Genesis 2:15 - 18, 3:1 - 13
The Garden of Eden: Miscommunication
The Garden of Eden: Miscommunication
The Lord God took the Man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and look after it. "You may eat from any tree in the garden," He told the man, "Except from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil; the day you eat from that, you are surely doomed to die..."
The serpent, which was the most cunning of all the creatures the Lord God had made, asked the Woman, "Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat from any tree in the garden?" She replied, "We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden except for the tree in the middle of the garden. god has forbidden us to eat the fruit of that tree or even to touch it. If we do, we shall die."
"Of course you will not die," said the serpent. "God knows that as soon as you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God Himself; knowing both good and evil."
The woman looked at the tree. the fruit would be good to eat. It was pleasing to the eye and desirable for the knowledge it could give. So she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened. They knew that they were naked. So they stitched fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. The Man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the time of the evening breeze. They hid from Him among the trees. The Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?"
He replied, "I heard the sound of You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." God said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree which I forbade you to eat from?" The Man replied, "It was the Woman you gave to be with me who gave me fruit from the tree. I ate it."
The Lord God said to the Woman, "What have you done?" The Woman answered, "It was the serpent who deceived me into eating it."
1. What are the Man and Woman forbidden to do in the Garden?
2. What does the Woman tell the serpent she is not allowed to do?
3. What is the difference between God's actual command and the Woman's instructions?
4. Under what circumstancs could such a discrepency happen?
5. In your opinion, would the serpent have been able to convince the woman that she was wrong if the miscommunication had not
taken place? Why or why not?
6. According to the serpent, what is the difference between God and humankind?
7. Is this difference significant? Why or why not?
8. Given our discussion, can you suggest a logical reason for the woman to share the fruit with her husband?
9. What is the Man's reaction when confronted by God?
10. What is the Woman's reaction when confronted by God?
11. What do you think are some of the lessons meant to be learned from this text?
Relating to the Text:
1. Have you ever been given "faulty directions" which resulted in an embarassing situation? How did you feel?
2. Have you ever given "Faulty directions?" Why did you do it?
3. In what other situations could such a miscommunication occur?
God commands that no fruit can be eaten from the Tress of Life and Knowledge. The Woman tells the serpent that she is not allowed to eat or touch the trees in the garden. Clearly the difference is that the woman says she may not touch the tree but God said no such thing. We do not know why the Woman got the instructions incorrectly. The Rabbinic commentary notes that when God gave the original instruction the Woman had not yet been created. Is it possible that the command given the Woman was from the Man and not God? If so, then the Man added a restriction to the original command. Did the Man add the restriction because he felt that if she touched the tree she would eat the fruit?
This is the crux of the matter. Could this entire episode have been avoided if the communication had been correct? If so, whose fault is the outcome? Given that everyone was punished, can you make a case that she was not singled out for being at fault? From her point of view, once her instructions were proven wrong, how could she do anything but doubt the entire message in the first place?
Eating from the tree will given the humans the knowledge of good and evil. We are human by virtue of the fact that we can tell the difference and have the freedom to choose. Is it possible that when the woman realized that the message given her (either by the Man, God or her misinterpretation) was wrong, she became convinced the entire restriction was no longer in effect. Eating the fruit "opens her eyes" tomany different things, not the least of which is the knowledge of good and evil. She would naturally expect to share this "gift" with her mate so that he can rise to her level of consciousness. This would have been more like an act of love than one with malicious intent.
When confronted by God, the Man immediately blames the woman "that God gave him." He does not take responsibility for his own actions. The Woman too follows suit. She does not take responsibility for her own actions.