TREE OF LIFE Plant in Garden of Eden symbolizing access to eternal life and metaphor used in Proverbs. For the biblical writer the tree of life was an important consideration only after Adam and Eve disobeyed. Sin interrupted the quality of life God intended for them. They were to obey God (Genesis 2:17) in a family setting (Genesis 2:18-25) and perform their assigned tasks (Genesis 2:15). The implication is that they had access to all the trees in the garden, including the tree of life, but God gave an explicit command not to eat of the tree of knowledge. Their relationship to God changed radically when they disobeyed that command. Chief among the radical changes was that they no longer had access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24).
The “tree of life” appears in Proverbs four times (Proverbs 3:18; Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:12; Proverbs 15:4) and in Revelation 2:7; Revelation 22:2,Revelation 22:14. To lay hold of wisdom is to lay hold on “a tree of life” (Proverbs 3:18). “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” (Proverbs 11:30 NIV). Yet another proverb has this comparison: “a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV). The author of another proverb wrote, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4 NIV). None of these proverbs seems to refer to “the tree of life” mentioned in Genesis. All of the references in Revelation do. See Adam and Eve; Eden; Tree of Knowledge.
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.