Brow Publications, Kingston, Ontario (e-mail: email@example.com) 2004
Introduction | Genesis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11| 12| 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30
31 | 32 | 33| 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41| 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50| PostScript
Table Of Contents:
|Genesis 2:4-6||Genesis 2:17|
|Genesis 2:7||Genesis 2:18|
|Genesis 2:8||Genesis 2:19-20|
|Genesis 2:9||Genesis 2:21|
|Genesis 2:10||Genesis 2:22|
|Genesis 2:11||Genesis 2:23|
|Genesis 2:12||Genesis 2:24|
|Genesis 2:14||Genesis 2:25|
GENESIS 2:4-9 (Eden)
2:4-6 From thousands of clay tablets in the ancient Near East we know that genealogies were carefully kept in many families. A previous tablet would be copied and the name of a firstborn son was added in a new tablet which was then baked and the outdated one was discarded. So here the expression "These are the generations (toldoth)" seems to refer to ten tablets giving the family origins of the Jewish people (Eden 2:4; Adam 5:1; Noah 6:9; The three sons of Noah 10:1; Shem 11:10; Terah 11:27; Ishmael 25:12; Isaac 25:19; Esau 36:1; Jacob 37:2).
Alphabetic writing appeared suddenly in the time of Abraham. Possibly he invented it to avoid having to cart hundreds of cuneiform clay tablets on his journeys through present-day Iraq. It would have enabled him to write out the family records on a single scroll in Akkadian which was similar to the Canaanite language which became biblical Hebrew (see the introduction to Ishmael the Arab).
Six or seven hundred years later Homer used the Hebrew alphabet for the Indo-European Greek language of the Iliad and Odyssee. The first four letters of the Greek alphabet (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) are the same as the Hebrew (aleph, beth, gimel, daleth). This alphabet was also used to write Etruscan, Latin, German and the other languages of European civilization.
In this first tablet of family origins the Jewish people are located among the humans who were distinguished from the other mammals in the previous chapter (1:26). Here the day refers back to the water supply and vegetation needed before humans could be created to live in our world (Genesis 1:6-13).
2:7 The word human comes from the same root as the Latin humus which means organic matter. And we remind ourselves that the modern scientific analysis of the human body proves that we are made of the same organic materials as all living matter on our earth. We are also dependent on breathing the oxygen as is needed for the breath of life of all other animals (see 7:22).
2:8 As we saw in Genesis 1:26, there were various species of hominids that roamed our world for two million years. So when image of God humans (Genesis Man) were created they needed a protected environment to develop their civilization.
The Hebrew word gan meant an area of ground surrounded by a wall to keep out animals (as in the LXX Greek paradeisos from the Persian pairidaeza meaning an enclosed garden). Instead of the translation "Garden of Eden," the Hebrew makes clear that the garden was planted in a district called Eden (gan-baeden as in NRSV). The Hebrew word qedem can either mean a geographical direction or "ancient time." So we might prefer to translate "an enclosed garden in the district of Eden in ancient time."
Among many other locations which have been proposed, we will guess that Eden (Sumerian Edin meaning plain, Akkadian edinu meaning flat region) was a plateau in the Turkish district of Mus northeast of Diyarbakir (Amida) to the west of Lake Van in eastern Turkey. As we will see in 2:10-14, this model nicely fits the four rivers that originate in that area.
2:9 The garden included fruit trees, but also two metaphorical trees. The tree of life referred to the spiritual fellowship with God that our first parents enjoyed (see Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14).
But spiritual life would die by refusing to walk with and trust God. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil means deliberately choosing to engage in evil when one knows that it is wrong (see the comment on 2:17). "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die" (Genesis 2:16-17).
GENESIS 2:10-14 (Four Rivers)
2:10 A literal translation of the Hebrew text is "A river flows out of the plain of Eden to water the garden." As suggested in 2:8, we will guess that the garden was located around the Murat source of the river Euphrates in the Turkish district of Mus. It was not the river in the garden which was divided into four, but the area of Eden from which four great rivers flowed.
2:11 We will suggest that the River Pishon had its source a few miles from Mus and it flows eastward into Lake Van. In our day that lake has no outlet and it drains into the earth leaving behind a heavy concentration of minerals. The Hebrew verb sabab can mean going around, but it can also mean a change of flow. So it is tempting to imagine a river (like the Falaj underground rivers of Oman) flowing a hundred miles from the bottom of Lake Van into Lake Urmia in Iran, which is another salt lake with no outlet. Ancient history records that gold and precious stones were mined in the mountains of Armenia and western Iran. There is no evidence for connecting the River Pishon with the Ganges, the Indus, or the gold of Havilah in Arabia (Genesis 10:7), which would be two thousand miles to the south in the Yemen.
2:12 The river Gihon could fit the Aras (Greek Araxes) which has its source in the Bingol Mountains a few miles to the north of our proposed location for the garden in Eden. Some commentators have taken the reference to Cush to mean the Horn of Africa, but one of the nearby Ararat chain of mountains could easily have had this name in the Cuneiform original.
2:14 Just ten miles to the south there is a source of the Tigris River, which flows 1150 miles (1850 km) south east through Mosul in Iraq to join the Euphrates before emptying into the Persian Gulf.
If our guess is right, the eastern tributary of the Euphrates in the district of Mus flowed through the original garden. That would place the sources of all four rivers within a day’s walk of each other. We do not know how this garden (or reserve) was enclosed. But, having created humans miraculously with the ability to have fellowship with him, providing an enclosure to keep them free from contact with other hominids would be easy.
In any case we reject the idea that the original writer of this clay tablet ignorantly located the Pishon and Gihon rivers thousands of miles away from the garden made for Genesis Man. Tablets of family origins were too carefully preserved for that kind of mistake.
GENESIS 2:15-17 (The Tree of Evil)
2:15-16The first true humans (see 2:8) were given the task of tending their enclosed garden. They could freely eat of the trees which provided an abundance of fruit and nuts needed for their physical health (see 2:9).
2:17 We have identified eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil as a metaphor for choosing to engage in what we know is clearly wrong (2:9). When we do that human spiritual fellowship with God is broken resulting in spiritual death. We should not assume this refers to ordinary sins of omission and commission, but it is a deliberate decision to view wrong as right.
When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree they did not die physically, but they experienced the spiritual death of feeling estranged from God. This is the normal condition of humans who refuse to walk with God. As Paul explained, "You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived (Ephesians 2:1, 5).
GENESIS 2:18-25 (Eve)
2:18 The word "helper" has often been taken to require a subservient place for women. But the same Hebrew word ezer is also used of God. "Hasten to help me, God! You are my helper (ezer) and my deliverer" (Psalm 70:5). "From where will my help (ezeri) come? My help (ezeri) comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth" (Psalm121:1-2). We could translate "I will make for him a coworker by his side." This would correspond with the fact that "God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). And this relationship is set out by Paul in an ideal tenfold mutuality of functions between husbands and wives (1 Corinthians 7:1-11).
2:19-20 One of the first acts of Genesis Man in the garden was to give names to the mammals and birds in the garden (1:20-25). Naming is a typically human characteristic. And we know that most of what is achieved in the arts and sciences begins by giving names to all that we observe. By about 4000 BC civilization appeared suddenly in the cities of Mesopotamia based on this human naming ability.
But in this naming process it was obvious that no other creature could be a true image of God partner for the first man.
2:21 The Hebrew word zelakh is used for the side of the ark (Exodus 25:12,14) or a location within a building (Exodus 26:25). There is no example of the word meaning "one of his ribs (as in translations from KJV to NRSV). Whatever metaphor we use to describe the creation of the first human female, an astonishing miracle is needed to explain what happened. There was no way for a single male person to reproduce the new image of God species.
2:22 Whatever was taken from the man, what was required was not just a question of anatomy. Both female and male psychological characteristics would be needed for the couple to be in the image of God. As was explained on the Sixth Day, "God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (1:27).
2:23 In the small area of the enclosed garden (2:8) the couple were soon able to meet. The Hebrew word happagham means "the step, the occurence, or the time." The English translation "at last" suggests Adam had looked and longed for this partnership. Obviously the metaphor "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" does not mean a literal "spare rib" (2:21). It expresses the deep sense of longing for the other, not just the mechanics of sexual intercourse. At this point the woman is called ishshaah (the feminine of ish meaning male). Later he will name her khawwaah as the mother of his children (3:20). For a man there is a huge psychological change from viewing a woman as his companion and sex partner to viewing her as the mother of his children.
2:24 The verb daabak has a variety of meanings such as "to stick to, stick with, follow closely." The relationship of a child sticking with his or her parents can be very close, but it is only temporary. The joining in a marriage relationship is designed to move in the direction of an ever increasing oneness. The Hebrew baasaar can mean the flesh of an animal as opposed to its bones. But Jews viewed the body, mind, soul as a unity making up the human person. Which is why the Psalmist wrote "My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh (baasaar) sing for joy to the living God" (Psalm 84:2). Obviously marriage at its best is not just the sex act but a heart and soul oneness of two soul mates.
2:25 Artists have pictured the physical nakedness of our first parents. But again the reference seems to be metaphorical. The other animals are never ashamed of their nakedness. Which suggests that the words "not ashamed" were related to our marriage ideal of being totally open with nothing to hide from one another. This is the nakedness that God delights in. "Before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account" (Hebrews 4:13). He longs for us to love and know him intimately instead of hiding, which is what the next chapter is about. "The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (3:8).
Table Of Contents
Model Theology Homepage | Essays and Articles | Books | Sermons | Letters to Surfers | Contact Robert Brow