The Knowledge of Good and Evil

‘The dissolution of our world found its point of entry in the eye.

“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened” (Gen. 3:4-7 KJV)

It should be clear that the method that was used to seduce our first parents was by controverting the command of God by bold blasphemous lying. The reason behing the command was misrepresented as oriented to God’s caprice without regard for Adam and Eve’s good of being.

There is nothing more tantalizing to the untrained mind than the prospect of ascertaining some new good to self. The proposition, or even the suggestion that there is one, naturally incites an emotional response, that, truth be told is an involuntary response of the brain, and is therefore, in and of it self innocent. It’s is in the knowledge of the relation of the gratification of that new desire against the dictates of known duty that our piety is tested. Once the desire is “coddled” or nursed along by exploring the possible avenues of gratification our senses and emotions have time to build. An attachment may be formed that presses for further focus on the object of desire. And desire gives birth to indulgence. And indulgence is sin and death.

For Eve the prospect must have been suggested originally while she was alone. The magnitude of what she was hazarding could not have failed to produce clear physiological changes. Blushing, increased heart rated, and furtive glances to make sure “nobody was looking.” With every reconsideration of “duty” the emotions would tend to be blown back somewhat and with it a renewed sense of loss to self. This cycle persisted within Eve, possibly until she eventually was tipped mentally by the notion that God didn’t really have her best interest at heart and in her desire she deceived herself into seeing more in that fruit than was actually there.

But what was is it to desire to “know good and evil” as if it could be viewed as something to be desired for its own sake? Possibly the following thought was in play, ‘There is something out there that I don’t know about that would empower me to a new level of self authentication and possible autonomy?’ Or something like that but nothing is known with certainty. Maybe it is enough that we can vicariously experience something of how the proposition might be be attractive to her.

But is there any insight in the words “good and evil” that might help us interprete this passage for all its suggestion of doubt and seeming collusion by God to keep a ‘good’ from Adam and Eve that was secretly enjoyed by Himself?

According to Strongs concordance:

Good: 02896 טוֹב towb {tobe}
Meaning: adj 1) good, pleasant, agreeable 1a) pleasant, agreeable (to the senses) 1b) pleasant (to the higher nature) 1c) good, excellent (of its kind) 1d) good, rich, valuable in estimation 1e) good, appropriate, becoming 1f) better (comparative) 1g) glad, happy, prosperous (of man’s sensuous nature) 1h) good understanding (of man’s intellectual nature) 1i) good, kind, benign 1j) good, right (ethical) n m 2) a good thing, benefit, welfare 2a) welfare, prosperity, happiness 2b) good things (collective) 2c) good, benefit 2d) moral good n f 3) welfare, benefit, good things 3a) welfare, prosperity, happiness 3b) good things (collective) 3c) bounty

Evil: 07451 רַע ra` {rah}
Meaning: adj 1) bad, evil 1a) bad, disagreeable, malignant 1b) bad, unpleasant, evil (giving pain, unhappiness, misery) 1c) evil, displeasing 1d) bad (of its kind – land, water, etc) 1e) bad (of value) 1f) worse than, worst (comparison) 1g) sad, unhappy 1h) evil (hurtful) 1i) bad, unkind (vicious in disposition) 1j) bad, evil, wicked (ethically) 1j1) in general, of persons, of thoughts 1j2) deeds, actions n m 2) evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity 2a) evil, distress, adversity 2b) evil, injury, wrong 2c) evil (ethical) n f 3) evil, misery, distress, injury 3a) evil, misery, distress 3b) evil, injury, wrong 3c) evil (ethical)

That’s not an exhaustive definition by any means but an interpretive possibility does seem to fall out that does justice to a plain read of the narrative. The “good and evil” was simply not the mystery that was suggested. It was not something secret that God had that they had a legitimate claim to. Rather it was a masterful presentation that told the truth but in a way that hid the danger of its true realization. The simple reality was that by eating of the forbidden fruit their eyes were opened. They experienced the reality of the agony of guilt that disobedience brings. To know the difference between “good and evil” in that way was enlightenment, though of a kind that brought unthinkable and irreparable loss.

God most certainly had the knowledge of Good and Evil in at least the sense that He knew exactly what the final “good of being” was. But we also know that He knew or experienced the “bad, and disagreeable” in the rebellion of the first race of moral beings created in His image and likeness. [Note by crosstheology: the author of this article, being a Moral Government theologian, does not mean that all humanity fell in Adam. Human beings are responsible for their own sin and (only) the soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:20).]

When viewed in this way, understanding of the putative mystery of “the knowledge of good and evil” that was presented falls to the ground and reminds us that we too, ‘went our own way’ seeking ‘good to self’ in what ever form we thought we should have, all things considered. We chose to make “our good” the supreme law of our lives over God and our fellow man. In reality the deception of Eve is repeated in every case of allowing ourselves to be lured away from the morally good, for the chance to experience the physically good.’

source: W Scott Taylor (ideosamnostoutheos).