The biblical GARDEN of EDEN is a story. it is not a letter, it is not history, and it is not science. The GARDEN of EDEN story is from MAN’S point of view not GOD’s. The story begins in the IRON AGE. The story answers the questions–why does mankind SUFFER, LABOR, and have PAIN in childbirth.
At the time the story was written, the HEBREWS were herders and lived in the desert. Life was very harsh and the GOD of the desert was also very harsh. The HEBREWS livelihood was herding sheep. Sometimes they stopped at an OASIS to rest and drink fresh water. . An OASIS has pools of water, lots of greenery and palm trees. The setting of the story is an OASIS or GARDEN. In the story, it was called the GARDEN of EDEN. EDEN, in the HEBREW language, means flat land.
Like the rest of the ancient world, they believed that GOD must be OBEYED. They believed that if they did NOT OBEY God, he would punish them. If there was bad weather or their sheep died they thought GOD was angry with them. So just in case they accidently did something bad they offered an animal sacrifice to stay in GODs good graces. They believed that GOD would ‘eat” the smoke of the animal sacrifice and become happy. They believed the animal sacrifice would APPEASE GOD and he would not send them any punishment.
Now back to the GARDEN of EDEN. In the story, Adam and Eve represent all men and all women. They lived in an OASIS (the Garden of Eden) and GOD visited them. This was utopia for the HEBREWS. They wanted to live forever where life was easy.
Now remember, the story of ADAM and EVE is from man’s viewpoint. The HEBREWS are trying to answer the question about WHY they cannot have a comfortable life of ease. In the IRON AGE all ancient people believed that GOD must be obeyed without question. In the story, the man and woman eat fruit that GOD told them not to eat. Because GOD must be obeyed, he had to punish the man and the woman. The worst punishment, from man and woman’s view, was to be exiled from the OASIS (Garden of Eden). This answers the question of ‘WHY” man and woman have to SUFFER, LABOR and have PAIN in childbirth.
Granted, a snake tricked them into eating the fruit so the snake was punished. His punishment answers the question, “Why does the snake slither on its belly and why is it our enemy”. The HEBREWS knew the snake was their mortal enemy because of its poisonous venom. In the desert, many snakes were poisonous and their bite could kill a man, woman, or animal.
GOD stops mankind from eating the “tree of eternal life” by having four angels guard it. Of course, the HEBREWS already knew people died, but they wanted to know WHY. So, why did GOD make the man and woman leave the Garden of Eden? So they would not accidently or purposely eat from the tree of “eternal life”. If man already had the knowledge of good and evil AND man also became immortal, there would be no difference between GOD and Man.