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Is there one off-limits tree in the Garden of Eden or two? Genesis speaks of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17) and then later talks of the tree of life (Genesis 3:22). Are they the same tree or two different trees?

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No. These are two different trees.

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)

At first, only one was made off limits to humans.

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)

Then, after humans disobeyed, God made the other tree off limits, as well.

And the LORD God said, "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)

But now... it is under guard.

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)

In summary: There are two trees (among many) in this story, the fruit of one was forbidden, humans disobeyed God. Now we are locked out of the other tree (from which the humans were allowed to eat in the first place.)

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If you answered the question why not vote on it? –  BYE Mar 26 '14 at 1:37
Well taken. Thank you –  V. Rollins Mar 29 '14 at 3:40
@Bye In general, I don't always vote up questions I answer because I don't believe the question to be well-formed, but that doesn't always mean it's undeserving of an answer, especially if I think I have an answer. (This Q/A combo is good though. +1 to both.) –  Matt Feb 17 at 1:03

The tree of knowledge of good and evil is forbidden. The tree of life sustains life. Because, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, their right to eat from this tree was denied. However, the right to eat from this tree will be restored.

Revelation 22:14 KJV

Blessed are they that do his commandments that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

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Genesis 2:17 says that God placed a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the Garden of Eden, telling Adam that he must not eat the fruit of this tree. By way of explanation, the ancients thought of existence as comprising good and evil, so knowing both good and evil meant to know everything.

Leon R. Kass says, in The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, page 69, that the Tree of Life had not been a concern, because until Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, they were unaware that they were not immortal. As long as they had not eaten the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, God had no need to forbid Adam from eating the fruit of the Tree of Life that he had also planted in the Garden of Eden. So that the people would not now eat of the Tree of Life and thus become immortal, God sent Adam and Eve from the Garden and placed cherubim (Hebrew; sing: cherub) and a flaming sword to keep (block) the path to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24).

Kass believes the Tree of Life was actually more important than the Tree of Knowledge. He says that once Adam and Eve are aware of their mortality, immortality becomes at once a conscious desire and a known impossibility. By placing a tree of life in our mythical original condition, and by showing original man's indifference to it, the Garden of Eden story speaks more to the impossible longings of its readers than of the desires of innocent man. Indeed, the Bible may even regard the human longing for (literal) deathlessness as mistaken, and limitless life as undesirable for a creature such as man.

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