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1. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all their host.
Though the first word literally reads "and they were finished," yet the idea of retrospect involved in the verse was caught, very beautifully by Luther, who rendered "and" also; "thus" is an equally correct rendering of A.V. Attention is particularly drawn to the elaborateness and completeness of this work by the added subject "and all their host" (tsebha’am). Without a doubt, this expression includes all the works found in heaven and on earth as a result of the creative work thus described. "Host" (tsabha’) may refer to the stars; cf. Neh. 9:6; Deut. 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16, etc. It may refer to angels: 2 Kings 22:19; Neh. 9:6; Ps. 148:2. Here its connection determines its reference to the things just made. Since the creation account has up to this point said nothing about angels, it will hardly be safe to advance the claim that the angels are meant to be included in this term. The time of the creation of angels is as little fixed by this account as falling on this day as it is assigned to the fourth. We simply know nothing definite as to the time of their creation.
2. And on the seventh day God declared His work on which He was engaged, finished, and He desisted on the seventh day from all the work on which He had been engaged.
After the first verse has plainly stated that all was finished, the statement of v. 2 to the effect that not until the seventh day God finished His work (A. R. V.) is, to say the least, misleading. A.V. evaded the problem by substituting "ended" for "finished" (v. 1), although the same verb root is involved yekkullû (v. 1), yekhal (v. 2). But the verb used in v. 2 is of the Piel stem, which is sometimes declarative in sense, as tiher means "to declare clean," Lev. 13:6-14:48, and timme’ means "to declare unclean," Lev. 13:8; 20:25. So here we may have the meaning, "He declared finished." Thus the difficulty, which prompted the Septuagint translators and many since (cf. K.) to alter "seventh" to "sixth," is satisfactorily removed. Cf. K. C. The pluperfect, adopted from Meek, "on which He had been engaged," is not a necessary translation. Pluperfect renderings should be employed with great caution. The meaning is the same when the imperfect is used: "on which He was engaged."
Since the primary meaning of the verb shabhath is "to cease" or "to desist," we are freed of all misconceptions which may attach to God’s activity if we adopt this meaning. If God desisted from labour on this day, then no more work was done on it, then nothing had to be completed, then no unseemly thought about God’s being weary needs to be rejected. The verse then amounts to an emphatic statement to the effect that just as on the preceding days a marvellous creative work was in progress, so now that type and that manner of working on God’s part came to an end. He declared all finished, He desisted from all. The "work" that He desisted from is described by the term mela’khah, meaning a special task He had set for Himself and afterward "used regularly of the work or business forbidden on the Sabbath" (Driver quoted by Skinner) (Exod. 29:9, 10; 35:2; Jer. 17:22, 24) et al. Incidentally, in this connection Skinner makes the very sane observation that "the actual Jewish Sabbath as we know it (is) without any point of contact in Babylonian institutions." However, the thing under consideration in these verses is not the Jewish Sabbath but the creation Sabbath.
3. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it He desisted from all His work which He had created by making.
Creatures have been blessed (v. 22), man has been blessed more richly (v. 28). The summary creation account which began at 1:1 is aptly concluded by an act of divine blessing, which, however, in this case attaches itself to the seventh day. The object of this rather unusual procedure is twofold: on the one hand, such an act serves as an indication to man that rest such as the divine rest is noble and holy and by no means to be lightly esteemed; in the second place, those blessings of the Sabbath that are later to flow forth for the good of man are potentially bestowed on it. For on the one hand, the verb "he sanctified it" (qiddesh), being a Piel stem, has the connotation of a causative—as the Piel often does (K. S. 95) and on the other hand, it at the same time has a declarative sense: "He declared holy, or consecrated." However, it should be well observed that no commandment is laid upon mankind at this point. Procksch remarks rightly and pointedly: "for the present the Sabbath stays in heaven." Yet this does not make the Sabbath a futile abstraction, but, as was remarked above, its connection with the divine rest or cessation from labour is made to stand forth as a worthy divine act.
At the same time the entire groundlessness of the critical assumption becomes apparent, where the arrangement of works according to days is attributed to clever and purposeful manipulation on the part of the author. For, having eight major works, he (it is said) nevertheless compresses them within six days, to be followed by a seventh rest day, in order to secure a divine parallel to the Hebrew week. This is not a week ordained for man. It is entirely a divine week. Nor is there clever editorial manipulation, but simply an accurate and straightforward account of things as they actually took place.
With a certain fulness of expression this part of the account comes to a dignified close with the causal clause, "for on it He desisted," etc. The adjective clause "which He had created by making" conveys the thought that, though it was creative work (bara’), yet at the same time this creative work was accomplished by work which was done through successive steps: "by making" (la’asóth). This gerundival use of the infinitive is explained in K. S. 402 y and G. K. 114 o.
Before leaving this initial account we must yet take definite issue with one problem involved in the account as a whole. On the one hand, is this a strictly factual account, reporting what actually transpired in the manner in which it transpired? Or have we here a picture devised by human ingenuity, which picture seeks to convey truth by its general outlines or by the basic thoughts which are here expressed in terms highly figurative? Though this latter view has come to be held almost universally, it is still by no means true. We have not in this chapter a marvellous product of the religious creative genius of Israel. Such efforts would merely have produced just one more trivial and entirely worthless cosmogony. The account as it stands expects the impartial reader to accept it as entirely literal and historical. The use made of it in the rest of Sacred Scriptures treats every part referred to as sober fact, not as a fancy-picture. Compare on this chapter the dozens of marginal reference passages found in almost any Bible.
By answering this question we have answered a second one: Does the value of this account lie "in the broad basic truths it embodies" (K. C.), or in the details by which these truths are conveyed? The form of this question is unfortunate. It should not postulate an "either— or," but a "both—and." The details are truthful, exact and essential, being in all their parts truth itself. Only since this is the case, are the broad, basic truths conveyed by the account also of infinite moment and in themselves divinely revealed truth. Faith in inspiration, as taught by the Scriptures, allows for no other possibility.
II. The First History (Toledôth)
viz., that of Heaven and Earth (2:4-4:26)
Unfortunately, every inch of this chapter is a battleground. Instead of accepting its simple revelation as harmonious in itself and with what precedes, an unbelievable amount of ingenuity is displayed in an effort to prove certain preconceived critical contentions, which are not only misleading but entirely erroneous and mischievous, for their acceptance breaks down all possibility of firm faith in these portions of revealed truth.
These erroneous contentions centre around the major critical error of the various sources of the Pentateuch: the author of this portion is no longer P but J, the Jahwist. The amount of supporting arguments advanced by the critics is truly imposing. Their arguments are set forth in four or five major claims, which Dods sums up: two chapters "glaringly incompatible in details."
1. It is asserted that the different divine names employed are in themselves almost convincing proof of material from the pen of quite a different writer than he who submitted 1:1-2:3. It is true that the divine name Yahweh (or Jahweh) appears regularly in this chapter in conjunction with the name employed heretofore, Elohim. However, by way of refutation let the following facts be noted. In the first place, the critical assumption is a very narrow one, nor has it ever been proved, namely, the supposition that the writers of the various source-documents knew for the most part but one of the divine names, at least J and P for the most part knew but one name. It was blithely assumed that the earliest writers, of whom J was one, could know God from only one aspect. Secondly, all manner of arbitrary assumptions bolster up the initial assumption, so, for example, when in 3:5Elohim alone appears, this is supposed to be a portion of another source which J used. Or when Elohim and Yahweh appear jointly in chapter two, i. e., regularly as Yahweh Elohim, this is supposed to be explained by the activity of some later redactor, not J, who combined the two to smooth over the transition from the one name to the other, and so aimed to teach that in reality both authors believed in one and the same divine being. Such claims can never be proved.
Moeller, B T, p. 67, draws attention to a very remarkable parallel in this connection. He makes a count of the divine names in 1:1-2:3 and then of the divine names in 2:4-4:26 and presents these findings: "In 2:4-4:26 it must be observed that Yahweh ‘Elohim is used successively twenty times, with the name ’Elohim interrupting five times, but always for a very definite reason, and the name Yahweh is used ten times, making a total of thirty five (built up out of the sub-totals 20 + 5 + 10). Furthermore it must be observed that these thirty-five correspond exactly to the thirty five ‘Elohim found in 1:1-2:3, which thirty-five names are again contained in the tenfold expression "and God said" (’Elohim) and therefore also resolve themselves into 25 + 10. Consequently, the seventy divine names of 1:1-4:26 can in no wise be regarded as being used in a purely arbitrary sense . . . ."
2. It is also asserted that the writer of this portion uses a vocabulary different in many other noticeable aspects from that of the author of the first chapter. It certainly cannot be denied that quite a number of different words occur in this chapter. But the far simpler and very evident reason is not change of author but change of subject matter. When a new subject is taken in hand, new words must needs be employed to describe it. Self-evident as this is, we have never seen a critic face this argument squarely.
3. It is furthermore asserted that the difference in point of view between the two authors involved goes so far as to make very prominent a noticeably different conception of God: the Yahweh Elohim of 2:4 ff, is much more anthropomorphic than the God of chapter one. He "forms" man (v. 7); He "plants" a garden (v. 8); He "takes" the man whom He has formed and "puts" him into the garden (v. 15); He experiments with man to find a ‘helpmate for him (v. 19); He "builds" a woman out of the rib (v. 22); He "walks" in the garden (3:8); He "drives" man out of the garden (3:24). So e. g. Dillmann. Other items are occasionally cited; there may suffice. More detailed refutation of these points will be offered as they occur. It should, however, be borne in mind that chapter one, as we pointed out, offered certain very prominent anthropomorphisms, which may very well be classed as arguing a conception of God no different from that of the next two chapters. A trifling difference, which may not even be worthy to be called a difference of style, is exaggerated to the point of being made to appear as a radical difference. Practically identical with this argument, from another point of view, is the claim that was considered above under 2 as "different vocabulary." On the negative view consult especially Skinner.
4. Then, with practical unanimity the critics point to what on the surface looks like a different conception of the sequence of the works of creation. For in this chapter the sequence of events is claimed to be: man (v. 7), trees (v. 9), beasts (v. 19), woman. If this were actually what J claims, there would certainly be a radical difference between the first two chapters. The difference would be so violent as in no sense to allow for merely divergent points of view. One account would of necessity rule out the other. A fiat contradiction would prevail. Oehler (J A T, p. 76) has rightly remarked under this head: "It is just as unlikely as it can be that the author should have been such a dunce (so borniert) as to set down at the very outset two mutually exclusive records of creation." The truth of the matter, however, is simply this: the account of chapter two does not aim to present a complete creation story, nor is the time sequence followed by the author, Moses. Rather, those supplementary facts, essential to the right evaluation of chapter three, are given in a sequence which is entirely logical. In other words, the connective "and" (waw) is not to be taken in the sense of "next" (e. g. next God did thus and so) but rather in the sense of a loose "also" without thought of time-sequence. The stage is being set for the tragic drama of the next chapter. The things enumerated by the author as appearing on the stage, as it were, need not be listed in the order in which they were placed there. The logical sequence will, however, have to be explained in detail as we proceed with our exposition infra.
5. To all this is added one of those farfetched conclusions, which offsets by its boldness what it lacks in substance and so manages to impress the unlearned, the conclusion that even the different backgrounds of the two authors-involved can be definitely discerned. For P, it is said, sees all the creative work of God rise out of the primeval waters and therefore must have been a man coming from a well-watered country; whereas J sees the beginnings of God’s creation in dry, desert-like land (cf. 2:5 b) and so must himself have been a desert-dweller. First of all, the conclusion that because a man writes about a certain type of land as having been the original, he himself must be a native of that type of land is quite devoid of logic. In the second place, the idea that the face of the earth was for a time practically bone-dry, is the outgrowth of the misreading of 2:5 and utterly without factual foundation.
An illustration of argument 2, above, on the question of different vocabulary, so-called, may be submitted. Skinner offers the following expressions, characteristic of this document J: "to the east of," (2:14); "now" (happa’am, 2:23); "what is this?" (mah-zo’th 3:13); ,"cursed" (’arûr, 3:14, 17); "pain" (’itsabhon, 3:16, 17); "for thy sake" (ba’abhur, 3:17). There was no occasion to use these terms prior to the time when they finally do appear in this concise narrative. Now the account actually demands them. That does not make them stylistic peculiarities, nor in the least indications of the hand of another writer. This critical claim comes very close to being an absurdity. Yet with almost one voice critics keep advancing it.
4 a. This is the story of the heavens and the earth at the time of their creation.
This simple and very correct title, placed here by the author himself, must be retained and defended as being the most correct and appropriate. By disregarding its suggestion criticism has fallen short of the right understanding of this portion, which extends to the end of chapter four. This is, then, a story in which heaven and earth share. Both are vitally interested. It is, besides, a story that is enacted just at the time of creation, or when the newly created world in its pristine freshness was about to begin its career. To overlook the interplay of the divine and the human factors is one of the common shortcomings of the treatment of this chapter.
Ignoring or deleting this heading, men have devised captions like the following, either for the chapter or for the section 2:4-4:26: "The Course of Creation and the First Relations of the Earth and Mankind" (Koenig); "Paradise" (Procksch); "The Details Concerning the Creation of Man and Woman" (Delitzsch); "Creation—Second Account" (Knobel); and all these, strange to say, practically in opposition to the author’s own title.
One method of dealing with this heading is to refer it to the preceding section, so that it is not a superscription but a kind of subscription. In that event it is usually translated about as follows: "These are the origins of the heaven and the earth." Now it is a well-known fact that the book of Genesis is by its own author divided into ten sections, to each of which he gives the title "story" (toledôth); cf. 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, (9); 37:2. This circumstance alone, plus the use of the round number ten, would definitely point to the fact that here the expression, "these are the toledôth" must also be a heading. In all other instances of its use in other books the same fact is observable; cf. Num. 3:1; Ruth 4:18; I Chron. 1:29; it is as always a heading.
Besides, though A.V. translates: "these are the generations," the term never means "generations" or "origins." It never tells how things or persons came into being. It tells what happened after such things or such persons had appeared on the scene. Another good rendering is "history." The plural form toledôth merely conveys the idea, so common in Hebrew, of the many individual items that go to make up a "history" or "story." B D B, limiting itself too closely to the idea of "begettings," interprets the expression to mean "account of heaven and earth and that which proceeded from them." It cannot mean "descendants" (Meek), for far more than a list of "descendants" is given in each toledôth; cf. especially 37:2 where the descendants are not given. B D B’s error is practically the same.
Criticism makes a great problem for itself at this point. This first half of v. 4, being a "formal" expression, the critics must attribute to P. Now all evidence points to its being a heading over a J account. How did that come to pass? One answer is a mistranslation; Meek renders "origins," contrary to all usage. Others claim that 2:4 originally stood at the head of chapter one. They at once become responsible for an answer to the question: "How, then, did this portion slip into chapter two at this point?" Consult the critics for answers that are either naive or impossible. To others the activity of some later redactor suggests itself.
The expression "at the time of their creation" (behibbare’am) is rendered literally: "in their being created." Since it is a temporal phrase, we have rendered it: "at the time," etc. It marks the occurrences that are to follow as practically a part of the creation story (K. S. 401 k). The small Hebrew letter heh in the word has been fantastically explained, but never successfully. There is no call for textual alterations, (Kit.). The heading makes clear and very good sense.
Luther’s rendering cannot be retained: "Also ist Himmel und Erde geworden," "thus the heavens and the earth came into being." Kautzsch belongs to the same class: "Das ist die Geschichte der Entstehung" ("this is the story of the origin") an attempt to combine the right and the wrong views.
4 b, 5. At the time when Yahweh God made earth and heaven, then no shrub of the field was as yet in the earth and no plant of the field was as yet sprouting forth; for Yahweh God had not caused rain to descend upon the earth, nor did man exist to till the ground.
Verse 4a and 4b are usually translated as a whole, with the result that two temporal clauses of nearly identical meaning appear within the sentence, calling forth artificial attempts at distinctions. By keeping 4a separate as a title and by combining 4b with 5, this trouble is removed, and a very natural rendering results. For the two initial clauses of v. 5, introduced by waw, may be correlative, as K. S. suggests: "when God made heaven and earth neither was there a shrub . . . nor had any plant sprouted" (K. S. 371e). At the same time the complicated sentence structure which the critics make of v. 5-7 is shown to be quite unnecessary and quite cumbersome: v. 5 protasis; v. 6 rather parenthetical, or a concessive clause; v. 7 apodosis, (e. g. Dillmann) —all of which calls for a very artificial rendering (K. S. 416a, 413 a). Nor is térem the conjunction "before," but the adverb "not yet" (K. S. 135, 357 r).
Verse 4b takes us back into the time of the work of creation, more particularly to the time before the work of the third day began, and draws our attention to certain details, which, being details, could hardly have been inserted in chapter one: the fact that certain forms of plant life, namely the kinds that require the attentive care of man in greater measure, had not sprung up. Apparently, the whole work of the third day is in the mind of the writer. When verdure covered the earth, the sprouting of these types of vegetation was retarded, so that they might appear after man was already in full possession of his domain and in a position to give them their needed care. That is why it is remarked in the double causal clause 5b: God had not yet caused rain to descend upon the earth; also, man did not exist as yet to till the ground. The fact that not the whole of vegetation is meant appears from the distinctive terms employed, neither of which had as yet appeared in the account. They are sîach hassadheh, well rendered by Meek "field shrubs"; we render above: "shrub of the field"; and ’ésebh hassadheh, also well rendered by Meek, "field plants"; our rendering: "plant of the field." For the word sadheh means tillable ground, arable fields, the ground "yielding plants and trees" (B D B). That at least must be the meaning in this connection where man’s cultivation is referred to. It is not important to the author to mark the point of time within the creation week when this condition prevailed. Consequently, the opening phrase of 4b, beyôm, is to be rendered as it so often is "at the time" and not "in the day." Apparently, too, though it is not specifically stated, types of vegetation are here under consideration that grew up specifically in Paradise, for the account centres around Paradise throughout the rest of the chapter. Consequently, it will be very difficult to determine just what is to be understood by this finer type of vegetation here referred to as "field shrubs" and "field plants."
From all this it appears sufficiently how absurd the claim is that in this account ( chapter 2:4 ff) man is made first, then vegetation.
6. So a mist kept rising from the earth and kept watering all the surface of the ground.
We render the opening conjunction we "so," in order to show how closely this verse is tied up with the preceding. This verse aims to show how the deficiency of water mentioned in v. 5 was met. For the same reason the noun begins the sentence (K. S. 339 e): "mist" is in the first place for emphasis. ’Edh is not a wave, Wasserschwall, but may well mean "mist," or "fog," according to an Arabic parallel (K. W.). The Septuagint translators guessed at the meaning of the difficult word, making it πηγή, "spring." A regular and continuous mode of operation now begins, as the durative imperfect (ya’aleh) indicates, (G. K. 107b; K. S. 157; yaktûl durans). This may refer to the continuous evaporation which began to set in, or to the more or less frequent but periodic mists of evening or morning. In any case, since the lack of moisture has just been mentioned in v. 5, the likelihood is that in this concise account we are to think of the following threefold process: the rising of the mists, their condensation and the regular falling as rain; and are so to picture to ourselves the process of the "watering of all the surface of the ground." That this is the most likely sense appears from the fact that v. 7 at once proceeds to mention the removal of the second deficiency mentioned in v. 5; for v. 7 tells how man was put on the scene. The author is hastening onward in his report and cannot insert almost self-evident details (Strack).
Critics evidently make little effort to understand what is comparatively simple. Verses 5 and 6 are supposed to represent a "confusion of two points of view . . . there may be a Babylonian basis to the myth, it must have taken its present shape in some drier region, presumably in Palestine" (Skinner). Note the strange logic: only a native of a dry country can write v. 5 about the deficiency of water; only a native from a well-watered region is competent to write v. 6. In an effort to discover sources, criticism ends in absurdity. Unwilling to believe a simple reliable Scripture, criticism puts on it the stamp of "myth."
7. And Yahweh Elohim molded man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.
For the present, in direct connection with v. 5, it is stated how God provided for the deficiency that had to be removed before the special plants and shrubs mentioned could be allowed to spring forth. When then reporting that God did form man, the writer takes occasion to provide a few supplementary details, which will enable his readers to form a more adequate estimate of man. The title "Yahweh Elohim suggests, as it does throughout the chapter, that this was a work of God that significantly displayed the faithful mercy of Yahweh as well as His awe-inspiring power. The verb employed here accords more with the "Yahweh"character of God; yatsar means to "mold" or "form." It is the word that specifically describes the activity of the potter (Je 18:2 ff). The idea to be emphasized is that with the particular care and personal attention that a potter gives to his task God gives tokens of His interest in man, His creature, by molding him as He does. No crude material notions of God need to be associated with this verb. Let them misunderstand who insist that they must! Nor can it justly be claimed that an author who previously spoke of this work as a "creating" and "making" must be so limited and circumscribed in point of style as to be utterly unable to describe such a work of the Almighty from any other point of view and say He "formed." Such an author must have an exceedingly cramped and wooden style.
Employing an accusative of material, the writer tells us that the material God employed in making man was "the dust of the ground." ’Aphar, rendered "dust," does not refer to dry pulverized earth only. Here, without a doubt, a damp mass of the finest earth is under consideration. Luther’s rendering is still unsurpassed, Erdenkloss, lit. "lump of earth." The term does not mean "mud," as the skeptics irreverently declare. Lest man form too high an estimate of the first man, it is here recorded that, in spite of the high station involved in being made in the image of God, man has a constituent part in his makeup, which forever forbids unseemly pride on his part—a thought frequently stressed in the devotional literature of the church from days of old. Without this fact to reckon with we could hardly have been in a position to understand how a temptation and fall were even possible. Practically everything written in chapter two definitely paves the way for chapter three.
Yet, in this strange mixture of dignity and lowliness, the story of man’s creation definitely indicates how high above all other types, of life man stands. The earth brings forth the others (v. 24). Man is formed out of the earth by God’s personal activity. But more, a far more prominent distinguishing mark characterizes man’s creation: God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." A personal, vitalizing act of the Creator imparts life to man—an honour bestowed upon none of the lesser creatures. This breathing on God’s part must, as Keil rightly reminds us, be understood ϑεοπρεπώς, i. e. in a manner befitting God. Nor can we for a moment hold that air or human breath was what God breathed into man’s nostrils. It was His own vital breath. Nor will it do to associate a particular lapse of time or anything like toilsome effort with the whole process. This creative work may well have been the matter of a moment. In language such as man can grasp but which hardly can do justice to such noble divine works, the author depicts the singular grandeur of this work. Much as we may be inclined to claim that the distinctive element in man’s creation is the "breath of life" breathed into his nostrils, this is a supposition that cannot be maintained. For the expression involved, nishmath chayyîm, is practically the same as that used in 7:22 with reference to all life that perished in the flood, the only exception being that the phrase is altered to "the breath of the spirit of life" (nishmath rûch chayyîm). Not this breath itself but the manner of its impartation indicates man’s dignity. So also the claim that man became "a living being," or literally, "a living soul," (A.V.) does not point to the distinguishing glory of man. For the same expression is used of other animate beings in 1:24. It must be remembered that the author is at this point chiefly reporting the fact that this lifeless clay became animate by the breath of the Almighty. The fact that man is a superior being is indicated by the manner in which this is done, and this was already amply indicated before by the divine "image" (1:26). The expression "living being" employs the term néphesh, "soul," because the soul is the animate thing in man. God’s Spirit animates the soul, though in a higher sense than is the case with the soul of beasts. Koenig (T A T) correctly defines: "According to 2:7 the soul is that portion of the spirit which breathed into man." The neshamah is "only the life breath" (Keil); cf. (1 Kings 17:17).
8. And Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden toward the east and put there the man whom He had molded.
Here is a statement which more directly helps us to understand the things that follow and also furnishes further proof of the generous goodness of God toward man. The scene and the background of the third chapter are being supplied. God plants a garden. All that was written up to this point leads us to conceive of this activity as being also creative and divine. Yet the word that man would employ for such activity, "to plant," is appropriately used of God. The word "garden" (gan), an "enclosure" (B D B), or a sheltered, protected spot, corresponds to the Oriental conception of a garden. Paradise, the conception borrowed from the Persian by the Septuagint translators, is appropriate but suggests rather a royal park. A place of particular beauty and excellence best reflects God’s favour toward His chief creature. From the author’s point of view this garden lay "eastward." Though miqqédhem literally means "from the east" not "to the east," nevertheless our translation is correct. For the Hebrew point of view is gained by transporting oneself to the utmost limits in the direction indicated, then coming back: from the east (K. S. 318 a). This garden lay in a territory called "Eden," a name used variously in later times in memory of the first Eden. ’Édhen gains its name, no doubt, from the corresponding noun meaning "delight." In all instances following, the expression is less exact, and the garden is simply called "Eden"; it does not lie "in Eden."
In a summary way, moving ahead and including the outcome, the verse at once reports in newspaper style that man was put into this garden. The fact of the matter is that a few other items must still be inserted in order that we may have a complete background of the events transpiring. When these have been recorded, the author will revert (v. 15) to the fact of man’s being placed in the garden. No man will deny to an author the privilege of writing after this fashion. Practically all writers do something of the sort. This surely is no indication of called "doublets"—a term critics are so free to use— or proof of two parallel and not quite harmonious sources.
No doubt, the fact that man is created outside of the garden and then put into the garden serves the divine purpose of making man clearly aware at the very outset of the distinction between the garden and all the land that lay outside. In what manner man was taken and placed in the garden by his Creator cannot be determined. At the word of the Lord he may have been removed thither.
9. And Yahweh God caused to spring forth all manner of trees pleasant to the sight and good for .food, and in particular the tree of life in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowing of good and evil.
The focal point of the supplementary items that this chapter has supplied is being reached. Attention centres upon two trees, more particularly upon one of these two. The statement of v. 9 is an amplification of the summary report in v. 8: "God planted a garden in Eden." Overlooking this simple fact, criticism shoots wide of the mark by drawing conclusions such as: according to J man’s food originally was only fruit of trees; only after the fall, according to 3:18, does he eat of the herb of the field. Such claims are merely attempts to bolster up a poorly substantiated theory of divergent sources and are at the same time an unwarranted use of the argument from silence.
Again, the fact of the matter is that God caused an infinite variety of trees to spring up in the garden. The Hebrew expression used is the strongest possible, kol ‘ets, "the whole of trees," every tree, which is even stronger than our rendering above, "all manner of trees" (B D B, and K. S. 78 b). Descriptive phrases indicate how attractive they must have made the garden, for they were "pleasant to the sight and good for food." An epexegetical "and" (K. S. 375 c) in the sense of "and in particular" now concentrates our attention on two, rather on one, of these. To talk of "the confusion regarding the two trees" (Skinner) is proof of the critics’ lack of understanding. The whole issue is really very simple. Both trees are mentioned because both were there and both were destined for a very definite purpose. The tree of life, as appears from 3:22, would have served its purpose in the event of the victory of man in the first temptation. Its existence shows that God had made ample provision for man’s good. Since, however, it never came to be used, it at once very properly recedes into the background after the first mention of it and is alluded to only after the Fall in 3:22. Its purpose apparently was to confirm man in the possession of physical life and to render physical death an impossibility. More of this in a moment.
The second tree is called "the tree of the knowing of good and evil." We have used "knowing" instead of "knowledge" because the infinitive dß’ath functions chiefly as a verb and takes a double object. For this reason, as in Jer 22:16, the word "knowing," though in a sense in the construct state, takes the article rather than its objects, "good and evil." sides, "knowing good and evil" is thus stamped as one complete idea. Naturally, this expression aims to cover the whole range of moral concepts in brief (K. S. 92 b), or, better still, the ethical contrast between good and evil. To try to make a distinction between these two trees, as though the idea of "the tree of knowledge is a more refined conception" than the tree of life, is to render a hasty verdict and to give proof of a misunderstanding of the whole situation.
This misunderstanding comes to the surface in the further claim in reference to the tree of knowledge that "its property of communicating knowledge of good and evil is, however, magical" (Skinner). Here, again, perfectly sound, and entirely correct presentations of the case have long been offered by the church. But the critics completely ignore these explanations and offer instead a view derogatory to the dignity and inspiration of the inspired Word and drag it down to the level of the cheap magic of corrupt heathenism.
The church has always understood in reference to these trees that, in the nature of the case, eating of the fruit of one tree cannot impart life, just as little as partaking of the fruit of another cannot impart a sense of moral distinctions. However, we have an analogy to these cases in the matter of the sacraments. As in the sacraments by virtue of the divine Word the visible means, become vehicles of divine grace, so here by virtue of the divine word, which designates the one tree as "the tree of life," "life" can in reality be imparted by its use when and under whatever circumstances God decrees. In like manner, the second tree, as its name implies, becomes an agency through which under certain circumstances, divinely appointed, man may come to an experimental knowledge of good and evil. He may through the presence of the tree be confronted with a choice, he may exercise his freedom to do God’s will in the choice, or he may refuse to make use of his freedom. Had man persisted in his freedom, the experience as such would have wrought in him a knowledge of good and evil analogous to that of God, in this sense that, without having consented to evil, an awareness of its existence and its implications would have been aroused in him. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would have effectively done its work. Then the posse non peccare would have resulted on man’s part in the non posse peccare, and this state would have received fuller confirmation in his physical being by the use of the tree of life, the eating of whose fruit would have communicated to those using it in faith rare benefits even for the body. So the trees are rightly regarded as sacramental in a sense. Since the New Testament, by the analogy of the sacraments, presents so adequate a parallel and so satisfactory an explanation, criticism has gone sadly astray by drawing upon the analogy of magic from heathen sources.
The coarsest misconstruing of the purpose of the tree of knowledge is that of men like Ehrlich (K. C.), who says: "good and evil" here bear a physical, in fact an outright "sex connotation." All capacity of spiritual insight is lacking when commentators speak thus.
Unwilling to accept the high moral conceptions involved, Jeremias uses the common device of criticism of stamping the words "good and evil" as a later interpolation, using, however, the less obnoxious term "a theological interpretation" (Theologumenon).
When it is noticed that the trees stood "in the midst of the garden," though, to be exact, the expression occurs only in connection with the tree of life, the question is usually raised, whether there was not danger that man might have discovered and eaten of the tree of life before he even found occasion to eat of the tree of knowledge. However, on such purely speculative questions we may well trust that divine providence foresaw and regulated the affairs of man quite adequately. So also the other question, commonly asked here, may be rejected as merely curious and impossible to answer: "Did man know also the existence of the tree of life and did he know which it was?" To those demanding a suggestion, we offer one, as likely as any: Events may have begun to happen in such rapid succession from this point onward, that the very next issue confronting man was the Temptation.
10. There was a river going forth from Eden to water the garden; leaving there it divided and became four branches.
The report goes on to indicate how the fruitfulness and freshness of the vegetation in the garden was guaranteed, a thought that would appeal particularly to the Israelites, who, too, dwelt in a region where water was none too plentiful. So the impression of a perfect place is created in an all-sided way. Since the river is the important thing, the noun stands first. The participle (yotse’) emphasizes the continuousness of the act, but it is not to be translated as a present, "goes forth" (contra K. S. 237 c), because thus far the whole account lay entirely in the past, nor does the author at any time indicate that he still believed in the existence of the garden. The verb yotse’ is repeatedly used in reference to the actual source of waters (Exod. 17:6; Num. 20:11; Judg. 15:19; Zech. 14:8). Therefore the stream originates in "Eden," whether within or just without the garden is not said. "Leaving there" (so Meek), for mishsham="from thence," it divided and became four chief branches (lit. "heads"). This is a very unusual situation. We know of no parallel to it. We know of streams uniting to form one major stream. Here the reverse is true: one major stream becomes four.
These four divisions are now enumerated. Criticism had not expected that they would be and therefore expresses its disapproval. Procksch calls the verses 10-14 "an erratic stone" built into the structure. Only prejudice can make such claims. What is more natural than to refer to the mighty garden stream that provided ample irrigation? What is more natural, if the truth concerning the mighty four resultant streams still was known, to make mention of them and briefly to indicate their course? By so doing the author intensifies the impression of a much different past and answers a number of questions as to how those streams may have run at that time. He who is in sympathy with the author’s purpose finds all this very natural and easy to understand. Not so the critics. They also claim to be able distinctly to see the points where J glued together his sources.
Without going into needless detail—Delitzsch11Friedrich Delitzsch, Wo lag alas Paradies? (Leipzig, 1881.) offers that in his Wo lag das Paradies? —let us note at once that only the last two of the four rivers mentioned can still be identified, but whether they still flow as they once did is highly doubtful. They certainly no longer spring from one source, though their present sources in the Armenian highlands are said to lie only 2,000 paces apart.
As for the first two, Keil identifies them with the Cyrus, or Kur, and the Araxes, or Aras, which also flow together into one and flow into the Caspian Sea. To give greater likelihood to this interpretation he identifies the land of "Cush" with the old Koccaía, which is reputed to have reached to the Caucasus. The scriptural "Cush," however, lies south of Egypt and is Ethiopia. The old expositors, also Luther, report the tradition that the "Pishon" is the Ganges and the "Gihon" the Nile. Others, like Koenig, then identify the Pishon with an arm of the Indus. But the problem of having the four come from a common source is thus made still more complicated. Delitzsch makes Pishon and Gihon two canals connecting the Tigris with the Euphrates. But canals are not rivers. Some, following the old tradition, say that these four famous rivers of antiquity are indeed meant, but that either the author’s geography was quite faulty, or else he had in mind some oceanic river flowing about the whole ancient world.
The solution to the problem apparently lies in the fact that what the account pictures was once actually true, though we may never identify the first two rivers. But the extensive changes in the earth’s geography caused by that vast catastrophe, the Flood, have entirely disarranged the old order.
The most fantastic interpretation is that of Gunkel, which Jeremias (p. 103) adopts: "The notion of the four rivers of Paradise will be a reflex from a heavenly picture. Gunkel assumes that the writer is thinking of the milky way with its four arms." We report this merely as a curiosity.
11, 12. The name of the first is Pishon. This is the one which encircles all the land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
The "first" in Hebrew, according to common usage, is the "one" (K. S. 315 n). Encircling, (sobhebh) does not mean to flow entirely around; cf. (Num. 21:4; Judg. 11:18). Havilah means sandy-land. Gold is often found in such sandy regions. The article before "gold" is the article of complete familiarity (K. S. 297 a); others call it the generic article; see G. K. 126 m.
12. "Gold" stands first because it is the prominent noun. "Good" is used in the sense of "fine" or "excellent." The demonstrative "that" (written hî' with waw rather than yodh for the feminine) is the first instance of this so-called Keri perpetuam and is a stylistic peculiarity of the author of the Pentateuch (so still Koenig) and not the result of redactional activity (so most critics). What could have prompted a redactor to make so trifling and yet so characteristic a change and make it so consistently? —"Bdellium" apparently was a precious gum of antiquity. Israel must have been thoroughly familiar with it, since in (Nu 11:7) manna is likened to it in appearance. The shóham stone, rendered "onyx" above, may never be identified. Two other suggestions come down from antiquity, equally well substantiated: the beryl (Targum) and the chrysopras (Septuagint). To the original readers of the book all these terms were quite familiar, and the names involved suggested well known localities.
The attempt to identify the Pishon with the Phasis, or present-day Rion, flowing into the Black Sea, is also futile.
13. And the name of the second river is Gihon. This is the one that encircles all the land of Cush.
The possibilities involved have been discussed above. Attempts to identify Cush with any land other than Ethiopia (like the Babylonian Cash or an Arabic land Cush) are farfetched.
14. The name of the third river is Hiddekel. This is the one that goes eastward of Ashshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
All interpreters agree that Hiddekel stands for the river called in Assyrian Hidiqlat, and in old Persian Tigrâ, i. e. Tigris. Qidhmath must mean "eastward." The Ashshur, or Assyria, referred to must be the ancient city of that name which actually once lay to the west of the Tigris, though the Assyrian kingdom later lay eastward of it. The excavations of the German Oriental Society (1904) uncovered the site, now named Kal’at Schergat.
Nothing is mentioned about the familiar Euphrates except the name. The river required no further identification.
All this would seem to indicate that the site of the garden of Eden may have been in the Armenian highlands, although no man would dare make any positive claim. No man has ever discovered any trace of its location. But how can men advance an unwarranted claim like that of Skinner: "a locality answering to the description of Eden exists and has existed nowhere on the face of the earth."
15. And Yahweh God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to till it and to look after it.
What was summarily reported in v. 8 is here resumed in order to be amplified, for it is at once stated why the Lord put man into the garden. This natural explanation adequately explains everything. The claim of two distinct accounts, not fully amalgamated, is quite unwarranted. Man’s task in the garden is defined: he is "to till it and to look after it." The ideal state of sinless man is not one of indolence without responsibility. Work and duty belong to the perfect state. "To serve," ’abhadh, is here used transitively in the sense of "to till." The second verb shamar, usually meaning "to watch" or "to guard." is here to be taken in the milder sense of "keep." B D B very well suggests "have charge of." Meek does even better: "to look after." For according to the nature of the whole account, which gives the record of a creation, every part of which was "very good," there can be no thought of an evil power abroad in the world and trying to penetrate into the garden, as even Delitzsch and Whitelaw surmise. For in that case, we have the preposterous notion besides of man pacing along the border-lines of the garden at regular intervals during the day and at night doing sentinel duty—a very uneasy and disturbed existence. The more general sense of "have charge of" is otherwise substantiated in the Scriptures (see B D B). For even though the garden was in every sense good, yet care was necessary to keep it from growing in exuberant disorder.
Yannichéhû is a 2. Hifil, G. K. 72 ee.
16, 17. And Yahweh God laid a charge upon the man, saying: From any tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but from the tree of the knowing of good and evil thou must not eat, for in the day of thy eating of it thou shalt certainly die.
Everything preceding in this chapter has paved the way for this climax. The future of the race centres upon this single prohibition. Man is not to be confused by a multiplicity of issues. Only one divine ordinance must be kept in mind. By thus limiting the number of injunctions to one, Yahweh gives tokens of his mercy. Besides, to indicate that this one commandment is not grievous, the Lord sets it against the background of a broad permission: "from any tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." We prefer to render kol "any" rather than "every," lest it appear as though the permission suggested to man to gorge himself; so also Meek. But this statement of the case in no wise conflicts with 1:29 where herbs are also mentioned, as though here, according to the construction of the critics, fruit of trees alone is allowed for man’s food. This verse does not aim, like 1:29, to indicate the full scope of man’s diet but has under consideration for the moment only of what trees man may eat fruit. The Hebrew construction puts the absolute infinitive by the side of the verb, something like: "eating thou mayest eat," in order to convey: "thou mayest freely eat." Of course, the imperfect is here permissive (K. S. 180).
17. However, the imperfect to’khal with the negative lo’ involves the strongest form of prohibition, which we have sought to reproduce by "must." The kî that follows the negative clause does not in this instance mean "but," for the clause preceding was imperative not declarative. In this instance the expression beyôm, "in the day," is to be taken very literally and not in the sense "at the time," a meaning that would not fit here. For the thought actually to be expressed is the instantaneous occurrence of the penalty threatened, which is also again expressed in part by the imperfect with absolute infinitive, "dying thou shalt die" = "certainly die." This at once raises the question, "Why was this penalty not carried out as threatened?" We answer: "It was; if the Biblical concept of dying is kept in mind, as it unfolds itself ever more clearly from age to age." Dying is separation from God. That separation occurred the very moment, when man by his disobedience broke the bond of love. If physical death ultimately closes the experience, that is not the most serious aspect of the whole affair. The more serious is the inner spiritual separation. Oehler (T A T p. 254) rightly maintains: "For a fact, after the commission of sin man at once stepped upon the road of death." The contention that the Old Testament does not know spiritual death, because it does not happen to use that very expression, is a rationalizing and shallow one, which misconstrues the whole tenor of the Old Testament. The common claim raised in this connection, e. g. by Skinner: "God, having regard to the circumstances of the temptation, changed His purpose and modified the penalty," makes of God a mutable being, who, like a rash parent, first speaks severe threats, then sees Himself compelled by developments to modify His purpose. The explanation, "He shall be mortal," is based on the erroneous translation of the Septuagint.
Before leaving this verse it is a good thing to observe how definitely the account teaches that the first man was gifted with freedom of will. The moral sense must not first develop later; it is a part of the original heritage of man. It has been pointed out that in records such as these the Old Testament "veritably reechoes with imperatives," (Koenig, T A T p. 233). A moral being standing on a very high plane of perfection at the time of his creation ― such is the man of the creation account of Genesis.
18. And Yahweh God said, It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper like him.
The justifiable question, "How did woman originate?" has not yet been answered in an account dealing with all such basic origins. Besides, unless her status has been clearly defined, we are not ready for the narrative of chapter three. Therefore the account of the creation of woman follows. It is introduced by the basic assertion of God Himself: "It is not good for the man to be alone." Only quibbling can seek to find a discrepancy between this "not good" and the "very good" of 1:31. For in the latter instance the idea of moral perfection and perfect adaptation to its purpose is involved. In this instance, however, we have a "not good" of incompleteness, where the supplying of the deficiency lay in the original purpose of the Creator. Besides, to all intents and purposes, in point of time the work of the creation of woman falls within the sixth day, and so after all 1:31 comes later.
God did not create man an unsocial being. He, knowing better than man the social nature of man, voices it in a word spoken for man’s guidance. In every way the normal thing for man is to go through life in fellowship with a wife. Man needs her. Her position in reference to man is defined as first "a helper," literally, "a help," ’ézer, abstract for concrete (K. S. 243 b). If a man is to achieve his objectives in life, he needs the help of his mate in every way, from the propagating of his kind down through the scale of his varied activities. Her position is further defined by the expression "like him," keneghdô, literally, "as agreeing to him," or "his counterpart." She is the kind of help man needs, agreeing with him mentally, physically, spiritually. She is not an inferior being.
19. And Yahweh God molded out of the ground all the wild beasts of the field and all the birds of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever man called each living creature, that was its name.
Without any emphasis on the sequence of acts the account here records the making of the various creatures and the bringing of them to man. That in reality they had been made prior to the creation of man is so entirely apparent from chapter one as not to require explanation. But the reminder that God had "molded" them makes obvious His power to bring them to man and so is quite appropriately mentioned here. It would not, in our estimation, be wrong to translate yatsar as a pluperfect in this instance: "He had molded." The insistence of the critics upon a plain past is partly the result of the attempt to make chapters one and two clash at as many points as possible.
The bringing of these creatures before man to have them named is a pedagogic device on God’s part to arouse man to the awareness of his not having a mate as the other creatures had. Such an awareness makes him appreciate God’s gift the more. However, that there is a limitation of the number of creatures brought before man is made apparent by two things. In the first place, the beasts are described as beasts of the field (hassadheh) not beasts of the earth, as in 1:24. Though there is difficulty about determining the exact limits of the term "field" in this instance, there is great likelihood (cf. also v. 5) that it may refer to the garden only. In the second place, the fish of the sea are left out, also in v. 20, as being less near to man. To this we are inclined to add a third consideration, the fact, namely, that the garden could hardly have been a garden if all creatures could have overrun it unimpeded. Since then, very likely, only a limited number of creatures are named, the other difficulty falls away, namely that man could hardly have named all creatures in the course of a day.
At once we are made aware of the high intelligence level of the father of the human race. For the expression to give names, in the Hebrew usage of the word "name," involves giving a designation expressive of the nature or character of the one named. This was not a crude fable, where, according to a Hebrew notion, the accidental ejaculations at the sight of new and strange creatures were retained as names for the future. Here was a man in deeper sympathy with nature than any have been ever since. That these names were appropriate and significant names for the various creatures appears also from the confirmatory statement of the author: "whatever man called each living creature, that was its name." Such a statement, imbedded in so marvellous an account, could hardly be made, unless the names given had been appropriate and worthy of man’s intelligence.
Our translation of the close of the verse smooths out a certain difficulty in the original, where a literal rendering reads: "whatever man called it, the living creature, that was its name." That "living creature" (nephesh chayyah) stands in apposition with "it" (lô) is somewhat unusual. However, far from being a stylistic defect, it deserves to be called entirely appropriate. By it, as it seems, the writer is reminding us that each living creature was getting a name in conformity with the type of life it lived. The critics, always on the lookout for what might serve as proof of their peculiar source theories, mostly see in this phrase an addition by a redactor. But if the phrase be unnecessary, as they claim, they impugn the intelligence of their redactor. However, if it serves a good purpose, why cannot the original writer have possessed sufficient intelligence to insert it? The chief concern of a writer must not always be smoothness of style. Intelligibility, clearness are of greater value. Here smoothness is sacrificed to clearness.
The crudest misinterpretation of this giving of names to the creatures is that rather common claim, utterly without warrant in the text, that God was experimenting to produce a mate for man, and when it was found that of the existing beings none adequate for him had been produced, then God proceeded to make woman. Surely, the text never intended to convey that impression, as is also amply testified by the fact that this erratic notion was reserved for the invention of critics of a recent date. The more reverent approach of olden times guarded men against such crudities. Some go so far as to see a parallel with the Gilgamesh epic, whose hero first consorts promiscuously with the beasts and is beguiled by a fair being to renounce their companionship. How such filthy vapourings can be placed on a parallel with the chaste and true scriptural account is beyond our power to understand.
Yabhe’ (brought) is without its object, because it is readily supplied.
20. So the man gave names to all the domestic animals and to the birds of the heavens and to all the wild beasts of the field; but a helper worthy of a man was not found corresponding to him.
Man carries out the appointed task. Queer notions as to how man proceeded have been advanced, based largely on the misconception that all creatures upon the face of the whole earth had been supplied with names. Whitelaw, quoting Willet, remarks: "Nor did angels muster them, nor did the animals come themselves, and, passing by, while he sat on some elevation, bow their heads at his resplendent appearance; nor were Adam’s eyes so illuminate that he beheld them all in their places, all which are but men’s conceits; but through the secret influence of God upon their natures they were assembled round the inmate of paradise, as afterward they were collected in the ark."
In the enumeration of those creatures which were given names, a third class appears at this point, "the domestic animals" (behemah), showing that certainly those nearest to man had not been overlooked. In reality, then, these must have been included in the term chayyath hassadheh, which could have been rendered ( v. 19) "living creatures of the earth," although, to preserve uniformity of expression, we did not use that rendering. Let it also be observed that the rémes, "the creeping things" of 1:24, are also passed by in the matter of naming. Besides, no one will ever determine how diversified the species were already at the time of their creation.
The fact that it is here remarked that "a helper worthy of a man was not found corresponding to him," does not argue for the fact that this review of the beasts was an attempt to find a mate for man among them, but rather that a realization of man’s loneliness was to be aroused in him. We consider the text perfectly correct with its le’adham. Nor does matsa’ "one found" need to be changed to a passive (Kit.); impersonal constructions are quite common. The le’adham, without article, cannot here signify "for Adam," as the noun without the article definitely does after 4:25. Yet there is reason for using the generic "man" in this instance, because, as our rendering shows, the thought is a helper for a man, in the sense of "worthy of a man." He alone finds none of his kind.
21, 22. And Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man; and when he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed the place with flesh. And Yahweh God built the rib which He had taken from man into a woman and brought her unto the man.
We think the sequence of clauses as given above, following Meek, to be admirable. To say: "He caused a deep sleep to fall upon him and he slept" is too self-evident to have been intended by the writer. The Hebrew very readily allows for the above subordination, although it certainly did not follow from the Hebrew accents, which put the Athnack (something like a semicolon) after:" and he slept." Tardemah, is indeed a "deep sleep," not a state of ecstasy, as the Greek translators render; nor a "hypnotic trance" (Skinner), for traces of hypnosis are not to be found in the Scriptures. A "trance" might be permissible. The root, however, is that of the verb used in reference to Jonah when he slept soundly during the storm. God causes such a deep sleep, because it surely would have been in part almost a horrid experience to live through to see a portion of yourself removed. A sleep like that caused by an anesthetic envelopes man’s feelings and consciousness. The word tsela’, translated "rib," definitely bears this meaning, (contra v. Hofman), although it is not necessary to think only of the bare bone; for, without a doubt, bone and flesh will have been used for her of whom the man afterward says "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh," (v. 23).
Though no definite reason for this type of procedure in creating woman is assigned, we are able to see the most eminent fitness in this much ridiculed act. For one thing, the absolute unity of the human race in its descent from one ancestor is established—a vital doctrine of the Scriptures (cf. Ro 5:18 ff). Besides, at the same time the true dignity of womankind is guaranteed: woman is not of inferior substance. The truest of kinship with man is also established: she is of his bone and flesh. Even the very part of the body from which she is taken is of deepest moment: woman is neither of the foot nor of the head, for she is neither superior nor inferior to man; she is exactly on the same level with him as far as being a creature of God is concerned. If then, lastly, a part of the substance of man is to be used, none could be found that could be more conveniently dispensed with than a rib. Deeper thought on the subject throughout suggests a most excellent propriety in God’s procedure in the whole matter of the creation of woman.
The preposition min replaces the more usual construct state in "from-ribs-his" (K. S. 278 a).
The activity of God in fashioning the rib taken from man is described as a building (wayyi’bhen). Rather than being an indication of the work of a different author, the verb grows out of the situation. as being the most appropriate. It would not have been seemly to use yatsar "to mold," a verb applicable in the case of clay, not of flesh. "Build" applies to the fashioning of a structure of some importance; it involves constructive effort. Both of these factors are in evidence in the case of the creation of woman. When God brings her unto man, this act of his is the institution of marriage and stamps marriage as a divinely willed and approved state.
23. And the man said: This now at length is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken from man.
There is a certain animation prominent in the first recorded word of the first man as he recognizes the purpose of this new gift to him—an animation which is made noticeable by the thrice repeated "this" (zo’th). The last two of these cannot well be made apparent in the translation of the second clause, which, translated literally would read: this one shall be called woman because from man was taken this one. Besides, that a being of this sort had been looked for with anticipation appears from the word happa’am, "now at length." Whether the article in this term really has demonstrative force in connection with a triple demonstrative already noted may in this instance well be questioned. The most complete physical congruity of this new person with himself is at once recognized by this first man. lie gives expression to the thought in the words: she is "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,"
He gives further expression to this idea by giving her a class name, which marks her as being far above all the other creatures upon whom names had been bestowed. By a clever play upon words he gives expression to this thought in a form that can at least be approximated by other languages, as also by the English: "called woman because she is taken from man," although all interpreters recognize that this is not the proper etymology of "woman." Luther does a bit better by coining a word: Maennin vs. Mann. The thought of the writer is only to give prominence to the most possible intimate kinship of these two beings and to express this by the kinship of sound. However, it must not be forgotten that the language used by the first man has, no doubt, been lost, so that the Hebrew must approximate the thought as nearly as its element allows. If, then, it be objected that the two words involved have, in reality, two different roots, we shall not be greatly disturbed. "Man," ’îsh, according to a parallel Arabic root, may have the basic idea of "exercising power." Similarly, "woman," ’ishshah, must, because of the double consonant, be derived from a root with original nun, which according to an Arabic parallel, would mean "to be soft." But the writer is not studying etymology. He is expressing a fundamental similarity by the use of the best terms available.
The verb used for "she shall be called" is in reality the common impersonal: "it shall be called to her" (K. S. 324).
24. (For this reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and they become one flesh).
This verse might at first glance appear as the conclusion of Adam’s first remark, and it is usually construed as such. However, the major difficulty in this interpretation is the fact that it must impute to the first man, in addition to all the other gifts that he possesses, also a kind of prophetic insight; for as yet man has had no experience of the fact of propagation whereby persons become father and mother. To attribute so much of foresight and insight to him is hardly feasible. But all of this difficulty is obviated if the explanation be adopted that here we have nothing other than a parenthetical remark of the author, who seeks to account for the deep and almost unaccountable attachment which man has for his wife. Several other parenthetical observations of the author are found in Genesis. See (Gen. 10:9; 26:33; 32:32). The imperfect ya’azobh expresses the customary thing (G. K. 107 g): "man leaves." "Forsake" (A. V.) is too strong a verb. Meek renders ’al-ken very well as "that is why." "Becoming one flesh" involves the complete identification of one personality with the other in a community of interests and pursuits, an union consummated in intercourse.
25. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame.
In this brief statement one more feature is added to the picture of the primeval state of perfection: nothing had transpired to rouse in man a sense of guilt. For to feel no shame is in a perfect state due to having no occasion to feel shame. Everything was at harmony, and man was in complete harmony with himself and with his God.
A number of good texts are found in this chapter. For expository treatment we should suggest the following: v. 1-3 deal with the subject of "Sabbath in Heaven," a good text for stressing the blessedness of rest after the divine example. Though v. 7 is somewhat short for a text, it yet presents adequate material for full treatment of the subject of "The Dignity and the Lowliness of Man." The divine creative act supplies the material for the first half of the subject; the substance employed, for the second half. The section v. 9, 15-17 suggests "the Place of Temptation in the Life of Man." Even for the perfect man tests, or at least a test, was essential for his proper moral development. A being so frail as not to be able to stand a test would have had little moral worth. There is sufficient material in the text to indicate that man had adequate proofs of God’s will toward him and therefore was adequately equipped to ward off insinuations to the contrary. Then the section v. 18-25 provides occasion to develop the subject so little understood in our day, where thoughts of emancipation too largely have replaced the scriptural point of view—we mean the subject "Woman’s Place in Life." It could be treated under the head of the "Institution of Matrimony." However, v. 28 of chapter 1 should really be added to round out the text, lest a neglected aspect of matrimony be passed by entirely.
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