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Where was Adam when Eve Sinned?

Over the last 40 years, the interpretation and setting ascribed to the temptation of Eve in Genesis 3:6, has undergone a subtle change. It's possible that the change is only the result of bad exegesis and a wooden literal approach to the text. However, based on the nature and ramifications of the revision, I tend to believe there may be a more troubling explanation. Our society today is rife with individuals that are willing to set aside truth for the sake of political correctness.

I quote here from the New American Standard Bible:

Genesis 3:1-6
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “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.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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 desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

As a youth, in Bible study and Church, I was taught that Eve was alone when the serpent tempted her and that after having eaten of the "apple", she went to Adam and offered the fruit which he also ate. Although the same outward act was performed, the two sins were of a totally different nature due to motive. We were told that Eve had been deceived by the serpent and fallen prey to her own fleshly desires to "be like God". But, in the case of Adam's fall, it came, not as the result of deception, but was based on an informed choice.

Some paint a different picture of these events. From various sources within the laity and from the pulpit, there are claims that Adam was physically present with Eve while she was being tempted. The majority, but not all, of the translations I checked read similarly to the NASB quoted above in which it says Adam was with her. Eight of the twenty-two versions I checked didn't include this prepositional phrase. Those versions which render it otherwise generally read "she also gave some to her husband, and he ate". The Living Bible, New Century Version, Revised Standard, Modern Language ("who ate with her"), the Amplified Bible, the International Children's Bible, the Jewish Tanakh (Old Testament) and the Jewish Torah (Books of the Law) all exclude any reference to Adam's physical location.

What purpose is served by changing the setting?

To the casual observer, the change in setting may seem unimportant. Both variations end with the same result. Adam and Eve each eat of the forbidden fruit, fall from grace, die spiritually, become aware of good and evil and are cursed by God. So, what difference does it make if Adam was present or not? The remainder of this article will delve into this question, its ramifications and a possible cause for the change.

I first heard the new version of events from a televangelist a number of years ago and the most recent occasion was in a mixed group setting while participating in an overview of the Bible. The attendees were of various church affiliations, ethnic groups and genders. After reading the scripture in question, one of the women in the class said, "Well, if Adam was right there, why didn't he do anything to stop Eve?" This was a valid question and deserved an answer and I believe it can be ascertained from the text.

When God confronted Adam and Eve in the garden after they had eaten the forbidden fruit, Adam said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." (Adam blamed Eve) Then God turned to Eve and she said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Eve blamed the serpent) Since that moment in time, this tendency to shift the blame for our actions has become an integral part of human behavior. Everyone is innocent in their own eyes and few are willing to be accountable for their own actions. This behavior is rooted firmly in the soil of PRIDE, another facet of our nature that was born out of Adam and Eve's sin and which plagues us all to this day.

Looking at the account from a woman's perspective isn't very flattering. We are told that Eve was deceived but the man Adam wasn't. This is where pride and self-esteem come into play. Within the limits afforded by the wording in the Genesis account, what has to change in order to salvage a woman's self-esteem? Pride says, ATTACK! There were only three possible targets, God, the serpent and Adam. God is omnipresent, so was obviously present but His position on free will precluded intervention. Satan, that old serpent, was the perpetrator of the deception leaving little to gain by attacking him. Then there was Adam, the only remaining possible target. If he were present yet passive or deceived, as was she, any shame for having been "duped" by the serpent would be erased. If he were present yet passive paints a very negative picture in our mind's eye of a selfish, uncaring, man who was willing to allow his mate to "do her own thing" even if it cost her life. Either view raises the self-esteem of those women who take offence at the notion that Eve was deceived. The first by removing any semblance of superiority on his part. The second by savaging the character of Adam.

We have a problem. Both versions can't be true. In all fairness, If we attempt to blame this new storyline on "feminism", then we must be sure that the older view wasn't just the product of a patriarchal system corrupted by male chauvinism.

What is the truth and how can it be fairly established? The account of the fall itself is not conclusive given that the majority of the texts are open to question. However, we can utilize other factors beyond the text in question to make a proper determination.
  • It is possible to be with someone and not actually in their presence. For instance, when I am at home "with" my wife, she might be in another part of the house and not visible to me. Adam could have been with Eve in the same way. With her in the garden but not in her presence.
  • Given the serious implications of Adam's presence during the temptation of Eve, it is unlikely that any reliable translation would leave out the phase "with her", yet many do.
  • Assuming Adam was an actual observer of the events but said and did nothing to interfere would necessitate certain negative character traits that may be commonplace for many modern men but highly unlikely in a perfect, unfallen Adam who, as yet, had no sin nature.
  • God addressed Adam first when He found them in the Garden. If Adam was present and had been deceived by the serpent, it is likely that he would have blamed the serpent, as did Eve. Instead he places all the blame on Eve who had offered him the forbidden fruit. There is no mention of the serpent.
  • There is no record in the text of Genesis that God ever directly communicated His warning regarding the forbidden fruit to Eve. He did tell Adam. Eve's response to the serpent when pressed on the issue includes an embellishment (don't even touch it) that would be consistent with a warning from Adam who added this condition in an attempt to protect his mate. (an indication of his love for her) Would this same Adam stand by and watch as his mate engaged in an activity for which God had promised death? If he were deceived, possibly but it would be unlikely that he would have stood by passively otherwise.
  • Satan (the serpent) throughout the scriptures seems to prefer personal, private attacks on individuals that are gauged to strike at our weak points or when we are at our weakest. For example, the temptations of Christ only occurred when Jesus was alone and weak at the end of His 40-day fast in the desert. Adam and Eve, when together, wouldn't make good targets, as they would have been at their strongest. Alone, either could have been vulnerable. Satan loves our private sins.
  • Adam and Eve before the fall had equal standing before God. There was no concept of headship or defined roles for their conduct. God's response to the sin of Eve was to change her relationship in respect to Adam and Himself. She was told that her desire would be to her husband and that he would rule over her. From this point forward in scripture we see man portrayed in a role of spiritual leadership and as the head of the wife. If Adam had been present during the temptation, and indifferent or deceived alongside Eve, it begs the question, why would God have given Adam headship?
  • Adam's punishment came about "because you have (he had) listened to the voice of your (his) wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;" In other words, Adam's sin was because he chose to listen to his wife rather than to God. The text doesn't include her words, but based on the context, if deception played any role at all in Adam's sin, its source would have to from Eve, not the serpent.
We have all heard the saying, "the end justifies the means;" In the case of Adam and Eve's respective punishments, the reverse was true; "the means justified the end". The motive for the sin committed resulted in a punishment fitted for the offense. An analysis of the consequences should shed additional light on the events as they transpired.

Eve failed to heed her husband and God's warning regarding the tree of knowledge. As the temptation took root in her mind, grew and bore its corrupted fruit, she sought to be like God. Her actions started a chain of events which were to have a direct affect not only on herself, but also Adam and the entire creation. She, in a sense, assumed headship over her husband in that her decision directly affected him without giving him opportunity for input. (Assuming he wasn't present)

Her punishment apart from spiritual and eventual physical death, was pain for disobedience to God; Like Satan, her pride cost her the special relationship she had enjoyed before God; she was stripped of the "equal authority" she had shared with Adam because she had acted independently when God's design was for codependence and cooperation. God had viewed Adam and Eve as if they were one person, equal by nature and in authority. They were created in His image and reflected the divine pattern in respect to their unity. Eve's actions shattered this pattern.

In the case of Adam, he had listened to his wife rather than God and joined her in rebellion. For this offense he was "saddled" with headship in both a physical and spiritual sense. This was not a reward, as some might believe, it was, and is, a heavy burden. Eve disobeyed God's command, but Adam rejected God Himself. For this heinous offence, not only was Adam relegated to a life of toil and sorrow, his act was viewed as so severe that creation itself suffered and the sting of his sin was passed to all his progeny.

Based on the points above, it is my conclusion that Adam could not have been present when Eve was tempted by the serpent. There is no evidence that he was snared by the Serpent's deception, only that he responded to the entreaties of his wife Eve. There is also no account of her having deceived him as some might suppose. If he had been deceived, as was Eve, there would have been little difference in their respective culpability. Yet, there was a vast difference in God's judgements against the two, which leads me to the conclusion that there must have been a vast difference in the nature of their sin.

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