The Fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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 ESV)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
(Genesis 3:1-7 ESV)

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
(Genesis 3:8-24 ESV)

In his First Epistle to Timothy, Paul the Apostle wrote, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Timothy 2:11-14 ESV).

Paul the Apostle was telling Timothy that the serpent beguiled Eve. Adam was not beguiled by the serpent. He absolutely saw through the subtlety of the serpent and chose to follow Eve into sin because of his love for her.. He was willing to give up everything, his walk with God (YHWH) and even risk death to keep Eve as part of his life (for better or for worse),

In Jewish tradition, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the eating of its fruit represents the beginning of the mixture of good and evil together.Before that time, the two were separate, and evil had only a nebulous existence in potentia. While free choice (apparently) did exist before eating the fruit, evil existed as an entity separate from the human psyche, and it was not in human nature to desire it. Eating and internalizing the forbidden fruit changed this and thus was born the yeitzer hara, the Evil Inclination.

Rashi notes that the first sin came about because Eve added an additional clause to the Divine command:

“Neither shall you touch it.” [By saying this, Eve] added to the command, and thereby came to detract [from it]. This is as it is written [Proverbs 30:6], “Do not add to His Words.”
In the 

Talmud

, several opinions are proposed as to the identity of the fruit:
  • Rabbi Meir says that the fruit was a grape, made into wine. The Zohar explains similarly that Noah attempted (but failed) to rectify the sin of Adam by using grape wine for holy purposes. The midrash states that the fruit was grape, or squeezed grapes (perhaps again alluding to wine).
  • Rabbi Nechemia says that the fruit was a fig, as it was from fig leaves that God made garments for Adam and Eve upon expelling them from the Garden: “By that with which they were made low were they rectified.”
  • On the other hand, Rabbi Yehuda proposes that the fruit was wheat, because “a babe does not know to call its mother and father until it tastes the taste of grain.” On this, Tosafot there explains, “And this is called the Tree of Knowledge.”

In Christian theology, the tree of knowledge is a forbidden tree yielding fruit that when eaten, came forth original sin and subsequently, the Fall of Man in Genesis 2-3.

In CatholicismAugustine of Hippo taught that the tree should be understood both symbolically and as a real tree – similarly to Jerusalem being both a real city and a figure of Heavenly Jerusalem. Augustine underlined that the fruits of that tree were not evil by themselves, because everything that God created was good (Genesis 1:12). It was disobedience of Adam and Eve, who had been told by God not to eat of the tree (Genesis 2:17), that was obnoxious and caused disorder in the creation, thus humanity inherited sin and guilt from Adam and Eve’s sin.

In Western Christian art, the fruit of the tree is commonly depicted as the apple, which originated in central Asia. This depiction may have originated as a Latin pun: by eating the malum (apple), Eve contracted mālum (evil). or simply because of religious artists’ poetic licence.

Satan’s motive operandi is deceit, being the father of all lies. He didn’t tempt Eve to eat from the Tree of Life, as that would have led to eternal life. Instead he chose to tempt her with the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil. The Tree of Good of Evil was a double-edged sword as indicated by it’s name. Not only would consuming this fruit open one’s eyes to morality and end innocense, the consumption of the fruit of this tree would also release our inner demons, the evil that each carry inside of us. Lies, disobedience, rape, murder, homosexuality, etc. all became part of our nature.

Satan’s careful planning and cunning deception coupled with Eve’s willingness to listen and then cooperate with this deception was a disaster for mankind. “Eve took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate” (Genesis. 3:6). Satan did not take the fruit and put it in Eve’s mouth. He can tempt but he cannot force. Adam and Eve were totally responsible for their actions.

  • So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
    (Genesis 3:6 ESV)
  • But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
    (James 1:14-15 ESV)
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