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but of the tree

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of the knowledge

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of good

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and evil

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you shall not eat,

for in the day you eat from it, in dying you will die.

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but you should not eat from the source of wisdom that gives discernment about what will bring about pleasing  results and what will bring about unpleasant results, for on the very day you eat of it you will definitely suffer separation; there will be no escaping it, no alternatives, no “ifs, ands or buts.”



Was it an apple tree? NO! We can be confident that it was not any of the fruit trees we are familiar with. According to the writer of the Jewish blog, the myth of the apple got started because the Latin word for “evil” sounds similar to the word that Latin borrowed from Greek meaning “apple.”


The word I have rendered as “knowledge,” means “knowledge” and also “wisdom.” It is often used in the proverbs for wisdom, although it is not the only word for “wise or wisdom” used in Proverbs. This word focuses on the knowledge needed to make good choices, whereas the other word for wisdom focuses on the act of choosing well between the choices available. One is the knowledge necessary to make a good choice, but you have to want to make the right choice; the other one is a demonstration of that desire by having made the right choice. The word “discernment” can be used of each of them and is thus the point where the two words overlap.


The word “good” is the most commonly used Hebrew word for “good.” It is usually not moral in connotation, but it can be moral goodness depending on the context. The word means “pleasant, pleasing, agreeable, favorable, advantageous, and right.” God is calling this choice of action good because it will bring pleasing and favorable results, not just “because I said so.”


The Hebrew word I have translated as “evil” means “disagreeable, unpleasant, unhappy, evil, and malignant.” It is more often used of moral issues than is the word for “good.” Once again the emphasis is on the consequences of the action.

5: “In dying you will die”

For emphasis the author uses two forms of the word “die” back to back, just like he did with the word “in eating you will eat” in the previous verse. The Hebrew text is beautiful in its balance and symmetry, but it is hard to render such phrases in English without using a long and cumbersome explanatory clause, which I have done in my paraphrase. It is a struggle to know how to convey the power of the Hebrew phrase without sounding ridiculous in English. In my paraphrase column I have shown what I think is the true intent of this emphatic phrase, while I admit that it is cumbersome.

Notice that this command was given to Adam before Eve was separated from him. It was his responsibility to communicate it properly to her later.