The second story of creation: paradise (Gen 2:4b-2:25)

“In the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up, because  Yahweh God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground. But a stream would rise from the earth and water the whole face of the ground.  Then Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.  Man became a living being.  And Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden, in the east.  There he put the man whom he had formed.  Out of the ground Yahweh God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

This chapter has the older Yahweh traditional story of creation where God is called Yahweh.  This written document probably dates from around 700-800 BCE.  Yahweh is like a gardener, over seeing his wonderful paradise in the Garden of Eden.  In this story, God created heaven and earth, but there is no evolutionary daily concept, as Yahweh formed a human man (Adam) from the dust on the ground (admah) and breathed into his nostrils to give him life.  We have an eternal destiny to be with God. What a beautiful thought, our happiness comes from God and sharing eternal life with him.

“A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon.  It is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.  The gold of that land is good.  Bdellium and onyx stone are there.  The name of the second river is Gihon.  It is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush.  The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”

This is the first mention of a geological place, the mythical Garden of Eden.  There are many ancient eastern stories about paradise gardens.  Of the four rivers that flow from this garden, two are well known, the Tigris River and the Euphrates River, once again an indication of a Mesopotamian background.  However, no one has been able to exactly locate the Pishon River and Gihon River, since they may have been mountain streams.  Apparently these rivers were in rich areas that had gold stones.  They also had bdellium, a gum like substance that comes from trees like myrrh, and onyx, a precious colorful stone.  Despite many attempts, no one has been able to exactly ascertain the geographical site of this mythical garden.

“Yahweh God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  Yahweh God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden.  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’”

This man is placed in the Garden of Eden to have all that he wants to eat.  However, he is forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.  If he eats this he will die.  Legends abound about magic trees. General tradition has portrayed this tree as an apple tree, although there is no such indication in the text itself.

“Then Yahweh God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.  I will make him a helper as his partner.’  So out of the ground Yahweh God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  Whatever the man called every living creature that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field.  But for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.  So Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. Then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The rib that Yahweh God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.  She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”

Yahweh said that it was not good for this man to be alone.  Like a potter, he formed the animals and birds from the earth, not from seeds.  The man got to name all these animals and birds. However, none of these were suitable partners. Then the patriarchal attitude is reinforced as the man went to sleep, and Yahweh toke one of the ribs from the man (ish) and he made into a woman (ishah).  Thus we have male and female humans who are unashamedly naked partners.  She is already his wife and can “become one flesh” in this idyllic garden.

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