Why Didn’t Adam Die? (Gen. 2 & 5)

In Gen. 2:15-17, “LORD God” (YHWH) commands adam (Hebrew, “man”):

The LORD GOD took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to plow it and guard it. And the LORD GOD commanded the man, “You may eat from any tree in the garden. But you shall not eat from the tree of knowing good and evil, because on the day that you eat from it, you shall die” (emphasis added).

Unless you are blissfully unaware of the remainder of the Genesis creation story, you should already know that adam does not die the day he eats the fruit. In fact, although adam and Eve get booted out of the garden, they live ridiculously long lives: adam to 930 years, in fact (Gen. 5).

So what gives?

As scholar James Kugel points out: “To many ancient readers this must have sounded a bit like the sort of empty threats that parents sometimes make to their children. But it seemed unlikely that God would have issued an empty threat—and even if that were true, there was little reason for the Bible to have reported it” (How to Read the Bible, 49).

Part of the explanation for this will come at a later post, but the point to be made now is simply this: the text directly contradicts itself. We can add many fancy explanations—as indeed, many have—but shouldn’t it seem odd that a supposedly perfect text should contain a fairly jarring error and require such a fancy explanation to make sense of it? And especially an error where LORD GOD makes either what must be 1) A lie; 2) An empty threat; or 3) A mistake? Why would God do that?

Quite a hole indeed.

This entry was posted in Blog Post and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.