In Genesis 3:1 the serpent appears to be seeking clarification from Eve about what God had commanded regarding eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After Eve’s failure to quote God accurately the serpent reveals a more sinister motive:
ESV Genesis 3:4-5 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Look again at what God had commanded:
ESV Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
When striking up the conversation with Eve initially, the serpent had turned the abundance of fruit trees God provided for consumption into a complete ban of all fruit trees. (See 3:1). Now the serpent contradicts God by negating the consequences of eating from this one banned tree.
God warns “you shall surely die”. Eve interpreted this to the softer statement of “lest you die”. The serpent discounts both God and Eve saying, “you will not surely die”.
The serpent goes even further in discrediting God’s character by implying that the reason this tree’s fruit has been banned for consumption is that it will open Eve’s eyes to become like God.
Consider what is said though about the creation of man:
ESV Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Notice that mankind was already created in God’s likeness. Further, mankind was created to have authority over animals. But here in Genesis 3, it is the serpent, an animal, who is challenging God’s authority and integrity.
Next time we’ll study how Eve responds to this new challenge by the serpent.
Meanwhile, what else do you see in these verses that I haven’t mentioned? Send me your observations! I love to hear from my readers.