In the Middle of the Garden

but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’

Genesis 3:3 (NASB)

Middle of the garden –  Did you catch what Eve said here? She just told the serpent that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is located in the center of the garden. There’s a problem with that statement, do you know what it is?

The Torah tells us in Genesis 2:9 that the tree of life is the one in the center of the garden, not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Surprisingly, this isn’t the only inaccurate reiteration of God’s command that Eve gives. Her entire conversation with the serpent is filled with inaccuracies. Let’s review the two together.

God’s command

16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17

Eve’s reiteration of that command

The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

Genesis 3:2-3

1. Eve mentions that it’s forbidden to ‘touch’ the tree, but God’s command is only about eating from it. 2. Eve’s focus is upon the ‘fruit’ of the tree whereas God’s command is clearly on the tree itself. Yes, they are similar, but interestingly enough the emphasis is different. 3. Eve’s reiteration that they die, as detailed in the actual Hebrew, signified that there’s a probability that they die and not necessarily the definitive action that God relays in His command. 4. God states that death becomes a reality the second they eat from the tree, whereas Eve does not give a time frame. 5. God stresses to eat from ‘all’ the trees whereas Eve drops the word ‘all’ from her interpretation. 6. And lastly we come to the location of the tree which I’ve explained above.

What can we learn from this? There are 6 inaccuracies of interpretation that happened from God to Adam, and then Adam to Eve. How can something so wrong occur within just one removal from giving the command? This is why it’s extremely important to go back and read the Scripture yourself. Teachers are very important to expound upon the Word, but we need to read it ourselves. And it’s equally important to make sure you understand the original writing of the text. Even if you go back to read in English, you’re still reading someone else’s interpretation.

And so we return back to Eve and her statement about the tree in the ‘middle’ of the garden. While we realize that it wasn’t in the middle of the garden, it was in the middle for her. It was her focus. That which she was commanded to resist became that thing which consumed her. This was no small garden, but yet she found herself continually walking around the one tree from which she couldn’t eat. Does this sound familiar? Do you find yourself circling around that thing which so easily tempts you? That temptation begins to consume your attention. And pretty soon it becomes the center of your life, replacing the tree of life… replacing Yeshua. It’s a slippery slope and anytime we find ourselves circling temptation, our footing in the Word becomes less sure. It’s time to regain focus.

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