What was punishment for Adam, Eve, and the serpent for disobeying the Lord God's order to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Neither Adam or Eve died and their disposition remained unchanged - man "taking care" or "working" the earth, woman experiencing pain in childbearing, and the serpent still slithers. What's the punishment? Nobody died.

Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals.

Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Genesis 3:14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this ... You will crawl on your belly ... all the days of your life."

Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, "I will make your pains in childbearing very severe"

Genesis 3:17 [To man he said] through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.


8 Answers 8


There is no denying the fact that Adam and Eve received a measure of punishment for disobeying the Lord in Eden. Yes! Neither Adam or Eve died (physically) and their disposition remained (seemingly) unchanged.

In actual sense, Adam and Eve died spiritually. Ordinarily speaking, it looks as if they did not die because they did not cease to exist. Yes they did not cease interacting with themselves and their environemnt, but their interaction with God was exterminated. That spells death. After that incident we never read from the Scripture that God came to have fellowship with them in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). They were cut off. They died. And that was the consequence of their disobedience. By implication something (definitely) changed in their disposition. Life did not remain the way it used to be.

What was the punishment for Adam?

. . . cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life (Genesis 3:17 ESV).

That was enough punishment for Adam as he never had to toil before he could eat.

What was the punishment for Eve?

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 ESV)

She would possibly have brought forth children without great pain and would possibly not have been answerable to her husband in all her needs.

And the serpent?

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring[a] and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)

The serpent (in Eden) remains that old serpent referenced in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 12:9). All his eventual defeats in Scripture to date are consequent upon the incident in Eden. And that is punishment enough for Serpent.

  • Reading about Saraphim, is it possible that the serpent might actually refer to a saraph, or heavenly 6 winged (and burning) angel? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seraph May 28, 2019 at 3:51
  • @RonRoyston That looks like it may be worth asking as its own question. Jan 5, 2020 at 16:19

Where do you get from that the things you mention were also like that before the fall?

  • There is no mention of giving birth being painful in Eden.
  • The working and taking care of the garden (2:15) is more positive than the toil in 3:17.
  • There is also the enmity between men and snakes (3:15).
  • Lastly, Adam and Eve did die - just not directly.
  • Re point 1-3, arguable though, no? Pain is a normal and healthy bodily function, care == responsibility == duty, some ppl keep snakes as pets. Re point 4: Interesting that the Tree of Life is specified distinct from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So, I suppose one could argue that Adam& Eve would not certainly die if they remained in Eden bcs they could simply eat from the Tree of Life (which, after the Fall, is guarded by Chereb and a Flaming sword)...? Sep 5, 2018 at 18:45
  • @RonRoyston that is reasoned from a modern mindset. Was pain a positive thing to the original author? Did people keep snakes around 1000BCE?
    – user2672
    Sep 5, 2018 at 19:16
  • nahash The serpent was a symbol of evil power and chaos from the underworld as well as a symbol of fertility, life and healing. Sep 5, 2018 at 19:54
  • 1
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    – user2672
    Sep 5, 2018 at 20:01
  • Your answer is insignificant and your comment(s) offensive. I would appreciate you giving this question proper consideration as I have a suspicion that you are more capable. Sep 5, 2018 at 20:10

The penalty for disobedience of the command to not eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil was death which was effected by denying the human race access to the fruit of the trees of life. Man was already mortal but had the opportunity to live forever by eating said fruit.

People are often confused by the delay between when they ate the fruit and when they actually went belly up. This is because the KJV has "in the day that you eat... you will surely die". However, "in the day" simply means "when". We know the sky-land biodome was fashioned in 6 days and yet the scriptures speak of "in the day when the LORD made the heavens".

"You shall surely die", which is literally, "dying you shall die" is idiomatic for "you will certainly die".

Paul, comparing sin to a heartless slave-master who pays his slaves in nothing but wages of death, as if death came in installments and eventually ends in annihilation. See Romans 6:23.


In punishment for their disobedience, Adam and Eve would come to know hardship, suffering, death and pain. Beneath this tale of sin and it’s consequences lies another dynamic, signified by Adam and Eve’s sudden awareness of their state of nakedness.

Having eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they did indeed gain the knowledge of evil, but it did not come from fruit or tree. Rather, it was the direct result of the choices they made and how they abused their free will. Reference the words in Matthew 15:17, “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

The realization of the errors they had committed and the consequent loss of their innocence leads to the urge to hide. Their shame is symbolized by the awareness of their nakedness. The association between nakedness and shame is not unique to this story and has parallels in the text (e.g., Isaiah 47:3 “Your nakedness shall be uncovered, and your shame shall be seen” and Micah 1:11 “Pass on your way, inhabitants of Shaphir in nakedness and shame”). This punishment, if we consider it as such, is from within and is inflicted by their own awakened conscience. Isn’t it often the case that the worse punishment when we do wrong is how we feel about ourselves afterwards?

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    Oct 15, 2020 at 19:28

The punishment (more like suicide) was Death:-

Romans 6:23 NWT “For the wages sin pays is death, . . .”

Adam died two deaths one inside Eden and one outside of Eden.

1st Death: When Adam ate the Fruit of the Tree he died spiritual as that act destroyed his spiritual relationship with God. This is highlighted by the fact the God never spoke to Adam or Eve after passing Judgment. This death was instant! Also the act of not obeying God and obeying The Serpent (Satan) was to make Satan their spiritual father by rejecting God’s orders and obeying his!

2nd Death: Was outside the Eden as God had rejected them both. As they aged their bodies finally broke down to the point they finally died.

Some say that as they did not die straight away they were no punished; this is not the case as what they both lost was “everlasting life” (John 17:3) on earth (Psalm 37:29); because if they has not eaten from the Tree God told them not to eat from it is obvious they would not have died and then could have eaten from the “Tree of life” and lived forever, but God made that impossible from them now:-

Genesis 3:22-24 NWT “Jehovah God then said: “Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad. Now in order that he may NOT put his hand out and take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and LIVE FOREVER,—” 23 With that Jehovah God expelled him from the garden of Eden to cultivate the ground from which he had been taken. 24 So he drove the man out, and he posted at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubs and the flaming blade of a sword that was turning continuously to guard the way to the tree of life.”

So what they lost was COLOSSAL for themselves and their offspring; everlasting life in God’s favour. This Jesus came down to us to restore.


Nobody died.

Jesus acknowledged two kinds of death when he said, “Let the dead bury their dead.”1 That is, let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead. The apostle Paul likewise wrote:

  • “And you, being dead in your trespasses...”2
  • “you who were dead in trespasses and sins.”3
  • “account yourselves to be dead to sin”4

    In addition, he wrote,5

    Wherefore, just as sin entered the world by one man, and death by sin; likewise death passed to all men, because all have sinned.

    Thus, both acknowledge that the sinner, despite being alive physically, is spiritually dead. The same fate Adam also endured when he disobeyed God and partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Since all of humanity was in Adam loins when he sinned, and Adam was the head of humanity, we all participated in his transgression.6 That being said, all may participate in salvation and eternal life by being in Jesus Christ:7

    Just as all die in Adam, likewise all shall be made alive in Christ.


    1 Matt. 8:22
    2 Col. 2:13
    3 Eph. 2:1 cp. Eph. 2:5
    4 Rom. 6:11
    5 Rom. 5:12
    6 Rom. 5:15–21
    7 1 Cor. 15:22


    The World today is chasing/addicted to Human knowledge and Wisdom which is the outcome of eating the fruit of understanding Good and Bad. This has separated Man from God, have started questioning, Why do We need God? Job 21, Psalms 49, 73 and 37 comprehensively have explained Men's attitude. They have bonded to their own Wisdom and have started believing in self rather than God. Today's so called Atheists, Agnostics and Other worshippers/ sects are the fruits of such understanding, which is otherwise Fools/Foolishness (Romans 1) and doing all those abominable things mentioned in the Chapter (including same Sex marriage).

    Therefore Men have fallen from Grace and there Souls have separated from God because of this so called understanding of Good and Evil.

    • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for this - but I wish I could understand what you are saying. How does this answer the question?
      – Dottard
      Oct 12, 2020 at 1:35

    First, their disposition did change after eating the fruit. They immediately felt fear, a novel emotion as far as the story was concerned. Their "eyes were also opened" (whatever that means), and they saw that they were ashamed at being naked and covered up (assuming this was contrast with not feeling ashamed from Gen 2:25).

    The most dramatic change, I believe is that they also now had the knowledge of good and bad, so they lived into the world of judgment and "should have" and "ought to be." Previously not being moral agents, now they had a moral compass. Of course, that then begs the question, how could they have done what was wrong (disobeying) when they did not know right from wrong? A rock that falls off the table under gravity doesn't do something wrong even if you command it not to. God placed the fruit in reach and then placed a command and consequence which his creature had no tools to evaluate against their actions.

    I love the question you are asking, but I think it's built upon misunderstanding this first part. Many approach the Bible as if it is a textbook for a system of ethics that is somehow objectively right and that we should follow. But the bible starts off saying that "ethical systems" are the poison that separate us from God and ends up with Jesus calling for non-judgment... This is not an ethics text, but a physics text. If you come at it with this hermeneutic, I think you'll see the Eden narrative in a totally different light.

    Also, the serpent (nachash) was a beast of the field (we are told twice: Gen 3:1, Gen 3:14). Can we assume that the serpent (nachash) stood on legs at eye level, talking to the woman? There is a category of beings called "creeping things" in Genesis 1:25 which may have included serpents. But the Nachash was originally a beast of the field, it seems. So it would seem that being cast onto the ground to eat dust was a change in the same way that the consequences for Adam and Eve were changes. There are egyptian relics with images of serpents with legs and wings. There are also many snake species that still have a pelvis and vestigial leg stubs. Looking at a skeleton of a snake might have spurred such an origin story for the serpent on the ground without legs. For example, some pythons have leg stumps.

    The serpent is described as "arum" (עָר֔וּם) in Genesis 3:1, and this sometimes gets translated as "crafty" or "sneaky." But arum is not a negative property. It is complex. For Example, in Proverbs 8:12, Lady Wisdom pitches her tent in/with arumah (the feminine form). It's really interesting to chase that word through the text. In the Septuagint, the word is φρονιμώτατος which also appears in the Gospel of Matthew 10:16. Jesus tells the disciples to be φρόνιμοι as serpents and pure as doves. This seems to be a valuable property which we are to emulate!

    I think this Matthew 10:16 verse is fascinating. Trees reach their branches into the heavens (waters) above and their roots into the waters below. The trees were thought to be beings that traversed worlds. But serpents were seen to travel into the underworld when they went into their holes in the ground to hybernate in the winters and doves could ascend to and descend from heaven (as the spirit resides on Jesus). Oh, and this connection with the underworld was not a "bad" thing... That's Aristotelian moral cosmology, not Hebrew cosmology. Everyone went to Sheol down below.

    There is a kind of dualism of groundedness and weightlessness in this statement.

    Finally, note that the serpent (Nachash) is not a symbol of evil or violence, but of protection and even of God. Moses's staff became a Nachash to demonstrate the Lord's power. God sends fiery nachash in the desert to kill/punish the Hebrews and commands Moses to erect a bronze Nachash (serpent) on a pole in Numbers 21. Genesis 49:17 compares the tribe of Dan to a serpent (nachash) by the roadside to protect the Hebrew tribes. Heck, even John 3:14-16 compares Jesus to this serpent in Numbers, directly preceding the most quoted verse in the Bible. The egyptians had the ouroboros and the Uraeus as serpent symbols of eternal life and protection! The Rod of Asclepius is mythologically equivalent to Christ on the Cross and sits on the back of ambulances to this day.

    That being said, I think there is also confusion about the serpent and the fruit of the knowledge of good and bad. Most authors have the serpent wrapped around the tree of the knowledge of good and bad when talking to the woman. But the serpent always represents eternal life and death and resurrection because it never seems to grow old, has no eye-lids or ears, and sheds its skin. In fact, serpents were thought to be immortal and in Gilgamesh, Hercules, and many other stories, were always associated with the eternal life principle. There are many parallels between this figure and the path that Jesus took. The knowledge of good and bad is for governing the world (see Solomon and 1 Kings 3:9), and eternal life is at right angles to that (hence the property for entering paradise in Deuteronomy 1:39).

    Don't eat all the junkfood about serpents fed by the church. It keeps you away from understanding the text. That's is why I hang out here on Hermeneutics and not Christianity SE. So much less false baggage here.

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