Due to internet access and time constraints, Dr. Richison will not be available to respond to comments November 7th through December 1st, 2014.
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Genesis 3:15

 

Dr Grant C Richison
 
Genesis 3:15
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.
This is the first prophecy of the coming of Christ. Not only is this a prophecy of his birth, but it is a prophecy of his work.
 
“And I will put enmity”
The context of this verse is the fall of Adam and Eve. God is speaking to the serpent who is a personification of Satan. God desires no coalition between himself and Satan. The two are mutually exclusive.
“Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed.”
God draws a distinction between “your seed” (Satan’s seed) and “her Seed” (Jesus). “Her Seed” refers to the humanity (incarnation) of Christ. Notice that this passage does not say that the “Seed” was of Adam. This is an inference of the virgin birth. The New Testament calls Jesus the “Seed” (Galatians 3:16).
“He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
God is predicting the defeat of Satan by the coming of Christ, the Messiah. God is drawing the battle lines between himself and Satan.
“He shall bruise your head” is a mortal wound. The power of Satan is crushed by the cross of Christ.
Yet even at the moment of the first fall, God promises a solution to their sin. At the fall Satan bruised the heel of Jesus. Sin was the cause of Christ going to the cross. At the cross Christ will crush Satan’s head. One is a non-lethal and the other a lethal act. At the cross Jesus dealt Satan a fatal blow. There he paid for the penalty of sin fully.
Christ not only paid for the sins of the world on the cross but he defeated Satan there (Colossians 2:14,15). Satan was executed at the cross.
“And you shall bruise His heel” refers to the death of Christ. Whether this refers literally to the heels of Jesus pressed against the cross, is not important. Jesus was bruised at the cross (Isaiah 53:10).
PRINCIPLE: The birth of Christ set up the possibility of Christ fully paying for sin by the death of his body on the cross.
APPLICATION: Christ fully paid for our sins on the cross. We are free from suffering for them by ourselves.
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118 Responses to “Genesis 3:15”


  • John Paul, Brown, Driver, and Briggs, the big Hebrew lexicon gives these categories for zarah: 1) literally of sowing, 2) seed, of crops for food, figuratively/metaphorically: Dt 11:10, 14:22 as the product of any seed, 3) seed as semen, 4) seed as offspring, a) of animals, b) of mankind, collective=descendants, posterity (they use the latter of Gen 3:15), 5) see as marked by moral quality.

  • Grant, thank you for quoting an authority that confirms the literal, physical meaning of zarah. I doubt you will be able to find any authority that defends a spiritual meaning for zarah anywhere in the Torah. I do not know why you accuse me of propagating an “obscurantist doctrine” when I was simply investigating different interpretations of God’s Word. An activity that you, as teacher, should be encouraging.

    It seems that there are some who claim that if the serpent’s zarah has more than a purely spiritual meaning in Gen3.15 then its manifestation required prior sexual intercourse between him and Eve. Would you please direct you accusations of obscurantism to them and not to me. I have never made the unbiblical claim that the physical manifestation of the serpent’s progeny on earth required sexual intercourse on his part.

    You surprised me with your allegation of “snow jobbing”. Is any Bible truth too small to be enquired into and defended? Having before us the examples quoted of defenders of “major” truths, should we judge truths we feel are under attack today as too “minor” to be bothered with?

  • John Paul,

    1. Evidently you did not understand what Brown, Drivers, and Briggs said. They said that “seed” in Gen 3:15 is collective. That means “seed” in that verse is not physical seed but the collective of his entire posterity. That is exactly what Romans 5:12-21 says, that is, sin did not come from some kind of physical intercourse between Satan and Eve but inherited spiritually as a collective race. That lexicon does not support your viewpoint at all. Other lexicons say the same thing. As well, I send you a broad spectrum of commentaries that said the same thin in hopes that you would understand the point.

    2. It is an extreme statement to put the people you quoted into the same classification of those who try to build a system of doctrine on a questionable verse.

    3. You mentioned that it important to take great care even with the details of the Bible. I completely agree with that. That is why I studied Greek for 8 years and Hebrew for 3 years.

    4. Your attempt at explaining hermeneutics is disjunct from all the hermeneutics that I have studied. In other words, you are out of phase with those who study hermeneutics whether they are liberal or conservative.

  • I really appreciate the knowledge and insight Grant and John Paul have provided on the linguistic aspect of this verse.

    If I may add a little to this, please remember that the language we speak is English, the Bibles we read are in English, and the culture from which the first Bible sprung was….English. The Key to understanding scripture is definitely having an open mind and of course, having the help and direction of the Holy Spirit. But also, it’s very important to understand the English language as well. I’m going to line some verses up.

    “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
    “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.” (Psalm 89:3,4)
    “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.” (Jeremiah 31:27)

    If you just look at these verses and their language, and compare them, you should see that the same concept runs through all of them.

  • Andy, we get the primary interpretation from the Hebrew–the language of the Old Testament along with the Aramaic. Hebrew takes precedence.

  • Yes, Hebrew and Greek are very important, but if you believe that the Bible was perfectly inspired and perfectly preserved, then you would hold in faith that the 55+ translators in A.D. 1607-1611 perfectly translated the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts into our English. And, since they translated word for word, instead of thought for thought, the exact message and meaning of the original authors was also perfectly preserved. Analyze those scriptures above, please.

  • The problem I have with saying there is a spiritual progeny and a literal progeny out of the same verse and from the same word in that verse, is that if you take that course of interpretation through the rest of the Bible, you will hit-and-miss in just about every book of the Bible.

    Please read this and double-check if needed. From the Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. XI (copyright 1905, page 69-70): “Satan was the seducer and the paramour of Eve, and was hurled from heaven together with other angels because of his iniquity (Slavonic Book of Enoch)…The chief functions of Satan are, as already noted, those of temptation, accusation, and punishment. He was an active agent in the fall of man…and was the father of Cain…The serpent of Gen. iii. is identified with Satan.”

  • Andy, not counting other areas of grammar, there are over 8,000 mistakes in tense alone in the KJV. No biblical scholar holds that the KJV is inspired.

  • Just for reference, this “idea” actually has quite a record, and is not new. From the Encyclopedia Judaica (copyright 1971, Vol. XIV, page 906: “During the Middle Ages the Church, basing itself on such passages in the New Testament as “Ye are of your father and the devil” (John 8:44), propounded the doctrine* that the Jews were the ‘spawn of Satan’.”

  • Andy, I do not want to get into Jewish because I do not have time to research the context of that statement. I believe that Satan was personified in the snake.

  • Jesus was not talking about Jews in general in John 8:44 but to the religious leaders. There is no basis for your anti-semitism, Jesus Himself was a Jew.

  • Andy, you completely ignore all of the arguments above and simply restate your obscurantic interpretation, which no credible scholar accepts.

  • Andy, you are so far off any understanding of languages of Scripture that any attempt to answer you is totally futile.

  • Grant, thank you for your comments. However (and with apologies for my “disjuncted” hermeneutics), re Brown, Driver, and Briggs: A) the collective zahar term does not exclude the individual. B) the term clearly indicates physical progeny. The zahar of the serpent, individual and collective, cannot, as you seem to believe, consist simply of disembodied spirits.

    It appears that the basic reasoning behind your insistence on a bodiless progeny for the serpent is that for his progeny to have a physical dimension there had to be sexual intercourse between him and Eve. In that respect your thinking matches that of the Branhamites and their followers (including Andy) who believe that “physical progeny = need for sexual intercourse”. I understand your shock at and rejection of a doctrine which, to you, implies an unimaginable sexual act. There are some parallels here with Nicodemus throwing his hands up in horror in Jn3.4. The mistake in both cases (although Nicodemus may be intentionally exaggerating, which I do not think you are) is over reliance on simplistic human reasoning which sees a need for human sexual involvement to viabilize an act of God. If a born again believer can be generated outside of human sexual involvement why cannot the serpent’s progeny be generated outside of demonic sexual involvement? If the former can be a flesh and blood being why must the latter be a disembodied spirit?

  • John Paul,

    No, I do not believe the sin passed on from Adam is “bodiless” On the other hand, I believe the sin of Adam instigated by Satan became a sin capacity that was passed on from individual to individual by physical birth. This is the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam (in Adam versus in Christ). As “in Christ” is a spiritual status so is “in Adam” a spiritual status.
    To assert that the “seed” is a physical seed produced by Satan reads into the text something that is not there or anywhere else in the Bible. This is the hermeneutical error called “interpolation.” The onus of proof of such an assertion falls on the person who asserts the interpretation.
    Everything in the New Testament dealing with the sin capacity (“flesh,” “the Old man,” “seed,” “sin” in the singular versus sins in the plural for example) refers to the fall of Adam, not some supposed sex act. This is the argument of Romans 5-7 and well as numerous other passages. The history of the church argues this point, the history of biblical interpretation argues this point. The difference has been between federal headship of Adam versus the traducian view of the nature of man. The body carries the sin capacity–”As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” “In Christ” was not physical and the essence of “in Adam” is sin, not physical.
    In other words, my issue is not “shock” but a demanding exegesis, exposition of Scripture that will not allow eisegesis or reading into the text something that is not there. This is especially true when we consider the overwhelming evidence of how the New Testament looks at this issue. The New Testament is didactic, not narrative, which gives greater specificity to the issue.

  • I have made a decision about this running discussion on Satan’s sex. There are 118 blogs on this page–most of them on this subject. It is obvious that some choose to use a form of exposition that is outside normal scholarship. Therefore, I am going to unapprove all further discussion on this topic. Elizabeth had the wisdom to be right.

  • ~
    (zera?). Sowing, seed, offspring. This noun is used 224 times. Its usages fall into four basic semantic categories:1. The time of sowing, seedtime; 2. the seed as that which is scattered or as the product of what is sown; 3. the seed as semen and 4. the Seed as the offspring in the promised line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or in other groups separate from this people of promise.
    The primary meaning comes from the realm of agriculture. Seedtime or sowing, as over against the time of harvest, will recur according to a promised pattern which God guaranteed to Noah after the flood (Gen 8:22; cf. Lev 26:5). This sowing or planting takes place in the fields (Ezk 17:5) and thereby accords well with the Akkadian z?ru “cultivated land.” The seed itself which is planted in these fields has the same name (Gen 47:19, 23; Lev 11:37–38; Num 24:7; Deut 28:38; Isa 55:10; Amos 9:13). The product produced has the same designation (e.g. the seed of the herbs and trees in Gen 1:11–12, 29 or the seed that is gathered into the barn in Job 39:12; cf. Deut 14:22; Isa 23:3). Thus, the whole agricultural cycle is practically summed up in the word zera?; from the act of sowing to the seed planted, to the harvest taken. zera? is used figuratively in referring to Judah’s idolatry (Isa 17:11). They are planting “pleasant plants” along with “strange slips.” This refers either to the Ugaritic n?mn of the Tammuz-Adonis cult or to the folly of planting thorns and thistles and expecting a crop of flowers or vegetables.
    zera? refers to semen in Num 5:28, “she shall be made pregnant with seed.” Frequently it occurs in the expression “flow of semen” (Lev 15:16, 15:32, 22:4). It is also used as the accusative of mode and translated euphemistically as “lying carnally with a woman” (Lev 15:18; 18:20; Num 5:13). Note the same use in the promise of Jer 31:27. The Lord will sow the houses of Israel and Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast in the latter days.
    The most important theological usage is found in the fourth category. Commencing with Gen 3:15, the word “seed” is regularly used as a collective noun in the singular (never plural). This technical term is an important aspect of the promise doctrine, for Hebrew never uses the plural of this root to refer to “posterity” or “offspring.” The Aramaic targums pluralize the term occasionally, e.g. the Targum of Gen 4:10, but the Aramaic also limits itself to the singular in the passages dealing with the promised line. Thus the word designates the whole line of descendants as a unit, yet it is deliberately flexible enough to denote either one person who epitomizes the whole group (i.e. the man of promise and ultimately Christ), or the many persons in that whole line of natural and/or spiritual descendants.
    Precisely so in Gen 3:15. One such seed is the line of the woman as contrasted with the opposing seed which is the line of Satan’s followers. And then surprisingly the text announces a male descendant who will ultimately win a crushing victory over Satan himself.
    This promise to Eve was enlarged and made more specific in the Abrahamic Covenant. God would grant a land and a numerous offspring through Abraham’s son Isaac and his offspring: Gen 12:7; 13:15–16; 15:13,18; 16:10; 17:7–10,12,19; 22:17–18; 24:7; 26:3–4,24; 28:4,13–14; 32:13; 35:12; 48:4. This whole line builds and the promise continues in Ex 32:13; 33:1; Deut 1:8; 11:9; 34:4; Josh 24:3.
    The same can be said for David and his offspring. The promise is continued in II Sam 7:12; made parallel to the term “Messiah” in Ps 18:50 [H 5] (see II Sam 22:51); and repeated in Ethan’s commentary on the Davidic covenant of II Sam 7 in Ps 89:4, 29, 36 [H 5, 30, 37].
    This corporate solidarity found in the seed of Eve, Abraham, and David receives theological comment in Isa 41:8; 43:5; 44:3; 45:19,25; 48:19; 53:10; 54:3; 59:21; 61:9; 65:9; 66:22; Jer 31:36–37; 33:26; II Chr 20:7.

    Kaiser, W. C. (1999). 582 ?????. (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

    ~
    (zera?). Sowing, seed, offspring. This noun is used 224 times. Its usages fall into four basic semantic categories:1. The time of sowing, seedtime; 2. the seed as that which is scattered or as the product of what is sown; 3. the seed as semen and 4. the Seed as the offspring in the promised line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or in other groups separate from this people of promise.
    The primary meaning comes from the realm of agriculture. Seedtime or sowing, as over against the time of harvest, will recur according to a promised pattern which God guaranteed to Noah after the flood (Gen 8:22; cf. Lev 26:5). This sowing or planting takes place in the fields (Ezk 17:5) and thereby accords well with the Akkadian z?ru “cultivated land.” The seed itself which is planted in these fields has the same name (Gen 47:19, 23; Lev 11:37–38; Num 24:7; Deut 28:38; Isa 55:10; Amos 9:13). The product produced has the same designation (e.g. the seed of the herbs and trees in Gen 1:11–12, 29 or the seed that is gathered into the barn in Job 39:12; cf. Deut 14:22; Isa 23:3). Thus, the whole agricultural cycle is practically summed up in the word zera?; from the act of sowing to the seed planted, to the harvest taken. zera? is used figuratively in referring to Judah’s idolatry (Isa 17:11). They are planting “pleasant plants” along with “strange slips.” This refers either to the Ugaritic n?mn of the Tammuz-Adonis cult or to the folly of planting thorns and thistles and expecting a crop of flowers or vegetables.
    zera? refers to semen in Num 5:28, “she shall be made pregnant with seed.” Frequently it occurs in the expression “flow of semen” (Lev 15:16, 15:32, 22:4). It is also used as the accusative of mode and translated euphemistically as “lying carnally with a woman” (Lev 15:18; 18:20; Num 5:13). Note the same use in the promise of Jer 31:27. The Lord will sow the houses of Israel and Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast in the latter days.
    The most important theological usage is found in the fourth category. Commencing with Gen 3:15, the word “seed” is regularly used as a collective noun in the singular (never plural). This technical term is an important aspect of the promise doctrine, for Hebrew never uses the plural of this root to refer to “posterity” or “offspring.” The Aramaic targums pluralize the term occasionally, e.g. the Targum of Gen 4:10, but the Aramaic also limits itself to the singular in the passages dealing with the promised line. Thus the word designates the whole line of descendants as a unit, yet it is deliberately flexible enough to denote either one person who epitomizes the whole group (i.e. the man of promise and ultimately Christ), or the many persons in that whole line of natural and/or spiritual descendants.
    Precisely so in Gen 3:15. One such seed is the line of the woman as contrasted with the opposing seed which is the line of Satan’s followers. And then surprisingly the text announces a male descendant who will ultimately win a crushing victory over Satan himself.
    This promise to Eve was enlarged and made more specific in the Abrahamic Covenant. God would grant a land and a numerous offspring through Abraham’s son Isaac and his offspring: Gen 12:7; 13:15–16; 15:13,18; 16:10; 17:7–10,12,19; 22:17–18; 24:7; 26:3–4,24; 28:4,13–14; 32:13; 35:12; 48:4. This whole line builds and the promise continues in Ex 32:13; 33:1; Deut 1:8; 11:9; 34:4; Josh 24:3.
    The same can be said for David and his offspring. The promise is continued in II Sam 7:12; made parallel to the term “Messiah” in Ps 18:50 [H 5] (see II Sam 22:51); and repeated in Ethan’s commentary on the Davidic covenant of II Sam 7 in Ps 89:4, 29, 36 [H 5, 30, 37].
    This corporate solidarity found in the seed of Eve, Abraham, and David receives theological comment in Isa 41:8; 43:5; 44:3; 45:19,25; 48:19; 53:10; 54:3; 59:21; 61:9; 65:9; 66:22; Jer 31:36–37; 33:26; II Chr 20:7.

    Kaiser, W. C. (1999). 582 ?????. (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

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