Saturday, December 10, 2011

Work Before the Fall

Now that I have laid some groundwork on economics and our current situation, we can examine the Biblical points on work and the economy.

There is little known about life before the Fall, but what we have is instructive.

First, we have God's work in Creation:
"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made." (Gen 2:2)
The Hebrew word here is מְלַאכְתֹּ֖ו (mel-aw-kah).  It can be used for ministry, or deputyship in addition to "work".  It is not used for servile work.  It is used again in verse 3 (repeated reference to rest from His work).  After that, it does not appear until Exodus.


The work for the man (Adam) is described differently:
"And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." (Gen 2:15)
The word dress here (עָבְדָ֖)(aw-bad) is usually translated "serve" (also in the context of work).  In fact, in 290 uses, it is translated "serve" 227.  It is translated "dress" only twice (Deut 28:39 being the other one).  Usually "dress" comes from a different word, meaning "do".

("Keep" here means "guard", which is the subject for another day)

Finally, at the Fall:
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground" (Gen 3:19)
So we see a difference in the work of God, and the work of man (not surprising).  The man's work, even before the Fall, is servile (in service to God) - possibly even hard.

At the Fall, we see man's work changed.  Now it is literally "sweat" (zay-aw) to get bread.  This might refer to conditions changing to cause sweat when working (perhaps due to a change in diet - garden vs. bread), but seems to more refer to "frustration".  Before, the work was rewarding and pleasant - now it is tedious and often spoiled.


Man's work was created on day 6 - before God rested, saying everything is good.  The Fall has brought frustration and sweat.

2 comments:

TheDen said...

Hey Ned...

Here's something that may be of interest to you:

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091981_laborem-exercens_en.html

I don't know if you'd read this or not. Pope JPII covers work and Genesis pretty in depth here. It may be of interest to you.

Hope all is well.

nedbrek said...

Thanks!