God’s commandment to Adam was: “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.” The restriction placed on Adam was to “NOT EAT” of the fruit of that tree.
According to the Moses account of the creation, at the time the commandment was given to “not eat of” the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the woman had not been created. (Moses 3: 15-17.) It was after giving Adam this commandment that the woman was created. (Moses 3: 21-23.)
Eve’s knowledge of the commandment came from Adam, not from God.
Adam’s explanation to Eve was different. Eve explained her understanding to the serpent when the serpent tempted her: “God hath said–Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Moses 4: 9.) Eve’s understanding of the commandment varied from what had been given to Adam by the addition of the words: “NEITHER SHALL YE TOUCH OF IT.”
Adam added to the Lord’s commandment. This additional precaution was the error which set the transgression in motion. For when Eve saw the serpent touching the fruit and not dying, it lent credibility to the assertion that “ye shall not surely die.” (Moses 4: 10.) Being innocent, and therefore vulnerable to deception, Eve could not know she was confronting a lie. Instead she saw with her own eyes that the commandment “not to touch” clearly did not result in death.
One of the great lessons of the Moses account is that adding to the commandments of God, no matter how well intentioned, is going to lead to error if not tragedy. We do as He asks. Without adding to, nor subtracting from what He has bid us to do, we should follow what we are asked by Him.
We cannot improve on His commandments. We cannot build a fence around His commandments by adding other precautions, gestures, supplements, or restrictions. When we do that we produce excess, rigidity, unintended consequences and error. We teach for doctrines the commandments of men. Inevitably leading to a form of godliness without any power. It’s an historic path to failure, diminishing power in the priesthood until it is gone altogether. Detracting from our spiritual as well as physical health. Removing our strength. Corrupting our posterity, as they are distracted from what they should receive as they seek for what they cannot attain by “some other way.”
I rather like Moses’ account.