Gen 2:17: Dying thou shalt die

Liz Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Tue Aug 22 14:50:59 EDT 2000


These readings you propose do not explain it.
Adam and Eve were created mortal. They were always
going to die. They were kicked out of the garden because
God was afraid they would eat of the Tree of *Life* and so
live forever (3:22). Had they chosen to eat from that tree
they would have lived forever, but they didn't. God hadn't
forbidden them from eating from that tree, they could have
eaten from it but they didn't. Why didn't God want them to
eat from the tree of life?  Because as the snake said, man
has now become like one of us (like a god), knowing good and
evil (3:22). If he ate from the tree of life and lived forever, he would
truly be a god. 

The point of the story is to ask what does it mean to be human.
Prior to eating from the tree of knowledge, man was one of the
animals. He ate only vegetation, went naked, and talked to the
animals. Prior to eating from that tree there were only gods and
animals. As soon as they ate from the tree of knowledge, man
no longer talked to the animals, no longer went naked. Instead
of talking to the animals he ate them and wore them.  So now
humans are midway between the gods and the animals. But if
they reached out their hand and ate from the tree of life they
would become gods, because the difference between mankind
and the gods is eternal life. So to keep man from living forever
he kicked them out of the garden.

God didn't kick them out because they sinned, there is no 
mention of sin at all, the word never occurs. God kicked them
out for one reason only, to keep them from becoming gods.

The story is not about the origin of evil (for that you have to
wait till Gen 6:1). The story is about what it means to be
a human being: it means to be different from the animals
in that you have moral discernment, and yet to be different
from the gods by being mortal.  

Best,
Liz

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Ross [mailto:wross at farmerstel.com]
> Sent: Monday, August 21, 2000 6:29 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: Gen 2:17: Dying thou shalt die
> 
> 
> <Liz>
> > >The point is that the snake was right, not God. Their eyes were opened
> (3:7), and they did not die on the day they ate it as God said they would
> (2:17).
> 
> <Bill>
> !!!!
> There are some disturbing corrallaries to your interpretation - which I
> admit has force from how I read the words.
> 
> Is there any possibility for a reading something to the effect of:
> 
> "...from the day you eat thereof you are certain to die..."?
> 
> or
> 
> "...in that day that you eat of it, I tell you that your death will be
> certain..."
> 
> Or some other reading that doesn't place the death within the day?
> 
> Bill Ross
> 
> 
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