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.

Fruit and Nuts – Figs and Nabal

Figs

Let us start our discussion of figs by talking about apples. In the Garden of Eden, there were two fruit trees that Adam and Eve did not eat from; according to Wikipedia, it is probable that they “became” apple trees during the Renaissance. I would like to make the case for them being fig trees; after all, what did they sew together to cover their shame, fig leaves. Most of this is a retake of a sermon I heard several years ago that used figs as a metaphor for the church/religion. The preacher made the point that where figs are mentioned just insert the idea of  “religion.”  I will not cover all of the references to figs and I am not sure all of them fit neatly into that box but let’s take a look at a few of them.

Genesis 3:7 Adam and Eve disobey and instead of trying to get back to God they cover themselves in fig leaves and people have been doing that ever since.

The phrase “under his own vine and fig tree” is found in several places in Scripture and can be a symbol of Israel being at peace but both of those plants are symbols for the church. Ex. 1 Kings4: 25, 2 Kings 18:31

Jeremiah 24: 1-10 is a vision where the prophet sees two baskets of figs in front of the Temple one good and one bad. This reminds me of Luke 6:43-46, which is the parable of the trees and the wise and foolish builder; this is where Jesus asks why do you say to Him Lord, Lord and do not do what He says.

John 1: 48 – Philip was under his fig tree and when he was called to come to meet Jesus.

Finally, the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree because it has no fruit and it dies.               Ex. Mark 11

Now in Israel, there is a sycamore-fig, it is not a true fig, but the analogy still works. And my final thought is something that is talked about in Scripture that I did not know; fig trees can bear two crops of figs, the first crop is called breba figs that grow from the old wood. The main crop follows on the ends of the branches- new wood. We can make all kinds of analogies here: natural vs spiritual Israel, former church latter church, new wineskins vs old wineskins, etc.

Please visit this blog to see more about figs.  http://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/zaccheus-climbed-up-into-a-sycamore-tree/  The fig pic is from – http://www.raysfiginfo.com/graphics/sycamore04.jpg

Nabal

Proverbs 18:11 – The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.             :23 – A poor man pleads for mercy, but a rich man answers harshly. (NIV)

I think these two verses are examples of why I picked Nabal as my first “nut.” But we will get back to him, let us look at 1 Samuel 25 and get some background. Carmel means, “Planted orchard” and is in the area of En Gedi, which is south of Jerusalem (yes there is an Mt. Carmel that is in northern Israel).  Abigail (Nabal’s wife) means “a father’s cause of joy” and after she married David she had his second son, Daniel     (1 Chronicles 3:5).  The Desert of Maon, which means “dwelling”, is in the land of Judea and became a hiding place for David.

Nabal was a descendant of Caleb who was one of the two faithful spies in the book of Numbers; so he was loosely related to David. This leads us to why I think he was a “nut.” In verse 10 when Nabal harshly answers David’s men he knew exactly who David was and what he was capable of doing so verse 10 and 11 is really a high-level insult. David’s request for a gift was for protection that he and his men had given Nabal’s flocks.  So insulting a “warlord” with 600 men when a few sheep would have made him happy is a “nutty” thing to do. Now the problem actually started in verse 9 when the young men “waited.” This word is only translated twice as “wait” many of the times it is used it is “rest” and many of those references are inferring a LONG rest. So as it says in Proverbs 18 Nabal thinks his money is his fortress and so he answers people harshly and made the men wait a long time. (see Judas)

Fortunately for David and all the men around Nabal’s house, Abigail had good judgment. Note – part of the gift was pressed figs.

As I enjoy trying to place Psalms where they may have been written I would put Psalm 109 after verse 35.

Also, the Lord’s use of “tens” in this text is interesting; Nabal was in a coma ten days, which also was the number of men David sent for the gift.

Map of Carmel and Maon from http://home.comcast.net/~davebowser/bible/david/david15.html