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4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

Another Account of the Creation

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.


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4. These are the generations108108     A new section of the history of Moses commences at this point; and, from the repetition which occurs of some facts — such as the creation of man — which had been recorded in the preceding chapter, as well as from certain peculiarities of phraseology, many learned men have inferred, that the early portion of the Mosaic history is older than the time of Moses, and that he, under the infallible direction of the Spirit of God, collected and arranged the several fragments of primeval annals in one consistent narrative. One chief argument on which such a conclusion rests is, that from the commencement of the first chapter to the end of the third verse of the second chapter, God is spoken of only under the name of Elohim; from the fourth verse of the second to the end of the third chapter, he is uniformly styled Jehovah Elohim; and in the fourth and fifth chapters, the name of Elohim or of Jehovah stands alone. This, it is argued, could scarcely have occurred without some cause; and the inference has been drawn, that different records had different forms of expression, which Moses did not alter, unless truth required him to do so. See Dathe on the Pentateuch, Professor Bush on Genesis, and Robertson’s Clavis Pentateuchi, where reference will be found to Vitringa and others. Against this view, however, Hengstenberg argues with considerable force, in his Dissertation “on the Names of God in the Pentateuch;” and if some of his reasonings in the use of these names seem too refined for the simplicity of the Holy Scriptures, and for the comprehension of those to whom the Scriptures are chiefly addressed, yet we may discover the germ of very important truths, thought they may be, in some degree, hidden beneath a variety of fanciful developments.
   By a very careful examination of the passages in which the terms אלהים (Elohim), יהוה (Jehovah), and יהוה אלהים (Jehovah Elohim), occur, he thinks he has ascertained a reason for the use of each in its place, so that, with some exceptions, in which he allows that one term might have been exchanged for the other, the sense of the passage absolutely requires the introduction of the very appellation, and no other, which is there employed. Believing that a theory so general cannot, with all the author’s ingenuity and learning, be applied in every case, we may still admit the importance of the distinction he makes, and may readily allow that these names are intended to present the Divine character under different aspects to our view. For instance, we may suppose that Elohim and Jehovah have different meanings, arising from their derivations; but we are not to infer, that, in reading the Scriptures, we must have this diversity, or any diversity at all, in our view, when we meet with these different names of Deity.

   “These are the generations.” תולדות, (toledoth), “modo origines ejus rei de qua sermo est, modo posteros eorum de quibus agitur, significat. Priori sensu hoc loco sumitur posteriori, cap. 5:1.” “The term signifies, sometimes, the origin of the thing spoken of, sometimes the posterity of those who are mentioned. It is taken here in the former of those senses; and in chap. 5:1, in the latter.” — Dathe
The design of Moses was deeply to impress upon our minds the origin of the heaven and the earth, which he designates by the word generation. For there have always been ungrateful and malignant men, who, either by feigning, that the world was eternal or by obliterating the memory of the creations would attempt to obscure the glory of God. Thus the devil, by his guile, turns those away from God who are more ingenious and skillful than others in order that each may become a god unto himself. Wherefore, it is not a superfluous repetition which inculcates the necessary fact, that the world existed only from the time when it was created since such knowledge directs us to its Architect and Author. Under the names of heaven and earth, the whole is, by the figure synecdochee, included. Some of the Hebrews thinks that the essential name of God is here at length expressed by Moses, because his majesty shines forth more clearly in the completed world.109109     The word יהוה, Jehovah, here first occurs, — that most sacred and incommunicable name of Deity, called tetragrammaton, because it consisted of four letters, which the Jews, through reverence or superstition, refuse to pronounce. The principal meaning of the term is self-existence; which is, in truth, necessary existence, as opposed to that which is derived from, or is dependent upon, another. It has been supposed by some that Moses here introduces this title of Deity by anticipation; because, in Exodus 6:3, God declares that he had not been previously known by the name of Jehovah. But this, as Dathe forcibly reasons, is to increase difficulties rather than to remove them; for the patriarchs, Abraham and Jacob, are represented as using the name; and God himself, in speaking to them, also makes use of it. The true solution of the passage in Exodus seems to be, that God had not made known to the patriarchs the full import of his name, as he was now about to do. An elaborate investigation of the origin and import of the name יהוה (Jehovah,) will be found in the work of Hengstenberg, referred to in the preceding note. He begins with putting aside the notion of an Egyptian origin, which has been put forth with much confidence by those who would trace all the religious peculiarities of the Israelites to their connection with Egypt. He then disposes of the fancied Phoenician pedigree of the name, founded upon spurious fragments ascribed to Sanchoniathon; and concludes the negative part of his argument, by showing that the name was not derived from any heathen source whatever. Consequently, it is to be traced to “a Hebrew etymology.” We need not follow him into the discussion on the right pronunciation of the word, and the use of the vowel points belonging to אדנ, (Adonai); it may suffice to state, that he deduces the name היה(Jehovah,) from the future of the verb הוה or היה, to be. Hence the meaning of the appellation may be expressed in the words, “He who is to be (for ever).” This derivation of the name Jehovah he regards as being confirmed “by all the passages of Scripture, in which a derivation of the name is either expressly given or simply hinted.” And, beginning with the Book of Revelation, at the title ὁ ὡν καὶ ὁ ἤν καὶ ὁ ερχόμενος, “who is, and was, and is to come,” he goes upward through the sacred volume, quoting the passages which bear upon the question, till he comes to the important passage in Exodus in. 13-16, in which God declares his name to be, “I am that I am.” “Everything created,” he adds, “remains not like itself, but is continually changing under circumstances, God only, because he is the being, is always the same; and because he is always the same, is the being.” See Dissertations, p. 231-265.
   “The Lord God.”-Jehovah Elohim. The two titles of Deity are here combined. “Elohim,” says Hengstenberg, “is the more general, and Jehovah the deep and more discriminating name of the Godhead.” This may well be admitted, without accepting all the inferences which the author deduces. — Ed.

5. And every plant This verse is connected with the preceding, and must be read in continuation with it; for he annexes the plants and herbs to the earth, as the garment with which the Lord has adorned it, lest its nakedness should appear as a deformity. The noun שיה (sicah,110110     שיח Frutex, stirps; a shrub — “cujus pulluli in summa tellure expatiantur,” — “whose shoots are spread abroad over the surface of the earth.” — Robertson’s Clavis Pentateuch. — Ed ) which we translate plant, sometimes signifies trees, as below, (Genesis 21:15111111     “And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.” — English version. ) Therefore, some in this place translate it shrub, to which I have no objection. Yet the word plant is not unsuitable; because in the former place, Moses seems to refer to the genus, and here to the species.112112     It seems remarkable that Calvin should himself translate the word “virgultum,” and then reason, in his commentary, as if he preferred the word “planta.” — Ed. But although he has before related that the herbs were created on the third day, yet it is not without reason that here again mention is made of them, in order that we may know that they were then produced, preserved, and propagated, in a manner different from that which we perceive at the present day. For herbs and trees are produced from seed; or grafts are taken from another roots or they grow by putting forth shoots: in all this the industry and the hand of man are engaged. But, at that time, the method was different: God clothed the earth, not in the same manner as now, (for there was no seed, no root, no plant, which might germinate,) but each suddenly sprung into existence at the command of God, and by the power of his word. They possessed durable vigor, so that they might stand by the force of their own nature, and not by that quickening influence which is now perceived, not by the help of rain, not by the irrigation or culture of man; but by the vapor with which God watered the earth. For he excludes these two things, the rain whence the earth derives moisture, that it may retain its native sap; and human culture, which is the assistant of nature. When he says, that God had ‘not yet caused it to rain,’ he at the same time intimates that it is God who opens and shuts the cataracts of heaven, and that rain and drought are in his hand.

7. And the Lord God formed man He now explains what he had before omitted in the creation of man, that his body was taken out of the earth. He had said that he was formed after the image of God. This is incomparably the highest nobility; and, lest men should use it as an occasion of pride, their first origin is placed immediately before them; whence they may learn that this advantage was adventitious; for Moses relates that man had been, in the beginning, dust of the earth. Let foolish men now go and boast of the excellency of their nature! Concerning other animals, it had before been said, Let the earth produce every living creature;113113     “Omnem animam viventum,” — “every living soul.” The word is applied here, and frequently in the Holy Scriptures, to describe only the sensitive and animal life, that by which a created being breathes; and thus distinguishes the animal from the vegetative life. — Ed. but, on the other hand, the body of Adam is formed of clay, and destitute of sense; to the end that no one should exult beyond measure in his flesh. He must be excessively stupid who does not hence learn humility. That which is afterwards added from another quarter, lays us under just so much obligation to God. Nevertheless, he, at the same time, designed to distinguish man by some mark of excellence from brute animals: for these arose out of the earth in a moment; but the peculiar dignity of man is shown in this, that he was gradually formed. For why did not God command him immediately to spring alive out of the earth, unless that, by a special privilege, he might outshine all the creatures which the earth produced?

And breathed into his nostrils114114     “Inspiraverat in faciem.” Whatever the greater part of the ancients might think, I do not hesitate to subscribe to the opinion of those who explain this passage of the animal life of man; and thus I expound what they call the vital spirits by the word breath. Should any one object, that if so, no distinction would be made between man and other living creatures, since here Moses relates only what is common alike to all: I answer, though here mention is made only of the lower faculty of the soul, which imparts breath to the body, and gives it vigor and motion: this does not prevent the human soul from having its proper rank, and therefore it ought to be distinguished from others.115115     “Non tamen obstare quin gradum suum obtineat anima, ideoque seorsum poni debuerit.” Moses first speaks of the breath; he then adds, that a soul was given to man by which he might live, and be endued with sense and motion. Now we know that the powers of the human mind are many and various. Wherefore, there is nothing absurd in supposing that Moses here alludes only to one of them; but omits the intellectual part, of which mention has been made in the first chapter. Three gradations, indeed, are to be noted in the creation of man; that his dead body was formed out of the dust of the earth; that it was endued with a soul, whence it should receive vital motion; and that on this soul God engraved his own image, to which immortality is annexed.

Man became a living soul116116     “Factus est in animam viventem.” I take נפש (nepesh,) for the very essence of the soul: but the epithet living suits only the present place, and does not embrace generally the powers of the soul. For Moses intended nothing more than to explain the animating of the clayey figure, whereby it came to pass that man began to live. Paul makes an antithesis between this living soul and the quickening spirit which Christ confers upon the faithful, (1 Corinthians 15:45,) for no other purpose than to teach us that the state of man was not perfected in the person of Adam; but it is a peculiar benefit conferred by Christ, that we may be renewed to a life which is celestial, whereas before the fall of Adams man’s life was only earthly, seeing it had no firm and settled constancy.

8. And the Lord God planted117117     “Plantaverat quoque Dominus.” — “The Lord had also planted.” Moses now adds the condition and rule of living which were given to man. And, first, he narrates in what part of the world he was placed, and what a happy and pleasant habitation was allotted to him. Moses says, that God had planted accommodating himself, by a simple and uncultivated style, to the capacity of the vulgar. For since the majesty of God, as it really is, cannot be expressed, the Scripture is wont to describe it according to the manner of men. God, then, had planted Paradise in a place which he had especially embellished with every variety of delights, with abounding fruits and with all other most excellent gifts. For this reason it is called a garden, on account of the elegance of its situation, and the beauty of its form. The ancient interpreter has not improperly translated it Paradise;118118     “Paradisum.” — Vulgate. because the Hebrews call the more highly cultivated gardens פרדסים(Pardaisim,119119     פרדס Baumgarten, Park, etc. “Wahrschenlich aus der Persichen Sprache, wo es die Lustparks der Koenige bezeichnet.” — “Orchard, Park, etc. — probably from the Persian, where it signifies the pleasure — parks of kings.” — Gesenius ) and Xenophon pronounces the word to be Persian, when he treats of the magnificent and sumptuous gardens of kings. That region which the Lord assigned to Adam, as the firstborn of mankind, was one selected out of the whole world.

In Eden That Jerome improperly translates this, from the beginning,120120     “Plantaverat autem Dominus Deus Paradisum voluptatis a principio.” — “But the Lord God had planted a paradise from the beginning.” — Vulgate. is very obvious: because Moses afterwards says, that Cain dwelt in the southern region of this place. Moreover it is to be observed, that when he describes paradise as in the east, he speaks in reference to the Jews, for he directs his discourse to his own people. Hence we infer, in the first place, that there was a certain region assigned by God to the first man, in which he might have his home. I state this expressly, because there have been authors who would extend this garden over all regions of the world. Truly, I confess, that if the earth had not been cursed on account of the sin of man, the whole — as it had been blessed from the beginning — would have remained the fairest scene both of fruitfulness and of delight; that it would have been, in short, not dissimilar to Paradise, when compared with that scene of deformity which we now behold. But when Moses here describes particularly the situation of the region, they absurdly transfer what Moses said of a certain particular place to the whole world. It is not indeed doubtful (as I just now hinted) that God would choose the most fertile and pleasant place, the first-fruits (so to speak) of the earth, as his gift to Adam, whom he had dignified with the honor of primogeniture among men, in token of his special favor. Again, we infer, that this garden was situated on the earth, not as some dream in the air; for unless it had been a region of our world, it would not have been placed opposite to Judea, towards the east. We must, however, entirely reject the allegories of Origin, and of others like him, which Satan, with the deepest subtlety, has endeavored to introduce into the Church, for the purpose of rendering the doctrine of Scripture ambiguous and destitute of all certainty and firmness. It may be, indeed, that some, impelled by a supposed necessity, have resorted to an allegorical sense, because they never found in the world such a place as is described by Moses: but we see that the greater part, through a foolish affectation of subtleties, have been too much addicted to allegories. As it concerns the present passage, they speculate in vain, and to no purpose, by departing from the literal sense. For Moses has no other design than to teach man that he was formed by God, with this condition, that he should have dominion over the earth, from which he might gather fruit, and thus learn by daily experience that the world was subject unto him. What advantage is it to fly in the air, and to leave the earth, where God has given proof of his benevolence towards the human race? But some one may say, that to interpret this of celestial bliss is more skillful. I answer, since the eternal inheritance of man is in heaven, it is truly right that we should tend thither; yet must we fix our foot on earth long enough to enable us to consider the abode which God requires man to use for a time. For we are now conversant with that history which teaches us that Adam was, by Divine appointment, an inhabitant of the earth, in order that he might, in passing through his earthly life, meditate on heavenly glory; and that he had been bountifully enriched by the Lord with innumerable benefits, from the enjoyment of which he might infer the paternal benevolence of God. Moses, also, will hereafter subjoin that he was commanded to cultivate the fields and permitted to eat certain fruits: all which things neither suit the circle of the moon, nor the aerial regions. But although we have said, that the situation of Paradise lay between the rising of the sun and Judea, yet something more definite may be required respecting that region. They who contend that it was in the vicinity of Mesopotamia, rely on reasons not to be despised; because it is probable that the sons of Eden were contiguous to the river Tigris. But as the description of it by Moses will immediately follow, it is better to defer the consideration of it to that place. The ancient interpreter has fallen into a mistake in translating the proper name Eden by the word pleasure.121121     The Hebrew word עדן signifies pleasure, delight, loveliness. — Ed I do not indeed deny that the place was so called from its delights; but it is easy to infer that the name was imposed upon the place to distinguish it from others.

9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow The production here spoken of belongs to the third day of the creation. But Moses expressly declares the place to have been richly replenished with every kind of fruitful trees, that there might be a full and happy abundance of all things. This was purposely done by the Lord, to the end that the cupidity of man might have the less excuse if, instead of being contented with such remarkable affluence, sweetness, and variety, it should (as really happened) precipitate itself against the commandment of God. The Holy Spirit also designedly relates by Moses the greatness of Adam’s happiness, in order that his vile intemperance might the more clearly appear, which such superfluity was unable to restrain from breaking forth upon the forbidden fruit. And certainly it was shameful ingratitude, that he could not rest in a state so happy and desirable: truly, that was more than brutal lust which bounty so great was not able to satisfy. No corner of the earth was then barren, nor was there even any which was not exceedingly rich and fertile: but that benediction of God, which was elsewhere comparatively moderate, had in this place poured itself wonderfully forth. For not only was there an abundant supply of food, but with it was added sweetness for the gratification of the palate, and beauty to feast the eyes. Therefore, from such benignant indulgence, it is more than sufficiently evident, how inexplicable had been the cupidity of man.

The tree of life also It is uncertain whether he means only two individual trees, or two kinds of trees. Either opinion is probable, but the point is by no means worthy of contention; since it is of little or no concern to us, which of the two is maintained. There is more importance in the epithets, which were applied to each tree from its effect, and that not by the will of man but of God.122122     The above passage is wholly omitted in the Old English translation by Tymme. — Ed. He gave the tree of life its name, not because it could confer on man that life with which he had been previously endued, but in order that it might be a symbol and memorial of the life which he had received from God. For we know it to be by no means unusual that God should give to us the attestation of his grace by external symbols.123123     “Scimus minime esse insolens ut virtutem suam Deus externis symbolis testatam nobis reddat.” — “Nous savons que ce n’est point chose nouvelle, que Dieu nous testifie sa vertu par signes exterieurs.” — French Trans. Virtus in Latin, and vertu in French, may both signify power, virtue, efficacy; but it seems that the term grace more correctly conveys to an English ear the meaning of the Author. — Ed.
   On the sacramental character of the tree of life, which Calvin here maintains, but which Dr. Kennicott, in his first Dissertation, endeavors, with more learning than sound judgment, to set aside, the generality of commentators seem to be agreed. See Patrick, Scott, etc. Patrick says, — “This garden being a type of heaven, perhaps God intended by this tree to represent that immortal life which he meant to bestow upon man with himself, (Revelation 22:2). And so St. Austin, in that famous saying of his, ‘Erat ei in caeteris lignis Alimentum, in isto autem Sacrcramentum.’ In other trees there was nourishment for man; but in this also a sacrament. For it was both a symbol of that life which God had already bestowed upon man, and of that life which he was to hope for in another world, if he proved obedient.” — Ed.
He does not indeed transfer his power into outward signs; but by them he stretches out his hand to us, because, without assistance, we cannot ascend to him. He intended, therefore, that man, as often as he tasted the fruit of that tree, should remember whence he received his life, in order that he might acknowledge that he lives not by his own power, but by the kindness of God alone; and that life is not (as they commonly speak) an intrinsic good, but proceeds from God. Finally, in that tree there was a visible testimony to the declaration, that ‘in God we are, and live, and move.’ But if Adams hitherto innocent, and of an upright nature, had need of monitory signs to lead him to the knowledge of divine grace, how much more necessary are signs now, in this great imbecility of our nature, since we have fallen from the true light? Yet I am not dissatisfied with what has been handed down by some of the fathers, as Augustine and Eucherius, that the tree of life was a figure of Christ, inasmuch as he is the Eternal Word of God: it could not indeed be otherwise a symbol of life, than by representing him in figure. For we must maintain what is declared in the first chapter of John (John 1:1-3,) that the life of all things was included in the Word, but especially the life of men, which is conjoined with reason and intelligence. Wherefore, by this sign, Adam was admonished, that he could claim nothing for himself as if it were his own, in order that he might depend wholly upon the Son of God, and might not seek life anywhere but in him. But if he, at the time when he possessed life in safety, had it only as deposited in the word of God, and could not otherwise retain it, than by acknowledging that it was received from Him, whence may we recover it, after it has been lost? Let us know, therefore, that when we have departed from Christ, nothing remains for us but death.

I know that certain writers restrict the meaning of the expression here used to corporeal life. They suppose such a power of quickening the body to have been in the tree, that it should never languish through age; but I say, they omit what is the chief thing in life, namely, the grace of intelligence; for we must always consider for what end man was formed, and what rule of living was prescribed to him. Certainly, for him to live, was not simply to have a body fresh and lively, but also to excel in the endowments of the soul.

Concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we must hold, that it was prohibited to man, not because God would have him to stray like a sheep, without judgment and without choice; but that he might not seek to be wiser than became him, nor by trusting to his own understanding, cast off the yoke of God, and constitute himself an arbiter and judge of good and evil. His sin proceeded from an evil conscience; whence it follows, that a judgment had been given him, by which he might discriminate between virtues and vices. Nor could what Moses relates be otherwise true, namely, that he was created in the image of God; since the image of God comprises in itself the knowledge of him who is the chief good. Thoroughly insane, therefore, and monsters of men are the libertines, who pretend that we are restored to a state of innocence, when each is carried away by his own lust without judgment. We now understand what is meant by abstaining from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; namely, that Adam might not, in attempting one thing or another, rely upon his own prudence; but that, cleaving to God alone, he might become wise only by his obedience. Knowledge is here, therefore, taken disparagingly, in a bad sense, for that wretched experience which man, when he departed from the only fountain of perfect wisdom, began to acquire for himself. And this is the origin of freewill, that Adam wished to be independent,124124     “Dum Adam per se esse voluit, et quid valeret tentare ausus est.” — Lat. and dared to try what he was able to do.




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