7

When looking at the creation of man in Genesis 2, I was struck that God describes putting him in Eden twice, separated by the description of rivers:

Genesis 2:8 (KJV 1900)

8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. [וַיָּשֶׂם שָׁם אֶת הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר יָצָר]

Genesis 2:15 (KJV 1900)

15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. [וַיִּקַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן עֵדֶן לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ]

Usually such repetition is evidence of two sides of a chiasm, but I could find no chiasm in which verses 8 and verses 15 were parallels (of course this part of Genesis has many chiasms)

Also strange is that if the text was merely reiterating that man was put in Eden, then why the "take" clause in the second verse instead of the first? E.g. the first verse has "put" and the second has "took" and "put", suggesting the man wasn't there, which introduces a break in the time flow sequence of events. If I was writing this, I'd say

  1. "And God took the man he had formed, and put him in the garden of Eden"
  2. [then describe eden and the rivers]
  3. "And the garden of Eden is where God put the man"

I would not say

  1. "And God put the man in the garden of Eden"
  2. [then describe eden and the rivers]
  3. "And God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden".

So what is the purpose of repeating the placement of man in these two verses, and phrasing them in this manner?

Update:

Anne has suggested that the sham - שָׁם in verse 8 refers to Eden, not the garden. E.g. that the text should be grouped as:

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there [in Eden] he put the man whom he had formed

rather than:

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden and there [in the garden] he put the man whom he had formed.

If someone can make a case that this is the likely reading, that would be a valid answer, however some evidence should be provided as restrictive clauses are rarely the referents of demonstratives in subsequent independent clauses. E.g. if I say "I went to the square near the village and there I dropped a penny" then almost everyone will assume the penny was dropped in the square. If sham can point to any of the clauses that further specify a substantive, then because of the extensive use apposition in Hebrew, there would be massive referent-identification problems in the language.

Here are some other readings of verse 8:

  • targum Neofiti: And the Lord God had planted a garden in Eden from the beginning and he placed there the first Adam whom he had created.

  • targum Onqelos: And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in ancient times and He made Adam, whom He created, dwell there

  • targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Before the creation of the world a garden had been planted by the Memra of the Lord God from Eden for the righteous, and he made Adam dwell there when he created him.

  • Samaritan Pentateuch[1]: And Shehmaa Eloowwem planted a garden toward the east, in Ehden. And there He placed the man whom He had formed.

  • LXX[2]: Καὶ ἐφύτευσεν κύριος ὁ θεὸς παράδεισον ἐν Ἔδεμ κατὰ ἀνατολὰς καὶ ἔθετο ἐκεῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ὃν ἔπλασεν [And the Lord God planted a paradise in Eden in toward the east and there he placed the human that he formed]


[1] Benyamim Tsedaka, ed., The Israelite Samaritan Version of the Torah: First English Translation Compared with the Masoretic Version, trans. Benyamim Tsedaka (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2013)

[2] John William Wevers, ed., Genesis, vol. I, Vetus Testamentum Graecum. Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis Editum (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1974)

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  • It looks more like a triple parallelism, rather than a chiasm.
    – Dottard
    Aug 1, 2022 at 21:51
  • @Dottard well, Genesis doesn't just use narrative forms for the sake of using them -- e.g. chiasms point out important passages, and parallelism, which is a type of construct form, further specify something. So what is the point here?
    – Robert
    Aug 2, 2022 at 4:18
  • 1
    The references are to the KJV of 1769, not '1900' (sic).
    – Nigel J
    Aug 2, 2022 at 10:38
  • @NigelJ references are added automatically by software, keyed to the version I'm copying from. If you think this is incorrect, let me know which passage.
    – Robert
    Aug 2, 2022 at 10:40
  • 1
    @Robert The KJV was first written in 1611 and then adjusted in 1769. There are no further editions.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 2, 2022 at 11:27

4 Answers 4

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There are some notable differences between Gen 2:8 and Gen 2:15. In addition to the “take” clause, the Hebrew words generally translated as “put” in both verses is not the same in Gen 2:15 as it is in Gen 2:8.

Young’s Literal Translation

8 And Jehovah God planteth a garden in Eden, at the east, and He setteth [שׂים]there the man whom He hath formed;

15 And Jehovah God taketh[לקח] the man, and causeth him to rest [נוח]in the garden of Eden, to serve it, and to keep it.

  • לקח = "to take away"
  • שׂים = "to put, place, set"
  • נוח = "to settle down, stay settled"

Rather than a simple repetition, the changes of wording in Gen 2:15 expand the thought of Gen 2:8 and shift the focus from the geographic location to God’s guidance and provision. The language in Gen 2:15 is evocative of God’s guiding hand.

Barnes commentary:

“The Lord God took the man. - The same omnipotent hand that made him still held him. "And put him into the garden." The original word is "caused him to rest," or dwell in the garden as an abode of peace and recreation.”

Another (though antithetical) parallel can be seen between Gen 2:15 and Gen 3:23.

Jehovah God sendeth him forth from the garden of Eden to serve the ground from which he hath been taken. - Gen 3:23

Together, the parallelism in the three verses (Gen 2:8, Gen 2:15, Gen 3:23) serve to highlight the central themes of the second creation narrative.

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  • You are right! I didn't even realize this. If you don't mind, I will edit your answer a bit and then accept it.
    – Robert
    Aug 13, 2022 at 21:09
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    Thank you for the helpful edits.
    – Nhi
    Aug 13, 2022 at 21:17
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At the outset, though this might not appear relevant, is the intrigue of there being two accounts of Creation in Genesis. There is the "Elohim" account from verse one through to ch.2 vs.3 followed by the "Jehovah Elohim" account from ch.2 vs.4 to vs.25 (the end of chapter 2). The first Creation heralds the second; the first Adam prefigures the last Adam. Yet, in the first Creation account the name 'Adam' does not appear. Also missing in it, but dealt with in the second Creation account is Jehovah, soul, dust [of the ground from which Adam was formed], Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, the serpent, the fall.

In the book I now quote from, the point about the first Creation account is that it presents a "shadow", a "foretaste" of Christ, while the second account has the first Adam, the first man, as the subject of the narrative:

"The Creation awaited his being formed, to reach the fulfilment of its purpose... This mist [vss. 5 & 6] pertained to Adam tilling the ground. It was for him - and, in due time, his posterity - to cultivate the earth. Hence in the second Jehovah Elohim account, not only is the name Adam introduced, but also Adamah, the ground. ...The Holy Ghost draws out that which is applicable to envisage the heavenly Man who was yet to come, setting this foreshadowing by itself apart. This appears in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. What appears? A shadow of Christ, and a foretaste of the world to come." Creation, pp.70, 72, 73, John Metcalfe, 2008 printing

Now, much evidence from the New Testament is given to substantiate all this, but as you only ask about two particular verses in Genesis chapter 2, I must get to that and what the author says about them. First re. 2:8 -

"Hitherto the earth had been spoken of in a general way. Now, with the creation of Adam, the reference becomes particular. It was not a matter of the habitation of the earth generally: that followed later. Here it was a question of the situation of the first man Adam. If so, of one place. The questions arise, where was that place; and, what distinguished it?

First, the place was in Eden. Next, what distinguished it was the planting of Jehovah Elohim. "There he put the man whom he had formed." [2:8] It was not simply Eden. Eden was larger than the garden. The garden was part of Eden. "The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden."

...The garden to the east of Eden had already been planted in advance of Adam's arrival. When man was formed, the work had been done: the garden was already planted. Adam was introduced to that which Jehovah Elohim had prepared and reserved for him... For this Adam was created. Into it, he was brought. Jehovah Elohim put the man whom he had formed in the garden which he had planted... Here the man saw to a demonstration why he had been set down in the garden of Eden...

The Hebrew word translated 'put, gives the idea of 'to appoint', 'cause to be', 'to set', 'to place'. It is indicative of a divine action of immense kindness to Adam - who is regarded as passive - to settle him down in the place prepared.

But the Hebrew of Genesis 2:8 is not the same as the word translated 'put' in Genesis 2:15. Not the same at all: indeed, as opposed to the context of 'put' in verse 8, in Genesis 2:15 Adam's being 'put' is in consequence of his first having been 'taken'.

The cause of Adam's being 'put' into the garden, according to Genesis 2:15, occurred when Jehovah Elohim 'took' the man. This implies his being taken up, conveyed, and brought - at least - over some distance.

The suggestion is that the man, newly created, alive, intelligent, would certainly be quick to perceive the wonders about him, and those of the Creator who made him. What effect then, the sharp contrast of being 'taken' to the divinely planted garden? ...

Although two separate words in the original have both been translated by the one word 'put' in the English, the meaning of the Hebrew word in verse 8 differs from that in verse 15. The original in verse 15 conveys a different sense. 'Put into' conveys the idea of rest, of a resting place, of being caused to rest, of being laid down in the place prepared and suited for an habitation.

But there is a purpose. Jehovah Elohim took Adam, he caused him to rest in the garden, so that the fulfilment of the life and energy of Adam would appear before his eyes. He would behold what was agreeable to every instinct of his being... Taken, put into, the garden, Adam was 'to dress it and to keep it', Genesis 2:15. The word 'dress' is most deceptive, and indicates more of the prejudice of the translators than it does the significance of the Hebrew Abad... This verse should red, 'And Jehovah Elohim took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to till it and to keep it." [Then the book goes on to explain the significance of this, and the rivers.] (Ibid. pp.93, 95, 106-108)

This deals with the two occurrences of the word 'put' (regarding Adam) and 'took' [him]. The matter of location is central to this - Eden, and the garden to the east of Eden. He was first put in Eden, then taken and put into the garden which was towards the east of Eden. That "is the purpose of repeating the placement of man in these two verses, and phrasing them in this manner", as you ask about.

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  • 1
    Final statement is a solid summation. +1 Aug 2, 2022 at 12:03
  • @Anne thank you. You are saying that the שָׁם in v 8 refers to "Eden", not the garden, so that God first put man in Eden, and then into the garden? It would be great if you could explain why this is so, as a two-hop scenario didn't enter my mind, and appears inconsistent with traditional readings (I'd need to see if anyone else proposed this)
    – Robert
    Aug 2, 2022 at 17:21
  • @Robert Yes; first there was Eden - a place - Adam was created from the dust of that ground, in that place. Then God made a garden which God located towards the east of Eden. Then God took the man and put him in that garden. A careful reading of the text indicates this, I suggest, and the explanation of this is given in the book I quoted from.
    – Anne
    Aug 3, 2022 at 11:06
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Background
After reading the entire narrative, the first statement may be seen as a summary of the entire passage:

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:8 ESV)

This manner of beginning a narrative is common in the Old Testament. In his commentary of Genesis, H.C. Leupold notes it is "a characteristic Hebrew way of summarizing the whole story before the details are given."1In this manner the narrative begins by placing emphasis on two primary points:

  1. The creative work of the LORD God: planting a garden and forming the man
  2. The authority of the LORD God: taking the man from his "birth place" and placing him in the Garden.

This sequence is in harmony with the details of Genesis 1 where plants and trees were created on the third day, before the man was created on the sixth day.

The next detail adds something not previously described:

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

Up to this point the only things which have been described are the types of vegetation necessary to sustain physical life; in other words, good for food. (cf. Genesis 1:29-30). The exact nature of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not given. However, the second time the man is mentioned as being put in the garden, it is connected with one of the trees which is not to be eaten as food:

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.” (Genesis 2)

This second statement is absent any mention of the creative work; instead, it is focused solely on the authority of the LORD God. Similar to the first statement, there are two points:

  1. The man was given responsibilities for the garden
  2. The man was given instructions about what was permissible to eat

Conclusion
The two statements employ parallelism placing emphasis on the authority of the LORD God:

Introduction:     the LORD God has authority to create and to determine where the
                  man is to live
Second statement: the LORD God uses His authority to give the man instruction on what
                  to do and what to eat and what not to eat 

In this way, the narrative makes clear the authority of the LORD God, and His proper provision for the man, both for work and nourishment. Therefore, the man's decision to eat was not simply a violation of an explicit instruction; it was also a repudiation of the authority of the LORD God and a rejection of the provisions he had been given.

Finally, since the first statement demonstrates the authority of the LORD God to determine where the man is to live, it demonstrates the LORD God was just in exercising His authority after the man chose to disobey. Just as He placed the man in the garden (without consulting him); He removed the man from the garden. Just as He gave man instructions on what to do in the garden; He gave him instructions on what work he is to do outside. In a sense, by returning the man to the place from which he had been formed, the man is allowed to temporarily resume his first created life until such time as the penalty for eating would be experienced.2


1. H.C. Leupold D.D., Exposition of Genesis, Baker Book House, 1960, Volume II, p. 770.
2. If read literally, the man was taken from a particular location, the ground which was west of the garden, and he was returned to the ground from which he had been taken.

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The man was placed in the garden the Lord God specifically planted in the east, in Eden. Adam had been formed from the dust of the earth somewhere else. He had not been formed out of the dust in Eden.

When something is put somewhere it implies that it is at rest and not very active. Could this be a description of Adam being in the state of rest in the Lord's Garden. He's in a state of enjoyment not only of the garden but of the Lords company. We know this garden is symbolic of Gods throne and communion with man on the earth from other scriptures.

So when it says,

("Jehovah God taketh the man, and causeth him to rest in the garden of Eden, to serve it, and to keep it.")

Is it implying that the Lord is showing him around the garden and also teaching him how to tend and keep it?

It would seem that Lord would have to teach him what that meant. Perhaps at this time to he takes him to the tree of good and evil so Adam knows what tree and he was commanded not to eat. After all the trees are beautiful and he could eat from all of them except one.

Put in the garden could equal rest and taken to the garden could imply rest, work and serving.

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