We continue our look at the women of the Bible by looking again at Eve’s story. Last week we noted that nothing in Genesis 1 or 2 indicates that Eve is somehow inferior to Adam. In fact, it proves quite the opposite. Both Adam and Eve are fully created in the image of God. We ended with a question last week: Who sinned first? Adam or Eve? Let’s look at a few verses to find the answer.
And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.1 Timothy 2:14 NIV
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…Romans 5:12 NIV
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.1 Corinthians 15:21-22 NIV
Confused yet? Upon first glance it would appear Paul is too, but not quite. Let’s look at one more verse.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.Genesis 2:15 NIV
The word for “take care of it” would be the Hebrew word shamar which means “to keep, guard, keep watch and ward, protect, save life.” Adam was charged as the keeper and protector of the Garden. Yet in Genesis chapter 3 as he is with Eve (3:6), he fails to do this. (by the way, all of the serpent’s statements are made using the plural “you,” not singular).
Eve was the first to be deceived (per Paul), but Adam failed to shamar his wife and the Garden from the deception of the serpent. Notice also that both the humans and the serpent are punished; first the serpent, then Eve, then Adam. All three sinned.
So who sinned first? Could it have been Adam for not kicking the serpent out of the Garden? Perhaps. The serpent for deceiving Eve (3:14)? It would seem likely this was the first, although the serpent isn’t human (that’s a theological discussion for another time). Was it Eve who ate the fruit?
I think the way the story is told is intentional to show how intertwined we humans are. Adam was supposed to obey God through his shamar of the Garden and Eve. He failed at this at the same time Eve failed at obeying God’s command through the deception of the serpent. Genesis 3 is not an elevation of man over woman. It shows us that sin is a problem that affects all creation – humans, animals, and even the garden which is now devoid of its human caretakers. Sin affects everything. This is not a problem that we can blame on Eve or Adam. I think Paul understood this as well.
There is no difference…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.Romans 3:22-24 NIV