Genesis 2:5
(5)And every plant . . . --The Authorised Version follows the LXX. in so translating this as to make it simply mean that God created vegetation. The more correct rendering is, "There was no shrub of the field (no wild shrub) as yet on the earth, and no herb of the field had as yet sprung up." The purpose of the writer is to prepare for the planting of the paradise, though geology teaches us the literal truth of his words. When the earth was so hot that water existed only in the form of vapour, there could be no vegetation. Rain began on the second day; on the third the vapours were so largely condensed as for the waters to form seas; and on the same day vegetation began to clothe the cool, dry surface of the ground. To understand these opening words, we must bear in mind that the object of the narrative is not now the formation of the world, but man's relation to Jehovah, and thus the long stages of creation appear but as one day's work.

Verse 5. - And every plant of the field before it was (literally, not yet) in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew (literally, had not yet sprouted). Following the LXX., the English Version suggests an intention on the writer's part to emphasize the fact that the vegetation of the globe - here comprehended under the general terms, shiah, shrub, and eseb, herb - was not a natural production, but, equally with the great earth and heavens, was the creation of Jehovah Elohim - a rendering which has the sanction of Taylor Lewis; whereas the writer's object clearly is to depict the appearance of the earth at the time when the man-ward development of the heavens and the earth began. Then not a single plant was in the ground, not a green blade was visible. The land, newly sprung from the waters, was one desolate region of bleak, bare lava-hills and extensive mud-fiats. Up to that point the absence of vegetation is accounted for by the circumstance that the presently existing atmospheric conditions of the globe had not then been established, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and the ordinary agricultural operations on which its production was afterwards to depend had not then been begun, and there was not a man to till the ground.

2:4-7 Here is a name given to the Creator, Jehovah. Where the word LORD is printed in capital letters in our English Bibles, in the original it is Jehovah. Jehovah is that name of God, which denotes that he alone has his being of himself, and that he gives being to all creatures and things. Further notice is taken of plants and herbs, because they were made and appointed to be food for man. The earth did not bring forth its fruits of itself: this was done by Almighty power. Thus grace in the soul grows not of itself in nature's soil, but is the work of God. Rain also is the gift of God; it came not till the Lord God caused it. Though God works by means, yet when he pleases he can do his own work without them; and though we must not tempt God in the neglect of means, we must trust God, both in the use and in the want of means. Some way or other, God will water the plants of his own planting. Divine grace comes down like the dew, and waters the church without noise. Man was made of the small dust, such as is on the surface of the earth. The soul was not made of the earth, as the body: pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. To God we must shortly give an account, how we have employed these souls; and if it be found that we have lost them, though it were to gain the world, we are undone for ever! Fools despise their own souls, by caring for their bodies before their souls.And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth,.... That is, God made it, even he who made the heavens and the earth; for these words depend upon the preceding, and are in close connection with them; signifying that the plants of the field, which were made out of the earth on the third day, were made before any were planted in it, or any seed was sown therein from whence they could proceed, and therefore must be the immediate production of divine power:

and every herb of the field before it grew: those at once sprung up in perfection out of the earth, before there were any that budded forth, and grew up by degrees to perfection, as herbs do now:

for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth: so that the production of plants and herbs in their first formation could not be owing to that; since on the third day, when they were made, there was no sun to exhale and draw up the waters into the clouds, in order to be let down again in showers of rain:

and there was not a man to till the ground; who was not created till the sixth day, and therefore could have no concern in the cultivation of the earth, and of the plants and herbs in it; but these were the produce of almighty power, without the use of any means: some Jewish writers (f), by the plant and herb of the field, mystically understand the first and second Messiah, for they sometimes feign two; see Isaiah 4:2.

(f) Zohar in Gen. fol. 32. 4.

Genesis 2:4
Top of Page
Top of Page