Saturday, August 29, 2009

Genesis 3:16

Was Adam with Eve when tempted and who is responsible and to be given initial blame? (Genesis 3:6)

"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." (Genesis 3:6, NKJV)

In the age-old debate of male-female blame various accusations have been leveled. Was Eve weaker? Certainly Paul describes her as the one who, unlike Adam, was deceived (2 Corinthians 11:3) and who transgressed (parabasiv parabasis Strong's #3847) first (1 Timothy 2:13-14) but elsewhere he regards sin (amartia hamartia Strong's #266) as having entered the world through one man's disobedience (Romans 5:12,19).
Many have responded to this by saying that Adam should have known better, you can't blame Eve; he was his own man he need not have eaten too; Adam should have taught Eve the commandment better - it was poor discipleship and headship.

I was recently asked the following question as the crux of the larger condition of how translations can effect the very essence of the meaning of an important event:

A friend of mine is having a lively discussion about whether or not Eve had her husband "with" her when the serpent beguiled her resulting in their eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The CONTEXT indicates that Adam was "with her" when she was being beguiled by the serpent. “...she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6, KJV) My friend is saying that the punctuation indicates that he was NOT "with" her like I am supposing. I pointed out that the King James translators put the punctuation in there, and there ISN'T any punctuation in Hebrew.

The respondent is correct, there was no punctuation in the Hebrew. In fact, the New King James Version tries to make the actions even more separated by adding a period and capitalizing the new action “…and ate. She also gave…”, forming a new version of the Gap Theory, allowing eons of time between her eating and her giving to her husband later at home:
“…she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6, NKJV)

Calvin ( whom I find a great expositor) disputed Adam's presence with Eve during this encounter: “From these words, some conjecture that Adam was present when his wife was tempted and persuaded by the serpent, which is by no means credible.” (Calvin, on Genesis 3:6)
Rather than not “credible” it is incredible that some would try to read obvious words so obtusely so as to excuse Adam from implication. In the original Hebrew the connecting "ands" indicate a running narrative with what has gone before and after and not a huge time delay with Eve going off to find her husband several hours afterwards. It could have said “she gave to her husband later” but doesn't.

Literally the Hebrew reads:

“…and-she-took from-its-fruit and-she-ate and-she-gave also-to-her-man with-her and-he-ate.”

Furthermore, the word "with", Hebrew )Ie ‘im, implies joint action, as indicated in its dictionary entry in the authoritative HALOT Hebrew lexicon, “communal action or action in company...”.

Backing up a bit it is interesting to note that in each of verses 1-5 of Genesis 3, whilst the conversation is between the woman and the serpent, all of the statements are “you” and “we”. One thing the King James Version did have right, irrespective of its added punctuation, was an obvious distinction between you singular and you plural. Throughout these verses it is “ye” not “thou” and so it appears the serpent was talking about both Adam and Eve, if not to both Adam and Eve.

Eve may have been deceived but she silently gave to Adam, who, without comment, ate. There is nothing to indicate that she was a “temptress” as von Rad describes her (Genesis, p.87) or full of an “impure look…, infected with the poison of concupiscence”, as Calvin commented on Genesis 3:6, or indeed that she even “persuaded her husband” (The New Bible Commentary). She simply gave, Adam took, “Hers is a sin of initiative. His is a sin of accepting and acquiescence”, says Hamilton (NICOT, Genesis 1-17, p.191). No conversation is indicated as Adam was there and had heard the whole dialogue.

It is again significant that in the following verse it is only after both have eaten that “Then the eyes of both of them were opened” (Genesis 3:7). If Adam had not been present and there had been a delay before his eating too, Eve's eyes would already have been opened to her deed, her nakedness, and her sin, and would have rushed home, fully clothed, to deceive Adam or more probably hide from her husband as well as from her God.

That Adam was there all along in his silence is indeed curious but it would seem that his presence is implied. Perhaps Adam was observing Eve listen to the serpent, they had no reason not to listen as they did not yet know evil existed, and holding back himself, but accepting for Eve to make the first move. Of course, later, he was going to be able to say, in the classic double pass-the-buck statement, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate” (Genesis 3:12), blaming God for giving him Eve and Eve for giving him the fruit!

In conclusion, Eve, and Adam, and therefore “Mankind” were present and in communal participation, have joint and several liability on their actions. Which is “an undertaking by a group of two or more people to be responsible, either individually or jointly, for any liability which may exist after any member or members have failed to meet their obligations”.

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