All Christians know about the first murder in the Bible, and probably most non-Christians know of it too. Of course it is the killing of Abel by Cain his brother, as recorded in Genesis 4:8. But where then does the first lie occur, and who said it?
First, let us read Genesis 2:16-17 where Jehovah God talks and commands Adam, the first man, about some of the rules of the Garden of Eden:
“And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may freely eat of every tree in the garden, but you shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Pretty simple really, God effectively said to Adam: you may eat of any tree here, except one, for if you eat of that one, you die. No dubiety here, very simple.
Now let us move on a few verses to Genesis 3:3. Here we find Eve and the serpent (Satan) talking and the serpent questioning her if God has really said that they could not eat of every tree in the Garden. Eve replied (v2), that they indeed may eat of the fruit of the trees, but added (v3) saying:
“But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
There it is, God said “… you shall not eat of the tree…,” which Eve renders as “… You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it…” God did not mention touching the tree or the fruit, but Eve did.
What can we learn from this? Well to start with, the Bible says:
Deuteronomy 12:32 “All the things I command you, be careful to do it. You shall not add to it, nor take away from it.”
Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His Words, lest He reprove you and you be found a liar.”
Adding to the Word of God is just as destructive as taking away from the Word of God. The Word of God is, after all, magnified by God higher than His own name (Psalm 138:2)! Anyone who adds or subtracts from the Word is therefore on dangerous ground and will certainly be unable to use it correctly when testing times come. Satan is certainly aware of this, and based on the example of Eve quoted above, anyone who adds or subtracts from the Word of God, is like Eve, very close to a fall.
Did Eve lie when she said that God had told them not to touch the tree? Was it just and exaggeration?
Below here are a number of comments from well known Bible commentators of repute for your consideration. Some for, some against…..
The whole point of this exercise is to consider how accurately we use the Bible when we quote it, and even when we paraphrase it. It is all too easy to put our own thoughts, biases and prejudices into our Bible quotes, intentionally or not. It is also all too easy for us to take Bible verses out of context, just to make a point. The trouble is, when we do that, we are misusing the Word of God.
Misusing the Bible does one thing for certain, and that is to open s up to the wiles and ways of Satan and his kind who are just waiting to pounce on Christians and distract them from God’s purpose in their lives.
When we add to the Bible, we are effectively saying that God got it wrong and that we need to correct him. That is rebellion and pride.
Albert Barnes: from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
“The woman gives the natural and distinct answer of unaffected sincerity to this suggestion. The deviations from the strict letter of the law are nothing more than the free and earnest expressions of her feelings. The expression, “neither shall ye touch it,” merely implies that they were not to meddle with it, as a forbidden thing.”
Adam Clarke: from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible
“Neither shall ye touch it – Did not the woman add this to what God had before spoken? Some of the Jewish writers, who are only serious on comparative trifles, state that as soon as the woman had asserted this, the serpent pushed her against the tree and said, ‘See, thou hast touched it, and art still alive; thou mayest therefore safely eat of the fruit, for surely thou shalt not die.'”
John Gill: from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible.
“There the woman is charged by some both with adding to, and taking from the law of God; and if so, must have sinned very heinously before she eat of the fruit; but neither of them are sufficiently proved; not the former by her saying, “neither shall ye touch it”, which though not expressed in the prohibition, is implied, namely, such a touching the fruit as to pluck it off the tree, take it in the hand, and put it to the mouth, in order to eat it: nor the latter by these words, “lest ye die”, or “lest perhaps ye die”; as if it was a matter of doubt, when it was most strongly assured; for the word used is not always to be understood of doubting, but of the event of a thing; see Psalm 2:12 and may be rendered, “that ye die not”; which would certainly be the case, should they pluck the fruit and eat of it.”
Matthew Henry: from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible
“A) In answer to this question the woman gives him [the serpent] a plain and full account of the law they were under, Genesis 3:2-3. Here observe:
1. It was her weakness to enter into discourse with the serpent. She might have perceived by his question that he had no good design, and should therefore have started back with a Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me. But her curiosity, and perhaps her surprise, to hear a serpent speak, led her into further talk with him.
Note, It is a dangerous thing to treat with a temptation, which ought at first to be rejected with disdain and abhorrence. The garrison that sounds a parley is not far from being surrendered. Those that would be kept from harm must keep out of harm’s way. See Proverbs 14:7 and Proverbs 19:27.
2. It was her wisdom to take notice of the liberty God had granted them, in answer to his sly insinuation, as if God has put them into paradise only to tantalize them with the sight of fair but forbidden fruits. “Yea,” says she, “we may eat of the fruit of the trees, thanks to our Maker, we have plenty and variety enough allowed us.”
Note, To prevent our being uneasy at the restraints of religion, it is good often to take a view of the liberties and comforts of it.
3. It was an instance of her resolution that she adhered to the command, and faithfully repeated it, as of unquestionable certainty: “God hath said, I am confident he hath said it, You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;” and that which she adds, Neither shall you touch it, seems to have been with a good intention, not (as some think) tacitly to reflect upon the command as too strict (Touch not, taste not and handle not), but to make a fence about it: “We must not eat, therefore we will not touch. It is forbidden in the highest degree, and the authority of the prohibition is sacred to us.”
4. She seems a little to waver about the threatening, and is not so particular and faithful in the repetition of that as of the precept. God has said, In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; all she makes of that is, Lest you die.
Note, Wavering faith and wavering resolutions give great advantage to the tempter.
He [the serpent] denies that there was any danger in it, insisting that, though it might be the transgressing of a precept, yet it would not be the incurring of a penalty: You shall not surely die, Genesis 3:4. “You shall not dying die,” so the word is, in direct contradiction to what God had said. Either,
1. “It is not certain that you shall die,” so some. “It is not so sure as you are made to believe it is.” Thus Satan endeavours to shake that which he cannot overthrow, and invalidates the force of divine threatenings by questioning the certainty of them; and, when once it is supposed possible that there may be falsehood or fallacy in any word of God, a door is then opened to downright infidelity. Satan teaches men first to doubt and then to deny; he makes them sceptics first, and so by degrees makes them atheists. Or,
2. “It is certain you shall not die,” so others. He avers his contradiction with the same phrase of assurance that God had used in ratifying the threatening. He began to call the precept in question (Genesis 3:1), but, finding that the woman adhered to that, he quitted that battery, and made his second onset upon the threatening, where he perceived her to waver; for he is quick to spy all advantages, and to attack the wall where it is weakest: You shall not surely die. This was a lie, a downright lie; for,
b) It was contrary to his own knowledge. When he told them there was no danger in disobedience and rebellion he said that which he knew, by woeful experience, to be false . He had broken the law of his creation, and had found, to his cost, that he could not prosper in it; and yet he tells our first parents they shall not die. He concealed his own misery, that he might draw them into the like: thus he still deceives sinners into their own ruin. He tells them that, though they sin, they shall not die; and gains credit rather than God, who tells them, The wages of sin is death.
Note, Hope of impunity is a great support to all iniquity, and impenitency in it. I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, Deuteronomy 29:19.
Let us be aware and wary. Aware in what we do, and wary of the snares of the enemy who is out to entrap us, just as he did Eve.