judgement

Genesis 3 

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
   “Cursed are you above all livestock
   and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
   and you will eat dust
   all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
   between you and the woman,
   and between your offspring
 and hers;

he will crush your head,
   and you will strike his heel.”

 16 To the woman he said,
   “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
   with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
   and he will rule over you.”

 17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
   “Cursed is the ground because of you;
   through painful toil you will eat food from it
   all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
   and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
   you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
   since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
   and to dust you will return.”
***
And so, the consequences are spelled out.  Here, we are introduced to the theme of curse as opposed to blessing.  The snake becomes a crawling, wriggling thing, condemned to lifelong enmity not only in the case of this snake and this woman, but between their offspring. A pattern has been put in place, the record set to repeat.  
If we take this more widely and see the snake as symbolising evil and deception, here is a long struggle indeed.
‘Curse’, interestingly, is only uttered on the snake and the soil, not the man and the woman themselves.  Is there still hope for them, somewhere, somehow?
The judgement on the woman is both concrete and physical (increased labour pains) and more abstract and personal – there is now a struggle between husband and wife.  Are they seeking to dominate each other?  Whatever this verse means (and I don’t have any certainty over it), it seems to imply an unhealthy conflict in a relationship that was meant to be a unity.  The relationship is fractured. 
And the consequences for the man imply a life of frustration in his work rather than fulfilment.  The land that he was called to labour is no longer co-operative, but unproductive.  Thorns and thistles – hardly favourable for food or fingers.  His life will be one long toil and conflict with the ground until finally it takes him back.  He who was moulded from the dust will return to that base element. He will die. A sense of hopelessness shrouds these verses, a pointlessness.  (I suppose this would have been particularly striking in an arable culture.)
And these consequences are intertwined – the relationships that have been broken, the effects on each other.  The punishments, though pronounced in succession, are not unlinked.They are all affected by one another’s pains and frustrations.  
And then, they suffer alienation from God himself…
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