It's Always the Woman's Fault
This is the story of the beginning of the world before there was sky and earth, the story of how the Lord Yahweh made the earth and the heavens and every plant that grows in the fields.
The land was hot and dry because the Lord Yahweh had not yet created rain on the earth, and there was not yet a man to cultivate the ground, so nothing could grow.
The Lord Yahweh caused a heavy mist to rise from the earth and water the ground. Then the Lord Yahweh formed a man from the dirt of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living human being.
Then the Lord Yahweh planted a beautiful garden far to the east in a land called Eden and he placed the man that he had made in that far off garden.
Out of the ground the Lord Yahweh made the trees grow so that we could enjoy looking at them and enjoy food from them. He planted two special trees in the middle of the garden—the “tree of life” and the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
A river flowed out from the land of Eden to water the garden that Lord Yahweh had made and from there the river separated into four branches. The name of the first is the River Pison in the desert land of Havilah, where there is gold, aromatic spices and onyx stone. The second river is Gihon, which flows to Ethiopia. The third river is Hiddekel, which flows toward the east to Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
The Lord Yahweh took the man he had created and placed him in the garden of Eden and told him to take care of it and to maintain it. He gave the man very specific instructions. He told him, “You can eat fruit from every tree in the garden except for one, the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil.' That one tree is off limits. Don’t eat the fruit of that tree or you will die.”
Then the Lord Yahweh thought, “Living all by himself with no animals and no people is not a good situation for man—he will be lonely and bored—so I will give him something to do.” So from the ground the Lord Yahweh made every beast of the field and every bird in the air; and he brought them to the man that he called Adam and told him to give all the animals and birds names, and whatever Adam decided to name every living creature, that was the name by which it was known from then on.
Adam was busy but he was still lonely because he had no human companion. The Lord Yahweh then decided to create another human being so that Adam would not be lonely. He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and while he slept the Lord Yahweh took out one of his ribs and closed up the flesh, and from the rib that he had taken from the man he made a woman, and brought her to the man and gave her to him.
After he thought about it Adam said, “This woman was made from my bones and from my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” That is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother and joins his wife in marriage and they live together and are joined together as husband and wife.
Adam and Eve were both naked in the garden and they were not embarrassed.
There was a serpent lurking in the garden. He was smarter and more devious than any other animal that the Lord Yahweh had made. One day the serpent said to Eve, “Didn't the Lord Yahweh say that you could eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Not exactly,” said Eve to the serpent. “He told us that we may eat the fruit of any of the trees in the garden except the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. The Lord Yahweh said that if we eat the fruit of that tree, or even if we touch it, we will die.”
The serpent laughed. “That's not true,” he said to Eve. “You will not die. The Lord Yahweh knows that if you eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that you will become wise like the gods, you will know the difference between good and evil, and you will no longer be an innocent child-like creature.”
So Eve went over to the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” to see for herself. She saw beautiful ripe fruit on the tree that looked ready to eat and good for food, and when she thought about acquiring the knowledge and wisdom of the gods, she picked some fruit from the tree and ate it, and handed some to her husband Adam, who was standing beside her, and he ate some of the fruit also.
Suddenly they lost their innocence and they became self-conscious and aware that they were naked. To cover their nakedness they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves robes.
Soon they heard footsteps approaching through the woods. It was the Lord Yahweh walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Adam and his wife were suddenly afraid because they were aware of their guilt and hid from the Lord Yahweh among the trees of the garden.
Lord Yahweh couldn’t find Adam, so he called out, “Adam, where are you?”
Adam said, “I'm over here, among the trees. I heard you walking in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself among the trees.”
The Lord Yahweh replied, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat fruit from the tree that I told you not to touch?”
Adam said guiltily, “That woman you made to be my companion and wife gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.”
The Lord Yahweh said to Eve, “What have you done?”
Eve answered, “It's the serpent's fault. The serpent talked me into it, so I ate some of the fruit.”
So the Lord Yahweh turned to the serpent and said, “Because you caused this trouble for me, you will be cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. From now on you will crawl on your belly along the ground and you will eat dirt for the rest of your life. Women will be afraid of you and hate you, and so will their children. You will bite the legs of women and they will stomp you to death in fear.”
Then the Lord Yahweh turned to Eve and said, “Because you ate the forbidden fruit, I will make you suffer during childbirth. You will deliver your children in pain, and your children will bring you sadness throughout your life. From now on, you will have to obey and serve your husband and he will rule over you.”
Finally he turned to Adam and said, “Because you listened to your wife, and ate fruit from the tree that I told you not to touch, no longer will you be able to live in this garden or eat the fruit that I put here for you. I am kicking you out of this garden. You will have to make your own garden and grow your own food. Thistles, thorns and weeds will grow in your garden. You will have to work long and hard to earn a living cultivating the hard and barren earth, which I have cursed because of you. You will have a difficult and sad life.
“Hereafter your food will be the crops you grow in the gardens you plant, and by hard work and sweat you will work for your survival all the days of your life until you die and return to the ground out of which you were made, for you were made from the dust and dirt of the ground and to dust and dirt you will return at your death.”
Then the Lord Yahweh said to his fellow gods, “The man I created has become like us now that he has eaten the fruit from the tree of knowledge and is no longer innocent. He has become like us gods now that he can distinguish between good and evil. Before he reaches out and takes and eats from the tree of life, and becomes a god who lives forever, man must be removed from the garden.”
So the Lord Yahweh expelled Adam and Eve from the garden in the land of Eden and returned them to the land from which they had come. From now on they would have to farm the hard earth from which Adam had been made.
After he drove Adam from the garden the Lord Yahweh placed a winged guardian with a flaming sword at the entrance of the garden to guard the tree of life. Humans would not be able to get at the fruit of that tree, and they would not live forever like the gods.
People who lived a long time ago all over the world from many different cultures told stories about the origins of their world. This creation story comes immediately after the first creation story in the biblical book of Genesis and gives a quite different version of creation. In this story man is created first, before the animals and plants, and the woman was created last. The description of Eden places it east of Canaan, in the vicinity of modern Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The first story started with the chaotic dark waters of the ocean. This story starts with hot, dry barren land that reminds us of the desert, which Yahweh makes productive with water from a mist or heavy fog. It reflects the origins of the Hebrew people as desert nomads.
We learn from this story about the origin of marriage and family, why humans are superior to the animals, how animals got their names, the secondary position of women to men, why we wear clothes, why people do not live forever, why life is so hard, why snakes crawl on the ground, why (unlike among animals) childbirth is painful and dangerous for women, and why women were expected to serve their husbands and obey them.
A long time ago people observed that animals had a much easier life than humans. Animals could eat grass or other vegetation, or the wild animals could catch and eat their prey, but most of the time life for animals was pretty easy, compared to that of humans who had a hard life as they farmed the land to try to raise their food, or herded their sheep day and night, or guarded their cattle from predators while they took care to see that the cattle were watered and fed.
This story explains the hardship of human life as punishment for disobeying Yahweh and for competing with the gods by acquiring the knowledge that raised them from being animals. We picture a jealous and angry Yahweh intent on punishing humans and their children forever for their audacity in assuming they could be like the gods.