Author : NNAJI MISHEAL OFFOR
Each time the story of the fall of man in the garden of Eden is told or dramatised, Eve( the woman is always presented as the culprit for fraternising with the Serpent and for her gullibility. The situation, perhaps, is predicated by the fact that this story has always been told by male chauvinists or from apparent lack of understanding of the linguistic apparatuses used in that portion of the Bible .
One would hear some men exclaim ” if not because of Eve’s clinker and clanger in Eden , humanity would have been enjoying the Edenic atmosphere to this present time” . Some would also say “there was harmonious unbroken relationship between God and Adam before the woman was created; the entrance of Eve brought the altercation and caesura between father and son”.
This story has always been presented in the form that Adam was prevailed over by Eve to eat the forbidden and so he is to be pitied. We have also been made to believe from constant retelling and dramatisation of the incidence, that Adam was not around when the Serpent visited and deceived his wife to eat the forbidden fruit and consequently kept some for her husband. Some tellers of this story would even point out that Adam must have gone in search of food for his family while Eve idled about and did nothing other than putting mankind into trouble. One shouldn’t forget that there was nothing lacking in the garden of Eden that demanded Adam to work for food. We shouldn’t also forget that Eve was meant to be Adam’s companion in everything. That’s to say , the two of them are supposed to be together always. This story of the fall of man has been mistold and misrepresented to massage the ego of male chauvinists. This story is always the watershed of male chauvinists’ denigration and subjugation of women .
In this article, therefore, I intend to contend through a systematic and methodological approach that what happened in the garden of Eden spoke of gross irresponsobilty and docility on the part of Adam ( the man) and also to emphasize that the irresponsibilty of men in our contemporary society is responsible for the moral , sociopolitical and economic atrophies bedevilling our society. If men can become responsible, the society would be healed of its ills.
The pragmalexico-semantic approach is a combination of pragmatics, lexis and semantics. Pragmatics in this context is limited to tthe meaning of utterances in contexts. Lexis has to do with words while semantics is the study of meanings. Bringing these three linguistic apparatuses together we have , words’ and utterances’ meanings in contexts.
Verse 6 and 7 of Genesis chapter 3 read thus :
“The woman was convinced . She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruits looked delicious , and she wanted the wisdom it would give her . So she took some of the fruit and ate. Then she gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER( CAPITLIZATION , MY EMPHASIS) . At that moment , their eyes were opened , and they suddenly felt ashamed of their nakedness” ( New Living Traslation).
Now the question is , where was Adam when Eve was having the destructive conversation with the Serpent? Was he sleeping? Had he gone in search of food ? He embarked on a journey? The answer to the above question is in the above verse of Genesis chapter 3. Eve took the fruit and ate it, then GAVE some to not KEPT some for her husband WHO WAS WITH HER . I am not unaware of the semantic ambiguity of the adjectival phrase “who was with her” . The above phrase has two semantic implications :
1. “To be with someone’ means to be bodily present with that person at a particular time in a particular place . For instance, I was with my friend when her mother called. ii. He gave the phone to his wife who was with him .
2. “To be with someone” implies to be living together with someone in the same house . For instance, I am now with my brother in Lagos. This meaning entails that one of the parties may not be around when something happens to one .
The correct contextual interpretation of the phrase “who was with her” is “being bodily present with her”. This implies that ADAM WAS BODILY PRESENT WITH EVE WHEN SHE ATE THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT.
Verse 7 of Genesis chapter 3 as shown above , buttresses the point that Adam was present thus: “at that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt ashamed of their nakedness”. This implies that Eve ate the fruit first and then gave to Adam. There was no gap between when Eve ate the fruit and when Adam ate. Their eyes opened at the same time after Adam had eaten. Eve’s eyes did not open before Adam’s own .
Something strikingly significant happened in this context. EVE ATE THE FRUIT FIRST BUT HER EYES DID NOT OPEN . It was only after Adam had eaten that their eyes opened. What if Adam had not eaten the fruit, would Eve’s eyes be opened alone? The answer inferentially is NO. And this is because Adam was the man that God gave the instruction. It was not Eve . Adam was the man with the covenant not Eve. God did not command Eve not to eat any fruit . This commandment was given to Adam by God before Eve was created. This point can be seen in Genesis chapter 2 verse 15 and 16 which say “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it . But the Lord God warned him “you may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit , you are sure to die'”. That was the warning dished out directly by God to Adam . Eve wasn’t created by then . The creation of Eve happened immediately after that warning in verse 18 of the same chapter. So , this great warning was older than Eve.
In this regard, every man is expected to enforce the directives from God on the members of his household. Eve did not witness the facial expression of God when that warning was given . If you ever see a man dishing out a very serious and sacrosanct instruction, you will know from the stern expression on his face. Adam experienced this not Eve. It was what Adam told Eve that she said to the serpent in verse 2 and 3 of Genesis chapter 3 thus : “of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden the woman replied . It is only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not to eat. God said “You must not eat it or even touch it, if you do , you will die”. The above statement indicates that Eve quoted what Adam said to her . She was not quoting God because she didn’t hear that from Him. Had Adam stressed the importance of this warning to Eve or he casually told her ?
To prove that Adam took this commandment with levity, he allowed his wife to pluck fruits from the same tree and they ate together. Please note that Eve ate only one fruit but gave SOME to her husband. The point here is that Adam was around when the serpent was interrogating his wife and did not do anything to remedy the situation as the man who God put in charge . Adam should have rebuked his wife and possibly take her away from that scene. He shouldn’t have joked with the wordings of that warning.
Secondly, if Adam had not eaten the forbidden fruit, Eve’s eyes wouldn’t have been opened. This is because God didn’t command Eve not to eat the fruit. She received the instruction from Adam . When God came in the evening, He did not call the woman or the two of them , He called on the man who He handed over the Garden to . Verse 9 and 10 of Genesis 3 say “Then the Lord God called to the man ” where are you”? . He replied “I heard you walking in the garden , so I hid . I was afraid because I was naked”.
Now why didn’t Adam use the plural pronoun “we'” instead of ” I” since he had a wife ? This was because he knew that God had no business with Eve. He knew he had personal accountability before God. God who is omini present must have seen everything that happened before coming but yet He didn’t call on Eve . It was until Adam implicated Eve in his explanation that God called on her . So can we see that the problem did not emanate from Eve but rather from Adam’s gross irresponsibility , docility and carelessness.? Adam was given a mandate by God but he joked about it .
From the foregoing, it can be pointed out that being a man goes beyond having A WORKING PENIS. It speaks of responsibility and accountability in diverse ways. This earth was committed to man( adult male) to take care of including the woman and if anything goes wrong with any of them, God will hold the man responsible.. God handed everything to Adam including the woman to take care of but he failed woefully in that regard.
It was not the woman that failed but the man . Eve was one of Adam’s responsibilities in the garden. It is not about parading oneself as a man but discharging the duties of a man . If your marriage fails as a man , God will hold you responsible. If your children become wayward, God will as well hold you , the man responsible.
In this regard one can assert that ALL THE PROBLEMS FACED BY HUMANITY FROM THE FALL OF MAN TO THIS CONTEMPORARY DEPRAVED AGE HAVE BEEN ORCHESTRSTED BY MAN’S IRRESPONSIBILITY AND NEGLIGENCE OF his DIVINE OBLIGATIION. If our society must experience transformation, then it must begin with men becoming responsible and reasonable. Women are not our problem at all , they have never been . Women become what their men make them .
Eve did not mastermind Adam’s fall , Adam fell because of his own flaw( irresponsibility). Delilah did not destroy Sampson, Sampson was destroyed by his own flaw (lust) . Jezebel did not destroy Ahab, he was destroyed by his own flaw ( inordinate quest for material things ) . NO WOMAN CAN DESTROY A MAN . what destroys a man are his own flaws. If the man becomes responsible and stop destroying the things that are put under his care by God , then we will sure have a taste of that Edenic Air …….