I’ve been thinking a lot about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lately. I remember 9th Grade religion class and the teacher telling us that the original sin was sex. For 14 and 15 year old kids she got our attention and there was a lot discussion. Basically we all simply accepted as true. Since I’ve been studying the Bible for myself, I’ve ever more convinced that that’s simply not true at all. Another myth is that the fruit was an apple. I think everyone assumes that it was. But the Bible does not identify it as such. It’s interesting that in Latin the word for apple and evil is the same word. Malum means both except that they have different accents marks on the first syllable. Wikipedia reports “the larynx in the human throat has been called Adam’s apple because of a notion that it was caused by the forbidden fruit sticking in the throat of Adam.” It goes on to include one more comment that contains a link to what I was taught. It says, “The apple as symbol of sexual seduction has been used to imply sexuality between men, possibly in an ironic vein.”

I don’t think it was an apple! I think it was a fig! No, really! Think about this! What kind of a leaf did Adam and Eve attempt to cover themselves with? It was clearly identified as a fig leaf. I’ve always pictured the couple looking around to find the largest leaf available to cover themselves. But the size wasn’t the most important thing because the Bible says, “they sewed them together…” (See Genesis 3:7). They must have chosen it for another reason. It could very well have been because it was handy. I’ve argued that these fig leaves with which the couple attempted to cover their shame, is symbolic of man’s attempt to make himself presentable to God in spite of our sin. But God would not accept man’s way, instead, He slaughtered a lamb in order to “cover” (make atonement) for their sins.

It struck me as I was pondering this that in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God found them in their faulty fig leaves and explained the consequences of their choice. First, he cursed the snake, he cursed the woman, and then he cursed Adam. I realize that in this curse he also cursed the ground, but he did not focus any specific attention on the tree itself. If he had we might have known what kind of a tree it was. But he didn’t! But guess what! Some of you might have already brought it to mind. He left the cursing of the fig tree up to Jesus. Matthew 21:19 says, “And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves.” Just as God found Adam, Jesus found His people Israel; covering themselves with fig leaves. The verse tells us that Jesus then addressed the tree: “And he said to it, May no fruit ever come from you again!” That fig tree, symbolic of man’s efforts to make himself right with God, is forever and always a fruitless tree. Symbolic also of the religious system of the day, it would reject the grace mission of Jesus in favor of a set of human standards. I still struggle with covering myself with fig leaves!