וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָֽם׃
and the heavens and earth were completed and all their hosts.
Paraphrase: After all this, God was finished. From sky to the earth and everything in between, it was all done and perfectly in place.
וַיְכַ֤ל אֱלֹהִים֙ בַּהַיֹּ֣ום הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מְלַאכְתֹּ֖ו אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ בַּהַיֹּ֣ום הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתֹּ֖ו אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃
and God completed on day seven his work which He did and He ceased on day seven from all His work which He did.
Paraphrase: Now this happened on day seven. On day six, God was still working; but when the seventh day came, everything was complete. God stopped His work, stepped back, and took a close look at all what He had accomplished. Just as on all the previous days, God recognized that everything was perfect; there was not a single flaw. It was a work of breathtaking beauty.
הַשְּׁבִיעִי = ordinal
וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־יֹ֣ום הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹתֹ֑ו כִּ֣י בֹ֤ו שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתֹּ֔ו אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֹֽׂות׃ פ
and God blessed day seven and sanctified it because on it He stopped from all His work which God created by doing.
Paraphrase: Clearly the seventh day was a special day because this was the day on which God finished His masterpiece. To celebrate this, God set the seventh day apart as special and marked it out as a Sabbath for all creation (Heb 4:3, 4). The very word “Sabbath” means to stop; and therefore, on this day we stop and lay aside our normal work and make it a day for resting, worship, and joy in God. From here on, God wants everyone to mark this day on their calendar as a special day, and just as God stopped working, so we too are to stop working and make it a day of celebrating God’s creative power, His glorious majesty, and the beautiful masterpiece which He brought into existence.
The infinitive לַעֲשֹׂות is interesting. Jouon says that “the infinitive with ל is very often used after a verb to express an action which gives more details about or explains the preceding action.” (§124o) In this case, the infinitive follows בָּרָא and so would be translated “…which God created by doing.” A similar example of this is in the fourth command “Observe the Sabbath by keeping it holy.” also Gesenius §114o.
Edwards suggests that this seventh day was actually the first day of the week; see his comments on Gen 2:3 here.
אֵ֣לֶּה תֹולְדֹ֧ות הַשָּׁמַ֛יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ בְּהִבָּֽרְאָ֑ם בְּיֹ֗ום עֲשֹׂ֛ות יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶ֥רֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם׃
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day of YHWH God making the earth and heaven.
Paraphrase: Now we have seen the ultimate origin and beginning of everything that exists. It all began with God and His creative word. “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” (Ps 33:6) God called into existence things that did not even exist (Rom 4:17). Having seen all this, it now time to focus on what became of this creation after these days had passed and God’s creative work was finished. To do that, we will zero in on the sixth day and take a closer look at what really happened on that eventful day.
Everything begins with and comes from God. Calvin writes on this verse: “The design of Moses was deeply to impress upon our minds the origin of the heaven and the earth, which he designates by the word generation [תֹולְדֹות].” The word תֹולְדֹות is not used to refer something coming into existence but rather the events that follow. “Thus the verse [Gen 2:4] is correctly placed as introducing the detailed account of the creation and fall of man. It is not a summary of the events preceding Gen 2:4.” (TWOT 380) See much more detail in Woudstra.
There are ten תֹולְדֹות in Genesis:
- of heaven and earth, Genesis 2:4;
- of Adam, Genesis 5:1;
- of Noah, Genesis 6:9;
- of the sons of Noah, Genesis 10:1;
- of Shem, Genesis 11:10;
- of Terah, Genesis 11:27;
- of Ishmael, Genesis 25:12;
- of Isaac, Genesis 25:19;
- of Esau, Genesis 36:1;
- of Jacob, Genesis 37:2.
בְּהִבָּרְאָם is an infinitive construct and in the nifal stem. Note the pronoun suffix which in this case is the agent of the infinitive and therefore becomes the subject of the clause in translation.
וְכֹ֣ל׀ שִׂ֣יחַ הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה טֶ֚רֶם יִֽהְיֶ֣ה בָהַאָ֔רֶץ וְכָל־עֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה טֶ֣רֶם יִצְמָ֑ח כִּי֩ לֹ֨א הִמְטִ֜יר יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאָדָ֣ם אַ֔יִן לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃
Now all the shrubbery of the field was not yet on the earth and all the grass had not yet sprouted because YHWH God had not caused it to rain on the earth and there was no man to work the soil.
Paraphrase: The first thing we need to understand about day six is the state of the vegetation that God had already created on day three (Gen 1:11). All these plants were present, but they all existed purely by the creative word of God. None of them were actually growing in the earth by natural processes such as we are used to seeing. Furthermore, no plant had as yet actually dropped its seed and sprouted new plants. The reason was because God had not yet brought any rain on the earth; it was just too dry for any kind of germination to take place. Neither was there any human person to work the land, plow the soil, plant gardens, or to bring in a harvest.
Gesenius writes that a YQTL often refers to actions “which continued throughout a longer or shorter period” of time and that this use is especially common after a particle like טֶרֶם which is the case here. §107b Because of this, יִהְיֶה would normally be translated in the future tense, but we translate it here in the past.
וְאֵ֖ד יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְהִשְׁקָ֖ה אֶֽת־כָּל־פְּנֵֽי־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃
and a mist went up from the land and caused all the face of the ground to drink.
Paraphrase: At this point, God then moved to set in motion the natural processes of plant growth and reproduction. He did this by causing a kind of vapory mist to rise up from the ground which then brought water to the already existing plants. This water set in motion all the natural processes which we are now used to seeing. The plants produced seed, the seed matured and fell into moist soil, sprouted, grew, and bore fruit and the process repeated itself.
Note here that it does not say that God at this point created plants as we may have been led to believe from v5 and as many liberal critics would have us to believe if this were a different and contradictory account of creation. The plants were already existing, but the process of germination was not yet happening. It was the sprouting יִצְמָח that was not happening and which the אֵד set into motion.
It’s not entirely clear how we are to understand אֵד. See the NetBible note on this word.
וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃
and YHWH God molded man of the dust from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the breath of lifes, and the man became a living person.
Paraphrase: Once God had the plant kingdom working as He intended, He turned to his crowning work. The divine council had met (Gen 1:26) and had agreed that human persons were to be created and that these persons were to be in the image of God. It was at this point then, that God, the great Artist, began this project. He took dust, mixed it with water, and used this clay to mold the first human person. Once He had finished shaping and molding the clay into the shape He intended, He blew into it with His own breath. Instantly, this lifeless model began to breathe and became an actual, real, living person.
The word וַיִּיצֶר has the idea of an artist fashioning something beautiful.
וַיִּטַּ֞ע יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהִ֛ים גַּן־בְּעֵ֖דֶן וַיָּ֣שֶׂם שָׁ֔ם אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָצָֽר׃
and YHWH God planted a garden in Eden from the east and He placed there the man who He had molded.
Paraphrase: Once God had finished creating man, He next began making him a home. The home God made for His creature was a work of perfect beauty. He designed, arranged, and planted a beautiful garden containing an entire orchard of fruit trees. Even the name of the garden showed God’s intent; its name was Eden which means “pleasure”. This was the place which man was to call home, a place of perfect peace, wonderful beauty, and serene quiet.
Eden = pleasure; see here
מִקֶּדֶם = to the east or in the east.
וַיַּצְמַ֞ח יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה כָּל־עֵ֛ץ נֶחְמָ֥ד לְמַרְאֶ֖ה וְטֹ֣וב לְמַאֲכָ֑ל וְעֵ֤ץ הַֽחַיִּים֙ בְּתֹ֣וךְ הַגָּ֔ן וְעֵ֕ץ הַדַּ֖עַת טֹ֥וב וָרָֽע׃
and YHWH God caused to sprout from the earth all trees being desirable for sight and good for food and the tree of lifes was in the midst of the garden and the tree of knowledge good and evil.
Paraphrase: In this beautiful garden, God had planted an orchard with all different kinds of trees. Not only were each of these trees pictures of beauty and health, but each of them grew the most delicious fruit. At the center of this garden there were two trees of special significance. The first was called “the Tree of Life” and the second “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
The verb וַיַּצְמַח shows us that the previous situation וְכָל־עֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה טֶרֶם יִצְמָח (v5) has now been changed; germination is taking place.
Harrison suggests that good and evil here is a merismus. He writes:
To be true to the idiom, therefore, the “tree” should be envisaged as the “tree of the entire range of moral knowledge.” In the light of this the subtlety of the temptation becomes more evident. What was in fact offered to woman was an opportunity to know the entire moral sphere as God does, that is to say, intuitively. Aside from the gross deception involved, the temptation was the kind of flattering appeal to the alleged intuitive qualities of the female that few women would be able to resist. Unfortunately for mankind, the privilege of knowing the range of moral experience invariably carries with it certain harsh realities. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, 460.
וְנָהָר֙ יֹצֵ֣א מֵעֵ֔דֶן לְהַשְׁקֹ֖ות אֶת־הַגָּ֑ן וּמִשָּׁם֙ יִפָּרֵ֔ד וְהָיָ֖ה לְאַרְבָּעָ֥ה רָאשִֽׁים׃
Now a river was going forth from Eden to cause the garden to drink and from there it was divided and became four heads.
Paraphrase: To provide water for these trees and the other vegetation in this garden, God placed a river which flowed throughout the garden and provided water for all the plants. When this river had passed through the garden, God broke it up into four parts and each became the head waters of a new river.
יִפָּרֵד is nifal (note the triangle). This shows how God is the Supreme Actor in this history even in the breaking up of this river into four parts.
שֵׁ֥ם הָֽאֶחָ֖ד פִּישֹׁ֑ון ה֣וּא הַסֹּבֵ֗ב אֵ֚ת כָּל־אֶ֣רֶץ הַֽחֲוִילָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־שָׁ֖ם הַזָּהָֽב׃
The name of the one was Pison; it goes around all the land of Havilah where there is gold.
וּֽזֲהַ֛ב הָאָ֥רֶץ הַהִ֖וא טֹ֑וב שָׁ֥ם הַבְּדֹ֖לַח וְאֶ֥בֶן הַשֹּֽׁהַם׃
and the gold of this land is good; there is also bdellium and the onyx stone.
וְשֵֽׁם־הַנָּהָ֥ר הַשֵּׁנִ֖י גִּיחֹ֑ון ה֣וּא הַסֹּובֵ֔ב אֵ֖ת כָּל־אֶ֥רֶץ כּֽוּשׁ׃
and the name of the second river is Gihon. It goes around all the land of Cush.
וְשֵׁ֨ם הַנָּהָ֤ר הַשְּׁלִישִׁי֙ חִדֶּ֔קֶל ה֥וּא הַֽהֹלֵ֖ךְ קִדְמַ֣ת אַשּׁ֑וּר וְהַנָּהָ֥ר הָֽרְבִיעִ֖י ה֥וּא פְרָֽת׃
and the name of the third river is Hiddekel. It is going east towards Assyria, and the fourth river it is the Perat [Euphrates].
וַיִּקַּ֛ח יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעָבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ׃
and YHWH God took man and caused him to settle down in the garden of Eden to work her and to keep her.
Paraphrase: Now the country through which these rivers passed was very beautiful and rich, but it was into Eden that God placed man. This was the home which God had specifically created for the crowning piece of His creation. This was where man would settle down and flourish. Furthermore, God gave man the oversight of this garden and gave him the happy task of maintaining this garden in its perfect beauty and glory.
The morphology of וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ is pretty amazing. First the vav-conversive, then the prefix of the YQTL form (the patah under the prefix is the sign of the hifil), the root is נוּחַ, then pronoun suffix which is the object of the verb.
Plato said that there were three things for which he blessed God:
- That he had been made a man, and not a beast;
- that he had been born a Greek, and not a barbarian; and
- that he had been permitted to live in the age of Socrates.
With how much more fervor should the first man have celebrated the Divine goodness as he walked forth upon the new creation in all its loveliness and beauty, and was regaled on every hand with the tokens of the Divine regard! How must his heart have overflowed as he sounded the mysterious depths of his own being, and felt the grand and glorious capacities with which he was endowed! His first utterance must have been praise, his first impulse to throw himself upon the ground and bless that God who made him what he was. It was amazing goodness to have furnished him with all the blessings that crowned his lot, considered merely as a servant. But what shall we say of the goodness that could not stop here—that as it recognized in man the capacity of closer ties with itself, yearned to take him to its bosom and pour upon him a richer tide of glory and of joy than the cold relations of law and justice could demand? Surely, our God is love; creation shows it as well as the cross! Surely, our God is grace; the first covenant proves it as truly as the second! source
וַיְצַו֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל׃
and YHWH God commanded to Adam saying, “From any tree of the garden you may certainly eat…
Paraphrase: Once God had the man comfortably situated in his beautiful home, He came and spoke with him directly. In fact, God made a covenant with him (Hosea 6:7). God said to the man: “Do you see all these beautiful trees laden with fruit? They are all for your enjoyment especially the Tree of Life. Every time you eat the fruit of this tree, you can be assured of My love for you and My sure promise to provide and care for you. All the trees are for you, and you are free to eat the fruit of any of these trees and however much you like but…
This covenant represents the foundational covenant of all the covenants in Scripture. In the language of the Westminster Larger Catechism: Q. 20. What was the providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created?
Answer: The providence of God toward man in the estate in which he was created, was the placing him in paradise, appointing him to dress it, giving him liberty to eat of the fruit of the earth; putting the creatures under his dominion, and ordaining marriage for his help; affording him communion with himself; instituting the Sabbath; entering into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience, of which the tree of life was a pledge; and forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
It is this covenant that every man is bound to keep either by his own working or by a Substitute. Edwards writes:
The covenant of grace or redemption (which we have showed to be the same) cannot be called a new covenant, or the second covenant, with respect to the covenant of works; for that is not grown old yet but is an eternal immutable covenant, of which one jot nor tittle will never fail. There have never been two covenants, in strictness of speech, but only two ways constituted of performing of this covenant: the first constituting Adam the representative and federal head, and the second constituting Christ the federal head; the one a dead way, the other a living way and an everlasting one. source
וּמֵעֵ֗ץ הַדַּ֙עַת֙ טֹ֣וב וָרָ֔ע לֹ֥א תֹאכַ֖ל מִמֶּ֑נּוּ כִּ֗י בְּיֹ֛ום אֲכָלְךָ֥ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ מֹ֥ות תָּמֽוּת׃
…but from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will not eat from it. In the day, you eat from it, you will certainly die.
Paraphrase: …but in the middle of the garden, right next to the Tree of Life is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. From this tree, you must never eat. Do not eat any of its fruit ever. I know there is nothing unique or special about this tree; that’s not the point. I am giving you this positive command to give you an opportunity to prove your love and loyalty to Me. If you keep the terms of this covenant, we will live together in unbroken fellowship forever even as we are now, only it will be even better. Unfortunately, if you do choose to eat from this tree, then you will die. You have never experienced death before; but if you eat from this tree, you will come to understand it with all its terrible effects. There will be no second chances; if you eat from it, you will be given over to death without delay.
Dwight explains the difference between a moral and a positive command; see here. Butler notes that moral commands are commands the reasons for which we can see. Positive commands are those commands the reason for which we do not see. source Thornwell writes,
The prohibition which God gave to the first pair in the garden of Eden was not grounded in essential rectitude, but in sovereign command. In itself considered, the fruit of the forbidden tree was no more inconsistent with the image of God in man than the fruit of any other tree in the garden. It was a sin to eat of it, not because the thing was inherently wrong, but because it was expressly forbidden. source
Eating from the tree of life was a sign and seal of the higher life to which God was calling Adam. It was a tree which both gave life and held the promise of a higher life. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (KGE) is a much more difficult tree to understand. I see it this way. Both trees conveyed a benefit. The benefit of the tree of life was obtained by eating its fruit; the benefit of the tree of KGE was obtained by not eating its fruit. The difficulty here is that Gen 3:22 says that Adam had come to know good and evil and had become like God even in his failure to keep the covenant. This leads me to believe that:
- by not eating the forbidden fruit, Adam would have known good, but not evil. He would have experienced the joy and sweetness that comes to those who faithfully keep God’s law. This is the highest good that anyone can ever know, and this constitutes the benefit of not eating the fruit.
- by eating the forbidden fruit, Adam also came to know good and evil but not in a way of obedience to God but in a way of disobedience. Adam embraced evil and thus came to know all the horror and darkness of death which accompanies sin. His sinful choice did bring him a new understanding of good and evil but not in a way that could be called a benefit as with the previous way.
How then are we to understand Gen 3:22 where God says that man has become like one of us? I would say that Adam come to be like God in the sense that now he had a better understanding of good and evil. Unfortunately, Adam came to this knowledge by his sinful choice and the hard experience to which it led. God knows good and evil because He is omniscient.
Edwards understands the כִּי בְּיֹום אֲכָלְךָ in the light of 1 Kings 2:37: “For it will happen on the day you go out and cross over the brook Kidron, you will know for certain that you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head.” He writes:
The thing that God would signify to Adam by this expression seems to me to be, that if he but once presumed to taste that fruit, he should die. You shall not be waited upon to see whether you will do it again; but as soon as ever you have eaten, that very day shall death be made sure to you. You shall be bound to die, given over to death without any more waiting upon you, as that was what Solomon would signify to Shimei, that if he but once went over the brook Kidron, he should die; see his notes on Gen 2:17.
וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים לֹא־טֹ֛וב הֱיֹ֥ות הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדֹּ֑ו אֶֽעֱשֶׂהּ־לֹּ֥ו עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדֹּֽו׃
and YHWH God said, “It is not good the man to be alone; I will make for him a helper as his counterpart.
וַיִּצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים מִן־הָֽאֲדָמָ֗ה כָּל־חַיַּ֤ת הַשָּׂדֶה֙ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־עֹ֣וף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וַיָּבֵא֙ אֶל־הָ֣אָדָ֔ם לִרְאֹ֖ות מַה־יִּקְרָא־לֹ֑ו וְכֹל֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִקְרָא־לֹ֧ו הָֽאָדָ֛ם נֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּ֖ה ה֥וּא שְׁמֹֽו׃
וַיִּקְרָ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם שֵׁמֹ֗ות לְכָל־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּלְעֹ֣וף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּלְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה וּלְאָדָ֕ם לֹֽא־מָצָ֥א עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדֹּֽו׃
וַיַּפֵּל֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֧ים׀ תַּרְדֵּמָ֛ה עַל־הָאָדָ֖ם וַיִּישָׁ֑ן וַיִּקַּ֗ח אַחַת֙ מִצַּלְעֹתָ֔יו וַיִּסְגֹּ֥ר בָּשָׂ֖ר תַּחְתֶּֽנָּה׃
וַיִּבֶן֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֧ים׀ אֶֽת־הַצֵּלָ֛ע אֲשֶׁר־לָקַ֥ח מִן־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְאִשָּׁ֑ה וַיְבִאֶ֖הָ אֶל־הָֽאָדָֽם׃
וַיֹּאמֶר֮ הָֽאָדָם֒ זֹ֣את הַפַּ֗עַם עֶ֚צֶם מֵֽעֲצָמַ֔י וּבָשָׂ֖ר מִבְּשָׂרִ֑י לְזֹאת֙ יִקָּרֵ֣א אִשָּׁ֔ה כִּ֥י מֵאִ֖ישׁ לֻֽקֳחָה־זֹּֽאת׃
עַל־כֵּן֙ יַֽעֲזָב־אִ֔ישׁ אֶת־אָבִ֖יו וְאֶת־אִמֹּ֑ו וְדָבַ֣ק בְּאִשְׁתֹּ֔ו וְהָי֖וּ לְבָשָׂ֥ר אֶחָֽד׃
וַיִּֽהְי֤וּ שְׁנֵיהֶם֙ עֲרוּמִּ֔ים הָֽאָדָ֖ם וְאִשְׁתֹּ֑ו וְלֹ֖א יִתְבֹּשָֽׁשׁוּ׃