New American Bible (Revised Edition)
1 Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed.(A) 2 [a]On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken.(B) 3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.(C)
I. The Story of the Nations
The Garden of Eden. 4 This is the story[b] of the heavens and the earth at their creation. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens— 5 there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the Lord God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man[c] to till the ground, 6 but a stream[d] was welling up out of the earth and watering all the surface of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man[e] out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.(D)
8 The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,[f] and placed there the man whom he had formed.(E) 9 [g]Out of the ground the Lord God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.(F)
10 A river rises in Eden[h] to water the garden; beyond there it divides and becomes four branches. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it is the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 The gold of that land is good; bdellium and lapis lazuli are also there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it is the one that winds all through the land of Cush.(G) 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it is the one that flows east of Asshur. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.(H) 16 The Lord God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden(I) 17 except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.[i](J)
18 The Lord God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him.[j](K) 19 So the Lord God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name. 20 The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.
21 So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.(L) 22 The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, 23 the man said:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
This one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of man this one has been taken.”[k]
25 The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.[m]
Expulsion from Eden. 1 Now the snake was the most cunning[n] of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” 2 The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 (N)it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” 4 But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die!(O) 5 God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know[o] good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.(P) 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
8 When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day,[p] the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.(Q) 9 The Lord God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.” 11 Then God asked: Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat? 12 The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” 13 The Lord God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”(R)
14 Then the Lord God said to the snake:
Because you have done this,
cursed are you
among all the animals, tame or wild;
On your belly you shall crawl,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.[q](S)
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
They will strike at your head,
while you strike at their heel.[r](T)
16 To the woman he said:
I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain[s] you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.
17 To the man he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, You shall not eat from it,
Cursed is the ground[t] because of you!
In toil you shall eat its yield
all the days of your life.(U)
18 Thorns and thistles it shall bear for you,
and you shall eat the grass of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you shall eat bread,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.(V)
20 The man gave his wife the name “Eve,” because she was the mother of all the living.[u]
21 The Lord God made for the man and his wife garments of skin, with which he clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said: See! The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil! Now, what if he also reaches out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life, and eats of it and lives forever?(W) 23 The Lord God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. 24 He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.
- 2:2 The mention of the seventh day, repeated in v. 3, is outside the series of six days and is thus the climax of the account. The focus of the account is God. The text does not actually institute the practice of keeping the Sabbath, for it would have been anachronistic to establish at this point a custom that was distinctively Israelite (Ex 31:13, 16, 17), but it lays the foundation for the later practice. Similarly, ancient creation accounts often ended with the construction of a temple where the newly created human race provided service to the gods who created them, but no temple is mentioned in this account. As was the case with the Sabbath, it would have been anachronistic to institute the temple at this point, for Israel did not yet exist. In Ex 25–31 and 35–40, Israel builds the tabernacle, which is the precursor of the Temple of Solomon.
This is the story: the distinctive Priestly formula introduces older traditions, belonging to the tradition called Yahwist, and gives them a new setting. In the first part of Genesis, the formula “this is the story” (or a similar phrase) occurs five times (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10), which corresponds to the five occurrences of the formula in the second part of the book (11:27; 25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). Some interpret the formula here as retrospective (“Such is the story”), referring back to chap. 1, but all its other occurrences introduce rather than summarize. It is introductory here; the Priestly source would hardly use the formula to introduce its own material in chap. 1.
The cosmogony that begins in v. 4 is concerned with the nature of human beings, narrating the story of the essential institutions and limits of the human race through their first ancestors. This cosmogony, like 1:1–3 (see note there), uses the “when…then” construction common in ancient cosmogonies. The account is generally attributed to the Yahwist, who prefers the divine name “Yhwh” (here rendered Lord) for God. God in this story is called “the Lord God” (except in 3:1–5); “Lord” is to be expected in a Yahwist account but the additional word “God” is puzzling.
- 2:5 Man: the Hebrew word ’adam is a generic term meaning “human being.” In chaps. 2–3, however, the archetypal human being is understood to be male (Adam), so the word ’adam is translated “man” here.
- 2:6 Stream: the water wells up from the vast flood below the earth. The account seems to presuppose that only the garden of God was irrigated at this point. From this one source of all the fertilizing water on the earth, water will be channeled through the garden of God over the entire earth. It is the source of the four rivers mentioned in vv. 10–14. Later, with rain and cultivation, the fertility of the garden of God will appear in all parts of the world.
- 2:7 God is portrayed as a potter molding the human body out of earth. There is a play on words in Hebrew between ’adam (“human being,” “man”) and ’adama (“ground”). It is not enough to make the body from earth; God must also breathe into the man’s nostrils. A similar picture of divine breath imparted to human beings in order for them to live is found in Ez 37:5, 9–10; Jn 20:22. The Israelites did not think in the (Greek) categories of body and soul.
Eden, in the east: the place names in vv. 8–14 are mostly derived from Mesopotamian geography (see note on vv. 10–14). Eden may be the name of a region in southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), the term derived from the Sumerian word eden, “fertile plain.” A similar-sounding Hebrew word means “delight,” which may lie behind the Greek translation, “The Lord God planted a paradise [= pleasure park] in Eden.” It should be noted, however, that the garden was not intended as a paradise for the human race, but as a pleasure park for God; the man tended it for God. The story is not about “paradise lost.”
The garden in the precincts of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem seems to symbolize the garden of God (like gardens in other temples); it is apparently alluded to in Ps 1:3; 80:10; 92:14; Ez 47:7–12; Rev 22:1–2.
- 2:9 The second tree, the tree of life, is mentioned here and at the end of the story (3:22, 24). It is identified with Wisdom in Prv 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4, where the pursuit of wisdom gives back to human beings the life that is made inaccessible to them in Gn 3:24. In the new creation described in the Book of Revelation, the tree of life is once again made available to human beings (Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19). Knowledge of good and evil: the meaning is disputed. According to some, it signifies moral autonomy, control over morality (symbolized by “good and evil”), which would be inappropriate for mere human beings; the phrase would thus mean refusal to accept the human condition and finite freedom that God gives them. According to others, it is more broadly the knowledge of what is helpful and harmful to humankind, suggesting that the attainment of adult experience and responsibility inevitably means the loss of a life of simple subordination to God.
- 2:10–14 A river rises in Eden: the stream of water mentioned in v. 6, the source of all water upon earth, comes to the surface in the garden of God and from there flows out over the entire earth. In comparable religious literature, the dwelling of god is the source of fertilizing waters. The four rivers represent universality, as in the phrase “the four quarters of the earth.” In Ez 47:1–12; Zec 14:8; Rev 22:1–2, the waters that irrigate the earth arise in the temple or city of God. The place names in vv. 11–14 are mainly from southern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), where Mesopotamian literature placed the original garden of God. The Tigris and the Euphrates, the two great rivers in that part of the world, both emptied into the Persian Gulf. Gihon is the modest stream issuing from Jerusalem (2 Sm 5:8; 1 Kgs 1:9–10; 2 Chr 32:4), but is here regarded as one of the four great world rivers and linked to Mesopotamia, for Cush here seems to be the territory of the Kassites (a people of Mesopotamia) as in Gn 10:8. The word Pishon is otherwise unknown but is probably formed in imitation of Gihon. Havilah seems, according to Gn 10:7 and 1 Chr 1:9, to be in Cush in southern Mesopotamia though other locations have been suggested.
- 2:17 You shall die: since they do not die as soon as they eat from the forbidden tree, the meaning seems to be that human beings have become mortal, destined to die by virtue of being human.
- 2:18 Helper suited to him: lit., “a helper in accord with him.” “Helper” need not imply subordination, for God is called a helper (Dt 33:7; Ps 46:2). The language suggests a profound affinity between the man and the woman and a relationship that is supportive and nurturing.
- 2:23 The man recognizes an affinity with the woman God has brought him. Unlike the animals who were made from the ground, she is made from his very self. There is a play on the similar-sounding Hebrew words ’ishsha (“woman,” “wife”) and ’ish (“man,” “husband”).
- 2:24 One body: lit., “one flesh.” The covenant of marriage establishes kinship bonds of the first rank between the partners.
- 2:25 They felt no shame: marks a new stage in the drama, for the reader knows that only young children know no shame. This draws the reader into the next episode, where the couple’s disobedience results in their loss of innocence.
- 3:1 Cunning: there is a play on the words for “naked” (2:25) and “cunning/wise” (Heb. ‘arum). The couple seek to be “wise” but end up knowing that they are “naked.”
- 3:5 Like gods, who know: or “like God who knows.”
- 3:8 The breezy time of the day: lit., “the wind of the day.” Probably shortly before sunset.
- 3:14 Each of the three punishments (the snake, the woman, the man) has a double aspect, one affecting the individual and the other affecting a basic relationship. The snake previously stood upright, enjoyed a reputation for being shrewder than other creatures, and could converse with human beings as in vv. 1–5. It must now move on its belly, is more cursed than any creature, and inspires revulsion in human beings (v. 15).
- 3:15 They will strike…at their heel: the antecedent for “they” and “their” is the collective noun “offspring,” i.e., all the descendants of the woman. Christian tradition has seen in this passage, however, more than unending hostility between snakes and human beings. The snake was identified with the devil (Wis 2:24; Jn 8:44; Rev 12:9; 20:2), whose eventual defeat seemed implied in the verse. Because “the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8), the passage was understood as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen humankind, the protoevangelium. Irenaeus of Lyons (ca. A.D. 130–200), in his Against Heresies 5.21.1, followed by several other Fathers of the Church, interpreted the verse as referring to Christ, and cited Gal 3:19 and 4:4 to support the reference. Another interpretive translation is ipsa, “she,” and is reflected in Jerome’s Vulgate. “She” was thought to refer to Mary, the mother of the messiah. In Christian art Mary is sometimes depicted with her foot on the head of the serpent.
- 3:16 Toil…pain: the punishment affects the woman directly by increasing the toil and pain of having children. He shall rule over you: the punishment also affects the woman’s relationship with her husband. A tension is set up in which her urge (either sexual urge or, more generally, dependence for sustenance) is for her husband but he rules over her. But see Sg 7:11.
- 3:17–19 Cursed is the ground: the punishment affects the man’s relationship to the ground (’adam and ’adamah). You are dust: the punishment also affects the man directly insofar as he is now mortal.
- 3:20 The man gives his wife a more specific name than “woman” (2:23). The Hebrew name hawwa (“Eve”) is related to the Hebrew word hay (“living”); “mother of all the living” points forward to the next episode involving her sons Cain and Abel.