20 September, 2019

40. The Fall of Man

40. The Fall of Man

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
—Genesis 3:4

In our last post, we discovered that 2nd Temple Judaism* has Satan telling Eve that the power to create worlds resided in the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Whether or not he believes this himself, he certainly tries to convince Eve:
He ate of this tree and created the world, but to you He says, Do not eat from it, so that you will not create other worlds. Everyone hates his fellow craftsman. Hurry and eat from the tree, before He creates other worlds, that will rule you.
—Genesis Rabbah 19:4 (Jewish Commentary)
In Genesis, we read Eve's response:
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate.
—Genesis 3:6
The Hebrew word translated "wisdom" in this verse is also translated "skill" in Daniel 1:17 and 9:22. While the passage in Genesis does not specifically say what skill (other than knowing the difference between right and wrong) makes someone equal to a god, but surely ex nihilo** power ranks at the top of the list.

While one can't be dogmatic about any of this, this Jewish interpretation helps add clarity to why Adam and Eve chose death instead of cake.

Still not convinced?

The curse that accompanies the eating of the fruit sheds even more light on this matter, as we shall soon see.

So what are your thoughts on 2nd Temple Judaism? Do you find it marginally interesting? Or are you geeking out like me, thrilled at the cultural insights it offers, and desperate to know more? 
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*Technically Genesis Rabbah was written post-Temple destruction, but it still reflects 2nd Temple thought. Rabbinical (modern) Judaism rejects the notion of Satan as a person. 

**Ex nihilo is Latin for "out of nothing."

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