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Scripture clearly tells us that God made the Tree of Life in Eden, that God informed Adam of the Tree of Knowledge, and that God expelled Adam from Eden so as to prevent him from eating of the Tree of Life:

Genesis 2:8-9

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:15-17

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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 3:22-23

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand rand take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

(All translations are from ESV.)

Conspicuously absent is any mention to Adam of the Tree of Life.

It seems to be generally assumed (general public, Biblical commentators, etc.) that Adam was aware of the Tree of Life, but is there actually any evidence to support this? Either generally (i.e. that there was a Tree of Life in Eden) or specifically (i.e. this specific tree is the Tree of Life)?

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    As you eluded to - there is no specific clear verse saying Adam knew. Therefore if it’s [that sort of ] evidence your expecting, this is unanswerable. But it’s clear this (knowing whether he knew about this tree) isn’t important, because if it were - we’d be told. There was only one tree he needed to know about!
    – Dave
    Apr 13, 2021 at 4:21
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    The tree of life was in the midst. It was unavoidable. What was in the midst of Eden ? The word of God. The Word of Life, which was from the beginning.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 13, 2021 at 7:12
  • @NigelJ Do you mean to say that the tree was allegorical?
    – Alex
    Apr 14, 2021 at 0:27
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    @Alex Not at all. I see the Tree of Life as the Word of Life. That is to say, the very words that God spoke ( The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it YLT) : that is the Tree of Life. God's presence and God's word.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 14, 2021 at 5:51

6 Answers 6

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Scriptures don't always give you word for word answers, but when you read it you can understand the story line. God drove them out, primarily so that they don't have access to the tree of life, if not they would also have eaten from it. Which equals to "no room for redemption " so your answer lies in God's statement there

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    Sep 11, 2021 at 2:47
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The OP asks:

Is there actually any evidence to support this? Did Adam know about the Tree of Life?

Symbolically, yes.

The scriptural canon begins and ends with the Tree of Life and Eden. In Revelation 22, The effect of The Tree Of Life is explained as, in part, spiritual sustenance and to connect heaven with earth, God with man.

Revelation 22:1-5 NIV

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

On either side of the river of the water of life is the Tree Of Life. It yields fruit perpetually, and the leaves bring healing to the nations. This imagery is confirmed by Ezekiel and Zechariah:

Zechariah 14:8 ESV

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.

Ezekiel 47:1–2 NIV

1 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

Ezekial 47:8-9 NIV

8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.

In answer to the OP, Adam would have been aware of the effect of the Tree of Life, without necessary knowledge of how and why. And, after the Fall, Adam knew separation from its benefits, not least spiritual sustenance and communion with God.


Footnote on the symbolism of the Tree of Life in pre-Abrahamic culture:

Patriarchal Israel emerged from Mesopotamian nomadic culture (Genesis 11:31-12:9). Like many early civilisations, Mesopotamian/Assyrian lore included Tree of Life symbolism. In part, of connection between diety and man, heaven and earth. The symbol and lore are recorded, and examples are exhibited at the British Museum in early Assyrian/Mesopotamian writing.

Whereas each culture had specific and various detailed meanings, some common elements in symbolism such as immortality and connection with deity are pervasive.

I posit that the lore symbolism of the ‘Tree of Life’ would have been known to the writer of Genesis (as would ‘Tree of Knowledge’) and that the Genesis account might have had meaning in lore even to longtime-post-Mosaic readers. By including and embracing Tree of Life symbolism, the monotheist message of Creation in Genesis perhaps was made understandable to people of the time. Even if that symbolism is distant today. Godly connection and spiritual sustenance (IMHO) is the crucial message of Genesis 2:9 about The Tree of Life, whether or not the account of Genesis 2 is literal.

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  • This Q. made me reread parts of Genesis (sadly neglected for quite some time) that I realize now, I never really understood or even tried to understand. Then on reading your answer, I now have a much clearer perspective. I couldn't agree more with your last sentence ...*Godly connection and spiritual sustenance is the crucial message of Genesis 2:9 about the tree of life, whether or not the account of Genesis 2 is literal*... Great exposition. Truly insightful answer. + 1. Oct 19, 2023 at 19:40
  • @Olde English Thank you. Ironic perhaps that the beginning and the end of canonical Scripture, Genesis and Revelation, can be so tough to interpret consistently. Yet there is a certain symmetry, and it all begins and ends well.
    – user59096
    Oct 19, 2023 at 22:11
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As I often investigate the scriptures to get to the truth, the most interesting discovery of both Trees is that God doesn’t give any description of those trees on how they look actually look, what color, what type and so on. So if there are multiple trees in a Garden even if they are in the middle and you are told two trees are in the middle but not to eat of one, How can anyone know which tree not to eat from if there is not specific details besides the two in the middle which could be any tree. If you ever been in a field of corn or wine vineyard or any other field that grows fruits and vegetables, you realize that if you are in the field surrounded by the crops it’s nearly impossible to know where the middle is because they all look alike unless you have a bird’s eye view that can guide you to the middle. Folks spend lots of time wasted over looking the facts in the text. Westernized English translations of scriptures often distort the true meaning of the scripture. In order to get the meaning correct, All scripture must be looked at in the original Hebrew to understand what the true meaning is. English words often change the meaning therefore causing misinterpreted scriptures which mislead people. For example in the NT Yeshua (Jesus) in English translations the word hypocrites is used by him to describe The Pharisees which is most commonly defined as someone who says one thing and does something else. However in the original Greek text that the NT was written, hyprocrite literally means “actor”, “stage player”, or pretender in Greek, therefore if those scriptures are read with the understanding as in the original Greek you get the true meaning as intended and not the common understanding of what a Hypocrite is which makes the interpretation wrong.

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  • Hi User45719l, welcome to the site! Thank you for your contribution.. I invite you to take a tour of the site, link is on bottom left corner, to familiarize yourself with how the site works. If you don't mind a little helpful feedback, it looks like you got a little off track in answering the question by discussing the biblical languages. Many good answers will take the biblical languages into account. You can always edit your answers if you think of ways to make them better. By the way, God walked in the garden with Adam, so he certainly made sure Adam knew which tree he should not eat from. Oct 20, 2021 at 6:32
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The fact that both the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil were located "in the midst of the garden" indicates that God must have had to tell Adam which one was which.

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9, KJV)

The Tree of Life is that which will extend human life, potentially forever. It is never called "The Tree of Immortality," and many people confuse it with such. The fact that the first generations of people lived nearly 1000 years shows the effects of both God having freshly created mankind and of their having eaten of this tree. Because they were removed from this tree, their bodies eventually wore out and failed. Had they continued to eat of it, they would have lived forever.

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: (Genesis 3:22, KJV)

The Hebrew verb translated here as "take" is יִשְׁלַ֣ח/yiš·laḥ (H7971). In this verse it appears in the Qal imperfect form, which means it applies to a forward-looking, ongoing or continuous action. It is imperfect because it is not a single complete/finished action. The meaning, then, is that Adam should continue to take of this fruit. It does not indicate whether or not Adam might already have eaten of it. It is possible, given the grammar here, either way. I believe Adam had eaten of it, but the Hebrew is ambiguous.

Conclusion

While we cannot know with perfect certainty, the facts imply that God must have explained to Adam the difference between the two trees in the Garden, so he would have known about the Tree of Life.

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It was not a perfect existence without sin as Satan had already done this and was roaming around in the garden. Adam and Eve were created as disobedient creatures from the jump and it was not a matter of if but when for the fruit that was forbidden was consumed. This was the plan and definitely not some surprise to God.

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The Tree of Life

We seem to be given a couple of glimpses into the Tree of Life, and certain inferences that Adam knew all about it:

Genesis 2:8-9: The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

We later learn that Adam and Eve were prohibited from eating of the Tree of Life after they had disobeyed God:

Genesis 3:23-24: [The] LORD God sent [Adam (and Eve)] out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

In the above verses from Genesis 3, the implication is that if God had not stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve would definitely have eaten from it, presumably with the full knowledge of its identity.

What About the Other Tree: The Tree of Knowledge?

This leads to an interesting consideration of the other Tree. Perhaps we should understand that the reason God planted the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil directly in the middle of the Garden of Eden was to hasten the Fall.

You read that correctly. Imagine that the Tree was located high atop a distant mountain, and Satan was never present to tempt anyone. It might take many centuries, even millennia, before some unfortunate soul ate of the Tree. But it was inevitable that someone would do so, whether intentionally or not. Therefore, God expected all human beings to be just as accountable as every other. That was God’s Plan. And, the serpent appears to have been central to that plan. This can be a difficult concept because many of us tend to overlook the fact that nothing can surprise a supremely omniscient Being. Everything that occurred in the Garden was well-known to God and indeed preordained by Him before the foundation of the world.

Were Adam and Eve Initially Automatons?

Many will argue that prior to their disobedience, Adam and Eve had no free will. They maintain that without the ability to disobey God, the first couple would have been little more than automatons, or robots. However, anyone who is aware of the behavior of true automatons should immediately recognize the fallacy of this assertion. A computer or automaton or robot, is thoroughly incapable of disobeying its instructions. It can do nothing more than strictly adhere to its programming. It would be impossible for an automaton to disobey a strict commandment, let alone one delivered by God. Further, let us reflect on the words of the Trinity from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis:

Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (emphasis added).

Since God created Adam and Eve “in [His] image, according to [His] likeness,” to “rule … over all the Earth,” they clearly were not automatons. If they were, they would not have been created in God’s image! It is hardly the case that Eve possessed free will only after she had transgressed God’s Law. Notice carefully what Eve did: she chose to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Far from being a creature without volition, this voluntary act demonstrated Eve’s free will before the Fall – before she had yet to disobey God. It is striking that so many seem to overlook this fact. They are convinced that “free will” is contingent upon the threat of disobedience including the subsequent transgression itself.

There is a final point to consider. Are we to actually believe that once we join God in heaven, we will be nothing more than automatons since there will no longer be any Tree of Knowledge and no serpent to tempt us? What purpose could that possibly serve? Why would God create creatures with free will only to deny that same freedom once they enter His Presence eternally? To ask such a question is to answer it.

Genesis 3: The Serpent

We often visualize the “serpent” like a snake or other reptilian figure. In the first verse of the Book of Genesis, we are told:

Genesis 3:1: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (Gen. 3:1).

Is this not the same as merely stating that “The serpent was craftier than any beast” – and that he really wasn’t a “beast” at all? This being, whatever his form, could apparently communicate verbally. And, he knew of certain other-worldly truths. Some of his initial acts were to 1) lie to Eve, and through that lie to 2) inflict spiritual death upon her, her husband Adam, and all of their posterity. We appear to see the Devil as both a liar and a murderer from the beginning, just as Christ describes in the Gospel of John (8:44).

All of this suggests that Satan was ordained by God to fulfill His Divine Arrangement. However, it would be incorrect to conclude that God is the Author of evil. Rather, God knew that if He raised a creature like Satan, the outcome was certain: human beings would then be left with a stark choice. On the surface, this may seem unreasonable. But is it really? Did God not raise Pharaoh with the knowledge that He (God) would “harden Pharaoh’s heart” continually against the Israelites (Ex. 8:32, 9:12, 10:27, 11:10)?

Here we should understand that God did not make Pharaoh do the things that he did. Pharaoh chose to act against the Israelites with divine consent, very likely under the influence of Satan. The forces of darkness are always at work in our world, and they must surely have played a significant role in Pharaoh’s poor decisions. Similarly, God knew that the serpent would deceive Eve because it was all part of the Grand Design. The Devil would be the catalyst for the inevitable disobedience that followed, something that had to occur in relatively short order beginning with Adam and Eve.

Paradise Lost

Adam and Eve existed in a paradise where had they obeyed God (implausible, given the circumstances), they could presumably have lived forever. There was no decay, no disease, no death, and no animal predators to worry about – other than the serpent’s influence. Their only challenge was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. All that Satan could do, and, of course, did, was tempt them to disobey God’s only restriction. After the first couple ate of the Tree, something profound occurred.

While they spent an indeterminate amount of time in the Garden without clothing, they apparently had no awareness of their nakedness. Perhaps the reason they had no concern about such things is that they shared a common ethereal identity, a spiritual consciousness in which they were at one with God, with each other, and with their surroundings. This suggests that before their transgression Adam and Eve possessed a superior supernatural awareness; they had no real sense of self but were united both intellectually and spiritually.

However, after they had eaten of the Tree, it seems that this undifferentiated perfection was shattered; they became disassociated with one another into self-identities. Our original parents were no longer one with God or with their environment. They at once became separate and distinct, spiritually and psychologically detached. Their disobedience deprived them of their blessed, shared consciousness replacing it with selfish personal identities. And, with an intense recognition of self, there is an awareness of what one does, and of what one can do to others.

There is a profound vulnerability associated with individuality. It is the instant recognition that a person is alone in their thoughts about themselves and their surroundings. The “self” presents great restrictions because an intense responsibility arises with individual awareness: we are capable either of acting in accordance with God’s wishes or of behaving contrary to His expectations and thus committing malevolent acts. Through this individual identity, we entertain evil thoughts and intentions, theft, coveting, lust, cheating, envy, murder, strife, and so on (Mk. 7:21-23). All that defiles us as human beings originates from our sense of self – our Pride – a soul spiritually adrift from all others. Author C.S. Lewis once wrote about this dilemma in his book, Mere Christianity:

The natural life in each of us is something self-centered, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe. And especially it wants to be left to itself: to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, anything that might make it feel small. It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world, just as people who have been brought up to be dirty are afraid of a bath. And in a sense, it is quite right. It knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centeredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that.

Indeed, the self is the very foundation upon which we become our own god, blinded by our own narcissistic ambitions. Everything else becomes incidental as a means of gratifying the insatiable self. When we reflect on our very early years as children under the age of four or five, we had not yet formed any defining sense of personhood. We were largely unaware of the world and of all that it represents; we were oblivious to much of the world around us, and might easily step directly in front of oncoming traffic. Generally speaking, we lived a quasi-heavenly existence, at relative peace with ourselves and everything else: We had not yet eaten of the Tree.

There seems to be a distinct parallel between the effects of consuming the forbidden fruit (disobedience) and our own awareness, beginning around the age of four or five. Prior to that, we really have no consciousness of our vulnerabilities. Just as Adam and Eve, we do not recognize evil at that tender age. By five years or so, we too begin to understand the difference between right and wrong. We begin to understand when we have disobeyed our parents and are conscious of our guilt – just as if we too had partaken of the same deadly fruit. Once we become fully aware of ourselves as uniquely separate individuals, we have become thoroughly unrighteous beings. In other words, we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

This may explain why most of us are unable to remember those enchanted formative years. Many understand that it is only when we finally reach this age that we suddenly feel a desperate need to clothe ourselves. Although Adam and Eve were full-grown adults, we do not know how long they had existed during their great loss. But it seems at least plausible that they too may only have lived for four or five years; the evidence from the biblical record is inconclusive.

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  • A thoughtful answer. "hasten the Fall" that has to an understatement! That's why the serpent was there in the first place, a catalyst you said, the tree his means, pride his tool - he knew all about pride. +1 (pity about the random trinity reference) There is no 'free-will' when all options are not available or are unknown. Which is roughly your point about the serpents presence. I only gave them a few weeks!
    – Steve
    Apr 13, 2021 at 3:12

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