After bringing Adam home, God rang the dinner bell. It’s interesting that the first thing discussed with Adam upon coming home, turning a physical house, into a home in which man will dwell with God, is dinner. Food is often associated with fellowship with each other but also fellowship with God. So God presented Adam with the menu. Genesis 2:16 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden.’” The UBS (United Bible Society) handbook for translators is worried some translators may misunderstand this verse. “In some languages a literal translation of eat of every tree may suggest eating part of the tree. In other languages there may be no general word for fruit, and so it may be necessary to say, for example, ‘You may eat anything you gather from the trees’ or ‘You may eat whatever you pick from the trees.’”[1]

When growing up in North Omaha, there was an older widow who used to babysit for us when my Mom wanted to go shopping. In my early elementary years that seemed to happen a lot in the summer. Butch (my best friend) and I would have the run of the neighborhood even as young as 7 or 8 years old. Mrs. Ewing, our babysitter, had a gorgeous granny smith apple tree in her back yard. She would let us pick up apples that would fall from the tree but wouldn’t let us pick any ourselves. Well, when she came to our house to babysit me, my sister and little brother, Butch and I would know where she was and go help ourselves from the fruit still hanging on the trees! There is a huge difference between fruit you pick from the tree and fruit you pick up from the ground. God tells Adam and Eve to “pick” all the fruit you want!

Can you imagine the delicacies that must have been in the Garden of Eden, Paradise? According to one article on the web, the Garden had pomegranates, almonds, olives, grapes, apples, pears, cherries, carrots, corn, apricots and honey just to name a few. I’m sure there were the less desirable fare as well like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, rutabaga (My mom taught me to love rutabaga, but my boys won’t eat it!) and cauliflower! What a balanced diet!! So as Butler says, “Before one gets critical of God and says His commandments restrict pleasure, take a good look at the positive in the statutes for Eden. They were liberal and blessed. God’s laws are not to kill joy but to provide for it and protect it. And the positive compensates for any negative statute that is given.”[2]  With all that low hanging, beautiful and delicious food, it’s hard to understand how the one and only forbidden tree was so appealing to Eve and Adam. Boice quotes Calvin’s commentary on Genesis, “For not only was there an abundant supply of food, but with it was added sweetness for the gratification of the palate, and beauty to feast the eyes. Therefore, from such benignant indulgence, it is more than sufficiently evident, how inexplicable had been the cupidity (lust for the forbidden tree)  of man.’”[3] Well, I hate to bring Eve and Adam down to my level but when Mrs. Ewing told me and Butch we couldn’t pick the apples you know exactly what we had to do!

[1] Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. 1998. A Handbook on Genesis. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] Butler, John G. 2008. Analytical Bible Expositor: Genesis. Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.

[3] Boice, James Montgomery. 1998. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.