The Serpent Gets Pushy

But the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You shall neither eat of it nor touch it, or you will die!” (Genesis 3:3). Thus it is written, “Do not add onto God’s words, or God will punish you, as you will be a liar” (Proverbs 30:6). Rabbi Chiyya taught: That means that you must not make the fence more than the principal thing, lest it fall and destroy the plants. Thus, the Holy One, blessed be, has said, “But of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you must not eat, for on the day you partake of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Eve did not say this, but rather, “You shall neither eat of it nor touch it” (Genesis 3:3). When the serpent saw her exaggerating in this manner, he grabbed her and pushed her against the tree. “So, have you died?” he asked her. “Just as you were not stricken when you touched it, so will you not die when you eat from it.”

From Bereishit Rabbah 19:1

Bereishit Rabbah is a midrash on Genesis that was composed in Israel and Babylon about  AD 500. Midrash is a method of imaginative exegesis where you draw out stories and make connections between Scriptures that “fill in the gaps” in logic or answer questions left open in the text. It is a hallmark of ancient Jewish interpretation.


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