Genesis 3:15 – Wool over the eyes

I had left christianity for almost 10 years, shedding slowly the way in which it had clouded my view of the text of the Jewish Bible, amongst other things. You’d think after such a time a person would have got rid of a vast amount of that worldview. But recently, I had been investigating claims about our economy that was unsettling me and forcing a change in my mind. For some reason, I looked back at what christians claimed to be the first messianic prophecy, Genesis 3:15. I looked at it and looked again. And then something hit me!

No, it wasn’t a parked car.

But something further refocused my view on it.

The Mistake

I had gone through all the so-called messianic prophecies years ago, but for some reason, even now I thought Genesis 3:15 was not messianic, but it was a prediction, a prophecy. Why? Because it used the future tense to refer to things that would happen.

And I [God] will put enmity between you [the snake] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; they shall bruise your head, and thou you shall bruise their heel. (Genesis 3:15)

It’s easy to see that based on context that this was by no means a messianic prophecy as there was absolutely nothing in the textual context that referred to any aspect of what a messianic king would do or be. It just speaks of the hatred between humans and snakes. That’s it!

But I was still thinking that this was a prophecy of some sort. You see, in part of my interpretation I had taken the verse out of context, as christians do, and saw the future tense as pointing to the future in the same way that a prediction does.

But along came context …

But then I started to think about it. I thought about the chapter, reading it from the beginning to the end and I saw that I was unequal in my use of this verse in comparison to the surrounding. Genesis 3 talks about man disobeying God’s command. From verses 14-19, there is God’s response to the disobedience. What is important in this interpretation is the difference between punishment and prediction. A judge gives punishments, not predictions. A judge sees a crime and then hands down the penalty to the guilty party. A prophet predicts things that are generally unforseeable by natural means. Even a weatherman, when he predicts the weather, is using calculation and knowledge to use probability to get a general impression of what the weather will be like. But God is not doing prophecy or prediction in this passage. The passage deals with the penalty. Here, let me show you my thought patterns by quoting each verse of God’s response, but I will leave Genesis 3:15 out, to show how the prediction notion sticks out like a sore thumb.

Genesis 3:14a “And the LORD God said to the snake: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field;” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:14b “upon your belly you shall go about” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:14c “and dust you’ll eat all the days of your life.” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:16a “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your pain and your travail;” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:16b “in pain you shall bring forth children; Punishment with immediate effect”

Genesis 3:16c “and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you. Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:17a “And to Adam He said: ‘Because you obeyed the voice of your wife, and ate of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying: You shall not eat of it; the ground is cursed for your sake;” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:17b “in toil you shall eat of it all the days of thy life.” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:18a “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to you” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:18b “and you shall eat the herb of the field.” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:19a “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground; for out of it you were taken;” Punishment with immediate effect

Genesis 3:19b “for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” Punishment with immediate effect

Every single one of these is a natural effect, a penalty that has effect from that time onwards and only in the natural world. Again, I’m only working from the text. None of this is some prediction of a future time. From the time that God spoke those words onwards, this punishment and penalty would be in effect.

Now seeing the consistent theme of this whole passage, how can Genesis 3:15 be lifted from this and refer to some distant future? It doesn’t! Each part of it is a continuation of God’s pronouncement and punishment upon man with immediate effect, not some distant prophecy or prediction.

It’s amazing to me that I only just see this now.

Oh well.

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About hesedyahu

I'm a gentile living in UK, a person who has chosen to take upon himself the responsibility God has given to all gentiles. God is the greatest aspect of my life and He has blessed me with a family. I used to be a christian, but I learnt the errors of my ways. I love music. I love to play it on the instruments I can play, I love to close my eyes and feel the groove of it. I wrote my songs when I was single and not so happy and since I've been married, I haven't written as much. I guess that shows how happy and blessed I am. What else is there?
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9 Responses to Genesis 3:15 – Wool over the eyes

  1. Di Wang says:

    Rejoice, you nations, with his people,[a][b]
    for he will avenge the blood of his servants;
    he will take vengeance on his enemies
    and make atonement for his land and people.
    Deuteronomy 32:43

    Yeshua is a atonement Elohim made for Israel for sins of Israel.

    • James Wood says:

      Not according to the Tanach. Read my book, “Leaving Jesus” to find out why I say this.

    • searchinmyroots says:

      For Israel??

      I thought Christians believe Jesus was the atonement for “mankind”?

      Of course none of this comes from the Hebrew bible. As a matter of fact, the Hebrew bible tells us quite the opposite.

      • Di Wang says:

        Elohim has made atonement for Israel.

        “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,

        Isaiah 42:6

        Yeshua is light for the non-jews.

      • hesedyahu says:

        He’s nowhere clearly mentioned in the text.

      • Di Wang says:

        He is mentioned by many prophets.
        He is the Shepherd in Ezekiel.
        Ezekiel 34:23
        I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.

      • hesedyahu says:

        What is sad is that you’re actually serious. But Jesus is neither named nor mentioned in this passage or any other you may refer to unless you’re talking about him being a false prophet. you may be closer to the truth if you mean that prophecy. Jesus was never called David. His “biological” father wasn’t descended from David so neither was he. There is no genealogy of Jesus’ that explicitly refers to Mary. Jesus was never the shepherd or king of Israel sitting on the throne of David. so there is no way that the passage you quoted refers to him.

  2. john says:

    I’m a christian but I questioned many things that were taught but I found a more perfect understanding by just studying the bible. One of the things that I found was that a woman could be Israel or the church: another is that as your rabbis preach, is that the satan or adversary is nothing more than our good and evil inclinations. The christian preaching that Jesus would crush the serpents head (satan, good and bad inclination) is not in the bible but only doctrine. I found that the woman (the woman and they as you put it) are mentioned in Romans 16:20 And the God of peace shall bruise satan under your feet shortly. This fits in that God will overcome through the church (woman) and us (her seed), this evil inclination. You can’t go by everything that is taught but only what is written and then only in the original language. Satan in the Hebrew means adversary. Romans 8:7 the carnal mind is enmity against God.
    Yours in Jesus, John

    • hesedyahu says:

      thank you for showing that a plain reading of the text does not yield that mistaken understanding that you just proffered. the fact that you didn’t deal with the text according to its own context but chose to redefine words away from their natural meaning when the text itself doesn’t demand such an allegorical reading speaks volumes about the baselessness of such an understanding. allegory is one of the weakest forms of proof as someone else can just use a different comparison point to get something contradictory to what you just said. e.g. Jesus, with his false Messiah claim became a deceiver, like the snake, mixing truth with lies. the man and woman mean humanity. so out is our duty to crush the head of Jesus and his followers before they bite our heel. that’s why allegory is so weak.

      thank you foot also ignoring most of the rest of my article which showed that there is no prophetic element to Genesis 3. it shows your agenda was not to reply to my article but to proffer your allegory, so my main point remains untouched.

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