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The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Part 8: The Garden)

ESV Genesis 2:15-17
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”

Walton next explains the ancient Hebrew understanding of this garden of Eden and the trees therein. He brings in several references to Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian texts that all have similar stories to that of Genesis. He uses these texts to help shed light on how the Israelites would have understood the Genesis account. I found this discussion most fascinating. How marvelous it is that all these ancient civilizations have some account of a sacred garden-like place where God’s presence was at the beginning of the world. Many of them also have an Adam-like character and an account of how chaos/sin entered the world. This seems like such strong evidence that such events actually happened. This also makes the Genesis account particularly special because this was the account that God himself sanctioned as His truth. 

Another interesting parallel drawn here is between the temple and the garden. Walton argues that the temple that the Israelites built was fashioned to replicate a garden-like feel with its carved palm trees and fruit.

Several clarifications were also made in this section: “for in the day that you eat of it” is a Hebrew idiom meaning “when.” This is helpful to know because when Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, they don’t die on that day. Another point of clarification, Walton doesn’t believe that Adam and Eve were confined to the garden, but merely that they were in charge of keeping it. This would explain how the serpent was able to approach Eve without being within the sacred garden.

The presence of the two significant trees in the garden, the one of the knowledge of good and evil (Walton also calls this the tree of wisdom), and the tree of life, both are two elements/things/qualities only had in the garden of Eden, meaning that apart from being in the sacred garden and in the sacred place where relationship with God is had, these two things cannot be had. To be banished from the garden is to lose access to eternal life and access to wisdom. 

I find it interesting that God doesn’t forbid eating of the tree of life until after sin enters the world. God forbids eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ie, making oneself the center of order and wisdom.

Walton, John H. The Lost World of Adam and Eve. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2015. Print.


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