Years ago when in a Christian school, my History/Bible Studies teacher once said, “The Bible says we all sin because of Adam. But I don’t know, maybe we should be blaming Eve!” Of course, every male in the class – at the ripe, young age we were, was in agreement. They cheered his perspective on and formulated all sorts of theological positions (as if they really had any) to defend their opinions. I remember being very put out at the time, but wasn’t sure why. The truth was, I didn’t know much about the Bible back then and couldn’t have formed much of a defense if I had wanted to. All I knew was that if they claimed to be so Biblical, they shouldn’t be attempting to undermine the Bible with the eternal battle of the sexes (which, ironically enough, has its origins in the garden).
For years we hear about the story ONLY from the tainted view of what Eve did wrong. We don’t consider Adam’s role in things and, as a result, we easily believe lies we hear about the topic. If the truth will set us free, lies will create bondage (which is exactly the case in point with Adam and Eve). When we don’t know the truth, we believe lies. Ahab and Jezebel are a classic example. Somebody made Ahab a weak victim taken advantage of by the evil Jezebel. If we read the story, we see this is clearly not true. We do the same with Eve. People make it sound like Eve, playing the song, “Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood and The Destroyers, pinned Adam to the ground, shoved the fruit down his throat by force, and then played “We Are The Champions” by Queen as they left the garden. We make Eve out to be some sort of inherently evil creature, responsible for every problem in the world. And, as we are so busy blaming the woman, we are ignoring the true enemy in that garden. I’m tired of hearing about Eve as some sort of vicious, angry woman who wanted to disgrace Adam. I’m also tired of women believing they are beyond redemption or beyond healing because they are of Eve. I think it’s time we look at the story and set the record straight so we can truly see WHY the Bible speaks of sin coming through one man – and not woman.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” – Genesis 1:26-28, NIV
I am using the 1984 version of the New International Version. In newer versions of several Bible translations, they translate the word “man” as “humanity.” This is actually more accurate for modern understanding. The use of the word “man” here is not speaking of just a male person, but of the creation of the human race. As we understand Eve was taken from Adam, Eve and Adam were both present in the garden. Speaking of them as one indicates unity, a union. They were given a few commands here, most of which we aren’t going to look at. What we are going to look at here is the command to subdue the earth, and have dominion. They were called to take authority, and that also meant hold responsibility. Dominion is a stewardship, not a call to power and control. Humanity IS responsible for their authority unto God and one another. This means accountability goes ALL the way back to the first man and woman. All throughout history, God created mankind to be responsible and accountable – to step up before God and be who He has called us to be.
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens— and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth[c] and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground— the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:4-25, NIV)
Some people call this the “second creation story.” This is a misnomer. What Genesis 2 provides is the track and focus for the Word: humanity. The Bible isn’t a record of God’s dealings with fish or birds, but God’s dealing with people. For this reason, the Bible shifts its focus to the creation of human beings and describing that process. Here we learn how God created Adam, looked for someone suitable as his companion, and didn’t find any suitable companion among animals or nature. The Bible describes Eve as a suitable “helper” or “helpmeet” for Adam. In modern society, we use this term to indicate a subordinate (that women only exist to serve men); when, in actuality, the Bible does not support this viewpoint. The Hebrew word “help” as used to describe Eve is also used to describe God in the Psalms (where does my “help” come from” – it comes from the Lord, Psalm 121) and indicates “help, succor,” (assistance in hard times or stress). In other words, it doesn’t indicate a subordinating position – it indicates that women have strengths that compliment men, and that women should use those strengths. They weren’t created to be passive floor mats who answer every sentence with “Yes, dear!” If the word “help” is the same as is used to God, we should take our lead from God on what it means to help. Sometimes it means letting them find things out the hard way, sometimes it means speaking up and warning, sometimes it means just putting it plain and raw – because that’s what help is. Help isn’t all about the person; it’s about God. Help doesn’t give someone their way all the time or just blindly follow – HELP SPEAKS UP, STEPS UP, and is HONEST!
Now that we cleared that up, ….we see something very important here: Adam is the one who was given the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam and gave him that responsibility. Adam knew what God said. This means Adam wasn’t a victim lured or forced by Eve.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:1-7, NIV)
Enter in…the serpent. Dum da dum dum….dum da dum dum…DUM…The image of a snake or serpent is an ancient symbol used to represent some type of hidden or forbidden wisdom. We must take note of this because the serpent was used to represent the knowledge of good and evil. Yet we know from the Bible and other ancient texts that wisdom is usually spoken of as feminine, not masculine. The serpent here is spoken of as a “he.” This is not some sort of cosmic accident. We can understand why this is if we look at both how Adam behaved and how other men in the Bible behaved as well. We see it manifest through the spirit of manipulation working to bring about desired results through passive behavior – the bible sometimes calls this, as it does here, “craftiness” (where we get the word “witchcraft” from). We will look at this a little more shortly.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how Eve learned about God’s requirements in the garden regarding the tree. Since the command was given to Adam, we can assume Adam was supposed to tell her. Somehow she got the information, we can see she had it. So she HAD been told. In reading this, Eve’s major screw-up was listening to, talking to, and entertaining the serpent. The serpent knew what she wanted to hear, and knew how to manipulate her for that. There was something that longed for more, wanted more, wanted what was forbidden. Listening to the serpent makes me wonder how many times women are listening to it through male manipulation in their lives today: in the form of that guy who tells her he’ll make it “worth her while,” the guy who convinces her to just do this one thing for him (whatever it may be), and then they get caught, in trouble, and everyone blames her – instead of checking out that creepy serpent manifesting through control and manipulation.
Now we see in the story that Adam was with her! Eve wasn’t running off on the sly having some sort of clandestine affair with the serpent, oh no – Adam was there the whole time! He knew what was going on and he chose not to intervene. Then he chose to take the fruit all by himself, of his own volition and free will. She didn’t force him, tempt him, lure him, or cajole him – it just says he took it and ate it. He knew fully well what was going on from the beginning, and he went along with it. So let’s stop the Adam was weak, Eve was evil nonsense now! Adam WAS NOT WEAK. There was nothing wrong with him. I am so tired of people excusing men who don’t do the right thing in the Bible by saying they were weak. In doing so, they transfer all responsibility to the woman for everything. This is not what God asked of people back in the garden. God looks for accountability, not excuses. If we look at men in the Bible – especially men who are around women who tend to represent control – we don’t find the stereotypes we tend to think of about these men. Adam is no different. He was not under anyone’s spell; he did the wrong thing. He did what he wanted to, plain and simple.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:8-15, NIV)
God called out to Adam here, and not Eve – why? Because God already knew what happened. God was looking for Adam to be accountable because Adam was the one God told about the tree. And what did Adam do – first, he hid. He didn’t want to answer God’s call so he pulled a Saul and hid behind stuff to avoid being noticed. When confronted, what did Adam do? HE BLAMED EVE. Suddenly it was Eve’s fault that Adam didn’t do the right thing…doesn’t that sound familiar? There’s that manipulative spirit at work. Upon closer inspection, Adam didn’t just blame Eve – he also blamed God! By saying “that woman you put here with me” is stated to somehow indicate that God was at fault because Eve was from God. Wow. No weakness here – just manipulation and, to be quite frank, one set of a pair of balls. In other words, Adam learned how to be “crafty.” When he did what he wanted and ate of that fruit – he learned how to manipulate and blame others – even God. So God goes to Eve – who admits she was deceived by the serpent. She accepted accountability – she admits she was deceived and ate it (doesn’t blame Adam or God) – and traces it to the serpent. Even though she was not the one told by God, she stepped up and accepted responsibility for the deception she received – and thus the promise would come through her. So God goes to the serpent, and then consequences begin.
God doesn’t curse Adam or Eve; He curses the serpent. Within that curse, we see consequence and promise. Because the serpent deceived Eve, hatred forms between the woman and the enemy – put there by God. Woman (not man) is forever given the discerning ability to fight and overcome the enemy. We recognize it; we see it; we fight it. Through woman comes the Seed to destroy Satan – with God, not with man. We know that to be Jesus Christ but this also means that women carry this precious promise within them as a type of that promise. We have the ability to fight the enemy in a way man does not because God promised it to us. We have authority over the enemy! Now if we would just stop listening to Satan long enough to stand on it!
To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:16-20)
What many don’t realize from reading the English is the gross assumptions our translators have made in the understanding of the Hebrew. The word for “labor” used both for men and women is the same exact word – that applied to both childbearing and physical work. Translators translate making the assumption that, because Eve is a woman, that her labor is childbirth labor as opposed to general work. The words spoken here are speaking of the consequences of sin. In other words, what God was trying to convey to both is the same: life would be hard. Work would be hard. Anything that would be undertaken under the sun as pertains to life would be difficult, and then would come death. Male-female relationships would be wrought with power and control struggles as a consequence of the fall. God’s order is not spoken of here; what we see here are the consequences of sin.
Yet even in this light, we see a promise in Eve in verse 20: she was named Eve because she became the mother of all living. She was a source of life not just because she was the first woman, but also because in her was given the spiritual promise to overcome the enemy. The promise of accountability ran within her life and those who would come after her. Spiritual life comes forth from her, in the form of the seed to come and overcome Satan. In Genesis 3, the promise of the redeemer to come is found through the promises and words spoken to the first woman, Eve.
Having understood these matters, we are better able to understand Romans 5:12-21:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NIV)
Sin entered through one man, Adam because he would not be accountable. Jesus had to be male (for those who wonder), thereby being accountable, because Adam was male. Sin had to be redeemed by the Son of God, not the daughter – because the promise to overcome given to the woman was connected to this Son. Throughout history, the battle of the sexes raged on through sin…but finally has reached its redemption for both male and female in Jesus Christ, the power to overcome the original manipulation and deception. Now in Him, there is neither male nor female (Genesis 3:26), because ALL can stand accountable in Him. In Christ, both male and female have the potential to overcome the power of sin.
(c) 2011 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.