Tracking Down the Forbidden Fruit

The Temptation of EveLast week on the radio I mentioned in passing that I believed the fruit that Eve was tempted with and ultimately ate, introducing sin into the human race, was a grape.  A kind listener emailed me after to ask how I knew it was a grape, or even an apple, since the Bible doesn’t clearly state that it was either.

Before getting into the scriptural support for the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge being a grape, let me first briefly deal with where the whole notion that the fruit was an apple originated.  It is highly likely that this view of the fruit comes from a medieval pun: the Latin for “evil” is malum and the Latin for “apple” is malus. Possibly medieval monks simply played a game with the words to make the fruit which conducted evil (malum) into the world an apple (malus).

As for Scriptural support that the fruit was a grape, let me first say that it really doesn’t matter what the fruit was.  However, the primary reason for NOT knowing the identity of the fruit is our lack of motivation to search the scriptures, compare the scriptures, and look for typology throughout the Scriptures which point to the answer to questions like these.

In order to ascertain what kind of fruit Eve ate it is necessary to first know what kind of tree it came from.  Ahhh, you say! Don’t you know, Paul, that grapes don’t grow on trees, therefore the grape can be eliminated as a possibility, because grapes grow on vines?  Ahh, but have you never read Ezekial 15 (KJV) where Scripture clearly suggests that there was at one time something known as a vine tree? Is it possible that just as God condemned the serpent to crawl (Genesis 3:14) he also cursed the vine to crawl?

God planted and caused to grow “all kinds of trees” in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8,9).  If we want some insight as to exactly what kind of trees specifically may have been growing there, Judges 9 gives a comprehensive list (keep in mind what I said above about searching the Scriptures, comparing the Scriptures, and looking for typology throughout the Scriptures). Judges 9 lists four different trees: the olive tree, the fig tree, the vine tree, the thorn bush. We know there was a fig tree in the Garden of Eden, because it was fig leaves Adam and Eve used to cover themselves (Genesis 3:7). There was also thorn bushes in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:18).  That leaves only TWO TREES – the olive tree and the vine tree.

Is it possible that these are the two trees in the center of the Garden, one of which was forbidden to Adam and Eve?  Two trees were planted by God in the center of the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Here is where searching the Scriptures and looking for the typology is so important to answering our question about what kind of fruit Eve ate.

Is it possible that the Tree of Life is an olive tree?  Noah sends a dove from the ark and when it returns it has an olive leafin its mouth, a sign that the waters were abated from the earth – a sign of LIFE (Genesis 8:11). The lights on the lampstand in the tabernacle were fueled by olive oil (Exodus 27:20).  The entrance into the inner sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple (the place where God would figuratively dwell and also representing our eternal dwelling with Him in his presence) was made of olive wood, as were the two cherubim guarding the entrance (1 Kings 6:23, 31). When David was being taunted by his enemies he responded by likening his life to “a green olive tree in the house of God,” thus signifying his life could never be destroyed (Psalm 52:8). When Jesus returns to set up His eternal kingdom, He returns first to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). Jesus spent a great deal of time during His earthly ministry on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 21:1; 24:3; Mark 11:1; 13:3; Luke 19:29; 19:37; 21:37; 22:39; John 8:1). The Mount of Olives was the last place visited by Jesus and the disciples before his arrest and crucifixion (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26) and it was the first place to which the disciples went after the ascension of Christ (Acts 1:12). So by searching and comparing the Scriptures, it seems apparent that the olive tree represents LIFE, so is there any reason to believe that the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden was a supernatural version of an Olive Tree?

Which leaves only one other tree in the midst of the Garden – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – which in all liklihood (and by process of elimination from the list above from Judges 9) is a vine tree (Ezekial 15 – KJV).  Is it possible that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a vine tree bearing grapes? Grapes were a forbidden fruit in some places in the Scriptures!  Samson’s mother was forbidden to “eat anything that comes from the grapevine” (Judges 13:14). Isaiah 7:23 prophesies that God will judge Israel by turning the vines to briers and thorns – not unlike God’s judgment on Adam in Genesis 3:17,18.

But the real typology is between Adam introducing sin into the world by eating fruit, and Jesus symbolizing the taking away of sin by drinking the fruit of the vine. Read Romans 5:12-21 for the corollaries between Adam and Christ, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:22 and 45 – “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Adam ate a fruit that brought original sin into the human race and God’s judgment on the human race; Christ drank a fruit that symbolized the end of sin and the taking of God’s wrath.  Was it the same fruit? To this day we still celebrate the sacrifice of Christ with the fruit of the vine – wine or grape juice.  Why?

One of the reasons is because the fruit that introduced sin into the world was a grape. And the redemption of that fruit comes in its use as a symbol of our redemption. Oh, and by the way – Jesus called himself the True Vine (John 15:1) as opposed to the vine from which Eve ate in hope of obtaining knowledge under false pretenses (Genesis 3) . The first vine in the Garden couldn’t give the knowledge of HIM (Jesus) whom to know aright is life eternal (John 17:3). In Jesus Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2, 3).  God’s divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of HIM (2 Peter 1:3).  Jesus Christ is the True Vine, because He is the source of knowledge, as opposed to the false vine presented to Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Christians everywhere celebrate the overcoming of Adam’s disobedience by themselves obeying Jesus command to “this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). What did Jesus command us to do? Drink the fruit of the vine until he drinks it new with us in His kingdom (Matthew 26:29)!

Adam and Eve ate a grape.

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About Paul Edwards

Paul is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of God and Culture in Detroit, Michigan and Founding and Teaching Pastor at Redeemer Church of Waterford, Michigan.

14 thoughts on “Tracking Down the Forbidden Fruit

  1. I am inclined to disagree with you on the grape deal. I am going with the fig tree. There are many health benefits with the fig tree that would contribute to the meaning of knowledge. Since there enlightenment occurred directly after eating the forbidden fruit the nearest thing for them to grape was a fig leaf to cover themselves when they realized they were naked.
    Also, the fig has so many health benefits is if not more than comparable to the “apple”. Lastly, there are multiple types of fig trees out there and God could have let anything and everything grow in the Garden of Eden.

  2. Let the Bible speak for it self on this matter. All comments are good but I will not buy it because not everything we must understand as human. The difference between God and Man is: God is all knowing but man can not know all. That is what makes him to be known as God. Non of us were there when Adam was created and the tree was planted we read it in the Bible. Let’s accept it how the Bible says it .

  3. God is the tree of life and Satan is the tree of evil. This is the forbidden fruit that transated man from a spiritual world to a physical one. The Spirit of God covered Adam and Eve with spiritual life. Satan temptation was one way to lead them away from life. Jesus planted himself in the garden.. a plan to bring back that which was lost to damation by Satan. He would purchase( The body) (His Church)back again by the blood. The forgiveness of sin by the shedding of blood of Christ on the cross would pay for one’s soul. Yes, they were spiritually fled by Jesus but man would still die a fleshly death because flesh and blood cannot inherrit a spiritual body. God came into the flesh (only one came down from Heaven that being Jesus himself) to have the blood to save his people because some people will still disobey God word (Life). Jesus is know as the first fruit of them that slept. Many times the Bilbe speaks of the how people are know by the fruits they bare. We are one of the two God or Satan. Greg

  4. Thank you, Yaw Addaem, for your comprehensive overview of the life and death, good and evil, the connection between physical actions and spiritual implications, etc….all of which I have considered based on past reading and prayer. However, I think that your description of the forbidden fruit as being one that is tempting and yet one that has instructions in it with spiritual implications is the best answer so far that I have received which tries to explain how knowledge of good and evil (satan’s trait, although satan’s knowledge of good is likely to be superficial) were transferred or imparted to Adam and Eve when they ate the fruit. Your explanation is more thoughtful than just the name of a fruit, because your explanation gets to the heart of how partaking of the forbidden fruit could bend minds into sinful, distorted thinking that draws us away from God. I hope to learn more about this. Elizabeth

  5. E FRUIT

    Dear Friend, God makes it quiet clear that the fruit spoken of was a natural fruit plucked from a natural tree. For why should God keep the truth hidden from His people? He is the God of truth and that He has been till now.
    You see, all human existence in this universe is in two folds and this makes every physical action we take also to have a corresponding spiritual implication. We have two existence, Physical life and Physical Death / Spiritual life and Spiritual Death
    Also two distinct laws in operation,
    The Law of Sin / the Law of Good (Romans 7 vs. 22—23)]
    To the law of sin, every Sinner is dead spiritually and to the law of Good, every righteous person is alive spiritually.
    And more or less two distinct leaders: God and Lucifer

    Now, the fruit spoken off in the Genesis was just a natural fruit as any other that God created.
    • The secret here is that although it was a natural fruit, it had instructions on it and it is these instructions that gave this Fruit a Spiritual Implication. The whole thing is that every rebellion geared towards God always goes along with a Spiritual Implication. These implications can bring a good result or a bad one.
    • I should be kind to remind you once again that it was a normal fruit and as such was pleasing to the eyes and was GOOD for FOOD.I believe the Bible was quiet clear over there.
    Back in the Garden of Eden, Man did not recognized the spiritual implications of that fruit and that has always be one of the weaknesses of man; Lack of knowledge. That is how the Serpent works, he will let you live physically so that you can lead your way to Spiritual Death.

    Reading Genesis 3vs1—3 should tell you that Lucifer, the Dragon always begins His temptation through a test of the Mind (Psychological approach). He tests your mind to see how knowledgeable you are on that particular area of test.
    After that he will be able to determine whether his should precede with his current plans or to device a new one.
    Lucifer, the Bright one; God calls him; is the greatest Psychologist in all history. You are warned when dealing with him.
    • Now the spiritual implication on the instructions God put on that Fruit was Spiritual Death, spiritual blindness as against physical sight and Physical Life.
    • Man had wanted to gain both spiritual sight as well as the physical one so that he will be like God but at the end he lost Spiritual sight and even had question marks on the Physical sight that he gained.
    If anybody says he is spiritually gifted, he should understand the words of the Spirit.

    ‘..Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked…’ (Gen. 3vs.7)
    ‘….I heard you in the Garden and I was Afraid because I was Naked; so I hid.’(Gen. 3vs.10)
    Dear Friend, this issue of nakedness plays important role in the views of other people as to what actually brought Sin into the World.
    Now, back in the Garden there were two trees in the middle. Thus, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fact is that the man and woman were free to even take fruit from the Tree of Life. This means that God original intention was for man to live forever.
    Now let us turn our attention to the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. You see, until SIN came into the life of Man, he was very much dwelling in the Spirit. The Glory of God was around him and that although he was naked, he felt no shame. (Gen.2vs.25). Man and his wife were deeply concerned with the spiritual realm and as such paid very if not, no attention to the physical ‘World.’
    Satan on the other hand wanted to bring man’s attention to the physical aspect of his being (as he was physically blinded) since that is the surest way to drag man from God who is in the spirit to what is in the world.
    Dear Friend, this tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was to reveal to man his physical existence as against his spiritual existence. This indirectly was referring to his Spirit which stands for Good and his Flesh which stands for Evil.
    ‘..Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked…’ (Gen. 3vs.7)
     Naked because Man has lost His spiritual clothe, he has lost his spiritual body, and he has lost the glory of God. He has lost spiritual sight.
     Naked because Man realized that he was no more protected by the power of light; for he was now under the power and influence of the forces of Sin.
     He was now accessible to the Law of Sin because he has been laid naked (uncovered).
     Now man can see sin and sin can see man. Man was no more covered by the Glory of God which was hiding man from sin.
     He was now under the Law for he was now between the forces of Good and Evil. He now knew what is good and what was bad; hence the Law was allowed to hunt him for what he does concerning Good and Evil.

  6. I do not read Amharic, but have been told by an Ethiopian who knows the Ethiopian Orthodox religion well from their Amharic Bible, supposedly one of the oldest versions. Amharic has some words that are exactly like the Aramaic which Jesus spoke…. In the Amharic version the forbidden fruit of which Eve ate was a fig. Interesting.

  7. Some have interpreted the fruit to be part of satan. For example there is at least one pastor who has said that after Eve ate of the fruit, she was wholly seduced, i.e., the Greek word “extapio.” So what I have heard is that Eve ate of the “fruit,” and then satan seduced her into having sex with him and so she could then pass satan’s seed or DNA to her offspring (Cain). So what was the fruit? Satan has been described as a tree, a tall proud cedar, and satan was a former cherubim, having knowledge of good, but then becoming proud, opposing God and gaining knowledge of evil as well. So could the tree in the center of the Garden of Eden that is described as one with knowledge of good and evil be satan itself and this tree would bear fruit that could be seductive, kind of like a drug or aphrodesiac of sorts. Thus Eve was not only tempted to eat the seductive fruit from the tree of the knowldege of good and evil but was also disobediant, not trusting of God, and then according to some, was wholly seduced by satan. Then Eve gave the fruit (whatever it was) to Adam and he took it and sinned by eating it. Then shortly after they were banned from the Garden, Adam “knew” Eve or had sex with her and later she gave birth to twins, Cain, who is satan’s progeny and carried satan’s DNA, and Able, Adam’s son. With the flood, no one that is part of Cain’s ancestors survived but only ancestors of Adam (Noah and his family). So that today, we all are Adam’s progeny. I would like to hear Paul Edwards view of ths perspective presented here and what other people think about it. My question is do you think this version of Genesis is plausible?

  8. The symbolism here is sooo engaging! Old wine skins so desicated from containing the old wine that they must be regenerated (made new) in order to hold the new wine. I never really thought of this and yet the thread goes on and on.

    I found your site while researching the two trees in the Garden of Eden. I will be reading your other offerings immediately. Thank You *: )

  9. My little something on the tree of life and it’s fruits. ‘Authorized KJV’.
    In the twelve friends of Jesus were, Peter, John, Bart, James, ect. The twelve foundations of the holy city. Each of these disciples is also represented by a ‘spiritual attribute’. Peter is ‘faith’, John is ‘love’, Bart is imagination, ect. These I believe are the twelve fruits of the tree of life. It is amazing what a difference reading what they say, with this in mind, can make.
    Don’t change a word the man said of revelations. 382 it was translated into Latin………1382 it was translater into English.1611 an English King Authorized his own translation. Even without the Authorization of this king, the disicples attributes can not be excluded from his observation, ‘surely’.


  10. I am dissapointed. Generally I agree and appreciate your comments but this is a perfect example of the kind of eisegetical reading that we must avoid in scripture. This kind of decontextualized typological interpretation completely disregards the function of those descriptions (symbolic or not) in their own contexts and books. There is no textual evidence whatsoever to relate the verses that you give in the way you do. To do so takes away from the plain meaning of the scripture and is hermeneutically irresponsible. Perhaps they did eat a grape, and perhaps a vine tree was a grape tree (although this is not proven) but by using the scriptures this way it is possible to make the perfect word of God say whatever you want it to. We should stick to the plain meaning as determined by the purpose/context/ etc. and if it doesn’t answer our questions then perhaps we are asking the wrong ones. It simply doesn’t say, nor does it matter what the fruit was.

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