destruction of humanity by drought before the Flood
chapters 1 and 2 are traditionally thought to contain two conflicting accounts
of the creation of man: divided waters in Gen1:7, herbs in 1:12, man in 1:26,
and waterless land, no herbs, no man in Gen2:5. Numerous attempts to reconcile
them do not answer a basic question: what kind of redactor would put two
contradictory accounts of a major event side-by-side in his narration? The
writers of Tanakh show nothing like the stupidity necessary for such blunder.
appeal to odd piety of the writers who preserved both contradictory stories at
the cost of the narration’ credibility. That might explain why the redactors
did not omit the important story of Eden altogether. Why, however, they kept
inessential, but highly controversial pieces, like Gen4:14: Cain, expelled from
Eden, is afraid of other people outside the garden though no such people exist?
ostensibly second account of the creation also poses theological problems:
forming a man from dust and blowing life into his nostrils is patently primitive,
and incompatible with otherwise pronouncedly abstract concept of the divine.
traditional reading, however, seems wrong. Gen2 plausibly relates the story of
destruction of mankind by drought. That story is consistent with the myth,
popular in many cultures, of the destruction by fire that preceded the
destruction of the next civilization by flood.
Genesis 2:5, “There was no shrub, because there was no man to till the ground”
makes no sense. “Siah,” if a plant at all, means, “bush,” not cultivated
plant. The writers obviously knew that shrubs grow without human assistance, and
likely thought that they grow in desert altogether without water.
siah as “shrub” is questionable. The word predominantly means “talk,
complaint,” and several other entries in the sense “shrub” could be
explained by the writers’ misunderstanding the word in Gen2:5. Workers in the
field very characteristically chat, or at least poets often idealize the
“For the Lord God did not cause it to rain on the earth, and there was no man
to work the land” forms a parallel, and means that neither natural, nor
artificial irrigation was available is unlikely, since avod is not normally used
in the sense “to irrigate.” Parallel phrase in Gen3:23: “to work the land
from whence he was taken” has no sense of irrigation; rather, the man was
forced back to till the ground for living, instead of enjoying the fruits of
Eden. Irrigation does not operate, anyway, if there is continuously no rain. The
writers of Tanakh hardly imagined irrigation projects large enough to transform
the waterless land. Rather, the relation is consequential: since there was no
rain, no people were left to till the land. If irrigation were the problem, then
reasonable solution is to irrigate the land where the people live, not to move
them to naturally irrigated Eden. That the man was provided with everything in
Eden also does not imply his ability to irrigate.
common translation, “No shrub was *yet* in the earth” is misleading. Hebrew
terem has Arabic cognate tarem, “stop, cease.” The word is very rare in
Tanakh, and common translation “not yet” is tentative.
understanding of terem by later writers could be influenced by their reading of
that word in Gen2:5. In 1Sam3:7, “Now, Samuel yet did not know the Lord,”
“yet” is arbitrary; the phrase reads equally well without it. Num11:33,
“They put the meat between their teeth, stopped to chew.” God disliked
people who in their greed swallowed meat as fast as possible without even
chewing and tasting the Lord’s gift. Num11:33 does not need “yet” to
translate terem. In Joshua3:1, “they lodged there before they would pass over”
could equally mean something like, “they lodged there, and stopped their pass”
without the need for “before.”
reading, “there was no herb of the field” is unwarranted; it is rather,
“All herbs in the field did not exist,” implying that they were there
originally, but ceased. This is, of course, a hyperbole, like “All fish has
gone from this pond” does not mean that few fishes did not remain. Some bushes, though rarely herbs, survive in dry land, but
the writer convenes that they predominantly ceased.
has two words for rain: matar and geshem. Usually, matar is used in the sense of
light rain. Watering the whole earth implies strong rain, geshem. When 2:5
mentions absence of matar, it likely relates of drought: God did not send even a
phrase “there was no man to work the ground” does not imply that there was
no man at all. A reading that there was no taker for the particular purpose of
farming is plausible.
2:6 opens with the word ‘ed, commonly translated as “mist” or “inundation.”
last translation, alluding to the flooding of Mesopotamian plains, relies on the
Akkadian edu, “flood.” Aristotle wrote that Nile floods are related to rains
in Ethiopia, and others likely knew that as well; 2:5 states that there was no
rain yet, and the meaning “flood” is thus unlikely. Flood is associated with
destruction, not creation. Hebrew has an attested word for “flood,” mabul,
etymologically linked to iaval (to flow), and sharing root cell with mebucha (confusion),
mavo’ (intrusion), mevusa (trampling), and mevuka (desolation).
reportedly (A.S.Yahuda) has a word i3d.t meaning “dew.” Interpretations of
edu and i3d.t, however, themselves rely on the Hebrew ‘ed, and are tentative.
Notwithstanding that caveat, Akkadian edu and Egyptian i3d.t may have common
semantic, like return of water, or some change in the state of water.
Hebrew borrowed an Akkadian or Egyptian word without converting it to
three-letter root is unusual. Hebrew has a well-attested word for “dew,” tal.
Steinberg reconstructs ‘ud (to turn) from ‘eid (calamity), ‘ud (firebrand;
charred from all sides), and ‘odot (because; Russian, by way of). The sense of
“turn” could be behind ‘i as misfortune (change), jackal (dodging animal),
and island (wrapped by sea).
only other instance of ‘ed in Tanakh is in Job 36:27-28, “For he would pile
the drops of water; they would percolate [as] rain, *by the way [by]* which the
clouds would pour down.” The common translation of l‘edo as “from his [divine]
vapor” presumes that the ancient writer equalized mist with clouds. Moreover,
“his vapor” ignores that “his” is not used in the context for more
important things, like water and rain. The translation “vapor” also runs
into a problem of preposition le, which it very unusually renders “from.”
36:28 starts with “which”; if ‘ed means “vapor,” it should be the
antecedent, yet, vapor cannot be plausibly poured down.
‘ed as “mist” is illogical. The writer could not imagine mist coming up
from the sun-scorched earth. Few deserts have dew from sea winds, and such dew
is very short-lived. Moreover, mist is clearly insufficient to water the earth
for agricultural purposes. Negev desert receives 0.1mm of dew per day in late
summer, the year-highest level, that is, below 3.5cm of dew per year, while even
inland Sahara receives 1.5cm of rain, and very arid deserts rarely receive below
5cm. Dew suffices to preserve vegetation in short rainless periods, but not to
make it significantly grow – the fact empirically known to the ancients. To
make the account merely plausible, the writer would have had something like,
“the rivers came up,” not mist. Haggai1:10-11, “the heaven has kept back,
so that there is no dew… and I called the drought upon the corn…” does not
imply that dew would have sufficed to water the plants, but rather that there
was no even dew. If the entire earth was watered in 2:6, and thus fertile, there
was no point to accentuate by moving the man specifically eastward, to Eden in
2:8. Since the dust (presumably, from arid ground) is emphatically mentioned in
2:7, it is unlikely that the whole earth was watered in 2:6.
‘ed is a noun, then syntax is irregular: “and noun, yiqtol noun.” Comma,
transcribing a pausal mark, often follows “and adjective noun” construct, or
separates noun from infinitive or participle. A pause between a lonely noun and
yiqtol verb is unusual.
words with the first root cell ‘d relate firmness, strength, foundation—nothing
like the mist.
meaning of ‘ed seems to be “to turn, by the way of, because.” If so, then
the antecedent for “would rise/leave” in Genesis 2:6 is the man.
reading “mist emerged from the land” is dubious because alah min means
“was uprooted from [the land]” in the attested sense of migration. Dew is
universally described as descending, not ascending (alah). The verb is never
used in the sense “percolate,” as the mist might be imagined to appear from
the earth. The word alah relates meaningful distance; thus it is used in Ex16:14
where the dew evaporated. That the same verb means both appearance of dew and
its evaporation, is unlikely.
of hishka as “watered” obscures the connotation of giving a drink to the
thirsty, not irrigation. Using hishka for a large-scale event is implausible.
The writers knew about deserts, likely considered them eternal (not fluctuating
with climate change), and hardly imagined all land watered. Rather, the relation
is one of negation: on the whole land, nothing received even a drink of water.
reading of wayitzer in 2:7 as “formed [from dust]” is implausible. Physical
creation is denoted with br’, the verb reserved for acts of God. The root itzr
has strong connotation of mental process: image, thought, thus figurative
meaning, “to form” (like “formed in the womb”) which many cases should
be rendered, “intended, dedicated.”
meaning of itzr as “make something from something else” is unattested.
In Isaiah 44:12, itzr means that smith fashions an already semi-processed
axe, not makes it from a piece of iron. The participle iotzer, “potter,”
seems to appear late, and possibly stemmed from the fact of pottery being the
most common art. Potters intend the things, imagine and cause them. The common
rendering of yetzer as “idol” is incorrect; it is rather “thought, image.”
word wayitzer is open to several interpretations. One is that it is ‘atzar,
“to keep, preserve.” The same transformation ‘tzr – itzr may be seen in
Zech11:13 which means either “potter” or “treasury.” Another possibility
is natzar (branch out, bring forward, protect from, conceal) which shares the
future form itzor with the root itzr. The meaning, “to protect from,” may be
relevant: “The Lord God protected the man, [almost] ashes, from the [hostile
dry] land.” This sense unlikely derives from ntr allophone, because ‘tzr
sense is similar. The roots ‘tzr, itzr, and ntzr, at any rate, have much in
most plausible readings seem, “to bring forward” or “protect” with the
common semantics of “to intensely think about something, to care and perhaps
to work to that end.”
logical argument against the reading that the man was made from earth is that
the same turn is employed of animals in Gen2:19, “The Lord God formed all
beasts of the field and all birds of the skies from the earth.” The wordplay,
adam (man) – adama (earth) does not work for animals and birds. Making of men,
animals, and birds from earth is so primitive a notion that it opposes the
entire sense of the Torah. Moreover, if that is the account of creation, why
fish is not mentioned? Gen1:20 explicitly mentions creation of fish along with
birds. If already existing men and animals were placed in the garden, then
omitting fish is reasonable: draught did not endanger the fish, predominantly
living in sea and in still-existent large rivers, such as that of Eden.
the trees, Gen2:9 uses zmh root verb, “caused to grow from the ground,” with
no implication of forming trees from ground.
Gen3:23, the man is expelled from Eden “to work the ground out of which he was
taken.” The turn misham, “out of which,” universally relates to place, not
of Gen2:7, “formed the man *from* the dust of the ground” adds “from,”
absent in the Hebrew text. Omission of the preposition in such environment is
implausible. In fact, the preposition is used (“from/of the ground”), but in
a way that opposes the common translation: aphar min-haadama (lit., formed/protected
the man, dust of the ground) rather than, min-aphar haadama (from the dust of
translation of 2:7, “God breathed into his nostrils” is implausible. Ezekiel
37:9 employs nph b in the sense “breathe on them that they may live,” but
that line is certainly modeled on Ezekiel’s understanding of Gen2:7 where the
life was ostensibly similarly given to the man. The meaning “to breathe into”
is otherwise unattested. With preposition b (“in”), the verb puah means
“reject” (blow into someone’s face), thus in Haggai1:9. A common meaning
is, “to fan” (fire, commotion). The root seems related to pahim (“burning
preferred rendering “nostrils” is unsupported. This meaning is extremely
rare among many entries of ‘aph, and even those instances could be plausibly
rendered as “face.”
common translations, the man is related to “dust of the ground” (2:7), while
animals – to ground (2:19). The distinction disappears if reading, “Dust of
the ground blew into his face.” Animals were “taken from the land.”
translation, “became a living soul” ignores preposition le, “became *for*
a living soul.” The preposition is consistently dative, e.g., "That
Ishmael might live for you!" (properly dative, “consecrated to you”).
There is a slight possibility of using le in comparative sense, like 1Kings2:2,
“Be strong, and show yourself as a (le) man,” or Exodus4:3, “[rod] became
a (le) serpent.” Such usage of le is consistent with dative: “as a man, as a
serpent” (similarly to; Russian ïîäîáíî). The connotation is, “similar, but not the same”; Solomon,
according to David’s estimate, was not a man yet, but should behave like one.
The man, however, is universally referred to as “living soul”; here
identification replaces mere similarity. The comparative sense of le is not
employed when something (a pile of dirt) actually becomes something else (a man).
Even if the meaning is indeed, “became as a living soul,” the connotation is
not becoming a live person (in which case le in the sense of "as"
would be improper), but turning from "as dead" (from the drought) to
"as alive" (in Eden), revived.
reading of mkdm in 2:8 as “eastward” is open to doubt. More people likely
knew the name of the place than its direction, so that explaining that Eden is
in the east is of no help. The regular sense of kdm is “front,” thus “in
front of.” That reading makes sense: the writer clarifies the garden was
marked out in the front of Eden.
same mikedem in Gen3:24, "at the east of the garden," is meaningless.
The angel was placed at the entrance to prevent the man from reentering.
Ex14:21, God pushed the Red Sea by kadim, supposedly east wind. That wind,
however, would have blown straight in the face of Israelites, and bring the
water upon them. West wind would make water shallow at the shore, but still
impassible a bit further. North wind would blow the masses of water into the
gulf. The only way to rend (“break”) the waters was to blow from north,
pushing water from the gulf into the sea. Kadim, thus, means “front wind,”
wind from the (Mediterranean) sea.
however, retaining the sense of mkdm as “eastward,” then - of what? The
reference point may be the land that became arid, and which the people had left.
need not be a name of the place. Tanakhic usage of eden in the sense of pleasure
derives from the perception of Eden as the ultimate place of pleasure. The
etymology of eden is related to ed-edh root, and means direction (like, come
to), whether spatial or chronological. This sense generally corresponds to
Aramaic edn. Garden of eden means that the garden made somewhere or for
location of Eden is clearly indicated: at the point close to where one large
river becomes four. Ptolemaic map shows Nile becoming four rivers. Ancient
cartographers, possibly taking Egypt or Greece as reference point, incorrectly
assumed that Nile flows from north to south and becomes split “like four heads”
rather than “joined like four tales.” No comparable one-to-four river system
exists for Tigris and Euphrates.
and Pishon branches of the river of Eden cannot circle the lands of Cush and
Havilah, as commonly mistranslated; rivers do not flow in circles. Rather, Gihon
and Pishon wind through the lands.
must be located around the 3rd cataract in Nubia, a region washed
from both sides by Nile on the Ptolemaic map. Egyptians assumed in their myths
that their ancestors came from south, and that corresponds with Eden. The region
has plenty of high-quality gold, mentioned in Gen2:12; translation of the other
two commodities as bdellium and onyx is tentative. The land of Cush (Gen2:13) is
universally identified with Nubia. Gen25:18 mentions Havilah “before Egypt on
the way to Assyria,” which correlates better with Nubia rather than
brought the man to oasis he planted in Eden, where the climate was good. That
man became a progenitor (essence of life) for other humans. This is the first
destruction and salvation – by drought. The Flood was the second one. Eden was
the ark of the old.
writers embellished the story of Eden, as they understood it (forming the man of
the dust), and so appeared Gen3:19: “For the dust you are, and in the dust you
will settle.” Even that could be read as a pun, “For [mortal] ashes (aphar)
you are, and in the [arid] dust (aphar) you will settle.”
article in ha-adam is clear: it is “the man,” a particular human out of the
whole race, not a proper name Adam. If, however, the person in question was the
only one on earth, then definite article is ungrammatical. Similarly, use of
definite article with adama, “the ground,” makes sense: it is the particular
land affected by drought.
chronology dates the Creation of the world 5767 years from now. That is
certainly incompatible with scientific findings. The dating, however, is
established by adding consecutive lifespan of the biblical figures. The count
begins with Adam.
account of Cain (Gen4:14) being afraid of other people suggests that Adam was
not the first human on earth. Reading Gen2:7 as an account of drought, not the
Creation, resolves the dating controversy. Adam, indeed, could be born 5767 ago.
He could even start a new civilization: the third and the fourth millennia B.C.E.
saw technological advances which are highly unusual by evolutionary standards.
The Torah does not specify the time lapse between the Creation of the world and
the Edenic account of Adam. They could be billions of years apart.
writer employs yiqtols in 2:5-6 in a consistent manner of “historic future”:
talk ceased, herbs did not grow, people left the land. The events that could,
but did not happen (drizzling, giving drink) are described in the past tense.
of wayiqtols in 2:7 is conspicuous; normally they initiate clauses. One way is
to mark clauses according to the wayiqtols. Another – to consider the
possibility that scribes misunderstood the narration and erroneously changed
qatals into wayiqtols.
account of Creation ends with Gen2:4.
“All talk in the field would be not in the land, and all herbs of the field
would grow not, for the Lord God did not cause it to drizzle on the land (and
there was no man to work the ground
because he would leave the land) and give drink to the whole ground.
The Lord God would bring forward the man. Dust of the ground, [it] blew into his
face. The essence of life, [that] became the man to a living being;
the Lord God marked out a garden from the front of Eden, and placed there the
man whom he had brought forward.”
“The Lord God brought forward [into the garden] every beast from the land.”
2:6: Mist left the land, [the mist that] watered the whole ground.
2:7: The Lord God would bring forward the man, the dust of the ground (idiom).
It blew into his face, [the face of] the live being. The man lived for (to
preserve) a living being.
The man became as a live being (revived).
changes, 2:7: The Lord God fashioned the man, the dust of the ground, and blew
the breath of life into his face (by sending him to Eden). The man lived for (to
preserve) a living being.