Rebelling Against God
In a roundabout way, the serpent asked Eve if God had denied her the right to eat from the trees in the garden. Eve explained that there was only one tree she and Adam could not eat from, and it was in the middle of the garden. Eating from that tree meant suffering the penalty of death. This would have been based upon her understanding of Adam's instruction, since God had not told her about the tree (at least nothing is recorded in Genesis about a conversation between God and Eve in which God forbade Eve to eat from the tree). When God forbade Adam to partake of the fruit of that tree, he had not yet even created Eve. The serpent told Eve that God knew that on the day that she and Adam ate from that tree, they would be divine beings, their eyes would be opened, and they would not die, but would know good and evil.
Loss of Innocence
The possibility that she could possess divine knowledge must have roused a deep desire within Eve. But she did not act in haste; instead, she took time to consider that the tree of knowledge “was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6). Then, not only did she eat from the tree, but she also shared the fruit with her husband. Neither of them died in the literal sense; however, the act brought the death of their innocence. Their eyes were opened, and their minds and hearts grasped the knowledge of good and evil. They must have also experienced a sickening, sinking feeling at having disobeyed God. Their feelings of bliss and perfection shifted to guilt, remorse, and shame. They now saw their own nakedness and covered their bodies with aprons fashioned out of fig leaves.
The tasting of the forbidden fruit works well as an allegory for the sexual awakening of Adam and Eve. God gave them free will. Instead of using self-discipline to stay away from the tree, they chose to indulge themselves in arousal and pleasure. Their eyes became open as they came “to know” each other as sexual beings. They were evolving as humans. God's punishment enabled them to develop moral responsibility as they learned that there are consequences to every choice and course of action.
Some say that the serpent symbolized Eve's sexual yearning. Scholars are aware of a long tradition linking fertility symbolism with ancient snake motifs. In ancient societies in the Middle East, snakes played a role in the efforts of some fertility cults to acquire divine knowledge. The Adam and Eve story could have been a warning to ancient Hebrews against being seduced by certain rival cults with such practices.
God punished the serpent first. Formerly able to move upright, the snake would ever after slither upon its belly and eat dust. As for Adam, God told him that he would have to labor upon the earth to produce food for survival. God punished Eve by making her, and all generations of women, suffer the pains of childbirth, desire their husbands, and have their husbands rule over them (Genesis 3:16). Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. The Book of Genesis does not establish a timeline for their departure; however, some sources assert that the couple remained in the garden less than a day. After leaving paradise, Eve conceived.
Eve's sons brought offerings to the Lord. Cain's was the first fruit born of the ground, and Abel's was a newborn from his flock of sheep. Abel's offering pleased the Lord more than Cain's, causing enmity between brothers that turned to violence — Cain murdered his brother. Genesis does not say how the murder of one of her sons by the other affected Eve, but it must have been devastating. To make matters worse for the first mother, her son Cain left to dwell in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Eve's story ends there, only to pick up much later when she gives birth to Seth. Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born. Eve must have been the same age, if we are to believe that she and Adam were created on the same day, as suggested in Genesis. Eve's later life and death are not mentioned in Genesis. But her story, intertwined as it is with Adam's, some say, points less to being about sin than it does to becoming the perfect human who, through wisdom will, mirrors the Creator.