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Garden of Eden > Trees >

The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Hebrew: עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע / Etz ha-da'at tov va-ra, ) is one of two trees in the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2-3, along with the Tree of life. As to the genus of the tree, the Scriptural record is silent.

The tree of the knowledge of good and bad represented a privilege that is God’s province alone—the right to determine what is good and what is bad. Evidently, Adam and Eve got to know what was good and what was bad in the special sense of now judging for themselves what was good and what was bad. They were idolatrously placing their judgment above God’s, disobediently becoming a law to themselves, as it were, instead of obeying Jehovah, who has both the right and the wisdom necessary to determine good and bad. So their independent knowledge, or standard, of good and bad was not like that of Jehovah. Rather, it was one that led them to misery

The phrase in Hebrew: טוֹב וָרָע, tov V'ra translatable as good and evil, may be an example of the type of figure of speech known as merism. This literary device pairs opposite terms together, in order to create a general meaning; so that the phrase "good and evil" would simply imply "everything". It is equivalent to the Egyptian expression evil-good which is indeed normally employed to mean "everything". In Greek literature, the concept is also used by Telemachus, "I know all things, the good and the evil" (Od.20:309-10).[3] However, given the context of disobedience to God, other interpretations of the implications of this phrase also demand consideration.

In the phrase, tree of knowledge of good and evil, the tree imparts knowledge of tov wa-ra, "good and bad". The traditional translation is "good and evil", but tov wa-ra is a fixed expression denoting "everything". To Harry Orlinsky, this phrase does not necessarily denote a moral concept.[4] However, Robert Alter believes that there could be a moral connotation after all: When God forbids the man to eat from the tree of knowledge, He says that if he does so, he is "doomed to die". The Hebrew behind this, is in the form used in the Hebrew Bible for issuing death sentences.[5]
 

Religious views

Judaism

In Jewish tradition, the Tree of Knowledge 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 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.[6][7] In Rashi's notes on Genesis 3:3, 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 YHWH's command and thereby came to detract from it, as it is written: Do not add to His Words (Proverbs 30:6).

In Kabbalah, the sin of the Tree of Knowledge (called Cheit Eitz HaDa'at) brought about the great task of beirurim, sifting through the mixture of good and evil in the world to extract and liberate the sparks of holiness trapped therein.[8] Since evil has no independent existence, it depends on holiness to draw down the Divine life-force, on whose "leftovers" it then feeds and derives existence.[9] Once evil is separated from holiness through beirurim, its source of life is cut off, causing the evil to disappear. This is accomplished through observance of the 613 commandments in the Torah, which deal primarily with physical objects wherein good and evil are mixed together.[10][11][12] Thus, the task of beirurim rectifies the sin of the Tree and draws the Shechinah back down to earth, where the sin of the Tree had caused Her to depart.[13][14]
 

Christianity

In Christian theology, consuming the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was the original sin committed by Adam and Eve that subsequently became known as the Fall of man in Genesis 2-3.

In Catholicism, Augustine 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.[15] Augustine underlined that the fruits of that tree were not evil by themselves, because everything that God created was good (Gen 1:12). It was disobedience of Adam and Eve, who had been told by God not to eat of the tree (Gen 2:17), that was obnoxious and caused disorder in the creation,[16] thus humanity inherited sin and guilt from Adam and Eve's sin.[17]

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).[18] It is also possible that this depiction originated simply because of the religious painters' artistic licence.
 

Islam

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (August 2012)
See also: Tree of life (Quran)
The Qur'an does not name this tree and it is always referred to as "the tree". Muslims believe that when God created Adam and Eve, He told them that they could enjoy everything in the Garden but this tree, and so, Satan appeared to them and told them that the only reason God forbade them to eat from that tree is that they would become Angels or become immortals.

When they ate from this tree their nakedness appeared to them and they began to sew together, for their covering, leaves from the Garden. As a result of their sin, they were removed from heaven and placed on Earth to live and die. Consequently, they repented to God and asked for his forgiveness and were forgiven. It was decided that those who obey God and follow his path shall be rewarded with everlasting life in Heaven, and those who disobey God and stray away from his path shall be punished in Hell.

God in Quran (Al-A'raf 27) states: "[O] Children of Adam! Let not Satan tempt you as he brought your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their garments to show them their shameful parts. Surely he [Satan] sees you, he and his tribe, from where you see them not. We have made the Satans the friends of those who do not believe."
 

Other cultures

The Tamil poem "Tala Vilasam"[19] recounts a legend of the tree that parallels the Biblical account. In it, the Creator Brahma finally allows the people access to the tree- which, in this case, is the palmyra palmtree Borassus flabellifer.
 

References

  1. Mitchell, T.C. (2004). The Bible in the British Museum : interpreting the evidence (New ed. ed.). New York: Paulist Press. p. 24. ISBN 9780809142927.
  2. "'Adam and Eve' cylinder seal". British Museum. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  3. Gordon, Cyrus H.; Rendsburg, Gary A. (1997). The Bible and the ancient Near East (4th ed. ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Co. p. 36. ISBN 9780393316896.
  4. Harry Orlinsky's notes to the NJPS Torah
  5. Alter 2004, p. 21.
  6. Rashi to Genesis 2:25
  7. Ramban to Genesis 3:6
  8. Epistle 26, Lessons in Tanya, Igeret HaKodesh
  9. ch. 22, Tanya, Likutei Amarim
  10. ch. 37, Lessons in Tanya, Likutei Amarim
  11. Torah Ohr 3c
  12. Torat Chaim Bereishit 30a
  13. Bereishit Rabbah 19:7
  14. Ramban to Genesis 3:8
  15. Augustine, On the Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram), VIII, 4.8; Bibliothèque Augustinniene 49, 20
  16. Augustine of Hippo, On the Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram), VIII, 6.12 and 13.28, BA 49,28 and 50-52; PL 34, 377; cf. idem, De Trinitate, XII, 12.17; CCL 50, 371-372 [v. 26-31;1-36]; De natura boni 34-35; CSEL 25, 872; PL 42, 551-572
  17. "The City of God (Book XIII), Chapter 14". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  18. Adams, Cecil (2006-11-24). "The Straight Dope: Was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden an apple?". The Straight Dope. Creative Loafing Media, Inc. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  19. http://books.google.com/books?id=M7YaAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA4&ots=5Nz_RHRQyN&dq=TALA%20VILASAM&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q=TALA%20VILASAM&f=false
  20. Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge. McKenna, Terence. 1992.

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Jehovah guarded the tree of life with a flaming sword once they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden but left the other tree that would apparently kill them totally unguarded?

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Adam & Eve ate the fruit from the tree “of the knowledge of good & evil”

so..in other words, before they ate they did not know right from wrong…hmmmm so how can you blame someone who does not know right from wrong?

For a crime to take place in human law you must have the act - ‘actus reus’ - and the guilty mind or 'mens rea’ as it is termed. No guilty mind, no crime, despite the act having taken place, as in the case of a young child for example.

How could they have a guilty mind before they knew right from wrong.

 

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I met a man while early morning witnessing along the wharf one year. I took a book mark from him that had their ten main beliefs on it. It was hard talking to him as he a cloud of cigarette smoke around him, but he was sure he had the truth ;) Not a bad guy, and eventually a good discussion. Never having met a Baha'i I took the opportunity to find out as much from him as possible about their beliefs. After explaining a little biut about God's Kingdom, I asked him what Baha'i believe the kingdom is. He replied that they believe the kingdom is a real human government that will rule the whole world. But on topic: He said they believe that the Tree was actually the brain [treetop] and the entire nervous system [root system] I'm guessing because Jesus also said men were like trees :) That the forbidden fruit was something to do with the brain. I guess we "trees" do produce "fruit" - I had always thought the fruit were the results of our actions whether good or bad. An interesting take - I think.

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On 11/19/2017 at 3:26 PM, Jay Witness said:

Adam & Eve ate the fruit from the tree “of the knowledge of good & evil”

so..in other words, before they ate they did not know right from wrong…hmmmm so how can you blame someone who does not know right from wrong?

For a crime to take place in human law you must have the act - ‘actus reus’ - and the guilty mind or 'mens rea’ as it is termed. No guilty mind, no crime, despite the act having taken place, as in the case of a young child for example.

How could they have a guilty mind before they knew right from wrong.

 

Nice point. The Mechanical Translation of the Bible renders it "what is functional and dysfunctional". His lexicon explains that the meaning of the words are about the objects ability to fulfill its purpose. So good in the sense of usefulness and function. It looks awkward seeing those words in his translation but just another perspective. He strongly believes that you can always have, just one word for each Bible language word. He's translated the first five books, quite an interesting read in parts as he provides an interlinear reading to the reader.

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On 11/19/2017 at 2:26 AM, Jack Ryan said:

before they ate they did not know right from wrong

Course they knew good from bad, otherwise why repeat God's instruction and the sanction. back to the serpent?

This is about who makes the rules, not who knows the rules.

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On 11/18/2017 at 9:26 PM, Jack Ryan said:

so..in other words, before they ate they did not know right from wrong…hmmmm so how can you blame someone who does not know right from wrong?

 

Were you really a Witness once?

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On 11/18/2017 at 9:15 PM, The Librarian said:

 in the story of the Garden of Eden ... The tree of the knowledge of good and bad represented

 

I like this.

With certain people, i don't even pretend that I take the verses literally. I have gradually come to feel that it is not necessary. I invite them to consider it as a metaphor and ask that they attempt to discern the underlying meaning.

It instantly changes the atmosphere. People love metaphors. They love to think that they are sensitive enough to figure out what the ancient writer meant. I play into it. Allow them to feel smart. 

It takes away almost nothing from the verses to give people license to view tehm this way.  And if they get the overall sense of ithe passage, they can come along later and clean up on the 'details,' such as whether it actually happened or not.

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  • Similar Content

    • By The Librarian
      The Holy Bible > The King James Bible > Genesis > Exodus
      <---- Genesis 2          Genesis 4 --->
       
      Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LordGod had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
      2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
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      4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
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      6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
      7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
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      9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
      10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
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      16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
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      20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
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      <---- Genesis 1          Genesis 3 --->
       
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      Isaiah 45:7
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      American Standard Version
      7 I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.
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      By Guest Nicole
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    • Question: What is a TV show that ruined the lives of many people in general? If we are actually talking about shows that have ruined tens of thousands of lives then there’s no way to avoid bringing up televangelists. These individuals have had people so desperate to help, to healed or to be “saved” that they have: Drained their pensions and retirement accounts Mortgaged their homes Liquidated their assets Borrowed money from family, friends and even financial institutions. Gone without food and medication Some of the worst offenders are: This Is Your Day - Benny Hinn Hinn has been controversial for decades and is only now receiving the scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service and the Postal Inspectors that he’s deserved for years. Your World With Creflo Dollar - Creflo Dollar A Georgia-based pastor who actually begged his followers for a $65 million private jet to help him “minister to the faithful”. Believer’s Voice of Victory - Kenneth Copeland Basically instructs people NOT to seek medical assistance, and states that prayer will help them overcome illnesses. Enjoy Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer Has been under investigation for many years for possible misuse of collected funds. Has been on air for nearly 30 years and has collected tens of millions of dollars during that time. Paula White Today - Paula White Both White, and her ex-husband Randy White, take in millions of dollars annually and have been under scrutiny by tax officials for decades. The Whites are actually one of the most subdued of televangelists, although they are also some of the most successful. Frankly, so many people have given, and will give, their money to these individuals that they easily are among the worst predators ever to be aired on American television.
    • Would this mean supernatural babies would not have received judgment because they are babies? Babies that turned into giants that caused the deaths of countless humans, including babies by a power given to them, they shouldn’t have received? Does everyone that possess the Holy Spirit have the ability for prophecy? No! That is made by design by God. 2 Peter 1:20-21, Romans 12:6 It would be unusual for a witness to be distinct to such honor and speak of prophecy as though it was relayed directly from God to that individual. Countering the written words of Paul. God gives that privilege, it is not taken by man. John 3:31-35 With that said, faithful witnesses should understand the meticulous groundwork that Pastor Russell laid-out for everyone to see. There are 2 instances within scripture of 1260. Revelation and Daniel. What witnesses shouldn’t do is project their independent understanding of prophecy, when they are not given that power of prophecy by God. However, I have seen where some people use genesis and Ezekiel as a reference guide. Therefore, there is no contradiction to Paul's words since the understanding of being enthroned in 1914 versus having taken control are two separate issues. Then, AD 1914 stands on its own Biblical merit.
    • I have a better idea, big boy. You write a letter—that way I do not have to—and ask about the specific reasons that Tim Cook was made part of the Governing Body. Specify that you want details.. Do not settle for “he was a pioneer for so many years, then a missionary, then a Bethel servant.”  No. Ask about specific praiseworthy deeds, abilities, or accomplishments that made the others think: “We have to get this guy on the GB!”  How bout it, sport? Write that letter. Make it certified. Send a copy to the BOE. Send a copy here, even, so that we can all see the answer. Hold their feet to the fire! My guess is that you will not get anything more than the generic, and you may not get even that. Instead, you may get references to verse like 2 Corinthians 10:12  For we do not dare to class ourselves among some or compare ourselves with some who recommend themselves. Certainly they in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves with themselves have no understanding. or there might even be counsel not to fall into the pattern of “admiring personalities.” (Jude 16) When you get this reply, fire off another letter to them about how as MEN of HONOR, they owe it to you to SPILL when you say SPILL. Remind them of their scriptural obligation to TRUTHFULLY answer anyone who asks a question. Tell them that since you are asking them about good things, and not bad things, there is NO REASON for them not to oblige you.  The reason that they still will not satisfy you is that they are not into honoring persons. It is very hard to get the laudable specifics about any individual. They view humans, even themselves, as placeholders used by God, and when this or that is accomplished, credit goes to Jehovah, not the GB character or helper or branch servant who dreamed it up or got the job done. You have only to watch Sam Herd giving the Gilead talk in the most recent broadcast, shaking his jowls like Nixon, parodying those slobbering over the “Govnin Body” —a skit that I am still trying to get down pat for imitation—before he says it’s not any of them doing anything—you could do the same were you in their place—but it is Jehovah who should get all credit. They are not into zeroing in on the accomplishments of humans. Humans are placeholders. The good things they do are attributed to Jehovah, the bad things to human imperfection. I doubt you will get specifics for either.  Be a sport, JTR. Give it a go. Save me a stamp.  
    • Wouldn't a core doctrine be one in which we put "unwavering" faith. This is the whole reason I mention "core" or "key" doctrines. If we were to be killed unless we publicly renounced our faith in Jehovah God as the Creator, and Jesus Christ as the one through whom the Ransom comes, we should be willing to die for that doctrine. I would not be willing to die over my certainty that Jesus was only using hyperbole when he said that the men of Sodom would do better in a resurrection of the unrighteous on Judgment Day, than persons in towns that rejected Jesus during his earthly ministry. (Only the most diabolical of inquisitors would ask such a question anyway. I think I would go for "theocratic war strategy. 😉 )
    • I like that. It's an excellent explanation of one of the points made in the day's text and commentary. Perhaps. And so were all the 1 year old babies destroyed in the Flood. And so were the 185,000 of Senacherib's troops. I used that one because it's one for which most of us would be the least surprised if we discovered that the WT changed the teaching again.  Not sure what you mean. I already believe that the primary core doctrine is God's value through his Son's ransom sacrifice. Other doctrines are also just as necessary, though.  There actually is a contradiction between the Bible and AD 1914. And we don't need any independent understanding not supported by Scripture, such as the independent understanding of John Aquila Brown, or more specifically, that of Nelson H Barbour, neither of which were supported by Scripture. It should ALWAYS be the exploit of any faithful Witness to uncover truth and try to resolve any contradictions that can be resolved by Scripture itself, not anything independent of Scriptural support.  On the matter of the 1914 doctrine, an easier explanation with human controversy --but no scriptural controversy-- has already been posted. Easier isn't proof that it's better, but it's definitely easier. Here it is: Jesus came to earth to preach about a God's Kingdom through Christ and give himself over to death as a perfect ransom for sin, to fulfill the Law, and SIT AT GOD'S RIGHT HAND and therefore RULES AS KING since the time of his resurrection in 33 CE. That's it. Simple. No contradictions with any Scripture. From that point on, in 33 CE he SITS AT GOD'S RIGHT HAND and therefore RULES AS KING ruling in the midst of enemies, including war, famine, sickness, and will continue ruling as king until God has put all enemies under his feet, including the last enemy: death.  The current belief in 1914 creates a contradiction with this very point, because we are currently forced to ignore 1 Cor 15:25, which indicates that "sitting at God's right hand" is the same as "ruling as King." Right now, our current teaching is that Jesus sat at God's right hand in 33, and THEN LATER began ruling as king in 1914. Paul says that Jesus began ruling as king WHEN he sat at God's right hand. I'm swapping them because they mean exactly the same thing to me. No difference. Doctrine means teaching. True but notice the words that Paul used instead of "sit at my right hand" here: (1 Corinthians 15:25) 25 For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. Turns out that when a king sits on a throne, this is actually an expression meaning rule as king. Just like when we say that a man "sat on the throne" starting in AD 1066, for example. Turns out that a king does not have to stand up from a throne to begin ruling as king. Turns out that sitting on a throne is not a synonym for just waiting around. By that logic, Jesus is not even NOW ruling as king, because God has not yet put the last enemy Death beneath his feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25,26) 25 For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. 26 And the last enemy, death, is to be brought to nothing.
    • If only you would stop quoting outside sources, and just be more basic with your comments, then i may understand them . Yes I understand 'if your throw out all the good, only the bad is left.  But the reverse is, if you only see the good, you are not being honest with yourself or others.  @Arauna is a case in point.  
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