The Seduction of Eve and Feminist Readings of the Garden of Eden

Reuven Kimelman


This reading of the Eve and Adam story focuses on the consequential role of the woman and her linkage to the serpent. The rapidity of the switch from defender to transgressor of the divine command indicates that the disobedience was not instigated exclusively by the serpent; indeed, the serpent does not get Eve to act out of character, but only to extend previous inklings. This function of the serprent is based on the differences between the original divine command and Eve's rendering of it. It is supported by her name, Havva, which evokes the cognates "hivyah" (serpent) and "hivvah" (spoke). Once it is seen that a talking serpent represents the inner Eve, the story becomes a parable of the human condition, not one of humanity coming of age.
Eve is Every(wo)man. By highlighting the significance of the woman, this reading makes for the remarkable combination of authoritarian theology and egalitarian anthrolpology.

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