What does Genesis 3:1 mean?
ESV: Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?"
NIV: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?"
NASB: Now the serpent was more cunning than any animal of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?'
CSB: Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?"
NLT: The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, 'Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'
KJV: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
NKJV: Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
Verse Commentary:
The previous two chapters described God's creation of the universe and how fully He provided for the first two human beings. Genesis chapter 3 turns to describing how they became separated from God.

In this verse, a new character is introduced: the serpent. Who is he, and where did he come from? We have no reason to assume that animals possessed the power of speech and reason at this time. Still, some commentators remark that the woman—later named Eve—seems oddly unsurprised when the serpent speaks to her. Others point out that many conversations recorded in the Bible appear to be summaries, not word-for-word transcripts. The actual discussion might well have taken longer than what's recorded here.

We're told the serpent is the most crafty or shrewd of all the wild animals. This is from the Hebrew term ā'rum, which also means "prudent" or "sly." The term, itself, is not necessarily negative. However, as with any gift or ability, how one chooses to use it makes the difference between sin and righteousness. In this case, the serpent uses "craftiness" in order to ruin mankind. After the fall God specifically curses the serpent (Genesis 3:14–15).

Not all Bible scholars agree, but most understand this speaking serpent to be Satan himself. As a result, conservative Bible teachers generally hold one of two interpretations. First, that Satan possessed and spoke through a serpent created by God. Second, that Satan took on the form of a serpent for the purpose of tempting the woman to sin. That seems consistent with what we know of Satan from other passages in the Bible. First of all, Satan and the other demons are spiritual beings, not physical, but with the ability to take control of both people (Luke 22:3) and animals (Mark 5:11–13). Jesus describes Satan as the Father of lies (John 8:44), and Genesis 3 describes the first recorded lies to be heard on earth. Finally, Revelation refers to Satan as a dragon, the "ancient serpent" or "serpent of old" (Revelation 12:9; 20:2).

His first recorded words to the woman challenge God's commands with a simple question, casting doubt on God's words. The serpent seems to either misstate or question God's restrictions about what she and the man could eat: "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"

It will become clear the serpent knows exactly what God had commanded. His intent is to provoke Eve to judge God's fairness.
Verse Context:
Genesis 3:1–7 tells the story of Satan's temptation of mankind, the first human sin and the immediate consequences which followed. Created sinless, ''very good,'' and placed into a perfect environment by a fair and loving Creator, Adam and Eve choose to sin anyway. They earn spiritual death and separation from God, as well as lives punctuated by pain, conflict, and frustration, ending in physical death. This is followed by God's response to human sin, tailored to each of the parties involved. The following chapter will tell the story of the beginning of human life apart from God and the garden.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 3 tells the story of paradise lost by the willfulness of human sin. Humanity was originally given every perfect thing they could need or want, and virtually no restrictions. Despite that, Adam and Eve needed only a bit of prompting from a talking serpent to disobey their good Creator. Immediately overcome by shame and quickly cursed by God, the painful story of human history begins with their exit from the Garden of Eden.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 2 ended with the last glimpse of a sinless world. Adam and Eve are perfect in themselves, in their purpose, and in their relationship as husband and wife. Chapter 3 tells the story of that paradise lost; the result of the first willful human sin. The consequences: immediate shame and lifelong separation from their home with God. Chapter 4 will describe the beginning of their lives together, the beginning of the painful story of human history.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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