The tree of knowledge of good and evil was placed in the garden to test whether they really understood His commandment. Understanding the commandment ultimately lies on the man since the man was given the free will to understand and decide on its own. Yes, we can blame the serpent all we want but the one liable for what had happened was they themselves. It’s not like the serpent forced them to eat it. The decision to eat ultimately lies on their own hand, they would have not eaten it if they understood the commandment.
So, what really happened?
When eve came, the commandment was already given. She naturally would have just heard it from Adam. The serpent was aware of this but, not so sure whether Eve really understood the commandment or the consequence of it. So, the serpent asked first to gauge how the woman understands it.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”Genesis 3:1 NKJV
The woman responds with additional touch not mentioned in the commandment.
Eve response with touch;
“And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”Genesis 3:2-3 NKJV
Original Commandment, there is no touch;
“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.”Genesis 2:17 NKJV
The emphasis on additional “touch” made it seem too dangerous to even get close to it. They must have thought that the moment they touched it let alone eat it, they would instantly die on that very day. But, was it really what God meant when He said, “For IN THE DAY that you eat of it you shall surely die? Nope, that was their belief all the while but, if they took time to internalize what has been commanded, they’ll realize that “IN THE DAY” as commanded is different from “IN THAT VERY DAY”.
“IN THE DAY” is a term to indicate what would surely happen to start on that day. Meanwhile, “IN THAT VERY DAY” is a term used to indicate what will happen on that very day. In analogy, if I said, “IN THE DAY” that you steal, you shall go to jail surely”. Does it mean that the person who steals will be in Jail in that very day? Nope, you have to catch the person first, call the police, file a case, win in court and go to jail, there is a process in between to get to the assured punishment. So, God did not mean that they will die really on that very day physically but, Adam and Eve misunderstood it
See The Wages of Sin to read further that relates to this post.
At that point, serpent must have realized it already that they misunderstood what had God commanded to them hence, he responded in half-truth.
“Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 NKJV
Yes, it is true that they will surely not die at least on that very day as they thought they would. I don’t really believe that Eve did not doubt the serpent for a second and instantly eat it because the serpent said so. Eve must have confirmed it first whether the serpent is telling the truth or not. But, how did Eve able to confirm it that the serpent was telling the truth although not the whole truth? Notice the verse below;
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”Genesis 3:6 NKJV
The moment she took of its fruit she would, of course, touched it. Remember, all the while they thought that they can’t even touch it because they will die. Yet, when she took the fruit, she did not die. This was the confirmation that, indeed the serpent was telling the truth and so, after confirming she ate it. If her husband doesn’t have the same belief as Eve that they would instantly die on that very day the moment they touch and eat it, her husband would have not taken it and ate also.
Now, we have this habit not to own up for the things we’ve done. Do you know where it came from? It is inherently our nature, Adam and Eve, our ancestor was the one who first did it;
“And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”Genesis 3:11-13 NKJV
The Man blames the woman and the woman blame the serpent when it was them who misunderstood the commandment.
I believe the lesson here is that;
Understood the word of God, study it diligently and don’t just rely on another man teaching. We were given the faculty to understand and free will to decide on its own. Ultimately, unless coerced, it is our responsibility to understand His word, if we misunderstood it, it is not due because of other person but because, we choose it, own up for the choice we made.