Barry Newman's Blog

March 23, 2011

Science and Genesis 2: 4 – 3: 24 (part XVI)

Filed under: Genesis,Spirit — barrynewman @ 3:57 am

Genesis 2: 15 – 17 – the man in the garden, the trees and the commandment of God

“The Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (NIV)

There is no need to think that writer/editor of the first half of chapter 2 of Genesis is confused, careless or unwilling to correct an anomaly when in v. 8 he refers to God placing the man in a garden and then states again that God placed the man in a garden in v . 15.  As McCabe (2006) argues, the writer simply returns to the matter he raised earlier, the “and” (Hebrew: waw) with which v. 15 begins being appropriately translated as “and”, rather than “then” (as in The New American Standard Bible), the “waw” being classified as a “resumptive waw”.  The text then reads, “And the Lord God …”.  In fact, it could be argued that having stated earlier that the Lord God placed the man in the garden, in v. 15 the writer is conveying for what purpose God had placed him there. 

But why insert vv. 9-14 – a description of rivers which seems to interrupt the flow of the account?  If the understanding of the relationship between the river, the garden and the four rivers, as favoured above, is correct (or even if the more traditional view is held to be correct) then it is understandable that before the writer tells of man’s role in the garden he decides to focus on just how special this garden is – the existence of the extraordinary trees and the blessed agricultural state of the garden (or in accordance with the traditional view, the prospective blessing of the garden for the world)..

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