The Tree Of Knowledge & The Tree Of Life Window
Growing in the middle of the Garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge and the tree of life share a common root from whence flows the four branched river (Gen. 2, 8-14). The design uses the boab tree which is a source of water in the Australian desert and which originated in Africa as did modern humankind. The foliage of the boab alternates with either five or seven palmate (hand-like) leaves.
The tree of knowledge at the top of the panel is depicted by the seven leaf boab, reminding us of the Jewish adage “having seven fingers on one hand” for cleverness. As Eve reaches for the fruit of the tree of knowledge for good or bad, urged on by the serpent, so is laid down one of the great differences of our species from other species. We are clever, curious and intelligent beings, we can use our knowledge and skill to act upon the world, yet this does not come without responsibility. In our actions, we must differentiate between good and bad. Made in the image of God, we must use our creativity to divine God’s will and act morally and ethically.
An ancient kabbalistic view of the tree of life was of a tree with its roots in heaven and its branches reaching down to earth. The Australian aborigines call the boab tree “the upside-down tree” as its branches appear more like roots and the design shows the five leaf boab suspended, reaching from heaven to earth, with its branches woven in the double helix pattern symbolic of life. Just as we have eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, have gained the freedom to choose at the cost of our innocence, so we have become aware of our own mortality, we are denied the immortality of the innocent. Accordingly, an angel with a flaming sword denies our access to the tree of life.
At the centre of everything that exists a spiral descends or ascends towards God the Creator, shown by a single point.