Since the beginning of time, the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden has fascinated people. Many wonder – who exactly did God prohibit from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: God directly commanded Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit in Genesis 2:16-17. But Eve was also aware of this command even though she wasn’t created yet when God told Adam.
In this comprehensive article, we will analyze the Genesis creation story and look at direct scripture quotes to unravel who God’s prohibition on eating the forbidden fruit actually applied to. We will examine God’s words to Adam, Eve’s awareness of the commandment, and how the serpent tempted Eve.
By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of who God told not to eat the forbidden fruit.
God’s Clear Command to Adam
Genesis 2:16-17 Records God’s Directive
In Genesis 2:16-17, God gave a clear and direct command to Adam, the first man He created: “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.'”
This was a simple, straightforward directive from God to Adam not to eat the fruit of one specific tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God allowed Adam to freely eat from all the other trees in the Garden of Eden. But this one tree was off limits. The Hebrew wording indicates God gave Adam a direct, face-to-face command. There was no confusion or ambiguity. Adam knew exactly what tree he was forbidden to eat from.
Meanwhile, God clearly explained the consequence – if Adam ate from that tree, he would certainly die. So Adam was given a choice – obey and live, or disobey and die. Sadly, as we know from Genesis 3, Adam chose to disobey God’s clear command.
Adam Was Alone When God Issued the Command
An important detail often overlooked is that Genesis 2:16-17 records God commanding Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit before Eve was created. This is clear from the chronology in Genesis 2. God created Adam first, gave him the command, then created Eve sometime later (Genesis 2:7, 2:15-17, 2:21-22).
This means that Eve was not present when God told Adam not to eat the forbidden fruit. Adam was alone, just the two of them, when God gave the clear prohibition. Adam then had the responsibility to relay this command to Eve after she was created.
Some have suggested Eve’s excuse in Genesis 3:1-3 indicates she was not aware of the command. However, Eve clearly knew which tree was forbidden and that eating the fruit was wrong. The best explanation is that at some point between her creation and the serpent’s temptation, Adam passed on to Eve what God had commanded.
Nevertheless, God held Adam primarily accountable, since he received the commandment directly (Genesis 3:9, Romans 5:12). God’s clear directive not to eat the forbidden fruit was initially given to Adam alone.
Eve’s Awareness of the Prohibition
The Serpent References God’s Command to Eve
According to Scripture, the cunning serpent directly references God’s one restriction to Eve, saying, “Did God truly declare, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). The serpent distorts God’s original warning to test Eve’s awareness and understanding of His prohibition.
God had permitted Adam and Eve to eat freely from every tree in Eden except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, warning that if they ate of it, they would die (Genesis 2:16-17). The serpent intentionally misrepresented God’s gracious allowance, questioning His generosity toward the first couple.
The ploy cast doubt on God’s sincerity and incited mistrust in His declared penalty.
Eve Repeats the Prohibition on Eating the Fruit
Eve demonstrates clear cognizance of God’s restrictive ordinance by responding, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die'” (Genesis 3:2-3).
Her statement mirrors the Lord’s original warning nearly verbatim.
By directly citing God’s mandate not to eat from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, Eve proves that she was well aware of His distinct prohibition. Her repetition of the ban indicates that Adam had adequately passed along God’s decree. The pair could not claim ignorance of His clear parameters.
Tragically, though evidently informed, Eve did not uphold obedience to God’s unambiguous charge. Despite understanding the wise Maker’s lone requirement, she allowed the serpent to convince her that no adverse consequences would result from transgressing the decree.
Her knowing yet woeful choice altered history.
The Serpent’s Successful Temptation of Eve
The Serpent Contradicts God’s Warning
The serpent approached Eve in the Garden of Eden and asked her if God had really forbidden them to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When Eve confirmed this, the serpent directly contradicted God’s warning, saying “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4).
The crafty serpent told Eve that God knew that when she ate the fruit, her eyes would be opened and she would become like God, knowing good and evil. The serpent’s clever arguments introduced doubt into Eve’s mind about God’s command.
Eve Succumbs to Temptation
After listening to the serpent’s tempting words, Eve looked at the tree and saw that the fruit was good for food, pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom (Genesis 3:6). Succumbing to temptation, she picked the forbidden fruit and ate some of it.
She also gave some to Adam who was with her, and he ate it too. Their eyes were opened, but this “wisdom” was a false wisdom based on disobedience to God. The serpent had directly contradicted God’s command, and Eve believed the deceiver rather than trusting the Creator.
This first sin in human history led to drastic consequences including expulsion from the garden, suffering, and physical death. But amazingly, God already had a plan to send Jesus Christ as Savior to undo the tragic effects of the Fall.
Adam Also Eats the Forbidden Fruit
Eve Gives the Fruit to Her Husband
After Eve ate the forbidden fruit, she went and found her husband Adam. Eve told Adam about the fruit and that it would make them wise. Adam was hesitant at first since God had commanded them not to eat the fruit. However, Eve continued to convince Adam to also eat the fruit.
She told Adam how delicious the fruit was and that the serpent had said they wouldn’t die from eating it. Eventually, Adam gave in to Eve’s persuasion and decided to also eat the forbidden fruit.
Adam Chooses to Eat
Even though Adam knew God had forbidden eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he still chose to disobey God’s command. When Eve gave Adam the fruit to eat, he was not forced or tricked into eating it.
Adam willfully decided to go against God’s instructions and eat the forbidden fruit along with Eve. As the first man, Adam should have exercised leadership by refusing the fruit and reminding Eve not to disobey God’s word. However, Adam failed in his role as head and followed Eve into sin.
Both Had Knowledge of the Prohibition
Both Adam and Eve were aware that God had prohibited them from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis 2:16-17, God had clearly told Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Later, Eve told the serpent in Genesis 3:2-3 that they could eat of any tree except the forbidden one or they would die. So Adam and Eve both had direct knowledge from God that they were not to eat the fruit of that one tree.
Their choice to eat the forbidden fruit was an act of willful disobedience towards God.
Consequences for Disobedience
God Punishes All Three
According to the Genesis account, God gave Adam and Eve clear instructions not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. However, tempted by the serpent, Eve ate the forbidden fruit and gave some to Adam as well.
As a result, God punished all three involved in the disobedience – the serpent, Eve, and Adam.
God cursed the serpent, causing it to crawl on its belly and eat dust all the days of its life. There would be eternal enmity between the serpent and the woman, and between its offspring and hers (Gen 3:14-15).
This pronounced curse on the serpent explained why snakes lost their legs and were reviled by humans throughout history.
For the woman, God multiplied her labor pains in childbirth and subjected her to the authority of her husband (Gen 3:16). This punishment made giving birth more difficult and painful for women. It also established a hierarchy in the marital relationship, with the husband ruling over the wife.
Adam’s consequence was a life of painful toil in working the ground from which he had been taken. The soil would yield thorns and thistles, making farming laborious (Gen 3:17-19). Man would work hard for food by the sweat of his brow until he returned to the dust from which he was formed.
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Besides punishments targeting the serpent, Eve, and Adam, God banished the man and woman from the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:22-24 describes how God sent Adam and Eve away from the garden, never allowing them to eat from the tree of life again.
There were two key reasons behind their banishment. First, God did not want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life in their fallen state, living forever by partaking of that fruit. Second, God excluded them from Eden to prevent further access to the garden and tree of life.
Cherubim and a flaming sword were placed east of the garden to prevent anyone from entering (Gen 3:24). This represented a permanent expulsion from paradise for Adam and Eve, a tragic loss of their perfect home. Life would now be lived east of Eden, full of toil, pain, and eventual death.
God also made tunics of skin for Adam and Eve before sending them out, likely involving the first animal death (Gen 3:21). This foreshadowed the sacrificial system that God would later establish with Israel, using animal blood to atone for sins.
In conclusion, while God verbally prohibited Adam from eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 2, Eve was also well aware of this command. Even though Eve was deceived by the serpent, she still chose to disobey the directive from God that she clearly knew about per the Genesis account.
Ultimately, God held all three – Adam, Eve, and the serpent – accountable for this original sin that separated man from God, introducing death and suffering into the world.