Was the fruit of Tree of Life from which Adam and Eve ate really an apple? While Genesis 2:7 never identifies the actual fruit, Jewish tradition has several opinions on the matter: fig, grapes, wheat, quince, pomegranate, nuts or the “apple of paradise”, i.e. the etrog (citron); one of four species used in celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. This last view is promoted in the Septuagint and the rabbinical commentator known as Nachmanides. The name etrog is derived from an Aramaic root denoting passion or desire.
In time, the word “apple” may have come to be the general term for any fruit, and when Biblical and post-Biblical writers said (e.g. Song of Songs 2:5) that apples were good for one’s health, they may have been thinking of fruit in general. It was early Christian writers (e.g. Jerome) who identified Adam’s sin with an actual apple.
This post was written by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, a CJCUC lecturer and former rabbi of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, Australia