Problem: Adam didn't die when he ate the fruit
Verses: Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6, 5:5; Status: Minor

Early on, God gave Adam this warning, in Genesis 2:16-17:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (ESV)

But he did eat from the tree (see Genesis 3:6) and didn't die that very day. Indeed, Genesis 5:5 tells us that he lived to 930.

I can think of two ways to deal with this. Firstly, one might claim that Adam's death was a spiritual one. Secondly, one could say that the warning just means that, on the day Adam eats, his death becomes sure. So there are at least two readings that escape the problem:

  1. On the day you eat from it, you will surely die (spiritually).
  2. On the day you eat from it, you will become mortal, and will surely die (later).

Neither is a very natural reading of the text, but they're not too bad. By the way, this is one of several instances where the New International Version hides a problem with questionable translating, not using the word "day" at all.

Updated: 2008-05-29

Back to main index