Was It Adam’s Responsibility to Keep Talking Snakes Out of the Garden of Eden?1

In Genesis 3:1 a talking snake entered the garden of Eden. What was Adam’s responsibility in this situation? In Genesis 1:26 he was instructed to rule over the creeping creatures and in 2:15 he was instructed to guard the garden. Adam’s first sin was his failure to guard the garden.

A Talking Snake Enters the Garden

Genesis 3:1  Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?”

What Was Adam’s Responsibility in this Situation?

Genesis 1:26  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 2:15  Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate (Hebrew: ´abad) it and keep (Hebrew: shamar)  it.2

1 G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology? The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 45.

2 The two  verbs used to summarize Adam’s responsibilities in the garden are also used together to summarize the priests’ responsibilities in the later tabernacle and temple (cf. Num 3:7-8). The word ´abad translated “cultivate” in Genesis 2:15 is translated “serve” when used to describe the work of priests and the word shamar translated “keep” is the word for “guard.” Priests were to serve and guard. See Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of Covenants (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 211-12. The word shamar translated “keep” in Genesis 2:15 is the ‘same word translated “guard” in Genesis 3:27. It was Adam’s responsibility to guard the garden. His first sin was his failure to do so.