Wasn’t Adam the only one given God’s prohibition in the garden?

Wasn’t Adam the only one given God’s prohibition in the garden?

Q: Does the fact that Adam was the only one given God’s prohibition in the garden prove that he was given a role of authority that the women was not given?

A: This is a common question and comes from a common misconception about the text in Genesis 2. However scripture does not say that Adam alone was given God’s prohibition in the garden and that he had authority over Eve. Let’s have a look at scripture to see what it actually says. In Genesis chapter two, God gives the prohibition to Adam saying “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Now who told Eve what she could eat and what she was not allowed to eat? Nowhere does it say that Adam told her so why do we assume that it was Adam and not God himself? The reason is because we have been taught the tradition that Adam alone was given God’s word and because he was the only one who heard directly from God, this means he has an authority that the woman does not have. This translates into a teaching that the man alone has the “doctrinal guardianship of the church”.

Let’s look at scripture carefully to see if this is true. In Genesis 3:3 Eve says concerning the forbidden fruit, “God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” Now the first thing that we notice is that there is something additional here in Eve’s repeating of the commandment that is not included in the prohibition to Adam. She said “neither shall you touch it”. Some say that she added her own thoughts or interpretation to what she heard Adam tell her. Others say that Eve added to the words of God that Adam gave her. Let take these options and test them by the word of God.

Could Eve’s words be her own interpretation of God’s command so that she added her own thought “this means I shouldn’t even touch the fruit”? According to the inspired words, this is not possible. Why? Because the inspired words say “neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” If Eve was quoting her own thoughts she would have said “neither shall I touch it”. She would not have talked about herself in the third person. The inspired words show that she is not adding her own personal thoughts, but attributing this quote to God because the inspired word says “you”.

The next option that we need to consider, is did Eve add to God’s word? That is a very serious charge. God tell us several times in his word that we are not allowed to add to his words. Deut. 4:2 and 12:32 commands us not to add to his commands and Proverbs 30:6 says “Do not add to His Words, lest He reprove you and you be found a liar”.

Would a perfect, sinless woman be guilty of adding to God’s words? What reason did she have to lie about what God said? There was no reason for her to lie and add to God’s words what he did not say. Also God did not reprimand her for adding to his word and he did not find her to be a liar. Eve was not proved to be a liar, so this theory cannot be right. So what is the remaining option that we have?

The only other option we have is to believe the testimony of the first woman who spoke the words in her sinless, perfect condition. Her testimony is that God spoke these words. The words of God are quoted two ways in scripture. They are either quoted directly as God spoke them, or else they are quoted by the person as a testimony that God said…

Eve said “God said…” and she quoted the words that God gave her. These words are slightly different than what God told Adam, because God knew that the woman would be tempted if she touched the fruit, so for her, he also told her not to even touch the fruit, lest it she be tempted to eat. Why is it that we do not believe Eve? It is because it is easier for us to believe that Eve lied about what God said, than to believe that she too heard the prohibition from God. You see, if Eve also heard directly from God, then Adam had no more authority than she did. And if Adam had no more authority with the word of God than the woman did, then the foundation of the teaching that the man alone has been given the responsibility of teaching doctrine to the church because only the man was given God’s words in the garden of Eden, is torn down.

Did God speak directly to Eve? It is her testimony that he did. Which option will you choose to believe – that a perfect woman without sin, without provocation and without reason, chose to lie to the serpent about what God said, or will you choose to believe the words of scripture as they are written, that God spoke to the woman and that from creation on, men and women are spiritually equal and have equal authority regarding God’s word?

15 thoughts on “Wasn’t Adam the only one given God’s prohibition in the garden?

  1. Cheryl,

    you raise some excellent questions for me to ponder.

    i am amazed that in all my reading (dozens of books on the topic) i haven’t yet found this teaching – certainly not this perspective set out so clearly and logically.

    Are you aware of any others supporting this teaching?


  2. Hey Kerryn,

    Thanks for popping in!

    Regarding others supporting this teaching, I have not found it in writing anywhere, but pretty much everyone that I have explained this to have agreed with it. It is one of those things where tradition has told us for so long that God only gave the prohibition to Adam and so we have accepted the explanation that Eve must have added to God’s word. I mean, surely God wouldn’t have spoken to the woman too, would he?

    Ah, yes, believe it or not, the evidence is clear that Eve’s testimony is that God did speak to her too!

    Last year I had the opportunity to speak about the logic of this teaching to a seminary prof. He was teaching a bible study that I attended and after the session he was discussing the sin of Adam and Eve with me. He stated that God only spoke to the man and that Eve added to God’s words. I asked him how he knew that. It was interesting to see the look on his face. It was like no one had ever asked him that question before and because of that it was a thought that had never entered his mind. He stated that this is what he had always been taught. I then asked him why Eve would lie and make up something that God had not told her? He agreed with me that if Eve added to God’s words that it would be a serious sin and that a sinless woman lying for no reason did not make sense when one thought it through. In the end he agreed that going through the passage with only the Bible, it was clear that Eve gave a true testimony about what God told her. Any other option would have charged a very serious sin to Eve.

    The whole question that we need to work through is why have we so easily accepted the teaching that Eve added to God’s words when scripture nowhere says this? I believe that the answer to this question is that we have accepted the tradition that God favors men and that he only speaks his word through the man. This is a tradition that does not honor God because it charges God with partiality and favoritism.

  3. God did speak to Eve. Thanks Cheryl for this wisdom from the Spirit!

    Lord Jesus Forgive me for believing that Eve added to your word or lied!

    Now I have the Right Truth & Understanding. Yes WITHOUT adding to the text it becomes clear. In my personal study I no longer read into scripture but only read what is there and no more, then I take the whole scope of scripture into accord as well!

    God knew that for her, once see touched it then God knew adam would partake an join in of his own free will! God knew how satan was going to tempt/get each one!

    Also if she did add to the command Adam would have blamed her for that but he doesn’t! Also God would have called her on that if she did add to his word. But nothing of the kind is in the account…Nothing. Yes, this is a learning for us all, to handle the word of God with Great Care!

  4. Thanks Michael! There is much in scripture that is tradition and not God’s truth. When we lay aside our faulty thinking and look deeply into God’s word without prejudice, it is amazing at what is there! May God bless you for being willing to see the truth and to lay aside what tradition has taught us.

  5. Hello all,

    I’m sending this topic info to AIG (Answers in Genesis) because I just got there MAG. in the mail and on page 2 up top “CreationWise” the first picture is Adam telling Eve about the Tree of G and E. Eve said in her perfect state..God Said! Not that Adam told me!

    Thanks for the info. I hope they take the correction. We are not to add to God’s word or Take away. if they don’t accept this correction in Love, then they have to answer to Jesus for that someday. bye

  6. You arguments apparently are correct. However, they were taken out of context. When the woman said, “God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”, it is not as she was relating a message she directly receive from God similar to the prophets, who wrote THUS SAYS THE LORD and then God’s message. This a a completely different context. She only presented her answer in response to the question from the snake. It is like asking a child in Sunday school, ‘Did God really said something?’ If the child previously learned something different, he/she would respond in a similar fashion. It doesn’t mean that the child heard God speaking directly him/her as did the prophets.

  7. After some more careful study to your arguments, they actually prove that you are wrong. You argued that the woman should have also been reprimanded for adding to God’s word, if she had not quoted it correctly. Therefore, she must have quoted it correctly. However, based on this argument, shouldn’t her have also been reprimanded for touching the fruit, since it is also one of the prohibitions from God?

  8. Joseph, welcome to my blog!

    This is not an issue of prophecy. The context is instruction that God gave to Adam and Eve. God personally brought Eve to Adam in Genesis 2:22. In Genesis 3:8, Adam and Eve heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. When God spoke to both Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, He asked them both what they had done because both of them were responsible for their own disobedience. In Genesis 3:13 it says that the LORD God “said to the woman”. God spoke to her and her testimony is that He spoke to her previous to the serpent speaking to her.

    As far as the woman’s words about what God said, there is no evidence in the Bible that she lied or that she was so childlike that she was unable to understand a simple prohibition. Also, God’s words to Eve were simple, “What is this you have done?” He neither mentions the eating of the fruit to her nor touching it.

    So the question to those who believe that Eve did not speak the truth about not being allowed to touch the fruit, is did Eve sin first by lying? Or is it possible that the sinless Eve told the truth and these were the words of God spoken to both of them?

  9. There is a third possibly. neither God spoke to each of them directly and differently, nor Eve lied intentionally. She was simply giving her honest understanding to the serpent out of fear of possible bad consequence by getting too close to the prohibition.
    In the examination process, God spoke to the head of the creation first, that is Adam and he passed the buck to both God and Eve, by saying, ‘the woman you gave me to be with me, she gave me…’ If Adam would have responded, ‘Sorry God! My bad…’, the examination would have ended there. However, they passed the buck all the way down to the serpent (from Adam to Eve and from Eve to the serpent), who should have been to be under the dominion of Adam and Eve.
    If you were the president of United State, and you want to find out why one of your citizens was murdered in another country, say, in Philippine, whom will you call? You call the president of Philippine, and then it works down the chain. That was exactly what happened in Genesis 3.

  10. Joseph,

    Your third possibility is not possible. Where in the text does the Bible say that Adam was was the only one accountable and answerable? Where does it say that if he would have said “my bad” God would not not held the serpent responsible for his actions and Eve not personally responsible for her sin? Adam was the one who was not deceived. Adam was created first. There is no indication that the deception of Eve should not have been exposed or that individuals would hear personally the results that came from their actions.

    I think you need to go back to the Scripture and look again. A possibility needs connection back to the text as proof.

  11. Joseph, I should also comment that your suggestion that Eve got the prohibition wrong because she was afraid is found nowhere in the text. Eve replied God said, and she gave His prohibition. Fear is not mentioned and error about God’s words is not corrected by Adam or God. And lastly, fear happened after they sinned not before.

    I hope this helps.

  12. One other thing. The serpent was under the influence of the devil. Adam was to protect the garden but Adam was not the spokesman for the serpent or the devil.

    God called all to account as He should have. Adam could not have stopped that by an apology.

  13. I love this discussion and am so eager to learn of something that resonates with my spirit. We do know that God spoke to Eve, yes, however, when the instructions for the Garden were given, she was not yet created.

    In that view, this message about not eating from the forbidden tree could very well have been relayed to Eve by they one God clearly did tell -Adam. I am not convinced, no matter how much I want to be, that, “God said,” is the same thing as “God told me” or “God told us.”

    It also stands to reason to me that her addition of the command came from Adam, who, perhaps when in telling her not to eat of it, he may have also stressed, “don’t even touch it!”
    I don’t think it set up and authoritarian rule, as much as Adam, clearly knowing what God told him, felt the need to make it clear to Eve, who was naturally in his care, yet was clearly not yet present when those instructions were given.


    Doesn’t it seem more plausible that Eve could be tempted more easily by something her husband said God said, rather than by something God told her directly? I now personally when I hear from the Lord, I do not forget what He said. But when I hear from my husband I naturally run it by several people also.

    I also wonder if God allowed the Word to be written in this way so that even through much depth of study, conversation and reading, there would be no clear and defining answer so as not to place eternal blame on one sex or the other when clearly both were in error.

    Eve paid her dues for sure….and her desire was for her husband but he would rule over her henceforth. I feel like that says something about the created order, but not that Eve was less. She just perhaps needed a little more protection than Adam understood, and that He had more responsibility for her that he realized.

    (We still don’t know and won’t know until we get to Heaven what powerful influence Eve must have had on Adam, and what it was that made HIM choose to eat the fruit.)

    Seems to me that maybe Men need more protection than they realize too.

    Thank you for your page and for this discussion.

  14. Welcome Ramona,

    You said

    however, when the instructions for the Garden were given, she was not yet created

    The very first time that the instructions were given what they could eat is found in Genesis 1:29 and it is said to a plural “you”. While the prohibition is not quoted in the first chapter, it is mentioned in chapter 2 and chapter 3. But of interest is the first mention of what they could eat was placed in chapter 1 and said to both of them.

    You said that Eve could have been told about the prohibition by Adam. You said

    In that view, this message about not eating from the forbidden tree could very well have been relayed to Eve by they one God clearly did tell -Adam.

    If Adam had told Eve she would have used the term “us”. The inspired words of Scripture has Eve quoting God saying “you” (plural), thus we know for sure that God gave the command about the forbidden tree to both of them. According to chapter 2 of Genesis God gave the command as a singular “you” to Adam when Eve was not yet created, and He also gave the command to both of them after Eve was created (chapter 3 plural “you”). We don’t need to guess. The text tells us.

    The idea that “don’t even touch it” was an addition from Adam is refuted by the inspired text “you” not “us” and after Eve had quoted God saying that, and we have no reason not to believe Eve, God did not reprove Eve, even though He reproves those who adds to His Word. The first sin was not adding to God’s words. Adam did not add to God’s word and neither did Eve.

    You said that Eve was naturally in Adam’s care, however the Bible said that God made a helper for him, not a needy person that needed to be cared for as a child. Eve met Adam’s need. She was a strong helper.

    You also said that Eve could be more tempted because of what her husband said. However, the Bible never said that Adam tempted Eve. The clear words of Scripture say that the serpent deceived Eve. She was tempted because she was deceived by the lies of the serpent. Nowhere does it say that God did not speak the prohibition to Eve. Her testimony is that God spoke to both of them when she was with Adam.

    You said that both Adam and Eve were to blame, yet the Scripture clearly states that Adam was not deceived. (1 Timothy 2). Eve was the one deceived and the blame is placed at the feet of the one who was not deceived. God curse the earth because of Adam’s sin, not because Eve was thoroughly deceived and ate in that state.

    You wrote:

    Eve paid her dues for sure….and her desire was for her husband but he would rule over her henceforth. I feel like that says something about the created order, but not that Eve was less.

    If it was “created order” for Adam to rule over Eve, then God would have stated that at creation. It is not created order. When Eve was deceived and Adam sinned with full knowledge, not being deceived himself, it was at least 100 years after creation. God told Eve what the man would do to her. God never spoke to Adam about ruling over his wife. Those words were not said to him as if God was directing him. God said “he will” not “I will that he rules over you”. It was over 100 years since they were created so how was it God’s non-command words about what the sinner Adam would do, suddenly become created order? If she was created to be ruled, wouldn’t we see that in the creation account rather than over 100 years later at the fall?

    You said that maybe Eve needed a little more protection than Adam understood, but think about this. If Adam failed to protect Eve when she was being deceived by the serpent and Adam knew that the serpent was lying, why would God place her husband over her to rule over her after the fall when Adam had already failed her before the fall? God’s words are a reflection of the result of the fall on Adam’s relationship with Eve. They can’t possibility be about the created order. Adam and Eve were in the garden for a long time before the fall and no accounting of the man’s rule over the woman was documented. For sure Adam failed Eve. He was not deceived and he let her be deceived without letting her know that the serpent was lying and saving her from the deception. Adam’s rule over Eve was Adam’s own sinful idea predicted by God. God warned Eve about what Adam would do. God never told her that she was created to be ruled.

    You said that we don’t know how much a powerful influence Eve had on Adam. We do know for sure that Adam was NOT deceived. Eve could not have had a powerful influence on Adam because Adam was not deceived. Adam was not deceived by the serpent and Adam was not deceived by Eve. He simply was not deceived.

    I think it is important that we pay attention to all the information given to us by the Scripture. Paul told us that Adam was not deceived and we cannot make an excuse for him. Adam is the one who brought sin into the world and Jesus is the second (or last) Adam. Through one man sin entered the world.

    I hope this helps!

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