An Old Testament KnoWhy
for Gospel Doctrine Lesson 4:
“Because of My Transgression My Eyes Are Opened” (Moses 4; 5:1–15; 6:48-62) (JBOTL04A).
[See the link to the video supplement to this lesson at the end of the article under “Further Study.”]
Question: The scriptures say that Eve was “beguiled” by Satan when she partook of the forbidden fruit. But Latter-day Saints believe she made the right choice. How can both statements be true?
Summary: Some people paint Eve in a negative light, blaming her for bringing sin into the world. This is not the view of the Latter-day Saints. We emphasize her wisdom and perceptiveness, and see her actions in the Garden of Eden as a positive step forward in the divine plan. We teach that she did not commit a sin in taking the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and honor her lifelong faithfulness. However, a few have taken this view to an unreasonable extreme, arguing that, for various reasons, she was not actually “beguiled” by Satan in her decision to eat the forbidden fruit. On the one hand, some believe that Satan was entirely truthful when he spoke to Eve. On the other hand, others teach or imply that regardless of what Satan did or said, Eve made the right choice with full understanding of the situation. These beliefs are based on honest intent, but are all mistaken. Scripture exposes how Satan used a series of clever tactics to mislead Eve, how God’s wisdom prevailed, and how Eve became a symbol of Wisdom itself.
We will begin this essay by discussing two questions:
- Was Satan entirely truthful in what he told Eve?
- Was Eve actually deceived by him?
Addressing these questions will prepare us to understand Satan’s tactics and God’s countermeasures.
Was Satan entirely truthful? In Moses 4:10-11, Satan makes two claims to Eve in order to convince her to eat the forbidden fruit: 1. “ye shall not surely die”; and 2. “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Since, in Moses 4:28, God agrees with Satan’s second claim by saying that after taking of the fruit Adam and Eve have “become as one of us to know good and evil,” its truthfulness is not in question. However, some have erroneously argued that Satan’s first claim was also true.
There is no doubt that the literal word-by-word translation of the Hebrew given in a footnote of the LDS edition of the Bible (“Dying, ye shall not die”) can be confusing. For example, in an otherwise insightful commentary on the story of Adam and Eve, Alonzo Gaskill has argued mistakenly that Satan’s meaning was that in “physically dying you will not die (i.e., permanently die).”  In this erroneous interpretation of the Hebrew, Satan was entirely truthful in telling Eve that if she ate the consequence of death would only be temporary. However, in Hebrew the repetition of the verb in a phrase like “Dying, ye shall not die” is always used as a way of making the negation (“not”) stronger. In other words, it changes the meaning “you shall not die” to something like “you shall surely not die” or “you shall absolutely not die.” For this reason, Satan’s statement is nothing more than deception pure and simple.
Satan mixed truth with falsehood, as he is often wont to do. This is consistent with Brigham Young’s conclusion that Satan told Eve “many truths and some lies” or, as Hyrum Andrus expressed it: “a big lie and … a half-truth.” The Book of Mormon more than once prefaces discussions of Adam and Eve’s transgression by the statement that the Devil is “the father of all lies”—implying that the two concepts are closely linked. Perhaps the most telling of these passages is 2 Nephi 2:18. Here the word “wherefore” seems to function as an explicit logical connective between the first clause that describes who Satan is and the second clause that tells what he said: “the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore [for this reason] he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”
Was Eve actually deceived by Satan? James T. Summerhays has summarized the thoughtful views of Vivian McConkie Adams — and, indirectly, those of Beverly Campbell. While none of these authors disagree with the statement of scripture that Satan “sought… to beguile Eve,” all three argue that the Adversary did not succeed in deceiving her. More specifically, they conclude, mistakenly, that in Eve’s statement that she was beguiled she “is not saying she was tricked.” Unfortunately, none of the four mistaken reasons given for this conclusion stand up under closer scrutiny:
- Mistaken Reason 1: Unsophisticated Bible translators have missed the richness of the meaning of “beguile” in Hebrew. It is claimed that the Hebrew word translated “beguiled” suggests “a deep internal process; [Eve] weighed, pondered, and reflected upon the ramifications of partaking of the fruit before she did so.” That much seems possible. Indeed, the multifaceted nature of Eve’s experience is witnessed by the text of Moses 4:12 itself. However, the suggestion that Satan’s words led Eve to reflect carefully does not by itself do away with the fact that his deception ultimately influenced her choice. Not only the King James Version but also virtually all modern Bible translations accept “deceived” the primary meaning of the Hebrew word translated within the King James Version phrase as “The serpent beguiled me.” Whatever else might of gone through the mind of Eve while she made her decision, she herself realized and admitted with admirable honesty that the reason she had eaten the forbidden fruit was because she had been deceived by Satan’s falsehood.
- Mistaken Reason 2: According to the prophet Lehi, Eve was “enticed,”  which means, it is claimed, “she wanted [the forbidden fruit]; she chose it over the other.” However, this argument fails to make the point — it is just as easy to be enticed by evil as by good, which is exactly the point Lehi is making (“enticed by the one or the other”). We cannot take the fact that Eve chose to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge as proof that she was not, at least in part, deceived by Satan in the reasons for her choice. Indeed, the word “entice” is sometimes used in the Book of Mormon to describe Satan’s general role as a tempter.
- Mistaken Reason 3: Citing Moses 4:12, it is mistakenly argued that the Tree of Knowledge “was a good tree. … Eve saw, the record says, not merely wondered or believed or hoped that the tree was good.” In contrast to this view, Bible scholar Nahum Sarna recognizes that Eve’s evaluation of the tree is not a simple statement of truth. To the contrary, he sees “irony in the formulation that she ‘saw that it was good.” Note also that nothing is said in scripture about Eve having weighed the valid considerations that might have come to bear on her choice (such as the importance of the experience of mortality and the joy of having children) had she completely understood the situation before she took of the forbidden fruit. Instead, we are told in the book of Moses that, upon hearing Satan’s enticing and deceitful words, Eve looked and “the tree … became pleasant to the eyes.” According to the eminent Bible scholars Robert Alter and Nahum Sarna, the corresponding Hebrew words in Genesis describe a strong intensity of desire fueled by appetite. This ultimately resulted in the subordination of God’s law to the appeal of the senses. Elder James E. Talmage agreed, teaching that Eve “was captivated by”  the “sophistries, half-truths and infamous falsehoods” of Satan and, “being eager to possess the advantages pictured by [him], she disobeyed the command of the Lord.” Of course, although Elder Talmage recognized that Satan beguiled Eve, he in no way implied that Eve chose evil — because “she knew it not.” He rightfully portrays Adam and Eve as having played their parts perfectly in accordance with the Father’s original plan.
- Mistaken Reason 4: The Hebrew word for “saw” has a direct relationship to the “Hebrew word ro’eh, which means seer or vision. Thus, it is suggested that Eve “may have received seeric revelation from God as part of her tutoring in the garden.” To make this argument is to suggest, by way of analogy, that because “see” and “seer” are related in English, any statements about “seeing” can be taken as evidence for divine vision. But this is clearly false — everyone that “sees” is not a “seer”! In addition, if Eve had actually seen a vision before she made her choice, it seems likely that a better Hebrew root than ro’eh — the one that is used exclusively in the Old Testament for “seer” and “seeing in vision” — would have been used. Of greatest importance is that one of the main points of the story is to contrast Adam and Eve’s limited view of things before the Fall to the greater discernment they manifested afterward — for example, recognizing Satan for who he is. Of course, it is possible that Eve may have had some degree of prior insight into the positive consequences of her choice. And it is evident that her understanding was relatively complete after she had eaten. However, to argue that she received a complete understanding of the situation through “seeric revelation” on the basis of what is available in the Hebrew text of Genesis is not persuasive.
The explicit declaration of scripture is that “Satan … sought to beguile Eve.” Ancient and modern Hebrew scholars agree that the primary meaning of “beguile” is to “deceive.” The actions of Adam and Eve in making the fig leaf aprons and hiding from God witness their doubtful state of mind following the transgression. Why not accept Eve’s own straightforward explanation of what happened? In the admirable candor and simplicity of her confession, she both admitted the deception and rightfully laid blame on Satan — the only one who actually deserved it: “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
Satan’s strategy for confusion and deception. The serpent is described as “subtle.” The Hebrew term behind the word means shrewd, cunning, and crafty, but not wise. “Subtle,” in this context, also has to do with the ability to make something appear one way when it is actually another. Thus, it is not in the least out of character later for Satan both to disguise his identity and to distort the true nature of a situation in order to deceive.
At the moment of temptation, Satan deliberately tried to confuse Eve. The Devil — and the scripture reader — know that there are two trees in the midst of the Garden, but only one of them was visible at the time to Eve. Moreover, as Margaret Barker explains:
…he made the two trees seem identical: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would open her eyes, and she would be like God, knowing both good and evil. Almost the same was true of the Tree of Life, for Wisdom opened the eyes of those who ate her fruit, and as they became wise, they became divine.
A second theme of confusion stems from Satan’s efforts to mask his identity. Of great significance here is the fact that the serpent is a frequently used representation of Christ and his life-giving power, as shown, for example, in this depiction of Moses holding up the brazen serpent. Moreover, the most glorious group of angels, the seraphim, were pictured anciently as fiery winged serpents that surrounded the throne of God. The idea that Satan appeared as one of the seraphim gives new meaning to the statement of Nephi that the “being who beguiled our first parents … transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light.”
In temple contexts, the essential function of the seraphim was similar to the role of the cherubim at the entrance of the Garden of Eden: they were to be sentinels or “keep[ers] [of] the way,” guarding the portals of the heavenly temple against unauthorized entry, governing subsequent access to increasingly secure compartments, and ultimately assisting in the determination of the fitness of worshipers to enter God’s presence. Thus Jesus, as the greatest of all the seraphim and the innermost “keeper of the gate,” could literally and legitimately assert: “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Thus, in the context of the temptation of Eve, Richard D. Draper, S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes conclude that Satan “has effectively come as the Messiah, offering a promise that only the Messiah can offer, for it is the Messiah who will control the powers of life and death and can promise life, not Satan.” Not only has the Devil come in guise of the Holy One, he seems to have deliberately appeared, without authorization, at a very sacred place in the Garden of Eden. If it is true, as Ephrem the Syrian believed, that the Tree of Knowledge symbolized “the veil for the sanctuary,” then Satan has positioned himself, in the extreme of sacrilegious effrontery, as the very “keeper of the gate.” Thus, in the apt words of Catherine Thomas, Eve was induced to take the fruit “from the wrong hand, having listened to the wrong voice.”
Hugh Nibley succinctly summed up the situation: “Satan disobeyed orders when he revealed certain secrets to Adam and Eve, not because they were not known and done in other worlds, but because he was not authorized in that time and place to convey them.” Although Satan had “given the fruit to Adam and Eve, it was not his prerogative to do so—regardless of what had been done in other worlds. (When the time comes for such fruit, it will be given us legitimately.)” 
Once she was empowered by newly acquired insight about the reasons why it had been necessary in God’s plan to eat the forbidden fruit, Eve wisely, heroically, and compassionately took the initiative to approach her companion. Though Eve had been the one deceived, Hugh Nibley observed that she also became the first to understand what must be done to prevent a separation from Adam and to secure the future of their family:
After Eve had eaten the fruit and Satan had won his round, the two were now drastically separated, for they were of different natures. But Eve, who in ancient lore is the one who outwits the serpent and trips him up with his own smartness, defeated this trick by a clever argument. First, she asked Adam if he intended to keep all of God’s commandments. Of course he did! All of them? Naturally! And what, pray, was the first and foremost of those commandments? Was it not to multiply and replenish the earth, the universal commandment given to all God’s creatures? And how could they keep that commandment if they were separated? It had undeniable priority over the commandment not to eat the fruit. So Adam could only admit that she was right and go along: “I see that it must be so,” he said, but it was she who made him see it. This is much more than a smart way of winning her point, however. It is the clear declaration that man and woman were put on the earth to stay together and have a family — that is their first obligation and must supersede everything else.
Latter-day Saints should rightfully honor Eve while also recognizing Satan as the cunning Tempter that he is. Though she was once deceived, Eve’s innate perceptiveness, increased by her experience, led to her becoming a symbol of Wisdom itself (Sophia). While briefly successful, Satan’s strategy to destroy the couple’s happiness was no match for the greatness of God’s wisdom and love. Eve’s forthright and intelligent initiative was a decisive blow to the Adversary.
For more explanation on the connection between the story of the Fall and the Israelite temple, watch the video supplement to this lesson: “The Tree of Knowledge as the Veil of the Sanctuary.” The video can be seen on the Interpreter Foundation YouTube channel (https://youtu.be/LfIs9YKYrZE) or downloaded from our server at http://cdn.interpreterfoundation.org/ifvideo/180113-Tree+of+Knowledge+as+the+Veil.m4v. This is an updated 2018 version, not the 2014 video of the presentation that was made at the Sperry Symposium. If the video from the server plays rather than downloading, right-click within the video and select the Save video as … menu option to download it.
For more detailed analysis of Adam and Eve’s transgression and its consequences, see J. M. Bradshaw, et al., Mormonism’s Satan. See also J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014), pp. 61–157. The book is available for purchase in print at Amazon.com and the book and the article are available as free pdf downloads at www.TempleThemes.net.
For a verse-by-verse commentary on Moses 4 (Genesis 3), see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 82–212. The book is available for purchase in print at Amazon.com and as a free pdf download at www.TempleThemes.net.
For a scripture roundtable video from The Interpreter Foundation on the subject of Gospel Doctrine lesson 4, see https://interpreterfoundation.org/scripture-roundtable-54-old-testament-gospel-doctrine-lesson-4-because-of-my-transgression-my-eyes-are-opened/.
Book of Mormon Central KnoWhy #316, “Why Did Nephi Say That Serpents Could Fly?” (https://knowhy.bookofmormoncentral.org/content/why-did-nephi-say-serpents-could-fly) is an excellent introduction to the symbolism behind the “fiery, flying serpents” in the story of Moses. The symbolism of serpents as seraphim is an important element in understanding the story of the Fall. See J. M. Bradshaw, et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified, pp. 128-129 for a discussion of how this same interpretation illuminates the meaning of Jesus’ reference to Moses and the brazen serpent in John 3:14.
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Just decided to see how many times the word “beguile” is found in the Book of Mormon. The answer is three. And interestingly enough, each time it states that BOTH of our first parents were “beguiled” into making the choice they made. Perhaps we need to consider more interpretations of the word ” “beguiled.”
Mosiah 16: 3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.
2 Nephi 9:9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.
Ether 8:25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
To be precise, none of these scriptures say that both Adam and Eve were both “beguiled into making the choice they made.” It simply says they were both “beguiled” (i.e., deceived).
Consistent with the scriptures you cite, it appears that in some things both of them were deceived. For example, neither one of them seems to have known Satan for who he was at first, for he had transformed himself, as it says in 2 Nephi 9:9, “nigh unto an angel of light.” It was only after the Fall that Eve recognized his efforts to conceal his identity and told him so. At that point, after taking the fruit (the scriptures are clear that it was not before), their eyes were opened and they were beginning to see such things already, even though they had not yet had any mortal experience except for the Fall itself.
With respect to being “beguiled [at least in part] into making the choice” (as opposed to having been deceived as to who Satan was), we have two witnesses in scripture that Eve was deceived: the first record of scripture where Eve said “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat” [the phrase makes no sense as a justification unless she had been (innocently) deceived] and the second record of scripture where Paul asserts “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
Won’t it be wonderful when we can all hear the account from their own lips!
God bless you!
Thank you for your article.
It is hard to believe that Deseret Book would print Gaskill’s or Campbell’s books. I my mind, two of the three least favorable books I have read in faithful LDS writings.
Dear Elder Bradshaw,
Thank you so much for sharing your research and knowledge with us so freely.
My question is this: Was Satan lying when he told Eve there was no other way? If I understand your article correctly, we must go through the tree of knowledge to get to the tree of life, but Satan was deceptive in introducing Eve to the tree of knowledge, and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Does that imply there was another way for Eve to choose, even if God knew she would succumb to Satan’s temptation at the time she did?
Hi, Doug. Good question. Of course, there is no question in my mind that the only way for Adam and Eve and us to progress was for them to take of the fruit and enter mortality. On the other hand, such a truth coming out of Satan’s mouth, given the fact that he was prepared to say as many untruths as he needed to in order to achieve his ends, would be understood by someone with a good understanding of the plan of salvation as a piece of profound irony. Kind of like when we read Caiaphas’ statement that it was expedient that Jesus should die so the whole nation would not perish (John 11:49-52). Thoughtful readers immediately recognize that there were more and deeper truths in Caiphas’ statement than he himself could have imagined when he said it.
I just replied to a reader by email and thought these additional, slightly edited comments might be of interest to some readers:
Replying to your message, from everything I’ve seen, I wouldn’t so so far as to say that I’ve seen the Brethren, to use your expression, “backing away” specifically from the idea that Eve was deceived by Satan (that’s exactly why I felt the subject needed to be addressed—if you find anything to the contrary, I’d appreciate very much seeing it!), but I do agree they are emphasizing Eve’s courage, wisdom, etc. I think this is a good thing, helping distinguish our beliefs as Latter-day Saints (which have *always* been our beliefs) that Eve did nothing wrong (given that, as Elder Talmage wrote, she was innocent and, at least in part, deceived) and that we, not her, are the cause of our own ills in this world (Articles of Faith 1:2). The statements of the Brethren to this effect are a helpful corrective from what some religious denominations teach and what some Mormons, mistakenly, have seemingly believed, implied or taught. Nothing the Brethren have said on these topics has been a source of concern for me (indeed, to the contrary, I’m grateful for their words!) but sometimes I do get concerned with doctrinal creep among us as lay members when we are not as careful in what we say (and conclude) as the Brethren are — and certainly in view of the fact that we don’t speak with the same authority (myself, of course, included!)
With regard to Jack Welch’s interpretation of Luke 10, the analogy is a good, general one so far as it goes, but it does not address (or contradict) the possibility of deception that we encounter in the story of Adam and Eve nor does the parable imply that the man didn’t know more about the risks after he undertook the journey than before he took his first step!
… As far as the statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith (and similar ones he has made), I am in full agreement with his view that the consequences of Eve’s choice that in taking of the fruit she would have to leave the Garden and partake of death were taught and understood by Adam and Eve. The consequences were explained by the Lord and they were given that choice, in view of those consequences, to stay or leave. To that degree at least, they had been taught already some important things about the plan of salvation. But nothing in President Smith’s statement precludes the idea that Satan deceived Eve not only in masking his identity but also in his description of the choice and its consequences (as Brigham Young, among others have described, mixing truth with lies, i.e., “you shall not surely die”).
Where we run aground in our reasoning is when we fail to realize that there is no contradiction in both honoring Eve and believing that she had been taught beforehand some important things about the consequences of her choice while also saying that Satan malevolently deceived her and she was innocently beguiled as a result. Like Elder Oaks has taught, Eve knowingly transgressed, but she did not sin. Like Elder Andersen has taught us as a general principle, it’s usually impossible to know everything in advance of a choice, but what’s important is to act correctly when we know enough.
In other words, applying the lesson to our everyday life, what we know can be a sufficient basis to act, even if we are mistaken or deceived (as we always are!) about some aspects of our situation. I think this is what Elder Oaks meant when he said: “When we are uncertain about some gospel principle or future event, it is usually best to act on what we do know and trust in a loving Heavenly Father to give us further knowledge when we really need it” (Life’s Lessons Learned, p. 130.). And I also think this is what Elder Holland meant when he said: “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. … When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng).
Great article. Please help me understand why Eve getting Adam to eat was a blow to Satan’s plan. Didn’t he tell her to get Adam to partake?
Also, what do you think was his endgame for getting Eve to partake?
I don’t think I meant to say that Eve getting Adam to eat was a blow to Satan’s plan. Please let me know if there is something in particular I wrote that led you to think so.
The understanding that I have of Satan’s endgame comes mainly from the Book of Mormon. It seems to imply that step 1 was getting Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge (which was part of God’s plan, too). Step 2 of Satan’s plan was to get them to take of the fruit of the tree of life immediately afterward (which God prevented).
I hope this helps answer your questions.
Totally helped, thanks. I must have misunderstood something in my first question. You totally cleared things up. Thanks!
Would Elder Holland agree that Eve was deceived? He wrote, “These terrible risks of sorrow and death were facts Adam and Eve were willing to face in order that ‘men might be’…They were willing to transgress knowingly and consciously… only because they had full knowledge of the plan of salvation”. (Christ and the New Covenant, 203)
Thanks for your question, Mike. Note that I cite Elder Holland and others in Endnote 25, and comment as follows: “While each of these sources imply that Eve had some insight into the ultimately positive consequences of her choice, none of them directly take issue with the idea that Eve was also, to a greater or lesser degree, ‘beguiled’ or ‘deceived.'” If I am mistaken in the belief that Elder Holland did not take issue with the idea that “Eve was …, to a greater or lesser degree, ‘beguiled’ or ‘deceived'” I would appreciate your correction. (Unfortunately, I didn’t bring a copy of Elder Holland’s wonderful book with me to Africa!)
See also Endnote 26 for an example where a quote from Elder Oaks’ that was taken out of context to support the argument that full insight came before rather than after the Fall.
Thanks for your response, Jeff.
Elder Holland doesn’t explicitly say, “Eve was NOT deceived”. However, he does say that Adam and Eve did “transgress knowingly and consciously… only because they had full knowledge of the plan of salvation”. Therefore, I’m still unsettled with believing Adam and Eve had a “limited view of things before the Fall” or “that Eve may have had some degree of prior insight into the positive consequences of her choice. And it is evident that her understanding was relatively complete after she had eaten.”
Other reasons for NOT believing she was deceived include:
“The disobedience that follows is not to be blamed primarily on the woman in the garden, but is the responsibility of the whole human community…” ( The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, , 63). This supports Gaskill’s argument that Eve can be a symbol of the Church being deceived instead of Eve.
You state that the Genesis account does not indicate that Eve had a “seeric revelation” prior to partaking of the fruit. However, Kent Brown suggests that she had much more than a “limited view”. He writes, “The verb translated “saw” (Greek participle idōn) links back to this verb’s occurrence both in LXX Genesis 1:4, where it characterizes God’s sight (see also LXX Gen. 1:8, 10, 12, 18, 25, 31), and in LXX Genesis 3:6, where the same verb discloses that Eve, in the moment of decision, sees with God’s sight…” (The Testimony of Luke (Kindle Locations 6951-6952).
Last thought; “The verb translated “saw” (Greek participle idōn) links back to this verb’s occurrence both in LXX Genesis 1:4, where it characterizes God’s sight (see also LXX Gen. 1:8, 10, 12, 18, 25, 31), and in LXX Genesis 3:6, where the same verb discloses that Eve, in the moment of decision, sees with God’s sight…” (The Testimony of Luke (Kindle Locations 6951-6952). Kent Brown
Last thought: Isaiah bemoans that, unlike Eve, “when we [Israel/the Church] shall see him [the Savior], there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Is 53:2). In contrast, when Eve “sees” the tree [the Savior] and its fruit [eternal life] she knows that it is “to be desired”. That’s why she partakes.
Sorry about the double “last thought”.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
RE: Elder Holland. I love Elder Holland and appreciate his brilliance and inspiration. Would it be possible for you to send me the entire 2-3 pages of his book (firstname.lastname@example.org) for context? It’s been a while since I’ve read it (and I don’t have access to it here) and I’d like to review it again before commenting.
RE: Anchor Bible quote. I am just guessing at the context, but if I am following the author’s line of reasoning correctly, s/he is talking about the fact that “the disobedience [of humankind] that follows [Eve’s transgression” shouldn’t be blamed on Eve, but rather is the responsibility of each one of us (cf. Articles of Faith 1:2). If that’s what the author is saying, I’m in perfect agreement. If not, I’d welcome more context so I can better understand what is being said.
RE: Kent Brown’s comment. I have great respect for Brother Brown, however my interpretation is based on my understanding of the terms used in the Hebrew text of Genesis, not the Greek Septuagint.
RE: Isaiah. The word “desire,” like the word “entice” that I discuss in the article can work both ways (we can desire good or we can desire evil), so just because someone has a “desire” we can’t conclude it is a good desire, even if the object is good. For example, I might desire to take of some good fruit, but it may not belong to me or it may not be a good time for me to eat it. Also, although I agree that the Tree of Life and its fruit are symbols of the Savior, it is important to realize that Eve did not take from the fruit of the Tree of Life–although she may have been deceived by Satan into thinking she was doing so. She took of the Tree of Knowledge, which is connected with a different constellation of symbols, as explained in more detail in the video and in the longer version of the article in the book “Temple Themes in the Book of Moses.”
Of course, there is still much more all of us have to learn about these events and Latter-day Saints legitimately hold a variety of views due to our relative ignorance. From my study of the Hebrew Bible, however, I am convinced that if someone chooses to believe that Satan did not succeed (to a degree) in deceiving Eve, they must do it on some basis other than scripture itself, whether ancient scripture or modern scripture.
In this article, I have tried to stay true what the great majority of Church leaders and Bible scholars, both LDS and non-LDS, have concluded over the centuries: namely, that Satan’s temptation of Eve involved an act of deception on his part, and that the opening of her eyes to receive a full understanding of things is portrayed in the Hebrew Bible as having occurred after rather than prior to the Fall. The fact that the opening of their eyes was more than just a realization that they were naked is something we learn both in the temple and also is implied by the wonderful dual statements of Adam and Eve that are found only in modern scripture (Moses 5:10-11).
Count me with those who think Eve had an understanding of the choice she was making. Did she have full knowledge? Obviously not. Neither did Adam. They both still had much to learn, as scripture makes clear. But I do believe she was “enticed, not “beguiled.” The word “enticed” was the word used on the brass plates from which Father Lehi read. That record had not gone through multiple translations, and it stated:
“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter. Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was ENTICED by the one or the other.” (2 Nephi 2: 15-16) (EMPHASIS ADDED)
We learn in Genesis that Adam is not only the name given the man, but the title given humankind. “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam, in the day when they were created.” (Genesis 5:2)(emphasis added) (See also Moses 6:9)
There had to be an “enticement” for Adam and Eve in order for them to reason, ponder and weigh their choice. When father Lehi read from the brass plates that Adam partook that man might be, that meamt both Adam and his wife:
“And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And THEY would have had no children; wherefore THEY would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” (2 Ne. 2:22-23)(emphasis added)
Pres. Russell M. Nelson said: “To bring the plan of happiness to fruition, God issued to Adam and Eve the first commandment ever given to mankind. It was a commandment to beget children. A LAW WAS EXPLAINED TO THEM. Should they eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17), their bodies would change; mortality and eventual death would come upon them. But partaking of that fruit was prerequisite to their parenthood.” . . .(emphasis added)
Pres. Russell continued: “Happily for them, the Lord said unto Adam [and Eve](footnoted to Genesis 5:2 and Moses 6-9): Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden” (Moses 6:53). We and all mankind are forever blessed because of Eve’s great COURAGE and WISDOM. By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done. Adam was wise enough to do likewise.” (emphasis added)
Pres. Nelson also said :”We need women who have the courage and VISION of our Mother Eve.” (emphasis added) https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng
President Kimball, Joseph Fielding Smith and Dallin Oaks all say that Eve did not sin. If she truly was beguiled, she would have sinned, in the face of having had, AS Pres. Nelson stated, the law explained to her.
As for Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, as much as I admire Paul, he had a “thing” against women. I’m not surprised he put the burden of sin on Eve instead of Adam. While praising the good works of many women, he nevertheless told women to keep silent in Church, and if they had any questions, go ask their husbands (1 Cor 14:34-35). He told women to “learn in quietness” and in “full submission,” and did not permit them to teach, saying of a woman “she must be quiet.” (I Tim. 2:11-12) I’m convinced Paul, a truly great man, has learned some things since then.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: “Yours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all the human family, the one who UNDERSTOOD that she and Adam HAD to fall in order that “men [and women] (references 2 Nephi 2:25) might be” and that there would be joy.” (emphasis added) (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1997/04/because-she-is-a-mother?lang=eng)
There are many other examples- but let me end with this. If someone puts a Chocolate Sundae in from of me I definitely would be enticed. But I would NOT be beguiled (tricked). I know full well what the consequences of eating that Sundae will be. I would make the choice with full knowledge of those consequences. I think our amazing and intelligent Mother Eve knew, as Elder Holland and Pres. Nelson explained, exactly what the Plan was and made the choice in full awareness of what she was doing. And thanks be to her for so doing!
Hi. Leslie. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. There is so much we all have to learn on this subject, myself included. I don’t think we’ll understand it all in this life, but I think God appreciates our efforts to pay respect to the scriptures and to those who have been called to receive revelation on behalf of the Church by seeking knowledge and personal inspiration about these things.
It sounds like we are in agreement that Eve may have had some understanding of her choice. And it also seems that we are in agreement that her understanding was greater after the Fall than before the Fall. But any conclusion that Satan was not successful in deceiving her, at least to some degree, may be attractive but is not scriptural. I have cited much from Genesis and the Book of Mormon in this regard. As another example, Brother Watson has mentioned 1 Timothy 2:13-14:
13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression
Like the Hebrew word “beguiled” in Genesis, the basic meaning of the Greek word “deceived” in this verse is not in question. Those who deny Satan’s role as a deceiver in the Garden of Eden can only do so if they count Paul as being mistaken in his use of that word. I do not think that he said what he said “because he had a ‘thing’ against women.” This is not the teaching of the Church, nor the foregone conclusion of scholars.
Indeed, as I have written elsewhere, the brilliant non-LDS classicist Sarah Ruden has argued that Paul has been misunderstood, citing “George Bernard Shaw, whose analysis of Paul’s writings ends with the assertion that he was the eternal enemy of Woman.’ … Ruden concludes otherwise, stating that ‘Shaw’s view of Paul as an oppressor could hardly be more wrong’ and that, in particular, his instructions to women to veil themselves during prayer was ‘aimed toward an outrageous equality’ that ran completely counter to the cultural and religious traditions of his time.'” Lynne H. Wilson, an LDS scholar who I highly respect, writes similarly.
To say that Eve was deceived is not to say that she was not “amazing” and “intelligent,” nor that she was not endowed with “courage” and “wisdom.” I have never heard anyone in our faith say anything to the contrary. As Elder Talmage argued and so many others have implied, Eve played her part perfectly. The spirit of President Nelson’s words is very similar to that of Elder Talmage: “By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done.” Both seem to be in full agreement with you (as am I) that the Fall was necessary and brought about good consequences, as explained in 2 Ne. 2:22-23. As to Eve’s “vision,” I think you would not disagree that it was greater after the Fall than beforehand.
Regarding the word “enticed,” as I have explained in the body of the article, there is no question that Eve was “enticed,” but as the scriptures say (and as you seem to agree), one can be enticed either toward good or evil. Though, as I discuss in the article, Eve may have “reason[ed], ponder[ed] and weigh[ed her] choice,” that does not by itself establish that she had not been, at least in part, misled by Satan. And the fact that you and I know full well the consequences of eating an “enticing” chocolate cake does not, in itself, provide any evidence for what Eve did or did not know in advance.
I think Elder Oaks’ teachings on sin vs. transgression (as well as similar teachings by many of the Brethren) are important, as the subject has often been a source of misunderstanding. You have written: “If she truly was beguiled, she would have sinned, in the face of having had, AS Pres. Nelson stated, the law explained to her.” As Elder Talmage has taught, the very fact that Eve was innocent and deceived by Satan is the very reason that we cannot say that she did wrong, or that she committed a sin. In addition, as Elder Oaks has taught, a transgression would not be a transgression without “a willful breaking of a law”: For reasons that have not been revealed, … [the] ‘fall,’ could not happen without a transgression—an exercise of moral agency amounting to a willful breaking of a law (see Moses 6:59). This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1993/10/the-great-plan-of-happiness?lang=eng).
I should add, because the statement has sometimes been taken out of context to imply that Eve fully understood the necessity of the Fall beforehand, that when Elder Oaks said “Modern revelation shows that our first parents understood the necessity of the Fall,” he did not specify how much of that understanding came before or after the Fall. As evidence of their understanding, however, he cited Adam’s statement, a statement that was made after the Fall (Moses 5:10).
Similarly, we should be careful not to imply what Elder Holland did not say in his conference address: namely that Eve reached a full understanding of the Fall before it happened. He does not say when her understanding happened–he simply says: “Yours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all the human family, the one who understood that she and Adam had to fall in order that ‘men [and women] might be'” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1997/04/because-she-is-a-mother?lang=eng). This is a statement with which none of us would disagree. Thanks to Mike Harris, I have been able to review again relevant pages (pp. 202-204) from Elder Holland’s wonderful book “Christ and the New Covenant” where, he writes that “they” (meaning Adam and Eve) “were willing to transgress knowingly and consciously … only because they had full knowledge of the plan of salvation” (p. 203). His views, though carefully disclaimed in the preface as personal and not reflecting the official position of the Church, carry much weight with me. But so far as I have seen (and I am sure I have not seen everything!), this statement stands as one of a kind among the General Authorities in its explicit, public statement that both Adam and Eve (not just Adam, as implied in 1 Timothy 2:13-14) had “full knowledge of the plan of salvation.” Note, however, that Elder Holland does not address the topic of Satan’s deception explicitly, nor is it anywhere implied that their understanding was not greater immediately after the Fall than before.
We can do our best to make the scriptures say something they do not say. We can quibble over minor differences between what one or another statements by the Brethren might mean (and, of course, we would all welcome authoritative, continuing revelation on this and other subjects). But so far as I understand it, the idea that 1. Eve was beguiled/deceived by Satan (at least to some degree), and that 2. her understanding of the consequences of her choice were much greater immediately after the Fall than before she took of the fruit of the tree of knowledge is the teaching of all scripture, both ancient and modern. Until an authoritative statement to the contrary is made by those who are appointed to define doctrine more precisely, I want to be careful not to teach otherwise. I only want to be counted for those who stand loyal to the scriptures and the current leadership of the Church, and if revelation comes or if I’ve made a mistake in things that I’ve written, my desire would be to repent, cheerfully and quickly!
Please know of my sincere respect and desire not to offend you in anything I have written. With you I join in saying: “Thanks be to [Eve]!”
Jeff, thank you for taking time to respond to me!
As you do, I too believe Eve had some understanding of her choices. I think where we might disagree is that she had less understanding than did Adam. Many scriptures make it obvious that both still had much to understand. Eve said “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.” (Moses 5:11.)
I didn’t personally find any scriptures that stated Eve understood less than did Adam about what was required for that to occur. Did she not also walk and talk with Father in the Garden? Did He teach her less than He did Adam? I can find no scripture that would put forth that doctrine. So why do we say her understanding was less than that of Adam? Is it possible that both of them understood what was to be if God’s other children were to enter mortality—(after all, they had already been commanded to multiply), but didn’t feel they were ready yet? Or thought it could be put off longer because of the idyllic conditions they were then enjoying in the garden?
Yes- we do have 1 Tim. 2:13-14. And we also have 1 Tim 2:11-12, and 1 Cor. 14:34-35. But I can find nowhere else in scripture where Paul’s thoughts about women, given in those verses, are affirmed. (i.e. Eve was deceived but Adam not; women are to keep silent in Church; must ask their questions only of their husbands; and women were never allowed to teach.) I should not have said Paul had a “thing” about women. I believe that Paul, like many good leaders, nevertheless had some personal views that were not backed up by doctrinal teachings. We never do claim infallibility in our leaders. My own opinion is that Paul sometimes was just voicing accepted social practices of his time instead of doctrine. So I would agree that he probably did say the woman – but not the man- was “deceived.” I just think that does not comport with other scriptural teachings. Interesting that in 2 Cor. 11:3, where Paul says ”The serpent beguiled Eve,” the footnote for that phrase gives us “Temptation,” which I find more aligned with “enticement” than “tricked.”
I surely disagree with Shaw that Paul was the “eternal enemy of women.” I love the writings of Paul, and have great admiration for his teachings and his incredibly difficult missions. He said many wonderful things about women, and is, after all, the one who stated the eternal truth that “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1Cor. 11:11) I also love the Aramaic translation by Lamsa of that verse: “Nevertheless, in our Lord, there is no preference between man and woman.” Yes! And if that is true, why would Eve not have been taught all that Adam was taught in the Garden?
I do believe Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s statement that: “Yours is the grand tradition of Eve, the mother of all the human family, the one who understood that she and Adam had to fall in order that ‘men [and women] (referenced to 2 Nephi 2:25) might be’ and that there would be joy.”
I never denied that Satan was-or is- a deceiver. But I do not believe Eve was deceived. I believe she was enticed by some of Satan’s arguments for partaking of the forbidden fruit right then, but I am convinced she considered those arguments, then considered the teachings God had given her, and decided to eat because of those truths she had been given by God.
Doctrine and Covenants 29:36, 40-43 states that “Adam” was tempted of the devil, partook of the forbidden fruit, was cast out of the Garden because of transgression, suffered spiritual death, and was given the promise of redemption into immortality and eternal life through repentance. Obviously the title “Adam” here applies to both Adam and Eve, and uses the word “tempted,” (enticed) not “beguiled” (tricked). As I stated previously, we learn in Genesis that Adam is not only the name given the man, but the title given humankind. “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam, in the day when they were created.” (Genesis 5:2) Also “In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called THEIR name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God.” (Moses 6:9)
As you stated, Elder Oaks did teach that “a transgression would not be a transgression without ‘a willful breaking of a law’: For reasons that have not been revealed, … [the] ‘fall,’ could not happen without a transgression—an exercise of moral agency amounting to a willful breaking of a law (see Moses 6:59). This would be a planned offense, a formality to serve an eternal purpose,”
Since BOTH Adam and Eve transgressed the law I would surely agree that it was a willful breaking of the law – a planned offense involving the use of moral agency. And a willful breaking of a law requires that one understand what the law is. I believe God has never given His children a law without also giving an understanding of the consequences of breaking that law. And I believe that is exactly what Eve had when she chose to break that law.
When you quoted Pres. Nelson, you did not repeat his quote that “To bring the plan of happiness to fruition, God issued to Adam and Eve the first commandment ever given to mankind. It was a commandment to beget children. A LAW WAS EXPLAINED TO THEM. SHOULD they eat from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17), their bodies WOULD change; mortality and eventual death WOULD come upon them. But partaking of that fruit was PREREQUISITE to their parenthood.” . . .(emphasis added)
Seems very clear to me he SAID God told them what WOULD happen IF they then choose to eat the fruit.
My comparison to choosing a chocolate sundae was not to prove or disprove what Eve knew-but to show that being enticed (tempted) does not always relate to being beguiled (tricked). I wish I could use the excuse of being “tricked” into eating that fattening sundae! No such luck.
Foolish or wise- it was my choice.
Please know I was not-and never am- offended because someone sees things differently than I do! Most of my learning in life has come as a result of having my own thoughts challenged! I appreciate those opportunities to learn, and sometimes take an entirely new view. But I must admit- I’m pretty much in the “Eve Knew” camp on this one :).
Leslie, I have followed many of your comments with interest, and have been impressed with how thoughtful and complete most of your comments are. As much as I try to avoid inserting my feelings into things which might be considered somewhat controversial, I do believe I can present a few ideas which may add to the discussion.
First to some of your thoughts about Paul. The comments Paul made in 1Cor 14:34-35 are not general, but seem to be made against some particular Corinthian women who were disrupting meetings with their “speech” and pursuing an agenda. These women were pushing for authority that did not belong to them. Joseph Smith changed the word “speak” to “rule,” in his Inspired Revision. “The ‘shame’ these women were bringing upon themselves was multi-level. The first was breaking Jewish custom in which women were not to participate directly in worship services. The second was breaking Gentile custom, which looked down upon women being too pushy and visible in public. The third was breaking church protocols and practice by seeking authority that did not belong to them.” (See Draper and Rhodes, BYU New Testament Commentary, Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, pp 715-719.)
Later you state that in 2 Cor. 11:3, “where Paul says ‘The serpent beguiled Eve,” the footnote for that phrase gives us ‘Temptation,’ which I find more aligned with ‘enticement’ than ‘tricked.’ ” Although your statement is correct, the word ‘Temptation’ in the footnote is not given as an alternative translation, but as a place in the Topical Guide where you can look for more information on the subject.
Still later you indicate that you believe Eve was not ‘deceived’ but rather she was ‘enticed.’ In my personal opinion if the scriptures say Eve was deceived, then she was deceived (1 Tim 2:14); if the scriptures say she was beguiled, then she was beguiled (2 Nephi 9:9; Mosiah 16:3; Ether 8:25); if the scriptures say she was enticed, then she was enticed (2 Ne 2:16; Hel. 6:26.) It’s not a pick-the-one-you-like, it means that they all apply. I think it will help us all to a better understanding if we examine more closely the nuances of the meanings of each of these words.
First: deceive and beguile are synonyms.
A person or thing deceives one by leading one to take something false as true, something nonexistent as real, something counterfeit as genuine, something injurious as helpful. …
A person or, less often, a thing, beguiles one by using such subtle and usually agreeable or alluring devices as to mislead, deceive or delude one.
[Webster’s New Dictionary of Synonyms (1968) page 214.]
Next: lure, entice, tempt and seduce are synonyms. “They are comparable when they mean to draw one from a situation or a course (as of action or behavior) typically felt as right, desirable, or usual, or into one felt as wrong, undesirable or unusual.”
Lure implies the action of a strong or irresistible influence which may be baneful …
Entice adds to lure a strong suggestion of artfulness and adroitness. …
Tempt historically meant and still may mean to entice into evil through hope of pleasure or gain. …
Seduce usually means to lead astray (as from the course of rectitude, propriety, or duty) by overcoming scruples … and even in the most favorable senses in which it implies a moving or turning into a new course it commonly suggests some degree of deluding or misleading as the method employed. [Websters pp. 511-512]
Interestingly, the Rheims translation of 1 Tim. 2:14 reads “And Adam was not seduced; but the woman being seduced was in the transgression.
Since Satan told Eve that by partaking of the fruit she would not surely die, she was deceived (by Satan). By telling Eve that she would become as the Gods, she was beguiled (by Satan). Eve did not present Adam anything that was false as true, hence by definition Adam was not deceived (by Eve). Eve did not use subtle, agreeable or alluring devices to mislead Adam, hence Adam was not beguiled (by Eve). Was Adam deceived or beguiled by Satan? I see no indication of it. Those scriptures which imply that Adam and Eve were both beguiled (2 Nephi 9:9; Mosiah 16:3; Ether 8:25) seem to be a generic representation of the overall result rather than applying specifically to Adam as an individual.
The word ‘entice’ seems to have the same meaning as ‘tempt’ except that we can be ‘enticed’ by the Holy Spirit (Moroni 7:13), but never tempted.
My conclusion is that Eve was enticed, deceived and beguiled by Satan. Did she know at that early time that she would not surely die, or that she would not become as the Gods? Adam partook of the fruit because of the inevitability of Eve’s argument, not because of guile or misrepresentation.
Just an opinion, and only mine at that.
Thank you for your latest comments, Elden!
I am only surprised that in all of your discussion you never once referenced Paul’s declaration in 1Tim 2:13-14 (unless I somehow missed it.)
13. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
Well told. If Eve had made a reasoned choice, why did she not so state when confronted by the Lord? She recognized Satan after partaking of the fruit, and suddenly recognized she had been deceived, to which she freely admitted.
Adam and Eve had to partake of the tree of knowledge, but the evidence is that they did so prematurely, and from the wrong hand. Adam and Eve had children and grandchildren before they understood the atonement (Moses 5:3). When they learned about the atonement they rejoiced in their decision to leave the Garden (Moses 5:10-11) However, lacking that knowledge, they had failed to prepare their posterity to withstand Satan, and they lost their first two generations (Moses 5:12-13).
Thanks, Lynn. We could have dispensed with the article and just used your two paragraph summary instead. 😉
Lynn, you asked a good question and I don’t proclaim I have the “one and only” answer. But having pointed out all the reasons in my response to Jeff for why I believe both Adam and Eve did have, as Pres. Nelson stated, the Law explained to them and the consequences that would come with their decisions before they partook of the fruit, can I just share with you what my response to your statement would be, for whatever you think it is worth?
There could be a number of reasons for Eve’s response. I have ten children. At times in the past it wasn’t unusual when one of them did something– and then I demanded an answer to “Why did you do that?” — they were suddenly afraid they might be in trouble. It wasn’t always because they HAD done anything wrong—they were just concerned when I asked for a reason for their actions. The answer in such cases was not infrequently “It wasn’t my fault! So-and-so made me do it! They tricked (or forced or lied) to me!”
Perhaps Eve had a sudden fear that she had misunderstood what she had been taught, or had violated some preordained schedule, or over-looked some other requirement. Even if she had KNOWN when she made the decision that it was the right choice, Eve could have wondered if more was involved then she had understood, and felt a little fearful- so answered as my children did. After all, look at Adam’s response to God. He didn’t say to Father “I see that this must be.” He said basically “The woman made me do it!” Both responses are more of what one might expect of a child, not sure how to handle a situation. They were probably not used to dealing with correction, because they had not yet chosen anything contrary to any of God’s commandments.
The fact that they did not fully understand the atonement until after experiencing mortality is indisputable. Being told what mortality would mean—and actually experiencing it are surely two very different things! I’m 76 now, and when I was very young had no concept of what life would actually be like, in spite of being told much by others.
Anyway- that would be my response to your question, for whatever it’s worth. One of these days we will hopefully both hear about their experience from our first mortal ancestors for ourselves!
Thank you for your comments. Interestingly, a few days ago my wife suggested the same thing about Eve’s possible motivation in claiming deception.
As I see it, the scriptures and the temple tell us the following:
The fall was necessary. Adam and Eve had to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Did they have to take it at Satan’s behest? Adam and Eve had been told to multiply and replenish (actually “fill”) the earth. This could not happen without the fall. (2 Nephi 2:22-23, Moses 5:11)
Adam and Eve had been commanded to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, though given the choice to do so. The Lord didn’t say, “Don’t ever eat it.” He promised further instructions. The last thing the He said was to remember that He forbade partaking of the fruit. It must have been important for them to obey, since He said it twice. Adam and Eve were as children and needed simple commandments. The commandment to not partake could have been conditional on their being prepared to do so appropriately. We do the same thing with our children. We forbid them to cross the road when they are little, and send them to the store later.
Satan pounced before Adam and Eve had received further instructions. He approached Adam and Eve individually, not together when they might have discussed his proposal and made a mutually agreeable response.
Satan appeared as an angel of light, giving him credence in Eve’s eyes. (E. W. Bullinger, in Appendix 19 of his “The Companion Bible,” says that Eve was not conversing with a snake, but with a shining being who apparently possessed “superior and supernatural knowledge.” He says Satan was no more a snake than Herod was a fox (Luke 13:32) or Judah was a lion’s whelp (Gen 49:9. )
Most of what Satan told her was true, and she perceived it as true. For instance, they must eat of the fruit. And you will be as the Gods, knowing good and evil.
Satan verbalized one lie: You shall not die. He withheld certain information. He said nothing about the plan of redemption. He implied that Eve must eat of the fruit immediately.
Eve was enticed by the true things Satan said to the point that she willingly disobeyed the Father.
After partaking of the fruit, Eve asked Adam to partake. Adam now had to choose between two incompatible commandments, and he chose to obey the greater one.
Eve recognized Satan as the one who rebelled, probably figured he likely was up to no good, and realized she may have been deceived.
When confronted by the Father, Eve claimed she had been deceived by Satan. You may be right in suggesting that she may have felt guilty and tried, as children do, to pass the blame to someone else (he made me do it). (It seems a little ironic to think she wisely partook and then tried to cover up like a child.)
The Lord clearly was displeased with the events. He scolded all involved, Satan, Adam, and Eve. Although He said there would be a Savior, and told them they could return to His presence if the would obey, He apparently didn’t give them many details, as evidenced by Adam’s not knowing why he was offering sacrifices (Moses 5:6).
In the temple we get a hint that in other worlds the eating of the fruit was done with the approval of the Lord.
The big issue was timing. The Lord promised further instructions. Satan came before that happened. They took the fruit prematurely. They were expelled before they had been taught crucial principles of the gospel. Neither Eve nor Adam knew enough to teach their children the gospel.
Decades later, after they had children and grandchildren (Moses 5:2-3), Adam and Eve were taught the plan of redemption, and rejoiced in the fall (Moses 5:6-11). Unfortunately, their children and grandchildren rejected the revelation and followed Satan (Moses 5:12-13). Adam and Eve had not been able to explain the plan of redemption to their children as they were growing up. When Cain was born, Eve hoped he would grow up righteous because now they could teach him the details of the plan of redemption (Moses 5:16).
Lynn, thank you for sharing your thoughts on all this with me. I will just sum up what I firmly believe-based upon what I read in scripture and the words of Prophets and Apostles- was the status of Adam and Eve. And then I am going on to others things 🙂 At my age I have learned that most people believe what they believe, and only rarely do we change anyone else’s conclusions. But I also know I still learn much from others, and hopefully I might have a thing or two to share that makes sense to you or others who have shown interest in this subject.
Moses 5 is NOT a chronological story of what happened to Adam and Eve after the Fall, but is a SUMMARY given of their situation from then. They did not have children and grandchildren before they understood the atonement. Adam received the priesthood before the Fall.
Joseph Smith: “The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Gen. 1:26, 27, 28. He had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.” . . .
“… The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man, and organized them. He (Adam) is the head, and was told to multiply. The keys were first given to him, and by him to others. He will have to give an account of his stewardship, and they to him.”
(History of the Church, 3:385–87)
Joseph Smith said: “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam’s authority’” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157).
President John Taylor asked: “How did Adam get his information of the things of God?” He then answered: “He got it through the gospel of Jesus Christ. … God came to him in the garden and talked with him …; and he was the first man upon this earth that had the gospel and the holy priesthood; and if he had it not, he could not have known anything about God or his revelations.” ( The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987, p. 91)
Adam was told to teach the atonement freely to his children. All of this is made plain in Moses 6, and this was his immediate instruction. Further as the Prophet Joseph explained in Lectures on Faith 2:18:
“Two important items are shown from the former quotations [from the book of Moses regarding Adam conversing with God]. First, after man was created, he was not left without intelligence or understanding, to wander in darkness and spend an existence in ignorance and doubt .. as to the real fact by whom he was created, or unto whom he was amenable for his conduct. God conversed with him face to face. In his presence he was permitted to stand, and from his own mouth he was permitted to receive instruction. He heard his voice, walked before him and gazed upon his glory, while intelligence burst upon his understanding,…”
Joseph Smith also stated that Adam’s transgression “did not deprive him of the previous [Edenic] knowledge with which he was endowed relative to the existence and glory of his Creator. … Though he was cast out from the garden of Eden, his knowledge of the existence of God was not lost, neither did God cease to manifest his will unto him.” (. Lectures on Faith, 2:19.)
Moses 5:4 does NOT say that Adam and Eve waited until they had grandchildren and great-grandchildren to call upon the Lord! It seems to me that even a modicum of understanding of how great these two beings were, (we are told Adam is second only to Christ) who had personally walked and talked often with their Father, would then also understand that this would have been one of the first things they would have done when such a privilege was denied them. As Adam and Eve left the garden they called upon the Lord and heard his voice speaking to them from the way toward Eden. What message do we think He would have given? He obviously gave them commandments regarding sacrifice, and after giving them sufficient time to exercise faith and obedience he sent an angel to explain the doctrine and ordinances surrounding sacrifice. Upon these principles and ordinances the gospel would be built for the next 4000 years. The discussion of Adam’s baptism in Moses 6 does not claim to be a chronological event, coming only after all other described events. There NEVER was a time when Adam, who is second ONLY to Christ, was without this communication, as Joseph Smith proclaimed. And once again, the woman who was an help “meet” for him, his “flesh and blood,” was included in these teachings and ordinances. Remember, Eve was given her name “the Mother of all living,” before she ever partook of the fruit. God, and Adam, knew what her choice would be.
I find the idea that these two people who walked and talked with the Father and the Son in the garden, who were washed and anointed and clothed in garments (ketoneth ore, meaning garments of light) when leaving Eden did not then teach their children about all of this just really preposterous. And many of their children did listen and obey- while many others did not.
As to Satan appearing as an “angel of light” to Eve, I can find nothing in the scriptures or writings of the prophets that says that. Perhaps he did- but it would be nice to have some proof of that statement. And yes, I do believe there is symbolism is saying Satan appeared as a serpent. Satan did lie to Eve by telling her she would never die. However, Eve had already heard from the lips of her glorified Father that she would die if she partook of the fruit. She may have been “enticed” by the idea of living forever in the beautiful Garden which required little of her, but I find it unbelievable that she would would actually believe Satan’s words over those of the Father she knew so well. Her actions tell me she considered Satan’s “enticement,” remembered the instruction given by her Father, considered all she knew, and made the choice she realized was the only right choice.
To your points:
RE: Adam receiving the priesthood before the Fall. Nothing that I or anyone else has commented on the subject has written is in disagreement with the idea that Adam received the priesthood prior to coming to earth. In fact, Joseph Smith taught that all those who were ordained to the priesthood in this life were called and ordained before they came to earth (see Alma 13 for more details on this topic). And Spencer W. Kimball taught that women were also given certain assignments at that time.
RE: Adam and Eve instructing their children. The detailed instruction they gave to their children was, of course, after the Fall, as you point out. Though we know that some things were made clear to them (for example, their right to choose and some of the consequences of that choice), the fact that they walked and talked with God before the Fall does not in itself mean that He could explain everything to them at that time. We know that Adam and Eve were as little children in some aspects of their understanding, which is one of the reasons why a probation on earth was necessary. Some things can only be learned and understood through experience. The experience of Adam and Eve in the Fall prepared them for further instruction.
RE: The voice of God they heard after the Fall. The scriptures and the temple reveal what God said to Adam and Eve after the Fall. Instruction on the laws and ordinances of the Gospel and the giving of ordinances to them occurred after the Fall as we learn in the temple and in scripture (e.g., Moses 5:59). You are right about the baptism of Adam being described out of chronological order (as part of Enoch’s teaching), but it surely occurred after he had been taught about the “why” of the law of sacrifice in Moses 5 — a point of necessary instruction he received after the Fall. (The commandment had previously been given, after the Fall but before they had been sent to the mortal world.)
RE: Not finding a reference to Satan appearing as an angel of light. I quote the scriptural reference in the original article. In 2 Nephi 9:9, Nephi writes about the central themes of the article, namely that Satan “beguiled our first parents”: “And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.”
RE: Eve’s having made the right choice. We are in perfect agreement on that point.
May God bless you, dear sister — and may He bless us all!
Thank you Jeffrey! I said I was out of this but I will make a brief (hopefully) response. ( I found no “reply button on your last post so will just do it here)
My comments about Adam and Priesthood were not only to say he held it in the pre-mortal existence, but that he would have also held it before leaving the garden. After all, he and Eve were sealed together for time and eternity by God before leaving the Garden. According to all I have understood about such an ordinance, Adam would have been required to hold the priesthood at that time. They were clothed by God himself in sacred priesthood garments. The fact that he had not yet been baptised – an earthly ordinance – does not preclude that. Surely Christ held the priesthood before His baptism.
As for Adam and Eve being as “little children” I would agree with that only in respect to their purity, and in their lack of experience in all that mortal existence would entail. I believe in no way were they like children in their level of superior intellect and ability to comprehend great spiritual truths. They would easily have comprehended the everlasting principles of the eternal gospel as God taught them in the Garden. And according to the patterns shown throughout scripture, God never gives His children choices without clearly outlining the consequence of both obedience and disobedience to those choices. Why would He have done things differently with those two great souls? I repeat just one of the quotes by Joseph Smith:
“Two important items are shown from the former quotations [from the book of Moses regarding Adam conversing with God]. First, after man was created, he was not left without intelligence or understanding, to wander in darkness and spend an existence in ignorance and doubt .. as to the real fact by whom he was created, or unto whom he was amenable for his conduct. God conversed with him face to face. In his presence he was permitted to stand, and from his own mouth he was permitted to receive instruction. He heard his voice, walked before him and gazed upon his glory, while intelligence burst upon his understanding,…”
(Lectures on Faith 2:18)
Would not Eve have been at his side for these instructions? Would intelligence not have “burst upon her understanding?” I will not be convinced otherwise.
And of course it would not have been necessary to teach them all they needed to know about sacrifice and other gospel ordinances pertaining to mortality, until they were actually in mortality. However, I can not accept that they were not given a view of the Plan of Salvation and why the necessity of their choosing mortality. I repeat- God’s pattern throughout scripture is to give guidance on available choices- and let his children know what the consequence of the choices will be. So I am convinced Eve knew the consequences, while obviously not yet understanding all she would experience. The Savior himself had to experience mortality to really gain understanding. Eve was for a bit enticed by Satan’s persuasions to continue the idyllic existence they were experiencing, but then brought her great intellect and power of reasoning into her carefully considered decision. I believe anyone going through the instruction in the temple, especially in the last few years, can reach no other logical conclusion. As an Assistant to the Matron of the temple in Accra, Ghana, I had many, many opportunities to watch, listen, consider and be taught by the Spirit about Eve. But I know my spiritual experiences are mine. Others have to seek their own.
So- back to the original premise of this whole thread- I continue to insist, Eve knew! She was enticed, but not deceived when she made the purposeful decision to partake of the fruit. Becoming mortal on so doing, she was then subject to the very mortal fear that made her question if she had in some way done something not quite right. The thought of her “nakedness” (spiritual) before God must have been a bit daunting to one now in a state of mortality.
I thank you for the reference to Satan as an angel of light. I have read that many times, and should have found that myself. I did note it says “nigh unto,” which makes me believe he was not totally successful at that attempt. But thankfully Eve was not enticed by that attempt for long! And as a result- God HAS truly blessed us all!
I will reply to each of your latest points:
RE: Premortal vs. Mortal ordinances and understanding. You mention certain things that Adam and Eve experienced ‘before they left the Garden of Eden.’ I agree with most of what you say in that regard, but it’s important to understand that “before leaving the Garden” has different implications than if you had said “before the Fall” instead. In addition, the fact that Adam and Eve received certain blessings in pre-mortality did not mean that they did not need to receive the ordinances in mortality (as witnessed by the fact, for example, that Adam needed baptism).
RE: Adam and Eve as “little children.” Agree with you with respect to the fact that they were like children “in their purity, and in their lack of experience.” However, we cannot infer from scripture that they were not like children in their knowledge and understanding as well (though not their native intellect and spiritual sensitivity, of course). I would point out that, despite their great value, the authorship of the Lectures on Faith (especially and including the passage you cite, which does not reflect the writing style of Joseph Smith) is uncertain, and the Prophet revised some views expressed in the Lectures after he gained greater light on certain subjects (e.g., the Holy Ghost as a separate personage). Even if we assume the statement in the Lectures on Faith reflects the view that Joseph Smith would have held later on in his ministry, it would be the exception not the rule to the teachings of the later Brethren in that regard. Those who have spoken directly on the subject assert (with Paul) that Eve was deceived (at least in part) by Satan’s mix of truth and lies, though she made the right choice despite having been beguiled (at least in part).
RE: The central two questions: Did Satan deceive Eve? And was her understanding greater after the Fall (and before she had any experience other than taking of the fruit itself) than beforehand? Although we are in agreement that Eve was intelligent, insightful, and had at least a limited degree of understanding of her situation (according to President Joseph Fielding Smith, at least an understanding that she had the power to choose and that there would be important consequences to her choice), I see nothing in scripture or the teachings of Church leaders that asserts that Eve was not (at least to some measure) deceived by Satan (though she made the right choice!). Analyzing 2 Nephi 9:9 more carefully, the fact that he made himself “nigh unto” an angel of light means, as you say, that he fell short in his attempt to imitate such a being, but it does not provide any evidence that he was not successful to at least some degree in deceiving Eve in that respect. To the contrary, here, as elsewhere in scripture, the verse asserts that he definitely “beguiled our first parents.” Neither scripture nor the teachings of Church leaders nor competent scholarship has to my knowledge taken exception to the evidence that the *primary8 meaning of beguiled in scriptural language (as opposed to modern language) is being deceived. If you are aware of statements to the contrary about the primary meaning of the Hebrew term behind beguiled (besides those I’ve already discussed in the main article), I would be pleased to know about them.
With love and appreciation for your thoughtfulness, frankness, and for your evident love of the temple and the scriptures (which we share)!