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The LORD God created a garden for the first human

Posted Mar 20, 2017

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Daily Scripture

Genesis 2:4-14

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. On the day the LORD God made earth and sky— 5 before any wild plants appeared on the earth, and before any field crops grew, because the LORD God hadn’t yet sent rain on the earth and there was still no human being [or man—Hebrew adam] to farm the fertile land, 6 though a stream rose from the earth and watered all of the fertile land— 7 the LORD God formed the human [Hebrew adam] from the topsoil of the fertile land [Hebrew adamah] and blew life’s breath into his nostrils. The human came to life. 8 The LORD God planted a garden in Eden in the east and put there the human he had formed. 9 In the fertile land, the LORD God grew every beautiful tree with edible fruit, and also he grew the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flows from Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first river is the Pishon. It flows around the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 That land’s gold is pure, and the land also has sweet-smelling resins and gemstones. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It flows around the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris, flowing east of Assyria; and the name of the fourth river is the Euphrates.

Reflection Questions

Genesis’ second creation story was folksier and less structured than the one in Genesis 1:1-2:3. It said God created a human first, before any plants or animals. (If read as literal history, as science, it would contradict Genesis 1.) It used “Yahweh” (translated “LORD”) rather than the more generic “Elohim” as God’s name. Here God gave the newly created humans a “garden,” a perfect setting in which to thrive, with a river running through it that returned in Revelation 22:1-2, along with the tree of life.

  • This creation story used the image of “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” to say that God gave human beings—us—the freedom and responsibility to make choices between good and evil. The image raised the basic moral question: whose wisdom and purposes will humans follow? Will they try to be their own God, doing whatever pleases and intrigues them? Or will they honor and be guided by the God who created them? In what area(s) do you face similar decisions today? Ask God for the clarity and wisdom to make wise choices.
  • “The Hebrew words for human (adam) and fertile land (adamah) sound alike, and emphasize the connection between human beings and their land.”* This connection was intuitive for the largely agricultural people of Israel. In what ways have many of us in more industrialized, office-centered, technological ways of life lost that sense of connection? What makes it valuable for us to remember that the land still nourishes our life?

Prayer

Creator God, thank you for the gift of life on a beautiful, nurturing earth. Thank you for the gift of moral freedom. Help me to use these gifts well, in ways that honor your name. Amen.


* Theodore Hiebert, study note on Genesis 2:6 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 7 OT.

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Roberta Lyle

Roberta Lyle

Roberta Lyle has been on the Resurrection staff since 2006. She serves as the Program Director for Local Impact Ministries, concentrating on Education, Life Skills and Youth Focused Ministries.

Although I grew up in Iowa in a town surrounded by farmland my family lived in the city and our food came from the local grocery store. Ironically, my husband grew up in a suburb of Cleveland but his family of seven had a very large garden and industriously canned and froze their produce so they were almost self-sufficient. We have never been able to come close to growing as much food as they did, but these first few warm spring days make me anxious to get out in the yard and start planting herbs and vegetables. I know that the simple act of spending just a little bit of time planting, tending, watching and weeding is good for my soul and helps me connect with God. I am more aware of the natural rhythm of the seasons, the miracle of life when a tiny seed sprouts and grows into a healthy plant and thankful for the amazing variety of fruits and vegetables

Several years ago my in-laws were able to realize their life-long dream to live in the country. They have a small ranch in Texas and raise cows, sheep and chickens and we visited them there last week. I enjoyed seeing their new baby chicks basking under the heat lamp on a cool evening. They inevitably have to add some new chicks every spring because they lose some through the year to predators. This too is part of God's plan but not something that those of us who live in the city would usually consider.

There are many things we can do to feel a greater connection to the land. Some are very simple. There are some farmers markets already open and more will open next month. Buying directly from those who grow the food gives you an opportunity to ask questions and develop a relationship with a farmer. Or maybe you might try growing a few things at home. You don't need much land to grow vegetables and herbs at home--even a few pots on a patio will do. For me the little miracles of gardening bring a heightened awareness of God that carries over to other areas of my life.

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