The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; 3 but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, or else you will die.’ … 6 When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:2-3, 6, NET)

It’s often said on the basis of Genesis 3:6 that Adam was with Eve when the serpent tempted her, and stood by idly, doing nothing (bad Adam!).  If you read the context closely, however, this is not the picture being painted.  The temptation and the Fall were separated in time, and Adam was not present with Eve during her temptation.  As Charles Powell has pointed out, when Eve was speaking to the serpent regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (TKGE), she describes it as being “in the middle of the orchard” (Genesis 3:3).  This geographical referent is telling, for if the temptation had taken place at the same point in time and same location as the Fall, then Eve would have been standing near the TKGE and should have described it as “this tree” in the same way I would describe my computer (which is obviously right in front of me) as being “here” rather than “there.”  By referring to the TKGE as being in the middle of the garden, it’s clear that Eve was not in the midst of the garden when the serpent tempted her, and thus not by the TKGE.  

There is a gap in time between Genesis 3:5 and Genesis 3:6.  Only later, when Adam and Eve were together again and journeyed to the middle of the garden, did Eve behold the fruit of the TKGE and see that it was good for food, attractive, and would make her wise as the serpent said.  Then she ate the fruit, gave some to her husband, and the rest is sad history.

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