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But the truth is, is that, there was another special tree in the garden there that doesn’t really seem to get talked about much in the story, almost virtually ignored, and that is this magical thing that seems to be called the Tree of Life.
‘God made grow out of the garden every tree that is pleasant to look and good to eat, [including] the Tree of Life in the middle of garden and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.’ What’s the deal with the Tree of Life? What’s it doing there and what’s its connection with the Tree of Knowledge? Well, there are really interesting things, but first of all just look at the placement of the two trees.
If you read this verse quickly, you might come to the conclusion that both of these trees are in the middle of the garden. ‘God made grow out of the garden every tree that is pleasant to look and good to eat, [including] the Tree of Life in the middle of garden and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.’ It sounds like they are both in the middle of the garden.
If you read it a little more carefully, think about it, why is that sort of modifying phrase: ‘the middle of garden’, why does that appear after the Tree of Life, specifically, and then there is a comma, and then it says ‘and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil’? It’s the same thing in Hebrew by the way. If you look at it in Hebrew it’s the same thing. The middle of the garden comes and modifies, specifically, the Tree of Life. Suggesting that it’s actually the Tree of Life that is in the middle of the garden and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil is just…we don’t know; that, somewhere else!
The point I am trying to make here is that, if you ask what the focus is, if you only had this verse to look at and you didn’t have the rest of the story and you didn’t know what was going to happen next, you didn’t know that they were going to eat from the tree and all that, and all you have was this verse, just on the basis of this verse, which tree sounds like it is more important? Which tree sounds like it’s the focus? The Tree of Life sounds like it’s the focus. So, this tree that doesn’t get that much press, that’s the one that is right there in the middle of the garden, that’s what God puts there.
Strangely, God doesn’t even tell Mankind about the Tree of Life. Later on He does tell them about the trees, but He doesn’t mention the Tree of Life. ‘God gave the man a commandment, saying, ‘You may definitely eat from every tree of the garden. But from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you will definitely die.’ Did you hear anything about the Tree of Life? No! So, from mankind’s perspective, it may even be that they are just unaware that the Tree of Life even exists. We will just abbreviate it to ‘TOL’.
But here is another interesting thing. What would you say is the first command given to mankind? Well, most of us might just say, ‘well, when you look at the story, he was in the garden, he is not supposed to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, so the first command that man has is: do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
But if you look carefully this two verses, that’s not true. Look at 2:16 ‘God gave the man a commandment, saying, you may definitely eat from every tree of the garden.’ That’s actually a positive command. He said, you should be eating from all the trees, ‘But from the Tree Of Knowledge of good and evil, do not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you will definitely die.’ And then there is one tree that is restricted. One tree, and that’s the Tree of Knowledge.
But, the first commandment is actually positive. ‘Eat from all the trees.’ Now, let’s add up all the math. If you are suppose to eat from all the trees in 2016, and we know that the Tree of Life is in the middle of the garden in 2009, and mankind may not even know about it, if you are God you got to fear what’s going to happen. Only a matter of time until somebody eats from the tree of life.
And seemingly, that’s the way you want it. I mean, you did put the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, you did tell them that they are suppose to be eating from all the trees in this positive commandment. So, what that does, does it make the end of the story or the stranger? Take a look for me, let’s flip towards the end of the story after Mankind eats from the tree and gets kicked out of Eden, so God then says here is why I am kicking him out of Eden.
Now, this is the strange verse. A lot of strange things about it! But let’s just mind it for its data for a moment. ‘God says, ‘Man has now become like one of us in knowing good and evil’, right? Because he has eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil! ‘Now he must be prevented from putting forth his hand and also taking from the Tree of Life. He [can] eat it and live forever!’ Oh my gosh, as if that’s such a terrible thing! Eating from this tree and living forever, God says, we got to get him out of Eden quickly.
What if he eats from the Tree of Life? For one second, why is God worried that he is going to eat from the Tree of Life? Doesn’t God want mankind to eat from the Tree of Life? Wasn’t that the all point from the beginning of the story? That you put this tree in the Garden and its there, and it’s right there in the middle of the garden and you can eat from all the trees, so how come all of a sudden God says you can’t…. What if they eat from the Tree of Life? Does God want mankind to eat from the tree? Does God would not want mankind to eat from the tree?
Is there a way out of this apparent contradiction?
If you think about this; really, only one logical answer! Let’s put the two trees up in the screen. If you ask this simple question; are you allowed to eat from the trees? The answer will seem to be, it depends! Seemingly, it depends on what order you eat them from. The preferred order seems to be, right: eat from the Tree of Life. But that’s before they eat from the Tree of Knowledge. So, if you eat from the Tree of Life first, this seems to be a great idea eating from the Tree of Life before eating from the Tree of Knowledge.
The problem seems to be, if you eat from the Tree of Life after, if you eat from the Tree of Life before eating from the Tree of Knowledge, great! God seems to say, if you eat it after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, that’s not such a good idea. Then, actually, if you eat from this first and eat from this second, then I am going to have to kick you out of the garden. That seems to be what is going on. But again, what is it about these two trees that make it the Tree of Life is fine to eat from before partaking in the Tree of Knowledge, but not afterward.
And here’s one more thing to think about when it comes to these two trees…
But I want to talk to you about another issue having to do with this Tree of Life that seems to get less press. And that is that if we jump to the end of the story when God put Eden off limit let’s we come back to eat from the Tree of Life, we find a fascinating thing. God, the Tree of Life, the way back to the Tree of Life with these Cherubs; Cherubs is a type of Angel, Cherubs with the flaming sword. If you ever wonder what a Cherub looks like, I have no idea what a Cherub looks like, but Rubens the Flemish Baroque painter paints a kind of things that he knows. What they look like here is his drawing of Cherubs. I doubt they look like that, but that’s what in the popular imaging it seems to look like.
Anyway, so, God puts these Cherubs over here, this Angels with a flaming sword to guard the way back to the Tree of Life, right? Very interesting! It turns out that Cherubs are relatively rare Angels. You will find different kinds of Angels. You only find Cherubs actually twice in the entire book, in the entire five Books of Moses. And this is the first time. And the second time that you will find these Cherubs are the only times in the five Books of Moses.
The first time they are guarding the Tree of Life. Guess what they are guarding the next time? You guessed it, a Tree of Life! Where, anyone knows where, where is the other Cherubs? It turns out the only other Cherubs we have are these golden Cherubs that God says, they were suppose to make and put in the tabernacle. There was this portable temple which the Jews have in the desert and there was this Holy Ark. This is a virtual representation of the Holy Ark. This is poles by which it was carried.
Anyway, God says, make these Cherubs out of gold and place them on top of the Ark. Is there any other Cherub that was inside in the Ark? Here is the cool thing. What is inside the Ark is the ten commandments representing the Torah. And what’s the Torah? The same way we only have two references to Cherubs, we also only have two references to Trees of Life in the bible. Here is the first Tree of Life in the bible, the original Tree of Life, the tree that gets pull off limit by God in Eden.
But here is the second Tree of Life in the bible. They cost thousands of pages letter. The only other time the tree of life is ever mentioned…. We have an Hebrew up here for you. If you don’t read Hebrew, don’t get so worried about that, I will translate that for you. But it is in this verse right over here from the Book of Proverbs. Etz chaim, referring to the Torah, it’s a Tree of Life to all who grab hold of it. V’tomcheiha m’ushar, those who cling fast to it are happier, are fortunate. The tree of life, fascinating!
If we go back to the Cherubs, the only two times that we ever have Cherubs, we have them guarding Tress of Life. It almost seems as if this is Tree of Life number one and this is Tree of Life number two. And it also almost seems that the Cherubs are doing two opposite things. Over here they are making sure that they are keeping mankind away from the tree of Life. But over here, what are the Cherubs doing? They are sort of sheltering you with their arms, keeping you, right, in the space here, in sconce with the Torah, with the Bible, with God’s law.
Fascinating! So, what does that mean? It almost seems there is some sort of equivalence between these Trees of Life. That there is almost like a Tree of Life number one and there is this thing called the Torah which somehow is like a replacement of Tree of Life. But the only question is: how is that tree? Is it really true that the Torah is the replacement of the Tree of Life? Does it actually keep us living forever? We don’t live forever, even if you learn Torah. People die even if they studied the Torah. So, how do we understand this, in what sense is what’s inside this Ark? Actually, the Tree of Life! And why is that the same Angel that keeps us away from this Tree of Life give us access to this tree?
So, these are questions which we want wants to come back to. These one other question about the relationship between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge which I want to kind of setup for you as a puzzle which is: do this tree actually contradict each other? If you think about these two trees and how they relate to each other, this is a very fastening contradiction in them. Read through the verses that describes these trees and scratch your head, something doesn’t make sense! We will come back next time and try to understand what that is.
1. The Lullaby Effect
2. Kinds of Questions
3. The Mystery of the Pre-Tree World
4. The Tale of Two Trees
5. Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle
6. The Primal Serpent
7. A Perplexing Temptation
8. A Naked Paradox
9. A Snake in the Garden
10. Beasts of the Field
11. Beauty and the Beast
12. What Does It Mean to Know?
13. A World of Broccoli and Pizza
14. Are All Dilemmas Created Equal?
15. The Phantom Boxer
16. The I of the Beholder
17. The Filter of Desire
18. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Disc Jockey
19. Epilogue: God as Knower of Good and Evil (Premium)
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