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Faith is By Choice An LDS Faith Blog

Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake


I've been mulling over Moses 4:23-25 a bit more in connection with my earlier article about evolution and how it could fit within the gospel context.  

 23 And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.

 24 Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.

 25 By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.

This is one of the two scriptures we have in our standard works where the Lord describes the curse that will be on the earth as a consequence of Adam's transgression.  At least that's how I've always read it: that the earth was to become cursed, and that God (after the transgression) placed a cursing on the earth.  

I've always understood and even taught in the past (as some church leaders have taught) that after the fall of Adam, the nature of the earth was changed in some way.  Some have understood this to infer that the entire earth "fell" from a terrestrial state, to a lower and telestial state.  In this telestial world where find ourselves, animals hunt and kill one another instead of laying about casually and non-threateningly.  In this condition, weeds and "thorns and thistles" began to grow as they naturally (and agressively) do, and we people need to work hard to fight the obnoxious plants in order to grow something like a decent fruit or vegetable.  

By the way I can't really claim to have ever actually done that in my entire life.  My kids planted potatoes & carrots once in a garden with my wife's help, and I might have succesfully dug up a potato or two, but I'm not sure that counts. 

Anyway, it occurs to me that the scripture could be read and understood somewhat differently.  We don't actually have an account of the cursing taking place.  There is no scripture that says "And so then the Lord cursed the earth, and the whole earth was changed..." -- we only have him saying he will do it.  But is that really what He said?  

This could be understood to simply be a description of what the earth is like outside of the Garden of Eden.  Maybe the curse was already on the ground, and God is simply describing why it's "cursed".  

Perhaps God is saying, in effect:  "Once you leave the Garden of Eden you're going to find that the world out there is different... things are more difficult.  It's not going to be so easy to get food, and you're going to need to work for it, and that's a good thing for you."  

Incidentally, in the Book of Genesis chapter 3:17, the wording is slightly different. It says "cursed is the ground for thy sake".  The wording is present-tense.  One could infer that the Lord is at that moment placing a curse upon the ground, or he could also simply be describing what is.  Perhaps it was made that way.  

And why would he take the trouble of making it any other way? God knew they were going to do this, it was always part of his plan for them. In fact it's the whole purpose He created the earth.  

Continuing along in Moses 4, do we find any hint that the earth is changed in any way whatsoever? Not that I can see.  Adam names his wife Eve (verse 26), the Lord makes them coats of skins (verse 27) -- which incidentally is a whole other interesting subject.. the whole concept of their nakedness in the garden, and God making these coats -- fascinating!

Then in verses 28-31 they are driven out of the Garden and the Lord blocks their access to the tree of life, (see my earlier article for an in-depth discussion of why I think this nicely bridges the gap between our doctrinal concept of "no death before the fall" and evolution).  

Moses 4:29 is noteworthy here - "Therefore I, the Lord God, will send him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken​" 

He didn't till the ground in the Garden of Eden, but he was to leave the Garden in order to till it. 

Moses 5:1 picks right up and says that after Adam had been driven out of the garden he began to till the earth.

So in summary, I don't see a lot of scriptural evidence here for a great change coming upon the earth at the time of the transgression of Adam and Eve.  Or at least, I don't see the necessity of reading the scripture in that way.  I think it would be more true to the scriptural account to view the Garden as the more blessed terrestrial place, planted within this telestial world, and that in fact the earth is as it has always been, for hundreds of millions of years.