Wisdom of God or the Serpent. Which one Roused Eve?
Wisdom is a much sought after commodity. Imagine being around wise and loving people. What more could we ask for? But what is wisdom?
Wisdom is what the Serpent offered Adam and Eve. It told them, your eyes will be opened, you will be like g/God, you will know good and evil. The result is, you will not die. Whopping promises. This wisdom would lead to a wonderful life, even life without end. What is the meaning of wisdom? Is this wisdom to be sought out and cultivated?
The Serpent aroused Adam and Eve’s emotions and mental faculties with fantabulous promises. You’ll get this, and this and this, including the fairy tale ending, and they lived happily ever after. Here are Eve’s first impressions.
And when the woman saw (H7200) that the tree was good (H2896) for food (H3978), and that it was pleasant (H8378) to the eyes (H5869), and a tree to be desired (H2530) to make one wise (H7919), she took of the fruit (H6529) thereof, and did eat (H398), and gave (H5414) also to her husband with her; and he did eat.
This verse is the reaction to the Serpent’s promises. Each verse is important and carries lessons. But, this verse is the first reaction of a human being to the Serpent proposition. Since we face such propositions regularly, it’s worthwhile taking the time to see Eve’s outlook and compare it with our reactions. We know Eve’s reactions and resultant free will behavioral decision led to disaster. Maybe we can learn something from this.
As I write this, I’m thinking, wow, a talking snake in a serious conversation with a couple of humans, and the future of humanity is in the balance. You’ve got to be kidding me! Do you really believe this stuff?! Well, if you stumbled on this article and it’s the first you’re reading, I sympathize with your skepticism. Let me interject with a short diversion. An interviewer asked the author Jared Diamond whether there was any relationship between the books he’d written. His writings cover vital, world-impacting subjects. In 1991, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. In 2005, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. In 2019, Upheaval: How Nations Cope with Crisis and Change. His categoric answer was, “NO, I write about the subjects that interest me at the time.”
I’m telling you this because that is NOT the case with The Explanation. Agony of Humanity, of which this article you’re reading is a chapter, is the sixth book in the series The Explanation. I understand if you think I’m fabulating. But, this story of the Serpent’s interplay with Adam and Eve comes after a long, extended presentation of an Inventory of the Universe, An Audit of the Universe, and Humankind. And the Origin of the Universe and Humankind. In these books, The Explanation has presented both the secular and Godly or Biblical points of view. It’s up to you, the reader, to do some homework and see whether this sequence (the opposite of Jared Diamond) of books holds water.
There is a spirit world alongside our physical universe. There is God with a capital G and a fallen angel, Lucifer, which transformed itself into the Serpent and wreaked havoc on planet Earth. There is the refurbishing of Earth in preparation of the Creation of Humans, man, and woman, with their God-given neshama and ruach, the human mind. There is the Spirit world in the person of Yahveh Elohim, who instructs humans about the Tree of Life; this is the first discussion and interaction of Spirit Beings with human beings. Then, along comes another spirit being in the form of some animal, and it vaunts the benefits of the second Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Genesis 3:6 is Eve’s reaction, and it’s very instructive. Let’s dissect it.
The woman saw — Observation
רָאָה râʼâh raw-aw’; a primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitive, intransitive and causative):
KJV — advise self, appear, approve, behold, ⨯ certainly, consider, discern, (make to) enjoy, have experience, gaze, take heed, ⨯ indeed, ⨯ joyfully, lo, look (on, one another, one on another, one upon another, out, up, upon), mark, meet, ⨯ be near, perceive, present, provide, regard, (have) respect, (fore-, cause to, let) see(-r, -m, one another), shew (self), ⨯ sight of others, (e-) spy, stare, ⨯ surely, ⨯ think, view, visions.Notice how the King James (KJV) translators have rendered this word, H7200, elsewhere in the Old Testament. I’ve emboldened words that you can study in their context using the Bible Study tools at UnlockBibleMeaning.com. It is impossible to give all the details here. But, we must see the key element.
The woman saw. Observation. The number one human method of reasoning. Science, Philosophy, and Religion are the three other human foundations for decisions and actions. These three are, to a certain extent, specialized, in that training and knowledge are needed to practice those disciplines. However, each of us OBSERVES circumstances, just like Eve. And, draws conclusions from our observances, just like Eve. And end up in disaster, just like Eve.
Observation is NOT the proper basis for real wisdom.
Did you notice, H7200 also has experience. Many have experienced very personal incidences. It could’ve been a dream or a nightmare, a coincidence, a hypnotic regression, an out-of-body occurrence or hallucination, drug-induced or not, observing an OVNI or a paranormal event, even visions, one of the translations of H7200. And they attribute meaning to such an experience. So much so, that it becomes a motivating life-altering factor. We base all this on OUR OWN OBSERVATION and EXPERIENCE; this is precisely the path Eve followed.
Look at the other translations for saw: discern, perceive, Such activities are the way humans reason. They reason that their conclusion is reasonable (H2896), just like Eve. It’s interesting to note that this word is identical to what God declared at the end of each creation day; it was good. In God’s case, it WAS good; in the human situation, it just looks good, but, as we’ve seen in Audit of the Universe, it can be harmful, and indeed, one of the key factors our Earth is in such confusion. Observation alone can lead to erroneous conclusions.
Do we want to react like Eve and end up in Adam and Eve’s shoes? Observation and experience alone are Serpent wisdom.
The tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes
Certain mushrooms, berries, and, as we’re learning from the Coronavirus, animals look good for food, but the after-effects are calamitous. As we use some keys to master Biblical Hebrew to unlock Bible meaning, keep in mind why we use Strong’s concordance. And, in this case, the importance of the meaning of the roots of Hebrew words. Notice what eating signifies from a Biblical Hebrew stance.
מַאֲכָל maʼăkâl mah-ak-awl’; from H398 (אָכַל); an eatable (includ. provender, flesh, and fruit):
KJV — food, fruit, (bake-)meat(-s), victual.
אָכַל ʼâkal aw-kal’; a primitive root; to eat (literally or figuratively):
KJV — ⨯ at all, burn up, consume, devour(-er, up), dine, eat(-er, up), feed (with), food, ⨯ freely, ⨯ in…wise(-deed, plenty), (lay) meat, ⨯ quite.
What looks good for food can turn around and burn up, consume, and devour the eater. Some food that looks tasty bites back, and the eater becomes the prey. It is the opposite of nourishing food from the Tree of Life. Go to unlockbiblemeaning.com, find Genesis 3:6 switch to Strong’s Concordance and click on H3978, then in the annotation, on H398 and check verses like Isaiah 24:6, “Therefore has the curse devoured (H398) the earth…”
Pleasant to the eyes. The English translation sounds wonderful. The Hebrew adds much more meaning. In Numbers 11:4, we read, “And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting (H183 * H8378)…” In the original, the word is doubled like die, die, we have lust, lust or covet, covet. Changes the meaning right?! Look at Psalm 78:29, “So they did eat (H398 our word from above), and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; (H8378). Our own desires, what we think is pleasant, is not the criteria on which we base wisdom. It can be the exact opposite, the Serpent’s wisdom.
תַּאֲוָה taʼăvâh tah-av-aw’; from H183 (אָוָה) (abbreviated); a longing; by implication, a delight (subjectively, satisfaction, objectively, a charm):
KJV — dainty, desire, ⨯ exceedingly, ⨯ greedily, lust(ing), pleasant. See also H6914 (קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה).
אָוָה ʼâvâh aw-vaw’; a primitive root; to wish for:
KJV — covet, (greatly) desire, be desirous, long, lust (after).
Yes, the fruit appeared as good for food, but it leaves a bitter taste. You cannot judge a book by its cover; you cannot judge secular or spiritual food by merely listening to it. That’s Serpent wisdom.
A tree to be desired
This subject goes far beyond the simple fruit and the satisfaction of one’s hunger. Adam and Eve want the whole kit and kaboodle, the entire tree. They’re eying something they are ready to do about anything to obtain. Biblical Hebrew words can have both a positive and negative meaning. Eve was heading toward a contrary frame of mind. Look at the adverse meaning.
חָמַד châmad khaw-mad’; a primitive root; to delight in:
KJV — beauty, greatly beloved, covet, delectable thing, ([idiom] great) delight, desire, goodly, lust, (be) pleasant (thing), precious (thing).
Covet and Lust. Two attitudes that are in parallel the meaning of pleasant, as we just saw; this is desire pushed beyond the reasonable, into a corner when one will act irrationally, even criminally. Eve did. Too much of even a good thing is generally not good policy; this can be construed as a warning about addiction.
She lusted after the tree, not just the fruit. Remember what tree signifies. Please read that article. In short, a tree is also translated gallows (H6086), and the root means to shut (H6095) the eyes. Highly significant relating to this context, so much more is being transmitted by the Biblical Hebrew. Eve is lusting after a gallows that will shut her eyes. Paul refers to the positive meaning of eyes, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance.” Open eyes mean being enlightened; Godly wisdom, to the contrary, closed eyes suggests ignorance and incomprehension; Serpent wisdom.
To make one wise
In Genesis 3:6, this thought of wisdom is the clincher; this is the culmination of her reasoning. She’s reached the summit of her logic; all arguments make sense in her mind. Eve is thoroughly convinced, and now she took of the fruit and ate.
We have to spend time with this wisdom. What wisdom is this? You might be thinking that wisdom is wisdom. No, not all wisdom is equal. In reality, as The Explanation has demonstrated, there’s Adam and Eve’s POSITIVE nakedness-wisdom at the end of the 7-day Creation week. And, there’s the Serpent’s NEGATIVE subtilty-wisdom. On eating the fruit, Adam and Eve literally flipped. They went from God’s team to the Serpent’s team. Their open eyes were now shut. Their clean clothes were now dirty.
Let’s see what happened. I need to preface this with a remark. What I’m about to explain can NOT be viewed in English. Word-for-word translations cannot convey the message of Biblical Hebrew. Don’t misunderstand; the word wise is correct. But it does not transmit the essence of the intent of this passage of scripture. The translation is INcomplete, revealing only partial comprehension.
Two types of Wisdom
Let’s refresh our memory. We saw that Lucifer originally had wisdom (2451 — chacham) in a good sense. We also saw at the end of Genesis 2 that Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed, they too, in the presence of God, possessed purity of heart and mind, this is positive wisdom, the same type of wisdom endowed Lucifer when God created it.
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus says the Lord God; You sealed up the sum, full of wisdom, (H2451) and perfect in beauty.
Here’s Strong’s annotation for this top-of-the-class wisdom; the summum of Godly wisdom.
חׇכְמָה chokmâh khok-maw’; from H2449 (חָכַם); wisdom (in a good sense):
KJV — skilful, wisdom, wisely, wit.
It is a unique type of superior wisdom. If you’ve been around the Jewish community, you’re probably familiar with this word. When their Rabbis and scholars evoke a wise saying or draw a wise lesson from the Torah or Gemara, they earn the epitaph, chacham. Chacham is a derivative of H2451 indicating the highest possible wisdom, God’s wisdom. In the New Testament, we find the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes parading around as the chachams of the religious world. The Pharisees, love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (Matthew 23:6–7). They wanted people to know they were the wise, the chacham. For the record, Christ showed that they were not.
Now, in Genesis 3.6, when Eve, under the influence of the Serpent, contemplates the tree of knowledge of good and evil and sees “a tree to be desired to make one wise,” a totally different Biblical Hebrew word is used here. It’s a translation shortcoming; this is definitely wisdom, but there’s a distinct difference from chacham. Here, it is sakal wisdom.
שָׂכַל sâkal saw-kal’; a primitive root; to be (causatively, make or act) circumspect and hence, intelligent:
KJV — consider, expert, instruct, prosper, (deal) prudent(-ly), (give) skill(-ful), have good success, teach, (have, make to) understand(-ing), wisdom, (be, behave self, consider, make) wise(-ly), guide wittingly.
Frankly, reading the above, everything looks dandy, I’d dare say that’s the kind of sakal wisdom we’d all like. Yes and no. This wisdom (H7919) certainly includes a lot of great qualities. This sakal wisdom is not the same as the chacham wisdom. If we want to understand the contours of these puzzle pieces fully, it is essential to comprehend the difference between these two types of wisdom, because the contrast is literally night and day.
Here are a few verses with SAKAL wisdom (H7919). The wisdom Eve saw in the Tree. Grasp what these passages are and are not referring to :
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you shalt make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success (H7919).
1 Samuel 18:5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely (H7919): and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
Psalms 2:10 Be wise (H7919) now therefore, O you kings: be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Psalms 14:2 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand (H7919), and seek God.
Psalms 32:8 I will instruct you (H7919) and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with mine eye.
Psalms 36:3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he has left off to be wise (H7919), and to do good.
Proverbs 10:5 He that gathers in summer is a wise (H7919) son: but he that sleeps in harvest is a son that causes shame.
Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words there wants not sin: but he that refrains his lips is wise (H7919).
Proverbs 14:35 The king’s favour is toward a wise (H7919) servant: but his wrath is against him that causes shame.
Proverbs 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise (H7919), that he may depart from hell beneath.
Proverbs 16:20 He that handles a matter wisely (H7919) shall find good: and whoso trusts in the Lord, happy is he.
Proverbs 16:23 The heart of the wise teaches (H7919) his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.
I’ve included quite a number of contexts and I suggest you take a look at H7919 to get a feel for this type of wisdom. Before I point out the difference let’s now see some contexts with CHACHAM wisdom (H2451), the original wisdom of Lucifer.
Exodus 36:2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom (H2451), even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:
Deuteronomy 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom (2451) and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
1 Kings 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom (H2451) and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore.
Psalms 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (H2451): a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endures for ever.
Proverbs 2:6 For the Lord gives wisdom: (H2451) out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom (H2451) and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; (Sam, a prophecy referring to coming of Christ)
Isaiah 29:14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom (H2451) of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
Isaiah 33:6 And wisdom (H2451) and knowledge shall be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the Lord is his treasure.
Jeremiah 8:9 The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom (H2451) is in them? (Sam, here we have supposed wise men)
Jeremiah 9:23 Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom (H2451), neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
Jeremiah 10:12 He (God) has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom (H2451), and has stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
There are many more verses with both sakal and chacham wisdom. You can check them all by using the Bible study tools at UnlockBibleMeaning.com. The verses above are but a smattering, but hopefully, give you a feeling for the respective meanings.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil that Eve felt would give her wisdom is sakal wisdom (H7919). Notice that, in general, it does NOT INVOLVE GOD. Reread the verses, if need be, and realize that they’re referring to HUMAN wisdom. The wisdom that a thinking, reasoning, analyzing person with access to an encyclopedic bank of knowledge and human experience would envisage. By this definition, there are many wise people in this world that we can turn to for advice and counsel regarding subjects of this world. God can give this type of wisdom, but it is not dependent on a Godly frame of mind. This wisdom is obtained through Observation, Science, Philosophy, and Religion; this is HUMAN reasoning to find solutions to problems of all nature. God is generally ABSENT from the sakal verses above.
On the other hand, chacham (H2451) is the wisdom that is possessed by God (Jeremiah 10:12 above) and comes from God. A person with this Godly wisdom knows and puts God first and seeks to understand how God’s Word approaches solutions to problems. This Godly individual looks for divine wisdom and acts accordingly. No person can be perfect, but these people are searching into understanding what their Creator’s will is. God is an integral part of the equation of their lives.
Chacham was given to Lucifer, who, over time, twisted his Godly view, finally rejecting it. It ended up reasoning around God, removing Him from the central role He plays, and substituting every sort of rationale and justification to the point of pronouncing God dead. God had no further inclusion in its reasoning process. It had gone from Godly wisdom to Serpent wisdom. Don’t get this wrong. The Serpent remains EXTREMELY wise, but it is NEGATIVE wisdom. Becoming the serpent, it now uses compelling, attractive, and appealing arguments to propagate its ideas through its wisdom. It is in a relentless effort to turn people from their Creator and have them adhere to its own array of worldly wisdom, which is Godly folly.
This human wisdom is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. Indeed, here we have a contrast between Godly and human wisdom. The human devised’ wisdom is devoid of reference to God, lacking incorporation of Godly principles. Please understand, it is devoid of God, but it still is wisdom. The Tree of Knowledge does give wisdom. There’s a lot of it around.
1 Corinthians 1:20–27
20 Where is the wise (sakal )? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom (sakal) of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom (sakal) knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom (sakal):
23 But we preach Christ crucified (chacham), unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God (chacham).
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (chacham wisdom far, far outweighs sakal wisdom)
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise (sakal) men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (sakal); and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
The serpent has turned everything on its head, making good look like bad and bad look good. It’s caused humans to debate, take sides and dispute various issues based on each one’s own opinions, wisdom, ethics, and understanding.
While we’re discussing the two key types of wisdom, let it be known that this duality concept extends to other associated domains like knowledge, understanding, teaching, reasoning, discernment. There’s a Godless and Godly way of approaching these cognitive activities. We already touched on this when discussing ruach, the spirit in man and the Spirit of God, the former limited to delving into human knowledge, the latter able to reach beyond that into the realm of spiritual knowledge.
Here’s a chart with various attributes associated with the mind like understanding, discernment, teaching, etc. ALL of these can be accomplished either with SAKAL or CHACHAM wisdom. Study to complete this chart and add other examples of the two opposing types of wisdom.
This article is lengthy, but it is essential Biblical knowledge to understand what wisdom is. And especially, which wisdom animates our world. Sakal wisdom can accomplish great good and also devastating evil. That is the dual-faced wisdom of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
1 Corinthians 2:11–14
11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches (SAKAL wisdom), but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual (CHACHAM wisdom).
14 But the natural man receive not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Wisdom is ONE word but covers TWO very different concepts; this is a major piece of the puzzle, and we must have the correct contours if we hope to understand the Agony of Humankind. Why the world is in its present state and what kind of wisdom it will take to move it to real peace and prosperity.
This article is an excerpt from chapter 2.1 of the book Agony of Humankind.
A wise man once said, Teach you me, what I do not know.
Let’s get started with The Explanation.
- Inventory of the Universe
- Audit of the Universe
- Audit of Humankind
- Origin of the Universe (Commentary on Genesis 1)
- Origin of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 1:26–2:7)
- Origin of Woman (Commentary on Genesis 2:8–25)
- Agony of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 3)
You can read all the books of The Explanation series online. Buy the books at your favorite store. Sam blogs weekly at TheExplanation.com The Explanation masters Biblical Hebrew to help you unlock more in-depth Bible meaning. Free tools to read and study the Bible online.