The Paradox of Adam and Eve
And How the New World Translation Fruitlessly Attempts to Remove
Evidence of Eve's Quest for Wisdom from the Account
Ask a Christian about Adam and Eve, and inevitably they'll tell you the first human pair were "perfect", i.e. created as flawless beings who were free from sin, and not lacking in any way.
Problem is, the word 'perfect' (unblemished) NEVER appears anywhere in the Garden of Eden account, and Jews (you remember, the people who wrote the story and who's Holy Book the story was taken from?) have NEVER viewed Adam and Eve as 'perfect', but as perfectly-flawed mortals, just like you and I: that's why Judaism has never accepted the Christian doctrine of Adamic 'original sin'.
This in turn explains why Jews never saw a need for atonement from Adamic sin, since in Judaism, sins MUST be personally addressed by the persons who committed them, after proper repentance and atonement via sacrifice.
Jews thus don't see a need for Jesus 'redeeming' mankind with his 'perfect' blood sacrifice, since per normative Judaism, Adam's sin could ONLY be atoned for personally BY Adam, AFTER he repented and made a guilt offering to God, asking for His forgiveness.
Of course, the Genesis account doesn't mention any such event, and obviously Adam is long-since dead. However, in normative Judaism, ALL sins are cancelled upon the death of the sinner, whereupon their 'sin ledger' is settled and their debt to God is rendered as 'paid in full'. Remember, in the latter part of the 1st millennium BCE a debate was raging between those rabbis who believed in the principle of 'inheritable sin' and those who didn't (as reflected in later scriptures saying that sons are not responsible for "the sins of their fathers", as seen in Isaiah). The latter camp prevailed in Judaism, and the former camp tended to drift off to form a cultic group you may have heard of (it goes by the name of Christianity).
Hence Jewish rabbis tend to interpret the story of Adam and Eve quite differently than Christians might, and a Jew would claim Christians are engaging in 'textual eisegesis' (i.e. engaging in rampant speculation) by extracting their desired interpretation from the text, a practice that is quite unlikely to communicate the author's originally-intended message.
Regardless, let's play along with the Christian interpretation of the account, tentatively accepting the premise that Adam and Eve were 'perfect', just to see where it leads.
In the account, Adam and Eve lived in the Garden and were given only ONE Divine Restriction to obey, found at Genesis 2:17:
"Do not eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil".
Despite having been given a handful of positive commandments (eg told to "fill the Earth and become many", place animals under their dominion, etc), they were given only ONE NEGATIVE commandment (i.e "Do Not do THIS") to obey, as shown above.
But just like that itch you cannot help but scratch, we all know what happened next: a certain rule was ignored and fruit was consumed, a certain deity got angry, angry curses were made, legs and green thumbs were confiscated, and mortals were expelled from the Garden of Eden with the path to reentry blocked. The rest, as they say, is history.
However, an important element often overlooked by many readers is the REASON WHY Eve saw the fruit as "desirable to eat", in the first place. (In fact, go ahead and mentally-record your answer to that question before reading on.)
Now sure, it's fun to engage in wild speculation about WHAT the forbidden fruit promised to bestow to all who consumed it, eg some will create clever hypotheses, saying it would impart experiential knowledge of the World, or grant intellectual capabilities (as if they would be geniuses), etc, but there's NO NEED to speculate on the point, since the answer is clearly provided to the reader in Gen 3:6! Hence one only need let the omniscient narrator TELL YOU the answer, since he reports Eve's internal thought-processes that gives the answer:
Genesis 3:6 (NIV)
"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it."
You catch it?
OK, let's all list the THREE REASONS, one by one, given in Genesis 3:6, which explains WHY Eve desired to eat the fruit.
Eve wanted to eat the fruit since it was:
1) Good for food (it looked edible and nutritious),
2) Pleasing to the eye (it looked delicious),
3) DESIRABLE FOR GAINING WISDOM.
Now, which ONE of those reasons is unique and magical, the real eye-opener?
Sure, it's the THIRD, the only UNIQUE and TRULY FANTASTIC (supernatural) reason which offers Eve something that cannot be obtained by eating the fruit of any of the other trees in the Garden. The "wisdom-bestowing" properties of the fruit should jump right off the page at you, since last I checked, "wisdom fruit" isn't stocked at your local grocery store (it's a 'special-order only' item at the local Whole Foods store)!
So per the narrator, the last reason alone uniquely explains why Eve saw the forbidden fruit as desirable to eat: it promised to make one wise.
Remember that throughout the Bible, wisdom is considered as a valued trait to possess (for males, at least), since wisdom is seen as the 'fuel' used by one's conscience (AKA moral compass) when making sound independent moral decisions; wisdom is needed in order to make wise (or at least, non-foolish) decisions.
In the Bible, those humans who lack wisdom are denounced with the antonym, FOOLISH, since 'wise' and 'fool' constitute a pair of words that commonly appear in the Bible to compare and contrast, the literary device has earned a specific name: 'merism'.
(Another example of a merism is found in the same account: 'good' and 'evil'. These are considered opposite ends of the spectrum, but the pair functions as a team to suggest not just the extremes, but the broad range of options along the entire spectrum).
But notice how the New World Translation (abbreviated NWT, the translation of the Bible produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society for use by Jehovah's Witnesses) completely drops the ball on the translation, rendering Genesis 3:6 as this:
6 Consequently the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something to be longed for to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it...
See what they did there? What are the THREE reasons given in the NWT?
Eve saw the fruit as desirable since it appeared:
1) Good for food (it looked edible/nutritious),
2) Longed for to the eyes (it looked pretty),
3) Desirable to look upon (it looked pretty)!
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's translation team completely DROPPED the 3rd reason, and simply rephrased the second and repeated it! They removed the MOST-IMPORTANT element that explains Eve's motivation, the TRULY-UNIQUE reason that explains why Eve wanted the fruit!
By repeating the second, the NWT's rendition is implying Eve desired to eat the fruit simply for desire's sake, and NOT to gain wisdom. The account is thus manipulated by the errant translators to depict Eve in a misogynistic light, as if silly Eve was like all women and attracted to the pretty fruit for its ornamental value alone (the sexist stereotype being women are attracted to shiny bangles, baubles, and beads, with women portrayed as shallow vapid creatures who desire shiny jewelry)!
The translators completely ignored and discarded the Hebrew word for wisdom, so future readers wouldn't know she was seeking to GAIN WISDOM which God's forbidden fruit offered. They transformed Eve from a courageous mother of all humankind who gave us all wisdom, and turned her into a shallow bimbo!
(Hmmm, didn't Jesus issue some kind of general warning about 'those lying scribes' who change the words of the Bible, and hence the meaning of the message?)
It's interesting to note that almost EVERY OTHER TRANSLATION doesn't botch the same passage (and 'wisdom' is NOT an easy word to lose track of in the fog of translation: it's safe to conclude the word's omission is no accident, but deliberate, intentional).
The NWT translators intentionally discarded this phrase (which IS found in the Hebrew Samaritan/Masoretic/Dead Sea Scrolls), as if seemingly attempting to suppress the problematic nature of Eve's quest for wisdom; burying the plot element also eliminates the problem of God appearing to explicitly forbid mankind from seeking and obtaining wisdom, and God testing them by placing magical wisdom fruit within their easy grasp.
But don't take my word on this: here's ALL the other translations of Genesis 3:6, so you can check them all out for yourselves, side-by-side:
So how did this happen? How did the NWT make this egregious translation error?
Here's the likely answer, from:
25.1.1 … This crucial verse fragment, “and that the tree was to be desired to make (one) wise”, is missing from both the (Greek) Septuagint and the (Latin) Vulgate. The Hebrews who translated this verse fragment altered it to read, “and beautiful to contemplate.” The deliberate Septuagint error is translated in the Vulgate as “and delightful to behold.” This is a very serious corruption of the original story. Why the Septuagint translators choose to introduce this deception is not known.
The WT IGNORED ALL other translations (which relied upon 'Hebrew to English' translations, e.g. the King James Version), and instead used the flawed Septuagint ('Hebrew to Greek') translation to selectively perform their 'Greek to English' translation, thus 'cherry-picking' from the Septuagint's prior deliberate mistranslation: that's CLASSIC 'propagation of error', and it looks here to be done intentionally to deceive readers (usually done to support one's desired doctrine).
Whatever the excuse, it's flat-out dishonest deception, whether it's done by the translators of the Septuagint 2,200 yrs ago, or when done 60 yrs. ago by the NWT translation team.
(And who's the "Great Deceiver", again? Who was it who relied on subtle (but intentional) deception to deceive Eve in the Genesis account?)
But setting such translation errors aside, let shift gears to the moral issues raised in the account by examining it further.
As stated previously, the Old Testament frequently relies on the use of merisms (pairs of antonyms), as reflected in the use of contrasting words (eg 'wise' and 'fool' found in Proverbs). The logical implication is that if Eve saw the fruit as "desirous for gaining wisdom", God created the pair as somewhat LACKING and/or WANTING in wisdom, since Eve was DESIROUS to GAIN it (of course, people don't desire a trait they already POSSESS). Hence the properly-translated account suggests God created the first pair as somewhat lacking in wisdom, thus they were unable to reliably make sound independent decisions, intellectually or mentally-incapacitated when it came to morality.
But to make matters even worse, with his ONE Divine Commandment prohibiting eating of the fruit, God was PROHIBITING the pair from POSSESSING wisdom, essentially having been sentenced by God to permanently remain in their foolish state after having been created as such (God even surveyed his own craftiwork afterwards, declaring his human creations as "very good", in Genesis 2).
And since Christian theology holds the first human pair were living in a 'perfect state' BEFORE the fall, God seemingly wanted them to remain as 'perfect fools'.
Remember, Adam and Eve's fall from "perfection" is the entire basis justifying the need for redemption and atonement for Adamic 'original sin', repaid by the supposedly counterbalancing "perfect" blood sacrifice of Jesus. But if the pair weren't created as "perfect" (by lacking in wisdom) such that Eve coveted it, something doesn't quite add up in the Christian interpretation of Genesis, does it?
Another element to consider about their "perfection":
One of the Ten Commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Covet", declared as such a great sin as to earn special mention on God's "Top Ten" list of sins. But since Eve supposedly was "perfect" BEFORE eating the forbidden fruit, how could she carry out the thought-sin of coveting (desiring) something that didn't belong to her ("the fruit of the Gods"), when coveting was later declared to be sinful? Does that sound "perfect" to YOU?
So how could supposedly "perfect" Eve commit the sin of coveting?
The story contains other disturbing elements that challenge the interpretation, as well:
Genesis 3:1 tells us that the serpent was made by God as 'arum' (a Hebrew word translated as 'crafty', 'clever', 'cautious' in most translations; it's even rendered as 'prudent' in other passages, although such a word choice for translation is clearly not going to work in the Genesis account).
Genesis 3:1 (NIV):
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made."
The serpent is eisegetically-interpreted by Christians as being possessed by Satan, hijacking the body of the clever talking animal (it presumably talked before, and hence why Eve wasn't startled by a talking snake). However, God creating a serpent which Genesis described as 'prudent' or 'wise' would be a 'red flag' pointing to Christian scripture-bending of the Hebrew Genesis account: this is certainly why many Christian translations use a less-problematic translation for 'arum' (like 'crafty').
But whatever word you use, YHWH is still suggested as having made the serpent CRAFTIER than all the other animals, and arguably even craftier than the foolish humans, since the talking serpent was easily able to deceive foolish Eve into eating what she coveted: talking foolish Eve into believing what she already wanted to believe was literally easier than stealing candy from a baby.
(And of course, it's no accident the serpent just happened to be hanging around the 'Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil', since early Hebrews saw snakes as wise and cautious creatures, believed to have discovered the secret of immortality based on their ability to shed and regenerate their skin. This was mistakenly viewed as a sign of eternal rebirth, and hence the serpent was believed to possess the secret to immortality, having knowledge of the same secret contained in the fruit from the "Tree of Life", which later appears in the story. Hence wisdom was seen as possibly leading to immortality, as the two were seen as tied.)
So it turns out the magic fruit worked as advertised by both God and the serpent, since the account states, "their eyes had been opened, knowing good and evil".
God even later acknowledges the fruit performed as advertised, when He says the following to His other spirit beings in Heaven:
Genesis 3:22 (NIV):
"They have become like us, knowing good and evil".
So the first pair gained wisdom by stealing it, in direct disobedience of Jehovah's Will, since God presumably intended wisdom to be for His exclusive use (or at least, God wanted to dole out wisdom as He saw fit). They stole wisdom from God, after being egged on by the serpent to do what Eve was predisposed to do.
And THIS is where the so-called "Paradox of Adam and Eve" arises:
How would Adam and Eve understand the 'wrongness' of disobeying YHWH's Divine Prohibition if they were LACKING in wisdom BEFORE they ate the wisdom-bestowing fruit?
How were Adam and Eve expected to be able to exercise their internal "moral compass" (conscience) to understand the wrongness of disobeying God's sole commandment, when their conscience was 'out of the fuel' (wisdom) needed to make such independent moral determinations, in the first place?
How would you answer that one?
THAT'S "the Paradox of Adam and Eve", the irresolvable continuity error embedded in the account which many generations of readers have overlooked (probably since so few readers stop to question what they read, esp what they WANT it to be true).
Don't feel bad if you're never noticed it before, since you may have been reading a Bible translation that deliberately deleted important words from the original Hebrew account to hide vital clues that would point out the paradox, just so you wouldn't have to fret over it.
Humans are known to be pre-disposed to simply repeating anything they hear that sounds reasonable to them without question, and Jehovah's Witnesses are no less immune, often mindlessly repeating mantras and memes that sound reasonable on first-pass, but fail when examined under the harsh light of scrutiny, if they're given only a moment's thought.
A perfect example is this ol' chest-nut, familiar to JWs everywhere:
"God didn't want to make humans as robots who HAD to love and obey Him, so He gave them the gift of FREE WILL".
We've ALL heard (or even said) that one, right? Well, anyone who says it is only confirming they really don't understand the difference between God's Divine Will and man's 'free will': it indicates they don't understand EITHER.
Let's back up and review these concepts, since understanding is necessary in order to understand the Adam and Eve account.
First off, the term 'free will' is pretty easy to understand: the first word ('free') refers to making a decision free from the coercion of anyone else trying to influence the decision in either direction. The second term ('will') is an expression of one own wishes, preferences, desires.
Taken together, a 'free will choice' is a decision made without any attempts to bias the outcome, being free of someone offering any inducements (rewards) or disincentives (punishment) to bias the decision, either way.
That's not complicated to comprehend, and it's simply what the phrase means in the context of philosophical and religious discussions.
Now, from the Biblical (theological) Christian standpoint, there are only TWO types of Will:
1) God's Divine Will, expressed whenever God issues a commandment (e.g. "Thou Shalt Not Do X").
Compliance with Divine Will is not optional for humans, but MANDATORY: God doesn't give humans permission to 'sin' (broadly-defined as any action contrary to God's Expressed Will).
2) Man's free will.
If God has NOT expressed His Divine Will on an issue, but instead has remained mute, ONLY THEN is mankind free to exercise their free will after contemplating, praying, and using their 'Bible-trained conscience' to decide upon the proper course of action, making the choice which they think God would look upon most-favorably.
Thus, man's free will is ONLY to be used in situations and issues where God hasn't already issued His Divine Will, since if God has already spoken on it (eg "Don't mix linens with cotton"), then God's will ALWAYS trumps mankind's use of free will: compliance with Divine Will is MANDATORY (as explained above).
To their credit, the WTBTS is very careful to distinguish between the phrases "free will" and "freedom of choice", where the former indicates man's ability to decide amongst options that are FREE of consequences (whether punishment or reward), since God has remained tacit on the issue; the latter term refers to making a choice to commit an action that violates God's Divine Will, but the choice is NOT made with any expectation of avoiding punishment for disobeying God's law, since the person knows he will have to face the consequences.
Also, free will is not something that man is "made with" or somehow "given", as if free will is the collection of neurons inside the brain that allows humans the capability of self-determination. Instead, the extent of man's free will domain (i.e. the decisions he is authorized by God to make on his own) is directly controlled and determined by God, being created by the ABSENCE of expressed Divine Will.
Restated, the ONLY way God gives mankind free will is simply by NOT expressing a bunch of "Thou Shalts" and "Thou Shalt Nots"! Free will is granted to mankind by being allowed the room and permission to decide issues, NOT by God declaring a bunch of Divine laws which MUST be followed.
It an issue of humans having been given permission to decide for themselves, and not so much about possessing the capacity to decide to act independently. Free will is given to mankind by being given God's PERMISSION to decide the issue, simply by God remaining tacit on an issue.
Therefore, there's a teeter-totter relationship between God's Divine will and mankind's free will: as the domain of one grows larger, the size of the other grows smaller by the same-exact amount, where the decisions God allows mankind to make decreases whenever God expresses HIS will.
Before the Divine Prohibition was spoken by God, ALL decisions were under Adam's free will domain; after God spoke the rule, ALL decisions EXCEPT THAT ONE were under Adam's free will domain. Adam and Eve didn't HAVE God's permission to exercise their free will when it came to that ONE decision, alone: they HAD to comply, or face the consequences for their sin, being punished by God.
So it should now be obvious why the meme, "But God didn't want to create robots who HAD to obey Him" is incorrect: God had expressed His will, and compliance WAS mandatory, and they HAD to obey Him or face punishment for themselves and you and I. Such crude attempts at apologetics are merely illogical deception.
The paradox of Adam and Eve is quite similar to when Christians claim they cannot trust their own horribly-flawed and corrupt moral compass, saying all humans instead must rely on God as the ultimate source of morality, as the superior "moral law-giver". But any admission of lacking trust in their own moral decision-making capabilities only undermines their claim to trust God, since how did they INITIALLY RELY ON IT in order to make an INDEPENDENT MORAL DETERMINATION that God's morality IS in fact superior to theirs, and God is worthy of handing over the reins of one's moral decision-making capabilities? How did they make THAT moral determination, without relying on their own internal moral sense (which they just admitted is horribly-flawed)?
Hmmmm, might THAT decision to trust God's morality as superior to theirs be FLAWED, too, since it was made using their "flawed" moral compass?
The fundamental problem is we cannot determine the morality of another entity WITHOUT relying on our OWN internal moral compass to make such a determination, since we're ALL independent moral entities.
The issue also arises in situations where God clearly expressed His will in the Bible, since the ability to decide WHICH Biblical commands apply to any given moral dilemma encountered in life requires making an independent moral determination, i.e. you still must rely on your own moral sense to decide when and where God's laws are to be applied.
That's the 'fly in the ointment', since we all know of ministers and pastors who engage in debates over the applicability of a given scripture to any given situation.
And such is the case with Adam and Eve's understanding of the 'wrongness' of eating the fruit, since they didn't POSSESS the wisdom required to fuel their conscience, lacking in wisdom needed to truly understand the immorality of disobeying God in the first place! Their conscience was running bone-dry of wisdom, since the fruit hadn't yet been consumed when they made the decision to eat the fruit.
So saying they had the 'freedom to choose' to disobey completely overlooks that they were deciding as FOOLS, in a morally-impaired state; hence, they were operating under what modern psychologists would refer to as a state of 'diminished capacity'.
The often-heard comparison of Adam and Eve to children is actually quite valid, since infants seemingly lack shame and self-awareness of their nakedness, running around free of inhibitions, without a care in the World. Children also act rashly, without thinking of the consequences of their impulsive actions.
A child's lack of capacity of forethought explains why modern law recognizes the concept of minors' not being fully-liable for their actions; most societies UNDERSTAND children lack sound judgment, and we EXPECT THEM to BEHAVE like children: acting impulsively is normal expected behavior for children!
In punishing adults who commit crimes, society recognizes a 'diminished capacity' defense, where those diagnosed as sociopaths or psychotic are not fully criminally-liable for their actions by reason of insanity or mental illness (and instead of being sent to confinement within the general prison population, they're incarcerated in a prison where mental-health services are available).
The Adam and Eve account actually supports a 'diminished capacity' defense, since the story offers some vital clues, eg they only understood the 'wrongness' of their actions only AFTER eating the fruit, once their "eyes had been opened" (and they tried to cover their nakedness by fashioning crude garments out of leaves).
Hence the account itself suggests they only realized it was wrong to disobey God AFTER gaining wisdom, only then realizing they had screwed up. But they clearly weren't aware of the wrongness BEFORE, since the decision to eat was made when they were in a fog, not fully-conscious of the implications.
In fact, the account actually depicts God as having originally MADE them AS ROBOTS, expected to blindly follow His orders without using their own moral judgment; it could be stated they were made as "imperfect robots", since they apparently didn't work as desired by God, and hence were unable to meet their designer's unreasonably high expectations. "Perfect" God screwed up, since 'being perfect' suggests producing "perfect" work: it's impossible to explain how things could get off-track so quickly when the Earth's population was only 2, and one of the "perfect" beings coveted God's wisdom.
It's worth mentioning some defenders of the account will cite Eve's parroting of the rule to the serpent as proof that she somehow knew eating was wrong. Apparently these people have never dealt with children before, who will parrot a rule they're not supposed to break, but will break it anyway within minutes, since they haven't actually comprehended and internalized WHY they should obey the rule.
Of course, some children seemingly have to learn lessons "the hard way", experiencing the consequences and punishment in order for the 'lesson' to sink in. That's the typical JW defense for God's actions in the Adam and Eve account, as a form of "tough love".
However, for God to exact death and pain on ALL subsequent generations of humanity is more than a tad of an over-reaction, condemning ALL men to death for Adam's sin; that shows a strong preference for teaching lessons via punishment after placing a pair of fools in an unwinnable scenario, AKA Divine Entrapment.
As written, the story reads more like a Divine 'trip and fall' set-up that's perpetuated on some grocery chain to threaten them with a fraudulent lawsuit, hoping to force the store to settle out of court to avoid the expense and headache of mounting a legal defense to defend against the fraudulent claim.
Of course, this plot device is not original or unique to the Hebrew authors of the Genesis account: it's actually a classical motif found in Greek tragedies, where the protagonist realizes the folly of their action (hamartia), but only AFTER it's too late to do anything about it (anagnoris, defined as "a tragic recognition or insight which explains why the character is in their current predicament, and have no choice but to accept their fate").
The story also shows CLASSIC examples of elements of Greek dramatic foreshadowing (eg Genesis 2:25: "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed": notice the extraneous mention of their lack of shame, serving as foreshadowing of their later emerging sense of shame).
It seems the author of the Genesis account was a big fan of the style of Greek tragedies, since he incorporated many of those same elements into the story to blend with other well-known pre-existent Mesopotamian and Egyptian myths (it's likely he had been exposed to the form during the post-exilic period, serving alongside Greek and Babylonian ambassadors in the Persian Imperial court).
But if the account is to be taken as a literal record of historical events that actually happened, and NOT as a story, then Jehovah has some 'splaining to do:
If God KNEW the first pair were incapable of making wise decisions, then WHY would He place the Tree in the MIDDLE of the Garden, where they could easily get to it and create problems for all mankind?
Remember, God had given the first pair the RESPONSIBILITY to serve as caretakers of the His plant and animal creations in the Garden (Genesis 1:26), eg placing animals under their dominion to "rule over" them. Presumably this delegation would NOT allow for playing elaborate pranks and practical jokes on the animals (cow-tipping was likely not an approved past-time). God is explicitly tasking them with the mission to be responsible custodians over His creations.
The legal concept of 'responsible custodianship' says that we cannot leave sweet-tasting anti-freeze (ethylene glycol) in open containers where small child and animals can accidently ingest it, since it looks and tastes like Kool-Aid (but is actually toxic and fatal). To do so violates Federal Laws, and results in criminal and civil liability.
Responsible adults cannot leave unlocked and loaded handguns laying around the house, where small children can play with them. It's just not safe for them AND others, and gun owners are prosecuted if they do.
Isn't that OBVIOUS? You wouldn't leave a loaded firearm laying on the floor where toddlers could get to it, would you?
So why does God get to violate His OWN principle of "responsible custodianship"? Is this one of those situations where believers say "might makes right", where God can do no wrong, since He's "God"?
Even the picture at the top of the page depicts a safety measure God DIDN'T take to protect his "children" and his wisdom fruit: it shows barbed wire wrapped around an apple (a common symbol used for the forbidden fruit, although the account doesn't specify what fruit it was). That step WOULD actually discourage (but not eliminate the possibility for) eating. Heck, even putting a few thorny spikes (as found on pineapples) would be a step towards TRYING to protect his "children" from eating the fruit!
To make matters worse for God, though, the account later demonstrates that God actually POSSESSED the ability to protect his fruit and humanity by blocking access to His beloved fruit-bearing trees, but didn't use it. Remember that immediately afterwards, God posted a cherubim with a flaming sword to protect the Tree of Life?
So YHWH clearly had the CAPABILITY to protect his wisdom-bestowing fruit, and elsewhere God is said to possess Divine foreknowledge (i.e. God is prescient, and knows the future), but we're supposed to believe God didn't see THIS ONE COMING? Hmmm....
However, there's no barbed wire mentioned in Genesis, and no mention of thorns on the fruit, etc but only evidence of God doing the exact OPPOSITE: as discussed above, God tested their obedience by leaving the desirable fruit in the middle of the Garden. In fact, God actually marketed the tree to them to MAKE IT tempting and DESIROUS, even calling it, "The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil". God didn't give it a non-descriptive name (eg 'Cherymoya tree'), but one that seemingly marketed it to them, as if God were some Madison Avenue ad agency trying to drive sales.
There's just no other way to spin it, other than God just BEGGING them to eat it, despite the later protestations and denials found in James 1:13 which says God just doesn't do that kind of thing: no sirree! No way, no how!
James 1:13 (NIV)
When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
Apparently the inspired author of James hadn't read the account of Adam and Eve, for he quickly shifts the blame back to humans in verse 14:
James 1:14 (NIV)
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
Again, how could Eve have 'evil desire' if she supposedly was "perfect" BEFORE eating? See how the sin is moving backwards in time, where the mere contemplation of disobeying is now defined as a sin?
God couldn't hang a tiny sign like this one on the tree, as seen everywhere in California (as required by law)?
In fact, that's EXACTLY the situation we have with the Christian interpretation of the inherited sin of Adam: eating the fruit supposedly caused an inheritable sin defect that resulted in mortality of ALL humans (even though the concept of inheritable sin was eventually rejected later in the Tanakh):
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.
Ezekiel says we all are judged based on OUR righteousness, hence not condemned based on the sins of our parents. However, Ezekiel's principle directly contradicts the 'doctrine of transferable righteousness' which is depicted in the Genesis account of unworthy Lot being saved due to the righteousness of Abraham (read my 3-part article on 'Lot's depiction in Genesis vs 2nd Peter', where I discuss this doctrine in greater detail, and explain why a rewrite was needed to accommodate evolving Christian theology).
Ezekiel apparently wasn't a fan of the doctrine, saying everyone had to stand before God on their own two feet, i.e. based on THEIR OWN righteousness (which reflects the ancient Egyptian belief that each soul stands before Ra after death in order to have their life recounted from the Book of Life, with their hearts weighed before Ra to decide on the fate of their soul). Jesus apparently didn't agree with Ezekiel either, since he HEALED the disabled by forgiving the sins of the parents, which was supposedly God's punishment!
As usual, Jews and Christians are insisting on having their cake and eating it too, making claims that contradict earlier claims, not wanting to let any of them go. Hence Christians cite the doctrine of 'inherited original sin' to explain man's mortality (saying that Jesus' sacrifice atones for Adam's sin), but then shift gears to say that God will judge each person based on their OWN righteous works. What a hodge-podge collection of contradictory beliefs, AKA shot-gunning, and hoping no one catches the contradictions.
Not that the sign above likely would've protected Adam and Eve: the first pair were intentionally created as fools, and thus likely would've foolishly eaten the fruit anyway, sooner or later, since that's EXACTLY what fools do: they make foolish choices and act like fools, revealing their true nature.
But that only begs the question-
Who's the greater fool: the fool who acts foolish, or someone who claims to be wise but expects fools to act any differently than fools?
Yeah, I'm going with the LATTER, the entity who THINKS he's wise and constantly brags about his great wisdom, but his actions speak louder than his words ever could.
God flew off the handle and acted shocked when they acted EXACTLY in keeping with the way He created them. So God comes off more like that sad Uncle who teases the nephews with the ol' "pull my finger" trick (except God is a much-more sadistic version)!
And despite my (simulated) outrage against cruel God, trust and believe I see the account for what it is: it's just an old fable, a Hebraic rewriting and amalgamation of far-older ancient 'origins' myth that were well-known throughout the Ancient Near East, with many Sumerian/Babylonian/Egyptian versions which predate the Genesis account by 1,000 years.
The same basic plot can be seen in younger Greek versions you may have encountered in an ancient Literature course, eg Hesiod's story of Prometheus contains a demi-god who stole "fire" (a symbol for knowledge) to help mortals. Throw a dash of Pandora's Box into the broth, and there's your bog-standard Adam and Eve story (Pandora's 'hope' is inserted into the story by Christians who later co-opted the account by claiming it contains the first OT prophetic foreshadowing of Jesus, eisegetically inserting such an interpretation into Genesis 3:16).
So only the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty):
1) Replace 'Zeus' with 'YHWH',
2) 'Prometheus' with 'the serpent',
3) 'Pandora' with 'Eve',
4) 'fire' (a symbol for knowledge in Greek mythology) with 'wisdom' (a specific form of knowledge: morality, where wisdom underlies morality),
and you've got another permutation of the same basic timeless story.
Parallels are seen in the Sisypean (i.e. never-ending) tasks that were doled out to protagonists as punishment by God(s) for helping mortals: the serpent was cursed to crawl on his belly thereafter, and Adam (the reluctant co-protagonist of Eve and the serpent) was condemned to work the cursed ground until he eventually died. Similarly, Zeus cursed Prometheus to have his liver torn out on a daily basis by an eagle (his liver magically grew back daily, as well).
It's the same idea: the God gives out a never-ending punishment, where the Hebrew version explains where human mortality comes from (as well as why women experience birthing pains, are afraid of snakes, etc).
The Gnostics (a diverse group of beliefs found within early Christianity) even recognized the protagonist nature of the serpent and Eve, just as Prometheus was viewed as the friend and advocate of humanity by the Greeks; Gnostics saw Adam and Eve as the victims of a cruel trickster God, and just couldn't fathom such a deity as being worthy of worship. That's partly why Gnostics demoted Jehovah to the role of a trickster demiurge (a minor deity who was appointed by a higher God to manage the affairs of the Earth).
I suspect the rewording of the Adam and Eve account in the Greek and Latin translations (Septuagint and Vulgate) was done SPECIFICALLY to reduce the obvious ethical issues that contributed to the growth of Gnostic beliefs, and the NWT simply kept up the 2,000 yr old tradition of hiding the flaws in the story that hindered acceptance of Christianity amongst Jews. Hellenized Greek Jews would've seen the obvious parallels to Hesiod, and likely would've objected to the flagrant overlay of Zeus onto Jehovah, and wouldn't buy into the 'original sin' thinking of Christianity without experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance. Hence the subtle change seen in the Septuagint (which was done for other reasons)suited orthodox Christianity just as well.
The Adam and Eve account is contrasted in the OT with the later tale of a young King Solomon who was asked by YHWH in a dream what he desired most as a gift from God: Solomon responded, "wisdom!", and hence Solomon was granted an extra-generous dollop.
The MORAL of the account is that one should ASK before taking: as Jesus said, "ask and ye shall be given". Just don't steal God's fruit: it REALLY pisses Him off!
It's as if YHWH wants to play an elaborate game of "Mother May I?" with mortals, where Adam and Eve lost the game and all humanity paid the price (Adam and Eve also were bad at playing 'Hide and Seek' with God, who played dumb with the, "Adam, where are thou?" line. It's admittedly hard to win, when the guy you're trying to hide from is omniscient and ALREADY KNOWS where you are hiding)!
In contrast, King Solomon was a Champ at the "Mother, May I?" game, since he asked BEFORE taking (where stealing wisdom would be admittedly hard for him to do, since the Tree with the magic fruit of wisdom had been removed from the Earth by God long before Solomon came along).
At any rate, it's absolutely crazy how many people build their lives and base decisions around these ancient persistent myths. Seriously, is this Bible thing some kind of an inside joke, where a few of us just didn't get the memo? I almost expect camera crews to jump out from behind the bushes any minute, with Ashton Kutcher saying we've all been punk'd!