Monday, February 22, 2010

Genesis 3:15

On Saturday my wife and I were in the temple for our stake temple day and we were talking with another couple in our ward about the scripture in Genesis 3:15 which reads:

"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (KJV)

This verse is almost universally understood among Christendom to refer to Jesus Christ. The woman the Lord is speaking of here is Mary the mother of Jesus and her seed is Jesus Christ.

Figuratively, the Savior's heel was bruised when he was subjected to the full fury of Satan during his passion. As with the wounds Jesus suffered during his atoning sacrifice a bruised heel can be very painful but it is not fatal and generally heals completely. A bruise to the head on the other hand is much more serious and is very often fatal.

Figuratively, Satan's head was bruised on the morning of Christ's resurrection. With the completion of the Atonement Satan's power was forever broken and he no longer had any chance of victory.

The translators of the King James Version of the Bible often chose phrases that are difficult to understand to modern readers. In the temple we discussed what the Lord meant when he said that he would place "enmity" between Satan and Jesus Christ. I've been thinking about this since Saturday and this evening I have had the chance to study the verse a little. The Hebrew word that was translated into English as "enmity" is איבה ('êybâh). Strong's Hebrew Dictionary says this word can be translated as: "hostility: - enmity, hatred."

Reading that didn't shed much light on the meaning for me so I looked at some other translations of the Bible and I came across a rendering of Gen. 3:15 in the Bible in Basic English. In that version the verse reads:

"And there will be war between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed: by him will your head be crushed and by you his foot will be wounded."

I'm not sure if this version of the verse is the most accurate or whether this translation misses some of the original meaning but it is more readable and makes more sense to modern ears.

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