Gen. 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Although I typically do not have time on the Mount of Olives to discuss this verse it does form a nice introduction to the theme of (spoiler alert) of humankind living their lives in the Presence of God. It is at this point in the Genesis narrative that the writer informs us that God placed humans in the Garden of Eden that He had prepared for them. The Hebrew word for “put” that is used here has a variety of meanings and I would like to submit that here, and in some other places, it conveys the purposeful placing of something in the Presence of God. Consider the following passages—all with the important Hebrew word highlighted in red.
Deut. 26:1 When you [Israel] have entered the land …, 2 take some of the firstfruits … and put [this is a different word for “put”] them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name … 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the LORD your God. … 10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me.” Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him.
When there was a question regarding Aaronic priestly leadership staffs were placed in the presence of God:
Num. 17:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. 3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”
And when the Israelites were given manna as food
Ex. 16:33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come.”
Note also, that in the garden context humans are described as being in communion with the Divine Presence.
Gen. 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Thus I would like to suggest that God purposefully placed humanity in a context where they could live their lives in His Presence.
As the brilliant John Sailhamer put it commenting on Genesis 2:15:
. . . the author uses a term (wayyannihehu) that he elsewhere has reserved for two special uses: God’s “rest” or “safety,” which he gives to man in the land and the “dedication” of something in the presence of the Lord . . . both senses of the term appear to be behind author’s use of the word in v. 15. Man was “put” into the garden where he could “rest” and be “safe,” and man was “put” into the garden “in God’s presence” where he could have fellowship with god (3:8).
John H. Sailhamer, “Genesis.” Pages 1–284 in volume 1 of Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Edited by Gaebelein, F. E. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984, pp. 44-45.
Okay, if this is true, what are we supposed to do in His Presence? More next Monday.