Studies in Genesis 2
And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9 ESV)
God made a paradise on Earth, an enclosed garden named Eden, in which He created and caused to grow trees from the smallest to the largest. These trees had one or both of two characteristics. First, they were “pleasant to the sight” and a delight to look at. The word “pleasant” means desirable. Many, if not all of the trees, bore fruit or food for Man. Every kind and type of food that was “good” or beneficial for Man’s well-being and growth. Eden was both beautiful and practical.
“Every” tree in the garden was “pleasant to the sight and good for food.” “Every” means the totality of and all. There was not a tree in the garden that was ugly, by God’s standard, or did not fulfill its God designed purpose of providing food.
Somewhere, deeply embedded in the Garden of Eden, were two trees given special purpose. We know the names of these trees and by their names the purpose of each. One is the “tree of life” and the other is the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” These, like all the other trees, were pleasant to gaze upon and their fruit was good for food. There is nothing in the Garden of Eden dangerous to Man, or poisonous to touch or consume.
“Life” is a noun and means that which is born, grows and is active in some way. Plants and trees have life because they begin life as a seed and grow and, by their nature, actively produce that for which they were created, fruit with seeds. Animals have life because they are born and grow and are active, naturally fulfilling their purpose. Yet, for person created in the image of God life carries the ability to consciously fulfill the purpose for which they are created. Man’s nature is found in the image of God. That the food of the trees of the garden of Eden were given to sustain life is part of their purpose just as it is part of the purpose and design of people to consume food designed specifically for them. All living things already have life. So, for Man, the fruit gives more than simple physical life but a life beyond life.
“Knowledge” can mean perception, skill, discernment, wisdom and understanding. “Good” carries the idea from pleasant to beneficial, excellent, appropriate, valuable or bounteous. Conversely, “evil” carries the exact opposite meaning of “good.” That which is evil is anything unpleasant, harmful, corrupted, inappropriate, worthless and unable to provide anything that is good. Thus, it is the intellectual and intimate understanding and wisdom that comes with knowing, in the fullest sense of the word, the applicable difference between that which is good and that which is evil.
Both trees were pleasant to look and good for food. Yet, these trees were given by God something eternally different than any other tree in the Garden. It is not that there was something magical about the fruit of these trees. It is, ultimately, the purpose and active will of God which imbues the fruit of these trees with qualities God placed on them.