And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9;
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2:15-17
We all know the story: God placed our first parents, Adam and Eve, into a beautiful garden in Eden and told them they could eat of anything growing there save the tree in the center of the garden - the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One day Eve was walking in the Garden and came to the Tree. It was lovely and the fruit looked appetizing and delicious. Just then a smooth-talking “subtil” serpent slithered near and asked her if it was true that God had forbidden her and Adam to eat the fruit of this tree because it would kill them. When she replied in the affirmative, the serpent said:
Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3: 4-5
Eve thought about this for a few minutes. That “subtil” serpent was pretty convincing and Eve, deciding to take the risk that the fruit would bring her wisdom rather than death, took a large bite of the luscious fruit. Finding it quite delicious, she shared it with her partner, Adam.
Eating the fruit opened their eyes in a new way: they suddenly realized they were naked. Not long afterward they heard God taking his usual early evening stroll in the Garden and they panicked, feeling that they must cover their nakedness. Of course when God saw them with their newly made figleaf aprons, he knew immediately what had happened and decided to punish them for their disobedience by banishing them from the Garden—in essence, sending them off to live on their own, without his help or the ease of life in the Garden. He told them it was going to be hard.
He prepared them for their new life with a new set of clothing:
Unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21
Pictures of this part of the story in your average Bible Stories book usually show Adam and Eve walking around looking a bit like cavemen in their new animal-skin garments. But nowhere in this part of Genesis does it say something like, “And then the Lord God didst whack a deer over the head, killing it, and stripping off its skin, didst make garments for Adam and his wife to clothe their nakedness.”
So I guess we’re meant take this sentence at face value—God made coats of skin to clothe them. He gave them skin, which implies that up to this point they didn’t have any.
What this really means is that he made them physical bodies. Genesis 3:21 is about Adam and Eve’s “descent” from the etheric state of being to the material one. Their new skin clothing was to serve as a “container” for their souls—their etheric essence and true being—and were appropriate for the material realm that they would now inhabit.
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Genesis 3: 22-24
Even though he was punishing them by casting them out of the Garden—the eternal world of spirit—and into the material world of limits, God was still worried that they might decide to try to eat the fruit of that other tree, the Tree of Life, and thus become immortal, godlike. In Genesis 2:22-24 he has a talk with himself (actually, himselves – but this is a topic we’ve already discussed) about this potential problem and comes to a decision as to what to do about it. He decides to post an angel and a rotating, flaming sword to discourage their re-entry.
What this means, esoterically, is that they cannot simply shed their new physicality at will and return to the spirit realm, the Garden. If they want to return they will now have to work their way back on the terms of the physical realm. This means working hard,earth, tilling the earth, suffering pain, bearing their children in pain, and in general, enduring the limitations, hardships, and sorrows that go along with life on the material plane.
These experiences cause the soul to learn and grow, to discern the difference between good and evil— a lesson that, over time, bears fruit in the form of wisdom.
So in actuality, the serpent was right. Eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil does open one’s eyes, making one more godlike.
But then again, God was right as well. Eating the fruit of that Tree does indeed cause one to die—to the relative freedom of the spirit world—as one is born into the physical world of time, limitation, and learning experiences.