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The Garden of Eden Story is very complex and it seems to me that both the Serpent and God fall short of telling the absolute truth.

Genesis 2:16-17

טז וַיְצַו יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, עַל-הָאָדָם לֵאמֹר: מִכֹּל עֵץ-הַגָּן, אָכֹל תֹּאכֵל. 16

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying: 'Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat;

יז וּמֵעֵץ, הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע--לֹא תֹאכַל, מִמֶּנּוּ: כִּי, בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ--מוֹת תָּמוּת. 17

but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'

God tells man that on the day he eats of the tree he will surely die. We know later on that he lives for almost a thousand years. Eve seems to be reading the verse the way I'm describing as she is even afraid to touch the tree for fear of death.

Genesis 3:2-3

ב וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה, אֶל-הַנָּחָשׁ: מִפְּרִי עֵץ-הַגָּן, נֹאכֵל.

2 And the woman said unto the serpent: 'Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;

ג וּמִפְּרִי הָעֵץ, אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹךְ-הַגָּן--אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ, וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בּוֹ: פֶּן-תְּמֻתוּן.

3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said: Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.'

The Serpent seems to be hinting that the fruit won't kill her in the way that she thinks, and adds another reason why God wouldn't want her or Adam to eat from the tree.

Genesis 3:4-5

ד וַיֹּאמֶר הַנָּחָשׁ, אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה: לֹא-מוֹת, תְּמֻתוּן.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman: 'Ye shall not surely die;

ה כִּי, יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים, כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ, וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם; וִהְיִיתֶם, כֵּאלֹהִים, יֹדְעֵי, טוֹב וָרָע.

5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.'

The Serprent brings a new concept to the table, the idea that God might actually be afraid of Adam and Eve if they eat of the tree. The Serpent's words end up being true as the story ends with God seeming to be afraid of Adam and Eve for the exact reason that the serpent gave, that Adam and Eve had become like God. God never spoke of this being an issue to Adam and Eve, and yet it's the sole reason God speaks of when He evicts Adam and Eve from the garden.

Genesis 3:22-23

כב וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ, לָדַעַת, טוֹב וָרָע; וְעַתָּה פֶּן-יִשְׁלַח יָדוֹ, וְלָקַח גַּם מֵעֵץ הַחַיִּים, וְאָכַל, וָחַי לְעֹלָם.

22 And the LORD God said: 'Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.'

כג וַיְשַׁלְּחֵהוּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, מִגַּן-עֵדֶן--לַעֲבֹד, אֶת-הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר לֻקַּח, מִשָּׁם.

23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

And before anyone here tries to say that Adam and Eve died later and so God wasn't lying, you need to give proof of this. Because if Adam and Eve were already immortal before being commanded not to eat of the forbidden fruit, then what good is the tree of life? And if they are destined to die according to God from eating the forbidden fruit, then how could the tree of life save them/grant them immortality?

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    I'm sure you would get totally different answers if you ask this same question on a site where people live their life in accordance with, and dedicated to the snake. – user6591 Jul 24 at 0:18
  • @user6591 Who dedicates themself to the snake? – Aaron Jul 24 at 1:15
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    @Aaron no one. His point is anyone who lives their life in accordance with and dedicated to God wouldn't ask if the snake if more truthful but rather why God chose instructions that were ambiguous to the point of possibly misleading. – Double AA Jul 24 at 1:22
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    The question is absolutely legitimate (albeit too long). Your question can be answered simply by "Yes, the Snake was more truthful according to Pshat - the literal reading of the text". Or "No, G-d is axiomatically more truthful than any other creature". Which one do you prefer? – Al Berko Jul 24 at 11:07
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    You say "God tells man that on the day he eats of the tree he will surely die." But he doesn't. He says mot tamut, you will be liable to the death penalty. Once that is translated as the figure of speech it is (and as used elsewhere) the conclusion drawn is shown to be wrong. – rosends Jul 24 at 13:00
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There are a number of answers here. Something many have in common, and that you seemed to feel in your question at the end, is that לשון הקודש is an incredibly nuanced language and that sometimes even the simple meaning of a word can be incredibly nuanced.

Also, the Ramchal says in Daas Tevunos that Adam HaRishon's גוף was on the level where our נשמות are now -- so imagine where his נשמה was. Had he passed his test, his גוף would have gone to the level of that נשמה and imagine to what a lofty position his נשמה would have gone. All of our entire work that we are now doing in the 6,000 years of creation would have been completed then. To answer your question at the end, that is one purpose of the עץ החיים. After he failed, there was a גזירה that מיתה should come into and to the entire world. So, what HaShem said was (of course) accurate. From when Adam HaRishon ate from the tree he would (eventually) die and not, as opposed to before, lived and gone to a higher plane of existence (to put it plainly and in English).

  • Please describe the answers you link to in your answer – Aaron Jul 24 at 23:22
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The Hebrew word translated into English as ‘day’ (in Genesis 2:17 and 3:5) does not always mean a literal 24 hour day. It can mean an unspecified period of time as it does in Genesis 2:4:

“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”

It can also mean a specific period of time, for example “During my grandfather’s day.”

The serpent said they would not die, but would become like God. The reality was pain, sorrow, conflict and toil and not just for Adam and Eve but for all of humanity.

God said they would die. They died. Guess who was speaking the truth?

  • So why does God kick them out for becoming like God? Why didn't God tell them that would happen? – Aaron Jul 29 at 15:56
  • Their eyes were certainly opened, just as the serpent said – opened to the guilt of sin. Although the inducement for disobeying was to become like God, they were thrown out before they could eat from the tree of life. If they had done that then it is possible they would have become immortal. You ask why God didn’t warn them they would be thrown out of the Garden. Excuse me, but why should He make them privy to His every thought? Isn’t God Sovereign, and can do as He pleases? Wasn’t it sufficient that He warned them they would die? Adam and Eve disobeyed God because they believed the enemy lie. – Lesley Jul 29 at 17:04
  • 1. God doesn't even mention that he would ever throw them out. Only that they would surely die. But apparently they could have skipped death from eating of the tree. So even by your logic, if they had decided to go eat from the tree of life instead of hiding to cover their nakedness, then they wouldn't have died! Which would have made God a liar. And the serpent would have spoken the truth. – Aaron Jul 29 at 17:09
  • I have to sign off now and prepare our evening meal. You can think what you like, but I place my trust in God, and not in the forces of evil that seek to destroy humanity. Good night. – Lesley Jul 29 at 17:18

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