Tree of Life vs Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: the Ultimate Comparison

Published Categorized as Tree Symbolism
tree of life and tree of knowledge
tree of life and tree of knowledge

Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge

When we think about the Tree of Life, what comes to mind?

For some of us, it might be a symbol of nature itself. Others might see it as a religious symbol representing paradise lost or eternal life in heaven.

But what about the Tree of Knowledge? What does that represent for you?

Interestingly enough, both trees are found in the Bible – and they couldn’t be more different.

So what’s the difference between these two trees?

Let’s take a closer look:

Is the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil the same?

The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil are both mentioned in the Bible, but they are different symbols. Both trees were located in the Garden of Eden, and they both held special significance for Adam and Eve. However, there is a difference between these two trees as the Tree of Knowledge was intended only for Adam and Eve while the Tree of Life had benefits that extended beyond them.

While it is not explicitly stated whether or not there was one off-limits tree or two in the Garden of Eden, most interpretations suggest that there were two trees – one representing life and another representing knowledge.

tree of life and tree of knowledge
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Were there two trees in the Garden of Eden?

Yes, there were two trees in the Garden of Eden. The first was the Tree of Life, which symbolized God’s wisdom and knowledge. The second was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which symbolizes sin and temptation:

The LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

(Gen 2:9)

There were two distinct trees in Paradise – not just one – that served different purposes for Adam’s education as well as his physical sustenance. It says that

the Lord God took the man [Adam], and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it

(Genesis 2:15)

At first, only one tree’s fruits were made off limits to humans. It says that

but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.

(Gen 2:17)

Eating from this tree caused Adam and Eve to lose their innocence and become aware of their own mortality. Then, after humans disobeyed, God made the other tree forbidden, as well. It says that

The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.

(Gen 3:22)

And now… it is under lock by cherubims.

After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

(Gen 3:24)

What is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

The tree of knowledge of good and evil is a real tree described in the Bible. It is said to be located in the Garden of Eden and to have been forbidden by God for Adam and Eve to eat from. Satan subtly suggested that eating from this particular tree would provide them with immortality and angelic status which God did not desire; therefore when Eve followed his advice she sinned.

According to Christianity, neither the tree nor its fruit were inherently evil; however, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s orders by eating from it, they committed the original sin.

Judaism holds that good and evil were two distinct ideas before Adam ate from the tree, but after he disobeyed God’s order they became one entity.

tree of knowledge

What is the Tree of Life ?

The Tree of Life is a life-giving tree created by God to support the physical and spiritual life of mankind. The Tree of Life in the Bible was established in the Garden of Eden, where it provided pleasant-looking and edible fruit for Adam and Eve. It also played a role in sustaining their lives after their transgression, as it would have granted them everlasting life if they had eaten from it after their sin.

The tree of life has symbolic meaning in Christianity, representing Jesus Christ himself as he is “the way, truth and life” (John 14:6).

tree of life

Tree of life vs Tree of Knowledge

The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil are both trees that appear in the story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis. Both trees symbolize God’s promises: The Tree of Life represents God’s promise to bestow eternal life upon those who are thought deserving, while the Tree of Knowledge stands for his understanding and authority over good and evil.

The consequences associated with eating from these two trees are different: Eating from the Tree of Life would have granted Adam and Eve with everlasting life, whereas consuming its forbidden fruit resulted in disobedience towards God’s commandment, thus resulting in their expulsion from Paradise.

tree of life and tree of knowledge
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What do the Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of good and evil symbolize?

The tree of life is the source of immortality; it was located in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time. God was forced to exile him from this garden and install cherubim and a blazing sword on the path leading back to it in order to prevent Adam and Eve from becoming even more godlike since they both had access to divine wisdom.

The symbolism behind “the Tree of Knowledge” is less clear but may be related to human understanding or knowledge in general. This phrase can mean either knowledge that is good or bad or happiness/misery; however most scholars agree that it refers more broadly towards all that exists.

The Tree of Knowledge in Judaism and Christianity

In Judaism and Christianity, the tree of knowledge of good and evil is understood to be both a real tree and a metaphor. The tree itself was not considered evil, but rather it represented the combination of good and evil into one entity. According to this interpretation, before Adam and Eve ate from the tree, good and evil were two distinct concepts that existed independently from each other.

The Tree of Knowledge in Islam

Islam views the name for this tree as unknown, referring to it simply as “the tree” instead. According to Islam’s interpretation, God instructed Adam and Eve they might eat from every tree in the garden except for one – which was later identified as being Satan’s suggestion – that would make them immortal with angelic status. When Eve followed Satan’s advice by eating from this forbidden fruit she sinned against God’s wishes.

The Tree of Knowledge in Hinduism , Buddhism

In other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism these trees are referred to as “Tree of Life” or “World Tree” which provide spiritual enlightenment or immortality respectively .

yggdrasil world tree
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Comparison of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge

Symbolism

The meaning of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is similar in that both are symbols of people’s desire to seek the origin of their life, with “the Tree of Life” representing people’s tendency to return to their natural state and seek immortality.

While both trees represent a desire for knowledge, they differ in terms of their effects on those who eat from them. Eating from “the Tree Of Knowledge Of Good And Evil” leads people towards separateness, leverage, gain and knowledge while eating from “The Tree of Life” can result in immortality or godlike powers if eaten regularly enough (Genesis 3:24).

Both trees represent knowledge; however, the meaning behind the phrase “knowledge of good and evil” is different for each tree. For “the Tree of Knowledge”, it can mean knowledge about what is good or bad or happiness or misery; whereas for “the Tree Life” it means having power over one’s own existence.

Meaning

The symbolic similarities between these two trees end there as they have very different meanings behind them. While “the Tree Knowledge” represents separation from God due to its forbidden nature, “The tree life” represents immortality as it was believed that eating from this tree could give eternal life.

Furthermore, while cherubim were placed before “Tree Life” to prevent Adam and Eve from partaking in its fruit, no such barrier was installed before “Tree Knowledge” despite how dangerous it was considered to be due to its ability give godlike powers.

The Roots of the trees

The two trees represent a choice between life and death, between obedience and disobedience, between God and Satan. Both trees offer fruit but the fruit of the Tree of Life symbolizes eternal life, while the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolizes death.

The Tree of Life is rooted in God and is the source of nourishment for a life connected to Him.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is rooted in Satan and is the source of nourishment for a life estranged from God.

Imagery

Both the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life are depicted with imagery in Judaism and Christianity. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is often depicted as an apple tree or a serpent, while the tree of life is often depicted as an oak or other type of large tree.

tree of life and tree of knowledge

Guidance

Both trees offer guidance, with the Tree of Life providing spiritual enlightenment and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil offering knowledge about right and wrong.

However, the Tree of Life is considered to be more pure than its counterpart as it holds spiritual meaning rather than being used for selfish purposes. Additionally, while both trees provide guidance, only the Tree of Life can lead one towards salvation.

Immediate Effects

Immediate effects from eating from “the tree of knowledge” included shamefulness as well as sexual awareness while eating from “the tree life” provided eternal life. Additionally, Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden after eating from the second tree due to their fallen sinful state (Genesis 3:22-23).

Tree Symbolism in the Bible

The Bible contains hundreds of references to trees and tree symbolism. Trees are important aspects of many Biblical stories and lessons, such as the fig tree in the story of Zacchaeus, the olive tree in Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, and the cedar of Lebanon mentioned in Psalm 92:12.

In Proverbs, four different verses use “the tree of life” as a metaphor for truths that benefit our lives: wisdom, blessings and God’s fulfillment in our lives (Proverbs 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4).

Furthermore, Jesus was crucified on a cross which has become symbolic for forgiveness of sin through His sacrifice (Galatians 3:13).

Tree of Life in the New Testament

The Tree of Life in the New Testament is a symbol of God’s life-giving presence and the fullness of eternal life available in Him. It appears in both the opening and closing chapters of the Bible, in Genesis 2-3 and Revelation 22 respectively. In the book of Revelation, access to the tree is open again to all who have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, as this chapter symbolizes the restoration of God’s life-giving presence. Apart from Genesis, the tree of life only appears again in the Old Testament in the wisdom literature of the book of Proverbs.

tree of life and tree of knowledge - new testament

FAQs

Why was the tree of life in the garden?

The tree of life served as a reminder to Adam and Eve of their dependence on God and their life in fellowship with him. It showed the proper flow of life: God, the source of life, would impart some of His life to sustain humans, who were then to give life to others and to creation.

In this way, the tree of life served as a symbol of human life in communion with God and a reminder of the importance of obedience to God’s commands. In contrast, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a symbol of potential separation from God and death, and warned of the consequences of disobedience.

What are the consequences of disobeying the commandment regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?

The consequences of disobeying the commandment regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil include:

  1. Physical death for man and animals (Genesis 2:17).
  2. Separation from God, loss of innocence, shame, and sexual awareness (Genesis 3:7).
  3. Banishment from Eden to prevent further disobedience (Genesis 3:23-24).

What does the idiom mean: discerning good and evil?

The Hebrew idiom “knowing / understanding / discerning good and evil” is a phrase used to denote a deep understanding of the difference between good and evil. This phrase is used in various contexts, including in reference to God and the angels possessing such knowledge and wisdom, as well as in reference to children who do not yet possess such knowledge and wisdom, and in reference to elderly people who may have lost it. In essence, this phrase points to the idea that a person must have the ability to discern between good and evil in order to make wise decisions.

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By leslieszabo

I like silence. I like balance.