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The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Adam's voice began, "My very first memory is seeing the face of the Lord. I don't know where I was before that time. The presence of God was the only thing of which I was aware. I saw that I was an image of him. But he was so much greater than I was."

"'I have molded you from the dust of the ground and breathed my breath into you,' God said to me, 'You are created in my image. You are created in the image of my Only Begotten."'

"Who is the Only Begotten?" I asked Adam.

"I don't know. God spoke of him many times. The Only Begotten must be like God, for I was created in the image of both of them."

"Am I created in their image also?" I asked.

"Yes, I believe you are. Aren't you almost like me, just a little different?"

This satisfied me. I was also created in the image of the Lord.

"'You are the first flesh upon the earth. I give you dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, over every living thing which I will create upon the earth,' God said.''

"'I have created all things spiritually. They have their existence before I ever place them on the earth,' God told me. 'You were also created spiritually before I formed you from the dust.'"

"'I will plant a garden for you eastward in Eden.' God said."

"God put me in the garden. I saw it in its creation. God caused the trees to grow up out of the ground. I beheld them in all their beauty and knew that they were living souls just as I was. I learned that they also yielded food. And not only that, but they also had seeds to create more trees of their own kind."

"A river bubbled up out of the garden and ran out of Eden. That is the river which has watered the garden and given us drink when we have been thirsty. We have played in it and on it's banks. The Lord has told me that once it leaves the garden it divides into four rivers to water the land outside of Eden. It will be good to know that we can still drink the water from our home."

"God told me to care for the garden. It was an easy task, for I loved it."

"'Adam, there are many trees in the garden. You may eat of any of them but one,' God informed me. 'You shall not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You may choose to eat of it or not, but the day you eat of it you shall surely die.'"

"I soon forgot about it for it did not concern me."

"Was God always there with you?" I asked.

"No, God's home was in some other place. He came often to visit me but I was often alone. The task of keeping the garden was an easy one and I could play and roam in the garden as I wished. But often I would simply wait until the Lord would appear again. Waiting became difficult. I had no one with whom to talk and would drift about aimlessly until he came."

"One day the Lord told me, 'I have said to my Only Begotten that it is not good that you should be alone.'"

"Then God created the beasts out of the earth, just as he had created the trees. He brought them each to me and I was to name them. They were much like me, for God had breathed his breath into them and they were also living souls."

"Did you name them all?" I asked.

"Yes, I named all the cattle, the birds of the air, and every beast of the field. There were many different kinds, it amazed me that God could create so many kinds of animals. Some of them were so majestic and noble. Some of them were very amusing. Some of them were as large as the trees in the garden. I loved to visit each of them."

"I loved all the living creatures that were created and put in the garden to keep me company. They were so much like me. I visited them and ate with them and played with them. We could eat every herb in the garden and the fruit from the trees. I could watch each animal. They each had their own habits and behaviors. They all preferred different herbs and liked different places. I was fascinated. But I was still lonely when the Lord was not with me and I still waited impatiently for him."

"One day I fell into a deep sleep."

"Yes, and God took a rib out of your side and made me," I sighed wistfully.

"When I awoke, there you were looking at me as if I were a great mystery," Adam put his arm around me and pulled me closer to him.

"And you looked back at me and laughed and grabbed me into your arms and swung me around and around. You said, 'You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.' And we have been together ever since."

"Oh, you were so excited," I said. "You had so many wonders to show me. And I loved being shown every one of them."

"Having you there was like seeing everything all over again," Adam remembered, "When I showed you the garden and recounted all its creation it was like witnessing it all over again. And then when the Lord came and walked with us it was as if I were introducing you to the most wonderful being of all. Of course, that was just an illusion that I was introducing you. For it was the Lord himself who had created you. Instinctively you already knew him."

"Oh yes, the Lord," I sighed. "He was so wonderful and so wise, I wished always to please him. I always dreamed of ways that I could dazzle him with a special gift or deed."

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I cast my thoughts back to one of the times when the Lord had walked with us, I knew that the adoration I felt for him was shared by Adam. Adam and I had been resting by the river after having spent the afternoon frolicking in the water.

"I hear the Lord coming," Adam rose to his feet eagerly and helped me to my feet. We hurried to meet him and then stood breathlessly before him.

"Good afternoon to you both, Adam and Eve. What have you been doing to occupy yourselves this day?" he asked kindly.

"We have been visiting some of our friends this morning. The apes have a new little one," Adam announced.

"It is so tiny, it clings to its mother and looks so dainty in her arms. All the others go to inspect it and touch it. They are all very excited," I gaily said.

"Yes, we also spotted two new little deer. Their legs are so slender it is a wonder that they are even standing, let alone jumping and skipping among the larger deer," laughed Adam.

"This is good news. What else have you done today'?" God started strolling through the trees.

"We swam in the river, looked at the fish from under the water. It is so different in the water, like being in another world," said Adam.

"I am glad that you enjoy it. I have created many homes in the garden and my creations expand far beyond this place. I put the sun and the moon and the stars in the sky. My creations reach farther than your eyes can see. And the busy little insects that you watch scurrying here and there live below the ground in elaborate homes which you cannot enter or see. It has seemed good to me to do these things and I continue to create even now as I speak with you."

"Will we be able to see all of the things which you have made?" I asked shyly. "I would like to see everything."

"I know you would, Eve. I will tell you a little concerning this heaven and this earth," the Lord said to me.

"I am the Beginning and the End, and I created these things by my Only Begotten."

"The Only Begotten?" I asked.

"You will learn of the Only Begotten, Eve."

He continued. "First I created everything spiritually before it was upon the earth."

"Do you mean that I was created somewhere else before I was here in the garden?" I asked in wonder.

"Yes, Eve. You were created in the spirit. When I took the rib from Adam, your husband, I made a physical body for your spirit. It was the same with Adam, except that he was the first flesh upon the earth. Every animal, every tree, every plant, was created spiritually before I put it here in the flesh."

"Then somewhere there must be many, many spirits waiting to come here." What an amazing thought. "Are there other men and women like Adam and myself?"

The Lord looked at me. He smiled.

"Before I made Adam physically I prepared a place for him. I created the heaven and the earth. The earth was without form and empty and I caused darkness to come up on the face of the deep."

"Then my Spirit moved upon the waters."

"I then said, 'Let there be light.' And there was light and it was good. I divided the light from the darkness. I called the light day and I called the darkness night."

"Then I placed a firmament between the waters to divide them. There were waters under the firmament and waters above the firmament. I called the firmament heaven."

"The waters under the firmament, or heaven, must be gathered into one place so that there might be dry land. I called the dry land earth and the gathering of the waters I called the sea. And I saw that it was good."

"I would like to see the sea," I exclaimed.

"I made lights in the firmament of heaven, the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night. I also made the stars."

"I caused a mist to come upon the dry land to water it. Then I formed Adam from the moistened earth and breathed his spirit into him. He witnessed the physical creation of the plants and animals. I had him give them names."

"Everything which I have created is good and has given me pleasure. You and Adam are part of my creation. I gave you of my own intellect and will to create. Perhaps someday I will show you everything. But the time is not now. There are certain things that must come about before then."

"What kind of things?" demanded Adam.

"You must be patient, Adam. All things must come about in their proper order. But I promise you that when the time comes we may see all things together," God assured Adam.

Adam seemed satisfied with that. He walked along quietly with a look of contentment on his face.

But I did not feel content. "Why must we be patient? Why must everything be done so slowly that we must wait?" I demanded.

"Eve, Eve," the Lord smiled as he put his arm across my shoulder. "You are so impulsive and curious. You must content yourself for a while as Adam has done. You have much to learn before you can see all my glory."

"I will try to be patient," I promised. "But it won't be easy!"

We strolled along speaking lightly of our activities in the garden and of what we planned to do the next day. Suddenly I thought of something which had caused me much curiosity.

"Adam has told me a very strange thing. You have told him of a tree in the garden of which we may not eat. He called it the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What is this tree and what is 'knowledge' and 'good' and 'evil'?"

At that moment I saw a strange mixture of emotions on the face of the Lord. In his look I saw that he was proud of me, that he loved me, and a strange look as if of sorrow. What possibly could there be for which to be sorrowful? He gazed upon my face and then turned his look upon Adam. A great rush of love overcame me and I cast my eyes down to the ground in confusion.

I vowed that the Lord would always be proud of me.

"Yes, Eve, there is a tree in the garden the fruit of which you and Adam may not eat. It is good that he has told you of it. For your sake, Eve, I will tell Adam again and you also, you may choose for yourselves whether you will eat the fruit or not. But the day you eat of it you will surely die!"

His voice and the warning sent a chill through me. I didn't know why for I really did not understand. I looked at his face. It looked very solemn. His mouth was held in a firm line and his eyes looked as if he read every thought I had.

"I understand." Why had I said that?

"It is good that you understand, Eve," he returned.

We continued to walk until the sun began to dip into its bed. We bid our farewells for this day. I wished he didn't have to go, I wished he would stay with us all the time. He soon left us for his home.

I turned to Adam. "He knows everything about us without ever having to ask, doesn't he? I feel as if he even knows my thoughts."

"I have always felt that. He only speaks to us because for some reason he loves us and values our company. He has said that we are made in his own image. That must be why he comes to us."

We watched the sun go down. It was very beautiful, coloring the clouds a gentle pink like many flowers I had seen and grown to love. I pondered why the Lord could love us. I also wondered about the mystery of the tree. God had told us that if we ate of it we would die, but he had not told us why. Perhaps someday I would know the reason.

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The days came and went in endless succession. Each day was a wonder and a pleasure. Adam and I constantly made new discoveries in our garden. Each new discovery brought the knowledge that there was more and more to see and experience. We knew that our Lord was the creator of all and that he alone knew the secret of each of his creations.

I yearned to be like him. I yearned to know everything as he did. I wished to bask in his approval as I basked in the sun to receive warmth.

The only things which marred my days and began to push their unwanted way nto my mind were thoughts of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The tree was a mystery. I didn't understand why God had forbid it to us. I tried to keep the thoughts of the tree out of my mind but the harder I tried the more they bothered me.

"Adam," I finally broached the subject one day, "What do you know about the tree of knowledge of good and evil?"

"I don't know anything about it. All I know is that God has told us that we may not eat of it."

"But didn't he say that we could choose for ourselves?"

"Choose what?" Adam asked.

"Didn't he say that we could choose for ourselves whether to eat the fruit or not?"

"Why would you want to eat the fruit when God said we would die if we did?" Adam asked.

"I don't know," I answered. "I just wondered."

"Well, stop wondering," he said.

I could not understand why Adam had no curiosity at all.

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Another day as we were walking through a section of the garden that we had not been in for some time I saw a tree which was unfamiliar to me. It was beautiful and white and full of blossoms.

"Is that the tree of knowledge of good and evil?"

Adam looked at me strangely. "No it isn't. I don't remember this one. Why do you keep worrying about that tree?"

"I have never seen it. God showed it to you didn't he? I would just like to see it. I would like to know what it looks like."

"It is a beautiful tree, perhaps one of the most beautiful I have seen. The fruit does not look bad, in fact it looks very good. But I don't know if it is such a good idea for you to see it. You keep thinking of it a great deal. Why?"

I looked at him helplessly. How could I explain why that tree had caught my imagination?" I don't know why, Adam. I know I shouldn't think about it, but the harder I try the more it worries me. Doesn't God trust me? He showed it to you."

"He had to show it to me. It is important that we know which tree it is so that we can avoid it."

"But what if I ate the fruit without knowing what tree it was? How can I avoid it if I have never seen it and don't know which tree it is?" I asked reasonably.

"That is true. I wouldn't want you to accidentally eat the fruit and I'm sure God wouldn't either. I will show it to you the next time we are near it," Adam promised.

I was content. I didn't need to see it right away but Adam would show it to me. Once I had seen it it wouldn't have the power to bother me anymore.

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The days continued. The thoughts of the tree were still in my mind but they didn't bother me as they had. I knew that one day Adam would show it to me.

The day came unexpectedly.

"Eve, do you remember that you wished to see the tree of knowledge of good and evil?" Adam asked.

"Yes, I remember."

"Do you still think that it is important for you to see it?"

"Yes, I think I should know what tree it is so that I can be careful of it"' I answered.

"You are standing under it."

I was surprised. I looked up. It looked like any other tree. Perhaps it was especially beautiful. Perhaps the fruit did look just as delicious as any other.

"Why, it looks like any other tree!"

"What did you expect it to look like?" Adam asked carelessly. It was obvious to me that to Adam this tree did not mean much at all.

"I don't know what I expected." I admitted. "It should look different. It should have something about it that would warn us away from it."

"Let's go. I feel like a having a swim."

"Yes, so do I." I slowly surveyed the area and identified some landmarks, I would certainly want to remember this place. I would not want to eat the fruit of this tree unknowingly. When I was satisfied that I could remember it I took Adam's hand in mine and we headed toward the river.

Thoughts of the tree left me, I had had my wish to see it and as a result I very rarely thought of it.

There were so many things to do. We were never bored. I began to make the acquaintance of many of the animals in the garden. I knew them and they knew me. Did we actually talk to each other? I don't know, but somehow we communicated effectively. Of course Adam could do this also, actually better than I could. Wasn't he the one who had named them? He had witnessed their creation and named them as well.

I had favorites. The apes were the most like us, and for this reason I suppose, they were some of my favorites. I loved to watch them and hover close to them. They were so amusing when they swung through the trees. They would begin to play games in the trees which I could easily watch for long periods of time.

Of course I had other favorites as well. There were always different reasons for a special affection to each one. Choosing a favorite animal was a bit like choosing a favorite color. How could I choose a favorite when I liked them all?

I loved the birds. I envied them in their power to fly. There were times when I felt helpless that I could not leave the ground. But at least I could do other things which made me feel almost as if I could fly. I could swim almost as well as a fish. I could run with Adam like the wind. Sometimes it was if I were the wind. My long hair would fly out behind me and my body felt as if the ground could not hold me to it. It was amazing that my feet did actually touch the ground after all.

Some of the animals I admired for their curious wisdom. It was as if God had put a bit of his wisdom in them. One such was the serpent.

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One day I had strayed near the tree. I don't know if somehow I had been drawn there or if my feet had simply gone their own way. I looked around me and was surprised to see where I was. Adam was not far away, I could easily find him again. As I contemplated the tree which was so beautiful yet forbidden I became aware of the serpent hidden in its branches.

The serpent was beautiful like the tree. His bright and glowing colors were attractive. He seemed a fitting ornament to the tree.

"Good morning, Eve. What brings you here this lovely day?" he greeted me.

"Good morning, serpent. I was simply wandering and found myself here. Don't you know about this tree? It seems a strange place to find you," I observed.

"This tree has no danger to me. Why do you find it so dangerous, Eve?"

"The Lord has told Adam and myself that if we eat of this tree we will die," I answered.

"Do you know what it means to die?" he asked.

"No, I don't know what it means."

"No, no more do I know, nor any other inhabitant of this garden. Only God knows. Why does he not explain this thing to us? It hardly seems fair to keep us all in such ignorance," the serpent observed.

Suddenly this conversation made me uneasy. It somehow didn't seem right to talk this way about the Lord in his absence.

"I wish you a very good morning, serpent. I really must be going now. Adam will wonder where I am."

"Must Adam always know where you are?"

This thought had never before occurred to me. "No, he doesn't know where I am now. But I would be lost without Adam, next to the Lord he means everything to me," I explained.

"That is very sweet. It is good that you have two such to worship. You had best hurry. We will talk again sometime."

"Yes, yes, I will see you again." I rushed off to find Adam and more comfortable conversations.

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I enjoyed my day with Adam. It was like any other, but still enjoyable. As we rested on the bank of the river in the afternoon I told him of my short meeting with the serpent.

"Where did you say you met him?" Adam asked.

"He was in the tree of knowledge of good and evil."

Adam sat up straight. "I thought you had gotten over that tree."

"I have. I hardly think about it at all anymore."

"How did you find yourself there?" he asked somewhat accusingly.

I felt I must defend myself, "I was simply walking and found myself there."

"Take my advice, Eve. Stay away from that tree. I don't like the thought of you near it. Something might happen to you. And while I am giving advice, don't spend too much time around that serpent. There is something about him that I don't like."

"But that is unfair! What is it about him that you don't like?"

"You didn't like what he said did you? You said it made you uneasy. I just don't want you to do something that might displease the Lord."

Adam had said it and it was true. I didn't ever want to displease my Lord. "That is good advice, Adam. I will try my best to avoid the tree and the serpent."

Adam ran to the river and jumped into the clear water. I laughed and followed him. I felt carefree and secure once more.

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I don't know how it always happened, but I found myself more and more often in the vicinity of that tree. I knew that it made Adam uneasy. He didn't approve.

"Don't you ever wonder about this tree?" I asked him on one of the rare days that he was with me near it.

"Of course I do. That's why I wish to stay away from it. God told us that we would die if we ate the fruit of it."

"He also said that we could choose for ourselves. Why would he forbid it to us and then tell us that we could choose?"

"I don't know. Do you think that I know the mind of God? I don't feel that we should question him. Let's leave," he pulled me. I was reluctant to go.

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For many days I controlled my urge to look at the tree. Finally one morning when Adam was occupied I slowly walked to it. My feet took each step slowly as if they knew that they should not be walking in that direction. There was a pounding in my chest as if the rest of my body knew it also. My own mind told me that I should not be coming, but I told myself that I must discover the nature of this one mystery. It would never let me rest until I knew it.

There it was. It was beautiful. The fruit was also beautiful. I found a comfortable spot where I could sit and contemplate it. The breeze gently moved the branches. The light of the sun filtered through the leaves creating attractive patterns of green light. I leaned my head back onto a tree trunk and watched the patterns. I felt very peaceful and fell asleep.

Follow along in the scriptures (links to Center Place Library)

Inspired Version of the Bible
Genesis Chapters 1 and 2, Chapter 3:1-6

Book of Mormon
I Nephi Chapter 2:43-84 and Chapter 3:40-65

forward to chapter 3

Copyright 1991 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: August 29, 2001