Author’s Note: All subsequent Scripture quotations and paraphrases are taken from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) unless otherwise stated.
Among the depths of our universe lies a planet that God called earth. His spirit hovered, and He saw it was without form and void (Gen. 1:2). With words of faith, God started to form the earth. The phrase “Let there be …” came out of the voice of God, and something happened. His voice rang, the earth took fold. Morning, evening, land, waters, and creatures, creation took place at an alarming rate. At the end of each day, He always said, “it was good.” God finished the garden in six days.
God created man, in his likeness, and gave him dominion over the entire earth (Gen 1:26). God did not want him to be lonely, so He created a woman (Gen. 2:22-23) and formed a partnership between them. God gave them both specific instructions to eat from every tree in the garden, but not from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or they would die (Gen 2:16-17).
The serpent, disguised as Satan, convinced them they would not die if they ate from that specific tree. He told them they would be like God with knowledge of good and evil (Gen.3:5). Adam and Eve fell into temptation, by eating from the forbidden tree, which led to the alienation of God, land, and family.
Alienation of God
Alienation (yâqa) means to sever oneself, to be dislocated, to abandon (Strong 2009, 13). Temptation led them to dissolve their relationship with God. The serpent told them they would not die was not entirely the truth. Yes, they will die, spiritually, and not physically. As she thought what the serpent voiced, the more appealing the forbidden tree was looking and knowing they can have a mind equal to their creator, sounded very engaging. “Their desire to be like God that led to their disobedience including a desire for independence” (Hill and Walton 2009, 94). They replaced immorality with morality. Their sin of waywardness is what led to this alienation. God needed to punish the offenders for the sin.
For Satan, using the serpent as his instrument of alienation, God cursed him on his belly, and to eat the dust of the ground, forever (Gen. 3:14). God also put hostility or enmity between the serpent and woman. In Genesis 3:15, God said that there would be ongoing battles between demonic forces and humanity, leading to others for generations alienating themselves from God.
The woman faced punishment for instigating alienation. God did intend for childbirth, but not with sorrow. She will be sentenced to toil or work extremely hard of reproduction. This sorrow will threaten her life and the child with each childbirth. We might have an idea, but we will never know God’s original plan for reproduction.
Alienation from Land
By disobeying God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they lost the harmony and contentment that God provided in the Garden of Eden. God made it easy for the man to work in the garden, but when sin happened, this all changed. God punished the serpent and woman; now man must also be punished for his participation in the fall that alienated humanity from God.
Just as the woman, cursed in childbirth, the man shall be cursed in the ground in toil for all the days of his life (Gen 3:17). He shall fight with all the thorns and thistles in the field to grow food (Gen. 3:18). Farming is a robust and vigorous line of work, mainly to feed families.
God addressed one more issue and drove them out of the Garden of Eden to never return. “When they gave in to temptation, they were cast out of the garden and denied access to that tree” (94). They will not eat or touch the tree of life for immorality again. God placed the cherubim with a flaming sword to guard the tree (Gen. 3:24). He drove them out to the world to face trials, tribulations, and death.
Alienation of Family
Alienation of family started with Cain and Abel but also started the rebellion against God. Rebellion (pesha) means to sin, transgress, or trespass (Strong 2009, 97). Their world began the spreading of an ungodly society full of hate, revolution, and hostility.
Cain was a farmer who toiled with the land cursed, and Abel was a keeper of animals that show God’s original plan of man having dominion over life. Both came before God with offerings. Cain brought fruit from the ground (Gen 4:3), and Abel brought a firstling from his flock (Gen 4:4). God was pleased with Abel’s offering, but not with Cain. “Rather than being concerned about remedying the situation and pleasing God, he was very angry” (Ross 1985, 34). Cain’s lack of faith shows up in his response to God’s rejection of his offering of fruit (Gen. 4:5).
Instead of listening to God and improving on his offering, he maliciously killed his brother out of jealousy (Gen 4:8). It caused alienation between the family knowing that Cain could never go home after what he did to Abel and God needed to place a mark on him so that no one could revenge Abel’s death (Gen 4:15).
In conclusion, alienation from God started with a serpent to tempt them to eat from the forbidden tree. Their disobedience to God put the serpent on its belly and the woman through painful childbirth. Their defiance also cost them living in the Garden of Eden and alienated them from the land. The man was punished with a lifetime of hard labor in the ground to produce food. By Cain murdering his brother Abel, alienation was bestowed on the family, and a mark placed on Cain by God, so no one can revenge his death.
The original sin of Adam and Eve that started alienation has continued into today’s world. We see the separation of God in schools; no one can pray without complaints or termination of employment. Churches had declined in recent years, and hardly anyone believes that God exists. God made way for sins forgiven through Christ Jesus, but only God can change hardened hearts.
Hill, Andrew E., and John H. Walton, 2009, A Survey of the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Ross, Allen P., 1985, “Genesis.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Strong, James., 2009, A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.