Genesis: Introduction創世記導論 The Book



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Application


  • God is a God of life. The Bible is pro-life because man is created in the image of God. Every person is valuable in God’s eyes. Because of this, every human being must be treated with dignity and respect, including the frail elderly, the seriously ill, the mentally retarded, and children yet unborn.

  • As Christians, we “are being changed into his (God’s) likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2Co 3:18). The goal for which God has redeemed us is that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Ro 8:29). This is a restoration of the likeness that God intended for us at creation. This is an important objective in life.

  • The renewed image is characterized by knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24), 3 things that we need to commit our strength to strive for.



  1. Gen 2:4-25 Adam and Eve亞當和夏娃(創2:4-25)

Introduction


Part B. Adam and Eve in Eden (2:4-25)

B1. Creation of Adam (2:4-7)

B2. Garden of Eden (2:8-14)

B3. Commandments to Adam (2:15-17)



B4. Creation of Eve (2:18-25)

  • This passage is the description of the creation of man from another angle: how God prepare the best for man: Eden, a wife, and a harmonious nature. It is an elaboration of Gen 1:27, not duplication.

  • This chapter contains parallel features to chapters 1 and 3:

Parallel to ch.1:

  • [a] creation of the heavens and the earth (2:4; 1:1)

  • [b] the Earth was not suitable for human inhabitation (dryness in 2:5, darkness in 1:2)

  • [c] theme of creation (creation of man in 2:7, creation by word in 1:3)

  • [d] creation of man is the high point of creation (2:7; 1:26-27)

Parallel to ch.3:

  • [a] God’s action towards man (“put the man” in 2:8; “drove the man” 3:24)

  • [b] life of man (“a living being” from God’s breath in 2:7; blocked from the tree of life in 3:24)

  • [c] relationship of the trees to man (2:9,16-17; 3:3-6,12,17,22-24)

  • [d] work of man (“take care” in 2:15; hard work with sweat in 3:19)

  • [e] man’s relation to dust (“formed from the dust” in 2:7; return to dust in 3:19)



Explanation


2:4 generations (Heb. toledot; NIV: account): development of the creation, what happened after the creation; beginning of 2nd division of Genesis (total 11).

Lord God: The name combining “Lord” and “God” is used 20 times in ch.2-3 but seldom in the rest of OT. Rabbinical interpretation: “Lord” (Heb. Yahweh) representing the mercy of God, and “God” (Heb. Elohim) representing the justice of God; Christian interpretation: Yahweh representing God of the covenant, and Elohim representing the omnipotent Creator God.

the earth and the heavens: the phrase appearing only here and Ps 148:13. The Earth is now the focus (reversing “the heavens and the earth” in Gen 1:1).

in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens: Some translations (e.g. NIV) skip the word “day” (Heb. yom) in order to avoid the argument that creation here was done in one day instead of 6. However, the “day” here can mean a period because, different from those in ch.1, and it is not followed by a numeral. When it is, it usually means 24-hour day.

2:5 bush of the field: field (wilderness) that is not able to sustain crops.

plant of the field: referring to crops and arable land. These crops required human cultivation.

had not caused it to rain: rain comes from God.

work: the same word means “serve” in many other OT places.

ground: arable land.

2:6 mist (NIV: streams from the earth): ground water or spring (LXX). Most commentators agree that the term refers to underground streams that came to the surface.

2:7 ground (Heb. adama): close to the word for “man” (Heb. adam). Man was created from the ground. Jews also relate the word to “red” (Heb. adom) and “blood” (Heb. dam).

formed: work of design, after planning. It usually describes an action when potter works with clay. It conveys the idea of molding and shaping with careful, loving care.

dust: worthless thing, not even the clay used for pottery, reflecting the weakness of man. The body is a lifeless shell until God brings it alive with His breath of life. When God removes His life-giving breath, our bodies once again return to dust. Our life and worth come from God’s Spirit.

breath of life: While other animals are also described as having “the breath of life” (Gen 6:17; 7:15,22), the breath here was directly from God, therefore different from other creatures. This divine breath is associated with understanding and conscience (Job 32:8; Pr 20:27). Some Jews understand “breath” as “soul”.

living creature (Heb. nepes hayya): It may simply be describing man with a “breath” (Heb. nepes) because the same term is used in describing the animals in Gen 1:24. It is also possible that the human spirit (soul) is in mind because other living organisms can live without the breath of life from God. If so, then man is described as a created being with a spiritual life. However, the meaning of spirit in Hebrew thought is different from the NT.

  • The KJV translation of nepes as “soul” can be misleading because the semantic range of nepes is much broader, including life, person, self, appetite, and mind.

  • Hebrew thought understood the soul differently from the Greeks. Early Greek viewed the soul (Gr. psyche) as united with the body and was the inner person. Late Greek viewed the soul as preexistent and separate from the body; it was the immaterial core of the individual that was immortal.

  • The Hebrew word nepes has been related to “breath”; it was related to the life force, the vitality of a person (Isa 5:14; Ps 69:2). The OT emphasizes the individual as a unified whole and there is no life apart from the body (Job 19:26-27). However, man also possesses a “spirit” (Heb. ruah), which has its source in God (Job 33:4; Zec 12:1). Unlike the nepes, the ruah is not bound up with the body and parallels the mind. It expresses the inner emotions of the individual (Gen 41:8; 1Ki 21:5).

2:8 east: east of the author, who wrote Genesis somewhere between Egypt and Canaan.

Eden (Heb. eden): meaning “delight” or land with abundant water supply. Jewish scholars consistently refer Eden as “paradise”. The name may refer both to the garden and for a larger region.

  • The word “paradise” is not found in the OT. In Jewish literature, paradise is the eternal home of the righteous. In the NT, paradise is the eternal home for believers (Rev 2:7) in the presence of the ascended Christ (Lk 23:43; 2Co 12:4).

garden: not one with lots of flowers, but one with lots of trees.

had formed: a pluperfect tense indicating that the formation of the man preceded the planting of the garden.

  • The perfect tense means the action has been completed. The pluperfect tense means the action has been completed before the perfect tense.

2:9 every tree (NIV: all kinds of trees): tree of life, tree of the knowledge of good and evil, fig trees (Gen 3:7), and others.

pleasant to sight, good for food: characteristics of trees.

tree of life: The tree probably produced the source of life. Eating of the fruit would perhaps continuously perpetuate or renew earthly life. In other words, nowhere does the Bible say that the eater will permanently receive eternal life by eating just one fruit from this tree.

midst of the garden: The two trees were probably standing side by side in the centre (Gen 3:3).

tree of the knowledge of good and evil: The word “evil” implies that evil had already occurred.

2:10 divided and became four rivers (NIV: separated into four headwaters): Normally different tributaries merge into one river, here it appears that the river flowed out from one source (a fountain?) in Eden and was later divided into 4 separate tributaries. Some explain that there was one central fountain which the 4 rivers flowed into because from the perspective of Eden, the river looked as if they were separated into 4. However, this second interpretation does not agree with the wordings of “out of” and “became”.

  • The 4 rivers were a rich source of life-giving water and were adorned with precious metals and jewels.

2:11 Pishon: 1st of 4 rivers; flowing through the land of Havilah, possibly southeast Arabian Peninsula where gold, aromatic resin, and onyx (red precious stone) are produced today. Some identify it with the Indus or the Ganges River in India. Some identify it with the Karun River which flows through Iran into Persian Gulf.

Some believe that the drainage systems before the Flood could be vastly different from modern-day systems as result of the destruction of all drainage systems by violent bursts of floodwater during the Flood. Therefore the 4 rivers mentioned cannot be traced to any modern-day rivers.



Havilah: Some (such as Jospehus) identify this with India; others identify it as an area on the coast of Persian Gulf. The name is mentioned in Gen 10:7,29; 25:18; 1Sa 15:7. Significantly, there is a city called Havelian on the upper Indus river, between Kashmir and Pakistan.

2:12 gold, bdellium (NIV: aromatic resin) and onyx stone: the 3 precious materials are also used in the construction of the tabernacle (Ex 25:28; 28:9; 30:34) and the temple (1Ch 29:2). Bdellium is a gum resin, very much like myrrh. Others translate it as pearls or anthrax (LXX, a red mineral). Onyx was also used for the high priest’s breastplate (Ex 28:20). The garden was indicative of the presence of God.

2:13 Gihon: 2nd of 4 rivers. Different rivers are identified: [a] Nile River in Africa (Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews), [b] the Amudarya River, which flows from Afghanistan into the Aral Sea in Russia, but possibly flowing into the Caspian Sea in the past, [c] Qezal Owzan River, which flows through Iran into the Caspian Sea, or [d] the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates flowing through Syria.

Cush: normally referring to Ethiopia (Isa 20:3; Jer 46:9); here possibly the land east of Tigris (a Mesopotamian Cush). Some identify Pishon and Gihon with the Blue and the While Niles of Africa; others identify them with dried-up river channels related to the Tigris-Euphrates river system.

2:14 Tigris: 3rd of 4 rivers; same name today, in modern-day Iraq; 1150 km long. Arabs call it the Dicle or Dijla.

Assyria (NIV: Asshur): not the Assyria in OT, but the city of Asshur west of Tigris.

Euphrates: 4th of 4 rivers; same name today, in modern-day Iraq; 1800 km long; called simply the River or the Great River in OT (Nu 22:5; Dt 11:24; Jos 1:4). Arabs call it the Firat, al Farat, or al Furat.

2:15 put: could be literally translated “caused to rest”. It may indicate that God gave man peace and security (Dt 3:20; 12:10).

work it and keep it (NIV: work and take care): growing crops (in response to v.5), guarding the land and keeping it well.

  • Work is a God-given assignment and not a cursed condition. It is honourable and meaningful labour.

  • Some translate work (Heb. abad) and keep (Heb. samar) as “worship and obey” as work may refer to “service” to another (Gen 29:15; 31:6) and is often used of worship (Ex 3:12). Although the supporting evidence is insufficient, the passage may contain such implication. In the OT, both terms occur together to describe the charge of the Levites for the tabernacle (Nu 3:7-8; 18:7), thus again suggesting a relationship between Eden and the tabernacle.

2:16 a positive command and a negative command (v.17) to give man a choice. Without choice, there is no love; there is no real love with compulsion.

commanded: The word was used the first time by God; yet it was later broken.

you: first recorded communication between God and man. The man is addressed personally as an individual, indicating a privileged God-man communion.

surely (literal: freely): “Freely” and “every tree” indicate God’s generosity. The provision of God for Adam (and Eve) was plentiful and to be enjoyed freely by them.

2:17 but: The word establishes the contrast between provision and prohibition. Freedom must have a boundary; without some prohibitions, freedom will eventually be abused.

shall not: similar to the format in the Ten Commandments.

shall surely die: Hebrew words (mot temutun) means “Die, you will die.” In Hebrew grammar, this is called the infinitive absolute: the infinitive verb followed immediately by a conjugated form of the same verb. The effect of this repetition is to add emphasis to the verb. Some translate it as “doomed to die.”

  • The pronouncement signifies a legal decree of death. It was pronounced either by God (Gen 20:7; Eze 33:8,14) or a king (e.g. 1Sa 14:39,44; 22:16; 1Ki 2:37,42; 2Ki 1:4,6). It occurs repeatedly in the legal statments of the Pentateuch, condeming criminals to death (Ex 21:12; Lev 20:2; Nu 35:16-18).

  • There is no clear statement, as is assumed by most, that Adam was created immortal but subsequently forfeited immortality by his sin. Calvin noted that without sin, Adam’s “earthly life truly would have been temporal; yet he would have passed into heaven without death, and without injury,” thereby receiving eternal life. [Calvin: Commentary on Genesis]

God’s command is not unreasonable and not difficult to obey. It reduces neither the happiness, nor the health, nor the comfort of man.

2:18 not good to be alone: God understood Adam’s need for [a] companion; [b] his need for a helper to work and take care of Eden, and [c] the necessity for a partner in procreation. The negative phrase “not good” is accentuated in the Hebrew construction by its position at the beginning of the sentence. Isolation is not the divine norm for human beings; community is the creation of God. The loneliness of man also prepared him to cherish his mate.

helper (Heb. ezer; NIV: companion): fulfilling Adam’s need for someone in helping and supporting his work. The word (from the root for “save”) can refer to the military ally (2Ch 28:16; Ps 121:1-2), and connotes active intervention on behalf of someone. In OT, the word also describes God’s helping the Israelites in the face of enemies (Ex 18:4; Dt 33:7; Ps 20:2; 33:20; 115:9-11; 121:1-2; 124:8). Therefore the helper is not necessarily lower than the one getting the help.

  • While the helper is equal in importance, she is also the subordinate as one could not say that man is created as a helper for the woman.

  • Eve would be instrumental in providing salvation for the fallen Adam by her seed (Heb. zera, with a similar sound like helper) who will defeat the serpent (Gen 3:15).

fit for him (Heb. kenegdo): alongside him, opposite him, a counterpart to him.

2:19 out of the ground: Like man, beasts and birds were formed out of the dust; the difference is that they did not receive the breath of God (v.7).

Question: Why are the creation sequences different in ch.1 and ch.2?

  • In ch.1, the sequence was: plants (1:11), animals (1:20), man (1:26); but in ch.2, the sequence was: man (2:7), plants (2:9), animals (2:19).

Answer: The focus of the story is man. While plants and animals had been created before man, they came into focus only later in ch.2.

  • Another similar explanation is that the focus of this story is Eden. After man was created and put into Eden, the plants and then the animals were then introduced into Eden. The fact that creatures in the sea were not mentioned confirms this interpretation as there was no sea inside Eden.

2:20 the man, Adam: Adam has been described up to this point as “the man” (with an article), but the second reference to Adam in this verse is the first time without the article so that it is legitimate to translate it “Adam”.

gave names: The activity indicated that: [a] Adam was higher than animals, more intelligent than animals; [b] he exercised his authority over the animals. Naming also presumes the existence of language.

not found a helper fit for him: Adam learned from his own experience that none of the animals could be his helper. If a gift is given after the receiver understands the need for it, the gift will be more appreciated.

2:21 deep sleep: Adam did not participate in the creation of Eve.

ribs: the original word is “side” (Heb. sela). That it was one of the ribs is only a guess. It could well be a portion, something like a biopsy, from Adam’s side and that tissue was then used in constructing Eve. In this way, the biopsy would include a complete blueprint of all of Adam’s cells, biochemical machinery, and morphology. Eve’s source is traced to Adam.

  • Matthew Henry says: “That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

  • Genesis Rabbah (Hebrew): “He [God] thought to himself: We should not create her beginning with the head, so that she not be frivolous, nor from the eye, that she not be a starer [at man], nor from the ear, that she not be an eavesdropper, nor from the mouth, that she not talk too much [a gossip], nor from the heart, that she not be jealous, nor from the hand, that she not be light-fingered, nor from the foot, that she not be a gadabout, but from a covered up place on man. For even when a man is standing naked, that spot is covered up.”

2:22 made: original word “fashioned”; the only other place is in Am 9:6 in which God constructed the lofty place in heaven.

  • The fact that God did not use the dust to create Eve may have a deeper meaning. It could be a way to emphasize the close resemblance of male and female humans, or it could be an emphasis on one single source for human beings.

brought her to the man: similar to what happens in a wedding.

2:23 bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: originally in a poetic form, expressing Adam’s joy. The exclamatory nature of his response is “This is now.” (Heb. zot happa’am) GNB translates this as: “At last, here is one of my own kind.” It is probably equivalent to the idiom “my flesh and blood” (Gen 29:14). The emphasis is on the sameness that he and the woman shared, as opposed to other animals.

  • The description signifies the unbroken relationship, the union. This union is not merely sexual, but with spiritual, intellectual, and emotional dimensions also.

  • Bone is hard while flesh is soft, implying about being together in hard and soft (good) times.

woman (Heb. issa): out of man (Heb. is), but does not mean ruled by man.

The short poem begins with the feminine indicative pronoun “this one” (Heb. zot), then again the first word of the second line “this one shall be”, and then also at the end “out of this one”. This poem is therefore in a tight envelope structure.



2:24 therefore (NIV: for this reason): This is not an explanation of the foregoing but rather describes the consequence of God’s charge for the human family to propagate and to rule the Earth. Marriage and family are the divine ideal for carrying out the mandate. This verse serves as the bedrock for Hebrew understanding of the centrality of the nuclear family for the survival of the society.

Jesus’ appeal to the garden as the basis of His teaching on marriage and divorce (Mt 19:3-9; Mk 10:2-12) indicates that the garden established a paradigm for marital behaviour for all time.

Paul also used the garden in speaking of the some vital theological issues in Christianity (Ro 5:12-21; 1Co 15:45) and in offering instructions about the propriety of worship (1Co 11:2-16; 1Ti 2:11-15), moral behaviour (1Co 6:16), and marriage (Eph 5:31).


  • It is not known whether this verse is a statement by Moses or by Adam. In any case, it represents God’s command of marriage.

a man shall leave his father and his mother: Leaving has the meaning of abandoning (Dt 12:19; 14:27). This is the institution of marriage. Marriage is depicted as a covenant relationship shared by man and woman. “Leave” and “hold fast” are terms commonly used in the context of covenant. Monogamy is clearly the rule.

A model for marriage involves 3 factors: [a] Leaving—former familial commitments are superseded; obligations to one’s spouse supplant a person’s parental loyalties. [b] Uniting—dependent and responsible toward one another. [c] Declaration—a public declaration in the sight of God. Marriage is not a private matter.



  • The implication is that the husband-wife relationship is closer than parent-children relationship, meaning that the man no longer relies on the parents. It should also be applied to the wife. Therefore, the verse should not be applied to determine where the newly married should live, with the parents or not.

  • The tradition in the Middle East at that time was for the wife to move into the husband’s family, such as in the case of Jacob whose sons remained in their father’s household.

hold fast (NIV: united): implies unbroken union until death, like a covenant; emphasis on the permanent nature, including commitment and faithfulness (Nu 36:7; Dt 10:20).

become one flesh: corresponding to “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”, intimate relationship through sexual union.

Question: What are the characteristics of marriage as designed by God?

Answer:

[1] Marriage is only for one man and one woman (monogamy); not for multiple spouses (polygamy) nor for people of the same sex (homosexual marriage)—there is only one Eve for one Adam. If God’s design was for multiple spouses, He could easily create more than one Eve or more than one Adam.

[2] The spouses are required to love each other, even more than their love for their parents. The responsibility of looking after the wife is above the responsibility of looking after the parents.

[3] Marriage is a covenant. It is a union of two people and cannot be broken.

[4] Marriage is instituted for mutual help and companionship.

2:25 naked (Heb. arummim, plural of arom): not only without clothes but also a reflection of the intimate relationship, nothing to hide from each other. Note that they did not need any protection against the weather, both day and night.

  • The Hebrew word sounds similar to “crafty” (Heb. arum) which describes the serpent. Ironically, the first achievement of their newfound wisdom after the Fall was the realization of their nudity.

not ashamed: feeling no shame for self and for spouse. Shame also means lack of trust; the marriage relationship is a trusting one.




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