Wednesday, November 28, 2007

(b) Was The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil Literal, Symbolic, Or Both?
In the middle of the Garden of Eden, God planted a tree, referred to as "The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." Although this may have been a literal tree, it's more likely to have been symbolic. Or perhaps it was both literal and symbolic.

The Hebrew word for knowledge here is "yada," which can refer to sexual knowledge. The idea is that by knowing someone, you fully experience them in a deep, intimate way. The phrase, "the knowledge of good and evil" can refer to a wide spectrum of knowledge, knowing everything, both good and evil; omniscience. However, it's doubtful that the phrase "knowledge of good and evil" has that meaning here. Adam and Eve did not become all-knowing as a result of eating from this tree.

Does that mean Eve had sex with a tree? Well, not a literal tree, of course. But trees often symbolize people, both within the biblical account and within the cultural setting of ancient Israel and Canaan. So it is conceivable that The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil may have been a symbol for Satan.

One indication that this tree was not a literal tree is in its name: The Tree of the Knowledge of "Good and Evil." This tree was both good and evil. Yet when God created everything, He said that everything was not only good, it was all "very good." This included all the trees, which were created on the third day. All the trees that God created were very good. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was both good and evil, not as God had created it.

Was there anything in the Garden of Eden that God originally created as good, but was now both good and evil? Of course, Satan the devil. Satan was created perfectly good as Lucifer, but he chose to be evil. Literal trees cannot choose to be evil. Symbolic trees can. Satan was that symbolic tree. Satan fully experienced the broad spectrum of both good and evil. Who else but Satan could have been described symbolically as The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Some have suggested that the human race, i.e. the family tree of Adam, were The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Or perhaps Eve was The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Although it's possible that they may have become "A" Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil after the fall, since no man or woman, other than Jesus, were without sin. But The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was in existence prior to the fall. Therefore, the human race or Eve may have become "A" Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; but they could not have been "The" Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Only Satan fits that description.

So why would God inspire the biblical author to use two symbols to represent the same thing? Isn't that confusing?

Consider a dream given by God to Pharaoh king of Egypt during the time of Joseph. Joseph was in jail. But when the Pharaoh heard that Joseph could interpret dreams, he called for Joseph (Genesis 41:17-32, KJV).

17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven cows, fat fleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:19 And, behold, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and lean fleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:20 And the lean and the ill favoured cows did eat up the first seven fat cows:21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning.

So I awoke.
22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears of corn came up in one stalk, full and good:23 And, behold, seven ears of corn, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:24 And the thin ears of corn devoured the seven good ears of corn: and I told this to the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.26 The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears of corn are seven years: the dream is one.27 And the seven thin and ill favoured cows that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears of corn blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.

28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he has shown unto Pharaoh.
29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

In Pharaoh's dream, seven cows represented seven years. The seven healthy fat cows represented seven years of prosperity. The sick, skinny cows represented seven years of famine. The same was true of the ears of corn. The seven healthy ears of corn represented seven years of prosperity. These same seven years were represented by seven healthy, fat cows. The seven thin ears of corn represented seven years of famine, the same seven years which were represented by the seven sick, skinny cows. God used ears of corn and cows to symbolically represent the same thing. And why did God do this?

According to verse 32, God used the dual-symbolism to establish the interpretation as a certainty; to give it dual emphasis. Therefore, it's certainly reasonable that God used dual symbolism to establish that Satan was symbolized by both a serpent and a tree, The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

It's also pertinent to consider that when fertility cults engaged in intercourse with cult prostitutes, either male or female, they believed they were not only having sex with their favorite god or goddess, but they also believed they could acquire certain characteristics from that god or goddess.

When Adam knew Eve, he fully experienced Eve. If Eve had sex with Satan, she would have fully experienced (yada) Satan. This would explain how the human race became totally depraved, certainly more so than merely eating a piece of literal fruit. It would also explain why the unregenerate are sometimes referred to as "the children of the devil." First John 3:10 contrasts the children of God and the children of the devil:

In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother (NKJV).

Jesus accused some of the Jews of having the devil as a father:

You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it (John 8:44, NKJV).

In Matthew 13:38, Jesus refers to wicked people as sons of the wicked one, i.e. the devil:

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one (NKJV).

In John 6:70-71, Jesus said told His twelve disciples that Judas Iscariot was a devil:

"Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve (NKJV).

Again, this doesn't prove that Eve had sex with the devil. It simply provides additional evidence that points in that direction.