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Written by Ángel Manuel Rodríguez
Did Adam and Eve know an enemy of God would come to tempt them?
No clear biblical passage indicates that this was the case, but there are some details we should examine. Let’s examine the narrative to see whether the biblical text provides some evidence pointing in that direction. I will also consider the Bible’s overall teaching about the enemy of God.
1. Heavenly Beings Before Adam and Eve: The Bible indicates that God created heavenly beings before He created Adam and Eve. According to Job, heavenly “sons of God shouted for joy” when God was creating the earth (Job 38:4-7), and Genesis suggests that God had already created cherubim before Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:24). It was one of these cherubim who rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven (Isa. 14:12-14; Eze. 28:13-18). The enemy in the garden would be this cherub.
2. The Responsibility of Adam and Eve: The Creation narrative indicates that after their creation, God gave Adam and Eve specific instructions concerning their functions and responsibilities. One would expect that such instruction would include information about God’s enemy. The first time God talked to them, He blessed Adam and Eve and commanded them to “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). They were to rule over the rest of creation and to enjoy a specific diet different from that of the animals (verses 29, 30). He also commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die (Gen. 2:16, 17; 3:3).
There is hardly anything in these instructions about an enemy of God. But they were clearly accountable to God as stewards of the earth. There is also a reference to the possibility of dying, and this by itself would suggest an element of danger: that of making the wrong choice. But so far there is not a specific hint about an enemy against
whom they should be on guard.
But there is more. God asked them “to work [‘abad] it [the garden] and to take care [shamar] of it” (Gen. 2:15, NIV). The verb ‘abad (“to work; to serve”) could mean in some contexts “to cultivate, to work on” the ground (Gen. 4:2, 12). The verb shamar means “to watch over, to protect, to guard.” The use of this verb suggests that Adam and Eve were to be alert, guarding and protecting the garden; it implies danger and the potential presence of an enemy. God must have told them about the nature of the enemy. This interpretation of the verb is supported by its second use in Genesis 3:24. After the Fall the protection of the garden—in particular, the tree of life—was placed in the hands of cherubim. Since humans failed, God assigned their responsibility to others.
3. There Was a Tempter in the Garden: The danger implied in Genesis 2:15 is explicitly identified in Genesis 3. An enemy of God openly opposes His word and accuses Him of intentionally limiting the development of Adam and Eve (verse 4). He tells them that by rejecting the word of God they “will be like God” (verse 5). What this enemy introduces in the conversation is what the fallen cherub wanted for himself: “I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). Now we know the true identity of this enemy: the New Testament identifies him as “the devil, or Satan” (Rev. 12:9, NIV). These details are enough to indicate that Adam and Eve had been informed about him and were asked to be alert.
4. Deception in the Garden: Another piece of information could be helpful in answering this question. Eve attempts to defend herself, arguing that she was deceived by the serpent (Gen. 3:13). Unquestionably, she was deceived (2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14), but deception was not accepted as a valid excuse for her disobedience. Why not? The reason, I suggest, is that they had been informed about the coming of the enemy of God to tempt them. She was expecting the enemy to work in a certain way, and he surprised her and deceived her. By not engaging the serpent in conversation, she would have been safe.