Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from chabad.org
Contact Us

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

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

 Email

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 writer who lives with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (46)
December 16, 2016
After the Fall
After the Fall, when we decided we wanted to be like G-d, and so, ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, we became aware of our nakedness.
See, wanting to be like G-d means we are putting ourselves in His Place instead of praising and serving Him, our Creator. Now Ego-centric, we see ourselves from a new perspective and see we are naked. Whatever we do from now on, we do for ourselves. Sex, for example, is done to please ourselves, not to necessarily procreate. And when we sin, we do not take the blame ourselves. That would not be "egocentric". Interestingly, Adam blamed G-d for his failure, the very One he wanted to be like.
Mario Lerario
Phila, Pa.
December 7, 2016
Why would G-d with-hold knowledge from Adam and Eve?
Mervyn. Adam and Eve did not need knowledge. You are looking at their situation from your own perspective, through your own experience and needs. In the Garden, before the Fall, Adam and Eve had everything they needed. All they had to do was praise G-d, trust in Him and enjoy His Life in each other's company. They did not have to know how to grow food. They did not have to know how to ward off predators. They did not even have to know they were naked. Only until sin entered the world did such knowledge become necessary. Ironically, in that sin, they wanted to be like G-d. See. This is when knowledge becomes necessary. When we wish to take over the creation process. Problem is, we are doing it for ourselves. When G-d creates, it is an unselfish act. So, with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge in their belly, they can go out of the Garden and fend.
Mario Lerario
Phila., Pa.
December 6, 2016
Mervyn - I believe G-d was and is more than willing to share knowledge. It's the process by which the knowledge is gained we should focus on. G-d came in the cool of the day to walk with Adam and Eve. If they had a question what would He withhold? Just like today, I can come to Him in prayer and ask Him to reveal the Truth of a matter and show me in His Word what I need to know. Do I choose relationship with the Creator or relationship with the created?

I believe the reason Adam and Eve did not eat from the tree of Life was due to the fact that Life Himself came to speak with them in the cool of the day. Why partake of the lesser when they found their life in Love and Obedience to His Abiding Presence, Daily direction and Tangible affection? What need could arise when there is no barrier to G-d at all?
Anonymous
Catonsville, MD
November 23, 2016
You did not reply to my question: Why would God forbid man to have knowledge? (it is a similar word in Eyptian: "da'at".
Not to have knowledge would have left man like an animal.
Mervyn Kersh
UK
November 21, 2016
I was a period of time, since Adam and Eve lived in Eden. God told them to eat from all trees from the garden as they please. Who can say that they have not eat from the tree of life, and why?
Mihai
USA
October 30, 2016
Two Worlds, Two Creations, Two Trees
I suspect the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of which Adam was instructed not to eat, was that part of creation that made the Earth possible. G-d, of a Spiritual Nature, in creating the material Earth, began by planting the Tree of Life and all G-d's Glory to give the Spiritual mass; and through which the Tree of Knowledge was then created (taking a branch from the Tree of Life??) and through this Tree, the material of Earthly delights is possible. This is a necessary phase of the Creation Process. Man, created with a Free Will, was then presented with the choice: Live in and dominate this Delight-filled land, and if you prefer Me and the Spiritual aspect of Creation, then I know I have something here.
Mario Lerario
Phila, Pa
May 22, 2016
They might have, but it doesn't have any effects, as stated in point 1. If it indeed makes the eater live forever, whatever effect it had on them was lifted/canceled by the curse of their sin.
Anonymous
February 13, 2016
Re: Shaul
Thank you Shaul...Great Take on it.

"L'Chaim 5776!"
Geoffrey Jacks
Lakewood, CA.
January 15, 2016
Re: Mervyn
The same question can be asked on anything that is forbidden in the Torah: Why did G-d create certain foods if He was to forbid them from being consumed? Why did G-d create man with certain tendencies if He was to forbid them from being acted upon?

Consider this idea:

G-d created forbidden foods so that that we should refrain from eating them. G-d created forbidden drives so that that we should restrain ourselves from acting upon them.

In order for dedication to be fully expressed it is not sufficient to engage in acts of love, rather one must engage in acts of restraint. It is only when one restrains themselves out of their devotion to another that the depth of their relationship is fully expressed.
Shaul Wolf
Chabad.org
January 14, 2016
Shame that there were no useful discussions on my own comments/queries.
Mervyn
Mervyn Kersh