MoM Genesis 2:15 — Why are We Here? — Part 2 of 2

Previously I note that God purposefully placed humanity in a context where they could live their lives in His Presence.  But Genesis 2:15 also tells about His purpose for humanity:

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. (NIV)

But a Better Translation of this verse is ( see below for details):

The LORD God took the man and purposefully put him in the Garden of Eden so that he could live his life in His presence to worship and obey.

John Sailhamer and William Dumbrell  initially drew my attention to the reasons for the above translation (see references below).

Sailhamer noted that in the following

“. . . in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

the two pronouns “it” refer back to the word “Garden.”  This of course is expected, but what is also expected is that the pronominal suffixes (in the original Hebrew) should agree with what they refer to in gender and number.  In fact the pronominal suffixes, “it,” are singular FEMININE while the noun that they refer to, “Garden,” is MASCULINE singular.  To solve this problem, Sailhamer proposed that in the Hebrew the final pronominal suffixes were just part of the verbal forms and that the “it”s were not in the text.  But he also noted the following.

The Hebrew word translated “to work” is also used as “to serve (God)” (= to worship)—as in the tabernacle and/or the temple (like Priests or Levites).

Ex. 3:12     And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

2 Kings 21:3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.

In addition, the Hebrew word “take care of” is also used of “guarding” and “observing/keeping.”

Both words are used together with reference to duties in the Tabernacle in Numbers 3:7–8 and 8:25–26 (Dumbrell below).

Thus humankind was placed in the Garden to live their lives in the Presence of God, with the expressed purposes of worshiping Him and obeying His commands.  This was/is the destiny of humans and is a big part of the answer to the age old question: “why are we here?”

For some of the technical details of this argument, including the Hebrew words and syntax Click Here.


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.

Dumbrell, William J. The Faith of Israel: A Theological Survey of the Old Testament. Second ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002, pp. 21–22.

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