Till the Ground. Ousted from Garden of Eden to Farm?!
“Till the ground.” Did God expel Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to become farmers? No. Here’s the meaning of the Biblical Hebrew.
Till the ground seems disconnected as a punishment for Adam and Eve’s behavior in the Garden of Eden. Here’s both the meaning and implication of their sentence for them and you and me in the 21st century. Their judgment is still in effect today.
In the continuity of Genesis 3, God clothed the couple with skin coats, representing a code of ethics for their new world. He highlighted the primary issue for their expulsion, “they have become as gods, to know good and evil,” they decided for themselves good and bad, rather than accept God’s code of ethics. God then excludes them because, in their rejection mode, He doesn’t want them coupling that with eternal life (by eating from the Tree of Life).
Here’s the motivation, why God puts them out of the Garden of Eden. Yes, they disobeyed, but there’s another forefront reason.
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till (H5647) the ground (H127) from whence he was taken (H3947).
To till the ground. God wants them to be farmers? It is true that agriculture is of prime interest to humankind’s welfare. The FAO reports that over 1 billion people are employed in world agriculture, representing 1 in 3 of all workers. In sub-Saharan Africa over 60 percent of the entire workforce is involved in agriculture. Farming is a vital profession, but that is not what God refers to in this context. Here’s the Biblical Hebrew for till.
עָבַד ʻâbad aw-bad’; a primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc.:
KJV — ⨯ be, keep in bondage, be bondmen, bond-service, compel, do, dress, ear, execute, + husbandman, keep, labour(-ing man, bring to pass, (cause to, make to) serve(-ing, self), (be, become) servant(-s), do (use) service, till(-er), transgress (from margin), (set a) work, be wrought, worshipper,
The figurative, or spiritual meaning, which this verse is all about, points to serving and worship. We shall expound that, but first, we have already seen this word till — avad before. In the context of the FIRST order, God gave Adam when He placed him in the Garden.
And the LORD God took (H3947) the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress (H5647) it (לְעָבְדָ֖הּ) and to keep it (לְשָׁמְרָֽהּ).
The Explanation spent time detailing the meaning of this verse. Caring for the Garden of Eden in the sense of gardening is a totally secondary affair. Yet, this is what most readers retain. Genesis 2:15 is a key verse in the entire Bible. Maybe THE key verse, at least regarding what God requires of His creation. WHY? Because it is the FIRST COMMANDMENT. Love God with all your heart (Matthew 22:37–38).
Please reread the blog at this link. Briefly, I explained that in Genesis 2:15, in Hebrew, garden is a masculine noun. and the IT of dress IT and keep iT is feminine! Grammatically, this is an anomaly. I cannot explain why, with 100% certitude, it is this way. But, I did demonstrate, that there is a bizarre use of the letter הּ (hay) in certain Hebrew words. And my supposition is that it refers to YHVH. Genesis 2:15 says God put Adam in the Garden to worship and serve GOD. Whatever the grammatical usage is in this verse, the spiritual meaning of worshipping God is undeniable. The First Commandment, love God, was also the first Commandment given to the man.
Worship the Ground, not God
In Genesis 3:23 God is doing something totally different. The man and the woman made the free will decision NOT to worship God, NOT to obey the First Commandment. God then says. OK, you don’t want to worship YHVH in the Garden. You can till the ground, worship the GROUND OUTSIDE the GARDEN.
These are TWO completely different worship systems. God turned them over to worship whatever they wanted to from the GROUND. This means anything in this world. I remind you that everything we manufacture, everything we idolize in the 21st century originally comes from the ground. I chose the word idolize specifically, and you know why.
The two systems are focused either on the true God OR a false god. Here’s a quick breakdown for your meditation.
- REAL worship of REAL God — God’s small flock worships this way
- Bad worship of REAL God — people who know and have accepted truth and departed from God
- REAL worship of FALSE God — Religion in general. practicing something involving god
- Bad worship of FALSE God — atheists in science and philosophy or anyone else in this category
The vast majority are in categories three and then four. This is shocking and I understand if some are really surprised at this affirmation. Throughout Biblical history, God’s worshippers have always been a very small minority. In the Old and New Testament times, and the situation has not changed today.
Meaning of Ground from whence taken
Worshipping the ground in the form of false gods is just the beginning; it goes much further than that. The verse adds, “the ground FROM WHENCE YOU WERE TAKEN.” In other words, YOU, MAN, and WOMAN are that GROUND. God sent them out of the Garden to WORSHIP THEMSELVES. To worship and serve their own minds, their own reasoning, their own observations, their own science, their own philosophy, their own religion.
Since that day until now, humankind acts like god and worships its own glory. God sent them out of the garden to till the ground, to do EXACTLY what THEY WANTED TO DO. Worship themselves as the highest, most important beings, and intelligence in the Universe. There has never been a generation on this Earth that worships itself more than the present generation.
This is exactly what has happened, and is happening! Last week I referred to Harari’s book, Homo Deus. Man-god. Some really think they can and will occupy that position. God’s description in Gen. 2:23 is happening right before our eyes. The Bible is a contemporary description of our society, NOW.
Unbeknown to humankind, they are getting some serious help, pushing them, more and more into this SELF-WORSHIP mode. That help comes from a spirit source, the Serpent. God prophesied it would bruise her heal. hurt humankind. It is doing just that, beguiling humankind into false worship.
Please put 2+2 together. The whole I AM movement, any group or individual saying that “god” or “spirituality” is WITHIN each human being, is playing right into “till the ground from whence you were taken.” They are worshipping themselves as gods; this is the second worship system, not the true one.
As a little reminder, the KJV translators rendered Genesis 2:15 (H5647 — לְעָבְדָ֖הּ) with DRESS. And the same Hebrew word in Genesis 3:23 (H5647 — לְעָבְדָ֖הּ) with TILL. A Bible reader, limited to the English, would have NO way of seeing these two words are identical.
And NO way of understanding what God is doing with TWO worship systems and giving humans carte-blanche to worship whatever they want, including themselves. That’s the importance of 7 Keys to Master Biblical Hebrew, a Study Method to Unlock Bible Meaning. The goal of The Explanation is NOT to teach you Biblical Hebrew but to Unlock Bible Meaning. And, that’s exactly what we’re doing with this verse.
As an aside, we will finish the commentary of Genesis 3 next month, in July. My weekly blogging will take a break from Genesis to prepare weekly studies of the 7 Keys Bible Study Method. I’m hoping to give you a Bible example of one key each week. Thus we’ll have a complete course in 2 to 3 months. it’s something I should’ve done a long time ago. It’s way overdue, but time to correct that.
Sent forth from the Garden
We have spent time explaining how God created man and AFTER that, chronologically, the Garden, and the woman. God wanted Adam and Eve, and you and me to understand that He has a special place where He wants to be WITH humans. This “home” where God could abide with His human creation was the Garden of Eden. God with man, Emmanuel. Genesis 2:3 epitomizes this desire of God for humans, God’s creation, humans WITH God. That desire came to a crashing end in Gen. 3:23.
God separated humans from Himself because humans had isolated themselves from God.
When we hear this pushing-away of humankind, our humanitarian defenses kick in. How can a good God reject humans in their time of need? Often, with the reflection, God is not merciful, He’s a cruel heartless God. And this is where many have a misunderstanding of what God’s JUSTICE involves.
Why sent forth? What lessons are we to learn?
God put humans out of the Garden of Eden so they could exercise their free will choices, to till the ground from whence they were taken, and see the resultant SORROW. God wanted them, and wants us, to see the consequences of our ACTIONS. We humans learn or should learn, from experience. Too often, we don’t.
That’s the only way humankind can learn! Then the lessons will be engraved in them! Here is the identical principle in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 5:1–7
1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has so done this deed,
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 To deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
6 Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
Some horrible behavior took place IN God’s Church in Corinth, where God is WITH His servants and those servants, likewise are WITH God. The Church is like the Garden of Eden, we have to respect God’s rules. If not, OUT you go. Paul says, in no uncertain terms, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” This is very graphic and direct language. There are basic principles enclosed in Paul’s, and God’s (“with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ”) injunction.
- The goal of the exclusion is NOT the BODY but the MIND. Today’s humanitarian society is preoccupied with the COMFORT OF THE BODY TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE MIND.
- “Deliver such a one to Satan.” Maybe you thought God ALWAYS protects human beings, NO MATTER what they do. Error, God wants humans to learn that evil is wrong and doesn’t pay.
- Satan, the Serpent (Rev. 12:9) is a useful tool to help bring the disobedient to their senses.
All those who base their lives on observation, philosophy, science, and religion, of their own selves, have to come to the realization that what they’re doing, what they’ve done is follow the wrong way. Humans cannot establish their own rules and expect to win the game. God is letting humans play their own game, because that’s what humanity wants. God is patient.
God’s goal and the Church’s goal is to help not force. People, with God’s help, just as He helped Adam and Eve, have to come to the truth THEMSELVES. Using threats like saying Coronavirus is a curse from God, end-time cataclysmic horror stories, persuasive brainwashing, subterfuge, all this is of NO use.
The Explanation does not practice any of that. No proselytism, just sound theological reasoning (2 Timothy 2:25 below). This next passage is addressed to the New Testament Church. But, again, the principle applies, on a worldly level, to all of humankind that is OUTSIDE of the Garden of Eden to till the ground.
2 Timothy 2:22–26
22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance (G3341) to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover (G366) themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Capture the fundamental principles in these verses. They instruct us WHY God put Adam and Eve out of the Garden:
- Only God leads people to repentance, that is SPIRITUAL CHANGE OF HEART. See G3341 below. No human can accomplish this for another human being. A human is limited to give instruction.
- An individual, outside of the Garden, in the snare of the devil, can and must RECOVER THEMSELVES. Oppose themselves can be summed up by buried in one’s own egoism. Only with the help of God, can they come to the realization that their way of thinking and behavior is askew. They come to see that the world in which they are immersed is not in line with God’s way.
- Repentance is a matter of the MIND. God and His Spirit help the PLASTICITY of the MIND, the neshama, and the spirit in man (ruach), change direction, with a new orientation. The physical actions, or works, as the Bible calls them, are the outward expression of that repentance.
As an aside, the how-to books and teaching revolve primarily around the WORKS, the virtues, the rules, the goodness, and morality. YES, that’s wonderful, but it’s secondary. It’s the goodness of the Tree of GOOD and evil. Such an affirmation might be hard to take. I understand, but the Tree of Good and Evil clearly has GOOD. Not all GOOD is Godly good.
Some religious institutions tell you, “do certain practices and you’ll be saved.” Those practices are the equivalent of “til the ground.” That’s serving or worshipping human-conceived practices. It won’t work, it’s all part of “outside of the Garden,” which all practitioners of such practices will have to come to realize. And, they will, in God’s timeframe. Here is what Timothy said servants of God need, repentance, and regaining of one’s senses. A turn-around of one’s mind.
μετάνοια metanoia met-an’-oy-ah; From G3340; (subjectively) compunction (for guilt including reformation); by implication reversal (of [another´ s] decision):
KJV — repentance.
μετανοέω metanoeō met-an-o-eh’-o; From G3326 and G3539; to think differently or afterwards that is reconsider (morally to feel compunction):
KJV — repent.
ἀνανήφω ananēphō an-an-ay’-fo; From G303 and G3525; to become sober again that is (figuratively) regain (one´ s) senses:
KJV — recover self. (Sam, the figurative is key, regain senses, refers to a change of MIND).
By putting humans out of the Garden, God’s judgment is involved, however, the idea is NOT to CONDEMN but to REHABILITATE. Let the person use their mind to come to their own senses. There comes a point when you can NO LONGER HELP THEM. Sometimes, you have to let a person help themselves.
Just so we realize this practice of separating the rotten apple from the crate in ever-present in the Old Testament as well you can study the example of Myriam (Numbers 12:14), who was put out of the camp of Israel. Another example is Nebuchadnezzar whom God expulsed from his rulership to learn the most important lesson. To recognize God gave him his kingdom and he was not the I AM who thinks he got it by his intelligence and wisdom.
The ultimate goal of the process of distancing an individual or a group from God’s presence is so they can come to self-reproach = repentance. This is point 6 of how humans function. This result is what God wants to reach, individually with His servants today and according to His plan, collectively for all of humanity within the timeframe of His plan. As 2 Peter 3:9 indicates, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Always keep in mind the 7 step schema of How Humans Function 1. Human dual Nature + 2. Free will choice = 3. Behavior that needs 4. Code of Ethics and a higher instance to apply and monitor compliance 5. Justice which includes punishment but especially rehabilitation to help individuals see where and how they went wrong. This overseeing leads to 6. Self-reproach, in Biblical terms, repentance, the realization that “I’ve been badly wrong.” There’s a change of heart that leads to 7. Forgiveness. Again, In Biblical terms steps, 6 and 7 are expressed at repent and be baptized, for the forgiveness of your sins. Humanity is far from this result.
Right now, in 2020, God’s plan is in the 5th step. Humans are still doing their own thing, that’s expressed as, “tilling the ground from whence you were taken,” Like Adam and Eve, they think they can dress themselves with fig leaves. God has clothed them, given us a code of ethics to live by (basically, the same law that He gave to the Old Testament nation of Israel. Please read the link content if you don’t understand this point), but we’ve rejected all of that. Humanity still has to learn the lesson of hard reality: Its own solutions, are incoherent, and they will not work.
God is patiently letting humanity serve its own interests. He’s letting them realize their ways are not going to attain the results of peace and prosperity. For that, humans need TIME to EXPERIMENT. Like finding a cure for Coronavirus. They devote the best brains to test ALL the options until they come up with the ONE solution. There are thousands and thousands of experiments taking place, testing thousands upon thousands of molecules to find the elusive vaccination. Everyone is saying, “we’ll find it, it’s just a matter of time.” Hopefully, we will find the antidote to Covid-19.
In the same way, the best minds are searching for the processes that lead our world to peace and prosperity. It’s already taken a long time and all the educational, governmental, health, religious, scientific, philosophic, and other processes humankind has put on the table, have NOT worked.
This is humankind’s period of justice, the fifth step in the process of how humans function. They have to realize and learn from their sole-searching (and their soul-searching), their enactment of counter-productive processes, and wrong-doing. They have to come to the conclusion that these measures will not produce the hoped-for results of peace and prosperity.
God is going to let this period of judgment go to its ultimate term. Which is, “eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil leads to sure death.” The Explanation is not in the business of prophecy. There are plenty of prophecies about the end-time, and some are very plain and understandable, but I do not focus or spend time on private interpretations (2 Peter 1:20).” One sobering prophecy that is very clear predicts the end result of eating from the WRONG Tree.
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
“No flesh be saved” is the accomplishment of Genesis 2:17 “In the day you eat of the Tree of Knowledge… you shall surely die.” ToDAY we have just about consumed all the fruit of that Tree. God is allowing humanity to experiment everything under the sun and there are still a few choices left,
With Coronavirus, humans are putting all the scientific brainpower to work to beat a single virus… this is taking time. In essence, we’re doing what artificial intelligence does. 1. Trying ALL the options we have at our disposal. 2. Thinking up as many NEW options as we can. This involves brand new ideas but also developing new theories based on partial successes in our research. By the time we get the vaccine, we will have done millions and millions of tests in thousands of directions.
This is exactly what God wants humankind to do… to exercise their FREE WILL to the umpteenth power, in EVERY conceivable field. By the end, there will not be ONE single option that will not have been thought of and tested to verify its efficiency.
I emphasize this once again because this single puzzle piece is really the central element. God’s Plan deals with: the MIND, its incredible capacity to examine and synthesize information, imagine and apply ideas, develop and modify concepts, conceive and conceptualize theoretical hypothesis. That last possibility given to man is quite a mouthful of vocabulary to again highlight the cognitive capacity of the spirit in man. It is man’s mind that has formulated the myriad forms of scientific, philosophical, religious, governmental, social, and all other ideas, behaviors, directives and laws some of which are good, some of which are evil. The collective human mind does ALL of this of-and-by-itself, apart from the One true Creator God.
According to prophecy, one of these leadership options will lead to an illusionary utopia. But, it’s a fantasy because the result is and will be a worldwide dystopia, great suffering, and injustice, the sorrow of improper relationships, and rulership. The Agony of Humankind. The Antidote is present, the clothes, the ethics God gave us, but we refuse to even contemplate them. In fashion terms, we’d say they are old-fashioned. Well, they aren’t, and, in the future, (After Christ’s Return), the remaining humanity will apply that antidote and we’ll have a physical worldwide utopia. But, that’s another story.
If you were going to sign a long, long long term non-cancelable contract with someone to come and live and work with you, you’d want to make doubly, triply sure that person is on the same wavelength with your way of thinking and doing things, BEFORE you finalize the contract. You don’t want to be bound before you’re assured of like-mindedness.
It is identical with God. Only those in full agreement and living by His principles have access to permanent life which is represented by the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve had taken upon themselves to decide and follow their OWN values and principles, not God’s. They knew good and evil and at that point, God had to withdraw the proposition which He’d freely offered to them and which they, of their own free will, rejected. God simply let them till the ground, worship their own idols, and learn the lessons, often, the hard way.
The Bible is the record of the ups and mainly downs; the bruises inflicted by the Serpent. Of humans doing it their way. In 2020, we’re outside of the Garden, still learning the lesson about the poor value of our human nature and free will decisions. God’s plan is active and repentance and forgiveness will come in due course.
This article is an excerpt from chapter 5.5 of the book Agony of Humankind.
A wise man once said, Teach you me, what I do not know.
Let’s get started with The Explanation.
- Inventory of the Universe
- Audit of the Universe
- Audit of Humankind
- Origin of the Universe (Commentary on Genesis 1)
- Origin of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 1:26–2:7)
- Origin of Woman (Commentary on Genesis 2:8–25)
- Agony of Humankind (Commentary on Genesis 3)
You can read all the books of The Explanation series online. Buy the books at your favorite store. Sam blogs weekly at TheExplanation.com The Explanation masters Biblical Hebrew to help you unlock more in-depth Bible meaning. Free tools to read and study the Bible online.