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Genesis 2:4-25 - notes

4) tôwledôwth normally has the connotation of generations, ie the offspring issuing from the first-named person in the list. It is taken here to mean issues arising out of .... This then leads into arising in the second line as a translation of being shaped/created. bârâ’ refers to divine activity in creating something (rather than human effort in fabricating something). So this verse suggests that the series of events being described was an implicit consequence of Yahweh's creative act.

5) The emptiness of the world at this stage contrasts with the creation sequence in Genesis 1, which is usually taken as a poetic interpretation focusing on the orderliness of creation. This chapter focuses instead on establishing context - man in the context of earth, and woman in the context of community. This verse, along with a few others such as 9 and 20, suggests a poetic or song origin for this chapter as well. The activity of mankind is presented as just as essential for plant life as rain.

6) The mist ensures that the land is fertile in potential even if not in actuality.

7) hâ’âdâm suggests man in contrast to God or beast, rather than man in contrast to woman. Hence person in this first use. However, since humans are gendered man is used subsequently. The first use of ’îysh is not until verse 23, as part of the man's exclamation at seeing the woman. The man and the beasts are formed (yâtsar), whereas the woman is fashioned/built (bânâh).

8) ‘êden can be seen simply as a proper name. Equally it can be seen as a description. As a (masculine) noun, ‘êden means luxury or delight, from the verb ‘âdan, delight. Also derived is the feminine noun ‘êdnâh, suggesting delight in a more sexual sense. There is also an Akkadian word edinu, meaning a plain. The common link here is that of fertility - the plain is the fertile portion of the country. The word usage here in verse 8 suggests the root idea of plain: the Garden in a plain in the east. This then moves more towards the idea of personal delight in later verses.

9) Living has the definite article ha, so could also be The Living or Life.


11) Various suggestions for this land have been made.

12) Resin is thought to be bdellium, a yellowish translucent resin or gum noted for its smell. Onyx is shôham, evidently a gemstone but with considerable debate about which one - chrysoprase or malachite have been suggested.

13) Kush here often refers to Egypt, but a Mesopotamian alternative has also been suggested.

14) Chideqel is used only in one other place in the Old Testament, in Daniel 10:4 to refer to the River Tigris. The vowel pointing is slightly different (chiddâqel). The Assyrian name for this river was Idiklat or Diklat, and the Old Persian name Tigrâ. Perath is used numerous times throughout the Old Testament to refer to the Euphrates. The Assyian name was Purattu and the Old Persian name Ufrâtu.

15) Now that ‘êden has been populated with good things, the connotations of personal delight and enjoyment can come to the fore. The imminent formation of the woman can be seen as hidden in the derived feminine noun suggesting sexual delight. By now, the purely geographic aspects of the name Eden have become largely irrelevant.

16) The last clause, eating you will eat emphasises the permission granted by repetition of the verb.

17) lô’ as negation is used either as a permanent prohibition (as here, so rendered you must never) or else as an objective fact. The last clause, dying you will die mirrors the last clause of verse 16, and is again emphasis by repetition of the verb.

18) Again, lô’ is used as negation, this time to convey that it is an objectve fact that this is not a good situation, rather than a subjective idea such as the man doesn't think it good, or a temporary phenonemon such as it is inconvenient that.... The translation a partner to him is used to translate the rather technical phrase like one who corresponds to him.

19) Formed here (yâtsar, as also used in verse 7 of the man) suggests shaping and crafting from pre-existing material as a potter would. Note the repeated use here and in the following verse of qâra’, to name or proclaim over.

20) The last clause recapitulates the end of verse 18. It is the only time in this passage that Adam is used clearly as a proper name, as opposed to a general word for human person.

21) The deep sleep here, tardêmâh, normally indicates a sleep of supernatural origin, and is used of Abraham in Genesis 15. Rib comes from a root word meaning curved - the more curved human partner is built from a curved part of the existing person.

22) The woman here is fashioned - bânâh, ie built rather than just formed as the animals and the man were in verses 7 and 19.

23) She is the One! is an attempt to translate an unusual phrase which in literal terms is something like This female one is striking/noteworthy/significant/substantial. It should be seen in the light of the preceding failure of all the beasts to provide an adequate partner. The next two lines (bone...flesh) give a rich collection of contrasts, not all of which stand out clearly in translation. Bone suggests that which gives inner strength and structure, often hidden in secret, but also suggests strength, might, substance or vastness. It can be used on non-living structural material as well as living things. It derives from the verb ‘âtsam, vast/mighty/numerous. Flesh on the other hand, always suggests something living. It is used to convey the idea of a thing passed on to other generations, usually through family or sexual ties. It normally has to do with the surface of something and the way it presents itself, so can be used with the idea of carrying a message. Finally, it also suggests frailty. Thus, Adam's exclamation recognises that the human couple share at all levels from hidden to superficial, from strength to weakness, and pass something of themselves on into the future.

24) The verb ‘âzab used for the man's action can vary in meaning from (fairly neutral) leave through to (much more forceful) abandon. The choice here is a fairly strong one in the light of the resulting unity with the woman. dâbaq - cling to or cleave to - suggests a combination of physical closeness, loyalty, and affection.

25) Naked here indicates an objective fact, without either of the later connotations of destitution or shamefulness. See the separate word study for more details. Having no shame relates here to a security in each person of their worthiness for relationship and purpose to the other.