Studies in Genesis 3
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3 ESV
When Eve added her own words to God’s, “neither shall you touch it,” what was she saying? God said when you eat the fruit “dying you will die.”
To “touch” means to reach out and grasp to oneself. “Touch” can also mean to strike or to be defeated. For Eve, the word may mean either deliberate or accidental physical contact with the fruit of a tree. Eating the fruit would automatically demand touching the fruit. Yet God does not say “do not touch.” His command is, do not “eat.”
It would appear there was, within the makeup of Eve, a desire to eat that which was forbidden. She had the will to resist that desire, and the intellectual ability to reason why she should not eat. Instead, she built, in the thinking of her heart, a reasonable boundary to keep herself from doing that which was forbidden. Her thoughts may have been if I don’t touch it then I definitely will not eat it. She built her own tool to help her keep God’s command. This suggests her faith and confidence in God was wavering. There was an apparent weakness of which the serpent took advantage.
Did she understand what God meant by “die”? To “die” means to be separated from that which sustains life. Physical death is separation from that which sustains physical life. In the same sense, spiritual death is separation from that which sustains spiritual life. God sustains all life whether physical or spiritual.
Yet, God does not simply say “die.” He says “die, die.” “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 (dying you will die)” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). The implication of this statement suggests there was already physical death, as a natural part of life, and that disobeying His command would bring a different kind of death. Eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and after you physically die you will experience another death. You will die spiritually.
Man was not created to rebel against God but for obedience and relationship. Given the image of God, Man was designed to learn over a period of time what it means to know each other and to know God. Part of the process of learning and maturing was to know the difference between good and evil as a natural, created part of His image. Obedience to God’s authority is part of that maturing process. Disobedience is in His face rebellion.