Yahwist Notes: Gen 2-3 Garden of Eden

The following are rough notes as I read through the Yahwist. I’m using Tzemah Yoreh’s source attribution for the Yahwist. You can view all of my notes of the Yahwist series here. Some ideas presented here may seem ridiculous, but no idea is too stupid during this phase. I’m not that concerned with grammar or spelling either. My thoughts and ideas will likely alter significantly by the time I produce a full mirror-reading of the Yahwist, but this gives you an idea of “how the sausage is made”. Feel free to share comments and/or links you think I might find helpful.

The “Lord God” is used extensively throughout this section, presumably to combine the identities of both Yahweh and Elohim. Only Elohim is used is a few instances. Why? Is this because those instances had already been attributed to Elohim and J doesn’t feel like he can alter previous text? Is Yahweh spinning a pre-existing narrative about Elohim’s creation story?

“Made heaven and earth” There seems to be an emphasis on Yahweh’s ability to provide fertility. But also an emphasis on his “earthiness”. Was Yahweh only seen as a heavenly God? Or a strictly “earthy” God?

“The Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth”. Is this an alternative explanation for lack of vegetation on the ground?

There is an emphasis that man was formed from the dust of the ground. Was J responding to a different type of formation of man?

Placement of the garden seems to be more near Babylon that Israel. Does this indicate a exilic or post-exilic account? Tower of Babel is also along the same lines. What’s with the obsession with Babylon when it is supposedly a Israelite account?

“Gold of the land was good” Never heard of gold that wasn’t good. What is the significance of this?

It’s interesting that the “Tree of LIfe” pops up in other ancient literature but Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil does not. Could be this is an assertion by J into the original narrative. The serpent was viewed and giver of wisdom. J may be trying to shift origin of wisdom away from serpent and to the Tree of Knowledge. Eve “saw that it was good” even before eating, providing an explanation for the serpent to providing insight but the “real” good and evil was in the tree.

Perhaps Heiser is right…..and wrong. Perhaps the original narrative did have a divine being but J spins it to make it a more earthly serpent.

“Not good to be alone” another instance of Yahweh recognize good/not good.

Why the emphasis of Adam over the animals?

Why counter the idea that an animal was found to be Adam’s helper?

Lots of ambiguity in the text. This is usually indicative of the Biblical author taking pre-existing narrative and trying to spin it in a different direction.

“One Flesh” is about breaking family ties between the wife and her family. Keener sees this too. But why is it an issue when J writes?

Ambiguous language with the serpent. Is “crafty” good or bad? Perhaps good in the original narrative but J makes it bad. Spinning the ambiguity.

Perhaps the original narrative said the serpentine being gave wisdom to the woman and the woman gave wisdom to the man. The tree undercuts this and wisdom is given by eating the fruit, J shows that the man and women receive wisdom at the same time - both of their eyes were open simultaneously. Nakedness is used as a tool to show this.

Hiding - J seems to be providing an alternative explanation as to why they hid, emphasizing the it was because they heard the “Sound” of God walking

“Who told you that you were naked?” Perhaps in the original narrative the serpent told them they were naked. God’s question seems out of place here and could be a spin by J.

The curses seem to have to do with fertility: Toil and the land, pain and pregnancy, serpent eating dust has tones of famine. This sets up for Noah to reverse the famine curse. There may be a tie in with Cain too as he becomes cursed from the ground.

Enmity between offspring - this has to be at least a parallel to Israel and some other offspring. Will look for clues and I work through J.

I don’t think J’s narrative is meant to be allegory although there may be parallels. His work is propaganda and was meant to be taken as literal even if it was fiction.

“You have listened to the voice of your wife” could be a theme with J. I recall Abraham getting into trouble for listening to Sarah. But why an issue during J’s time?

Eve’s name is ambiguous meaning. Could have been related to serpent in original narrative. J spins it to mean mother of all living.

Garments of skin or garment for skin. Ambiguous. Perhaps original narrative had garments made of another material.

Cherubim. Lots of parallel’s to Temple, which is a major thing for J

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