Deuteronomy 13:17 « You shall not hold on to anything that is under the ban; then the LORD will turn from his burning anger and show you mercy, and in showing you mercy multiply you as he swore to your ancestors. » (NAB)
For the next several days we will be talking about an important principle in the Bible called the cherem. The first time that the LORD God speaks specifically about the cherem is in the book of Leviticus, chapter 27 verses 20-29. (This is also the chapter which teaches about the tithe.) Cherem described anything that was devoted to God as an offering. Most English translations renders the word as « the ban, » or « under the ban. »
The Hebrew word comes from a word meaning « a fish net. » And it carries the idea of encircling something and drawing it out of it’s natural habitat to be used for something else.
If you wanted to give a piece of land or a house to God as an offering, you would declare it cherem or you would place it under the ban. It would be the highest sin for anyone else to use that land or house for their own purposes.
If God decided that He wanted an offering from His people, He could place any object, or even a person under the ban and that thing, or person would become God’s. Before the ban, it was common. Under the ban it became sacred. The choice of what to place under the ban was completely arbitrary; and there were no laws that required a ban.
However, once something was placed under the ban, it became akin to destruction for anyone to transgress the ban and use that thing for another purpose other than for God. So God told His people Israel, Don’t hold on to anything that is under the ban! In other words, don’t put cherem in your pocket. It could blow up one day and rip off your leg!
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was probably a tree like every other tree in the Garden. God just put it under the ban before He made man. The tree was cherem. And as long as Adam respected what was under the ban, he was free to eat of the Tree of Life for eternity. But if he touched the thing under the ban, he would die. It was a simple choice.
The nature of the devil is to long for anything that is under the ban. His longing is so intense that he can only perceive God as being unfair by keeping something so wonderful from others. When we get our eyes off of God and His goodness and we begin to focus intently of the things under the ban we ultimately succumb to the nature of the devil.