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by Dr. John Thomas
THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL.
"Out of the ground made the Lord God to grow the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil".
These are the most remarkable trees that have ever appeared in the vegetable kingdom.
They were "pleasant to the sight, and good for food".
This, however, is all that is said about their nature and appearance.
They would seem to have been the only trees of their kind; for, if they had been common, Eve's desire to taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and their inclination to eat of that of the Tree of Life, could have been gratified by eating of other similar trees.
What the fruits were we cannot tell; not is it important to know.
Supposition says, that the Tree of Knowledge was an apple tree; but testimony makes no deposition on the subject; therefore we can believe nothing in the case.
These trees, however, are interesting to us, not on account of their natural characteristics, but because of the interdict which rested upon them.
Adam and Eve were permitted to take freely of all the other trees in the garden, "but of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil," said the Lord God, "thou shalt not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die".
Naturally, it was as good for food as any other tree; but, as soon as the Lord God laid His interdict upon it, its fruit became death to the eater; not instant death, however, for their eyes were to be opened, and they were to become as the gods, or Elohim, being acquainted with good and evil even as they.
The final consequence of eating of this tree being death, it may be styled the Tree of Death in contradistinction to the Tree of Life.
Decay of body, and consequent termination of life, ending in corruption, or mortality, was the attribute which this fatal tree was prepared to bestow upon the individual who should presume to touch it.
In the sentence, "Thou shalt surely die," death is mentioned in the Bible for the first time.
But Adam lived several centuries after he had eaten of the tree, which has proved a difficulty in the definition of the death there indicated, hitherto insuperable upon the principles of the creeds.
Creed theology paraphrases the sentence thus -- "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die figuratively, thine immortal soul becoming liable to the pains of hell for ever; and thy body shall die literally afterwards".
But, it is very evident to one unspoiled by the philosophy of the creeds, that this interpretation is not contained in the text.
The obscurity which creates the difficulty does not lie in the words spoken, but in the English version of them.
The phrase "in the day" is supposed to mean that on the very day itself upon which Adam transgressed, he was to die in some sense.
But this is not the use of the phrase even in the English of the same chapter.
For in the fourth verse of the second chapter, it is written, "in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew".