Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

The Forbidden Fruit

Adam had been placed in a beautiful garden named Eden, which God had planted, and which was watered by four rivers. Here God came to visit the first man, and told him that he could eat of the fruit of every plant and tree in the garden, except the fruit which grew on "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." This tree was placed in the center of the garden, and God gave this order to find out whether Adam would obey him.

Besides, if the man did not eat of the fruit, he would never know trouble or sickness. At the same time that God gave this first command, or law, he added the first punishment, or penalty, saying: "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

God now brought the animals which he had created, so that Adam might name them all. In doing so, the man saw that the beasts went about in pairs, and that he was the only living creature who had no mate. He felt very lonely when he saw this, and told God that he would like to have a companion like himself. So the Creator "caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs," and from it made a woman.

When Adam awoke, God brought the first woman to him. Adam saw that she was a part of himself; and he said that a man shall "leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife." Thus, in the Garden of Eden and in the presence of God himself, the first marriage was celebrated; and Adam and his wife were so pure and innocent that they were perfectly happy, and no more ashamed of being naked than little children.

Adam dwelt in the Garden of Eden with Eve, as the first woman was called, in perfect happiness, which was to last as long as they obeyed God and did not eat any of the fruit which hung on "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Unfortunately, however, there was an evil spirit, called the Tempter, the Devil, or Satan, who entered the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent.

He was jealous of the happiness of Adam and Eve, and very anxious to deprive them of it. So he spoke to Eve, and told her that God had forbidden their eating any of the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden only because he wanted to keep it all for himself.

The serpent then urged Eve to taste the fruit, saying: "Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Eve believed the words of the wicked serpent, ate some of the fruit, and gave some to Adam, who ate it too.

As the serpent had said, their eyes were now opened; and, whereas they had known only good before, they now knew evil also. God had seen that they would never be perfectly happy if they knew evil, and he had kindly kept that knowledge from them.

But now they had disobeyed his command, and with the knowledge of evil came the feeling of shame and fear, which they had never had before, and which made them go and hide among the trees of the garden. In the cool of the day, God came into the garden, and called to them. Adam came slowly, in answer to this call, and excused himself, saying that he was afraid to come out because he was naked.

At these words, God asked him whether he had tasted the forbidden fruit; and when Adam confessed that the woman had given him some, God questioned Eve. She, in her turn, confessed her disobedience, but said that the serpent had tempted her.

Both Adam and Eve had broken the first law, so they had to suffer the punishment which God had warned them they must receive. The serpent, who had tempted the woman, was condemned to be hated of all men, and to crawl in the dust. Eve was told that she must obey her husband, and that she would suffer, while Adam was doomed to a life of hard work, because the earth would no longer yield him food unless he tilled the soil.

No promise was added to make the serpentís sentence less severe, but Eve was told that her children would fight against the serpent (the spirit of evil), and that in time one of them would conquer him. Adam was promised that his toil would not be in vain, but that God would bless it and enable him to earn, by the sweat of his brow, the bread without which he could not live.

When the judgment against the serpent, the man, and the woman had thus been given, God reminded Adam and Eve that, as they had sinned, they would suffer death. He warned them that as their bodies had been made of dust, they could not last forever, using the words which are now spoken in the funeral service: "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."