Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
- The Seventh Day
1. צבא tsābā' "a host in marching order," a company of persons or things in the order of their nature and the progressive discharge of their functions. Hence, it is applied to the starry host Deu 4:19, to the angelic host Kg1 22:19, to the host of Israel Exo 12:41, and to the ministering Levites Num 4:23. κόσμος kosmos.
2. חשׁביעי chashebı̂y‛ı̂y. Here השׁשׁי hashshı̂y is read by the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, the Syriac, and Josephus. The Masoretic reading, however, is preferable, as the sixth day was completed in the preceding paragraph: to finish a work on the seventh day is, in Hebrew phrase, not to do any part of it on that day, but to cease from it as a thing already finished; and "resting," in the subsequent part of the verse, is distinct from "finishing," being the positive of which the latter is the negative.
שׁבת shābat "rest." ישׁב yāshab "sit."
3. קדשׁ qādı̂sh "be separate, clean, holy, set apart for a sacred use."
In this section we have the institution of the day of rest, the Sabbath שׁבת shabāt, on the cessation of God from his creative activity.
And all the host of them. - All the array of luminaries, plants, and animals by which the darkness, waste, and solitude of sky and land were removed, has now been called into unhindered action or new existence. The whole is now finished; that is, perfectly suited at length for the convenience of man, the high-born inhabitant of this fair scene. Since the absolute beginning of things the earth may have undergone many changes of climate and surface before it was adapted for the residence of man. But it has received the finishing touch in these last six days. These days accordingly are to man the only period of creation, since the beginning of time, of special or personal interest. The preceding interval of progressive development and periodical creation is, in regard to him, condensed into a point of time. The creative work of the six days is accordingly called the "making," or fitting up for man of "the skies and the land and the sea, and all that in them is" (Exo 20:10 (Exo 20:11)).
Then finished. - To finish a work, in Hebrew conception, is to cease from it, to have done with it. "On the seventh day." The seventh day is distinguished from all the preceding days by being itself the subject of the narrative. In the absence of any work on this day, the Eternal is occupied with the day itself, and does four things in reference to it. First, he ceased from his work which he had made. Secondly, he rested. By this was indicated that his undertaking was accomplished. When nothing more remains to be done, the purposing agent rests contented. The resting of God arises not from weariness, but from the completion of his task. He is refreshed, not by the recruiting of his strength, but by the satisfaction of having before him a finished good Exo 31:17.
Thirdly, he blessed the seventh day. Blessing results in the bestowment of some good on the object blessed. The only good that can be bestowed on a portion of time is to dedicate it to a noble use, a special and pleasing enjoyment. Accordingly, in the forth place, he hallowed it or set it apart to a holy rest. This consecration is the blessing conferred on the seventh day. It is devoted to the rest that followed, when God's work was done, to the satisfaction and delight arising from the consciousness of having achieved his end, and from the contemplation of the good he has realized. Our joy on such occasions is expressed by mutual visitation, congratulation, and hospitality. None of these outward demonstrations is mentioned here, and would be, so far as the Supreme Being is concerned, altogether out of place. But our celebration of the Sabbath naturally includes the holy convocation or solemn meeting together in joyful mood Lev 23:3, the singing of songs of thanksgiving in commemoration of our existence and our salvation (Exo 20:11 (Exo 20:10; Deu 5:15), the opening of our mouths to God in prayer, and the opening of God's mouth to us in the reading and preaching of the Word. The sacred rest which characterizes the day precludes the labor and bustle of hospitable entertainment. But the Lord at set times spreads for us his table laden with the touching emblems of that spiritual fare which gives eternal life.
The solemn act of blessing and hallowing is the institution of a perpetual order of seventh-day rest: in the same manner as the blessing of the animals denoted a perpetuity of self-multiplication, and the blessing of man indicated further a perpetuity of dominion over the earth and its products. The present record is a sufficient proof that the original institution was never forgotten by man. If it had ceased to be observed by mankind, the intervening event of the fall would have been sufficient to account for its discontinuance. It is not, indeed, the manner of Scripture, especially in a record that often deals with centuries of time, to note the ordinary recurrence of a seventh-day rest, or any other periodical festival, even though it may have taken firm hold among the hereditary customs of social life. Yet incidental traces of the keeping of the Sabbath are found in the record of the deluge, when the sacred writer has occasion to notice short intervals of time. The measurement of time by weeks then appears Gen 8:10, Gen 8:12. The same division of time again comes up in the history of Jacob Gen 29:27-28. This unit of measure is traceable to nothing but the institution of the seventh-day rest.
This institution is a new evidence that we have arrived at the stage of rational creatures. The number of days employed in the work of creation shows that we are come to the times of man. The distinction of times would have no meaning to the irrational world. But apart from this consideration, the seventh-day rest is not an ordinance of nature. It makes no mark in the succession of physical things. It has no palpable effect on the merely animal world. The sun rises, the moon and the stars pursue their course; the plants grow, the flowers blow, the fruit ripens; the brute animal seeks its food and provides for its young on this as on other days. The Sabbath, therefore, is founded, not in nature, but in history. Its periodical return is marked by the numeration of seven days. It appeals not to instinct, but to memory, to intelligence. A reason is assigned for its observance; and this itself is a step above mere sense, an indication that the era of man has begun. The reason is thus expressed: "Because in it he had rested from all his work." This reason is found in the procedure of God; and God himself, as well as all his ways, man alone is competent in any measure to apprehend.
It is consonant with our ideas of the wisdom and righteousness of God to believe that the seventh-day rest is adjusted to the physical nature of man and of the animals which he domesticates as beasts of labor. But this is subordinate to its original end, the commemoration of the completion of God's creative work by a sacred rest, which has a direct bearing, as we learn from the record of its institution, on metaphysical and moral distinctions.
The rest here, it is to be remembered, is God's rest. The refreshment is God's refreshment, which arises rather from the joy of achievement than from the relief of fatigue. Yet the work in which God was engaged was the creation of man and the previous adaptation of the world to be his home. Man's rest, therefore, on this day is not only an act of communion with God in the satisfaction of resting after his work was done, but, at the same time, a thankful commemoration of that auspicious event in which the Almighty gave a noble origin and a happy existence to the human race. It is this which, even apart from its divine institution, at once raises the Sabbath above all human commemorative festivals, and imparts to it, to its joys and to its modes of expressing them, a height of sacredness and a force of obligation which cannot belong to any mere human arrangement.
In order to enter upon the observance of this day with intelligence, therefore, it was necessary that the human pair should have been acquainted with the events recorded in the preceding chapter. They must have been informed of the original creation of all things, and therefore of the eternal existence of the Creator. Further, they must have been instructed in the order and purpose of the six days' creation, by which the land and sky were prepared for the residence of man. They must in consequence have learned that they themselves were created in the image of God, and intended to have dominion over all the animal world. This information would fill their pure and infantile minds with thoughts of wonder, gratitude, and complacential delight, and prepare them for entering upon the celebration of the seventh-day rest with the understanding and the heart. It is scarcely needful to add that this was the first full day of the newly-created pair in their terrestrial home. This would add a new historical interest to this day above all others. We cannot say how much time it would take to make the parents of our race aware of the meaning of all these wondrous events. But there can be no reasonable doubt that he who made them in his image could convey into their minds such simple and elementary conceptions of the origin of themselves and the creatures around them as would enable them to keep even the first Sabbath with propriety. And these conceptions would rise into more enlarged, distinct, and adequate notions of the reality of things along with the general development of their mental faculties. This implies, we perceive, an oral revelation to the very first man. But it is premature to pursue this matter any further at present.
The recital of the resting of God on this day is not closed with the usual formula, "and evening was, and morning was, day seventh." The reason of this is obvious. In the former days the occupation of the Eternal Being was definitely concluded in the period of the one day. On the seventh day, however, the rest of the Creator was only commenced, has thence continued to the present hour, and will not be fully completed till the human race has run out its course. When the last man has been born and has arrived at the crisis of his destiny, then may we expect a new creation, another putting forth of the divine energy, to prepare the skies above and the earth beneath for a new stage of man's history, in which he will appear as a race no longer in process of development, but completed in number, confirmed in moral character, transformed in physical constitution, and so adapted for a new scene of existence. Meanwhile, the interval between the creation now recorded and that prognosticated in subsequent revelations from heaven Isa 65:17; Pe2 3:13; Rev 21:1 is the long Sabbath of the Almighty, so far as this world is concerned, in which he serenely contemplates from the throne of his providence the strange workings and strivings of that intellectual and moral race he has called into being, the ebbings and flowings of ethical and physical good in their checkered history, and the final destiny to which each individual in the unfettered exercise of his moral freedom is incessantly advancing.
Hence, we gather some important lessons concerning the primeval design of the Sabbath. It was intended, not for God himself, whose Sabbath does not end until the consummation of all things, but for man, whose origin it commemorates and whose end it foreshadows Mar 2:27. It not obscurely hints that work is to be the main business of man in the present stage of his existence. This work may be either an exhilerating exercise of those mental and corporeal faculties with which he is endowed, or a toilsome labor, a constant struggle for the means of life, according to the use he may make of his inborn liberty.
But between the sixfold periods of work is interposed the day of rest, a free breathing time for man, in which he may recall his origin from and meditate on his relationship to God. It lifts him out of the routine of mechanical or even intellectual labor into the sphere of conscious leisure and occasional participation with his Maker in his perpetual rest. It is also a type of something higher. It whispers into his soul an audible presentiment of a time when his probationary career will be over, his faculties will be matured by the experience and the education of time, and he will be transformed and translated to a higher stage of being, where he will hold uninterrupted fellowship with his Creator in the perpetual leisure and liberty of the children of God. This paragraph completes the first of the eleven documents into which Genesis is separable, and the first grand stage in the narrative of the ways of God with man. It is the keystone of the arch in the history of that primeval creation to which we belong. The document which it closes is distinguished from those that succeed in several important respects:
First, it is a diary; while the others are usually arranged in generations or life-periods.
Secondly, it is a complete drama, consisting of seven acts with a prologue. These seven stages contain two triads of action, which match each other in all respects, and a seventh constituting a sort of epilogue or completion of the whole.
Though the Scripture takes no notice of any significance or sacredness inherent in particular numbers, yet we cannot avoid associating them with the objects to which they are prominently applied. The number one is especially applicable to the unity of God. Two, the number of repetition, is expressive of emphasis or confirmation, as the two witnesses. Three marks the three persons or hypostases in God. Four notes the four quarters of the world, and therefore reminds us of the physical system of things, or the cosmos. Five is the haIf of ten, the whole, and the basis of our decimal numeration. Seven, being composed of twice three and one, is especially suited for sacred uses; being the sum of three and four, it points to the communion of God with man. It is, therefore, the number of sacred fellowship. Twelve is the product of three and four, and points to the reconciliation of God and man: it is therefore the number of the church. Twenty-two and eleven, being the whole and the half of the Hebrew alphabet, have somewhat the same relation as ten and five. Twenty-four points to the New Testament, or completed church.
The other documents do not exhibit the sevenfold structure, though they display the same general laws of composition. They are arranged according to a plan of their own, and are all remarkable for their simplicity, order, and perspicuity.
Thirdly, the matter of the first differs from that of the others. The first is a record of creation; the others of development. This is sufficient to account for the diversity of style and plan. Each piece is admirably adapted to the topic of which it treats.
Fourthly, the first document is distinguished from the second by the use of the term אלהים ‛Elohiym only for the Supreme Being. This name is here appropriate, as the Everlasting One here steps forth from the inscrutable secrecy of his immutable perfection to crown the latest stage of our planet's history with a new creation adapted to its present conditions. Before all creation he was the Everduring, the Unchangeable, and therefore the blessed and only Potentate, dwelling with himself in the unapproachable light of his own essential glory Ti1 6:15. From that ineffable source of all being came forth the free fiat of creation. After that transcendent event, He who was from everlasting to everlasting may receive new names expressive of the various relations in which he stands to the universe of created being. But before this relation was established these names could have no existence or significance.
Neither this last nor any of the former distinctions affords any argument for diversity of authorship. They arise naturally out of the diversity of matter, and are such as may proceed from an intelligent author judiciously adapting his style and plan to the variety of his topics. At the same time, identity of authorship is not essential to the historical validity or the divine authority of the elementary parts that are incorporated by Moses into the book of Genesis. It is only unnecessary to multiply authorship without a cause.
- Part II. The development
- Section II - The Man
- X. The Field
4. תולדות tôledôt "generations, products, developments." That which comes from any source, as the child from the parent, the record of which is history.
יהוה yehovâh. This word occurs about six thousand times in Scripture. It is obvious from its use that it is, so to speak, the proper name of God. It never has the article. It is never changed for construction with another noun. It is never accompanied with a suffix. It is never applied to any but the true God. This sacred exclusiveness of application, indeed, led the Jews to read always in place of it אדוני 'adônāy, or, if this preceded it, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, to intimate which the vowel points of one of these terms were subscribed to it. The root of this name is חוה chāvâh, an older variety of היה hāyâh, which, as we have seen, has three meanings, - "be" in the sense of coming into existence, "be" in that of becoming, and "be" in that of merely existing. The first of these meanings has no application to God, who had no beginning of existence.
The last applies to God, but affords no distinctive characteristic, as it belongs equally to all objects that have existence. The second is proper to God in the sense, not of acquiring any new attribute, but of becoming active from a state of repose. But he becomes active to the eye of man only by causing some new effect to be, which makes its appearance in the world of sensible things. He becomes, then, only by causing to be or to become. Hence, he that becomes, when applied to the Creator, is really he that causes to be. This name, therefore, involves the active or causative force of the root from which it springs, and designates God in relation with the system of things he has called into being, and especially with man, the only intelligent observer of him or of his works in this nether world. It distinguishes him as the Author of being, and therefore the Creator, the worker of miracles, the performer of promise, the keeper of covenant. Beginning with the י (y) of personality, it points out God as the person whose habitual character it has become to cause his purpose to take place. Hence, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym designates God as the Everlasting, the Almighty, in his unchangeable essence, as he is before as well as after creation. יהוה .noitaer yehvâh distinguishes him as the personal Self-existent, and Author of all existing things, who gives expression and effect to his purpose, manifests himself thereby as existing, and maintains a spiritual intercourse with his intelligent creatures.
The vowel marks usually placed under the consonants of this word are said to belong to אדוני 'adonāy; and its real pronunciation, which is supposed to be lost, is conjectured to have been יהוה yehovâh. This conjecture is supported by the analogy of the supposed antique third singular masculine imperfect of the verb הוה hāvâh, and by the Greek forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE which are found in certain authors (Diod. Sic. i. 19; Macrob. Saturn i. 18; Theodoret, Quaest. xv. ad Exod.). It is true, indeed, when it has a prefix all its vowels coincide with those of אדדי 'adonāy. But otherwise the vowel under the first letter is different, and the qamets at the end is as usual in proper names ending in the Hebrew letter ה (h) as in others. יהוה yehovâh also finds an anology in the word ירחם yerochām. In the forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE the Greek vowels doubtless represent the Hebrew consonants, and not any vowel points. The Hebrew letter ה (h) is often represented by the Greek letter α (a). From יהוה yaheovâh we may obtain רהוּ yehû at the end of compounds, and therefore, expect יהוּ yehû at the beginning. But the form at the beginning is יהו yehô or יו yô, which indicates the pronunciation יהוה yehovâh as current with the punctuators. All this countenances the suggestion that the casual agreement of the two nouns Yahweh and Adonai in the principal vowels was the circumstance that facilitated the Jewish endeavor to avoid uttering the proper name of God except on the most solemn occasions. יהוה yehovâh, moreover, rests on precarious grounds. The Hebrew analogy would give יהוה yı̂hveh not יהוה yehovâh for the verbal form. The middle vowel cholem (o) may indicate the intensive or active force of the root, but we lay no stress on the mode of pronunciation, since it cannot be positively ascertained.
5. שׂדה śādeh "plain, country, field," for pasture or tillage, in opposition to גן gan, "garden, park."
7. נשׂמה neśāmâh "breath," applied to God and man only.
We meet with no division again in the text till we come to Gen 3:15, when the first minor break in the narrative occurs. This is noted by the intervening space being less than the remainder of the line. The narrative is therefore so far regarded as continuous.
We are now entering upon a new plan of narrative, and have therefore to notice particularly that law of Hebrew composition by which one line of events is carried on without interruption to its natural resting-point; after which the writer returns to take up a collateral train of incidents, that are equally requisite for the elucidation of his main purpose, though their insertion in the order of time would have marred the symmetry and perspicuity of the previous narrative. The relation now about to be given is posterior, as a whole, to that already given as a whole; but the first incident now to be recorded is some time prior to the last of the preceding document.
Hitherto we have adhered closely to the form of the original in our rendering, and so have made use of some inversions which are foreign to our prose style. Hereafter we shall deviate as little as possible from the King James Version.
The document upon which we are now entering extends from Gen 2:4 to Gen. 4. In the second and third chapters the author uses the combination אלהים יהוה yehovâh 'ĕlohı̂ym "the Lord God," to designate the Supreme Being; in the fourth he drops אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym "God," and employs יהוה yehovâh "the Lord," alone. So far, then, as the divine appellation is concerned, the fourth chapter is as clearly separable from the second and third as the first document is from the present. If diversity of the divine name were a proof of diversity of authorship, we should here have two documents due to different authors, each of them different also from the author of the first document. The second and third chapters, though agreeing in the designation of God, are clearly distinguishable in style.
The general subject of this document is the history of man to the close of the line of Cain and the birth of Enosh. This falls into three clearly marked sections - the origin, the fall, and the family of Adam. The difference of style and phraseology in its several parts will be found to correspond with the diversity in the topics of which it treats. It reverts to an earlier point of time than that at which we had arrived in the former document, and proceeds upon a new plan, exactly adapted to the new occasion.
The present section treats of the process of nature which was simultaneous with the latter part of the supernatural process described in the preceding document. Its opening paragraph refers to the field.
This verse is the title of the present section. It states the subject of which it treats - "the generations of the skies and the land." The generations are the posterity or the progress of events relating to the posterity of the party to whom the term is applied Gen 5:1; Gen 6:9; Gen 10:1; Gen 11:10; Gen 37:2. The development of events is here presented under the figure of the descendants of a parental pair; the skies and the land being the metaphorical progenitors of those events, which are brought about by their conjunct operation.
It then notes the date at which the new narrative commences. "In their being created." This is the first or general date; namely, after the primary creation and during the course of the secondary. As the latter occupied six days, some of the processes of nature began before these days had elapsed. Next, therefore, is the more special date - "in the day of Yahweh God's making land and skies." Now, on looking back at the preceding narrative, we observe that the skies were adjusted and named on the second day, and the land on the third. Both, therefore, were completed on the third day, which accordingly is the opening date of the second branch of the narrative.
The uniqueness of the present section, therefore, is, that it combines the creative with the preservative agency of God. Creation and progress here go hand in hand for a season. The narrative here, then, overlaps half the time of the former, and at the end of the chapter has not advanced beyond its termination.
אלהים יהוה yehovâh 'ĕlohı̂ym "the Lord God." This phrase is here for the first time introduced. אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, as we have seen, is the generic term denoting God as the Everlasting, and therefore the Almighty, as he was before all worlds, and still continues to be, now that he is the sole object of supreme reverence to all intelligent creatures. Yahweh is the proper name of God to man, self-existent himself, the author of existence to all persons and things, and manifesting his existence to those whom he has made capable of such knowledge.
Hence, the latter name is appropriate to the present stage of our narrative. God has become active in a way worthy of himself, and at the same time unique to his nature. He has put forth his creative power in calling the universe into existence. He has now reconstituted the skies and the land, clothed the latter with a new vegetation, and peopled it with a new animal kingdom. Especially has he called into being an inhabitant of this earth made in his own image, and therefore capable of understanding his works and holding conversation with himself. To man he has now come to be in certain acts by which he has discovered himself and his power. And to man he has accordingly become known by a name which signalizes that new creative process of which man forms a prominent part. Yahweh - he who causes the successive events of time to come to pass in the sight and in the interest of man - is a name the special significance of which will come out on future occasions in the history of the ways of God with man.
The union of these two divine names, then, indicates him who was before all things, and by whom now all things consist. It also implies that he who is now distinguished by the new name Jehovah (יהוה yehovâh) is the same who was before called 'Elohiym. The combination of the names is specially suitable in a passage which records a concurrence of creation and development. The apposition of the two names is continued by the historian through this and the following chapter. The abstract and aboriginal name then gives way to the concrete and the historical.
The skies and the land at the beginning of the verse are given in order of their importance in nature, the skies being first as grander and higher than the land; at the end, in the order of their importance in the narrative, the land being before the skies, as the future scene of the events to be recorded.
This superscription, we see, presupposes the former document, as it alludes to the creation in general, and to the things made on the second and third days in particular, without directly narrating these events. This mode of referring to them implies that they were well known at the time of the narrator, either by personal observation or by testimony. Personal observation is out of the question in the present case. By the testimony of God, therefore, they were already known, and the preceding record is that testimony. The narrator of the second passage, therefore, even if not the same as that of the former, had to a moral certainty the first before his mind when composing the second.
This verse corresponds to the second verse of the preceding narrative. It describes the field or arable land in the absence of certain conditions necessary to the progress of vegetation. Plant and herb here comprise the whole vegetable world. Plants and herbs of the field are those which are to be found in the open land. A different statement is made concerning each.
Not a plant of the field was yet in the land. - Here it is to be remembered that the narrative has reverted to the third day of the preceding creation. At first sight, then, it might be supposed that the vegetable species were not created at the hour of that day to which the narrative refers. But it is not stated that young trees were not in existence, but merely that plants of the field were not yet in the land. Of the herbs it is only said that they had not yet sent forth a bud or blade. And the actual existence of both trees and herbs is implied in what follows. The reasons for the state of things above described are the lack of rain to water the soil, and of man to cultivate it. These would only suffice for growth if the vegetable seeds, at least, were already in existence. Now, the plants were made before the seeds Gen 1:11-12, and therefore the first full-grown and seed-bearing sets of each kind were already created. Hence, we infer that the state of things described in the text was this: The original trees were confined to a center of vegetation, from which it was intended that they should spread in the course of nature. At the present juncture, then, there was not a tree of the field, a tree of propagation, in the land; and even the created trees had not sent down a single root of growth into the land. And if they had dropped a seed, it was only on the land, and not in the land, as it had not yet struck root.
And not an herb of the field yet grew. - The herbage seems to have been more widely diffused than the trees. Hence, it is not said that they were not in the land, as it is said of field trees. But at the present moment not an herb had exhibited any signs of growth or sent forth a single blade beyond the immediate product of creative power.
Rain upon the land - and man to till it, were the two needs that retarded vegetation. These two means of promoting vegetable growth differed in their importance and in their mode of application. Moisture is absolutely necessary, and where it is supplied in abundance the shifting wind will in the course of time waft the seed. The browsing herds will aid in the same process of diffusion. Man comes in merely as an auxiliary to nature in preparing the soil and depositing the seeds and plants to the best advantage for rapid growth and abundant fruitfulness. The narrative, as usual, notes only the chief things. Rain is the only source of vegetable sap; man is the only intentional cultivator.
As in the former narrative, so here, the remaining part of the chapter is employed in recording the removal of the two hinderances to vegetation. The first of these is removed by the institution of the natural process by which rain is produced. The atmosphere had been adjusted so far as to admit of some light. But even on the third day a dense mass of clouds still shut out the heavenly bodies from view. But on the creation of plants the Lord God caused it to rain on the land. This is described in the verse before us. "A mist went up from the land." It had been ascending from the steaming, reeking land ever since the waters retired into the hollows. The briny moisture which could not promote vegetation is dried up. And now he causes the accumulated masses of cloud to burst forth and dissolve themselves in copious showers. Thus, "the mist watered the whole face of the soil." The face of the sky is thereby cleared, and on the following day the sun shone forth in all his cloudless splendor and fostering warmth.
On the fourth day, then, a second process of nature commenced. The bud began to swell, the tender blade to peep forth and assume its tint of green, the gentle breeze to agitate the full-sized plants, the first seeds to be shaken off and wafted to their resting-place, the first root to strike into the ground, and the first shoot to rise towards the sky.
This enables us to determine with some degree of probability the Season of the year when the creation took place. If we look to the ripe fruit on the first trees we presume that the season is autumn. The scattering of the seeds, the falling of the rains, and the need of a cultivator intimated in the text, point to the same period. In a genial climate the process of vegetation has its beginnings at the falling of the early rains. Man would be naturally led to gather the abundant fruit which fell from the trees, and thus, even unwittingly provide a store for the unbearing period of the year. It is probable, moreover, that he was formed in a region where vegetation was little interrupted by the coldest season of the year. This would be most favorable to the preservation of life in his state of primeval inexperience.
These presumptions are in harmony with the numeration of the months at the deluge Gen 7:11, and with the outgoing and the turn of the year at autumn Exo 23:16; Exo 34:22.
The second obstacle to the favorable progress of the vegetable kingdom is now removed. "And the Lord God formed the man of dust from the soil." This account of the origin of man differs from the former on account of the different end the author has in view. There his creation as an integral whole is recorded with special reference to his higher nature by which he was suited to hold communion with his Maker, and exercise dominion over the inferior creation. Here his constitution is described with marked regard to his adaptation to be the cultivator of the soil. He is a compound of matter and mind. His material part is dust from the soil, out of which he is formed as the potter moulds the vessel out of the clay. He is אדם 'ādām "Adam," the man of the soil, ארמה 'ădāmâh "adamah." His mission in this respect is to draw out the capabilities of the soil to support by its produce the myriads of his race.
His mental part is from another source. "And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." The word נשׁמה neshāmâh is invariably applied to God or man, never to any irrational creature. The "breath of life" is special to this passage. It expresses the spiritual and principal element in man, which is not formed, but breathed by the Creator into the physical form of man. This rational part is that in which he bears the image of God, and is suited to be his vicegerent on earth. As the earth was prepared to be the dwelling, so was the body to be the organ of that breath of life which is his essence, himself.
And the man became a living soul. - This term "living soul" is also applied to the water and land animals Gen 1:20-21, Gen 1:24. As by his body he is allied to earth and by his soul to heaven, so by the vital union of these he is associated with the whole animal kingdom, of which he is the constituted sovereign. This passage, therefore, aptly describes him as he is suited to dwell and rule on this earth. The height of his glory is yet to come out in his relation to the future and to God.
The line of narrative here reaches a point of repose. The second lack of the teeming soil is here supplied. The man to till the ground is presented in that form which exhibits his fitness for this appropriate and needful task. We are therefore at liberty to go back for another train of events which is essential to the progress of our narrative.
- XI. The Garden
8. גן gan "garden, park," παράδεισος paradeisos, "an enclosed piece of ground." עדן ‛ēden "Eden, delight." קדם qedem "fore-place, east; foretime."
11. פישׁון pı̂yshôn Pishon; related: "flow over, spread, leap." חוילה chăvı̂ylâh Chavilah. חול chôl "sand." חבל chebel "region."
12. בדלם bedolam, ἄνθραξ anthrax, "carbuncle," (Septuagint) Βδέλλιον bdellion, a gum of eastern countries, Arabia, India, Media (Josephus, etc.). The pearl (Kimchi). שׁהם sohām πράσινος prasinos, "leeklike," perhaps the beryl (Septuagint), ὄνυξ onux, "onyx, sardonyx," a precious stone of the color of the nail (Jerome).
13. גיחון gı̂ychôn Gichon; related: "break forth." כוּשׁ kûsh Kush; r. "heap, gather?"
14. חדקל דגלא dı̂glā' chı̂ddeqel Dijlah, "Tigris." חדק chād, "be sharp. rapidus," פרת perat Frat, Euphrates. The "sweet or broad stream." Old Persian, "frata," Sanskrit, "prathu," πλατύς platus.
This paragraph describes the planting of the garden of Eden, and determines its situation. It goes back, therefore, as we conceive, to the third day, and runs parallel with the preceding passage.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden to the east. - It is evident that the order of thought is here observed. For the formation of man with special allusion to his animal nature immediately suggests the means by which his physical needs are to be supplied. The order of time is an open question so far as the mere conjunction of the sentences is concerned. It can only be determined by other considerations.
Here, then, the writer either relates a new creation of trees for the occasion, or reverts to the occurrences of the third day. But though in the previous verses he declares the field to be without timber, yet in the account of the third day the creation of trees is recorded. Now, it is unnecessary, and therefore unreasonable, to assume two creations of trees at so short an interval of time. In the former paragraph the author advanced to the sixth day, in order to lay before his readers without any interruption the means by which the two conditions of vegetative progress were satisfied. This brings man into view, and his appearance gives occasion to speak of the means by which his needs were supplied.
For this purpose, the author drops the thread of events following the creation of man, and reverts to the third day. He describes more particularly what was then done. A center of vegetation was chosen for the trees, from which they were to be propagated by seed over the land. This central spot is called a garden or park. It is situated in a region which is distinguished by its name as a land of delight. It is said, as we understand, to be in the eastern quarter of Eden. For the word מקדם mı̂qedem "on the east" is most simply explained by referring to some point indicated in the text. There are two points to which it may here refer - the place where the man was created, and the country in which the garden was placed. But the man was not created at this time, and, moreover, the place of his creation is not indicated; and hence, we must refer to the country in which the garden was placed.
And put there the man whom he had formed. - The writer has still the formation of man in thought, and therefore proceeds to state that he was thereupon placed in the garden which had been prepared for his reception, before going on to give a description of the garden. This verse, therefore, forms a transition from the field and its cultivator to the garden and its inhabitants.
Without the previous document concerning the creation, however, it could not have been certainly known that a new line of narrative was taken up in this verse. Neither could we have discovered what was the precise time of the creation of the trees. Hence, this verse furnishes a new proof that the present document was composed, not as an independent production, but as a continuation of the former.
Having located the newly-formed man of whom he had spoken in the preceding paragraph, the author now returns to detail the planting and the watering of the garden. "And the Lord God made to grow out of the soil every tree likely for sight and good for food." We look on while the ornamental trees rise to gratify the sight, and the fruit trees present their mellow fare to the craving appetite. But pre-eminent among all we contemplate with curious wonder the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These will come under consideration at a future stage of our narrative.
Here is a river the source of which is in Eden. It passes into the garden and waters it. "And thence it was parted and became four heads." This statement means either that the single stream was divided into four branches, or that there was a division of the river system of the district into four principal streams, whose sources were all to be found in it, though one only passed through the garden. In the latter case the word נהר nâhār may be understood in its primary sense of a flowing of water in general. This flowing in all the parts of Eden resulted in four particular flowings or streams, which do not require to have been ever united. The subsequent land changes in this district during an interval of five or six thousand years prevent us from determining more precisely the meaning of the text.
Gen 2:11, Gen 2:12
The Pishon waters in its subsequent course the land of Havilah. This country is noted for the best gold, and for two other products, concerning which interpreters differ. Bedolach is, according to the Septuagint, the carbuncle or crystal; according to others, the pearl, or a particular kind of gum. The last is the more probable, if we regard the various Greek and Latin forms of the word: Βδέλλα bdella, Βδέλλιον bdellion, Josephus Ant. iii. 1, 6; οἱ δὲ μάδελκον hoi de madelkon, οἱ δὲ Βολχὸν καλοῦσι hoi de bolchon kalousi, Dioscor. i. 71; alii brochon appellant, alii malacham, alii maldacon, Pliny H. N. 12, 9. Pliny describes it as black, while the manna, which is compared with it Num 11:7, is white; but עין ‛ayı̂n the point of resemblance may refer not to color, but to transparence or some other visible quality. This transparent, aromatic gum is found in Arabia, Babylonia, Bactriana, Media, and India. Shoham is variously conjectured to be the beryl, onyx, sardonyx, or emerald. The first, according to Pliny, is found in India and about Pontus. As the name Pishon means the gushing or spouting current, it may have been applied to many a stream by the migratory tribes. The Halys perhaps contains the same root with Havilah; namely, הול hvl (Rawlinson's Her. i., p. 126); and it rises in Armenia (Herod. i. 72). The Chalybes in Pontus, perhaps, contain the same root. The Pishon may have been the Halys or some other stream flowing into the Black Sea.
Gen 2:13, Gen 2:14
Gihon, the second river, flows by the land of Kush. It is possible that the name Kush remains in Caucasus and in the Caspian. The Gihon is the stream that breaks or bursts forth; a quality common to many rivers. The name is preserved in the Jyhoon, flowing into the sea of Aral. Here it probably designates the leading stream flowing out of Armenia into the Caspian, or in that direction. Hiddekel, the third, goes in front, or on the east of Asshur. The original Asshur embraced northern Mesopotamia, as well as the slopes of the mountain range on the other side of the Tigris. Perath, the fourth, is the well-known Frat or Euphrates.
In endeavoring to determine the situation of Eden, it is evident we can only proceed on probable grounds. The deluge, and even the distance of time, warrant us in presuming great land changes to have taken place since this geographical description applied to the country. Let us see, however, to what result the simple reading of the text will lead us. A river is said to flow out of Eden into the garden. This river is not named, and may, in a primary sense of the term, denote the running water of the district in general. This is then said to be parted into four heads - the upper courses of four great rivers. One of these rivers is known to this day as the Frat or Euphrates. A second is with almost equal unanimity allowed to be the Dijlah or Tigris. The sources of these lie not far asunder, in the mountains of Armenia, and in the neighborhood of the lakes Van and Urumiah. Somewhere in this region must have been the celebrated but unnamed stream. The Hiddekel flowed east of Asshur; the primitive portion of which seems therefore to have been in Mesopotamia. The Gihon may have flowed into the Caspian, on the banks of which was the original Kush. The Pishon may have turned towards the Euxine, and compassed the primitive Havilah, lying to the south and east of that sea.
It may be said that the Kush and Havilah of later times belong to different localities. This, however, is no solid objection, on two grounds:
First. Geography affords numerous examples of the transferrence of names from one place to another along the line of migration. Thus, Galatia in Asia Minor would be inexplicable or misleading, did not history inform us that tribes from Gallia had settled there and given their name to the province. We may therefore expect names to travel with the tribes that bear them or love them, until they come to their final settlements. Hence, Kush may have been among the Caucasian glens and on the Caspian shores. In the progress of his development, whether northward or southward, he may have left his mark in Kossaea and Kissia, while he sent his colonies into southern Arabia Aethiopia and probably India.
Second. Countries agreeing in name may be totally unconnected either in time or place. Thus, in the table of nations we meet with two persons called Havilah Gen 10:7, Gen 10:29; the one a Kushite, who settled probably in the south of Arabia, the other a Joctanite, who occupied a more northerly locality in the same peninsula. A primitive Havilah, different from both, may have given his name to the region southeast of the Euxine.
The rivers Pishon and Gihon may have been greatly altered or even effaced by the deluge and other causes. Names similar to these may be found in various places. They cannot prove much more than resemblance in language, and that may be sometimes very remote. There is one other Gihon mentioned in Scripture Kg1 1:33, and several like names occur in profane history. At first sight it seems to be stated that the one stream branched into four. If so, this community of origin has disappeared among the other changes of the country. But in the original text the words "and thence" come before the verb "parted." This verb has no subject expressed, and may have its subject implied in itself. The meaning of the sentence will then be, "and thence," after the garden had been watered by the river, "it," the river, or the water system of the country, "was parted into four heads." We cannot tell, and it is not material, which of these interpretations correctly represents the original fact.
According to the above view, the land and garden of Eden lay in Armenia, around the lakes Van and Urumiah, or the district where these lakes now are. The country here is to this day a land of delight, and very well suited in many respects to be the cradle of the human race. There is only one other locality that has any claim to probability from an examination of Scripture. It is the alluvial ground where the Euphrates and Tigris unite their currents, and then again separate into two branches, by which their waters are discharged into the Persian Gulf. The neck in which they are united is the river that waters the garden. The rivers, before they unite, and the branches, after they separate; are the four rivers. The claim of this position to acceptance rests on the greater contiguity to Kissia or Susiana, a country of the Kushites, on the one side and on the other to Havilah, a district of Arabia, as well as its proximity to Babel, where the confusion of tongues took place. These claims do not constrain our assent. Susiana is nearer the Tigris itself than the present eastern branch after the separation. Havilah is not very near the western branch. If Babel be near, Armenia, where the ark rested, is very far away. Against this position is the forced meaning it puts on the text by its mode of accounting for the four rivers. The garden river in the text rises in Eden, and the whole four have their upper currents in that land. All is different in the case here supposed. Again, the land of Shinar is a great wheat country, and abounds in the date palm. But it is not otherwise distinguished for trees. It is a land of the simoon, the mirage, and the drought, and its summer heat is oppressive and enfeebling. It cannot therefore claim to be a land of delight (Eden), either in point of climate or variety of produce. It is not, consequently, so well suited as the northern position, either to the description in the text or the requirements of primeval man.
It is evident that this geographical description must have been written long after the document in which it is found might have been composed. Mankind must have multiplied to some extent, have spread themselves along these rivers, and become familiar with the countries here designated. All this might have taken place in the lifetime of Adam, and so have been put on record, or handed down by tradition from an eye-witness. But it is remarkable that the three names of countries reappear as proper names among the descendants of Noah after the flood.
Hence, arises a question of great interest concerning the composition of the document in which they are originally found. If these names be primeval, the document in its extant form may have been composed in the time of Adam, and therefore before the deluge. In this case Moses has merely authenticated it and handed it down in its proper place in the divine record. And the sons of Noah, from some unexplained association, have adopted the three names and perpetuated them as family names. If, on the other hand, these countries are named after the descendants of Noah, the geographical description of the garden must have been composed after these men had settled in the countries to which they have given their names. At the same time, these territorial designations apply to a time earlier than Moses; hence, the whole document may have been composed in the time of Noah, who survived the deluge three hundred and fifty years, and may have witnessed the settlement and the designation of these countries. And, lastly, if not put together in its present form by any previous writer, then the document is directly from the pen of Moses, who composed it out of pre-existent memorials. And as the previous document was solely due to inspiration, we shall in this case be led to ascribe the whole of Genesis to Moses as the immediate human composer.
It must be admitted that any of these ways of accounting for the existing form of this document is within the bounds of possibility. But the question is, Which is the most probable? We are in a fair position for discussing this question in a dispassionate manner, and without any anxiety, inasmuch as on any of the three suppositions Moses, who lived long after the latest event expressed or implied, is the acknowledged voucher for the document before us. It becomes us to speak with great moderation and caution on a point of so remote antiquity. To demonstrate this may be one of the best results of this inquiry.
I. The following are some of the grounds for the theory that the names of countries in the document are original and antediluvian:
First, it was impossible to present to the postdiluvians in later terms the exact features and conditions of Eden, because many of these were obliterated. The four rivers no longer sprang from one. Two of the rivers remained, indeed, but the others had been so materially altered as to be no longer clearly distinguishable. The Euxine and the Caspian may now cover their former channels. In circumstances like these later names would not answer.
Second, though the name Asshur represents a country nearly suitable to the original conditions, Havilah and Kush cannot easily have their postdiluvian meanings in the present passage. The presumption that they have has led interpreters into vain and endless conjectures. Supposing Kush to be Aethiopia, many have concluded the Gihon to be the Nile, which in that case must have had the same fountain-head, or at least risen in the same region with the Euphrates. Others, supposing it to be a district of the Tigris, near the Persian Gulf, imagine the Gihon to be one of the mouths of the united Euphrates and Tigris, and thus, give a distorted sense to the statement that the four streams issued from one. This supposition, moreover, rests on the precarious hypothesis that the two rivers had always a common neck. The supposition that Havilah was in Arabia or on the Indian Ocean is liable to the same objections. Hence, the presumption that these names are postdiluvian embarrasses the meaning of the passage.
Third, if these names be primeval, the present document in its integrity may have been composed in the time of Adam; and this accounts in the most satisfactory manner for the preservation of these traditions of the primitive age.
Fourth, the existence of antediluvian documents containing these original names would explain in the simplest manner the difference in the localities signified by them before and after the deluge. This difference has tended to invalidate the authenticity of the book in the eyes of some; whereas the existence of antiquated names in a document, though failing to convey to us much historical information, is calculated to impress us with a sense of its antiquity and authenticity. And this is of more importance than a little geographical knowledge in a work whose paramount object is to teach moral and religious truth.
Fifth, it is the habit of the sacred writers not to neglect the old names of former writers, but to append to them or conjoin with them the later or better known equivalents, when they wish to present a knowledge of the place and its former history. Thus, "Bela, this is Zoar" Gen 14:2, Gen 14:8; "Kiriath-Arba, this is Hebron" Gen 33:2; "Ephrath, this is Bethlehem" Gen 35:19.
Sixth, these names would be orignally personal; and hence, we can see a sufficient reason why the sons of Noah renewed them in their families, as they were naturally disposed to perpetuate the memory of their distinguished ancestors.
II. The second hypothesis, that the present form of the document originated in the time of Noah, after the flood, is supported by the following considerations:
First, it accounts for the three names of countries in the easiest manner. The three descendants of Noah had by this time given their names to these countries. The supposition of a double origin or application of these names is not necessary.
Second, it accounts for the change in the localities bearing these names. The migrations and dispersions of tribes carried the names to new and various districts in the time intervening between Noah and Moses.
Third, it represents with sufficient exactness the locality of the garden. The deluge may not have greatly altered the general features of the countries. It may not be intended to represent the four rivers as derived from any common head stream; it may only be meant that the water system of the country gathered into four principal rivers. The names of all these are primeval. Two of them have descended to our days, because a permanent body of natives remained on their banks. The other two names have changed with the change of the inhabitants.
Fourth, it allows for primeval documents, if such existed of so early a date. The surviving document was prepared from such preexisting writings, or from oral traditions of early days, as yet unalloyed with error in the God-fearing family of Noah.
Fifth, it is favored by the absence of explanatory proper names, which we might have expected if there had been any change known at the time of composition.
III. The hypothesis that Moses was not merely the authenticator, but the composer of this as well as the preceding and subsequent documents of Genesis, has some very strong grounds.
First, it explains the local names with the same simplicity as in the preceding case (1).
Second, it allows for primeval and successive documents equally well (4), the rivers Pishon and Gihon and the primary Havilah and Kush being still in the memory of man, though they disappeared from the records of later times.
Third, it notifies with fidelity to the attentive reader the changes in the geographical designations of the past.
Fourth, it accounts for the occurrence of comparatively late names of localities in an account of primeval times.
Fifth, it explains the extreme brevity of these ancient notices. If documents had been composed from time to time and inserted in their original state in the book of God, it must have been a very voluminous and unmanageable record at a very early period.
These presumptions might now be summed up and compared, and the balance of probability struck, as is usually done. But we feel bound not to do so. First. We have not all the possibilities before us, neither is it in the power of human imagination to enumerate them, and therefore we have not the whole data for a calculation of probabilities. Second. We have enough to do with facts, without elevating probabilities into the rank of facts, and thereby hopelessly embarrassing the whole premises of our deductive knowledge. Philosophy, and in particular the philosophy of criticism, has suffered long from this cause. Its very first principles have been overlaid with foregone conclusions, and its array of seeming facts has been impaired and enfeebled by the presence of many a sturdy probability or improbability in the solemn guise of a mock fact. Third. The supposed fact of a set of documents composed by successive authors, duly labelled and handed down to Moses to be merely collected into the book of Genesis, if it was lurking in any mind, stands detected as only a probability or improbability at best. The second document implies facts, which are possibly not recorded until the fifth. Fourth. And, lastly, there is no impossibility or improbability in Moses being not the compiler but the immediate author of the whole of Genesis, though it be morally certain that he had oral or written memoranda of the past before his mind.
- XII. The Command
15. נוּח nûach "rest, dwell." עבד ‛ābad "work, till, serve." שׁמר shāmar "keep, guard."
We have here the education of man summed up in a single sentence. Let us endeavor to unfold the great lessons that are here taught.
The Lord God took the man. - The same omnipotent hand that made him still held him. "And put him into the garden." The original word is "caused him to rest," or dwell in the garden as an abode of peace and recreation. "To dress it and to keep it." The plants of nature, left to their own course, may degenerate and become wild through the poverty of the soil on which they alight, or the gradual exhaustion of a once rich soil. The hand of rational man, therefore, has its appropriate sphere in preparing and enriching the soil, and in distributing the seeds and training the shoots in the way most favorable for the full development of the plant, and especially of its seed or fruits. This "dressing" was needed even in the garden. The "keeping" of it may refer to the guarding of it by enclosure from the depredations of the cattle, the wild beasts, or even the smaller animals. It includes also the faithful preservation of it as a trust committed to man by his bounteous Maker. There was now a man to till the soil. The second need of the world of plants was now supplied. Gardening was the first occupation of primeval man.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying. - This is a pregnant sentence. It involves the first principles of our intellectual and moral philosophy.
I. The command here given in words brings into activity the intellectual nature of man. First, the power of understanding language is called forth. The command here addressed to him by his Maker is totally different from the blessings addressed to the animals in the preceding chapter. It was not necessary that these blessings should be understood in order to be carried into effect, inasmuch as He who pronounced them gave the instincts and powers requisite to their accomplishment. But this command addressed to man in words must be understood in order to be obeyed. The capacity for understanding language, then, was originally lodged in the constitution of man, and only required to be called out by the articulate voice of God. Still there is something wonderful here, something beyond the present grasp and promptitude of human apprehension. If we except the blessing, which may not have been heard, or may not have been uttered before this command, these words were absolutely the first that were heard by man.
The significance of the sentences they formed must have been at the same time conveyed to man by immediate divine teaching. How the lesson was taught in an instant of time we cannot explain, though we have a distant resemblance of it in an infant learning to understand its mother-tongue. This process, indeed, goes over a space of two years; but still there is an instant in which the first conception of a sign is formed, the first word is apprehended, the first sentence is understood. In that instant the knowledge of language is virtually attained. With man, created at once in his full though undeveloped powers, and still unaffected by any moral taint, this instant came with the first words spoken to his ear and to his soul by his Maker's impressive voice, and the first lesson of language was at once thoroughly taught and learned. Man is now master of the theory of speech; the conception of a sign has been conveyed into his mind. This is the passive lesson of elocution: the practice, the active lesson, will speedily follow.
Not only the secondary part, however, but at the same time the primary and fundamental part of man's intellectual nature is here developed. The understanding of the sign necessarily implies the knowledge of the thing signified. The objective is represented here by the "trees of the garden." The subjective comes before his mind in the pronoun "thou." The physical constitution of man appears in the process of "eating." The moral part of his nature comes out in the significance of the words "mayest" and "shalt not." The distinction of merit in actions and things is expressed in the epithets "good and evil." The notion of reward is conveyed in the terms "life" and "death." And, lastly, the presence and authority of "the Lord God" is implied in the very nature of a command. Here is at least the opening of a wide field of observation for the nascent powers of the mind. He, indeed, must bear the image of God in perceptive powers, who shall scan with heedful eye the loftiest as well as the lowest in these varied scenes of reality. But as with the sign, so with the thing signified, a glance of intelligence instantaneously begins the converse of the susceptible mind with the world of reality around, and the enlargement of the sphere of human knowledge is merely a matter of time without end. How rapidly the process of apprehension would go on in the opening dawn of man's intellectual activity, how many flashes of intelligence would be compressed into a few moments of his first consciousness, we cannot tell. But we can readily believe that he would soon be able to form a just yet an infantile conception of the varied themes which are presented to his mind in this brief command.
Thus, the susceptible part of man's intellect is evoked. The conceptive part will speedily follow, and display itself in the many inventions that will be sought out and applied to the objects which are placed at his disposal.
II. First. Next, the moral part of man's nature is here called into play. Mark God's mode of teaching. He issues a command. This is required in order to bring forth into consciousness the hitherto latent sensibility to moral obligation which was laid in the original constitution of man's being. A command implies a superior, whose right it is to command, and an inferior, whose duty it is to obey. The only ultimate and absolute ground of supremacy is creating, and of inferiority, being created. The Creator is the only proper and entire owner; and, within legitimate bounds, the owner has the right to do what he will with his own. The laying on of this command, therefore, brings man to the recognition of his dependence for being and for the character of that being on his Maker. From the knowledge of the fundamental relation of the creature to the Creator springs an immediate sense of the obligation he is under to render implicit obedience to the Author of his being. This is, therefore, man's first lesson in morals. It calls up in his breast the sense of duty, of right, of responsibility. These feelings could not have been elicited unless the moral susceptibility had been laid in the soul, and only waited for the first command to awaken it into consciousness. This lesson, however, is only the incidental effect of the command, and not the primary ground of its imposition.
Second. The special mandate here given is not arbitrary in its form, as is sometimes hastily supposed, but absolutely essential to the legal adjustment of things in this new stage of creation. Antecedent to the behest of the Creator, the only indefeasible right to all the creatures lay in himself. These creatures may be related to one another. In the great system of things, through the wonderful wisdom of the grand Designer, the use of some may be needful to the well-being, the development, and perpetuation of others. Nevertheless, no one has a shadow of right in the original nature of things to the use of any other. And when a moral agent comes upon the stage of being, in order to mark out the sphere of his legitimate action, an explicit declaration of the rights over other creatures granted and reserved must be made. The very issue of the command proclaims man's original right of property to be, not inherent, but derived.
As might be expected in these circumstances, the command has two clauses, - a permissive and a prohibitive. "Of every tree of the garden thou mayst freely eat." This displays in conspicuous terms the benignity of the Creator. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat." This signalizes the absolute right of the Creator over all the trees, and over man himself. One tree only is withheld, which, whatever were its qualities, was at all events not necessary to the well-being of man. All the others that were likely for sight and good for food, including the tree of life, are made over to him by free grant. In this original provision for the vested rights of man in creation, we cannot but acknowledge with gratitude and humility the generous and considerate bounty of the Creator. This is not more conspicuous in the bestowment of all the other trees than in the withholding of the one, the participation of which was fraught with evil to mankind.
Third. The prohibitory part of this enactment is not a matter of indifference, as is sometimes imagined, but indispensable to the nature of a command, and, in particular, of a permissive act or declaration of granted rights. Every command has a negative part, expressed or implied, without which it would be no command at all. The command, "Go work today in my vineyard," implies thou shalt not do anything else; otherwise the son who works not obeys as well as the son who works. The present address of God to Adam, without the exceptive clause, would be a mere license, and not a command. But with the exceptive clause it is a command, and tantamount in meaning to the following positive injunction: Thou mayest eat of these trees only. An edict of license with a restrictive clause is the mildest form of command that could have been imposed for the trial of human obedience. Some may have thought that it would have been better for man if there had been no tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
But second thoughts will correct this rash and wrong conclusion. First. This tree may have had other purposes to serve in the economy of things of which we are not aware; and, if so, it could not have been absent without detriment to the general good. Second. But without any supposition at all, the tree was fraught with no evil whatever to man in itself. It was in the first instance the instrument of great good, of the most precious kind, to him. It served the purpose of calling up into view out of the depths of his nature the notion of moral obligation, with all the kindred notions of the inherent authority of the Creator and the innate subordination of himself, the creature, of the aboriginal right of the Creator alone in all the creatures, and the utter absence of any right in himself to any other creature whatsoever. The command concerning this tree thus set his moral convictions agoing, and awakened in him the new and pleasing consciousness that he was a moral being, and not a mere clod of the valley or brute of the field.
This is the first thing this tree did for man; and we shall find it would have done a still better thing for him if he had only made a proper use of it. Third. The absence of this tree would not at all have secured Adam from the possibility or the consequence of disobedience. Any grant to him whatsoever must have been made "with the reserve," implicit or explicit, of the rights of all others. "The thing reserved" must in equity have been made known to him. In the present course of things it must have come in his way, and his trial would have been inevitable, and therefore his fall possible. Now, the forbidden tree is merely the thing reserved. Besides, even if man had been introduced into a sphere of existence where no reserved tree or other thing could ever have come within the range of his observation, and so no outward act of disobedience could have been perpetrated, still, as a being of moral susceptibility, he must come to the acknowledgment, express or implied, of the rights of the heavenly crown, before a mutual good understanding could have been established between him and his Maker. Thus, we perceive that even in the impossible Utopia of metaphysical abstraction there is a virtual forbidden tree which forms the test of a man's moral relation to his Creator. Now, if the reserve be necessary, and therefore the test of obedience inevitable, to a moral being, it only remains to inquire whether the test employed be suitable and seasonable.
Fourth. What is here made the matter of reserve, and so the test of obedience, is so far from being trivial or out of place, as has been imagined, that it is the proper and the only object immediately available for these purposes. The immediate need of man is food. The kind of food primarily designed for him is the fruit of trees. Grain, the secondary kind of vegetable diet, is the product of the farm rather than of the garden, and therefore does not now come into use. As the law must be laid down before man proceeds to an act of appropriation, the matter of reserve and consequent test of obedience is the fruit of a tree. Only by this can man at present learn the lessons of morality. To devise any other means, not arising from the actual state of things in which man was placed, would have been arbitrary and unreasonable. The immediate sphere of obedience lies in the circumstances in which he actually stands. These afforded no occasion for any other command than what is given. Adam had no father, or mother, or neighbor, male or female, and therefore the second table of the law could not apply. But he had a relation to his Maker, and legislation on this could not be postponed. The command assumes the kindest, most intelligible, and convenient form for the infantile mind of primeval man.
Fifth. We are now prepared to understand why this tree is called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The prohibition of this tree brings man to the knowledge of good and evil. The products of creative power were all very good Gen 1:31. Even this tree itself is good, and productive of unspeakable good in the first instance to man. The discernment of merit comes up in his mind by this tree. Obedience to the command of God not to partake of this tree is a moral good. Disobedience to God by partaking of it is a moral evil. When we have formed an idea of a quality, we have at the same time an idea of its contrary. By the command concerning this tree man became possessed of the conceptions of good and evil, and so, theoretically, acquainted with their nature. This was that first lesson in morals of which we have spoken. It is quite evident that this knowledge could not be any physical effect of the tree, seeing its fruit was forbidden. It is obvious also that evil is as yet known in this fair world only as the negative of good. Hence, the tree is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because by the command concerning it man comes to this knowledge.
Sixth. "In the day of thy eating thereof, die surely shalt thou." The divine command is accompanied with its awful sanction - death. The man could not at this time have any practical knowledge of the physical dissolution called death. We must, therefore, suppose either that God made him preternaturally acquainted with it, or that he conveyed to him the knowledge of it simply as the negation of life. The latter hypothesis is to be preferred, for several reasons. First, it is the more economical mode of instruction. Such knowledge may be imparted to man without anticipating experience. He was already conscious of life as a pure blessing. He was therefore capable of forming an idea of its loss. And death in the physical sense of the cessation of animal life and the disorganization of the body, he would come to understand in due time by experience. Secondly, death in reference to man is regarded in Scripture much more as the privation of life in the sense of a state of favor with God and consequent happiness than as the mere cessation of animal life Gen 28:13; Exo 3:6; Mat 22:32. Thirdly, the presence and privilege of the tree of life would enable man to see how easily he could be deprived of life, especially when he began to drink in its life-sustaining juices and feel the flow of vitality rushing through his veins and refreshing his whole physical nature. Take away this tree, and with all the other resources of nature he cannot but eventually droop and die. Fourthly, the man would thus regard his exclusion from the tree of life as the earnest of the sentence which would come to its fullness, when the animal frame would at length sink down under the wear and tear of life like the beasts that perish. Then would ensue to the dead but perpetually existing soul of man the total privation of all the sweets of life, and the experience of all the ills of penal death.
III. Man has here evidently become acquainted with his Maker. On the hearing and understanding of this sentence, at least, if not before, he has arrived at the knowledge of God, as existing, thinking, speaking, permitting, commanding, and thereby exercising all the prerogatives of that absolute authority over people and things which creation alone can give. If we were to draw all this out into distinct propositions, we should find that man was here furnished with a whole system of theology, ethics, and metaphysics, in a brief sentence. It may be said, indeed, that we need not suppose all this conveyed in the sentence before us. But, at all events, all this is implied in the few words here recorded to have been addressed to Adam, and there was not much time between his creation and his location in the garden for conveying any preliminary information. We may suppose the substance of the narrative contained in Gen 1:2-3, to have been communicated to him in due time. But it could not be all conveyed yet, as we are only in the sixth day, and the record in question reaches to the end of the seventh. It was not, therefore, composed until after that day had elapsed.
It is to be noticed here that God reserves to himself the administration of the divine law. This was absolutely necessary at the present stage of affairs, as man was but an individual subject, and not yet spread out into a multitude of people. Civil government was not formally constituted till after the deluge.
We can hardly overestimate the benefit, in the rapid development of his mind, which Adam thus derived from the presence and converse of his Maker. If no voice had struck his car, no articulate sentence had reached his intellect, no authoritative command had penetrated his conscience, no perception of the Eternal Spirit had been presented to his apprehension, he might have been long in the mute, rude, and imperfectly developed state which has sometimes been ascribed to primeval man. But if contact with a highly-accomplished master and a highly-polished state of society makes all the difference between the savage and the civilized, what instantaneous expansion and elevation of the primitive mind, while yet in its virgin purity and unimpaired power, must have resulted from free converse with the all-perfect mind of the Creator himself! To the clear eye of native genius a starting idea is a whole science. By the insinuation of a few fundamental and germinant notions into his mind, Adam shot up at once into the full height and compass of a master spirit prepared to scan creation and adore the Creator.
- XIII. The Naming of the Animals
Here man's intellectual faculties proceed from the passive and receptive to the active and communicative stage. This advance is made in the review and designation of the various species of animals that frequent the land and skies.
A new and final need of man is stated in Gen 2:18. The Creator himself, in whose image he was made, had revealed himself to him in language. This, among many other effects, awakened the social affection. This affection was the index of social capacity. The first step towards communication between kindred spirits was accomplished when Adam heard and understood spoken language. Beyond all this God knew what was in the man whom he had formed. And he expresses this in the words, "It is not good for the man to be alone." He is formed to be social, to hold converse, not only with his superior, but also with his equal. As yet he is but a unit, an individual. He needs a mate, with whom he may take sweet counsel. And the benevolent Creator resolves to supply this want. "I will make him a helpmeet for him" - one who may not only reciprocate his feelings, but take an intelligent and appropriate part in his active pursuits.
Here, as in several previous instances Gen 1:5; Gen 2:4, Gen 2:8-9, the narrative reverts to the earlier part of the sixth day. This is, therefore, another example of the connection according to thought overruling that according to time. The order of time, however, is restored, when we take in a sufficient portion of the narrative. We refer, therefore, to the fifth verse, which is the regulative sentence of the present passage. The second clause in the verse, however, which in the present case completes the thought in the mind of the writer, brings up the narrative to a point subsequent to that closing the preceding verse. The first two clauses, therefore, are to be combined into one; and when this is done, the order of time is observed.
Man has already become acquainted with his Maker. He has opened his eyes upon the trees of the garden, and learned to distinguish at least two of them by name. He is now to be introduced to the animal kingdom, with which he is connected by his physical nature, and of which he is the constituted lord. Not many hours or minutes before have they been called into existence. They are not yet, therefore, multiplied or scattered over the earth, and so do not require to be gathered for the purpose. The end of this introduction is said to be to see what he would call them. To name is to distinguish the nature of anything and do denote the thing by a sound bearing some analogy to its nature. To name is also the prerogative of the owner, superior, or head. Doubtless the animals instinctively distinguished man as their lord paramount, so far as his person and eye came within their actual observation. God had given man his first lesson in speech, when he caused him to hear and understand the spoken command. He now places him in a condition to put forth his naming power, and thereby go through the second lesson.
With the infant, the acquisition of language must be a gradual process, inasmuch as the vast multitude of words which constitute its vocabulary has to be heard one by one and noted in the memory. The infant is thus the passive recipient of a fully formed and long-established medium of converse. The first man, on the other hand, having received the conception of language, became himself the free and active inventor of the greatest part of its words. He accordingly discerns the kinds of animals, and gives each its appropriate name. The highly-excited powers of imagination and analogy break forth into utterance, even before he has anyone to hear and understand his words but the Creator himself.
This indicates to us a twofold use of language. First, it serves to register things and events in the apprehension and the memory. Man has a singular power of conferring with himself. This he carries on by means of language, in some form or other. He bears some resemblance to his Maker even in the complexity of his spiritual nature. He is at once speaker and hearer, and yet at the same time he is consciously one. Secondly, it is a medium of intelligent communication between spirits who cannot read another's thoughts by immediate intuition. The first of these uses seems to have preceded the second in the case of Adam, who was the former of the first language. The reflecting reader can tell what varied powers of reason are involved in the use of language, and to what an extent the mind of man was developed, when he proceeded to name the several classes of birds and beasts. He was evidently suited for the highest enjoyments of social contact.
Among the trees in the garden God took the initiative, named the two that were conspicuous and essential to man's well being, and uttered the primeval command. Adam has now made acquaintance with the animal world, and, profiting by the lesson of the garden, proceeds himself to exercise the naming power. The names he gives are thenceforth the permanent designations of the different species of living creatures that appeared before him. These names being derived from some prominent quality, were suited to be specific, or common to the class, and not special to the individual.
We find, however, there was another end served by this review of the animals. "There was not found a helpmeet for the man" - an equal, a companion, a sharer of his thoughts, his observations, his joys, his purposes, his enterprises. It was now evident, from actual survey, that none of these animals, not even the serpent, was possessed of reason, of moral and intellectual ideas, of the faculties of abstracting and naming, of the capacities of rational fellowship or worship. They might be ministers to his purposes, but not helpers meet for him. On the other hand, God was the source of his being and the object of his reverence, but not on a par with himself in needs and resources. It was therefore apparent that man in respect of an equal was alone, and yet needed an associate. Thus, in this passage the existence of the desire is made out and asserted; in keeping with the mode of composition uniformly pursued by the sacred writer Gen 1:2; Gen 2:5.
- XIV. The Woman
21. תרדמה tardēmâh, "deep sleep," ἔκστασις ekstasis, Septuagint. צלע tsēlā‛, "rib, side, wing of a building."
23. פעם pa‛am, "beat, stroke, tread, anvil." אישׁ 'ı̂ysh, "man," vir. אשׁה 'āshah, "be firm, as a foundation;" ישׁה yāshah, "be firm as a substance;" אנש 'ānash, "be strong;" אושׁ 'ûsh, "to give help: hence, the strong, the brave, the defender, the nourisher." אשׂה 'ı̂śâh, "woman," feminine of the above; "wife."
The second creative step in the constitution of man as the natural head of a race is now described. This supplies the defect that was drawn forth into consciousness in the preceding passage. Man here passes out of solitude into society, out of unity into multiplicity.
Here we find ourselves still in the sixth day. This passage throws a new light on Gen 1:27. It is there stated that man was first created in the image of God, and then that he was created male and female. From the present passage we learn that these two acts of creation were distinct in point of time. First, we see man was really one in his origin, and contained in this unity the perfection of manhood. It does not appear, however, that man was so constituted by nature as to throw off another of the same kind by his inherent power. In fact, if he had, the other should have been, not a female, but another human being in every respect like himself; and he would thus have resembled those plants that are capable of being propagated by a bud. Besides, he would have been endowed with a power different from his actual posterity; and thus the head would not have corresponded with the members of the race.
The narrative, however, is opposed to this view of man's nature. For the change, by which the woman comes into existence, is directly ascribed to the original Maker. A part of the man is taken for the purpose, which can be spared without interfering with the integrity of his nature. It manifestly does not constitute a woman by the mere act of separation, as we are told that the Lord God built it into a woman. It is needless, therefore, to speculate whether the part taken were literally a rib, or some other side piece designedly put there by the provident Creator, for the purpose of becoming the rudiment of a full-grown woman. It is expressly called, not A rib, but one of his ribs; and this evidently implies that he had other similar parts. This binds us, we conceive, to the literal rib of bone and flesh. And thus, in accordance with the account in the foregoing chapter, we have, first, the single man created, the full representative and potential fountain of the race, and then, out of this one, in the way now described, we have the male and the female created.
The original unity of man constitutes the strict unity of the race. The construction of the rib into a woman establishes the individuality of man's person before, as well as after, the removal of the rib. The selection of a rib to form into a woman constitutes her, in an eminent sense, a helpmeet for him, in company with him, on a footing of equality with him. At the same time, the after building of the part into a woman determines the distinct personality and individuality of the woman. Thus, we perceive that the entire race, even the very first mother of it, has its essential unit and representative in the first man.
The Almighty has called intelligent beings into existence in two ways. The angels he seems to have created as individuals Mar 12:25, constituting an order of beings the unity of which lies in the common Creator. Man he created as the parent of a race about to spring from a single head, and having its unity in that head. A single angel then stands by himself, and for himself; and all his actions belong only to himself, except so far as example, persuasion, or leadership may have involved others in them. But the single man, who is at the same time head of a race, is in quite a different position. He stands for the race, which is virtually contained in him; and his actions belong not only to him as an individual, but, in a certain sense, to the whole race, of which he is at present the sum. An angel counts only for the unit of his order. The first man counts for the whole race as long as he is alone. The one angel is responsible only for himself. The first man is not only an individual, but, as long as he is alone, the sum total of a race; and is therefore so long responsible, not only for himself, but for the race, as the head of which he acts. This deep question of race will meet us again at a future stage of man's history.
Since the All-wise Being never does anything without reason, it becomes an interesting question, why the creation of woman was deferred to this precise juncture in human history. First, man's original unity is the counterpart of the unity of God. He was to be made in the image of God, and after his likeness. If the male and the female had been created at once, an essential feature of the divine likeness would have been missing. But, as in the absolute One there is no duality, whether in sex or in any other respect, so is there none in the original form and constitution of man. Hence, we learn the absurdity of those who import into their notions of the deity the distinction of sex, and all the alliances which are involved in a race of gods. Secondly, the natural unity of the first pair, and of the race descended from them, is established by the primary creation of an individual, from whom is derived, by a second creative process, the first woman.
The race of man is thus a perfect unity, flowing from a single center of human life. Thirdly, two remarkable events occur in the experience of man before the formation of the woman, - his installment in the garden as its owner, keeper, and dresser; and his review of the animals, as their rational superior, to whom they yield an instinctive homage. By the former he is prepared to provide for the sustenance and comfort of his wife; by the latter, he becomes aware of his power to protect her. Still further, by the interview with his Maker in the garden he came to understand language; and by the inspection of the animals to employ it himself. Speech implies the exercise of the susceptive and conceptive powers of the understanding. Thus, Adam was qualified to hold intelligent converse with a being like himself. He was competent to be the instructor of his wife in words and things. Again, he had met with his superior in his Creator, his inferiors in the animals; and he was now to meet his equal in the woman. And, lastly, by the divine command his moral sense had been brought into play, the theory of moral obligation had been revealed to his mind, and he was therefore prepared to deal with a moral being like himself, to understand and respect the rights of another, to do unto another as he would have another do to him. It was especially necessary that the sense of right should grow up in his breast, to keep in due check that might in which he excelled, before the weaker and gentler sex was called into being, and intrusted to his charge. These are some of the obvious reasons for delaying the formation of the woman to the present crisis.
Whether the primeval man was conscious of the change in himself, and of the work of the Supreme Being while it was going on, or received supernatural information of the event when he awoke, does not appear. But he is perfectly aware of the nature of her who now for the first time appears before his eyes. This is evinced in his speech on beholding her: "This, now" - in contrast with the whole animal creation just before presented to his view, in which he had failed to find a helpmeet for him - "is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh;" whence we perceive that the rib included both bone and flesh. "To this" counterpart of myself "shall be called woman;" the word in the original being a feminine form of "man," to which we have no exact equivalent, though the word "woman" (womb-man, or wife-man), proves our word "man" to have been originally of the common gender. "Because out of a man was she taken;" being taken out of a man, she is human; and being a perfect individual, she is a female man.
These might be the words of the first man Gen 2:24. As he thoroughly understood the relation between himself and the woman, there is no new difficulty in conceiving him to become acquainted at the same time with the relationship of son to father and mother, which was in fact only another form of that in which the newly-formed woman stood to himself. The latter is really more intimateand permanent than the former, and naturally therefore takes its place, especially as the practical of the filial tie, - that of being trained to maturity, - is already accomplished, when the conjugal one begins.
But it seems more probable that this sentence is the reflection of the inspired author on the special mode in which the female was formed from the male. Such remarks of the writer are frequently introduced by the word "therefore" (על־כן kēn-‛al). It is designed to inculcate on the race that was to spring from them the inviolable sanctity of the conjugal relation. In the primeval wedlock one man was joined to one woman only for life. Hence, in the marriage relation the animal is subordinate to the rational. The communication of ideas; the cherishing of the true, the right, the good; the cultivation of the social affections; the spontaneous outflow of mutual good offices; the thousand nameless little thoughts, looks, words, and deeds that cheer the brow and warm the heart; the common care of children, servants, and dependents; the constant and heartfelt worship of the Father of all, constitute the main ends and joys of the married state.
After the exclamation of the man on contemplating the woman, as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and therefore physically, intellectually, and morally qualified to be his mate, we may suppose immediately to follow the blessing of man, and the general endowment of himself and the animals with the fruits of the soil as recorded in the preceding chapter Gen 1:28-30. The endowment of man embraces every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. This general grant was of course understood by man to exclude the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was excepted, if not by its specific nature, yet by the previous command given to man. This command we find was given before the formation of the woman, and therefore sometime before the events recorded in the second and third clauses of Gen 1:27. Hence, it preceded the blessing and the endowment. It was not special, however, to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be intended for other purposes than the food of man, as there are very many other trees that afford no proper nutriment to man. The endowment, therefore, refers to such trees as were at the same time nutritive and not expressly and previously forbidden.
This chapter is occupied with the "generations, issues or products of the skies and the land," or, in other words, of the things created in the six days. It is the meet preface to the more specific history of man, as it records his constitution, his provision, his moral and intellectual cultivation, and his social perfection. It brings us up to the close of the sixth day. As the Creator pronounced a sentence of approbation on all that he had made at the end of that day, we have reason to believe that no moral derangement had yet taken place in man's nature.
This is corroborated by the statement contained in Gen 2:25. "They were both naked, and were not ashamed." Of nakedness in our sense of the term they had as yet no conception. On the contrary, they were conscious of being sufficiently clothed in a physical sense by nature's covering, the skin - and, in a spiritual point of view, they were clad as in a panoply of steel with the consciousness of innocence, or, indeed, the unconsciousness of evil existing anywhere, and the simple ignorance of its nature, except so far as the command of God had awakened in them some speculative conception of it. Hence, they were not ashamed. For shame implies a sense of guilt, which they did not have, and an exposedness to the searching eye of a condemning judge, from which they were equally free. With the sentence terminates all we know of primeval innocence. May we surmise from it that the first pair spent at least the Sabbath, if not some days, or weeks, or years, in a state of integrity?
From what has been said, it is evident that this sentence was written after the fall; for it speaks in language which was not intelligible till after that event had occurred. Contemplated in this point of view, it is the most melancholy sentence in the book of God. For it is evidently placed here to foreshadow the dark event to be recorded in the next chapter.
Two hallowed institutions have descended to us from the days of primeval innocence, - the wedding and the Sabbath. The former indicates communion of the purest and most perfect kind between equals of the same class. The latter implies communion of the highest and holiest kind between the Creator and the intelligent creature. The two combined import communion with each other in communion with God.
Wedded union is the sum and type of every social tie. It gives rise and scope to all the nameless joys of home. It is the native field for the cultivation of all the social virtues. It provides for the due framing and checking of the overgrowth of interest in self, and for the gentle training and fostering of a growing interest in others. It unfolds the graces and charms of mutual love, and imparts to the susceptible heart all the peace and joy, all the light and fire, all the frankness and life of conscious and constant purity and good-will. Friendship, brotherly-kindness, and love are still hopeful and sacred names among mankind.
Sabbath-keeping lifts the wedded pair, the brethren, the friends, the one-minded, up to communion with God. The joy of achievement is a feeling common to God and man. The commemoration of the auspicious beginning of a holy and happy existence will live in man while memory lasts. The anticipation also of joyful repose after the end of a work well done will gild the future while hope survives. Thus, the idea of the Sabbath spans the whole of man's existence. History and prophecy commingle in its peaceful meditations, and both are linked with God. God IS: he is the Author of all being, and the Rewarder of them that diligently seek him. This is the noble lesson of the Sabbath. Each seventh day is well spent in attending to the realization of these great thoughts.
Hence, it appears that the social principle lies at the root of a spiritual nature. In the very essence of the spiritual monad is the faculty of self-consciousness. Here is the curious mystery of a soul standing beside itself, cognizing itself, and taking note of its various faculties and acts, and yet perfectly conscious of its unity and identity. And the process does not stop here. We catch ourselves at times debating with ourselves, urging the pros and cons of a case in hand, enjoying the sallies or sorry for the poverty of our wit, nay, solemnly sitting in judgment on ourselves, and pronouncing a sentence of approval or disapproval on the merit or demerit of our actions. Thus, throughout the whole range of our moral and intellectual nature, memory for the past and fancy for the future furnish us with another self, with whom we hold familiar converse. Here there is the social principle living and moving in the very center of our being. Let the soul only look out through the senses and descry another like itself, and social converse between kindred spirits must begin. The Sabbath and the wedding touch the inner springs of the soul, and bring, the social principle into exercise in the two great spheres of our relation to our Maker and to one another.