Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Does it Mean that Eve was Beguiled?

"And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." (Genesis 3:13)

What does that word mean? 

For a long time I thought it only meant "tricked" or " deceived" and it bothered me to think that Eve, a woman who was suppose to be one of God's most valiant daughters, could be so easily duped.

I mean Moses wasn't deceived or tricked by Satan when he tried to appear to him as a being of light (Moses 1:12-16) Why then would Eve have been any less skeptical of Satan's claims? 

According to Hebrew scholar  Dr. Nehama Aschenasy the word translated as " beguiled" does not mean what we think it does. As I explained in my essay  " We Are Each Eve":
"Dr. Nehama Aschenasy, a Hebrew scholar, said that in Hebrew the word which is translated as beguiled in the Bible does not mean "tricked" or " deceived" as we commonly think. Rather, the Hebrew word is a rare verb that indicates an intense multilevel experience evoking great emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual trauma. As Aschenasy explained, it is likely that Eve's intense, multilevel experience, this " beguiling" by the serpent was the catalyst that caused Eve to ponder and evaluate what her role in tbe Garden really was." (The Gift of Giving Life: Re-discovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth, pgs. 2-3)
It completely changes our perspective on Eve if, instead of thinking of her being tricked into eating the fruit, we see her undergo an intense multilevel experience before choosing to partake. It is important to remember that Satan had used the symbol of the serpent, a symbol of Christ, to try to deceive her into thinking he had power and authority. He also didn't lie to her outright, he just told her half-truths.

"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die (Lie) 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. (Truth)" (Genesis 3:4-5)
Yet even his disguise and half disguised lies were not enough to deceive Eve into blindly eating the fruit. What Satan's efforts did do however was  to beguile her. He made her question, made her doubt, and sent her on a soul searching journey. 

What was her purpose in the garden?

 How were she and Adam to fulfill God's command to multiply and replenish the earth?

What was God's plan for her? 

Was there any other way it could be accomplished? 

These may have been questions she struggled with in the garden and one can only imagine that her choices must have weighed heavily on her heart. 

Eventually Eve chose to eat of the fruit, but not because she was deceived.
"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." (Genesis 3:6)
Eve ate because she saw.

In her own words she explained,
"Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient." (Moses 5:11)
Furthermore, Adam also ate because he saw and understood. He said:
"Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy and again in the flesh I shall see God." (Moses 5:10)
And when the Lord called them forward there wasn't any blaming, just an account of what had happened. 
"And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." (Genesis 3:12-13)
Both Adam and Eve understood what they had done and they were both willing to accept the consequences in order to move God's great plan of happiness forward. Furthermore, God didn't curse them, that was reserved solely for Satan. What He did do was explain to them what the consequences of their choices were and give them direction for navigating the world He was sending them into.

I think that too often Eve gets vilified for eating the fruit, or is tagged as being easily duped, when really the truth is that what she did was an act of sheer bravery and faith. Her choice was a conscious, faith filled leap into the unknown, and her struggle in the Garden should not be overlooked.

Her choice made all other choices possible.

Adam and Eve Statue, Villa Montalvo, CA

"Mother, who willingly made that personal journey into the valley of the
shadow of death to take us by the hand and introduce us to birth—even to mortal life—deserves our undying gratitude."

—Thomas S. Monson


  1. The new film in the temple portrays this really well.

    1. I agree! That was what actually prompted this post. It was nice to see these truths portrayed more clearly because the world really doesn't make eve out to be so great sometimes. But really she was incredible!

    2. I don't understand why a trangression would make Eve any less incredible or amazing. It simply makes her human.

  2. Lots to think about here. Thank you for bringing attention to the nuanced meaning of the word translated for us as 'beguiled'. We so often miss true meanings in the scriptures because of difficulty with translations. My aha moment in this post came as I read "intense multilevel experience evoking great emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual trauma." It suddenly occurred to me that Eve had perhaps the first faith crisis. She then had to work her way through the confusing, contradictory, challenging ideas and principles that had been placed before her, and make a choice. I imagine that it may have taken her a much longer time than is normally depicted to make that choice. That poignant, heart-rending question, "Is there no other way?" has always brought tears to my eyes. But Elohim knew that He had to let her choose, and experience the consequences. Thank you for posting these ideas, and giving me the opportunity to think through them myself!

  3. One more thought...my own heart rending question. Why, if the choice Eve made was so key to the whole plan of salvation, was she 'rewarded' with the consequence of no direct relationship with God the Father. In the eternities, she/we has/have only a tangential, or secondary relationship with Him. I want to be a priestess and queen to Him. Is that wrong of me? I have struggled with this for decades.

    1. Good quesions, Nancy. My understanding is that Eternal Life will be with God the Father and Jesus in their Celestial Kingdom, not away from them at all. However, the consequence of Eve's choice was that she would get to try things out on her own for a time (this lifetime) without God's presence so undeniably near as it had been before---it was the gift of agency and a chance for greater growth. But as we know, so very challenging, as well.

    2. And I'm sure it's heartbreaking for our Father at times to watch us mess it up so badly. But I know there are times when he's proud of us, too. As an imperfect, human, but loving parent, I am 100% certain that our Father wants a direct and personal relationship with you forever, Nancy. We have so much to learn from Him, and I don't think he would have made billions of us if he didn't really love his kids and want us around for a long, long time.

    3. What has helped me a lot with it is looking at the roles of men and women in the whole plan of salvation. Women are responsible for the veil of birth--helping everyone into the earthy existence. And Men are responsible for the veil of death---helping everyone to come back into God's presence. In earth life, we look to our husbands to help us go back into God's presence, not that we are secondary.

      In this light, it had to be Eve to make the decision, because her decision brought children and others into their earthy existence. She had to partake of the fruit and Adam had to follow.

    4. Nancy, I don't have an answer but just wanted you to know that I also feel grieved over that promise. You're not alone in feeling confused and concerned by that.

  4. I so totally love this!! Thank you for making such important points. The idea that she was tricked never sat too well with me either, since I have long believed that she saw the bigger picture before Adam did and so was wise.

  5. I hate it when people bash on Eve. I think she knew exactly what and why she did what she did.

  6. Without offering the opportunity for temptation (the tree of good and evil) Adam and Eve would not have had opportunity to exercise agency, which was essential to God's plan. They were given two contradictory commandments: one to multiply and replenish the Earth; the second not to partake of the fruit of that tree. They could not satisfy the first without breaking the second, as they could not become fruitful until they became mortal. I've always thought of the word "beguiled" to mean something similar to seduction. She was seduced into trusting Satan. I suspect it was more in hindsight that she and Adam (Moses 5:12, 11) gained clearer understanding. They could not......would not.......have rejoiced in transgression against God, but did rejoice when they gained knowledge that they would not be eternally lost, but would be saved with their posterity by the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. The knowledge and rejoicing expressed in Moses 5 came as they gained fuller understanding of that loving redemption and God's eternal purposes.

    Loved your post and contemplations, Heather.

    1. I agree with the hindsight. Reading scripture it shows all the reasoning and understanding as having taken place AFTER their eyes were opened.

  7. Thank you for your enlightning article. I have always loved Eve. She was very much in tune with the Father. She saw the bigger picture, and knew the consequences of her choice would affect all mankind for the greater good. I, for one, am grateful for what she did.

  8. I have been thinking about these very things since I saw the new temple film as well. It changed my entire perspective on Eve. My love for her and understanding of the choices she made grew immensely as I sat through the session. Thanks for a wonderful post.
    One more thing to think about: God did not curse Adam and Eve, it's true. Satan was cursed, but so was the earth. The ground was cursed for THEIR SAKE so they would have to learn to work for their livelihood. Re-read the passages carefully. It's an eye opener.
    Thanks again!

  9. Interesting perspective. I would also recommend reading Chapter 5 of The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister. That has an interesting perspective too.

  10. Nancy, Our Heavenly Father already has "a Priestess and a Queen". She is His Eternal Companion, our Heavenly Mother. The Father's eternal plan is that husbands and wives should be united to His Eternal Family by the power of the Holy Priesthood, a responsibility in which we share. In his book, "The House of the Lord", James E. Talmage said, "It is a precept of the church that women of the church share the authority of the priesthood with their husbands...." Eve made an "executive decision" that seriously affected Adam before counseling with him. As a result, God reminded Eve to seek counsel with her faithful husband and with the Lord. We walk beside our husbands, having united and personal relationship with God. Our relationship with God is not secondary.

  11. Great thoughts. I think we have a lot to learn about the greatness of Eve. Slowly we are learning this and as we do we feel more empowered as women in our own lives.

  12. I am going to follow your blog. This post expresses exactly what I have thought for a long while now; Eve's act was an act of courage and faith. She's one of the people I most want to meet in the next life. So glad I stumbled onto your blog - looks like fantastic material!

  13. It appears that the comment on the Hebrew word translated as "beguiled" originates with Beverly Campbell's address given address April 2, 1993, at the 11th annual conference of Collegium Aesculapium in Salt Lake City, Utah. It can be found online at several locations, including http://www.kenningtons.com/kennington/campbell.htm. It is well worth a careful reading.
    Regarding the term "beguiled", if one looks at other instances of KJV translations of the same Hebrew term, the word choice seems to me to be a better choice than other possibilities - the translators might have used terms such as "tricked" or "deceived" to convey the idea that Eve was simply defrauded, which she apparently was not.
    I wonder what better word or phrase could be used to convey Eve's "intense multilevel experience."
    I also wonder if Dr. Aschkenasy ever published on this point, perhaps in one of the books she has listed on Amazon. Does anyone know?

  14. I love this post! I never liked the story of Adam and Eve while I was growing up exactly because of the reasons you said above: Eve being tricked or duped by the serpent. After a while I started to understand that she made a conscious decision which allows for us all to be here. Your post further solidifies my testimony of her. The story of Adam and Eve is now quickly becoming one of my favorites.

  15. I love your explanation of the word "beguiled" and the reasoning behind Eve's decision. I think it provides great insight into her character and the strength of her righteous desires. I tend to hold a less-popular opinion though, in that I don't choose to ignore the "deceived" aspect of the story. Heavenly Father is God; He is perfect. Thus His plan was perfect. I don't think He gave contradictory commandments. I think He had a plan. Certainly, as long as Adam and Eve had immortal bodies, they could not conceive. But just as we as parents hope that our own children will grow up to become fully responsible and functioning adults, we would never allow a young child to drive a car. It's not a "No, you can NEVER drive" kind of thing, it's a "No, you aren't prepared to drive" kind of thing. If Eve had chosen to obey God's command to not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Heavenly Father would have done as he likely did in other worlds he created and given Adam and Eve the fruit in His own due time.

    Another way to look at this is to take the commandment that we have been given to "go forth and preach the gospel to all the earth." This would seem to contradict the fact that we have also been commanded to "obey the laws of the land". There are countries that have forbidden proselyting of the gospel. Does the Church then choose to break one commandment "obey the laws" in order to keep another? No, we have been repeatedly assured that the Lord will bring about his full purposes in his OWN due time. We are told to wait patiently for the Lord to bring to pass his designs.

    I sincerely appreciate this post you’ve written. I think it’s high time people seek to better understand Eve’s part of the creation story, and your post provokes careful thought and conversation. Thanks for writing it.

  16. Yes, I agree, Eve knew exactly what she was doing. She was DISOBEYING God. It was NOT an act of "courage" and "faith"; anymore than somebody killing their husband and saying it was an act of "courage" and "faith". What Eve did was a simple act of "disobedience"! Man's hearts haven't changed over thousands of years and God never changes. " Disobedience" to God is ALWAYS wrong and is never misconstrued in scripture as an "act of courage or faith"!

  17. I tried to carefully review the Temple film for evidence that Eve knew of a Savior or the Atonement BEFORE she partook of the forbidden fruit. From everything I could see, Eve finds out AFTER she partakes. I considered this quite disturbing. People can talk favorably about the "nature of Eve", her "desire for children" etc., but without a knowledge of a Savior or the Atonement, it seemed to me that the world she gave Adam and their children without a Savior was frightening. That world included spiritual death (God's word), Satanic domination--as horrible as that is (twisted abuse by a perverted megalomaniacal despot)--and physical death. We would all have been cut off from God, and been beaten from pillar to post by the Prince of Darkness without a Savior. Eve did not know that God would eventually "place enmity between thee and the seed of the woman..." thus protecting them from evil domination in the clutches of Satan forever. She found out about that AFTER partaking. When I really thought through Eve's decision to follow Lucifer--without a knowledge of a Savior or Atonement--it wasn't a pretty picture. In the midst of these critical thoughts, I was going to write a critical comment about Eve in this forum. I had it all typed out, and was ready to "publish" when the computer had a software glitch. I was not able to send, and decided to wait till later to re-type it.. Well, 2 days went by and I was on my way to church when I had a personal spiritual experience that was totally unexpected. I thought I felt the veil thin, and I had the distinct impression that heaven--especially my mother Eve--was very displeased with my critical comments. These spiritual impressions came as it were, out of no where. I was humbled exceedingly. I was made to "understand" through these spiritual impressions that my "logic" was somehow completely missing the mark. I was wrong. How, I still do not understand, but after I received those feelings I felt ashamed of my ignorance and criticism, and repented immediately of my thoughts and intention to publish anything critical of Eve. I wish to say publicly how much I love and appreciate our holy, glorious, wonderful mother Eve. I am grateful I have been "favored" with this experience, because it has helped me be more humble and have deeper love for our great mother, Eve. I encourage anyone who has struggled with things you do not understand about the history of God's dealings with mankind to wait patiently for the Lord to reveal the truth of what is troubling you. Sometimes we are the ones that need to change our own thoughts. Even if it is not given to us to understand why.. Nuff said.

  18. May I add another quote that supports all of this?

    Consider Eve, the mother of all living. Elder Russell M. Nelson said this of Eve: “We and all mankind are forever blessed because of Eve’s great courage and wisdom. By partaking of the fruit first, she did what needed to be done. Adam was wise enough to do likewise.”4 (Daughters in the Covenant)

  19. Loved these comments. I am serving an mission in West Africa with my husband a the moment. It has opened my eyes to so many things. I have been reading about Adam and Eve and pondering some of these very things. I came across this post while attempting to find a quote I heard once and can no longer remember accurately. Perhaps someone out there can help.

    I am not certain who said it but basically it said, "Eve knew exactly what she was doing....and so did Adam as soon as she explained it to him"
    I would appreciate any leads on this.

  20. Thank you for your insight. I have recently begun studying about Eve and the Fall. 1Timothy 2:14 clearly states that Eve was deceived. But by taking 5 minutes to look up the definitions of beguile and deceive I found that they have a common, historical, unexpected meaning. the dated meaning is : to help pass ( time) pleasantly. The archaic meaning of deceive is : to while away time. So Eve was beguiled and deceived, but that doesn't mean she didn't make a well thought out choice, or that she shouldn't be honored.