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The Sabbath of Creation. - “ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” צבא here denotes the totality of the beings that fill the heaven and the earth: in other places (see especially Nehemiah 9:6) it is applied to the host of heaven, i.e., the stars (Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3), and according to a still later representation, to the angels also (1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 24:21; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalms 148:2). These words of Genesis 2:1 introduce the completion of the work of creation, and give a greater definiteness to the announcement in Genesis 2:2, Genesis 2:3, that on the seventh day God ended the work which He had made, by ceasing to create, and blessing the day and sanctifying it. The completion or finishing ( כּלּה ) of the work of creation on the seventh day (not on the sixth, as the lxx, Sam., and Syr. erroneously render it) can only be understood by regarding the clauses Genesis 2:2 and Genesis 2:3, which are connected with ויכל by ו consec. as containing the actual completion, i.e., by supposing the completion to consist, negatively in the cessation of the work of creation, and positively in the blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day. The cessation itself formed part of the completion of the work (for this meaning of שׁבת vid., Genesis 8:22; Job 32:1, etc.). As a human artificer completes his work just when he has brought it up to his ideal and ceases to work upon it, so in an infinitely higher sense, God completed the creation of the world with all its inhabitants by ceasing to produce anything new, and entering into the rest of His all-sufficient eternal Being, from which He had come forth, as it were, at and in the creation of a world distinct from His own essence. Hence ceasing to create is called resting ( נוּח ) in Exodus 20:11, and being refreshed ( ינּפשׁ ) in Exodus 31:17. The rest into which God entered after the creation was complete, had its own reality “in the reality of the work of creation, in contrast with which the preservation of the world, when once created, had the appearance of rest, though really a continuous creation” ( Ziegler, p. 27). This rest of the Creator was indeed “the consequence of His self-satisfaction in the now united and harmonious, though manifold whole;” but this self-satisfaction of God in His creation, which we call His pleasure in His work, was also a spiritual power, which streamed forth as a blessing upon the creation itself, bringing it into the blessedness of the rest of God and filling it with His peace. This constitutes the positive element in the completion which God gave to the work of creation, by blessing and sanctifying the seventh day, because on it He found rest from the work which He by making ( לעשׂות faciendo : cf. Ewald, §280 d) had created. The divine act of blessing was a real communication of powers of salvation, grace, and peace; and sanctifying was not merely declaring holy, but “communicating the attribute of holy,” “placing in a living relation to God, the Holy One, raising to a participation in the pure clear light of the holiness of God.” On קדושׁ see Exodus 19:6. The blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day had regard, no doubt, to the Sabbath, which Israel as the people of God was afterwards to keep; but we are not to suppose that the theocratic Sabbath was instituted here, or that the institution of that Sabbath was transferred to the history of the creation. On the contrary, the Sabbath of the Israelites had a deeper meaning, founded in the nature and development of the created world, not for Israel only, but for all mankind, or rather for the whole creation. As the whole earthly creation is subject to the changes of time and the law of temporal motion and development; so all creatures not only stand in need of definite recurring periods of rest, for the sake of recruiting their strength and gaining new power for further development, but they also look forward to a time when all restlessness shall give place to the blessed rest of the perfect consummation. To this rest the resting of God ( ἡ κατάπαυσις ) points forward; and to this rest, this divine σαββατισός (Hebrews 4:9), shall the whole world, especially man, the head of the earthly creation, eventually come. For this God ended His work by blessing and sanctifying the day when the whole creation was complete. In connection with Heb. 4, some of the fathers have called attention to the fact, that the account of the seventh day is not summed up, like the others, with the formula “evening was and morning was;” thus, e.g., Augustine writes at the close of his confessions: dies septimus sine vespera est nec habet occasum, quia sanctificasti eum ad permansionem sempiternam . But true as it is that the Sabbath of God has no evening, and that the σαββατισμός , to which the creature is to attain at the end of his course, will be bounded by no evening, but last for ever; we must not, without further ground, introduce this true and profound idea into the seventh creation-day. We could only be warranted in adopting such an interpretation, and understanding by the concluding day of the work of creation a period of endless duration, on the supposition that the six preceding days were so many periods in the world's history, which embraced the time from the beginning of the creation to the final completion of its development. But as the six creation-days, according to the words of the text, were earthly days of ordinary duration, we must understand the seventh in the same way; and that all the more, because in every passage, in which it is mentioned as the foundation of the theocratic Sabbath, it is regarded as an ordinary day (Exodus 20:11; Exodus 31:17). We must conclude, therefore, that on the seventh day, on which God rested from His work, the world also, with all its inhabitants, attained to the sacred rest of God; that the κατάπαυσις and σαββατισμός of God were made a rest and sabbatic festival for His creatures, especially for man; and that this day of rest of the new created world, which the forefathers of our race observed in paradise, as long as they continued in a state of innocence and lived in blessed peace with their God and Creator, was the beginning and type of the rest to which the creation, after it had fallen from fellowship with God through the sin of man, received a promise that it should once more be restored through redemption, at its final consummation.
The historical account of the world, which commences at the completion of the work of creation, is introduced as the “ History of the heavens and the earth,” and treats in three sections, ( a) of the original condition of man in paradise (Gen 2:5-25); ( b) of the fall (Gen 3); ( c) of the division of the human race into two widely different families, so far as concerns their relation to God (Gen 4).
The words, “ these are the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth when they were created,” form the heading to what follows. This would never have been disputed, had not preconceived opinions as to the composition of Genesis obscured the vision of commentators. The fact that in every other passage, in which the formula “these (and these) are the tholedoth ” occurs (viz., ten times in Genesis; also in Numbers 3:1; Ruth 4:18; 1 Chronicles 1:29), it is used as a heading, and that in this passage the true meaning of תולדות precludes the possibility of its being an appendix to what precedes, fully decides the question. The word תולדות , which is only used in the plural, and never occurs except in the construct state or with suffixes, is a Hiphil noun from הוליד , and signifies literally the generation or posterity of any one, then the development of these generations or of his descendants; in other words, the history of those who are begotten or the account of what happened to them and what they performed. In no instance whatever is it the history of the birth or origin of the person named in the genitive, but always the account of his family and life. According to this use of the word, we cannot understand by the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth the account of the origin of the universe, since according to the biblical view the different things which make up the heavens and the earth can neither be regarded as generations or products of cosmogonic and geogonic evolutions, nor be classed together as the posterity of the heavens and the earth. All the creatures in the heavens and on earth were made by God, and called into being by His word, notwithstanding the fact that He caused some of them to come forth from the earth. Again, as the completion of the heavens and the earth with all their host has already been described in Genesis 2:1-3, we cannot understand by “the heavens and the earth,” in Genesis 2:4, the primary material of the universe in its elementary condition (in which case the literal meaning of הוליד would be completely relinquished, and the “ tholedoth of the heavens and the earth” be regarded as indicating this chaotic beginning as the first stage in a series of productions), but the universe itself after the completion of the creation, at the commencement of the historical development which is subsequently described. This places its resemblance to the other sections, commencing with “these are the generations,” beyond dispute. Just as the tholedoth of Noah, for example, do not mention his birth, but contain his history and the birth of his sons; so the tholedoth of the heavens and the earth do not describe the origin of the universe, but what happened to the heavens and the earth after their creation. בּהבּראם does not preclude this, though we cannot render it “after they were created.” For even if it were grammatically allowable to resolve the participle into a pluperfect, the parallel expressions in Genesis 5:1-2, would prevent our doing so. As “the day of their creation” mentioned there, is not a day after the creation of Adam, but the day on which he was created; the same words, when occurring here, must also refer to a time when the heavens and the earth were already created: and just as in Genesis 5:1 the creation of the universe forms the starting-point to the account of the development of the human race through the generations of Adam, and is recapitulated for that reason; so here the creation of the universe is mentioned as the starting-point to the account of its historical development, because this account looks back to particular points in the creation itself, and describes them more minutely as the preliminaries to the subsequent course of the world. הבראם is explained by the clause, “ in the day that Jehovah God created the earth and the heavens.” Although this clause is closely related to what follows, the simplicity of the account prevents our regarding it as the protasis of a period, the apodosis of which does not follow till Genesis 2:5 or even Genesis 2:7. The former is grammatically impossible, because in Genesis 2:5 the noun stands first, and not the verb, as we should expect in such a case (cf. Genesis 3:5). The latter is grammatically tenable indeed, since Genesis 2:5, Genesis 2:6, might be introduced into the main sentence as conditional clauses; but it is not probable, inasmuch as we should then have a parenthesis of most unnatural length. The clause must therefore be regarded as forming part of the heading. There are two points here that are worthy of notice: first, the unusual combination, “earth and heaven,” which only occurs in Psalms 148:13, and shows that the earth is the scene of the history about to commence, which was of such momentous importance to the whole world; and secondly, the introduction of the name Jehovah in connection with Elohim. That the hypothesis, which traces the interchange in the two names in Genesis to different documents, does not suffice to explain the occurrence of Jehovah Elohim in Gen 2:4-3:24, even the supporters of this hypothesis cannot possibly deny. Not only is God called Elohim alone in the middle of this section, viz., in the address to the serpent, a clear proof that the interchange of the names has reference to their different significations; but the use of the double name, which occurs here twenty times though rarely met with elsewhere, is always significant. In the Pentateuch we only find it in Exodus 9:30; in the other books of the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel 7:22, 2 Samuel 7:25; 1 Chronicles 17:16-17; 2 Chronicles 6:41-42; Psalms 84:8, Psalms 84:11; and Psalms 50:1, where the order is reversed; and in every instance it is used with peculiar emphasis, to give prominence to the fact that Jehovah is truly Elohim, whilst in Psalms 50:1 the Psalmist advances from the general name El and Elohim to Jehovah, as the personal name of the God of Israel. In this section the combination Jehovah Elohim is expressive of the fact, that Jehovah is God, or one with Elohim. Hence Elohim is placed after Jehovah. For the constant use of the double name is not intended to teach that Elohim who created the world was Jehovah, but that Jehovah, who visited man in paradise, who punished him for the transgression of His command, but gave him a promise of victory over the tempter, was Elohim, the same God, who created the heavens and the earth.
The two names may be distinguished thus: Elohim, the plural of אלוהּ , which is only used in the loftier style of poetry, is an infinitive noun from אלהּ to fear, and signifies awe, fear, then the object of fear, the highest Being to be feared, like פּחד , which is used interchangeably with it in Genesis 31:42, Genesis 31:53, and מורא in Psalms 76:12 (cf. Isaiah 8:12-13). The plural is not used for the abstract, in the sense of divinity, but to express the notion of God in the fulness and multiplicity of the divine powers. It is employed both in a numerical, and also in an intensive sense, so that Elohim is applied to the (many) gods of the heathen as well as to the one true God, in whom the highest and absolute fulness of the divine essence is contained. In this intensive sense Elohim depicts the one true God as the infinitely great and exalted One, who created the heavens and the earth, and who preserves and governs every creature. According to its derivation, however, it is object rather than subject, so that in the plural form the concrete unity of the personal God falls back behind the wealth of the divine potencies which His being contains. In this sense, indeed, both in Genesis and the later, poetical, books, Elohim is used without the article, as a proper name for the true God, even in the mouth of the heathen (1 Samuel 4:7); but in other places, and here and there in Genesis, it occurs as an appellative with the article, by which prominence is given to the absoluteness of personality of God (Genesis 5:22; Genesis 6:9, etc.).
The name Jehovah, on the other hand, was originally a proper name, and according to the explanation given by God Himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14-15), was formed from the imperfect of the verb הוה היה . God calls Himself אהיח אשׁר אהיה , then more briefly אהיה , and then again, by changing the first person into the third, יהוה . From the derivation of this name from the imperfect, it follows that it was either pronounced יהוה or יהוה , and had come down from the pre-Mosaic age; for the form הוה had been forced out of the spoken language by היה even in Moses' time. The Masoretic pointing יהוה belongs to a time when the Jews had long been afraid to utter this name at all, and substituted אדני , the vowels of which therefore were placed as Keri , the word to be read, under the Kethib יהוה , unless יהוה stood in apposition to אדני , in which case the word was read אלהים and pointed יהוה (a pure monstrosity.)
(Note: For a fuller discussion of the meaning and pronunciation of the name Jehovah vid., Hengstenberg, Dissertations on the Pentateuch i. p. 213ff.; Oehler in Herzog's Cyclopaedia; and Hölemann in his Bibelstudien. The last, in common with Stier and others, decides in favour of the Masoretic pointing יהוה as giving the original pronunciation, chiefly on the ground of Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:8; but the theological expansion ὁ ὤν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος cannot be regarded as a philological proof of the formation of יהוה by the fusion of הוה הוה יהי into one word.)
This custom, which sprang from a misinterpretation of Leviticus 24:16, appears to have originated shortly after the captivity. Even in the canonical writings of this age the name Jehovah was less and less employed, and in the Apocrypha and the Septuagint version ὁ Κύριος (the Lord) is invariably substituted, a custom in which the New Testament writers follow the lxx (vid., Oehler).
If we seek for the meaning of יהוה , the expression אהיה אשׁר אהיה , in Exodus 3:14, is neither to be rendered ἔσομαι ὃς ἔσοαι ( Aq., Theodt.), “I shall be that I shall be” ( Luther), nor “I shall be that which I will or am to be” ( M. Baumgarten). Nor does it mean, “He who will be because He is Himself, the God of the future” ( Hoffmann). For in names formed from the third person imperfect, the imperfect is not a future, but an aorist. According to the fundamental signification of the imperfect, names so formed point out a person as distinguished by a frequently or constantly manifested quality, in other words, they express a distinctive characteristic (vid., Ewald, §136; Genesis 25:26; Genesis 27:36, also Genesis 16:11 and Genesis 21:6). The Vulgate gives it correctly: ego sum qui sum , “I am who I am.” “The repetition of the verb in the same form, and connected only by the relative, signifies that the being or act of the subject expressed in the verb is determined only by the subject itself” ( Hoffmann). The verb היה signifies “to be, to happen, to become;” but as neither happening nor becoming is applicable to God, the unchangeable, since the pantheistic idea of a becoming God is altogether foreign to the Scriptures, we must retain the meaning “ to be;” not forgetting, however, that as the Divine Being is not a resting, or, so to speak, a dead being, but is essentially living, displaying itself as living, working upon creation, and moving in the world, the formation of יהוה from the imperfect precludes the idea of abstract existence, and points out the Divine Being as moving, pervading history, and manifesting Himself in the world. So far then as the words אהיה אשר אהיה are condensed into a proper name in יהוה , and God, therefore, “is He who is,” inasmuch as in His being, as historically manifested, He is the self-determining one, the name Jehovah, which we have retained as being naturalized in the ecclesiastical phraseology, though we are quite in ignorance of its correct pronunciation, “includes both the absolute independence of God in His historical movements,” and “the absolute constancy of God, or the fact that in everything, in both words and deeds, He is essentially in harmony with Himself, remaining always consistent” ( Oehler). The “I am who am,” therefore, is the absolute I, the absolute personality, moving with unlimited freedom; and in distinction from Elohim (the Being to be feared), He is the personal God in His historical manifestation, in which the fulness of the Divine Being unfolds itself to the world. This movement of the person God in history, however, has reference to the realization of the great purpose of the creation, viz., the salvation of man. Jehovah therefore is the God of the history of salvation. This is not shown in the etymology of the name, but in its historical expansion. It was as Jehovah that God manifested Himself to Abram (Genesis 15:7), when He made the covenant with him; and as this name was neither derived from an attribute of God, nor from a divine manifestation, we must trace its origin to a revelation from God, and seek it in the declaration to Abram, “I am Jehovah.” Just as Jehovah here revealed Himself to Abram as the God who led him out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give him the land of Canaan for a possession, and thereby described Himself as the author of all the promises which Abram received at his call, and which were renewed to him and to his descendants, Isaac and Jacob; so did He reveal Himself to Moses (Ex 3) as the God of his fathers, to fulfil His promise to their seed, the people of Israel. Through these revelations Jehovah became a proper name for the God, who was working out the salvation of fallen humanity; and in this sense, not only is it used proleptically at the call of Abram (Gen 12), but transferred to the primeval times, and applied to all the manifestations and acts of God which had for their object the rescue of the human race from its fall, as well as to the special plan inaugurated in the call of Abram. The preparation commenced in paradise. To show this, Moses has introduced the name Jehovah into the history in the present chapter, and has indicated the identity of Jehovah with Elohim, not only by the constant association of the two names, but also by the fact that in the heading ( Exodus 3:4) he speaks of the creation described in Gen 1 as the work of Jehovah Elohim.
The account in vv. 5-25 is not a second, complete and independent history of the creation, nor does it contain mere appendices to the account in Gen 1; but it describes the commencement of the history of the human race. This commencement includes not only a complete account of the creation of the first human pair, but a description of the place which God prepared for their abode, the latter being of the highest importance in relation to the self-determination of man, with its momentous consequences to both earth and heaven. Even in the history of the creation man takes precedence of all other creatures, as being created in the image of God and appointed lord of all the earth, though he is simply mentioned there as the last and highest link in the creation. To this our present account is attached, describing with greater minuteness the position of man in the creation, and explaining the circumstances which exerted the greatest influence upon his subsequent career. These circumstances were-the formation of man from the dust of the earth and the divine breath of life; the tree of knowledge in paradise; the formation of the woman, and the relation of the woman to the man. Of these three elements, the first forms the substratum to the other two. Hence the more exact account of the creation of Adam is subordinated to, and inserted in, the description of paradise (Genesis 2:7). In Genesis 2:5 and Genesis 2:6, with which the narrative commences, there is an evident allusion to paradise: “ And as yet there was (arose, grew) no shrub of the field upon the earth, and no herb of the field sprouted; for Jehovah El had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; and a mist arose from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.” היה in parallelism with צמח means to become, to arise, to proceed. Although the growth of the shrubs and sprouting of the herbs are represented here as dependent upon the rain and the cultivation of the earth by man, we must not understand the words as meaning that there was neither shrub nor herb before the rain and dew, or before the creation of man, and so draw the conclusion that the creation of the plants occurred either after or contemporaneously with the creation of man, in direct contradiction to Genesis 1:11-12. The creation of the plants is not alluded to here at all, but simply the planting of the garden in Eden. The growing of the shrubs and sprouting of the herbs is different from the creation or first production of the vegetable kingdom, and relates to the growing and sprouting of the plants and germs which were called into existence by the creation, the natural development of the plants as it had steadily proceeded ever since the creation. This was dependent upon rain and human culture; their creation was not. Moreover, the shrub and herb of the field do not embrace the whole of the vegetable productions of the earth. It is not a fact that the field is used in the second section in the same sense as the earth in the first.” שׂדה is not “the widespread plain of the earth, the broad expanse of land,” but a field of arable land, soil fit for cultivation, which forms only a part of the “earth” or “ground.” Even the “beast of the field” in Genesis 2:19 and Genesis 3:1 is not synonymous with the “beast of the earth” in Genesis 1:24-25, but is a more restricted term, denoting only such animals as live upon the field and are supported by its produce, whereas the “beast of the earth” denotes all wild beasts as distinguished from tame cattle and reptiles. In the same way, the “shrub of the field” consists of such shrubs and tree-like productions of the cultivated land as man raises for the sake of their fruit, and the “herb of the field,” all seed-producing plants, both corn and vegetables, which serve as food for man and beast. - The mist ( אד , vapour, which falls as rain, Job 36:27) is correctly regarded by Delitzsch as the creative beginning of the rain ( המטיר ) itself, from which we may infer, therefore, that it rained before the flood.
“ Then Jehovah God formed man from dust of the ground.” עפר is the accusative of the material employed ( Ewald and Gesenius). The Vav consec. imperf. in Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:8, Genesis 2:9, does not indicate the order of time, or of thought; so that the meaning is not that God planted the garden in Eden after He had created Adam, nor that He caused the trees to grow after He had planted the garden and placed the man there. The latter is opposed to Genesis 2:15; the former is utterly improbable. The process of man's creation is described minutely here, because it serves to explain his relation to God and to the surrounding world. He was formed from dust (not de limo terrae , from a clod of the earth, for עפר is not a solid mass, but the finest part of the material of the earth), and into his nostril a breath of life was breathed, by which he became an animated being. Hence the nature of man consists of a material substance and an immaterial principle of life. “ The breath of life,” i.e., breath producing life, does not denote the spirit by which man is distinguished form the animals, or the soul of man from that of the beasts, but only the life-breath (vid., 1 Kings 17:17). It is true, נשׁמה generally signifies the human soul, but in Genesis 7:22 חיּים נשׁמת־רוּח is used of men and animals both; and should any one explain this, on the ground that the allusion is chiefly to men, and the animals are connected per zeugma , or should he press the ruach attached, and deduce from this the use of neshamah in relation to men and animals, there are several passages in which neshamah is synonymous with ruach (e.g., Isaiah 42:5; Job 32:8; Job 33:4), or חיים רוח applied to animals (Genesis 6:17; Genesis 7:15), or again neshamah used as equivalent to nephesh (e.g., (Joshua 10:40, cf. Joshua 10:28, Joshua 10:30, Joshua 10:32). For neshamah , the breathing, πνοή , is “the ruach in action” ( Auberlen). Beside this, the man formed from the dust became, through the breathing of the “breath of life,” a חיּה נפשׁ , an animated, and as such a living being; an expression which is also applied to fishes, birds, and land animals (Genesis 1:20-21, Genesis 1:24, Genesis 1:30), and there is no proof of pre-eminence on the part of man. As חיּה נפשׁ , ψυχὴ ζῶσα , does not refer to the soul merely, but to the whole man as an animated being, so נשׁמה does not denote the spirit of man as distinguished from body and soul. On the relation of the soul to the spirit of man nothing can be gathered from this passage; the words, correctly interpreted, neither show that the soul is an emanation, an exhalation of the human spirit, nor that the soul was created before the spirit and merely received its life from the latter. The formation of man from dust and the breathing of the breath of life we must not understand in a mechanical sense, as if God first of all constructed a human figure from dust, and then, by breathing His breath of life into the clod of earth which he had shaped into the form of a man, made it into a living being. The words are to be understood θεοπρεπῶς . By an act of divine omnipotence man arose from the dust; and in the same moment in which the dust, by virtue of creative omnipotence, shaped itself into a human form, it was pervaded by the divine breath of life, and created a living being, so that we cannot say the body was earlier than the soul. The dust of the earth is merely the earthly substratum, which was formed by the breath of life from God into an animated, living, self-existent being. When it is said, “God breathed into his nostril the breath of life,” it is evident that this description merely gives prominence to the peculiar sign of life, viz., breathing; since it is obvious, that what God breathed into man could not be the air which man breathes; for it is not that which breathes, but simply that which is breathed. Consequently, breathing into the nostril can only mean, that “God, through His own breath, produced and combined with the bodily form that principle of life, which was the origin of all human life, and which constantly manifests its existence in the breath inhaled and exhaled through the nose” ( Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 62). Breathing, however, is common to both man and beast; so that this cannot be the sensuous analogon of the supersensuous spiritual life, but simply the principle of the physical life of the soul. Nevertheless the vital principle in man is different from that in the animal, and the human soul from the soul of the beast. This difference is indicated by the way in which man received the breath of life from God, and so became a living soul. “The beasts arose at the creative word of God, and no communication of the spirit is mentioned even in Genesis 2:19; the origin of their soul was coincident with that of their corporeality, and their life was merely the individualization of the universal life, with which all matter was filled in the beginning by the Spirit of God.
On the other hand, the human spirit is not a mere individualization of the divine breath which breathed upon the material of the world, or of the universal spirit of nature; nor is his body merely a production of the earth when stimulated by the creative word of God. The earth does not bring forth his body, but God Himself puts His hand to the work and forms him; nor does the life already imparted to the world by the Spirit of God individualize itself in him, but God breathes directly into the nostrils of the one man, in the whole fulness of His personality, the breath of life, that in a manner corresponding to the personality of God he may become a living soul” ( Delitzsch). This was the foundation of the pre-eminence of man, of his likeness to God and his immortality; for by this he was formed into a personal being, whose immaterial part was not merely soul, but a soul breathed entirely by God, since spirit and soul were created together through the inspiration of God. As the spiritual nature of man is described simply by the act of breathing, which is discernible by the senses, so the name which God gives him (Genesis 5:2) is founded upon the earthly side of his being: Adam, from אדמה ( adamah ), earth, the earthly element, like homo from humus , or from χαμά , χαμαί , χαμᾶθεν , to guard him from self-exaltation, not from the red colour of his body, since this is not a distinctive characteristic of man, but common to him and to many other creatures. The name man ( Mensch ), on the other hand, from the Sanskrit mânuscha , manuschja , from man to think, manas = mens, expresses the spiritual inwardness of our nature.
The abode, which God prepared for the first man, was a “ garden in Eden,” also called “the garden of Eden” (Genesis 2:15; Genesis 3:23-24; Joel 2:3), or Eden (Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 28:13; Ezekiel 31:9). Eden ( עדן , i.e., delight) is the proper name of a particular district, the situation of which is described in Genesis 2:10.; but it must not be confounded with the Eden of Assyria (2 Kings 19:12, etc.) and Coelesyria (Amos 1:5), which is written with double seghol. The garden (lit., a place hedged round) was to the east, i.e., in the eastern portion, and is generally called Paradise from the Septuagint version, in which the word is rendered παράδεισος . This word, according to Spiegel, was derived from the Zendic pairi - daêza , a hedging round, and passed into the Hebrew in the form פּרדּס (Song of Solomon 4:13; Ecclesiastes 2:5; Nehemiah 2:8), a park, probably through the commercial relations which Solomon established with distant countries. In the garden itself God caused all kinds of trees to grow out of the earth; and among them were tow, which were called “the tree of life” and “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” on account of their peculiar significance in relation to man (see Genesis 2:16 and Genesis 3:22). הדּעת , an infinitive, as Jeremiah 22:16 shows, has the article here because the phrase ורע טוב דעת is regarded as one word, and in Jeremiah from the nature of the predicate.
“ And there was a river going out of Eden, to water the garden; and from thence it divided itself, and became four heads;” i.e., the stream took its rise in Eden, flowed through the garden to water it, and on leaving the garden was divided into four heads or beginnings of rivers, that is, into four arms or separate streams. For this meaning of ראשׁים see Ezekiel 16:25; Lamentations 2:19. Of the four rivers whose names are given to show the geographical situation of paradise, the last two are unquestionably Tigris and Euphrates. Hiddekel occurs in Daniel 10:4 as the Hebrew name for Tigris; in the inscriptions of Darius it is called Tigrâ (or the arrow, according to Strabo, Pliny, and Curtius), from the Zendic tighra, pointed, sharp, from which probably the meaning stormy ( rapidus Tigris , Hor. Carm. 4, 14, 46) was derived. It flows before ( קדמת ), in front of, Assyria, not to the east of Assyria; for the province of Assyria, which must be intended here, was on the eastern side of the Tigris: moreover, neither the meaning, “to the east of,” nor the identity of קדמת and מקדם has been, or can be, established from Genesis 4:16; 1 Samuel 13:5, or Ezekiel 39:11, which are the only other passages in which the word occurs, as Ewald himself acknowledges. P'rath , which was not more minutely described because it was so generally known, is the Euphrates; in old Persian, Ufrâtu , according to Delitzsch, or the good and fertile stream; Ufrâtu , according to Spiegler, or the well-progressing stream. According to the present condition of the soil, the sources of the Euphrates and Tigris are not so closely connected that they could be regarded as the commencements of a common stream which has ceased to exist. The main sources of the Tigris, it is true, are only 2000 paces from the Euphrates, but they are to the north of Diarbekr, in a range of mountains which is skirted on three sides by the upper course of the Euphrates, and separates them from this river. We must also look in the same country, the highlands of Armenia, for the other two rivers, if the description of paradise actually rests upon an ancient tradition, and is to be regarded as something more than a mythical invention of the fancy. The name Phishon sounds like the Phasis of the ancients, with which Reland supposed it to be identical; and Chavilah like Cholchis, the well-known gold country of the ancients. But the Φάσις ὁ Κόλχος ( Herod. 4, 37, 45) takes its rise in the Caucasus, and not in Armenia. A more probable conjecture, therefore, points to the Cyrus of the ancients, which rises in Armenia, flows northwards to a point not far from the eastern border of Colchis, and then turns eastward in Iberia, from which it flows in a south-easterly direction to the Caspian Sea. The expression, “ which compasseth the whole land of Chavilah,” would apply very well to the course of this river from the eastern border of Colchis; for סבב does not necessarily signify to surround, but to pass through with different turns, or to skirt in a semi-circular form, and Chavilah may have been larger than modern Colchis. It is not a valid objection to this explanation, that in every other place Chavilah is a district of Southern Arabia. The identity of this Chavilah with the Chavilah of the Joktanites (Genesis 10:29; Genesis 25:18; 1 Samuel 15:7) or of the Cushites (Genesis 10:7; 1 Chronicles 1:9) is disproved not only by the article used here, which distinguishes it from the other, but also by the description of it as land where gold, bdolach, and the shohamstone are found; a description neither requisite nor suitable in the case of the Arabian Chavilah, since there productions are not to be met with there. This characteristic evidently shows that the Chavilah mentioned here was entirely distinct from the other, and a land altogether unknown to the Iraelites.
What we are to understand by הבּדלח is uncertain. There is no certain ground for the meaning “pearls,” given in Saad. and the later Rabbins, and adopted by Bochart and others. The rendering βδέλλα or βδέλλιον , bdellium, a vegetable gum, of which Cioscorus says, οἱ δὲ μάδελκον οἱ δὲ βολχὸν καλχὸν , and Pliny, “ alii brochon appellant, alii malacham, alii maldacon ,” is favoured by the similarity in the name; but, on the other side, there is the fact that Pliny describes this gum as nigrum and hadrobolon , and Dioscorus as ὑποπέλιον (blackish), which does not agree with Numbers 11:7, where the appearance of the white grains of the manna is compared to that of bdolach . - The stone shoham , according to most of the early versions, is probably the beryl, which is most likely the stone intended by the lxx ( ὁ λίθος ὁ πράσινος , the leek-green stone), as Pliny, when speaking of beryls, describes those as probatissimi , qui viriditatem puri maris imitantur ; but according to others it is the onyx or sardonyx (vid., Ges. s.v.).
(Note: The two productions furnish no proof that the Phishon is to be sought for in India. The assertion that the name bdolach is Indian, is quite unfounded, for it cannot be proved that madâlaka in Sanscrit is a vegetable gum; nor has this been proved of madâra , which is possibly related to it (cf. Lassen's indische Althk. 1, 290 note). Moreover, Pliny speaks of Bactriana as the land “ in qua Bdellium est nominatissimum ,” although he adds, “ nascitur et in Arabia Indiaque, et Media ac Babylone ;” and Isidorus says of the Bdella which comes from India, “ Sordida est et nigra et majori gleba ,” which, again, does not agree with Numbers 11:7. - The Shoham - stone also is not necessarily associated with India; for although Pliny says of the beryls, “ India eos gignit, raro alibi repertos ,” he also observes, “ in nostro orbe aliquando circa Pontum inveniri putantur .”)
The Gihon (from גּוּח to break forth) is the Araxes, which rises in the neighbourhood of the Euphrates, flows from west to east, joins the Cyrus, and falls with it into the Caspian Sea. The name corresponds to the Arabic Jaihun, a name given by the Arabians and Persians to several large rivers. The land of Cush cannot, of course, be the later Cush, or Ethiopia, but must be connected with the Asiatic Κοσσαία , which reached to the Caucasus, and to which the Jews (of Shirwan) still give this name. But even though these four streams do not now spring from one source, but on the contrary their sources are separated by mountain ranges, this fact does not prove that the narrative before us is a myth. Along with or since the disappearance of paradise, that part of the earth may have undergone such changes that the precise locality can no longer be determined with certainty.
(Note: That the continents of our globe have undergone great changes since the creation of the human race, is a truth sustained by the facts of natural history and the earliest national traditions, and admitted by the most celebrated naturalists. (See the collection of proofs made by Keerl.) These changes must not be all attributed to the flood; many may have occurred before and many after, like the catastrophe in which the Dead Sea originated, without being recorded in history as this has been. Still less must we interpret Genesis 11:1 (compared with Genesis 10:25), as Fabri and Keerl have done, as indicating a complete revolution of the globe, or a geogonic process, by which the continents of the old world were divided, and assumed their present physignomy.)
After the preparation of the garden in Eden God placed the man there, to dress it and to keep it. ינּיחהוּ not merely expresses removal thither, but the fact that the man was placed there to lead a life of repose, not indeed in inactivity, but in fulfilment of the course assigned him, which was very different from the trouble and restlessness of the weary toil into which he was plunged by sin. In paradise he was to dress ( colere ) the garden; for the earth was meant to be tended and cultivated by man, so that without human culture, plants and even the different varieties of corn degenerate and grow wild. Cultivation therefore preserved ( שׁמר to keep) the divine plantation, not merely from injury on the part of any evil power, either penetrating into, or already existing in the creation, but also from running wild through natural degeneracy. As nature was created for man, it was his vocation not only to ennoble it by his work, to make it subservient to himself, but also to raise it into the sphere of the spirit and further its glorification. This applied not merely to the soil beyond the limits of paradise, but to the garden itself, which, although the most perfect portion of the terrestrial creation, was nevertheless susceptible of development, and which was allotted to man, in order that by his care and culture he might make it into a transparent mirror of the glory of the Creator. - Here too the man was to commence his own spiritual development. To this end God had planted two trees in the midst of the garden of Eden; the one to train his spirit through the exercise of obedience to the word of God, the other to transform his earthly nature into the spiritual essence of eternal life. These trees received their names from their relation to man, that is to say, from the effect which the eating of their fruit was destined to produce upon human life and its development. The fruit of the tree of life conferred the power of eternal, immortal life; and the tree of knowledge was planted, to lead men to the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil was no mere experience of good and ill, but a moral element in that spiritual development, through which the man created in the image of God was to attain to the filling out of that nature, which had already been planned in the likeness of God. For not to know what good and evil are, is a sign of either the immaturity of infancy (Deuteronomy 1:39), or the imbecility of age (2 Samuel 19:35); whereas the power to distinguish good and evil is commended as the gift of a king (1 Kings 3:9) and the wisdom of angels (2 Samuel 14:17), and in the highest sense is ascribed to God Himself (Genesis 3:5, Genesis 3:22). Why then did God prohibit man from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with the threat that, as soon as he ate thereof, he would surely die? (The inf. abs. before the finite verb intensifies the latter: vid., Ewald, §312a). Are we to regard the tree as poisonous, and suppose that some fatal property resided in the fruit? A supposition which so completely ignores the ethical nature of sin is neither warranted by the antithesis, nor by what is said in Genesis 3:22 of the tree of life, nor by the fact that the eating of the forbidden fruit was actually the cause of death. Even in the case of the tree of life, the power is not to be sought in the physical character of the fruit. No earthly fruit possesses the power to give immortality to the life which it helps to sustain. Life is not rooted in man's corporeal nature; it was in his spiritual nature that it had its origin, and from this it derives its stability and permanence also. It may, indeed, be brought to an end through the destruction of the body; but it cannot be exalted to perpetual duration, i.e., to immortality, through its preservation and sustenance. And this applies quite as much to the original nature of man, as to man after the fall. A body formed from earthly materials could not be essentially immortal: it would of necessity either be turned to earth, and fall into dust again, or be transformed by the spirit into the immortality of the soul. The power which transforms corporeality into immortality is spiritual in its nature, and could only be imparted to the earthly tree or its fruit through the word of God, through a special operation of the Spirit of God, an operation which we can only picture to ourselves as sacramental in its character, rendering earthly elements the receptacles and vehicles of celestial powers. God had given such a sacramental nature and significance to the two trees in the midst of the garden, that their fruit could and would produce supersensual, mental, and spiritual effects upon the nature of the first human pair. The tree of life was to impart the power of transformation into eternal life. The tree of knowledge was to lead man to the knowledge of good and evil; and, according to the divine intention, this was to be attained through his not eating of its fruit. This end was to be accomplished, not only by his discerning in the limit imposed by the prohibition the difference between that which accorded with the will of God and that which opposed it, but also by his coming eventually, through obedience to the prohibition, to recognise the fact that all that is opposed to the will of God is an evil to be avoided, and, through voluntary resistance to such evil, to the full development of the freedom of choice originally imparted to him into the actual freedom of a deliberate and self-conscious choice of good. By obedience to the divine will he would have attained to a godlike knowledge of good and evil, i.e., to one in accordance with his own likeness to God. He would have detected the evil in the approaching tempter; but instead of yielding to it, he would have resisted it, and thus have made good his own property acquired with consciousness and of his own free-will, and in this way by proper self-determination would gradually have advanced to the possession of the truest liberty. But as he failed to keep this divinely appointed way, and ate the forbidden fruit in opposition to the command of God, the power imparted by God to the fruit was manifested in a different way. He learned the difference between good and evil from his own guilty experience, and by receiving the evil into his own soul, fell a victim to the threatened death. Thus through his own fault the tree, which should have helped him to attain true freedom, brought nothing but the sham liberty of sin, and with it death, and that without any demoniacal power of destruction being conjured into the tree itself, or any fatal poison being hidden in its fruit.
Creation of the Woman. - As the creation of the man is introduced in Genesis 1:26-27, with a divine decree, so here that of the woman is preceded by the divine declaration, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him כּנגדּו עזר , a help of his like: “i.e., a helping being, in which, as soon as he sees it, he may recognise himself” ( Delitzsch). Of such a help the man stood in need, in order that he might fulfil his calling, not only to perpetuate and multiply his race, but to cultivate and govern the earth. To indicate this, the general word כנגדו עזר is chosen, in which there is an allusion to the relation of the sexes. To call out this want, God brought the larger quadrupeds and birds to the man, “ to see what he would call them ( לו lit., each one); and whatsoever the man might call every living being should be its name.” The time when this took place must have been the sixth day, on which, according to Genesis 1:27, the man and woman were created: and there is no difficulty in this, since it would not have required much time to bring the animals to Adam to see what he would call them, as the animals of paradise are all we have to think of; and the deep sleep into which God caused the man to fall, till he had formed the woman from his rib, need not have continued long. In Genesis 1:27 the creation of the woman is linked with that of the man; but here the order of sequence is given, because the creation of the woman formed a chronological incident in the history of the human race, which commences with the creation of Adam. The circumstance that in Genesis 2:19 the formation of the beasts and birds is connected with the creation of Adam by the imperf. c. ו consec., constitutes to objection to the plan of creation given in Gen 1. The arrangement may be explained on the supposition, that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beasts, went back to their creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historians, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same thought would be simply this: “God brought to Adam the beasts which He had formed.”
(Note: A striking example of this style of narrative we find in 1 Kings 7:13. First of all, the building and completion of the temple are noticed several times in 1 Kings 6, and the last time in connection with the year and month (1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 6:14, 1 Kings 6:37-38); after that, the fact is stated, that the royal palace was thirteen years in building; and then the writer proceeds thus: “And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram from Tyre...and he came to king Solomon, and did all his work; and made the two pillars,” etc. Now, if we were to understand the historical preterite with consec., here, as giving the order of sequence, Solomon would be made to send for the Tyrian artist, thirteen years after the temple was finished, to come and prepare the pillars for the porch, and all the vessels needed for the temple. But the writer merely expresses in Semitic style the simple thought, that “Hiram, whom Solomon fetched from Tyre, made the vessels,” etc. Another instance we find in Judges 2:6.)
Moreover, the allusion is not to the creation of all the beasts, but simply to that of the beasts living in the field (game and tame cattle), and of the fowls of the air-to beasts, therefore, which had been formed like man from the earth, and thus stood in a closer relation to him than water animals or reptiles. For God brought the animals to Adam, to show him the creatures which were formed to serve him, that He might see what he would call them. Calling or naming presupposes acquaintance. Adam is to become acquainted with the creatures, to learn their relation to him, and by giving them names to prove himself their lord. God does not order him to name them; but by bringing the beasts He gives him an opportunity of developing that intellectual capacity which constitutes his superiority to the animal world. “The man sees the animals, and thinks of what they are and how they look; and these thoughts, in themselves already inward words, take the form involuntarily of audible names, which he utters to the beasts, and by which he places the impersonal creatures in the first spiritual relation to himself, the personal being” ( Delitzsch). Language, as W. v. Humboldt says, is “the organ of the inner being, or rather the inner being itself as it gradually attains to inward knowledge and expression.” It is merely thought cast into articulate sounds or words. The thoughts of Adam with regard to the animals, to which he gave expression in the names that he gave them, we are not to regard as the mere results of reflection, or of abstraction from merely outward peculiarities which affected the senses; but as a deep and direct mental insight into the nature of the animals, which penetrated far deeper than such knowledge as is the simple result of reflecting and abstracting thought. The naming of the animals, therefore, led to this result, that there was not found a help meet for man. Before the creation of the woman we must regard the man (Adam) as being “neither male, in the sense of complete sexual distinction, nor androgynous as though both sexes were combined in the one individual created at the first, but as created in anticipation of the future, with a preponderant tendency, a male in simple potentiality, out of which state he passed, the moment the woman stood by his side, when the mere potentia became an actual antithesis” ( Ziegler).
Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man (Genesis 2:21). תּרדּמּה , a deep sleep, in which all consciousness of the outer world and of one's own existence vanishes. Sleep is an essential element in the nature of man as ordained by God, and is quite as necessary for man as the interchange of day and night for all nature besides. But this deep sleep was different from natural sleep, and God caused it to fall upon the man by day, that He might create the woman out of him. “Everything out of which something new is to spring, sinks first of all into such a sleep” ( Ziegler). צלע means the side, and, as a portion of the human body, the rib. The correctness of this meaning, which is given by all the ancient versions, is evident from the words, “ God took one of his צלעות ,” which show that the man had several of them. “ And closed up flesh in the place thereof;” i.e., closed the gap which had been made, with flesh which He put in the place of the rib. The woman was created, not of dust of the earth, but from a rib of Adam, because she was formed for an inseparable unity and fellowship of life with the man, and the mode of her creation was to lay the actual foundation for the moral ordinance of marriage. As the moral idea of the unity of the human race required that man should not be created as a genus or plurality,
(Note: Natural science can only demonstrate the unity of the human race, not the descent of all men from one pair, though many naturalists question and deny even the former, but without any warrant from anthropological facts. For every thorough investigation leads to the conclusion arrived at by the latest inquirer in this department, Th. Waitz, that not only are there no facts in natural history which preclude the unity of the various races of men, and fewer difficulties in the way of this assumption than in that of the opposite theory of specific diversities; but even in mental respects there are no specific differences within the limits of the race. Delitzsch has given an admirable summary of the proofs of unity. “That the races of men,” he says, “are not species of one genus, but varieties of one species, is confirmed by the agreement in the physiological and pathological phenomena in them all, by the similarity in the anatomical structure, in the fundamental powers and traits of the mind, in the limits to the duration of life, in the normal temperature of the body and the average rate of pulsation, in the duration of pregnancy, and in the unrestricted fruitfulness of marriages between the various races.”)
so the moral relation of the two persons establishing the unity of the race required that man should be created first, and then the woman from the body of the man. By this the priority and superiority of the man, and the dependence of the woman upon the man, are established as an ordinance of divine creation. This ordinance of God forms the root of that tender love with which the man loves the woman as himself, and by which marriage becomes a type of the fellowship of love and life, which exists between the Lord and His Church (Ephesians 5:32). If the fact that the woman was formed from a rib, and not from any other part of the man, is significant; all that we can find in this is, that the woman was made to stand as a helpmate by the side of the man, not that there was any allusion to conjugal love as founded in the heart; for the text does not speak of the rib as one which was next the heart. The word בּנה is worthy of note: from the rib of the man God builds the female, through whom the human race is to be built up by the male (Genesis 16:2; Genesis 30:3).
The design of God in the creation of the woman is perceived by Adam, as soon as he awakes, when the woman is brought to him by God. Without a revelation from God, he discovers in the woman “ bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.” The words, “ this is now ( הפּעם lit., this time) bone of my bones,” etc., are expressive of joyous astonishment at the suitable helpmate, whose relation to himself he describes in the words, “ she shall be called Woman, for she is taken out of man.” אשּׁה is well rendered by Luther, “ Männin ” (a female man), like the old Latin vira from vir . The words which follow, “ therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” are not to be regarded as Adam's, first on account of the על־כּן , which is always used in Genesis, with the exception of Genesis 20:6; Genesis 42:21, to introduce remarks of the writer, either of an archaeological or of a historical character, and secondly, because, even if Adam on seeing the woman had given prophetic utterance to his perception of the mystery of marriage, he could not with propriety have spoken of father and mother. They are the words of Moses, written to bring out the truth embodied in the fact recorded as a divinely appointed result, to exhibit marriage as the deepest corporeal and spiritual unity of man and woman, and to hold up monogamy before the eyes of the people of Israel as the form of marriage ordained by God. But as the words of Moses, they are the utterance of divine revelation; and Christ could quote them, therefore, as the word of God (Matthew 19:5). By the leaving of father and mother, which applies to the woman as well as to the man, the conjugal union is shown to be a spiritual oneness, a vital communion of heart as well as of body, in which it finds its consummation. This union is of a totally different nature from that of parents and children; hence marriage between parents and children is entirely opposed to the ordinance of God. Marriage itself, notwithstanding the fact that it demands the leaving of father and mother, is a holy appointment of God; hence celibacy is not a higher or holier state, and the relation of the sexes for a pure and holy man is a pure and holy relation. This is shown in Genesis 2:25: “ They were both naked ערוּמּים , with dagesh in the מ , is an abbreviated form of עירמּים Genesis 3:7, from עוּר to strip), the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Their bodies were sanctified by the spirit, which animated them. Shame entered first with sin, which destroyed the normal relation of the spirit to the body, exciting tendencies and lusts which warred against the soul, and turning the sacred ordinance of God into sensual impulses and the lust of the flesh.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Genesis 2". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent