Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life (available on Amazon).
In this article, I will examine verse by verse the information presented in Genesis 2:4-14. Some of the topics disucssed include how Genesis 2 fits with Genesis 1, whether the days in Genesis 1 are literal days or symbolic days, the creation of the first human, the nature of the trees in the garden, and the location of the garden of Eden.
Commentary on Genesis 2:4-7
(v.4a) The fourth verse in this second chapter introduces a new section, one that is parallel to the first chapter. The generations (genealogies, descendants, family records) of the heavens and the earth are introduced—in other words, an account of their origins will be given.
(v.4b) This account took place in the day when God created the heavens and the earth. It should be noticed that, in this passage, the word day does not refer to a literal day from morning to evening as the seven days in the first chapter. Instead, the word day is used to refer to an indefinite period when God created the heavens and the earth.
(v.5a) From the time God created the heavens and the earth, there was a time when there were no plants on the land (probably, the land where God planted the garden). No plants had sprung up.
(v.5b) Two reasons are given why there were no plants during this time: (1) God had not caused it to rain on the land, and (2) there were no human beings to cultivate the ground.
(v.6) During the time that there were no plants on the land, nor rain, nor humans, a stream (some versions say "mist") came out of the earth to water the earth. It appears the author supposes that, had there been rain and humans to cultivate the land, then plants would have grown. Such natural process would have taken more than seven days, and so it appears that the author does not regard the seven days in Genesis 1 as literal days (remember, plants were created on the third day).
(v.7) At that time, God formed the man from the dust (or clay) of the ground, then God breathed into the nostrils of the man the breath of life (that is, God's life-giving breath, or spirit), and then the man became a living creature (or soul).
In other words, God imparted his life-giving breath (or spirit) to the human so the human could live: without this life-giving breath (or spirit), the human would not live.
Commentary on Genesis 2:8-9
(v.8) This detail was not given in the first chapter of Genesis. God also planted a garden in a land the author (Moses) knows as Eden, in a region he identifies as The East. God then placed the man in the garden. Thus, the garden of Eden was the man's first home.
(v.9) God also caused trees to spring up and grow in the garden: the trees were both pleasant to see and good for food. Moreover, two important trees (the tree whose fruit gave life, and the tree whose fruit gave knowledge of good and evil) were also in the garden.
It shoudl be clear to the reader that both these trees (the tree of life and the tree of knowledge) were different from other trees. These two trees had supernatural properties (some would call them magical). According to Genesis 3:7, eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge did give the humans knowledge of good and evil; and, according to 3:22, eating the fruit of the tree of life would have given humans eternal life.
"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked." (Genesis 3:7a, LEB)
"What if⌋ he stretches out his hand and takes also from the tree of life and eats, and lives forever?" (Genesis 3:22b, LEB)
Commentary on Genesis 2:10-14
(v.10) The author gives us additional geographical information about the garden because the author believes the garden to be a literal place. One river flowed from Eden to water the garden, and from the garden the river broke into four river.
(v.11) The first of the four rivers was known to the author as Pishon; it went around the land the author knew as Havilah; and the author comments that there is gold in Havilah.
(v.12) The author comments that the gold is the land of Havila is of good quality, and that in the land of Havilah there are also bdelliim and onyx.
(v.13) The second of the four rivers is known to the author as Gihon, and he knew it went all around the land of Cush. The author is talking about rivers and regions known to him.
(v.14) According to the author, the third of the four rivers is the Tigris—which flows east of Assyria. The author also identifies the fourth river as the Euphrates.
The name of the first is the Pishon. It went around all the land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stones are there.) 13 And the name of the second is Gihon. It went around all the land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third is Tigris. It flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
It appears that the author (Moses) believes the garden of Eden to be somewhere in or about Mesopotamia. According to an article in National Geographic, the Tigris runs from Lake Hazer in Turkey to the Persian Gulf, parallel to the Euphrates.
Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research both comment that the location of the garden can hardly be known because the Genesis flood (also known as Noah's flood) would have changed the geography of the region and the whole world. However, the author of Genesis is most likely writing from a time after the flood. Therefore, it appears that the details provided in the Genesis text match better with an article by Reasons to Believe. The article proposes that the garden of Eden was most likely in what is now the Persian Gulf.
As the reader may see, there appears to be evidence that the author of Genesis (traditionally, Moses) thought of the creation days in Genesis 1 as symbolic days, and of the garden of Eden as a real and literal place on Earth.
The two special trees in the garden, The Tree of Life and The Tree of Knowledge, were trees with supernatural properties, such as do not exist in the world today.
The human being first created by God was a mixture of physical properties and spiritual properties: he was made from clay, but he was also given life by God's Spirit of Life. Thus, the human is not only an animal, but also an angel—not only flesh, but also a spirit.
Take a look at the previous article: Reading through The Bible, Genesis 1:20-2:3
© 2021 Marcelo Carcach