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In Genesis 3:6, Adam was apparently with Eve together when Eve was deceived by the serpent.

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. (Genesis 3:6 NIV)

It should be worth noting that God's command of the forbidden fruit was first given to Adam (Genesis 2:17), for Eve was not created until Genesis 2:22.

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 2:17 NIV)

22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:22 NIV)

So if Adam was aware of the command and he didn't say a word at time Eve was deceived, then how do we interpret these words from Paul in 1 Timothy 2:14?

14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (1 Timothy 2:14 NIV)

P.S. This question is not to discuss whether Eve knew God's command, not the same purpose as per another question in this site comment below. My question reviews the role of Adam at time Eve was deceived, whether he was innocent, or negligent to protect his wife Eve from violating God's command.

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  • @VincentWong-The statement does not mean that Adam was a "co-conspirator" or that he was "aiding and abetting" in this crime. That interpretation would contradict what Paul is advocating. This phrase just means that Adam was living in the Garden "with her." And Eve did sin before Adam because she was indeed deceived. Thus Paul used this event to teach about the relationship of men and women in the Church. See Genesis 3:12 the woman thou gavest to be with me.
    – ray grant
    Jul 5, 2023 at 20:20
  • @Michael16 - Genesis 3:2-3 do indicate Eve knew God's command, just not knowing if she was told by Adam (more likely) or God Himself. The core question is whether Adam was innocent or negligence when Eve was deceived (Adam's sinned by eating the forbidden fruit was another issue) Jul 6, 2023 at 21:04
  • Still that makes it highly opinion based que to find fault with Adam for Eve's sin, should be closed.
    – Michael16
    Jul 7, 2023 at 13:15
  • @Michael16 - Many answers below found the crucial point is to understand the meaning of 'with' in Gen 3:6. Should it be more open and acceptance in this site? Jul 7, 2023 at 20:17

5 Answers 5

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The matter in question here is the meaning of the Hebrew preposition עִם (im) = "with". It does not always mean "beside" as many assume. It can mean (BDB):

  1. fellowship and companionship
  2. close to, beside
  3. in the house or family or service of
  4. In the custody of
  5. of thought or purpose present with one
  6. etc

Therefore, the use of עִם does not demand that Adam was beside Eve at the time of the temptation, only that Adam was somewhere in the garden of Eden. That is, Adam might have been within a meter of Eve or a few hundred meters away at the time of the conversation with the serpent.

The remark of Paul in 1 Tim 2:14 lends weight to the latter view that Adam was not part of the initial conversation with the serpent but then Eve took the fruit to Adam and offered it to him. This satisfies both texts.

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  • Thanks Dottard, I did consider the key word 'with' and had made a comment in Biblasia's answer. We may see in the scripture that God took the responsibility of calamity even though it was not caused by Him, for He is the protector of Israel and He knew it's coming but not intervened its course. If the same principle applied to Adam, Adam was in Eve vicinity and it could be his negligence to Eve. As Paul used to make Adam as a contrast to Jesus (Romans 5:19; 1 Cor 15:21), would it be possible Paul used Eve as a convenient to support his message "I do not permit a woman to teach" (1 Tim 2:12) Jul 5, 2023 at 16:28
  • @VincentWong - I agree with most of this. For a much longer discussion, see hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/56112/…
    – Dottard
    Jul 5, 2023 at 20:58
  • It is a well analytical answer to the above question. Appreciated! Jul 6, 2023 at 1:31
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With respect to Eve, this verse seems pretty straightforward. Eve was the one deceived by the serpent and became a sinner. It doesn't seem like anything mentioned in the OP's question affects the plain meaning of this verse concerning her.

If focusing on Adam, on the other hand, this verse can be understood to highlight the colossal failure and weakness of leadership on Adam's behalf. Not only did he not act as a leader to keep his wife from the death trap that is sin, but he knowingly and willfully submitted to her lead and followed her into the grave, being too weak to stand up for himself even if he couldn't stand up for her - just going along to get along. Really shameful stuff.

I know that some people might consider Adam to be honorable in the sense that he bravely decided to join his wife in death, but nothing in his response to God, when questioned about his actions, reveals that any such honor was within him:

1 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” -Genesis 3:11-12

Again, complete abdication of his God-given responsibilities as he was created first and was the one through whom the Word of God came.

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The entire question is premised on a mistranslation and misunderstanding, albeit a rather prevalent one, of Genesis 3:6. Looking more closely at the Hebrew should clear this up.

The most common Hebrew words translated to English as "with" come from two separate roots. Before explaining their respective nuances, let us compare two separate verses from Genesis 3 that both use this same Hebrew word root.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6, KJV)

And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12, KJV)

Notice that in verse 12 where this same "with" is used, the application appears to be rather general, and is not applicable to a specific moment in time. Should Eve happen to leave Adam's side for awhile, it would not cease to be true--she was still the one God had given to be "with" Adam. The sense of this word is not one relating specifically to time, nor to physical propinquity (nearness), but more one of occurrence in conjunction with or along with something or someone.

This word for "with" used in Genesis 3 is the word "עִם/`im", which Blue Letter Bible shows HERE. Interestingly, the BLB website seems to give an incomplete attestation of occurrences for this word, because its first entry for it occurs in Genesis 18:23 where Abraham asks: "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous withH5973 the wicked?" Again, this instance of Genesis 18:23 shows the true usage of the word. The righteous in Sodom were in their own home, and were not "with" the wicked in their own homes--they were not beside them, nor associating with them. The word "with" here, as described by my Hebrew teacher, actually implies being at a distance; i.e. not close by, but linked in some manner.

And this word for "with" in Hebrew is far less common than the ordinary "with" we might be thinking of. In Genesis 4:8, Cain talks "with" (KJV) Abel his brother: Hebrew "אֶל/’el" (H413)--in this case it might better be translated as "to". In Genesis 5:22, however, we see an example of the more common "with" that in Hebrew implies closeness, or nearness: "אֶת/et": "And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters."

This "אֶת/et" is not the "with" used in Genesis 3. The one used in Genesis 3 does not imply that Adam was at Eve's side during her temptation. In fact, the story makes no mention of Adam throughout the ordeal until the end of it when Eve takes him some of the fruit. This would be quite surprising, as the question already implies, if Adam had actually been there.

Consider: If Adam had been at the tree with Eve when Eve was deceived, how could it be truthfully stated that Adam was not also deceived?

But, in fact, Adam was not there. Eve had wandered from Adam's side, and was the first to fall--just as Paul indicates. When Adam was presented with the fruit Eve brought him, and heard her tale of how she had obtained it, he was most certainly upset and instantly knew what her fate must be, for God had told them they would die if they ate that fruit. While he was not deceived into eating it, as Eve was, he was induced to join her in her fate, as he could not bear to live without her.

Eve showed her weakness toward the food; Adam showed his weakness toward Eve herself. And these tendencies are still prevalent in society today among our modern Adams and Eves.

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    Your answer is appreciative, thank you! It is indeed the key factor is the interpretation of the word 'with' in Genesis 3:6. Though you have made a good insight on the use of word, the context is also crucial, it didn't say Eve went a distance to Adam, that Adam should be in close vicinity, if not alongside Eve. I believe some parallel description is not in Hebrews, it is in 1 Cor 15:21 and Romans 5:19, both used Adam as the contrast to Jesus. I love and agree with your final passage but I am wondering if this kind of passion was well developed in the beginning of human race. Jul 5, 2023 at 16:09
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The NIV translates that verse in Genesis 3 as "who was with her". The NLT does likewise. Robert Young's Translation is "with her", as is the A.V. and The Companion Bible. This latter Study Bible has notes linking it with 1 Timothy 2:14, as does the NIV. The NIV also lists several Old Testament verses as supporting its translation. I won't go into those as they are tenuous links, in my view, but the 1 Timothy link needs to be considered to see if that is, indeed, supportive of the NIV rendition. Further, it is the basis of the question which questions why Paul considered Eve to have sinned first.

The text in question nowhere even suggests that Paul is teaching that Adam was alongside Eve when the serpent started to mislead her, or even a minute or two later when she bit into the fruit. This is shown in the NIV footnotes. I will not key them all out as most of the comments deal with male teaching in the congregation and the restriction on women in that respect. The NIV's summary sentence is:

"the woman who was deceived. Paul appears to argue that since the woman was deceived (and then led Adam astray), she is not to be entrusted with the teaching function of an overseer (or elder) in the public worship services of the assembled church." The NIV Study Bible, p.1801, 1987 edition

Not a word is said about 1 Timothy 2:13-14 supporting the NIV translation of Genesis 3:6 regarding Adam being silently present with Eve at the time of her deception.

There is no question about the fact that the woman was the first to sin due to believing the serpent's temptation to disobey God. Adam only sinned when he decided to follow her course of action and eat as well. He consciously decided to disobey God - he was not deceived into disobedience. He knew full well that, by eating, he would join his wife in a disobedient act - sin. That is what the 1 Timothy 2:14 verse is about; it has nothing to do with whether Adam was standing by his wife's side, listening silently to the serpent's lies. There just is no text that clearly says such a thing.

Note also that Paul's statement here actually rules out Adam being with his wife at the time, and thus being a silent party to the act of disobedience. If that had been the case, he would have had to say that Adam sinned before his wife did, due to the sin of omission - he should have counseled her not to listen to the deception, so that if she then chose to go ahead, she would have sinned while he had not. But his sin is said to occur at the point where he chose to eat the forbidden fruit after she had done that. This suggests that there is no basis for the claim that it was wrong for Paul to claim that the woman sinned first.

Other translations have, "when with her". But to simply say that or to say, "with her", does not go unequivocally into the claim that he was present with her while the temptation took place, as does the wording of the NIV, "who was with her".

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First of all, I would like to thank all who participate in answering my question. Their insight are valuable for me to review my own question. I have to admit that my question was not asked properly, but since all answers refer to my original script, I don't want to edit it and make all answers become odd.

The mistake in the question is I jumped to a view that Paul considered Eve sinned first which was not Paul meant in 1 Timothy 2:14. Paul was saying it was Eve who was deceived and not Adam. And this is true, for Eve was deceived to sin but Adam sinned consciously by his disobedience.

Another controversial view is I consider 'knowing but silent is a sin'. Like the prophets were watchman of Israel, I consider Adam was the watchman of Eve but the latter did not have scriptural support and I may have used modern day concept and jump to this connection when I saw 'Adam was with her' (Gen 3:6).

Perhaps the sequence of who's sinned is not a point but the nature of sin is much concern, it recalls me the parable of watchful servant, in which Jesus said;

47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.

48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47-48 NIV)

As such, Adam's sin was more serious than Eve.

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  • Add the ref of the watchful servant parable
    – Michael16
    Aug 12, 2023 at 2:35
  • @Michael16 - thanks for watching. Ref added. Aug 12, 2023 at 3:22
  • The historical interpretation of the Genesis and Paul's interpretation is quite clear that Eve stands to be a greater sinner, hence she should be in submission. This Genesis acc could be understood as an expositional interpretation of why woman are inferior and subjected to man by the virtue of nature. Genesis account is explanatory for the reality of the world, creation and gender difference. It ties woman as the mother of sin. You should look into the Jewish historical interpretations for a closer traditional view.
    – Michael16
    Aug 13, 2023 at 5:21
  • @Michael16 - I'm sorry I do not have this conclusion. I believe God made man and woman equal and the gender difference is on their functionality. Though God ask woman submit to her husband but the husband must also love his wife. To me it is equal for each one bears their own responsibility. Moreover, Luke 12:47-48 only applicable to believers, sinners no matter the sin is small or serious receive the same consequence. Though I said Adam's sin was more serious than Eve, I am not saying they went to hell. Aug 13, 2023 at 13:38

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