When God created man, he created him with the fore knowledge that man would eat from the forbidden tree, and even with the knowledge that man would bring sin into the World; God created the tree in the midst of the garden. God also created the tree of life in the garden, and told man that of every tree of the garden he could freely eat except that when he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that he would surely die.

All scriptures are quoted from the King James translation:

Genesis 2:16 and 17

And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

I have often wondered why; if God has the knowledge of good and Evil, why having that knowledge is so abhorrent that it is a death sentence to man. God knew that man would choose to disobey him and eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and he also knew that man would do so before eating from the tree of life.

Gen 3:22 And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever -

Gen 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

  • My personal opinion: You're taking an overly-literal interpretation of "knowledge of good and evil." There are different senses of "knowledge." To borrow an analogy from Sister Act, you can know that a doughnut is sweet without having tasted it. This is one sense of "knowledge." Once you have tasted a doughnut, you have another sense of knowledge. I believe Genesis is referring to the second sense of "knowledge of good and evil"--that is, an intimate, experiential knowledge. With this understanding, I think the reason God did not want that is obvious.
    – Flimzy
    Mar 3 '14 at 18:40
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    @Flimzy Whatever interpretation of the knowledge of good and evil it is something God wanted man not to have, and having that knowledge is not the thing that it against God it is the disobedience by eating from the tree that angered God. It cannot be that having that knowledge is a sin since God has it.
    – BYE
    Mar 3 '14 at 19:01
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    Have you considered the possibility that what God forbade was not man's having knowledge of good and evil but rather man's taking that knowledge on his own initiative. Knowledge of good and evil is appropriate if we receive it from God; in fact, He has put considerable effort into teaching us what is good and what is evil. But just claiming that knowledge on our own is inappropriate. Sep 22 '14 at 0:56
  • @AndreasBlass Yes I have and that is why I said that their sin was disobedience rather than having the Knowledge. As far as God teaching us, I feel that he is not so much teaching us right from wrong as he is choosing what is right instead of what is wrong.
    – BYE
    Sep 22 '14 at 1:29
  • Can you tag a denomination, please? If not, I think this qualifies as a "Truth" question -- not a good fit for the site.
    – svidgen
    Sep 22 '14 at 16:46

10 Answers 10


Perhaps there is a difference between the eating of such evil knowledge and knowing of such evil knowledge.

If two con artists wish to steal the life's savings from the elderly, and one of the two con artists changes his ways and tries to inform the elderly of how they were about to be deceived by the other con artist, it would not be logical for a priest to then do everything he can to prevent the elderly from knowing how they could be deceived, and do so by preventing them from knowing of the evil knowledge of the con artists decetfulness.

A priest would not dive between the informer and the elderly.

Thus it would be the knowing and practicing of such evil knowledge that is of the wrong.

  • It is the knowledge of "good and evil", not just "evil".
    – user16825
    Dec 7 '14 at 3:53

You answered it yourself: because knowledge = death

Gen. 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The commandment here is actually more related to the matter not of a punishing death, but of a death that is caused by eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

This is analogous to a mother saying to her children, "you may play with all things in the living room, but of that fire in the fireplace, you shall not touch of it: for in the day that you touch it you shall surely feel pain." The pain is not her punishment to her kids, rather, it's a direct cause of the child touching the fire.

When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge, Sin was able to enter into man's flesh and cause man to die.

Rom. 5:12 Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and thus death passed on to all men because all have sinned—

Rom. 7:18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but to work out the good is not.

Rom. 7:20 But if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that work it out but sin that dwells in me.

Eph. 2:1 And you, being dead in your offenses and sins"

Note that the day that Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge, they did not die physically, and the faculties of their soul were also active and therefore not dead either. Therefore through this process of elimination, we see that actually, what was deadened in that day was their spirit, which is used to contact and worship God

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.

With man's primary way of contacting God gone, man became separated from God, and the result was man's further stages of fall, with the likes of Cain and Nimrod and finally culminating with the flood.

  • This doesn't really answer the question, IMO. Yes, it was sin and it killed their spirit, and all that, agreed, but why is the knowledge forbidden? What is it about knowledge that is harmful like a raging fire?
    – user16825
    Dec 7 '14 at 3:55
  • @BenjaminHoogterp I did answer the question. God forbade man from eating from the tree of knowledge the same reason a mother would forbid a child from eating poison: if you eat it, you will die. God wants man to be dependent upon Him, which man could do by eating from the Tree of Life, but knowledge makes man independent and separated from God, as is the case after man partook of the tree's fruits Dec 7 '14 at 7:38


Another answer that derives from scripture is:

in Gen 2:!5 God says to Adam: .if you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (TKGE), for when you eat from it you will certainly die".

Therefore: to eat the fruit of TKGE = to die (commonly accepted as separation from GOD).

AND answering the question,

God did not want man to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (whatever that means) because this would cause man to 'die' (physically and spiritually - as we know from NT scriptures) and cause a separation in the 'relationship' between man/God that could only be repaired by the promised son (seed of the woman) JESUS CHRIST.

Does that makes sense?

God Bless and Open our Understanding of His Word

  • As an omniscient God, he knew before creation man would eat from TKGE. Although I disagree with the death being separation from God theory, even that rings hollow in that God already knew Jesus would have to come to rescue us from our sins. Unless God had some compelling reason, He could have saved a lot of heartache by just not creating, to begin with.
    – BYE
    Mar 4 '14 at 3:27

Why did God not want man to have the knowledge of good and evil? The answer is Pride. The heart of Pride forgets God.

when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; (Deuteronomy 8:14 NKJV)

So since God hates Pride so much, he sent his son to teach us humility.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NKJV)

I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”(Hosea 5:15 NKJV)


I would suggest three logical possibilities exist.

1) It was never said. 2) If it was said it was mis-translated. 3) It was said and it means as stated. Under the 3rd assumption the most logical interpretation would be that once you have eaten from the tree you would question to which side the imposer of the rule belonged.

Most likely 1.

All other answer fall into the "well what was actually meant was..." contortion that so often dominate this board.

To address the comment below.

1) It was never said. So much literature here (indeed probably close to millions of Physics pieces) but if I had to select just a couple I would go with Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' and this 'public' science piece in Sceince Mag doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0305-36. It deals well with Hubble's law.

2) Language loss in translation. Although much information exists how much information is lost during translation one of my favorite branches is the loss during doctor to doctor handover off a patient. Here you have an example of two doctors, both trained much the same, with the same lexicon, speaking the same language, and dealing with an important issue (an ill patient) and huge amounts of information are lost. Now think of the translations that any biblical document has been through and the oral version of the stories and the time lapse. The potential loss of information is staggering.

A good start in this arena is

Solet, Darrell J., et al. "Lost in translation: challenges and opportunities in physician-to-physician communication during patient handoffs." Academic Medicine 80.12 (2005): 1094-1099.

I also like the language diffusion theme and how language changes in Guns, Germs and Steel.

3) Is harder to show but laws are often made to protect those who make laws or at minimum preside over a group of people. I think a obvious example of this is how almost all president's are immune from prosecution while in office or maybe the illegality of questioning genocide events in some countries. Many times those in power do not want people to know the truth and use laws to achieve this.

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    As a Southern Baptist steeled in the belief that the Bible is the inerrant and inspired word of God, your answer leaves me aghast.
    – BYE
    Sep 22 '14 at 13:24
  • Most likely it would but that does not mean it is an invalid answer. It can all be backed up with fact and is not merely my opinion as per the guidelines on this sight for a good answer.
    – user13599
    Sep 22 '14 at 14:27
  • if there is so called facts to backup your answer you should state them, in order for us lesser informed to peruse them ourselves and satisfy ourselves as to their authenticy.
    – BYE
    Sep 22 '14 at 18:36
  • Most certainly I added some above.
    – user13599
    Sep 22 '14 at 21:32

Because man is limited, whereas God is infinite.

Consider judgment. Jesus was given the authority to judge because He was human (Son of Man). Man's place is a judge--we will judge angels. But Jesus said that as He heard, so He judged. His judgment was perfect because it did not originate with Himself but with the Father.

Consider what we see. We see many a person that has the knowledge of good and evil, but they often still get it wrong! We have so many warped views on what good and evil really are, and very few line up to the real standard (God's Word). So, it is flawed.

But, the one requirement in the New Testament is forgiveness. Justice on our behalf is the opposite of forgiveness and grace. You cannot have both justice and Grace.

So, when you forgive, you step out of your own judgment into the mind of Christ. The spiritual man judges all things but is judged by no one, because he does not judge on his own behalf.

So, knowledge in that that tree was an aspect of God, but in the minds of men, it becomes ungodly, because man's vision is always limited, and his ability to judge finite. What God needed was a man who lived off the tree of life, and when He heard a judgment from above, he so judged. Thus, he would command authority to judge, but work under authority himself. He was only created as a servant.

Thus, man took a thing, though it was something of God, that as a creature he could never do perform. In his own judgment, he is condemned, but in the Spirit, he is free. Freedom comes, then, when we undo it, step out of our own knowledge of it, forgive all whom we have held in any judgment, good or ill, and like a little child live in the realm of the tree of life (Christ).

Thus, man operates in his gifting and purpose to be a son of God, but is not guilty of sin because he has no inherent knowledge of it himself. In taking the tree, man did become like God, to a degree, but failing in that calling, as finite, he died from it.


Gen 3:22 And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever ...

Interpretation of what "Knowledge of good and evil" means must come from scripture itself (otherwise it becomes everyone's opinion):

Scripture suggests that To desire the "Knowledge of good and evil" is to desire EQUALITY with GOD, since in Gen 3:22 God says "man is become as one of us" 'because' man now knows - or has the knowledge - of good and evil.

To desire EQUALITY with GOD can also be seeing as desire to be in control of one's own life ("to dictate the rules") - which leads man (still today) into rebellion.

So, Why did God not want man to have the knowledge of good and evil?

Because God did not create man to be EQUAL to God!

A spin-off of this question is another question: Why would God create a rule in first place?


Setting up rules is part of His character ;-)

Gen 3:5 confirms this interpretation. The serpent says to Eve: “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

"you eat from it" = "knowing good and evil" = "be like God"

Sola Scriptura = Scripture explains scripture

  • I cannot accept your answer since it conflicts with the fact that God knew before creation that man would fall, and also does not align with equality with God in that God's powers are so far superior to man's. Also how do you compare that To: Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    – BYE
    Mar 3 '14 at 23:17
  • This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. Remember that "I believe it means..." isn't an acceptable answer, since this site isn't about personal interpretation. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? Mar 4 '14 at 0:11
  • I did not say 'I believe', but "Scripture suggests" for it follows from what is being said in the TEXT, not in my belief. No need a 'pope' to validate it - Sola Scriptura (Latin "by Scripture alone") the Bible interprets itself. However, google R.C. Sproul, G. Goldsworthy, David Pawson. READ what the TEXT says: Gen 3:22 "the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil;" When God did say that? after man ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good & Evil. Why did God say that? because the consequence/result of knowing Good & Evil is to 'BECOME AS ONE OF US' = EQUALITY. make sense?
    – user10238
    Mar 4 '14 at 0:52
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    Cecil, not EQUALITY in ALL of GOD's powers and attributes, but in terms of being able to 'make the rules'. Sin is rebellion against God's Kingship (Ruling). When Man chooses to follow this path, man decided to live a life without God's ruling ... this reflects human nature "we don't need God". Does it make more sense for you now?
    – user10238
    Mar 4 '14 at 2:43
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    God had already given man dominion over all the rest of creation so he already had that power.
    – BYE
    Mar 4 '14 at 14:09

As most are aware, the human being is the only animal in nature that is fully aware that they will physically die after time here on earth. Man is the only animal to peer both forward and backward in the detailed manner thy we can. Looking forward - we have a constant reminder that we and our loved ones will die. Other animals live more in the moment and don't have this cross-to-bear during our lifetimes. Looking backwards - fond memories of the past can be crippling as well as we know those events can never be repeated.

Is the knowledge that God was trying to keep from merely this?. If this knowledge was not gained would our struggles on earth be easier.

Im not sure about others, but the things that weigh most on me is that death has been hunting us all from the 1st breath we took as babies. Have any of you given the consideration that this knowledge (that we will die) and a heightened sense of our surroundings (in particular evil) that causes most of our unhappiness. After all how can anyone be truly happy 1 when we know that evil is all around and can strike and any moment and 2. death will come to all of us.

Yes, Knowing that we walked with Chris, know him and love him gives us comfort that we will be forever living with him. Maybe God wanted us to wait longer before this news was deliver.

All in our; I think the biggest curse is knowledge gained that we cannot possibly figure it out.

  • 2
    Welcome to the site. Thank you for sharing, but the site strives to be academic, using sources and citations to support answers. The site is not a discussion forum. Once you reach 20 rep you can chat about whatever you want. Please see Guidelines for writing effective answers and What is a well-sourced, dispassionate answer? After that, please edit this post or delete it. I hope to see you post again soon.
    – fгedsbend
    Sep 12 '14 at 1:43
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    Unfortunately I find no answer to my question in your statement only an opinion which is not a good fit for the site. Therefore I have voted down your answer.
    – BYE
    Sep 12 '14 at 2:37
  • @bye You could and arguably should scope your question to more specifically identify what perspective you are seeking an answer from. Maybe the subtext of your question implies that you are wanting someone to provide scripturally based reasons, but you have not been explicit about that. The tag 'death' is probably the most tangential to your question, perhaps it could be replaced with 'exegesis' and include a line in your question body that you are looking for people to respond on a scriptural basis. Sep 22 '14 at 15:32

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil makes reference to the knowledge of Good and evil (Torah) that would arise from the tree (heritage) of the Jews. As Paul puts it, this was a ministry of Death. Jews were forbidden to eat from this tree (read and study it on their own) without the guidance of a capable teacher, lest they die 'spiritually.' Adam and Eve ignored God's command and interpreted the knowledge as coming from an angry God instead of a prophecy of the coming Messiah. Jesus said: You search the scriptures (Old Testament) thinking that in them you will find eternal life, yet, it is these scriptures that testify about me. The fruit from this tree is a metaphor and not to be taken literally.


God gave us free will and the image of His likeness for fellowship, relationship and family... Not Independance... The Power to choose is the "The Tree Of Knowledge Of Good An Evil"... The love of the fellowship, relationship and family was to NOT eat of that tree... We love to have children... Even though they don't listen... We don't not have children for fear they won't listen... We burn for family, fellowship, relationship... So does Dad... No Doubt we were made in His image...

  • Are you saying that God didn't want Adam and Eve to choose the Tree of knowledge of good and evil because they would then have the power to choose?
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 4 '14 at 0:20
  • My reason for down voting is that you answer implies limitations on God. As I read your answer it appears to deny God's omniscience. God knew before creating the first Atom exactly what would transpire ever second of every day from Creation to the return to his eternal kingdom, who would and who would not obey him. He knew every nuance of the human mind and character. He knew before creating that first Atom exactly what Adam and Eve would do. And I submit that he even know then what you would answer and what my reaction would be to it.
    – BYE
    Jun 9 '14 at 20:11

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