Lesson 4: Moses 4, 5:1-15, 6:48-62
Trying to keep my notes to a reasonable length (though some will doubt whether these are a reasonable length), I will focus on Moses 4, giving briefer attention to the other scriptures for this lesson. However, the other readings are necessary to understanding the Sunday School lesson for chapter 4. Note that the study questions for Moses 4:1-4 were part of the materials for lesson 2. However, I repeat them here so that they will be convenient.
Note also that if Moses 2 tells of the spiritual creation, then chapters three and four correspond to Moses 2:24-30, the sixth day. Carrying out the physical aspect of each day’s creation involves considerably more than we see explained in Moses 2.
Verse 1: Why does the Lord say “that Satan” rather than just “Satan”? What does it mean to say that Satan was with the Father from the beginning? Compare the offer, “I will be thy son,” with what happens in Moses 1:19 and 5:13. What do we see? Why does Satan say “I will be thy son” rather than “I am thy son?” Isn’t he already a son of God? Does D&C 29:36 shed any light on why Satan’s request, “Give my thine honor,” was wrong?
Verse 2: What do you make of the difference between the way that the Father describes Satan in the previous verse and the way he describes Christ in this verse: “my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning”? Does that tell us anything about what Satan was suggesting in the previous verse?
Verse 3: When did Satan rebel? Have we seen that happen in yet? Where? What do you make of the difference between the way Satan describes his planâ€””I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost”â€”and the way the Father describes his plan: “Satan [. . .] sought to destroy the agency of man”?
Verse 4: What does it mean to say “he became Satan” (my emphasis)? Why is “father of all lies” such a descriptive title for Satan? What does it mean to say that those who follow him will be led “captive at his will”? What does it mean to say that those who follow Satan are those who will not hearken to God’s voice?
Verse 5: What does it mean to say that Satan is subtle? Another translation of the Hebrew word used at the corresponding verse in Genesis is “cunning.” What does it mean to say that Satan is cunning? How do we see his subtlety or cunning in this story? If we look at the language in Genesis, we see a play on words in Hebrew that shows a connection between Moses 3:25 and this verse: the word translated “naked” is spelled almost exactly the same as the word translated “subtle.” It even appears that the writer has gone out of his way to make that play on words, that it isn’t an accident. What do you make of that connection? What is Moses trying to do by connecting these two verses and the ideas represented by “naked,” on the one hand, and “subtle,” on the other?
Verse 6: What did Satan put in the heart of the serpent? Who are the many that Satan had drawn after him? What does it mean to say that Satan didn’t know the mind of God? What is the connection between not knowing God’s mind and seeking to destroy the world?
Verse 7: Another translation of Satan’s question is, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’” Why does he begin with a question? What kinds of things does Satan insinuate with his question?
Verses 8-9: Why does the woman emphasize that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is in the middle of the Garden? How is its position relevant to our understanding? Why does the woman add to the prohibition? (Compare this verse to Moses 3:16-17 to see what she has added.) Is it significant that the prohibition was given to Adam before the woman was created?
Verses 10-11: What is Satan saying when he says, “Ye shall not surely die”? What kind of doubt is he trying to plant? Notice that Satan’s words in verse 11 are almost exactly the same as those of the Lord in verse 22. What things does Satan prophesy? Notice that each of them comes true. What, then, is Satan’s lie? What motive does he ascribe to the Father? In other words, how are these verses an example of the fact that Satan is “the father of all lies” (verse 4) when there is a sense in which what he says here is true?
Verse 12: What is the point of this series? What does the woman see? What makes her think that the fruit is good to eat? Why is it good to eat? What does it mean that it is pleasant to the eyes? What is the woman doing in making these observations? Notice that the writer begins with a lengthy introduction, but that the clause describing what she does is terse: “She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.” What effect does this contrast create? Why does the writer add “with her” to the phrase, “gave also unto her husband”? What does that “with her” add to the meaning?
Verse 13: What does it mean that their eyes were opened? Are our eyes opened? If they aren’t, what would it mean for them to be opened? What do the Man and the Woman see when they open their eyes? What does it mean to say they knew they were naked? Did they think before that they had on clothing? Nakedness plays an important role in the account from Moses 3:25 to here. It is an important theme. Why is nakedness important to what is being said? How is it important? What does nakedness have to do with a knowledge of good and evil? Can nakedness be thought of as a type? Of what kinds of things might that nakedness be a type? If you were naked, how effective would an apron be as a covering? What might their sewing of aprons tell us? Of what might it be a type?
Verse 14: Is the time of day that the Lord returned to the Garden significant? If so, how so? Why did Adam and the Woman hide? Why does it say they hid “from the presence of the LORD God” rather than they hid “from the LORD God”? What might the word “presence” indicate? Is their any significance to the fact that they hid among the trees after they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, or is that just a coincidence? If it is a coincidence, why does the wording so closely duplicate early wording: tree, midst, garden? Moses could have just said they hid in the bushes. In other words, what does the writer do by using the wording he uses here, wording that reminds of us eariler verses?
Verse 15: Notice that the Lord doesn’t just call out “Where are you?” He speaks to Adam when he asks the question. He obviously knows where Adam and Eve are, and we know he knows not only because he is the Lord and knows everything, but because the writer goes out of his way to make it clear that the Lord knows when he points out that the Lord spoke to Adam. So, why does the Lord ask this question? What is the Lord doing by asking? When does the Lord ask us where we are?
Verse 16: Does Adam answer the question asked? If not, why not? What does Adam’s answer reveal about what Adam is doing? If Adam doesn’t answer the question asked, what question is he answering? Compare Adam’s answer to the answers given by prophets in similar situations: Genesis 22:1, 7, and 11; 31:11; and 46:2; Exodus 3:4; 1 Samuel 3:4, 5, 6, 8, and 16; Isaiah 58:9; 2 Nephi 16:8; Moses 4:1; and Abraham 3:27. What might the difference between Adam’s answer and the answers given in those other places indicate about what is happening here?
Verse 17: Notice that the Lord asks two questions. What is the answer to the first? What is the answer to the second? Notice, again, the emphasis on nakedness.
Verse 18: Which question does Adam answer? Why doesn’t he answer the other one? What did you say the answer to the second question in verse 11 was? How does that answer differ from Adam’s answer? Does he really answer the second question? Adam seems to be blaming here. Is he? If he is, who is he blaming? Is it only the Woman?
Verse 19: Since the Lord has already heard from Adam what the Woman did, why does he ask her? How is the Woman’s answer like Adam’s? What does “beguiled” mean? (Looking in a dictionary is a good idea, but seeing how it is used in other scriptures may also give you a better sense of what “beguiled” means in the scriptures. Take a look at Genesis 29:25, Numbers 25:18, Joshua 9:22, 2 Corinthians 11:3, Colossians 2:4 and 18, 2 Peter 2:14, 2 Nephi 9:9, Mosiah 16:3, Ether 8:25, and Moses 4:6 and 19.) Have Adam and the Woman done something wrong? If so, what? After all, Moses 5:10-11 shows that it was good that these things happened. On the other hand, if they haven’t done something wrong, then how do you explain Moses 6:53, where we are told that the Lord forgave Adam his transgression in the Garden? If Adam didn’t do anything wrong, why did he need forgiveness?
Verse 20: As a note of interest: The Hebrew word translated “cursed” sounds very much like that translated “subtle” in verse 1 of Genesis 3 (and it is also very much like the word translated “naked” in 3:25). The play on words seems to suggest that Satan’s cunning turns out to be his curse and that his curse is a form of nakedness (with all the symbolic connections that nakedness has). Notice too that the punishment fits the crime: Satan’s sin had to do with eating; his punishment has to do with eating. What meaning does this verse have for us? Is it a type of something? If so, of what?
Verse 21: What is enmity? Who are the serpent’s seed? What does it mean to say there is enmity between the Woman and the serpent? Why enmity between the Woman and the serpent rather than between the couple and the serpent? What does it mean to say that there is enmity between the serpent’s children and the children of the Woman? Why does the Lord say “her seed” rather than “their seed”? Notice the footnotes to this verse which explain the Hebrew in the corresponding verses of Genesis 3. Using them we could rewrite the last part of this verse: “He shall crush thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel.” Which would you prefer, a crushed heel or a crushed head? What is the serpent being told is going to happen to him? What does it mean to say that the serpent will crush the woman’s seed’s heel? Who will crush the head of the serpent? What does that signify?
Verse 22: Look at the footnote about the Hebrew for the comparable verse in Genesis (verse 16). Using that information, we could rewrite the first part of this verse: “I will greatly increase thy discomfort and thy size in thy conception; in discomfort thou shalt bring forth children.” The usual word used for the pain of childbirth is not used here. Instead, the verse uses a word that refers to pain less specifically and that has the connotation of work, very much like the English word “labor.” This emphasizes the other meanings of the word rather than the idea of pain. How is the understanding created by this difference of meaning different from our usual understanding of the passage? Does this verse necessarily describe a punishment? Notice that the Lord used the word “curse” in reference to what he says to the serpent, but he doesn’t use it here and he doesn’t use it when he speaks to Adam, except to speak of the earth. If what the Lord says to Adam and the Woman isn’t a curse, what is it? Is it a blessing? If so, how so? What does it mean to say “thy desire shall be to thy husband”? What does it mean to say, “he shall rule over thee”? (Is the earlier discussion of the word “dominion”â€”see the notes for Moses 3 1:28â€”relevant here?) Some see a parallel here: You influenced your husband, getting him to do what you wanted. Now you will have to do what he wants. What do you think? Is that what is going on here?
Verse 23: Notice that the Lord said to the serpent, “because thou hast done this” and he says to Adam, “because thou hast hearkened to thy wife.” But he didn’t give a “because” when he spoke to the Woman. Why didn’t he say something like, “because thou has hearkened to the serpent”? Why is the ground cursed? What does that say to us about what is going on here? If we can understand the word “sorrow” in verse 16 to mean “discomfort,” are we justified in understanding it that way here? Another translation for the Hebrew word used in these verses in Genesis is “labor,” in other words, work. What light does that shed on this verse? What light does it shed on verse 16? Is the Lord punishing Adam in this verse? If so, why does he say nothing about punishment? On the other hand, if he isn’t, how do you explain Moses 6:53â€”why does Adam need to be forgiven if his transgression was not a sin?
Verse 24: Why are thorns and thistles necessary? Notice the parallelism between the end of verse 23 and this verse (the A’s indicate similar ideas; the B’s indicate a different set of similar ideas):
A — cursed is the ground for thy sake;
B — in labor shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
A — thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;
B — and thou shalt eat the herb of the field
The parallel emphasizes two things: (1) that the ground is cursed and (2) that we eat what the ground prduces through our work. What does that have to say to us? How might this be a type of other things? The transgression had to do with eating and the result of that transgression for Adam is discussed primarily in terms of eating. Why might that be? How is eating an important symbol in the Gospel? Who fed Adam and Eve before the fall? Who fed them after? Is there any connection between eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, eating the herbs of the field as a result, and partaking of the Sacrament? Is there an implied contrast between eating the fruit of the Garden and eating the grain of the field? If so, what is the point of the contrast?
Verse 25: The first part of the verse reemphasizes the necessity of work. If we count the implied reference to work in verse 24 and if we remember that the word translated “sorrow” can also be translated “labor,” this is the fifth time work has been mentioned in four versesâ€”twice to the Woman and three times to Adam. Why so much? Notice how Moses writes this in such a way as to connect it closely to Moses 3:7. What is the import of that connection? Paraphrased this verse says that Adam will have to work until he dies because he came from the ground and will return to it. Since verses 23 and 24 have made it clear that Adam’s work consists of tilling the soil, we might even paraphrase this as follows: You will have to work the ground until you return to the ground, for you were taken from the ground and will return to it. (Verse 29 reinforces this connection.) What is being said here? What is the point of this connection of Adam, work, and the ground? Could the emphasis on our “return” to the earth be to keep us properly humble? We have been created in the image of God, and we have partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in order to have divine knowledge and to be like God (verse 28). Perhaps what this verse says is to help Adam (us) see these things from a proper perspective. Perhaps, too, the emphasis is to follow up on the penalty given with the original commandment: you shall surely die (3:17). For other helpful places where the scriptures speak of dust, see Genesis 18:27; Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 2:8; Job 7:21, 10:9, and 42:6; Psalms 7:5, 22:15, 44:25, 103:14, and 119:25; Ecclesiastes 12:7; 2 Nephi 1:14, 21, and 23; and 8:25; Jacob 2:15 and 21; Mosiah 2:25-26, 4:2, and 21:13; Alma 34:38 and 42:30; Helaman 12:7-8; D&C 77:12; and Moses 3:7 and 6:59. Notice the parallel between what is said to Eve and what is said to Adam. Just as in English, the Hebrew word translated “labor” can refer both to childbirth and to work. So though there are differences in what is said to each of our first parents, in the main each receives the same explanation of the results of their choice: they will have to work and they will have difficulty. Eve’s work and difficulty has to do specifically with childbirth; Adam’s has to do specifically with tilling the soil. But both are required to do the same thing, work. What might we learn from this?
Verse 20: Why does Eve receive her name only now? The Hebrew word translated “Eve,” means “life-giver.” Obviously Eve gives life to all those descended from her, namely the human race. But is there also any way of thinking of her as the mother of all living? Eve’s name may also be a word play on the Hebrew word for “serpent.” If it is, why might Adam make that word play? What does the serpent represent? There are many places where it represents evil, for example: Genesis 49:17, Psalms 58:4, Isaiah 27:1, Revelation 20:2, 2 Nephi 2:18, Mosiah 16:3, and D&C 76:28 and 88:110. But there are also places where the serpent means something quite different than that: Exodus 4:3, 7:9-12, Numbers 21:8-9, 2 Kings 18:4, John 3:14, 2 Nephi 25:20, and Helaman 8:14-15. What might this say about what Satan was doing in the Garden? What might it say about Eve’s name? What has giving life to do with scriptures such as Exodus 7:9-12? Joseph Smith has some very interesting things to say about the power of giving lives:
The power of the Melchizedek Priesthood is to have the power of “endless lives”; for the everlasting covenant cannot be broken.
Those holding the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood are kings and priests of the Most High God, holding the keys of power and blessings. In fact, that Priesthood is a perfect law of theocracy, and stands as God to give laws to the people, administering endless lives to the sons and daughters of Adam.
(Both of these quotations are from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 322.) What is the “power of ‘endless lives’”? What does it mean to “administer endless lives”? If life-giving is the power of the Melchizedek priesthood, why is it so intimately connected with Eve in this verse and in this story? Might this teach us anything about the relation of women to the Melchizedek priesthood or about our understanding of that priesthood?
Verse 27: What do we know about that might be what this verse is mentioning obliquely? Literally, the word translated “coats” means “coverings.” Why did the Lord need to replace the coverings Adam and Eve had made for themselves? Remember the role nakedness has played in this story. What might the aprons Adam and Eve made when they first discovered their nakedness indicate? What might the replacement of those aprons with coverings from the Lord indicate? One way to think about this question is to ask yourself, “What is the difference between clothing oneself and being clothed by God?”
Verse 28: Why does the Lord say “the man is become like one of us” (my emphasis) rather than “Adam is become like one of us,” especially since “man” translates the Hebrew word adam? (Does Genesis 5:2 help answer this question?) What does it mean to say that Adam and Eve are now like the Gods? In what sense are Adam and Eve like them? Notice what preceded this verse: Temptation, Adam and Eve discovering their nakedness, the promise of posterity and the requirement of work, and being clothed in a garment given by God. What have these things to do with the knowledge of good and evil? What have they to do with becoming like the Gods? Is this a type for us? What does the word “know” mean in this context? Think back to Adam and Eve’s knowledge of good and evil. In what does it consist? Does the use of “knew” in Moses 5:2 give us any indication of what “know” means to the Hebrew prophets? (Assume that Moses 5:2 isn’t just a euphemism. Given the fact that the Old Testament writers seem seldom to hesitate to say what they have to say straight out, it seems unlikely that Moses is using a euphemism here.) How is Adam’s and Eve’s knowledge like the knowledge that God has? Why doesn’t the Lord want Adam and Eve to live forever?
Verse 29: If, on leaving the Garden, Adam was given the job of tilling the earth, is it a problem that very few of us today till the earth? What might Adam’s job signify to us?
Verse 30: What does this ending add to the story of Adam and Eve that is significant to us?
Verse 1: Does this verse tell us that Adam could not have dominion over the beasts of the field until after the Fall? What do you make of the last sentence of the verse? What does it tell us about the relation of Adam and Eve?
Verses 4-5: Why does the Lord leave Adam and Eve in ignorance? Why is it important that they could hear his voice but could not see him?
Verses 6-8: Has the Lord been speaking directly to Adam? If so, why does he send an angel to speak for him now? Compare Genesis 22, where the Lord commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but an angel rescinds the command.
Verse 9: We have this record of Adam receiving the Holy Ghost. Why don’t we also have a record of his baptism? Who says “I am the Only Begotten” in this verse, the Son or the Holy Ghost? How could it be the latter? Has Adam not known before now that he could be redeemed from the Fall?
Verses 10-11: What does it mean to say that Adam was filled? We saw him receiving the Holy Ghost in the previous verse. Is this a repetition of that or does it refer to something else? To what are Adam’s eyes opened because of his transgression? How does his transgression bring him joy in this life? What does he mean when he tells us that because of his transgression he will see God in the flesh? Eve says that the transgression brings the possibility of having children, the knowledge of good and evil, and the joy of redemption. Is that different than what Adam says, or is she saying the same thing in a different way?
Verses 12-13: When Satan says “Believe it not,” to what does the word “it” refer in these verses? What is Satan saying to the children of Adam and Eve when he says “I am also a son of God”?
Verses 14-15: How does the Lord call by the Holy Ghost upon people everywhere to repent?
Verse 48-49: Are the themes of these two verses different, or do they say the same thing? In other words, does Satan’s presence in the world explain how we are made partakers of death, misery, and woe?
Verses 50-52: Why is it important that we know that the Lord is the Creator? Verse 52 and Moses 5:7 describe Christ as “full of grace and truth.” What does that description of him imply? How is that relevant to Adam’s experience?
Verse 53: How is the Lord’s answer an answer to Adam’s question? Why does Adam need to have what he did in the Garden forgiven?
Verse 54: To what does “original guilt” refer in this verse? Does this verse give us any understanding of verse 48?
Verse 55: What does it mean to say that children are conceived in sin if original guilt has been atoned for? Does this verse explain our propensity to desire evil? If so, how? If not, why not?
Verse 56: Is the first sentence of this verse a summation of the previous verse?
Verses 59-60: What does it mean to say that we are born into the world by water, blood, and the spirit? What does the parallel between physical birth (water, blood, and spirit) and spiritual birth (water, Spirit, and atoning blood) suggest? What does it mean to say that we keep the commandment by water? that we are justified by the Spirit? that we are sanctified by the blood?
Verse 61: To what does this list refer, to one thing or to a number of things?
Verse 62: To what does “this is the plan of salvation” refer here? To verse 61? To something else?
Given that the story of Adam and Eve is given to us in Genesis, Moses, Abraham, and the temple, it is clearly one of the most important scriptural stories. Why is it so important? What kinds of things does it teach? How are Adam and Eve and their story types? To think about that, consider any parallels between them and their story and other scriptural stories as well as any parallels between them and their story and our own lives.
Here are other scriptures that discuss the story of Adam and Eve: Job 31:33; Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:22 and 45; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; 2 Nephi 2; Mosiah 3; Alma 12:22-23 and 42:5; Helaman 14:16; Mormon 9:12; Moroni 8:8; D&C 27:11; 29:34-36 and 40-42; 107:55-56; Moses 1:34; 5-6; and 7:1 and 22; and Abraham 1:3 and 26; and 5:13. You might also read what Joseph Smith had to say about Adam and Eve: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 12, 38, 39, 122, 157-159, 162, 167-169, 171, 301, and 345.