This name highlights Eve as the archetype for all women, whose unique role is to give life. It is the first of rare husband-to-wife compliments in the Bible; it is also hardly the contrite admission of guilt that might be expected in response to God's stern edicts. Instead, man and woman participate in the ritual act of giving a name, which suggests Adam's appreciation for his wife's action. He has stopped blaming her.
The next sentence exemplifies God's compassion and mercy. He upgrades the fig leaves they wear to "garments of skins for Adam and his wife." His gift of clothing protects his children from the elements outside the garden. The garments also portend the beginnings of aesthetic appreciation and, with it, civilization.
Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden is necessitated by a second tree in the garden, one previously mentioned but playing no part in the story thus far. God, mysteriously using the royal we, observes: "Now that man has become like one of us, what if he should stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever!" Now that man has breached the previous demarcation by gaining knowledge of good and evil, the Creator is determined to draw a line between the human and the divine; human beings are henceforth destined to live as mortals. God not only banishes Adam "to till the soil from which he was taken" but also "drove the man out, and stationed east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life."
Eve and Adam leave their father's protective abode, as children must. God knows it is time for them to face life as adults in an imperfect world. The heartbroken parent appoints a guard at the garden's gate to prevent Eve and Adam from regressing to a childhood devoid of adult responsibilities but also to prevent himself from softening and allowing them to return.
The Garden of Eden offers a life that is comfortable and risk free. Yet Eve rejects the stultifying monotony of her perfect, paradisiacal life. As she gazes at the forbidden tree of knowledge, she seems to ask, "What good is life without the wisdom that arises from experience?" Passing by the tree of life, she might muse, "Of what use is immortality without knowledge or growth?" Eve wrestles with humanity's first moral dilemma and takes the first moral action recorded in the Bible when she crosses the limit set by the all-knowing God.
The reader sees Eve and Adam leaving the Garden of Eden full of optimism. They are not at all the tearful, dejected couple portrayed in Renaissance art, expelled by a furious father. The first thing they do is make love and create new life. What better way is there to teach us about pleasure and responsibility, behavior and consequences, than through the knowledge that the fleeting gratification of lovemaking produces a child with whom parents share a lifelong bond?
Generations of male commentators have accused Eve of being a disobedient seductress who led innocent Adam astray, thus bringing pain and suffering and death to all humankind. But a close reading of the Bible actually points in quite a different direction.
The biblical chronicle suggests that Eve's sole motivation is curiosity, the starting point that leads ultimately to wisdom. It is Eve who forces open the gates of Eden so that all of us may benefit from the vast, perilous realm of human potential that lies beyond the garden. It is her daring choice that unlocks the sexual knowledge essential to the creation of new life.
The biblical term "to know" is a graceful summing up of the intimate and in-depth understanding that grows over time in a sexual relationship. Only when a man and a woman really "know" each other over time and under many different circumstances—as companions, partners, lovers—will they risk revealing their most private feelings and responses to each other.