The Pair Expelled from the Garden Part 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life,
“And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life,” as he has of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; which some believe to be just more sarcasm. And others believe that it was an expression of pity for him; that he might not live a long life of sorrow, which is the horrible fate of having to live forever as sinners. Still others are of the opinion that it refers to punishment; that having sinned he was justly deprived of the sacrament and symbol of life. And there are those who say it was said to prevent a fresh sin. And finally, it could have meant to show that there could be no life without reparation for the sin committed, and there is no other way to recompense for sin than by Christ, the antitype of the “tree of life.
and eat, and live for ever:
“And eat, and live for ever” does not mean that by eating of the fruit of the “tree of life,” his natural life would be continued forever, contrary to the sentence of death pronounced upon him; nor does it mean that he could elude that sentence and live forever. He was hindered from eating the fruit that grew on the tree of life for fear that by so doing he would live forever, in spite of being doomed to die; and very probably the devil had suggested that very idea to him—that should he be threatened with death, which he made into a question, yet by eating of the tree of life, which stood nearby the other, he would keep himself from dying. Therefore, to prevent him, and to cut off all hopes of securing eternal life for himself in this way, it is suggested that something must be done, which is the subject of the following verse—let us send him out of the garden.
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
Now the expression, "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die," receives its simple application. It is a conditional sentence, pronounced as a warning to the responsible party. On the very day of transgression it becomes legally binding against him, and the first step toward its execution is taken. This step is his exclusion from the tree of life. This is achieved by sending man out of the garden into the regular world, to till the soil from which he was taken.
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden,
“Therefore,” or rather, “and,” “the Lord God sent” (or cast, which conveys the ideas of force and displeasure.) “him forth from the Garden of Eden.” The Lord gave him orders to depart immediately; sent or put him away as a man does his wife, when he divorces her; or as a prince banishes a rebellious subject: however, he did not send him to hell at once, as he did the apostate angels, but “to till the ground from whence he was taken.”
There is no way to know how long Adam was in the garden before he was expelled from it, but there are some who have concluded that Adam fell the same day in which he was created; but though he might have stayed longer, and the word is sometimes used for a longer continuance; yet by the account in Genesis it looks as if he continued in his state of honor for a short time.
Some suppose that his removal from the tree of life was an act of mercy, to prevent a second temptation. Before this, he imagined that he could increase his wisdom by eating of the tree of knowledge, and Satan would be likely to tempt him to attempt to elude the sentence of death, by eating of the tree of life. Others imagine that the words are spoken sarcastically, and that the Most High intended by poking fun at him, to scold the poor culprit for his crime, because he broke the Divine command in the expectation of being like God, to know good from evil; and now that he had lost all the good that God had intended for him, and got nothing but evil in its place, God taunts him for the total miscarriage of His project. But God is always consistent with himself; and surely His infinite pity prohibited the use of either sarcasm or irony, in speaking of so dreadful a catastrophe, that was in the end to cause the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion, the death and burial, of “Him in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
In Genesis 1:26, 27, we have seen man in the perfection of his nature, the dignity of his office, content and happy. Here we find the same creature, but stripped of his glories and happiness, so that the word man
no longer conveys the same ideas it did before. Thus a simple word, still in use among us in its original sense, conveyed to the minds of our ancestors the two following details:
1. The human being in his state of excellence is capable of knowing, loving, and glorifying his Maker.
2. The human being in his fallen state is capable of committing all kinds of wickedness.
to till the ground from whence he was taken.
“To till the ground” (that is, the soil outside of paradise, which had been cursed for his sake) “whence he was taken”—“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken : for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3.19).
“To till the ground, from whence he was taken” means either:
1. the earth in general, out of which he was made, and to which he must return, and during the interval between must labor hard, in digging and ploughing, in planting and sowing, that so he might obtain his livelihood; or
2. that particular spot where he was formed, which is supposed from all that came before to have been outside the Garden of Eden, though it was probably very near it: some say it was a field near Damascus; and so some Jewish writers say “the gate of paradise was near Mount Moriah, and there Adam dwelt after he was cast out.”
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned everyway, to keep the way of the tree of life.
So he drove out the man;
“So” (and) “he drove out the man” (along with his guilty partner). It appears he was unwilling to go out upon the orders given him, therefore some degree of force was used, or power exerted, in some way or other, to make him leave.
and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims,
“And he placed” (literally, caused to dwell) “at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim.” “Cherubim” have been supposed to be similar to:
1. Griffins, like those of Persian and Egyptian mythology, which protected gold-producing countries like Eden.
2. Divine steeds: “And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind” (Psalm 18.11).
3. Beings who come near to God and minister to him.
4. In the Bible they are described as living creatures (Ezekiel 1:5; Revelation 4:6) in the form of a man (Ezekiel 1:5), with four (Ezekiel 1:8; 2:23; 10:7, 8-21) or with six wings (Revelation 4:8), and full of eyes (Ezekiel 1:18; Ezekiel 10:12; Revelation 4:8); each having four faces, for example, of a man, of a lion, of an ox, of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10;Ezekiel 10:16). Representations of these were by Divine directions placed upon the Arc of the Covenant (Exodus 25:17) and curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, 31;Exodus 36:8, 35), and afterwards engraved upon the walls and doors of the temple (1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35). In the Book of Revelation they are depicted as standing in the immediate neighborhood of the throne of God (Rev. 4:6; 5:6; 7:11), and as taking part in the acts of adoration and praise in which the heavenly hosts engage, and that on the express ground of their redemption (Rev. 5:8, 9). The description that comes the closest to describing Cherubim says that these mysterious creatures were symbolic not of the fullness of the Deity, nor of the sum of earthly life, nor of the angelic nature, nor of the Divine manhood of Jesus Christ, but of redeemed and glorified humanity. Combining with the intelligence of human nature the highest qualities of the animal world, as exhibited in the lion, the ox, and the eagle, they were emblematic of creature life in its most absolutely perfect form. As such they were caused to dwell at the gate of Eden to indicate that only when perfected and purified could fallen human nature return to paradise. Meantime man was utterly unfit to dwell within its fair abode.
5. The Cherubim are definitely creatures of a higher world, which are represented as surrounding the throne of God, both in the visions of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:22, Genesis 10:1) and the Revelation of John (John 4:6); not, however, as throne-bearers or throne-holders, or as forming the chariot of the throne, but as occupying the highest place as living beings in the realm of spirits, standing by the side of God as the heavenly King when He comes to judgment, and proclaiming the majesty of the Judge of the world. In this character God stationed them on the eastern side of paradise, where no doubt was its only entrance, not "to inhabit the garden as the temporary representatives of man," but "to keep the way of the tree of life," that is, to render it impossible for man to return to paradise, and eat of the tree of life.