Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Waters Above and the Waters Below

Taken from:   James B. Jordan, Trees and Thorns: A Commentary on Genesis 2-4. Available from







The water in the ground of the garden is associated with Eve.

What Adam was to guard was the Garden, and preeminently Eve, its mistress. This is precisely what he refused to do. Later in the Bible, new Adams meet their Eves at wells, and defend them there. Eliezar met Rebekah at a well, and brought her home to Isaac (Gen. 24:11ff.). Jacob met Rachel at a well, and unsealed it for her — a sign as it turned out of his coming marriage to her (Gen. 29:10-11). Good Shepherd Moses met Zipporah at a well and defended her against bad shepherds (Ex. 2:16-19).

All of these women were outsiders, who were married by representatives of the Messianic line (compare also Joseph, Samson, Solomon, etc). The spring in Eden flowed out to other lands; the messiahs of the Old Testament married foreign women. In fulfillment, Jesus spoke to an outsider Samaritan woman at a well, asked her about her husband(s), and in so doing offered Himself as True Husband to her and her people (John 4:1-22). He associated the water He offered with the Spirit whom He would give (John 4:10, 23-24; 7:37-39).

I discussed this marital imagery briefly in connection with the Laver of Cleansing in Chariots of Water: An Exploration of the Water-Stands of Solomon’s Temple (available from Here let me add that meeting earthly wives at wells (ground water) is part of the first creation. In heaven there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage, for all are married to the Divine Husband. Thus, the well at which Jesus meets us is heavenly water, the Spirit. As the spring watered the Garden and grew the fruitful trees, so the marriage of woman and man is to be fruitful on earth, and the marriage of Jesus and God’s Daughter (humanity) is to be fruitful unto eternity.

Lastly, the care with which a gardener directs water to cause plants to flourish should be seen as instructive of how a husband should care for his wife and family. One does not grasp or force water, and neither can a man grasp or force his wife.

From James B. Jordan’s Trees and Thorns: [1]

The land and garden of Eden were watered by a spring. Why call attention to the fact that God did not send rain? Why not just mention the spring and leave off the statement about rain? The reason, I believe, is to call our minds back to Genesis 1:2-9. We find in Genesis 1:2 that there was an ocean over the original earth. Then God created the firmament, and separated the waters above from the waters below. On the third day God gathered the waters below into areas below the surface of the land.

Now we have a clear distinction between waters above the firmament, the source of rain, and waters below, which would have to come up from under the earth. Both Genesis 1:2-9 and 2:5-6 set up the distinction eschatologically; ground water comes first, and then heavenly water.

With this distinction in mind, we can begin to see rather clear associations between ground water and the first creation, which is earthy and Adamic, and heavenly water with the second creation, which is heavenly and Last Adamic: “The Spiritual [world order] is not first, but the natural [world order]; then the Spiritual [world order]. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second Man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:46-48).

Ground water is associated with the first world, the world defiled by sin. Originally the land of promise centered on the “circle of the Jordan,” which “was well watered everywhere—before Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of Yahweh, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar” (Gen. 13:10). This Edenic spot was chosen by Lot, who went for the obvious blessing of ground water—so much more reliable than rain, which must be prayed for. Notice that Gen. 13:10 interjects the statement that God would soon destroy this area. Why is this stuck in here? I believe it is to point to the fact that ground water is not going to be the place of salvation. The waters below, the original garden of Eden, cannot be recovered. We shall have to move forward to the eschatological waters above and the heavenly Jerusalem.

Just so, Moses contrasts the old land of Egypt, watered from the ground, with the promised land, which is watered by rain: “For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land … drinks water from heaven’s rain” (Dt. 11:10-11). Moses quotes God’s promise, “I will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain” (Dt. 11:14).



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