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1 Kings 3:9 English Standard Version

Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?

Genesis 2:17

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.

God granted Solomon wisdom and praised him for it. Eve gained wisdom and was punished for it. Why?

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    What part of Genesis 2-3 suggests that the problem was Eve seeking wisdom? I thought it was pretty clear that the problem was Adam and Eve disobeying a direct command of God. – curiousdannii Oct 15 '20 at 22:37
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    Seeking something, and stealing it, are two distinct notions. Furthermore, discerning between good and evil is only necessary for those already exposed to the latter, which was not the case with Adam and Eve, who did not lack knowledge of God's goodness, but only of evil. Also, there is the issue of spiritual maturity: being exposed to evil before being able to resist its sweet temptation can prove deadly, as was ultimately the case with both Adam and Eve. – Lucian Oct 15 '20 at 22:58
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    Good question. (Up-voted +1.) – Nigel J Oct 15 '20 at 23:03
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On the surface, what Solomon requests and what Adam and Eve desire seem similar, but on closer inspection, they are very different. The words that are typed in bold in the question serve as a good starting point for examining these differences.

Whereas Solomon asks for the ability to “discern between good and evil,” Eve seeks the “knowledge of good and evil.” If we rearrange the words in the Genesis text, there are dark connotations inherent in the very idea of desiring the knowledge of evil.

But even if their objectives were the same, even if Eve was simply seeking wisdom, there is a stark contrast in their methods. Solomon makes his desire known to God. Adam and Eve, like thieves, act in secret and in willful disobedience of God’s commandment.

There are also clear differences in intent and purpose. Solomon asks for wisdom in order to be a more just ruler. Solomon’s intentions are pure, as is evident in God’s response: “It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right.’” (1 King 10-11).

Eve, however, “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” (Gen 3:6). Hers was a desire for self-gratification and gain.

But perhaps the biggest disparity lies in their hearts. The text tells us that “Solomon loved the Lord” (1 King 3:3). Eve, on the other hand, is easily persuaded into thinking that God lied and selfishly withheld something that would be of benefit to men.

And finally, in contrast to how Solomon humbly refers to himself as a child and a servant before God (1 King 3:7-9), Eve is lured by the temptation to become like God (Gen 3:4). Pride or proudful ambition seems to have played a crucial role in the fall of both angels and men.

Having formed all the arguments and accusations against Eve, I feel a growing sympathy for her. In her, I see the reflection of my own faults and failures and those of mankind, of our human nature. After all, who among us can say that s/he is free of pride and immune to temptation? Even Solomon would come to betray the wisdom he had received and succumb to temptation in time.

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  • Well put. Welcome to BHStack. +1 – Nihil Sine Deo Oct 17 '20 at 12:13
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Solomon was seeking discernment from God to lead, Eve was seeking to be equal to God such that she was no longer dependent on God. Two opposing motivations.

“At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right,” ‭‭1 Kings‬ ‭3

It’s important to realize that Solomon was being tested in a dream where he was truly himself. And Solomon genuinely believed he lacked wisdom, and it wasn’t even for himself but for the burden he carried on his shoulders for God’s people, as a consequence of his coronation . It was a selfless asking

“For 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, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:5-6‬

Eve desired to be wise. But in trusting the nachash she was essentially saying, she doubted God was being entirely honest with her. Or plainly put, that God was lying and/or hiding something good from her.

She could have consulted with Adam who was there but she didn’t. She could have waited to ask God who visited them everyday but she didn’t. She wanted something immediately and it wasn’t caloric intake but equality with her Creator. A decision that meant trespassing His commandment.

Solomon was not seeking to be equal with God, he was seeking to know how to lead a people in a way that pleased God. Selflessly. Eve sought to elevate herself (and possibly Adam too) not in order that she could please God but claim equality with God. Their motivations differed tremendously

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Simply put, Solomon sought wisdom from God.

Eve sought wisdom from the serpent that she should have known was forbidden (Gen 2:17).

Divine wisdom builds up and ennobles, while the serpent's wisdom (John 8:44) causes sin and death.

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  • Eve sought knowledge from a tree which she thought was 'in the midst' of the garden. And did Eve realise that she communicated with a serpent ? – Nigel J Oct 15 '20 at 23:01
  • @NigelJ - it appears that way because she addresses the creature that is the serpent, Gen 3:1, 2, 4, 13. Note that last where she calls the creature, "the serpent". – Dottard Oct 15 '20 at 23:39
  • Eve discovers that she has been beguiled and only then, I suggest, does she name the influence : 'serpent'. – Nigel J Oct 15 '20 at 23:42
  • @NigelJ - does that mean she could not see the serpent when she was talking to it? – Dottard Oct 15 '20 at 23:44
  • The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, Ergo : not a beast of the field. A serpentine influence whom we now know to be, also, Diabolos, Drakon, Antidikos, Poneros, Baal-zebul etc etc. No, I think not 'visible'. A spiritual influence, yes. – Nigel J Oct 15 '20 at 23:46
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Eve wasn't seeking wisdom.

She wanted to be like God.

The serpent told her.

“You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4‭-‬5 RSV-CI <

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