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THE WOMEN'S BIBLE - CONTENTS
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The Woman's Bible
Comments on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
Chapter III - Comments on Genesis iii
by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
[Ed. Note: The Bible used in the preparation of The
Woman's Bible is the 1888 edition of the Julie Smith translation of the
Bible - a literal translation - one of FIVE translations by this brilliant
woman. See the appendix for more information.]
THE BOOK OF GENESIS - CHAPTER III.
Genesis iii; 1-24
1 Now the serpent was more subtle
than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto
the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the
fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the
garden, God hath said Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it,
lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your
eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make
one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat and gave also unto
her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that
they were naked: and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the
garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from
the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees in the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden. and I was afraid,
because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten
of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she
gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou
hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent. Because thou hast done
this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field;
upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between
thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and
thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children: and thy desire
shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice
of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying,
Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow
shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou
shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return
unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and
unto dust shalt thou return.
20 And Adam called his wife s name Eve: because she was the mother
of all living.
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of
skins and clothed them.
22 And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us,
to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also
of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever;
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden
of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the
way of the tree of life.
Adam Clarke, in his commentaries, asks the question, "is
this an allegory?" He finds it beset with so many difficulties
as an historical fact, that he inclines at first to regard it as a fable,
a mere symbol, of some hidden truth.
His mind seems more troubled about the serpent
than any other personage in the drama. As snakes cannot walk upright, and
have never been known to speak, he thinks this beguiling creature must
have been an ourang-outang, or some species of ape.
However, after expressing all his doubts, he
rests in the assumption that it must be taken literally, and that with
higher knowledge of the possibilities of all living things, many seeming
improbabilities will be fully realized.
A learned professor in Yale College (Daniel Cady Eaton, Professor of
Botany), before a large class of students, expressed serious doubts as
to the forbidden fruit being an apple, as none grew in that latitude.
He said it must have been a quince. If the
serpent and the apple are to be withdrawn thus recklessly from the tableaux,
it is feared that with advancing civilization the whole drama may fall
Scientists tells us that "the missing
link" between the ape and man, has recently been discovered, so that
we can now trace back an unbroken line of ancestors to the dawn of creation.
As out of this allegory grows the doctrines of original sin the fall
of man, and woman, the author of all our woes, and the curses on the serpent,
the woman, and the man; the Darwinian theory of the gradual growth of the
race from a lower to a higher type of animal life, is more hopeful and
However, as our chief interest is in woman
s part in the drama, we are equally pleased with her attitude, whether
as a myth in an allegory, or as the heroine of an historical occurrence.
In this prolonged interview, the unprejudiced reader must be impressed
with the courage, the dignity, and the lofty ambition of the woman. The
tempter evidently had a profound knowledge of human nature, and saw at
a glance the high character of the person he met by chance in his walks
in the garden.
He did not try to tempt her from the path of
duty by brilliant jewels; rich dresses, worldly luxuries or pleasures,
but with the promise of knowledge, with the wisdom of the Gods.
Like Socrates or Plato, his powers of conversation
and asking puzzling questions, were no doubt marvelous, and he roused in
the woman that intense thirst for knowledge, that the simple pleasures
of picking flowers and talking with Adam did not satisfy.
Compared with Adam she appears to great advantage
through the entire drama.
The curse pronounced on woman is inserted in an unfriendly spirit to
justify her degradation and subjection to man.
With obedience to the laws of health, diet,
dress, and exercise, the period of maternity should be one of added vigor
in both body and mind, a perfectly natural operation should not be attended
By the observance of physical and psychical
laws the supposed curse can be easily transformed into a blessing.
Some churchmen speak of maternity as a disability,
and then chant the Magnificat in all their cathedrals round the globe.
Through all life s shifting scenes, the mother
of the race has been the greatest factor in civilization.
We hear the opinion often expressed, that woman always has, and always
will be in subjection.
Neither assertion is true. She enjoyed unlimited
individual freedom for many centuries, and the events of the present day
all point to her speedy emancipation.
Scientists now give 85,000 years for the growth
of the race. They assign 60,000 to savagism, 20,000 to barbarism, and 5,000
Recent historians tell us that for centuries
woman reigned supreme. That period was called the Matriarchate.
Then man seized the reins of government, and
we are now under the Patriarchate.
But we see on all sides new forces gathering,
and woman is already abreast with man in art, science, literature, and
The next dynasty, in which both will reign
as equals, will be the Amphiarchate, which is close at hand.
Psychologists tell us of a sixth sense now in process of development,
by which we can read each other's mind and communicate without speech.
The Tempter might have had that sense, as he
evidently read the minds of both the creature and the Creator, if we are
to take this account as literally true, as Adam Clarke advises.
(Further comment on Genesis iii by Lillie Devereux Blake):
Note the significant fact that we always hear of the "fall of man,"
not the fall of woman, showing that the consensus of human thought has
been more unerring than masculine interpretation.
Reading this narrative carefully, it is amazing
that any set of men ever claimed that the dogma of the inferiority of woman
is here set forth.
The conduct of Eve from the beginning to the
end is so superior to that of Adam. The command not to eat of the fruit
of the tree of Knowledge was given to the man alone before woman was formed.
Genesis ii, 17.
Therefore the injunction was not brought to
Eve with the impressive solemnity of a Divine Voice, but whispered to her
by her husband and equal.
It was a serpent supernaturally endower, a
seraphim as Scott and other commentators have claimed, who talked with
Eve, and whose words might reasonably seem superior to the second-hand
story of her companion nor does the woman yield at once.
She quotes the command not to eat of the fruit
to which the serpent replies "Dying ye shall
not die," v. 4 literal translation.
In other words telling her that if the mortal body does perish, the
immortal part shall live forever, and offering as the reward of her act
the attainment of Knowledge.
Then the woman fearless of death if she can gain wisdom takes of the
fruit; and all this time Adam standing beside her interposes no word of
objection. "Her husband with her" are the words of v. 6.
Had he been the representative of the divinely
appointed head in married life, he assuredly would have taken upon himself
the burden of the discussion with the serpent, but no, he is silent in
this crisis of their fate.
Having had the command from God himself he
interposes no word of warning or remonstrance, but takes the fruit from
the hand of his wife without a protest.
It takes six verses to describe the "fall
" of woman, the fall of man is contemptuously dismissed ill a line
and a half.
The subsequent conduct of Adam was to the last degree dastardly.
When the awful time of reckoning comes, and
the Jehovah God appears to demand why his command has been disobeycd, Adam
endeavors to shield himself behind the gentle being he has declared to
be so dear.
"The woman thou
gayest to be with me, she gave me and I did eat," he whines
trying to shield himself at his wife s expense!
Again we are amazed that upon such a story
men have built up a theory of their superiority!
[Ed. NOTE: Ms. Blake's words and reasoning about the
"dastardly" conducted of Adam have been used by any number of
feminists through the years without giving credit to her.]
Then follows what has been called the curse. Is it not rather a prediction?
First is the future fate of the serpent described,
the enmity of the whole human race "it shall lie in wait for thee
as to the head" (v. 15, literal translation).
Next the subjection of the woman is foretold,
thy husband "shall rule over thee," v. i6.
Lastly the long struggle of man with the forces
of nature is portrayed.
"In the sweat of
thy face thou shalt eat food until thy turning back to the earth"
(v. 19, literal translation).
With the evolution of humanity an ever increasing
number of men have ceased to toil for their bread with their hands, and
with the introduction of improved machinery, and the uplifting of the race
there will come a time when there shall be no seventies of labor, and when
women shall be freed from all oppressions.
"And Adam called his wife's name Life for
she was the mother of all living" (v. 20, literal translation).
It is a pity that all versions of the Bible not give this word instead
of the Hebrew Eve.
She was Life, the eternal mother, the first
representative of the more valuable and important half of the human race.
-- L. D. B.
[Lillie Devereux Blake]
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