8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 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.
Note that the presence of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden was no coincidence. God adorned the grounds with all manner of plants: trees that were lovely to look at, trees to provide the food man needed to live, and even a tree that gave immortality. But He also intentionally added this one other tree, one that would enable mankind to fundamentally change his state from innocence to being able to perceive evil.
At times I have wondered what the nature of this tree was that it would give knowledge of good and evil. The thought occurs to me that just by God forbidding the eating of that tree it would already qualify as a tree of knowledge of good and evil, for now it could not be eaten except by an act of disobedience, which would necessarily break one’s innocence, which would bring them face-to-face with guilt and consequences. Had God instead commanded Adam to not lift a particular rock then we could just as easily be talking about the rock of knowledge of good and evil.
However this tree has the title of “knowledge of good and evil” even before God forbade the eating of it. That seems to suggest there was something inherent in its nature that God was steering Adam and Eve away from, just as He gives us commandments today to keep us from inherently harmful behavior.
But maybe these questions don’t matter, though. What is more pertinent to me is that this tree is an allegory for the breaking of innocence in my own life. I have had my own trees of knowledge of good and evil, like that time I colored red crayon on the carpet and found myself facing negative consequences on the one hand or the temptation to lie about it on the other. It was an opportunity planted in my life, able to bring me to a knowledge of both good and evil. And like Adam and Eve, I gave in to the temptation, I lied about the mess, and I entered a more fallen world as a result.