Genesis chapter 2 part 6

Genesis 2 part 6

My friends and lovers of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. I hope that you find the writings and debates of the Early Church Fathers to be interesting. Today’s blog is another one filled with a lot of information. Enjoy the reading.

2:15-17 And the Lord God took the man whom he had formed, and placed him in the garden of Delight, to cultivate and keep it. 16 And the Lord God gave a charge to Adam, saying, of every tree which is in the garden you may freely eat, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—of it you shall not eat, but in whatsoever day you eat of it, you shall surely die.

ALCUIN OF YORK. (Gen. 2:15-17).WHAT IS MEANT BY “AND GOD PUT MAN INTO THE PARADISE OF PLEASURE, TO DRESS IT, AND TO KEEP IT”? [DID MAN NEED TO WORK IN PARADISE,] AND FROM WHAT DID HE HAVE TO KEEP IT? — Answer. There was no suffering in work for man in Paradise, but only the joyous fulfilment of his wishes, as the things that God had created grew the more luxuriantly and the more fruitfully with the help of human work. “And to keep it”: so that he should keep that same paradise for himself, and, if he lost something, should deserve to be expelled from it. [Question 51]

WHY WERE THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL CREATED IN PARADISE? — Answer. So that man might be immortal through the former, and mortal through the latter: he used the tree of life like a medicine, to be imperishable, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil like a poison, to die. (Bed. in Pent., PL 91, col. 207.) [Question 6]

WHY DID ADAM, THE MASTER OF THE WORLD, RECEIVE A LAW? — Answer. So that he might not be made proud by this great sovereignty, but that, in the observance of the commandment, he might know that he was subjected to his Creator. (Bed. in Pent., PL 91, col. 207.) [Question 7]

WHY DID GOD NOT GIVE [TO MANKIND] IN THE BEGINNING THE LAW THAT HE LATER GAVE THROUGH MOSES? — Answer. Because among the first men the law of good nature was kept for a long time, but when the natural law was forgotten and the habit of sinning came about, the law of the letter was given through Moses, so that the good things that were known might be confirmed authoritatively and those that had started being hidden might be revealed, and that the terror of punishment might amend offenders and restore faith in God. [Questions and Answers on Genesis]

AMBROSE OF MILAN. ‘And God took the man whom he has created and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it.’ [Gen 2:15 ] Note, now, the person who was taken and the land where he was formed. The virtue of God, therefore, took man and breathed into him, so that man’s virtue will advance and increase. God set him apart in Paradise that you may know that man was taken up, that is to say, was breathed upon by the power of God. Note the fact that man was created outside Paradise, whereas woman was made within it. This teaches us that each person acquires grace by reason of virtue, not because of locality or of race. Hence, although created outside Paradise, that is, in an inferior place, man is found to be superior, whereas woman, created in a better place, that is to say, in Paradise, is found to be inferior. She was first to be deceived and was responsible for deceiving the man. Wherefore the Apostle Paul has related that holy women have in olden times been subject to the stronger vessel and recommends them to obey their husbands as their masters. [1 Peter 3:1] And Paul says: ‘Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and was in sin.’ [1 Tim 2:14] This is a warning that no one ought to rely on himself, for she who was made for assistance needs the protection of a man. [Gen 2:18] The head of the woman is man, who, while he believed that he would have the assistance of his wife, fell because of her. [1 Cor. 11:3] Wherefore, no one ought to entrust himself lightly to another unless he has first put that person’s virtue to the test. Neither should he claim for himself in the role of protector one whom he believes is subservient to him. Rather, a person should share his grace with another. Especially is this true of one who is in the position of greater strength and one who plays the part of protector. We have advice of the Apostle Peter, wherein he recommends that husbands pay honor to their wives: ‘Husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives considerately, paying honor to the woman as to the weaker vessel and as co-heir of the grace of life that your prayers be not hindered.’ [1 Peter 3:7]

Therefore man was placed in Paradise, while the woman was created in Paradise. The woman, even before she was deceived by the serpent, shared grace with a man, since she was taken from a man. Yet ‘this is a great mystery,’ [Eph. 5:32] as the Apostle said. Wherefore he traced the source of life from it. And so Scripture refers only to man in the words: ‘He placed him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.’ [Gen 2:15] The act of tilling and the act of keeping are one and the same thing. In tilling there is a certain exercise of man’s virtue, while in keeping it is understood that the work is accomplished, for protection implies something completed. These two acts are required of man. In this way, it is generally assumed; man can seek after something new and may keep what he has acquired. Philo, on the other hand, limited in his interpretation of this Scriptural passage to its moral aspect, since, because of his Jewish tendencies, he did not understand its spiritual import. He maintained that the two aspects were those of tilling the fields and of protecting the home. Although, he said, Paradise did not require labor in the fields, the first man, even in Paradise, undertook a kind of toil so as to furnish a law for future ages by which to bind us to the performance and to the preservation of our bounden duty and to the function of supporting hereditary succession. [Cf. Philo, Questions in Gen 1:14] Both these point of view, the moral and the spiritual, are exacted of you. The prophetic psalm instructs you regarding this: ‘Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, they watch in vain that keep it.’ [Ps 126:1] It is obvious that the laborers are those who engage in the actual operation of building, while the watchers are those to whom the duty of protecting the perfected work is entrusted. Hence the Lord said to the Apostles, as if they were on the point of perfecting their work: ‘Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ [Matt 26:41] By this He meant that the function of a nature that was perfected along with the grace of abundant virtue should be preserved and that no one, even one who has attained some perfection, ought to feel really secure of himself unless he remains vigilant.

‘And the Lord God commanded the man thus: ‘from every tree of the garden thou shalt eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for the day you eat of it you shall die.’ [Gen 2:16] Why did He use the singular ‘thou shalt eat’ when He bade them eat of every tree, and, again, when He bade them eat of the tree of good and evil, why did He use the plural ‘You shall not eat’? This is no trifling question. This problem can, in fact, be solved by the authority of the Scriptures if you study them carefully. Scripture refers to something good and something that should be done. What is good is naturally associated with what should be done. On the other hand, what is base is separate and unrelated to what should be done. And so the Lord, aiming always at oneness, gave orders in accordance with this principle. Hence He achieves oneness who ‘has made both one’ [Eph. 2:14] -.He not only made both one, for He bade us to be ‘one body and one Spirit.’ [Eph. 4:4] ‘The firstborn of every creature,’ [Col 1:15] since He is in union with the faith, is always closely joined to the Father, because ‘the Word was with God.’ [John 1:1] Wherefore He says: ‘I and the Father are one,’ [John 10:30] in order to show His union with the Father in majesty and in dignity. But He bade us to be one and transfused into us by the adoption of grace the likeness of His own nature and His own oneness, saying: ‘Father, that they may be one, even as we are one, I in them and thou in me.’ [John 17:22] When He prescribes a good, therefore, He does it to one person, saying, ‘Thou shalt eat,’ for the oneness cannot be gainsaid. Where, however, He says that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil should not be tasted, He speaks in effect to several people: ‘You shall not eat.’ What has been prohibited has general application to several people. But I have another opinion on this matter. I am able to discover the meaning of what we are discussing in the very words of God Himself. Adam alone was bidden to taste of every tree and it was foreseen that he would follow that injunction. In the plural sense, and not in the singular, God sees that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil should not be tasted. He knew that the woman would sin. Thus, by using the plural, God points out that they will not follow the injunction, because, where there are many, there are differences of opinion.

If we look into the sense of the words as expressed in the Septuagint [plural form, Vulgate has singular] the meaning is clear. Symmachus, however, takes both expressions in a singular sense. This is explained by the fact that in the Law, God, addressing His people, uses the singular: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord’ and ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’ [Deut. 6:4,5] I am not influenced by the interpretation of Symmachus, who could not see the oneness of the Father and Son, although at times both he and Asylas admitted it in their discussions. The fact that God addresses in the singular number a people who will later contravene His commands should not lead us to think that I am dissenting from my former statement, inasmuch as the Jewish people, regarded as a single person, violated the injunctions imposed upon them. We have here a law of the Spirit whereby God addresses the people in divine language. [On Paradise]

AMBROSIASTER. (Gen. 2:15-17) WHY DID GOD IMPOSE UPON ADAM THAT HE HAD PLACED IN THE WORLD A COMMANDMENT, A LAW, AFTER HAVING GIVEN HIM DOMINION OVER ALL CREATURES? — God had doubtless established Adam the master of the world; but as this empire did not come from himself, but from God, he had to receive a law which was a mark of his dependence, so that the man who appeared to be the master of the world was subject to the one who had given him this empire by his obedience to this law, which gave him a profound respect for the authority of the Creator, and prevented the pride which this domination and the forgetting of his divine Creator might inspire him. [Questions on the Old and New Testament]

APHRAHAT THE PERSIAN SAGE. And there are those who even while they live are dead unto God. For He laid a commandment on Adam and said to him, in the day that you shall eat of the tree, you shall surely die. And after he had transgressed the commandment, and had eaten, he lived nine hundred and thirty years; but he was accounted dead unto God because of his sins. But that it may be made certain for you that a sinner is called dead even when he lives, I will make it clear to you. For thus it is written in Ezekiel the Prophet, as I live, says the Lord of lords, I desire not the death of the dead sinner. (Ezek. 18: 23, 32; 33:11.) Moreover our Lord said to that man who said to Him: — Let me go and bury my father, and I will come to You. (Lk. 9:59-60) And our Lord said to him, Let the dead bury their dead, but go, preach the Kingdom of God. But how is this word understood by you, my beloved? Did you ever see the dead burying their dead? Or how shall a dead man arise to bury another dead man? But receive this explanation from me, that a sinner, while he is living, is dead unto God; and a righteous man, though dead, is alive unto God. [Demonstration 8 (Of the Resurrection of the Dead), NPNF s.2 v.13]

AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO. So God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate it and to keep it. Then the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Thou shalt eat of every tree that is in the garden; as for the tree of the science of good and evil, you will not eat it: for in the day that you eat it, you will die of death (Gen. II, 16-17). The Scripture, after having briefly said a little earlier, that God had planted a garden and placed man there as his creature, had returned to these expressions to describe the formation of this park; she returns again to tell how man was introduced. He was placed there, she said, to cultivate it and to keep it. Let’s examine the meaning attached to these last words. What work, what monitoring can be done? Did God want the first man to indulge in agriculture? Would it not be improbable for him to have condemned him to work before his fault? One might think so, if the experiment did not show not that man sometimes takes such a keen pleasure to work the land, that it is a torment for him to be torn from this occupation. Now, the attraction attached to agriculture was even more acute at a time when the earth and the sky were perpetually benign. It was not a crushing task, but a flourishing of the activity, charmed to see the divine creations take with it a livelier aspect and a new fruitfulness: it was a perpetual subject to praise the Creator himself for this gift of the activity which he had made to the soul united to a body, for that faculty which exercised itself in the measure of pleasure and not unwillingly to satisfy the lower needs of the body.

Is there a sight more sublime and more delightful for man, a more intimate interview, so to speak, of his reason with nature, than to examine his seedlings, his nurseries, his cuttings, his grafts, and of to wonder what is the secret virtue of germs and roots; where does their development or sterility come from? What is the action of the invisible force that makes them grow within, the influence of culture outside? Do not these considerations extend to the point of showing that he who plants and sprinkles is nothing, but only God who gives growth (I Corinthians 3: 7)? Does not external work come from the very being that God has created and governs according to the secret designs of his providence?

“God put the man in the garden to keep. But keep what? Could it be the garden itself? Against who? Surely there was no fear of neighborly encroachment, no quarrels about boundaries, no robbery. How then to conceive that man has really kept a true park. The Scripture does not say that he must keep and cultivate Paradise; she uses the two words absolutely: “to keep and cultivate” A literal translation of the Greek would give: posui eum in Paradiso operari eum and custodire. Has man been placed in paradise to work, or, as the interpreter seems to have translated, “ut operaretur,” or to work Paradise himself? The ride is equivocal. It would seem that Paradise should not be a direct complement, but a complement of place and say: “in order to work in Paradise.”

However, in the fear that the expression “work the garden” is the true one and recalls the passage: “There was no man to work the land,” let us examine these words in both directions, can offer. I admit, then, that it may be said that man was introduced into Eden “in order to keep in Paradise. What was there to keep in Paradise? I’m not talking about Adam’s work: the question has just been dealt with. Should he keep in his heart the principle which made the earth docile to his labors; in other words, was he to obey the divine command with the same complacency that the earth allowed itself to be cultivated by its hands, so that it produced for it the fruits of submission instead of the thorns of revolt? In reality, he did not want to imitate the docility of the garden he cultivated, and, for his pain, received an ungrateful soil like him: “He will give you,” says the Scripture, thorns and thistles. “

If we adopt the second meaning, according to which Adam would have worked and kept the garden, we can explain the first expression by his works of agriculture as we have exposed them, but how to explain the second? He did not keep the garden against thieves or enemies who had not yet appeared; perhaps he was guarding the animals; but why and how were the beasts already doing to man the war which was the consequence of sin? No doubt: the animals had been brought before the man who had given them names, as we will soon see him, and on the sixth day a common food had been assigned to them by the command of the sovereign word. Besides, the animals would have inspired some fear, how could a single man have been able to protect the garden from their ravages? The park was not to be confined within narrow limits, since it was watered by such an abundant spring, and the man apparently had to build a fence around the park, by force of work, capable of enclosing the entry to the snake: but it would have taken a prodigy to drive out all the snakes before the enclosure had been completed.

This text allows another interpretation which is worth, I believe, the trouble to be exposed: it is that the very man was the object of the activity and the supervision of God. If man works the earth, not to create it, but to make it beautiful and fertile, God, all the more, works the human soul, to whom he has given being, to make it just: only the man must not give up God by pride, commit that apostasy which is the first step of pride, according to this word of Scripture: “The beginning of pride is to depart from God.” God being the immutable good, the man who in his body and in his soul has only a contingent existence, must be turned towards the absolute good and fix himself there, on pain of being unable to form himself to virtue and happiness. Therefore God creates man, to give him the substance of his being, and at the same time shapes him and keeps him to make him good and happy; the expression according to which man cultivates the earth, already created, to beautify and fertilize it, also designates the work by which God forms man, already created, with piety and wisdom; he keeps it, because by preferring his independence to the superior power of God, and by despising the sovereignty of the Creator, man cannot be safe.

THE AUTHORITY OF GOD RECALLED TO MAN (Gen. 2:15). It is not by omission, in my opinion, but to give a great lesson, that the Scripture never says from the beginning of Genesis to the verse where we have arrived, the Lord God: the word Lord is absent. As soon as it arrives at the time when the man is established in this Paradise and receives the order to cultivate it as to keep it, it expresses itself thus: “And” the Lord God took the man whom he had done and put it in the garden to cultivate it and keep it. The sovereignty of God doubtless extended over the creatures who had preceded man; but these words were not addressed to the Angels or to any other creature than man: they were intended to reveal to him all the interest he had in having God for his Lord, and to live obediently under his empire, instead of abusing his own power according to his whims. Scripture therefore expects to use this expression the moment when man is placed in Paradise to develop and keep himself under the hand of God: then it does not only say God, like everything else here, she adds the word Lord. “The Lord God took the man whom He had made, and placed Him in paradise, to shape Him” ​​to justice, “and to keep him,” to ensure his safety by exerting upon him that empire which is more useful than ourselves. God indeed can do without our submission; but we need the empire he exerts over us to cultivate our soul and keep it: as such he is alone Lord, since our dependence, far from giving it any advantage, only serves our interests and our salvation. If he needed us, he would no longer be truly Lord: he would find in us auxiliaries in the indigence of which he would be the slave. It is therefore with justice that the Psalmist exclaims: “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my God, for you have no need of the goods which I possess (Ps. XV, 2). However, in saying that we serve Him in our own interest and for our salvation, we have not pretended that we should expect from Him any other reward than himself: He alone constitutes our highest interest and our salvation. It is this feeling which makes us love it with a disinterested love: “to attach myself to the Lord, that is my good” (Ibid, LXXII, 28). “

THE IMPOTENCE OF MAN TO DO GOOD WITHOUT THE HELP OF GOD. Man, in fact, is not a being who, once created, can accomplish good by himself without the intervention of his Creator. The goodness of his acts is to cleave to the Creator, and through him to become righteous, pious, wise, and happy. One must not stop in this work, nor leave God, as one takes leave of a doctor after having been cured; the physician operates only outside and second the nature of which God causes the springs to move inwardly, because God, as we have seen, preserves beings by the double impulse which his providence communicates to nature and to will. Man, therefore, must cleave to his Lord as his end, not to leave him when he has become righteous by his favors, but to be ceaselessly trained for justice. By this alone that he does not depart from God, he finds in this communication justice, enlightenment, happiness; he is perfected, he is safe while he obeys and God commands.

 As we have said, when the man who cultivates the earth with a view to embellishing and fertilizing it, leaves it to himself after the work of plowing, sowing and irrigation, his work subsists not less; but it is not the same with God: the work of justification which he accomplishes in man no longer subsists as soon as he abandons him. Just as the air receives a light that has nothing permanent, since it shines no longer in the absence of light; in the same way, the presence of God enlightens man, and his absence leaves him plunged into darkness. This distance is not measured by distance; it is the will detached from its principle.

That the immutably good Being perfects the man and preserves him. Our duty is to be constantly fashioned and perfected by him by attaching ourselves to him, and by remaining united to him as our end: “My happiness is to attach myself to the Lord; it is in you, Lord, that I will keep my strength (Ps. LVIII, 10). We are his work, inasmuch as he has given us being, and moreover he gives us virtue. It is the truth that the Apostle proclaimed when he made the faithful who have been awakened from impiety feel the grace that saves us: “It is grace that has saved you by faith,” he says; it does not come from you; it is a pure gift of God, and not the fruit of your works, so that man cannot bring himself glory. We are his work; He created us in Christ Jesus to do the good works in which He had set beforehand that we should walk (Eph. 2: 8-10). Elsewhere after recommending his salvation “with fear and trembling,” he adds immediately, so that one does not take credit for having made oneself just and good: “It is God who operates in you (Philip II, 12, 13). Thus, “God placed man in Paradise to work in him and to keep him.”

WHY HAS THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL BEEN PROHIBITED TO MAN? And the Lord God made a commandment to Adam, saying unto him, Thou shalt eat freely of every tree of the garden. As for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will not eat of it: for from the day that you eat it you will die of death (Gen. II, 16-17). If the tree that God forbade to man had been harmful, it would naturally have contained a deadly poison. But all your trees that God had planted in Paradise were excellent (Ibid 1, 12), like all his works; besides, Paradise contained no naturally evil being, the evil existing nowhere in itself, as we will demonstrate rigorously, if it pleases God, when we have arrived at the tempting serpent. Man, therefore, is forbidden to touch a tree which was not harmful in itself, so that it would be good for him to observe this precept, the evil, to break it.

The evil attached to disobedience could not be better emphasized or more strongly accused than by weighing upon man all the consequences of iniquity, if he touched the defense of God, to a tree to which he could have touched innocently without this defense. I suppose that someone is forbidden to touch a plant because it is poisonous and gives death; disregard of this recommendation would lead to death, no doubt; but if it had been touched without being warned, it would have been necessary to die. Whether there was a defense or not, the poison would be no less fatal to health and life. In the same way, if we forbid the touching of a thing, because this prescription would be in the interest of the one who makes it and not of the one who violates it, and that we put our hand, for example, on the money of others after having received the defense of the owner himself; the fault would be to harm the author of the command. But it is an object that could have been touched without harm, if it had not been forbidden, and without hurting anyone in any time. Why, then, was it forbidden, except to show the goodness attached to pure obedience, the evil attached to mere disobedience?

The criminal aspired here only to escape the authority of God, since he would have had to avoid the mistake of considering only the order of the sovereign. What was this submission reduced to, if not to respect God’s will attentively, to love it, to put it above the human will? The motive which had guided the Lord looked only at him; the servant had only to execute his order, even if he weighed his motives when he deserved it. Without stopping too long to examine the reason of this precept, we see clearly that the interest of man is to serve God, and that therefore his orders, whatever they may be, are a benefit to us, for we do not fear to receive from such a master a useless command.

MAN HAS EXPERIENCED IT BY VIOLATING THE PRECEPT OF GOD. The will cannot fail to fall like a ruin and an immense weight on man, if he raises him and puts him above the sovereign will. This is the test that Adam did when he violated the divine command: he learned at his own expense the difference between good and evil, between the advantages of obedience and the fatal results of disobedience; that is to say, pride, revolt, madness to mislead God, guilty freedom. The tree on which this test was to take place, took its name, as we have noticed, from this event itself. Indeed, we cannot know evil by experience, since it would not exist if we had never done it: for evil does not exist by himself; this is called the privation of the good. God is the immutable good; the man considered in the faculties he has received from God is also good, but not of absolute kindness. Now, the contingent good which depends on absolute good, becomes more perfect by attaching it with the love and docility of an intelligent and free being. The very faculty of attaching oneself to the supremely good Being proves in a being the excellence of its nature. Denies he? he renounces himself for good; hence the evil for him, hence the just punishment that is the consequence. Would the height of injustice not be due to well-being united to the very desertion of good? This anomaly is impossible: but it can happen that one is insensitive to the loss of the sovereign good, because one possesses the secondary good of which one is enamored. Divine justice puts order in it: whoever has lost freely what he ought to have loved, must painfully lose his favorite object; it is thus to explode the universal harmony of creation. In fact, the being who regrets the loss of a good is still good: if he had not preserved any trace of goodness, the cruel memory of the good he had lost would not enter into his punishment.

The man who would love the good before having made the test of the evil, in other words, who would decide never to detach himself from it, without even having felt the regret of his loss, would be above human nature. This privilege must be extraordinary, since it belongs only to the child who, born of the race of Israel, has received the name of Emmanuel, or of God with us (Matt I, 23), and reconciled us to God; in other words to the Mediator, between God and man (I Tim. II, 5), to the one who is the Word in the bosom of God and the man in our midst (John, I, 1-14), the one who interposed between us and God. It is from him that the prophet said, “Before this child knows good and evil, he will reject evil to choose good (Isaiah, VII, 16). But how can one reject or choose what one does not know yet, if there was not a double way to know, good and bad, reason and experience? The idea of ​​the good serves to make known the evil, even if we would not experience it; reciprocally the idea that one acquires evil by practice gives that of good: one knows indeed the extent of its loss, when one suffers the sad consequences. Thus, before knowing by experience the good that he could sacrifice, or the harm that the loss of good would make him feel, the child disdained the evil to choose the good: he did not want to sacrifice his advantage, for fear of to be enlightened on its value by losing it. This is a unique example of obedience: so this Child, far from doing his will, came “to do the will of Him who sent him” (John VI, 38); While the man has preferred to follow his will than the orders of his Creator. “In the same way that by the disobedience of one all were made sinners, so by the obedience of one all become righteous (Romans V, 19). And “if all die in Adam, all will be quickened in Jesus Christ (II Cor. XV, 22).” [Literal Commentary on Genesis]

AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO. In this sentence of the Latin text. Ex omni ligno quod is in paradiso, escoe edes (You will eat the fruit which is in paradise of all trees.), do not read: in paradiso escoe (of the fruit in Paradise), but escoe edes (you shall eat of the fruit); for the expression escades (shall eat of the fruit) is in conformity with the genius of the Latin language, which, in these sorts of phrases, ordinarily replaces the Greek dative by the ablative, which the grammarians also call the seventh case. Or you have to construct the sentence in this way: Ex omni ligno escoe (from every tree of the fruit). [Locutions]

GREGORY I OF ROME. When, therefore, Adam ate of the forbidden tree, we know that he did not die in the body, seeing that after this he begot children and lived many years. If, then, he did not die in the soul, the impious conclusion follows that He himself lied who foretold that in the day that he sinned he should die. But it is to be understood that death takes place in two ways; either from ceasing to live, or with respect to the mode of living. When, then, man’s soul is said to have died in the eating of the forbidden thing, it is meant, not in the sense of ceasing to live, but with regard to the mode of living;— that he should live afterwards in pain who had been created to live happily in joy. [Book VI, Letter 14 NPNF s.2 v.12]

JEROME OF STRIDON. 2:15 AND THE LORD GOD TOOK THE MAN, AND SET HIM IN THE PARADISE OF PLEASURE. For pleasure, Hebrew says EDEN. Pleasure, the Septuagint translated EDEN by voluptuousness. Symmachus, who had formerly translated blooming paradise, put here εν τω παραδισω της ακτης, words awake the idea of pleasure and delights.

2:17 IN WHATEVER DAY YOU EAT OF IT, YOU WILL PERISH BY DEATH. — Symmachus has better interpreted by the words “you will be mortal.” [Hebrew Questions on Genesis]

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM OF CONSTANTINOPLE. But it is time to hear the instructions given to us by the sacred writer, who spoke much less of himself than by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost: And the Lord God, he said, took the man who he had formed; he joins together, from the beginning of the sentence, the words: Lord God, to indicate to us that there is here a secret and a mystery, and that these two terms signify one and the same thing. Besides, I do not make this remark without reason; so that the Apostle may say to us, There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things proceed, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom all things have been done (I Corinthians 8: 6), you did not think that there exists any difference between these terms, and that they mark one, a character of superiority, and the other a character of inferiority. Scripture thus employs them indifferently, and thus prevents any dispute which would tend, by a false interpretation, to alter our sacred dogmas. The very examination of the text which I quote proves, indeed, that the Scripture attaches to these two words no special and distinct signification; for to which person of the Trinity does the heretic wish to relate this sentence: And the Lord God took the man? To the Father alone, be it. But listen to the Apostle who tells us: There is only one God, the Father, from whom all things proceed, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom all things have been done. Do you not see that he names the Lord Son? and why then say that the word Lord signifies something greater than the word God? it is an absurdity and a frightful blasphemy: but as soon as one departs from the rules of a sound interpretation of Scripture, and only follows one’s own reasoning, one is unreasonable, and one raises against the true doctrine a thousand useless and idle disputes.

And the Lord God took the man whom He had formed, and He placed Him in the Garden of Delight, that He should cultivate it, and keep it. Admire here the care of Providence with regard to man: yesterday, the sacred writer said to us yay God had planted a garden of delights, and that he had placed the man there to remain and that he enjoys all his various amenities; but behold, to-day Moses again comes back to this ineffable goodness of the Creator, and he tells us a second time that the Lord God took the man whom He had formed, and placed him in a garden of delights. and observe that he does not say only: and God placed him in a garden, but in a garden of delights, to make us understand how pleasant this dwelling was, after having thus reported that God placed the man in a garden He adds to it that he should cultivate it, and that he should keep it, and here again is the trait of an amorous Providence, and indeed in the midst of the delights of this garden, where everything rejoiced his sight and flattered him and his senses, man could have been proud of the excess of his happiness, for idleness teaches all vices (Ecclesia, XXXIII, 29.) So the Lord commanded him to cultivate this garden and keep it.

But, do you say, did the earthly paradise need the care of man? No doubt; and yet the Lord wanted the guard and the cultivation of this garden to offer man a gentle and moderate occupation. Suppose he was completely idle, and this great idleness would soon have made him lazy and negligent. A mild and easy occupation kept him on the contrary in a humble dependence. And indeed, this word: that he may cultivate it, is not put here without motive, and it signifies that man should not forget that God was his master, and that he had not given him enjoyment of this garden of delights only on the condition of taking care of it; for the Lord does all things for the usefulness of man, whether he gives him favors or gives him the freedom to abuse them. We did not exist yet, that already his immense goodness had prepared for us the ineffable goods of heaven. This is what these words of Jesus Christ teach us: Come, the blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you before the creation of the world. (Matthew XXV, 34.) But, all the more, this same kindness furnishes us abundantly with the goods of the present life.

Let us recall, in a few words, the benefits of the Lord to man. First he pulled him out of nothing, and he formed his body of mud. Earth; He then poured on his face a divine breath, and thus communicated to him the inestimable gift of a spiritual soul; finally, he created for him a garden of delights, and he placed it there. Still unhappy, like a good father who loves his child, God seems to fear that within one complete rest and full freedom, the young and inexperienced man does not swell with pride and vanity; that is why he thinks of giving it a gentle and moderate occupation. The Lord therefore commanded Adam to cultivate and keep the earthly paradise, so that in the midst of the delights of this stay and the security of a peaceful rest, this double care would keep him within the limits of humble dependence. These are the first benefits that the Lord gives to man immediately after his creation; and those who will follow will not less prove his extreme kindness and sovereign benevolence.

Now what does the Scripture say? And the Lord God made a recommendation to Adam. Here again the sacred writer, according to his custom, joins these two words: Lord and God, in order to better inculcate the true doctrine and to confound those who, daring to establish between them any distinction, attribute one of these names to the Father, and the other to the Son. And the Lord God made a recommendation to Adam. What a trait of goodness in this one word: God made a recommendation! Who would not admire him? And what word could worthily express it! For see how, from the beginning, God respects the dignity of man: he does not give him either an absolute order or an express command; but he makes a simple recommendation. As a friend deals with his friend about an important matter, so the Lord deals with Adam. It seems that he wants to engage him, by a feeling of honor, to be submissive and obedient.

(Gen. 2:16-17) And the Lord God made a recommendation to Adam, and said to him, eat all the fruit of the trees of paradise; but do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for the very day that you eat it, you will certainly die. (Gen. II, 17.) The observation of this precept was very easy. But, understand, my dear brother, how laziness is a great evil: it makes difficult the most affluent things; and on the contrary, ardor (enthusiasm) and activity make easy the most difficult things. Hey! Tell me, could God make a simpler and easier recommendation to the man, and could he give him more honor! It allowed him to inhabit the earthly paradise and to recreate his looks by the beauty of the objects he contained. How sweet and agreeable was this view, and how exquisite were the fruits on which he fed! And indeed, what a pleasure to see the fertility of the fruit trees, the variety of the flowers, the diversity of the plants, the foliage which protects the trees as a beautiful hair, and those thousand other beauties that presumably contained a garden that God himself had planted. This is what Scripture has previously insinuated when she told us that God brought out of the earth all kinds of beautiful trees to see, and whose fruits were sweet to eat. So we can understand how guilty was the negligence and intemperance of the man who, in such abundance, transgressed the command of the Lord.

Represent the honor and dignity with which the Lord surrounded the first man. He placed him in the earthly paradise and drew up a separate and particular table for him so that he could not even suspect that the Creator had given him the same food as the animals. But he was like the king of nature, and he enjoyed in the earthly paradise a thousand delights; he also had, in his capacity as master of the animals, a separate dwelling and a better dwelling. And the Lord God made a recommendation to Adam, and said to him, eat all the fruit of the trees of Paradise; but do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for the very day that you eat it, you will certainly die. It’s as if he had told him: do I impose on you a serious and difficult obligation? no doubt, since I leave you the fruits of all trees except one; and if I sanction my defense by the threat of the most terrible punishments, it is so that at least fear restrains you in obedience. The Lord, therefore, used it to the first man, as a generous and magnificent master who would yield us a superb. palace, on condition that we recognize his right of suzerainty (soverienty) for a modest fee; and so the Lord, always good and merciful, allowed Adam the use of the fruits of all the trees, and excepted only one, to remind him that he depended on God and that he had to obey to all his commandments.

But who could worthily express, how great was then the goodness of the Lord Adam could not present any merit, and what favors nevertheless did not receive! Because it is neither half of the fruits that the Lord gives him, nor a large number of trees that he reserves, allowing him the use of others; he wants on the contrary that he eat all the fruits of the trees of paradise, and if he except one, it is only for the man to recognize him as the author and the principle of all these goods. Consider again here what was the woman’s goodness of the Lord, and with what honors he showered her. It did not yet exist, and already it understood it in this commandment: Do not eat this fruit, because in the day when you will eat it you will certainly die. So from the beginning God declares that man and woman are one, and that man, according to the word of the Apostle, is the head of the woman. (Ephesians V, 23.) He therefore addresses both, so that later, when the woman has been formed of the man, she receives from him the knowledge of this defense.

I am not ignorant of the questions which are usually proposed concerning this tree, nor the objections of certain heretics who speak with bold audacity, and who endeavor to reject the sin of man on God. Why, they say, did the Lord make this defense, knowing that the man would not respect it? Why has he planted this tree in paradise? The answer to these questions and to many others would lead me to speak before the time of the original fault, and it is better to wait for the story of Moses to lead us there. When we have arrived at this place of Genesis, I will see more clearly what the divine grave will inspire in order to develop the true meaning of Scripture. In this way you will acquire the true knowledge of things, and give back to God the glory he deserves without imputing to him a fault of which the only man is guilty. That is why, if you will, let us approach the explanation of the verses that immediately follow. [Homilies on Genesis]

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM OF CONSTANTINOPLE. Since Adam also died on the day that he ate of the tree; for so ran the decree, “In the day that you eat of the tree, you shall die”; yet he lived. How then “died” he? By the decree; by the very nature of the thing; for he who has rendered himself liable to punishment, is under its penalty, and if for a while not actually so, yet he is by the sentence. [Homily 28 on the Gospel of John NPNF s.1 v.14]

TERTULLIAN OF CARTHAGE. For (the title) God, indeed, which always belonged to Him, it names at the very first: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” Genesis 1:1 and as long as He continued making, one after the other, those things of which He was to be the Lord, it merely mentions God. “And God said,” “and God made,” “and God saw;” but nowhere do we yet find the Lord. But when He completed the whole creation, and especially man himself, who was destined to understand His sovereignty in a way of special propriety, He then is designated Lord. Then also the Scripture added the name Lord: “And the Lord God, Deus Dominus, took the man, whom He had formed;” Genesis 2:15 “And the Lord God commanded Adam.” Genesis 2:16 Thenceforth He, who was previously God only, is the Lord, from the time of His having something of which He might be the Lord. For to Himself He was always God, but to all things was He only then God, when He became also Lord. [Against Hermogenes 3]

(Gen. 2:16-17) For in the beginning of the world He gave to Adam himself and Eve a law that they were not to eat of the fruit of the tree planted in the midst of paradise; but that, if they did contrariwise, by death they were to die. Which law had continued enough for them, had it been kept. For in this law given to Adam we recognize in embryo all the precepts which afterwards sprouted forth when given through Moses; that is, You shall love the Lord your God from your whole heart and out of your whole soul; You shall love your neighbor as yourself; You shall not kill; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; False witness you shall not utter; Honor your father and mother; and, That which is another’s, shall you not covet. For the primordial law was given to Adam and Eve in paradise, as the womb of all the precepts of God. In short, if they had loved the Lord their God, they would not have contravened His precept; if they had habitually loved their neighbor—that is, themselves—they would not have believed the persuasion of the serpent, and thus would not have committed murder upon themselves, by falling from immortality, by contravening God’s precept; from theft also they would have abstained, if they had not stealthily tasted of the fruit of the tree, nor had been anxious to skulk beneath a tree to escape the view of the Lord their God; nor would they have been made partners with the falsehood-asseverating devil, by believing him that they would be “like God;” and thus they would not have offended God either, as their Father, who had fashioned them from clay of the earth, as out of the womb of a mother; if they had not coveted another’s, they would not have tasted of the unlawful fruit. Therefore, in this general and primordial law of God, the observance of which, in the case of the tree’s fruit, He had sanctioned, we recognize enclosed all the precepts specially of the posterior Law, which germinated when disclosed at their proper times. For the subsequent superinduction of a law is the work of the same Being who had before premised a precept; since it is His province withal subsequently to train, who had before resolved to form, righteous creatures. [Answer to the Jews 2]

(Gen. 2:16) Adam had received from God the law of not tasting “of the tree of recognition of good and evil,” with the doom of death to ensue upon tasting. However, even (Adam) himself at that time, reverting to the condition of a Psychic after the spiritual ecstasy in which he had prophetically interpreted that “great sacrament” with reference to Christ and the Church, and no longer being “capable of the things which were the Spirit’s,” yielded more readily to his belly than to God, heeded the meat rather than the mandate, and sold salvation for his gullet! He ate, in short, and perished; saved (as he would) else (have been), if he had preferred to fast from one little tree: so that, even from this early date, animal faith may recognize its own seed, deducing from thence onward its appetite for carnalities and rejection of spiritualities. I hold, therefore, that from the very beginning the murderous gullet was to be punished with the torments and penalties of hunger. Even if God had enjoined no preceptive fasts, still, by pointing out the source whence Adam was slain, He who had demonstrated the offence had left to my intelligence the remedies for the offence. [On Fasting 3]

(Gen. 2:17) For it was a most benignant act of His thus to point out the issues of transgression, lest ignorance of the danger should encourage a neglect of obedience. Now, since it was given as a reason previous to the imposition of the law, it also amounted to a motive for subsequently observing it, that a penalty was annexed to its transgression; a penalty, indeed, which He who proposed it was still unwilling that it should be incurred. Learn then the goodness of our God amidst these things and up to this point; learn it from His excellent works, from His kindly blessings, from His indulgent bounties, from His gracious providences, from His laws and warnings, so good and merciful. [Against Marcion 2.4]

THEOPHILUS OF ANTIOCH. The tree of knowledge itself was good, and its fruit was good. For it was not the tree, as some think, but the disobedience, which had death in it. For there was nothing else in the fruit than only knowledge; but knowledge is good when one uses it discreetly. But Adam, being yet an infant in age, was on this account as yet unable to receive knowledge worthily. For now, also, when a child is born it is not at once able to eat bread, but is nourished first with milk, and then, with the increment of years, it advances to solid food. Thus, too, would it have been with Adam; for not as one who grudged him, as some suppose, did God command him not to eat of knowledge. But He wished also to make proof of him, whether he was submissive to His commandment. And at the same time He wished man, infant as he was, to remain for some time longer simple and sincere. For this is holy, not only with God, but also with men, that in simplicity and guilelessness subjection be yielded to parents. But if it is right that children be subject to parents, how much more to the God and Father of all things? Besides, it is unseemly that children in infancy be wise beyond their years; for as in stature one increases in an orderly progress, so also in wisdom. But as when a law has commanded abstinence from anything, and someone has not obeyed, it is obviously not the law which causes punishment, but the disobedience and transgression;— for a father sometimes enjoins on his own child abstinence from certain things, and when he does not obey the paternal order, he is flogged and punished on account of the disobedience; and in this case the actions themselves are not the cause of stripes, but the disobedience procures punishment for him who disobeys—so also for the first man, disobedience procured his expulsion from Paradise. Not, therefore, as if there were any evil in the tree of knowledge; but from his disobedience did man draw, as from a fountain, labor, pain, grief, and at last fall a prey to death. [To Autolycus 2.25 ANF v.2]



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