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דַּעַת is almost always rendered as “knowledge.” [H1847-da'ath]

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2 ESV)

However, some more recent translations recognize a different sense of the word:

The LORD’s spirit will rest on him — a spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom, a spirit that provides the ability to execute plans, a spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the LORD. (NET)

The JPS Tanakh translation understands the meaning in Isaiah as devotion:

The spirit of the LORD shall alight upon him: a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and valor, a spirit of devotion and reverence for the LORD. (JPS)

One of the first uses of דַּעַת is at Genesis 2:

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 2:17 ESV)

Obviously trees do not have knowledge growing on them. However, after expulsion from the Garden of Eden, trees will become a source of idolatry and a place people gather to worship false gods. [Trees in mythology] And man seems to be devoted to evil:

But the Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind had become great on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of their minds was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5 NET)

Is the tree in the Garden of Eden better understood as "the tree of devotion of good and evil"?

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  • 3
    Greek is fairly precise and the Alexandrian Jews who translated the Hebrew into Greek chose the exact cognates we have in English. The "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" emerged in the Septuagint as "the tree for knowing what is known of good and evil": τὸ ξύλον τοῦ εἰδέναι γνωστὸν καλοῦ καὶ πονηροῦ. If, as you suggest, this translation is wanting, did they just not understand Hebrew as well as modern scholars?
    – user33515
    Mar 18 '17 at 5:03
  • 3
    Just because there is a tree in Genesis 2-3 and trees are associated with idolatry in some other texts, doesn't mean there is an association of meanings. To be honest it feels to me as if you are reading that meaning back into the Genesis text, rather than interpreting the text itself. Mar 18 '17 at 7:59
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    @TedO, I guess we'll have to agree to differ. I don't see any basis for concluding that your examples are what Genesis 2 is actually talking about. If your approach is valid, we could make Genesis mean anything we want. Mar 18 '17 at 8:57
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    @TedO, Ezekiel 31 is God's judgment on Egypt's Pharaoh. The judgment is written poetically. In the poem God reminds Pharaoh of Assyria's fate. Assyria too was once a mighty empire, but because of its pride God cut it down. The same will happen to Egypt. All of this is told by way of metaphor. Assyria is compared to a great cedar tree from Lebanon: in fact it is the greatest tree in the whole forest, lush, strong, nourishing all the birds and animals... Mar 18 '17 at 12:31
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    Let us continue this discussion in chat. Mar 18 '17 at 12:32
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I have detailed at great length that Genesis 2-3 records the same events as early Egyptian mytholog(y/ies). Whether that be because the Egyptians are detailing the same event or because Egyptian myth inspired a polemic response by the Hebrews to Egyptian theology simply does not matter in this case.

Either we can conclude from Egyptian mythology that the Egyptians understood the tree as a tree of knowledge (and they inspired the polemic response - which would indicate that this should be understood as the tree of Knowledge and not devotion), or we can conclude that both Egyptian and Hebrew culture understood this to be the Tree of Knowledge based on independent accounts of the same event (which serves to re-enforce the interpretation of this being a tree of Knowledge and not devotion).

You see, the Egyptians had a similar account of an Ished Tree. According to Egyptian Legend (originating from the sun temple of Atem in Heliopolis; also referenced in Pyramid Text Utterance 600) which dates to 2400–2300 BC (several hundred years before the Exodus) there was a tree referenced which appears to have been the Tree of Life.

Tree of Life Tree of Life from The Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak from the 19th dynasty

Tree of Life in color A colorized drawing of the above

This seems to be the same tree mentioned in Pyramid Text Utterance 519:

They give to Pharaoh Pepi II the tree of life whereof they live, that Pharaoh Pepi II may, at the same time, live thereof.

Furthermore, Apep, the Egyptian serpent god of the underworld is heavily associated with the Tree of Life. E.A. Budge's translation of The Book of the Dead dating to 1550 BCE (roughly the same time of the Exodus) reads:

I am the Cat which fought by the Persea tree hard by in Annu, on the night when the foes of Neb-er-tcher were destroyed. What then is this? The male cat is Ra himself, and he is called Maau by reason of the speech of the god Sa [who said] concerning him: "He is like (maau) unto that which he hath made, and his name became Maau"; or (as others say), It is Shu who maketh over the possessions of Seb to Osiris. As to the fight by the Persea tree hard by, in Annu, it concerneth the children of impotent revolt when justice is wrought on them for what they have done.

Accompanying this writing are the following illustrations:

Papyrus of Ani

(From the Papyrus of Ani)

Papyrus of Hu-nefer

(From the Papyrus of Hu-nefer)

According to the mythology, The fruit of the persea symbolized the “Sacred Heart” of Horus,

E.A. Wallis Budge, in his work "The book of the Dead" notes,

In close connection with the natural and spiritual bodies stood the heart, or rather that part of it which was the seat of the power of life and the fountain of good and evil thoughts." -

Perhaps this is why eating the fruit of the persea/Ished tree was supposed to give Eternal Life and knowledge of the Divine Plan.

Similarly, there were two trees in Genesis,

  1. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which would make Adam and Eve "like God" by knowing good and evil (the divine plan) if they ate of the fruit of this tree and
  2. The Tree of Life which would give Adam and Eve eternal life by eating of its' fruit.

This all tends to indicate that the interpretation of the Tree of Knowledge as a tree of Devotion is at best a midrashic homelitic interpretation of Genesis (though perhaps not wholly inappropriate). This would support the idea of the Tree being correctly translated firstly a Tree of Knowledge, and only secondarily being a tree of Devotion vis-à-vis midrash and Rabbinic re-interpretation by the time of Isaiah.

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  • Genesis states the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were two separate and distinct trees. Are we to understand the Genesis account is wrong on the basis of Egyptian mythology which conflates both as the Ished Tree? Moreover you fail to address the question: devotion. If the Ished Tree was part of the Egyptian religious experiences, then worship and devotion are logical next steps. Just because they gave it the same name does not mean they were not devoted to and/or did not worship the tree, Mar 18 '17 at 15:04
  • So I put this together pretty late last night and overlooked an importing section that I missed which I think helps clarify why it should be regarded as the tree of knowledge based on the properties of the Tree's fruit. I have edited most of my answer after the pictures. You can either 1) understand the Genesis account to be wrong, 2) understand the Egyptian account to be wrong or 3) understand neither to be "wrong" per-se. #3 makes the most sense if you do not believe the story records actual events. Mar 18 '17 at 17:23
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    I don't think we should be endeavoring to determine which account is wrong and the quantity of the trees isn't all that important. What is important is that theologically, there is a significance to splitting the trees and placing the tree of life in an inaccessible garden: It makes clear that there is nothing on earth, no talismin, no magic fruit, no potion, no spell which can grant life. It is something that can only be given by God and we have been separated from that life by God as a result of our sins. In fact, by seeking the magic knowledge, we lost this - unlike Egyptian Theology Mar 18 '17 at 17:29
  • in which gaining life and divine knowledge are very real possibilities. In Hebrew theology, this can only be gained through fidelity and devotion to Yahweh. Mar 18 '17 at 17:30
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    Actually, the two Trees in Genesis shows this symbolism is borrowed from other religions; that is; the very religions & philosophies you appear to be condemning. The Tree of Life is the most profound idea in the Bible, since salvation is depicted at the end of Revelation with the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is only found in Post-Excilic writings such as Proverbs & Revelation which leads to the obviously conclusion that the creation story in Genesis is post-Excilic &, like Proverbs, derived from other religions during the Babylonian Exile. May 29 '17 at 18:05
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First: You yourself have said that the primary meaning of the Hebrew word is "knowledge". Therefore the classical meaning should be taken as the most accurate unless there is explicit reason to the contrary.

Second: I would be careful about basing the interpretation of a specific Hebrew word on a particular English translation. For example, you have quoted the NET translation and highlighted certain key words. But I would argue that the NET translators did not intend those words to be grouped in that way.

For example, this is the NIV translation:

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him-
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.

And this is the NET equivalent:

The LORD’s spirit will rest on him —
a spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom,
a spirit that provides the ability to execute plans,
a spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the LORD.

So if we compare lines, we see that the NIV translation follows the paired language of the Hebrew text, while the NET translation principle is to try and find a single summary word or phrase to match those pairs of words. "Wisdom and understanding" becomes "extraordinary wisdom." "Counsel and might" becomes "the ability to execute plans." And so, critically for this discussion, "absolute loyalty" does not relate to the single word "knowledge." It's the NET equivalent of the two words "knowledge and fear" wrapped together.

Third: We need to be cautious about finding literary associations between different parts of the Bible. I have doubts that trees as places of idolatry later in Israel's history can be read back into the text of Genesis 2-3. I would only accept such a link if there was some evidence in later writings that the authors themselves were making that association in some way. As a parallel example, it's reasonable to associate the serpent of Genesis 3 with the Devil, because that connection is explicitly made in the NT - see Revelation 12.9 and 20.2. I don't know of any similar connection about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Fourth: The context of the Genesis story also needs to be considered. We get a significant clue from the following verses:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3.4-7)

The key word here is "opened", which is made important by its repetition. The idea is that eating the fruit of the tree has opened their eyes. They have seen something new. In Genesis 2.25 they were naked but without shame; now they have a completely new sense of their nakedness (Genesis 3.7). There is a "realisation" of a new reality, a new relationship with God. In all of these ways the language of the story makes "knowledge" a much more plausible reading of the text.

This is not to deny that there may be other readings of the overall story. "The tree of the knowledge of good and evil" is clearly a highly metaphorical image, and its scope is no doubt wider and deeper than the comments above. But it seems to me that "knowledge" is the best translation of the metaphor itself.

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  • After a person gains knowledge of God can they become devoted to God? The word is translated as devotion in Isaiah 11:2 (also 11:9 and 53:11 in the Tanakh) because knowledge is not an intellectual exercise or accumulation of facts. It is not a static condition; it demands or evokes a response. Mar 18 '17 at 15:14
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    I agree that devotion to God is better than mere head knowledge of God. But I also think that's a bad reason for translating a word as "devotion" if its primary meaning is "knowledge". If we go down that path, we're almost saying that the original author should have written something different from what he did write. For the reasons given in my main answer, I think "knowledge" is the best translation in this particular case. Mar 19 '17 at 4:35
  • Two observations-the use of trees in idolatry later is not necessarily reading something back into the account. It is considering where the use of trees in that fashion originated. Since trees are a key aspect of the events in the garden their use later in history harkens back to their role/use in the garden. Second, the correct rendering of Genesis 3:6 is "the woman saw the tree..." So the emphasis on seeing is part of the account before their eyes were opened. May 30 '17 at 15:08
  • @RevelationLad - You said: the correct rendering of Genesis 3:6 is "the woman saw the tree..." This is incorrect because, among other things, the sentence specifically contains the word כי which means 'that.' So the correct rendering is: "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food..." The emphasis in Gen 3:6 is on not on seeing the tree, but on eating the fruit from the tree.
    – user6503
    May 30 '17 at 22:55
1

The key to understanding the forbidden tree is to look at the characteristics of the tree. First, the tree was similar to all other fruit-bearing trees in the garden in that it was: pleasant to the sight and good for food (cf. Gen. 2:9; Gen. 3:6). The only distinct different between the forbidden tree and the allowable trees was that it was a a tree " to be desired to make one wise."

To better understand this, one has to look at three basic degrees of aesthetic beauty that are encompassed by the three features of the tree: beauty that appeals to taste, beauty that appeals to the eyes, and beauty that appeals to the mind. On all three levels the woman was engaged. Any 2-year old can appreciate the beauty of a watermelon lollypop, but give a 2-year old a rose and they will eat it or crush it. However, give that same rose to a 12-year old girl and she will gasp with pleasure at how "beautiful" it is. However, the third level of beauty is a beauty that goes beyond taste and sight. Take, for example, the beauty of Mozart. What does this appeal to? Yes! It appeals to the mind. It is a beauty that appeals to the mind.

Here, on this third level, the tree appealed to the woman. It was a tree that (literally) was "desirable to contemplate." It was a tree of desire. Desire, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. God gave humanity desire. However, before the woman ate of the forbidden tree she "possessed" desire. After she ate of the tree, "desire possessed her." This is why we find desire bundled into the punishment clauses:

Genesis 3:16 (KJV) 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.

Remember, the result of eating the tree was exactly as the serpent had said: they would become like God, knowing good and evil.

Genesis 3:5 (KJV) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Genesis 3:22 (KJV) And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Disobedience corrupted humanity in that "illicit desire" opened the their eyes to a world that would mandate a "new mind" which, of course, was the result of Jesus Christ and being born-again and hence, "Let this mind be in you..."

Romans 12:2 (KJV) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Literally, the "renovation" of the mind.

Hope this helps a little bit.

1

Note: this answer originally addressed an earlier version of this question.

Response to Claims that Knowledge was not actually on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

In addition to God's command to not eat from the tree of knowledge in Genesis 2, Genesis 3 mentions several times that the eating of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would give increased knowledge and wisdom. The increase in knowledge is what the serpent used to entice Eve into eating of the fruit:

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows [ידע] that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing [ידעי] good and evil.”

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew [ידע] that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
-Genesis 3:4-7 (NKJV)

  • The serpent says the tree contains knowledge that can be obtained by eating of it.
  • Eve sees the pleasantness of the tree and that it can make one wise.
  • The eyes of Eve and Adam are opened after they eat from the tree. Their knowledge increased and they now know they are naked (דעת “knowledge” is derived from ידע “to know”).

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?

12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
-Genesis 3:8-13 (NKJV)

Here again the focus is on eating from the tree. God's questions to the man in verse 11 demonstrate that man would only have known of his nakedness if he had eaten from the tree God said not to eat from. דעת should not be better understood as “devotion” because man gained knowledge by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


Response to Revision 5

  • Is the tree in the Garden of Eden better understood as "the tree of devotion..." rather than "the tree of knowledge..."?

No, because even if the rest of the sentence was ignored you would still have to take into account that “knowledge” דעת has the letter “he” ה prefixed to it. The “he” ה would require it to be

ומעץ הדעת

but of the tree of the knowledge...

If דעת really did mean “devotion” then the sentence would be but of the tree of the devotion.... However, this brings us back to the problem of needing prepositions because

  • the tree of devotion...to what?

Response to Revision 3

“Tree of devotion of good and evil” can't really be defended here, mainly because it doesn't make sense in English or in Hebrew. דעת is properly rendered knowledge even by the JPS 1985 in Genesis 2:17.


Original Response to Revision 2

No, it cannot be “the tree of devotion to good and evil” because the phrase lacks any preposition that would be required for this rendering. Here is the phrase in question:

ומעץ הדעת טוב ורע

but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (NKJV / ESV)

but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (NASB)

ומעץ: “but of the tree”

  • ו: but
    מ: of [in the sense of ‘out of’] (NKJV / ESV) or from (NASB)
    עץ: the tree

    Note that the phrase “the tree” by itself would normally be העץ

    ה: the
    עץ: tree

    However when the mem מ is prefixed to a word like in the above example, the he ה is dropped (“the tree” normally being העץ is not always the case as עץ can refer to a single tree in particular, which would then still be referred to as “the tree” without a prefixed he ה, but for simplicity I won't go into detail now).

הדעת: “[of] the knowledge”

  • ה: the
    דעת: knowledge

טוב: “[of] good”

ורע: “and evil”

  • ו: and
    רע: evil

“The tree” is the object and the rest of the phrase describes the attributes of the tree.

  • What kind of tree is it? It is the tree of knowledge.
  • What kind of knowledge? The knowledge of good and evil.

If the sentence were to be “the tree of devotion to good and evil” it would require additional prepositions, such as lameds ל. Also the he ה prefixed to “knowledge דעת” would have to be dropped. The sentence would then appear like this:

ומעץ דעת לטוב ולרע

which could then be literally rendered as “but of the tree of devotion to good and to evil....”

Concerning Isaiah 11:2 in the NET, notice that the corresponding translator's note gives the more proper rendering:

6 tn Heb “a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.” [...]

“a spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord” is more of an interpretive rendering of the actual phrase, as is the JPS rendering. Here is the Isaiah 11:2 phrase:

רוח דעת ויראת יהוה

The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. (NKJV)

the Spirit [spirit(NASB)] of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (ESV / NASB)

Notice that there are no lameds ל. When prefixed to a word, a lamed ל can mean to or for (in addition to several other meanings1). So strictly speaking, the JPS rendering of

A spirit of devotion and reverence for the LORD.

is not correct, though as I said earlier it is more of an interpretation. All translations have a certain amount of interpertation, since they would be essentially unreadable to most people otherwise. But in the case of Isaiah 11:2, readings such as the NKJV, ESV, and NASB are the more accurate.

Conclusion

Genesis 2:17 cannot be rendered as “the tree of devotion to good and evil” due to the lack of required prepositions. The rendering of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is correct not only from the grammar, but from what happens to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 when God says in verse 22:

Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. (NKJV)

הן האדם היה כאחד ממנו לדעת טוב ורע

Note the lamed ל above in bold. The man came to know good and evil by eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Tree is the noun, while knowledge and good and evil are acting as adjectives to describe the tree.


1 See Gesenius's Hebrew Lexicon entry for ל, namely (6), (7), & (8) on pages 423-424.

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  • @RevelationLad - ??? "Devotion of good and evil" is not a grammatically correct statement in English or Hebrew, so I'm not sure why you are stuck on that. Your very next comment even says: "On the other hand trees were used as objects of idolatry and devotion to gods." No matter how you look at it, or how much of the sentence you try to cut out of Gen 2:17, you still cannot support your theory.
    – user6503
    May 30 '17 at 18:19
  • @RevelationLad - In fact, your most recent edit to try and cut down the phrase to only include "tree of knowledge" instead of the fuller sentence is the epitome of bad hermeneutics. The phrase didn't say what you wanted it to say, so you tried to make it an even shorter phrase in an attempt to justify your idea.
    – user6503
    May 30 '17 at 18:23
  • @RevelationLad - It most definitely was a real tree that existed in the real world long ago. The tree of life was also a real tree, as were the cherubim and flaming sword God placed at the east of the Garden to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24). As I mentioned in my answer already, God clearly stated that man now had the knowledge of good and evil in Gen 3:22. Man did not have this knowledge before eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge.
    – user6503
    May 30 '17 at 20:29
  • @RevelationLad - Just stop already, man! Your theory cannot be supported without adding to the words that actually are written. Instead of continually arguing in comments, why don't you post your own answer? That is allowed and even encouraged here.
    – user6503
    May 30 '17 at 22:43
  • You did not address the main aspect of the question which is based on the subsequent events (idolatry) and the obvious fact knowledge is not found on trees, should the word be better understood as devotion? The principle on which the question is based is Paul Ricoeur’s “second naivete” where deeper levels of meanings are possible because of future events. If knowledge was found on trees outside the garden your answer would be acceptable because what is found later follows the literal text. In this case, using Ricoeur’s terms, the second reading is the same as the first. The future... Jun 9 '17 at 18:44
0

The Christian understanding of the Trees of Life and the Trees of Knowledge during the first millennium of the Church is probably best summarized in John of Damascus' (676-749) Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith:

In its midst God planted the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The tree of knowledge was for trial, and proof, and exercise of man’s obedience and disobedience: and hence it was named the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else it was because to those who partook of it was given power to know their own nature. Now this is a good thing for those who are mature, but an evil thing for the immature and those whose appetites are too strong, being like solid food to tender babes still in need of milk. For our Creator, God, did not intend us to be burdened with care and troubled about many things, nor to take thought about, or make provision for, our own life. But this at length was Adam’s fate

Yea, He meant us further to be free from care and to have but one work to perform, to sing as do the angels, without ceasing or intermission, the praises of the Creator, and to delight in contemplation of Him and to cast all our care on Him. This is what the Prophet David proclaimed to us when He said, Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He will sustain thee [Psalm 55:22]. And, again, in the Gospels, Christ taught His disciples saying, Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat, nor for your body what ye shall put on [Matthew 6:25]. And further, Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you [Matthew 6:33]. And to Martha He said, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her [Luke 10:41-42], meaning, clearly, sitting at His feet and listening to His words.1

I think this commentary points out some things that support your point of the Tree of Knowledge relating to devotion, especially:

He meant us further to be free from care and to have but one work to perform, to sing as do the angels, without ceasing or intermission, the praises of the Creator, and to delight in contemplation of Him and to cast all our care on Him.

I don't see how one gets to that sense through a literal reading of the text, though. It would be interesting to see how the meaning of "devotion" is found in the Hebrew. The 1985 Tanakh translated the Masoretic Text in Genesis as "knowledge", not "devotion". Of the 89 occurrences of דַּ֫עַת, the word is translated as "devotion" in only 3 places - all in Isaiah.


1 Book II, Chapter XI - Concerning Paradise

1
  • Isaiah 11:9 and 53:11 are also translated as devotion in the Tanakh Mar 18 '17 at 14:44
-5

Yes, the tree in the Garden of Eden is better understood as "the tree of devotion to good and evil" because spiritual death does not occur due to mere knowledge but due to a zealous fundamentalist devotion to good & evil.

This is because every wise person must be able to know & distinguish between good & evil. But it is only those devoted to good versus evil that are spiritually dead.

For example, when a person is zealously devoted to believing Christianity is the only 'good', this zealous devotion results in such a zealous devotee regarding other religions as 'evil', even though those other religions, that also use trees as symbols, may also be good or even be better.

This example shows how devotion to 'good' creates evil delusions within the mind of a devotee; which could even result in the devotee committing murder, in the same way they are a lawbreaker when they speak lies when accusing other religions of idolatry & worshipping false gods.

The story in Genesis is a parable describing how devotion to 'good' leads to person to do 'evil', just as Cain's devotion to good caused him to murder his brother Abel.

If Cain was not devoted to, i.e., obsessed with, what he regarded as "good", Cain would have never murdered his brother. When Cain did not get what he regarded as "good", he became jealous & angry and murdered his brother over his devotion to the "good". Thus devotion to "good" caused Cain to do evil, just as devotion to "good" caused Saul to travel all the way to Damascus to persecute & murder the early peace-loving Christian church.

In the same way, those devoted to good & evil in a moralistic & selfish way struggle to forgive others & often condemn others. By condemning & not forgiving, they never eat of the Tree of Life and never embody the Perfect Law that sets people free. Eternally, they remain within the grip of death of Satan.

4
  • "But it is only those devoted to good versus evil that are spiritually dead." Do you mean someone devoted to evil is spiritually alive? Mar 18 '17 at 15:20
  • It seems obvious by your question & by your response that you have not understood the meaning & significance of the two trees in Genesis, namely, the Tree of Devotion (that leads to Spiritual Death) and the Tree of Life. The Christian Bible ends with a number of images of the Tree of Life that represent Salvation. I did my best to explain the Tree of Devotion to you,namely, all obsession with both good & evil lead to death. Paul made this clear about how the Law leads to death. The Law leads to death because forgiveness & love leads to Life. Regards Mar 18 '17 at 20:01
  • 2
    This interpretation is balderdash. It does not even remotely represent the Biblical text nor does it even conform to reason.
    – Caleb
    May 29 '17 at 14:40
  • This previous comment shows how far away freedom & salvation is. What I wrote is not an "interpretation". It is the literal truth & so perfectly reasonable. The story about the two Trees is post-Exilic Eastern mysticism. This is why the Tree of Life is only found in post-Exilic writing such as Proverbs & Revelation. The Tree of Life is common in eastern Asianic religions. It is so far from being anything original. May 29 '17 at 18:00

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