The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

10/4/15

Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild beasts that Hashem had made. He said to the woman, “Did Hashem really say: You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?”
Genesis 3:1
He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3:24

After learning about the creation of Woman, we now read about her first experiences. We are told that the sly serpent entices her to partake of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which she subsequently shares with her man. Having internalized the knowledge that the tree was meant to protect, the pair realize that they are naked and for the first time consider this a source of shame before God, so they sew themselves rudimentary clothing out of figleaves and try to hide from Him in the garden. The omnipresent and omniscient God seeks them out and confronts them over their choices, but instead of taking responsibility for their actions, each seeks to pass the blame to someone else; Man accuses “the woman whom Thou gavest to be with me,” while Woman charges the serpent with “beguiling” her into eating.

 

God curses each of them for their roles in this transgression. The snake he condemns to slither on his belly, eating dust and living in enmity with the descendants of Woman; upon Woman he bestows pain in childbirth; and Man receives the curse of the Earth, which will no longer yield its produce with ease. He then makes for them clothing of animal skins and exiles Man and Woman from His garden for eternity. He places cherubim and a flaming sword at the entrance of the garden, to keep them out.

 

It is at the time that they are cursed that Adam finally gives his wife the name by which she is most known: Eve, for she is the mother of all living things.

 

The Israel Bible cites Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to explain the curse Adam receives. He points out that the Hebrew word ba’avurekha does not mean the land is cursed “because of you”, but rather “for you” — for man’s sake, that he may correct his actions. Thus, the land’s prosperity becomes a measuring stick of man’s adherence to God’s ways, especially in the Land of Israel.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness after eating from the forbidden tree? What is the connection between the two?