I have found someone asserting that the Hebraic structure of Genesis 2:5

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground,

should properly require a rendering of "... and there was no man for the ground to serve".

Is there anything in the original language that would make this rendering plausible? 

  • Can you provide a source/quote/reference for the uncommon reading of the text?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 7:16
  • This rendering was proposed in a chat with another stack member. As I do not possess the necessary linguistic skills to dismiss this out of hand (other than finding no translations that render it thus) I thought I would ask to see if it were even linguistically possible. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


The phrase is וְאָדָ֣ם אַ֔יִן לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה. The word אֶת indicates that הָֽאֲדָמָֽה (the ground/land) must be the object of the verb לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד (to work/serve). Thus, this phrase must mean "and there was no man to work the land."

  • Just for clarification, there is no way for the man to be seen as the subject of this verb? Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 13:03
  • There is no way of reading man as the object of the verb. (fixed mistake in previous comment)
    – aefrrs
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 1:46

What is the correct translation of "La-Avod" (לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד) in Genesis 2:5 [MT]?

  • "And-Man none to-Work with the-Ground" ( וְאָדָ֣ם אַ֔יִן לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה )

To understand the Ivri (Hebrew) term : "La-Avod", we must break down the Hebrew prefix "La" (לַֽ) meaning "To" + the pa'al Verb "Avod" (עֲבֹ֖ד) meaning "work" in English.

"La-Avod" (לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד) means "to-Work". The third person singular past-tense "Avad" (עָבַד) means "he-Worked". The imperative form "Avod" (עֲבֹד) means "Work".

To learn additional conjugation, see : https://www.pealim.com/dict/51-laavod/

  • לעבוד can mean both to work and to serve. An example of it meaning to serve is "עִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה בְּשִׂמְחָ֑ה בֹּ֥אוּ לְ֝פָנָ֗יו בִּרְנָנָֽה׃" "Serve G-d in joy. Go in front of him in joyful song" (Psalms 100:2).
    – aefrrs
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 0:30
  • pealim.com is a useful tool for modern Hebrew; however, it is not very helpful for biblical Hebrew.
    – aefrrs
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 0:37

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