and the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, . . . Genesis 3:6 ISR
Saw - Are you able to see what’s good? Can you look below the skin of something and see its true nature? Maybe you can, I can’t. I’ve spent some time in the wilderness. I often come across beautiful plants with apparently wonderful fruit, but I would be foolish to “see” it as food unless I knew that it would not harm me. When I was growing up, we had a mountain ash in our backyard. It produces amazing red berries. But my mother sternly warned me, “Don’t you eat those. They’re poison.” They looked good, but they weren’t. As far as I can tell, no human being can simply look at a plant and determine it is good for food. So why is Havvah able to do so?
The answer, of course, is that she can’t do this either. When she sees that the tree is good for food, she is projecting a previous evaluation. That evaluation doesn’t come from her. It doesn’t come from careful testing of the fruit. It comes from trusting the word of the serpent. Havvah is deceived before she even looks. By the time she looks, she has already decided to believe the serpent’s statement. The truth is that this fruit was the most poisonous substance on the planet, but the actual nature of the fruit was not the issue here. The issue was her decision to not trust God’s word.
Doesn’t it seem absolutely incredible to you that Havvah would trust the serpent? I mean that it is simply not believable that this woman whose very existence is the direct result of YHWH’s action, who lives in an absolute paradise, who has unmediated interaction with the Creator, could have even entertained the possibility that God didn’t speak the truth. Does that seem reasonable to you? How are we to explain this complete collapse of relational awareness?
We don’t have to look very far to find the answer. Even in paradise it is possible to be indifferent to the wonder of being. In fact, lack of awe may be the genesis of sin. When I stop being completely amazed at the very existence of the cosmos, at my very being within it, when that sense of overwhelming presence ceases to permeate who I am, then the possibility of my own self-determination arises within me. Suddenly I become far more important than all the evidence supports. I have intimations of divinity, and that is enough to allow me to turn from the face of my Creator and question whether or not His word is really “good for me.”
What did Havvah see? It’s quite impossible that she saw that the tree was good for food. What she saw was the possibility of becoming better than what she was called to be. What she saw was an alternate reality where she decided what was good for food. Havvah was tempted to add to the wonder of the world by ignoring the mystery of being.
Each of us stands before the Tree. Each of us must decide, “Is this tree good for food?” We are surrounded by the Presence of all that we are not. We can stand in awe of it or we can determine to add our own little bit of creation. We can be shaped by the power of His might, or we can attempt to shape a world stamped with our mark. It just depends on what we see.
Topical Index: saw, food, good, Genesis 3:6, awe, ra’ah