|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:8-14 The place fixed upon for Adam to dwell in, was not a palace, but a garden. The better we take up with plain things, and the less we seek things to gratify pride and luxury, the nearer we approach to innocency. Nature is content with a little, and that which is most natural; grace with less; but lust craves every thing, and is content with nothing. No delights can be satisfying to the soul, but those which God himself has provided and appointed for it. Eden signifies delight and pleasure. Wherever it was, it had all desirable conveniences, without any inconvenience, though no other house or garden on earth ever was so. It was adorned with every tree pleasant to the sight, and enriched with every tree that yielded fruit grateful to the taste and good for food. God, as a tender Father, desired not only Adam's profit, but his pleasure; for there is pleasure with innocency, nay there is true pleasure only in innocency. When Providence puts us in a place of plenty and pleasure, we ought to serve God with gladness of heart in the good things he gives us. Eden had two trees peculiar to itself. 1. There was the tree of life in the midst of the garden. Of this man might eat and live. Christ is now to us the Tree of life, Re 2:7; 22:2; and the Bread of life, Joh 6:48,51. 2. There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so called because there was a positive revelation of the will of God about this tree, so that by it man might know moral good and evil. What is good? It is good not to eat of this tree. What is evil? It is evil to eat of this tree. In these two trees God set before Adam good and evil, the blessing and the curse.
Verse 8. - In accordance with a well-known characteristic of Hebrew composition, the writer, having carried his subject forward to a convenient place of rest, now reverts to a point of time in the six days antecedent to man's appearance on the earth. In anticipation of his arrival, it was needful that a suitable abode should be prepared for his reception. Accordingly, having already mentioned the creation of plants, trees, and flowers, the narrative proceeds to describe the construction of Adam's early home. And the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim) planted - i.e. specially prepared - a garden (gan, a place protected by a fence, from ganan, to cover; hence a garden: cf. Deuteronomy 2:10; 1 Kings 21:2; Isaiah 51:3; LXX., παράδεισος; Vulgate, paradisus; whence English, paradise, Luke 23:43) eastward (mekedem, literally, from the front quarter, not from the beginning, - ἀπο ἀρχῆς, Aquila; ἐν πρῶτοις, Theodotion; a principio, Vulgate, - but in the region lying towards the east of Palestine - LXX., κατ ἀνατολὰς) in (not of, as Murphy, who renders "in the east of Eden") Eden (delight; Greek, ἡδονή: cf. Hedenesh, or Heden, the birthplace of Zoroaster - Kalisch). The word is not merely descriptive of the beauty and fertility of the garden (paradisus voluptatis, Vulg., cf. παράδεισος της τρυφης, LXX. (Joel 2:3). On the ground of possessing similar qualities, other districts and places were subsequently termed Edens: cf. 2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12; Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 27:23; Amos 1:5), but likewise indicates its locality, which is afterwards more exactly defined (vers. 10, 14). In the mean time it is simply noted that, this enchanting paradise having been specially prepared by Jehovah, there he put the man (Adam) whom he had formed.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden,.... Or "had planted" (m), for this was not now done after the formation of man, but before; and so the word translated "eastward" may be rendered, as it is by some, "before" (n): for the plain meaning is, that God had planted a garden before he made man, even on the third day, when all herbs, and plants, and trees were produced out of the earth. The whole world was as a garden, in comparison of what it is now since the fall: what then must this spot of ground, this garden be, which was separated and distinguished from the rest, and the more immediate plantation of God, and therefore is called the garden of the Lord, Genesis 13:10 and which Plato (o) calls "Jove's garden?" This garden was planted in the country of Eden, so called very probably from its being a very pleasant and delightful country; and though it is not certain, and cannot be said exactly where it was, yet it seems to be a part of Mesopotamia, since it is more than once mentioned with Haran, which was in that country, 2 Kings 19:12 and since it was by the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, when they were become one stream, which ran through this country, and parted again at this garden; and the country there, as Herodotus (p) says, is the most fruitful he ever saw; and it seems to be much better to place it here than in Armenia, where the fountain of these rivers is said to be: so Tournefort (q) thinks it lay in the country, or plain of the three churches (or Ejmiadzit), in Armenia, about twenty French leagues distant from the heads of Euphrates and Araxes, and near as many from the Phasis, a country exceeding pleasant and fruitful. A very learned man (r) is of opinion, that the garden of Eden was in the land of Judea to the east, by the lake of Gennesaret or Tiberias, and the lake of Asphaltites, called the Dead sea, and takes in, in its compass, the famous valley, or the great plain, and the plains of Jericho, and great part of Galilee, and all that tract which Jordan flows by, from Gennesaret to the country of Sodom; and he takes the river Jordan to be , "the river of Eden", from whence it has its name of Jordan; and Gennesaret he interprets as if it was , "Gansar", the garden of the prince, that is, of Adam, the prince of all mankind. He argues from the situation of the place, and the pleasantness and fruitfulness of it, the balsam of Jericho, and other odoriferous plants that grew there, and what are called the apples of paradise: and it must be owned, that this country abounded with gardens and orchards: it is mentioned in the Jewish Misnah, where the commentators (s) say, it was a country in the land of Israel, in which were many gardens and orchards, that produced excellent fruit; and the fruits of Gennesaret are spoken of in the Talmud (t) as exceeding sweet: and with this agrees the account Josephus (u) gives of it, that it is"wonderful in nature and goodness, and through its fertility refuses no plant; everything is set here; the temper of the air suits with different things; here grow nuts, and more winter fruit; and there palms, which are nourished with heat, and near them figs and olives, which require a softer air--not only it produces apples of different sorts, beyond belief, but long preserves them; and indeed the most excellent of fruit; grapes and figs it furnishes with for ten months, without intermission, and other fruit throughout the whole year, growing old, with them.''And it may be further observed, that it is asked by the Jewish Rabbins, why it is called Genesar? and the answer is, because "the gardens of princes"; these are the kings who have gardens in the midst of it: another reason is given, because it belonged to Naphtali, a portion in the midst of it, as it is said, and of "Naphtali a thousand princes", 1 Chronicles 12:34. (w) And it is worthy of remark, that Strabo calls Jericho, which was within this tract, "the paradise of balsam" (x); and there, and hereabout, as Diodorus Siculus (y), and Justin (z) relate, grew this aromatic plant, and nowhere else; it was not to be found in any other part of the world. And it appears from Scripture, that if the plain of Jordan was not the garden of Eden, it is said to be, "as the garden of the Lord", Genesis 13:10 and if the "caph" or "as" is not a note of similitude, but of reality, as it sometimes is, it proves it to be the very place; and the above learned writer takes it to be not comparative, but illative, as giving a reason why it was so well watered, because it was the garden of the Lord: and the Jews have some notion of this, for they say, if that the garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, Bethshean is the door of it, or entrance into it; the gloss gives this reason, because the fruits were sweeter than any other (a); and this was near, at the entrance of the great plain before mentioned; and before which was this place, as Josephus says (b): and if the garden of Eden was in those parts, it may be observed, that where the first Adam first dwelt, and where he sinned and fell, Christ the second Adam frequently was; here he conversed much, taught his doctrines, wrought his miracles; and even here he appeared after his resurrection from the dead. But the opinions of men about this place are very many, and there is scarce any country in the whole world but one or another has placed the garden of Eden in it; nay, some have assigned a place for it out of the earth, in the eighth sphere. Such a garden undoubtedly there was somewhere, and it is said to be placed "eastward", either in the eastern part of the country of Eden, see Genesis 4:16 or to the east of the desert where Moses was when he wrote; or to the east of Judea, as Mesopotamia was: and if this garden was in Judea, the place assigned for it by the above learned person, it was in the eastern part of that country; see Numbers 32:19. This garden was an emblem either of the church of Christ on earth, which is a garden enclosed, surrounded with divine power, and distinguished with divine grace; a small spot in comparison of the world; is of Jehovah's planting, and is his property; and is an Eden to his people, where they enjoy much spiritual pleasure and delight: or however of the place and state of the happiness of the saints in the other world, often called a paradise in allusion to this, Luke 23:43 and which is of God's planting, and therefore called the paradise of God, and is an Eden, where are pleasures for evermore: and this seems to be what the Jews mean when they say (c), that the garden of Eden, or paradise, was created before the world was; which is no other than what Christ says of it in other words, Matthew 25:34.
and there he put the man whom he had formed; not as soon as he had planted the garden, but as soon as he had made man; and from hence it is generally concluded, that man was made without the garden, and brought from the place where he was formed, and put into it; and which some say was near Damascus: but be it where it will, it is most probable that it was not far from the garden; though there seems no necessity for supposing him to be made out of it; for the putting him into it may signify the appointing and ordering him to be there, and fixing and settling him in it, for the ends and uses mentioned, see Genesis 2:15. (After the global destruction of Noah's flood, it is doubtful that the location of the Garden of Eden could be determined with any degree of certainty today. Ed.)
(m) "plantaverat", V. L. Vatablus, Piscator, Pareus, Drusius, Cartwright; "ornaverat plantis", Junius & Tremellius. (n) "a principio", V. L. so Onkelos; "antes vel antequam", same in Fagius, Cartwright. (o) In Symposio, apud Euseb. praepar. Evangel. l. 12. c. 11. p. 584. (p) Clio sive, l. 1. c. 193. (q) Voyage to the Levant, vol. 3. p. 161, 162. (r) Nichol. Abrami Pharus Vet. Test. l. 2. c. 16. p. 56. So Texelius (Phoenix, l. 3. c. 7. sect. 7.) takes it to be in the land of Promise, not far from the Dead sea, or sea of Sodom, and in the country about Jordan; and of the same opinion is Heidegger (Hist. Patriarch. Exerc. 4. sect. 42. p. 15.) (s) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaserot, c. 3. sect. 7. (t) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 44. 1. Erubin, fol. 30. 1. & Pesachim, fol. 8. 2.((u) De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 9. sect. 8. (w) Aruch in voce fol. 37. 1.((x) Geograph. l. 16. p. 525. (y) Bibliothec. l. 19. p. 734. (z) E Trogo, l. 36. c. 3.((a) T. Bab. Erubin, fol. 19. 1.((b) Antiqu. l. 12. c. 8. sect. 5. 1 Maccab. v. 52. (c) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 54. 1. Nedarim, fol. 39. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ge 8-17. The Garden of Eden.
8. Eden—was probably a very extensive region in Mesopotamia, distinguished for its natural beauty and the richness and variety of its produce. Hence its name, signifying "pleasantness." God planted a garden eastward, an extensive park, a paradise, in which the man was put to be trained under the paternal care of his Maker to piety and usefulness.
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