Genesis 3:22Verse 22. Behold, the man is become as one of us] On all hands this text is allowed to be difficult, and the difficulty is increased by our translation, which is opposed to the original Hebrew and the most authentic versions. The Hebrew has hayah, which is the third person preterite tense, and signifies was, not is. The Samaritan text, the Samaritan version, the Syriac, and the Septuagint, have the same tense. These lead us to a very different sense, and indicate that there is an ellipsis of some words which must be supplied in order to make the sense complete. A very learned man has ventured the following paraphrase, which should not be lightly regarded: "And the Lord God said, The man who WAS like one of us in purity and wisdom, is now fallen and robbed of his excellence; he has added ladaath, to the knowledge of the good, by his transgression the knowledge of the evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever in this miserable state, I will remove him, and guard the place lest he should re-enter. Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden," &c. This seems to be the most natural sense of the place. Some suppose that his removal from the tree of life was in mercy, to prevent a second temptation. He before imagined that he could gain an increase of wisdom by eating of the tree of knowledge, and Satan would be disposed to tempt him to endeavour to elude the sentence of death, by eating of the tree of life. Others imagine that the words are spoken ironically, and that the Most High intended by a cutting taunt, to upbraid the poor culprit for his offence, because he broke the Divine command in the expectation of being like God to know good from evil; and now that he had lost all the good that God had designed for him, and got nothing but evil in its place, therefore God taunts him for the total miscarriage of his project. But God is ever consistent with himself; and surely his infinite pity prohibited the use of either sarcasm or irony, in speaking of so dreadful a catastrophe, that was in the end to occasion the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion, the death and burial, of Him in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Col 2:9. In Ge 1:26,27, we have seen man in the perfection of his nature, the dignity of his office, and the plenitude of his happiness. Here we find the same creature, but stripped of his glories and happiness, so that the word man no longer conveys the same ideas it did before. Man and intellectual excellence were before so intimately connected as to appear inseparable; man and misery are now equally so. In our nervous mother tongue, the Anglo-Saxon, we have found the word [A.S.] God signifying, not only the Supreme Being, but also good or goodness; and it is worthy of especial note that the word [A.S.] man, in the same language, is used to express, not only the human being so called, both male and female, but also mischief, wickedness, fraud, deceit, and villany. Thus a simple monosyllable, still in use among us in its first sense, conveyed at once to the minds of our ancestors the two following particulars: 1. The human being in his excellence, capable of knowing, loving, and glorifying his Maker. 2. The human being in his fallen state, capable of and committing all kinds of wickedness. "Obiter hic notandum," says old Mr. Somner in his Saxon Dictionary, "venit, [A.S.] Saxonibus et DEUM significasse et BONUM: uti [A.S.] et hominem et nequitiam. Here it is to be noted, that among the Saxons the term GOD signified both the Divine Being and goodness, as the word man signified both the human being and wickedness." This is an additional proof that our Saxon ancestors both thought and spoke at the same time, which, strange as it may appear, is not a common case: their words in general are not arbitrary signs; but as far as sounds can convey the ideal meaning of things, their words do it; and they are so formed and used as necessarily to bring to view the nature and proper ties of those things of which they are the signs. In this sense the Anglo-Saxon is inferior only to the Hebrew.
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