Genesis 2:15 (NKJV)

15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 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 shall surely die.”

Genesis 3 :2 (NKJV)

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ 

In Genesis 2 it would seem the man was alone” when he was given the command because in the next verses after the command God expresses the loneliness of the man, but in Genesis 3 when Eve was having a discourse with the serpent she uses the word We which is inclusive of her & the man as having received the command directly from God, how can we understand the above texts.


The first few verses of chapter 3 would seem to answer your question. In Genesis 3:1 the Serpent says to Eve:

וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל הָאִשָּׁה אַף כִּי אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִכֹּל עֵץ הַגָּן
And [the serpent] said to the Woman, "Has G-d even said that all of you shall not eat from the Tree of the Garden?"

Note carefully that the Serpent uses the plural form of you, תֹאכְלוּ, when asking Eve if she had been told by G-d not to eat of the fruit. Then in 3:3 Eve comments:

אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בּוֹ פֶּן תְּמֻתוּן
G-d said all of you shall not eat from [the Tree] nor touch it lest all of you die.

Here Eve replies to the Serpent by saying that G-d had commanded both Adam and her.

While we may not be able to say for certain that Eve was directly commanded by G-d along with Adam, at the very least it certainly appears that her understanding is that the commandment applies to her.


Genesis 2:16 indicates the original direct command from God was to Adam alone, as not only is "the man [i.e. Adam]" the subject, but the verb is 2nd person masculine singular, as are all the references that state "you" in v.17 (whether part of the verb or an actual pronoun in the Hebrew). This was prior to Eve's creation (2:18, 21-23).

So when, in chapter 3, the serpent uses the plural "you," and Eve likewise replies with a plural "we," even in her paraphrase of the command in 3:3, we are left with three options:

  1. Eve was also, sometime after her creation, directly commanded by God (which command may have included not touching also, per 3:3).
  2. Eve was told by Adam they were not to eat it (and possibly adding not to touch it to keep as far as possible from temptation), passing the command of God on to her. This would still be viewed by her as a command from God to her, as a command from God can come via an intermediary (after all, every command from God in Scripture that one might consider applying to themselves today is at least by the one intermediary of the human author of Scripture, though possibly via a preacher, teacher, or otherwise).
  3. Eve became aware of the command to Adam by Adam's discussing it, and chose to take that command upon herself as well since she was his helper.

Whatever the case, she "owned" the original command (along with the addition of not touching it) personally, such that when confronted by the serpent, she acknowledged the need for obedience herself.

Personally, since Scripture does not declare God spoke directly to Eve, I lean toward #2. From a contextual perspective, Eve's addition to "not touch" in 3:3 (which was not noted in Gen 2:16) implies that her instructions did not come directly from God, as if that aspect had been part of the direct command (or a modified form of it later) to both her and Adam, one would think that God (and thus the text of Scripture) would have made that distinction more evident, as touching is different than eating. Indeed, if touching had been a command itself, then mentioning eating would have been superfluous (as one could not eat it without touching it). So this addition implies strongly to me that either Adam warned her himself, adding the caution of not touching or she inferred it herself as a protective measure. In either case, it is not likely she received that form of the command directly from God.

But additionally, if one takes into account the New Testament testimony on this, then #2 or #3 is most likely, as it was not Eve's eating of the fruit that caused sin and death to enter the world, but Adam's (Rom 5:12-14). This statement indicates that it was the man, Adam, who was directly commanded by God and thus who bore the primary responsibility to obey, for it was his disobedience that brought sin and death (albeit, by Eve's transgression of tempting him to eat, Gen 3:6, 1 Tim 2:14, which might have also been a transgression against Adam's command to not touch if he had so given her that).


My take on this is Eve did not directly get the command from God but indirectly she did. You see when God gave Adam the command He (God) knew that Adam needed a help meet,therefore when God put Adam to sleep His(God) word was in Adam and since Eve derives from Adam rib they became one with God's word dwelling in him for both of them. How else would she know because she wasn't created until after God gave Adam the command. (Genesis 2:7 and 2:21-23)

  • 2
    Welcome to the Hermeneutics forum, Barbara. This forum is different from most others because it's expected that you research and support your posted answer with evidence from scriptural, linguistic, manuscript, commentaries from early writers, or scholarly sources. We're not supposed to offer just our opinion. However, you can freely add comments as I have. You might want to review highly rated answers to get a better idea of what's expected. Best wishes, – Dieter Jun 14 '18 at 2:24

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