The Forbidden Fruit Origin Story

The term “forbidden fruit” is a metaphor for anything that is desired but not moral, legal or permissible to indulge in. But there is more to the idea of the “forbidden fruit” than that.

The forbidden fruit origin story explains much about the state of our world. The poverty and lack in our world began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

The fruit, which grew on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was the catalyst for the fall of man — when original sin entered creation and led to the reality we face every day. It’s a reality where poverty, violence, disease and greed are pervasive.

In such a world, we must intentionally work to fix our eyes on the one who created the Garden of Eden and how he wants us to live.

The Biblical Origin of the Forbidden Fruit

In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were told not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve later says she should not even touch it. This tree was one of two that God identified as special in the Garden of Eden:

And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9, ESV)

When Adam and Eve succumbed to their prideful desire to be like God and ate the fruit, they experienced expulsion from the Garden of Eden. They were condemned to a life of toil that ultimately ends in death:

"By the sweat of your brow  you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
— Genesis 3:19 (NIV)

This is the fall of man, or original sin, which explains why the world is not perfect and why humankind faces suffering and death.

What Type of Fruit Was the Forbidden Fruit?

Although the forbidden fruit is commonly thought of as an apple, the Bible never actually says what type of fruit it was.

A lot of associations we have with the forbidden fruit today come from John Milton’s 1667 poem “Paradise Lost.” Milton’s poem of over 10,000 lines reimagines the Adam and Eve story, and it names the fruit as an apple.

Some religious scholars say the apple’s association with the forbidden fruit might have started when the Bible was translated from Hebrew into Latin. The Latin words for “evil” and “apple” are both versions of the word malus. More specifically, the Latin word for “apple” is mālum, while the Latin word for “evil” is mălum.

After that, Renaissance artists such as Lucas Cranach the Elder painted Adam and Eve in the garden with apples, furthering the idea that the forbidden fruit was an apple.

If the fruit wasn’t an apple, what might it have been?

Because the Hebrew Bible describes the forbidden fruit only as peri, the term for general fruit, no one knows. It could be a fruit that doesn’t exist anymore.

Historians have speculated it may have been any one of these fruits: pomegranate, mango, fig, grape, etrog or citron, carob, pear, quince or mushroom.

The Fall of Man

No matter what type of fruit it was, the effects of Eve and Adam eating it were fatal. Original sin is the moral corruption we all experience as a result. It created a separation between humans and God. Pain, violence, lack and death entered the world and remain problems today.

Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit is the reason we needed a savior. God in his mercy and love sent a way to repair the relationship and redeem his creation — his son, Jesus Christ.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24, NIV)

Compassion in a Fallen World

Knowing we live in a fallen world explains why suffering exists. The extent of suffering in the world can often feel overwhelming, but that shouldn’t prevent us from working to relieve suffering where we can.

To have compassion means to empathize with someone who is suffering AND to feel compelled to reduce the suffering. In other words, compassion gets involved. When others keep their distance, compassion prompts us to act on the sufferer’s behalf. That’s why, at Compassion, we see it as an honor to serve children who live in poverty.

When you sponsor a child, you’re up to something big. You empower the child’s local church to meet his or her needs while sharing God’s redeeming love in the process.

Child sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective methods for benefitting the poor, and many economists view it as the most effective long-term development intervention for helping the poor.1

In the Compassion Child Sponsorship Program, thousands of local churches in low- and middle-income countries tailor our holistic child development model to specific communities’ needs. So each child assisted by our frontline church partners receives care that is personal, individualized, relational, and tailored to the child's age, gender, health, culture and family situation.

The benefits of our Child Sponsorship Program include:

  • Better health.
  • Better nutrition.
  • Educational and vocational support.
  • Safety and protection.
  • Socio-emotional development.
  • The opportunity to hear the Gospel and learn about Jesus.

If you don’t yet sponsor a child but are looking for a way to relieve the suffering that resulted from original sin, partner with us! Sponsor a child today!

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  1. Wydick, Bruce. "Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor." Christianity Today. Accessed May 10, 2022