By Jacob Isaacs
Published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society
The First Man and Woman
Adam (“man of earth”), was the name of the first human-being whom G-d formed out of soil taken from all parts of the earth. Then, G-dcreated the first woman, Eve, to be Adam’s wife.
G d’s Blessing
G-dblessed Adam and Eve, saying: “Be fruitful and multiply, cultivate the earth, and control it. Rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth!”
The Garden of Eden
And Adam and Eve lived happily in “The Garden of Delight” (Gan Eden), which was the best part of the entire globe. They did not have to exert themselves to get their food, for everything was aplenty in the Garden of Eden.
But the happiness of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was not to last long. For, together with them, lived also the Serpent which was shrewder than all the other animals. The Serpent begrudged G d’s blessing given to Adam and Eve. He envied them the power to rule over the creatures of the world. He, therefore, devised a scheme by which to make the first human beings fall.
The First Commandment
When G-dgave Adam permission to eat the fruits of all the trees in the Garden of Eden, He warned him not to eat of the fruit of the “Etz Hadaath,” the “Tree of Knowledge” of good and evil, which stood in the middle of the Garden. Its fruits were very beautiful. As long as Adam did not eat of it, he was like an angel who does only good and lives forever. The fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge,” however, had the power to fill a man with the desire for both good and evil.
The Serpent, knowing this fact, based his plan on it. He met Eve alone in the Garden and asked her cunningly: “Is it true that G-dreally told you, ‘You shall not eat the fruit of every tree in the Garden?’”
“Oh, no,” answered the woman. “We may eat the fruit of all the trees in the Garden. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the Garden, G-dhas said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor touch it, lest you die!’” But the serpent said: “You will not die. G-dknows very well that when you eat the fruit of this tree your eyes will be opened, and you will be like G d, Who knows both good and evil.”
The First Sin
Eve looked at the tree. Its fruit looked good to eat, pleasant and attractive. But her heart warned her not to give up eternal life for the sake of power and pleasure. She was torn between her desire to eat and her fear of death, and she could not resist the temptation. She not only ate of the fruit herself, but she also gave some of it to Adam, so that he would have to share her fate.
Suddenly, Adam and Eve heard G d’s voice in the Garden, and they were afraid. They hid behind the trees and bushes. But G-dcalled to Adam: “Where are you?” Adam replied: “I heard Your voice in the Garden and became afraid.” “Have you eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat from?” said G d. Adam replied: “I am not guilty. The woman You have given me as a companion gave me some fruit of the tree, and I ate it.”
Then G-dasked Eve why she had done so, and she too had an excuse, saying that the Serpent had tricked her and made her eat of the Tree of Good and Evil.
Then G-dturned to the Serpent and said: “Because you have done this, cursed are you from among all creatures, and from among all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall walk, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” To the woman G-dsaid: “Your pain and your trouble will be very great; you shall bear children in pain.” To Adam G-dsaid: “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree which I commanded you not to eat of, cursed be the ground for your sake; with labor you shall eat of it all the days of your life. it will cause thorns and thistles to grow for you, and you shall eat the herbs of the field. In the sweat of thy face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return.”
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Then G-ddrove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden: where they had had everything they needed and desired without trouble. Adam and Eve now had to work; they had to plow the soil in order to get food for themselves.