In His response to the defenses of Adam and Eve, God first addresses himself to him who has been the instrument of temptation to sin. Without hearing the serpent God curses him. The serpent hears a direct verdict, without the possibility of a reply. Going on the belly indicates extreme humiliation and misery (cf. Mic 7:17a17They will lick the dust like a serpent,
Like reptiles of the earth.
They will come trembling out of their fortresses;
To the LORD our God they will come in dread
And they will be afraid before You.
; Psa 44:2525For our soul has sunk down into the dust;
Our body cleaves to the earth.
In the curse God also speaks of “the seed of the woman”. That is a clear reference to the Lord Jesus (Gal 4:44But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,). He will crush satan’s head, while satan will crush his heel. If the heel is crushed, it is impossible to walk. With the Lord Jesus this happens when people, led by satan, pierce His feet on the cross and kill Him. But just by the cross He obtains victory and crushes the head of satan (Col 2:1515When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.).
After the curse of the serpent and the prospect of victory over the leader, God also pronounces His judgment over man’s sin. He mentions the consequences of sin first for the woman and then for the man. They are not cursed. The consequences for them are an aggravation of the task God has given each of them.
It is God’s intention that the woman should have children, so become pregnant (Gen 1:2828God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”). Apparently until then pregnancy and giving birth are painless in origin. That will no longer be the case. Pregnancy will cause many inconveniences and giving birth to children is a painful experience. Sin has weakened the woman slightly, making pregnancy and giving birth difficult.
To this judgment is added the fact that her desire will go to her husband and that he will rule over her. This is the result of her self-perpetuating action by independently entering into conversation with the serpent without involving Adam. She has also drawn Adam into her sin by giving him the fruit. Instead of being a help to him, she has led him to commit sin. In this judgment God says that she will really depend on her husband and that he will tell her what to do. Therein lies her blessing at the same time.
The judgment on Adam is twofold. The earth is cursed for him, and he will return to dust, that is to say die of physical death. Adam, by listening to his wife, denied his principal position over creation. As punishment for this, from now on nature will be in revolt against him. Creation also shares in the consequences of the Fall, for it is “subjected to futility” (Rom 8:2020For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope). From that moment on, she also produces thorns and thistles. Adam will no longer be able to manage nature.
For his livelihood he will have to work the soil hard. “The earth, from it comes food” (Job 28:5a5“The earth, from it comes food,
And underneath it is turned up as fire.
), which is so necessary for his sustenance (Psa 104:14b14He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
). That will be his part, as long as he lives. But the moment of physical death comes. By transgressing the Divine Commandment, He has set God aside. By the judgment of returning to dust he must become aware of the void of his being (Psa 104:2929You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
You take away their spirit, they expire
And return to their dust.
; 103:1414For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are [but] dust.
; Ecc 3:19-2019For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity.20All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.; 12:77then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.).
The assignment to work is still valid. He who does not work while he can, disobeys God and does not deserve to be fed: “When we were with you, we commanded you to do so: If anyone does not want to work, they will not eat either (2Thes 3:1010For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.). The Lord Jesus has worked (Jn 5:1717But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”). He prophetically even said that he worked in vain: “But I said, “I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity” (Isa 49:44But I said, “I have toiled in vain,
I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity;
Yet surely the justice [due] to Me is with the LORD,
And My reward with My God.”