Prologue to Genesis

The Unauthorized Version

Genesis 3

The snake was more cunning that all the other animals that Yahweh of the Elohim had made. So he asked the woman, “Did Elohim say you could eat from any of the trees in this garden?”

“We can eat the fruit from any of the trees,” she replied, “except for the fruit of the tree in the centre of the garden. Elohim told us if we touch it we will die.”

But the snake said to the woman, “You won’t die! Elohim knows that if you eat that fruit your eyes will open and you will be like them, knowing good and evil.”

When the fruit of that tree was ripe, the woman wanted to eat it and be wise. So she did, and gave some to the man who was with her and he ate it too. Then their eyes were both opened and they realised they were naked! They sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

They could hear the sound of Yahweh of the Elohim walking through the garden in the cool evening breeze. So the man and the woman hid among the trees. But Yahweh of the Elohim called to the adam: “Where are you?” And they replied: “We heard you walking in the garden and were afraid because we were naked, so we hid.”

“Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten the fruit from the forbidden tree?”

The adam replied, “You gave me the woman; she gave me the fruit.”

“How have you done this?” Yahweh of the Elohim asked the woman.

“The snake awakened me”, she replied.

Yahweh of the Elohim spoke to the snake:

“For what you have done
you are cursed,
more than every animal.
You will slither on your belly
and will inhale the dust
every day of your life.
The woman will be your enemy
and so her children and yours
they will strike your head
and you will strike their heel.”

To the woman he said:

“Increase, increase the pain of your conception!
Your children will be borne in pain
and you will long for your man to rule over you.

And to Adam he said:

“Because you listened to the voice of the woman
and ate from the forbidden tree
the ground is cursed
you will only eat from it with painful struggle;
thorns and thistles will grow for you
to consume the herbs of the fields.
You will sweat to eat bread
till you return to the soil.
From the dust you were taken
and to dust you shall return!”

Now the adam gave the woman a name.
Eve, a mother for the living.
And Yahweh of the Elohim made clothes of animal skin for Adam and his wife.

Then Yahweh of the Elohim said: “Look, the adam have become like us, knowing good and evil. Soon they might reach out and take from the Tree of Life and live forever!” So Yahweh of the Elohim sent the adam away from the Garden in Eden to work the ground – the adamah – from which they were taken.

He drove out adam and at the East of the garden he stationed the cherubim and a swirling, flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

Translation notes

I have continued to use the proper names, Elohim, and Yahweh of the Elohim, as well as ‘adam’ for human (see translation notes on Gen 1 and Gen 2 for more on that).

The curse of the woman is for conception, and not just pregnancy or childbirth. Again, this is part of my choice to render this text as an origin myth for the oppression of women by men, including by violence.

The exception to translating ha’adam as ‘adam’ is the end of the penultimate paragraph where I use the proper name for Adam and refer to Eve as ‘his wife’. The Hebrew allows for this ambiguity and it seemed to me it is only at the end of this short story – after the curses – that the adam figure takes on the agency of a proper name, and Eve loses hers in subjugation as ‘his wife’.

Prologue to Genesis

The Unauthorized Version