Blessings and Curses in Genesis 1-4

In Genesis 1–4 the language of “blessing” appears before the fall, followed by occurrences of “curse” after Adam and Eve disobey God’s command and eat the forbidden fruit.

The blessings and curses can be grouped like this:

Blessing

  • On the Water and Sky Animals: “And God blessed them” (1:22a)
  • On the Image-Bearers: “And God blessed them” (1:28a)
  • On the Seventh Day: “So God blessed the seventh day” (2:3a)

Curse

  • On the Serpent: “…cursed are you above all livestock” (3:14a)
  • On the Ground: “…cursed is the ground because of you” (3:17b)
  • On Cain: “And now you are cursed from the ground” (4:11)

When you look at these groupings, four further observations can be made:

  1. In Genesis 1–4, “blessing” and “curse” each occur three times. And, significantly, they don’t occur in mixed fashion. The blessings come before the fall, and the curses come afterward.
  2. The blessings occur on the fifth, sixth, and seventh days. On Day Five God blessed the water and sky animals (1:22), on Day Six he blessed the image-bearers (1:28), and on Day Seven he blessed that day (2:3).
  3. There are animals blessed in 1:22, and in 3:14 an individual animal is cursed: the serpent. [Side Note: I don’t believe God has actually cursed reptiles, because the words of judgment in 3:14-15 pertain to the defeat of Satan who possessed a serpent and deceived Eve. However, the serpentine imagery is retained with the words “on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life” (3:14b). Again, though, the language is aimed at Satan (snakes don’t actually eat dust!). Also, God speaks of the serpent’s “offspring,” and wicked human offspring is in view, not actual snakes. God is promising Satan’s defeat.]
  4. The image-bearers are blessed in 1:28, and in 4:11 an individual image-bearer is cursed: Cain.

What else can be seen from the groupings of “blessing” and “curse” in Genesis 1–4?

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