Temptation of Adam
Temptation of Adam
“Temptation of Adam: A Reflection of Women’s Weakness?”
Genesis is the first chapter of the Bible that starts with the story of God’s creation. After creating the Earth, the plants, sky, water, all living and non-living things, God decided to create man and woman who would take care of his creations. Thus, Adam and Eve came into the picture. Contrary to the beautiful beginning of the chapter, Genesis 2-3 recounted the story of the fall of the first two people in the universe after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Worse, many Christians believed that this event became the reason of our “original sin”, which could only be vanished through baptism.
Many biblical scholars believed that the most common and best way to examine how God’s children succumbed to Satan’s temptation lay in the story of Genesis. According to Genesis 3: 1-6: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day 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, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
There are four important characters in this story: God, Adam, Eve, and Satan (serpent). God is the most sovereign creature who mandated Adam and Eve to be the stewards of his creations. Further, God ordered the two not to eat the fruit of life or the forbidden fruit. Adam was placed as the head or leader, perhaps, due to the fact that he was created first before Eve. On the other hand, the woman, Eve, was taken out from the limb of Adam. She was expected to submit herself to Adam. Lastly, Satan was always deemed by Christians as the source of evil. He was regarded as the fallen angel, whose main interest is to tempt people to create wrongdoings. The serpent tempted Eve by claiming that eating the forbidden fruit would give them knowledge.
Schwertley (2000) contends that “the creation and temptation narratives in the first chapters of Genesis…is not poetic metaphor, myth, or legend but rather is an account of a real, literal and historical event”. The story of Adam’s temptation became the sole explanation why humanity is not immune to hardships and pain, why women should suffer from the pain of childbirth, why men should work hard for his family. Technically, the life after Adam’s temptation is the life that we normally experience right now.
There are two key issues in Genesis 2-3 as presented by Barr (2008) in his exposition, “the difference between what God says will happen to the man if he eats the forbidden fruit and what the serpent says will happen”. The first key issue was obviously not seen in the story, because Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command. What the readers only knew was the things that happened to Adam and Eve after eating the fruit of life. In a nutshell, the two were asked to leave the Garden of Eden and live a miserable life outside. Hitherto, some people would continue to believe that the fate of humanity was the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to the will of God.
The biblical passage also reveals two things: first is the fact that Satan indeed had the method to tempt, second, Eve committed unbiblical response when Satan tempted her. God warned Adam and Eve that “when you eat it you will die” (Genesis 2:17). This is contrary to what the serpent told Eve that eating it “you will not die” (Genesis 3: 4). These two contradicting views would be further discussed in the subsequent paragraphs.
Many Bible scholars questioned the authentic of God’s words, as it has been always regarded as fundamentally relevant for God-man relationship. Thus, “if God’s warning here is empty, why should it be taken seriously elsewhere?” Further, scholars also questioned “the lack of justification given by God for his prohibition to eat of one particular tree, a prohibition to which a warning of death is attached”. Barr (2008) believed that in this story the serpent spoke the truth, because, indeed, Adam and Eve did not die after violating the rule of eating the fruit.
The words of the serpent aimed to invert the words of God. Its words “imply that a total prohibition is the sort of unreasonable prohibition that one might expect from God, who is to be seen as more interested in restriction than in freedom”. Eve quickly fell into the serpent’s words, because it filled God’s lack of justification to his command. The serpent highlighted that eating the fruit would eventually yield positive and not negative result. God’s silence about what would happen if they eat the forbidden fruit would mean repression, according to the serpent. Indeed, the serpent was able to manipulate Eve by questioning the truthfulness of God’s words (why he failed to tell the reason behind eating the forbidden fruit) and the trustworthiness of God’s words (the serpent was able to impugn its motives).
It is also noteworthy to include the fact that Satan tempted Eve, the woman, instead of Adam. According to Barr (2008), this reflects the view that woman is fundamentally weaker than man. Satan tempted first Eve because she is perceived as a weaker vessel. This aligns to the fact that Eve was created after Adam. It is through the existence of Adam that Eve came to being. This is the reason why, the post-temptation of Adam became a venue to look at a woman as “more easily manipulated by emotional appeals”.
Another observation is the fact that Satan used Eve as a tool to attack the head – Adam. This move reflected how Satan was able to manipulate and reverse the role ordained to Adam and Eve. God put Adam the head, leader, and the decision maker in the family. However, when the serpent deceived Eve, the latter assumed the role of Adam and made the man submitter or follower.Satan also approached Eve when the latter placed herself near the tree of knowledge. Prior to this, Eve kept on saying that the forbidden fruit as “good for food and pleasant to the eyes”. Thus, Eve went near the fruit and the serpent took advantage. Satan attacked Eve in that strategic position to let her eat the forbidden fruit, abruptly once she was deceived. This implies that the evil could influence one’s mind and does evil things without having second thoughts. Lastly, Satan approached Eve when she was alone – when God was not there. This implied that the spirit of evil is powerful to control the minds of the people when God is not around. Hence, people should always put their faith to God so that they can overcome any temptation.
Other scholars deemed this event as a “defining characteristics of a child” where both Adam and Eve had the inability to perceive the difference exists between evil and good. Thus, the story of Adam’s temptation should be viewed not as a story of their fall but “about humanity growing up”. This suggests that the fall of Adam and Eve was necessary for them and the whole humanity to learn and grow as Christians.
One of the central ideas in this story is the role of Eve in tempting Adam. Perhaps, misogynistic view originated from this story of a woman causing the fall of humanity. Even in the Bible, women were perceived as closer to evil, weaker, and subordinate to men. Due to the fact that Eve was able to influence the mind of Adam, women were also perceived as alluring, tempting, beautiful, and can be easily manipulated. As an application, up to this point of time, many advertisers, cults, and politicians take advantage to women – viewing them easily manipulated and more approachable. Take, for instance, the contemporary advertisement about alcohol and cigarettes – the face and body of women were always displayed to get more consumers. For instance, Olivia Wilde is always portrayed in her thousands of advertisements as a woman with the “perfect” body, even if she only endorses beauty products. We often see Olivia Wilde shows off not only her beautiful face, but also the images of her thin, beautiful and long-legged with porcelain skin. Miley Cyrus, on the other hand, has been the cover page of Cosmopolitan magazine for several times. Her images in the said magazine are pressing her naked body against a man; bursting her breast out of a loose, wet shirt; covering her breast with her mere hands. These are all contemporary applications that mirror the weakness of women. Many people perceived that they only way they could influence men is through exposing their bare face and body.
Many scholars questioned the lack of explanation that God provided about the effects of eating the forbidden fruit. However, the mere fact that God created them, it is implied that God wanted nothing but their best. Thus, Adam and Eve should not question any command given by God because their obedience is entirely proper and natural. The story of Adam’s temptation recounts how powerful the evil spirit is in manipulating the minds of God’s children. Evil attacks when we are vulnerable, as seen from the case of Eve. Satan deceived her when God was not there, when she stood beside her weakness (the tree) and took the form of a serpent to conceive his real identity. This reminds us as Christians that temptation is everywhere, and the most powerful weapon we could use is to make God present into our lives.
Barr, J. (2008). Did the Interpreters Get it Right? Genesis 2-3 Reconsidered. Journal of Theological Studies 59 (1): 21-40.
Rudman, D. (n.d.). Falling for the Wrong Woman? A Theological Reassessment of Genesis 2-3. The Expository Times: 44-47.
Schwertley, B. (2000). The Temptation of Eve. Reformed Online Library. Retrieved from http://www.reformedonline.com/uploads/1/5/0/3/15030584/the_temptation_of_eve.pdf on April 15, 2015.