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Genesis study & commentary

Genesis 2

By Doug Ford
The creation of man and woman

God's creative work was completed the 6th day.  All the heavens and the earth were completed.  And it was all very good.  All of matter was formed; there would be nothing new in the world after that day.  'New' would come to be known as taking existing matter, material and changing its state, blending it, treating or altering it in some way to come up with a new form.  God had taken the clay of the earth to form mankind; mankind, His image bearer, would then take the clay of the earth and build, invent and discover with the nature God gave him.


The 'vast array' (or 'host' in NKJV or ESV) of verse one creates several opinions.  What is this vast array?  The Hebrew word is used in a military sense; a great multitude (horde) assembled, in order and waiting for war.  The vastness of heaven and earth had been marshaled; everything in its proper place; all things ordered.  There are other places in scripture where we see the vast array of heaven but this is the only place we see a vast array of earth.  It appears to be a reference to all of creation; from the furthest star to the depth of the sea is a vast array of beauty and mystery and wonder. 

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven (vast array of heaven) standing around him on his right and on his left. (1 Kings 22:19)


With creation complete, God went on to establish a day of rest to go with the six days of work.  Up to this point, there was no weeks, months or years.   The Lord established this seven-day cycle for mankind.  It was a day of rest (of sabbath); or rather 'ceasing from work' to go with the six days of work.  God didn't rest because he was tired; He rested to establish the pattern for man.  It is we who need physical rest from our work.  Jesus said in Mark 2:27 that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus forever linked himself to this seventh day and the rest from work when He declared Himself the Lord of the Sabbath.


So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)


Even the Sabbath is a shadow of things to come.  The substance of that shadow; or the very things that light shined over to make a shadow, is Jesus.  If the Sabbath is a shadow, it was Jesus casting that shadow. 


The 7th day is different, it's special.  God blessed the 7th day and sanctified it, set it apart for God's purpose.  Rest prepares us and renews us for His service.  Rest is an important part of our life.  But as this Sabbath is linked to Jesus, we see the spiritual aspect of resting in Him.  He did the work we could not do.  We can cease from our works.  All the work in the world, on all the days since the creation began, would not change our status as sin-fallen and unrighteous.  It is only by the work of Jesus on the cross that could change it.  He did the work and sat down at the right hand of the Father.  When we trust in Him, we too can rest in His grace.


Keeping the Sabbath served as a constant reminder that there are more important things in life than work.  Sabbath confirmed our hope isn't the work of our hands but in the Lord Himself. 

13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath

and from doing as you please on my holy day,

if you call the Sabbath a delight

and the Lord's holy day honorable,

and if you honor it by not going your own way

and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,

and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land

and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13-14)


In Deuteronomy, the keeping of the Sabbath was linked to the salvation from bondage, from the hand of Egypt (Deut 5:15).  It is there they were forced to work brutal jobs for brutal hours.  It was a culture of 'nothing else matters but work'.  For the Egyptians, brick production mattered more than the lives of the workers and far beyond their spiritual health.  Pharoah didn't care about their Sabbath.   


12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 "Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. (Ex 31:12)


There was no closing refrain to the seventh day.  The first six days were noted to have evening and morning.  We might say the marking of time isn't critical on this day.  The creation was complete.  The Lord didn't begin work again the next day.  The rest began that day has been ongoing since.  Israel was to celebrate this day and recognize its meaning.  Then in the New Testament we see the Sabbath rest coupled with faith. 


(Hebrews 4:1-11)


Our Sabbath rest is found in Jesus who lifted the burden of our sin when we trust in Him.  We find sweet rest from our works.  As Israel celebrated their Creator and Redeemer, we do the same in Christ. 


Lord Sabbaoth His name

From age to age the same. (Martin Luther)


Our hearts are restless til they find their rest in Thee. (St Augustine)


What is this rest?  Is this something we go to someday or something we can have now?  I think this falls together with the of having been saved, being saved and will be saved; its now and not yet.  We can know rest in Christ today, but nothing like what we will know some day.  Rest in this life is a rare commodity.  From time to time we stumble into and almost feel guilty for enjoying it.  Do you set aside time in your life to experience this rest?  Serenity?  A time you allow yourself to be interrupted by God.  A time when we listen for Him or enjoy the peace of His presence in silence.  Psalm 23 says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures."  They say it's almost impossible to make sheep lie down. there are four prerequisites:

  1. They must be free of fear.
  2. They must not feel friction or apprehension in the flock.
  3. They must not feel tension among the flock.
  4. They must not be hungry

Are we not similar?  We can't be afraid, have family problems, be stressed out and be hungry.  Are we too caught up in our lives, our way to rest in the beautiful finished work of God.

Paul David Tripp says that the Sabbath is "a regular God ordained reminder of Who the creator is. It's intended to give people back their awe of God."

We live in unending unrest; we have specifically and purposefully set all that unrest aside to be reminded of the reality of rest in Him.

 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."


In Matthew 6:10 Jesus tells us to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven".  It's like stopping this crazy ride of life momentarily to move our thinking from 'here, now, go, go, go' to the serenity and aw of the Sabbath where we are reminded that the kingdom of God is both "at hand" and "not yet."  When our thought processes transcend this life and world, our priorities are returned to their proper order. 


Genesis 2:4-7

A shift occurs right here in verse four.  The word Elohim was used 35 times in the creation week of chapter one and first 3 verses of chapter two.  Now, in verse four, the word used for 'Lord'is Yahweh; this is the first place in the bible that Yahweh is used.  In addition, the 'Yahweh' is joined with 'Elohim'.  This is Yahweh Elohim or Jehovah Elohim (He that is who He is, therefore the eternal I AM).  He is the self-existent one who reveals himself.  This connects the God of creation with the God who will come into relationship with man.  This combination name is in scripture 35 times; twenty of those are in the remainder of the creation account; from 2:4 to the end of chapter four.  The only place Yahweh Elohim isn't used in this section of scripture is when the serpent and eve make a point of not using God's personal name.  Satan portrays Elohim as secretive, scheming and malevolent which is obviously far from the personal God of Yahweh Elohim. 


Note: When you see all capitals 'LORD' in your bible it is the name Yahweh.  The occurrence of 'Lord' (only L capitalized) is Adonai – Lord as a title.


The beginning of verse four has the word 'toledot' in it.  This word is a introductory word used in several places.  It means 'these are the generations.'  This begins the next thought about creation.  Many argue that this is where the chapter should have began.  Yet, the the seventh day fits the message of the Sabbath.  The first seven days offered a wide and grand view of creation.  Now, we zoom in and look with more detail at the account of creation of mankind. 


We are given a glimpse of what the earth looked like right before the Lord proceeded to living things.  When God created the heavens and earth, there was a flow that came up from the ground that watered everything.  The point is that there was no rain at the time.  The Lord God then formed a man from dust.  Man wasn't spoken into existence.  He was formed from the earth.  The term for 'formed' means we were carefully and thoughtfully designed.  God is portrayed as an artist, a craftsman.  The Potter didn't create us from nothing, but scooped up the clay of the earth and improved it.  Adam's name could have easily been 'dirt'.  In fact there is a Hebrew play on words present in verse seven:

The Lord formed 'ha adam' from dust of 'ha adamah'. 


Adam was formed from Adam!  We often think so highly of ourselves, yet are nothing special.  We are made from the elements of the earth.  Our value is in the breath of life God gave us.  From the breath, man became a living being.  "Breath of life' is 'nshamah chayyim'.  While the other animals were given breath, they were not directly given this breath of God.  This is the only use of this combination of words in the bible.  It is unique to mankind; man was given a living soul in this personal and intimate act; as if God personally blew air into Adam's lungs.


Genesis 2:8-9

God planted the Garden of Eden for man.  He picked this specific place and planted it as He saw fit for the good and pleasant place to put His creation.  It was made perfect for the habitation of   Adam, and soon Eve; they would be the caretakers of the garden. 


This wasn't work for Adam, this was his purpose.  This is what he was created for.  When you are in God's garden you bear fruit out of faith not work.  We don't have to sweat and toil to please God.  The work that we do is a fruit of faith, a feel compelled to and find pleasure in the act, along with contentment with each accomplishment. 


This paradise had every tree that was pleasing to sight and good for food.  We can only imagine what this beautiful and lush orchard looked like.  Along with these trees was a specific one called

'The tree of life'.  This 'life' is one of abundance, blessing, exuberance, happiness and vitality.  Eating from this tree sustained this life eternally.  Also. in the garden was 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil'.  The existence of this tree seems to imply that evil already existed; at the very least, it represented the potential for evil.  This potential existed in the free will choice of God's creation.  Eating of the tree would give mankind the experiential knowledge of evil.  All Adam knew was good, he had no concept of bad.  By eating, and disobeying, he would then knew evil and thereby understand the good he had turned from.   There were two trees, one offered life by faith, the other offers death by disobedience.  Man was given the choice.  We'll see this in Genesis 3:22 and study it more; but we can at least glimpse to the end of the book to know that if we are in Christ, we can see this garden.


Revelation 2:7

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."'


Revelation 22:2

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.


Genesis 2:10-14

Do you get the sense that the person writing this actually saw it?  These are preflood rivers and don't necessarily match the rivers or the Tigris and Euphrates we know today.  The river originating in Eden became four rivers:

  • The river Pishon: means 'to push up'
    • It winds through Havilah; it means 'bringing forth in pain' (like a mother delivering).
    • Unknown location; listed in Gen 10:7 with Arabian regions.
  • Gihon; means 'to burst forth'
    • Winds through Cush; it means 'full of darkness' or 'a black countenance'.
    • East Africa.
  • Tigris (Hiddekel); means 'light and swift' as in a horse
    • Winds through Ashur, what later would be Assyria.
    • Modern day Tigris begins in the mountains of SE Turkey and flows 1150 miles to the Persian Gulf.  Many important ancient cities were along the Tigris, including Nineveh and Ashur.  Daniel stood along the Tigris in one of his visions.
  • Euphrates; means fruitful and fertile
    • Westernmost of the two great cities.  Babylon was built near the Euphrates.

When Moses wrote and spoke of these scriptures to the children of Israel, he knew that Eden was east.  Would it be a surprise that Babylon, the model of wickedness and rebellion from the tower of Babel to the book of John, was built near the place of the fall of man.  Is it a wonder so much of this area is barren and unfruitful?  The garden is indeed a mystery. 

  • Christopher Columbus passed the mouth of the Orinoco River in South America and speculated that it flowed from the garden of Eden.  (He thought he was on the east coast of Asia.)
  • An author by the name of W.F. Warren felt he located the garden of Eden, on the North Pole!  He discovered fossil plants proving the entire polar region once had a climate like Europe. 
  • British General Charles George Gordon contended from his life experiences that the garden was on one of the hundred beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean.  He chose on particularly, Praslin Island in the valley of Mai.  One of his friends was quoted as saying, "Whether Gordon was right or wrong, you must admit that Eden should have been there."

Genesis 2:15-17

God put Adam in the garden.  This is Adam doing that for which he was created.  This was work, the language implies it was rest and connects it to the Lord's sabbath.  Adam tending the garden was an act of rest.  As God put Adam in the garden, He warned him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Gayle Erwin made the point that there were probably millions of trees in the garden, but when God told them not to eat of that tree, his first question was, "Now where is that at?"  As humans, we can't help it.  This forbidden tree now seemed more special and more tantalizing than all the rest.  Eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was sin.  There may not have been anything different about this particular tree other than God made it off limits.  Eating from it was an act of disobedience, of self will and rebellion.  The wages of sin is death.  


Why did God put this in the garden?  Why didn't he just keep temptation out of the garden?  Because He gave us free will.  Adam's love for Him should have kept him from the restricted tree.  We can only speculate what this was like for Adam.  We know, in our sinful nature, we don't like to be confined to God's choice. 


The Lord spoke to Adam, giving Him guidance and boundaries for life.  It was paradise and he was sharing it with God.  Bonhoeffer noted that "Adam speaks and walks with God as if they belong to one another."  It certainly was a paradise; one Adam would only truly appreciate after he lost it.


Genesis 2:18-20

God declared this situation with man was not good.  We got used to hearing everything was 'good' during the creation week.  This phrase 'not good' means something was missing, there was a deficiency.  It was God who declares this deficiency, Adam was not aware he was incomplete.  All he knew was aloneness.  It's not good for a man to be alone. 


Then other animals God had just made were then brought to Adam so he could name them.  To name the animals was to know them; to name them was to have authority over them, to rule them.  God made them and set them before Adam and whatever he called them, that was their name.

Mark Twain had a joke where he described Adam coming home to Eve after naming all the animals. Eve looked at an elephant and said, "What did you name that big animal?" Adam replied, "I called it an elephant." Eve asked, "Why did you call it an elephant?" Adam answered, "Because it looked like an elephant!"


Adam named all the animals and, in the process, noticed that all the other animals had a social companion.  This first man learned about all the differences and likenesses of the animal kingdom over which he ruled.  But what he learned most of all was that he was alone.  None of these animals was comparable for Adam. 


The word 'helper' does not imply inferiority.  When God helps people, He is doing something for people that they can't do for themselves.  This helper that Adam lacked was one who could supply what man lacked; likewise, man would be the helper to the woman.  Together, they could produce what neither could do alone.  Together they were 'very good' in the eyes of God.


Adam fell asleep knowing he was without companionship.  When he awakes from his nap, he is given a precious gift; God had given him Eve.  What was Adam thinking in that moment?  What was Eve thinking?  Even in the perfect setting of the Garden of Eden, man could not be complete until woman was at his side. She was made to meet man's deficiency.  They were made for each other.  This is marriage!  The man being so much more capable of being a man than Eve; and she was so much more capable of being a woman than he.  Together there was completeness.   God created Adam and gave him the agenda and he and his wife worked together to fulfill it.  It is Jewish tradition that says:

God made woman, not out of man's foot to be under him, nor out of his head to be over him, but "She was taken from under his arm that he might protect her and from next to his heart that he might love her."

This is the divine order of things.  The life of woman came from man.  The life of the world comes from woman. 


I love this picture we are given in the last part of verse 22.  It's the father giving this woman to the man.  This is played out in nearly every wedding when a father gives away the bride.  It is that moment when the father who raised this woman up places her in the care of the man.  He takes her arm and the father lets go.  God was the only one at this first weeding to be happy and emotional to the point of tears. 


Every man can imagine this moment of seeing the woman; stunning, beautiful, awestruck.  Every woman can imagine this moment of seeing the man; (ladies, you fill in the blanks).  Adam and Eve were made perfect by a perfect God; and they were perfect for each other.  Did God have to explain to them how to kiss?  Or, did it come natural?  What a moment, the first kiss of all humanity.


Genesis 2:23-25:

Adam declared that she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh; this was the institution of marriage.  Adam's words are the first record of man speaking.  They were now becoming one.  As 'flesh of my flesh" whatever made her happy, made him happy.  Whatever hurt her, hurt him.  This woman would be the motivation for a man to leave his family and be united to a wife.  This 'leaving' was to change your primary focus of loyalty and devotion.  In marriage they would be one flesh.


Adam & Eve were in the garden, they were not ashamed because there was no knowledge of such a thing.  This nakedness was not just being without clothes but being totally open before God.  There was nothing to hide. 


At the end of the day, Yahweh Elohim's 'not good' became "very good!"


©2019 Doug Ford