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?


4 Answers 4


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.)

  • "now... it is under guard" Pretty sure it would have been destroyed during the Flood, along with basically everything else on the Earth's surface.
    – nick012000
    Jan 8 at 21:39

A tree is a source, or resource. A tree can offer God's creations protection from the environment that surrounds them like shade from the sun, protection from the winds and elements, food, and supplies. Some trees have fruits that are good for us and wood that is strong and useful, while other trees produce fruits that are not good to eat, and have wood that is not good to use.

So I see in Scripture that the word 'tree' is used in places as a metaphor.

While I clearly see in Scripture that Jesus Christ is the tree of life, my explanation is too long and it has been labeled as a sermon. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be akin to Satan and its fruits would be the pleasures and life of our physical and spiritual world apart from God.

God speaks through Ezekiel and describes the king of Tyre as a 'tree' in Eden. As there were no other people described in Genesis as being in Eden, this appears to be a description of the likeness of Satan. Perhaps Ezekiel 28:12-19 provides us insight with its description of what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was like:

12 . . .“‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. 18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. 19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’”

  • Are you also a theistic evolutionist ray? This sounds a lot like their doctrine for the first chapters in Genesis.
    – Adam
    Jan 8 at 21:04
  • First, please read my profile. I have updated it with information about me this morning. I searched the questions here and found that what I shared about the tree of knowledge of good and evil was found answered in this forum, and the answer is very similar to what I shared above. How is it then that you label me as a theistic evolutionist when the observation I made was given 10 approvals and accepted by the group? I do not understand. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/2641/…
    – Ray
    Jan 10 at 17:52
  • Your quote in Ezekiel 28 and its interpretation is on the right path... that is a description of Lucifer and his subsequent rebellion etc. However, whilst the metaphor has a purpose, one must not forget, Lucifer is a real person...He is definitely NOT a tree! Likewise, Jesus, whilst he was crucified on a tree, the tree itself (Jesus as you seem to be claiming) cannot save us! Metaphors are used to explain the reality...not the other way around!
    – Adam
    Jan 10 at 22:15
  • So, who is God talking about when He spoke through Isaiah 11:1 "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." (NIV) All of Isaiah 11 is pertinent so please, read it completely before you reply. I can see that this is about Jesus Christ, but you say I am wrong. You chastise me for revealing what I understand from Scripture so now I ask you, if this is not Jesus Christ Isaiah wrote about, then what is God referring to? A tree? You cannot have it both ways.
    – Ray
    Jan 11 at 10:37
  • On this board I asked the question "Who or what is God referring to in Genesis 11:1?" and received an excellent response by a member named Anne, and the answer is Jesus Christ. God uses a tree to describe His Son, and from this foundation my understanding of this subject has developed and grown. God described Jesus Christ as a tree. I clearly see that God provides the use of the word 'tree', as a metaphor to help Him communicate with His children. I have found that many metaphors are used in Scripture and 'tree' is one of them.
    – Ray
    Jan 12 at 16:28

the trees are most certainly not the same. kabala (jewish mysticism...those that have passed on deeper teachings from these days) teaches of the tree of life as a spiritual tree with multiple levels representing levels of spiritual life and that there are 3 plains on which this tree exists the low spirit the human levels and the divine....but the most basic recount of genisis clearly shows the two trees distinct at about genesis 3:22


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.

  • can we say that a biblical definition of "immortal" is living forever? I dont think in a biblical sense that is what the word actually means. Even if we add in the "knowing good and evil bit, does that knowledge then allow man to become immortal? The wages of sin (rebellion) is death...so I think not. This would then be at odds with your answer would it not?
    – Adam
    Jan 10 at 22:19

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