Genesis 3:1 - 7
ESV - 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden.
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Did Adam and Eve originally know the meaning of the words, good and evil? Adam’s language was apparently God-given, just like when the Apostles were able to understand and speak in different languages through the power of the Spirit. (Acts 2:4) Therefore, Adam would have had to know the dictionary meaning of all the words God used for informative dialogue to take place. For instance, Adam would have to know the meaning of the word “death” as a reminder of the consequences that would accrue from eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Likewise, though not as important, Adam would probably have had a dictionary definition of the words “good and evil” (GE) in his mind, as well. We can assume that the same awareness of language applied to Eve also. So before eating of the Forbidden Fruit (FF) Eve likely knew what the words GE meant. However, the knowledge of “good and evil” proved to be much more than just knowing the meaning of the words. It also included the “opening” of her eyes and that she would be ”like God” knowing all there is to know about “good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5) For her, under the circumstances, this was a very enticing prospect if it were true. What may have been some of the reasons she thought it might be true? For one, the Serpent was talking. How was that possible? Maybe it was because he had eaten the FF and was sharing his new God-like knowledge with her. Also when the Bible says Eve “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food,” it implies that the Serpent was eating it with pleasure. (Genesis 3:6) Another factor, the Serpent may have been in the tree touching the fruit. Eve apparently was told that even to “touch” the FF meant death. (Genesis 3:3) Why didn’t the Serpent die? Maybe, she began to think, everything the Serpent said was true. We know what Eve did next, she ate the FF. Then what happened? Apparently, her eyes were “opened” due to both physical and mental changes that involved her desires and perceived needs. In Eve’s mind, the Serpent told her the truth about her eyes being opened and her not dying. (Genesis 3:4-5) Since the Bible says that Eve was deceived but Adam wasn’t, we can assume that he didn’t arrive on the scene until after Eve had already eaten of the FF. (1 Timothy 2:14) What was he to do? In his mind, it was only a matter of time, maybe even at the end of that day, that Eve would die. Apparently, upon Eve’s insistence, he chose to join her in death rather than live without her. So, did Adam and Eve originally know the meaning of the words, good and evil? Yes and no. They may have known the dictionary meaning of the words, but they did not know the large volume of information they would intuitively receive when their “eyes were opened.” In my opinion, the most interesting thing about this discussion is that the Serpent didn’t lie about any of the initial conditions. That is what probably fooled Eve, even if it didn’t fool Adam. At Genesis 3:22 it says, “And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.’ ” Also, Adam and Eve didn’t die that day as they probably understood the matter. In all likelihood, in God’s due time, Adam and Eve would have been invited to eat the FF. So, what was their sin? Their sin was that they disobeyed God, even though it appeared to be the right thing to do at the time. The lesson for us is, don’t disobey God, no matter what.
I don't believe that they would have known the meaning of evil. It was their desire to know something that they did not know (and that Satan deceived them into believing that God had unfairly or out of malice withheld from them) that led to their sin. However, they did know that God (from His interaction with them) was their Creator; that He had commanded them not to eat of the tree; and that He had warned them what the consequences would be if they did. That was all they should have needed to know.
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