When Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Knowledge, they separated from God and became separate entities, conscious of self. But how?
The serpent persuaded the woman to eat and share with the man. One scholar said, “Three cheers for the snake!” God would certainly have wanted them to use the brain He gave them and to have intelligence and knowledge.
Another scholar, Michael Stone, pointed out that one sect of Judaism at the time of Christ “regarded the serpent as the wisest of animals and the instructor of Eve who instructed Adam in the true wisdom.” Stone noted that in Aramaic the words for Eve, reveal, serpent, and beast are similar, making possible a play on words that binds the words and ideas together. Satan is not in this version or in our biblical version. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent represents wisdom, not Satan.
The point is that, before they ate of the Tree of Knowledge, man and woman were one with God. They were unconsciously so much a part of God that they had no concept of self apart from God. When they ate of the Tree of Knowledge—when they consciously thought for themselves—they became self-conscious, and their original natural oneness with God was broken.
The Bible stresses man’s separation from God. Yet this was a good thing if Adam and Eve separated in order to know God—to recognize the otherness of God while remaining one with God through understanding their sameness with God. After all, they were created in the image of God. But their attitude ruined the relation. They wanted to be God, to know as much as God knows, rather than know God Himself. In the Old Testament, to know or to name meant to be intimately enveloped in the essence of the thing known or named.