God had already shown the Garden of Eden to Adam. Adam learned all the trees in the garden were for food, and mankind could eat from every tree except one. God told Adam if he ate from this tree, he would surely die. Let’s rejoin the point of the story where Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden to be caretakers while God took a day off.
I am convinced God left Adam to teach Eve about the forbidden fruit, which Adam did. In fact, Adam told Eve she was not to eat the fruit. In fact, Adam told her she shouldn’t even TOUCH IT!
All needs were met in the Garden of Eden. Life was good.
Enter the serpent. We are given no origin story of this individual, we only know the serpent was different than the animals. Perhaps different in that this creature was from outside of earth. The serpent strikes up a conversation with Eve and asks her why she doesn’t go near this one tree. The serpent is always pictured as being in the forbidden tree. In fact, when this story is told, it is usually pointed out that Eve is hanging out near the tree. She is fascinated that she must avoid this tree. Where is Adam during this exchange? Perhaps Adam had previously spoken with the serpent because the serpent knew they were forbidden to eat the fruit. The serpent asks Eve if it was true they couldn’t eat the fruit of this tree with the question, “Did God really say you can’t eat this fruit?” Eve’s answer, “If we even TOUCH IT, we will die!”
Some speculate this tree’s fruit has magical properties. The serpent said, “If you eat of it, you will be like the Most-High!” What did the serpent know? Others believe there is nothing special about the fruit, only the Rule of Law which was in effect.
I picture the serpent tossing a piece to her which she reflexively caught, and dropped immediately. So, Eve found she COULD touch the fruit without dying. Perhaps he said, “You surely will not die” as he did. At this point, Eve saw the truth in what the serpent said. So, she took a bite and found it was good.
Something changed when Eve ate it. Perhaps it was the simple fact that she didn’t die. Perhaps something metaphysical happened.
I wonder what the exchange between Adam and Eve was like. Is it possible she gave a piece of the fruit to Adam without telling him what it was? Or did she have to convince Adam to eat it? One speculation I used to teach was that Adam new exactly what it was. He also knew it was a death sentence. He ate the fruit out of love for Eve. He did not want to live without her.
An interesting part of this story is the two realized they were naked for the first time after they ate the fruit. They felt different. They felt exposed. Some go so far as to speculate the two were originally clothed in light. The fruit diminished this light-body which exposed their new mortal nature. It could just be guilt in knowing they had broken the law. We are told they sewed leaves together to cover themselves.
It was around this time that God returned from his day off. The first thing he notices is that the two humans are nowhere to be found. They are hiding. He tracks them down and asks why they are hiding. They tell him it’s because they are naked. God asks if they ate the fruit. Adam says, “It was Eve’s idea!” Eve says, “It was the serpent’s idea!” The serpent kept his mouth shut and didn’t reply.
Punishment was doled out. Adam was condemned to toiling the ground to survive. Eve was condemned to pain in childbirth along with a healthy fear of serpents. The serpent was condemned to crawl on the dust of earth.
The two were kicked out of the Garden of Eden because the tree of life is there. (Can’t die if you eat from the tree of life, eh?) All of this happened before any children were conceived. Things went downhill from there.