Saturday, June 10, 2006

Genesis 2

Genesis 2

The creation story, continued.


In Genesis 1, the Bible told the story of God’s creation of the world. Genesis 2 finishes the story, and then goes back and re-tells part of it, giving more details about the creation of man. But it starts in verses 1–2 by saying that God had completed His work of creating the heavens and the earth, and that He rested on the seventh day. And, because He rested on the seventh day, He made it holy.

Genesis 2 is where we find the story of God creating man from the dust of the ground, and breathing life into it (verse 7). We also find in Chapter 2 that God has created a garden called “Eden”, where he places the man. In the middle of this garden He placed the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told the man that he was allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And it says “for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” (verse 17) Notice that God says “when you eat of it”, not “if you eat of it”; He knew what was going to happen, just as we all know what’s going to happen. However, He had a purpose in doing it this way. (And, LORD willing, we’ll spend the next 1,187 chapters of the Bible exploring that purpose.)

Genesis 1 is punctuated occasionally by God declaring His work of creation to be “good”. He created the light, and saw that it was good, He created the land and the seas, and saw that it was good, etc. In Chapter 2, we see the first time that God saw that something wasn’t good: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (verse 18) So what did God do next? He brought every kind of animal before the man, and had the name name them. So he did, but for him, “no suitable helper was found” (verse 20). So, another famous scene from the Bible we’ve all heard: God took a rib from the man—who was called Adam—and formed the rib into a woman, and brought her to Adam. Adam named her Eve. (According to my footnotes, in Hebrew, “Adam” basically means man, and the word for “Eve” sounds like the Hebrew for man.)

The chapter ends with these two verses (24–25):

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.


Many people get a bit confused between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, because they say that there is an inconsistency: Genesis 1 says that God created “vegetation, seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds” on the third day, and man on the sixth day. And then, in Genesis 2:4b–7, it says “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 streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground—the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (emphasis added) People say the two chapters are inconsistent, because they say that in the first chapter, God created the plants first, but in the second chapter, He created man first. However, that’s not what chapter 2 actually says, which is why I put in the italics when I quoted that verse. What it says in chapter 2 is that man was created before there were any cultivated plants—which makes sense, because “there was no man to work the ground”. We know that there were already plants, because it says that God put the man in the garden, which He had already created.

Another thought: God said that it was “not good” for man to be alone. However, this was not a condemnation of singlehood; it’s not wrong to be single. In fact, in the New Testament, Paul makes it quite clear that it’s not only okay to be single, it can actually help you grow closer to God, because: “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided.” (1 Corinthians 7:32b–34a) The statement in Genesis is a general statement: people, in general, are happier when they have a “helper” to spend their lives with. But this is not a universal truth; all of chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians is an examination of the pros and cons of getting married. Neither is intrinsically wrong, or a sin.

1 comment:

David Hunter said...

Whoops, one correction: It's not the word "Eve" that sounds like the Hebrew for "man", it's the word "woman" that sounds like the Hebrew for "man".

My footnotes say that "Eve" probably means "living" (because she became the mother of all the living (Gen 2:20).