The Forbidden Fruit of Eden is Meat. Go Vegan! By Chapman Chen, HKBNews
Updated: Jan 18
Executive Summary: In Genesis, after eating the forbidden "fruit" from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil", Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and they went from immortal to mortal. What on earth was the forbidden fruit? Was it really an apple as depicted by Renaissance writers? What's so wrong with eating a vegan fruit, be it an apple or a pineapple or a banana? Of course, some theologians argue that it was disobedience of God rather than the content of the disobedience that caused the downfall of the first humans. But who has not disobeyed their parents during childhood?
By examining the Hebrew original of the words concerned and their context, this article, inspired by Jeff Popick (2007) and Jane Erwin (2010), argues that the forbidden fruit of Eden is meat; that the original sin is animal-flesh consumption. Because humans are born with less instinct than animals, they need dietary guidance from God in terms of veganism. Diet is the prime issue instead of a triviality in Christianity. "You are what you eat (Der Mensch ist, was er iβt)", German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach (1863) stated.
In the Hebrew original, "the fruit פְּרִי " of "the tree עֵץ of the knowledge דַּעַת of good טוֹב and evil רָע " can mean the offspring of a family group of living creatures who are so self-aware that they covet life (good) and fear death (evil), i.e., the progeny of a den of animals (sentient beings), like piglets or cubs or eggs.
When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, i.e. meat, and violated God's Sixth Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill", Eden or Paradise, supposed to be all love, all harmony and all peace, was disrupted by fear, violence and evil; death entered the world; and humans lost Paradise. This is corroborated by other Bible verses as well as scientific studies. A Christ-like, vegan lifestyle is the key to return to Eden. Jesus Christ actually died on the cross to wake us up to the evilness, atrocity and sinfulness of our meat diet. The horrifying image of His Crucifixion reminds us of the murder of many an innocent animal in the slaughterhouse.
1. Why Humans Need Dietary Guidance
According to Swedish theologian cum scientist Emanuel Swedenborg (1745), human beings are born with fewer instincts than animals (while the former is compensated with more developed reason and intellect). In contrast to humans, animals instinctively know what kind of food is suitable for them to eat. As a result, God found it necessary to provide our first parents Adam and Eve with dietary guidance -- “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food... God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:29-31). God thereby prescribed a vegan diet to the first humans.
It is in this context that God expressly warned humans against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -- "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die" (Genesis 2:17). And when Eve and Adam did eat "the fruit of the tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] which is in the midst of the Garden", they were driven out from Eden (Genesis 3:1-24 KJV). The origin sin is therefore probably meat eating.
Now let's analyze the original Hebrew words for "the fruit" of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil".
2. The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Hebrew
2.1. "Fruit פְּרִי p@riy" as Progeny
"The fruit" of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could mean not only a plant fruit but also a cub or an egg or a human offspring. According to Bentorah's (2016) Hebrew Word Study, "Fruit פְּרִי p@riy" can mean not only a product of plant growth and the effect of an action but also offspring or progeny.
"Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" — Ernst Haeckel's Biogenetic Law (1866). That is to say that the development of the embryo of an animal, from fertilization to gestation or hatching (ontogeny), goes through stages resembling or representing successive adult stages in the evolution of the animal's remote ancestors (phylogeny).
Now, a human fetus is a fertilized egg, like a bird egg, and like a plant fruit, which is a fertilized ovule. According to Jane Erwin (2010), "when the zygote, the fertilized egg, is only 16 cells in size, half of them break off to form the placenta, the root system; the stalk or the umbilical cord attaches to the fruit or the fetus, and to the placenta, which projects root-like filaments into the earth or the uterine lining for nourishment."
2.2. "Fruit" as Offspring in the Bible
As a matter of fact, "Fruit פְּרִי p@riy" is often used in the Bible to refer to offspring. For example,
Upon creating the animals and upon creating humans, God respectively blessed both and said unto them, "Be fruitful [פָּרָה parah] and multiply" (Gen. 1:22, 28).
"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psalm 127:3 KJV)
"Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb. " (Hosea 9:16 KJV)
"Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep." (Deuteronomy 28:4 KJV)
2.3. Family "Tree עֵץ" and the Righteous Man
In both Hebrew and English, "tree עֵץ" represents life and is connected with family tree. Moreover, throughout the Old Testament, the righteous person is often likened to a tree (Psalm 1:3; Psalm 52:8; Psalm 72:7; Proverbs 11:28; Numbers 24:6; Isaiah 61:3; Hosea 14:5–8, Jeremiah 17:8). For example, "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3); "He will be like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:8).
2.4. "Knowledge דַּעַת da`ath", as Conscious Knowledge
"דַּעַת da`ath", Hebrew for "knowledge", can mean perception and understanding, according to Hebrew Word Study by Chaim Bentorah (2016), and perception and understanding are directly related to sentience or conscious awareness (Erwin 2011).
2.5. "Good טוֹב towb" as Life
According to Bentorah (2016), "good טוֹב towb" denotes happiness, pleasantness, prosperity, moral good, welfare, benefit, excellent, richness, bounty, beauty, etc. The same word is used in "God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:25 KJV). In other words, all the animals created by God to be living creatures are "good" in God's eyes. In this way, "good" is connected with sentient creatures being alive.
2.6. "Evil רָע ra`" as Death
According to Strong's (2012) Hebrew Dictionary of the Bible, "evil רָע ra`" denotes harm, destruction, deadliness, disaster, wickedness, sadness, threat, etc. It follows that "evil" is closely related to death.
3. The Forbidden Fruit as a Sentient Kid
Again, the forbidden fruit was from the tree which was in the midst of the garden. According to Jeff Popick (2007:144), "'midst' means 'central part'. The central part of the Garden of Eden is God and his 'fruit' (as in 'be fruitful and multiply')." God's 'fruit' is the humans and the animals "wherein there is nephesh chayyah [living soul, mistranslated as "life" in most English versions of the Bible], which God banned Adam and Eve from consuming.
Thus, "the fruit" of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" probably refers to the offspring or cub(s) or egg(s) of a den or a family of living creatures, who are self-aware enough to prefer life to death, joy to pain. In other words, eating the forbidden fruit is killing a sentient being and eating his/her flesh.
4. Eating Meat Destroyed Paradise
Eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil added the hereto absent element of evil to Eden's otherwise good dimension. What could be more evil than denying life to any of God's sentient fruits? By adding evil to Paradise, eating of this tree (eating flesh) primarily ruined it. Paradise is ruined when even just one component of that paradise is contravened. You can opt for meat, but you cannot consume meat sans generating evil.
As argued by Jeff Popick, since we are all connected [i.e. "all things work together" (Romans 8:28 KJV)], "we cannot have Paradise if they do not have Paradise." We cannot bring terror and slaughter to one of God's creatures without tearing down Paradise for ourselves. Meatism is Satanic sadism. Meatism is the direct opposite of all that is good, just and loving. Meatism is the very degradation of paradise. "Meat is the cornerstone of dystopia... Meat is both the root problem and the Forbidden Fruit" (Popick 2007:139). Hence, by eating meat, the first humans lost their paradise.
5. Thou Shalt not Kill (lo tirtzach)!
Moses was given the law of "not to kill" as the sixth one of the Ten Commandments. Since God is the same today, yesterday, and forever, we know that not to kill must have been the law from the beginning and must have been given to Adam (cf. Erwin 2010).
According to Reuben Alcalay (1996), one of the greatest modern scholars in Hebrew, the Hebrew expression lo tirtzach like its English translation, "Thou shalt not kill", refers to the death of any creatures, not just the murder of humans.
6. Meat-Eating Brought Death into the World
By slaughtering and eating the flesh of an animal, Adam and Eve fell out of harmony with God, with nature, with the animals, and with their own bodies. Through violating the sixth commandment, Adam and Eve brought death into the world. Their disobedience sowed the seeds of decay in their body and violence in their soul, so much so that God regretted having created them (cf. Erwin 2010).
7. Meatism Shortens Human Lifespan
After the Fall, Adam changed from immortal to mortal. He lived 930 years. Noah lived to 950. The average lifespan before the flood was 857 years. After the Deluge, probably due to a shortage of plant flood, God provisionally allowed Noah and his folk to eat meat (though not without stringent restrictions [Leviticus 17:14].)). Since then, the average lifespan of humans rapidly dropped. Abraham lived to 175, after whom the average human life expectancy gradually dropped to the modern average of 70 to 80 years.
8. Science Proves that Meatism Causes Illnesses
As backed up by scientific studies, meat eating really reduces life expectancy and makes humans vulnerable to various diseases, e.g., cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc. According to Michael J Orlich and Gary Fraser (2013), Adventist men in California live an amazing 7.3 years longer than non-Adventist men, and the advantage for Adventist women is 4.4 years. The equivalent figures for vegetarian Adventists are 9.5 and 6.6 years for men and women, respectively.
9. Science Proves that Veganism Improves Health
Humans are anatomically herbivorous, given their long colon and intestine, blunt and flat teeth, alkaline saliva, limited nails, poor sense of smell, etc. (cf. PETA 2018). Thus, eating meat will naturally do harm to their health.
According to Michael J Orlich and Gary Fraser (2014), "Vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with lower body mass index, lower prevalence and incidence of diabetes mellitus, lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and its component factors, lower prevalence of hypertension, lower all-cause mortality, and in some instances, lower risk of cancer. Findings with regard to factors related to vegetarian diets and bone health are also reviewed. These initial results show important links between vegetarian dietary patterns and improved health."
Campbell's (2006) The China Study, conducted by Cornell University, Oxford University and Chinese researchers -- to date the largest population study on the relationship of diet to health -- found that those Chinese who ate the least amount of animal products had correspondingly lower risks of cancer, heart attacks, and other chronic degenerative diseases.
A British study by P N Appleby, M Thorogood, J I Mann, T J Key (1999) tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for twelve years and found that vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases.
10. Corroboration from Other Bible Verses
The thesis of this article is corroborated by numerous other verses in the Holy Bible. Most prophets denounced meat-eating and animal sacrifice. At times even God/Christ Himself condemned flesh-consumption and bloody sacrifice. Below please find some examples:
10.1. God Condemns Meat-eating
In Ezekiel 34:1-10(The Greek Septuagint Bible), God reprimands the shepherds:
“You shepherds of Israel are doomed. You care only for yourselves, but never care for the sheep. You drink the milk, wear clothes made from wool, AND SLAUGHTER AND EAT THE CHOICEST SHEEP - never caring for the sheep…I, Lord Yahweh, declare that I am your ADVERSARY... I WILL RESCUE MY SHEEP FROM YOU AND WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO EAT THEM.”
Similarly, in Zechariah 11:4-6 (The Greek Septuagint Bible), “Thus saith the Lord Almighty, FEED THE SHEEP OF THE SLAUGHTER; which their possessors have slain, AND HAVE NOT REPENTED: and they that sold them said, blessed be the Lord; for we have become rich; and their shepherds have suffered no sorrow for them. Therefore I will no longer have mercy upon the inhabitants of the land”.
In Leviticus 17:10 KJV, God asserts, "I will even set My face against that soul who eateth blood and will cut him off from among his people."
10.2. God Detests Animal Sacrifice
In Hosea 6:6 NIV, God declares, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."
In Amos 5:21-22 KJV, God explicitly states that He hates animal sacrifice: "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts."
In Isaiah 1:11, 15 KJV, God says He is fed up with burnt offerings: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? Saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats...When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear, for your hands are full of blood." ().
10.3. Jesus Died for the Cause of Animal Liberation
In Matthew 9:13 CSB, Jesus admonishes the Pharisees, quoting Hosea 6:6, "Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice".
Although Jesus' animal rights speeches and acts as recorded in the canonical Gospels were probably tampered with by Paul's carnivorous gentile Christianity camp (Chen 2020), some fragments of Jesus' love for innocent animals survive in them. E.g., "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father" (Matthew 10:29); “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day? (Luke 14:5).
As a matter of fact, it can be said that Jesus died for the cause of animal liberation. When he drove out from the Holy Temple those vendors who were buying and selling animals for cruel sacrifice (Matthew 21:12), he offended the chief priests and teachers of the law, for the reason that he was disrupting their revenue stream. Immediately afterwards, "the chief priests and the teachers of the law heard about this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him because the whole crowd was amazed at his teachings."(Mark 11:18)
10.4. Daniel, Micah, the Psalmist, and Isaiah
Daniel the prophet, who was a vegan, refused to eat the meat that King Nebuchadnezzar assigned to him while he was a trainee in Babylon. We read in Daniel 1:8-15 KJV that "he...would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat" and requested to be fed "pulse" instead. According to Pulpit Commentary, "pulse (zeronim)" should refer to peas, beans, lentils. After ten days, Daniel and his companions looked healthier and sturdier than those who ate the king’s meat.
"Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?... shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?...what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8)
“I will not take a bull from your house, no goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine...Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving…Whoever offers praise glorifies me” [Psalm 50:7-14, 23 KJV]. Correspondingly, in Psalm 51:16-17, the psalmist says to God in prayer: “You do not desire sacrifice, or I would bring it; You do not delight in burnt offerings."
But it is Isaiah, who consistently denounces the slaughter and bloodshed of humans and animals. He declares that God would not listen to the prayers of animal-killers (1:15): "But your iniquities have separated you and your God. And your sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear. For your hands are stained with blood...their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed innocent blood...they know not the ways of peace."
Isaiah equates the killing of animals with murder: "He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man. He that sacrificeth a lamb is as if he cut off a dog’s neck..." (66:3).
11. How to Regain Paradise
The lost key to return to the Garden of Eden is to be Christ-like -- to adopt a global plant-based diet and a vegan lifestyle compassionate to all sentient beings, by which we will reconcile ourselves with God, with our bodies, with Nature, and with the animals, and regain Paradise lost, where the wolf and the lamb shall again feed together, and the lion shall again eat straw (Isaiah 65:20-21,25).
Actually, as aforementioned, in order to overcome the Fall, wake us up to the gruesomeness, perversity and sinfulness of meat-eating, and lead us back to vegan Eden, Jesus Christ died on the cross. To borrow the words of Erwin (2010), "the horrifying image and the symbolism of the crucifixion, the bloody torture and agonizing murder of the sinless son of God seems to mirror" the merciless slaying of many an innocent animal in the slaughterhouse.
Pic credit: Forbidden Fruit, Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel (1509)
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