Tree of Knowledge – The Bad Guy In This Story

In the story of the Tree of Knowledge and the Garden, a look at the “bad guy” is in order.  No, this is not Adam but the serpent.  Why not just call him Satan?  Good question.  According to BAS (Bible Archaeology Society), the term Satan was not in use when Genesis was written.  I have no problem in the thought that it is Satan; let us look at a set of scriptures that connect a “type” of Satan with the Garden and his fall.

Ezekiel 28: 1- 19 is three different prophecies to the ruler/king of Tyre, again the word Satan is not used in this chapter.  Parts of these messages are directed at a “man and a physical place” while other phrases make no sense if we try to imagine them talking about a human.  The verse that is important for this study is #13, “you were in Eden, the garden of God”.  Verse 14 identifies this ruler as a guardian cherub, #15 says he was blameless, but #16 talks about trade, violence, and sinning.

Verse 2, 5, and 17 mentions that pride was the reason for his (Satan’s) downfall.  Verse 17 mentions that his wisdom was also corrupted because of his beauty and splendor.  (All my references are from the NIV.)  Place these ideas into the Garden narrative and there are similar problems that Eve and Adam faced.  The fruit was “pleasant to the eyes” and “desirable for gaining wisdom”.

Other interesting facts about Tyre are: 

  1. It would have been in the land that had belonged to the Tribe of Asher.
  2. Jesus healed a little girl that lived in that place.
  3. We tend to lump it together with Sidon.  But starting at verse 20 Sidon gets its own judgment.  Verse 24 to 26 seem to reference Israel, this is interesting because Asher and the people of the northern kingdom were relocated many years before this prophecy.
  4. The town of Zarephath is in Sidon just up the coast from Tyre.

Humility and pride are opposites.  It is very easy now to see why the Father used Moses (most humble man) and opposes anyone that is ruled by pride.

Tree of Knowledge – The Tree They Could Eat

The other tree, the one they could eat, that is specifically mentioned in Genesis is the Tree of Life.  I have always thought in interesting that Adam and Eve were not forbidden to eat of the tree of life!  So, of course, the serpent did not tempt them on that one.  If we skip to the end of the Bible we find out that the Tree produces twelve crops and the leaves are for healing the nations. 

Some comparing and contrasting is in order here.  In Genesis the Tree of Life is mentioned three times, in Revelations it is referenced four times (but three thoughts), in Proverbs, it is mentioned four times, and has a possible reference in Ezekiel 47: 12.  A look at its physical location is also important.

Genesis: 2:9 – the tree’s physical location, at the center of Adam and Eve’s world (the Garden).  It is connected with a river that waters the whole earth. 

            3:22 – the command to not eat of the Tree of Life and live forever.

            3:24 – the way “back” was blocked/guarded. 

Thoughts – 1. Would eternal life have been passed on to their children?  2. It would have been horrible to live on and see all of the sins they allowed into the world.

Revelations: 2:7 – “overcomers” get to eat of the Tree.

22:2 – Its location by the River of Life on the main street in the City.  This location and river are in Ezekiel 47:12 and Zechariah 14:8. This also mentions the leaves being for healing, as does Ezekiel.

22:14 – repeats who may eat of the Tree.  Overcomers and those who “washed their robes” may be similar ideas.  This stands in contrast to Genesis 3:22 where the ability to eat of the tree is blocked.

22:19 – This is a way to be blocked from eating the fruit or leaves.  If you use the KJV the Tree is not in this verse it is a book. Since I do not have a great reason why except that “paper” is from trees.  The KJV is the only translation I found that uses “book”.

Thoughts – 22:2 mentions twelve crops.  Some translations use twelve fruits.  The Vulgate has twelve fruits of the Spirit instead of nine.  My best feeling on this is it shows God’s continuous provision.  Artists, in some renditions, will also put twelve trees along the river.  I will wait to see it for myself. 

Proverbs: 3:18 – Wisdom is a tree of life.  Jews will use this to represent the Torah.

11:30 – the fruit or things the righteous do are a tree of life.   

13:12 – longings fulfilled are a tree of life.  

15:4 – a soothing tongue is a tree of life.  

Thoughts – I am viewing these four as “Leaves” on the tree of life.  

Tree of Knowledge – The I’s

In Genesis 2 God has planted a garden for man to enjoy.  The center of His garden has two special trees – life and knowledge.  The tree of life is referenced too again in Proverbs 11 and in Revelations 22.  The tree of knowledge, apparently, has references in Proverbs but English translators don’t expand on the metaphor.  To be fair this study is going to cover more than just this tree, I will be looking at several concepts and ideas in Chapter 1, 2, 3, and probably 4.  To clear away a possible problem let me stress that the tree is the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil.  This tree is NOT good and evil.  

Since the Garden is where mankind started I saw the grace and love of your God and Father starting in Genesis 1:29 + 30.  This is a simple thought but this post focus will be on the word “I”.  God says it four times and Adam adds five more by verse twelve, which is where the conversation spreads out, and God’s tone changes.

God’s uses of the word “I” are in 1:29,30; 2:18; and 3:11.  They flow this way – I give, I give, I will make, and I commanded.  The command actually comes in 2:16 but “I” is not used at that time.  So, the first thing God does is to give Adam and the beast plants with seeds and every green plant for food. God commands against the eating of just one tree and then turns His attention again to man and his need for companionship.  

Some Thoughts1. The disobedience of Adam changed the plants as food, as some plants are not suitable for our consumption now.  2. Chapter 2:4 is actually another story of creation that Moses compiled when he wrote Genesis.  Chapter1:1, 4:1, and 5:1 are also separate stories that were possibly oral traditions that he wrote down at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  3. Notice the only command Adam is given is to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Adam was not given instructions about the tree of life.  

All four of God’s “I’s” are directed for Adam’s good, not his harm.  Well, why did God even put that tree in the garden!  Since I try not to judge God, this is my thought.  God has always wanted people to willingly follow Him.  The tree was a simple thing and Adam failed.  Jesus is the only human to not fail the Father, which is why we need to be found in Him.

Adam’s five “I’s” are the result of nibbling on knowledge.  His response to God is one of “shame and blame” and mankind has lived with that since then.  Adam’s shame “I’s” are – I heard, I was afraid, I was naked, and I hid.  The confession of “I ate” comes after he blames God for supplying the woman which he was singing about in 2:23 + 24.

Adam’s “I’s” are about himself while God’s “I’s” are about doing good for man.

Some More Thoughts1. Most translations quote Adam as saying the poem/song of 2:23 and leave verse 24 as an included explanation.  That would mean Moses or someone else added to the text later.  It just sounds better to extend the quote to include verse 24 and make it a prophecy about his children. 2. I am confident that Adam and Eve were intelligent and that they talked with God about things.  I have always wondered how they would have had a contextual understanding of the word “die” since they had never seen death!  That may have been part of the knowledge that Eve was so eager to get when she chose to eat the fruit.

Well, enough for the intro more will come later on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.