Click to Change

Return to Top

Return to Top

Printer Icon


The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Does It Mean, Man Was to Keep the Garden?

Choose a new font size and typeface
Don Stewart
The Bible says that God put man in the Garden to keep it.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it (Genesis 2:15).

The idea that man was to keep the Garden has been interpreted and translated in various ways. They include:

a.Guard against danger.

b.Have charge of the Garden.

c.Worship and serve the Lord.

1.Guard Against Danger

Some Bible commentators say that this means man was to guard against the dangers lurking outside the Garden of Eden. This view assumes that animals were carnivorous and that Adam had to be on the lookout for these dangerous creatures. H.L. Ellison writes.

No detailed description is given either of the world or of man before the Fall, because the subject is irrelevant to man as he is. But the commands to 'subdue' the earth and to 'guard' the garden imply resistance and danger. Equally the announcement of the penalty for disobedience suggests the prior knowledge of the fact of death, which indubitably existed before the creation of man. The impression created, though not clearly stated, was that the garden was to be the centre from which the conditions of paradise should gradually be extended over the whole world. Man was not merely the preserver of a God-created perfection, but also His fellow-worker in brining creation to perfection (H.L. Ellison, The New Laymans Bible Commentary, p. 79).

According to this view, Eden was the only safe place on a dangerous earth.

2.Have Charge

Others believe that man was given the command to have charge of the Garden. They believe there was no evil power in the world. The animals were not carnivorous and death had not yet occurred in the animal kingdom. H.C. Leupold writes of logical consequences assuming evil lurked in the garden:

For in that case, we have the preposterous notion besides of man pacing along the borderlines of the garden at regular intervals during the day and at night doing sentry duty - a very uneasy and disturbed existence. The more general sense of 'have charge of is other substantiated in the Scriptures (H.C. Leupold, Genesis, Vol. I, p. 127).

Consequently the idea of guard means to have charge of rather than guard.

3.Worship And Serve God

There is another view that translates the Hebrew as worship and obey rather than tend and keep. This different understanding of the Hebrew has humankind as a priest in the Garden-one who obeyed God in the practice of worship. According to this view, work was part of the curse of the Fall, not God's original intention for humankind. Humanity was created, and placed in the Garden, for the express purpose of worshipping God. This was his only duty.


Each of the three views of keep the garden has good commentators on their side. It is impossible, therefore, to be certain as to which of these solutions is correct.

BLB Searches
Search the Bible

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval

Daily Devotionals

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.