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?