Food in the Bible: Genesis 2:15-20

Genesis 2:15-20: Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD Godcommanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper [a]suitable for him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.

Hey! Why didn’t God take care of his own garden? We saw last time that God planted a garden, but now God has found conscripted labor so he can relax. Is that it? Instead perhaps this reminds this that food is always about community. Growing and eating food is intended to be a relational exercise. God planted the garden, but left the care to humanity. This connects those who care for the garden to the one who planted it.

I find it interesting that eating both produces life and death. We’ll talk more about this in chapter three.

I always seem to imagine Adam with a clipboard checking off the animals as they walked by and he named them. In reality the scene feels more intimate. I imagine him petting each creature, holding it, talking to it, maybe asking it for its name. It doesn’t feel like a detached process.

Our own detachment from our food and from nature affects the way we read the Bible and particularly the creation account. It feels like more of a mechanical process when the trees we see are mostly on sidewalks. When the nature we experience is carefully controlled in city parks and our food all comes prepackaged in grocery stores, we don’t connect to Adam naming the animals or the way that God gets God’s proverbial hands dirty in the process of creation. We need to get our own hands a little dirty to feel this connection.

Here, at the conclusion of the two creation narratives, the thing I see most is that we are intimately associated and connected to creation and therefore God. The problem is that we have abused our power and detached ourselves from this connection through our desire for power and control… which is where we pick up the story in the next installment.

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