And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Genesis 2:15 (KJV)
Dress – Did you know this is just a repeat of verse 8? In between these two very same verses, there’s a detour about geography. He names a few rivers and gives their direction of flow. Why?
I think the reasoning resides in the two verses that bookend the verses about geography. God creates man to dress the garden. The Hebrew word is `abad and means “serve.” Dress is almost a euphemism to what’s really happening here. We’ve grown to think the focus of the story is mankind, God’s pinnacle of creation, but it’s not. It’s about the land, the garden. This is why there is so much attention to the rivers and geography. You see, man was created to serve the garden. Mankind is secondary.
Just take a look at how else `abad is used in the Bible.
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
The word, serve, from the Exodus story is the same one used for Adam’s obligation to the garden.
I know this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but think about the reasoning behind God’s punishment upon those who disobey His commandments.
Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.
He sends them into captivity… so that the land may enjoy her sabbaths. How interesting! It’s not about the people, it’s about the land. The people can be destroyed or enslaved, but the land… the land must be taken care of.
And here we thought we were the most important thing among God’s creation. But notice we’re the servants in the scenario of Creation. And just to punish us further after the sin in the Garden of Eden, God causes the land to become stubborn, which in turn requires us to serve with more rigour. We’ve basically become entrenched in the same slavery that happened in Egypt… but this time servitude is toward the land.
So for those of you that think you don’t have a green thumb, think again. It’s the very purpose of the creation of mankind. Go out and grow something, tend to something, nurture something. It’s what you were created for.