Why Did Adam and Eve Have to Break a Commandment of God? – 2 Nephi 2:15-25

Lehi taught his son Jacob that the Fall of Adam and Eve was a necessary step for their happiness and for ours. He explained what would have happened if they had not eaten the forbidden fruit:

  1. Everything would have been stagnant, unchanging.
  2. Adam and Eve would not have had children.
  3. They would not have experienced joy or misery, righteousness or sin (2 Nephi 2:13, 22-23).

So the Fall was an essential component of God’s plan, not a mistake:

All things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy (2 Nephi 2:24-25).

The Fall consisted of Adam and Eve breaking a commandment they had received from God. Here is that commandment, as recorded in the book of Genesis:

Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
thou shalt not eat of it:
for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
(Genesis 2:16-17)

In the Joseph Smith Translation of that passage, two additional phrases are inserted:

Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat,
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
thou shalt not eat of it,
nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee;
but, remember that I forbid it,
for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
(Moses 3:16-17, italics added)

In my mind, these two inserted phrases are critical to understanding the commandment. God is still telling Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, but he is also telling them that the decision is theirs. “Thou mayest choose for thyself,” He says, “for it is given unto thee.” As Lehi told Jacob, “The Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself” (2 Nephi 2:16).

Then, God reiterates the consequence: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Your choice will subject you to physical and spiritual death. You will be cut off from my presence, and you will become mortal. That is the outcome if you choose to eat this fruit.

Here’s the message I think the Lord is giving them: “This decision has to be yours. I will not make it for you. In fact, I will forbid you to do it, so that there is no question in your mind that this was your decision. Life is going to be hard. It’s going to be painful. It’s going to stretch you and challenge you in ways you cannot foresee. At times, you may wonder why you ever signed up for this experience. But you will know that it was you who signed up. I didn’t do it for you. This was your choice.”

In the Council in Heaven, we all agreed to follow God’s plan and come to earth, in spite of the risks and the obstacles we would face. In the Garden of Eden, our first parents faced that same choice again. On behalf of us all, they chose progression over convenience, growth over stagnation. God made clear to them that the path would not be easy, but they chose it anyway, because without experiencing misery, they (and we) would never be able to achieve true happiness (2 Nephi 2:11-12). In the words of Eve:

Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient (Moses 5:11).

Today, I will be grateful for the Fall of Adam and Eve. I will remember that their decision gives me the opportunity to experience joy and to progress toward my divine potential.

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