Opinions on faith and life

A Guard In Paradise?

2008-06-15

People say that what separates amateurs from professionals is attention to detail, among other things. And such attention is certainly no more vital than in Bible study. I’ve documented here in this blog many things that have been glossed over, some accidental and some deliberate, but here is one that is very rarely noticed.

Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Notice that the link takes you to a word-by-word breakdown of the verse, while the words I quoted are from the TNIV. Notice also what is emphasized: the words take care of (or keep in many versions). The Hebrew word means much more than simply to put a nice border around the garden; it means to guard it from danger. Why is this not being brought out in translations, and why is it considered unimportant? The elephant in the living room, so to speak, is that Adam had something to guard against, even while he was the only living human. Who or what could threaten the Garden of Eden before there was sin?

There is only one possible answer: the serpent. Now think of what that means.

When the temptation began, Adam and Eve were together (Gen. 3:6). The serpent did not sneak in behind Adam’s back and talk to Eve alone. So not only did Adam fail by standing silently by while Eve was mesmerized by the serpent, he failed even before that by letting the serpent in the garden at all.

Along with that we should notice another thing that is typically only given passing mention: that God said It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper facing him. (Gen.2:18). Why? Why was it not good? We aren’t told, but its near proximity to the temptation gives some reason to connect it with Adam’s failure to guard. Had he already let the serpent in? Did he need a helper because he was already showing signs of weakness? Remember that it wasn’t Adam who complained of being lonely, but God who pointed out Adam’s being alone and that it was not good, so that takes care of the notion that Adam just needed a companion or servant.

Of course we can also point out that God brought the animals to Adam between the not good and the formation of Eve, suggesting that Adam was being shown that while the animals all had mates, Adam did not. Yet we cannot lightly dismiss the fact that Adam needed help, not just a mate. All things considered, I think God was showing Adam what the source of his help would be, not just that he would have a mate. In other words, God was telling Adam, You need help. And here is how I’m going to get it for you.

Get the picture? Adam is told to guard Eden against the serpent but fails. God says it’s not good for Adam to be alone. God makes a mate for him, someone to face or stand in front of him, to make up for his weakness, but she fails after being beguiled or mesmerized or hypnotized (2 Cor. 11:3). (She was not merely deceived; the word includes an element of seduction.) Adam watches silently as she eats the fruit and hands it to him. He eats it knowing full well where it came from-- and that it would never have happened if he had kept the serpent out in the first place.

Remember all this the next time someone tries to rub Eve was Adam’s helper in your face. Yes, she certainly was that-- because Adam sorely needed one.

8 Comments

Lin

You would be great in this comment thread debate:

http://www.dennyburk.com/?p=2162

Bruce Ware is dangerous.

Lin

This is something I have never explored. It is stunning in its meaning. How could it have been missed for so long...

Sort of like when man decided to implement Gen 3:16 as a command instead of seeing it as a consequence.

Paula Fether

It’s deliberate, Lin. Those people know very well what the words mean, and they choose to downplay Eve’s purpose and standing, just as the Massoretes downplayed Messianic prophecies. (I’ll never know why Christians have been so naive as to trust the Jews to give us a faithful Hebrew text.)

Nobody wants us to know that Adam had shirked his duty, or that Eve never "tempted" him as most people claim, or that she never lusted after Adam’s non-existent authority. They don’t want to be exposed for teaching Christian women today to make the same pivotal blunder as Eve when she chose to look to her husband instead of staying in direct contact with God.

But while we have freedom to use the internet, we can spread the truth and free the captives. We may never get the male supremacists to admit any of these things or stop teaching error, but we can stand on the hilltops and shout out the truth, and let those who hear decide which voice to listen to.

Paula Fether

Beware of Ware! :-)

I dunno, the way they’re ignoring and bashing Sue makes me wonder what they’d do to me. But I’ll think about it. (But that TUAD sounds all too familiar, like some I’ve met before. If I were to respond to that person it wouldn’t be pretty.)

Don Johnson

There is a lot in Gen that is easy to miss.

Paula Fether

True, Don, but for educated scholars there isn’t much room for them to cry that they just didn’t see it, especially after all this time.

madame

Paula, I’d missed that one too for years. You know? I never really read the account in Genesis paying attention until one day I started wondering what "helper" means. It’s been an eye opening journey, so far.

Paula Fether

Even without knowing the Hebrew, one has to wonder how it is possible to translate what seems to be a redundancy: cultivate and keep. Keep what? Keep it how? Surely translators have known what "keep" meant for quite a long time.