;
(Line 2) with effort you will give birth to children.
(Line 3) Your affection is for your husband
(Line 4) but he will rule over you.”
17 And to the man he said,
“Because you listened the voice of your wife and ate from the tree
about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in sorrowful-toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”
This precise way of arranging these words did not happen by accident. It is one of the ways Hebrew is written out to deliver information in a memorable way.
In Line 1 of 3:16 the first linking Hebrew word ‘itsebon which means “sorrowful-toil” points down to the same word used in verse 17. There God tells the man that the curse on the ground made because of him will result in ‘itsebon or “sorrowful-toil.” In fieldwork each one, the woman and the man, would have ‘itsebonor “sorrowful-toil.”
In Line 1 of 3:16 the second linking Hebrew word heron which means “pregnancy” or “conception” points back to the Hebrew word zera‘ which means “seed” or “offspring” which is used in verse 15.
A literal translation of the four Hebrew words of Line 1 of Genesis 3:16 in English would be as follows: (1) Multiplying (2) I-will-multiply (3) your-sorrowful-toil (4) and-your-conception.
Often, in trying to discern how to think about a Biblical character’s actions and words, we look to God’s response to help us.
Exercise #2: Discerning God’s response
1. From Genesis 3:11-12 which two beings did the man say had led him astray?
2. From Genesis 3:13 who did the woman say had deceived her?
3. What two words found in Genesis 3:14 and 3:17 (missing in God’s response in Genesis 3:16) reveal who God found culpable?
4. Read Genesis 3:14-19, with the correct translation of Genesis 3:15-17 above. List positives and negatives you see in God’s message to
a. The Serpent:
b. The Woman:
c. The Man:
What do these lists reveal about God’s response to each?
5. How might Genesis 3:12, 3:15 and 3:16 shed light on why Genesis 3:16 is so often mistranslated and misinterpreted?
See below for links to resources for further research.
1. Dr. Joy Fleming’s doctoral research: The e-book summary in 48 pages (https://www.amazon.com/Man-Woman-Biblical-Unity-Theology-ebook/dp/B0792MSWBP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546467124&sr=8-1&keywords=Joy+Fleming+Man+and+woman)
2. Bruce C. E. Fleming’s Workshop video summarizing Genesis 3 with slide presentation (https://youtu.be/g0_gvC28CdA)
3. Join the Tru316 Project! (https://www.patreon.com/Tru316Project)