One’s world view can cause one to have presuppositions that bring set patterns of reasoning that have nothing to do with the text of scripture. One of these areas is with Eve’s relationship with God and whether God placed the man in charge of her basic knowledge. Some think that God created the woman to be led by Adam so that Adam was given the responsibility to tell the woman God’s prohibition. Hierarchists (or complementarians as many call them) start with the world view that God gave Adam authority over the woman and this gets factored into their view. Let’s take one step away from our presuppositions and look at a question that many have not pondered before. The question is “Who instructed the woman on what she could eat”? Note this is not a question on what she could not eat, but regarding what she could eat.
So who instructed the woman on her diet? Was it God or was it Adam? Hierarchists normally assume that it was Adam. After all if God gave Adam authority over his wife, instructing her on the things that God had already spoken to Adam about, would seem to be obvious. But rather than assuming things, why don’t we look at scripture to see what God has revealed?
Gen 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Gen 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Gen 1:29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
In Genesis 1:27, 28 God creates both the man and the woman and blesses them. After he creates them he says several things to them (plural). In verse 29 God says something that it not recorded in chapter 2 at Adam’s creation.* This is certainly not a contradiction but a piece of the story that is not given in chapter two. In verse 29 of chapter 1, God tells both the man and the woman that they are given every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth. They are also given to eat from every tree which has fruit yielding seed. What does this tell us? The word “given” in the Hebrew means the granting of permission. So God gave permission for both the man and the woman to eat from all the herbs of the field that has seed in it and from the every single tree that has fruit yielding seed.
Notice two things about this passage. The first thing that we notice is that it is God himself telling them what they can eat. It doesn’t say that God gave Adam directions to tell his wife what to eat. The passage has God giving explicit permission to eat. So who told the woman what she could eat? It was God himself.
The next thing that we can see from the passage is that permission was not given to eat from any plant that did not yield seed. We also can see that permission was not given to eat from any tree that did not have fruit that yielded seed. So we have permission that is not given regarding food in chapter 1.
What else can we note from this passage? We can note that God spoke to both Adam* and his wife and gave them both permission to eat from every single tree that bears fruit that yields seed. God said that every tree which has fruit yielding seed was given to them by permission. Since we know from chapter 2 that there was only one tree forbidden to Adam (and thus also his wife), we can rightfully conclude that every fruit bearing tree had seed except for one. There was only one tree that did not have life in it.
So coming to the text itself we can clearly see that God himself gave the woman permission to eat. We can also see that God himself did not give the woman permission to eat from any tree that did not have fruit yielding seed.
What about the idea that Adam was responsible to give the instruction to his wife about what she was allowed to eat? The passage itself does not identify any such command from God to Adam. The passage itself does not identify Adam as being the one who instructed the woman. The passage itself identifies God as the giver of this knowledge and the woman was given permission to eat herbs and fruit that yields life (yields seed). Can we now confidently say that it was not Adam who instructed his wife on God’s permission to eat but God himself? Yes, we can confidently say this because it is scripture itself that instructs us on what happened.
What else can we see from the passage that relates to men and women and God’s design? We can also note that when God has both the man and woman together after creation, he does not instruct one to rule over the other. When they are both together, God also does not favor Adam and give him authority that he does not give to Eve. God does not have a personal relationship with Adam that he withholds from the woman. Lastly God does not have a relationship with the woman through Adam. God is her authority, not Adam. God gave permission to the woman. Adam did not dole out permission. God treated them equally and instructed them equally.
When one submits one presupposition to the text itself, God’s word is the one that corrects all error.
*God created the man and the woman in the beginning and called them both “Adam”. Chapter two is specifically highlighting the man’s creation and the woman’s creation from the body of the man giving them a one-flesh union from the beginning.