How could Adam and Eve have known not to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil? As it was said that Adam and Eve did not know right from wrong. Genesis 3:22:

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."

With that said God also said that if they were to eat from the Tree than they would surely die: Genesis 2:17

but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

He was told by God not to eat from it or he shall die. But, without the knowledge of what is Good and what is Bad how would have have known that disobeying God was bad?


I think it comes down not to the fact that they didn't know what was bad for them, but more that they did not trust GOD and his words to them. Faith can be better translated as trust, and this is the first case where humans do not trust GOD, hence why it was such a monumental moment in history.

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  • Can you support this with references? – El'endia Starman Oct 3 '11 at 3:52
  • Gen 1-3. They asked themselves if GOD really said what he did to them, they doubted (did not trust, or have "faith") that his words to them were true. – jchaffee Oct 3 '11 at 4:00
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    Great. Can you incorporate that into your answer? – El'endia Starman Oct 3 '11 at 4:01
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    @jchaffee Aren't you just chasing your tail with this answer? How could Adam and Eve have known that not trusting God would be bad if they didn't know what good and bad were? – Kaz Dragon Jan 10 '12 at 10:08

First, be careful not to conflate the Tree of Life with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Genesis narrative makes it clear that they are two different trees, and are in fact in opposition to each other:

He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat, and live forever.

As for the answer to the question, the tree of knowledge could give Adam and Eve knowledge of good and evil in general, but that doesn't mean that they had no concept beforehand that there was something wrong with disobeying God in matters in which they had been given a direct commandment.

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  • So, Adam and Eve did have knowledge of good and evil before eating the fruit? Or the fruit did not confer knowledge of good and evil? – bignose Feb 8 '15 at 2:47

You appear to be confusing the knowledge of good and evil with knowledge in general.

Adam and Eve had knowledge, but not the knowledge of good and evil as is shown in the following Scriptures.

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Genesis 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

Genesis 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Genesis3:3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Man had to have an instinctive knowledge of how to dress and care for the Garden, when God placed him there.

Both Adam and Eve had the intelligence of recall else they would not have remembered that God had commanded them not to eat, which shows a basic knowledge of understanding.

Hope this helps

These Scriptures not only show that man instinctively had knowledge prior to the fall, but also had the power of reasoning, as is demonstrated by his being able to discern the differences between animals, and devise names for them, and also to reason that Eve should be called woman since she was taken from man.

And although we are not told how man got the concept of death it is obvious that he did have and could reason that if he did eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would die.

The knowledge of good and evil then boils down to what was acceptable behavior to God and what was not acceptable. In other words they would not have known that lusting for the opposite sex was sinful as is evidenced by:

Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

God had already given them the command to replenish the Earth so they were aware of sex, but until they gained the knowledge of good and evil they did not have any reason to associate any wrong with it.

If we analyze the knowledge of good and evil, what we come up with is that it is really pride, by this meant that it is pitting man's desires against God's desires. Therefore choosing man's desires over God's desires is sin. So let me give that some clarification.

Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

From this Scripture two things become apparent;

  1. The key to Eve's sin is in the to be desired to make one wise, part in that Eve was not content with how God had created her and desired to be more wise, that would then give her the ability to use her free will to bolster her pride.

this is more apparent when we consider:

Genesis 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

  1. Adam was not deceived and willfully chose to eat, whether his pride caused him to desire to be equal to God in knowledge, or from not wanting Eve to be more knowledgeable than him.

In both cases it is pride which causes them to sin in the beginning. It is worth noting at this time that their sin was in disobeying God's command, and not just having the knowledge of good and evil. From my studies ogf Scripture it is pride which God detests the most in man.

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What God sought from Adam and Eve was faith in his words--not to judge whether what God said was right or wrong for HIM.

Faith does not depend on foreknowledge of right or wrong. It depends on trusting the source. It is like giving the benefit of the doubt.

If I point fire to a child and tell him that it will burn him if he touches it, he has two choices--either to touch and burn and know by experience that fire burns or to take me at my word and believe that fire burns.

Faith is blind towards right and wrong, and if we can start to take a bible audit of faith initiated actions, we will come across so many faith actions that did not make sense at all or let alone wrong by all our human standards.

Take for instance: God promises a child to Abram only for him to later ask him to sacrifice the same child. In hindsight we now know God was testing Abram but before then if Abram applied the right and wrong judgement, he would not have gone ahead with the sacrifice because it would have been wrong for God to give something and then take it. You can ask so many questions of right and wrong when it comes to matters of faith and you will always arrive at the answer of "wrong".

In Luke 16:19-31, the rich man asks Abraham to send someone to his brothers on earth who are still alive to go and tell them that hell is real and maybe they would believe. You see, when you know for a fact that something exist, sort of with scientific proof, then faith stops, and when faith stops, then there is no more a qualifying criteria for the kingdom of God. It becomes a free for all including murderers, rapists, idolaters etc.

Luckily Abraham told him that they will not believe even if someone is raised from the dead because you know why, because we always look for other explanations of things in order to reinforce our positions in life whether it is to continue in disbelief or something.

You see Adam and Eve knew already that eating the tree was wrong because God told them, and that knowledge was sufficient for their FAITH, therefore it was either they go with that info or they come up with their own judgement.This brings us to the crux of this issue being whether or not it was required of them to make an independent judgement on what God said regarding that commandment and the answer is NO. They were created to believe and live of whatever word comes from the Lord. They still had a choice, they were not robots. They could choose to believe that they would die as the Lord said they would if they eat the fruit or they could take their chances and become wiser as they were promised by the devil. It was a question of who to believe not what they knew and how much they knew it.

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  • "You see Adam and Eve knew already that eating the tree was wrong because God told them, and that knowledge was sufficient for their FAITH," deserves much emphasis. – nickalh Oct 25 '14 at 15:58
  • @Godfrey, “Faith does not depend on foreknowledge of right or wrong. It depends on trusting the source.” That begs the question asked in the first place. How could one without knowledge of right or wrong, know that faith or trust is right or wrong? – bignose Feb 8 '15 at 2:46

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