BIG Volume 1, Issue 6: Creating Man and Woman

BIG (Bible Insights and Gems) In Genesis

We’ve already seen in Genesis 1:28-31 in the fourth issue that God created man and woman in His image. But now we will zoom in on that creation and see how God took time creating man and woman. Moses takes a closer look at this part of the creation process to show us how much God loves us.

After Day 7, Moses takes time to look at how God made man and woman. It is different than anything else He has done in all creation. He has spoke creation into existence with His powerful voice. Genesis 1:28-31 slowed the narrative down so we could see the extraordinary circumstances of the creation of humanity.

The text does not say God used His voice to create humans. It first focuses on why humans are the pinnacle of the six-day creation. Unlike anything else, humans bear God’s image. We are not given much information on the specifics of how God creates them. Now, we are.

The Generations of the Heavens and Earth?

Genesis 2:4: These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created on the day the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

Directly after God’s day of rest on the seventh day, the narrative moves right back into highlighting what happened on the end of the sixth day of creation. Not only did God create humanity in His image, but He took extra time to create them.

The phrase, “the generations of the heavens and the earth” would seem strange to many of us. This is actually a marker, sort of like a table of contents chapter heading for the book of Genesis. The word behind it in Hebrew, toledote, appears 13 times in Genesis (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 32 11:10, 27; 25:12, 13, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2).

This is the only time it does not mark the genealogy of a person. That’s because there are no people when this new section begins. Scholars are divided on whether this section of Genesis goes back and rehashes what happened on the sixth day or if it is another retelling of the sixth day.

Some scholars see several contradictions throughout Genesis 1-2. Instead of seeing two separate pictures of creation, for instance, in Genesis 1, God is referred to but in Genesis 2, the Lord God is referred to. You have a cosmic view of creation in Genesis 1 while Genesis 2 focuses on the garden of Eden. There is also a difference in the sequence of events. In Genesis 1, God creates vegetation, then the animals, then man. In Genesis 2, God creates man, vegetation, and animals.

I see how the events keep zooming in to describe in more detail what matters most to Moses as the author, and God. Yes, God did incredible things through the six days of creation. And He did them all by speaking.

At the end of Genesis 1, we get a pause in the cosmic action as God focuses on creating man and woman as the pinnacle of His creation. We find out we are different from the other creatures because we bear the image of God. God’s rest finishes the poetic nature of the beginning account of creation.

Here in Genesis 2:4-25, we zoom in on how God created man and woman differently. Like the animals, the man is created from the dust of the ground. It gives a biblical meaning to calling people dirtbags. Just kidding.

God’s Word does not have contradictions. In Genesis 2, we are seeing a more logical creation instead of the poetic creation in the forming and filling of Genesis 1. I don’t have a problem with different perspectives of creation. It doesn’t rock my faith to see another perspective from Genesis 1 in Genesis 2.

We see these generations of the heavens and the earth, referring to the generations of creation itself before man is created. For the rest of the occurrences of “these are the generations” they will be genealogies of people.

I think it’s really neat that in Genesis 1 when we are getting the giant overview of God’s cosmic creation by His voice, one could say that this is the most impersonal God gets in creating. The reason I say that is the generic form of “God” (Heb. Elohim) is used in Genesis 1. But when it comes to creating man, we begin to see “the Lord God” (Heb. YHWH Elohim), the personal name God reveals to Moses.

When God gets into the details of His creation of us, He gets personal. He wants us to know we are not accidents. He planned your creation and cares deeply about you. He wants you to know Him personally, not as some far-off God who does things impersonally and far away. He is near to you. He wants to be involved in your life.

The last phrase of the verse “in the day that the Lord God made the heavens and the earth” may be the first time I would allow “day” to refer to the passage of time or an era. It is not marked by specific times like the evening and morning. It refers to God’s creative events in the first six days of creation.

Undisturbed Creation

Genesis 2:5-6: And every bush of the field was yet on the land and every plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the earth and it was watering all the face of the land,

I find this couple of verses incredibly interesting! This is where some scholars see a contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Genesis 2:5 says there were no plants “had yet sprung up” from the ground. This does not mean God did not create them. What if they were still seeds in the ground, and the mist is God’s way of watering them so they will grow and spring up from the earth?

This is why I see no contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Genesis 2 is describing creation differently, but it is not out of the realm of possibility to see it as still happening the same way as in Genesis 1 so far. God had not made it rain yet.

We’ll also see something interesting when we get to Noah and the flood. It doesn’t seem people understood what rain was. Could this missed have lasted until then?

The verse denotes that there was no man to work the ground yet. This may be a surprise to the Israelites listening to this book being read in the wilderness. They know one of the chief works of man is to work the ground and the fields.

There is unique word, mist, that appears only here and in Job (Job 36:10). In Job, one of Job’s friends is talking about God’s wisdom in creation. He calls it “God’s mist.” He seems to related to the clouds. That is not how Genesis 2:6 describes it. Rather than coming down from the sky, this mist comes up from the earth, almost like an underground well that waters the earth.

Even though there was no rain, the ground was prepared to bring forth the vegetation under it in seed form (if I am correct in my interpretation). This word for mist is only used to talk about creation God always has a way of doing things that blows my mind. Truly, His wonders never cease!

Forming and Working

Genesis 2:7-8: then the Lord God formed the man out of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the East, and he put the man that he had formed there.

The word used for forming the man only appears three times in Genesis in 2:7, 8, and 9. It has the idea of shaping or molding from the dust of the earth. I wonder if the dust was muddy because of the mist. That would make dust easier to form shapes. This also shows God intimately formed the man Himself. He didn’t just speak into existence.

This shows how personal God is in creating man and woman. Other passages of the Bible, like Psalm 139:13-16, show how God is intimately involved in the forming of human life. God breathed, or blue into his nostrils the breath of life. The word “breathed” only appears in this form here in Genesis 2:7 and 1 Kings 17:21, Isaiah 54:16, Jeremiah 1:13, Ezekiel 37:19, and Haggai 1:9.

Of those instances, the Lord is the subject here and in Haggai. In the Haggai reference, God blows His judgment. Only here is the Lord’s breathing a positive thing. He blows into the man’s nostrils after forming him and the man “became a living being.”

It interests me that some interests and medical professionals are trying to re-create the human body, or cloned it, or whatever. I have a sneaky suspicion their efforts will fail because they cannot breathe the breath of life into things like God can.

The phrase, “breath of life” appears just six times in the Old Testament. Five of those times are in Genesis (Genesis 1:30; 2:7; 6:17; 7:15, 22). It also appears in Isaiah 57:18. In Isaiah, it refers to God giving the breath of life.

In Genesis 1:30, God has given every animal with the breath of life in it to humans to have dominion over them. In Genesis 6:17, God vows to bring death to all flesh that has the breath of life. In Genesis 7:15, the animals having the breath of life went into the ark. And in Genesis 7:22, God killed everything on the earth with the flood that had the breath of life in it.

As you can see, every reference except for Genesis 2:7 refers to things that have the breath of life in them. In Genesis 2:7, God breathes that breath of life into the man. He becomes a living being in like the animals on the land.

God placed the man in the garden of Eden to take care of it. Earlier we saw a reference to no man living on the earth to take care of the plants. Now, God allows the plants to come up out of the ground so the man can do his work and take care of them.

Two Trees and Four Rivers

Genesis: 2:9-14: And the Lord God caused to sprout from the ground every tree desirable to the sight and good for food, and the Tree of Life was in the midst of the garden, also the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first was Pishon. It flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good, and there is bdellium and onyx stone are there. And the name of the second river is the Gihon. It flowed around the whole land of Cush.  And the name of the third river is the Tigris. It flowed to the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

Right after God makes the plants and trees come up out of the ground to be tended to by the man, we get this literary forward-pointing reference to the two trees in the garden. There are many trees there, but noses only highlights two of them because they will become ground zero for the man and wife in Genesis 3.

As will be described, every tree in the garden is desirable to the eye and good for food. We will get to the significance of that statement in Genesis 3 where it occurs again. The first tree is given the name the Tree of Life. It is in the midst of the garden, perhaps at the very center. If so, it shows God’s desire for humans to have life and fully live it.

The Tree of Life shows up throughout the Bible. That may surprise you, but here are some of the places where it appears. It appears in Genesis 3:22 and 3:24 in reference to the Fall of Humanity. It occurs in the Proverbs as a positive image (Proverbs 3:18; 11:30; 12:12; 15:8).

Of greatest interest is that after Adam and Eve get kicked out of the garden, that is not the end of the story for the Tree of Life. It appears in the final book in the Bible where Jesus grants the one who overcomes to eat from the Tree of Life in paradise (Revelation 2:7).

John has a vision of the New Jerusalem where the Trees of Life lines the river coming from God’s throne. Finally, it appears in Revelation 22:14 where the saints who wash their robes and are pure are given the right to eat from the Tree of Life. The tree that was Adam’s and Eve’s right will be our inheritance and right in the New Jerusalem where we dwell with God forever.

The other tree mentioned is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree is also mentioned in Genesis 3 and stands in contrast to the Tree of Life. These trees will ultimately be the free will choice Adam and Eve will make. This is foreshadowing what will happen very soon in the next chapter.

They have a choice between life and knowledge. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is named so because it gives humans a choice between trusting God and allowing Him to be God and make the moral choices for them, or they can choose to have a knowledge of good and evil on their own. Human knowledge of good and evil is as finite as humans.

Along with the two trees in the garden are four rivers that flow from it. They begin with a river flowing through the garden that splits into four rivers. Only two of these trees exist in our knowledge today. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers feature prominently throughout the Old Testament. They are still around today.

We know almost nothing about two of the rivers because they do not flow today. The first river mentioned, the Pishon, was a rich river that had gold and precious stones around it or in it. The Gihon River is said to have flowed in the land of Cush, which is Egypt. To our knowledge, it dried up long ago.

I saw a while ago some archaeological satellite imagery that may have found the Pishon River. It’s a fascinating read you might want to check out. There are also geological evidences of these two rivers that have been lost to history.

These are fascinating reports that may prove even more so from science that the Bible is true and the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden is legitimate. I know we don’t need science to prove what the Bible says but it is really cool when even scientists have to admit the truth of the Scriptures.

The Prohibition

Genesis 2:15-17: Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From every tree of the garden you may surely eat, but from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you must not eat from it, for on the day you eat from it you will surely die.”

It is intriguing the verbs of taking and putting would be used for God’s action after He formed the man and breathed the breath of life into him. Genesis 3:23 tells us the man worked the ground from which he was taken.

The word “put” is also interesting. It is a common word occurring 134 times in the Old Testament but is not what I expected. It means to settle, or to rest. That is not the usual word for “put.” It is the common word for settling a land, or settling in a certain place.

Working and keeping the ground of the garden of Eden was the natural and God-given job for the man. Many of us don’t like to work because it is hard. We will find out this is part of the penalty for rebelling against God. But that does not mean work is a punishment. The man happily worked the garden as God gave him this job.

We may not like to work because it is hard, but before the Fall, it seems this was a natural thing that gave the man pleasure and made him feel productive. God gives us work to do, and this is not part of the curse of Genesis 3. God designed us to work and feel accomplished when we do it well. Some of the Proverbs talk about laziness but it is always in a negative light. That’s because work is a positive thing even after the curse.

Genesis 2:16-17 presents God’s only prohibition for the man in the garden. He could do whatever he wanted, and eat whatever he wanted except for one tree. He had free reign in the whole garden except for this one thing. Why is it when people tell us the one thing we can’t do that’s the only thing we want to do?

Until Genesis 3, there is no indication the man wants to eat from the tree God forbade him from eating. This is the first time God issues a command. Later in the law of Moses, the whole law will be made of commandments and commands by God for what the Israelites can and can’t do.

The one tree in the garden the man could not eat was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why? It was originally part of God’s plan for us to leave the knowledge of good and evil up to Him. He knows much better than us the morality of what we should do. There was nothing the man could not do except this one thing.

Only God knows the proper morality of humanity. We get morals wrong without His guidance. To want to have command of this one thing is to go against God’s best. We can see how morality is so messed up in our culture today, and much of that is because we wanted to play God’s role instead of our own.

For the first time, the prohibition God gives comes with a penalty. The man probably had no understanding of what it meant to die. No one had died before he existed.  Nevertheless, God warns the man that if he ignores His command, the penalty will be exacted. I wonder if God further explained what death was.

It is not up to us to understand these things. We have the biblical text and that is enough to set the stage for Genesis 3. When we get there, I will talk about death in a more comprehensive biblical way. For now, we must realize God gives commands and there are consequences for our disobedience.

The Man’s Nap Time and Friend in Arms

Genesis 2:18-22: Then the Lord God said, “It’s not good that the man should be alone. I will make for him a helper fit for him. Now the Lord God formed from the ground every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and whatever the man called them, that was the living thing’s name. So the man gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field, but for the man a helper fit for him was not found.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man and he slept, and he took one of his ribs and he closed the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made from the rib which he took from the man a woman, and he brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

God knew it was not good for Adam to be alone. He was probably lonely, but he was in complete by himself. God purposes to make Adam a helper. This helper would be the perfect fit for him. The word for “fit” has the sense of corresponding to and opposite from. This helper would be one that fit Adam as she corresponded to him.

The helper is an interesting word we have a hard time understanding in English. It occurs 18 times in the Old Testament. Since it describes the woman God would make from Adam’s rib, we need to understand the significance of it. She is not a helper in the sense that she is lesser then Adam. She is not his servant.

We know this because “helper” is used of God and He certainly is not lesser than us or our servants. God is often a helper in the sense of military assistance to Israel. God also helps the oppressed and those who are desperate for His assistance. He protects Israel through His divine help. This is also the case with human helpers.

The woman God creates will correspond to Adam unlike the animals. She will complete him and provide companionship he can get from nowhere else. There may also be a sense of taking life on together and winning in life because they are together. She is much more to the man then a servant. Men do well to remember how God describes the woman.

Genesis 2:19 goes on to explain that the beasts of the field were also created from the dust of the earth. But that is where the correlation ends. Adam cannot find any companionship among the animals. This also underscores how much different humans are from animals.

God gives Adam the task of naming the animals, all of them. This probably took him quite a while considering how many seasoned animals that are in the world. God brings the animals to Adam to see what he will name them.

It’s almost as if God gets pleasure from watching Adam take his divine role and bear God’s image as he takes control of the animals. The image of God has this sense of Adam being above the animals and subduing them through the action of naming them. God gives Adam complete autonomy, accepting whatever names Adam gave the animals.

Moses once again stresses that there was not found among the animals a helper (one corresponding to) Adam (Genesis 2:20). He was unique among God’s creatures. None of the animals “fit” Adam as well as the woman would. Animals can provide companionship on a simple level but none of them compares to another human being.

God acts by giving Adam a companion to fit him perfectly. He puts Adam in a deep sleep. The word “deep sleep” occurs 16 times in the Old Testament. This deep sleep is one where dreams can come from the Lord. But it’s more understandable as the kind of sleep people -induced for surgery experience. That is what God does while Adam was asleep.

God probably took more than one rib from Adam. He probably took the skin and muscle surrounding the rib also. This would make sense since our bodies are composed of at least those three substances.

I’ve heard it said that God took Adam’s rib to create the woman so that he would not see her as below his feet (subservient to him) or above his head (ruler over him). God took from his rib to remind him that she was his companion by his side (equal to him as a person).

Paul probably takes the language of Genesis 2:22 when he says that man is the glory of God but woman is the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7). God is the agent in creating man and woman although He does it in different ways with different materials. Though it doesn’t say, we should understand that Adam woke up after this operation and God brought the woman to him then.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our dreams came true? For Adam, the woman he could have never dreamed of was now standing in front of him. He gets pretty excited about it as we will see in the poem he speaks, perhaps even sings?

Marriage and Bliss

Genesis 2:23-25: Then the man said, //“This now is bone of my bones / and flesh of my flesh. / This one will be called Woman / because from man this one was taken.” / Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother / and hold fast to his wife, / and they shall become one flesh.// And the man and his wife were both naked, but they were not ashamed.

I have used a double slash to indicate the beginning and end of the poetic part of these verses. When you see a single slash, it indicates the break of a line to the next line in the poem. When the Lord God presents the woman to Adam, he probably breaks out in song, if not a poem.

Imagine your Adam, lonely and looking for companionship. You can’t find it among many of the animals. You are the only one like you, completely unique in God’s creation. It’s a very lonely place to be, and that’s probably why God wanted to make a companion for Adam that fit him perfectly.

After he wakes up, God brings the woman He had made from Adam’s rib and presents her to him. This is a beautiful picture of romance and beauty. Adam was so enthralled with her that he recognizes how well she fits him. He calls her “bone of my bones” and “flesh of my flesh.” This is quite literal as much as it is poetic. God literally made her from Adam’s bone and flesh.

He proceeds to name her woman in relation to man. You can’t see it in English but the word for man in Hebrew is ish and the word for woman is isha. Genesis 2:24 gives us the language of marital union we here at every wedding. God designed man and woman to be together, and that’s what happens after they are introduced.

God performs the first wedding ceremony. He institutes marriage among the very first humans. We know this is referencing future marriages as well as this one because Adam and Eve don’t have parents. The word for “hold fast” means to cling to or stick close to. The man leaves the family he knows to start a family of his own with his wife.

Nowadays, as has been in human history, sometimes parents and families tried to get involved in the marriage of their children. This is not how God patterned marriage. Husband and wife join together and learn from one another and take on the world together. No one should get between a married couple. Not their parents, their families, or anyone else.

In every aspect of their persons, man and wife join together and become one flesh. If you’ve watched couples who have been married for a long time, they are one flesh. They complete one another and are so close together that they finally share the same interests, even think alike. That’s how God designed marriage to be.

When you find that person that is your companion, takes on life together with you, and makes you the best you possible, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s the way God meant marriage to be. Only the Fall and our propensity to send and hurt one another relationally could ruin His original and most beautiful plan for man and wife.

Similarly, we can see this relational model in the Godhead. Three Persons are together on substance that makes God who He is. Two people, a man and a woman, come together and are one flesh. They are one flesh relationally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and even mentally.

The last sentence of Genesis 2 tells us something about marriage. The nakedness Adam and Eve shared was not just physical. There were no barriers between this couple. There was nothing to destroy their unity or cause them same. They were open and honest with one another, unafraid to be themselves with one another. But oh, how much that changes in just a short amount of time.

The Saga Continues…

Genesis 2 has given us a closer look at how God’s creating man and woman, how they bear the image of God, and their reunion in marriage. Everything is perfect in creation and human relationships. Unfortunately, that harmony will not last. Join me in the next issue of BIG to explore what happens next that changes everything up to our present day.

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