Eating the Forbidden Fruit
Many things happen in chapter three, most of them bad. But, there are good points as well. After all, there can’t be a plan of redemption without someone to redeem, right? But, I get ahead of myself.
The crafty serpent launches his plan by questioning Eve1 about God’s one rule for the Garden: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan starts by asking her to tell him the rule. She does: we can eat from any tree, except the one in the middle.
Then, she tells why: “you will die”2.
At this point, Satan calls God a liar, and says that they won’t die3. Instead, he claims, Adam and Eve’s eyes will be opened and they’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.
Now, the serpent’s trick was something he always tries to do: use enough truth to make it sound good4. In this case, he was speaking truly that they would become “wise”5 and “know good and evil”. The lie part was when he negated what God had said, and told them they would NOT die.
He even uses the same two-verb construction God did, “dying, you will die”. He, like God, was talking about an eternal death, or a death that goes on and on. He was being both correct and incorrect at the same time. God had tried to be very firm in stating the punishment, but Satan twisted the meaning of the words just enough to make no death plausible, “dying, you will not die”.
And Eve is successfully tricked into looking longingly at the fruit of the forbidden tree. She saw that it was good for food, like all the other fruits they could eat. And, it was mighty fine-looking fruit6. And, importantly, she noted that it would make her wise. It’s not clear how this was known to her, but it was. So, she ate it.
Then comes Adam. Eve gave the fruit to Adam, and he ate it. It didn’t require any trick or lie, he just ate it. Now, the text says that she gave it to Adam “with her”. Much has been made of this phrase, but it clearly can have different meanings. Adam could have been with her the whole time, or he was “with her” in the Garden. Scholars disagree on this point. However, one rule of Scriptural interpretation can help us out here: Scripture interprets Scripture. In this case, look at 1 Timothy 2:14, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman …”. To me, this is clear evidence that Adam was not present when Satan was practicing his art of lying.
But, note the fact that he wasn’t deceived cuts both ways. He was not tricked into sinning. No, when she gave it to him, he dived into sin wholeheartedly.
And, thus we know: the most heinous sin in the history of Mankind has been committed. All future sins, committed by Adam’s descendants, follow on this one. Without this sin, people live forever. There are no Hitlers, serial killers, or mass murderers. A very sad day indeed.
- I’m calling her Eve, even though she hasn’t been named in the text yet. Everybody knows her by that name, so it seems right to use it.
- There’s an extra phrase she adds: “or touch it”. This wasn’t one of God’s original rules. But, remember that the rule was given before Eve existed. So, either God spoke it again and changed it, or she got the rule from Adam. From Adam seems more likely. Adam may have simply added an extra layer of security to the rule. But, Satan doesn’t target that question, so we won’t worry about it further.
- When Eve quoted the rule from God, she didn’t use the phrase “dying you will die”. Hers was a misquote, using just “you will die”.
- This is something to watch for. The devil is a masterful liar. Most of the time, he will include just enough truth to make his lies plausibly true. It’s not an absolute rule for him (otherwise he would break the absoluteness for plausibility, again.) But, it happens enough that it’s good to keep an eye out for this tactic.
- This isn’t the same kind of wisdom that God calls a good thing (in Proverbs especially, but also many other places.) This is wise as in “crafty”.
- However, the common thinking that it was an apple is incorrect. We don’t know what kind of fruit it was.