Know Good and Evil or an Apple? Cause for Expulsion
Knowing good and evil or eating a forbidden fruit. What was the real cause for Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden?
Knowing good and evil is God’s description of the state of Adam and Eve’s minds. Let’s understand what this means. It is the grounds for their exclusion from this exclusive and luscious Garden of Eden. There’s no mention of eating a forbidden fruit. What is the implication, if any, for us, in the 21st-century age of information?
Continuing the narrative of Genesis 3, God has just clothed Adam and Eve with coats of skins. The Explanation devoted two chapters to reveal that figuratively God gave them a code of ethics to live in a new environment into which He was going to send them. Rules adapted for this new society outside the Garden of Eden. The next verse explains WHY God moved them out.
22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know (H3045) 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:
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
There are two primary points in verse 22.
1. Humans became gods
By stating, “to know good and evil,” God adds, “humans have become gods,” they’ve become ONE OF US. When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in SOME WAY, they turned into god, with a small g, but god nonetheless.
Remember what the Serpent promised Eve? “For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (verse 5).” The Serpent was right! It used this truth for deceptive purposes. It knew that God would oust them from the Garden. How did it know this? Because the Serpent itself had been expelled from God’s throne! The closer you get to that throne, the more the Serpent will be on your back. It doesn’t want anyone partaking of what it considers should belong to it (Isaiah 14:13–14).
The Serpent wanted Adam and Eve to KNOW good and evil. It knew what the consequences would be. I believe you and most humans understand the meaning of the words good and evil. It is precisely this knowledge of good and evil that led to the couple’s demise. We need to know what eating of the Tree of Knowledge is. How does that transform humans into gods?
Let’s see the Biblical Hebrew for know. It is quite a common word, so the King James translators rendered it with many different English words.
יָדַע yâdaʻ yaw-dah’; a primitive root; to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively, instruction, designation, punishment, etc.):
KJV — acknowledge, acquaintance(-ted with), advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware, (un-) awares, can(-not), certainly, comprehend, consider, ⨯ could they, cunning, declare, be diligent, (can, cause to) discern, discover, endued with, familiar friend, famous, feel, can have, be (ig-) norant, instruct, kinsfolk, kinsman, (cause to let, make) know, (come to give, have, take) knowledge, have (knowledge), (be, make, make to be, make self) known, + be learned, + lie by man, mark, perceive, privy to, ⨯ prognosticator, regard, have respect, skilful, shew, can (man of) skill, be sure, of a surety, teach, (can) tell, understand, have (understanding), ⨯ will be, wist, wit, wot.
The 7th key to master Biblical Hebrew is, Hebrew words tell a story. The story of yada is lengthy, and we will only see a part of it today. In this context, know implies comprehend, discern, discover, perceive, understand. These all attributes of every human being. Knowing good and evil means discovering and perceiving it BY ONESELF. In other words, withOUT GOD. Apart from God’s input. Separate from God’s Word.
The header image for this blog illustrates human knowledge. It is from the Tree of Knowledge in the RED triangle. Know is the keyword in this verse and our lives. We come into the world, knowing nothing and spend our whole life acquiring knowledge. The question is, is it God’s knowledge (green triangle) or human knowledge (red triangle). Note that the two triangles don’t touch. They’re separate sets of knowledge.
In the context of this episode, referring to good and evil. Human knowledge of goodness has nothing to do with God’s knowledge of righteousness.
That statement needs a little bit of clarification. Humans have discovered that it’s not good to steal or murder. They did not depart from God’s knowledge to come to that conclusion. Rather, such practices, and all others, come from observation, trial, and error, and human reasoning. Through our brain and mind intelligence, humankind has discovered some of the instructions of the code of ethics for life by its OWN deductions. Humans CAN and DO come to understand the rules of life that COINCIDE with God’s rules. But they do so APART from God, using their own minds and conscience.
The Apostle Paul acknowledged that humans do GOOD, BUT, and this is the clincher, they do NOT give credit to God, even for this good instruction. Instead, humans vaunt their own inventiveness, their own brainy insights. Understand.
For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
The Gentiles did not possess the knowledge of God, but they PERCEIVED, of and by themselves, the content of laws similar to God’s law. They figured out the difference between good and evil in certain areas of how to live. They KNOW good and evil on a human plane. They are a law unto themselves means they established their rules for life. In so doing, they become as one of us, to know good and evil. They become god.
In the 21st century, we have learned from history; we are in a time of HUMAN enlightenment. We have learned how to have less war and more peace. World wars have taught us some lessons. For the last 200 years, society has become more humanitarian. That’s a big word. We have more books, organizations, associations devoted to “how to live a GOOD life,” than ever before. All based on HUMAN REASONING, observation, science, philosophy, with the latest fad being Eastern philosophy, even religion, and what I call secular religion (doing good without God in the picture).
All of this knowledge of good falls in the RED triangle. It is human goodness, discovered and applied by humankind, to try to establish their own peace and prosperity. In this, humans have taken upon themselves God’s right to decide what is good and evil. Humans have taken the place of God and raised themselves to the level of gods. Humans have taken life into their own hands. They think they run the show, that they’re top dog. There is no authority above them. Humans only look to humans for solutions. Today, they praise and look to science as their savior. And the limits of science are tangible and measurable. It deals with the physical and material ONLY. It has nothing to do with the SPIRITUAL God.
Humans know good and evil, which includes every single piece of knowledge humankind has produced. Audit of the Universe and Humankind elaborate extensively on all these concepts of, do good and not evil. Don’t get me wrong. There IS GOOD in some of this advice, maybe a lot of this counsel. But, it occults GOD and His way. It is all human effort, based on human know good and evil. In that, humanity is outside of the Garden, but still hungrily partaking of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil that leads to sure death. Maybe one of the hardest principles to understand is that human good, and there are plenty of good humans in the world, leads to death. The Tree is that of GOOD and evil.
Continuous eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
The human search for the rules of life has continued ever since Adam and Eve. We saw that God clothed them with a code of ethics. Rules of life that we find in the Bible today. Yet, how many look to God’s knowledge as the BASE for adapting it to our modern world? When was the last time you heard a leader say, “What is the Bible principle to be applied in this situation?”
The following quote is from a rather simple article, but it summarizes the basics of the good and evil dilemma. If you want to make progress in understanding, I request you analyze the following quote. Here’s the question. Considering God’s reflection, “humans have become as one us,” what TWO problems are revealed by the following quote?
A moral education system must begin by defining the morals which are most important for not only the individual but for the society as a whole.
The system must be designed as such that the individual at a formative stage should distinguish to differentiate between what is good and what is bad.
Here are two questions:
- The moral system must begin by defining the most critical morals. WHO defines?
- What is the basis for beginning to define morals?
Here are the answers:
- HUMANS define the system… in place of God
- Interestingly, the vocabulary used “differentiate between what is good and what is bad” is very similar to “knowing good and evil.” The second answer is the basis for morals is HUMAN interpretation, feeling, observation, science, philosophy, and even religion in place of God’s Word.
The article itself is very lucid in showing the reason for the confusion, even the impossibility, of reaching a consensus.
The study of morality is vital because we live in a world of rapid change where there are various cultures coming into conflict, in which people are not guided by a single code of ethics but by many different values and rules. The differences are often not easily reconciled; and, in fact, may be irreconcilable. It is important to understand the nature of these differences, as most discussions and debates about morals address them.
The SINGLE code of ethics is God’s code, the Tree of Life code.
The “many different values and rules that are irreconcilable” is humans knowing good and evil.
God’s single moral code of ethics MUST be the foundation of a functional working society. It is the only way to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity. All humans are EQUAL. All humans function by the same modus operandi. All humans need this single code of ethics that they themselves can NOT define.
Only God, in His Word, the Bible defines that code. He is God, humans think they’re god, but it’s not the case.
The phrase, “the man (humans, every single human being since and including Adam and Eve) is become as one of us, to know good and evil,” is important from another perspective. It demonstrates, “God made man (humans) in His image and likeness.” The primary point of likeness is humans can know,
Do a little exercise, substitute some of the KJV translations for know in place of know in the phrase “humans can know.” For instance, humans can discern, humans can discover, humans can understand, etc.
Notice the translations kinsfolk and kinsmen. This means of the same genealogical lineage, Our lineage is God, NOT animals. As God knows, so humans know. No animal, as intelligent as it might be, can discover how to go to the moon, how to transform Earth’s resources into the myriad products we possess. Yes, animals discover and transform, but there’s no comparison with humans.
When science tries to show you how intelligent animals are, to show that we’re of the same lineage, remember the gulf that separates us. And that gulf is the neshama that God breathed into the first man in Genesis 2:7. ONLY God and humans possess neshama. Animals have ruach alone, which gives them capabilities and their incredible individual characteristics. BUT, and this is vital, animals can NOT KNOW good and evil. Only humans can, and that the bottom line.
The modern name for establishing the rules for good and bad is Humanism.
Here are the highlights from an article about the origin and basis of humanism. It includes the history of this movement in Germany, India (the original Buddha), China, Islam, and Iceland (Grimm fairy tales), among others. I’ve emboldened some key phrases.
Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress. It views humans as solely responsible for the promotion and development of individuals and emphasizes a concern for man in relation to the world.
In modern times, humanist movements are typically non-religious movements aligned with secularism, and today humanism may refer to a nontheistic life stance centered on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world.
Please reread that last sentence. It is the essence of come to know good and evil totally apart from God. Out with God and the Bible, in with Science. Do you see humans still hiding in the groves from God? Even “religious” bodies have accepted this idea! Theology interprets it this way. In Europe, in particular, schooling places heavy emphasis on classical literature and philosophy; this is their human concept of the way to establish a stable society.
It was in education that the humanists’ program had the most lasting results, their curriculum and methods were followed everywhere, serving as models for the Protestant Reformers as well as the Jesuits. The humanistic school, animated by the idea that the study of classical languages and literature provided valuable information and intellectual discipline as well as moral standards and a civilized taste for future rulers, leaders, and professionals of its society, flourished without interruption, through many significant changes, until our own century, surviving many religious, political and social revolutions. It has but recently been replaced, though not yet completely, by other more practical and less demanding forms of education.
I think God’s affirmation that ‘man is become as one of us’ is summed up by Yuval Harari’s book Homo Deus, (man god), A Brief History of Tomorrow. Here are a couple of quotes regarding the book. They are from Wikipedia because I don’t want you to think I’m putting the book down by giving my own evaluation.
The book sets out to examine possibilities of the future of Homo sapiens. The premise outlines that during the 21st century, humanity is likely to make a significant attempt to gain happiness, immortality, and God-like powers. Throughout the book, Harari openly speculates various ways that this ambition might be realised in the future based on the past and present.
Technological developments have threatened the continued ability of humans to give meaning to their lives; Harari suggests the possibility of the replacement of humankind with the super-man, or “homo deus” (human god) endowed with abilities such as eternal life.
This description is the consecration of ‘God’s man’ transforming himself into homo-deus. Harrari is wrong in saying it’s for the future. God says it’s already NOW and has been so for 6000 years. Man has baptized himself Homo sapiens (Latin: “wise man”). Humans think they’re the embodiment of wisdom, “to know good and evil.” Real knowledge and wisdom start with the reverence of God (Proverbs 1:7).
2. Humans barred from the Tree of Life
The second point in Gen. 3:22 is God PREVENTED Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life. To do that, God expulsed Adam and Eve from the Garden. Notice WHY.
He didn’t want them to partake of the Tree of Life, that was free-standing in the midst of the Garden. They could’ve easily reached for and plucked and eaten of its fruit. But, it was a definite NO. Why? Because that would mean they would live forever, eternally. But, I thought God WANTS to give eternal life?!
What’s going on? Frankly, this is fundamental Biblical knowledge. Yet so misunderstood that religions are preaching. “Give your heart to the Lord, and you’ll be saved.” “Faith is ALL you need to be saved.” Some even practice baptism for anyone who believes, also who believes for someone else. All of this flies in the face of Genesis 3:22 and the reason God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Away from the Tree of Eternal Life.
God SHUT OFF access to Eternal Life BECAUSE humans decide for themselves what is good and evil. God can NOT give Eternal Life to those who want to establish their own life rules or modify life rules.
God is the Creator of humankind. He’s ALREADY established and revealed to us THE code of ethics that is the ONLY valid set of rules to run human lives so we can have peace and prosperity. Coherent completeness should have us understand that there is ONLY ONE HUMAN RACE; there can be ONLY ONE set of rules. We know this for soccer and athletics. Every four years, athletes get together for the Olympics or the World Cup. From around the world, all the athletes practice, play, compete and participate based on ONLY ONE set of rules.
Those sports rules are set by a world-governing body and apply to everyone. God is the Universe-governing Spirit Being who has set those rules in motion and written and preserved them for our benefit. We discussed them in Deuteronomy and Proverbs. Those rules apply today, represented by the skin coats with which God clothed Adam and Eve. They are laws humans are CAPABLE of applying. We are NOT talking about the SPIRITUAL laws of the New Testament. God does NOT expect human beings to abide by those. To do that needs the Holy Spirit. The clothing God put on Adam and Eve can be worn and applied by all humans with the NESHAMA. And ALL humans possess conscience and mind. Their application is the ANTIDOTE to the AGONY of Humankind.
The question is, WHY does God want us to accept and apply HIS rules? What’s the point? Great indeed. Some think He’s just trying to exercise His authority as a tyrannical God. They couldn’t be further from the truth. He wants humans to apply the rules for their own benefit. Because they are the rules that allow you to WIN at what you undertake in your life. None of these rules tell you what you should do recreationally or professionally.
The rules are for relationships and rulership. Why? If you’ve been following The Explanation, it’s because of WHAT God is and WHAT humans are AND our RELATIONSHIP to God.
God is a Family; He created humans in His Image; they too are a family. We are God’s sons and daughters. Please revise those links for the details if you’ve never heard this or need to refresh your knowledge about these essential Biblical facts.
Any and every family today that wants to live in harmony and unity must have rules. A code of ethics to which ALL members, from the youngest to the oldest, must adhere. No one in the family will ever exercise those rules perfectly, but there has to be the right attitude to say, “I’m sorry” and try to do it right.
The point is. If you can’t live in someone’s home by THEIR STANDARDS and set of rules, then they can ask, or tell, or force you to leave. That’s why God didn’t want Adam and Eve partaking of the Tree of Life. God’s abode is His Garden; in His home, we have to abide by His rules for the spiritual welfare and unity of the entire Family. If we can’t do that, and Adam and Eve didn’t, then you simply can NOT abide there. If they’d eaten of the Tree of Life, they’d have STAYED in the Garden for all eternity with a DISloyal and INdisciplined mind frame. That does not bode well for living together for all eternity.
God is a Family that will welcome multitudes of sons and daughters. Multiple billions of sons and daughters from ALL cultures, ALL creeds, ALL nations, ALL races. We will ALL be together for ALL eternity. We will live in HARMONY. The ONLY way to do that is LIVE by ONE CODE OF ETHICS. God’s rules. The term works in the Bible simply means we’re showing God we’re ready to abide by the Family rules. Until we’re prepared to do that, we remain OUT OF the Garden.
The Take-Away from Genesis 3:22
There are two Trees. Each represents a way of life. The Tree of Life is God’s knowledge, His wisdom, rules, and righteousness. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is human knowledge sought out by human wisdom to establish human rules and human goodness, not to mention evil.
The two ways are incompatible. Put them together, and we’d be at loggerheads, for all eternity. Hence God’s removal of Adam and Eve. Here’s the kicker.
The human spiritual choice is NOT deciding what is good and evil in relationships and rulership.
It is choosing whether we, as a human, want to continue to choose for ourselves OR whether we choose GOD’S definitive decision of what is good and evil, and accept that, with all our heart.
Realize this. It is NOT up to humans to decide what is good and evil. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve WHAT good and evil are; He made that very clear to them, AS GOD DOES IN THE BIBLE.
The ONLY free choice we humans have to decide individually, is whether we accept God’s way to Eternal life, His way of life, or whether we stay with OUR OWN KNOWLEDGE of good and evil.
Throughout the Bible, we find words like obey, heed, do, remember, followed by some injunction, that’s GOD’s definition of GOOD. We also find words like forsake, don’t, that’s GOD’S definition of EVIL. The human choice is not to decide whether what God is saying is right or wrong, good or evil. Our choice is, “do we accept GOD’S DEFINITION of good and evil OR do we continue to follow our own KNOWledge?”
It’s a take or leave proposition. In the header image, there’s a red triangle, human knowledge, and application of human goodness and evil. There’s a green triangle representing God’s knowledge, and implementation of God’s righteousness, devoid of evil. The two triangles are separated by a thick black line to signify the two opposing blocks of knowledge and their application are NOT compatible. There’s no compromise possible between the two. You can’t have one foot in the red triangle and one in the green triangle. It’s all or nothing. That’s the free choice we have to exercise.
Today’s world has the Agony for the reason the prophet Isaiah states.
“For you have trusted in your wickedness (the application of human knowledge): you have said, None sees me. Your wisdom and your knowledge, it has perverted you (it’s gone to our head and affected human reasoning); and you have said in your heart (our innermost being), I am (humans say, think and act like gods), and none else beside me (God is nowhere to be found),” (Isaiah 47:10).
The antidote is to return to God and sincerely look at what HE wants. Psalm 119:59, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet to your testimonies.” A concise, wise reflection that is the starting point to God’s knowledge, wisdom, and His peace and prosperity.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 5.4 of the book Agony of Humankind.
A wise man once said, Teach you me, what I do not know.
Let’s get started with The Explanation.
- Inventory of the Universe
- Audit of the Universe
- Audit of Humankind
- Origin of the Universe (Commentary on Genesis 1)
- Origin of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 1:26–2:7)
- Origin of Woman (Commentary on Genesis 2:8–25)
- Agony of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 3)
You can read all the books of The Explanation series online. Buy the books at your favorite store. Sam blogs weekly at TheExplanation.com The Explanation masters Biblical Hebrew to help you unlock more in-depth Bible meaning. Free tools to read and study the Bible online.