The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad (hereafter, TKGB) were created by HaShem for human free-will. Eating from the TKGB did not tarnish Mankind with absolute immoral depravity. The TKGB was a tragic choice, but it is morally pure for mankind. Once chosen, mankind began a journey to become more like the one whose Image they bear and to learn that the fear of HaShem is the beginning of Wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
In Genesis 1, HaShem calls the creation, “Very Good.” HaShem didn’t banish mankind from a “very good” to a “bad creation.” Rather, He deprives this creation of His “Very Good” in equal measure against mankind’s choice to go “their own way.” HaShem wants mankind to choose “Life”, but their “Knowledge” requires repentance and fear HaShem.
Genesis 2:9; 3:1-7 is the relevant text:
HaShem God caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was desirable to look at and good for food. Now the Tree of Life was in the middle of the garden, and also the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad……
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from all the trees of the garden’?” The woman replied to the serpent, “Of the fruit of the trees, we may eat. But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat of it and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”……“You surely won’t die! For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” Now the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was desirable for the eyes, and that the tree was desirable for imparting knowledge [השכיל-haskeel]. So [they] took off its fruit and [they] ate.”
In the text above, I highlighted the inclusio that bookends HaShem’s purpose for the creation of the TKGB. The inclusio is: Desirable, good……good, desirable. These words mark the total story and HaShem’s purpose for creating the TKGB. Once she chose it, the rest of “The Story” begins. Together, Mankind chose to learn HaShem’s knowledge (Haskeel), but that will take time, even generations. It will be slow. Mankind will have to learn by sharing the knowledge HaShem reveals to each person over generations. I think this was HaShem’s plan all along. He wants to teach us repentance and to choose “Life”.
We are not hopelessly immoral humans. But popular Christian understanding of the canonical narrative of the Bible is the TKGB as an immoral breach into the Garden of HaShem. For supersessionists, the TKGB was essentially planted by the evil Serpent as a foil against HaShem’s consummation of the Creation. To fix the breach, HaShem needed to react, exiling mankind and later sending a Redeemer to restore mankind back to Eden. Once Messiah comes, mankind receives a ticket back to Eden. Meanwhile, the Old Testament just becomes a proof text demonstrating wicked mankind and their need for the Messiah. I think this is an oversimplified hermeneutic that misunderstands the Scriptures. It looks like HaShem is always reacting against an enemy. He is baffled when His plan of giving Torah doesn’t work. So He reacts again and changes His plan, now sending Messiah to supercede all the earlier plans.
I think it is better that in the beginning, the first Adam removed the scales to reveal the knowledge. In the end, the Second Adam removed the scales to reveal the “Tree of Life”! It’s a beautiful inclusio for the whole biblical narrative!