In Genesis 3:1 Satan asks Eve the question, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the Garden”? In Genesis 3:2, she answers him; “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden.’” Kissling notes, “As often observed, the serpent approaches the person who had only received the commandment of God at second hand. The command to not eat of the tree was given to the man prior to the creation of the woman. What is often lost on contemporary readers is that the man was there with the woman during the entire conversation and does not utter a word.”[1] You would think that person to whom God had given the instruction regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, would have been ready to speak up. But he didn’t. He let Eve continue the conversation with the serpent.

I don’t think Christendom (not Christianity) has disparaged women from any biblical passage more than this one. But Roop warns us that “The narrative does not tell us why the confrontation happens between the serpent and the woman rather than the snake and the man. Tradition has suggested that the serpent came to the woman because of her weakness, or because the woman was evil. The narrative states none of those. We should likely assume that the man and the woman are free and responsible together.”[2] One of the more interesting, and to me the more insulting passages come from the Apocrypha. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 25:23-24, a non-canonical book from the Protestant perspective, has a pretty low opinion of women, based on Eve. It says, “Low spirits, gloomy face, stricken heart: such is a spiteful wife. Slack hands and sagging knees: such is the wife who does not make her husband happy. Sin began with a woman, and thanks to her we must all die. Do not let water find a leak, nor a spiteful woman give free rein to her tongue. If she will not do as you tell her, get rid of her.” It’s because of statements like this that the wise post-apostolic fathers excluded some books from the Bible.

The first part of Eve’s answer was good. “Yes,” she said, “we can eat the fruit of the trees in the Garden.” But it was limited and did not represent the gracious generosity of the God of Eden. Pink observes, “The Lord had said, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.’ Eve’s omission of that word ‘freely’ was both significant and ominous—indicating that the generosity of the divine provision was not influencing her heart as it should have.”[3] I see that in my own attitude sometimes when I come to the dinner table. I get confused and think that it was my own hard work and discipline that brought this food to the table and from the human perspective that might be true, but the actual provision of our food is not something we can produce ourselves. Maybe, like us, Eve was looking at the secondary cause for having food to eat, like picking it from the trees. She has forgotten that it is all the gracious provision from God. Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts….”

[1] Kissling, Paul J. 2004–. Genesis. The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.

[2] Roop, Eugene F. 1987. Genesis. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.

[3] Pink, Arthur W. 2005. Gleanings in the Scriptures: Man’s Total Depravity. Logos Bible Software.