The second chapter of Genesis
has been known to confuse some people.

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

Genesis 2:15-17 NKJV

God told Adam he must not eat from a particular tree in the Garden of Eden. Adam could eat from every other tree, but he was told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that he would die in the day that he eats from it.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6 NKJV

They both ate from the tree, but unlike what verse 17 says, they did not die "in that day". According to Genesis 5, Adam was clearly around for hundreds of years afterwards

And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. After he begot Seth, the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he had sons and daughters.

Genesis 5:3-5 NKJV

Some people say this is another example of Biblical errors. Others take this to mean a lot of other things.

There are probably more, but I'm familiar with these explanations -

  1. Adam and Eve died immediately in the sense that they lost their immortality.
  2. Adam and Eve began the process of aging and dying, and since 2nd Peter 3:8 says "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.", so they would be dead within a thousand years
  3. Adam and Eve died spiritually.

I have another take. Our English Bibles are a translation of three languages. With the exception of a few chapters in Ezra and Daniel, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. The couple of non-Hebrew chapters in Ezra and Daniel were written in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek.

Some believe when the Bible is translated, it's a word-for-word translation. They believe if a verse in Hebrew contains ten words, then ten English words should be used to translate the verse. If the Greek text contains eight words, then eight English words are used to translate it. The same for Aramaic. Scripture is not translated that way. The English translations convert the original in a thought-for-thought and/or phrase-by-phrase manner. Genesis 1:1 is a perfect example. It's seven words in Hebrew and ten words in English.

Before going any further, I will clearly state that I am not saying any translation is incorrect or better than some other translation. I'm saying, they all differ slightly from the original writings. That said, when you have a hard time grasping what you've read in a Bible, it may be beneficial to look at the original writing. Fortunately, you don't have to be a Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek scholar. Today, we have interlinear translations.

What's an "interlinear translation"? As the name implies, an interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament is a book that interlines Hebrew with English. It provides a line of English translation for each line of Hebrew. In addition, a "good" interlinear matches each line with a word for word translation, so that each Hebrew word has a representative word or phrase in English AND it clearly states when words are added for clarity.

If that sounds confusing, the following should simplify things. In the New King James version (NKJV), Genesis 2:17 reads as follows - "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." The same verse is shown below, as copied from a Hebrew interlinear translation. Below, the translation gives us Hebrew in a Hebrew character set, Hebrew in an English character set, and English in an English character set. The English words are in blocks so as to form the equivalent of the single Hebrew word. Read the following English text blocks from the top right to the bottom left:

Starting with the 9th Hebrew word, it says "in day of" "to eat of you" "from him" "to die" "you shall die." In this sentence, the key words surrounding death are "to-die you-shall-die". In English, the phrase "to die" is dying. So, "dying, you shall die". If you Google the phrase "dying, you shall die", you will see a literal 101 million hits. Dying means to approach death. I believe this states Adam and Eve began to die on the day they ate the fruit.

That doesn't mean the translations are wrong. The translations make Hebrew, which can be very difficult to read, a lot easier.

For those interested in a interlinear translation, the following may be beneficial - decades ago, I bought very thick Hebrew to English and Greek to English Interlinear Old and New Testaments in hardcover book format. Those are still available, but now you can use free software such as the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer.

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

Proverbs 25:2 NKJV