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b) Gen 2:16–17: The Book of Proverbs states that one of the highest goals of godly people consists of acquiring wisdom (Prov 4:5–9).
However, some types of wisdom belong solely to God, which people should not seek to attain. Ultimately, a full understanding of the Lord, the universe, and humanity’s role remains beyond our comprehension (Job 38:1–7).
To pursue such wisdom without dependence upon God asserts human autonomy, neglecting the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7).
In effect, sin consists of seeking to determine morality apart from the Lord. Therefore, God forbade humanity from eating of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
We see the consequences of this type of arrogance in Ezek 28:1–2, 11–19, a passage which describes the king of Tyre’s expulsion from Eden for claiming to be “wise as a god.”
The Lord warned, “On the day you eat from it, you shall surely die” (moth tamuth). He underscored the inevitability of death, not an immediate loss of life.
Spiritual separation from the Lord, estrangement in our relationships with other people, and eventually physical death result from our disobedience (Gen 20:7; Exod 31:14; Deut 24:16).
According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Death means standing before God as an outlaw, as one who is lost and damned, but not as one who no longer exists.”
Since Moses did not mention the tree of life here (Gen 2:9), it appears that Adam was permitted to eat from it but for some reason chose to abstain.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Read Gen 2:16–17. Why do you think God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of Eden and declared it off limits? What made it necessary for God to give Adam the warning not to eat from that tree immediately after placing him in the garden? How does arrogance affect our relationship with God and with other people?
[Related posts include A Well-Watered Garden (Gen 2:8–14); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); Their Eyes Are Opened (Gen 3:7); In Adam’s Likeness and Image (Gen 5:3–5); God Establishes a Covenant (Gen 6:18); and God’s Perception of Time (2 Pet 3:8)]
[Click here to go to Chapter 5: A View from the Ground (Genesis 2:4–25)]
 Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 63–64.
 Gesenius, GKC, 342.
 Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 87–88.
 Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3, 90.
 Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 67.