Genesis 3-4; Moses 4-5, “The Fall of Adam and Eve”
The Christian world regards the fall of Adam and Eve as a shameful act which thwarted the plan of God and left mankind in a miserable state. But because of the truths restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the Book of Moses, we looks at the fall as not only desirable but necessary in the plan of God for his sons and daughters. Adam and Eve needed an opportunity to exercise their agency in a mortal world, as do we all. Leaving the innocence of the Garden of Eden was the first step toward eventually becoming like their Heavenly Parents.
Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The purpose of mortal life for the children of God is to provide the experiences needed to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. . . To be tested, we must have the agency to choose between alternatives. To provide alternatives on which to exercise our agency, we must have opposition.”[i]
Genesis 3:1-3(see alsoMoses 3:16-17) Eve assumes that the law is given for her protection. Almost all sin starts as a revolt against authority. Satan suggests that God knows something that Eve does not know. He focuses on what she cannot do rather than what she can do. Eve assumes that God has given her the law for her own protection but Satan misrepresents God’s character.
Genesis 3:4-5Satan tells Eve that she will not die if she partakes of the forbidden fruit, but that they will be as the gods, knowing good and evil. Did Satan lie? Did Eve die? Yes, eventually, but not immediately. Satan uses the principle of ambiguity. Satan insinuates to Eve that God doesn’t have her best interests in mind and that He knows something that He is not going to tell her. Satan tries to show that God is keeping something good from her.
The reality of partaking of the fruit for Adam and Eve was that soon after they partook, they were forced to leave the garden and the presence of the Lord which brought upon them SPIRITUAL DEATH. It is also true that when they ate the fruit, their bodies changed from immortal to mortal and they would eventually experience PHYSICAL DEATH. Satan gets Eve to see a meaning God did not intend. In his desire to overthrow the plan of God, Satan did not realize that he was bringing about the very condition that would enable God’s plan to work, the mortality of man. We know from Moses 4:6 that Satan knew not the mind of God. What could he have been thinking of? How could he have destroyed the plan from the beginning?
Of course, we cannot be certain, but if he would have placed guard dogs and a fence around the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the plan would have been frustrated and mortality would never have come into the world. Alma explains another way that Satan could have frustrated God’s plan—get Adam and Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit, not repent, and then partake of the fruit of the tree of life. Thus, the plan would have been frustrated. (See Alma 42:2-5) Man needed a probationary time to repent. (See Alma 12:23-27 )
We might wonder, if God did not want them to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, then why did he make it accessible? The answer seems to be that God wanted Adam and Eve to be able to exercise their agency, God’s greatest gift to man. In the Pearl of Great Price, the phrase “nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself” is added to Moses 3:17.
The Genesis 3 account tells us that the tree “was pleasant” to Eve’s eyes, which is a Hebrew idiom meaning “a desirable thing.” Genesis 4:12 tells us that as Eve looked upon the tree in the midst of the garden, the tree “became” pleasant.” As we examine the verbs used here, we see how they show the progression of sin. First she “saw” it, and as she continued to gaze at it, it “became pleasant.” Then she saw that it was something to be “desired” to make her wise. She made a decision and “took” of the fruit and “gave” it to her husband who was “with her.”
My grandmother used to quote Alexander Pope’s poem on “Vice” to me often.
“Vice is a monster of such frightful mein,
That it is to be hated, just to be seen.
But, ere long, grown accustomed to its face,
We first endure, then pity, and then embrace.”
On my mission in Hong Kong, when we rode the Star Ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, there were signs on the deck prohibiting spitting on the ferry. Next to the English words, one particular character that had two tree characters in it 禁 was printed next to the character for spitting. At that time, I only knew a few characters, because studying characters was against the mission rules, Cantonese being a language learned through the Romanization of its pronunciation. But I did know the simple character for tree, and I remember wondering then what two tree characters had to do with something being prohibited.
God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And the LORD God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest of it, thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)
Actually, God gave this prohibition to Adam alone—Eve was not created for another five verses. But Adam apparently shared this knowledge with her, wanting to protect her. “To forbid in Chinese is (Jìn) 禁. How do you write this character? First is the character for tree written twice – (Lín) 林. Why were there two trees? Because there was a tree of life, and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then God gave them a divine command about the trees. (Shì)“示” Eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is prohibited! If you eat it, you will die![ii]
林 + 示 = 禁
two trees (divine) command prohibit
Moses 5:11 in the Pearl of Great Price adds this insight into her possible motivations:
And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
The desire to bear children is strong in women. Perhaps Eve foresaw that she could not have the children she yearned for while remaining in the garden.
With their newly acquired knowledge, Adam and Eve were no longer innocent. Having had their eyes opened, they realized that they were naked, with all that nakedness implies—embarrassment, sin, and guilt.
Genesis 3:7Adam and Eve sought to “cover” their nakedness with fig leaves. In the Hebrew language, the word for to cover is “kaphar.”[iv] The act of one’s sins being covered expresses the idea of “atonement.” Rather than sins being “bleached out,” the idea is that misdeeds are covered with “White Out.” The Jewish holiday celebrating the Day of Atonement is Yom Kippur, being derived from this same word.
What are the “fig leaves” that we in the world today use to cover our “nakedness” of sin and guilt? There are many varieties of “fig leaves,” including rationalization, self-justification, the use of numbing substances, and countless others.
Because of their disobedient act of deliberately eating the fruit from the forbidden tree , Adam and Eve would be deprived of access to the fruit from the tree of life. No longer were they guaranteed the immortality which it provided as long as they regularly partook of its fruit.
Genesis 3:8-9 God wants them to come out into the open so he can cleanse them and make them whole and provide a Savior for them. In the Moses 4 account, God calls unto Adam saying, “Where goest thou?” as opposed to the Genesis “Where art thou?” In other words, God is asking Adam and Eve, “Where will this road you are walking on take you?”
God had come to visit the man Adam and his wife after his afternoon walk to cool off, an interesting anthropomorphic touch to the concept of Divinity. Of course God already knew where Adam and Eve were hiding, and what had happened, but the Lord wanted to teach them something by asking them some questions. God saw their fig-leaf aprons and asked them, “Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee thou shouldst not eat?” (Genesis 3:11) He helps them to confess, and all they have to do is say yes.
The next verses record Adam and Eve expressing why they felt their actions were justified:
The man answered, “The woman you gave to be with me, gave me the fruit, and I ate it…And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12-13).
Adam made his choice to stay with Eve, so that he could fulfill the commandment God gave to “multiply and replenish the earth.” After all, was not this the main purpose for God’s creation of the earth? Eve made her decision based on the information she had received, that there was no other way she could gain knowledge but by partaking of the fruit. As we have cited already, she later says, “Were it not for our transgression . . . we never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption. . .” (Moses 5:11).
Genesis 3:15In pronouncing enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman, the Lord prophesied his plan for humanity’s ultimate redemption. To bruise in Hebrew means “crush” or “grind” (shuph). In time, the “seed of the woman” would indeed crush the serpent’s head, although his heel would be bruised by the serpent.
These verses are brimming with information to be unpacked and digested. Christ (the specific offspring of the woman) will crush the head of Satan through overcoming death through the atonement, while Satan will “bruise the heel” of the rest of Eve’s posterity through sin, and this will cause Christ to suffer for those sins. He will lead men to crucify and seemingly destroy the Savior, while in actuality that very act of atonement will give Christ the power to overcome the power that Satan has over men and undo the effects of the fall. Thus, the seed of the woman shall crush the head of the serpent (Satan and his kingdom) with the very heel that was bruised (the atoning sacrifice).[v]
Adam and Eve would each partake of the natural consequences of mortality. Adam and his posterity would have to labor in caring for the earth. Earth life takes work, but it builds strong character. When God tells Eve that he will “multiply” her labor when bearing a child, he does not mean he will increase her pain, but that she will bear multiple children. She will conceive and labor over and over in bringing forth the children of the earth. This is a good thing. She wants to be the mother of all living. Both Adam and Eve will bring forth life with sweat and tears.
In Genesis 3:16, God says to Eve that [her] “desire will be to [her] husband,” and that he will “rule over [her].” In English this comes across as the description of a master and his slave. Shewill have to fulfill her lord and master’s every desire, and he will rule over her with an iron fist. But the Hebrew does not say this. The word translated as “desire” is from the Hebrew word teshuqah, which has the sense of “stretching out after,” or “a longing.”[vi] This is how a woman feels about a man who treats her like a queen. Her heart “longs” for him, and she “stretches out after” trying to please. It does not sound like a woman who is treated as chattel by her husband. God is telling Eve that if she is onewith her husband, then he will treat her like royalty.
In the phrase translated “he shall rule over thee,” the Hebrew conveys a very different meaning. It says “he shall rule bak,”which is the preposition b– attached to the feminine pronoun for “you.” When I learned Hebrew, I was taught that there is a scarcity of prepositions in the Hebrew language. L– attached to the beginning of a word meant “to” or “for,” c– meant “like” or “as,” and b– meant “in,” “with,” or “by.” There is another preposition—al—that stands by itself and means a lot of things, but mostly “upon” or “over.” The preposition b– in this phrase should read, “and he shall rule with you.” Other places in the Bible translate b– before rule as “rule over,” but it is clearly talking about a king and his subjects, or one people ruling over another. God has gone out of his way in this chapter and the ones before it to emphasize how the woman is to be an “equal” to the man—a “power” exactly corresponding to him. Together they are to have “dominion” over the earth and populate it. Eve will rule over this newly-created world with her husband. She will be his ezer—his rescuer, his deliverer, his strength.[vii]
Elder Bruce Hafen of the Seventy concurs with this interpretation, teaching that the King James translation of Genesis 3:16 (“and he shall rule over thee”) is a mistranslation. In Hafen’s words, “over in ‘rule over’ uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over.”[viii] Elder L. Tom Perry added further confirmation when he said, “there is not a president and a vice president in a family. We have co-presidents working together eternally for the good of their family. … They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.”[ix]
Genesis 3:21 In order to symbolize the need for their sins to be covered, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”[x] The sacrifice of innocent animals was required in order to fashion these symbolic garments. Adam and Eve had never before witnessed death, and they must have been sobered. At this point, they did not realize what this sacrifice represented. The Chinese character for clothes pictures a cover over the sign of two characters which mean “person.” Interestingly, one of the characters for a person is portrayed as emerging from the side of the first person, reflecting the story of the woman being created from Adam’s rib.[xi]
The symbolic nature of the garments of skins is further reflected in various Chinese characters. In order to obtain skins, an animal had to die by God’s hand so the garments could be created. Because God uses many types and shadows to convey his truths in the scriptures, it seems likely that the animal sacrificed was a sheep, for this animal was to symbolize the Son of God, who would later be called the Lamb of God.
The Chinese character for righteousness is the character for sheep on top of the character for me, which is composed of a character for hand and a weapon. Either interpretation is moving—the sheep “covering” me, or a weapon in a hand shedding the blood of a sheep symbolizes righteousness.
This is one of my favorite characters. I am deeply moved that God would send this message to his children from the beginning of time, so that they could look forward with a “perfect brightness of hope” to their redemption. Both the Mosaic priests and the ancient Chinese emperors offered sacrifices which were a type and a shadow of the eventual sacrifice of Lamb of God.
Genesis 3:22-25 The Lord, realizing that Adam and Eve were no linger “innocent,” but were now able to discern good an evil, he placed “cherubim and a flaming sword” to guard the way to the tree of life. This was an act of mercy so they wouldn’t live forever in their sins. (See Alma 42:2-5) What finally lowers the sword? The atonement of Jesus Christ.
Men were created so they had the capacity to fall, and when the fall occurred, it required the Atonement of Jesus Christ to reverse its effects. This is why the plan needs to be presented regularly as a big package. And in a sense, just to take the fall and teach it by itself is to do an injustice to the plan. Or to take any doctrine and teach it in isolation is to also teach it in abstraction. Because the full meaning is to be seen only when we view the big picture. That is why an Elder Bruce R. McConkie identified the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement, as the “three pillars of eternity” in the sense that they form one grand package of the plan of salvation.[xv]
Cain and Abel
There are 24 verses in the 4th chapter of Genesis which discuss Cain and Abel (1-24), but the restoration of the text in Moses contains 44 verses on the same topic. (Moses 5:16-19).
Seven verses are the same, sixteen have restorations in them (nine of which are very significant) and 21 are completely restored in the text. The blessing of these restored verses helps clear up many of the difficulties in understanding the account of Cain and Abel.
Years ago, I took an Old Testament class from Brother S. Michael Wilcox and I loved the way he presented these chapters as an illustration of how Satan gets us to turn to evil. He called it a “Junior College for Tempters.”[xvi]
1. Genesis 4:4-5 Find a reason to take offense or exploit a weakness.
In the Pearl of Great Price version, Satan tells Cain to make the offering. He will have you do something good to set you up to take offense. Cain had a wrong motive—he is following the person he loves (Satan) who commanded him to make an offering to God, not because he loves God!
Why was Abel’s offering a more excellent sacrifice as it says in Hebrews 11? Satan knew that Cain’s sacrifice would not be accepted by the Lord for another reason. Besides his offering being commanded by Satan, it was not in accordance with the Lord’s commandment to Adam to offer the firstlings of the flock (Moses 5:5). Abel’s offering was an animal sacrifice, and thus was accepted by the Lord. (Moses 5:20) The reason the offering of fruit was not accepted by the Lord was that it was not in the similitude of the Only Begotten. Satan devilishly planned the whole time to get Cain to offer an offering that he knew could not be accepted.
2. Genesis 4:5b Choose to take offense
Negative emotions blind us to the truth. Blaming others keeps us from repenting. It puts the responsibility outside ourselves. We become the “victim” always. If Satan can get us to feel we are the innocent victim, he has us. Cain CHOOSES to take offense. Peter could have taken offense many times when the Savior rebuked him, but he chose NOT to take offense. You CAN choose not to take offense. Cain’s countenance fell—he pouted.
3. Genesis 4:7a Confrontation with the truth
“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” The Lord tells Cain that he has not been treated unfairly. If he does well, the Lord will accept him.
4. Genesis 4:7b An explanation of consequences if behavior is not changed.
“And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” A humble person listens and heeds. A prideful person rebels more. But notice that repentance is still possible! It’s never too late!
Moses 5:23-24 explains the enigmatic phrase from this verse, “And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him; For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world. (Moses 5:23-24)
The Lord explained how Cain would rule over Satan. Cain was warned that his continued compliance to Satan’s desires would make him the Father of Satan’s lies. As used in this context “father” is the head of a household, so Cain would be head of Satan’s operations here on the earth.
5. Genesis 4:9 Refusal to confess and repent Refusal to accept responsibility
Cain asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He makes excuses for his behavior.
The Lord did not answer Cain’s question and this has led many to misunderstand it. Many assume from this statement that everyone is his brother’s keeper. However, in the line of stewardship, a father is his son’s keeper—not another son, but a brother should be a helper to his brother. Cain was neither one, but he was probably following a pattern of Satan, justifying himself, or excusing himself under the guise of a true but inappropriate principle. He says, “I have no RESPONSIBILITY.”
He transfers blame. In Moses 5:38, he blames Satan for “tempting me because of my brother’s flocks.” Cain is all about acquiring possessions. In fact, the Hebrew root of his name, kanah,means “to acquire.” He focuses on his punishment. In Genesis 4:13, Cain says, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” He is worried about the consequences, not the crime.
Genesis 4:12 The curse on Cain was 2-fold:
1. The earth would not yield her strength to Cain from Cain’s efforts at tilling it, presumably for the fact that the blood of Abel was being absorbed by it. Cain had taken life from the earth. Now it wouldn’t yield life to him. He couldn’t be a farmer anymore.
2. Cain would become a “fugitive and a vagabond in the earth.” A fugitive is a person who is running from the law. A vagabond is a person who has no home. He would become a nomad, and pursue the portable arts such as metalworking and music.
Genesis 4:14-15 “Every one that findeth me shall slay me.”This statement illustrates that Cain’s comment is drawn more from fear of his own safety than from remorse and fear of loss of salvation. A truly repentant person will accept the consequences of his own actions, and will accept his sin humbly and patiently. By his actions, Cain becomes an “outlaw.” He has taken life and can’t claim the law’s protection. Anyone can kill him and not be accountable. The mark is given for Cain’s protection. (See Moses 5:40)
Interestingly, the Chinese seal character signifying this act of murder and its aftermath is likely the pictograph meaning “cruel, violent, or fierce,” because it is comprised of three elements—the character for “elder brother,” a “mark” on this character, and another person, perhaps referring to Abel. “And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who came up on him should kill him.”
Insights from the Pearl of Great Price
The Pearl of Great Price adds many insights not given in the Genesis account. For example, in Moses 5:2-3, Adam and Eve are already grandparents. Their sons and daughters have also begotten sons and daughters. Cain isn’t born until Moses 5:16.
Moses 5:5 Adam and Eve were commanded to make a sacrifice of the firstlings of their flocks. Yet Adam did not know why, and yet he trusted the Lord enough to obey him. Literally, “firstlings” means “that which opens the womb.” It took special care to determine which lambs were the firstlings. One had to know the flock well.
Robert J. Matthews:
Each mother in her lifetime could produce only one firstling, but a flock of sheep could have several firstlings born each year. In order to know which lambs were acceptable for sacrifice, the owner would have to know his flock. Some notice would have to be made of mothers and of young. Otherwise, how could anyone know which mothers had produced offspring for the first time? There is no way that a man, Adam or anyone else, could know which males were firstlings unless a record and some identification of mothers and offspring were kept. This requirement removes the element of chance and of haphazard obedience, or sometime obedience. Not only is one’s faith shown in the willingness to offer a sacrifice but also in the care required and the preparation needed beforehand in making the selection of the proper animal.
This particular passage of scripture illustrates the concept that the commandments of God require the intelligent and deliberate attention of those who are seeking salvation. It gives a reason for Paul’s observation that ‘without faith it is impossible to please’ God (Heb. 11:6). For without faith one would not have kept a record and marked (at least mentally) which animals were proper for sacrifice (Robert J. Matthews, “The Doctrine of the Atonement,” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Volume Two: The Pearl of Great Price , 118–19).
Moses 5:6-7 Adam is told by an angel that his sacrifice is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father. This practice was carried out throughout the Law of Moses.
Moses 5:8-9 Hereafter, Adam was to do all things in the name of the Son, and the Holy Ghost bore testimony of the Son and his mission to redeem all mankind, “even as many as will.” This brings great joy to his soul and he finally understands the great purposes of God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could use this admonition to do all things in the name of the Son in guiding our everyday choices?
Moses 5:10 “And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.”
Moses 5:11 Eve likewise rejoices: “And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.”
“And thus we see” that Adam and Eve, having had their eyes opened, are now able to move forward according to God’s plan for them. They had “become as the gods,” knowing good and evil, and now had the opportunity to exercise their agency in a mortal world, as do we all. Leaving the innocence of the Garden of Eden was the first step toward eventually becoming like their Heavenly Parents.
[ii] These concepts are from Nelson, E.R., Broadberry, R.E., and Tong Chock, G., God’s Promise to the Chinese, (Read Books: Dunlap, Tennessee, 1997), 21-40. Dr. Ethel R. Nelson, a Christian pathologist and medical missionary in Thailand wrote the book called The Discovery of Genesis with C.H. Kang, which discusses the subject of the story of Genesis in Chinese characters. More than twenty years before, she came into the possession of a document written by this doctor entitled Genesis and the Chinese. She found it “more than stimulating,” and used it in her Bible study. Years later, through her son, she was able to locate this elderly Chinese minister. She offered to prepare his material for presentation to a larger audience. Her latest book, called God’s Promise to the Chinese, is based upon the material found in the ancient oracle bone characters, which predated modern Chinese characters. The other insights in this article about ancient Chinese characters reflecting the Genesis story are also from this book and other articles she has published.
[iii] Moses 2:28.
[iv] James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publ., 1990) “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” #3722, 57.
[v] These concepts are from Nelson, E.R., Broadberry, R.E., and Tong Chock, G., God’s Promise to the Chinese, (Read Books: Dunlap, Tennessee, 1997), 21-40.
[vi] Strong’s Concordance, 126, entry # 8669 teshuqah.
[vii] Diana Webb, Biblical Lionesses, 183-184.
[viii] Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen, Ensign, August 2007, “Crossing Thresholds and Becoming Equal Partners,” 24–29.
[ix] L. Tom Perry, Church News, 10 April 2004:15.
[x] Various sources in Jewish tradition express the idea that Adam exchanged his garments of light, in Hebrew (beged or), for garments of skin, which has the same pronounced, but is spelled with different Hebrew consonants. In other words, after Adam and Eve fell, they lost some of the glory which they had previously possessed.
[xi] Eve is also a pun in Sumerian. The same word “ti” can mean “rib” or “life.” Therefore, “woman of the rib,” or “woman of life,” are both potential meanings of Eve’s name. Samuel Kramer has conjectured that assuming a Sumerian literary background provides an explanation for the puzzle as to why a rib was chosen for fashioning the woman. In a Samarian poem, one of Enki’s sick organs is the rib. The goddess who created a cure for the healing of Enki’s rib was therefore called in Sumerian Nin-ti, “the Lady of the rib.” The name Nin-ti may mean “the Lady who makes live” as well as “the Lady of the rib.” In Sumerian literature, therefore, “the Lady of the rib” came to be identified with “the Lady who makes live” through a play on words. Kramer suggests this ancient literary pan was carried over and perpetuated in the paradise story, although the pun loses its meaning, because in Hebrew the word for “rib” and “who makes live” have nothing in common. (Samuel Noah Kramer, “Religion, Theology, Rite, and Myth” in Temple in Society, ed. Michael V. Fox, (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1988), 149.)
[xii] CKWP, no. 8.9; HCKWP, no. 8.12. (The lexicon for ancient Chinese seal characters)
[xiii] CKWP, no. 12.18; HCKWP, no. 12.23.
[xiv] CKWP, no. 12.18; HCKWP, no. 12.22.
[xv] Bruce R. McConkie, “The Three Pillars of Eternity,” BYU 1981 Fireside and Devotional Speakers, 27.
[xvi] The following ideas are largely taken from the author’s personal notes from Brother Wilcox’s class.