And out of the ground made the LORD God 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 knowledge of good and evil.
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Ambrose of Milan
There was a tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Paradise. This was so because 'God made to grow a tree pleasant to 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.' [ Gen 2:9 ] We shall see later whether this tree, like the others, was pleasant to sight and good for food. The question will be more fittingly discussed at the point where, on tasting the fruit of this tree, we find that man was deceived. Meantime, we should no[t] reproach ourselves for not being able to know precisely the reasons behind these facts. We should not form a hasty judgment in respect to this product of creation, if it presents to our intellect what seems to us--like the creation of serpents and certain poisonous creatures-difficult and incomprehensible. In fact, we are unable, owing to human weakness, yet to know and understand the reason for the creation of each and every object. Let us, therefore, not criticise in holy Scripture s...
Now Eden is the land of Paradise. By "of old" Scripture means that He planted it on the third day; it explains this with the words "the Lord caused to sprout from the earth every kind of tree that is beautiful to look upon and good to eat" [ Gen2:9 ] ; and to show that this refers to Paradise, it says, "and the Tree of Life was in the midst of Paradise, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil." [ Gen2:9 ]
The tree of life. So called, because it had that quality, that by eating of the fruit of it, man would have been preserved in a constant state of health, vigour, and strength, and would not have died at all. The tree of knowledge. To which the deceitful serpent falsely attributed the power of imparting a superior kind of knowledge beyond that which God was pleased to give. (Challoner)
Of what species these two wonderful trees were, the learned are not agreed. The tree of knowledge, could not communicate any wisdom to man; but, by eating of its forbidden fruit, Adam dearly purchased the knowledge of evil, to which he was before a stranger. Some say it was the fig-tree, others an apple-tree, Canticle of Canticles viii. 5. But it probably agreed with no species of trees with which we are acquainted, nor was there perhaps any of the same kind in paradise. (Tirinus)
Now if wisdom is the tree of life, Wisdom itself indeed is Christ. You understand now that the man who is blessed and holy is compared to this tree—that is, he is compared to Wisdom. Consequently, you see too that the just man, that blessed man who has not followed the counsel of the wicked—who has not done that but has done this—is like the tree that is planted near running water. He is, in other words, like Christ, inasmuch as he “raised us up together and seated us together in heaven.” You see then that we shall reign together with Christ in heaven. You see too that because this tree has been planted in the garden of Eden, we have all been planted there together with him.
Behold still another form of kindness out of regard for this creature. (109c) You see, since he wanted him to live in the garden, he ordered various trees to come forth from the earth, that could both delight him with their appearance and be pleasing to the taste. "Every tree." it says, "beautiful to behold" that is, in appearance "and good to eat;" in short, they had the ability to please him through their appearance and to provide much pleasure through their taste, and by their great abundance offered considerable good cheer to the one in a position to enjoy them. You see, it says, "Every tree," whatever name you give it, he made come forth. Do you recognize here a life free of any care? Do you see a wonderful existence? Like some an gel, in fact, man lived this way on earth, wearing a body, yet being fortunately rid of any bodily needs; like a king adorned with scepter and crown and wearing his purple robe, (109d) he revelled in this life of freedom and great affluence in the garden...