The Tree of Life is associated with healing in Proverbs 3:16–18, 13:12, 15:4; see Ralph Marcus, “The Tree of Life in Proverbs,” Journal of Biblical Literature 62 (1943), pp. 117–120.


The usual translation of ‘eµs hadda‘t toÆb waµra‘, “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” is deficient in two respects. First, it misses slightly the grammar: “Good” and “evil” are direct objects. More important, it distorts the nuance: Hebrew ra‘ connotes not only moral evil, but ordinary unfitness, “bad” as in “bad apple.” Thus the common view that the tree confers ethical responsibility is incorrect or at least incomplete. There is, by the way, no reason to think the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad is an apple tree. Quite the contrary: Each of the magical trees of Eden is one of a kind. The apple tradition goes back to a Latin pun: Malum means both and “evil.”


God’s concern to separate the human and divine realms also underlies the Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11) and the strange account of humanity interbreeding with deities or angels (Genesis 6:1–4).


As throughout the Bible, the Deity of the early chapters of Genesis often behaves parentally: feeding his creatures (2:16), giving them opportunities to confess (3:9, 4:9), chastising them and then relenting (3:16–21, 4:11–15).