Monday, February 2, 2009


And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden…and the Lord God took the man, and put him in the Garden of Eden to dress and keep it.
Genesis 2: 8a-15 (AV)

In the previous post on this topic we explored Adam’s duty of dressing the Garden. Now let’s turn our attention to God’s charge to keep the Garden.

As quoted above, the AV renders this Hebrew verb as (to) keep. Most English translations stick with this rendering. The two notable variations would be (to) take care of it (NIV), which I think is rather weak, and (to) watch over it (HCSB), which I really like. According to Strong’s Concordance, the Hebrew verb can take the following meanings: to hedge about (as with thorns), to guard, to protect, to beware, to be circumspect, to take heed, to mark, to look narrowly, to observe, to lie in wait.

This conjures up a good many interesting things to consider. The most obvious meaning here is that God appointed Adam as a guardian of the Garden. There are some fascinating and rather ominous undertones here. Even in an unfallen world, Adam was supposed to be on his toes, to mark what what went on around him in the Garden – what was present there, what was done there, what was said there – to sift it all carefully and to be ready to act if some sign of trouble or danger manifested itself. Though one wonders what trouble or danger Adam could possibly have conceived of in his state of innocence, God of course knew what he did not: the serpent was lurking and would be looking for an opportunity to work mischief.

Adam was to be an observant creature – a watchful and thoughtful guardian. He was to examine each thing around him, assessing its latent potentialities – for good, but possibly also for evil (even though he as yet had no knowledge of evil, save perhaps by name only). A sense of foreboding certainly overshadows all of this because we know the rest of the story as recorded in Chapter Three. However, I would submit that Adam’s charge to keep has richer, more glorious and more constructive implications woven into it than these darker associations alone will reveal. Recall everything which was mentioned earlier with regard to dressing and let it sit closely beside the watchful observation which is enjoined here.

Taken together, the entire task would require a good deal of imagination and creativity on Adam’s part. Adam was not created to simply take things – save God’s own words – at face value. He was not created to necessarily accept things as they initially presented themselves to him. He was supposed to examine things up close, and then he was supposed to take a step back from things – to squint at them, to turn his head sideways and look at them cock-eyed. He was supposed to question. He was meant to dig. He was intended to investigate. He was created to explore.

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