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Why didn’t Adam eat from the Tree of Life?

Why didn’t Adam eat from the Tree of Life?

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Question:

In the narrative at the beginning of Genesis, we read that G‑d planted the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge in the middle of the Garden of Eden (2:9). G‑d instructs Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (2:17). After Adam and Eve sin, G‑d banishes them from the Garden of Eden as a consequence of their sin—lest they eat from the Tree of Life and live forever (3:22).

Why hadn’t Adam eaten from the Tree of Life until then? After all, G‑d had forbidden him to eat only from the Tree of Knowledge?

Answer:

I did a bit of research, and found in the commentaries several answers to your question. Here are a few of them:

  1. The fruit of the Tree of Life was effective only when ingested by a mortal who would otherwise die, like a medicine that holds potency only for one who is suffering from an illness. As death was only decreed upon the human being after—as a result of—the sin, Adam had no reason to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life before that point.1
  2. An interesting answer suggested by Nachmanides2 gives much food for thought. He suggests that the name eitz hada’at, usually translated as Tree of Knowledge, would actually be more accurately translated as Tree of Desire, and he cites several biblical instances where da’at is thus translated.
    Prior to eating from the fruit of the tree, Nachmanides explains, Adam had no self-interests or desires—his sole objective was to serve his Creator.3 As such, he also had no motivation to eat from the Tree of Life, as G‑d had not instructed him to do so. Only upon Adam’s consumption from the Tree of Desire was G‑d concerned that he would have an urge to eat from the Tree of Life, and therefore took preventative measures to prevent that from occurring.
  3. Though he had no internal drive to deviate from G‑d’s command, there was an external evil influence, the serpent, that ensnared Adam and caused him to sin. The serpent, however, made no effort to entice Adam to eat of the Tree of Life, as his goal was to cause Adam to sin. And G‑d had not commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of Life . . .4

Please let me know if this helps.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson

FOOTNOTES
1.

Commentary of the Baalei Tosafot to Genesis 3:22.

2.

In his commentary to Genesis 2:9 and 3:22.

3.

Though he had no intrinsic inclination to do wrong, and was therefore devoid of the internal struggle that characterizes man ever since the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam was still possessed of free choice: his ability to either resist or give in to the evil embodied by the serpent.

4.

Commentary of Ohr Hachaim to Genesis 3:22.

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (26)
May 8, 2014
answer to May 6, 2013 NY
Of course they knew where it was but had no interest in eating it, as explained in the above article. This article gives three very clear, accurate and easy to understand reasons, and I suggest you reread it and show it to your scholar from Jerusalem.
Aviva
Jerusalem
May 7, 2014
Could it be that he didn't want them eating from the Tree of Life because he told them they would surely die if they ate from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. He can't lie, so they had to die therefore they couldn't eat from the tree of life anymore..maybe they had been allowed to eat from the tree of life before they sinned?? just a thought..I just read about this now so I was curious myself
Anonymous
Canada
May 6, 2013
Adam didnt eat from the tree of life because he could not find it
I recently learned from a scholar from Jerusalem that, Adam, Eve and the serpent did not know where the tree of life was within the garden. in chapter 2 line 9, it says:

"And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also "in the midst of the garden", and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

The question are 1. what does it mean in midst (Be'Toch in Hebrew ) of the garden? 2. Why specifically mention a location for the tree of life, but not for the tree of knowledge or others? Rashi says it's referring to the middle of garden, but where is the middle?
This is to show that they did not know the whereabouts of the tree of life, and therefore were encouraged to eat the tree of knowledge so to learn of its location. This is supported in chapter 3 line 22 "
Yaron Ron Reuven
NEW YORK
May 2, 2013
I don't give a fig. We all have a "date" with Destiny!
In fact, it could have been a pomegranate. Pomme means apple in French, and I have heard this is a good candidate for the Original. But then the story grows, and now we have, Apple and Eve juices. I just had my apple orchard, ancient and not producing well, taken care of by a Tree Company, and just went out to admire their work. Because the trees are happy, leafing out all over. I think of Pardes, meaning The orchard, and a story, that seems to wind back to Eden, by circuitous routes. I live a life of mirroring connectivity, and for me, everywhere, there is a kind of doubling of vision. Signs speak to me: We Deliver For You! I am writing about the Hebrew letters and have an astonishing candidate for the "missing letter", the one with mystical Messianic significance, as it's about the coming together of the parts, life's bipolarities. I believe my letter is right, because a coincidence told me so. I will keep this to myself for now. UPS: Looking up. It's about love letters. "He Brews".
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
May 1, 2013
Tree of Life - Deduction
Since natural man dies because we have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge; therefore, we know that in the "natural realm on this earth, we do not get to eat from the Tree of Life ... otherwise we would live in the "natural realm forever." But by faith (as demonstrated by Avraham believing the words of G_d) we can crossover into the spirit world and eat from the Tree of Life (the "words" of G_d).
Louie
May 1, 2013
not an apple
There is a difference of opinions as to whether it was it a fig, a grape or wheat. But it was definitely not an apple. That is a Christian story.
Shoshana
Jerusalem
May 1, 2013
Knowledge not Life
With the knowledge that Adam obtained from eating from the tree of knowledge, he was able to understand how many things work and are constructed. By this means he began to develop his society. Not only was the implied need to earn a living included, but also the way that this effort could be eased by sharing the labor and by devising more effecient means for the production and distribution of the resulting wealth. By this means the Tabakh tells us that we need to devise our macroeconomic system, and as yet we still need to spend more time in seeking out and applying this knowledge.

Had Adam chosen the tree of life to eat from the results would have not been worth recording, not that it would have been possible to do so!
David Chester
Petach Tikva
May 1, 2013
Tree of Life
I agree with Anonymous above who said the Tree of Life was one of the trees they were permitted to eat, before the fall. That is why they could live on and on in the Garden, for however long that was before the snake tempted them. Then, after the fall, it was removed so that they could not live on and on in this sinful manner.
Anonymous
Prescott
April 30, 2013
children & temptation
I so agree with the comment about what happens when you explicitly deny a child something. Of course snake, doing G-d's bidding knew the outcome. The story is trans/parent. How else could we get out if the Garden! We all know the road we travel 'snakes'. It is a Grand Story that reverberates still, an Orchard Story as Torch is for Orchard, the Divine Fire. When G-d writes a story you can be sure it's Intelligent. We now have Apple Computers and bytes of information. We have myriad interconnecting stories, a true WEB of de light. When you see IT you perceive that not only did a Divine Hand deliver the cards but G-d is laughing. It's the comic in cosmic. We are being out Sourced!
ruth housman
marshfield, ma
April 30, 2013
Tree of Knowledge and Tree of Life
Well, that answers that. Why eating from the Tree of Life before the eating from the Tree of Knowledge would prove useless. I agree.

Even before the world was made, all creation was in God's thoughts. He planned on Adam deliberately eating after Eve was deceived for our betterment. We had to overcome. We strayed away from the Source in the beginning. To obtain knowledge, we had to experience and overcome hardships. The way is exceedingly narrow in finding our way back after straying. Otherwise, we would have stayed in our ignorance. Now we can become and experience God. This certainly didn't come without a price. (But the way is so difficult, I wonder if ignorance would have been bliss).
Angela Hoffberg
Richland, MS
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