The Tree

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

1. Re the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden (Gen 2:17)

a. It seems to me that vs 15-16 makes it clear that the tree was a real tree. Adam was to actually cultivate the trees including this one. He was actually permitted to eat the fruit of the trees, except this one. 

b. The narrative of the fall in chap 3 also makes most sense if all the trees are real trees. A normal reading of 3:1-7 indicates that both the serpent and the woman were referring to actual trees during their conversation.

c. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil did have special significance as its name hints and the fall indicates. Chap 3:6-7 suggest that after eating of the tree, Adam and Eve became aware of their own sinfulness. 

d. So the tree was unique in that it was intentionally designed by God to test the first human beings. Would they obey Him or not?

e. Some extend this special significance of the tree to mean that the tree was symbolic rather than real. I do not believe this can be supported by the text. At best, it could be said that the tree was both real and symbolic. 

f. There are even some who suggest that the tree represents Satan. This view sets up the untenable position both the serpent and the tree representing Satan in the fall narrative. So, are we to believe that Satan, the angelic being, is now represented by a tree as well as the serpent? We have Biblical warrant for the serpent motif (Rev 12:14; 20:2) but not the tree motif.

g. Some who opt for the Satan view believe that Eve’s sin was that she had sexual intercourse with Satan (she “knew” Satan). This is supposed to explain the depravity of the race. 

2. Re the tree of Ezek 31:9

a. Is the tree of Ezek 31:9 the same tree as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Gen 2:17?

b. The cedar in Lebanon referred to in 3:1:1-9 clearly represents Assyria, not the tree in the Garden of Eden. 

c. The greatness of Assyria, the cedar of Lebanon, is favorably compared to the trees in the Garden not identified with any one of the trees (v 8-9). 

d. The personification of the trees in the Garden in v 9, is simply a literary device designed highlight the greatness of Assyria. It is not intended to suggest that the cedar tree was in the Garden and that it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.