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copied from, or composed after, an Egyptian picture; it is to be regarded as the form for the embodiment of momentous ideas: let us try to imbibe their refreshing spirit; but let us not cavil about “the letter that killeth.”
In the larger edition, the principal remaining opinions proposed about the site of Paradise have been examined.
CHAPTER II. 4 To III. 24.
SUMMARY.—Some features of another cosmogony are inserted: a mist watered and
fructified the surface of the earth (ver. 6); God formed a man from the dust of the ground, and animated him by the breath of life (ver. 7); He placed him in a beautiful garden in Eden, which was traversed by a stream branching into four arms; which abounded in every delightful fruit and herb; and in the midst of which stood two wonderful trees, the tree of knowledge and the tree of life (vers. 8—15). All the vegetable productions of this paradise were allowed to man; the tree of knowledge alone was interdicted to him; and the transgression of this command was threatened with man's forfeiture of a deathless existence, for which he was originally destined (vers. 16, 17). God then created all the animals, and brought them before the man, who gave appropriate names to all (vers. 19, 20). From one of his ribs a woman was formed, whom he accepted as his spouse and help-meet; whence man and wife are united by an inseparable bond (vers. 18, 21—24). Both lived in child-like, unconscious innocence (ver. 25;) but the serpent tempted the woman to eat of the forbidden fruit, assuring her that she would thereby attain the intellect and reason of God. She was persuaded and gave her husband also of the fruit (iii. 1-6). They became at once aware of the state of nature in which they lived; they knew that they were naked; and when they heard the approach of God, they hid themselves in shame (vers. 7, 8). After interrogating them upon the reason of their concealment (vers. 9-13), God pronounced a severe curse against the serpent (vers. 14, 15), the woman (ver. 16), and the man (vers. 17–19), decreeing perpetual enmity between that animal and the human race, degradation of the former, and pain and toil of the latter.— The woman received the significant name of Eve (ver. 20). God Himself provided clothes for the human couple (ver. 21). But lest they should eat of the tree of life also, they were expelled from the garden of Eden; and cherubs, with flaming swords, were placed at its entrance, to guard the access to that marvellous tree (vers. 22-24).
4. These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they were created. In the day when the Lord God made earth and heaven: 5. No plant of the field was yet on the earth, and no herb of the field did
4-6. The end of the following narra- rises from the earth, descends in the tive is the fall of man, the origin of sin shape of rain (ver. 5), and waters the and of misery; the author approaches, whole ground (ver.6). According to therefore, this subject directly, without the Lamaic (a Buddhist) creed, golden circuitous additions: nothing is super
clouds sent down, in primeval time, an finous, nothing idle embellishment. The immense quantity of water, which infall of man is occasioned by the fruit of crcased to a mighty sea; a foam appeared the tree of knowledge. It was, therefore, on it in the course of centuries, and from necessary to premise the origin of vege- this foam, man and all living creatures tation. It is produced by a mist, which camc forth; and from man came the gods
yet sprout forth: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, nor was there a man to till the ground. 6. And there rose a inist from the earth, and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
Thus the earth, and the beings that people it, existed before the gods; the universe is but the result of chance; not moral but physical laws were the creating agencies.
The name of God was, in the preceding section, invariably Elohim; in this part it is almost as constantly Jehovah Elohim. This combination seems to imply that Jehovah is the Elohim who created the world; that both words designate the same Being; and although they express different attributes of His nature, He is one, and the only framer of the universe. Thus the compound term Jehovah Elohim is far from indicating a spirit antagonistic to that of the first chapter; on the contrary, it confirms and strengthens it; it removes the possible misconception, that not Jehovah, as the God of Israel (Exod. vi. 3), but the universal Lord, Elohim, has produced the world. By the use of the name Jehovah, the narrative advances a very important step towards the peculiar theocratical character of the Pentateuch; but by combining it with Elohim, it reminds, also, of the Omnipotent Creator. The God of the Universe is the God of Israel; but the God of Israel is, at the same lime, Governor of the whole world. In the first chapter, the mere external act of the creation of man was narrated; it was, therefore, sufficient to designate God as the all-powerful Being, as the God of gods, or Elohim; but the following section describes an internal change in the heart of man; it delineates how sin took the place of innocence, and how misery succeeded happiness; it was, therefore, desirable to introduce God by a name, which implies holiness, which, by its mysterious signification, awes the heart, but which yet shows this Being as the Creator, and therefore Jehovah Elohim was employed. That this was really the
idea of the Hebrew writer is evident from the striking fact that in the whole conversation with the serpent, not Jehovah Elohim, but simply Elohim, is used (iii. 1-5); it would have been a profanation to put the holy name of God in the tempter’s mouth, or to pronounce it before his ears. Thus the identity of Elohim and Jehovah having once been impressed, it was not necessary to repeat this composition later, except on peculiar occasions. Wherever it is subsequently employed, it adds pathos and emphasis to the ideas; but the nature of this emphasis is always coloured by the context in which it occurs; it is not necessarily the same as that obvious in this our passage.
7. The earth filled itself, by spontaneous growth, with herbs and trees; a fertilising rain supported the productive strength of the virgin soil; and the surface of the globe stood adorned by the benignant care of the Creator. But all this luxuriance of vegetation was not destined to bloom merely as a gay ornament; it was ordained to serve the purposes of a higher being; and though the animals might always find in abundance the freelygrowing herbs, which sufficed for their food, their future rulers were to owe their subsistence to their own exertion; they were intended to “ till the ground.” It was, then, the will of God, that His representatives on earth should learn early the dignity of work; they should imitate Him in His unceasing activity also; unlike the golden age of the heathens, the state of Paradise, even, should be exalted by the energy of labour; the Eden, even, should be guarded and cultivated by man (ver. 15): the genius of nations is mirrored in their gods; the deities of the Olympus are “living without duty and care"; but the God of Israel “ does not sleep and does not slumber." In this zeal
* The body re
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.-8. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden eastward; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9. And the Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree that is pleasant to the sight and man might still resemble Him; but God Chinese, who believe that man was shaped “ does not weary, and is not fatigued "; from yellow clay; and to several other anthis great privilege was forfeited by man cient tribes. Others derive the origin of through his fall; he was doomed thence- man as confidently from the water (as the forth to “ eat his bread in the sweat of Lamas), or from a mixture of earth and his brow” (iii. 19).
blood (as the Chaldeans); whilst the PerThus God formed man of the dust of sians are convinced that a certain trce the earth. Though bearing the seal of (Reivas), produced by the seed of the the Most High, he is like "a transitory man-bull Kaiomorts, was animated by shadow," like a “vessel in the potter's Ormuzd, and transformed into the first hand." He might harbour a noble
human pair: and few nations only avow pride, but he must temper it with fear their ignorance with regard to this mysand humility; & consciousness of his terious question (comp. notes on i. 24– Divine origin might fill him with lofty 31). aspirations, but the recollection of his In the classical writings we find many frailty must teach him lowly resignation analogous passages regarding the nature to a higher will; he might sow for eter- of man. Euripides says: nity, but he must be prepared to leave the turns to the earth, from whence it was harvest to other reapers. He combines framed, and the spirit ascends to the earth and heaven, mind and matter, ether"; and still more distinctly Lucretius: animal and Divine life, nothingness and “ The earth is justly called our mother: infinity. And the great reconciler of all that which first arose from the earth, rethese conflicting antagonisms is God, who turns back into the earth; and that which has framed the body in the darkness of was sent down from the regions of the the earth, but granted the soul from the sky, the regions of the sky again receive spheres of eternal light. The origin of when carried back to them." Similar senman from the earth is a notion extensively timents are found in other Greek and adopted; it was prevalent not only among
Roman authors. the Greeks and Romans, but among the 8,9. The first man was placed in Peruvians, who believed that the world was Eden, in order to enjoy undisturbed peopled by four men and four women; peace and felicity. A description this and that whilst the soul is immortal, the happy abode was therefore necessary. body consists of clay, “ because it becomes It abounded in every production which again earth;” among the Collas, the Car- delights the senses; ornament and utility ribbees, and the North American Indians, were equally provided for; but in the who maintain that man lived long in the midst of it, and forming its very heart, interior of the earth, till an egress to the were two wonderful trees, bearing more surface was discovered, where they were precious fruit than the rest; they did not tempted to remain by the abundance of afford a merely momentary enjoyment; excellent game. It was familiar to the their effects were as lasting as they were ancient Egyptians, who considered man miraculous; the one secured eternal life; to have been formed from the slime of the the other roused the slumbering intellect; Nile; to the Hindoos, who think the it taught reason to reflect; and enabled human body either composed of five ele- the judgment to distinguish between moral ments, or consisting of carth alone; to the good and moral evil. Man was then still
good for food, and the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10. And a river goeth out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it parteth itself, and becometh to four arms. 11. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is the gold; 12. And the gold of that land is good: there is the bdellium and the onyx stone.
13. And the name of
undiscerning, and, therefore, irresponsible out"from thence," that is, evidently, from and guiltless; he was in the state of the garden, or, at least, from Eden, in harmless childhood; he was not yet called those four streams which were chiefly imupon “to reject the evil and to choose
portant to the Israelites.
In the same the good,” or to pursue, with self-con- manner, the Persians traced the origin of scious energy, the way of virtue and glory. all the streams of the earth to the fountain The “knowledge of good and evil” does Ardechsur. not, therefore, merely apply to the external This principal river divided into four senses, nor to the perception of decorum heads, that is, arms; for, after the parting in dress and manners; it includes all the only, the stream can be said to send forth nobler faculties of man, which distinguish arms. him, and permit him to claim relationship The four rivers diverge to the four parts with the Creator Himself. And around of the earth, embellishing and fructifying these trees centres the interest of our nar- the countries. Beyond this obvious sense, rative. The tree of life has analogies in we must not seek any hidden symbolical thc“ king of trees,” Hom (or Gokenen), meaning in the number four; for instance, which the Persians believed to grow at as typifying proportion and order; or the the spring Arduisur, issuing from the four cardinal virtues; or prophetically throne of Ormuzd; and in the tall Kal- foreshadowing the four great monarchies paurksham (or pilpel) of the Indians, to (Daniel vii.). which was also ascribed the power of secur- The first arm, Pison, traversed the land ing immortality, and every other blessing. of Havilah, which is distinguished by three But the tree of knowledge may be com- productions: 1. Gold, which is described pared with the well of wisdom in northern as good, that is, pure.—2. Bedolah, which mythology, from which even the great is, probably, bdellium, the gum of a tree god Odin drinks, and which gives kuow- growing in Arabia, India, and Babylon, ledge even to the wisc Mimer.
whitish, resinous, and pellucid, and nearly The garden was planted in the east, the colour of frankincense; when broken in the region of light, where the sun sends it appears the colour of wax, with grains his first and purest rays; in that region like frankincense, but larger.-The third with which the notions of joy and splen- production was the onyr-stone, about dour were naturally associated.
which we refer to our Commentary on 10–14. The Eden is geographically Exodus, p. 409. described in a manner which leaves no It might be supposed, that the four doubt, that a distinct locality was before rivers which proceeded from Eden, and the mind of the author, and which enables then fertilized the principal parts of the us to fix its general position with some whole earth, were distinguished by their probability. A river went out of Eden to extraordinary qualities; and this is, indeed water the garden; it is by no means said the case. The Indus was famous as the to have had its source there; it branched holy river of some of the mightiest and
the second river is Gihon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Cush. 14. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel : that is it which floweth before Assyria. And the fourth river, that is Euphrates.—15. And the Lord God took the man, and brought him into the garden of Eden to till it and to guard it. 16. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17. But of the tree of
most ancient nations; the Tigris was remarkable for its uncommon swiftness; and the Nile and Euphrates for the sweetness and excellence of their water.
15. Eden was prepared for the reception of man; its locality has, by way of parenthesis, been described; the text returns now to a former statement (ver. 8), and repeats, that Paradise was assigned to man as his delightful abode; but it adds significantly, that it became the duty of man “to cultivate and to guard it”; he should not only protect it against the inroads of the animals which were to be created, but maintain, by his own labour, its primitive beauty; thus only would the fruits remain delightful to his sight, and refreshing to his taste (ver. 9). But we do not see in these words any resemblance to the Persian myth, that Ormuzd commanded the first man to guard the Paradise against the power of the evil genius which had penetrated into the world, especially against snow, and frost, and sterility. How could man prevent this? If Ormuzd is powerless against Ahriman, how should a mortal prevail? But no such warfare was necessary. The universe had just been finished, and declared perfect.The Hebrew writer manifests his genius often by using and modifying the common eastern traditions,—but much more frequently by rejecting them, where they would either fail to enhance, or where they would destroy, the purity of his conceptions.
16, 17. The important command which occasions the catastrophe in the history of man is given; all the trees of Paradise are dedicated to his enjoyment; the tree of
knowledge alone is forbidden; and a participation of its fruits is threatened with death. Adam was originally designed by God for perpetual life; he was destined for unceasing happiness in childlike simplicity; but he should not, like God, combine eternal life with discerning wisdom; it was so ordained, not from any motive of envy on the part of the Deity, but for his own felicity. Though he was, therefore, permitted to eat of the tree of life, he was severely forbidden to taste of the fruits of the tree of knowledge. But he was disobedient; he acquired the Divine intelligence by tasting of the former (iii. 22); and he thus called death upon himself; and, lest he should eat again of the latter, and thus counteract and frustrate the Divine punishment, he was excluded from the garden where it grew; for, after his disobedience, any previous participation of the tree of life, was without effect. This is evidently the train of thought delineated in the Biblical narrative. The historian was deeply engaged with the problem why death was necessary in the human race; why God impresses man with His own image, if He so soon destroys him. This question was especially important to the Israelite, who so eminently valued a long life in the land which the Lord had promised. Many later writers, indeed, found death a jarring discord in the universal harmony; and if they regarded the world as perfect, they did not forget to point to death as the only great and awful evil. The Hebrew writer intended to solve this problem; and he teaches us, that this discord was not designed by God, that this evil was not intended by the benign Cre