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The origin of the Tree of Life is unknown. It is traditionally rooted in the Qabalah, the inner teachings of Judaism. All religions have two faces, the outer one takes the form of words and public ritual whereas the inner aspect is often an oral instruction which is passed on from teacher to pupil. This oral method is common to all the major religions. If you learn to meditate upon a symbol that has been associated with past meditation by those who have received the oral tradition, you will often obtain access to those ideas even though you’ve never seen it before.
The Qabalah is based upon the basic universal laws and principles. Understanding them and working with them is what enables you to discover your greatest potential and capabilities.
Knowledge about the universe was known at the time of Solomon for it is written into the biblical text of the period and the construction of the Temple and seven branched candlestick are both formulations of the Tree of Life as were the columns on either side of the Temple.