The Paradox

Stuart Fickler, Ph.D.

God said, let us make man in our image, and they shall rule over all the earth. 1 With these words, the purpose and destiny of humanity was determined. This is the basis of the entire Torah.

To rule over the earth, humans had o take responsibility for it. Responsibility requires knowledge of good and evil. Why then did God punish Adam and Eve for taking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? Until that point, only God possessed that knowledge. 2 It would appear that humans were elevated to a level closer to that of being in the "image of God". 3

Was it a punishment or something else? With this knowledge, humans were in a position to undertake the burden of responsibility. To some, such a burden might be considered a punishment; to others it might be a challenge.


1. Genesis 1:26

2. Genesis 3:22

3. See, for example, Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed, Part I, Chapter II.