Genesis 2:15

Translation

וַיִּקַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן־עֵדֶן לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ

And the LORD God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and maintain it.

Commentary

Verse 15 resumes from where the story abruptly transitioned to the rivers of Eden (verses 10-14). In keeping with the Bible’s famous economy of words, the author summarizes verses 5-9 in this one verse. Man was created because the land required cultivation (irrigation, presumably) in order for grains and vegetables to flourish.

cultivate and maintain it: translated from לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ (lə`avdah uləshamrah), this could be equally well translated as to cultivate and {watch, guard, or keep} it. I chose maintain because “guard” and “watch” connote a protective function and the context suggests that the man’s function is to “maintain”. I think maintain is more in keeping with the context of the story. In other words, the threat to their idyllic existence wasn’t from outside of Eden. It was, as we later learn, from within.

Preliminary Translations

My translation conventions can be found here.

Mechanical

And-took, Adonai Elohim, the-man and-caused-him-to-be-put in-the-Garden-of Eden to-work-it and-to-maintain-it.

Literal

And the LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and maintain it.

Commercial Bible Translations

  • (nas)Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
  • (kjv)  And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
  • (niv) The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
  • (net) The LORD God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it.

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