And the eye of them both was opened, and they knew they were naked. (Genesis 3:7)
Many theories are offered as to what changed in mankind when Adam and Chavah (Eve) ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Speculations abound regarding free will, original sin or other ideas. While I don’t ascribe to any theory more than the other, I do find them contradictory. For example, the Jewish sages say free will existed before the Tree while Catholicism teaches it entered after the Tree.
I think the best guide as to what changed is the Word of God.
First, let’s compare things we know didn’t exist before the Fall, with what certainly existed after the Fall:
And the man and his wife were naked, but they were not ashamed. (Gen 2:25)
Shame is an uncomfortable emotion we can relate to today, but in the pre-Tree Adam and Eve, it was unconscionable. However, as soon their “eye was opened” they were certainly ashamed of their nakedness, and experienced even more emotions:
I heard your voice in the garden… and I was afraid. (Gen 3:7)
You see, the phrase ‘your eye will be opened’ is an idiom for ‘your fountain will be opened’ meaning that the serpent was playing the couple in that their freedom was stopped up like a blocked fountain. However, when ‘the eye of the fountain’ was released, the knowledge flooded their souls with fear, shame, panic, and all our inherit sins.
Thus we started experiencing the good, the evil, and EVERYTHING in between. That’s what the text is really saying as “good and evil” is a Semitic merism for “everything”.
Unfortunately, the “everything” that we began to experience hampers our souls from experiencing the presence of God. In the text Adam physically hid himself from God because of shame and fear (3:10), yet it’s also a metaphor that shame and fear causes all humans to hide themselves from God.
There is one mystery in the text that solidifies this reality – one that I think deserves more attention in our studies.
The word says that the serpent was more “arum” (clever or crafty) than any other beast (Gen 3:1). However, the word also says that the man and woman were ayrumim (naked ones, Gen 2:25). You see, both of these words stem from the same root meaning “clever or crafty”.
Now the serpent – the arum one – had promised that they “would be as gods” but in the end, what did humans discover first and foremost? They saw… that they were eyrumim.
It’s a wordplay but an inherent truth: these eyrumim humans discovered they were more like the arum serpent than gods. They had been deceived.
As an offshoot of the Tree of Knowledge, humans gained the capacity to develop traits of an arum person who:
– operates by schemes (Job 5:12)
– conceals guilt with words (Job 15:5)
– covers dishonor by manipulating the simple (Prov. 12:16)
– doesn’t offer everything he knows (Prov. 12:23)
– invests in knowledge before acting (Prov. 13:16, 14:18)
– understands his every step (Prov. 14:8, 15)
– conceals himself from trouble (Prov. 22:3, 27:12)
Now after they fell, as the scripture shows, God almost immediately descends to the Garden and rectified the situation. However, it’s another metaphor that characterizes the human predicament in three parties: Almighty God, the nachash (diviner) serpent, and humans in between.
As the story continues, we see that God says that we became like God after all, to experience “everything” (Yes, believe it or not, God feels like we feel); however, it’s also true that we gained a propensity to become like the serpent, personified today in those who would manipulate, and carefully calculate the demise of people – especially God’s people. Like the serpent “nachash” (diviner), these are false prophets and teachers, and everyone who wants to out-scheme and destroy you.
The truth is, we’re still stuck in the middle! On the one hand, God is calling us to be more like Him, and “serpents” still want to trample us for personal gain. The only question is, who do you want to be more like?
We do have a natural handicap. We became sinful – we experience fear, shame, guilt, selfishness, and literally ‘everything’ that can prohibit us from enjoying the Presence of God. This was the fruit of the Tree, but yet, God has never stopped calling us to overcome that handicap. He calls us to return to Him, all the while rejecting the crafty serpents that will destroy us in a moment. ♦