Genesis 2:15 — Part Six

Meanwhile, I sent my lessons to another reviewer. He is a “theologian” with an M.Div. from Trinity and a good grasp of the original languages and all the tools to consult. Here is his reply.

On “put” meaning “caused to rest”: Checking my Hebrew-English reference works I find that “rest” is one of the meanings of this word, but the particular form of the Hebrew verb in this verse and the fact that it is used in association with a person (him) and a location (in the garden) strongly points to the meaning “put”, as all the translations (including the Septuagint) render it in this verse and the two standard Hebrew reference works I checked confirm (with examples of verses with similar grammatical construction).  The solution to the problem posed is not to get work removed from Gen 2 (and thereby make it a consequence of the fall and a part of the curse — which I think biblically is a false idea, for work is an inherently good thing, for God himself worked in creation).  But the work before the fall was not burdensome and sweaty.  After the fall it was so, because of hindrances to productive work (in the sinful nature of man, and in the cursed creation).  When we finish the verse the way they have rendered it, it makes no sense.  He “made him rest in the garden to till it and keep it” (the Hebrew construction here clearly means that “to” means “for the purpose of”) So, He made Adam rest to work?  That is not what God is saying here.  And we certainly don’t want children to get the idea that work is a result of the curse!

I’m no scholar, but this seems to be largely circular reasoning again. There are also other issues:

  • God’s work in creation certainly wasn’t work in the sense of obligation, so it’s not really the same thing at all.

  • There’s no support for the idea that there was non-burdensome, non-sweaty work before the fall except this verse.

  • I never said God “made him rest in the garden to till it and keep it.” The first part of my lesson is linked to the rest of the lesson. It’s all one argument.

  • He agrees that this verse serves as a purpose statement. But what makes more sense — That God put man in the garden for the purpose of working, or that God wanted man to rest in Him and worship and serve Him. As I showed in the lesson, resting in God and worshiping and serving Him are our purpose after the fall. It makes no sense that man had a different, less-meaningful purpose before the fall.

The theologian continues on the subject of “dress”:

But the same word is use in Gen. 2:5 and 3:23 and it does not mean there “worship the ground” but till or cultivate the ground.  Context rules out the translation “worship,” again as all the Bible translations would confirm, including the Septuagint.

I’ve already addressed the Genesis 2:5 usage, and 3:23 was post-fall and obviously a different activity. I disagree with his context argument in Genesis 2:15.

He goes on to discuss my conclusion:

Work wasn’t needed to fight weeds, but work was perhaps given to man for man’s sake (as the ruler of creation), not for the ground’s sake, and could have prepared the ground to receive seeds from the plants that God made and possibly to prune them to bear more fruit.  We can’t be certain of the nature of the work.  But this [my RWO interpretation] way of rendering Genesis 2:15 finds almost no scholarly support that I can see (though one of my OT profs, argued this way about the verse as part of his old-earth interpretation of Genesis and John Gill (on-line Bible) indicates that a few rabbis may have viewed it this way, although the Septuagint doesn’t.

He starts his comment by saying “perhaps” and later says “We can’t be certain,” which makes his interpretation as much speculation as mine is. He goes on to say that the RWO view has almost no scholarly support, then proceeds to state two people (plus however many rabbis) who do support it.

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