Daily Bible Nugget #852, Genesis 2:17


The Nugget:

Genesis 2:17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The Challenge:

Adam lived for hundreds of years after eating the fruit. This means Genesis 2:17 is wrong!

My Answer:

I have furnished in my Bible study resource, The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury, the following note on Genesis 2:17 which should answer your question directly:

Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

surely. Materialists in theology (like the ancient Arians and their modern day counterpart the Jehovah’s Witnesses, among others) misconstrue Gen 2:17, where God threatened death for eating of the forbidden tree. They take the “death” threatened to be physical death. This interpretation is flawed because:

(1) Adam and Eve did not physically die immediately on the very day that they ate from the forbidden tree;

(2) That they did immediately die spiritually is most evident because they:

(a) became conscious of shame and nakedness;

(b) feared meeting Jehovah in the garden, whose presence they once welcomed and enjoyed.

(c) attempted to hide from Jehovah, all indicating a change in spiritual status and relationship;

(3) This relationship was not restored until God:

(a) made specific provision for them when He clothed them with animal skins (representing the need for blood sacrifice in the atonement) which in type reflect the later animal sacrifices under the Mosaic law which prefigured the priestly-sacrificial atonement of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; and

(b) promised a coming Redeemer (Gen 3:15);

(4) in Gen 3:15 God presented to Adam and Eve the first promise of the Divine Redeemer who would ultimately atone for their sins, making their salvation possible;

(5) if one traces the term “death” through the pages of Scripture it becomes clear that it is used in at least two senses: physical death (which is NOT in view here in Gen 2:17) and spiritual death, which is undoubtedly the meaning to be given here, as proven by the context and such usage found in Eph 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6; 1Ti 5:6; +**1Pe 4:6; 1Jn 5:16, and numerous other passages, including texts in the Hebrew Scriptures (Eze 18:4 note, *Eze 18:21 note);

(6) Scripture shows the threatened death was not physical, but spiritual, though assuredly physical death was also a consequence (Rom 5:12), but not immediately.

(7) These mistaken interpreters fail to take into account the presence of figures of speech used here by God for emphasis: the emphasis requires that they die in the very day that the disobedience occurs. The figure emphasizes that as soon as they violated God’s commandment, they immediately would suffer the penalty. Some assert that since Adam died before he was 1000 years old, the threat was fulfilled. But there is nothing in the context of Genesis to suggest any such connection of unrelated texts.


Levi Akamigbo responded:


Abundant Blessings, Sir Jerome Smith.

PixelMistakePicasso replied:

Jerome Smith try to let the Bible speak for itself without personal interpretation and opinion to make the verse work for what you believe. Then you will see the truth. What you are doing now is that you have already set your mind on what the outcome should be, then you try to justify the verse with anything, including figures of speech.

My Reply:

PixelMistakePicasso It seems to me that it is you who fail to let the Bible speak for itself. I am not giving you personal opinion to make the verse work for what I believe.

If you disagree with me about a point of interpretation, present your case! Address the evidence! Discuss one point at a time.

By your comment, it appears that you have an objection to my references to Figures of Speech in the Bible.

That shows me that you would be helped by learning more about how figures of speech are used in the Bible. They are most often used for emphasis.

My resources, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge and The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury contain the most complete guide to the figures of speech in the Bible available in English.

Figures of Speech are crucial to the correct understanding of Genesis 2:17.

I did not provide you all the information about the Figures of Speech in Genesis 2:17 in my comment above, so here is that additional information:

17. of the tree. ver. 9. Ge 3:1-3, 11, 17, 19. Ac 5:30. 10:39. 1 P 2:24. Re 2:7. 22:2.

good and evil. Dt 6:4. Ro 3:20.

in the day. Ezk *33:12. ƒ171T2A. Figure of speech Synecdoche; or, Transfer B652: the exchange of one idea for another associated idea. Here, Of the Part, when a part is put for the whole: “in the day” is put for an indefinite time. A noun with the preposition followed by the verb in the infinitive, as here, becomes an adverb of time, and means simply “when,” or “after then,” or “after that.” For other instances of this figure see Ge 2:4. Le 13:14. 14:57. Dt 21:16. 2 S 21:12. *1 K 2:37, 42. 2 K 20:1. Ps 18:18. Is 11:16. Je 11:4, 7. 31:32. 34:13. Ezek 20:5, 6. 36:33. 38:18.

FS121I2, Figure of speech Metonymy of the Subject F/S 570, when the subject (the thing or action) is put for that which is connected with it. Here, of verb, where the action is put for the declaration concerning it. The meaning is not that he would die that very day, but that he would be sentenced to die “in that day.” For other instances of this figure see Gen 27:37; Gen 30:13; Gen 34:12; Gen 35:12; Gen 41:13, Exo 13:2; Exo 20:7, Lev 13:3, Deut 9:1, 2Sa 7:22, Isa 6:10; Isa 8:13, Jer 1:5; Jer 1:10; Jer 4:10; Jer 38:23, Eze 13:19; Eze 13:22; Eze 20:25-26, Hos 6:5, Mat 6:13; Mat 13:14; Mat 16:19, Mar 4:12, Luk 7:29; Luk 7:35; Luk 8:10; Luk 10:29; Luk 16:15, Joh 12:40; *Joh 20:23, Act 10:15; Act 28:26, 27, Rom 7:9; Rom 11:8, 2Co 3:6, Gal 3:23, Jas 2:21-22; Jas 2:24, 25.

thou shalt surely die. Heb. dying thou shalt die. FS147B. Figure of speech Polyptoton, +Gen 2:16. Here again Eve in Gen 3:3 alters the Word of God by saying “Lest ye die”! Thus she changes a certainty into a contingency. Not only does she thus diminish from and alter the Word of God but she adds to it the words “neither shall ye touch it,” which the Lord God had not spoken!

Gen 2:16  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

thou mayest freely eat. Heb. eating thou shalt eat. Gen 2:9, Gen 3:1, 2, *1Ti 4:4; *1Ti 6:17. FS147B. Figure of speech Polyptoton F/S 272: verb with infinitive or participle, involving the repetition of the same part of speech in different inflections for emphasis. May be used in strong and emphatic affirmation, or in strong negation. Here it is used in strong affirmation or exhortation. The conjugated verb is strengthened and emphasized by the infinitive preceding it. This infinitive Eve omitted in Gen 3:2, and thus “diminished” from the word of God. For other instances of this figure see *Gen 2:17; Gen 3:16; Gen 28:22; Gen 37:33, Exo 3:16; Exo 19:12-13, Jos 24:10, 2Ki 3:23, Job 27:22 mg. Psa 40:1; Psa 118:18, *Isa 6:9, Jer 22:10; Jer 23:17; Jer 51:58, Dan 11:13, Zec 8:21, Mat 13:13, 14, Mar 4:12, Luk 8:10, Joh 12:40, Act 7:34; Act 28:26, 27, Rom 11:8; Rom 12:15, Heb 6:14.

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