15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 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.”
We know that all the trees of the garden were pleasing to look at, and their fruit good to taste. And here God speaks to the man, and issues his command. He begins by saying : you are free...
God lays before the man an array of good and beautiful choices. He may pick whichever he chooses. But there is one choice that will have a deeply unhappy consequence. All the trees (including the aforementioned Tree of Life, we assume) are there to provide fruit for the occupant of the garden. But one of them is different, and eating its fruit will change everything. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is off limits.
Interestingly, God doesn’t just command, but he explains his command. You must not eat from it…because.
It is the one exception because.
It is what he must not do because.
Because if he does, this living being will lose what he has been given. He will lose life itself.
The author of this story certainly knows how build up tension. Planted here is a possibility, a frightening possibility. It hangs there teasingly in the reader’s mind.