The Parties Arraigned and Sentenced: Page 7 of 9 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
And unto Adam he said,
The man was the last to participate in the transgression, therefore he is the last to receive his sentence.
Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife,
“Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife”—“You were not deceived, she only gave it to you and encouraged you to eat it; you should have resisted the temptation;” and the reason for his condemnation is because he did not do so.
What Adam did was not only despicable but sinful, since it was contrary to the voice of God. He should have listened to God; God is to be listened to and obeyed rather than man or a woman; to abide by the wiles of a woman, and neglect the command of God, is a great crime, and it calls for a severe penalty “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge’” (Acts 4:19; NAS). Their earthly government commanded them not to do what God had directed them to do. In a conflict of this kind there is only one course to take, that is, to obey God.. The Lord paved the way for His sentence with this declaration of Adam’s guilt, which concluded with this, that instead of acting as his wife's defender prior to her disobedience, or as her counsellor following that act (in the hope of brining her to repentance), he became her guilty codefendant as a result of yielding himself to her encouragements.
and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it:
Adam was guilty, he did not attempt to make a case for his innocence because he had eaten the fruit from the tree which God had obviously pointed out to him, and concerning which he had given a clear and specific command not to eat its fruit; and had communicated it to him in the strongest manner, and had most emphatically and strictly forbidden it, even adding the threat of death to it. He was silent before his Creator because there was no ground on which he could plead ignorance, or any vagueness in the law, and he could not pretend he did not understand what God meant. The righteous sentence, which is twofold is pronounced upon Adam.
cursed is the ground for thy sake;
This is the first judgment against the man. Work had already been established as the duty of men “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden in order to have him work it and guard it” (Genesis 2:15; NIV). God would not allow man to be idle, even though there was no need to labor in the beginning., but it was not hard. The change from innocence to sin is marked by the change in difficulty from the keeping of the garden to the tilling of the ground “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground “ (Genesis 3:23; KJV). From now on work is to be done under adverse conditions. The connection between the sin of man and the productiveness of the earth is hard to define, but the conditions of labor are undoubtedly made harder by man's sin and selfishness.
God imposed upon the ground limitations and penalties that would have a bearing upon the lives men, not merely for punishment which his disobedience deserved, but to provide a continual reminder of man's fallen estate, and as a means of controlling and limiting him and of securing his seeking after God. And we should not think that this account of what happened to the earth is by any means complete. The entire series of the trumpet visions in Revelation 8, etc., are clearly related to the primeval curse mentioned here. God simply rearranged (or remodeled) this physical world in such a way that man would never be able to make himself too cozy in his state of rebellion against his Creator. There was one more adjustment made to the earth by the Great Flood; and that would also appear to be an extension and development of the principle visible in these verses. Many Bible scholars believe that this curse reached much further, and that the writer has merely noted the most obvious factor. The expulsion of the sinful pair from Eden was also compassionate since God lovingly seals off any possibility of them eating from the tree of life by driving them out of the garden.
Just think of all that mankind lost because of this one sin
by our first parents; the whole earth, which was made for man, and everything in it which he had possession of and dominion over, and might have enjoyed the use of throughout eternity, with comfort and pleasure; that which was man's greatest earthly blessing is now turned into a curse by sin, which is proof of the great sinfulness of it.
in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
“Sorrow” refers to the hard work, troubles and anxiety that a person must endure to support themselves and their family. Man must now fertilize, cultivating the earth, plant seed, and harvest the crop; he would get his living from the produce it produces, though with great difficulty; and this would be his circumstance for as long as he lives. He must be concerned about the cold and the heat, the wet and the dry. How often are all the fruits of man‘s toll destroyed by wind and hail, by mildew, by insects, wet weather, drought and floods, etc.! Anxiety and trouble are the working man‘s lot in life.
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;
“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee,” but it will not be for his advantage, instead it will give him more trouble, and cause him more fatigue and sorrow to root them up: these include all sorts of harmful herbs and plants, and troublesome weeds, which added to man's labor, since they must be pulled up, so that the more beneficial crops can grow and flourish [“But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Heb. 6.8; KJV). The curse that God placed upon the land produced thorns and thistles. They may cut them down again and again; they may plow deep and seem to tear away all their roots; they may sow the ground with the choicest seed, but soon the briars and the thorns will appear again, and be as troublesome as ever. No amount of hard work will subdue them, or secure a harvest. This curse continued, or at least it was not entirely removed, until the times of Noah “And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done” (Genesis 8:21; KJV)
, which made it hard and difficult for our ancestors to get their daily bread. Instead of producing nourishing grain and useful vegetables, noxious weeds were markedly prolific and choked the good seed, and mocked the hopes of the first farmers. From now on, man will have to work hard for his food against ever increasing difficulties. He will have to contend with thorns and thistles, which will always be ready to prevent the growth of that which he would eat. It is the vegetation that tears at his hands and prevents him having food that will grow on its own, like the trees of the garden had grown on their own to provide him with food, before the fall. Seeking his food will be a constant struggle. The place to which he will be sent will not have sufficient trees to provide his food. It must now be sought amidst thorns and thistles, which will tear not only his hands, but his heart.
It is worth noting that God does not curse the man, as He cursed the snake, but he is on his own, and he is a weak creature compared to many of the beasts he must compete with for his food. Adam and Eve are alone; there is no one else deserving to be cursed. But from now on it is his daily provision that is cursed, something that will constantly remind him of his position and what he has done. The curse does not directly bear upon Adam, but it does have an indirect bearing on him by multiplying his labor. The snake is cursed as a representative of the evil power behind it, the ground is cursed as a representative of the man.
and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
“And thou shall eat the herb of the field;” not the fruits of the garden of Eden, but only the common herbs of the field, which is the same as that which the beasts of the earth fed upon. How low the man has sunk; the lord of the whole earth is reduced by sin to such a low condition that he must compete with the animals for his food. That man, who was not content with all the fruits of Eden, less the one forbidden by God, by eating the forbidden fruit is now deprived of them all.