The Creation Narrative - Genesis 1 & 2 (Part 9)

Read the series so far.

Adam, Guard or Keeper?

Genesis 2:15 has recently stirred the imaginations of a whole group of OT scholars. The reason for this is that they think they observe intimations that all was not well with the good world which Yahweh Elohim had made. For one thing, as we have already said, the garden of Eden was an enclosed garden (gan). Why was it enclosed? Well, maybe because it was the initial safe point of departure for the man within the Creation Project? In this view the garden was started by God and was to be a laboratory model for Adam’s own gardening enterprises after his progeny had themselves begun to explore and subdue the rest of the good earth.

But there is another supposed “clue” in the passage that all was not well outside of the enclosure. The Hebrew words usually rendered “to cultivate” (abad) and “to keep” (shamar), may also be translated as “serve” and “guard.” If, as some surmise, evil lurked outside the enclosure, then the picture before us is of a park which God has separated off from the rest of the early earth, perhaps by a wall or fence; hence a sanctuary. Adam’s role in this scenario would not be just pastoral and creative; it would also be; in fact, it would mainly be, to act as a sentry, stopping the repeated attempts of Evil from despoiling the island of beauty which the garden must have been.

A corollary to this would be to interpret Adam and his family pushing out the edges of the garden in stages as they brought the untamed outland into order for God. Thus, Adam would be seen as an Empire-builder for the Lord. This is attractive to some people because they construe this account typologically as the first of several failed attempts by representative “Adam’s” to spread God’s kingdom throughout the world. The final successful King is Jesus, the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). Depending on our choice of eschatology, either Jesus either subdues the whole world spiritually from heaven before casting it away and replacing it at His second coming (amillennialism), or else brings it to heel through the efforts of the Church before coming back (postmillennialism). Still another view which would be amenable to this “Man as Guard” motif is historic or covenant premillennialism, although this would have Christ coming back to actually set up His kingdom reign on earth and finally driving evil out of the world like Adam (and many after him) ought to have done, though in double-quick time.

Let me provide a couple of examples of this kind of thinking. The first is from G. K. Beale:

Adam was to be God’s obedient servant in maintaining both the physical and the spiritual welfare of the garden abode, which included dutifully keeping evil influences from invading the arboreal sanctuary…Thus, he was to rule over and subdue the serpent, which was reflective of God’s own activity in Gen. 1 of subduing the chaotic darkness of creation and ruling over it.1

Then there is this from William Dumbrell:

The Garden of Eden is thus a place separated from the outside world, which presumably is very much like our own world…the garden is a special place, separated from a world that needs to be brought under the dominion of the divine rule, for which Eden is a model… At the end of the canon, however, the new creation is presented in varied symbolism, but lastly and most significantly in Revelation 22:1-5 as a new and universalized Eden.2

Beale links the Genesis account directly to ANE creation myths and interprets the words “enclosed,” and “keep/guard” negatively, along with seeing only the Garden in Eden as truly reflecting the name God assigned to it. Adam is somehow to subordinate the serpent3, (whom we know is the immensely powerful being Satan), thus recapitulating what God Himself is said to have done in overcoming and subordinating the anarchic chaos. Dumbrell adds to the picture by describing the world beyond the enclosure as anything but “very good.” It is not under God’s rule, and man’s task is to bring it not only under his dominion, but under God’s dominion also. He also betrays further theologized ideals about the last book of the Bible by calling the New Jerusalem a symbolic “universalized Eden.”4

What sort of response is to be given to this kind of thinking? First, it should go without saying that to view the world of Genesis 1 and 2 in such unpleasant and unhappy terms belies what God says of His work in Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, and especially 31. Second, this scenario demands that “Eden” is not really “delightful.” It is the domain of lurking evil.5 The enclosed garden is the lone “good spot” on earth, and even this sanctuary must be constantly protected from insurgents.

I for one feel bound to suspect this picture of the opening chapters of the Bible. As these chapters unfold, the whole earth is “very good” and the whole of the land of Eden is a “delight.” The garden is enclosed because enclosures are attractive and orderly. There is nothing sinister in enclosing a garden. Adam is to “keep” (the usual meaning of the Hebrew word) the garden and possibly extend it. But the text says nothing about it one way or another. The extension of mankind’s dominion does not at all require an extension of the garden, or of Eden. Perhaps Adam’s progeny were to reproduce the garden of Eden as the earth was populated, thus duplicating the original design of the Creator? This is closer to the picture which emerges if the Bible itself is consulted without casting about for ANE parallels or hints which then expand into the kind of non-intuitive portrayals asserted by contemporary evangelical biblical theologians.6

Fortunately, not everyone chooses to paint the pristine world in such dreary and portentous colors. Although he is amillennial, Richard Gamble has wisely decided not to jump on the bandwagon. He sees Adam’s pre-fall task in positive terms.

This work was a blessing, not toil. As images of God, we express this reality by reflecting the divine nature in both our working and our resting.7

This interpretation takes seriously God’s assessment of the whole Creation as “very good.” Being set up as a sentry to fend off Satan could hardly be described as a “blessing”! Satan is in no imaginable set of circumstances a pleasant proposition or an easy foe. It appears to this writer that prior theological concerns have been let loose to play with the words of Scripture as they have been traditionally understood.

Notes

1 G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 32, 34. He continues in this vein by saying, “Adam should have discerned that the serpent was evil and should have judged the serpent in the name of God at the place of the judgment tree.” Ibid, 35. See also, 45, where the author puts Adam under “covenant obligations” difficult to find in the text. Beale’s work, though erudite, is filled with this kind of speculative yet dogmatic exegesis and theologizing. As we shall see, he thinks “the covering cherub” of Ezekiel 28:14 is Adam! For the opposite view see,e.g., Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory, 92 n.8. Douglas Stuart thinks the king of Tyre in the chapter “was like an unharmable supernatural being.” He recognizes the “anointed cherub” as a guardian angel, but then he claims the imagery is “hyperbole, nonliteral exaggeration for effect.” (Douglas Stuart, Ezekiel, 273-274. I shall say more about this character at the appropriate place.)

2 William J. Dumbrell, The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament, 19.

3 Although acquiescing with this position, Hamilton notes that “This is an interpretive judgment that the text does not explicitly describe.” (James M. Hamilton Jr., God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, 74 n.21.)

4 It should not escape notice that prior to the description of the New Jerusalem this earth has been destroyed according to Rev. 20:11. Therefore, by this interpretation this earth never gets brought under God’s perfect rule!

5 The description of the “river out of Eden” which divides and flows into other lands, one of which has “gold” which is “good” (Gen. 2:10-14), continues the idyllic scene of the earth God presented Adam and Eve with.

6 It is not without consequence that these new scenarios suit the old-earth interpretations of these chapters which prevail in much evangelical scholarship, (they constitute an insurmountable problem for young-earth creationists), but it fits easily into old-earth creationist accounts which so often read over these passages with an almost cavalier acceptance of death, disease and disquiet prior to the creation of man. They then rationalize these conflicting facts into the peace and serenity apparently imparted in such plain words by Moses.

7 Richard C. Gamble, The Whole Counsel of God, 1.182.

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There are 14 Comments

Jeff Howell's picture

of this series. Paul, thank-you for the work in the texts of Scripture. My concern in this area continues to be one that you obviously see as well and are writing about. It deals with how the material was not only written, but understood and applied by the original recipients. A necessary question that arises therefore is whether or not there is internal evidence that shows how Israel understood God's written record of mankind's older history (God's story from God's point of view). The answer, certainly, is that there is plenty of evidence, and the evidence shows a consistently understood hermeneutic that is normative and literal. Looking forward to reading more ... ~ Jeff

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Yes, thanks, Paul. I'm sure there is often value in ANE scholarship for understanding the OT, but the desire to make the Bible fit into the general ancient near east book club is a bit mystifying. I'm all for making good use of genre understanding, but it's sad when we have a genre-busting book in the Bible and instead of seeing it for what it is, students try to make it fit the mold and be like all the rest.

J. Baillet's picture

Hmm, perhaps God did not foresee that Satan would enter the Garden of Eden.  He as well as Adam were caught off guard.  After all, “the whole earth is ‘very good’ and the whole of the land of Eden is a ‘delight.’”  Or, God did know that Satan would enter the Garden and decided not to prepare Adam to guard the sanctuary.  Only Adam was taken by surprise, not having been prepared by God to act as His vice regent upon the earth in subduing and exercising dominion over it.  How was Adam to know what to do when a serpent appeared questioning the commands of God?  No gardening enterprise this.  Not my job.

JSB

J. Baillet's picture

I would suggest that Beale compares Adam and Eve being made in the image of God with ANE understandings of kings being made in the image of their gods. 

When ancient Near Eastern kings were conceived to be images of a god, the idea of the god’s subduing and ruling through him are in mind, and this appears to be the best background against which to understand Adam as a king and in the image of God in Gen. 3:26-28.  

(G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 30-31)(boldface added).  In other words, Beale is using ANE history to illustrate the functional aspect of Adam and Eve being made in the image of God as including subduing and exercising dominion.  Is there Scriptural warrant for connecting the image of God with this functional aspect of kingship? 

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 

(Gen. 1:26-27)(KJV).  I will let you decide.

On and about pages 32 and 34 of A New Testament Biblical Theology, where Beale discusses Adam's God-given responsibility to "rule over and subdue the serpent," he does not link “the Genesis account directly to ANE creation myths and interpret[] the words ‘enclosed,’ and ‘keep/guard’ negatively.”  I may have missed it, but I do not believe that he there describes an enclosed Fortress of Eden.  I don't believe that he describes such a thing anywhere.  On the contrary, he presents Adam and Eve in a very positive light as God's vice regents, being charged with actively ruling and reigning over the earth and being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth with image-bearers of God.

JSB

Paul Henebury's picture

Not sure what to make of your first comment.  you appear to be confusing systematic theology with biblical theology.  i am writing biblical theology.  The doctrinal ramifications are not discussed by either Beale or myself.

I have written a 16 page review of Beale's A New Testament Biblical Theology so I am quite familiar with what he says.  I did not say the Garden was a fortress.  If Adam must guard the Garden from Evil then his function is negative.

Per the image of God including the function see Part Six of this series.

 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

J. Baillet's picture

On the seventh day of creation week, evil was not lurking outside the Garden of Eden. However, Adam had already been charged with “subduing” the earth and having “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” So, later, when one of the beasts of the field approached Eve and distorted the word of God and then contradicted it, Adam had a responsibility to subdue the serpent and exercise dominion over it. Before evil approached, when everything that God had created was very good, He had prepared Adam for this eventuality. Call Adam’s responsibility positive or negative, or this Systematic or Biblical Theology--this is Scriptural.

True, you did not expressly use the term “Fortress Eden” to describe the view “of a whole group of OT scholars … [who] think they observe intimations that all was not well with the good world which Yahweh Elohim had made.“ Rather, “the picture before us is of a park which God has separated off from the rest of the early earth, perhaps by a wall or fence; hence a sanctuary. Adam’s role in this scenario would not be just pastoral and creative; it would also be; in fact, it would mainly be, to act as a sentry, stopping the repeated attempts of Evil from despoiling the island of beauty which the garden must have been.”

JSB

Paul Henebury's picture

Beale: "It is apparent that priestly obligations in Israel's later temple included the duty of "guarding" unclean things from entering... and this appears to be relevant for Adam, especially in view of the unclean creature lurking on the perimeter of the Garden and who then enters." - The Temple and the Church's Mission, 69

"When Adam failed to guard the temple by sinning and letting in a foul serpent to defile the sanctuary, he lost his priestly role..." - Ibid, 70 

Notice that Beale (contrary to Walton, Alexander) thinks the Garden is the sanctuary.  Eden itself contains "unclean" and "foul" creatures - at least one.  You say that "evil was not lurking outside the Garden" on the seventh day.  But you then say, "later, when one of the beasts of the field approached Eve and distorted the word of God and then contradicted it, Adam had a responsibility to subdue the serpent and exercise dominion over it. Before evil approached, when everything that God had created was very good"

So this means that some time after God had declared everything very good, but before the Fall evil was present in the world; an evil which Adam was commissioned to guard against ?  But that is my point.  I do not see this in the text.  Moreover it leads Beale to commit an obvious error in speculating that Adam's sin was a failure to guard the Garden rather than to eat the forbidden fruit. (See the second quote above). Further, my first quote in the article above contained these words:

Adam was to be God’s obedient servant in maintaining both the physical and the spiritual welfare of the garden abode, which included dutifully keeping evil influences from invading the arboreal sanctuary - G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 32 (you yourself quote from the previous page)

This was an initial duty given to Adam (Gen. 2:15).  Again, in your second comment you link this to Genesis 1:26-27 on Day Six of creation week!  

Your other criticisms:

Since neither I nor Beale is concerned here about the doctrine of God's foreknowledge your objections to my article on that score are beside the point.  I may agree with you, but you are (erroneously) intruding systematic theology into biblical theology.

As for Beale's use of ANE parallels; although he wants to avoid reading profane history into Scripture he does not avoid it.  In the review of A New Testament Biblical Theology which I referred you to I wrote,

[Beale's] remarks about God overcoming chaos and establishing “creational order” (39) find no foothold in Genesis.  On page 40 he avers, “Just as God had achieved  heavenly rest after overcoming the creational chaos…”  Where does he get this?  Assuredly from connecting Genesis 1 with ANE creation accounts (cf. 247 n.44; 630 n.36).

See also my first quote from this article.  Where does Beale derive this stuff about "overcoming creational chaos"?

Next, as I did not describe the Garden as a fortress, and as an enclosure is NOT synonymous with a fortress I assume you concede your point and will not falsely ascribe it to me again?

By all means make constructive criticisms, but be sure you are representing your opponent fairly.

  

 

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

J. Baillet's picture

I think we missed each other.  I do not believe that you see Eden as having been a fortress.  “Fortress Eden” is an apt description of what you are ascribing to your opponents.  In order to discredit them, you attribute to them a view of Eden as an enclosed oasis surrounded by evil where Adam acted “as a sentry, stopping the repeated attempts of Evil from despoiling the island of beauty which the garden must have been.”  Adam’s primary vocation was “Man as Guard” of this isolated stronghold.  You are exaggerating this imagery in order to unfairly cast G. K. Beale in a negative light.

Moreover, you are conflating two points in time in order to unreasonably criticize your Reformed friends.  Point One was at the end of creation week when God declared that everything that he had made was “very good.”  Point Two was when Satan appeared in the Garden through a serpent.  You are assigning to Point One your opponents’ view of the circumstances extant at Point Two. 

Our point of divergence concerns whether God’s charge to Adam at Point One—“subdue and have dominion”—has any applicability to the circumstances in which Adam found himself at Point Two.  Your view is that it was impossible for this charge to have relevance to Point Two because, at Point One, there was no evil to subdue or have dominion over.  In my view, the charge given at Point One was directly applicable to the circumstances of Point Two.  According to the plain reading of Scripture, after Creation Week but before the Fall of Adam, evil did present itself in the world in the form of a serpent.  This was Point Two.  At Point One, Adam had been commissioned by God to subdue the earth and have dominion over the beasts of the field.  When the serpent presented itself in opposition to God, Adam had a responsibility to exercise his kingly role and subdue the serpent.  This follows from a literal reading of Genesis 1:26-28.  As time passes, new circumstances arise in which Biblical principles must be applied.  These circumstances need not have existed at the time when the Biblical principle was first pronounced in order for the principle to be applicable.

Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology are not to be set in opposition to one another.  They are to walk side by side, arm in arm, as did Geerhardus Vos and B. B. Warfield at Princeton Theological Seminary a century ago.  In regard to Biblical Theology in relation to Systematic Theology,

There is no difference in that one would be more clearly bound to the Scriptures than the other.  In this they are wholly alike.  Nor does the difference lie in this, that the one transforms the Biblical material, whereas the other would leave it unmodified.  Both equally make the truth deposited in the Bible undergo a transformation: but the difference arises from the fact that the principles by which the transformation is effected differ.  In Biblical Theology the principle is one of historical, in Systematic Theology it is one of logical construction.  Biblical Theology draws a line of development.  Systematic Theology draws a circle.  Still, it should be remembered that on the line of historical progress there is at several points already a beginning of correlation among elements of truth in which the beginnings of the systematizing process can be discerned.

Gerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (The Banner of Truth Trust: Carlisle, Pennsylvania 1948, 1975), at pp. 15-16 (italics in original).

In the historical line of development of the Bible, the first five chapters of Genesis were not given to Adam.  The Pentateuch as a whole was given to the nation of Israel as it was preparing to enter Canaan, the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.  We cannot fully say what Adam knew when by going verse by verse through the first chapters of the Bible.  This is not Biblical Theology.

JSB

Jeff Howell's picture

what Israel knew by going verse by verse through the first chapters of the Bible. And that is Biblical Theology. A careful reading through the Pentateuch material reveals what God wanted Israel to know, believe and do. He gave them His authoritative written account of the beginning of history, which is everything prior to Genesis 12. This materials stands in contrast to all other ancient accounts or stories. An exegetical, expositional study of the progressive revelation will lead the reader eventually to Deut. 29:29, where God communicates to the nation just prior to their going back to the land promised. Certainly the Law of God and Moses is clear, understandable, authoritative, binding, and required learning. Factoring in the reality of progresssive revelation, it would be many years before new Scripture would be added to the corpus of Moses, requiring greater comparison of Scripture to Scripture. So, my point would be that the clear reading of the texts of Ch. 1-2 is not going to be that Adam failed to subdue the serpent, and failed to "guard." The clear reading is that Adam failed, as God's created son, to obey, honor and show obedient submission to his regent, his great King and Creator, Elohim - Gen. 2:16-17.  It is not that he failed to rule or guard ... but that he failed to submit. Furthermore, since Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the TOKOGAE, it would appear a valid interpretation that if they had questions as a result of the serpent's temptation or if he was evil or not, all they had to do was ask Elohim about it, since He alone is the source of all that is good or very good (Gen. 1). I have not read Beale or others who go this direction (a time thing at this point in life and ministry) but sometimes it can appear from the reviews and threads I have interacted with that ANE scholarship and linguistics fail to elevate the clarity and perspicuity of the Word here, I believe. Perhaps it is because of a desire to perhaps exalt "scholarship" or distance themselves from the young earth creationists? I certainly am thankful for scholars and benefit greatly from this and other studies, but we must constantly be watchful that interpretive fancies don't cause unnecessary doubts in the minds of those who simply read the Bible and believe it at face value.

Paul Henebury's picture

JSB,

In your first comment on this thread you sarcastically spoke about Adam (and maybe God) being "caught off guard" by the serpent.  The question of whether or not either scenario is viable was not even on the table since that is a question for Systematic and not Biblical Theology.

In your second comment you think that Beale is comparing the function of man in Genesis with ANE accounts but that he does not envisage this function negatively.  You bring up the Eden "Fortress" charge which neither I nor Beale speak about.  I did not say or imply that Beale viewed Eden as a fortress.  You simply read that in to what I said.  He does, however. see the Garden of Eden as a temple-enclosure to be guarded.  I have provided support for this.  Beale holds that Adam and Eve, 

were on the primeval hillock of hospitable Eden, outside of which lay the inhospitable land.  They were to extend the smaller liveable area of the garden by transforming the outer chaotic region into a habitable territory. - G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission, 82.

Notice how ANE accounts of gods overcoming chaos seem to have seeped into Genesis (something I commented on in my review of Beale's opus).  You may not think that guarding a sanctuary from "evil lurking on the perimeters of the garden" beyond which is inhospitable chaos is a negative role.  I do.  You are free to view it rosily if you wish.  The fact is that Beale thinks that "Adam allowed sin, chaos, and disorder into the sanctuary..." - N.T. Biblical Theology, 359 (cf. 45).  Where did it come from?  Answer, outside the enclosure.  As any Hebrew Lexicon will tell you, the word for "Garden" in Genesis 2 (gan) means "an enclosed garden."   Beale is well aware of this and so often speaks of extending the boundaries of the garden to cover the whole earth.

In your third comment you switch tack again and this time focus in on whether Beale thinks evil was present on the seventh day, which you deny.  I might respond here by simply conceding your objection (it is a small concession) and reasserting my main point, which is that all could not have been "very good" in the world if, as Beale claims, "a foul serpent" and "sin, chaos, and disorder" were beyond the garden in an "inhospitable" world.

Thus, following the logic, sometime after the seventh day but before the Fall the earth itself was not what I nor most people would call "very good."  Another scholar who teaches this interpretation is of the opinion that predation and death lay outside of Eden (see C. J. H. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, 130-131).  Small wonder really, since many of those who espouse this position also think death and thorns and thistles occurred prior to the Fall.

In your fourth comment you continue to misrepresent my position on Eden.  You write,

“Fortress Eden” is an apt description of what you are ascribing to your opponents.  In order to discredit them, you attribute to them a view of Eden as an enclosed oasis surrounded by evil where Adam acted “as a sentry, stopping the repeated attempts of Evil from despoiling the island of beauty which the garden must have been.”  Adam’s primary vocation was “Man as Guard” of this isolated stronghold.  You are exaggerating this imagery in order to unfairly cast G. K. Beale in a negative light.

It is not an apt description at all.  It is your misreading of my article and Beale's book.  Beale does repeatedly view Adam as a guard.  Example:

When Adam fails to guard the temple, by sinning and admitting an unclean serpent to defile the temple, he loses his priestly role... - A New Testament Biblical Theology, 618

Moreover, on page 34 of the same book Beale says,

First, included in carrying out the mandate of Gen. 1:28 [N. B. creation week!] likely was defeating and ruling over the serpent partly by remembering and trusting in God's word of command in 2:16-17...

So Beale does equate Gen. 2 with creation week, and he does explicitly say what you deny he says.  You yourself equated Gen 1 and 2 chronologically, so I replied that, "in your second comment you link this to Genesis 1:26-27 on Day Six of creation week!"

Finally, you fail to distinguish between biblical theology and systematic theology even when quoting G. Vos on the difference.  Vos agrees with me.  By bringing in the doctrine of God's foreknowledge into the discussion (in your sarcastic first comment), you were doing systematic theology, not biblical theology.

Now, because you have nitpicked your way through this thread and have clearly not read either Beale or myself very carefully, I cannot expect but more of the same should you deign to comment further.  But I think I have expended enough time on you.  This will be my last word to you here.                  

   

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

J. Baillet's picture

Just put in a long day at work, so will not respond fully now.  My fourth comment went right to the heart of the matter and revealed the flaw in your critique of Beale.  Recognizing that you will not respond, but do you deny that Satan fell and entered the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall of Adam?  If this did occur prior to the Fall of Adam, then there was something very "not good" present in the earth prior to the Fall of Adam.  God did not say at the end of the eighth day, or the ninth day, etc. that everything was very good and no evil was present.  What he did say was that everything He created in the six days of Creation Week was very good.  No evil present yet.  The excerpts from Beale that you quote do not establish that he believed that there evil present during Creation Week.  You are reading into his writings what is not there.

In any event, more later.

 

JSB

J. Baillet's picture

According to Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV),

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." 

(Boldface added).  Before the Fall of Man, during the very time that God put Adam in the garden to "work it and keep it" (or to serve in it and guard it), God introduced to Adam the concepts of evil and of death.  Evil and death did not exist at that time, but Adam was advised by God of their potentiality.  Adam knew that evil would be a negative thing punishable by death, another negative thing.  He was commanded not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as he worked the garden and kept it.

According to Genesis 3:22-24 (KJV),

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. 

(Boldface added).  The ESV translates the word "keep" as "guard."  This is the same Hebrew word as "keep" in Genesis 2:15.  Adam didn't guard the garden, so he was exiled from it, and Cherubim took up the sword and guarded it.

 

JSB

Paul Henebury's picture

From his comment above:

So, my point would be that the clear reading of the texts of Ch. 1-2 is not going to be that Adam failed to subdue the serpent, and failed to "guard." The clear reading is that Adam failed, as God's created son, to obey, honor and show obedient submission to his regent, his great King and Creator, Elohim - Gen. 2:16-17.  It is not that he failed to rule or guard ... but that he failed to submit.

Dead right.  The interpretation of Beale, Dumbrell, Walton and others is that Adam's sin was in allowing the serpent in and not ruling over it.  E.g., to extend slightly a quote given to JSB to prove that Beale does teach that Adam was a guard or sentry over a temple-garden enclosure, we read:

Therefore, Adam was to be the first priest to serve in and guard God's temple. When Adam fails to guard the temple, by sinning and admitting an unclean serpent to defile the temple, he loses his priestly role, and the two cherubim take over responsibility of guarding the garden temple... - A New Testament Biblical Theology, 618

Please notice that "losing his priestly role" is found nowhere in Genesis 1 or 2.  Neither do these chapters say anything about Adam "admitting an unclean serpent."  What is more, where does Beale get the "two cherubim" from?  How does he know there were two?  Further, if the cherubim took over the job of guarding the garden temple (and 3:24 says only that they were guarding "the way to the tree of life"!), this implies that Adam's role and the cherubim's roles were identical.  All of this I think is extrapolation and exaggeration.

Another quote I have supplied shows yet another foray into the imagination:  

[Adam and Eve] were on the primeval hillock of hospitable Eden, outside of which lay the inhospitable land.  They were to extend the smaller liveable area of the garden by transforming the outer chaotic region into a habitable territory. - G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church's Mission, 82. 

Here the idea is that beyond the garden the earth is unliveable, uninhabitable, "inhospitable" and "chaotic."  This is saying far more than the text says.  In the usual treatments of the passage, the presence of just any serpent would not have been a problem.  There was nothing intrinsically wrong with serpents.  But THIS serpent was Satanic.  We don't know how long Satan had been on the earth.  I believe he was there for a very short time before talking to the woman, which would have meant that the whole world was paradisical and Satan was a brief interloper.  But Beale and others say much more than this.  Again, there is a great deal being added to the biblical texts.

Thank you for your comment.   

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

J. Baillet's picture

You are most welcome, Dr. Henebury.  I do appreciate the concerns that you and Pastor Howell have expressed.  Care should be taken not to read too much into Scripture when attempting to trace the lines of development in the Bible as revealed progressively in history.  Certainly, there have been exaggerations.  I also agree that ANE history can be employed in improper ways to undermine Biblical authority.

JSB

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