by Ken Hamrick
“Pssst! Eve! …Eve!” A strange voice called to her from the direction of the forbidden tree. They were not to even touch that tree, and now it was calling to her!? (Living in paradise without fear for safety), she confidently approached the tree. “Who is it?” she asked.
The high-pitched, raspy voice spoke again. “It is I, the serpent.”
“Where are you?” she asked as she moved closer to the tree.
“Look up here on the bottom branch,” said the serpent.
“Oh — I see you now!” said Eve. “You’re very beautiful — and you talk! Why do you talk? None of the other animals talk,” she inquired.
“I’m more intelligent than the other animals. My wisdom exceeds even yours.” The serpent resembled a snake, but with legs, and a bright, brilliantly-colored skin. (Before sin entered the world, there was no need for dull or concealing colors on animals). As he spoke of his wisdom, he picked a fruit from the branch and held it.
Eve was fascinated. She stood there admiring her new friend. Then, when he picked the fruit, it hit her: that is the forbidden fruit, and this is the forbidden tree! She instinctively backed up a couple of steps, even though she was already far enough away to not be in danger of touching it.
Noticing her dismay, the serpent asked, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat of every tree in the garden’?”
Eve answered, as if reciting what was memorized, “We may eat of the trees of the garden; but of the tree in the center of the garden, God said, ‘You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die!‘” A puzzled look on her face, Eve wondered to herself, “And yet, there he sits…” What could this mean? Her mind played back the scene in which Adam had first told her of the command regarding the tree, and made her repeat it back to him.
Reading her face and her mind, the serpent bit into the fruit, appearing to enjoy it as if it were the best food he had ever consumed. Eve was stunned, eyes wide with her mouth hanging open. The serpent seemed to smile as he said, in calm, reassuring tones, “You will not surely die.”
Eve’s mind was racing. Not die? But God said that we would die. And yet, there he sits, eating it… and smiling… and eating more… How can this be? God said we would die. She was speechless, as she moved closer. This was unbelievable!
The serpent continued between bites. “For God knows that in the day that you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The crunch of another delicious bite echoed in her ears. She moved closer — close enough to touch.
What he said seemed credible to her. After all, he was in the tree, thoroughly enjoying the fruit. And he surely knew more about such things as good and evil and trees and fruit and death and commands — and even more about God — than she did. Who was this wise serpent? It was all so surreal and unexpected — and alluring. Her mouth watered for the fruit, but more than that, her mind hungered to gain wisdom and knowledge. To be like God, knowing good and evil, would be something wonderful. Is that how this serpent became so knowledgeable — by eating this fruit? And look at him now. He is not dead, but happily eating more — and he is wise like God.
Without thinking any further, she reached out and picked the fruit and held it in her hand. So far, so good — she was still alive and well. Her hands were shaking. She heard the crunch of another bite of the serpent. She took a bite. It was delicious! And she was still alive! But what of the wisdom and knowledge? She saw Adam walking up to her. She was excited about her new discovery, and gave him part of the fruit. “It’s good to eat, after all! — and we will not die! The serpent eats it and it has made him wise!” She pointed to the serpent. “He has told me all about it and he knows many things! She took another bite and wiped her mouth. She was smiling widely, but Adam’s heart sank.
Although Eve had been fooled about the consequences, Adam knew that God was serious and true. But he loved Eve with all his heart. He did not know what to do now. He took the fruit and bit into it. Perhaps God would be merciful… and if not, well, then he would die with Eve.
Of course, this was only a dramatization, and is not intended to be a substitute for Scripture. It is meant to spark the imagination, and get you thinking about the reality of the event, of which the Bible records only the basic details. Scripture does not tell us exactly why the first couple sinned. But there are certain principles that can be reasonably deduced from the Biblical account. Adam and Eve were originally innocent, but morally undeveloped like children. Their first sin was their coming of age, morally speaking. That decision was their first moral decision as accountable moral agents. They didn’t understand everything, but they understood enough to know that eating from that tree was wrong.
Until the command and the temptation were introduced into Adam’s and Eve’s existence, their will and God’s will were naturally in line — both God and man wanted the same things so there was no occasion for potential conflict between the two wills. By the giving of the command and the temptation of the tempter, the occasion arose where man’s self-interest and God’s interests became different and separate, and so a choice between God’s will and man’s interests had to be made. Having never had to make such a choice before, Adam and Eve had never before made a moral decision. Choosing rightly would have earned them righteousness. Choosing wrongly earned them condemnation and immediate spiritual death. Either choice would have gained them the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge did not come from the fruit (any fruit tree would have served the purpose), but it came from the knowledge gained by coming to the decision point and deciding either way. It was, in effect, the Tree of Moral Agency. By resisting temptation, they could have gained both an earned righteousness and the knowledge of good and evil. But they chose the other route — according to their free will and according to God’s plan.
Ken Hamrick, 2011