Tamarajo is an avid Bible scholar who loves nothing more than seeking out the treasures in God's Word and sharing them with others.
The Importance of the Early Genesis Narratives
The "Beginning" narratives of Genesis contain the genetic code that finds its expression and fruit development in the rest of Scripture and throughout the history of human experience.
These early chapters contain templates for the subsequent events detailing God's relational advancement with fallen humankind. Every chronicle will echo these beginning accounts and reveal applicable facets drawn from the episodes in the first chapters of the Bible.
It's a messy story, to say the least, but that's just the backside of the tapestry view. As we follow the common threads through the fabric of these Biblical accounts, a much bigger picture comes into view. We shall see how the genius of God beautifully weaves His eternal plan through the warp of rebellious humanity who resists Him at every turn.
This article will recast the events of the Genesis chapter three garden narrative and view them through the lens of Abram and Sarai's experiences.
Appointed Spaces and Places
Adam was created outside the garden, planted in Eden, and then later placed inside the garden.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground . . . The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
— Genesis 2:7-8
Through the downfall of the first prototypical human family, the consequential exile from the garden and Eden left humankind outside God's sacred appointed space.
Humanity continued to stumble over itself outside of Eden from the flood until the tower of Babel. At this juncture, God called one man, Abram, out of the metropolitan Ur of the Chaldees, located in the territories of Nimrod's idolatrous urban developments, including Babel. God's promise included Abram's placement in a new land.
Now the Lord had said to Abram:
Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
— Genesis 12:1
Initially, Abram obeyed the call to the new land God was preparing for him.
So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him . . . So they (Abram and family) came to the land of Canaan.
— Genesis 12:5
All was going well until a presenting challenge.
Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there for the famine was severe in the land.
— Genesis 12:10
At first glance, it appears as if Abram is making a sensible decision to go down to Egypt, considering the severe famine in the land. However, there are a couple of clues indicating that perhaps this was not a part of God's plan.
The first clue appears in the expression "went down." It's a seemingly insignificant mention in terms of a geographical description considering he had to go south to get to Egypt. But in Biblical narrative, such phrasing can have a deeper, more connective meaning. Going down could be metaphoric for a decline in right decision-making.
Going down in a moral sense also was the case with the southern kingdom of Judah's King Jehoshaphat when he agreed to ally with the northern kingdom of Israel's evil king Ahab to reclaim Ramoth Gilead from Syria.
Then it came to pass, in the third year, that Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went down to visit the king of Israel.
— I Kings 22:2
Jehoshaphat's going down is not describing going geographically south, considering Israel was north of Judah. "Going down," in this case, signals going down spiritually. The Chronicle's rendition of this story makes it clear that Jeshaphat had chosen poorly.
Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you.
— I Chronicles 19:1-2
The second clue in Abram's case is not quite as apparent in that God does not tell Abram to go to Egypt, nor does the text tell us that Abram consulted God for such instructions. Abram appears to run off to Egypt of his own volition.
Abram's wrong decision prompts a warning from God in a later incident with Abram's son Isaac when there is another famine in the land. This time God explicitly warns Isaac that he should not go to Egypt.
There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.
Then the Lord appeared to him and said: Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you.
— Genesis 26:1-2
Abram's leaving the land may reflect the possibility that Adam left the sacred garden space, which led to the conversation between Eve and a beast of the field. The Biblical text is not clear as to where this conversation took place. It simply states that Eve conversed with a "beast of the field." The field was outside of the garden space.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
— Genesis 3:1
As we shall see in the next section, Abram's leaving the promised land precipitated a compromising encounter between Sarai and the Pharaoh of Egypt, much like Eve's situation with the serpent.
Additionally, the famine aspect of Abram's experience links with the unfaithful view of perceived lack in the Adam and Eve story. Although there was a severe famine, unlike the ample provisions for Adam, God could have supplied for Abram's needs, as he did for Isaac, had he stayed in the land.
Adam's Passivity Recurs in Abram
On their way down to Egypt, Abram concocts a plan to save himself from an imagined worst-case scenario potential problem. His plan ultimately ends up jeopardizing his wife, Sarai. When overlayed with the garden temptation scene, a possible unseen facet of the event of Adam and Eve's garden failure emerges.
And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”
— Genesis 12:11-13
In the following events, Abram's greatest fear came to pass when Pharaoh's princes observed Sarai's beauty and took her on behalf of Pharaoh. She was most likely about to become part of Pharaoh's harem, although no mention of killing Abram was noted. Like Adam, Abram said nothing. He remained fearfully and passively silent while Sarai's virtue was about to be compromised.
So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house.
— Genesis 12:14
With Abram's behavior in mind, Adam was perhaps afraid of the sinister being who proposed the initial temptation to Eve. Like Abram, Adam passively watched the scene unfold and didn't say a word. The Biblical text clearly states that Adam was with Eve while the scene took place.
. . . She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
— Genesis 3:6
Abram went so far as to receive gifts from Pharaoh because of Sarai. Abram knew this was a customary ancient near-eastern practice of taking a wife, yet he remained silent.
He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
— Genesis 12:16
God, out of necessity, intervened on Sarai's behalf by plaguing Pharaoh's household. There was more at stake than Sarai's virtue. After the fall, God promised Eve a savior seed, and Sarai was next in line to propagate that plan. Had He not, the Messianic strategy to recover humankind would have been irrevocably contaminated.
Like Adam and Eve, these decisions were not without consequence. Abram and Sarai returned to their homeland along with Pharaoh's gifts, including Hagar, a female servant. This event sets the stage for another significant glitch in the developing Messianic program.
A final Edenic observation from Genesis 12:14, noted earlier in this section, concerns the seeing and taking on the part of the Egyptians and the princes of Pharaoh. Seeing and taking things that looked good but were evil got Adam and Eve into trouble. In the case of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, taking another man's wife was not good but evil. Like the alternate tree in the garden, it was considered forbidden.
In the next section, Sarai, like Eve, has her own "seeing and taking" moment.
The Taking and Giving of Forbidden Things
God promised Abram that he would become a great nation.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great; (in contrast to Bayblyon's inhabitants making a great name for themselves)
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
— Genesis 12:2-3
Abram's account gives us a more detailed look at one of the first missions in the Bible concerning specific placement in a prepared territory. God's original plan pointed toward kingdom expansion through being fruitful and multiplying.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it . . .
— Genesis 1:28
God's mission statement to Abram verifies the Adamic vision for an expanding kingdom intended to bless the whole earth and its inhabitants.
The "many nations" part of God's promise to Abram included descendants, which according to the next portion of Scripture, did not happen immediately following God's proposed deal.
. . . the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram (do not be aftraid like Adam was). I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring (seed in Hebrew); indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
— Genesis 15:1-4
Abram wondered if he misunderstood how family development was supposed to occur when he had not yet produced a child. He considered that perhaps it would be through his servant Eliezer that God's promise of a family would be realized. God reassured Abram that the promised seed would come through him.
Ten years had passed. Now Sarai was getting impatient and decided to take matters into her own hands.
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.(gifted by Pharaoh during Abram's unapproved tript to Egypt) So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain (build) children by (through) her . . . ”
— Genesis 16:1-2
In justification of her next move, Sarai blamed God for holding out on her and accused Him of restraining her from bearing children. This scene conceivably captures a facet of Eve's thoughts as she considers the possibilities and potentials of the forbidden tree, as we shall see in the entire conversation between the serpent and Eve.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise (includes the idea of success and prosperity) she took of its fruit and ate.
— Genesis 3:1-5
The above setting involved a crafty creature that invited Eve to perceive God as someone holding out on her. The Hebrew word for "wise," śāḵal שָׂכַל, in the above verse is not the usual word used to express wisdom. This particular word includes ideas of success and prosperity. Both Sarai and Eve imagined that their success depended on taking matters into their own hands.
The biggest temptation for both Sarai and Eve was to control events based on their distorted solution for their desired outcome rather than God's promise.
Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife . . .
— Genesis 16:3
Sarai's taking her maidservant Hagar and giving her to her husband for success in childbearing is reminiscent of Eve taking from the forbidden tree and giving the fruit to her husband in the Garden scene. The acquisition of Hagar and her being used to fulfill Sarai's desire for a son was wrong and not a part of God's Messianic plan.
The Genesis garden narrative ends with God's confrontation with Adam and a rebuke for listening to his wife.
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’
— Gensis 3:17
The Scriptures echo this event with the following observation concerning the affairs of Abram and Sarai, linking the two events.
. . . And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.
— Genesis 16
Isaac Continues the Connection
Abram's son Isaac later repeats the same mistake when there is another famine in the land. Although he does not go to Egypt as God had commanded, like Abram, he asks his wife to protect him from king Abimelech, in whose territory he resides, by saying that she is his sister. In this case, God confronted Abimelech as he did Pharaoh, but this time Abimelech used the language of Genesis chapter two to communicate his understanding of the consequences of partaking in forbidden things.
So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
— Genesis 26:11
The "shall surely be put to death" phrase matches the "shall surely die phrase in Genesis chapter two.
. . . of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
— Genesis 2:17
Concluding Consequential Components
Abram and Sarai illustrated a different facet of fruit developed from a seed event planted in the first opening scene of the Bible. Their experience provides an inside view of the possible thought processes that led to Adam and Eve's fateful decision. Perhaps these events can also offer us an applicable lens from which to view our own life stories and outcomes.
Adam and Eve's decision had far-reaching consequences that are evident today. Humanity's conflict with God and each other still rages.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam
— Romans 5:12-14
The germinated seed of Adam and Eve's sin came to fruition in the lives of their sons, Cain and Abel. Cain's killing of Abel clearly illustrated disregarding God's prescribed ways and the value of fellow humans. The broken familial bonds precipitated by Cain's hatred toward Abel became an invasive perennial problem throughout the rest of Scripture.
Similarly, Abram and Sarai's departure from God's will and ways resulted in far-reaching consequences, including conflict between Abram's sons, Isaac and Ishmael. When sin enters the equation, hatred and hostility are sure to follow.
Fortunately, the story doesn't end there. God masterfully worked out His salvation plan through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
For as by one man’s (Adam) disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s (Jesus) obedience many will be made righteous
— Romans 5:19
His redemptive offering extends to all who recognize the seed of sin in their own lives and are willing to call upon Him for salvation.
. . . if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
— Romans 10:9-13
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