A Refutation of the Framework Hypothesis’ “Ordinary Providence Argument”

The following article was part of the Minority Report of the Committee to Study the Framework Hypothesis for the Presbytery of Southern California of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, October 15-16, 1999. It is also found in Kenneth L. Gentry and Michael R. Butler, Yea Hath God Said: The Framework Hypothesis/Six-Day Creation Debate (Eugene Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002).


Recognizing that the literary structure of Genesis 1 is not in itself sufficient to establish that the narration of the six days of creation in Genesis 1 is topical and figurative rather than chronological and literal, framework hypothesis advocates put forth a supplementary argument based on considerations from Genesis 2:5. Kline is the originator of the argument, (1) but many others have picked up on it. Futato summarizes it thus:
“The [‘Because It Had Not Rained’] article demonstrated that according to Gen 2:5 ordinary providence was God’s mode of operation during the days of creation. Since God’s mode of operation was ordinary providence, and since, for example, light (Day 1) without luminaries (Day 4) is not ordinary providence, the arrangement of the six days of creation in Genesis 1 must be topical not chronological.” (2)

Apart from the literary structure argument itself, this is the most frequently appealed to argument in the framework hypothesis literature and is considered by some advocates as decisive. (3) Below I offer a five-fold refutation the Genesis 2:5 argument.

The most compelling reason to reject Kline’s understanding of Genesis 2:5 is that his interpretation is out of accord with the context of Genesis 2:4-3:34 – the context which thetoledoth-formula of Genesis 2:4 places it. Genesis 2:5 does not have reference to the creation-in-process described in Genesis 1 (Kline’s reading), but to the completed creation ready for man to inhabit and subdue. It also anticipates man’s probation and fall together with the resultant curse as described in Genesis 3:18. Though man is to be placed in paradise, this soon will be lost when man eats from the forbidden tree. Genesis 2:5-7 anticipates a day when man will no longer enjoy the fruit of the edenic trees created for his nourishment, but must rather labor against the arid ground (fit only for thorns and thistles) in order to cultivate grains by the sweat of his brow. A day in which, because of his sin, he will face physical death and return to the dust from which he was created (cf. Gen. 2:7 and Gen. 3:19b).

Kline’s interpretation of Genesis 2:5 is not consistent with the context. He sees that it develops the main theme of Genesis 2 and 3, the theme of man and the vegetation in the garden. But this is quite vague. True, the theme of vegetation and man run throughout Genesis 2 and 3. But the theme is not merely that of vegetation, but specific forms of vegetation – vegetation that characterized the edenic garden and vegetation the characterized the post-curse environment. Moreover, Kline’s translation of the Hebrew ed as “rain-cloud” (4) (v 6), leaves open the question: Why does Moses give the reason for there being no wild shrubs (that there was no rain) and then immediately add that there went up rain clouds to water the surface of the ground? (5)

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of Kline’s reading of Genesis 2:5 is that it makes the “because it had not rained” clause out to be nothing more than an obiter dictum; a few words thrown in the text that are not germane to the narrative. On this view the reason Moses slipped this clause into the narrative was simply to relay the fact that God did not create vegetation until he had prepared an environment in which it could be sustained by ordinary providence. (6) But contextually, what does this have to do with the Genesis 2 and 3 account? Indeed, such an observation of God’s modus operandi during the creation week is neither developed, nor referred to nor is connected to anything else in the text. It is just a bit of tangential information.

Futato’s, paper, “Because It Had Raided,” is primarily an attempt to answer the questions of relevancy that Kline’s view invites.

“Why does Gen 2:5 bother to tell us that certain kinds of vegetation were absent “for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth?” This question has intrigued and perplexed me for some time. Is the absence of rain mere geographical decoration or quasi-irrelevant data that sets the stage for the really important material that follows? Or is this information that is foundational to the narrative and its theology?” (7)

Futato correctly argues the latter. The information is indeed foundational to the narrative and its theology. However, the particular way in which Futato construes its foundational nature is erroneous.

Futato summarizes his understanding of Genesis 2 as follows:

“Gen 2:4-25 is a highly structured topical account with a two-fold focus on vegetation and humanity. The two-fold problem of no wild vegetation and no cultivated vegetation (v5), owing to the two-fold reason of no rain and no cultivator (v6), provisionally solved in a two-fold way by the sending of rain clouds and the forming of a man (v7), is roundly resolved in the two-fold synopsis of God planting a garden and putting the man in the garden to cultivate it (v8), and the two-fold expansion with the same focus on vegetation and humanity (vv9-25). “(8)

There are at least three problems with this understanding of Genesis 2. First, it is, again, too vague to assert that the two-fold focus of Genesis 2 is vegetation and humanity. Second, Genesis 2:2-7 is not to be understood as a problem-explanation-solution formula. Third, the translation ofed as “rain cloud” is unwarranted. I will address these problems in order.

The first problem with Futato’s interpretation is that it is too vague to say the twin focal points of the narrative are vegetation and man. It is not vegetation, per se, that is important, but specific kinds of vegetation. Near the beginning of his essay Futato correctly argues that siah hassadeh and eseb hassedeh are very precise terms. The former means “wild shrubs of the steppe” (9) and the latter “cultivated grain.” Later in his article, however, he assumes, without any argument or even comment, that the former stands for all non-cultivated vegetation. With this new sense of the term in hand he then assumes, again without any argument or comment, that these two types of vegetation (the non-cultivated and cultivated) together stand for all vegetation. (10) In other words, he takes it as a given that ‘wild shrubs’ and ‘cultivated grain’ are to be understood as a merism forall vegetation. But this is certainly not the case.

Genesis 2:8 states that Jehovah God planted a garden and then v 9 records specifically that fruit trees were planted. The garden did not have wild desert shrubs (thorns and thistles) growing in it (what kind of paradise would that be?) nor did it have cultivated grain since man was to eat of the delectable fruit of the trees. (11) The contrast between wild shrubs and cultivated grains (v 5) and resplendent trees bearing choice fruit (v 9) is striking. Clearly, siah hassadeh and eseb hassedehdo not stand for all vegetation, but a certain type of vegetation; the type of vegetation that would come to characterize the fallen world. (12)

Futato, however, contends that the twin focus on vegetation and man picks up on the theme of Genesis 1, the creation of vegetation and man on the third and sixth days. (13) But notice that on day 3, God creates two types of vegetation (dese): “seed-bearing plants” (eseb mazria zera) and “trees that bear fruit” (es perioseh peri). On day 6 God gives these plants and fruit-bearing trees to man and the animals for food. While the generic term ‘vegetation’ (dese) may imply that all kinds of plants were created, edible as well as non-inedible, it does not imply that that the wild shrubs (siah hassadeh), the thorns and thistles mentioned in Genesis 3:18, were part of this creation. The original creation had no scars from the curse. Futato misses the trees for the forest. He recognizes the important themes of man and vegetation, but draws a conclusion that that is much too vague to do the text justice.

The second difficulty with Futato’s understanding of Genesis 2 is the alleged problem-explanation-solution formula he finds there. Below is Futato’s argument:

“A coherent picture is emerging: there was no wild vegetation because there was no rain, and there was no cultivated grain because there was no cultivator.

“But this point the author has created an expectation in the mind of the reader: the two-fold problem with its two-fold reason will be given a two-fold solution…

“Verses 6-7 provide the two-fold solution: “So [God] caused rain clouds to rise up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground, and the Lord God formed the man…. Verse 7 says, “The Lord God formed the man….” Here lies the solution to the second prong of the two-fold problem and reason. The logic is cogent and the picture is coherent… This is all rather straight forward and uncontested.” (14)

This approach is hardly uncontested. Apart from framework hypothesis advocates, I am not aware of any commentators who take this position. Indeed, many commentators including Cassuto and Hamilton, and to a certain degree Keil and Delitzsch, do not view the absence of certain types of vegetation as a problem to be resolved by rain and human cultivation, but as an anticipation of the cursing of the ground. (15) As for being straight forward, this interpretation may seem so, but a careful reading of the text proves otherwise. The main problem with Futato’s view is that same one that Kline does not resolve: How does this interpretation (the problem-explanation-solution formula) fit into the rest of Genesis 2 and 3?

Futato argues that “Gen 2:4-25 provides an example of the Hebrew stylistic technique of synoptic/resumptive-expansion” where a story is first told in synopsis and then repeated with greater detail. (16) He contends that vv 5-7 are introductory, v 8, the planting of the garden and the making of man, is the synopsis and vv 9-25 are the expansion, with the focus on vegetation and humanity. Thus, Futato’s answer to the above question is that vv 5-7 are an integral part of the text because they prepare the way for the synopsis and expansion that constitutes the rest of the chapter.

Apart from the fact that there are no ancient or modern commentators who take this to be the structure of Genesis 2, (17) there are several problems with this reading of the text.

First, Futato finds problems were there are no problems at all. The lack of shrubs (thorns and thistles) and lack of cultivated grain is not a problem to be solved, but rather a description of the world before the fall. This is clear from the context. In Genesis 1:1-2:3 the creation account is given, culminating in man, the image of God. With creation accomplished, Genesis 2:4a introduces a new section that focuses on man and his probation in the garden. Genesis 2:4b begins with the Hebrew expression, “in the day that” which is an idiom for “when.” Thus 2:4b reads: “When Jehovah God made the earth and the heavens…” The author is assuming the creation of the earth and heavens has been completed. Indeed, he has just finished narrating the account of the creation in chapter 1. So with the creation in the background he begins to tell the story of man and the fall. Rather than plunging right into the story, though, he begins by giving some background information. The first thing he tells about the finished creation is that there were no wild desert shrubs growing on the earth and no cultivated grain. A reason is given for the absence of both. There were no wild shrubs because God had not sent rain and no cultivated grain because there was man to work the soil. Does this imply that there was no vegetation at this time? This would be a problem since a total lack of vegetation due to a lack of water would conflict with v 4b. That verse, recall, places the time frame of this text after the finished work creation. And part of the finished creation was the vegetation that was given as food for man and animals (day 4). This discrepancy disappears, however, when attention is paid to what the text actually says. The author is not saying that there was no vegetation at this time, but that there an absence of specific kinds of vegetation. The author has previously told us that God created seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees on the 4th day. Here he tells us that there were no wild desert shrubs and cultivated grains. Clearly there is no conflict. There were certain types of vegetation present but not others.

Three questions spring immediately to mind though. First, if there was no rain, how could there be any vegetation? The author provides the answer in v 6. At that time there was a spring that came out of the ground that watered the surface of the earth. So while there was no rain, there was an abundant supply of water. The second and third questions are: Why were there no wild shrubs of the field if there was a plenteous supply of water? And why was there no cultivated grain? The answer to the former is obvious. The appearance of wild desert shrubs would be out of place in a land that drank deeply from the plenteous water. Moreover, desert shrubs are not what is expected in a lavish environment of lush vegetation that is described in Genesis 1:11-12. The answer to the latter appears to come in v 7. There the author tells us that man was created from the dust of the ground. Thus it appears that the reason for the lack of cultivated grain was that man was not yet present to cultivate the land.

So far, then, the author tells us of a completed creation. There is a spring coming out of the ground that waters the seed-bearing plants and the fruit-bearing trees and a complete absence of desert-type vegetation. This is a lush environment not a desert environment. Since everything is in place God now creates man, his image-bearer, and places him in this glorious creation that he is to have dominion over. Everything is good. But why does the author bother to mention the fact there was no shrubs and that there was no cultivated grains? The remarks that there were no wild shrubs seems to be merely a piece of trivia while the assertion that there was no cultivated grain seems to be completely superfluous – if there was no man, obviously there was no cultivated plants. That no answer is immediately forthcoming causes the reader to anticipate some sort of explanation. As he reads on he finds the author describing the man being placed in a garden filled with beautiful fruit trees overloaded with delicious fruit. Man is given the task of taking care of the garden and is told by Jehovah God that the fruit is for his nourishment and enjoyment, even the fruit of the tree of life. He is forbidden, however, to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and if he does eat of it he will die.

Dramatic tension is thus introduced into the story. Everything is good, but there is also a potential for disaster. Paradise may be lost. Light is now shed on the previous statement about the absence of cultivated grains. Man is given the task of tending to the mature garden full of fruit trees. And since he has an abundant supply of food there is no need to cultivate grain crops. But what if man ate the forbidden fruit? Would he still enjoy the lush surroundings of Eden and partake of its choice fruit?

The rest of the story is well known. After Jehovah God made women, she was deceived by the serpent and ate the forbidden fruit. When the man and woman hid in shame, Jehovah God asks, in perhaps the most heartbreaking three words in Scripture, “where are you?” God then curses the serpent, curses the woman and finally pronounces curses upon man. No longer will man enjoy the fruit of the edenic trees. Now he must toil over the recalcitrant soil in order to grow grains that he will make into bread. What was thus anticipated in 2:5-6, and portended in 2:17 has now come to pass. Whereas in the beginning there was no desert shrubs (thorns and thistles), there now will be. Whereas there was no cultivated grains, man will now have to engage in the backbreaking labor of plowing, sowing, irrigating and harvesting them for his sustenance.

But what happened to the spring? The answer is implied by the cursing of the ground. Many commentators suggest that man will now have to contend with the thorns and thistles as though they were weeds choking out his crops. But this is not quite the point (the text certainly does not say this). Rather the land will not be watered as it was before and will thus become arid. From this time forward, the sporadic rain will be its only source of water. Only desert shrubs are fit to grow in such an environment. Thus we can infer that Jehovah God has dried up the spring.

The final curse that is pronounced is that man will die. But notice how this is described. “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (3:19) This takes us again back to the opening section of the narrative where Jehovah God created man from the dust of the ground (v 7). The structure is obvious. What is anticipated in 2:5-7 is consummated in 3:17-19.

Turning back to Futato, on his reading Genesis 2:5-7 has no relationship with Genesis 3:17-19. And since the relationship between the two texts is so obvious, his interpretation of 2:5-7 as a problem-explanation-solution schema must thus be rejected.

Second, Futato’s reading of Genesis 2 forces an inexplicable redundancy upon the text. According to Futato, v 5 states a two-fold problem – no wild shrubs and cultivated plants – and a two-the explanation – lack of rain and man. Then in vv 6-7 a two-fold solution is given – rain clouds and man. Then in v 8, the synopsis according to Futato, there is another two-fold solution – Jehovah God planted a garden and placed man in it. But why are there two solutions for each problem? Futato’s answer is difficult to understand. He says that vv 6-7 “provisionally solves” the problems of v 5 and v 8 “roundly resolves” them. (18) What he means by this is unclear. He could mean that the sending of the rain clouds was the temporary solution to the problem of the absence of shrubs and that the planting of the garden was the complete or perfect solution. Or he could mean that Moses is structuring his narrative in such a manner that what he writes in v 6 anticipates what he writes in v 8 – what he writes in v 8 completes the thought of v 6. The question is thus: Are the provisional and round resolutions about the world or about the narrative itself? The former seems to be the case since the problems-solutions of vv 5-6 are about the world. The real world problem of there being no shrubs was solved by a real world solution of rain. Consistency, therefore, dictates that we view the second set of solutions as pertaining to the world as well. This implies, however, that the rain clouds that watered the land were only a provisional or temporary solution for the lack of shrubs. But there are two problems with this. (1) On the assumption of ordinary providence, rain is not merely a provisional solution to the absence of shrubs. Rain is always necessary for this type of shrub to grow. (Futato says elsewhere in his paper that rain is the sine qua non of this type of vegetation.) (2) To say that rain was the provisional solution contradicts Futato’s interpretation of vv 5-6. The problem was the absence of shrubs and the explanation of this problem was a lack of rain. Thus rain is the complete (round) solution to this problem. Futato’s answer, thus, does not solve the problem of the redundancy in the text. This being the case, another interpretation of Genesis 2 should be sought.

Third, Futato’s interpretation rests upon inconsistent extensions of the terms siah hassadeh andeseb hassedeh. As noted above, Futato argues that these terms have very specific meanings (“wild shrubs of the steppe” and “cultivated grain”). This specificity is necessary to make the logic of the problem-solution schema hold up. It is not all non-cultivated plants that need rain (many varieties of trees do not), but the wild shrubs of the steppe do. Moreover, it is not all of the non-wild shrubs of the steppe that need human irrigation (most variety of trees do not), but certainly cultivated grains do. Thus, each specific type of plant is provided for by a specific watering system (rain and irrigation respectively). The logic is indeed tight. The specificity of the plant types and water sources tie the two together. The question now becomes: How can both these two terms which independently refer to specific types of plants, together, in the same context in which their specificity is stressed, represent all forms of vegetation? Notice, the question is not whether the terms can have this or that meaning (individually or together) in any given context, but whether the terms can perform two entirely different functions (have both specific and general referents) at the same time.

The third problem with Futato’s view is his understanding of ed as “rain-cloud.” Before evaluating his arguments for this translation, it should be noted that the word ed (which occurs only twice in the Old Testament) is not rendered “rain cloud” in any standard English translation, (19) it is not translated this way in either the Septuagint or Vulgate (both translate the word as “spring”) and it is not endorsed by any modern commentary on Genesis. (20) Futato thus bears the burden of proof for his translation.

Futato offers two basic arguments for this translation. First, he refers to Mitchell Dahood’s article (“Eblaite i-du and Hebrew ed, ‘Rain Cloud'”) in which Dahood argues that ed and i-du should both be understood as “rain cloud.” His reasoning is as follows. The words, itu NI-DU (“the month of NI-DU“), appear on an Eblaite calendar as the name of the month that occurs in November-December of our Gregorian calendar, a typically rainy month in Middle East. The same month is called itu ga-sum (“the month of heavy rain”) in an older Eblaite calendar. Dahood conjectures that because NI-DU refers to the same month as ga-sum (“the month of heavy rain”) and because the newer calendar on which it appears is more theological in nature than the older one (the names of certain gods become the names of months), (21) NI-DU may be understood to be associated with the celestial source of rain, namely, rain clouds. Dahood also points out that the Eblaite NI-DU may be the cognate of the Sumerian i-tum or the Semitic i-du. He opts for the latter because it can be identified with the Hebrew ed. In the two times ed occurs in the Old Testament it is associated with rain. (22) Thus every occurrence of NI-DU, which, ex hypothesis, is to be understood as the Semitic i-du, and ed appear in a context which involves rain. And since “rain cloud” makes the most sense out of all three contexts, both should be understood accordingly. (23)

The argument is structured as follows. The meaning of x is obscure and the meaning of y is obscure. However, the one occurrence of x can plausibly mean M and the two occurrences of y can plausibly mean M. Term x and term y can possibly be cognates. If it is hypothesized that they are indeed cognates the evidence for each meaning M is thereby increased. Thus x and y should be understood as cognates.

Without going into details, note the tenuous nature of this argument. From a formal point of view, the justification of the move from the last premise to the conclusion is obscure. From a material point of view the argument is even thinner. (1) The words in question appear collectively just three times – hardy enough basis to draw strong conclusions from. (2) The calendar-evidence of NI-DU meaning “rain cloud” is inconclusive. (3) Most scholars associate ed with either the Akkadian id (“cosmic river”) or Akkadian edu (“outburst of subterranean water”) which, as we have seen above, makes much more sense in this context. (24) (4) The identification of NI-DU with i-du is conjectural. (25) (5) The identification of i-du with ed is dependent upon the latter meaning “rain cloud.” Yet the meaning of i-du was supposed to shed light ed.

The point here is not to assert that cognate studies should not engage in such tenuous reasoning – the material lends itself to such. However, to take such conjecture and pretend that it sheds great light upon the exegesis of a hotly debated text – the interpretation of which text has great theological ramifications – is a bit disingenuous. Unlike other framework advocates, however, Futato acknowledges as much when he says that his translation of ed as “rain cloud” does not depend upon Dahood’s argument. (26) Indeed, he contends that whatever the semantic similarities between the ed and i-du, the biblical evidence can stand on its own. (27)

Futato first offers two reasons why ed should not be translated as “stream,” what he understands to be the majority view today: (28)

“‘Stream’ can not possibly be correct for two reasons: 1) The text does not say that the problem was a lack of water in general, a problem which could be solved by water from any one of a variety of sources, for instance, a stream. The problem was a lack of rain in particular, because in the ancient Syro-Palestine Levant rain was the sine qua non of vegetation, especially wild vegetation. 2) ‘Stream’ makes nonsense out of such a well-constructed and tightly argued text. If ‘stream’ is understood, the sense is something like ‘no wild vegetation had appeared in the land … for the Lord God had not sent rain … but a stream was arising to water the whole surface of the land.’ If a stream was present to water the whole surface of the land, then there was ample water for the appearance of wild vegetation, and the reason clause (‘for the Lord God had not sent rain’) is completely irrelevant and illogical.” (29)

The first argument fails for at least two reasons. First, this consideration presupposes the problem-explanation-solution formula. But, as has been argued above, v 5 does not state a problem. Rather, it states what the world was like before the curse. Thus v 6 should not be viewed as a solution to this pseudo-problem. Second, Eden was probably located somewhere in Mesopotamia and not the Syro-Palestine Levant. (Moses says Eden was east of Palestine and specifically locates it near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.) The principal manner in which much Mesopotamian land was (and is) watered was by river floods not rain. Thus understanding the meaning of the text in light of the Syro-Palestine Levant environment, as Futato does, is misguided. Futato’s retort can be anticipated. He would probably argue that Moses is addressing the children of Israel who will be soon be inheriting the promised land (a land located in the arid, Palestine Levant) and, therefore, he (Moses) can best be understood as offering an explanation that would be ecologically relevant to them. Aside from being completely gratuitous, this objection would overlook the obvious. The children of Israel were coming out of Egypt, a land they had been in for 430 years, and Egypt was a land that was (and is) watered by the flooding of the Nile. If Moses had ecologically relevancy in mind, then he surely would have spoken of flooding (streams), not rain.

Futato’s second argument, is easily answered. Like the first argument, this presupposes the problem-explanation-solution formula of vv 5-7. But the explanation clause is not to be understood as the reason for the “problem” of there not being vegetation in general, but rather as the reason why there was not two particular kinds of vegetation – desert shrubs and cultivated grain. These kinds of vegetation were results of the curse.

Futato offers another line of reasoning for translating ed as “rain cloud.” He argues that Job 36:27, the only other Old Testament passage that the term appears, is best read as: “When he draws up drops from the sea, they distill as rain from his rain cloud (ed). (30) Given then that ed is best understood as “rain cloud” here, this supports translating ed as “rain cloud” in Genesis 2:6.

There are several difficulties with this argument. First, in Job 36:27 ed is not rendered as “rain cloud” in any of the major translations. (31) Second, it is not a wise procedure to attempt to understand a relatively clear use of a word (Gen. 2:6 is relatively clear given its context) on the basis of an obscure use of the same word (Job 36:27). Third, the section in which this verse lies is poetic. Being poetry one expects the use of figures and imagery. But Futato’s reading of Job 36:27-28 makes it more of a scientific description of the water-cycle than poetry:

“When he draws up drops from the sea, [evaporation and cloud formation]
They distill as rain from his rain cloud. [precipitation from clouds] (Dahood)
The cloud pour down their moisture [precipitation on land]
And abundant showers fall on mankind.” (NIV)

In keeping with the poetic nature of Job, Kline offers a better interpretation of the passage:

“The word [ed] appears elsewhere in the Old Testament only in Job 36:27. That passage is also difficult; but [le edo] there seems to denote the underground ore, as it were, from which the raindrops are extracted and refined, i.e., by the process of evaporation in the cycle of cloud formation and precipitation.” (32)

On this rendering, Elihu is exalting God for his provision of rain and he describes this provision, which he understands is based upon the known water-cycle, in poetic terms.

With this, Futato’s positive case for rendering ed as “rain cloud” is unpersuasive. More, however, can be said against Futato’s view.

First, Genesis 2:6 states that, “an ed came up from the earth.” (33) But since rain clouds do not come out of the earth, this tells against translating ed as “rain cloud.” Futato retorts that Moses is speaking phenomenologically; it appears to the observer that rain clouds come up from the earth. (34) Though it is true that the Bible does describe clouds as coming up from the earth (Ps. 135:17; Jer. 10:13; 51:16), all these descriptions occur within poetry. Genesis 2:6 is clearly not poetry. Note also that that in each of the poetic accounts that use the language of appearance, the rain is not said to come out of the earth, but out of the ends of the earth. (35) Furthermore, given that there is no positive reason to accept Futato’s translation of ed as “rain cloud,” there is nothing in the text that leads us to conclude that Moses is using the language of appearance to describe the rising of clouds.

Second, Futato’s translation conflicts with Genesis 2:10 which clearly states that the garden was watered by a river. Futato’s response is strained. Following Cassuto he contends, correctly, that “the repetition of the hiphil of sqh in v 6 and v 10 is part of an argument for taking ed as a reference to the river of v 10.” (36) He then implausibly adds, “The repetition, however, can be explained as a means of connecting the source (“rain clouds;” v 6) with the result (“river,” v 10).” Apart from the fact that this is quite a stretch, this interpretation does not even make sense on his own terms. According to Futato, v 6 tells us that it was rain clouds that watered the surface of the earth. Verse 10 tells us that rivers were what waters the earth. Futato reconciles these verses by asserting that rain clouds are the source of rivers. The picture is that the rain falls, the river swells, the land is watered by the river. But notice that Futato elsewhere argues that rain not rivers or streams is the sine qua non of vegetation in the Syro-Palestine Levant. (37) In other words, according to Futato, streams cannot be what watered the earth.

Futato’s next move is truly remarkable. He writes, “But even if ed is defined by the “river,” the presence of rain simply becomes an unargued presupposition of the text.” (38) After pointing out that ancients understood the nature of the rain-cycle he continues, “Since such rivers are fed by rain…the presence of a nhr [perennial river] would be proof of the presence of rain rather than an objection to it.” In other words, because ancients as well as moderns understand where river water comes from, the interpreter is forced to acknowledge that rain was present. Futato assumesordinary providence (ordinary in our experience after the fall) during the pre-fall state. Apart from being an assumption, not an argument, these comments indicate that Futato does not even consider the possibility that Jehovah-God may have preserved his creation in a different manner than he does now. This, perhaps more than anything else, illustrates the danger of allowing uniformitarian assumptions to control the interpretation of the Genesis text. (39)

A plain reading of the text, however, leads one to understand that Eden was not exactly like the cursed world today. (40) We lost something real. Reformed theologians concentrate on the loss of man’s original righteousness. And well they should. But let us not forget that many other things accompanied this loss. There was no death or decay, animals behaved differently towards man then, man walked about unclad and unashamed, man ate the fruit of the trees and did not toil over the sowing and harvesting of grain crops. The world is not like this anymore. Paradise has been lost. (41) To view the curse in completely spiritual terms is alien to Scripture. The assumption of uniformitarianism therefore is completely alien to the text. Take away this assumption and the conclusion one draws is obvious: the manner in which Jehovah God watered the surface of the ground was different in Eden.

Third, if the problem was, as Futato maintains, a lack of rain (matar), why does Moses say, again on Futato’s view, that the Jehovah God sent rain clouds (ed)? One expects that he would use the same word both times.

Fourth, Futato’s argument depends on the terms “shrubs of the field” and “cultivated grain” standing for all vegetation. If this is not correct (as has been argued above), this would render the translation of ed as “rain cloud” impossible. The reason is obvious. If Moses is speaking of specific types of vegetation that were not on the earth and gives the reason for there not being there as a lack of rain, this implies the vegetation that was there was watered by some other means.

Fifth, Genesis 13:10 provides external evidence that ed is not be understood as “rain cloud.” “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar.” Why did Lot compare the plain of Jordan to Eden and the land of Egypt? Wenham provides the answer: “Powerful springs in the Jordan valley and beside the Dead Sea create very fertile areas, e.g., at Jericho, Ain Feshka, and Engedi. According to Genesis, the whole area was much more fertile before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Chap. 19).” (42) As for Egypt, the flooding Nile brought great fecundity to the land. The point, therefore, is not merely that the plain of the Jordan is fertile just like Egypt and Eden, but rather, they are fertile in the same kind of way. To borrow a phrase from Kline, the unargued presupposition of the text is that Eden, like Egypt and the plain of the Jordan, is watered by streams not rain clouds.

Sixth, Psalm 104:10, which is a reflection of God’s work of creation, teaches that God watered his creation with springs. (43)

Seventh, there is a biblico-theological reason not to adopt the “rain cloud” translation. A passage from Kline’s Images of the Spirit, sets up the argument nicely:

“Decorative features of the temple included carvings of flowers, palm trees, and cherubim and in the eschatological sanctuary are found the river and trees of life. In Ezekiel 47 the same verb is used as in Genesis 2 for the issuing forth of the river, which in both passages flows on afructifying course eastward. Ezekiel sees the river emerging from under the lintel of the temple entrance, which … was a reflex in the temple’s architectural symbolism of the Glory-cloud, whose mountain throne-site in Eden was evidently the spring-source of the river of paradise.” (44)

Notice that Kline says the edenic trees were watered by a river that has a spring-source and not a rain-source. (45) This is precisely what Ezekiel 47 describes – a passage that Kline correctly sees as parallel to Genesis 2. There, Ezekiel says waters spring forth from the temple (v 1) which, in turn, become the source of an overabundant river (v 5). This river, in turn, waters fruit-laden and healing trees on either bank (v 12). (46) This imagery is picked up in Revelation 22:1-2 which identifies the source of the heavenly river as the throne of God. (47) The point is that these parallel passages all speak of a river that has its source in a spring (literal or figurative) and not in rain-clouds. Using the analogy of Scripture, the way to understand ed is not as a rain cloud, but as a spring. Furthermore, since Ezekiel makes reference to Eden and Revelation makes reference to Ezekiel, to interpret ed as “rain cloud” would be tantamount to saying that Ezekiel and the Apostle John misinterpreted Scripture for clearly they believed that Eden’s water was supplied by a spring and not rain clouds.

On the basis of all of the above reasons, ed is not be understood as “rain cloud.” Futato’s interpretation of Genesis 2:5-6 (“No wild vegetation had appeared in the land … for the Lord God had not sent rain … so God sent rain”) (48) is thus not correct. The text is more accurately paraphrased: “At that earlier time before the fall and curse, no thorns and thistles had appeared in the land … for the Lord God had not sent rain … but God at that time watered the earth with springs from the deep.” (49)

Two questions immediately come to mind given this paraphrase. First, does this interpretation mean that rain is a curse? Not at all. Rainfall is like the clothing God made for the man and woman. That Adam and Eve needed clothing was a result of sin. That God provided them with clothing was a blessing. Likewise, that the land needed rain was a curse, that God provided rain was (and continues to be) a blessing.

Second, does this interpretation imply that there was no rain before the curse? Not necessarily. The occurrence of rainfall cannot be inferred either way from the text. The point of the “because it had not rained clause” is that the normal way of watering the garden before the fall was by ceaseless streams of water welling up from springs. The land enjoyed a constant supply of water and was not dependent upon fickle rain. (50) After the fall God cursed the ground. It should be obvious that the principle manner in which ground is cursed is by removing its water supply. (51) Deserts are the most cursed of all lands; they are extremely toilsome to cultivate. Thus after the fall, man would be dependent upon rain or irrigation to water the land.

In conclusion, then, Futato’s three arguments for his interpretation of Genesis 2 prove abortive. Thus while Futato’s reading of Genesis 2 brings some structure to the text that Kline’s does not, it ultimately cannot rescue Kline. (52) But unlike Kline’s non-integrated view and Futato’s mistaken view of Genesis 2, the interpretation presented herein shows that far from being an extraneous bit of trivia, the explanation for the lack of certain type of vegetation is beautifully woven into the thematic tapestry of chapters 2 and 3 where the fall and the resultant curse change the means of harvesting from picking fruit off of the trees to back-breaking sowing and reaping of crops.

Before this section is concluded, one more issue needs to be addressed. Kline contends that, details aside, any interpretation of Genesis 2:5 has implications for Genesis 1. That is, Genesis 2:5 presupposes, on any reading of the text, ordinary providence during the creation week. (53) But this is just not the case. Given the interpretation defended above, Genesis 2:5 anticipates the fall and curse rather than recapitulates an aspect of the creation in Genesis 1. Genesis 2:5 refers to the time after the fall when man would have to contend with wild shrubs (thorns and thistles) in the cultivation of grain. No longer would the ground be watered by springs (vv. 6, 10), but by rain and irrigation. Thus, far from presupposing ordinary providence was operating during the creation period, (54) Genesis 2:5 tells us almost the exact opposite. The edenic environment was quite different from the post-lapsarian environment. The curse brought with it changes in ordinary providence. Pain, death and decay came not only to man but the entire creation. (55) Much of what was ordinary in Eden would be extraordinary today. And vice versa. So Calvin:

“But although he has before related that the herbs were created on the third day, yet it is not without reason that here again mention is made of them, in order that we may know that they were then produced, preserved, and propagated, in a manner different from that which we perceive at the present day…. But, at that time, the method was different:… [Vegetation] possessed durable vigour, so that they might stand by the force of their own nature, and not be the quickening influence which is now perceived, not by the help of rain … but by the vapour with which God watered the earth.” (56)


Even assuming that Kline’s interpretation of Genesis 2:5 is correct all this proves is that ordinary providence was operative during the creation week. But to draw from the fact that ordinary providence was operative during the creation week, a fact that traditionalists readily acknowledge even apart from the Genesis 2:5 argument, the conclusion that only ordinary providence (aside from creative acts) was operative is a non sequitur. (57) Not only does this conclusion not necessarily follow, there are reasons to believe the conclusion does not even follow with a modest degree of probability. Ordinary providence has prevailed since the creation week and yet God has repeatedly worked without, above and against ordinary means. If God does not limit himself to works of ordinary providence during this era of completed creation, it is gratuitous to say he limits himself to it in the period of creation. Indeed, given the framework interpretation’s view that God created over a long period of time and thus earlier eras lacked much of the finishing touches of creation, it is difficult to imagine just what ordinary providence would amount to in such an environment.


There is a contextual indication that extraordinary providence was operative during the creation week irrespective of one’s interpretation of the six creation days. After describing the initial creation of the heavens and earth, Genesis 1:2 states “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Though this is a notoriously difficult text, it does seem to at least signify that the Spirit was protectively looking over the new creation in the same way an eagle protectively hovers over its young. (58) The infant creation is not able to take care of itself and so God provides supernatural preservation. Hamilton’s comment is apposite: “Yes, there is a formlessness there, a forboding darkness, but all is kept in check and under control by the spirit of God.” (59) Supernatural protection is thus present from the very beginning. This being the case, there is every reason to expect supernatural providence to continue throughout the creation week.


Because of the conjecture that ordinary providence was the modus operandi of the creation “week” described in Genesis 1, framework hypothesis advocates must at least hold to the following basic sequence of creation. (1) The light and luminaries as well as the seas, land and atmosphere were created before the plants, animals and man. (2) The luminaries must have been created before sea and land and the atmosphere for otherwise, according to Kline, “earth would have come into existence by itself as a solitary sphere, not as part of the cosmological process by which stars and their satellites originate, and it would have continued alone, suspended in a spatial void (if we may so speak) for the first three “days” of creation.” (60) (3) Vegetation must have been created prior to the animals and man since vegetation provides sustenance for them.

With at least this much settled, the question may be asked, when does the situation described in Genesis 2:5 (on Kline’s interpretation) occur in the order of creation? There are only three basic scenarios possible.

Scenario One (61) Scenario Two Scenario Three
Light and luminaries Light and luminaries Light and luminaries
Atmosphere Sea and land Sea and land
Sea and land Atmosphere Situation of Genesis 2:5
Situation of Genesis 2:5 Situation of Genesis 2:5 Atmosphere

Upon close scrutiny, however, it turns out that none of these scenarios are possible due to either ordinary providence or interpretive considerations.

Scenario One turns out to be impossible given the principle of ordinary providence. Since the sun would have evaporated some of the water into the atmosphere, precipitation would have naturally occurred almost immediately. Thus rain would have fallen before the separation of the land from the sea. (62) But because rain would have fallen, there would have been vegetation on the earth since the reason given in Genesis 2:5 for there not being vegetation (according to Kline’s interpretation) was because it had not rained. This results in vegetation being created before land! Clearly this situation would necessitate extraordinary providence.

Scenario Two avoids the problems of Scenario One. But notice that once the atmosphere was created, ordinary providence would bring about precipitation almost immediately (the sun would evaporate the waters which would cause rain clouds and thus rain). This results in forcing the situation described in Genesis 2:5 (according to the framework hypothesis) – where there is said to be no vegetation on the land because it had not rained – to be wedged into a very short time-frame. But if this were the case, if there was only a very short time between rain and the creation of vegetation, why would Moses bother to mention it? Kline’s own argument against the traditional view is pertinent:

“[On the literalists’ interpretation of Genesis 1] the absence of vegetation or anything else at any given point would not last long enough to occasion special consideration of the reasons for it. Within that time-frame such a question would be practically irrelevant.” (63)

Thus, Scenario Two fails.

Scenario Three avoids the problems of the other two scenarios. It does not have vegetation appearing before the creation of land (as per Scenario One) nor does it preclude “an environmental situation that has lasted for a while” (as per Scenario Two). Thus on these scores this account makes sense of the framework hypothesis’ interpretation of Genesis 2:5. But what it gains in consistency it looses in plausibility.

Scenario Three lacks plausibility for at least two reasons. First, it makes a gratuitous assumption about the environmental condition that pertained in Genesis 2:5. The only reason someone would infer from this text that there was no atmosphere at the time the situation described therein pertained would be to try to save his theory. One reads it and just assumes there was an atmosphere. Indeed, it seems to describe a situation very much like our own – land, sea, air – with the notable exception that there was no rain. (64) Second, it would be extraordinarily odd for Moses to explain that the absence of vegetation on the land was due to the absence of rain in the context of an environment where there was no atmosphere! (This would be like latecomer to Presbytery who explained that he was tardy because his car broke-down on the way, when, in fact, the reason for his car breaking down was that he was in a head-on collision with another vehicle.) The lack of rain in such a situation would not be the most notable or pertinent or interesting explanation for the absence of vegetation. The antecedent explanation for there being no rain, namely, that God had not yet created the atmosphere, would be far more noteworthy. The Third Option forces a strained and bizarre understanding of the situation described in Genesis 2:5 and should therefore be rejected.

Because the three options above are the only three possible options and because none of the three options is viable, the interpretation of Genesis 2:5 given by defenders of the framework hypothesis is likewise not viable. This being the case, framework advocates cannot read back into Genesis 1 the principle of ordinary providence. And given that the sole exegetical reason for denying extraordinary providence in Genesis 1 proves faulty, there is no reason to interpret the six days of creation as anything but sequential 24-hour days on the basis that such sequence and duration would necessitate extraordinary providence.


Proponents of the framework interpretation not only conflate the sequence of the creation of light (day 1) and the creation of luminaries (day 4), but the products of creation as well. This is implied by the simple fact that, on the principle of ordinary providence, the sun, by its very nature, puts forth light. It is not an extraordinary working of providence that the sun shines every day. It has been endowed with this property much like copper has been endowed with the property of efficiently conducting electricity. Thus to assert that God created light and yet simultaneously in a distinct act created the sun would be a violation of the principle of ordinary providence. This entails that the six “days” of Genesis 1 are comprised of seven rather than eight creative acts. This implication of the “ordinary providence” argument is made explicit by Futato: “… the accounts of God’s work on Days 1 and 4 are two different perspectives on the same creative work.” (65) Kline is in agreement. “In terms of chronology, day four thus brings us back to where we were in day one, and in fact takes us behind the effects described there to the astral apparatus that accounts for them.” (66) If the luminaries (the astral apparatus) are the causes of daylight and the day/night cycle (the effects Kline refers to), then there would be no need to create, in a completely distinct act, daylight and the day/night cycle. If the cause is in place, the effects follow in due course. Effects are not created in separate events. To assert otherwise would be to violate the ordinary providence principle. (67)

This trimming of the number of creative events during the creation week has serious theological consequences for the framework interpretation; consequences that its advocates such as Irons are anxious to deny.

“Orthodox defenders of the framework interpretation strenuously assert that God’s creative work must be defined as a series of at least eight supernatural acts of origination. The creative acts of Gen. 1 transcend ordinary providence. They are supernatural events. They are creative events. Although providential governance was in effect after the initial ex nihilo creative act (Gen. 1:1), the subsequent creative acts, as represented by the eight fiat-fulfillments, must be viewed as acts of creation supernaturally interrupting the course of ordinary providence.” (68)

Irons specifically argues that while the creative acts of days 1 and 4 were contemporaneous, they were nevertheless distinct and that the luminaries are the physical mechanisms employed tosustain light. (69) In other words, God simultaneously in two separate acts created light and the light bearers. (70)

But what does Iron’s mean by asserting that the luminaries sustain light? Notice that this is an odd word to choose. One does not typically say that the sun sustains light any more than one says that fire sustains heat or that clouds sustain rain. English speakers typically say that the sun causes light or is the source of light, or simply, the sun shines. Elsewhere Irons himself follow our common linguistic convention:

“The fact that the sun was the source of daylight is not a recent discover of modern science. Ancient Hebrews were aware of this obvious relationship through simple observation.” (71)

Given such customary expressions, why would Irons choose to use the unconventional word ‘sustain’ in the context referred to above? The answer becomes obvious when one recognizes that Irons and other framework advocates are faced with the following dilemma. One the one hand, Irons does not want to say that the sun causes light, otherwise there is no need of a separate creation of light. On the other hand, he does not wish to say that there is no causal relationship between the sun and light since this would violate ordinary providence. So how does he avoid this dilemma? (72) He uses a neutral verb that does not commit him either way. But note that ‘sustain’ in this context has no particular meaning and its use only obfuscates the issue. Once clarity is sought, framework advocates will have to say one or the other.

The ordinary providence argument therefore leads us to conclude that there are only seven creative events during the creation week. This result is serious enough, but this reduction of the number of fiats leads to even greater problems. If the creative acts of day 1 and day 4 are really the same act, if they are “two different perspectives on the same creative work,” then perhaps other creative acts can be conflated as well. There certainly would be nothing to rule out this possibility a priori. Indeed, if this were the case, one should rather expect this to be true of other acts of creation.

Could not day 5 be a temporal recapitulation of day 2? Especially given Kline’s view that day 2 like day 1 focuses on a realm (the expanse and seas) while day 5 like day 4 focuses on the ruler or inhabitant of that realm (birds and sea creatures). Given this parallelism and given that Genesis 1 is arranged topically not sequentially, one is almost compelled to conclude that days 2 and 5 are “two different perspectives on the same creative work.” To the objection that the creation of the sea and expanse as well as the birds and sea creatures could not be the product of same creative act since they are so different, one needs only to observe how God created divergent objects in other singular creative acts. He created the sun, moon and stars, quite different objects, in one creative act (day 4). Indeed, he created the birds and sea creatures, two different kinds of creatures, in one creative act (day 5). It is not at all implausible that God created both the realm and rulers on the same day given these considerations.

A similar interpretation could be given to days 3 and 6. The imaginary framework exegete could, thus, come up with four creative acts during the creation week rather than eight. (73) But this leads to a problem. Given the principle of ordinary providence and given the nature of the objects created on this new understanding of the creative events, it will hardly do to maintain that these were created at different times. For God to create the luminaries at one time, the sea, expanse, birds and fishes at another, and the land, vegetation, animals and man at yet another is not, ex hypothesis, possible. Birds, for example, would either be created before land (where would they nest? what would they eat?) or after. But if land was created before birds then so were the land animals (and man!). But how could the land animals survive without the expanse (atmosphere)? The four distinct creative events makes nonsense out of the principle of ordinary providence. The imaginary exegete is forced to conclude that these fiats are really different perspectives on the same creative work. But what creative work is that? The answer is obvious. The creative work described in Genesis 1:1. Seven of the eight creative acts mentioned in the six days of creation thus may be understood as an expansion on the creation of the heavens and earth. (74)

One may object that if this were so, why does Genesis 1 record eight separate creative acts? And further, why does the author spend so much space describing how the world as we know it came about? One plausible answer (given the framework hypothesis) is that the creative acts of the creation week are a poetic way of expressing God’s bringing the world to its present state in order for man to fill and dominate it. The separate creative acts, like the separate days, are not to be understood literally. One could then understand Genesis 1 to teach that God created all things out of nothing, but the product of his creation, which is initially described as null and void, was endowed with powers to differentiate and organize. The universe created at the beginning would thus inorganically as well as organically evolve until it reached its telos – an inhabitable environment for man, the image of God, who was created to exercise dominion over it.

The eight creative acts, thus, stand or fall together. If two are really just one described from different perspectives, the exegetical equivalent of Pandora’s box is opened on Genesis 1.

Orthodox advocates of the framework interpretation would, of course, repudiate such an interpretation. Kline, for example, asserts that raising questions of ordinary providence during the creation week is “not to raise the question of whether Genesis 1 leaves the door open for some sort of evolutionary reconstruction.” Indeed, Kline is adamant in denying that the ordered world is the product of such an evolutionary process: “… it is assumed here that Genesis 1 contradicts the idea that an undifferentiated world-stuff evolved into the present variegated universe by dint of intrinsic potentialities whether divinely ‘triggered’ or otherwise.” (75) Kline’s orthodoxy is appreciated. But an assumption is not proof. The question is not whether a framework advocate is orthodox on this point, but whether the framework hypothesis exegetically allows one to depart from orthodoxy. The above interpretation is a plausible gloss of Genesis 1, given the Framework advocates’ other views. Indeed, one framework hypothesis exponent has come to just such a conclusion.

“But the method by which God achieved all this is not given. Was it by the separate instantaneous creation of each and every creature? Or was it by some process which , in the case of living things, began with some simple organism and arrived finally under the hand of God at the completed product, that is by some evolutionary process? In my view, the narrative in Genesis 1 yields no information about the divine method, only that, whatever the method, it was divine, so that any concept of a purely naturalistic evolution without God is ruled out. But there are alternatives to the two extreme positions of fiat creationism and naturalistic evolution, and men of deep Christian conviction can be found who hold such intermediate positions as theistic evolutionor progressive creationism.” (76)

According the Majority Report, since such a view does not appear to contradict other revelation, it is consistent with the Confession’s hermeneutic. And because it does not undeniably contradict Scripture, the Presbytery would have to accept framework candidates who held to this interpretation.

1 Meredith G. Kline, “Because it Had Not Rained,” Westminster Theological Journal 20 (May 1958) 146-157.

2 Mark D. Futato, “Because It Had Rained: A Study of Gen 2:5-7 With Implications for Gen 2:4-25 and Gen 1:1-2:3,” Westminster Theological Journal 60 (1998), 1.

3 Kline, 1958; Kline, “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony,” Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 48 (1996), 11-14; Futato, 1; Charles Lee Irons, “The Framework Interpretation Explained and Defended (unpublished paper, 1998), 31-36; Henri Blocher, In The Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1984), 53, 56. Blocher boasts, “this proof has not been refuted.”

4 Kline here follows the suggestion of Mitchell Dahood in his “”Eblaite i-du and Hebrewed, ‘Rain-Cloud’,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 43 (1981), 534-38. See discussion below for an evaluation of this translation.

5 See note 13 below.

6 Kline, 1958, 149.

7 Futato, 1.

8 Futato, 13.

9 Futato, 4.

10 See Futato, 12-13.

11 An interesting sidebar is C. S. Lewis’ description of the Perelandran paradise. There the inhabitants eat of the trees laden with fruit and not the cultivated grains produced with the sweat of their brows. Lewis’ narration of Ransom’s first meal on Venus is poignant. “He had meant to extract the smallest, experimental sip, but the first taste put his caution all to flight. It was, of course, a taste, just as his thirst and hunger had been thirst and hunger. But then it was so different from every other taste that it seemed mere pedantry to call it a taste at all. It was like the discovery of a totally new genus of pleasures, something unheard of among men, out of all reckoning, beyond all covenant. For one draught of this on earth wars would be fought and nations betrayed.” C. S. Lewis, Perelandra (New York: Scribner, 1996 [1944]), 37.

12 This conclusion has implications for the understanding of the imperfect lh in Gen. 2:6. Both Kline (1958, 151) and Futato (9) understand the term lh (“rise up”) to be inceptive. Though possible, nothing speaks for it (it is not the expected sense) except for their understanding of the logic of Gen. 2:5-7 together with the assumption that siah hassadehand eseb hassedeh refer to all vegetation. Since the latter is erroneous the motivation for this understanding of the verb in this sense is taken away. (See also below for a criticism of Kline’s and Futato’s logical structuring of Gen. 2:5-7.) That these two considerations taken together are the only two motivations for this understanding is born out by the fact that no modern commentator understands the sense of lh to be inceptive. Indeed, Wenham maintains that imperfects in past contexts, such as in Gen. 2:6, express duration. Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15. Word Bible Commentary (Waco: Word Books, 1987), 46.

13 Futato, 14.

14 Futato, 5.

15 Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Part I. Israel Abrahams, trans. (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1961), 100-103; Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 154; C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. I (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1949), 77.

16 Futato, 12.

17 Wenham, for example, divides Genesis 2 between the creation of man and the garden (vv 5-17) and the creation of woman (vv 18-25). Wenham, 49.

18 Futato, 13.

19 Futato points out that in a footnote for Job 36:27 (the only other place where edoccurs in the Old Testament), the NIV translators gives “mist” as an alternative rendering.

20 Cassuto, 103-104; Derek Kidner, Genesis. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1967), 59; Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 17; Wenham, 58-59. 156. Futato does points out that the Targums consistently translated ed with the Aramaic word for cloud.

21 Dahood notes that July-August is referred to as “the month of flocks” on the old calendar, but “the month of Ashtar” (the goddess of fertility) on the new.

22 Genesis 2:6; Job 36:27. It perhaps occurs as a name in Genesis 36:39, but this is unhelpful in determining the meaning.

23 Unlike Futato’s presentation, both Kline’s and Irons’ depiction of Dahood’s paper are completely inaccurate. Kline states, “These considerations argue in support of the identification of the Hebrew ed with the Eblaite i-du, ‘rain-cloud.'” Kline, 1996, 12. This makes it sound as if the meaning of the Eblaite i-du, a word that only appears once in extant sources, was already established! But the meaning of this word, together with its alleged cognate, ed, is precisely what Dahood is trying to demonstrate. See Irons, 33, for a repetition of the same error.

24 In favor of id is Cassuto, 104 (he translates it as “waters of the deep”); Sarna, 354, n 8 (he translate the term “flow”); Wenham, 58. Supporters of edu include Kidner, 59-60, E. A. Speiser, “‘ED in the Story of Creation,” in Oriental and Biblical Studies, ed. J. J. Finkelstein and M. Greenberg (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1967). Hamilton leaves open the possibility of an Eblaite origin, but urges caution. “Given the limited texts that have thus far been published from Ebla, scholars are still reluctant to champion too many connections between Eblaite and Biblical Hebrew.” Hamilton, 156.

25 Dahood notes that the scholar who recovered and reconstructed the two Eblaite calendars, G. Pettinato, did not venture a translation of the term. Dahood, 535, n 4.

26 Futato, 6. Actually, the argument that Futato turns to is similar to Dahood’s analysis of the biblical texts that contain ed.

27 Futato, 6.

28 Futato cites four commentators (Sarna, Scullion, Westermann and Youngblood) as evidence of this. However, Sarna does not, in fact, translate ed as “stream” but rather “flow,” at term which, in the context of his exegesis, has a different connotation than “stream.” “The idea seems to be that the primordial, subterranean waters would rise to the surface to moisten the arid earth… Sarna, 17. “Flow,” in this sense is akin to “waters of the deep” (Cassuto), “outburst of subterranean water” (Speiser) and “fresh water ocean” meaning “great spring fed from the subterranean ocean” (Wenham). Thus, “spring” appears to actually be the majority view. Young seems to give hesitant endorsement to “subterranean waters.” Edward J. Young, Studies in Genesis One. An International Library of Philosophy and Theology: Biblical and Theological Studies. J. Marcellus Kik, ed. (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1964), 150. Even Kline at one time held this view. “[ed] probably denotes subterranean waters which rise to the surface and thence as gushing springs or flooding rivers inundate land.” Kline, 1958, 150 n 9.

29 Futato, 5-6.

30 This is Dahood’s translation. Dahood, 536.

31 As mentioned above, the NIV translators gives “mist” as an alternative rendering.

32 Kline, 1958, 150, n 9.

33 Cassuto (104), Hamilton (150) understand ‘earth’ (eres) as ‘underworld’. A rendering that, “enjoys growing assent from Hebraists” according to Hamilton.

34 Futato, 8.

35 Futato also cites 1 Kings 18:44 (Elijah’s servant said a “cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”) as corroborating evidence.

36 Futato, 9. See also Cassuto, 104.

37 Futato, 5.

38 Futato, 9.

39 This, by the way, sheds light on why the very first conclusion that Futato says he will demonstrate in his article is that it rained before the flood. At first, this seems to be a curious statement. Why bother to mention it? The answer is that Futato is making a dig at creation scientists who say that the Noahic flood waters come from waters in the expanse. Those who hold such a view clearly reject uniformitarian assumptions. It appears that Futato believes such “pseudo-science” to be an embarrassment to the church. If God did not work exactly the same way today as he did at the time of creation (sequence and duration of the days of Genesis aside) scientists are not free from biblical constraints to hypothesize about cosmic origins. The only way scientists may investigate the history of the earth and universe is on the assumption that the past is like the present. An interpretation of Genesis 2 that allowed for a different mode of ordinary providence is, thus, unacceptable. Whether creation scientists are right or wrong about there being no rain before the flood is beside the point. What is the point is that it appears that something other than textual considerations are being introduced in the interpretation of the biblical text.

40 This statement does not imply that it was completely different either.

41 The utter splendor of Eden is difficult for even redeemed men to imagine let alone describe. Milton perhaps came closest, but, alas, even he only just penetrates the rind:

Under a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh Fountain side
They sat them down, and after no more toil
Of thir sweet Gard’ning labor than suffic’d
To recommend cool Zepher, and made ease
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite
More grateful, to thir Supper Fruits they fell,
Nectarine Fruits which the compliant boughs
Yielded them, side-long as they sat recline
On the soft downy Bank damaskt with flow’rs:
The savory pulp they chew, and in the rind
Still as they thirsted scoop the brimming stream

Paradise Lost, Book IV, 325-336.

The only consolation we have for the paradise lost is the even greater paradise we gain in Christ.

42 Wenham, 297.

43 See Noel Week, The Sufficiency of Scripture (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1988), 101.

44 Kline, Images of the Spirit. Baker Biblical Monograph (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 41-42 (emphasis mine).

45 To contend that rain is the source of the spring would be quite a stretch. Indeed, in many cases it would not be true.

46 Objection: “But the these trees are healing, unlike the trees of Eden.” Answer: There was no need of healing in Eden. The leaves of these trees are to heal the effects of the curse (Rev. 22:3).

47 Jesus says that from him swell fountains of everlasting life (John 4:14; 7:36-39).

48 Futato, 6.

49 This paraphrase fits nicely with the NIV’s translation of Gen. 2:4b-7a: “When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens – and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but stream came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground – the Lord God formed the man …” It is peculiar that Kline does not interact with this common interpretation. Not only does Cassuto hold the anticipatory interpretation of Genesis 2:5, Hamilton (154) and Stigers do also. H. G. Stigers, A Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976, 65). Of this omission Jordan comments, “This is not good scholarship.” James B. Jordan, Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 1999), 57. Futato cites Cassuto on the occurrence of “cultivated grain” in Genesis 2:5 and 3:18, but does not interact with Cassuto’s main argument. Futato, 4 n. 10.

50 Fickle from a human perspective. Note that unlike fountains or springs which are unexceptionally viewed as a blessing in biblical imagery, rain is viewed as both a curse (e.g. Gen. 7:12; Exod. 9:13-35; Sam. 12:17-18) and a blessing (Deut. 28:12). Conversely, the lack of rain is often viewed as a curse.

51 Biblical imagery often associates water with blessing and desert wastes with a curse.

52 If Futato’s understanding of the structure is erroneous, then the conclusion he draws regarding the dis-chronology of Genesis 1 does not follow. He argues that (1) since Genesis 2 has as a problem-explanation-solution formula which (2) introduces a thematically structured narrative (vegetation and man) that is not arranged chronologically and (3) since Genesis 1 also has a problem-solution formula (the earth being “unproductive and uninhabited” and “darkness” is viewed as the problem and the creation of inhabitants and luminaries as the solution) and (4) it (Genesis 1) is structured thematically around vegetation and man, the conclusion to be drawn is that Genesis 1 must be topical rather than chronological. Notice that if one premise is false, the whole argument falls apart. It has been shown that (1) is indeed false, but the other premises are also questionable. While premise (2) is acceptable, though not necessary, on the account above, many have argued against understanding Genesis 2 as non-chronological. See, for example, Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., “From Chaos to Cosmos: A Critique of the Non-Literal Interpretations of Genesis 1:1-2:3” in Did God Create in Six Days?, Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. and David W. Hall, eds. (Taylors, SC: Southern Presbyterian Press, 1999), 154ff. As for (3), there are at least two problems. First, Futato’s premise is based on his adoption of a minority reading of tohu wabohu. Second, even if Genesis 1 does contain a problem-solution structuring, there are too many literary differences with Gen. 2:5 to allow them be viewed as parallels. For example, whereas Genesis 2 gives an “explanation” for the two “problems” (no rain, no man), Genesis 1 does not. On Futato’s reading there is really a three-fold problem (an unproductive, uninhabited and dark world) not a two-fold problem as Gen 2:5, as his interpretation, portrays. Thus there is a lack of symmetry that one would expect. Finally, the manner in which the author supposedly gives the solutions to the problems differs radically. Genesis 2 “solves” the “problems” of v 5 in two verses (6-7), but Genesis 1 “solves” the “problems” in 29 verses. Premise (4) is also highly debatable. Many commentators deny Genesis is thematically structured (e.g. Young). But even granting that Genesis 1 is thematically structured, most commentators do not see the creation of vegetation and man as the two major themes. Every one of Futato’s premises is, thus, open to serious criticism.

Notice further that even if all four premises were true, Futato’s conclusion would still not necessarily follow. All he has shown is that the problem-solution schematization indicates thematic development that is not necessarily chronological in nature. He has not demonstrated that thematic development rules out chronological development. At best he can assert that thematic development should cause the reader not to anticipate chronological development. So granting Futato his four premises, we should, perhaps, not take Genesis 1 as chronological all things being equal. But all things are not equal. Given the text’s emphasis on chronology (the “evening and morning” refrain, use of yom, use of ordinals, numbered sequence, etc.) these premises are not be enough to justify a non-sequential reading of the text.

One last comment on Futato’s paper is in order. He believes his reading of Genesis 1 and 2 has implications for understanding the theology of the text. Specifically, the reason this text is concerned with vegetation and rain is that it was a warning to Israel not to go after Baal, the storm god of the Canaanites who brought rain (hence vegetation) to the arid land. Simply stated, God styled the creation account as a polemic against Baalism. Much could be said against this, but two comments will suffice. First, this assumes that the Hebrews did not know the creation account before the time of Moses (the only time an anti-Baalism polemic would be relevant). This is hardly possible. Certainly Moses’ ancestors such as Abraham and Noah would have known what we call the Genesis 1-3 creation-fall account. Second, Moses himself would not have known enough about Baalism to write about it. He was never in Palestine nor would he have been trained in Canaanite theology (he learned Egyptian theology, cf. Acts 7:22).

53 “…[T]he simple, incontestable fact [is] that Gen. 2:5 gives an explanation, a perfectly natural explanation, for the absence of vegetation somewhere within the creation ‘week.'” Kline, 1996, 13.

54 Kline, 149-150.

55 See John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1968), 299-310.

56 John Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of Genesis, vol. I, John King, trans. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1948), 110-111.

57 See Pipa, 163-4.

58 Deuteronomy 32:11. This is the only other occurrence of the term merahepet(‘hover’) in the Old Testament. Cassuto explains the parallel senses between these two texts. “…[J]ust as the eaglets, which are not yet capable of fending for themselves, are unable by their own efforts to subsist and grow strong and become fully-grown eagles, and only the care of their parents, who hover over them, enables them to survive and develop, so, too, in the case of the earth, which was still and unformed, lifeless mass, the paternal care of the Divine Spirit, which hovered over it, assured its future evolution and life.” Cassuto, 25. See also Pipa, 164.

59 Hamilton, 115.

60 Kline, 1996, 13.

61 Each scenario is temporally ordered from top to bottom.

62 A framework hypothesis advocate could maintain that the sea and land were separated with a very short time after the creation of the atmosphere. But this goes against the “era-perspective” of Genesis 2:5, a text that “assumes a far more leisurely pace on the part of the Creator, for whom a thousand years are as one day.” Kline, 13.

63 Kline, 1996, 13.

64 Of this verse Sarna comments, “The existence of both celestial and subterranean stores of water are presupposed here [Gen. 2:5].” Sarna, 17. Sarna understands the expanse to be celestial water whereas framework advocates understand it as atmosphere.
65 Futato, 16 (emphasis mine).

66 Kline, 1996, 8.

67 To deny this would also be absurd. God created lightning (or at least the conditions that produce lightning), but he did not create thunder in a separate act. Lightning causes thunder.

68 Irons, 73 (emphasis mine).

69 Irons, 58, 59.

70 The irony of this position is that framework advocates castigate the literal interpretation for having the sun created three days after light, a clear violation of ordinary providence. And yet they argue that light and the sun were created in separate fiats.

71 Irons, 31 (emphasis mine).

72 Stated positively, how does Irons say both that the sun causes light and the sun does not cause light?

73 The creation of man would be understood to be a separate fiat on the basis of Genesis 2:7.

74 Most framework hypothesis advocates will no doubt reject this interpretation. But notice that this is not only a plausible gloss of the text, given their other views, but it does not contradict other revelation. According the Majority Report, therefore, the Presbytery would have to accept framework candidates who did hold to this interpretation.

75 Kline, 1958, 146.

76 J. A. Thompson, “Genesis 1: Science? History? Theology?” TSF Bulletin 50 (Spring 1968), 20 (emphasis his). A similar position can be adduced from framework hypothesis advocate, Ronald Youngblood. He concludes that only three things are taught in Genesis 1: (1) “God created the universe at the beginning of time;” (2) “God brought into being al the denizens of the universe;” (3) Creation is unfolded in a beautiful and orderly pattern… There is an unmistakable progression from simple to complex, from lower forms to higher…” Notice that Youngblood does not include how God created. Thus, progressive creationism is completely consistent with his position. See his “Moses and the King of Siam,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 16.4 (Fall 1973) 215-222.