Studies in Genesis 3
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV
This is a test. God is testing Eve. This is also a test for Adam. God is in absolute control. He has shown His control in creating everything according to His divine will and judgment. Yet, He is allowing the serpent, or whatever is in the serpent, to test the obedience of the woman and then the man. Since Eve has no experience with rebellion or disobedience how could she know she was being tested? When does a test become temptation?
The word “temptation” (nâsâh) is not used in this verse. Temptation, or putting to the proof, was not always viewed in Scripture as a negative occurrence, but more neutral in concept. Such testing was used to discover the purity, validity or integrity of a thing or person, such as purity of a metal like gold, or the people of God when He led them out of Egypt. People were tested to discover what they knew, what they could do, but more to show what they did not know and needed to learn, or what they could not do so they could learn. That which is lesser cannot test that which is greater. It is the greater, the authority or owner, who tests those owned or under their authority. No man has the right to test God but God has full authority to test and prove man.
Under this circumstance, the serpent does not test Eve. God tests Eve. God uses the serpent, and whatever is in it, to show what is in Eve, and ultimately, in Adam. Did Eve truly understand the command of God to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Eve’s response to the serpent’s question begins to reveal her ability to reason, decide an action and draw a conclusion. However, it is the serpent’s question that reveals it, or what is in it, is not good but somehow corrupted.
“Did God actually say ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
God created Eve from a piece of Adam. It was to Adam God spoke the command and prohibition. Adam would have to tell her what God said for her to know. Had the serpent spoken this question to Adam he could have given a definitive answer. Adam could have said “no, that is not what God said. He said ‘do not eat from the tree of the knowledge if good and evil. The tree in the middle of the garden next to the tree of life. We eat from every other tree there is.” But the serpent questioned Eve.
By implication the serpent was suggesting to Eve that since she was not around to actually hear God’s commands she could not know exactly what He said. Nor could she trust Adam to communicate accurately the words of God. Her authorities, God and the first man, were questioned over their position of authority and the intent of their relationship with her.