TREE OF KNOWLEDGE Plant in midst of Garden of Eden used to prove the first couple's loyalty to the Creator (Genesis 2-3). Reference to “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is in a context concerned with the fall. In Genesis 3:3 the tree is designated as “the tree which is in the midst of the garden.” Eating from the tree brought the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:5,Genesis 3:22). One of many trees in the garden, this tree alone was forbidden to mankind under the penalty of death (Genesis 2:17).
The tree of knowledge was Adam and Eve's opportunity to demonstrate obedience and loyalty to God, but the serpent used it to tempt Eve to eat and to become like God “knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). When Adam joined Eve in eating the forbidden fruit, the result was shame, guilt, exclusion from the garden, and separation from the tree of life and from God. The Bible's primary interest about the tree of knowledge is not what kind of knowledge it represented—moral judgment, secular knowledge, sexual knowledge, universal knowledge, or some other kind—but how it served as God's test and Satan's temptation. The result for mankind was disaster as they failed the test and fell to the temptation. See Adam and Eve; Eden; Tree of Life.
Billy K. Smith
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.