by Rabbi Jeffrey Adler
In the 3rd chapter of Genesis, Adam and Eve succumbed to the serpent’s (Satan’s) attempts to drive a wedge of suspicion and mistrust between them and Adonai. The serpent had seduced them into thinking that God was holding out on them and that they could overcome that by eating from the “magical” fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. The appeal of the occult is always that one can access power to replace that of God in whom they are afraid to trust. The result is always death, yet, mankind keeps falling for the same satanic scam.
Suddenly aware of their tragic error, the couple hid themselves from the eyes of God and their own shame, making another mistake by believing that they could hide from God and not simply going to Him for mercy. God finds them anyway and exposes the truth of their wrong choices.
The question now becomes: what will Adonai do now; will He destroy them and start over?
He first states the consequences of their decision to distrust His words and character: death and exile from the paradise where they had been living, survival through drudgery, child-bearing in pain. But, He also gives them a promise of long-term deliverance.
The promise comes in the context of denunciation of the serpent. He will be destined to a slimy, inelegant future. And, the Lord will undo what he has caused in the Garden. He will have no right to relationship with the people he has harmed. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and, between your descendants and her descendants. He will crush your head, and, you will crush His heel.”
Descent typically in the Scriptures is listed through the man, but, here, it is through the woman. Genealogies in Genesis are through Adam, not Eve, so, something different is occurring here. We have a foreshadowing, a hint, of the Virgin Birth also foretold in Isaiah 7:14. This is a promise of the coming of a suffering Messiah; hence the crushing of the heel of the descendant. It is a painful injury, but, the effect is the crushing of the serpent’s head, a fatal blow. Classic rabbinic sources such as the Targums (Aramaic paraphrases of the Hebrew Scriptures) attributed the meaning of this passage to the Messiah.
The tragedy in the Garden of Eden is overcome by the suffering of God’s Anointed One, Messiah Yeshua.
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is president of the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.