There is confusion as to how it began. Some say that God created the two at once in his/her own image. Some say that he blew into dirt and it was his breath that fashioned a man. Then, wishing to create later debates about the nature of gender and hierarchy, took the rib of the man to make woman. What we do know is that when all was said and done there were two.
These two lived in peace in a place called The Garden of Eden. There they were content. They were given free reign over everything in the garden. This was pretty spectacular because everything was in the garden. It had abundance, all manner of plants and animals. There is the implication that everybody was vegetarian, so the animals seem to have just been for show, and for company.
Eden could have gone on like this indefinitely, but as many stories go there was a conflict. God had placed two trees within reach of the two, the tree of knowledge and the tree of life. This probably would have gone unnoticed, because the two, left to them selves, were not particularly observant. However, God made a point of telling them that these trees were special, and that they were not to touch them.
Now these were good kids. They didn’t do anything they weren’t supposed to do. They were told to frolic and they frolicked. They were told not to notice their nakedness, and they didn’t notice. They were happy, and things were good. Then one day Snake showed up.
Snake was the kind of guy who could make things happen. He was exciting. He had ideas. The two were very impressed, Woman most of all.
Snake said to Woman, “Didn’t God say you couldn’t eat from the trees?”
Woman replied, “No. God said we just couldn’t eat from that tree.” Pointing to the tree in the middle of the garden. “He said we would do something called dying if we ate from it. I don’t know what it is, but it sounds dark.”
Snake smiled a half smile. “Don’t worry it’s not dark, just the opposite. God knows that when you eat from that tree your eyes will be opened, you will become as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Well, after this Woman was obsessed with the idea. She couldn’t stop looking at the fruit. She lusted for it. Finally she had to have it. She picked it and she ate it. Man it was good! In her excitement she gave it to Man, and he at it.
Suddenly their eyes were opened. They hadn’t noticed it before but it was clear now that they were naked. They hunted around for cover. All they could find were some fig leaves.
Than they heard God stomping through the garden, so they hid. But God heard them, and he told them to come out and say hello. Man, who was sometimes known as “Adam,” which is another word for “the human,” said he was naked and didn’t want to come out.
This made God suspicious. “Who told you that you were naked? You ate from the tree didn’t you?”
Then Adam said “That woman you gave me, she gave it to me, and I ate.”
And God said to the woman, “What did you do?”
The woman said, “Snake beguiled me and I ate.”
Then God said to Snake, “Serpent, because you started this, you are cursed. No one will like you and you will have to slither on your belly in the dirt. From now on there will be no love between you and the woman or her descendents. Humans will kill you and you will bite them.”
Then to the woman, “You will have horrible pain in childbirth. You will long for your man, and he will dominate you.”
To Adam, God said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate what I told you not to, you will have pain in the field just as your wife does in labor. You will only get food from working hard, and at the end of it all you will die, and return to the dirt I made you with.”
At this point Adam called the woman “Eve, the mother of all that lives” and this was the first curse word. Then God made coats out of skins for Adam and Eve, and he clothed them.
God said, “Now that these guys are conscious like us, they might try to eat from the tree of life too, and live forever.”
So he made them leave Eden and go live in the dirt he had made them from. Then he put cherubim, a large scary creature with wings, at the east gate of Eden, and gave it a flaming sword to guard the tree of life. (Alter, Jones, Twain)
Alter, Robert. The Five Books of Moses. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004. Genesis 1:26—3:24.
Jones, Alexander. The Jerusalem Bible; Reader’s Edition. Garden City: Doubleday, 1968 Genesis 1:26—3:24.
Twain, Mark. Letters From the Earth. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. 57-91