Wednesday, December 09, 2020
Cool of the evening? Or in the midst of the storm?
It is traditional to interpret Gen. 3:3 (which introduces God’s judgment) to mean that the first humans heard the sound of YHWH God walking in the garden in “the cool of the day” (literally, in the ruaḥ of the yōm), which makes some sense since ruaḥ can mean “wind,” and a wind brings lower temperatures, while yōm normally means “day.” This interpretation goes back to the Septuagint, which renders the phrase “in the evening” (to deilinon). However, there is a secondary (less common) meaning for yōm given in some lexicons (derived from an Akkadian word), “storm” (hence the expression might mean “the wind of the storm”). Thus, instead of describing God as taking a leisurely evening stroll in the garden, the “sound” the first humans heard might well be the trees whipping around in a tempest, which is the physical effect of God’s coming in judgment. This would ﬁt the pattern of theophanies in the Old Testament, which areloften accpmpaniedi by a storm, with great noise.(for a classic storm theophany in a forest, with trees splitting and crashing, see Ps. 29).—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 164 n. 16