Was It Adam's Responsibility to Relay God's Command About the Forbidden Fruit to Eve?

by Margaret Mowczko | December 17, 2014
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In Genesis 2:16-17, God commanded the first human not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Along with the command was a warning of death for the transgressor. This command and warning was given to the first man before the first woman was made.

Some Christians believe that the first man was given the responsibility of telling the woman about God's command and warning. This assumption, however, has no biblical basis. The Bible simply does not state or imply that the man was given the responsibility of passing on God's command once the woman was on the scene.

Implicit in this incorrect notion of the man's responsibility is the idea that God must not have spoken directly to the woman, but only spoke to her indirectly, through her husband. Genesis 3:13 and 16, however, show us that God did speak directly to the woman on occasion.

The Bible includes several narratives where God, or his angel, spoke directly to a woman, so it should not be a stretch to think that God spoke to the first woman on several occasions just as he did with the first man, and indeed, that he mostly spoke to them as a couple. From Genesis 3:8 and on, we may infer that it was not uncommon for God to walk with the couple in the garden and that he conversed with them both.

It is apparent that the first woman did know God's command, even if her words to the serpent in Genesis 3:2-3 contain an added clause compared with the original command recorded in Genesis 2:16-17.

The text tells us that the woman quoted God. It does not say that she quoted her husband. That is, she does not say, "My husband told me..." Rather, she says, "God said..." (Gen. 3:3). There is no indication here that the woman got her information about God's command second hand.

Considering what the biblical text actually says, there is more credence in suggesting that God told the woman the command and warning, than there is to suggest that the man was given the responsibility of teaching the woman.

Even though there is no biblical basis whatsoever for the idea that the man was authorized to pass on what God had said, this idea is still brought up all too frequently by Christians who believe that husbands, and men in general, have been given a spiritual authority that comes directly from God, and that women are to be under the spiritual authority of men.

There is nothing in Genesis chapters one or two which suggests that the man had authority over the woman, or that men have authority over women in general. In Genesis 1:26-28, we see that men and women had the same status: they are made in the image of God. And we see that they are given the same authority: to rule and have dominion over the animals. It was not just the first man who had authority over the animals (as it might seem from Gen. 2:19-20).

It is important to note that at creation, and before the fall, there is simply no indication that men are to rule or lead women, or that men are the sole arbiters of God's authority. Rather, both women and men were spoken to directly by God and both were told to rule and have dominion over animals, not people (Gen. 1:26-28).

Despite knowing God's command and warning, both the man and the woman ate the forbidden fruit. Each is confronted and individually questioned by God about their disobedience (Gen. 3:7-13, 16-19). Both were equally guilty, were punished, and had to live with the consequences of sin. From then on, women have had to suffer the injustices of patriarchy--the dominance and rule of men. Patriarchy is, therefore, a consequence of sin.

When Jesus walked on earth as a human being two thousand years ago, he continually taught and demonstrated to his followers how to live as kingdom people. Jesus did not just teach and show a better, more benevolent way of living, he taught about a social and cultural revolution. Jesus taught against hierarchy and he warned about dangers of power, prestige, and primacy among his followers.

Jesus taught that in his kingdom, the humble are exalted, the lowly are the greatest, and the last are first.

Jesus wants to restore the equality and harmony among people that was present at creation. He has dealt with the sin problem with his redemptive death on the cross, and he has sent his Spirit to renew us and enable us to live out his new creation with kingdom ideals.

Men and women had an identical status and authority at creation; this was part of God's "very good" creation (Gen. 1:31). In the new creation, men and women also have an identical status and authority as children of God. We are already part of the new creation, but it will be even better and "very good," when the new creation comes in its fullness (2 Cor. 7:14-15). In the meantime, we need to deconstruct unhealthy, hierarchical relationship models and remember that every man and woman who is in Christ has the same God-given rights, authority, freedom, and privileges (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26-28; Rom. 8:14-17).