I already gave one reflection from my meditation on the first temptation. This new post comes solely from a look at it in Hebrew. Don’t check out yet if you don’t know Hebrew, it is easy to explain. There is no deeper meaning here other than exposing a wordplay. All you need to know is the English word homonym. It means a word that has the same sound as another but has different meanings. In this case, we have words from different roots making similar sounds (one is in the singular and the other is in the plural, but I don’t think the word play is lost).
In Genesis 3:1 the serpent is called “crafty” or “clever.” The word in Hebrew is עָר֔וּם. For English speakers, you would pronounce it something like “a room.” By describing the serpent this way, the author is preparing the reader for a display of the craftiness of the serpent. So, reader, be prepared.
We already know the story so well, we might miss how he does this. The man and the woman both ate the fruit and disobeyed the command of God. That’s the part we already know. But, the real question is, “Why does the text say that they ate the fruit?” The answer may lie in what the serpent said would happen to them and what they desired by eating the fruit. The serpent says,
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (3:5). (ESV)
The serpent says three things will happen when they eat the fruit. 1) Their eyes (yes, the serpent says “you’s guys eyes”) will be opened. 2) They will be like God. 3) They will know good and evil.
When the woman looks at the fruit, the author tells the reader why she desires to eat the fruit. The narrator says,
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (3:6) (ESV)
There are, then, three things that the woman sees as desirable from the fruit. 1) It is good (same word as the serpent used) to eat. 2) It was a delight to the eyes (eyes would be opened?). 3) It was desirable to make one wise.
But, in the end, when she eats of the fruit only two of the three things that the serpent promised would happen. And, what the woman desired, well, it all came to nought. What happened when she ate of the fruit?
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (3:7) (ESV)
In the synopsis of what happened we see two connections back to the original comments of the serpent. 1) Their eyes were, indeed, opened. 2) They knew something that they did not know before–that they were naked. This was something that they didn’t know was wrong before, but felt it afterwards. This is brought out more with God’s question to them alter later, “Who told you that you were naked?” It had to come from somewhere external. So, in one sense, without getting into it too much, they learned good and evil. Two of the serpents promises came true.
Adam and Eve, however, were not made to be like God in one sense, nor were they able to achieve the wisdom they desired. The third comment from the serpent failed. The irony is that they were made more like the serpent rather than God. At least, if that is the way we understand the word play. You see, they were “naked” is a wordplay built off of the Hebrew word עֵֽירֻמִּ֖ם, or for you English speakers, “eh room im” (“im” is the plural ending). “Er room,” and “a room” sound very similar. So, the author may be connecting the nakedness to the craftiness of the serpent in verse 1. Thus, the man and the woman in seeking to be more like God, through disobedience, became more like the serpent.
But, isn’t that the way all temptation goes? We think we will gain the thing we want but in the end we are left with less.