My first moments still glow. They pulse and resound within, stirring violent joy and profound longing. The heat He breathed into me that dark morning spiraled into a whirlwind, enlivening every sliver of me. I held His breath; I bent at His feet nearly rent with glory. Consumed by His presence, I knew instinctively from Whom my everything came.
Then, His touch. Light and heat, but no burning. Intense, tender. The warmth laid on my head weighty, yet without burden. His invitation uplifted my chin. He admired my eyes, cradled my hands, and spoke.
“Let’s go find him, Beautiful One.”
Yahweh Elohim gentled me into the enclosure. Such beauty! Every leaf, every creature radiated His glory—the same glory that reverberated within my own blood and bones, yet in a myriad of overwhelming colors, sounds, fragrances. My breath escaped me as I beheld more and more of His creation. The joy in His eyes brought tears to mine. He cupped my face in His bright hands and said, “Just wait, Dear One. Just wait.”
Every creature bowed before Him in its own way as I walked beside Him, wondering at them all. Trying to take in every feature, every paw and claw, every sound and movement, I couldn’t help staring. He spoke, “Here,” setting my attention upon the one before us. Another creature! Majestic as the others, yet profoundly unlike. Unmistakably more. A familiar breathing drew me closer.
“Adam. Awake!” The creature stirred at the Creator’s voice. “Adam! Look, Beloved. What will you call this one?”
The breathing quickened. I bent over the curious, glorious creature, marveling still more. Our Creator stepped back, His smile over us filling and thrilling me. I knew at once that this creature was for me and that I was for him. This creature—this Adam—opened his eyes. The surprise and sudden welcome overwhelming his features drew me still closer, and I touched him. He smiled, filling me with warmth.
“Adam,” Yahweh Elohim called again. “What will you name her?”
My Adam stood at once, helping me up, and we looked to our Yahweh. He answered, “This—at last!—is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” Adam turned to me, touching my hair. His fingers brushed back the strands around my shoulders, making me shiver and laugh aloud. Adam smiled his easy, unburdened smile, and then grew thoughtful. “She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
He kissed me then. Innocent newness, tender love flowered.
To belong, to be held, to be part of another; to be held and rejoiced over and divinely, intimately blessed by the Creator. To be so completely filled and surrounded by holiness—to be whole. That was Eden. Those youthful days were exceedingly good, and our Yahweh Elohim sang over us:
My Adam proved so faithful, so diligent and gentle. Yahweh Elohim expected him to teach me everything, and so Adam introduced to me all the animals I’d wondered at on my first day. I never tired of learning about them: how they worked and played, where they slept, how they cared for their young. Each day brought so many new discoveries, with no end in sight! In the wind of each day, Yahweh Elohim fairly glowed at our outpouring of enthusiasm over all the latest wonders we had uncovered.
Green trees with bright fruit surrounded us, and my Adam showed me each in turn. Each new bite brought an explosion of vocabulary as we sought to describe the different tastes and textures. One by one we worked our way through the vegetation. Finally, we came to The Two. These were the great trees, the mightiest and most beautiful in Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam explained to me the welcome and the warning. The one tree became to me Yes, the other No: the Life Tree and the Death Tree.
Although we were much together, Adam and I often gathered fruit separately, making a game of surprising each other with new combinations. One such day, as I settled into a cool spot not far from The Two and waited for him, a beautiful nachash surprised me. I didn’t know him, but I welcomed him. He happily joined me, and I admired how his bronze skin shimmered, luminous. We chatted for a while, and I had a wonderful time with my new friend. He was funny and seemed kind, and he asked thoughtful questions about Creator and Creation. The trees particularly interested Nachash. As we talked, he looked about at the magnificence of the very still trees surrounding us and wondered aloud if we could not eat from any of them. “Did Elohim really say that?”
“Oh yes, we can!” I answered, holding up fruit in my hand. “We may eat from any tree in the garden, but Elohim said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” I pointed to the Death Tree as I spoke. Nachash followed my gesture with his eyes, where his gaze lingered for a long moment.
“No, Woman.” These words startled me, even in their quietness, and I noticed his brazen brilliance building in slow pulses. Then he turned to me and whispered weighty words: “You will not surely die. For Elohim knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Elohim, knowing good and evil.” I looked again at the Death Tree, considering it. Nachash said no more. Indeed, he left so silently that I was surprised to turn away from The Tree to find myself sitting alone. Yet, he had left a question.
I would be like Elohim?
Over and over again, I ran through these three things I now knew:
I will die if I eat from the tree.
I will not die if I eat from the tree.
I will be like Elohim if I eat from the tree.
Adam returned and embraced me, but he must have sensed something different about me. Cutting his hug short, he sat back and studied my face. “Tell me, Dear One. What are you thinking?”
“Adam, what did Elohim say about The Two Trees?”
Tilting his head, he answered, “Yahweh Elohim said, ‘You may surely eat of every tree in the garden, but of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” Just then, the wind began to blow. I noted a curious waving motion through the grass running counter to the wind and away from us.
“Children!” He called. We ran to Him.
I stood alone, directly before the Knowledge Tree. Turning my head to the side, I looked at its mighty companion. That’s the Tree of Life. When we eat of it, it gives us life. Then I looked ahead at the stillness, the majesty and wonder of the forbidden one. And this is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In the day that I eat of it, it will give me knowledge. I will be like Elohim.
Shortly after, Adam and I met in our spot and spread our feast. We snuggled close and began eating, but my mind was elsewhere, buried deeply beneath all the familiar fruits. After just a few bites, I laid back and watched the clouds. He spoke of the new plants growing just west, the surprising size of the leaves and the brilliant yellow of the flowers. Soon, he expected, we would have something new to taste. Adam continued chatting and eating, and I listened to the sound of his voice.
A sudden silence caught my attention. I sat up to see his face, already knowing what he’d found.
“Adam!” I breathed, excited to begin.
“Woman… I—we—what are we doing? Yahweh Elohim said…”
“I know, but listen!” I interrupted. “This will make us like Him. Don’t you want to be like Elohim?”
With my heart pounding so that I could scarcely hear my own voice, I scooped up a piece of fruit and held it in both hands before his eyes. “Just look at it! It’s so very beautiful. Is there another fruit in all of the garden like it? The fruit from the Life Tree gives life, and this fruit, from the Knowledge Tree, will teach us. We will be like Elohim!”
He said nothing.
No answer. He just kept staring at the unlawful product in my hands.
I moved closer, pleading, “It looks so good. Isn’t everything He made good?”
He looked at me then, but I couldn’t discern his thoughts. I brought the fruit close, pausing at my lips. As I breathed in the fragrance of the fruit, my hunger for it intensified. Every part of me wanted more. I closed my eyes, inhaling again. With its sweetness akin to no other, I bit.
And then, a hand over mine. I opened my eyes and met his. He pulled me closer, wrapping his other arm around my waist, and never looking away from me. We were on our knees, face to face, holding the fruit between us. I searched his eyes, but learned nothing.
It must have only been a few moments, but the deepening thunder rising within made those moments unbearable. What was he thinking? Why was he holding me so close? With each heartbeat, this rolling, growing desire to back away from him overtook every thought. I wanted to be alone, but still he held me. Why was he still touching me? His body pressed against mine—his arm around me—it all felt like it never had before, and my only desire was to shrink away from his touch, which was everywhere. But how? What would he think? What would he say? What would he do?
Deep inside, my silence screamed: Please let go. Please let me go. Stop touching me!
The heat growing, growing.
Tightness in my throat.
I wanted to run, but he held me still. Just over his shoulder, I locked eyes with Nachash, who, partially hidden in the grass, bore a smoldering grin before disappearing.
In desperation, I tipped the fruit toward Adam.
His expression changed as he looked at it. We quavered, yet his hold on me remained steadfast.
I agonized. Every bit of sticky skin stuck to sticky skin tormented me. Numbness settled into some places, others ached, and Adam consumed the fruit to its core while holding me fast.
He finally shifted me away and stared at the fruit trees. Feeling strangely relieved and rejected, I covered myself and looked toward him. His tenderness had fled; his features hardened. After some time, he turned to me. He noted my hands hiding parts of my body, and he shifted his position to obscure part of his. In flat monotone, he said, “Fig leaves. They’re the biggest leaves in the garden. Let’s go.”
Hesitating, I watched him rise and begin walking away. I didn’t follow, and he didn’t stop or even slow his pace. He disappeared into the trees as I sat, bewildered by the way he had left me. I started at a rustling on my left, and a low, mirthless laugh crept toward me. Unsettled, I rose and followed Adam’s path toward the eastern end of the Garden. Here, beyond a thick bunch of greenery, he stood before the largest fig tree I had ever seen.
We didn’t talk. We went to work silently on opposite sides of the generous tree. Her tremendous branches and stately abundance wholly obscured my view of Adam. While the idea was straightforward—to use large leaves to cover ourselves—implementation proved tedious and troublesome. Seeing the inadequate size of one leaf; noting the difficulty of fastening multiple leaves together without tearing them to shreds; puzzling out how to secure all of this to my body in such a way that would allow for movement without falling off or breaking off—one problem solved led to two new ones.
Standing in my pile of failures, I heard Adam approaching just as I tried fastening my latest attempt around my hips. His steps encouraged me to hasten, just covering myself as he appeared. Fixing my countenance, I looked directly at him and tried to feign a sense of ease in this strange new modesty. He still wore that impenetrable expression, and I tensed as he examined my handiwork.
A breeze then began to blow, which quickly strengthened into a mighty, rushing wind. The day’s work ripped off of our bodies, exposing us anew, and we sought covering deep within the boughs of the fig tree. Then the Voice, once so precious and so dear, now came as a sword through the whirlwind. I could barely hold onto the tree under the force assailing it, and a deep terror overcame me as I tried to shut my ears.
The inescapable Voice intensified: “Where are you?”
He spoke this to Adam. I clung more tightly to the tree, while Adam surrendered to his Creator. Stepping over and through the branches, Adam stood before Yahweh Elohim. He spoke plainly, but with an unmistakable tremble. “I heard Your voice in the Garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.”
Yahweh Elohim required further information, and in reply Adam pointed to me. “The woman you gave to be with me…”
I crumpled. Shock and shame assailed me at Adam’s betrayal. My lungs tightened. My throat burned. I clung to the tree. Then, the Voice. My aching eyes let loose at Yahweh’s words: “What is this you have done?”
There was nothing hidden, and there was no escape. No choice remained but to answer Yahweh Elohim’s demand. Shaking, I stumbled out and fell in the dust. Crawling the last bit of the way, I found myself before Him kneeling, naked and dirty, tangled hair stuck to my wet face, nearly unable to whisper a reply between sobs.
“Nachash… tricked… me… so I ate.”
Yahweh Elohim asked no more. He addressed Nachash foremost; I hadn’t even known he was near. This revelation awakened a still newer kind of fear, and I quieted to a whimper as Yahweh pronounced judgment. With each curse, I could feel Nachash throbbing hotter and hotter. Condemned to dust, enmity, and injury, our slithering adversary should expect to be crushed by my offspring.
Then the holy, dreadful attention shifted again to me. I awaited grievous Death.
Yahweh rumbled fearsome and mournful. His words pierced.
Pain to smite blessing: my just recompense.
Brokenness to afflict marriage: my perpetual struggle.
I could fall no further.
Adam’s punition came last and afflicted all. It is too much.
Humiliation and hopelessness annihilated me. The first of man to sin, I trembled in my guilt as the mother of mortality. I sat appalled until the sun swelled sanguine on the horizon. Adam and Yahweh disappeared, I knew not where. I knew only my aloneness.
He must have been speaking for a while, but my utter depletedness made his words incomprehensible. He took my face in his hands, arresting my attention onto him. “Havah,” Adam whispered. “Havah!”
“Why—why are you saying this to me?” my voice lumbered, and I finally lifted my heavy eyes to his and pushed his hands off of me.
“Come, Havah. Yahweh Elohim has need of us further east.”
What more could there be? I feared. He held out his hand, but I unfolded my cramping legs and stood without his assistance. He started east, but my feet remained planted.
“Adam, I cannot.”
He turned. “Havah, it is not a choice. We must go to Him.”
“Adam, I cannot! Leave me here to die. I cannot go to Him! YOU go. He may want you, but He can never want me again.”
“No, I cannot go without you…” he trailed off.
“You must. I will not go. I cannot go. He will make for you another helper, if He must. One who is suitable to you; one who is not so… so…”
“One who is not you?” Adam asked. “No. You were taken from me and made for me. There will be no one else. We will go together, Havah. He has summoned us, and we must go.”
“Why do you keep calling me this?” I deflected, and not gently.
“Havah, what did Yahweh Elohim sing over us in the day that He made us?”
I turned away, shutting back burning tears.
He persisted. “What was it, Havah?”
“No. No! Everything has changed! I have eaten, and I shall die! We cannot go back.”
“No, we cannot go back,” he agreed. “We must follow where He leads now. But He still intends that we be fruitful. He still calls us to that.”
“Adam, that was before.”
“And that still is.”
“No,” I murmured. “It cannot be.”
“Yes! It is! Yahweh Himself spoke the curse to Nachash—didn’t you hear?—your offspring will crush him. Yahweh’s blessing remains, Havah.”
“Why do you call me this?” I crossed my arms and looked away, feeling uncomfortable and exposed.
“Woman, I call you Havah as a reminder of truth. Our sin was grievous…” At this, Adam paused, tightening his lips. Taking a deep breath, he continued, “But we cannot sit in despair until we die. He has willed life to spring forth from you! Since the day you awoke in Yahweh’s hands, you have been the Mother of All Living—Havah.”
He stepped nearer and touched my arm. “Come with me. He has called you, Havah.”
This is an abbreviated version of a short story featured on Her Bible Stories. Click here to see the original.