Woman’s role in the world is changing and rapidly, too. With the strong possibility that a woman might be the next the American president, it may be high time to reexamine our myths about gender. The most influential of these in the Judeo-Christian world is that of Eve, the very first woman.
The story is told in the book of Genesis. God creates Adam and later, makes Eve from Adam's rib. They live in the Garden of Eden where God provides for all their needs and they haven’t a worry in the world. But, there’s a catch. God forbids Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, warning that if they do they will die. Along comes a serpent who talks Eve into eating the forbidden fruit and she shares it with Adam. God expels them both from the Garden and curses the ground which Adam is to work. Having discovered sex in this harsh environment, they have children who then go forth and populate the world.
By this time, of course, life has gotten, in Hobbes words, “nasty, brutish, and short” and Eve gets the blame.
It’s an important myth, though the emphasis is usually placed on what we lost by disobeying God.
I take a different view.
THE WOMAN IN THE GARDEN
Do not touch nor eat of the fruit, He had said
And threatened death.
But surely He was offering a bargain,
Said the serpent, speaking softly for fear
Of waking the man, no doubt dreaming
He had found where God had hidden the beer.
Possibly, said the woman,
For east and west, far and close at hand
Were piping bird and berry bush, sweet-water rivers
And other proofs, but still the question
Dangled from a branch of the serpent’s tongue,
For doesn’t He know that if you eat of this fruit
Your eyes will be opened,
Knowing good and evil, to vault at once from child to god,
From one to all, though death be the price?
He had her then as well he might have you and I,
For she did not wait on ceremony but plucked the fruit, an apple
It might as well have been an apple,
Woke the man, he asked no questions, was right to trust her,
And sat with her in the cooler shade of the tree.
The sweet pulp spilling from their lips,
Slipping down their naked bellies,
Biting as well the bitter seeds, but not all,
Spitting some out to germinate,
Root and make more trees
To tempt the sons and daughters of men.
And when, at point of a flaming sword,
Michael showed them the door,
Out in that wasteland, God in His mercy
Did not wipe the juice from their lips
Nor sweep away
The thorns they trod, painful as love.