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THE MEANING OF THE TREE OF LIFE

TREE OF LIFE: Meaning, Symbol, Bible

The meaning of the tree of life

A Connection to Everything

The Tree of Life commonly represents the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. It symbolizes togetherness and serves as a reminder that you are never alone or isolated, but instead that you are connected to the world. The roots of the Tree of Life dig deep and spread into the Earth, thereby accepting nourishment from Mother Earth, and its branches reach up into the sky, taking energy from the sun and moon.  

Tree of life Bible

The tree of life is mentioned in Genesis, Proverbs, Revelation. The meaning of the tree of life, in general, is the same, but there are many variations of meaning. In Genesis, it is a tree that gives life to the one who eats it (Genesis 2: 9; 3: 22,24). In Proverbs, the expression has a very general meaning: it is a source of life (Proverbs 3: 18; 11: 30; 13: 12; 15: 4). In Revelation it is a tree from which those who have a life eat (Revelation 2: 7; 22: 2,14,19).

The tree of life in the Garden of Eden

The tree of life was a good tree, like the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But at the same time, these two trees had a symbolic value: one evoked life and the other responsibility. In the other passages of the Bible that speak of the tree of life, there is nothing more material; They are just symbols, images.

In Eden, eating from the tree of life would have given man the power to live forever (without specifying the character of this life). Adam and Eve, because they have sinned, are denied access to the tree of life. I think it is another way of expressing that the death sentence is in them. (In my opinion, one should not ask in what condition they would have been if, after sinning, they had eaten from the tree of life. This is the assumption of an impossible thing).

The tree of life in the Apocalypse

If there were two trees in the earthly paradise, in “the sky of God” (Revelation 2:7), there is only one tree left: the tree of life. In the beginning of his responsibility, man has lost everything, but the work of Christ places man on a new earth, where all the blessings flow from what Christ has done and from what he is. In the message addressed to Ephesus, the Lord promised the victor: “I will feed him from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.

“It evokes the food that Christ gives, or better yet, that he himself is for himself. In John’s gospel, he already presents himself as the one who fully satisfies the thirst and hunger of the soul, the one who meets all his deep needs (see John 4:14; 6: 32–35,51–58).

In Revelation 22, in the description of the holy city, we find the tree of life. It is a tree whose fruits nourish the redeemed: “the tree of life, which bears twelve fruits, bearing fruit every month” (v. 2). This is a picture of the Millennium – not yet of the eternal state since there are still nations to heal: “The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” As in chapter 2, but even more luxurious, the tree of life evokes this complete and varied food that Christ has for his own, and that he himself is for them.

Verse 14 says: “Blessed are those who wash their robes” (and can only be bleached in the blood of Lamb 7:14), they will “have the right to the tree of life” and will enter “through the gates of the city.” This is the blessing of the redeemed.

The most recent verses of the chapter give a solemn warning (v. 18,19). Woe to the “add” something to “this book” the Apocalypse, but the principle extends to all divine Revelation or “removes” something! This call is addressed to “everyone who hears these words,” that is, to all, true Christians or not.

To express the divine punishment against the one who “adds” or “removes,” the Spirit of God uses the same words “adds” and “removes,” because he sows what he has sown. And he mentions the added curse, or the blessing removed, with the specific terms of Revelation: “the wounds written in this book” or “the part of the tree of life and the holy city.”

What should be our attention in this passage is the extreme gravity of adding or subtracting anything from the word of God. Do we think enough? The way God will exercise his judgment on those who have done so is not our business. The question of whether those who mistreat the word of God in this way possess or not the divine life is not raised here. When God presents us with our responsibility, he shows it to us in its entirety; it does not attenuate it in any way with the thought of grace. But such passages in no way deny the fact – established in the Scriptures – that those who possess eternal life will never perish.

tree of life meaning

Ancestry, Family, and Fertility

The Tree of Life symbol also represents the connection to one’s family and ancestors. The Tree of Life has an intricate network of branches that describes how a family grows and expands throughout many generations. It also symbolizes fertility as it always finds a way to keep growing, through seeds or new saplings, and is lush and green, which signifies its vitality. 

Growth and Strength

A tree is a universal symbol of strength and growth as they stand tall and firm all over the world. They spread their roots deep into the soil to the ground and stabilize themselves. Trees can weather the toughest of storms, which is why they are such a prominent symbol for strength. The Tree of Life represents growth as a tree starts as a small, delicate sapling and grows over a long time into a giant, healthy tree. The tree grows up and outwards, representing how a person becomes stronger and increases their knowledge and experiences throughout their lifetime.

Individuality

The Tree of Life symbolizes one’s identity as trees are all unique with their branches sprouting at different points and in different directions. It symbolizes a person’s personal growth into an individual human being as different experiences shape them into who they are. Over time, trees gain more unique characteristics, as branches break off, new ones grow, and as the weather takes its toll – throughout which the tree remains healthy and sturdy. This is a metaphor for how people grow and change throughout their lifetime and how their unique experiences mould them and enhance their individuality.  

Immortality and Rebirth

The Tree of Life is a symbol for rebirth as trees lose their leaves and seem to be dead during winter, but then new buds appear, and new, fresh leaves unfurl during the spring. This represents the beginning of a new life and a fresh start. The Tree of Life also symbolizes immortality because even as the tree grows old, it creates seeds that carry its essence, so it lives on through new saplings.

Peace

Trees have always evoked a sense of calm and peace, so it is unsurprising that the Tree of Life is also a symbol for peacefulness and relaxation. Trees have a relaxing presence as they stand tall and still while their leaves flutter in the breeze. The Tree of Life serves as a reminder for the unique, calming feeling that one gets from trees.

The history of the tree of life symbol

As a symbol, the Tree of Life goes back to ancient times. The oldest known example was found in the Domuztepe excavations in Turkey, which dates back to about 7000 BC. It is believed that the symbol spread from there in various ways.  

A similar depiction of the tree was discovered in the Acadians, which dates back to 3000 BC. The symbols depicted a pine tree, and because pine trees do not die, the symbols are believed to be the first depictions of the Tree of Life.  

The Tree of Life also has strong significance to the Ancient Celts. It represented harmony and balance and was an essential symbol in the Celtic culture. They believed it had magical powers, so when they cleared their lands, they would leave one single tree standing in the middle. They would hold their important gatherings under this tree, and it was a grave crime to cut it down.  

Origins

There’s no question that the Tree of Life’s origins predate the Celts as it is a powerful symbol in Ancient Egyptian mythology, among others. There are various designs associated with this symbol, but the Celtic version dates to at least 2,000 B.C. This is when carvings of the model were found in Northern England during the Bronze Age. This also predates the Celts by over 1,000 years.

The Norse Legend of the World Tree – Yggdrasil. The Celts may well have adopted their Tree of Life symbol from this.

It would appear as if the Celts adopted their Tree of Life symbol from that of the Norse who believed the source of all life on Earth was a world ash tree they called Yggdrasil. In the Norse tradition, the Tree of Life led to nine different worlds, including the land of Fire, the world of the dead (Hel) and the area of the Aesir (Asgard). Nine was a significant number in both Norse and Celtic cultures.

The Celtic Tree of Life varies from its Norse counterpart in terms of its design which is folded with branches and forms a circle with the tree’s roots. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the design is pretty much a circle with a tree in it.

Meaning

According to the ancient Celtic Druids, the Tree of Life possessed special powers. When they cleared an area for settlement, a single tree would be left in the centre which became known as the Tree of Life. It provided food, warmth and shelter to the population and was also an important meeting place for high ranking members of the tribe.

As it also provided nourishment to animals, this tree was believed to take care of all life on Earth. The Celts also believed that each tree was an ancestor of a human being. It is said that Celtic tribes would only inhabit locations where such a tree was present.

The Assyrian/Babylonian (2500 BC) idea of the Tree of Life, with its nodes, is similar to the Celtic Tree of Life.

During wars between tribes, the biggest triumph was to cut down the opponent’s Tree of Life. Cutting down your own tribe’s tree was deemed to be one of the worst crimes a Celt could commit.

Symbolism

Perhaps the central tenet of the Tree of Life is the idea that all life on Earth is interconnected. A forest is made up of a large number of individual trees; the branches of each one link together and combine their life force to provide a home for thousands of different species of flora and fauna.

There are several things the Tree of Life symbolizes in the Celtic tradition:

  • Since the Celts believed humans came from trees, they viewed them not only as a living being but also as magical. Trees were guardians of the land and acted as a doorway to the spirit world.
  • The Tree of Life connected the upper and lower worlds. Remember, a large proportion of a tree is underground, so according to the Celts, the roots of the tree reached into the underworld whereas the branches grew to the upper world. The tree trunk connected these worlds with the Earth. This connection also enabled the Gods to communicate with the Tree of Life.
  • The tree symbolized strength, wisdom and longevity.
  • It also represented rebirth. Trees shed their leaves in the autumn, hibernate in the winter, the leaves grow back in the spring, and the tree is full of life in the summer.

In Egyptian mythology, there are references to the tree of life, and from beneath this tree, the first Egyptian gods were born.

 

The Tree of Life in Other Cultures

As you know by now, the Celts were not the first people to adopt the Tree of Life symbol as something meaningful.

The Mayans

According to this Mesoamerican culture, a mystical mountain on Earth was hiding Heaven. A World Tree connected Heaven, Earth and the Underworld and grew at the point of creation. Everything flowed out from that spot in four directions (North, South, East & West). On the Mayan Tree of Life, there is a cross in the centre, which is the source of all creation.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians believed that the Tree of Life was the place where life and death were enclosed. East was the direction of life, whereas West was the direction of death and the underworld. In Egyptian Mythology, Isis and Osiris (also known as ‘the first couple’) emerged from the Tree of Life.

Christianity

The Tree of Life is featured in the Book of Genesis and is described as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which was planted in the Garden of Eden. Historians and scholars are unable to agree on whether it is the same tree or separate ones. The term ‘Tree of Life’ appears another 11 times in subsequent books of the Bible.

China

There is a Taoist story in Chinese Mythology which describes a magical peach tree that only produces a peach ever 3,000 years. The individual who happens to eat this fruit becomes immortal. There is a dragon at the base of this Tree of Life and a phoenix on top.

Islam

The Tree of Immortality is mentioned in the Quran. It is different from the Biblical account insofar as only one tree is mentioned in Eden, which was forbidden to Adam and Eve by Allah. The Hadith does mention other trees in Heaven. While the tree symbol plays a relatively minor role in the Quran, it became an essential symbol in Muslim art and architecture and is also one of the most developed symbols in Islam. In the Quran, there is a trio of supernatural trees: The Infernal Tree (Zaquum) in Hell, The Lote-Tree (Sidrat al-Muntaha) of the Uttermost Boundary and the Tree of Knowledge which is in the Garden of Eden. In the Hadith, the different trees are combined into one symbol.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.