Was the command not to eat of the fruit a warning, or just an arbitrary command? In other words, was the command just given because God made a decision to make that a rule because He’s God (which made breaking the command a sin), or was there anything about the fruit (if we take it literally) that did something to those who ate it?
Later on we hear about a tree that would make them live forever, so I’m assuming that the name “knowledge of good and evil” would mean something.
When you look at the story of Adam and Eve we can look at the knowledge of good and evil as the knowledge that God has. God knows what is good and evil and sets that upon our conscientious so we can discern right from wrong. In the story Adam and Eve they were supposed to stay in communion with God, not be their own ‘god’ which would be in violation of the first commandment or idolatry. So when the serpent came to Eve he tempted her to eat of the fruit and told her she wouldn’t die, but God told her she would die. So she listened to the serpent and in that sense she thought she could be her own ‘god’ and didn’t need God. She thought she would also know good and evil thus had no need for God. Looking into this story we can see how temptations of life can turn us away from God.
We will always have need for God in our lives because He is the root of our being and we should always be obedient to God or we separate ourselves from God due to sin. So the story really speaks to us in how we need to be. Now because Adam and Eve were disobedient to God, they exercised their free will and said ‘no’, and it cause them to lose immortality not just for them but for all those to follow. That is also why we needed Jesus to restore immortality for us so by Gods mercy through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we have eternal life and can eat of the tree of life and be ‘sharers’ of His gifts, one of them being the gift of knowledge to begin to see things as God sees things and to become part of the tree of life. We can inherit these gifts when we receive the grace of God through the sacraments in particular the sacrament of baptism, but we will always be rooted in Christ without Him we can shrivel up and die like the branch without the vine.
The sin was disobedience of God. The command could be rendered, “Thou Shall Obey The Lord Your God”, and it could be said that this was further refined and defined later with, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:4, Matt 12:29), because love is the authentic means to obedience, and this love for God was yet insufficient in Adam, as it is in us, his descendants, until we also begin to love Him, by His grace.
Jesus said it all in John 15:5, “Apart from Me you can do nothing”. Man is lost, dead without God, and Adam’s disobedience was the very act of “freeing” himself from his divine Partner. Prior to that, Adam & Eve had no direct experience of evil; and wouldn’t be able to identify good as a separate reality either since everything in creation was good, with no evil to contrast it with.
The Hebrew word used for “knowledge” in the name of the tree is most often rendered “experience”, as to know something by direct experience, such as knowing a person carnally or knowing baseball by playing it rather than reading about it or watching it on TV: knowing by doing, IOW.
Like Prodigals, we’re here to learn a lesson: of the goodness, trustworthiness, and love of the Father, Whom Jesus came to reveal, and of our absolute need for Him. The evil that humankind would come to know by the act of separating itself from God would play its part in this “education”, as the Prodigal came to his senses in the pigsty.
To understand God’s command in Genesis 2: 15-17, one has to recognize the difference between God the Creator and Adam the creature. Paragraphs 396-398 and 1730-1732 of the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition will be helpful. Personally, I prefer to start my search for Adam information by beginning with Genesis 1: 26-27.
Because I am preparing for surgery, I may not be prompt in a continuing discussion.