THE FALL


The idyllic life of the first man and woman in the garden of Eden is disrupted by the appearance of the serpent. This serpent tempts the woman to break God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Her choice to taste the fruit disturbs the order of creation and damages the relationship between God and His creation. Adam says he is afraid because he is unnclothed, but he really fears the shame of appearing naked in God’s presence. His awareness of that shame exposes his guilt. Public nakedness was considered shameful. Before their disobedience, Adam and Eve had no reason to be ashamed . God asks not because He lacks information, but to elicit a confession. That God appears so soon after the transgression suggests that He already knew what happened. Adam tries to pass responsibility to his wife and perhaps even to God. Just as Adam tries to pass the blame to Eve, now Eve blames the serpent. The word enmity refers to hostility , not fear. The curse does not mean that all women will fear snakes—this would be untrue. Furthermore, the curse is not aimed at the woman, but at the serpent. Its language speaks of combat—specifically between the serpent and his offspring, and the woman and her descendants. Childbirth involved pain ever before the fall, but the phrase can also mean “now you will have pain.” The Hebrew word for “pain” is also used to describe Adam’s punishment: The ground will produce food “in pain.” The original tasks given to both Adam and Eve (keeping the garden, being fruitful and multiplying) now involve difficulty because they live outside Eden. The context of the curse shows that serious effort and the overcoming of obstacles will be necessary to make the earth produce what human survival requires. The curse does not indicate that natural disasters are a result of the fall. The consequences of sin include lifelong toil. Death may be a release from that curse of toil, or natural death may be another consequence of sin. And the man named his wife Eve, the mother of all living. The man does not exclude Eve. The Hebrew noun with the definite article ‘the’ often indicates collective when justified by context, as in this case. Being one of us: This language speaks of a plurality, so it informs us that the earlier phrase that Adam and Eve would “be like elohim should be understood in plural terms. Adam and Eve had to be driven from the garden. To remain in God’s presence and eat of the tree of life would have resulted in them becoming immortal, thus thwarting the penalty for their transgression (“you shall certainly die”). Cut off from God’s presence, immortality was unavailable—the humans would eventually die.

Cosmic Garden and Mountain Imagery in the Old Testament.

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