I have been re-reading the Bible, starting with Genesis, and I was fascinated by the story of Adam and Eve. It is a good story.
There they were, man and woman, placed in a beautiful garden, to cultivate it and enjoy its fruits. But the Garden of Eden, for all its beauty and sunny serenity, was hedged in with fear. It had a secret place (beware of gardens with secret places). Right in the center of the garden there grew a tree which bore fair-looking apples. All the creatures which inhabited the garden carefully avoided the spot. They did not have to be told; it was instinctive. But Adam was told plainly: ‘Don’t touch,’ and was warned by the Almighty of dire consequences if he did. Naturally, he did not touch the tree. He was a fine lad, though not too bright, and he found it easy to obey.
It was different with Eve. There was, in the first place, that little matter of her illegitimacy. She wasn’t really a created being; she was only a rib taken from Adam and made into a companion for him. It gave her lower status. While Adam held converse with his creator and received his mandates directly from on high, Eve got her orders through Adam. She was a second-class citizen in Eden.
Deprived of communion with divine spirits, Eve had ample time to range at will, explore her environment and study its flora and fauna. She visited the secret place in the center of the garden and inspected the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She had been told (by Adam, of course) not to touch it, but taboos meant little to Eve. She had no fear, and she viewed the world with clear eyes. She decided it would be worth her while to taste of the forbidden fruit and see what she could learn thereby. Her friend, the snake, gave her just the encouragement she needed (the desire for knowledge is always inspired by the devil).
So she helped herself to an apple. But Eve had that gaiety of spirit which we call generosity; she rejoiced in sharing. She could not help calling Adam and offering part of the apple to him; he, surprisingly, accepted it. They both ate their apple, and learned a good many things about themselves.
There was an instant change in the climate of Eden. The skies turned dark and threatening, and a cold wind blew. A thunderous voice called: ‘Adam, why hast thou disobeyed?’ The poor fellow could think of only one thing to do. Pointing to Eve, he stammered: ‘She made me do it.’ (No guts there, no character!) Then followed scoldings, gloomy predictions, and an order of deportation.
They had to leave in a hurry, since Eden was obviously no place for the pursuit of learning.
Eve was eminently well equipped for her life in exile. She had natural curiosity, she was on speaking terms with the creatures of the earth, she had courage, and she possessed a generous heart. These qualities served her well in the arduous days that lay ahead.
As time went on, Adam came to taste many other apples from the Tree of Knowledge but the record does not show that he ever offered to share them with Eve. She had to fight for the right to know, and still does.
The old fable is there for all to read and ponder. To countless generations it has spoken of woman’s sinful disobedience, fall, damnation and never-ending suffering. But I read it as the story of woman’s rebellion against a mindless paradise. And I want to pay tribute to an obscure heroine, our Mother Eve (always according to Genesis),who dared take the first step upward from animal contentment to human striving and discontent.
Ida Pilat Isca
Reprinted from Fragments
Originally published p11-12 of Valerio Isca’s memorial tribute, Ida Pilat Isca : Translator – Writer – Activist – Friend. Printed for Valerio Isca by Michael E. Coughlin, 1984. Available at
Ida Pilat Isca (1896-1980) by Valerio is at