A Woman, A Serpent and Forbidden Fruit: God’s Unpassable Test

Did God give Adam and Eve an unfair test in the Garden of Eden? Was mankind doomed to be cursed from the start? If so, why would God be angered by sin? He’s the one who put sin into motion! These questions have plagues me throughout my life. So much about the Genesis account of “The Fall Of Man” doesn’t make sense to me.

Genesis 2-4 tells a detailed account of the creation of man and woman but it also tells of two trees in the garden. The Tree of Life, whose fruit they are permitted to eat, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, whose food they are forbidden to eat.

15 The Lord God took the man kand put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat4 of it you mshall surely die.” [Genesis 2: 15-17]

 In a perfect creation why even set up forbidden fruit? To whom was this fruit created for? There’s no purpose! After God tells Adam this command, He creates woman. Then, out of nowhere a talking snake appears.

Now uthe serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You1 shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, v‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” wBut the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely 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.” 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,2 she took of its fruit xand ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, yand he ate. zThen the eyes of both were opened, aand they knew that they were naked. [Genesis 3: 1-7]

So, now we have more questions. Where did the snake come from? Jewish and Christian tradition attributes the snake to Satan. [Ezekiel 28:13, Revelation 12:9, 12:15, 20:2, Revelation 12:9, 2 Corinthians 11:3] But was that the original meaning in Genesis? Nahash is the Hebrew word used in Genesis. Nahash means “serpent” in this context, but the same name is also used for King Saul in his early and more evil years.  Here’s the full definition of nahash:

Nahash

The name Nahash occurs in the Bible twice as a personal name, and one time as the name of a city, namely Ir-nahash. The king of Ammon during the early years of Saul is called Nahash (1 Samuel 11:1). The Biblical record doesn’t picture him as a very nice guy, but years later David seems to keep him in high regard (2 Samuel 10:2). Curiously enough, around the same time there is Nahash the father of Zeruiah and Abigail, who elsewhere are reckoned daughters of Jesse and sisters of David (1 Chronicles 2:15). See the article on Jesse for a discussion of this conundrum.

The name Nahash is related to the name Phinehas and is identical to the root (nhsh -1350):
The assumed root (nhsh) yields derivation (nahash), meaning serpent, snake (as in Eden).
The verb (nahash) means learn by experience or by omen. Derivation (nahash) means divination.
The assumed root (nhsh) yields (nehoshet), copper; (nahush), bronze; and (nehusha), copper, bronze.
The assumed root (nhsh) yields derivation (nehoshet), lust, harlotry.

The name Nahash is pronounced the same as nahash a, and means Serpent.

[taken from http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Nahash.html]

So, we can literally see that the Hebrew does denote a snake. Bible dictionaries claim nahash (or nachash) also means “to whisper or to hiss” and claim that it could mean something other than a literal snake, contrarily I haven’t found that in any literal Hebrew definition so far. So, if we are to take Genesis at face value, the myth of how sin entered the world and explaining why snakes slither. Only through later portions of the Old Testament and into the New Testament does Satan get attributed with the serpent, in fact in Genesis 3:14-15 we read that God curses the snake, not a spiritual being or creature! 

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,

cursed are you among all animals

and among all wild creatures;

upon your belly you shall go,

and dust you shall eat

all the days of your life.

15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will strike your head,

and you will strike his heel.”

Which brings us back to the Tree Of Knowledge Of Good And Evil. Why was it created? The Bible does not give any satisfactory reason. It’s just there and Man is forbidden to eat it. This conundrum has been debated for thousands of years. In my admittedly un-exhaustive studies so far, I haven’t found anyone who can give a satisfactory answer to this question. Everyone seems to aknowledge the tree existed, but can’t give a reason why God would create this tree if his entire creation was “good.” In fact, many studies I’ve read simply fill in the blanks with unfounded ideas and theories.

This article is meant to pose questions. I’m not anywhere near providing answers on this topic. What do you think? Did God set us up for failure? Please give your thoughts, reading suggestions, etc in the comments below.

One Response to“A Woman, A Serpent and Forbidden Fruit: God’s Unpassable Test”

  1. Josephus
    September 11, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    I have a hard time believing the Eden story at all. In my opinion it is strictly allegory and another poor example on how people were trying to explain the beginning of man and why we suffer. It’s because it’s our fault that we suffer. If we didn’t sin, then there would have never been suffering. That’s why many people believe that when people were suffering, it was because of their sin. If they would only repent to God and comeback to him, then they would stop the suffering.

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