"And the LORD
God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had
formed" (Gen. 2:8).
Called to the Divine-like and similar to angelic life, and
to the greater and closer communication with God, the man should not have been
distracted from this most important goal by the excessive care about himself.
All the necessary for life was given to him by the Creator. He gave to the man
a commandment: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But
of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it"
As in any act of God, this first commandment has
several sides. The freedom of the man is fulfilled in reality: he can obey or
disobey. There is no guard, like the further appearing archangel with a fiery
sword, which was placed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Through that commandment the man was to be brought
up, increase his love for God. The man, like angels, was created by God for the
blissful life, which is gained through the spiritual growth. The man was
created for the development of the feeling of love for his Creator and the
similar to Him creatures — other people and lower creatures.
But love, only as a theoretic proof, as a simple
statement of the fact is fruitless. Moreover, developing, it gets petrified,
atrophies. Love demands its display, and the most direct, natural display of it
is the fulfillment of the will of the loved one. Therefore the
commandment "do not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil" had a goal to develop and strengthen the love of Adam and Eve
for their Creator, and with that strengthen their will and morally improve it.
The Church rejects the spreading since the
antiquity thoughts that under the trying of the fruit from the tree of
knowledge should be understood the carnal communication of Adam and Eve. This
communication was not forbidden, on the contrary, it was blessed by God, Who
said: Be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28).
The first people were childishly inexperienced and
primitive, more incompetent in life, as modern kids, for children, who do not
have personal experience, are learning from their parents. Such experience
existed by the first people, who were taught in the blissful communication with
God, but absolutely naïve and not tempted. Therefore, they needed a simple and
understandable commandment. Such was given by God: ""Of every tree
of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, thou shalt not eat of it." In this commandment we recognize
one of the simplest, most accessible for all people, Church commandments,
ancient as the Church itself — the commandment about abstention, i.e. about
Why is the forbidden tree called the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil? Because the man went out of the hands of God
absolutely clean, not knowing any evil. By eating the forbidden fruit he first
got in touch with the evil and then from the experience could distinguish
between it and the original, put into him by God, good. God did not want that
the loved by Him creature knew the evil from the own experience. As good
parents are trying the longer possible to protect their children from the
acquaintance with the wickedest and most disgusting sides of life, the same
wished God for His favorite children.
It is absolutely fruitless to make suppositions
about how the destiny of mankind could be, if there would have been no
initiator of the evil in the world — the fallen spirit, who rejected God and
who hates everything, created by Him. Led by pride, and then by hatred, once an
angel of light, he became "the old serpent, called the Devil, and
satan" (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). That was Him, who attempted to drive the new
creatures of God — people — to the same rebellion against God and to the
disobedience to Him, which he fulfilled himself and towards what he attracted the
multitude of the fallen with him spirits. St. Basil the Great says about it
this way: "The Devil, seeing that he is excommunicated from the angels,
could not indifferently watch how a born on the Earth ascends towards to the
angelic rank through his success" (The Conversations, 9 "That God is
not the One, Who Causes Evil").
And the serpent said to the wife: "Yea,
hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" The one,
who had rebelled against the Truth, the father of lies, cannot say the truth.
He slanders in the very first words, which the man hears from him. He knows
that God allowed the people to eat from any of the trees, but one. This
commandment about the only tree the devil wishes to represent through slander
as the ban of God to taste all heavenly fruits. Together with that the slander
is cunningly disguised so that it is not obvious to the naïve people. Those,
who do not read the Bible thoughtfully enough, do not notice where the slander
is hidden. In this ancient method of the satan we easily recognize the
contemporary variants of the same in its essence method: so as the contemporary
anti-religious and anti-Christian forces use it on the state scale, the same
way happens with the complaints at God and slander at neighbors. This testifies
to the lack of creative variety of the enemy of God and of the banality of his
methods in tempting people during many centuries.
And the woman answered to the serpent: "We
may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 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 fact that Eve enters into the conversation
with the serpent, in spite of the fact that she had heard from him the slander
at God, shows that her love for God did not yet managed to develop itself, that
she is not yet spiritually mature. And in the answer she evidently submits to
the deceit of the serpent: she as well several times distorts the words of God,
exaggerating their strictness. God did not say: "Do not touch them."
Maybe, if Eve with the absolute exactness and truthfulness said the Divine
words, the devil would have run away from her, for he hates only the absolute
truth of the words of God. But he bears the distorted semi-truth and continues
his tactics of tempting.
"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
This slander is thin and very significant. God
created the people similar to him and for gaining the gradual and greater
similarity to Him, as St. Basil the Great writes: "We are the creatures,
but are called to become gods due to the grace."
Further on the Son of God will come to the earth
in order to make the man divine, in the way the church chants tell many times:
"God became the man, so that the man would become god." Not knowing
about the Divine plan concerning the man, the devil could, nevertheless, guess about
it, for the same was the plan of God concerning him, when he was the angel of
light. Therefore the satan knew, that the temptation "will be like
gods" is attractive for the man, who was created for that. But instead of
becoming similar to God through love for God and through the unity with Him,
the devil suggests the Divine similarity through rebellion and disobedience
"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"
The devil does not know the depth of the spirit of
a human, not yet spoilt with sin, but he understands the surface spiritual
movements, connected with the physical nature, which can be equally directed
towards the good or the evil. And he mobilizes them, as everything he has in
disposal in the decisive moment of temptation, repeating his method of tempting
millions of millions of times over all human creatures in the whole and very
sad human history.
"The lust of the flesh, and the lust of
the eyes, and the pride of life" — the holy fathers name this "triple
temptation," used in the beginning of ages by the devil, in the
relation of Eve.
"She took of the fruit thereof, and did
eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" —The cosmic catastrophe happened, but so simply and
unnoticeably for the outer world. The thunder did not roar, the skies did not
shake, the mountains did not move — nothing outwardly reacted over the
terrible catastrophe, which violated the course of world existence, the entire
Divine plan about the created by Him world.
But the downfall of each person is, in its
essence, the same catastrophe, the same tragedy, and each of us knows from his
personal experience, how outwardly simply and meaninglessly happen these
catastrophes. If we would have been in need of asserting the Divine truth of
each word of the holy Divine revelation, then this simplicity and outward
imperceptibleness in the description of the catastrophe of the downfall of the
first people would have been one of the most striking proves that what is in
front of us is not a myth.
"And the eyes of them both were opened,
and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and
made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the
garden … and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God
amongst the trees of the garden"
The poison of the downfall at once and so
evidently reflected the personal feelings of Adam and Eve. The communication
with God till those times was the basic and joyful meaning of their lives. They
were created for that, it was the source of their blissful state, for it
included into itself all the following pure delights of the man: the artistic
delights, for God is the Fullness of the Beauty; and the joy, which we
experience, if we see the triumph of a just matter, for God is the Fullness of
the Truth and Justice; and the joy of the scientific creation, which comes out
of the understanding of the laws of nature, the Lawgiver of which is God. So,
here, with the appearance of God, after the downfall, Adam and Eve for the
first time try to evade from meeting God. "And Adam and his wife
hid themselves." For the people, who have made the image of God darken
in themselves, the communication with God becomes painful.
Simultaneously they lost the knowledge of God,
which before was typical of them. Before the downfall they knew God with their
inner understanding of their similar to the Divine soul and through the
communication of their spirit with the Spirit, the knowledge, which was yet not
mature, not formed and therefore able to be easily lost. This communication was
broken by the sin: there is no sin in God, and it appeared in the man. That was
why the man ceased knowing God. This is already evident from the fact that Adam
and Eve forgot of the Divine Presence everywhere and of God’s ability to know
everything. They naively, "amongst the trees" tried to hide from the
All-Seeing Eye. In this obscured understanding of God since the first moments
of the downfall lies the seed of all the following false-teachings — idolatry
and heresies for all of them, in their essence come from the same mistake:
either assigning to God the qualities, which are not typical of Him, or
negation of the perfections, which He possesses.
And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said
unto him, Where art thou? The Lord shows
greatest fatherly leniency towards the sinful lack of understanding of people.
He does not hurry to expose or punish them. With the most delicate care He wishes
to call them to repentance. He does not look for the childishly naïve shelter
of the sinned people but calls them to fulfill the act of the acceptance of
guilt and calls the man by the name. Finally Adam answers: "I heard thy
voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid
The first weak sign of the inert turn in Adam can
be seen in the fact that he responded to the Divine call, and did not hid in
his shelter. But even this, minor improvement of his he spoils by the attempt
to deceive God: "and I was afraid, because I was naked"
The Lord waits but the man does not accept his
sin, does not confess it, and does not repent in it. Meanwhile it would have
been so appropriate and necessary! What deeply human, known to us from the
personal experience and the experience of communication with other people, fine
drama is drawn for us by the holy Bible in several words.
"And he said, Who told thee that thou wast
naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest
Adam does not confess, he does not show
repentance. The lenience of God goes further on. As a most careful confessor in
the respect of the unskillfully repenting sinner, God Himself pronounces Adam’s
fault instead of him, names his sin, leaving to the one, who had sinned, only
to say the short, confessionary "Yes!." Further on goes the
Children-loving Father in order to meet the prodigal son.
But, adding to the already committed sins of
violation of the Divine love in breaking the simple commandment, the attempt to
hide from God, and therefore — to deceive Him, Adam commits one more sin, not
against God, but now against the miserable accomplice of his crime, his wife: "The
woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did
Piling up one crime above another one, Adam with
these words breaks the connection of love — the guarantee of one-essence
existence between him and Eve, and makes more profound the rebellion against
the Creator, striving to shift onto Him the part of guilt for his crime:
"The woman whom thou gavest to be with me…"
The Lord then leaves Adam not to multiply his sins
and addresses to Eve. Until that moment he had not addressed Her, because she,
connected with her nature with Adam, was of one essence with him. But by the
shifting of his fault onto Eve Adam breaks his unity with her.
Waiting for repentance at least of Eve, Good tells
her: "What is this that thou hast done?." But she, too,
continues with the persistent self-justification, saying: "The serpent
beguiled me, and I did eat."
The serpent — the ancient dragon, called the
devil, the slanderer, who tempts the entire universe (Rev. 12:9), the Lord does
not ask anything. He does not waste a single word in vane with the conscious
slanderer, for whose repentance there is no hope. Asking him about nothing, the
Lord curses him, and the curse ends with the frightening for the devil and
reassuring for those having committed grave sins, but not hopeless people,
promise: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between
thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his
heel," or it is more expressive in the Slavonic variant, translated
from the Greek by the 70 interpreters (the Septuagint): "It shall
rub off your head."
This promise, with which God reassured the sinned
people, the Church called the First Gospel — the first good news.
"Therefore the LORD God sent him forth
from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken."
Sending the sinned people forth, as many other
Divine acts, is really many-sided. The Bible directly points at one of the
reasons: "Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of
life, and eat, and live for ever." The stay in heaven is connected
with the eating from the tree of life, what made people immortal. Meanwhile,
for the sinned people with rotten nature such eternal life in the lasting
sinful state and in the becoming more and more profound moral destruction would
truly be the infernal existence, the source of infinite tortures and despair.
They should have been removed from heaven, so that, as St. Gregory the
Theologian says, the evil would not become immortal.
The heavenly state was connected with the Divine
communication. Meanwhile, according to the spiritual law, which we observe by
the guilty children, the communication with God, which before was the source of
the greatest bliss, since the moment of the downfall became the source of
sufferings for our forefathers. As a child, who feels his fault before the
parents, does not want to be in the same room with them anymore, the same way
the sinned people tried to hide from God.
Moreover: we know on the example of the children,
who are at fault before their parents, how harmful it is to let them stand in
their lack of repentance, for they become even more impudent, insolent and
shameless. The similar way the Lord, in order to prevent their further
downfall, casts them out of heaven, for they did not show any signs of
Before bringing them forth out of heaven the Lord
orders to Adam to work. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,
till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken." This
commandment of God, as the majority of the acts of God, is many-sided: for
together with the punishment for sin there is given the medicine for it.
In heaven the people were free from hard labors,
connected with their physical nature, for the led by them nature obediently
fulfilled all the work, concerning their feeding and serving to them. The man,
until he remained righteous, morally needed such freedom from labors and
material worries, to have the opportunity to be in constant communication with
But as soon as the man fell off from God, the
nature rose against him. Having violated his calling, he broke the whole system
of the physical world, having stopped being the connection between him and God.
Both plants and animals lost their master and intercessor before the Creator:
his rebellion caused the "rebellion" from their side.
The time, which the man before could use for his
spiritual growth and communication with God, he had to spend onto the hard
labors for maintaining his physical existence. But without such filling of
time, the life, deprived of the communication with God, would become
unbearable. When our soul is tormented, then the unique balm is labor. On that
reason, casting the man out of heaven, the Lord commands him to work.
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