- 1 Of all the animals the LORD God made, the snake1 was the sneakiest. It asked the woman, “Did God really order you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?”
- 2 “That’s not what God said,” the woman answered. “We can eat fruit from any tree in the garden.
- 3 There’s only one exception. God told us not to eat fruit from the tree in the center of the garden. He said if we even touch it, we’ll die.”
- 4 “Die? Not a chance,” the snake argued.
- 5 “God just doesn’t want you to be like him. He knows if you eat that fruit, you’ll be smart enough to know right from wrong—just like he is.”
- 6 The woman took a good, hard look at the tree. She liked what she saw. The fruit looked tasty. And she figured it would be a smart idea to take a bite, since it would make her smarter. She bit. She gave some to her husband. He bit, too.
- 7 The fruit opened their eyes; they saw themselves differently. But instead of finding themselves instantly shrewd, they found themselves instantly nude. Embarrassed, they grabbed some large fig leaves and stitched them into clothes.
God takes an evening walk in the garden
- 8 In the cool breeze of the evening, the LORD God took a walk in the garden. When the man and woman heard him approaching, they hid behind some trees.
- 9 The LORD God called out to the man, “Where are you?”
- 10 “I heard you coming,” the man said. “I was afraid of you because I’m naked. So I hid.”
- 11 “Who said you were naked?” The LORD God asked. “Did you eat from the tree I told you not to eat from?”
- 12 “Yes, I ate from that tree,” the man answered. “But only because the woman—the one you gave me as a partner—gave me the fruit.”
- 13 The LORD God said to the woman, “What on earth have you done?” The woman answered, “The snake tricked me into eating the fruit.”
- 14 The LORD God said to the snake, “Because of what you have done, I’m putting a curse on you—worse than any curse on any animal in all of creation: Crawl on the ground. Eat dirt for the rest of your life.
- 15 You and the woman will hate each other. Your children and her children will hate each other, too. Her son will stomp2 your head into the ground, and you’ll nip at his heels.”
- 16 God told the woman, “I’m going to see to it that when you give birth to children, it’s going to hurt. But that’s not going to stop you from wanting to get intimate with your husband, and from wanting to please him. He will control you.”
Adam's hard work ahead
- 17 The LORD God said to Adam, “Because you listened to your wife instead of me—eating from the tree I told you not to eat from—here’s what I’m going to do. I’m putting a curse on the ground because of what you did. You’re going to have to work hard to grow food.
- 18 You will eat grain, but you’ll have to hoe your way through thorns and thistles to get to it.
- 19 Hard work and plenty of sweat is the price you’ll have to pay for the food you eat—for the rest of your life. When your life is over, you’ll return to the ground because that’s where you came from. Dust is what you were and dust is what you’ll be.
- 20 Adam named his wife Eve3 because she became the mother of everyone.
- 21 The LORD God made clothes out of animal skins4 for Adam and his wife.
- 22 The LORD God said, “Humans know right from wrong, just as we do. We need to make sure they don’t eat fruit from the tree of life. If they do, they will live forever.”
- 23 So the LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden. God made them from the ground. Now they would have to work the ground to stay alive.
- 24 The LORD God drove them out of the Garden of Eden. East of the garden entrance he stationed angel guards called cherubim5 armed with a fiery, spinning sword. They kept people out of the garden and away from the tree of life.
Not identified as Satan in Genesis. The implied ID comes more than a thousand years after Moses, in the highly symbolic writings of the Bible’s last book: “that old snake, who is also known as the devil and Satan” (Revelation 20:2 CEV).
“Eve” sounds like a Hebrew word that refers to living—words such as: “life,” “alive,” “bring to life.”
This is the first time animals died because of the sins of humans.
Kerubim in Hebrew. Celestial beings mentioned throughout the Bible. Ancient Middle Eastern creatures with similar names, such as kirubu, reportedly served gods. The creatures were portrayed in statues of beings such as human-headed lions with wings. These statues guarded entrances to cities and palaces.
The Genesis writer never said the snake that tempted Eve was the devil. That piece of insight doesn’t show up until about half a century after Jesus, in the last book in the Bible: “That old serpent…is the devil, Satan” (Revelation 20:2 New Living Translation). How does that affect the way you read the Genesis story?
The Bible story about a snake possibly robbing humanity of immortality by convincing Eve to eat forbidden fruit sounds—to some scholars—a little like an ancient story from Iraq about a snake robbing a hero of immortality. In that story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, it was a snake that ate the plant from the bottom of the sea. Do you think there’s a possibility that the Bible writer borrowed from that story that is several hundred years older than Moses, and used it to help teach people a lesson about sin?’
God condemns snakes to crawl on the ground, women to suffer in childbirth, and men to work hard to make a living. Some scholars say they see this scenario as the Genesis writer’s creative attempt to do a little reverse engineering—to explain why women don’t like snakes, why childbirth hurts, and why men have to work so hard to put food on the table. The writer starts with his present reality. Then he works backward to find a possible explanation for how humanity got here. Are you okay with that?
Most Christians say they read these stories in Genesis as an accurate report of history. How do you think they defend that position to others who would argue that these stories are more poetry and parable-like than history or science?
Many geneticists say the mother of humanity lived some 200,000 years ago. They call her Mitochondrial (my toe CON dree uhl) Eve, after a type of DNA that’s passed on from mother to child. Many Christians say they have trouble with that because they argue that the Bible’s genealogies show that Eve dates to only about 6000 years ago. Other Christians say they don’t have any problem with an older Eve because they say the Bible genealogies are only partial. What do you think of this disagreement among Christians?
Some say the cherubim (kerubim in Hebrew) who guarded the entrance into the Garden of Eden resemble the mythical winged creature called kirubu. Assyrians made statues of them to guard the entrance into cities and palaces in what is now Iraq. Some language specialists say the Hebrew word is a cousin to the ancient Assyrian word. Do you see any problem in connecting the words? Do you think that link would trouble many Christians?
Finish this sentence with your favorite option below, or with a creation of your own. When it comes to Original Sin,
- “There is nothing harder to explain.” (Augustine, AD 354-430)
- It’s the natural human tendency to sin that is somehow passed on from one generation to the next.
- We may not agree that everyone sinned when Adam sinned, but we can agree that everyone has sinned since then.
- Whatever the cause of our sin, there’s a cure: “Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? I give thanks to God. He will do it through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25 New International Reader’s Version).
LIFE APPLICATION. Adam and Eve, booted out of the Garden of Eden, lost their connection with God. Most of us have probably felt a disconnect like that from time to time. When that happens, what do you think it takes to reconnect with God?