In this post I take a closer look at Genesis two, see how it compares to Genesis one, and consider how it impacts our view of religion and the world around us. Genesis one, as I previously posted, shows a broader, overall picture of what happened that first week of Creation. Genesis two zooms in on the same event and provides a different, yet complimentary perspective.
Genesis 2:1-4 actually begins with the completion of God’s six day creation and describes how he had finished his work by the seventh day and rested. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating he had done. This is where we derive our seven day week and why there’s a Sabbath day of rest (also see Exodus 20:8-11). God was setting an example for us to follow, and he did it for our benefit, as indicated in Mark 2:27.
1So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. 2 On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.
4 This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 2:4-5 is where the next account of Creation begins, but before delving in I want to bring up an important point regarding various Biblical translations. Various translations exist because the writers, in part, don’t always agree with previous translations, or wish to improve upon them for better understanding. Differences, such as divisions in the text, words chosen, spacing, and subtitles often occur. For example, the New International Version (NIV-1984) is written as if Genesis 2:4 is the beginning of the next Creation account, while others, such as the New Living Translation, treat it as though it’s the end of the first Creation account. I agree with the later translation because it neatly wraps up the first account, and then creates a smooth transition, allowing us to focus on specific details of the event. I certainly don’t claim to know which version is most accurate, so I’m open to honest discussion.
With this in mind we can look at Genesis 2:5-17, which drops us into the middle of the Creation account:
When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. 6 Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land. 7 Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
8 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. 9 The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden and then dividing into four branches. 11 The first branch, called the Pishon, flowed around the entire land of Havilah, where gold is found. 12 The gold of that land is exceptionally pure; aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there. 13 The second branch, called the Gihon, flowed around the entire land of Cush. 14 The third branch, called the Tigris, flowed east of the land of Asshur. The fourth branch is called the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
If we look back to Genesis one, we can read about the specific days in which the sky, land, seas, and vegetation were created. But Genesis two skims over these events without reference to any particular day since that was previously presented to us. For example, we know from Genesis one that vegetation was created on Day Three and man on Day Six. Genesis two now tells us that, before there was vegetation, rain, or man, God watered the ground by springs. Then, after vegetation appeared, God created man, forming him from the dust of the ground and breathing life into him. This account is significant for several reasons- one: because it shows the care God took in his creation of man, breathing life into him, and two: because one of the roles assigned to man is to work. In fact verse five explains that there was no man to work the ground, and in verses eight and fifteen we learn that God planted a Garden in Eden and put the man there to work and keep it. So from the very beginning of Creation man was intended to work. It’s also important to note that work for Adam wouldn’t have been the stressful, burdensome, difficult chore it may be for some of us. On the contrary, Adam’s work would have been a joy. At this time there was no sin, thorns, thistles or diseases interfering.
God then reveals one of his thoughts concerning man:
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
We can see that God knew Adam, understood him, and desired to give him something good. So the next thing God did was give Adam a task, and it turns out that he had something remarkable in mind:
19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
God created a helper for Adam, and then united them in marriage:
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Now we can look back to the very beginning in order to develop a better understanding regarding the differences between man and woman, and why marriage was instituted. God didn’t create men and women to be the same, but made them with specific roles in mind, complimentary to one another, and then created an institution in which they could be united and produce offspring.
The evolutionary story of man is much different- based on chance, mutations, death, disease, hardship, suffering, and long ages of indifference. Biblical history, however, provides an event that was very good, designed by a loving God with great intention.