In The Book of Genesis, the author, R. Crumb, made an interpretation of the following passage, “And he drove the man out, and set up east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and the flame of the whirling sword to guard the way to the tree of life”. Crumb interpreted this passage quite literally. He did so by illustrating a scene with three cherubim’s guarding the tree of life and the entrance to the Garden of Eden. There was a flaming sword that was rotating in a circle behind the three cherubim, which made for a very imposing guard to the tree of life.
The illustration seems to emphasize the text by making the area being guarded look impenetrable, and show how angry God was made by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God did not trust Adam and Eve after they ate from the tree of knowledge and were then able to see good and evil. Then he did not want them to eat from the tree of life, because they would live forever. It was the first time in the book when Adam and Eve angered God, and from this point forward their lives were forever altered, along with the lives of everyone after them.
We can also see how the illustration showed how God was not taking any chances with Adam and Eve disobeying his request again, and how seriously he intended to punish them if they dare to try again. In the illustration the three cherubim are shown as vicious creatures, which were ready to attack anyone who tried to get past them. At the feet of the cherubim are bones, one of which looks very similar to the rib bone that God took from Adam in chapter 2, to make Eve. This could have been shown as a serious warning saying that they would kill a man if they were forced to. It is a grave illustration that showed how God was capable of using evil for his own purpose, and how he never intended on letting Adam and Eve gain the ability to live forever.
Furthermore, this illustration shows how God did not know the potential of men at first, but soon realized he needed to take certain precautions to keep men under control. This is the first point in the book where God uses his power to control men and send them to the fields to work instead of living in the Garden of Eden forever. Although he was forced by their disobedience to use this tactic, he did not hesitate to punish them severely, and have no trust in them to listen to his request. His first use of evil against man started here, and eventually this lead to the use of evil to cleanse the earth of wicked men that had taken over. God started with a small act of evil to control man, but only increased his use of evil from that point forward to match the increase in disobedience of men on earth.
I also believe this point in the book was significant to the rest of the book, because it starts the life of man outside the Garden of Eden with no chance of ever living forever. The illustration shows just how serious God was about never letting man gain the ability to live forever like himself, and how they were driven out of the area never to return again. From this point forward the Garden of Eden is not talked about again or shown again. The last image we have of the area is the powerful illustration of the entranced being guarded by creatures that are often related to evil and hell, even though they are actually winged angelic creatures.
Crumb made a literal interpretation of this passage to show the reader how serious God’s power over man could be, and how he never wanted to feel venerable against them ever again. This one tree could bring man so much closer to the level of God, so he was going to any length to keep it protected and hidden from men ever coming close to it again. That fact that it is the last illustration in a chapter that ends on the bottom of a page shows just how important the close of that idea was. It signified that men would never be given any opportunity to gain access to the Garden of Eden and gain the ability to live forever.