Genesis 2

Mankind in Eden

Bare Land

When no plant of the field was yet in the land, and no herb had yet sprung up (Genesis 2:5)

The text describes a relatively arid landscape for the early earth. The following statements attribute this to a lack of rain and a lack of human cultivation. Since plant life had already been created, it is possible that this statement about an arid environment applied to those areas that were at higher elevations, above the water table and unable to support vegetation without rainfall. Shown here is the Eastern Desert near el-Barsha, Egypt.

Crafted from Earth

Then Yahweh God formed man of dust from the ground (Genesis 2:7).

The prophets of Israel sometimes compared the creation of man to the product of a potter. “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from Yahweh, and whose deeds are done in darkness, and who say, ‘Who sees us?’ or ‘Who knows us?’ You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered equal to the clay? Should what is made say to its maker, ‘He did not make me,’ or the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” (Isa 29:15-16). This 5th-dynasty figurine depicts a potter at his wheel.

The Garden

Yahweh God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden (Genesis 2:8).

This painting comes from the triclinium of the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta, a suburb of Rome. It is a Roman portrayal of a pleasant garden, complete with fruiting trees, flowers, and wildlife. It was photographed at the National Museum of Rome.

Sacred Tree

The tree of life also in the middle of the garden (Genesis 2:9).

The “sacred tree” or “tree of life” continued as a common religious symbol throughout the ancient Near East. In this symbolic scene, a “tree of life” associated with the Assyrian religion is shown in the center of the relief, with the king portrayed on either side of it. This relief was photographed at the British Museum. It is contemporary with the reign of King Ahab.

The Institution of Marriage

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife (Genesis 2:24).

From a biblical perspective, this statement constitutes the beginning of marriage (cf. Matt 19:3-6). Marriage has been a recognized relationship in virtually every culture since that time, illustrated here by a marriage document from the early 2nd millennium BC. This cuneiform tablet was photographed at the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient.

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