|Genesis 3:15 - Enmity between your seed and her seed...|
(By Felicia Trecek / Decmber 13-19, 2009)
Most people know the story about Adam and Eve in the first part of the book of Genesis: the serpent deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. And, Eve in turn gave a bite to Adam. There doesn't seem to be much controversy about this aspect of the story. Although, Genesis 3:15 - the punishment pronounced by Elohim upon the serpent and the woman - fuels some different understandings. This study will look closely at Genesis 3:15.
In Genesis 3:14-15, Elohim spoke directly to the serpent.
Genesis 3:14-15 reads, "And YHWH Elohim said unto the serpent: 'Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall crush your head, and you shall crush His heel." (-Scriptures for Research Translation)
The last sentence in verse fifteen has a couple of variant translations. The following are the variations that I am aware of:
I disagree with the interpretation from Mechon-Mamre online Hebrew bible from the Jews using the word "THEY" and "THEIR" rather than "HE" and "HIS". The implication impies that Adam and Eve received bruising, but also would bruise Satan the serpent. I don't believe the bruising performed on Satan was executed by Adam and Eve for the following three reasons: 1) The last sentence is predicated upon the previous sentence which speaks of a SEED. 2) And, the word, "SEED" is singular and not plural. The singular Seed will perform the bruising and receive the bruising. 3) Adam and Eve - after their sin - needed a Savior. They were unable to save themselves from the wiles of the serpent. Hence, they - themselves - were incapable of bruising the serpent.
Regarding the word, BRUISE v.s. CRUSH. Firstly, the same Hebrew word is used in reference to both the head and the heel. Therefore, which ever English word is used for the translation, it must be the same word for both the serpent and the Seed. Secondly, according to Gesenius's Lexicon, the Hebrew word has the sense of "to lay in wait" as if "gaping upon" and ready to pounce upon. Hence-forth: the serpent would lay in wait to bruise/crush The Seed and vice-versa. However, the only difference between the two bruisings/crushings are where they would occur on the bodies.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: "HE SHALL BRUISE YOUR HEAD, BUT YOU SHALL BRUISE HIS HEEL?"
This is a Hebrew idiom and a metaphor. But, think of it literally for a moment. Think of a man, raising his foot to stomp on the head of a snake. The head is bruised or crushed, and in this case, the heel is bruised from stomping on the snake. I don't believe that the bruising on the heel would occur on the Seed (man) due to the serpent's bite since it would suggest that He sinned due to the influence of Satan. (ie., Num 21:7-9) Additionally, Genesis 3:15 doesn't say that anyone is bit, just bruised. The bruising would occur from stomping on the head of the serpent. (There is implication of a hard-head here!)
The following is another scripture that shows this type of Hebrew idiom and metaphor regarding the heel.
Lifting-up-the-heel implies a kick in the passage above. Although, Genesis 3:15 doesn't say the heel is lifted-up, the implication is there. Genesis 3:15 implies that the foot/heel stomps on the serpents head for a fatal blow. (Contrast the head - a vulnerable part of the body - v.s. the heel - a non-vulnerable part of the body.)
Genesis 3:15 needs some further dissecting. (I will use the word "bruise"rather than "crush" further on in this study for familiarity sake since the King James Version uses this word. Although, it might be more befitting to use "crush".)
Some people think that Cain was the serpent's seed (ie., he physically impregnated Eve.) This concept doesn't make any sense to me. IF this were the case, then Cain would have been the seed of BOTH Eve and the Serpent, not just the serpent's. However, in Genesis 3:15 there is a distinction made between her seed and the serpent's seed. It's her seed verses the serpents seed. Hence, there wasn't a sexual union between the serpent and Eve. Additionally, Genesis 4:1 informs us that Adam knew Eve and she conceived and birthed Cain. Adam fathered Cain, not the serpent.
GENESIS 3:15 WAS A PROPHESY ABOUT MARY AND CHRIST.
"Her Seed" prophesied Mary's Seed. And, The Seed was Christ. The second century believers had this understanding who claim to have received it from the apostles.
Irenaeus, the disciple of PolyCarp, who was the disciple of John the apostle, wrote a document titled: "Against Heresies." In this said document, in chapter XIX(a), he wrote (paraphrased):
In Genesis 3:15, "HER Seed" prophesied Mary's Seed, not Eve's seed. In this case, the "SEED" refers to spiritual seed - belief v.s. unbelief. And, Genesis 3:15 does not say that the "Seed" was of Adam or his male lineage. Male seed wasn't mentioned in Genesis 3:15. Please know that biblical lineage is normally reckoned through the males. For example: the story of Tamar located in Gen 38:6-10. YHWH made a law in the OT regarding a dead brother who didn't have any children with a wife whom he was married to. The living brother was suppose to impregnate the dead brother's widow. Raising-up "seed" (descendants) was the male's responsibility and the descendants were according to the males, not the females. For this reason, Genesis 3:15 is a contradiction to standard lineage reckoning. However, Genesis 3:15 is actually an inference of the future virgin birth of Christ.
ISAIAH 53:10 TELLS US THAT CHRIST WAS BRUISED AND IT SPEAKS OF 'HIS' SPIRITUAL SEED
Isaiah 53 is a prophesy regarding Christ's first coming. In this passge, we can clearly see that Christ was 1) bruised, and 2) that Christ has seed/offspring. It's important to understand that Christ has offspring even though He never had physical offspring from a woman. This point is necessary because its important to know that "Seed" CAN refer to spiritual offspring. In contrast, Satan also has spiritual offspring which is spoken of in Genesis 3:15 and John 8:44. Again, Isaiah informs us that Christ was 1) bruised and 2) has seed/offspring.
Christ is a FATHER. In Isaiah 9:6, we're told the titles that Christ possesses. One of those titles is: "Everlasting Father" - according to the King James translation. Although, "The Scriptures" bible translation says, "Father of Continuity". Christ never had physical sexual relations with a woman, but He is a Father by the mere fact that He essentially and metaphorically re-birthed mankind.
Christ's heel was metephorically bruised because He stomped on the head of Satan the serpent. The bruising was actually this: Christ was physically beaten and He sacrificed His physical body. At the same time on the cross, Christ dealt Satan a fatal blow since the blow was to satan's head. (A blow to the head is subject to death.) Christ reversed the death penalty that Satan birthed all of mankind into. Christ fathered everyone into eternal life - those who believe the Word of Elohim.
SATAN - THE SERPENT - WAS DEFEATED ON THE CROSS
Colossians 2:13-15 informs us that Satan was defeated on the cross.
For this reason, Moses lifted-up the serpent on a pole in the wilderness to foreshadow this event.
The serpent itself (on the pole) didn't represent Christ, but rather foreshadowed Satan's defeat on the cross.
The metaphorical bruised-heel foreshadowed Christ on the cross/stake, paying the price of sin for mankind. Therefore, annulling eternal death. Adam and Eve, nor any of their corporeal posterity, were capable of paying the price for sin. Romans 5:14-21 informs us that death reigned over mankind - even over those individuals such as righteous Abel and righteous Abraham due to Adam and Eve's sin. Because of this fact, the serpent's seed spoken of in Genesis 3:15 must be in reference to spiritual seed and not corporeal seed. For example: (hypothetically speaking) IF the serpent's seed was corporeal, then righteous Abel would have been able to crush the head of the serpent. Why? Because the contrast would have been hypothetically between Satan's posterity v.s. Adam's posterity. Again, no single human's posterity was capable of bruising/crushing the head of satan. They were all under the serpents' metaphorical death-spell . Because the serpent's seed referred to Spiritual posterity, it took another Spiritual posterity to counter it. The "other" Spiritual posterity was God Himself. This is one reason - out of many - why Christ's Father had to be The One in Heaven, not Joseph.
Genesis 3:15 contrasts the serpent's seed with Eve's seed, NOT Adam's seed. But, Eve's corporeal seed alone was unable to save mankind (ie. Romans 5:14-21); therefore, her seed is in reference to a spiritial condition. Hence, in Genesis 3:15 it's spiritual seed v.s. Spiritual Seed. "HER Seed" prophesied Mary's Seed - a believer. Eve was the mother of death, but Mary was the mother of Life. Remember, John 14:6? Christ said that He was the way, the truth and the LIFE. So, again, Mary was the mother of Life in contrast to Eve who became the mother of death.
Satan, that old serpent, was given a fatal blow to the head when Christ was on the cross. Satan, lost the fight with Christ. This was foreshadowed when Moses made the bronze serpent and wrapped it on a pole in the desert. When the children of Israel looked upon it, they were healed ( Num 21:8-9). Why? Because it foreshadowed the destruction of sin and eternal death.