Did God Ever Personally Warn Eve?
At no point did God ever labor under any illusions that Man and Woman would not immediately be lulled by the cunning of the serpent. Indeed, He paved the way for everything to occur as it did in order to hasten the Fall (Refer to my commentary on The Trees of Life and Knowledge). This was necessary for individual human beings to be allowed to make a conscious decision to choose the life that God intended.
There are several reasons to believe that Eve may never have received the same direct message from God as Adam. And this is important because Woman has borne the burden of the deception by the serpent for thousands of years. Let us examine some of the evidence why Eve’s culpability in the affair may be exaggerated:
- Note the wording in Genesis 2:15-17: “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man [only], saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die’” (emphasis added). Why not wait and tell both the man and the woman at once?
- Of course, the reason there is no mention of Eve in the previous passages is that she had not yet been created. Her physical origin occurs five verses later in Genesis 2:22.
- Why would God make this declaration to Adam alone, before Eve was ever formed, especially since her creation (based on the text of verses 2:18 to 2:21) appears so integrally connected? Why not wait until both were present before this vital proclamation was issued?
- It seems quite plausible that Eve may not have misquoted God at all since we never read that God told Eve: “Do not touch [the Tree] or you will die.” In fact, we never read that God warned Eve about the Tree whatsoever. We merely assume as much based on Genesis 3:2-3.
- Adam must surely have fervently related to his wife: “We must not eat of the Tree, nor should we even touch it lest we die!” This underscores Adam’s concern that his wife should never disobey this sober warning. In modern vernacular: “Eve darling, that Tree in the middle of the Garden is ‘hands-off!’”
- This all makes sense if Eve’s decision was based, not on what God told her, but on what her husband related. Adam’s warning would never carry the weight of God’s imposing Character regarding this abomination directly in the middle of the Garden.
- Had Eve been told directly by God never to eat of the Tree, it seems exceedingly unlikely that she could have been deceived by the serpent so easily. It is one thing to be warned by a person; it is quite another to be warned by Almighty God. Such an encounter with deity would surely have been deeply etched in Eve’s consciousness.
If correct, Eve was likely evaluating whether the serpent was more astute and reliable than her husband in the matter. Weighing the warnings of Adam against the promises of Satan, Eve may never have grasped the gravity of the circumstances. She may even have felt that her husband was mistaken, which seems to be one of the points the serpent is making (although he throws God into the mix for good measure). God’s words would surely have instilled much greater fear and trepidation than anything spoken to her by another human being.
It seems that God expected every human being to be just as accountable as every other beginning with Adam and Eve. His Plan was to ensure that each of us has the same culpability and the same avenue for redemption. The apostle John describes Eve’s vulnerability, as well as our own, quite succinctly (with bracketed notation):
1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world [the Tree], the lust of the flesh [fruit good for food] and the lust of the eyes [a delight to the eyes] and the boastful pride of life [to make one wise], is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
While these thoughts are admittedly speculative, they are grounded in Scripture, as well as logical congruity. There will always be those who disagree: some adamantly so. One of the reasons for that is that there is a similar instance where we read of another woman, Manoah’s wife (Samson’s mother), in the Book of Judges. There, “the woman” somewhat inaccurately tells her husband Manoah of the Angel of the LORD, and the Nazirite vow that Samson would be commanded to honor:
Judges 13:7: “But [the Angel of the LORD] said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son [Samson], and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”
Here, as before, the text does not state that the Angel spoke “to the day of his death” to Samson’s mother. However, if a woman is being given a promise by this “Angel of the LORD” that her son “shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb,” it hardly seems a stretch for her to conclude that such must be a lifelong pledge. In the First Book of Samuel, we read of Hannah and her pledge before God if only she might be allowed to bear a son:
1 Samuel 1:11
“O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”
Hannah understood that to have a son (she too was barren just as Samson’s mother), she might need to “sacrifice him to God” (as a lifelong servant). As well, it seems likely that Manoah’s wife would easily understand that her son would be a Nazarite for life. Adding the words “to the day of his death” is not believed to be inconsistent with the words: “from the womb.” In other words, “from life until death” – something analogous to a marriage vow.
However, this is a far cry from Eve misquoting God on something as crucial as that which would require the death penalty: “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” Note these words carefully: “God has said…” Why would Eve not simply tell the serpent: “God told me? or God told us?” If Adam had related what God had said, then that may well have been exactly the way Eve construed its meaning. Let us contrast what God spoke to Adam, with what Eve claims that God said because they are each constructed somewhat differently.
I) The LORD God to Adam
a. “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
c. but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
d. for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17);
II) Eve to the Serpent
a. “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;
b. but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it
c. or touch it, or you will die.’” (Gen. 3:2-3).
While these two accounts essentially convey the same meaning, they are distinct enough to raise some further questions. Why, for example, did Eve not tell the serpent that “the tree which is in the middle of the garden” was, in fact, “the Tree of Knowledge?” Why not identify this “Tree” if God explicitly warned her about it? One wonders whether Eve knew the name of the Tree at all. It probably doesn’t take any leap of faith to believe that Adam, a master taxonomist who had named all the cattle, the birds of the sky, and every beast of the field (Gen. 2:19-20), surely recognized the identity of every tree and plant in the Garden as well.
Eve’s account sounds suspiciously like someone relating a narrative that was conveyed to her secondhand. And, lest we forget, someone had to commit the one disobedient act that would inexorably follow. The stage was set: Eve was the perfect choice to fall victim to circumstance as the more vulnerable party, and all of this according to God’s expectations.
The point of this exercise has been to demonstrate that while God obviously spoke to Adam (Gen. 2:16-17), we cannot conclusively state that He also warned Eve. Her actions would suggest that He (God) did not do so. And, we simply never read any account of such taking place anywhere in Scripture. Further, we know that the man is responsible for his wife (Eph. 5:22-23), and it seems plausible that Adam assumed this role by relating God’s severe warning to Eve. It is exceedingly unlikely that God would deliver a different message to Eve if He ever spoke to her about the matter at all.
Assuming that God did so is really conjecture, although it is certainly not unreasonable. Such naturally follows from Eve’s own words “God has said... lest we die.” Since God told Adam, He must surely have expected Adam to clearly instruct his new bride that God has said never to eat of the Tree – nor even touch it, in case Eve entertained any doubts. Those who insist that God also spoke to Eve just as He did to Adam may be making unwarranted assumptions.
But in the larger scheme – no less than The Fall of Man, this assumes great significance. If the events unfolded in the manner that we have suggested, Woman has been bearing a load for thousands of years that is not entirely her fault. That is because, in this scenario, it should be fully understood that Eve, or any other person, could easily be misled by such a superhuman being. In fact, were the circumstances reversed and Eve warned Adam never to touch the Tree, Adam might have just as easily been duped into believing Satan’s lies; the proverbial shoe would be on the other foot.
When Eve approached Adam with the forbidden fruit in hand, Adam may well have reasoned that, although God strictly commanded them against eating it – declaring that such would surely bring death, Eve was perfectly alive with no apparent ill effects. He must have been wondering why God told him (Adam) that eating of the fruit would cause what he surely believed to be instant death.
To Adam, the damage was done. Eve’s disobedience occurred without any immediate lethal consequences as Adam would have understood them. Unsure why that was the case, Adam needed no deception to fall victim to the same disobedience which condemned the first couple and all their posterity.