Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Everyone knows how Adam and Eve fell.
In her garden paradise, secure in God’s largesse, protection, and friendly evening visits, a serpent offered Eve a hypothesis: When God said do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or you will die, you did not understand the deeper meaning. You will not die. You will know good and evil as God does. Such knowledge will make you like gods yourselves (see Genesis 3:1-5).
What a funny thing, how the serpent used all true premises to argue a lie. He got away with it because Eve projected human pride onto God. Human pride withholds such precious information to hoard the goods and guard the throne. Human pride wants to keep others in their lower place.
But the serpent correctly did not say God withheld any information. The serpent correctly said they would become like God themselves. The serpent did not say that God forbade the fruit out of love.
God did. God has such compassion that no pain in creation does not also inflict God. Being like God entails suffering like God. Mercifully, God hoped to spare them that.
Moreover, no loneliness exceeds God’s. The pagans have their celebrity deities seducing mortals on earth and sporting with one another in the heavens. But the Holy One of Israel is One. Alone. Holding all pain.
Knowing good and evil.
Did God want to keep them in ignorance?
A proud mortal would. But shama, the Hebrew term for “obedience,” also means, “listen.” Eve listened to the serpent and so obeyed. Neither Adam nor Eve listened to God. Not really.
That became clear when the serpent raised doubts about God’s intentions. That gave them the idea that God’s love is qualified and conditional. But One who intimately knows all your pain has unconditional compassion.
Had they listened to God, they would have heard compassion they could never deny. Moreover, they would have heard joy, delight in them and in the pleasures of life safe in the lush garden. God holds all joy too.
And for that joy, a funny thing happened on the way out of the garden.
When God sentenced Adam to a life of labor and Eve to the pains of childbirth, God built joy right into the pain of work and fertility. With them more like God now, God invited them to join not only in the tedium of work but companionship with God in co-creation. God invited them to join not only in labor pains but in making love and nurturing children.
Little did they know that God knew death too. And little did they know that as they joined God in work and love, they might actually accept the invitation someday to die with God.
Finally, little did they know that the serpent was right about one more thing. Ultimately, they would not die.