The most sobering sentence in God's judgment is "Dust you are, and to dust you shall return." This is how Eve and Adam learn that life is finite. The words "from dust to dust," however, further proclaim a universal truth that is neither the tragic consequence of the first couple's disobedience nor a punishment. Our goal as humans should not be to try to escape death but instead to embrace life and savor its challenges and gifts.
Eve is the one who chooses knowledge over immortality. She tastes the fruit from the tree of knowledge and forgoes the fruit from the other tree, the tree of life. She manifests no interest in immortality, despite God's concern about humans' pilfering from the tree of life. The narrative implies that the trade-off of immortality for knowledge and experience is complete. When Adam and Eve become mortal, they become fully human. Death confers a sense of urgency to life; the fact of death tells us that whatever we do is important, that we must not procrastinate.
Contrary to popular understanding, Eve is not a manipulative temptress; nor is she a gullible victim who succumbs to temptation. On the contrary, Eve is a risk taker, a woman who dares to question the limitations imposed on her and her helpmate. She is driven by the need to create new life. She is the one who determines the future of humankind. She is a heroine, and her story is the template for the stories that follow. The women in the Bible are part of a long line of Eve's descendants—women who use their powers to work everyday miracles in a patriarchal world. l
From After the Apple: Women in the Bible: Timeless Stories of Love, Lust, and Longing by Naomi Harris Rosenblatt. Copyright © 2005. Miramax Books