וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל־־צְבָאָם 2:1
Gene. 2:1 So the heavens and the earth and everything coming forth of them were finished.
Coming forth of them? Why them and not it, the earth? Did something come forth from the heavens? Angels, possibly?
Gene. 2:2 And by the seventh day God had finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.
The prepositional prefix, beth, בּ, appearing in the two occurrences of the word בַּיּוֹם can be translated as in, to, on, by, or a number of other ways as well. In the first instance, I translated it as by and in the second instance as on. Although it’s somewhat unusual to have the same prefix translated two different ways in the same verse, it appears appropriate here. The verse would be awkward, to say the least, if the prefix were to be translated consistently. The verse would then say that God finished His work on the seventh day, or that He rested by the seventh day. It seems obvious that God would not say that He finished His work on the seventh day, as that would mean that work, once started, could be completed on the Sabbath. And the latter translation (and He rested by the seventh day) makes little sense. Some support for this sort of translation is found in more than one verse in which the beth prefix is translated two different ways in the same verse. See, for example, Gene. 13:18.
Now if God had finished His work by the seventh day, then we must return to the point raised in Gene.1:31-Alt. If creation was not complete, what was? What was complete by the seventh day? What I believe was complete was not all of creation, but its earliest phases, its foundational basis, its primary purpose being to set the stage for the development of human civilization (and beyond?).
Then why did God rest at the end of that period? See the next verse.
Gene. 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it when He rested on it from all His work that God had chosen to do.
The phrase … His work that God had chosen to do is normally translated as something like … His work that God had created and done. More>>
Gene. 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth during their creation at the time the Lord God was making the earth and the heavens.
This is a strange way of expressing the thought contained here. More>>
אֱלֹהִים עַל הָאָרֶץ וְאָדָם אַיִן לַעֲבֹד אֶת־הָאֲדָמָה
Gene. 2:5 Now no shrub of the field could yet be on the earth, and no herb of the field could have sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the ground.
וְאֵד יַעֲלֶה מִן־הָאָרֶץ וְהִשְׁקָה אֶת־־כָּל־פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה 2:6
Gene. 2:6 But a mist would arise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
The verbs in this verse are also mistranslated in every bible I’ve inspected. The first one, יַעֲלֶה, is in the imperfect tense and the second, וְהִשְׁקָה, is in the perfect tense with an inverting vav prefix. So they should both be translated as imperfect verbs. The implication in this more correct translation is that vegetation would then appear as a consequence. This understanding is appropriate, as it precedes the next verse in which the human male is formed. These two verses, v. 2:5 and v.2:6, could be thought of in a subtle or imprecise way as a prophecy. The human would later till the soil. In that case this is a hint or lead-in to the events of the next chapter.
Gene. 2:7 Then the Lord God formed the man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became as a living soul.
See Gene. 1:30-Alt. This verse contains the phrases for both נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים, breath of life, and נֶפֶש חַיָּה, living soul. In Gene. 1:30-Alt, the phrase נֶפֶש חַיָּה cannot be translated justifiably as breath of life.
Gene. 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden eastward and He put there the man whom He had formed.
In this verse and the preceding one God forms the man. In Gene. 1:26 and 27 God creates humankind. The difference may lie in the fact that in Gene. 1:26 God creates humankind, not just one man.
Now, as to Eden: I believe that this verse is a prophecy, not just an historical event (perhaps not even an historical event). Eden is where humanity is headed in the future – at the end of time. Somehow that appears to me to tie in with God’s purpose for creating the universe. Here in the bible He was allowing us a preview of things to come. The scribe, in describing his vision or dream, may have erroneously assumed the event was in the past. In other parts of the bible, prophecies are sometimes described as if they had already occurred.
וַיַּצְמַח יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִן־הָאֲדָמָה כָּל־עֵץ נֶחְמָד לְמַרְאֶה וְטוֹב לְמַאֲכָלוְעֵץ הַחַיִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַגָּן 2:9
הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָע
Gene. 2:9 And the Lord God made grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food. Also the tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the understanding of good and evil.
וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת־הַגָּן וּמִשָּׁם יִפָּרֵד וְהָיָה לְאַרְבָּעָה רָאשִׁים 2:10
Gene. 2:10 And a river to water the garden was coming out of Eden, and there it would part and become as four heads.
The term רָאשִׁים, heads, may be thought of as meaning sources or beginnings. Beginning here and continuing for the next few verses, this chapter places a heavier emphasis on geography. Might this indicate that it was written later than Chapter 1? Possibly.
שֵׁם הָאֶחָד פִּישׁוֹן הוּא הַסֹּבֵב אֵת כָּל אֶרֶץ הַחֲוִילָה אֲשֶׁר־שָׁם הַזָּהָב 2:11
Gene. 2:11 The name of the first is Pison; it was permeating the whole land of Havilah, where there was the gold.
The word for permeating seems to be a reasonable translation in this context. Ordinarily the translation turning about or meandering would be more appropriate. The difficulty with this translation is that the אֵת after the verb signifies that the verb is transitive and that the immediately following word or phrase is the direct object of the verb. So the most precise translation is surrounding or permeating Therefore I assume the river must have passed throughout the land.
Gene. 2:12 And the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and stone of onyx.
This verse gives us a clue as to where Eden was, or was thought to be. Where can we find a land in the Middle East rich in minerals that could have been mined around the time of the bronze age?
וְשֵׁם־הַנָּהָר הַשֵּׁנִי גִּיחוֹן הוּא הַסּוֹבֵב אֵת כָּל אֶרֶץ כּוּשׁ 2:13
Gene. 2:13 And the name of the second river is Gihon; it was permeating the whole land of Cush.
Cush is understood to be Ethiopia. See v. 2:11 about the word for permeating.
וְשֵׁם־־הַנָּהָר הַשְּׁלִישִׁי חִדֶּקֶל הוּא הַהֹלֵךְ קִדְמַת אַשּׁוּר וְהַנָּהָר הָרְבִיעִי הוּא פְרָת 2:14
Gene. 2:14 And the name of the third river is Tigris; it is going to the east of Assyria. And the fourth river, it is the Euphrates.
וַיִּקַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן־־עֵדֶן לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָה ּ 2:15
Gene. 2:15 And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
To dress it and to keep it, not to till the soil! It wasn’t necessary to till the soil – God had provided plentiful food sources.
Gene. 2:16 And the Lord God placed a charge upon the man saying, “From every tree of the garden you may freely eat,
וּמֵעֵץ הַדַּעַת טוֹב וָרָעלֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְךָ מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת תָּמוּת 2:17
Gene. 2:17 but from the tree of the understanding of good and evil, you shall not eat from it, for on the day of your eating from it, you would surely die.”
Vss. 2:16 and 2:17 contain the second commandment in the bible. Because of the context, one may assume that this commandment relates only to the garden and is not universal as the first was. If this is so, then our striving to “eat of the tree” is not prohibited. I am struck by the possibility that our purpose – or one of them – is to eventually eat of the tree and to finally fully understand good and evil – a subject I have some interesting and thought-provoking ideas about. [Return to Gene. 3:3-Alt]
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים לֹא־טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂה־לּוֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ 2:18
Gene. 2:18 Then the Lord God said, ”The man being by himself is not good. I will make him a helper as his companion.”
וַיִּצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים מִן־הָאֲדָמָה כָּל־חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה וְאֵת כָּל־עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וַיָּבֵא אֶל־הָאָדָם לִרְאוֹת 2:19
מַה־יִּקְרָא־לוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָא־לוֹ הָאָדָם נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה הוּא שְׁמוֹ
Gene. 2:19 So the Lord God would form from the ground every beast of the field and every fowl of the air that He would bring to the man to see what he would call them, and anything that the man would call a living creature to himself, that became its name.
Is the root of the first Hebrew verb, יִּצֶר, meaning formed, equal to the root of arB, meaning created? Here in this verse, God forms the animals and in v. 2:7, God forms the man and the same word is used, so they are roughly equivalent in meaning. Then the animals were formed in the same way that humans were, except that humans are a little different. As we shall soon find out, male and female humans were not formed identically or at the same time, as were the animals in this verse. Notice, though, that up until now this chapter has been more correct scientifically than chapter 1. However, here it apparently goes astray. The man has been formed before the animals. Another point, minor on the surface, but major for providing a deeper understanding of Eden: There may have been no fish in the garden, only beasts of the field and fowl of the air. Where were the fish and who named them? Verse. 2:10 refers to a river that watered the garden. Were the fish in there? We’re not told. And what of creeping things?
The apparent implication in this verse is that God guessed wrong (in v. 2:18) when He said, “I will make him a helper ….” More>>
וַיַּפֵּל יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים תַּרְדֵּמָה עַל־הָאָדָם וַיִּישָׁן וַיִּקַּח אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו וַיִּסְגֹּר בָּשָׂר תַּחְתֶּנָּה 2:21
Gene. 2:21 Then the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he slept, and He removed one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place.
וַיִּבֶן יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הַצֵּלָע אֲשֶׁר־לָקַח מִן הָאָדָם לְאִשָּׁה וַיְבִאֶהָ אֶל־הָאָדָם 2:22
Gene. 2:22 And the Lord fashioned a woman from the rib that He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
The word translated as and fashioned usually means to build, to establish, or to cause a continuation. These translations may provide some insight into the kind of process the Lord employed to fashion the woman. He built her from a single bone, a bone that had been near the man’s heart. Could this be why a man is attracted to a woman, thus ensuring propagation of our kind? What do you think?
וַיֹּאמֶר הָאָדָם זֹאת הַפַּעַם עֶצֶם מֵעֲצָמַי וּבָשָׂר מִבְּשָׂרִי לְזֹאת יִקָּרֵא אִשָּׁה כִּי מֵאִישׁ 2:23
Gene. 2:23 And the man said, “This is at once bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh.” To this he would give the name woman, because this was taken from man.
In the three instances of the pronoun this in the verse, the woman is being referred to. Such was the general view of the female in the fraternal world of the bible. In this first reference to her in a personal way, she is referred to as this. But another possible interpretation, less harsh, should be considered here. It is that the woman was not yet alive when she was brought to the man. Use of the pronoun this would then be reasonable.
Also how did the man know that the woman was formed from his body, if he had been asleep? Did the scribe expect us to assume that God told him when he awoke?
Gene. 2:24 Therefore a man must forsake his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife so they can be as one flesh.
Why is this verse here? And what does it mean? Why therefore when there doesn’t seem to be a logical connection between this verse and the last? Does the scribe mean that because they came from one flesh, they shall be as one flesh? Or does he mean that a man can’t consummate a marriage while remaining with his parents? In any case, the scribe seems to once again prematurely reference future conditions that didn’t exist at the time of which he was writing. That trait is surfacing as a consistent mark of the writer of this chapter.
I want to make an additional observation about this verse concerning the word wife. The word appears for the first time here. More>>
Gene. 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, but they could not be ashamed.
Many chapters of the bible end in this fashion. A verse closes off the chapter that seems to have little connection with the events of the chapter. In my experience this usually means that a message is being implied. In this case I think the message is, “Be prepared for the next chapter!” This verse seems to be an introductory statement to the events of the next chapter as if providing a basis for emphasizing the innocence of the two humans at this point in the narrative.
But I am uncertain of this idea. The reason for my uncertainty is that, as I explain in the About Hebrew discussion, verses and chapters are not clearly or consistently delineated in the original texts. In this particular case, there is no separation of any kind between the end of Chapter 2 and the beginning of Chapter 3. Chapter 2 ends on one line and Chapter 3 begins at the beginning of the next line. There is no space or break between them. So we can’t determine what, if any, significance this verse might have had for the scribe.
However, as I see it, the last verb יִתְבֹּשָׁשׁוּ of the verse is imperfect, rather than perfect (which is how most, if not all other, translators have seen it). They translate it imprecisely as and they were not ashamed. My translation not only implies their innocence but pretty much identifies it. They had not yet learned anything about the world.
And this verse exhibits once more that distinctive trait of this scribe, that is, to make subtle reference to what comes later, perhaps in his own later time of writing this.