Thematic Contrast Before and After the Fall

From a paper on the function of genre in Genesis. This table is instructive in seeing the way Moses renders the effects of sin and the curse.

Pre-Fall Post-Fall
  • Creation prepared for man
  • Eden situated in good location
  • Food for enjoyment (sabbath rest)
  • Difficult to produce
  • Famine
  • Abundant (or at least enough) for the Patriarchs
  • No longer in the garden
  • Given by God, → Subject to God and his direction/purpose
  • Over all Creation, not in enmity with creatures (or woman)
  • Cultivation of world → Man’s authority for how garden looks, aesthetic freedom (Music Art)
  • Curse:
    • enmity between seeds of woman and serpent, humans prevail
    • pain in childbirth
    • thorns and thistles, earth frustrates cultivation
  • Kenites:
    • oppression
    • murder and vengeance
    • music and poetry are vehicles for death
  • Wandering
  • Flood: Licentiousness, mocking of obedience
  • Babel: imperialism, pride, anti-diversity
  • Pharaoh
  • Matching Helper, man unable to fulfill calling on his own
    • one wife
    • cherished
    • intimacy
    • monogamy is more important than multiplication
  • Shares dominion with man
  • Plurality needed to reflect God
  • Equal with man
  • Subject to man’s leadership as subjection to God’s design
  • Wife is in conflict with husband or manipulates husband (rejection of leadership):
    • Adam/Eve
    • Abraham/Sarah
    • Isaac/Rebekah
    • Jacob/Leah/Rachel
  • Women become possession: Lamech, Abraham with Hagar, etc.
  • Man domineers over woman (rape):
    • Sodom, Dinah, Tamar
  • Naked Intimacy spills out inappropriately:
    • Adam (realizes shame, makes covering),
    • Noah (drunk past shame and uncovers),
    • Lot (same as Noah)
  • Plurality of humanity reflects rebellious perversion, not God’s image

All that is good before the fall has been either turned into an item of frustration (food, marriage) or has been perverted for some form of sinful tyranny (Lamech uses instruments to sing to his wives of his murderous vengence). Yet none of the good gifts are withdrawn, but are globally committed to in the covenant with Noah.

Much of this is from Gordon J. Wenham’s helpful little book Story as Torah (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000).


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