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The beginning of the covenant; Faith vs. Faithlessness

Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong

Postby Crazy » Sun May 20, 2018 5:41 pm

Why is God justified in punishing Adam and Eve, when they could not have known disobeying God was wrong?

Isn't this just God punishing them for how he chose to create them (without knowledge of good and evil?)

Re: Genesis 3: They didn't know it was wrong

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:22 am

Adam and Eve were rational beings before the violation. Gn. 2.15 says that they were given responsibilities. This clearly implies that they have brains to think, they are able to understand roles and functions, with the ability to evaluate and accomplish. They can be held accountable for what they are told because there is expectation of the capability to comply.

Gn. 2.16 lets us know that they had both moral capability and culpability. They were given great freedom in the blessing to eat of the trees of the garden. So we know they had and understood free will and the exercise of it. They understood their right and ability to choose.

Gn. 2.17 lets us know that they had an understanding of right and wrong, between permission and prohibition, and consequences for disobedience. God made obedience easy for them. They were in an ideal environment with great liberties in their choices. God had provided for their needs and warned them clearly of the consequences of disobedience. Evidence of moral law is built into creation.

So the "knowledge of good and evil" is not to assume that he was a clueless imbecile, but that they had not yet experienced intentional disobedience. They quite obviously had moral knowledge and understood the prohibition. Gn. 3.3 shows that Eve understood the morality of the decision and the consequences of disobedience. She knew full well that she was committing a sin before they did it.

In other words, they knew disobeying God was wrong. He had been explicit and clear with them (Gen. 2.17).

"The knowledge of good and evil" doesn't mean they didn't know anything about morality, obedience, godliness, or disobedience. In the ancient world, God was often associated with the concept of wisdom, and "the knowledge of good and evil" is a idiomatic way that they expressed that concept of wisdom. For instance, in the Gilgamesh Epic, the primitive Enkidu becomes wise (possessing reason) not by eating the fruit of a tree but instead by engaging in sexual intercourse with the prostitute Samhat, who was sent to entice and capture him. The tree in this story, therefore, is to be associated with the wisdom that is found in God (Job 28.28; Prov. 1.7). It's not that Adam and Eve didn't know about good and evil before this, but that God was inviting them to acquire wisdom (godliness) in the proper way at the appropriate time by obedience to him. "Good and evil" is a legal idiom meaning "to formulate and articulate a judicial decision (Gn. 24.50; 31.24, 29; Dt. 1.39; 1 Ki. 3.9; 22.18). The idea is that they would seek God's ways instead of their own. The tree corresponds to their ability to decide. What was being forbidden to the humans was the power to decide for themselves what was in their best interests and what was not.

So we can say with confidence that Adam and Eve had intrinsic knowledge of good and evil before eating the fruit. They knew full well what their choices were, and God was clear about what the consequences were. Unfortunately, what they chose was to be self-governed rather than God-oriented, relying on their own faulty "wisdom" rather than on the wisdom of God. God had a grand goal for them (abundant life), but that life could only be had by staying in relationship with God who is Life.

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