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Genesis 2:5-6

Context

2:5 Now 1  no shrub of the field had yet grown on the earth, and no plant of the field 2  had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 3  2:6 Springs 4  would well up 5  from the earth and water 6  the whole surface of the ground. 7 

1 tn Heb “Now every sprig of the field before it was.” The verb forms, although appearing to be imperfects, are technically preterites coming after the adverb טֶּרֶם (terem). The word order (conjunction + subject + predicate) indicates a disjunctive clause, which provides background information for the following narrative (as in 1:2). Two negative clauses are given (“before any sprig…”, and “before any cultivated grain” existed), followed by two causal clauses explaining them, and then a positive circumstantial clause is given – again dealing with water as in 1:2 (water would well up).

2 tn The first term, שִׂיחַ (siakh), probably refers to the wild, uncultivated plants (see Gen 21:15; Job 30:4,7); whereas the second, עֵשֶׂב (’esev), refers to cultivated grains. It is a way of saying: “back before anything was growing.”

3 tn The two causal clauses explain the first two disjunctive clauses: There was no uncultivated, general growth because there was no rain, and there were no grains because there was no man to cultivate the soil.

sn The last clause in v. 5, “and there was no man to cultivate the ground,” anticipates the curse and the expulsion from the garden (Gen 3:23).

4 tn The conjunction vav (ו) introduces a third disjunctive clause. The Hebrew word אֵד (’ed) was traditionally translated “mist” because of its use in Job 36:27. However, an Akkadian cognate edu in Babylonian texts refers to subterranean springs or waterways. Such a spring would fit the description in this context, since this water “goes up” and waters the ground.

5 tn Heb “was going up.” The verb is an imperfect form, which in this narrative context carries a customary nuance, indicating continual action in past time.

6 tn The perfect with vav (ו) consecutive carries the same nuance as the preceding verb. Whenever it would well up, it would water the ground.

7 tn The Hebrew word אֲדָמָה (’adamah) actually means “ground; fertile soil.”

sn Here is an indication of fertility. The water would well up from the earth (אֶרֶץ, ’erets) and water all the surface of the fertile soil (אֲדָמָה). It is from that soil that the man (אָדָם, ’adam) was made (Gen 2:7).



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