It is translations like this that cause me worry. They are missed opportunities for expressing the power and awesomeness of the LORD God. Let me suggest an alternate translation and explanation for Genesis 3:8 that is more literal, straight forward, and explains how Jesus sanctifies us. My primary target is this word, “cool.”
You are reading this on the web, so open this verse on Biblehub’s interlinear in another window at this link: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/3-8.htm You will need to read it backwards from English, right to left, in fact. Make sure you become familiar with how the interlinear functions. The top number is called a Strong’s number. It is for those of us who do not read Hebrew and would like some definitions of the word. Biblehub ups that to include all the instances where the word occurs. Biblehub offers 2, 3, and sometimes 4 different sources for a definition.
The line below the number is also something you can click on. It is how you pronounce the word using the English alphabet, but the link is also a search that includes the various conjugations and spellings according to its placement in Hebrew grammar. The line below that is in Hebrew script as it has been since the Babylonian Exile, then below that is an English translation, and then below that is the parsing tag to tell you what part of the Hebrew language the word belongs to.
I want you to take note of the word with the Strong’s number of 7307 and translated as “in the breeze.” Click on that and it will say “7307. ruach” with various definitions. Notice that the three definitions are essentially say “breath, wind, spirit.” Ruach is all of these together. When we talk about God’s Spirit, we are also talking about God’s Breath and God’s Windy Breeze. Bible Project has a great video and podcast on this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNNZO9i1Gjc or https://bibleproject.com/podcast/holy-spirit-part-2/ . The ideas are all conflated in Hebrew as they are in Greek. Spirit is wind and breath, because it is an invisible animating reality. A wind rustles the tree leaves and a person is alive because they breath. So is it with God’s spirit.
Also, towards the end of the verse, click on the word number 8432 that is translated as “among.” Keep it in mind. It means “midst.”
Now let’s apply this idea to Genesis 3:8. Cool of the day is a horrible translation. Breeze of the day is a little better, but they still all miss reality of the story. Why not go for the jugular and translate it as spirit, or even spirit-wind? Below is an amalgamation translation from all the popular translations, except that for the words “spirit-wind” and “in the midst of;” those are mine.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the spirit-wind of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God in the midst of the trees of the garden.
I don’t know about you, but chills just went down my spine! If that didn’t happen for you read it again and more slowly. God walks by the spirit-wind of the day means that he breezes through all the trees of the garden equally and unchanged! Just like wind blows through a forest, God’s spirit blows through all trees, and God is still Who He is. But Adam and Eve on the other hand, having just ate from the one tree they were forbidden to touch are now entrapped in its matrix. This ontological entanglement expresses itself as abhorrence and fear of God’s spirit just being Himself. (Ontological means how a thing is being and existing.)
The serpent was not lying when he said Adam and Eve would be like God Who already knows good and bad-evil. What he did not tell them was that this knowledge hopelessly entraps all finite beings in its matrix like an inescapable vortex or blackhole. Once ingested it is a severance from Life. Sure, Adam and Eve did not drop dead physically in that moment. Rather, like a branch sawn off a tree, they were dead.
Functionally it is by trajectory of being. That may sound odd to you until you ponder how a seed brings about life increase by first dying. Perhaps the words of Jesus may sound familiar to you? Lose your life, carry your cross? Or how about Jesus talking about Himself as a seed needing to go into the ground in John 12:24? God’s spirit goes His Way. He goes through all the trees equally, even the tree where the serpent is still entrapped and was forbidden to us.
Adam and Eve had just eaten of the tree and now with their inverted trajectory of being to that of God’s, there is a “friction of being.” Adam and Eve want to self-preserve now. But God, Who makes the seed go its cycle, wants give all selflessly, completely, and with no hold back like a seed falling into the ground. And since He is Infinite, the tree forbidden to us is just another tree to Him. With any tree, even the forbidden one, He gives Himself away through it like all the rest. His Spirt breezes through all the trees and He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
The cross had this reality on display. Jesus came in the fullness of God’s Spirit. Jesus was hung on a tree. Maybe you are saying, “No, Jesus was hung on a cross.” Well, my answer to you is that it depends on which language you speak. In Hebrew, and Greek by the way, a tree is any wooden construct that includes Roman crosses, wood clubs, scaffolding, and trees. Jesus died a death like no other that the veteran Roman centurion who had seen hundreds, if not thousands, die by crucifixion, realized he had never seen anyone die like Jesus. Seeing the whole process, He explained, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
How did Jesus die? Well, not like any other man, ever! He never lashed back or claimed innocence. His inner reality remained selfless in giving just like a seed falling into the ground. He forgave those killing Him. He loved his enemies. And he asked for his mother to be cared for. Never once, even remotely did anything within His heart stir up against any person for this grossly unfair death drummed up on false charges. He remained in union with His Father, breezing through that tree unchanged in Who He is: Greater Love.
Moreover, this is not only how Jesus saved us, but also how He sanctifies us. He is always Who He is. And because He became a human, He made it so that humans can learn His heart and share His Spirit that breezes through all the trees of the garden alike. I hope you have heard what I wrote. Jesus has not only forgiven you from sin, but He also has given you a highway out from the forbidden tree, so that you can too can walk through the garden where He is in any tree, situation, or circumstance.
Sanctification is not trying harder next time, or exerting fleshly force to mortify the evil within. Rather, it is as simple as knowing Him where He governs, which can sound like a poster slogan until you realize one of the huge tools He has given us to make this a reality. I am referring to The Jesus Pictures. Because the same Spirit breezing through all the trees can breeze through history and people and events the same too. The Hebrew Bible is this record. You can learn His Spirit by beholding that trajectory of being for yourself. 2 Corinthians 3:18 is the goal in that success story. Galatians 3:1 is the failure when you stop.
To discover more, read The Jesus Pictures, Spiritual Knowledge, 24:27, and Life Portals.