I draw this take from my own studies and the studies of others.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: the name itself is more of a metaphor or a description, but not the substance of it. In reality, Adam and Eve already knew at a certain level--obeying God is good, disobeying God is evil.
The true temptation of the fruit was quite simple: to be like God, to take his place, to be God.
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." The serpent was basically saying, "God is trying to keep you from being equal with him. Eat this and you will be just like God." Yes, she would now know both good and evil, but more importantly she will be like God, on equal footing with God. It is noted that she was allowed to eat of every tree but this one. Her needs were met, she had no beef with God or any complaints. There was no reason or motivation to not obey God's command. Why eat of it if you have no need to eat of it? (such a question could be asked by someone truly not tainted by sin)
But she did. And then she gave it to Adam, and he did as well. They both chose to eat, disobeying God. They both wanted to taste of the knowledge of good and evil and be like God. They wanted to rise above being the dependent, the contigent, the created. They wanted to be like God, not dependent, not contigent, autonomous and answering to no one.
Another poster mentioned that the true source of sin is free-will and that the fruit gave that. This wouldn't be accurate, since it is clear that Eve chose to disobey--and so did Adam. So free will was always present. Adam and Eve, however, were free from the taint of sin (sin being the violation of God's perfect standard). They were blameless in God's sight. By willfully disobeying him, they tainted themselves with sin. Note that the penalty of eating was death. God did not kill them, but put them out of the garden--and ultimately direct communion with himself. Sin was now present, and God was holy (i.e. separate, not sin). They could no longer have what they used to have--true communion.
It should be noted that a significant amount of Old Testament literature is dedicated to the virtue of knowledge and wisdom. Proverbs speaks of the value of wisdom and knowledge, and how a godly man or woman will treasure wisdom. It should also be noted that Proverbs also states what it regards as true knowledge and wisdom: the both are founded on "the fear of the LORD", which is more accurately rendered as the respect and reverence of the Lord God.
In the Judeo-Christian mindset, you are missing the point of it all if you don't realize and acknowledge the true place of God in your life. If you think about it from that mindset, it makes sense. How can you even claim wisdom if you are unable to acknowledge God? If God is the true purpose and cause of it all, if he is the creator and he has created us with the intent of being involved in our lives, how can a life lived in defiance or denial of him be called wise? From the Judeo-Christian mindset, it makes sense that knowledge and wisdom should be founded on the acknowledgement of God and the acknowledgment of his rightful place in your life.
I hope that helps or explains what I meant.
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
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