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2:1 The heavens and the earth were finished, and all their vast array- My suggestion has been that the creation of the cosmos is briefly spoken of in Gen. 1:1, and then we have a dramatic slide show of the preparation of the eretz Israel. But we are being told here that the intention of the creation of the cosmos was not finally fulfilled until Israel was created and populated. Paul shares a glimpse of this when he writes of how all things are for our sakes. The "vast array" translates the common Hebrew word usually rendered "hosts". Again the hint is that we are to see in these "hosts" a representation of beings, be they Angels, Israel or God's people generally. The "array" may refer in the first instance to the stars, but they are connected as belonging to "the heavens and earth". This would mean that the stars are presented as belonging to the earth; they are the array around the earth, as it were. This is the impression given in chapter 1, where the stars and lights in the firmament are to give light upon the earth / eretz. This is not the literal function of the physical stars and planets; the planets of the solar system revolve around the sun, not around the earth. But this is how they are presented, both here and in the account in chapter 1. Again, we are not being given a literal account of how the cosmos came into being; at best we are being given a perspective from someone standing on earth, to whom it could appear that all the "array" of the heavens circle around the earth. But this isn't bad science; the "creation" envisioned here is a special "model" as it were, and the "hosts" of heaven do indeed circle around the eretz. All things are for Israel's sake and for the sake of that territory. Yahweh is Yahweh of hosts, the God of the hosts of Angels and of His people; and they are all centred around the things of the Kingdom, the eretz.

2:2 On the seventh day, God finished His work which He had made- Heidel understands the grammar here to mean rather “God declared His work finished” (Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951) p. 127). Seeing nothing was created on the seventh day, this would make sense. The finished work of God in creating all things, the whole universe, is therefore only finished in the creation of His Kingdom-land eretz and His man- the Lord Jesus and all who are in Him, the second Adam. Quite literally, all things were on account of the Christ, and thereby all things are for our sakes. Let us never therefore feel insignificant in the vastness of the cosmos. Let us never again slip into a sense that we are meaningless, that the scale of the cosmos means that therefore we are without significance. Quite the opposite. The scale of the cosmos and the range of life forms even on planet earth are simply in order to provide scale and context, in order to bring home to us our intense significance before the loving Father who created us.

When Moses “finished the work” of the tabernacle (Ex. 40:33), there is clear allusion to God ‘finishing the work’ of creation.

And He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made- "Rested" is Heb. Shabbat. Remember that the creation record alludes to contemporary creations myths in order to deconstruct them, and to teach Israel Yahweh’s version of creation. The suggestion has been made that much of the Hebrew language in early Genesis alludes to similar words in the surrounding languages which were used in the creation myths of the pagan peoples. In this case, the allusion would be to the Akkadian shappatu, the day of the full moon, the 15th day of the lunar month, a day when sacrifice had to be offered to appease the moon god, hence the word meant ‘the day of the quieting [cp. ‘rest’] of the heart’ [of the god] [Victor Hamilton,  The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1–17 (Eerdmans, 1990) p. 142) . The contrast is that in the Biblical record, God ‘rested’ from the colossal works of grace He had performed throughout the week in the preparation of His land for His people. He was not resting because He had been appeased by human sacrifice, but rather because He was at rest / peace / at quiet after all His expenditure of energy in the grace of creating all things for His beloved people.

The Mesopotamian legends speak of the flood being sent to stop man destroying Enlil's "rest" by his noise. The Mesopotamian gods sought for a "ceasing from toil", "rest from labour"- identical ideas to the Hebrew concept of shabbat. This was why, it was claimed, the gods first created man and put him to work in their garden- so that they could "rest" (Joseph Campbell, The Masks Of God: Vol. 3, Occidental Mythology (New York: Viking Arkana, 1991) p. 103). This background is alluded to in the way that Genesis speaks of man being cast out of tending the garden of Eden as a punishment- scarcely something the gods would wish if man was there to save them working there. God speaks of Him giving man a shabbat as a rest for man from his labour. And the flood, although it was Divine judgment, ultimately worked out as a blessing of 'rest' for man in that the 'world' was cleansed from sin. Thus 'Noah' was given that name, meaning 'rest', "because this child will bring us relief from all our hard work" (Gen. 5:29 G.N.B.). Adam's work in Eden wasn't onerous; his work when cast out of the garden was hard. The wrong ideas are clearly alluded to and often reversed- in order to show that a loving God created the world for humanity, for our benefit and blessing- and not to toil for the gods in order to save them the effort. The 'rest' so sought by the Mesopotamian gods was actually intended by the one true God as His gift to humanity.

A unique feature of the Genesis account of creation is that God is described as resting on the seventh day. No creation myth includes this feature. Moses developed this theme later, when he taught that therefore, man was to rest on the seventh day likewise. Whilst God is omnipotent, there is what I have called elsewhere ‘the limitation of God’- in that He portrays Himself as somehow limited, only allowing Himself to use some of His limitless power. This idea of a God who seeks to come so close to us that He limits His limitless power is altogether wonderful. The pagan gods were all some kind of supermen, untouched by human emotions and limitations. But the true God is not like that; He has always wished to come so close to His creatures. In a related way, the Genesis record brings out how God has delegated so much freedom and freewill to His creations. Gen. 4:20-22 explains how it was human beings who themselves developed skills of metal working, cattle breeding, music etc. The creations myths of the world surrounding the Israelites assumed that these very things were “the outcome of the internal conflicts of the gods”. The Sumerian legends taught that things like ploughs and axes were created by the gods, and they should be praised for them. Moses teaches a far higher respect for humanity, in keeping with the hugely-significant teaching that man was made in God’s image.

When Elohim rested on the seventh day, the implication is that they were tired- language impossible to apply to God Himself. The Hebrew for "rested" does not only mean that He ceased, but that He ceased for a reason. Ex. 31:17 is even clearer- "In six days the LORD made Heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed"- the word used to describe refreshment after physical exhaustion, e. g. regarding David and his men at Bahurim when fleeing from Jerusalem (2 Sam. 16:14). Notice in passing that the Angels who gave the Law of Moses are often mentioned specifically as instituting the sabbath (e. g. Ex. 31:3; Ez. 20:12,13,16,20)- because it is "the sabbath (the rest) of the Lord" (Lev. 23:3)- i. e. of the Angels who rested on that day back in Genesis. The fact man was to physically rest on the sabbath as a replica of how the Angels "rested" on that day implies that they too physically rested. The ‘language of limitation’ in Scripture may well often refer to the Angels rather than God personally.

 2:3 God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because He rested in it from all His work which He had created to make- God is spoken of as resting on the seventh day as if all creation has been finished. This is indeed what it sounds like- and from God's perspective, it was true. He had spoken, and so it was done. He through His word had created. The Angels were now working it all out in practice, having 'set it up' in the six literal days. This view of the record explains two verses which would seem to defy any other sensible interpretation: "God blessed the seventh day... because that in it he had rested from all his work which God had created to make" (2:3 AVmg.). God "had created to make" by the seventh day. He had created, because His word was as good as executed; but the things were not all made. But He had "created to make". Likewise Gen. 2:5 speaks of the day that the Lord "made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew". Now this is saving the best for last. Here surely is concrete evidence for the thesis presented. The plants were made before they were actually in the earth. This doesn't mean that they were made in Heaven and then transplanted to earth. Surely it is to be read in the context of all the other hints that God stated His commands regarding creation, and this was as good as it all being made. But in material terms, it all appeared some time later.  

God made the seventh day holy at that time; yet that doesn't mean that we must always sanctify or make it holy. He sanctified or made holy various things, not least the tabernacle and the Levitical priesthood (Ex. 29:44). But we are specifically taught that we need no tabernacle nor Levitical priesthood because they have been replaced in Christ. And it's the same with the Sabbath. He is our rest, our means of being at peace with God without works- every moment of every day, not just one day out of seven. The emphasis is upon God sanctifying the seventh day rather than Israel sanctifying it; it was a reminder that God and not their works sanctified them (Ex. 31:13). That lesson is now taught and commemorated in Christ and not in ritual observance. So the fact something was sanctified or made holy in Old Testament times was to teach something; no day is any more holy of itself than any other day. Likewise all the firstborn were made holy to the Lord (Num. 3:13) but that doesn't mean that we have to treat firstborn likewise today.

The stars in particular were thought to be in control of human destiny but the Genesis record emphasizes that they are merely lights created by God with no independent influence, therefore, upon human life on earth. The sun, the moon and the stars were all worshipped as gods in the Middle East but in Genesis 1 they are simply created things made by God. Genesis 1 is based around the number 7- and the practical issue of the creation record was that Israel were to remember the seventh day as Sabbath. Yet this was a purposefully critical commentary upon the Babylonian views. "According to one Babylonian tradition, the seventh, fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days of each month were regarded as unlucky: Genesis however, declares the seventh day of every week to be holy, a day of rest consecrated to God (2:1-3)" (Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary Genesis 1-15, (Waco TX: Word Books) Vol. 1 p. 49).

2:4 This is the history of the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens- “The history of the generations” is often interpreted as meaning ‘This is the account of…’. But the phrase is used in Genesis many times, and it means just that- an outline of the generations of people. The term refers to people, not material things. This adds weight to the impression that the creation record is an account of the preparation of eretz Israel for God’s people within it, and that the heavenly "hosts" created (see on Gen. 2:1) are to be understood as representing God's people, His hosts, who were to be the spiritual light of the eretz. The focus of the account is upon people- and the whole structure of the account reflects that, beginning with an almost casual statement about the creation of all things, then focusing upon the eretz Israel, and then focusing upon Adam. Then the creation record of Genesis 2 repeats the creation story but is totally focused upon Adam and Eve.

2:5 No plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up- The AV appears more faithful to the Hebrew here: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew”. This seems to confirm the suggestion made that the creation record is not speaking of origins, but rather of the preparation of the eretz for the habitation of God’s created people. The plants and herbs were created before they were placed in the eretz. They are part of the general creation which is briefly spoken of in Gen. 1:1. The rest of the record in Genesis 1-3 speaks of how those things were ordered and prepared in relation to eretz Israel. And here we have that pretty much stated- those things were created before they were placed in the earth / eretz. 2:5 says that every plant and herb was created “before it was in the earth”. The definition of “every” is therefore ‘every plant and herb in the eretz’. What is in view is every plant or herb known to eretz Israel. If we insist on reading 2:5 as a literal record of creation, then we have the prospect of every herb and plant being created and kept somewhere and then placed on planet earth. Even the most ingenious redneck creationists would be hard put to come up some scientific explanation of that, seeing that plants and herbs depend upon each other and the environment of planet earth in order to live. I suggest that my idea that the record is a Divine slideshow or drama, observed by someone in eretz Israel, makes far better sense.

Quite simply, the plants Israel knew had been made by God and somehow transplanted or moved into the land, just as one does when developing a garden. It was Moses' understanding that on entering the land, God would be planting Israel there (Ex. 15:17; Num. 24:6), just as God had planted in Eden (Gen. 2:8 s.w.).

The early chapters of Genesis were intended as the seed bed from which Israel would understand that they had grown. The nature of the record of creation was therefore primarily for their benefit. The lesson for us likewise must be- that what God did at creation, He can in essence do in our lives and experiences too. The record of Gen. 1-3 especially opens up in a new way when viewed from this angle. Difficult parts of the account seem to fall into place. Gen. 2:5 says that the creation account explains how God created "every plant of the field before it was in the earth / eretz / land [promised to Abraham]". Quite simply, the plants Israel knew had been made by God and somehow transplanted or moved into the land, just as one does when developing a garden. It was Moses' understanding that on entering the land, God would be planting Israel there (Ex. 15:17; Num. 24:6), just as God had planted in Eden (Gen. 2:8 s.w.).

For Yahweh God had not caused it to rain on the earth. There was not a man to cultivate the ground- This doesn’t have to mean that there had never been rain on the planet. It’s saying that there was no rain on the eretz. There is no statement that there never had been rain on the eretz. If that was the intention, surely other language would have been chosen. But the idea of God not causing rain to fall on the land [of Israel] is quite common in the later Scriptures. We think of the situation at the time of Ahab. God not causing rain on the eretz is a result of His judgment. The eretz had been judged, in terms of the record in Genesis 1, it was formless and made empty, covered in the waters of judgment. “There was not a man” is likewise an idea later used in the Bible concerning how eretz Israel would be left without a man to cultivate its ground- as a result of Divine judgment (Jer. 4:29; Ez. 14:15; Zech. 1:21; 7:14). So we are being told that the plants were outside the eretz because it had been judged and was empty and dry; but now they are to be brought into the eretz because a river was now providing water. This was exactly the situation with Elijah- there was no rain on the eretz as it was under judgment, but he was kept alive by a Divinely provided river.

Mist came out of the land, there was no rain on the land [there may have been on the rest of the planet], it was watered by a canopy over the land. Now this would have had tremendous significance for Israel in the wilderness, likewise under a canopy of cloud each day.

The lack of "a man" is alluded to in the prophetic statements that there was "no man" on the eretz because of God's judgments upon it during the exile; and God's search for "a man" was met in Messiah (Is. 41:28; 50:2; 59:16; Jer. 4:25). Thus we are set up to expect the Lord Jesus to be just whom Paul later declares Him to be, the second Adam. His role was to cultivate the plants in order to bring forth fruit; and this indeed is the Lord's work with us through the Spirit. And the arena of our spiritual fruitfulness will be the Kingdom of God, the eretz.

The plants needed “a man to cultivate” them. Because there was no man in Eden, therefore the plants weren’t put there. But the plants had been created before they were placed “in the eretz”, i.e. Eden. This is what Genesis 1 is saying- the creation of all things is briefly mentioned in 1:1, and then the rest of Genesis 1 is about the arrangement and preparation of the eretz to receive those things after a time of Divine judgment had fallen upon it. The argument is that the eretz and man within it were intimately connected; without man upon it, there could be no creation or paradise as God intended. This was so relevant to the Jews in Babylon who were tempted to remain within Babylon and not return to their chosen eretz and re-create God’s Kingdom there. It was likewise relevant to a displaced Israel tramping through the wilderness to enter that eretz, constantly tempted to quit the dream and return to Egypt. Israel and their land were inextricably linked from creation.

I recall as a young convert being deeply disturbed when I realized that there were many myths of creation existing in the peoples that surrounded the Israelites [the Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Egyptians, Hittites etc.] which were extremely similar in some aspects as the Genesis record of creation. Indeed, in a few places the correspondences are almost verbatim the same- “There was not yet rain…there was not yet a man to till the ground” (Gen. 2:5) reads very similarly to an Egyptian text that speaks of “When there was not yet rain…when there was not yet the fear that came to be…”.

I assured myself that all those peoples must have copied their ideas from the Genesis record, rather than vice versa. But I was never totally comfortable with that view. Having now read through some of the myths and reflected upon the situation, and faced up to the fact that some of them were around well before Moses wrote Genesis, I’ve come to another view. It seems to me that the Genesis record, under inspiration, is a commentary upon those myths, telling Israel the truth, bringing out where they were wrong, and why. One Egyptian myth claimed that man was created from dust, and then the goddess Hat-Hor holds the symbol of life to the mouth and nose of the created body. You can see the similarities with the Genesis record. The Gilgamesh Epic also has a primeval man seeking to eat forbidden fruit. Many creation myths included the idea of the first woman having two sons, who then have conflict with each other and even commit fratricide. The tension between farmers and cattle raisers in southern Babylonia was at the root of a number of myths very similar to the Cain and Abel account. But Moses, under inspiration, is giving Israel the true account, after their long period under Egyptian influence. So Genesis may allude to the other stories closely- as they were myths and legends which would’ve been well known to Israel as they walked through the desert. They would’ve discussed them, and some probably believed them. And so Moses wrote Genesis to show them where the truth really was from God’s viewpoint. This explains something which has been widely observed by students of the ancient Middle East: the Israelites had no myths in their culture. The surrounding nations [cp. the world around us] were full of poorly defined and contradictory myths relating to life’s origin. But the Israelites were different. They had ultimate truth for them clearly laid down.

Genesis itself was part of a five volume, Divinely inspired masterpiece. The purpose of Genesis was to teach God’s people something in their day, whenever and wherever that was or is experienced by the readers / hearers of the book. This is why so many parts of the Bible allude back to the Genesis record of creation, in seeking to inspire faith now that God will powerfully act creatively and dramatically in our lives today.

2:6 But a mist went up from the earth, and watered the whole surface of the ground- LXX “But there rose a fountain out of the earth, and watered the whole face of the earth”. This would then be the river of Gen. 2:10 which went out of the garden. The idea of a fountain arising and watering the earth is the language of later Scripture, especially Revelation, about the fountain which shall flow from the new Jerusalem. The eretz is yet again associated with eretz Israel and the Jerusalem area particularly. The idea of an underground stream suggests a subterranean ocean of living water, and this is the basis of the prophetic pictures of a stream of living water issuing from the temple (Ez. 47:1-12). Again, the idea is that the fountain of Eden was located where the temple was and will be restored again there in the future when Eden is restored.

The argument could be that until there was a man to cultivate the land, there was a mist or fountain which watered the ground. This would explain why in John's Gospel, the second Adam, the Lord Jesus, likens Himself to a spring giving living water (Jn. 4,7). And all in Him likewise will have this same function (Jn. 7:38).

2:7 Yahweh God formed man- The Hebrew has the sense of forming as a potter, and the Hebrew translated “dust” can equally mean ‘clay’. Later allusions to this state that God is the potter, and Israel the clay in His hand (Is. 64:8; Jer. 18:4-6; Rom. 9:21). Adam, the man of the eretz [see later] was to be seen as Israel, created to be in their land, just as all God’s people were created to be in His Kingdom. This was of especial meaning to the first audience- Israel in the wilderness, travelling towards the promised land, and likewise to the later audience- Israel in captivity in Babylon awaiting restoration to the land. They had been created for a purpose- to inherit the land / Kingdom prepared for them, and all the power of creation was behind that intention. And this is no less powerful encouragement to we who also wonder, in our weakness, quite why we are here, and whether really there is a Kingdom ahead of us. There indeed is, and all the power of creation was to this end, and is behind us as we travel there. This would explain the frequent allusions to God’s power in creation which we find in the restoration prophecies, as well as in Moses’ encouragement of Israel to enter the land, particularly in Deuteronomy.

From the dust of the ground- “Ground” here is adamah. Adam effectively means 'dust'; a powerful statement that man is but dust. Gen. 3:19 will later comment that Adam was taken out of, or, 'from among' (Heb.), the ground / dust. He was an extension of it, just as the Lord Jesus, the ultimate Adam, was taken out from among the rest of the dust of the earth. And in Gen. 28:14 (cp. Dan. 12:2) we are to find Abraham's seed likened to the dust of the earth. Adam and later the Lord Jesus were taken out from among the dust, He was of the same nature as all the promised seed. A correct grasp of Genesis forbids all the low grade theology about the Trinity which later developed, leaving such theories stillborn.

But there is a parallel between adamah and eretz. Adam was made from the dust of the eretz- he was an Israelite, as it were, a man of the eretz or land. Just a few examples of the parallel will demonstrate the point:

“Every living substance was destroyed from the face of the earth [adamah]… they were destroyed from the earth [eretz]” (Gen. 7:23)

“Joseph bought all the land [adamah] of Egypt for Pharaoh… so the land [eretz] became Pharaoh’s” (Gen. 47:20)

“You shall inherit their land [adamah]… a land [eretz] that flows with milk and honey” (Lev. 20:24)

“The land [adamah] which You have given us… a land [eretz] that flows with milk and honey” (Dt. 26:15).

Dt. 4:32 is significant: “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and from the one end of the sky to the other…”. Man, Adam, was created on the eretz of Israel, and this area is parallel with “the one end of the sky to the other”. The sky, or “heavens”, was considered to meet the land at its ‘ends’. ‘Heaven’ was thought to touch the earth at its ‘ends’. This is not how things are of course in scientific reality. But I suggest that instead of ridiculing the Bible as teaching a flat earth, we rather consider the possibility that the allusion to creation here is made with the understanding that the creation record specifically spoke of the preparation of the eretz; that land, the land promised to Abraham, did indeed have boundaries or ‘ends’, and in the dramatic slideshow of Genesis 1:2-2:4, it would be fair to say that the heavens did indeed meet the earth at the boundaries. This kind of language is very frequent. Babylon is spoken of in Dan. 4:11: “The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the ends of all the earth”. The ‘earth’ clearly refers not to the whole planet, and likewise the ‘heaven’ which it touched is not to be read literally.

Critics often note that the creation record of Gen. 1:1-2:4 uses elohim and the record of the creation of man uses Yahweh. That is correct, but I think they are wrong to suggest that we therefore have here two different records which have been stuck together. It’s all a question of focus. Gen. 1:1 gives the brief statement that God created all things, in the beginning. Then, the focus moves to eretz Israel, and then to man. The question of cosmic origins is dismissed, irrelevant compared to the wonder of God’s focus upon His people and His land. And many believers need to likewise stop their obsession with origins, and refocus upon the wonder of the things of the Kingdom / eretz and the things of the Name of Jesus Christ, the second Adam. So we then in chapter 2 have the huge focus upon man intensified by more detail being provided about Adam, and the zoom of the screen moves in beyond the eretz  to a particular part of it, the garden planted in the east of Eden, the Jerusalem area. “Yahweh” is now used because this is God’s covenant name, the name He uses in relationship with man; He as elohim, the mighty One[s], created all the physical stuff; but He as Yahweh relates to man personally. The zoom of the camera progresses seamlessly once we perceive what is going on.

And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul- This is clearly alluded to in Ez. 37:9, where the Spirit / breath is breathed into the corpse of Israel to revive them. We are to see in Adam's creation the spiritual revival of all the true seed of the Kingdom. True life is only spiritual life; we are only truly alive when we have received the Spirit. All other forms of life are in fact not life at all. "Breath of life" is not ruach but neshamah; however the two words are paralleled, e.g. in Job 27:3; Job 32:8; Job 33:4; Job 34:14; Is. 42:5; Is. 57:16. In the latter two passages, the whole language of the gift of the breath of life is again applied to spiritual life being given to a recreated people of God.

As Gen. 2:7; Ecc. 12:7 make clear, the spirit / life is given by God to our bodies; it doesn’t come from anywhere else. There is no reincarnation. And this is no painless Bible fact; it demands that we live lives that are His, and not lived out as if our spirit / life / soul is ours. The fact that God “holdeth our soul in life”, a reference to Gen. 2:7, means that David wanted to “make the voice of his praise to be heard” (Ps. 66:8,9). This was the meaning of the basic facts of creation for David!

"Living soul" or creature is exactly the word used about the animals (Gen. 1:20,21,24,30). The animals also have a breath of life within them, given by God. In man's case, this looked ahead to how God's people can become spiritually alive by the gift of the Spirit. So often, having the breath of life in the nostrils becomes a Biblical idiom for 'being a live human being'. This must be given its full weight in the consideration of whether aborting a fetus, in whose nostrils there is no breath of life, is in fact murder.

2:8 Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden, in the east- Eden is introduced without definition. It is a fair assumption that this is the eretz / earth which has just been "made". The very concept of "East" presupposes that a specific portion of territory on earth is being spoken about. Because looking at the globe as a sphere revolving upon its own axis, there is no 'eastern' part of a revolving sphere. Such points of the compass demand that a defined territory upon planet earth is being spoken of. The lack of introduction to this idea suggests that "Eden" is the "earth" we have just seen 'made' in chapter 1. Eden is portrayed as being surrounded by water- the rivers Euphrates, Tigris, Pison and “Gihon, the same river that flows through the whole land of Cush” (Gen. 2:13). Seeing that Gihon is also a river near Jerusalem, we wonder whether after the flood, the course of this river was changed to begin in the centre of the eretz (1 Kings 1:33; 2 Chron. 32:20). Cush is Egypt (Gen. 10:6). The eretz promised to Abraham was bounded by the same rivers- the Nile and Euphrates (Gen. 15:18). The course of rivers surely changed after the massive upheavals associated with the flood, but all the same, the impression is given in Genesis 1 that the eretz was a flat area bounded by waters. This is the picture of the promised land and the garden of Eden which we have later in Genesis. This would also explain why eretz Israel is often spoken of as again becoming like Eden- for the same geographical area is in view (Is. 51:3; Ez. 36:35; Joel 2:3), and Israel’s sin within their land is likened to Adam’s sin in Eden (Is. 66:17; Hos. 6:7). This also makes sense of the way that the prince of Tyre is spoken of as being in "Eden the garden of God" …"upon the holy mountain of God" (Ez. 28:13,14)-thus associating Mount Zion, the temple mount, with Eden. I have written more about the identity of Eden with Israel at . This holy mountain may well be identifiable with Ararat, ‘holy hill’ (Gen. 8:4). The flood likewise destroyed the eretz, and a new beginning was made from Mount Zion. More thoughts about this at . Note too that Eden is presented as being a place of gold, silver and precious stones- all of which are associated with God’s sanctuary in Zion (Hag. 2:7,8; Rev. 21:18).

There are many references in later Scripture to God planting, and nearly always they refer to God planting Israel in their own land. This confirms us in understanding Eden as Israel. Some of the more significant references include:

-        Ex. 15:17 “You shall bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, the place, Yahweh, which You have made for yourself”. This recalls the creation of Adam outside of Eden and then bringing him into it.

-        Num. 24:6 Israel were “as gardens by the riverside, as aloes which Yahweh has planted, as cedar trees beside the waters”. Trees planted by God in an idyllic setting by water is exactly the language of Eden. The same figure of God planting Israel in their land as trees is to be found in Ps. 44:2; 80:8,15; Is. 5:2; Jer. 2:21; 12:2.

-        Dt. 6:11 and other references speak of Israel being given a land full of trees which they had not planted- which was Adam and Eve’s situation in Eden. Ps. 104:16 actually says that it was God who planted the trees in the eretz Israel.

-        2 Sam. 7:10 “I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be moved no more”. “Appoint” translates the same Hebrew word used for God’s ‘putting’ of Adam in Eden (Gen. 2:8).

And there He put the man whom He had formed- "Formed" is the word used of how the Divine potter "formed" clay into the people of Israel (Is. 43:1,7,21; 44:2,21; 45:9,11; 64:8; Jer. 18:6). Adam represented the people of God, who were to subdue the eretz. They were "put" into that land, just as we are all placed into a life situation which is optimally designed for us to be fruitful and useful in God's work. "Formed" is used of how David was "formed" in the womb (Ps. 139:16; as Jer. 1:5). The creation is therefore ongoing in every human life; "forming" is used also of the creation of a person's wiring or psychology, the formation of the spirit or heart of a man (Zech. 12:1; Ps. 33:15). And it is used of the "forming" of Messiah (Is. 49:5). The creation of humans therefore refers not simply to our physical body, but to our hearts. We are all given a unique personality type and psychology, which the Father works further upon through the Spirit.

2:9 Out of the ground Yahweh God made every tree to grow- As in the account in chapter 1, there is special emphasis upon the trees. Ez. 31:3-9 speak of Assyria [which was located within eretz Israel] as being a powerful tree in “the garden of God”, with all the trees subject to him. “All the trees” surely refer to all the nations subject to Assyria, and they were all located within eretz Israel. “All trees” therefore do not refer to all trees / nations on a global level, but relative to the territory promised to Abraham. We can safely infer that Eden, the garden of God, refers to eretz Israel.

There is clearly a connection between how both man and vegetation are portrayed as formed out of the ground / dust. The trees were not made from pre-existent seeds, like Adam they are presented as special creations. The similarity serves to highlight the difference.  Man alone is described as having the Spirit to enliven him, turning him into a living soul or creature. Unless we receive the Spirit, we are likewise existing merely on the level of animals and plants, made from dust, to return thereto. In this observation lies the need to carefully assess any denials of the Spirit's operation in our lives. For if we have not the spirit of Christ, we are none of His; for all our much vaunted Biblicism and good theology.

That is pleasant to the sight, and good for food- The text here suggests that every created tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes. Not all trees are in these categories. So we have in view not a global creation, but a specific creation of a limited number of plants and animals- those found in Eden, the eretz / earth which is here the focus of all things. The fact other trees existed implies there may well have been the existence of other human beings outside of Eden; and that solves the question as to where Adam and Eve's children obtained their partners from. Adam was "the first man" as presented in the Bible, and in the sphere of the history of God's Kingdom which is what the Bible is all about. Just as Bible prophecy (in my view) has nothing much to say about the nations outside the eretz, likewise this creation narrative has little to say nor imply about other areas.

Again, similarity serves to highlight a difference. The fruit of the forbidden trees was "also" pleasant to the sight... but the difference is that it supposedly offered knowledge, and this appealed to Adam and Eve.

The description of the fruit as "pleasant to the sight" (Gen. 2:9) is found in the Gilgamesh epic about the trees in the garden of the gods. But that myth is alluded to, and Israel are told what really happened in the garden.

The tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil- The Bible begins with the tree of the lives [Heb.], and concludes in Revelation with men eating of the tree and there appearing a forest of trees-of-life. Our experience of salvation will be the basis of our witness to men in the Millennium, just as it should be now. On the basis of our experience of reconciliation with God, we have been given “the ministry of reconciliation”, in that God “hath put in us [Gk. settled deep within us] the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18,19). I have suggested that Eden is the land / eretz, and "the midst" of that eretz is the sanctuary, Jerusalem, Zion (the Hebrew term is thus used in 2 Chron. 32:4). Yahweh's voice and presence was found in the midst of (NEV "among") the trees of the garden (Gen. 3:8); "middle" here is s.w. "among" in Gen. 3:8. The idea of Divine presence and word appearing between two things is very much that of Num. 7:89, where Yahweh's voice and presence issue from between [s.w. "in the middle of"] the two cherubim.

The Proverbs several times speak of our having some kind of experience of the "tree of life" now. And likewise the Lord offers "eternal life" to His followers as a present experience. In this we see how the curse has already begun to be lifted for those led of the Spirit.

The attraction of the trees was that they apparently offered eternity immediately, and the knowledge of things which were beyond the ability of Adam and Eve to cope with. These are the essence of so many temptations today, if not all of them.

2:10 A river went out of Eden to water the garden- The river “went out” or ‘sprung up’ out of Eden. Dt. 7:7-9 describes eretz Israel in the very language of the creation record, suggesting that it is the same territory, eretz Israel, which is in view: “Yahweh your God brings you into a good land [the same words used in 1:10 about the land being pronounced “good” by God], a land of brooks of water, of springs and underground water gushing [s.w. about the river which “went out” of Eden into the rest of eretz Israel] into valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, vines, fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive trees and honey; a land in which you shall eat bread without scarcity. You shall not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you may dig copper”. Eden is described likewise as full of precious stones.

"To water the garden" is alluded to in the idea of God watering Israel and its people (Is. 27:3; 43:20). This source of water is clearly behind the Lord's teaching that His Spirit is as living water, by which the new Israel are to live.

And from there it was parted, and became four headstreams- This is hard to translate or visualize, but I suggest the idea is that Eden was surrounded on each compass point by water. This is the equivalent of the eretz being presented in Gen. 1 as an area of land which appeared with the waters gathered around it. Remember that the Hebrew ideas of ‘rivers’ and ‘waters’ are similar. Eden, like eretz Israel, was surrounded by waters, and rivers / waters in the Bible usually represent the Gentile world. The flood doubtless changed the course of the rivers in the eretz, but the impression remains that the same basic rivers surrounded both Eden and eretz Israel according to the boundary definition of Gen. 15:18- because they refer to one and the same area. The “Gihon” of 2:13 flowed through Cush, i.e. Egypt (Gen. 10:6); and the boundaries of eretz Israel were from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt.

The parting of the one water source into four may mean that when the eretz was "divided" by the topographical changes wrought by the flood (Gen. 10:25), four currently known rivers came from it. The water source became four rivers by which the eretz was to be defined. Note that on Gen. 2:13 I suggest that "Gihon" is a reference to the Nile. I have suggested that the creation narrative is effectively a vision from the viewpoint of a person within the eretz. It could be that visually we are being asked to envisage a fountain of water, which then divided into the four rivers which we are invited to see as the boundaries of that land.

2:11 The name of the first is Pison: this is the one which flows through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold- "Havilah" could refer to a person rather than a place (Gen. 10:7; 1 Chron. 1:9). The Hebrew means ‘circular’ and may suggest that the garden was encompassed by Havilah; in this context, see on Gen. 2:12 Gold…. The present tense suggests that the initial audience of Genesis knew the area. I suggested on :10 that the four rivers refer to four rivers by which the eretz came to be defined after the flood; the Nile (see on :13), the Tigris to the north and Euphrates to the East (:14). The southern border of the eretz is never clearly defined- unless we take this reference to the "Pison" as referring to a river or wadi, perhaps now dried up, which was to define the southern border. The reference to gold could connect with the Queen of the South, or Sheba, who brought gold to Solomon. This would then refer to some boundary in what is now Saudi Arabia.

2:12 And the gold of that land is good. There is aromatic resin and the onyx stone- Note that what men count as the most materially valuable things were outside the garden. What was in the garden was relationship with God and work for Him, not material ease and wealth.

2:13 The name of the second river is Gihon: the same river that flows through the whole land of Cush- See on Gen. 2:10. The land that borders (Heb.) Cush or Ethiopia is the Nile; the same Hebrew phrase is used for the "river of Ethiopia" in Is. 18:1 (where it is the border of Egypt) and Zeph. 3:10. The connection between Gihon, a water source in Jerusalem, and the Nile is in that the river which once flowed in Jerusalem before the flood is now the Nile, after the topographical changes in the eretz; but this is memorialized by the fact that there is still a Gihon in Zion.

2:14 The name of the third river is Tigris: this is the one which flows east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates- The present tenses may mean that this is now, after the flood and the remaking of the topography in the eretz, where these rivers flow. I suggested on :10 and :11  that the rivers are being used to define the borders of the eretz after the topographical changes brought about by the flood.

2:15 Yahweh God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden- Adam was a man of the eretz and the eretz was effectively Eden. The Hebrew need not mean that Adam was created outside of Eden. He was taken in the sense of commissioned, and placed in Eden to keep it. "Garden" can imply a walled area; the idea is that this was a separate area to be kept as paradise.

To cultivate it and to keep it- Note that there was work before the fall, just as there will be when Eden is restored. The Kingdom of God is no tropical holiday. Laziness is not at all what God is about. And our eternal future with Him will be of active, working service. “Keep” could well imply ‘protect’, and this has various implications which are beyond us in that it is unclear what it need protecting from; perhaps from influences and even people from outside of the eretz, just as Israel were to keep His Kingdom pure from defiling influences. Clearly all was not ultimately perfect- it was “good”. If the garden required such care, it follows that vegetation there was not as it were self-caring; the eretz was created in need of man, reflecting how in a sense, God is in need of man. Israel needed to be in their land, they needed the land and the land needed them. The decorum and appropriacy of the language surely suggests that Adam’s mission to care for the eretz was of a local, manageable scale. See too on Gen. 2:19. He surely wasn’t required to tend every plant or animal on the planet, but within a more local territory. The command here in 2:15 surely repeats that of Gen. 1:28 “fill the earth and subdue it”. The subduing of the eretz was his mission; but this is defined here in 2:15 as working and keeping the land in the garden of Eden, again supporting my suggestion that the eretz was Eden.

We can easily imagine how the people of Israel were prone to be confused by all the mythology they had encountered in their surrounding world. Being illiterate and having no inspired record from their God as to how to understand the past, they relied on dimly recalled traditions passed down. Hence Moses was inspired to write the Pentateuch. It is full- as so much of Scripture is- of allusion to the surrounding religious ideas- not because it in any sense depends upon them, but because it seeks to allude to and correct them. And further, the Torah labours how the one true God is so far superior to all the other gods whom Israel were tempted to believe in. In contrast with Near Eastern mythology, which had men as the lackeys of the gods to keep them supplied with food, the God of Genesis makes man and woman in His own image and gives them responsibility for His creation.

2:16 Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat- Literally: ‘Eat! Eat!’. This was a command to eat from every tree of the garden. They were all fruit trees, therefore. This is the equivalent to Gen. 1:29 in the creation narrative: “God said, Behold, I have given you…  every tree, which bears fruit yielding seed. It will be your food”. Note the repetition of “every tree”, confirming that the arrangement of the eretz in chapter 1 is being explained from a different perspective in the Eden account of chapter 2. But the geographical territories concerned are one and the same.

2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it- Adam alone had been commanded not to eat the tree of knowledge. Yet when Eve speaks to the serpent, it is evident that Adam had told her about it, but not very deeply. She speaks of "the tree that is in the midst of the garden" rather than " the tree of knowledge". She had been told by Adam that they must not even touch it, even though this is not what God had told Adam (Gen. 2:16,17 cp. 3:2,3). So we are left with the idea that Adam turned to Eve and as it were wagged his finger at her and said 'Now you see that tree over there in the middle, don't you even touch it or else there'll be trouble, O.K.'. She didn't understand, he didn't explain that it was forbidden because it was the tree of knowledge, and so she was deceived into eating it- unlike Adam, who understood what he was doing (1 Tim. 2:14). Adam's emphasis was on not committing  the sin of eating the fruit; he said nothing to her about the need to multiply and subdue the earth. The next we know, Adam and Eve have separated, she is talking to the snake, apparently indifferent to the command to subdue the animals, to be their superiors, rather than listen to them as if they actually had superior knowledge. When the snake questioned: "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree..." (Gen. 3:1), Eve was in a weak position because Adam hadn't fully told her what God had said. Hence she was deceived, but Adam wasn't.  So, why didn't Adam tell her more clearly what God had said? I would suggest that he was disillusioned with the wife God gave him; he didn't have intercourse with her as he had been asked, he separated from her so that she was alone with the snake. "The woman, whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree..." (Gen. 3:12) seems to reflect more than a hint of resentment against Eve and God's provision of her.

The lack of reference to the tree of life may be because it only bore its fruit every month, according to Revelation. This would suggest that the potential for eternity was there, but not immediately available; and that they sinned within the first month. "Knowledge" in Hebrew thought doesn't usually mean theoretical, academic knowledge; but rather experience or relationship. The desire to experience good and evil is at the root of all sin and temptation. The desire for the apparent 'goodness' of sexual experience would be the classic example; and the desire to vicariously experience good and evil from the comfort of our screens would be another. Adam was being asked instead to focus on doing God's work. The Father was to guide Adam to the experience of good and evil in His own way according to His program; and He knew that this must be developed in baby steps. But Adam, so typically human, wanted it all immediately, and on his own terms.

For in the day that you eat of it you will surely die- The Hebraism simply means 'You will really die'. Adam didn't die in the day he ate of it; and thus we are introduced to God's grace toward sinners, and what the reality of forgiveness means in practice. Attempts to make this text mean that he was given a mortal, sinful nature seem to me forced at the very best. Punishing a sinner by making him 'sinful by constitution' seem to me very far from what the text here is actually saying. And all we posit about human nature we are saying about the Lord Jesus, who had our nature and yet was "holy, harmless and undefiled". "You will surely die" is only one word in Hebrew, repeated twice: "Die, die!". It echoes the construction at the end of :16, "Eat, eat!" ("Freely eat", NEV). The choice was to "eat, eat!" or "die, die!". If he had got on with God's work and been satiated by His provision, he would have had no appetite for the forbidden fruit. And this is so true of us. We have been given talents and we are to trade them; to get on with our calling in the work of the Kingdom garden, and temptation will then seem the less attractive. This is the key to dealing with temptation, rather than trying to find the steel within our soul to resist what appears so overpoweringly attractive with our knuckles white from the stress. None of us have that kind of iron in the soul.

The punishment of death which is introduced in early Genesis was created and executed by the same one God who also created the world and the opportunity of eternal life. Gilgamesh and the pagan myths presented whole groups of gods as responsible for and presiding over death and the underworld, and another, separate, pantheon of gods as involved in creation. The Biblical emphasis upon one God is significant and unusual; it is Yahweh who sends man back to the dust from which He created him, and the same Yahweh who is in total control of sheol [the grave or underworld], and in a sense even present there (Dt. 32:22; Job 26:6; Ps. 139:7,8; Prov. 15:11; Am. 9:2). The state of the dead is defined in Genesis as a return to dust, and later Scripture emphasizes that this means unconsciousness, for the righteous merely a sleep in hope of bodily resurrection. This was radically different to the ideas espoused by the peoples amongst whom Israel travelled and lived. The dead dwell in silence (Ps. 94:17; 115:17) having returned to dust, and as such don’t become disembodied spirit beings which were later understood as ‘demons’. The whole concept of demons was in this sense not allowed to even develop in the minds of God’s people by the definitions of death which Moses presented in the Pentateuch.  The utter supremacy of God is taught in the Genesis record in a way it never is in any of the other myths. 


2:18 God said, It is not good that the man should be alone- By the end of the sixth day, all had been pronounced “very good” (Gen. 1:31). So this is providing more detail regarding the creation account of chapter 1. The creation of woman was after Adam had first interviewed the animals of the eretz and found them incompatible for helpers in his work. Woman was created on the sixth day. The decorum of the language surely requires that on the sixth day Adam met all the animals and named them. This would be appropriate for all the animals in the garden, but not for every animal on planet earth; see on 2:19.

I will make him a helper suitable for him- "Make" is the same Hebrew word used in chapter 1 for the making or creating of things. But here, the woman is made not ex nihilo but from pre-existing material, Adam's rib. And so likewise the 'creation' or 'making' language of chapter 1 doesn't have to mean ex nihilo. The role of both woman in marriage and the church / Israel of God is made clear here; we are the Lord's helpers in His work in the garden / Kingdom. We are "suitable", the Hebrew meaning to stand opposite, to be the equal complement. Her formation from His side rather than His feet likewise speaks of this equality, to the end Eve may assist Adam in his mission and calling in the things of the Kingdom.

2:19 Out of the ground Yahweh God [had] formed every animal of the field, and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. Whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name- This rather stretches credibility to imagine every species of animal and bird of the Amazon being brought to Adam in Eden for him to name, within the course of a day; for he found no appropriate helper, and so Eve was created for him on the sixth day. The more comfortable reading is to assume that every bird and animal known within eretz Israel, the garden, was named by Adam. See on 2:15 and Gen. 1:28 and 1:29. “God formed” can quite legitimately be translated “had formed”. The focus of Genesis 2 is upon the creation of Adam and Eve within Eden; it is not a literal attempt to explain creation in any scientific sense.

"To see what he would call them" in Hebrew means just this. God had granted Adam freewill, and He was waiting to see / understand / perceive what Adam would decide to name the animals. And His own language and purpose is able to absorb the freewill decisions of man; for whatever Adam called the animals of Eden, God accepted that as their name in His revealed language in the Bible. This little incident perhaps exercised Adam’s freewill in preparation for the test which was to come. In Hebrew thought, to name something was a statement of their subordinance to the one who names. God had commanded Adam to have dominion over the animal creation, and He encouraged his obedience by inviting him to name the animals. The Father likewise uses commandment and asks us to serve Him as part of a program which is intended to induce our spirituality.

The language also implies God was interested in the freewill decisions of Adam; He perhaps limited His omniscience as He limits His omnipotence, in order to "see" Adam, to get to know him, to see how his mind worked as reflected in what he named them.

2:20 The man gave names to all livestock- “In the ancient world, things did not exist until they were named… The name of a living being or an object was ... the very essence of what was defined, and the pronouncing of a name was to create what was spoken”. John H. Walton, Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011). This concept is being alluded to; but Adam of course was not thereby the creator of all the animals he named. And yet the idea is that all the animals in eretz Israel were named by Adam and were effectively ‘created’ or brought into known being by this naming process.

The pagan creation myths tend to leave man as created, as a servant to the gods. The implication is that the true meaning of life is the same as our mere existence. We are created to exist, so, we just exist. That’s what life is about. This isn’t existential, philosophical nonsense. That’s a sad, real, concrete fact of what this life is about for many people on the earth. They’re just existing. The Genesis record, however, gives more purpose to life than just existing. Adam was created, and he started existing. But, as the account brings out, he couldn’t find the meaning of life by merely existing in an ideal physical, material situation. Just like people today don’t find satisfaction in that, either. He needed Eve; he needed some form of human community, of fellowship, of binding with others, in order to find fulfilment. And so it is with us, driven as we are towards isolationism and individualism by the abuses of society around us.

And to the birds of the sky, and to every animal of the field- The record invites us to see this process as happening the same day Adam was created; for the creation of man and woman is spoken of in chapter 1 as occurring on the same day. For him to name all the birds on the globe within one day is unrealistic. Surely we are being asked to deduce that the creation in view covers only a limited part of earth's surface; "the sky" in view is that over the eretz and not the entire sky above the earth. It could be argued that "the field" is put here for "the earth"; the enclosed territory in view, the "field", is Eden, the eretz, and not the entire planet.

But for man there was not found a helper suitable for him- this connects with the statement in Gen. 2:20, that God made Adam a helper, because no animal had been found appropriate for him and his work. The opposition of ideas is between him seeking to find a helper [which search failed], and God making a partner for him. And this is a profound commentary upon the union between man and woman in marriage. No amount of searching for a partner will be ultimately successful; the partner is made by God. Marriages truly are made in heaven, in this sense. This principle has profound relevance to the internet generation, who go out online to try to find a partner. An appropriate partner is ultimately of God's creation, rather than human searching.

2:21 Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall on the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place- The Hebrew for "rib" is often translated "side". This is replete with reference to the gash in the Lord's side at His crucifixion, through which His bride was created, from His water and blood. This may well have reference to the crucial role of water baptism in the creation of the Lord's bride, which is the church. The "deep sleep" speaks of the depth of the Lord's death, the hardest and most profound death died by any human. The same word is used in Gen. 15:12 of the "deep sleep" upon Abraham, prefiguring the Lord's death, through which the covenant of salvation was confirmed. The closing or shutting of the flesh may speak of the Divine victory against the flesh in His Son, on account of which we who are in Him shall be saved from our flesh.

2:22 He made the rib, which Yahweh God had taken from the man, into a woman, and brought her to the man- The implication is that the rib was taken away somewhere, worked upon, and then brought to Adam. This may look forward to our formation for the Lord, and then being presented to Him at the last day. We have been "reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreproveable before him" (Col. 1:22). We now are in process of being brought to the Lord Jesus.

2:23 The man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh!- Clearly alluded to in Eph. 5:30 AV, confirming we are correct in seeing Eve as representative of the bride of Christ: "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones". "Flesh" and "bones" are several times used together as an idiom for 'the whole person' (Ps. 38:3; Prov. 14:30; Mic. 3:3). Eve was totally like Adam; and in this we see a visual demonstration of the unity of nature and purpose between the Lord Jesus and His people. Again, understanding Genesis would leave theories like the Trinity stillborn. The core attraction between Adam and Eve was that they were the same. Whilst opposites do indeed attract, that is but superficial. The essential attraction between the Lord Jesus and us, His attraction to us and ours to Him, is because of our commonality of nature and mission in this world. In this we see the huge practical import of understanding that the Lord was our representative, of our nature.

She will be called ‘woman’, because she was taken out of Man- As just noted, the mutual attraction between Adam and Eve, as between the Lord Jesus and ourselves, is because of our closeness of nature. The Hebrew words for "woman" and "man" are connected, just as they are in English. The woman was part of the man, and yet the male is born out of the female; thereby the man and woman need each other. 1 Cor. 11:11,12 is Paul's inspired reflection upon this verse: "Neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman. For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman". The same mutuality is therefore to be found between the Lord Jesus and His bride. He is in need of us. He is not indifferent, passing time in Heaven without emotions nor feelings, until the moment comes to return to earth. He is bound up with us, as we should be with Him.

Marriage as ordained by God was clearly intended to have a spiritual dimension, and marriage to an unbeliever nullifies or ignores this intention. God created Adam and gave him the command not to eat of the tree; He then created Eve because Adam alone was the only thing “not good” in an otherwise “very good” creation. It could be argued that the provision of Eve was in order to “help” Adam not only in God’s work of tending the garden, but against temptation. The whole story of Eve’s creation teaches that in Christian marriage, there is one specific woman intended for the believer. David Levin’s translation brings this out:

This one at last, bone of my bones

And flesh of my flesh,

This one shall be called Woman,

For from man was this one taken”.

This sense that ‘this is the one for me’ can only ultimately and lastingly be true in the context of Christian marriage. The creation record teaches that the bond between parents and children is somewhat temporary- for the children must leave them and cleave to their partner. But the bond between man and wife is to be permanent, and is an ever increasing process of being ‘joined’ to each other by God. Insofar as the man represents Christ and the woman represents the church, this speaks of how we are progressively bonded with Christ and feel a decreasing bond with our natural background.

 2:24 Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh- They initially disobeyed this. See on Gen. 1:28. As explained on :22 and :23, the nature of creation explains the attraction between male and female within the Divine sphere; it is because of this that "therefore" a man desires to join with his wife. This same natural attraction, to connect or re-connect with the opposite sex, is reflected in the natural attraction of the Lord Jesus toward us, and we toward Him. It is only human dysfunction which interferes with this; atheism and rejection of the claims of Jesus are in my view a psychological reaction against religion and those perceived as representing God on earth. "They will be one flesh" is "they two will be one" in the LXX, and the Lord Jesus and the New Testament prefer this reading. Two becoming one would axiomatically rule out polygamy; indeed, many relationships Biblically recorded, and currently experienced, amongst faithful believers are in contradiction to the ideals laid down here. Failures to rise up to these ideals is therefore no basis for condemnation or rejection.

As a couple "cleave" or 'join' to one another, so they become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). But this becoming one flesh is interpreted by the Lord Jesus as meaning that God actively joins the couple together (Mt. 19:6); as they cleave to each other in the process of married life, so God joins them together. Clearly the Lord understood Gen. 2:24 as speaking of the process of marriage, rather than simply the ceremony of a wedding. In passing, note that the Hebrew idea of two becoming one has already been used in Genesis- the morning and evening, the day and night, were fused by God into one day (Gen. 1:5- the same Hebrew phrase is used). Similarly we read of the waters becoming, or being made one, by God (Gen. 1:9). It's as if the immense power of God in creation is unleashed in His bonding of man and wife together. To put that asunder is to fight against the very creative power of God. Mal. 2:15 comments that the purpose of the two becoming one was in order to produce a Godly seed.

The Genesis record describes how woman was taken out of man, and yet in marriage man and woman become "one flesh" again. A man will desire to "cleave" to his wife (Gen. 2:24), literally to chase, follow hard after. The desire to chase a woman and marry her is therefore a natural urge that will always play itself out. There is a natural desire within human beings to achieve this rejoining. The lonely world in which we live, with the breakdown of the extended family and local community, makes loneliness all the more poignant.

The earliest anticipation  of the one body was the fact that man and woman become one flesh / body in the marriage process. If we are all members of the one body, this fact requires us to strive for unity with each other. We can't just sit back and think 'OK, so there's one body'; rather like a married couple can't just say they are one because they are " one flesh" . They must work on it if they want to be truly one. And likewise with the one body of Christ. 

2:25 They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed- The implication is that after the fall, they were ashamed and knew their nakedness. These two words are frequently used about Judah’s judgment- they were made naked and ashamed by the exile from the eretz. Jer. 9:19 speaks of them being ashamed having forsaken the eretz- an allusion back here to Adam’s exile from the same eretz. Hos. 13:15 speaks of Israel’s spring and fountain being ashamed and no more- a reference to the spring of Gen. 2:6 LXX.

Eve was created from Adam and brought to him. I have explained above that on one level, this speaks of the bride of Christ taken from His pierced side, through the work of the blood and water. We are now before Him, naked, known completely by Him, and yet unashamed because of His love (Rom. 1:16; 5:5; 9:33; 10:11), just as the Lord is unashamed of us now (Heb. 2:11). But it's a case of now, but not yet. For the language of being presented without shame before our Lord is picked by the New Testament in describing our final union with Him at the last day (2 Cor. 11:2; Col. 1:22; 1 Jn. 2:28; Jude 24).

Ongoing Creation

There is no doubt in my mind that the six days of creation were six literal days of 24 hours. There is no suggestion in the way the Lord Jesus and Paul both quote from and allude to the Genesis record that it is to be taken figuratively. Israel were to keep the seventh day as Sabbath and creatively labour in the six other days (which was just as much a command as the keeping of Sabbath), because " in six days  the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day" (Ex. 20:11).  Adam was the first man, and Eve was the mother of all living human beings. >From one blood all were created (Acts 17:26). It is emphasized that God created through His word of command; He said, and it was done (Ps. 33:6,9; 148:5; Is. 40:26; Jn. 1:3; Heb. 11:3; 2 Pet. 3:5). God is outside the constraints of time, and outside the possibility of His word not being fulfilled. Therefore if He says something, it is as it is done, even if in human time His command is not immediately fulfilled. Thus He calls things which are not as though they are (Rom. 4:17). It is in this sense that the Lord Jesus and those in Him are spoken of as if we existed at the beginning; although we didn't physically. And so God spoke the words He did on six literal, consecutive days, and the orders ('fiats' is the word Bro. Hayward uses) were therefore, in this sense as good as done. But the actual time taken to carry them out by the Angels may have been very long. The Genesis record can then be understood as stating these commands, and then recording their fulfilment- although the fulfilment wasn't necessarily on that same day.  


Indeed, it would seem from later Scripture that the orders and intentions outlined by God on the six literal days are still being fulfilled. Take the command for there to be light (Gen. 1:3.4). This is interpreted in 2 Cor. 4:6 as meaning that God shines in men's hearts in order to give them the knowledge of the light of Christ. The command was initially fulfilled by the Angels enabling the sun to shine through the thick darkness that shrouded the earth; but the deeper intention was to shine the spiritual light into the heart of earth-dwellers. And this is still being fulfilled. Likewise the resting of God on the seventh day was in fact a prophecy concerning how He and all His people will enter into the " rest" of the Kingdom. The Lord  realized this when He said that even on Sabbath, God was still working (Jn. 5:17). The creation work had not really been completed in practice, although in prospect it had been. In this very context Paul comments that although we must still enter into that rest, " the works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb. 4:3).  

Another example is the command uttered on the sixth day to make man in God's image. The creation record in Genesis 2 is not about a different creation; it is a more detailed account of how the Angels went about fulfilling the command they were given on the sixth day. The process of bringing all the animals to Adam, him naming them, becoming disappointed with them, wishing for a true partner need not therefore be compressed into 24 hours. It could have taken a period of time. Yet the command to make man, male and female, was given on the sixth day. However, this may have taken far longer than 24 hours to complete. Indeed, the real intention of God to create man in His image was not finished even then; for Col. 1:15 interprets the creation of a man in God's image as a reference to the resurrection and glorification of the Lord Jesus. This was what the Angels had worked for millennia for, in order to fulfil the original fiat concerning the creation of man in God's image. Even now, we see not yet all things subdued under Him (Heb. 2:8); the intention that the man should have dominion over all creation as uttered and apparently fulfilled on the sixth day has yet to materially come to pass. The Angels are still working- with us. For 1 Cor. 15:49 teaches that we do not now fully have God's image, but we will receive it at the resurrection. Therefore we are driven to the conclusion that the outworking of the creation directives regarding man in God's image was not only in the 24 hours after it was given, but is still working itself out now. The new creation is therefore a continuation of and an essential part of the natural creation; not just a mirror of the natural in spiritual terms.  

I can foresee that the objection to this thesis would be that God is spoken of as resting on the seventh day as if all creation has been finished. This is indeed what it sounds like- and from God's perspective, it was true. He had spoken, and so it was done. He through His word had created. The Angels were now working it all out in practice, having 'set it up' in the six literal days. This view of the record explains two verses which would seem to defy any other sensible interpretation: " God blessed the seventh day...because that in it he had rested from all his work which God had created to make" (2:3 AVmg.). God " had created to make" by the seventh day. He had created, because His word was as good as executed; but the things were not all made. But He had " created to make" . Likewise Gen. 2:5 speaks of the day that the Lord " made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew" . Now this is saving the best for last. Here surely is concrete evidence for the thesis presented. The plants were made before they were actually in the earth. This doesn't mean that they were made in Heaven and then transplanted to earth. Surely it is to be read in the context of all the other hints that God stated His commands regarding creation, and this was as good as it all being made. But in material terms, it all appeared some time later.  

And let's take deeply to ourselves the power of God's word as revealed here. He has spoken to us and of us, He has promised us His salvation and the inheritance of the earth. It is as good as done. Our difficulty in grasping this in the Genesis record of six literal days creation is continued in our hesitancy to apprehend the utter certainty of our promised salvation and the spiritual heights into which we have therefore already been translated.