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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.
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Discussion (29)
October 15, 2014
Hello,
I think your answers are always very clear and have provided me some very interesting understanding and commentary on though questions.
Nonetheless, I don't really agree with that one concerning the nature of the tree:
Since G-d discovered their sin after they hide and wanted to cover their nakedness, they probably got an awareness of matters they didn't have previously.
jay
October 15, 2014
Why would God plant trees and then ban them For Adam and Eve? Why ban the tree of knowledge which would have brought skills to mankind? Why create a serpent with ability to deceive? Did it have legs before this incident?
Thwe whole story is spread all over the world long before Chistian missionaries spread the Hebrew Bible. So is The "water covered the earth" and the "mist covered the waters". Likewise the serpent guile and leading astray and the tree of knowledge, Exile and the brothers, one of whom killed the other and was driven away to wander abroad.
These themes are common to mankind suggesting common origin although the explanations vary greatly. Then there is a long line of ancestor all of whom lived hundreds of years before they were taught writing, agriculture and other skills by a god or foreign person.

It is a fascinating study.
Mervyn
October 14, 2014
Why didn't Adam eat from the Tree of Life?
As the 'Aytz Chayeem He' implies, the Torah is our Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is therefore a metaphor for walking in G-d's Way, according to His commandments. Instead of walking in fellowship and obedience to G-d, Adam and Eve deliberately chose to sin, just as we all have done. Thanks be to G-d, who made a way for us to return to Him and to eat from the Tree of Life.
Thomas Noss
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
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