What does Genesis 3:24 convey?

Translation Overview

The following explores Genesis 3:24, a translation of which I did as I explored the concept of cherubim. Subsequently, I translated Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and my understanding of those chapters supports the previously held understanding of Genesis 3:24 and of cherubim more generally.

The bible verse reads:

“So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

(Genesis 3:24, KJV)

Translated, the verse reads:

“The Judges allowed those who were discontented to pursue their thoughts (and the fruits thereof) and they put at the head of their city, the contented; those who advocated for the contented; and those who advocated for the way of the city”.

Ervin Welsh

Rationale

Examining Definitions & Etymology:

  1. “He drove out”:
    1. “Drove” is past tense of “drive”
      1. Drive etymology:
      2. “Old English drīfan ‘urge (a person or animal) to go forward’” (Oxford Dictionary)

        This means “the man” was urged (or perhaps “allowed”) to pursue his thoughts and the fruits thereof (Genesis 3:17, KJV).

        The above verse is included among the “curses” on the man, the woman and the serpent (Genesis 3:14-19). These “curses” are metaphors surrounding what will ultimately be labour in vain. The Lord God *knows* this because he is complete i.e. both “male” and “female” whereas “the man” is divided into man and woman and therefore can only know in part. (For more, see bullet 2c.)
  2. “The man”:
    1. adult human male
      1. Male (Hebrew “zakar” as in Genesis 1:7):
        1. him, male, manchild (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
        2. “Him”:
          1. The discontented people (in this verse) .
          2. Adam
          3. “the man” (Genesis 2: 15,16,18 & 25, KJV): as distinct from “man[kind]” (Genesis 1:26, KJV) which was created both male (like a child) and female (imbued with the capacity for conception/deep thought).

            “Woman” having been “taken out of man” (Genesis 2:21-24, KJV), then given to him, but separate to him (Genesis 2:24), left man (male) with an impairment that made him susceptible to seeing only in part i.e. having conceptions of his own but not conceiving of the faults therein (impaired judgement). As a result, man was discontent with life in the Garden.

            Adam and Eve, for example, judged their circumstance to be shameful (after gaining some knowledge from the tree of knowledge of good and evil). Later, Eve’s first born, Cain, was discontent with the Lord’s response to his offering.
  3. “Placed”:
    1. Put
      1. i.e. to move into position.
  4. “East”:
    1. front (Strong’s Concordance)
      1. i.e. “the head” or “the first” (position), consider the following promises:
        1. “…the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail…” ~ Moses (Deuteronomy 28:13, KJV) and
        2. “… the last will be first, and the first will be last.” ~ Jesus
          (Matthew 20:16)
  5. “Garden”:
    1. “From [Hebrew] ‘ganan’; a garden (as fenced).” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
      1. i.e. a city
  6. “Of Eden”:
    1. “The region of Adam’s home” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
      1. i.e. the (broader) land. Note that the words “of Eden” (Genesis 3:24) is actually “in Eden” (Genesis 2:8, KJV). Eden is the name of the territory within which the garden was planted, it’s not the name of the garden itself.
  7. “Cherubims”:
    1. “The meek man”
      1. Those content with the meek way (God’s way) of life.
      2. Those who cultivate and keep the meek way of life.
  8. “A flaming sword”:
    1. “Flaming” (i.e. fire/y):Knowledge
      1. “The Holy Spirit.” (HELPS Word-studies)
      2. “Sword”: The word of God. (Ephesians 6:17, KJV)
  9. Those who keep (guard) the meek way of life.
    1. i.e. “cherubim” of the priestly/priest-like class.
  10. “Which turned every way”:
    1. Whirled; wheeled; wield circularly.
      1. Demonstrative of the authority (power + capability/handle) to wield the word (sword) in every direction
  11. “To keep the way”:
    1. To observe the conduct.
    2. To protect the culture.
  12. “Of the tree of life”:
    1. The family (tree); the children of God
      1. i.e. the people who follow “the way”.

Having unpacked the meaning of individual words and phrases, putting them together we get:

Translation(s):

  • From directly substituting in the definitions:

“The Judges allowed those who were discontented to pursue their thoughts (and the fruits thereof) and they put at the head of their city, the contented; those who advocated for the contented; and those who advocated for the way of the city”.

  • Put another way, especially considering “Adam” is given as “first man”:

“So he allowed the man to go to work and this is how the first became last and the last became first.

  • Put a more familiar way:

“So he drove out the man; and the meek inherited the earth.”

Further Reading

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