The serpent, a phallic symbol and fertility idol in cultures across the world, is a reflection of the sexual yearnings stirring in the woman's body and soul. The serpent cunningly addresses the woman's unconscious and casts doubts. Woman, however, is not easily swayed. She is not rash; she takes her time and deliberates; she is aware that the punishment for disobedience to God will be severe. She is alone when the serpent works to persuade her, but then she is with Adam when she finally reaches for the fruit. "When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom, she took the fruit and ate. Then she gave some to her husband, and he ate."
Eve deliberates before eating the forbidden fruit, but Adam devours it without hesitation and without questioning the consequences. The fruit has an instantaneous effect: "Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves" to cover their private parts. Before eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, they had nothing to hide either from their Creator or from each other. But afterward, they become self-conscious, ashamed. Privacy thus becomes part of human sexuality.
The repast of fruit in the garden is a defining moment in the human saga. Soon the first couple's repertory of emotions expands to include shame, guilt, and desire. Man and woman begin the awkward and painful transition from the innocence of childhood to sexual awareness, awakening, experience, and accountability. It is the beginning of puberty and maturation.
Woman's sexual awakening goes hand in hand with the life force, the drive to procreate. She must attract the man to her because she cannot conceive on her own. God knows that woman will be the first to take advantage of his gift and be drawn to the forbidden tree. In accord with his grand scheme, Eve is biologically, genetically, and mentally designed to perpetuate the species. Like every woman after her, she is born with all the eggs she will need for every child she will ever bear.
Embedded in this charming allegory of sexual awakening is the gap between the female and male sexual response. Woman's arousal is gradual and internal, enlisting all her senses and emotions, as described in Eve's deliberations before tasting the fruit. We imagine the process she goes through before she is persuaded to take the ultimate step. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eye, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and did eat," the Bible says. The procreative drive has been awakened and overwhelms all other considerations. For the woman, the consequences of a sexual relationship can be much more serious than for the man. She is the one who becomes pregnant. Her decision is therefore slower and more deliberate than the man's.