“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
It strikes me that the best way to get some folk to do something is to tell them not to do it. Human curiosity leads us to ask why we should not do something; if like me, you have a somewhat suspicious streak, telling me not to do something invites the question: what am I missing if I don’t?
The problem is compounded by the suggestion made by many biblical commentators that the tree of knowledge of good and evil is a metaphor for wisdom. Wisdom, in the Bible and in life, is generally considered a good thing. But is it?
Yes and No. Yes, wisdom is a good thing, in that it helps us attain a deeper insight into life, the universe and everything, and not least ourselves. No, wisdom is a bad thing, in that it helps us attain a deeper insight into, well, all the good things mentioned above. Once we gain wisdom into the world in all its complexity, we are at our childhood’s end. We must grow up.
And we learn that everything, including ourselves, is mortal.
The God of Genesis knows this. The God of Genesis also knows that humanity must ultimately ‘eat from the tree’ in order to grow up… and that growing up is difficult, even painful.