New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:8 Eden. Eden was evidently a region somewhere east of where Adam first received consciousness, so that he could watch as God “planted” a beautiful garden there for his home. Though this was to be his base, he was actually instructed to “subdue” and “rule” the whole earth (Genesis 1:26-28). This verse is a summary, with Genesis 2:9-14 going back to give more details concerning Adam’s home.
2:9 tree of life. The “tree of life” was an actual tree, with real fruit (note Genesis 3:22; Revelation 22:2) whose properties would have enabled even mortal men to live indefinitely. Though modern scientists may have difficulty in determining the nature of such a remarkable food, they also have been unable so far even to determine the basic physiological cause of aging and death. Thus it is impossible to say scientifically that no chemical substance could exist which might stabilize all metabolic processes and thereby prevent aging.
2:9 tree of knowledge. The same cautions apply to any discussions of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which likewise was genuinely physical. It is conceivable that the fruit contained substances capable of catalyzing physiological decay processes in the body, perhaps affecting even the genetic system. Whether or not this was the case, a “knowledge” of evil would necessarily follow its eating, since evil is fundamentally merely rejection of God’s Word. Man had abundant knowledge of good already, since everything God had made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), but disobedience would itself constitute an experimental knowledge of evil.
2:10 out of Eden. The geography described in these verses obviously corresponds to nothing in the present world, although some of the names sound familiar. The Noahic Flood was so cataclysmic in its effects (note II Peter 3:6) that the primeval geography was obliterated, with the post-Flood continents and oceans completely different.
The similarity of certain names (e.g., Ethiopia, Euphrates) is best explained in terms of the ascription by Noah or his sons of these names to postdiluvian features which reminded them of antediluvian geographic features, just as the explorers of America often gave European names to American sites.
2:10 four heads. The rivers described in this section could not have derived their waters from rainfall (Genesis 2:5), and so must have been fed by artesian springs, or controlled fountains from the great deep. This implies a network of subterranean pressurized reservoirs and channels fed from the primeval seas and energized by the earth’s internal heat (see notes on Genesis 1:9,10).
2:12 is good. The present tense in which this description is written indicates it to be an eyewitness account, and thus most likely a record originally from Adam himself. However, the past tense in Genesis 2:10 “went”) may suggest that, at the time when Adam actually wrote it, the garden of Eden was no longer there.
2:12 bdellium. The “bdellium” was evidently a precious gum, likened to the bread from heaven sent to the Israelites in the wilderness (Numbers 11:7).
2:15 keep it. The ideal world, both before the entrance of sin and after the removal of sin (see Revelation 22:3), is not one of idleness and frolic, but one of serious activity and service. Adam was placed in an ideal environment and circumstances, so he had no excuse for rejecting God’s love and authority.
2:17 not eat of it. For true fellowship with God (having been created in His image), man must be free to reject that fellowship. The restriction imposed here by God is the simplest, most straightforward test that could be devised for determining man’s volitional response to God’s love. There was only one minor restraint placed on Adam’s freedom and, with an abundance of delicious fruit of all types available, there was no justification for his desiring the one forbidden fruit. Nevertheless, he did have a choice, and so was a free moral agent, capable of accepting or rejecting God’s will.
2:17 die. “Thou shalt surely die” could be rendered, “Dying, thou shalt die!” In the very day that he would experimentally come to “know evil,” through disobeying God’s Word, he would die spiritually, being separated from God’s direct fellowship. Adam would also begin to die physically, with the initiation of decay processes in his body which would ultimately cause his physical death.
2:18 meet for him. The events described here all took place on the sixth day of the creation week, after which God pronounced all things “very good.” All the animals had been created “male and female” (Genesis 6:19) and instructed to “multiply in the earth” (Genesis 1:22), but man still needed a “helper like him” (literal meaning).
2:19 God formed. A better, and quite legitimate, translation is “had formed.” Thus there is no contradiction with the order of creation in Genesis 1 (animals before man). The first chapter of Genesis gives a summary of the events on all six days of creation; the second chapter provides more details of certain events of the sixth day.
2:19 the name thereof. The animals named by Adam included only birds, domesticable animals, and the smaller wild animals that would live near him. It would be possible for him to name about three thousand of the basic kinds of these animals in about five hours (one every six seconds), and this would be adequate both to acquaint Adam with those animals and also to show clearly that there were none who were sufficiently like him to provide companionship for him. This is still further proof that man did not evolve from any of the animals, even those that were most directly associated with him.