The Seed of the Woman

In the three curse-speeches given in Genesis 3:14–19, the plotline of history is sketched out.

The intensity of these speeches can be traced as follows. At its height, a curse is given directly to the serpent: “Cursed are you” (v. 14). With Adam, there is a slight mitigation: the ground is cursed because of Adam, but he is not cursed directly as the serpent was (v. 17). Finally, with Eve, the word curse is not even used.

 

The curse on the serpent in Genesis 3:14–15 sets the stage for the subsequent course of redemptive history. Obvious New Testament allusions to this passage occur in places such as Luke 10:19Romans 16:20; and Revelation 12:17. Yet from this point in the book of Genesis, the theme of “enmity between offspring/seed” characterizes the biblical narrative. This passage is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the consummate “seed of the woman” who crushes the head of the serpent. In the three curse-speeches given in Genesis 3:14–19, the plotline of history is sketched out.

The intensity of these speeches can be traced as follows. At its height, a curse is given directly to the serpent: “Cursed are you” (v. 14). With Adam, there is a slight mitigation: the ground is cursed because of Adam, but he is not cursed directly as the serpent was (v. 17). Finally, with Eve, the word curse is not even used.

The curse of the serpent climaxes in verse 15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring [seed] and her offspring [seed]; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Eve did not die on the very day she ate of the tree (see 2:17). She lived long enough to bear children. Pain in childbirth was multiplied, but childbirth nevertheless occurred (3:16). Adam named Eve appropriately: “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (v. 20). Through Eve would come life.

From this point on, Genesis depicts two lines of “seed” engaged in holy war. When Eve bore Cain, her confidence in God’s promise was strong: “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (4:1). And yet this man, Cain, was actually of the evil one (1 John 3:12) and killed his righteous brother Abel. Cain proved to be of the serpentine line, which seemed initially to gain the upper hand. God’s judgment on Cain alluded to the curses in Genesis 3: “And now you are cursed from the ground” (4:11). Cain was like his biological father, Adam, in being cursed from the ground, but he was also like his spiritual father, the devil, in that he received the curse himself: “You are cursed from the ground” (v. 11, emphasis added).

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