Would Adam and Eve have lived forever if they didn't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

"but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die." Genesis 2:17


1 Answer 1


Yes according to some. The Stone edition of the Chumash reads, "Since Adam lived to the age of 930, it was clear that he was not to die as soon as he ate the fruit. Rather, he would become subject to death, whereas if he had never sinned, his holiness would have kept him alive forever." This statement lacks any attribution.

The Ramban seems to say that death is a natural consequence of being alive and the text's statement is that by eating the fruit, man became chayav a death sentence for having committed a crime. Death became a punishment, not a normal part of the existence process.

  • 1
    very interesting, can you quote the Ramban?
    – kouty
    Oct 31, 2016 at 11:19
  • I would be interested in seeing that Ramban, since in his introduction to Torat haAdam he takes as a premise that death is meant to be unnatural for Adam, and that man was meant to live forever, hence the reason why we mourn over something so inevitable: כי תולדות האדם לחיות לעולם, ומן החטא הקדמוני ירדו לטבח כולם.
    – Chaim
    Oct 31, 2016 at 12:17
  • @Chaim I don't have it in English so I was surmising from my simplistic understanding of 2:17 ואין הכוונה לידיעה בלבד שידע שימות כי החיים יודעים שימותו כלם אבל הכוונה כי בעת שיצא יהיה חייב מיתה למלך והוא ימית אותו כאשר ירצה ולא יבאו לראות כבלע את הקדש ומתו (במדבר ד כ) ולא ישאו עליו חטא ומתו בו כי יחללוהו (ויקרא כב ט) אין ענינם אלא שיהיו חייבים מיתה וימותו בחטאם זה ועל דעת אנשי הטבע היה האדם מעותד למיתה מתחלת היצירה מפני היותו מורכב אבל גזר עתה שאם יחטא ימות בחטאו כדרך חייבי מיתה בידי שמים בעבירות
    – rosends
    Oct 31, 2016 at 12:50
  • @Chaim The source where Ramban discusses this is in his writings, Sha’ar HaGamul. There are two views mentioned, living forever and living for 1000 years which is similar to the lifespan of trees. And these two views correspond to the different ultimate destinies of Jews and non-Jews and what their Olam HaBa will be. Everyone is resurrected for judgement. Jews have eternal life in a body. Non-Jews ultimately experience death again to attain Olam HaBa without a physical body. Aug 1, 2022 at 11:10
  • For related discussion see: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/130262/7303 Aug 1, 2022 at 11:11

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