Its presence is attested in various cultures and religions, its symbolic meaning is strongly positive. The symbol linked to this fascinating Tree is closely connected with the structure of the tree itself. Let us try to discover what it is about in these few lines.
In order to understand its meaning, it is essential to analyse the role of another well-known Tree, the Tree of Knowledge.
Placed by God in the Garden of Eden, the first appearance of these trees can be traced back to Genesis.
"The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:9, NTL)
These were two different trees.
The story of the second tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, is well known and goes back to Adam and Eve. The transgression of the first human couple in Paradise consisting in eating fruits from the same Tree led to their expulsion from the Garden itself.
The Scriptures themselves explain the reason why God banished them: eating from the Tree of Knowledge meant losing the state of Innocence. Eating its fruits meant to become Men, to renounce happiness and fall into the realms of sin.
Man, created in the image and likeness of God, separated himself from the One to lose himself in the dualism of choice. And that is where their punishment came from, having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, God did not want them to be able to eat from the Tree of Life, the symbol of Eternity. He wanted to prevent them from running the risk of living in a state of eternal disobedience.
In defence of the Tree of Life, God placed the cherubim as guardians: "After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3: 24).
But all is not lost, in the book of Revelation the Tree of Life symbolises the Divine presence.
Access to the Tree is granted by the "New Adam": Jesus Christ. Thanks to God's benevolence, His children, the most deserving ones, will be able to enjoy the Tree and its fruits by listening to His Word.
"Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God” (Revelation, 2:7)
In the Letter to the Corinthians (1, 15:44- 49), access to the Tree of Life (Eternal Life) is guaranteed by Jesus Christ's death on the cross.
It is only by seeking forgiveness through the blood shed by the Messiah that one has access to Eternal Life.
By dying on the Cross, Jesus redeems Humanity from its Sins and leads us to Eternal Life.
The Tree thus becomes a symbol of Rebirth and Birth.