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The Location of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and Why That Matters

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Tamara is a Bible student who loves mining the treasures in God's Word and sharing its teachings and applications with others.

Marisa Ranieri Panetta

Marisa Ranieri Panetta

The Tree of Knowledge

I always assumed that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil sat beside the Tree of Life at the Garden in Eden's center. This misperception isn't surprising, considering that many translations record it this way.

Careful observations of patterns in Scripture, along with a reading of the Hebrew version of the fall of humankind in Eden, reveals that the forbidden tree most likely resided elsewhere.

The following study will unpack the patterns and original word presentations supporting this particular Biblical case and conclude why this matters.

So, where is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil located?

So, where is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil located?

Overlaying Sacred Spaces

The Old Testament Tent of Meeting, described in Exodus Chapters 25-40, contained the Tabernacle, the innermost sacred space of uniquely assigned worship territory. The Tabernacle blueprint patterns after the Garden that resided in Eden. When considering Eden and its garden with this structure as an overlay, a template of specific areas and tree locations relating to the beginning events of the Bible emerges.

Eden and the Tent of Meeting were hallowed places designed to connect humankind and God and unite heaven with earth. The Tabernacle instructions reveal this thought with implication to the purpose of the Sacred Garden.

. . . let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.

— Exodus 25:8

The Tent of Meeting template reveals that the Garden represented by the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, otherwise known as the Tabernacle proper, resided inside the boundaries of Eden's court. Beyond the protective limits of Eden was considered "the field."

Before continuing, there is a necessary side note to discuss having to do with the division of the two Tabernacle sacred spaces. In the Tabernacle, a curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. In viewing the Garden with the Tabernacle, again, as an overlay, there would have been no partition. Jesus and His mighty act of redeeming humankind through His death on the cross revealed the original united space when the curtain in the Temple tore in two.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom . . . For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation

— Ephesians 2:14, Matthew 27:50-51

The partition between the Holy of Holies and Holy space in the Tabernacle illustrates a separation in the Garden. After expelling Adam and Eve, God placed a barrier to the way to the Tree of Life.

So He (Lord God) drove out the man, and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

— Genesis 3:24

The diagram above suggests that the middle or innermost part of the Garden was the Tabernacle Holy of Holies. This most interior portion of the entire structure was where the high priest met with God on behalf of the people. At the heart of this holiest of all places was the Ark of the Covenant. It was here, more specifically, where God would meet and talk with His people.

. . . there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony . . .

— Exodus 25:22

This arrangement supposes that the Tree of Life and its location was where Adam, the high priest of the Garden, was supposed to meet with God to walk and talk with Him.

The Tent of Appointment

The Tent of Appointment

A Spiritual View of Space Time

A statement from the account of the Garden expulsion in Genesis chapter three confirms that the Tree of Life was an especially designated tree for a uniquely assigned purpose, and perhaps it was to be approached at a specifically appointed time. The narrative implies that Adam and Eve had not yet partaken of the Tree of Life before their downfall. Perhaps it was in anticipation of a seventh-day appointment.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, (indicates they had not yet partaken) and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

— Genesis 3 22-23

This scenario of a missed appointment would explain God's question to Adam.

"Adam, where art thou"?

The question God was asking was about much more than location. The inquiry appears to hint more at the likelihood that Adam did not show up for an appointed time and place because he was too busy at a different tree at a different location selling his soul for forbidden fruit.

According to the Biblical pattern, a seventh-day meeting was presumably a form of celebratory consecration.

According to the Biblical pattern, a seventh-day meeting was presumably a form of celebratory consecration.

The Seventh Day Pattern Viewed Through Passover

According to the Biblical pattern, a seventh-day meeting was presumably a form of celebratory consecration.

Exodus chapters twelve and thirteen records the instructions for the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread. The appointed time of unleavened bread lasted seven days. The observances reveal what was potentially supposed to happen in the Garden.

God's people observed the Passover as a reminder of their deliverance from bondage to Egypt, a type of outside the Garden world. Salvation to an Eden-like promised land was a type of return to Paradise. After the Passover instructions, God commands His people to consecrate their firstborn. With this in mind, Adam, here, is viewed as a firstborn of all flesh in need of being dedicated before the expansion part of God's vision for humankind (be fruitful, multiply, and have dominion) could take place.

Sandwiched between the firstborn consecrating notes in chapter thirteen is the command to observe the seven days of unleavened bread culminating in a seventh-day feast, perhaps alluding to the never realized "Tree of Life Feast" at the Garden event. Notably, like the Adamic account, forbidden food is included in the instructions in the following verse.

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters.

— Exodus 13:6-7

Leaven in bread typified evil in the forbidden tree. Unleavened bread typified the Tree of Life.

Priest, high priest, levite

Priest, high priest, levite

The Seventh Day Protocol of the Priestly Consecration

The seventh-day consecration pattern was also a part of the Old Testament priestly ordination that God included with the initiating protocols of the Tabernacle services. The next portion of Scripture indicates that Adam, priest of the Garden in Eden, possibly passed over the boundary of the sacred space before being wholly consecrated so that he could partake of the forbidden tree. The command to not leave the holy area for seven days is repeated three times in the following Scripture.

. . . you shall not go outside the door of the tabernacle of meeting for seven days, until the days of your consecration are ended. For seven days he shall consecrate you. As he has done this day, so the Lord has commanded to do, to make atonement for you. Therefore you shall stay at the door of the tabernacle of meeting day and night for seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, so that you may not die; for so I have been commanded.” So Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses.

— Leviticus 8:33-36

Remarkably, God emphasizes the priests not going outside the door for seven days in His instructions. Was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil at the "door" of the Tent of Meeting? Did Adam cross the threshold of God's assigned allotment and trespass into enemy territory to access the forbidden tree without the completed dedicatory anointing? The phrase "that you may not die" in the above verse hyperlinks back to God's command to Adam not to partake of the forbidden tree lest he die. The priestly instructions hint that Adam stepped just outside the door to do it.

. . . the Lord God commanded the man, saying . . . of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.

— Genesis 2:17

The prophet Zephaniah alludes to this idea in his confrontation with God's people, who thought they could have both good and evil yet remain in God's Holy space and Holy calling. The presentation gives us a glimpse into the possible rationalization that went into the fateful decision of Adam and Eve.

In the same day I will punish
All those who leap over the threshold,
Who fill their masters’ houses with violence and deceit . . .

. . . “And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
And punish the men
Who are settled in complacency,
Who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good,
Nor will He do evil.’

— Zephaniah 1:9,12

Evil could not dwell in God's house. An eviction was necessary.

God, through the prophet Hosea also weighs in on this topic. Like Adam, He accuses His people of being disloyal by stepping outside the bounds of His covenant.

like Adam, they transgressed (passed over or beyond) my covenant;
there they were covertly disloyal with me.

— Hosea 6:7


Noah's Seven Day Consecration

The pattern of not leaving a consecrated area for seven days is repeated in the Noah narrative.

After Noah built the ark, and everyone was aboard, the Biblical text reads that it was seven days after they boarded that the floodwaters began.

But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee . . . Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation . . . So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth . . . the Lord shut him in.

— Genesis 6:18, 7:1, 7-10,16

It was God who shut the door of the ark for the floating Eden and its inhabitant's protection. It was God who laid the boundaries and protocols of Eden for the protection of its inhabitants. Evil was waiting just outside the gate of Eden, just as sure as the floodwaters were just outside the door of the ark. Noah, unlike Adam, stayed put for the full seven days.

"Covenant" is the keyword of this story. Being in covenant with God means staying within the parameters of His jurisdiction. To trespass, transgress, or overstep the boundaries of the covenant leaves us on the outside, vulnerable and naked.

In this case, the floating ark made of a type of wood mentioned only once in Scripture reinterprets the tree of life in Eden. Once, again unlike Adam, Noah's obedience, which is mentioned three times in the story, places him and his family in the centermost protected space—at the center of God's will.

Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

— Genesis 6:22

And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him.

— Genesis 7:5

So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood . . . as God had commanded Noah

— Genesis 7:7


The Golden Calf Demonstration

As Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the instructions for the Tabernacle, its protocols, and code of conduct for the people, the congregants of the redeemed grew impatient waiting for Moses to return.

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us a gods (Elohim) that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him

— Exodus 32:1

Although Moses was on the mount for forty days and forty nights, the text doesn't tell us exactly how many days it took for the people to grow weary of waiting. Significantly, however, the last remaining discussion that God has with Moses concerns the seventh day Sabbath instructions. The seventh-day Sabbath is noted six times in the following Scripture that appears right before the Golden calf event.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”

— Exodus 31:12-17

The scene continues with the construction and worship of the "Golden Calf," representing God's first humans' decision to worship an alternate tree because they would not wait.

Like Adam, who quite possibly thought that God might be ok with dual loyalties, the Lord's redeemed called their worship of the calf a "Feast to the Lord (Yahweh)."

Seeing and taking, just as it was in the garden, are critical elements to our connection. God's people, Israel, play Eve's part and expose the backside dissatisfaction of her choice. This theme is expressed in the phrase "when they saw Moses's delay." Perhaps waiting for God's appointment was more than Eve was willing to do. Aaron, who obeys the people's wishes, plays the part of Adam, who listened to the voice of his wife.

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it.

— Genesis 3:17

A final observation from this story involves an easily missed detail concerning an altar placed before the "Golden Calf."

After Aaron "took" the gold from the people and fashioned the idol calf, Aaron "saw" it and constructed an altar.

And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received (he took) the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.

Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it.

— Exodus 32:2-5

Here again, we see the Golden calf representing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil with a sacrificial altar in front of it. Moses is on Mount Sinai, a type of Holy of Holies, symbolic of the Tree of Life, in the presence of the Lord. The placement is consistent with the Tabernacle/Garden in Eden overlay.


An Illustration From Nadab and Abihu

An event just after the initial priestly ministry of the Tabernacle begins links with Adam crossing the threshold of God's Garden sanctuary. The connection this time involves clothing and God's Spirit.

The crossing the threshold event is that of Nadab and Abihu offering strange fire in the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus chapter ten tells us that after Nadab and Abihu died because of their unprescribed fire, the priesthood was required to not participate in the mourning rituals outside the sacred territory. Combined topics of God's commands, much like Adam's instructions, involved clothing, anointing (symbolic of the Holy Spirit), not going out the door, and the certainty of death for doing so.

Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons, “Do not uncover your heads nor tear your clothes, lest you die, and wrath come upon all the people. But let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord has kindled. You shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.” And they did according to the word of Moses

— Leviticus 10:6-7

Notably, anointing in Scripture is most often coupled with a discussion on apparel.

Immediately after the partaking of the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve found themselves naked and outside the Garden without access to their means of Eternal life in the Spirit. Dead, de-spirited/naked was the consequential state of stepping outside the protected area.

. . . she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked . . .

— Genesis 3:6

The Biblical text does not explicitly tell us that God clothed Adam and Eve with His Holy Spirit, but it is implied by the prophet Isaiah.

Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin

— Isaiah 30:1

It appears that Adam and Eve didn't know that they were naked because they were most likely clothed in God's Spirit, and it was God's Spirit that they lost in the fall.

The partaking of fruit takes the form of fermented fruit in the Nadab and Abihu story. It is implied that they were drunk when they did it because of the added clause that followed.

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations . . .

— Leviticus 10:8-9

It's also a possible consideration that there was an intoxicating element to the forbidden tree if we view Adam as not only a priest in the Garden but also a vassal king under the Lordship of the Lord God of heaven and earth. The mother of King Lemuel instructs her son likewise in the book of Proverbs.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Nor for princes intoxicating drink;
Lest they drink and forget the law . . .

— Proverbs 31:4-5

Noah also exhibits this pattern. In Genesis chapter nine, immediately following his departure from the door of the ark, a three-tiered floating garden, he planted a vineyard, got drunk (type of forbidden fruit), and became naked.

Noah who went out of the ark (triple partitioned protected space much like the garden and Tabernacle) . . . And Noah began to be a farmer, (man of the ground) and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

— Genesis 9:20-23


A Revisit of the Forbidden Tree at the Cross Just Outside the Holy City

On the day of Christ's crucifixion just outside of the holy city, Jerusalem, Jesus took the place of judgment for Adam's crime that occurred just outside of the Garden. The sacrificial altar, made of wood, a symbol of dead humanity overlayed with copper, a metal that symbolizes judgment, was at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting just outside of the Holiest spaces. In keeping with this motif, we could conclude, therefore, that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was located precisely at the sacrificial altar situated at the door of the Tabernacle. (see the diagram following the introduction) The judgment of Christ, therefore, geographically took place at the scene of humanity's crime.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil position at the sacrificial altar is confirmed in the New Testament crucifixion scene by two criminals crucified along with Christ. One had an "evil" accusation, and the other had a "good" reply.

. . . one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (evil)

But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (good)

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

— Luke 23:40-43

The word 'Paradise" at the end of the above portion of Scripture is the definition of the Old Testament Eden. Jesus, the door of Eden (John 10), takes the penalty of humankind on a tree of judgment. The penalty paid allows humanity access once again to God's Holy throne and eternal life.

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are,yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

— Hebrews 4;14-16

There was no other entrance to the Tent of Meeting except the sacrificial altar entrance.


More Support From Judah and Lot

Two other supportive Old Testament narratives that point to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil being in a different location from the Tree of Life is discovered in the accounts of Judah and Lot,

After selling his brother Joseph to slave traders, Judah separates himself from the tribe (outside the camp) and snuggles right up next to the forbidden Canaanites. It is here that he shacks up with a forbidden woman. (Deuteronomy 7:5)

It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers, and visited (turned in next to) a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah.(Adullam-a royal Canaanite city of the plain) And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua, and he married her (literally "took her") and went in to her.

— Genesis 38:1-2

Judah was assigned the Messianic lineage, the tree of life, and he's about to destroy everything by leaving his sacred assignment and setting foot in forbidden places. Just like Eve, Judah "sees" and "takes" according to his desire.

. . . when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate

Genesis 3:6

Like Judah separated from his brothers, Lot separated from his "brother" Abraham after land use disputes created strife. In Lot's case, a mention of "the Garden of the Lord" in the story hyperlinks with the earlier Genesis beginning one. In this case, we find Lot cozying up to forbidden people as well.

And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. . . Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld (he saw like Eve) all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose (like Eve) him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward (right up next to) Sodom

— Genesis 13:8, 10-12

The "Lot chose" clause reveals the deliberateness of the decision at the tree. In overlaying the stories with Judah taking and Lot choosing, we could consider the reality that taking is choosing. The devil didn't make them do it.

In both stories, the literal translations imply that both Judah and Lot decide to set up shop near forbidden places and people (Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil) away from the promised places and people (Tree of Life) God commissioned. Ultimately both end up immersed in the depraved cultures of both.

Also, the mention of plains like in the Tower of Babel incident suggests worshiping other things in other places. Eden was thought to be on a mountain, considering the rivers that flowed down from it. Worshiping on the plain suggests self-devised worship that caters to one's own definition of good and evil.

If we read both of these accounts into Adam and Eve's fatal moment, it is apparent that rather than hang out near the Tree of life or enjoy all of the accessible edible trees, they instead separated themselves from their God and hung out at the other tree at the edge of disobedience. Perhaps they figured they would get close enough without getting burned.


Exile to the East

In the narrative with Lot, it is noted that he significantly moves to the east in his departure from Abraham, the patriarch of the promised Messiah seed.

In review, the Tree of Life represented by the Ark of the Covenant was located in the Tabernacle diagram's innermost area on the west end of the structure. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil represented by the sacrificial altar was at the outermost opposite end of the entire Tent of Meeting. This arrangement of trees means that Adam and Eve would have had to deliberately turn their backs on God's Presence and appointment at the Tree of Life by facing away from the Ark in the Holy of Holies to access the alternative tree. The direction they move is significantly east.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— . . . So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden in Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

— Genesis 3:24

All subsequent Biblical exiles move east, a direction that faces away from God's presence. In the second Biblical narrative involving humans' rejection of God's ways, Cain was also exiled even further east to the space called the field outside of Eden's territory. The account of Cain's exile mentions moving east and moving away from God's presence.

Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.

— Genesis 4:16

In the case of Adam and Eve, the phrase "from the presence of the Lord" is not included in the discourse, thus indicating that they were exiled from the Garden but not from Eden.

In Ezekiel, the prophet's vision, the Lord shows him a case of abominations taking place within the Temple. Part of the vision includes twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple and facing east.

Then He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these.” So He brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house; and there, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.

— Ezekiel 8:15-16

Between the porch and the altar sits at the Tabernacle entrance and represents Eden's gate.

The prophet Jeremiah also uses this "back towards God's face" language when he confronts God's idolatrous people who, like Adam Eve, look elsewhere for their fulfillment. Notice that Jeremiah accuses them of looking to a "tree" as their source of life.

They (God's people) and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets,
Saying to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave birth to me.’
For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face.

— Jeremiah 2:26-27

The position of the tree being both inside Eden and in the field simultaneously would have also required Adam and Eve to "pass over" the boundaries of God's designated space to access it.

The following section will examine the original word translation of the description of tree locations that supports this thought.


Ezekiel's Temple

The prophet Ezekiel, born from the temple priestly lineage, gives us a glimpse of what Adam as the priest of the garden, should have done in regards to guarding or keeping the sacred space free from the contamination of wickedness. The following discourse is framed within this concept of a seven-day wait and a "surely die" clause, much like the Genesis chapter 3 account. Moreover, Ezekiel is addressed as the "Son of Man." The Hebrew word for "man" is "adam." Ezekiel is instructed to warn the people to turn away from their wickedness and turn back to God, confirming that Adam's wicked decision involved moving away from God's presence.

Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man (Adam), I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.

—Ezekiel 3:16-19

The prophet Ezekiel also connects facing east with the direction of turning one's back on God and moving away from Him. The next portion of Scripture concerns a vision given to Ezekiel by the Lord concerning the abominations of the priests in God's temple service. Adam was a priest of the garden space and should be considered in this conversation about what happened here.

So He brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house; and there, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, (Tree of Knowlege of Good and Evil) were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.

And He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger. Indeed they put the branch to their nose.

— Ezekiel 8:16-17

Remarkably the above scene occurs in the courtyard at the sacred space entrance, between the porch and the altar. It is the same place where Abel was killed, according to Jesus.

Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

— Matthew 23:34-35

This thought is fitting in type also of the crucifixion of Christ if, indeed, it was the place of the fall of Adam and in association with the murder of Abel and the prophets.

Christ identifies Himself as the door. At the entrance of the tabernacle/temple was where the crime of humanity occurred. It was also where the sacrifice for the sin of God's one and only Son on behalf of humanity took place.

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep . . . I lay down My life . . .

— John 10:7

A NT Example From John the Baptist

John the Baptist baptized the repentant on the east side of the Jordan River. The Jordan River marked the far eastern border of the land of promise. Here, Joshua led God's people to cross over into what was described as the land of milk and honey. It was a typological return to Eden.

John's main message was "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand." His statement suggests a deliberate change of direction in mind and or heart. Its Hebrew word equivalent means to return.

Adam and Eve were literally headed in the wrong direction. Their faces were toward the other tree, and that is where their feet went also. Humanity began by turning its back on God in pursuit of anything and everything but Him. John's message begs for an about-face as the Savior is about to be introduced.

This New Testament narrative also includes a type of serpent and mentions trees and good and bad fruit. The religious rulers take on the role of the snake at a boundary with a tree that has evil fruit.

. . . when he (John) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! (serpent in the tree) Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Adam where art thou)? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

— Matthew 3:7-10

The New Adam, Jesus, traces, in reverse, the footsteps of Adam. As Jesus, the only righteous, takes the plunge at the border of humanity's chaos, illustrating Adam's crime at the edge of Eden, John promises that One is coming to give us back our clothes.

Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize (cover and clothe) you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

— Luke 3:15-16

The next scene demonstrates this imagery of being clothed by the Spirit in Jesus's baptism.

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

— John 1:32-34


Tree Placement in Literary Form

So, where was the forbidden tree? I propose that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil resided at the east end of Eden at the door. More specifically, it was where the Altar of Sacrifice was in the Tabernacle. The order of the text presentation agrees with this thought.

The following verses list three types of trees in Genesis chapter two in its original translation. The parenthesis added are mine and not part of the original text.

And He sprouted, Yahweh Elohim, from the ground

  1. every tree desirable for appearance and good for eating, (Eden)
  2. and a tree that causes life in the middle of the garden, (innermost part of the garden)
  3. and the tree that causes knowing good and evil. (The edge of Eden that borders the field)

— Genesis 2:8-9

The Tree of Life was the only tree noted for its location in the middle of the garden. In the previous section's diagram, this area would have been in the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies space where the Ark of the Covenant and God's presence resided. From a textual arrangement perspective, The Tree of Life's central mention is congruent with its location. The other desirable edible trees seem to be broadly accessible throughout Eden. At the end of the sentence, the forbidden tree gets added to say there was an alternative tree located at the end of something.

If these trees were together in the middle, it would have read something like the following.

". . . the tree that causes life and the the tree that causes knowing good and evil were in the middle of the garden"

If they were both in the middle, they would have been claused together in the text.


Eve's Altered Perceptions

In Genesis, chapter three, one could argue that Eve tells the serpent-being that a forbidden tree is in the middle of the garden.

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

— Genesis 3:2-3

A possible consideration for this discrepancy is that her orientation has shifted in everything she discusses with the serpent in her midst concerning topic and location. The following are some of the observed altered perceptions she makes.

  • Eve minimizes God's invitation to freely eat of "every tree" with the unspecified statement that they may eat of the trees of the garden.
  • In terms of the tree in the middle, she doesn't identify which tree she is talking about. The Tree of life is not mentioned. She calls it forbidden 'the tree."
  • Eve emphasizes the fruit of the tree she perceives to be in the middle. Instead, God's command focuses on the source, as in which tree they are partaking from.
  • She adds to God's restriction by stating that they weren't allowed to touch the tree. God's command does not include this statement. God is more concerned with partaking and participating.
  • From an original translation perspective, Eve reduces the consequences to "we might die" rather than "we shall surely die," as God originally stated.

Eve's desire for fruit from a forbidden tree most likely altered her perceptions, arguments, and possibly her spatial orientation. What she wanted was now at the center of her "world.


Conclusion—Return to Paradise

Why does tree location matter? In the most commonly held view of the two trees being at the center of the Garden, one could falsely imagine that God unfairly tempted Adam and Eve by making them stare at something they may have wanted but couldn't have. We most often view sinful or addictive desires through this kind of filter. The forbidden tree being at the edge of Eden shows a very deliberate act on Adam and Eve's part. They weren't just standing next to two trees saying, "dang, tough decision" They made a willful determination to walk over to the tree with their backs to God.

I believe that God would have allowed Adam and Eve access to the classified information tree once fully devoted, dedicated, and consecrated to Him. Submission and loyalty to God and His truth represented by the Tree of Life were requirements for rightful "good and evil" discernment. It was a necessary element that would properly advance God's kingdom and expand it throughout the earth.

Desire on the throne of our hearts leads to deception. Expressly, when what we like and don't like determines and dictates what is good and evil, confusion and chaos are sure to follow. The disturbing book of Judges, where everyone does what is right or good in their own eyes, showcases this reality. In Contrast, God on the throne of our hearts defining good and evil leads to truth, order, functionality, and eternal life. Under His Lordship, our desires, what we like and don't like, become shaped and conformed to what is in keeping with how God intended things to function.1

The book of Revelation and the entire Bible itself begins and ends with the Tree of Life. In Revelation, humanity's privilege to partake is restored through repentance and submission to Christ.

The first mention of the Tree of life occurs with a note of good and evil concerning the first of seven churches mentioned. Its confrontational statement almost takes us back to the Garden when the first church of Adam and Eve left their first love.

I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

The letter concludes with the following hope of a return to Paradise.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

— Revelation 2:4-7

I conclude with the final "Tree of Life" mentions at the end of the book of Revelation. Once again, the scene gives us an inside-outside description. Adam left the inside for the outside. Christ invites us back in.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life . . . Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

— Revelation 22:2,14


1This thought was borrowed from teaching discussions hosted by Rabbi David Forhman, lead scholar on the Aleph-Beta website.

© 2021 Tamarajo


Tamarajo (author) on August 10, 2021:

Interesting note Char. I appreciate your visit and thoughts on the topic.

Char Milbrett from Minnesota on August 10, 2021:

The location of the tree. The Bible does reference the fact that the Garden of Eden was at the mouth of the Tigress and Euphrates rivers. In as much as the fact that there was a flood during Noah's time, the area would have filled up with water. With a natural spring refilling the area, the new lake would have no place to drain, leaving it a lake. So. Based on these observations, I would eventually come to the conclusion that the Garden of Eden would be located UNDER Lake Haver.