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Notes on Revelation

Tree of Life

Regarding Genesis verse 3:22:
"The words of Jehovah, 'The man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil,' contain no irony, as though man had exalted himself to a position of autonomy resembling that of God; for 'irony at the expense of a wretched tempted soul might well befit Satan, but not the Lord.' Likenss to God is predicated only with regard to the knowledge of good and evil, in which the man really had become like God. In order that, after the germ of death had penetrated into his nature along with sin, he might not 'take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever, God sent him forth from the garden of Eden.' With 'sent him forth' the narrative passes over from the words to the actions of God. From the 'also' it follows that the man had not yet eaten of the tree of life. Had he continued in fellowship with God by obedience to the command of God, he might have eaten of it, for he was created for eternal life. But after he had fallen through sin into the power of death, the fruit which produced immortality could only do him harm. For immortality in a state of sin is not...which God designated for man, but endless misery, which the Scriptures call 'the second death' (Rev 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8).The expulsion from paradise, therefore, was a punishment inflicted for man's good, intendeed, while exposing him to temporal death, to preserve him from eternal death. To keep the approach to the tree of life, 'God caused cherubim to dwell (to encamp) at the east of the garden, and the (i.e. with the) flame of the sword turning to and fro' (moving rapidly). The word cherub has no suitable etymology in the Semitic...The cherubim, however are creatures of a higher world, which are represented as surrounding the throne of God, both in the visions of Ezekiel (1:22; 10:1) and the Revelation of John (4:6); not, however, as throne-bearers or throne-holders, or as forming the chariot of the throne, but as occupying the highest place as living beings in the realm of spirits, standing by the side of God as the heavenly King when He comes to judgment, and proclaiming the majesty of the Judge of the world. In this character God stationed them on the eastern side of paradise, not 'to inhabit the garden as the temporary representatives of man,' but 'to keep the way of the tree of life,' i.e. to render it impossible for man to return to paradise, and eat of the tree of life. Hence there appeared by their side the flame of a sword, apparently in constant motion, cutting hither and thither, representing the devouring fire of the divine wrath, and showing the cherubim to be ministers of judgment. With the expulsion of man from the garden of Eden, paradise itself vanished from the earth. God did not withdraw from the tree of life its supernatural power, nor did He destroy the garden before their eyes, but simply prevented their return, to show that it should be preserved until the time of the end, when sin should be rooted out by the judgment, and death abolished by the Conqueror of the serpent (1 Cor 15:26), and when upon the new earth the tree of life should flourish again in the heavenly Jerusalem, and bear fruit for the redeemed (Rev 20 and 21)."

(Commentary on the Old Testament, Keil & Delitzsch)

"So Christ, under the name of Wisdom, is called the Tree of Life ('She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her'--Proverbs 3:18); and this is a name which is sometimes given by the Jews to the Messiah."

(The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

How many trees were there in the Garden of Eden?

Those who know the story always answer, "At least two." That is, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and more than likely, many more trees as well. Otherwise, what value would G-d's words have when He told Adam:

"You may eat from every tree in the Garden, except from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you do, you will certainly die, from that day." (Bereishis 2:16-17)

However, the true answer is one--one tree, and it was the Tree of Life. Every other "tree" was actually a "branch" off the Tree of Life, that is, until Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil without G-d's permission. From that point onward, the Tree of Knowledge "split" from the Tree of Life and gained an independent existence. This split was a warning of things to come, a hint to the divisive powers let loose upon creation.

(Perceptions - Vayigash: A Matter of Approaches, Rabbi Pinchas Winston, Project Genesis)

In 1993, Natalia Polosmak of the Institute of Archaeology, Novosibilsk found a tomb containing the remains of a woman who was subsequently dubbed the "Siberian Ice Maiden."

"For her afterlife this yong woman was beautifully dressed. She wore a three foot tall head-dress made of felt which took up 1/3 of her coffin and a necklace of wooden camels. Other creatures adorned the head-dress, among them [a] mystical griffin. All [the] carvings were originally coated in gold leaf.

Natalia Polosmak, Institute of Archaeology
"It seems to me the black head-dress was a symbol of the tree of life. We have some indirect evidence for this from the pattern of 15 wooden birds which were sewn onto it. And we think the tree of life in mythology is supposed to bring universes together--the higher universe of the gods and the universe of humankind come together with this symbol.

"[A] gold buckle retrieved from another tomb, makes the symbolism even clearer. Here a woman's head-dress and branches of the tree of life are intertwined.

Natalia Polosmak
"This head-dress is unique. There is no need to imagine how the various details were attached because it was found intact. It was also an expression of this woman's life. It showed her place in society, her family and tribe. Anything worn on the head had to be as high and striking as possible and so the head-dress was very large. It was literally a construction."

(Siberian Ice Maiden, Nova, 11/98)

The rollers that hold a Torah scroll are known by Jews, as the "Trees of Life". The tree of life is also known as Torah:

Proverbs 3:13-20 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom (The Living Torah), the man who gains understanding, For she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. By wisdom The LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; By his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

We can now understand why the following is recited when the Torah scroll is returned to the ark:

"Return O LORD, to the myriads of Israel's families. Arise The LORD to Your resting place, You and Your mighty ark. Clothe Your priests with righteousness. May those who have experienced Your faithful love shout for joy. For the sake of Your servant David, don't delay the return of Your Messiah."

"I give you good instruction; do not forsake My Torah. A tree of life it is for those who take hold of it, and blessed are the ones who support it. It's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all it's paths are peace. Long life is in it's right hand, in it's left are riches and honor. The Lord was pleased for the sake of His righteousness, to render the Torah great and glorious."

This prayer clearly portrays the Torah as the "tree of life". This tree is mentioned a couple of times in the book of Proverbs as pertaining to Messiah. This tree still exists! One day the righteous will have the right to eat from this tree...

(Eden, Greg Killian)

Please see The "Cross" of Christ by John D. Keyser where he speaks of the different crosses used by the Romans for executing criminals. Conclusions reached are that Jesus carried just one cross piece and that he was nailed to a live tree.

For more on the crucifixion, please see Why Did Christ Die Before the Two Robbers? also by John D. Keyser. When someone was accused of blasphemy they were usually stoned and this would help explain some of the references to how the Messiah would die.

See also Ephesus.


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