“Now the serpent was craftier than any other wild animal that Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, `You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you will die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die. God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made aprons or loincloths for themselves.”
In chapter three, a devious talking serpent appears on the scene. He tells the woman that she will not die if she eats from the tree that gives knowledge of good and bad. Instead she will become like God. Both she and the man ate the fruit of the tree and suddenly they recognized that they were naked and needed to cover parts of their bodies.
“They heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden. But Yahweh God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then Yahweh God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’”
Now Yahweh was out for his evening walk, so the man and woman hid because they knew they were naked. Yahweh wanted to know who told them that they were naked. They must have eaten from the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve screwed up. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the evil serpent who tempted her. Ever since the dawn of humanity, humans have continued to blame someone or something for their own mistakes. The first great sin was disobedience to the higher power, Yahweh.
“Yahweh God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all animals and all wild creatures. Upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. He will strike your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Perfection came to an end. The snake becomes the personification of evil. Everybody got punished. Snakes have to crawl on their belly and their offspring and that of the woman would be enemies. Snakes never had any legs anyhow.
“To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing. In pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Women will bear children in pain and be subject to their husbands. This punishment sets the role of men and women for thousands of years, the hard working man and the dutiful child bearing woman under his rule. The patriarchal system is in place and considered to be the normal way of things because Yahweh wants it so.
“And to the man he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you,` You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you. In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you. You shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The man will have to work hard to toil the soil and in the end will return to dust at death. Our idyllic Garden of Eden happiness concept does not last a lifetime without some bumps along the road in this vale of tears. We share a flawed human nature on our life long journey. We have both a limited freedom and a limited responsibility. So we need to work and be productive in this created world. We need to share in the creative enterprise by working in God’s creation.
“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And Yahweh God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.”
Here they get names. Yahweh gives them clothes. The man names his wife Eve, because she is the mother of all living people. Of course, this raises the question of other Eves.
“Then Yahweh God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. Now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’ Therefore Yahweh God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man. At the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Notice that the man has become like God, but not the woman. Suddenly there is another tree, the tree of live. The two, the man Adam and the woman Eve, were driven from the garden and lived east of Eden, where cherubim guarded the garden gate with a burning flame. Wow, what a story! Nearly everyone has heard this one. A capricious Yahweh is the overlord of the garden and punishes the humans because they want to be like him. Two minor characters are the talking wicked animal serpent and the good spiritual cherubim with a flaming sword. The cherubim are somewhat like the winged animals that guard other ancient Mid-eastern buildings.