reported by John-Peter Gernaat
Genesis 2 verses 8-9 states: “And the Lord God (correctly translated this is YHWH [Yahweh] of the Elohim) planted a garden … And out of the ground made the Lord God (YHWH of the Elohim) 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 the knowledge of good and evil” (King James Version).
The trees that are good to look upon and good for food, whether these refer to the trees as we know them or the precursors to these trees, we know. The pine tree has become the yuletide tree because it is good to look at and most of us have grown up with peach trees, apricot trees, loquat trees or avocado pear trees. But the two trees in the ‘midst of the garden’ are unique. We have never seen them. So, what are they?
Refer back to the first talk on the Old Testament Study where we established that “in the beginning” refers to a specific beginning. It is not the beginning of all creation by God, but rather the beginning of this cycle of time that Rudolf Steiner tells us is called Earth. There were three great cycles of time before this related to the development of humanity and the ongoing development of the hierarchies, and before that the hierarchies of heaven experienced their origins of development before time as we know it.
Rudolf Steiner helps by telling us that there are seven esoteric trees related to the development of the human being. They are not physical trees, but the best picture with which to describe our development, is a tree. These seven esoteric trees are:
This is how these trees are described:
The two trees that stand in the midst of the garden therefore frame this Earth cycle of time.
Knowledge is not information. Knowledge is arrived at through lived experience. The knowledge of good and evil is the ability to discern one thing from another including the nuances that become apparent with time. It therefore becomes obvious that eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil becomes possible in the course of this cycle of time. The temptation of Eve was therefore not that this fruit was not our destiny, but that we needed time to develop in order to ‘digest’ what this tree offers. Adam and Eve eating of the fruit was not wrong but the time for eating it was premature. One can think of a teenager: the moment a teenager gains information about something, they believe they have the ability to engage with that information. Take driving a car for example: a teenager who understands the mechanics of driving believes they are capable of driving, but fail to recognise the psychological maturity that is required to drive in traffic and to manage the situation of driving the car. This is how Eve and Adam approached the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As a result, humanity has been trying to manage that for which we were not yet ready.
This cycle of time and the ones to follow within the great Earth cycle aim at preparing humanity to become the Tree of Life in the future, a reality in the next great cycle of time. The tree of life appears in some form in all cultures. In ancient India, in the Vedas, when Sanskrit was being born – a language that still contains the essence of the thing it describes – the Tree of Life was associated with the banyan tree – and in particular to one banyan tree on the banks of the river Ganges.
In the Akkadian culture the tree of life was clearly as an esoteric tree as it was planted in water and protected by two Kar fish that swam around the base of the tree in opposite directions crossing paths twice a day. They protected the tree from a poisonous toad. The image of these fish remains to this day in that the ancient Persian culture saw them in the heavens in Pisces.
In ancient Egypt the tree became the tree of life and death.
The next image of the Tree of Life is the Cross: the tree of death and life. This is again an image of the future of humanity. That is where we are heading.
To understand the temptation in the garden of Eden more accurately we need to look at the end of Genesis 2 and the beginning of Genesis 3: Gen 2:25 “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Gen 3:1 “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field that the Lord God (YHWH of the Elohim) had made.” ‘Subtle’ is also translated as ‘crafty’. ‘More crafty’ or ‘more subtle’ suggest a comparison, yet there is no obvious comparison in these two sentences. Until we look at the root of the words. Both the words translated as ‘naked’ and ‘crafty’ have the same root word. The word serpent can also be translated in many different ways, as it is derived from two root sounds. Michaël’s personal translation is ‘whispering prognosticator’ – whispering coming from the sound a snake makes. It is foretelling the future, i.e. that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is our destiny in this cycle of time. A better translation of the two sentences would be: “The man and the woman were both crafty but were not aware of it. The whispering prognosticator within was the most crafty part of all.”
Eve, therefore, is tempted by a whisper of her future destiny. Adam recognises it too when she speaks of it and does not resist. Adam and Eve are not separate beings but one community. Eve is a characteristic within that is interested in the future. Adam and Eve had an innate awareness of something that had not yet surfaced to conscious awareness. Eve decided to take the next step. One could say that they were naked or unclothed: that is, there was no subtlety to their consciousness. They had a sentient soul but the mind soul and the consciousness soul still had to develop.
The “whispering prognosticator” is “cursed among”, to translate it correctly, “dumb beings” and “wild passions”. These aspects of our being must be brought into our consciousness. Luciferic temptation is when we convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing against a nagging consciousness that is telling us the opposite. The serpent is therefore that Luciferic tempter within us.
This story in Genesis stands as a warning that we should not eat of the Tree of Life until we become the Tree of Life. In the book of Revelation the Tree of Life is described as two avenues on either side of the River of Life producing fruit – virtues – in each month of the year (12 virtues). This is a picture of our future; the two avenues represent all of humanity.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the incarnation of the Ego.
The Tree of the Life is the development of Spirit Self as described by Rudolf Steiner.
The Tree of the Word is the development of Life Spirit.
The Tree of the Harmony with God is the development of the Spirit Human (Spirit Man).
The incarnation of the ‘I am’ became possible through the incarnation of Christ. Christ-in-us brings about the healing caused by the premature eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
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