Birds in Creation

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

In the Bible, are birds created before humans or after, because Genesis 1:20-21, then Genesis 2:7, but here Genesis 2:19 it says after. Am I misreading?

When you read through the creation account from Genesis 1-2, there’s a certain literary device that Moses uses. He starts with the big picture in Genesis 1 and then he zooms in in Genesis 2 to show you in more detail how God did things.

In Genesis 1, it’s almost poetic, and many scholars have designated this the “Creation Poem.” It covers creation from a wider view, the big picture, as it were. God speaks with a mighty voice, and creation falls into place, coming out of nothing into existence.

Genesis 1:1 gives you the largest picture, that God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:2 zooms in just a little bit more, showing you that right after creation the earth was formless and void. Formless and void take on a meeting, as days 1-3 our days of forming and days 4-6 our days of filling.

On day 6, God creates humanity. But in the Genesis 1 poem, humanity is the only part of creation that God does not simply speak into existence. He gets more personal, creating humanity out of the dust of the earth and breathing life into it.

Then when you get to Genesis 2, Moses continues to use this literary device to zoom in even further, focusing on the details of creation. He shows how God took great care not only in making man, but also finding a companion for him.

The end of Genesis 2 talks about how God gave man control and authority over all of his creation by allowing him to name the animals. To name a thing is to know it completely and have control over it.

But nothing was found suitable for the man until God created woman from his rib instead of from everything else in creation. It was a very intimate moment when it came to humanity, the pinnacle of his creation.

Now when it talks about the birds being formed in Genesis 2:19, you must see the verb as a past tense verb. In other words, it might be better translate it, “the Lord God had formed the beast of the field and the birds of the air.”

The past tense of the verb for forming is telling us that before God formed humanity, he formed the animals and the birds. They were there before humanity. So knowing that the verb is past tense to the creation of humanity is the key in this more detailed telling of the creation of the world.

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