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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



GENESIS 2

 

CHAPTER II

 

Ver. 1.  Furniture, ornaments or militia, whether we understand the Angels, or the stars, which observe a regular order and obey God.  M.

 

Ver. 2.  He rested, &c. That is, he ceased to make any new kinds of things.  Though, as our Lord tells us, John v. 17.  He still worketh, viz. by conserving and governing all things, and creating souls.  Ch. --- Seventh day.  This day was commanded, Ex. xx. 8. to be kept holy by the Jews, as it had probably been from the beginning.  Philo says, it is a the festival of the universe, and Josephus asserts, there is no town which does not acknowledge the religion of the sabbath.  But this point is controverted, and whether the ancient patriarchs observed the seventh day, or some other, it is certain they would not fail, for any long time, to shew their respect for God's worship, and would hardly suffer a whole week to elapse without meeting to sound forth his praise.  The setting aside of stated days for this purpose, is agreeable to reason, and to the practise of all civilized nations.  As the Hebrews kept Saturday holy, in honour of God's rest, so we keep the first day of the week, by apostolic tradition, to thank God for the creation of the world on that day, and much more for the blessings which we derive from the Resurrection of J. C. and the sending down of the Holy Ghost, which have given it a title above all other days.  H.  On the seventh day, at the beginning of this verse, must be taken exclusively, as God finished his work on the 6th, whence the same Sept. and Syr. have here on the 6th day.  H. --- But the Heb. and all the other versions agree with the Vulgate.  C. --- The similarity of v. 6. and v. 7. in Heb. may have given rise to this variation.  H.

 

Ver. 4.  Day.  Not that all things were made in one day: but God formed in succession; first, heaven and earth, then the ornaments of both.  Every plant, &c. which on the first day did not spring up, (as water covered the surface of the earth,) on the 3d, by the command of God, without having any man to plant, or rain to water them, pushed forth luxuriantly, and manifested the power of the Creator.  H. --- Thus Christ founded his Church by his own power, and still gives her increase; but requires of his ministers to co-operate with him, as a gardener must now take care of the plants which originally grew without man's aid.  D. --- By observing that all natural means were here wanting for the production of plants, God asserts his sole right to the work, and confounds the Egyptian system, which attributed plants, &c. to the general warmth of the earth alone.  C.

 

Ver. 7.  Breath of life or a soul, created out of nothing, and infused into the body to give it life.  H.

 

Ver. 8.  Of pleasure, Heb. Eden, which may be either the name of a country, as C. iv. 16. or it may signify pleasure, in which sense Symmachus and S. Jerom have taken it. --- From the beginning, or on the 3d day, when all plants were created, Heb. mikedem, may also mean towards the east, as the Sept. have understood it, though the other ancient interpreters agree with S. Jerom.  Paradise lay probably to the east of Palestine, or of that country where Moses wrote.  The precise situation cannot be ascertained.  Calmet places it in Armenia, others near Babylon, &c.  Some assert that this beautiful garden is still in being, the residence of Henoch and Elias.  But God will not permit the curiosity of man to be gratified by the discovery of it.  C. iii. 24.  How great might be its extent we do not know.  If the sources of the Ganges, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates, be not now changed, and if these be the rivers which sprung from the fountains of Paradise, (both which are points undecided) the garden must have comprised a great part of the world, H., as the Ganges rises in Judea, and the Nile about the middle of Africa.  T.

 

Ver. 9.  The tree of life.  So called, because it had that quality, that by eating of the fruit of it, man would have been preserved in a constant state of health, vigour, and strength, and would not have died at all.  The tree of knowledge.  To which the deceitful serpent falsely attributed the power of imparting a superior kind of knowledge beyond that which God was pleased to give.  Ch. --- Of what species these two wonderful trees were, the learned are not agreed.  The tree of knowledge, could not communicate any wisdom to man; but, by eating of its forbidden fruit, Adam dearly purchased the knowledge of evil, to which he was before a stranger.  Some say it was the fig-tree, others an apple-tree.  Cant. viii. 5.  But it probably agreed with no species of trees with which we are acquainted, nor was there perhaps any of the same kind in paradise.  T.

 

Ver. 10.  A river, &c.  Moses gives many characteristics of Paradise, inviting us, as it were, to search for it; and still we cannot certainly discover where it is, or whether it exist at all at present, in state of cultivation.  We must therefore endeavour to find the mystic Paradise, Heaven and the true Church; the road to which, though more obvious, is too frequently mistaken.  See S. Aug. C. D. xiii. 21.  Prov. iii. 18.  H.

 

Ver. 15.  To dress it.  Behold God would not endure idleness even in Paradise.  H.

 

Ver. 17.  The death of the soul, and become obnoxious to that of the body; thou shalt become a mortal and lose all the privileges of innocence.  Though Adam lived 930 years after this, he was dying daily; he carried along with him the seeds of death, as we do, from our very conception.  He had leave to eat of any fruit in this delicious garden, one only excepted, and this one prohibition makes him more eager to taste of that tree than of all the rest.  So we struggle constantly to attain what is forbidden, and covet what is denied, cupimusque negata.  God laid this easy command upon Adam, to give him an opportunity of shewing his ready obedience, and to assert his own absolute dominion over him.  Eve was already formed, and was apprised of this positive command, (C. iii. 3.) and therefore, transgressing, is justly punished with her husband.  True obedience does not inquire why a thing is commanded, but submits without demur.  Would a parent be satisfied with his child, if he should refuse to obey, because he could not discern the propriety of the restraint?  If he should forbid him to touch some delicious fruits which he had reserved for strangers, and the child were to eat them, excusing himself very impertinently and blasphemously, with those much abused words of our Saviour, It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles a man, &c. would not even a Protestant parent be enraged and seize the rod, though he could not but see that he was thus condemning his own conduct, in disregarding, on the very same plea, the fasts and days of abstinence, prescribed by the Church and by God's authority?  All meats are good, as that fruit most certainly was which Adam was forbidden to eat; though some have foolishly surmised that it was poisonous; but, the crime of disobedience draws on punishment.  H. --- Even when the sin is remitted, as it was to Adam, the penalty is not of course released, as some have pretended.  This also clearly appears in baptized infants, who suffer the penalties due to original sin, as much as those who have not been admitted to the laver of regeneration.  S. Aug. W. T.  &c. --- If on this occasion, Eve had alone transgressed, as she was not the head, her sin would have hurt only herself.  But with Adam, the representative of all his posterity, God made a sort of compact, (Ose. vi. 7.) giving him to understand, that if he continued faithful, his children should be born in the state of innocence like himself, happy and immortal, to be translated in due time to a happier Paradise, &c. but if he should refuse to obey, his sin should be communicated to all his race, who should be, by nature, children of wrath. --- S. Aug. C. D. xvi. 27. Bede in Luc. 11. &c. --- H. C.

 

Ver. 20.  Names, probably in the Hebrew language, in which the names of things, frequently designate their nature and quality.  See Bochart. --- C.

 

Ver. 21.  A deep sleep.  Sept. "an ecstacy," or mysterious sleep, in which Adam was apprised of the meaning of what was done, and how the Church would be taken from the side of Christ, expiring on the cross.  M.

 

Ver. 23.  Of my flesh.  God did not, therefore, take a rib without flesh, nor perhaps did he replace flesh without a rib in Adam's side, though S. Aug. thinks he did.  These words of Adam are attributed to God, Matthew xix, because they were inspired by him. --- Woman.  As this word is derived from man, so in Hebrew Isha (or Asse) comes from Iish or Aiss; Latin vira woman, and virago comes from vir.  H. --- But we do not find this allusion so sensible in any of the Oriental languages, as in the Hebrew, whence another proof arises of this being the original language.  C.

 

Ver. 24.  One flesh, connected by the closest ties of union, producing children, the blood of both.  S. Paul, Eph. v. 23. discloses to us the mystery of Christ's union with his church for ever, prefigured by this indissoluble marriage of our first parents.  C.

 

Ver. 25.  Not ashamed, because they had not perverted the work of God.  Inordinate concupiscence is the effect of sin.  H.

 

 








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