Have you ever read the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit? If you have, you know that Eve ate the forbidden fruit and gave some to Adam, he ate some, God called them out on it, cursed the ground for their sake, evicted them from Eden and barred them from ever returning. But there’s a puzzle because of a later Scripture:
“… Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” (2nd Timothy 2:14)
Eve was deceived? By whom? The serpent, of course. But why would she take the serpent’s word against God’s? The serpent accused God of lying and oppressing Adam and Eve. Why would Eve believe that, living in the perfect Garden of Eden in perfect comfort and health?
Put yourself in her situation. First, there had been no sin up to that point, no lies, no evil. So Eve was naive. But what could have made her suspicious enough of God to break the only rule in existence, when God had given such a strong warning about the consequences? Let’s look at that warning again:
“And the Lord God commanded THE MAN, saying, ‘You may certainly eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you will certainly die.’ ” (Genesis 2:16-17)
NOTE that God had not yet created Eve.
We don’t have a first- or second-hand account of whether God spoke directly to Eve about the forbidden fruit, or whether Adam did. But it seems to me there are clues in the account of Eve’s temptation by the serpent:
“The serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’
The woman replied to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” ‘ ” (Genesis 3:1-3)
Uh-oh. Something has been added to what God said: “you must not touch it”.
Where did that come from? Who told Eve that she’d die if she merely touched the fruit?
How many women had Adam even seen, up to that point? You guessed it: one. Eve was the only woman in the world. That’s pretty heavy-duty leverage, isn’t it, ladies? Maybe Adam was so entranced with Eve, so wild about her, so … pardon me … hot for her that he wanted to make absolutely certain she didn’t die. So when (if) he warned her about the forbidden fruit, he added “If we touch it we’ll die.”
Maybe. There’s no way of knowing, but that would explain a lot.
When the serpent heard Eve say that, he knew he could bring her down. The Bible warns us not to add anything to God’s words (or to take anything away), with severe penalties for those who do. Here we see why.
Eve was persuaded. She ate the fruit. What was there about that added phrase that was so potent?
Suppose the serpent touched the fruit as he spoke?
Because if he did, Eve saw that at least part of what she had been told was a lie. She then had to wonder if the rest of what she’d been told was true. And another part of what the serpent said dovetailed so neatly with that lie, and also with some partial information: “…God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Like God in that they would know there is evil and good, but not like God in any other way. The serpent left that part out. Add a little, leave out something, and suddenly even “the Word of God” becomes deadly.
And this: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom…”
Suppose the serpent ate some of the fruit also? Obvously he was already in rebellion against God, so it probably wouldn’t have any additional effect on him. Again for emphasis, that is guesswork.
However it happened, Eve was now convinced that someone was lying to her. And that had to be God or Adam. And apparently, like too many women, Eve chose to trust her hottie instead of God. Because after all, he was the only man in the world. And that also is pretty heavy-duty leverage. Right, guys?
It seems that Eve didn’t feel the effects, since she “also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Not until they had BOTH eaten it did they feel the effects: “THEN the eyes of BOTH of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves … THEN the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and THEY HID from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
But Paul wrote in 2nd Timothy that Adam was not deceived. He knew he was doing wrong; knew he was rebelling against God. Why did he eat the fruit?
Adam probably thought that Eve was going to die. Maybe he had enough character to think, “This is my fault!” Maybe he couldn’t stand the guilt. Maybe he thought the only honorable thing to do was to die with her. Maybe he thought God would kill him in anger. Maybe he thought, if it was a done deal, he could argue God out of killing them, or thought God would find a cure. Who knows? So he ate the forbidden fruit, and the Fall from Innocence was complete and irrevocable. But it apparently was Adam’s decision that made it so.
Maybe if instead of eating the fruit, Adam had called to God for help … who knows? But he didn’t. Like too many men, Adam trusted himself to get himself out of trouble he had caused.
Anyway, bottom line, Eve was lied to. If she’d had the truth, maybe, repeat maybe, she wouldn’t have eaten the forbidden fruit. If she’d investigated before jumping to conclusions … who knows? But it wasn’t Eve’s fault.
Too late now for Adam and Eve … “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return!”
But we can learn vital life lessons from them. First, NO ONE comes before God. “You shall have no other gods before Me”, and that includes other humans.
Second, do not add to or delete from God’s Word. To do so is to blind yourself to many dangers, and blind yourself and those who accept your words to the way to Heaven, which is only by faith in Jesus the Messiah.
Third, don’t jump to conclusions about vital matters. Verify. Investigate. Research.
Fourth, if you sin, commit a crime, or just do something colossally stupid, don’t try to hide it from God. He knows anyway, and “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1st John1:9-10) And He may be willing to minimize some of the consequences.
It’s a lot easier to learn from others’ mistakes than to learn everything the hard way.