The Intimidating Female in Genesis
In the narrative in the book of Genesis, there are two main objectives. The first is a general goal to create a complex world designed for ideal human existence according to divinely legislated principles. The second is God's desire to establish a great nation within this world. According to the narrative, God aims to achieve these goals by constructing frameworks for his goals and then enlisting carious humans to help see them to fruition. However, as amply demonstrated in Genesis, the human variable is volatile and frequently confronts God with instances of insubordination.
As a Collective human element, women in Genesis often appear as obstacles to these broad-overriding goals through nonfulfillment of their particular roles in the divine scheme. From the Garden of Eden right through to the story of Joseph, women, as wives, mothers, and daughters, are typically unreliable, inadequate, deceitful or, simply by virtue of their womanhood, an outright liability, and they frequently threaten to undermine God's will as it is expressed in the opening book of the Bible.
God's first instruction to a human being occurs during the initial telling of the creation story in Genesis. Adam and Eve have the mutual responsibility to "be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it"(1:28). However, it is really the second narrative, detailing the creation of man and woman that establishes God's structure of the world. In this structure, Eden is created for the first man, Adam, who has one basic function, to work and guard Eden (2:15), and only one prohibition, to abstain from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge (2:16).
Starting right from Genesis, in this additional description of the Eden story, tension already arises between Eve, the first biblical woman (ironically, created specifically to complete the Eden habitat for Adam), and the divine process. Duped by the serpent, she not only succumbs and eats the forbidden fruit, but also encourages Adam to join her, thereby causing their expulsion. Thus, God is forces to confront human intractability from the very beginning of his quest, and the first instance comes from a woman, the very creature created to solidify Edenic perfection.
God had intended Eden to be a self-contained universe, a paradise for Adam where he would live comfortably without toil or hardship. By disobeying, and then including Adam in her crime, Eve indirectly causes his punishment: a life that requires him to labor for his sustenance. Eve was created to be her husband's helpmate (2:20); instead she turns out to be a catalyst for his demise and the cause of humankind's expulsion from the Edenic Utopia. In the creation story, the satisfaction of both God and human are at stake. God aims to realize his will in the world, and the happiness and the content of humanity hinge on God's ability to realize his plan. Eve is created to complete Eden. But, instead of conforming to...