Tree of the knowledge of good and evil
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hieronim Bosch (około 1450–1516)
Deutsch: Der Garten der Lüste.
English: The Garden of Earthly Delights.
Español: El jardín de las delicias.
Français : Le jardin des délices.
Italiano: Il Giardino delle Delizie.
Nederlands: De Tuin der Lusten.
Português: O Jardim das Delícias Terrenas.
The Tree of Knowledge, painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil (more simply the tree of knowledge, Hebrew: עֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע, Etz haDaat tov V’ra) is one of two ‘magical’ trees in the story of the Garden of Eden.1
The Eden story, which takes up chapters 2 to 4 of the Book of Genesis, tells how God creates the first man and puts him in a paradise-garden in Eden (which may be the mythological garden on the sacred mountain of Zion). Before making the first woman, God tells the man that he may eat the fruit of any of the trees in the garden except that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God then forms the first woman (named Eve) and Genesis 2 ends with a note that the man and woman “were naked and felt no shame”. A talking snake subsequently tempts the woman to eat the fruit with the promise of knowledge. The woman and the man both eat, become aware of their nakedness and make coverings for themselves. God, aware that the first humans now have knowledge, banishes them from the garden lest they eat from the Tree of Life and become like the gods.
It is not clear what kind of knowledge is involved, but the three major candidates are: (1) knowledge of everything, through the mental capacities which lead to human culture; (2) moral capacity; and (3) sexual knowledge, since the man and woman recognise their nakedness on eating the fruit.2