The Fall of Adam in the Jewish Perception 2

A Comparative Analysis on, “The Original Sin”

According to the commentary given in the Chumash (1) by Rabbis, When Adam and Eve were originally created; their natural impulse was to do good. But, on the day man would eat of this tree the evil impulses of jealousy, lust, and honor would be aroused within him, making it impossible for him to attain the goal of complete spirituality as long as he was still on earth. Thus, man must subdue his base desires through study, thought, and self-discipline to indoctrinate into himself a desire to do well and to have a distaste of doing evil. This verse clearly states that, “on that day you shall surely die” here commentator says ,” this didn’t mean that Adam would die instantly but that Adam would be subject to death, whereas if he had not sinned God would have kept him alive forever.”(2) The end of this commentary is questionable because in giving an explanation to:

 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.(3) The commentators have said, “Man had to be banished from Eden so that he would not be able to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever.”(4) It may be argued that man was created in the beginning to live forever but the Torah never states that to be the case. Moreover in the commentary of: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,.(5)

For you were dust; the Rabbis have stated, “the implication is that death was not a curse but a natural consequence of Man’s nature. Since he originated from earth it is only natural that that age and deterioration would return him to his origin.(6)” This view shows that death is inevitable.

The next few verses will deal with the serpent and his role in the Garden. The Torah says; 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"  2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' “4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."(7)

The consensus of the commentators is that the serpent used here was literally a serpent. They differ regarding what force it represented: the Evil Inclination, Satan, or the angel of Death. They said that the serpent used ploys such as, “Is it possible that God forbade you to eat any of the trees? Why would he have created them if they are not to be enjoyed? They say that Eve added to the command of God when she inserted, “you must not touch it.” The serpent used this to his advantage by pushing Eve on the tree making her touch the fruit and said: “just as you did not die touching it you will not die from eating it.” The commentators end with the serpent saying: “God did not prohibit this tree out of any concern for your lives but because He is aware that by eating from it you will attain extra wisdom, and become omniscient like Him. Then you will be independent of Him. (8)

The commentators agree that the serpent was literal. They differ concerning what it represented. The serpent they said could have represented the Evil Inclination that pushes man to do evil. This is unlikely because as stated in the previous paragraph: “When Adam and Eve were originally created; their natural impulse was to do good. So it didn’t represent that. The next possible representation is that it could have been Satan. While reading the Torah the fall of Satan hadn’t occurred while Adam was in the Garden so that has to be eliminated.

The last of the candidates that the serpent could have represented is the Angel of Death. The Angel of Death is a servant of God doing only his bidding. If the Angel of death coerced Adam into sinning than God would be held responsible for Adams disobedience. I think what really has to be asked here is what problem did the serpent have with Adam? How did the serpent become so wise? Why was the serpent so interested in Adam’s disobedience to his Lord? Our Jewish Brothers didn’t leave us with the direct answers but they were on to something. These questions will be answered later on, God Willing. The next groups of verses are pretty straight forward. They are the verses that mete out punishment. The first to be punished was the serpent.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.(9)

 This punishment agrees with the commentator’s consensus that the serpent was a literal serpent. If the serpent had represented any of the other things mentioned earlier it would have been unjust for God to punish the serpent and not the being working through him. The second to be punished was Eve. A part of Eve’s punishment is shared by the serpent, And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.(10)

Continue in the next article: ( The Fall of Adam in the Jewish Perception 3 )

NOTES:

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1. Chumash one name given to the Pentateuch in Judaism. The word comes from chamesh, the Hebrew word for "five", because of the Five Books of Moses that comprise the Torah. The more formal term is "Chamishah Chumshei Torah," "The Five Fifths of the Torah. in Hebrew means five and is referred to as the Torah. The Chumash that is being referenced here is, “The Chumash, The Stone Edition” Mesorah Publications, Ltd. 1998

2. Chumash page 13

3. Gen. 3:24

4. Chumash page 19

5. Gen. 3:19

6. ibid

7. Gen. 3:1-5

8. Chumash page 15

9. Gen. 3:14-15

10. Gen. 3:15-16