The Agora
The Serpent and the Woman's Seed (Gen 3:15)

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Genesis 3:20

"And Adam called his wife's name Eve (Heb 'Chavah'); because she was the mother of all living." Adam's wife already had a name -- "Isha" (2:23) -- a name which fitly described her origin, for it signified "out of man (ish)". But in view of the great redemptive promise just received, Adam evidently felt she needed a new name -- one in keeping with her destiny. What more appropriate than "Life"! Through the woman, by a specially prepared birth, would come a son -- the "seed of the woman". He would (in some way probably only dimly perceived by Adam at this time) destroy the power of death brought by the serpent. Whereas the serpent was the "father" of death, this man-child would become the "father" of life (he is called, prophetically, the "father of eternity" in Isa 9:6), and his mother therefore would be the "mother of all life"!

Genesis 4:1

In no way did Eve lag behind her husband in this expectation of the fulfillment of God's promise of a Redeemer. In fact, so eager was she for the promised deliverance that she seized upon her firstborn, Cain, as the "seed of the woman". "I have gotten a man from the LORD" may just possibly be translated; "I have gotten a Yahweh-man!" By this Eve may have meant that this child was the special "seed" promised by Yahweh, the representative of Yahweh, and thus the "Yahweh-man" (we might say "God manifest in the flesh") commissioned to defeat the serpent and abolish death.

But, alas! Eve's firstborn proved himself to be instead a son of the serpent, by his enmity against the typical "seed of the woman", Abel -- an enmity which culminated in the death of his righteous brother. Thus Cain, like his "father" the old serpent, showed himself "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44; 1Jo 3:12).

The "Seed" passages

It is not often recognized that all the "Seed" passages of Genesis arise out of Gen 3:15. Each fresh reference is an amplification of the previous promises: The "seed of the woman" will be also the "seed" of Abraham (Gen 12), who shall inherit the land of promise (Gen 13), while the natural seed is disinherited (Gen 16). A type of the woman's seed was Isaac, the "seed of promise" who was miraculously conceived (Gen 21), typically sacrificed (Gen 22), and then given a special bride selected out of the Gentiles on account of her faith (Gen 24).


Those who regularly use the RSV, which is In some respects a fine translation, should take careful note of Gen 13:15:

"For all the land which you (Abraham) see I will give to you and to your descendants (AV 'seed') for ever."
On this point the RSV is not even internally consistent, since its translation of Gal 3:16 rightly states that this promise was to Abraham and his "offspring" -- singular: "referring to one... which is Christ."

Both "seed" and "offspring" appropriately translate the Hebrew original "zera", which is itself ambiguous as to number. But the RSV's interpretive translation, "descendants", is in direct violation of Paul's later exposition, and therefore clearly wrong. Only translators totally ignorant of the significance of the Abrahamic promises could make such a blunder.

The same erroneous translation occurs in the RSV of Gen 22:17,18:

"And your descendants (AV: 'seed') shall possess the gate of their (AV: 'his') enemies. And by your descendants (AV: 'seed') shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves."
This, despite the fact that the New Testament repeatedly interprets this promise as fulfilled in Christ, who destroys his great enemy death by gaining possession over its "gate", the grave (1Co 15:26,55,56; Rev 1:18; 20:6)!

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