Author Topic: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?  (Read 391 times)

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Offline Samuelxcs

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What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« on: November 15, 2011, 09:41:02 AM »
http://www.creationtips.com/tree_of_knowledge.html

Was this a magical tree that gave knowledge to those who ate from it? If the tree was so special to God, he should have protected it better, maybe build a big fence around it?

God: "You shall not eat from the tree of knowledge!"
Adam: "But why?!"
God: "I do not wish for you to be as smart as me!"
Adam: "Why?"
God: "Because I said so!"
*God leaves*
*Eve enters*
Eve: "What a beautiful tree, isn't it beautiful Adam?"
Adam: "Yes it's a beautiful tree..."
Eve: "...and what beautiful fruit, lets eat from the tree..."

Quote
When God planted the Garden of Eden, he placed Adam, the newly created first man on earth, in the garden “to dress it and to keep it.”

God told Adam he could freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except one — “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If Adam ate from this tree, God told him, he would die (Genesis 2:16,17).

What was this “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”? Was it an actual tree like other trees in the garden? Or was it, as some have suggested, merely a symbol of something to teach readers a moral?

Literal tree

The Hebrew word used here for tree is the same word used for ordinary trees in all 25 uses in the book of Genesis. There is no exception. So the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” was clearly an actual type of tree.

Similarly, the word for knowledge is the ordinary word for knowledge or awareness. There is not the slightest indication that we should look for another meaning for knowledge.

What about the words for good and evil? Well, the word for good is the same one used throughout Genesis chapter 1 when God pronounced His creation “good” and “very good.” The meaning may at times be extended to mean beautiful, joyful, bountiful, or pleasurable. Again, there is nothing to indicate we should look for an unusual meaning of good.

The Hebrew word for evil that is used in the tree's description — ra‘ — has the sense of misery, woe, grief, or harm. The word means evil, and perhaps more. It points to something extremely sorrowful — so we can rightly understand that eating the fruit of this tree would reveal knowledge of good and misery.

Good is known; misery unknown

Adam (and Eve when she was created shortly after) knew only happiness. God had given them all they needed, located them in a beautiful garden of delights, and placed only one restriction on them: Don't eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As they already knew good, eating from this tree would provide only knowledge of calamity, grief, and sorrow.

Some commentators wrongly say that God gave Adam and Eve a choice — they were free to eat from the tree or not eat from it. But God didn't give them a choice. Genesis 2:16 and 17 tell us that “the Lord God commanded the man … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” He commanded Adam not to eat from it. He didn't say Adam could eat from it if he wanted to. Certainly Adam and Eve had freewill to disobey God, but no choice was given or implied in God's command.

Was it an apple tree?

In most classical representations of Adam and Eve eating from this tree, the fruit is an apple, which would mean the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an apple tree.

Well, it could have been an apple tree, but it probably wasn't. The apple idea stems back to a Latin pun, where the Latin word malum means both evil and apple. (The actual phrase for good and evil is boni et mali.) It's a pun that is lost in other languages, and as Genesis was written in Hebrew we should not place any reliability on a Latin pun.

Some believe it was a fig tree, because after Adam and Eve ate from it they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. But again this is reading more into the text than it says. The tree is not identified.

Others have suggested that there was something in the fruit itself that caused them misery — perhaps some poisonous chemical or toxin. But this seems to conflict with God's pronouncement earlier that everything He had created was “very good”. He would hardly have called a fruit very good if it was so toxic it would skew people's brains and kill them.

Another explanation sometimes heard is that the knowledge of good and evil refers to sexual relations. But in the context this makes no sense. There was no-one else on earth for them to commit adultery with, and it is hard to imagine what other “evil” sexual relations Adam and Eve could have taken part in.

What it was

Puritan Bible commentator Matthew Henry (1662-1714), whose commentary on the Bible is still one of the most quoted after 300 years, suggested that the tree itself may not have provided the knowledge of good and evil, but that Adam's disobedience of God's command would reveal evil to Adam and ultimately cause his death. In this view, the tree itself did not have “any virtue in it to beget or increase useful knowledge.”

Eating from the tree would open up some kind of unknown sense in Adam and Eve, somewhat like a person who is born deaf doesn't know there is a sense of hearing until a revelation comes that it exists.

If this is the correct explanation, and it probably is, the tree could have been any type of tree known or unknown. The explanation gains further credibility when you look at the way the Genesis account describes it. God did not say “If you eat from the tree, the fruit will kill you.” He said, “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” The death-knell was not in the fruit, but in disobeying God. Adam and Eve were tried in something that was evil only because it was forbidden.

Was it a serpent?

Skeptics have mocked the account of Adam and Eve's sin because it sounds silly to them that a serpent could talk to Eve and entice her to eat the fruit. But this is how Satan works. If he can first make people skeptical, he has a chance to eventually turn them into atheists and then they are kept out of Heaven while they protest that he doesn't exist.

The word for serpent in Genesis 3:1 is nachash, which comes from a root meaning “to hiss”. It is the same word used for serpent elsewhere in Scripture, but also carries the sense of an enchanter who whispers or beguiles to produce a magic spell.

This serpent was not a talking snake; it is identified in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, as Satan himself. Satan beguiled Eve by taking the form of a serpent.

Some commentators have pointed out that God told Adam only that he must not eat the fruit (Genesis 2:17), whereas Eve told the serpent that they were not allowed to even touch it. They imply that Eve lied by adding an element to God's command.

But the Bible does not record every word of every conversation it mentions, so it is possible that God did say not to touch it, and that only an abbreviated part of the conversation was recorded in Genesis 2:17. In any case, it seems pointless to think that they could have eaten the fruit without touching it.

And if the tree couldn't be touched, those paintings that show the serpent in the tree (such as the one above by Lucas Cranach, 1533) must be wrong.

Didn't die straight away

Why didn't Adam and Eve die immediately they ate the forbidden fruit? After all, God had said “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

As numerous commentators have pointed out, the phrase “thou shalt surely die” can be rendered “dying, thou shalt die.” It means they would start to die physically from the moment they ate the fruit, which is what happened. But spiritually they died immediately, because their sin separated them from God.

Can serpents talk?

Didn't Eve know that serpents couldn't talk? Didn't it arouse her suspicions that there was something wrong when a serpent started talking?

Probably not. Eve hadn't been around long, and was still learning. In her innocence she obviously didn't find anything strange in this.

Serpent didn't force Adam and Eve to eat

We must remember that Satan did not force Eve to eat the fruit. He did not pick the fruit and give it to her.

It was a clever move on his part to choose the form of a serpent for his scam. The serpent had no arms to pick the fruit and hand it to Eve. With Satan's encouragement, she had to make her own decision to take it and eat it, and then to get Adam involved in doing wrong as well.

The type of fruit Adam and Eve ate is not identified in the Bible, and we would be wise not to presume we can identify the tree of the knowledge of good and evil today. But as we have seen, we can learn many lessons from this trustworthy account in the information we do have.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 09:43:18 AM by Samuelxcs »
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Offline C

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2011, 09:56:23 AM »
I love how they skirt around the actual question of what exactly the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was and immediately jump around saying that skepticism = atheism because Satan works his magic. And seriously, don't they see that the snake WASN'T exactly evil?

Anyway, I will take the word of the game series Assassins Creed over the Bible any day. It's more plausible and entertaining that Adam and Eve were actually humans that rebelled against the Ones That Came Before and in the process of their uprising, grabbed one of the Pieces of Eden which throughout history have been used by historical figures and organizations (Assassins and Knights Templar) such as Jean d'Arc, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler, Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and whoever the hell else.  &)
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Offline Nick

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 09:59:54 AM »
I could have used that tree with my ACTs. ;)
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Offline Fiji

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 10:09:50 AM »
Was this a magical tree that gave knowledge to those who ate from it? If the tree was so special to God, he should have protected it better, maybe build a big fence around it?

Why create the damn thing in the first place? Would the freshly created universe explode if he omitted that tree or something?
Fits in nicely with the polytheistic nature of Yahweh (or El or Baal or whomever this story was originally written about) at the time. Polytheistic gods just did stuff ... 'cause.
Why did Thor go fishing for Jormungalandr? 'cause he felt like it
Why did Zeus turn into a bull and knock a girl up? 'cause he was horny
Why did Yahweh put that tree there? 'cause he was a show off

But applied to Yahweh the monotheistic god ... the tree becomes an inescapeable trap.
Two immortal beings are told not to eat from a tree but they lack the knowledge to realise that disobedience is bad (hell, they don't even know what 'bad' is). It's guaranteed that they will eventually (and they have all eternity) eat from that tree.
In a monotheistic setting the story only makes sense if you don't think about it too much (but hey, religion as a whole only makes sense if you don't think about it too much, so, no surprise there)
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 10:15:02 AM »
"But again this is reading more into the text than it says."

This has to be my favorite line from this entire thing.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."
- Eddie Izzard

Offline violatedsmurf80

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 10:15:31 AM »
I dont think GoD could ever get it right with woman, the first one Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him, Eve was no better. I guess GoD was no lady's man.

I like the Indian Version of the Tree Of Knowledge, the Kalpvruksh it  can grant any wish.
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Offline Truth OT

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 10:20:30 AM »

Why create the damn thing in the first place? Would the freshly created universe explode if he omitted that tree or something?

......................

But applied to Yahweh the monotheistic god ... the tree becomes an inescapeable trap.
Two immortal beings are told not to eat from a tree but they lack the knowledge to realise that disobedience is bad (hell, they don't even know what 'bad' is). It's guaranteed that they will eventually (and they have all eternity) eat from that tree.
In a monotheistic setting the story only makes sense if you don't think about it too much (but hey, religion as a whole only makes sense if you don't think about it too much, so, no surprise there)

It would sem evident that God set things up so that man would sin, and somehow planned for or needed man to sin to acheive His ends. The tree then was simply a tool employed by God to be the bait in the ultimate "gotcha" scenario.
The bigger question in my estimation would be that of WHY God created man with the intent of having man sin in the first place.

Offline One Above All

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 10:22:53 AM »
The bigger question in my estimation would be that of WHY God created man with the intent of having man sin in the first place.

Ego and amusement. Two people worshiping you for eternity without stopping? Boring. Billions killing each other and sacrificing themselves and/or others/other things for you? Amusing (if you're into sadism, which YHWH clearly is).
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 11:04:30 AM by Lucifer »
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Offline Historicity

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 11:01:24 AM »
First one of my long digressions.

There was a witch who imprisoned a girl in a tower.  There was no entrance to the tower.  The girl only survived at the witch's mercy in this way.  When the witch came with a basket of food she would call out, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, that I may climb the golden stair."  Rapunzel had hair about 20, 30 feet long.

A young man saw her and started dating her.  He was afraid the witch would catch them.  Eventually he figured out a way to liberate Rapunzel.  I guess she tied her hair to the furniture and climbed down and he cut it off to a nice reasonable waist length.

The witch caught up with the man and pierced his eyes with thorns blinding him.  She would be the last woman he would ever see.  He would never look at a woman again.  He wandered off as a beggar.

Rapunzel later found him and comforted him.  She held his head in her lap and wept.  Her tears falling on his face healed his eyes.

And they lived happily ever after. 

(WARNING: Don't overthink it.  I like one fairy tale that ended "And if they lived happily ever after or had new problems, it is none of your business.")

JUNGIAN INTERPRETATION.
This is a Coming of Age story.  Freud said men have a lasting lust for their mommies.  Jung said that there is a point in a healthy boy's life when he rebels against Mommy for a while.  He alienates himself from her and starts dating.  He starts to see other women as separate from Mommy.  His subconscious view of women is centralized in an Anima.  Mommy becomes a hated old woman, and a younger woman is idolized.  In Liberation of the Anima stories, first he saves the helpless girl and then she womans up and saves her man from the evil old witch. 

I've seen a rock&roll vehicles from the 1960 where there was a record producer with a big breasted 30-ish dark haired woman friend/manager.  He discovers some 17 year old little blonde.  The businesswoman coopts her and ties her up in a contract and the man, too.  She then faces him up to the fact that he can never leave her -- never -- so get used to it.  The skinny blonde, under survival pressures, grows up immediately and outwits the businesswoman on the contracts and saves the producer.

ADAM AND EVE.
Adam and Eve are living simply and simple mindedly in a Garden with childlike innocence.  God warns that there is a door that they must never open.  They open the door and find the corpses of all of God's previous wives.  Oh, sorry.  I slipped into the story of Bluebeard.  God tells them there is a tree they must never touch or they will become wise to Good and Evil and will die that very day. 
Then a serpent tells the girl that if they eat the fruit they will become adults gods.  The woman is ahead of the boy on this.  (Which has been noted in many studies that teenage girls get serious a couple years before boys.)  Anyway they eat the fruit.  They are expelled from the Garden of Childhood Eden and while they now have the ability and the right to make judgements on Good and Evil, they also have it as a painful duty.

They do not live happily ever after.  Indeed one of their kids becomes a juvenile delinquent and murders his brother.  But they live as adults ever after.

It's a typical Coming of Age fairy tale to plant in children's minds some moral-to-the-story wisdom.




Offline Historicity

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 01:16:14 PM »
The ancient Germans (in one of the contradictory creation stories) said the first man and woman were Aska and Embla or Ash and Elm in modern English.  The wood of the ash tree is very hard and springy and was often used for bows.  Elm wood is very soft.  Starting a fire was not by "rubbing 2 sticks together" but with a fire drill.   No, not our kind of fire drill.  It was rod of hard wood (ash would be good) turned while holding it hard against a block of soft wood (eg. elm).  So Ash and Elm as the first man and woman are a metaphor for hot sex.


I once was at an American Indian Powwow in my county.  I was too tired to stay as long as I might.  There were story tellers.  One told a Cherokee story about the first man and woman.   I was getting sleepy at the time so I zoned out of a lot of interesting details.

Please note that Cherokees converted to Christianity long before they were driven on the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.  So they have not taken this story literally for centuries but they pass it on.

Somehow First Man and First Woman had an argument.  Somehow he got sick.  Leaving him, First Woman went on a desperate quest for a medicine.  After the usual failures to create tension she had what Hollywood calls "The Second Act Turnaround" -- she met the Goddess of the Strawberries.  She gave First Woman some strawberries and First Woman hurried back and saved First Man.

So Cherokee women keep a jar of strawberries preserved in honey on a shelf in the kitchen.  When a husband and wife get into a deadlocked argument and fall into sullen silence, she takes the jar from the shelf and they each eat one.  As you know, some strawberries are naturally sweet.  Some are very sour and you have to put sweetener on them.  Marriages are like that.  When they aren't sweet by chance, both husband and wife have to intentionally pour a lot of honey on.


Offline screwtape

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 01:43:25 PM »
Quote
God told Adam he could freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except one — “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If Adam ate from this tree, God told him, he would die (Genesis 2:16,17).

Interestingly, that implies he could (and did) eat from the Tree of Life.

Quote
. But spiritually they died immediately, because their sin separated them from God.

What?  No they didn't. Since when does "death" apply "spiritually"?  And why would separation = death?  That's stupid.

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Offline Babdah

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2011, 08:17:52 PM »
Quote
God told Adam he could freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except one — “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If Adam ate from this tree, God told him, he would die (Genesis 2:16,17).

Interestingly, that implies he could (and did) eat from the Tree of Life.


So this story just talks about how we were stupid in the beginning and the reason why we are smart is be cause we left god when we ate the fruit.

So god got rid of us just because we figured out every thing he did? how he made it? So i guess the day we we became smarter then god is the day he promised that we would die and burn in hell for not giving him credit.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: What was the tree of knowledge of good and evil?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2011, 10:22:42 PM »
I don't think it was about Knowledge, like smarts.  It says "knowledge of good and evil".  So, I'd say it was about Morality.  That is why, after they ate, they realized they were naked and were ashamed.  They knew it was wrong.  Strange that yhwh would make them in such a state of turpitude.  Strange that the hebrews thought nudity was immoral. 

When people talk about us not being able to judge god morally, I say, if their silly book is to be believed, then we are yhwh's equals with regard to moral judgment.  Eve.  She was not the villain so many xians make her out to be.  She was the hero.  She used her noggin and brought moral judgment to humanity at great personal sacrifice.  She is the hebrew version of PrometheusWiki and should not be reviled, but honored.
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