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The Fall of Man happened soon after the Creation of mankind. The first man and woman had been created perfect and were put in the Garden of Eden to guard and keep it for God[1]. However, there was a test of their character placed deep within the garden: the Tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil)[2]. The first couple, tempted by Satan in the guise of a serpent[3], failed the test.

The result was catastrophic, affecting all of creation as well as the first parents of mankind. Within less than two thousand years things had gotten so bad that God had to judge all of mankind in the Great Flood. The fall was into sin and away from God. The way back to God would be through a "Savior" -- a person descended from Adam and Eve but especially appointed by the Creator.

Prelude

Mankind started out perfect, along with the rest of the world[4]. The man and his wife had work to do, even in a place with no trouble. However, they did not know how things worked. They had limited knowledge because they trusted the Creator to have done things right. They had plenty of fruits, nuts and vegetables to eat[5] -- most for the taking from within a short distance.

Indications from the text seem to present a harvest season (traditionally in the autumn of the year)[5]. In later history, the people of Israel would celebrate the early part of fall as their most holy of holidays. It is not hard to see typology in Genesis pointing to those holidays.

However, before mankind was created, God had created inhabitants of the heavenly realms. However, the beauty of these created being was spoiled when they rebelled against their creator[6]. Chief of them all was God's "torchbearer," one called "Light Bearer" in the original language. This creature thought itself on an equal footing with Yahweh, but its arrogance proved to be overwhelming. Before long, it fell from being the "covering cherub" to creature hiding in a garden[7].

In the midst of that garden paradise upon the earth, stood a tree forbidden to the newly created humans. God had told the man, Adam, that eating from this tree would bring death. To the fallen angel, it was an opportunity to tempt them to doubt the Creator. Slipping out of its created slender, it took on the form of a reptile known for its cleverness[8]. The tree was supposed to give the humans discernment into things that only Yahweh knew. What God meant for a test, Satan (the Adversary) would use to tempt them into rebellion worse than his own.

The Fall

The Forbidden Fruit

The Garden of Eden provided all any creature needed for food. There was no need for death, as the "food chain" consisted of the seed and fruit of an untold number of plants within the garden. However, in the middle of the garden there was a tree designed as a test. It was called the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."

In esssense, this was a test of trust in God. God had prepared a perfect world for mankind, providing food and companionship requiring only that they take care of it and have children to help them in that task. Nothing was a mystery if they chose to do what they were told. Their lives were full of purpose and possibility.

And so, there was one negative commandment: don't eat from this tree. The penalty was certain death. Literally, they would enter the process of dying (dying, you shall die). The test was one requiring obedience to avoid failure. The fruit on this tree was both beautiful and delicious, so it was a perfect opportunity for Satan.

The Lie

Satan had chosen the form of a shiny reptile, the "serpent", because it was a clever creature. Not knowing its competition, it is hard to tell exactly how this cleverness showed itself. Like the tree, though, this form seemed to be enticing to the woman, who came along to investigate the tree her husband had told her about.

It was at this time that the serpent spoke to her, questioning the explicit word from the creator. It insinuated that leaving one tree out of many to be off limits was unfair. Besides, it said, death was not an instant thing. The accusation that the Creator had withheld a pleasurable experience baited the trap.

The serpent assured the woman that nothing of consequence would happen if she ate the fruit. In fact, she would find out what it was like to be in control of her own destiny. The secret of happiness, it said, was to be in control of the situation -- just like God and other heavenly beings.

Falling for the Lie

Things seemed reasonable to Eve as she reached out to take the fruit. It was an attractive fruit, probably much like what she knew from other trees nearby. As she saw it to be good to eat, it is probable that the fruit had a fine aroma. The very name of the tree - Knowledge of Good and Evil - was enough to draw her closer.

Once she had made this determination, there was nothing stopping her from taking as many of the fruit as she could hold. Having enough for Adam, she offered it to him as well. Together, they ate the fruit to see if God had been right. Death, whatever that was, seemed to be illusionary, for they stood looking at the serpent and each other, not knowing what to expect next[9].

Hiding from God

Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, and in shame created clothing out of leaves.[10] Knowing God would come around soon, they sought some way to stay hidden from His presence. The nearby Tree of Life may have been the place where God came to meet them, so they ran away.

However, God found them hiding among the bushes and began to question them. He knew what they had done and left them open to repentance. However, mostly they just blamed each other and the serpent for all that happened[11].

The Consequences

Having been discovered by Yahweh, the serpent, Adam and his wife had to face the immediate judgment from the judge of the whole universe[12]. The LORD first confronted Adam, who blamed Eve, who then blamed the serpent. In response, God pronounced judgment upon the three in reverse order.

The first to be judged was the serpent and evil entity that possessed it. The beast was altered in some way so as to forever slither upon the ground as a despised creature among all the others. However, Satan was truly cursed, being told that his struggle with mankind would certainly fail by way of the "seed of the woman[13]."

Although she had been deceived by the serpent[14], Eve had to face the consequences of her sin. Her most blessed responsibility[15] would become painful to her. She had not yet known childbirth, but she learned that because of disobedience to God's direct command to Adam, she would find childbirth to be mixed with sorrow. Additionally, her relationship with Adam would be more difficult[16].

Finally, the LORD admonished Adam, upon whom the ultimate blame fail for not enforcing the one "Law" laid down at creation. Since he had been created with the specific purpose to take care of the rest of creation, and especially his wife, his listening to Eve on this matter was a direct challenge to the authority of God. The consequences of this rebellion were felt in the nature of the domain he had been given. Once a gardener who needed only to tend to his Master's creation, Adam would become a hunter-gatherer and a farmer.

As a consequence of this rebellion, "thorns and thistles" would compete with crops he would plant to augment the once plentiful fruit of the trees of the Garden of Eden. Mankind would have to fight the ground itself to survive up until eventual death[17]. The death which was to come was not an immediate cessation of life, but rather a long process of dying which began with the rebellion.

Death was now only avoidable by way of the Tree of Life, so the LORD determined not to allow mankind access to the tree. Instead, the first parents were forced to leave the garden. At the entrance of, or perhaps all around, the garden would be guarded by mighty angels (Heb: kerub) with fiery swords (Heb: khereb = instruments of destruction). See more about this here.

The Expulsion

Before expelling Adam and Eve from the Garden, the LORD introduced the first evidence of death in the world. Though the text only states that the skins of animals were provided to replace the inadequate leaves[18], it evident from subsequent history that animal sacrifice was the ancient way to get closer to God[19]. Though the death penalty had been pronounced, God provided a "stay of execution" in the form of a visual representation of the consequences of sin.

Clothed with durable skins, the couple faced a challenging world outside of the garden. Most likely following banks of the Euphrates River, they found a place a safe distance from the Garden to stop and settle down. Perhaps they began to make a pilgrimage back to the foot of the cherubim to worship the true God there. The first recorded sacrifices were with their children Cain and Abel decades later, so it is uncertain to the custom in that pre-flood period.

The path back to the Garden, and the Tree within it, was now blocked. The task of dominating the rest of the world lay before them. Many mistakes would follow, each demonstrating the effect of the rebellion. Anger and control issues would certainly plague humanity for over a century before the first recorded murder forced two distinct family trees to grow, that of the murderer and that of a brother born to replace his victim[20].


Verses

  1. Genesis 2:5,15 (Link)
  2. Genesis 2:16-17 (Link)
  3. Genesis 3:1-5 (Link)
  4. Genesis 1:31 (Link)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Genesis 1:29
  6. Rev. 12:17 (Link)
  7. Ezek. 28:11-19 (Link)
  8. Genesis 3:1 (Link)
  9. Genesis 3:6 (Link)
  10. Genesis 3:7 (Link)
  11. Genesis 3:8-13 (Link)
  12. Gen. 18:25 (Link)
  13. Gen. 3:14-15 (Link)
  14. 1 Tim. 2:14 (Link)
  15. Ps 127:3 (Link)
  16. Gen. 3:16 (Link)
  17. Gen. 3:17-19 (Link)
  18. Gen. 3:22 (Link)
  19. Gen. 4:4; 8:20 (Link)
  20. Gen. 4:25-26 (Link)

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