[b-hebrew] Dying, you will die Gen 2:17

Scott McAliley scottanderin1 at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 4 00:29:53 EDT 2007

I was reading through some archives addressing the infinitive absolute in 
Genesis 2:17, trying to find some answers to questions that only Hebrew 
students and experts could answer(I am neither of these, by the way).  And I 
am hoping that someone can give me some insight.  But before I ask my 
questions, I may can offer some insight regarding the larger question that 
much of that thread seemed to evolve into.  There was a lot of speculation 
over how God could say that in the day they ate of the tree of knowledge of 
good and evil, dying, they would die, since they didn't physically die that 
day.  But were Adam and Eve not living and dying simultaneously as we all 
are?  If they were already immortal, as so many people claim we innately 
are, then the tree of life that God plainly said could make them live 
forever would have no value to them at all if they indeed were already going 
to live forever anyway.  And as far as we know, it was on the same day that 
they sinned that they were barred from the only thing that would have given 
them eternal life, therefore, in the day they sinned, already dying, they 
died in another sense, losing personal access to the tree of life.  So my 
theory is that they were already dying, but with the opportunity, by their 
own effort in reaching out their hand, taking, and eating from the tree of 
life, to have eternal life.  But the death sentence was fulfilled perfectly, 
and even on that very day, by their banishment.  Does the Hebrew support 
this theory?  I also see the slaying of a beast and covering the nakedness 
of Adam and Eve as a foreshadowing of Christ's death on the cross.  So the 
banishment seems to have more to do with them losing the ability to save 
their own souls, than it does eternal death, because God provided the 
provision(the covering) before He banished them, and because the tree of 
life was only guarded, not chopped down.  The tree appears again in the very 
last chapter of the Bible, when Christ says that He will give to eat from 
it, to those who persevere.  All of this causes a serious problem for 
Christians who try to maintain that the banishment from the garden 
represents eternal damnation in the form of separation from God.  Most of 
these same Christians believe, as I do, that the covering of skins 
represents our salvation through Christ' death.  But you can't have both, 
because you would have their salvation preceding their damnation.  The 
banishment can only have to do with the fact that we cannot save ourselves 
from death.  Only God can do it.  And this seems to be supported even more 
because we don't just read, "lest they eat of it".  We read, "lest they 
reach out their hand, and eat of it".  This seems to have to do with human 
effort.  And the entire message of the Bible is that we are insufficient to 
save ourselves, and God wants us totally reliant on Him.
     It is also commonly taught that their sin ruptured their relationship 
with God.  How can we claim that?  There is not one reference of Adam or Eve 
communicating to God before sin. And there is no picture of worship either.  
The relationship actually seems pretty bland.  But after they sin, then God 
graciously comes to them, chastens them(a proof of love according to the New 
Testament), then graciously covers their shame.  They could have rejected 
the covering God offered and tried to maintain their own feeble coverings, 
as many do.  And this seems to parralel how we still today have the choice 
of accepting God's covering for our sin, Jesus death on the cross, or not.   
Sorry so long there.  My question is: Could the infinitive absolute be 
referencing either of the following?...1) That they were physically dying 
and there was nothing that could change that, but that their soul, which 
would have been saved by eating of the tree of life, will now die as well if 
they eat th tree of knowledge of good and evil  or 2)That their body and 
soul were always headed for death from the point of their creation, but that 
they had the opportunity to save both by eating of the tree of life, but 
would lose that opportunity if they sinned.   My next question is:  Does 
anyone find any significance in the fact that when Eve was telling the 
serpent what God had said, she only used one tense of die, but then the 
serpent uses both, as God had?  And can someone tell me which tense Eve 
used?  And last question:  When the serpent gives his response, the literal 
version I found translates it as, "dying, you will not die", but when I look 
at the Hebrew, the negation term precedes both forms of die.  Is this just 
how Hebrew works?  Why is the term for negation in between the "dies" in the 
literal translation?  I would appreciate any help with this.

Scott McAliley

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