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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 2

Verses 1-4


The Creation

’The foundation of foundations and pillar of all wisdom is to know that the First Being is, and that He giveth existence to everything that exists! ’Thus wrote Moses Maimonides, a Jewish scholar of the 12th cent, a.d., concerning whom the Jewish proverb runs: ’From Moses to Moses there arose none like Moses.’ He had in his mind the opening chapter of the Bible, the object of which is to lay this foundation; to declare the existence of the One God; to teach that the Universe was created by Him alone, not by a multitude of deities; that it is the product of a living, personal Will, not a necessary development of the forces inherent in Matter; that it is not the sport of Chance, but the harmonious result of Wisdom. The writer, and the Blessed Spirit who guided him, had but one object in view, to insist on the two truths which underlie all others, the Unity of God and the derivation of all things from Him If we remember that, we shall be relieved of a difficulty which has greatly troubled devout and thoughtful men. Many are the essays and books which have been written on the discrepancies between the scientific account of the mode in which our globe came into being, and the account given in this first chapter of the Bible. Astronomy has shown it to be highly probable that, millions of years ago, an inconceivably immense mass of glowing gas gradually cooled down and took the form of a rotating sphere. This threw off the planets, our earth amongst the number. The central part is now the sun. The earth by slow stages grew fit to be the abode of life. Assuming that the astronomers are right, or, indeed, on any reasonable supposition, the sun and moon were not created later than the earth, on the Fourth Day (Genesis 1:16-17). Again, Geology has proved that animal life cannot be dated later than vegetable (Genesis 1:11-12 compared with Genesis 1:24), and the remains of animals found in the rocks testify by their structure to their feeding on other animals, not on fruit and herbs (Genesis 1:30) But such discrepancies do not detract from the real value of our narrative, which is intended to teach Religion, not Science. For the exercise and training of human faculties God, in His Wisdom and Goodness, has left men to find out physical truths by the use of; the powers He has given them. The biblical writer availed himself of the best ideas on i the subject then attainable, put them into a worthy form, freed them from all disfigurements, stamped them with the impress of Religion. And the miracle of it is that the result continues valid and precious for all time, a noble presentation of the Unity and Spirituality of. God, of the Omnipotence of His Will and of the Wisdom of His operations. (For a fuller consideration of this subject see art. ’Creation Story and Science.’ The question will be asked, whence did the OT. writer derive his ideas about the creation of the world which we find in this passage? It used to be generally supposed that they were given to him by direct revelation of God. Some competent authorities maintain that, if not appearing for the first time in his work, they were at least original to the nation to which he belonged. Something may be said for this view, but the majority of scholars, upon historical and literary grounds, incline to the opinion that they were more or less derived. All the great nations of antiquity, it is argued, endeavoured to account for the origin of the world, and there are striking similarities in the pictures they drew. There is little doubt that the Hebrews were deeply affected by Babylonian influences, political and literary, and the Creation Story written on the clay-tablets of Babylonia has so many features in common with that before us as to warrant the conclusion that there is a historical connexion between them.

In an article ’Genesis and the Babylonian Inscriptions,’ extracts are given from the Babylonian stories of the Creation and the Flood, and the relationship of the two accounts is discussed. It is sufficient to say here that nowhere is the force of inspiration more manifest than in the way the whole subject is treated in the Bible. The Babylonian poem describes the Creation as an episode in the history of the gods; the Bible places it in its right position as the first scene in the drama of human history: the former represents the deities themselves as evolved from Chaos; the latter assumes God to be before all things, and independent of them: the former loses itself in a confused, conflicting medley of deities; to the latter there is but One God: the wild grotesqueness of the one story is in startling contrast with the gravity, dignity, and solemnity of the account with which we have been familiar from childhood, which has also its message for our maturer years.

The present passage is full of the characteristics which mark the Priestly source. See on Genesis 2:4; and art. ’Origin of the Pentateuch.’

1-3. Render, ’In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth—now the earth was waste and void, and darkness was over the deep, and the spirit of God was brooding over the waters—then God said: Let there be light.’ On this rendering ’Creation’ is not ’out of nothing,’ but out of preexisting chaos. Genesis 2:1 and Genesis 2:3 tell how, when God determined on the creation of the ordered universe, the first work was the formation of light as essential to life and progress. The first half of Genesis 2:4 was probably prefixed originally to Genesis 2:1. See on Genesis 2:1-3.

2. God] Heb. EloMm. The word probably signifies ’strength,’ but the etymology is obscure; cp. Arabic Allah. The Heb. word is plural in form, but as a rule it is significantly followed by verbs in the singular, except when used of heathen gods. The plural form may be used to express the variety of attributes and powers which are combined in the divine nature, or it may indicate that with the Hebrews one God had taken the place of the many gods who were worshipped by their heathen kindred. Created] Heb. Bara; a word used only of the creative action of God. The heaven and the earth] the ordered universe as contrasted with the dark watery waste of Genesis 1:2. The creation of the heaven and the earth did not precede the work of the six days, but comprised it, cp. Genesis 2:1. There was no ’heaven’ until the second day. With the whole v. cp. Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 3:4; Hebrews 11:3. Without form (RV ’waste’) and void] The word rendered void is bohu. It reminds us of the Phœnician myth that the first men were the offspring of ’the wind Kolpia and his wife Baau which is interpreted Night,’ and of the yet earlier Babylonian Bau, ’the great mother,’ who was worshipped as the bestower of lands and flocks on mankind, and the giver of fertility to the soil. The deep] Heb. tehom: the mysterious primeval watery mass which, it was conceived, enveloped the earth. The Babylonians personified it as Tiamat, the dragon goddess of darkness whom Merodach must conquer before he can proceed to the higher stages of creation. The Spirit (RV ’spirit’: lit. ’breath’ or ’wind’) of God] In the Bab. myth the gods are first evolved from the primeval deep: here the Divine agency is described as working on formless matter from the beginning. Moved] rather, ’was brooding’ with life-giving power as a bird on her nest.

3-5. First day:—Creation of Light.

3. And God said, Let there be light] A sublime sentence! ’By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.’ Light and darkness are regarded as two objects, each occupying a place of its own (Job 38:19). Light is created on the first day, the luminaries on the fourth. Not as an explanation, for this it is not, but merely as an illustration, it may be remembered that, according to the generally approved modern theory, the matter composing our solar system existed at first in the shape of an inconceivably vast mass of fiery vapour, which gradually cooled down and took the form of a rotating sphere. This threw off the planets, our earth amongst the number. The central part is now the sun. So that light in itself may be regarded as prior to the specific lights that stood related as luminaries to the earth. The earth by slow stages grew fit to be the abode of life.

4. Good] i.e. perfect for the purpose for which God designed it.

5. And the evening, etc.] RV ’and there was evening and there was morning, one day.’ In the endeavour to bring the Creation story into harmony with the ascertained results of science, it is often maintained that the writer meant indefinite periods of time by the term ’days.’ But the science of Geology was entirely unknown to the ancients, and it is not legitimate to read a knowledge of modern discoveries into these ancient records. The author meant days in the sense of Genesis 1:16. Evidently, he had in mind the Jewish week, which he regarded not only as prefigured, but rendered obligatory, by God’s example in creating the world, as God worked six days, and rested the seventh: so the week was to consist of six working days, and a Sabbath day of rest. At the same time the writer intended to show that there was an orderly process in the work of creation. Note that evening is put before morning, probably because the Jewish day began at sunset.

6-8. Second day:—Creation of the Firmament.

6. The firmament] the sky, heavens. The word means something ’solid’ or ’beaten out,’ like a sheet of metal. The ancients supposed that the sky was a solid, vaulted dome stretched over the earth, its ends resting on the mountains, and the heavenly bodies fastened to its inner surface. It served as the throne of God, cp. Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:26. Its purpose here was to divide in two the primeval mass of waters. Above, it supported the upper waters which fell upon the earth through ’the windows of heaven (Genesis 7:11) in the form of rain; below were the waters on which the earth rested, and from which it emerged. These waters were supposed to form a subterranean abyss which supplied the springs and seas; for the idea cp. Genesis 7:11; Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy 33:13; Job 38:16; Psalms 24:2; Proverbs 8:28, also Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:26; This thought of the division of the primeval ocean into an upper and lower portion is represented in the Babylonian story by the cleaving of the body of Tiamat.

9-13. Third day:—Separation of land and wator. Creation of vegetation.

Let the dry land appear] by emerging from the flower waters which were now gathered into seas. See Psalms 104:6-8.

11, 12. Grass.. herb yielding seed.. tree yielding fruit] a dimple and popular classification of the vegetable? world. Whose seed is in itself] RV ’wherein’ (i.e. in the fruit) ’is the seed thereof.’ After his kind] i.e. according to their several species.

14-19. Fourth day:—Creation of sun, moon, and stars.

The special value of this part of the story lies in its opposition to the worship of the heavenly bodies as deities, which was such a prominent feature of heathenism in Babylonia and elsewhere. Here they are declared to be created for the service of man, fulfilling a definite purpose. That purpose was threefold: (a) ’to divide the day from the night’; (b) to be ’for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years,’ i.e. to give the means of reckoning time; (c) ’to give light upon the earth.’

14. Lights] rather, ’luminaries,’ to hold and distribute the light created on the first day. In] rather, ’on’ or ’before’ the firmament; so Genesis 1:17-20. See on Genesis 1:6. Signs.. seasons.. days.. years] For some of the modes in which the heavenly bodies were believed to serve as signs see 2 Kings 20:8-11; Isaiah 7:11; Jeremiah 10:2; Joel 2:30; Matthew 2:2; Matthew 24:29. The seasons of the year arc of course determined by them. The sun and moon rule the day and night; the length, temperature, etc., of day and night depending on their positions.

20-23. Fifth day:—Creation of fishes and birds.

20. Let the waters] render, ’let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures,’ animalculæ, insects, fish, etc. Fowl that may fly] RV ’let fowl fly.’

21. Great whales] Heb. denotes rather creatures like serpents, crocodiles, etc.

22. Blessed them] As animate creatures they received a divine blessing, which suggests God’s pleasure in the creation of beings capable of conscious enjoyment.

24-31. Sixth day:—Creation of animals and man.

26. Let us make man] the crowning work of creation and its highest development. The plural form ’us,’ which occurs again Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, has been interpreted of the Holy Trinity, but this would be anticipating a doctrine which was only revealed in later ages. The thought is perhaps that of God speaking in a council of angelic beings, or the form of the word may indicate a plural of majesty: see on ’God’ Genesis 1:1. The point of the expression, however, is that it marks a closer relation of God to man than, to the rest of His creation. It is not ’Let man be made’ but ’Let us make man.’ Man] Heb; adam, the name of the race which becomes the name of the first man.

In our image, after our likeness] The. likeness to God lies in the mental and moral features of man’s character, such as reason, personality, free will, the capacity for communion with God. These distinguish man from the animals with which on the physical side he has much in common, and inevitably ensure his dominion over them (cp. Psalms 8:5-6). When the perfect Image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3) had fully manifested His character, it became possible to declare, in yet more adequate language, what true likeness to God is (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).

27. Male and female] There is nothing in this account of the Creation to suggest that the sexes were not simultaneously created: contrast Genesis 2:21-23, which is from the earlier document.

29, 30. The writer of the Priestly narrative here represents men and animals as living only on vegetable food. We seem to trace the thought of a primitive golden age, when the animals did not prey on each other, but lived at peace together: cp. Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:25; Hosea 2:18. It is he also who records the permission to use animal food after the Flood (Genesis 9:2-3). But the parrallel narrative from the Primitive document refers to the keeping of flocks (Genesis 4:2, Genesis 4:4, Genesis 4:20), and takes no notice of any prohibition of animal food.’

31. Very good] Certain systems of philosophy and morality, ancient and modern, have proceeded on the assumption that evil is inherent in matter, and therefore that God and the world are antagonistic. This idea is quite foreign to the Scriptures, which teach that ’every creature of God is good.’ Genesis teaches that evil enters the world from without: see on Genesis 3:1.

Genesis 2:1-3. Seventh day:—God ceases from His work and sanctifies the day on which He rests.

Genesis 1:1-3 clearly belong to the first narrative of the Creation, of which they form the natural conclusion. The first part of Genesis 1:4, ’These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,’ has probably been transposed from its original place before Genesis 1:1, as in all other cases the phrase stands at the beginning of the section to which it refers, cp. Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1. The second account of Creation begins in the latter half of Genesis 1:4, and should have formed the commencement of Genesis 2.

1. All the host of them] i.e. ’all the contents of heaven and earth.’

2. He rested on the seventh day] God ceased (as the word means) from His creative work.

3. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified (RV ’hallowed’) it] This is adduced in Exodus as the ground for the observance of the sabbath (see Exodus 20:8-11 notes, Exodus 31:17; Hebrews 4:4). It was separated from ordinary days, and set apart as a day for rest, and at a later time for holy observance. Further instructions as to its use will be found in Exodus 31:13; Exodus 36:2; The Babylonians observed the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st and 28th days of the lunar month, as days when men were subjected to certain restrictions: the King was not to eat food prepared by fire, nor offer sacrifice, nor consult an oracle, nor invoke curses on his enemies. But the weekly sabbath came to have a peculiar religious significance among the Hebrews, which is not evident among other nations; and by its regular recurrence every seventh day it was dissociated from its connexion with the moon, and with lunar superstitions.

4. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created] i.e. this is the history of their creation. See on Genesis 1:1-3. The phrase ’These are the generations’ occurs ten times in Genesis, viz. Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1; Genesis 11:10; Genesis 11:27; Genesis 25:12; Genesis 25:19; Genesis 36:1; Genesis 37:2.

Verses 1-4

The Creation

'The foundation of foundations and pillar of all wisdom is to know that the First Being is, and that He giveth existence to everything that exists! 'Thus wrote Moses Maimonides, a Jewish scholar of the 12th cent, a.d., concerning whom the Jewish proverb runs: 'From Moses to Moses there arose none like Moses.' He had in his mind the opening chapter of the Bible, the object of which is to lay this foundation; to declare the existence of the One God; to teach that the Universe was created by Him alone, not by a multitude of deities; that it is the product of a living, personal Will, not a necessary development of the forces inherent in Matter; that it is not the sport of Chance, but the harmonious result of Wisdom. The writer, and the Blessed Spirit who guided him, had but one object in view, to insist on the two truths which underlie all others, the Unity of God and the derivation of all things from Him If we remember that, we shall be relieved of a difficulty which has greatly troubled devout and thoughtful men. Many are the essays and books which have been written on the discrepancies between the scientific account of the mode in which our globe came into being, and the account given in this first chapter of the Bible. Astronomy has shown it to be highly probable that, millions of years ago, an inconceivably immense mass of glowing gas gradually cooled down and took the form of a rotating sphere. This threw off the planets, our earth amongst the number. The central part is now the sun. The earth by slow stages grew fit to be the abode of life. Assuming that the astronomers are right, or, indeed, on any reasonable supposition, the sun and moon were not created later than the earth, on the Fourth Day (Gen 1:16-17). Again, Geology has proved that animal life cannot be dated later than vegetable (Gen 1:11-12 compared with Gen 1:24), and the remains of animals found in the rocks testify by their structure to their feeding on other animals, not on fruit and herbs (Gen 1:30) But such discrepancies do not detract from the real value of our narrative, which is intended to teach Religion, not Science. For the exercise and training of human faculties God, in His Wisdom and Goodness, has left men to find out physical truths by the use of; the powers He has given them. The biblical writer availed himself of the best ideas on i the subject then attainable, put them into a worthy form, freed them from all disfigurements, stamped them with the impress of Religion. And the miracle of it is that the result continues valid and precious for all time, a noble presentation of the Unity and Spirituality of. God, of the Omnipotence of His Will and of the Wisdom of His operations. (For a fuller consideration of this subject see art. 'Creation Story and Science.' The question will be asked, whence did the OT. writer derive his ideas about the creation of the world which we find in this passage? It used to be generally supposed that they were given to him by direct revelation of God. Some competent authorities maintain that, if not appearing for the first time in his work, they were at least original to the nation to which he belonged. Something may be said for this view, but the majority of scholars, upon historical and literary grounds, incline to the opinion that they were more or less derived. All the great nations of antiquity, it is argued, endeavoured to account for the origin of the world, and there are striking similarities in the pictures they drew. There is little doubt that the Hebrews were deeply affected by Babylonian influences, political and literary, and the Creation Story written on the clay-tablets of Babylonia has so many features in common with that before us as to warrant the conclusion that there is a historical connexion between them.

In an article 'Genesis and the Babylonian Inscriptions,' extracts are given from the Babylonian stories of the Creation and the Flood, and the relationship of the two accounts is discussed. It is sufficient to say here that nowhere is the force of inspiration more manifest than in the way the whole subject is treated in the Bible. The Babylonian poem describes the Creation as an episode in the history of the gods; the Bible places it in its right position as the first scene in the drama of human history: the former represents the deities themselves as evolved from Chaos; the latter assumes God to be before all things, and independent of them: the former loses itself in a confused, conflicting medley of deities; to the latter there is but One God: the wild grotesqueness of the one story is in startling contrast with the gravity, dignity, and solemnity of the account with which we have been familiar from childhood, which has also its message for our maturer years.

The present passage is full of the characteristics which mark the Priestly source. See on Genesis 2:4; and art. 'Origin of the Pentateuch.'

1-3. Render, 'In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth—now the earth was waste and void, and darkness was over the deep, and the spirit of God was brooding over the waters—then God said: Let there be light.' On this rendering 'Creation' is not 'out of nothing,' but out of preexisting chaos. Gen 2:1 and Gen 2:3 tell how, when God determined on the creation of the ordered universe, the first work was the formation of light as essential to life and progress. The first half of Gen 2:4 was probably prefixed originally to Genesis 2:1. See on Genesis 2:1-3.

2. God] Heb. EloMm. The word probably signifies 'strength,' but the etymology is obscure; cp. Arabic Allah. The Heb. word is plural in form, but as a rule it is significantly followed by verbs in the singular, except when used of heathen gods. The plural form may be used to express the variety of attributes and powers which are combined in the divine nature, or it may indicate that with the Hebrews one God had taken the place of the many gods who were worshipped by their heathen kindred. Created] Heb. Bara; a word used only of the creative action of God. The heaven and the earth] the ordered universe as contrasted with the dark watery waste of Genesis 1:2. The creation of the heaven and the earth did not precede the work of the six days, but comprised it, cp. Genesis 2:1. There was no 'heaven' until the second day. With the whole v. cp. Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 3:4; Hebrews 11:3. Without form (RV 'waste') and void] The word rendered void is bohu. It reminds us of the Phœnician myth that the first men were the offspring of 'the wind Kolpia and his wife Baau which is interpreted Night,' and of the yet earlier Babylonian Bau, 'the great mother,' who was worshipped as the bestower of lands and flocks on mankind, and the giver of fertility to the soil. The deep] Heb. tehom: the mysterious primeval watery mass which, it was conceived, enveloped the earth. The Babylonians personified it as Tiamat, the dragon goddess of darkness whom Merodach must conquer before he can proceed to the higher stages of creation. The Spirit (RV 'spirit': lit. 'breath' or 'wind') of God] In the Bab. myth the gods are first evolved from the primeval deep: here the Divine agency is described as working on formless matter from the beginning. Moved] rather, 'was brooding' with life-giving power as a bird on her nest.

3-5. First day:—Creation of Light.

3. And God said, Let there be light] A sublime sentence! 'By the word of the Lord were the heavens made.' Light and darkness are regarded as two objects, each occupying a place of its own (Job 38:19). Light is created on the first day, the luminaries on the fourth. Not as an explanation, for this it is not, but merely as an illustration, it may be remembered that, according to the generally approved modern theory, the matter composing our solar system existed at first in the shape of an inconceivably vast mass of fiery vapour, which gradually cooled down and took the form of a rotating sphere. This threw off the planets, our earth amongst the number. The central part is now the sun. So that light in itself may be regarded as prior to the specific lights that stood related as luminaries to the earth. The earth by slow stages grew fit to be the abode of life.

4. Good] i.e. perfect for the purpose for which God designed it.

5. And the evening, etc.] RV 'and there was evening and there was morning, one day.' In the endeavour to bring the Creation story into harmony with the ascertained results of science, it is often maintained that the writer meant indefinite periods of time by the term 'days.' But the science of Geology was entirely unknown to the ancients, and it is not legitimate to read a knowledge of modern discoveries into these ancient records. The author meant days in the sense of Genesis 1:16. Evidently, he had in mind the Jewish week, which he regarded not only as prefigured, but rendered obligatory, by God's example in creating the world, as God worked six days, and rested the seventh: so the week was to consist of six working days, and a Sabbath day of rest. At the same time the writer intended to show that there was an orderly process in the work of creation. Note that evening is put before morning, probably because the Jewish day began at sunset.

6-8. Second day:—Creation of the Firmament.

6. The firmament] the sky, heavens. The word means something 'solid' or 'beaten out,' like a sheet of metal. The ancients supposed that the sky was a solid, vaulted dome stretched over the earth, its ends resting on the mountains, and the heavenly bodies fastened to its inner surface. It served as the throne of God, cp. Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:26. Its purpose here was to divide in two the primeval mass of waters. Above, it supported the upper waters which fell upon the earth through 'the windows of heaven (Gen 7:11) in the form of rain; below were the waters on which the earth rested, and from which it emerged. These waters were supposed to form a subterranean abyss which supplied the springs and seas; for the idea cp. Genesis 7:11; Genesis 49:25; Deuteronomy 33:13; Job 38:16; Psalms 24:2; Proverbs 8:28, also Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:26; This thought of the division of the primeval ocean into an upper and lower portion is represented in the Babylonian story by the cleaving of the body of Tiamat.

9-13. Third day:—Separation of land and wator. Creation of vegetation.

Let the dry land appear] by emerging from the flower waters which were now gathered into seas. See Psalms 104:6-8.

11, 12. Grass.. herb yielding seed.. tree yielding fruit] a dimple and popular classification of the vegetable? world. Whose seed is in itself] RV 'wherein' (i.e. in the fruit) 'is the seed thereof.' After his kind] i.e. according to their several species.

14-19. Fourth day:—Creation of sun, moon, and stars.

The special value of this part of the story lies in its opposition to the worship of the heavenly bodies as deities, which was such a prominent feature of heathenism in Babylonia and elsewhere. Here they are declared to be created for the service of man, fulfilling a definite purpose. That purpose was threefold: (a) 'to divide the day from the night'; (b) to be 'for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years,' i.e. to give the means of reckoning time; (c) 'to give light upon the earth.'

14. Lights] rather, 'luminaries,' to hold and distribute the light created on the first day. In] rather, 'on' or 'before' the firmament; so Genesis 1:17-20. See on Genesis 1:6. Signs.. seasons.. days.. years] For some of the modes in which the heavenly bodies were believed to serve as signs see 2 Kings 20:8-11; Isaiah 7:11; Jeremiah 10:2; Joel 2:30; Matthew 2:2; Matthew 24:29. The seasons of the year arc of course determined by them. The sun and moon rule the day and night; the length, temperature, etc., of day and night depending on their positions.

20-23. Fifth day:—Creation of fishes and birds.

20. Let the waters] render, 'let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures,' animalculæ, insects, fish, etc. Fowl that may fly] RV 'let fowl fly.'

21. Great whales] Heb. denotes rather creatures like serpents, crocodiles, etc.

22. Blessed them] As animate creatures they received a divine blessing, which suggests God's pleasure in the creation of beings capable of conscious enjoyment.

24-31. Sixth day:—Creation of animals and man.

26. Let us make man] the crowning work of creation and its highest development. The plural form 'us,' which occurs again Genesis 3:22; Gen 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, has been interpreted of the Holy Trinity, but this would be anticipating a doctrine which was only revealed in later ages. The thought is perhaps that of God speaking in a council of angelic beings, or the form of the word may indicate a plural of majesty: see on 'God' Genesis 1:1. The point of the expression, however, is that it marks a closer relation of God to man than, to the rest of His creation. It is not 'Let man be made' but 'Let us make man.' Man] Heb; adam, the name of the race which becomes the name of the first man.

In our image, after our likeness] The. likeness to God lies in the mental and moral features of man's character, such as reason, personality, free will, the capacity for communion with God. These distinguish man from the animals with which on the physical side he has much in common, and inevitably ensure his dominion over them (cp. Psa 8:5-6). When the perfect Image of the Father (Heb 1:3) had fully manifested His character, it became possible to declare, in yet more adequate language, what true likeness to God is (Ephesians 4:24; Col 3:10).

27. Male and female] There is nothing in this account of the Creation to suggest that the sexes were not simultaneously created: contrast Genesis 2:21-23, which is from the earlier document.

29, 30. The writer of the Priestly narrative here represents men and animals as living only on vegetable food. We seem to trace the thought of a primitive golden age, when the animals did not prey on each other, but lived at peace together: cp. Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:25; Hosea 2:18. It is he also who records the permission to use animal food after the Flood (Gen 9:2-3). But the parrallel narrative from the Primitive document refers to the keeping of flocks (Genesis 4:2, Genesis 4:4, Gen 4:20), and takes no notice of any prohibition of animal food.'

31. Very good] Certain systems of philosophy and morality, ancient and modern, have proceeded on the assumption that evil is inherent in matter, and therefore that God and the world are antagonistic. This idea is quite foreign to the Scriptures, which teach that 'every creature of God is good.' Genesis teaches that evil enters the world from without: see on Genesis 3:1.

Genesis 2:1-3. Seventh day:—God ceases from His work and sanctifies the day on which He rests.

Gen 1:1-3 clearly belong to the first narrative of the Creation, of which they form the natural conclusion. The first part of Genesis 1:4, 'These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,' has probably been transposed from its original place before Genesis 1:1, as in all other cases the phrase stands at the beginning of the section to which it refers, cp. Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1. The second account of Creation begins in the latter half of Genesis 1:4, and should have formed the commencement of Genesis 2:0.

1. All the host of them] i.e. 'all the contents of heaven and earth.'

2. He rested on the seventh day] God ceased (as the word means) from His creative work.

3. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified (RV 'hallowed') it] This is adduced in Exodus as the ground for the observance of the sabbath (see Exo 20:8-11 notes, Exodus 31:17; Heb 4:4). It was separated from ordinary days, and set apart as a day for rest, and at a later time for holy observance. Further instructions as to its use will be found in Exodus 31:13; Exodus 36:2; The Babylonians observed the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st and 28th days of the lunar month, as days when men were subjected to certain restrictions: the King was not to eat food prepared by fire, nor offer sacrifice, nor consult an oracle, nor invoke curses on his enemies. But the weekly sabbath came to have a peculiar religious significance among the Hebrews, which is not evident among other nations; and by its regular recurrence every seventh day it was dissociated from its connexion with the moon, and with lunar superstitions.

4. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created] i.e. this is the history of their creation. See on Genesis 1:1-3. The phrase 'These are the generations' occurs ten times in Genesis, viz. Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1; Genesis 11:10; Genesis 11:27; Genesis 25:12; Genesis 25:19; Genesis 36:1; Genesis 37:2.

Verses 4-24


Paradise and the Fall

In this famous passage we possess a wealth of moral and spiritual teaching regarding God and man. The intention of the writer is evidently to give an answer to the question: How did sin and misery find their way into the world? As is natural among Orientals he put his reply into narrative form; and though it is generally accepted that the details are to be interpreted symbolically rather than literally, yet they are in marvellous agreement with the real facts of human nature and experience. Adam is the representative of the human race. The story of his temptation, fall, and consequent forfeiture of Paradise shadows forth some of the greatest mysteries of the human lot—the strangely mingled glory and shame of man, his freedom of action, the war between the law in his members and the law of his mind. It thus comes to have a universal significance and shows each man, as in a mirror, his own experience. When he reads this narrative, his conscience says to him, like a prophet of God: ’Thou art the man; the story is told of thee 1’ In Genesis 2 the nature of man is unfolded. It has two sides, a higher and a lower; on the one hand, he is connected with the material world, as made of dust of the earth: on the other hand, he is related to God, who breathes into his nostrils the breath of life. He stands above the animal creation by his endowments of reason, discrimination, and language; he gives names to the beasts. The ideal relationship of the sexes appears in the creation of woman from the side of man, and his delight in finding in her an adequate companion and helper. Special emphasis is laid upon the moral and spiritual aspects of human nature. Man is created with the faculty of holding free and trustful communion with God, and with the power of exercising freedom of choice. It is chiefly in virtue of these high prerogatives that he can be said to be created in the image of God. Liberty of choice, however, or free will, is a perilous gift. It may be used either rightly or wrongly, and so there arises the possibility of temptation, of sin, of a ’fall’: see on Genesis 2:14. Genesis 3 shows how man misuses his freedom. He is tempted by a mysterious power of evil, and falls before the temptation. Immediately the direst results ensue, both for his inward and outward condition. ’The fruit of man’s first disobedience’ is seen at once in his consciousness of guilt, his interrupted communion with God, his miserable state, and even the altered condition of the world in which he dwells. Yet God does not abandon him. He continues His care over him, and comforts him with the promise of final victory over the power of evil. See on Genesis 3:15 for the significance of this passage in the light of Christianity.

It is to be expected that, in externals at least, the Bible narrative should resemble the traditions of other Oriental peoples. Accordingly we find, as in the case of the Creation and Flood narratives, that certain parallels to the Paradise story existed among the ancient Babylonians. This, and the further fact that Eden is placed in the vicinity of the Euphrates, have been taken to suggest that the Hebrews brought the original tradition with them from their home in the plains of Babylonia. The Bible narrative, however, differs from all others in its worthy conception of the divine nature, its freedom from polytheistic and heathen associations, and its embodiment of such profound religious truths as stamp it with the mark of inspiration.

The passage (Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 3:24) now under consideration begins with a second account of the Creation forming an introduction to the story of man’s temptation and fall. Some scholars regard this account as simply complementary to that given in Genesis 1. They maintain that it is not a separate story of the Creation, but a continuation of the former, with special reference to man’s position in the universe. There are strong reasons, however, for regarding Genesis 2:4-25 as a narrative independent of 1- Genesis 2:4. (a) The primeval chaos, the creation of man and woman, vegetation and animals, are described, but there are striking differences in the two accounts, (b) The Creator is no longer called ’God’ (Elohim) but ’The Lord Gord’ (Jehovah Elohim), a fact which first suggested that the Pentateuch was compiled from different sources, and gave its name ’Jehovistic’ to the continuous Primitive document of which this passage forms the commencement. (c) The writer speaks of the universe and its Author in different terms to those of Genesis 1. God is regarded as intimately concerning Himself with men rather than in His transcendental power; and this concern of His is expressed in terms which are properly applicable to the only living persons we directly know, viz. men. This anthropomorphism runs through the whole of the Paradise story (cp. Genesis 2:7-8, Genesis 2:19, Genesis 2:21,; Genesis 3:8). (d) The lordship of man over creation is expressed, not by setting him up as the goal to which all tended (cp. Genesis 1:26.), but by representing him as the first created, before plants or herbs (Genesis 2:4-8), the being for whom the animals were afterwards made, and finally woman as a fitting mate, (e) The formal, orderly style of Genesis 1, which characterises the Priestly document, is exchanged here for the imaginative, poetical style which marks the Primitive (cp. Genesis 2:8-9, Genesis 2:15, Genesis 2:19, Genesis 3:1-6, Genesis 3:7-8). (f) Finally, if the two accounts of Creation had been originally the work of one writer, he would surely have explained that he was describing the same event from different standpoints, giving reasons for so doing. But he does not, and it is reasonable to conclude from all the variations which have been pointed out, that we possess two accounts of the Creation and of the origin of man upon earth, drawn from different sources.

4b;–7. Render, ’In the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth; and no herb of the field had yet sprung up.. the Lord God formed man,’ etc. Genesis 2:5-6, from ’For the Lord God,’ thus form a parenthesis.

4. The Lord God] Where Lord is thus printed in capitals in the English Bible it stands for the Heb. JHVH, the sacred divine name which was probably pronounced ’Yahweh.’ In later times the word was considered to be too sacred to be uttered; the title Adonai (i.e. My Lord) was substituted in reading, and thus the true pronunciation was lost. Hebrew was originally written without vowel-signs; when these were added to the MS text, the vowels of the name as read (Adonai) were attached to the consonants JHVH, and thus the artificial form ’Jehovah’ was produced, which has come into common Christian use. See on Exodus 3:13 for the significance of the word, which means perhaps ’The Self-existent’ (or ’Self-unfolding’). Yahweh (Jehovah) is the proper name of the God of Israel rather than a title, and as such was used by other nations who regarded Jehovah as the tribal God of the Jews (cp. Isaiah 36:20); the name also occurs on the Moabite stone set up by Mesha (2 Kings 3:4). The American revisers have substituted ’Jehovah’ for ’the Lord’ throughout the OT. In Genesis 2, 3 Jehovah is joined with Elohim (’the Lord God’). The latter name was probably added by the editor who combined the narratives in order to show that the Jehovah of this section (the God of Israel) is the same as the Elohim (the Creator of the world) of the previous one. The earth and the heavens] RV ’earth and heaven.’ Note the difference in the order from that in Genesis 1:1. The centre of interest in this chapter is man on the earth.

6. Mist] The kindred word in the Assyrian language denotes the annual inundation of the Euphrates; see on Genesis 2:8 and on Genesis 3:7.

7. Man] Heb. adam as in Genesis 1. AV renders the word as a proper name frequently in Genesis 2-4; RV gives ’man’ throughout except Genesis 3:17; Genesis 4:25. Ground] Heb. adamah. A connexion is thus suggested between the two words, but the derivation of Adam is uncertain. Formed man of the dust of the ground] The lowly origin of man, and his derivation on the physical side from the lower elements of creation, are here implied. To ’become a living soul’ means no more than to possess the principle of life possessed by the animals; cp. Genesis 2:19, where the Heb. for ’living creature’ is the same as for ’living soul’ here. But it is not said of the animals that God breathed into their nostrils the breath of life, only of man: this implies that man stands in a special relation to God, and may be taken as referring to the gift of those spiritual faculties by which he holds communion with God, and possesses a ’likeness’ to Him; see on Genesis 1:26.

8. A garden] LXX renders by ’Paradeisos’ (a Persian word meaning ’a park’), hence the English ’Paradise.’ Eastward] i.e. of Palestine, such as Babylonia would be. Eden] The Heb. word eden means ’delight,’ but there is a Babylonian word edinu, meaning ’plain,’ and there may be a reference to the great plain in Babylonia between the Tigris and the Euphrates. In the southern portion of this plain an ancient hymn placed a garden of the gods wherein ’a dark vine grew.. its appearance as lapis lazuli.’

9. Every tree] The garden was planted with trees, like a king’s pleasure park. The trees are specially mentioned, partly because they were to provide man’s food, and partly because attention is directed to two of them for a particular reason. As life was to be sustained by them, so immortality was to be received through the fruit of the tree of life, and knowledge of good and evil with death in the end were the possible consequences of eating of the forbidden tree. The garden was divinely planted, and the trees bad miraculous powers of good and evil. The tree of life] The Egyptians believed that in the blissful fields of Alu in the other world grew the tree of life, which the stars gave to the departed that they might live for ever; cp. also Revelation 22:2.

10-14. There are many theories regarding these rivers. Perhaps the most likely is that the ancients, with their very limited notions of geography, regarded the four great rivers known to them, Euphrates, Tigris, Indus (Pishon) and Nile (Gihon), as having a common source in some large lake in Eden. Cush will then be Ethiopia. It is possible, however, that the main river stands for the Persian Gulf, which was anciently called ’The Salt River,’ and the four heads were four streams connected with it, viz. (1) the Euphrates; (2) the Hiddekel, which the Persians called the Tigra, and Greeks the Tigris; (3) the Gihon, which is said to ’compass’ the land of Cush, the country of the Kashshu in W. Elam, and which may therefore be the Kerkha, which once ran with the Euphrates and Tigris into the Persian Gulf; and (4) the Pishon, which has not been identified. Havilah] the sandy region of N. Arabia, and thus not far from the other localities. Bdellium] an odoriferous transparent gum. Onyx] RM ’beryl.’ Genesis 2:10-14 are regarded by many as a later addition to the narrative.

15. Dress] i.e. cultivate. Keep] i.e. protect (from the beasts).

17. Knowledge of good and evil] i.e. moral consciousness issuing in moral judgment; the power to distinguish between good and evil, not in act only but in consequence as well. This faculty is necessary, in order that man may reach moral maturity. The narrative implies that it would have come gradually to man, through the teaching of God, and without the loss of his own uprightness. It is a faculty which is developed from within, not conferred from without. By discipline and self-control man gains character and moral strength, or the knowledge of good and evil, and the power to discriminate between them. Hence ’the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ is forbidden to man, not given to him like that of the others. It can impart the knowledge of good and evil at once, without a prolonged process of discipline or education; but the attainment of it in this summary way is made an act of disobedience, perhaps to assist man’s moral development by affording a test of his self-control. Man’s freedom of choice, however, makes it possible for him to disobey, and so come to the required knowledge by a wrong way; for the knowledge of good and evil is bought dearly by doing ill.

Shalt surely die] Man, it is implied, was created mortal, but had the privilege of attaining immortality by means of the tree of life. But by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil man forfeited his liberty to eat of the tree of life (see Genesis 3:22-24). This implies that the physical is the consequence of the moral death. ’Some of the older expositors observe that the troubles and sufferings to which man became liable through sin, are nothing else than disturbances of life, the beginning of death’ (D.).*

18-25. Now the other animals and woman are formed. The order of Creation is not the same as in Genesis 1:24-27.

18. Help meet] This is not one word but two, the former being the noun and the latter the qualifying adjective on which the main emphasis lies. Man might have many helps; the vegetable and animal creation might minister to his welfare and comfort. But though these are ’helps,’ they are not ’meet,’ i.e. suitable for him. Only a creature like himself can be an adequate companion; and so woman is formed: see Genesis 2:20.

19. The giving of a name implies a power of discrimination and reflection not possessed by the lower animals. Even proper names in the Scriptures are usually significant and descriptive of some quality supposed to be possessed by the person who bears it. Cp. e.g. the importance attached to the ’name’ by which God is known: see on Exodus 3:13.

21. The symbolical account of the creation of woman teaches the close relationship of the sexes, and the dependence of woman on man.

23. This is now] Render, ’This time it is bone of my bones,’ etc. It is Adam’s cry of delight at finding a congenial, sympathising companion, after failing to find one among the animals (Genesis 2:20). She shall be called Woman] The similarity of the English words ’man,’ ’woman’ (wife-man) is also found in the Hebrew Ish, Ishshah.

24. The creation of one man and one woman in the ideally perfect state of Eden implies that monogamy is the ideal of the married life. Polygamy and divorce were later accommodations to man’s ’hardness of heart.’ But ’from the beginning’ (i.e. in the original purpose of the Creator) ’it was not so’ (Matthew 19:4, Matthew 19:8).

25. See on Exodus 3:7.

Verses 4-25

Paradise and the Fall

In this famous passage we possess a wealth of moral and spiritual teaching regarding God and man. The intention of the writer is evidently to give an answer to the question: How did sin and misery find their way into the world? As is natural among Orientals he put his reply into narrative form; and though it is generally accepted that the details are to be interpreted symbolically rather than literally, yet they are in marvellous agreement with the real facts of human nature and experience. Adam is the representative of the human race. The story of his temptation, fall, and consequent forfeiture of Paradise shadows forth some of the greatest mysteries of the human lot—the strangely mingled glory and shame of man, his freedom of action, the war between the law in his members and the law of his mind. It thus comes to have a universal significance and shows each man, as in a mirror, his own experience. When he reads this narrative, his conscience says to him, like a prophet of God: 'Thou art the man; the story is told of thee 1' In Genesis 2:0 the nature of man is unfolded. It has two sides, a higher and a lower; on the one hand, he is connected with the material world, as made of dust of the earth: on the other hand, he is related to God, who breathes into his nostrils the breath of life. He stands above the animal creation by his endowments of reason, discrimination, and language; he gives names to the beasts. The ideal relationship of the sexes appears in the creation of woman from the side of man, and his delight in finding in her an adequate companion and helper. Special emphasis is laid upon the moral and spiritual aspects of human nature. Man is created with the faculty of holding free and trustful communion with God, and with the power of exercising freedom of choice. It is chiefly in virtue of these high prerogatives that he can be said to be created in the image of God. Liberty of choice, however, or free will, is a perilous gift. It may be used either rightly or wrongly, and so there arises the possibility of temptation, of sin, of a 'fall': see on Genesis 2:14.Genesis 3:0 shows how man misuses his freedom. He is tempted by a mysterious power of evil, and falls before the temptation. Immediately the direst results ensue, both for his inward and outward condition. 'The fruit of man's first disobedience' is seen at once in his consciousness of guilt, his interrupted communion with God, his miserable state, and even the altered condition of the world in which he dwells. Yet God does not abandon him. He continues His care over him, and comforts him with the promise of final victory over the power of evil. See on Gen 3:15 for the significance of this passage in the light of Christianity.

It is to be expected that, in externals at least, the Bible narrative should resemble the traditions of other Oriental peoples. Accordingly we find, as in the case of the Creation and Flood narratives, that certain parallels to the Paradise story existed among the ancient Babylonians. This, and the further fact that Eden is placed in the vicinity of the Euphrates, have been taken to suggest that the Hebrews brought the original tradition with them from their home in the plains of Babylonia. The Bible narrative, however, differs from all others in its worthy conception of the divine nature, its freedom from polytheistic and heathen associations, and its embodiment of such profound religious truths as stamp it with the mark of inspiration.
The passage (Gen 2:4 to Gen 3:24) now under consideration begins with a second account of the Creation forming an introduction to the story of man's temptation and fall. Some scholars regard this account as simply complementary to that given in Genesis 1:0. They maintain that it is not a separate story of the Creation, but a continuation of the former, with special reference to man's position in the universe. There are strong reasons, however, for regarding Gen 2:4-25 as a narrative independent of 1- Genesis 2:4. (a) The primeval chaos, the creation of man and woman, vegetation and animals, are described, but there are striking differences in the two accounts, (b) The Creator is no longer called 'God' (Elohim) but 'The Lord Gord' (Jehovah Elohim), a fact which first suggested that the Pentateuch was compiled from different sources, and gave its name 'Jehovistic' to the continuous Primitive document of which this passage forms the commencement. (c) The writer speaks of the universe and its Author in different terms to those of Genesis 1:0. God is regarded as intimately concerning Himself with men rather than in His transcendental power; and this concern of His is expressed in terms which are properly applicable to the only living persons we directly know, viz. men. This anthropomorphism runs through the whole of the Paradise story (cp. Genesis 2:7-8, Genesis 2:19, Genesis 2:21,; Gen 3:8). (d) The lordship of man over creation is expressed, not by setting him up as the goal to which all tended (cp. Genesis 1:26.), but by representing him as the first created, before plants or herbs (Gen 2:4-8), the being for whom the animals were afterwards made, and finally woman as a fitting mate, (e) The formal, orderly style of Genesis 1:0, which characterises the Priestly document, is exchanged here for the imaginative, poetical style which marks the Primitive (cp. Genesis 2:8-9, Genesis 2:15, Genesis 2:19, Genesis 3:1-6, Gen 3:7-8). (f) Finally, if the two accounts of Creation had been originally the work of one writer, he would surely have explained that he was describing the same event from different standpoints, giving reasons for so doing. But he does not, and it is reasonable to conclude from all the variations which have been pointed out, that we possess two accounts of the Creation and of the origin of man upon earth, drawn from different sources.

4b;–7. Render, 'In the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth; and no herb of the field had yet sprung up.. the Lord God formed man,' etc. Genesis 2:5-6, from 'For the Lord God,' thus form a parenthesis.

4. The Lord God] Where Lord is thus printed in capitals in the English Bible it stands for the Heb. JHVH, the sacred divine name which was probably pronounced 'Yahweh.' In later times the word was considered to be too sacred to be uttered; the title Adonai (i.e. My Lord) was substituted in reading, and thus the true pronunciation was lost. Hebrew was originally written without vowel-signs; when these were added to the MS text, the vowels of the name as read (Adonai) were attached to the consonants JHVH, and thus the artificial form 'Jehovah' was produced, which has come into common Christian use. See on Exo 3:13 for the significance of the word, which means perhaps 'The Self-existent' (or 'Self-unfolding'). Yahweh (Jehovah) is the proper name of the God of Israel rather than a title, and as such was used by other nations who regarded Jehovah as the tribal God of the Jews (cp. Isa 36:20); the name also occurs on the Moabite stone set up by Mesha (2Ki 3:4). The American revisers have substituted 'Jehovah' for 'the Lord' throughout the OT. In Genesis 2:3 Jehovah is joined with Elohim ('the Lord God'). The latter name was probably added by the editor who combined the narratives in order to show that the Jehovah of this section (the God of Israel) is the same as the Elohim (the Creator of the world) of the previous one. The earth and the heavens] RV 'earth and heaven.' Note the difference in the order from that in Genesis 1:1. The centre of interest in this chapter is man on the earth.

6. Mist] The kindred word in the Assyrian language denotes the annual inundation of the Euphrates; see on Gen 2:8 and on Genesis 3:7.

7. Man] Heb. adam as in Genesis 1:0. AV renders the word as a proper name frequently in Genesis 2-4; RV gives 'man' throughout except Genesis 3:17; Genesis 4:25. Ground] Heb. adamah. A connexion is thus suggested between the two words, but the derivation of Adam is uncertain. Formed man of the dust of the ground] The lowly origin of man, and his derivation on the physical side from the lower elements of creation, are here implied. To 'become a living soul' means no more than to possess the principle of life possessed by the animals; cp. Genesis 2:19, where the Heb. for 'living creature' is the same as for 'living soul' here. But it is not said of the animals that God breathed into their nostrils the breath of life, only of man: this implies that man stands in a special relation to God, and may be taken as referring to the gift of those spiritual faculties by which he holds communion with God, and possesses a 'likeness' to Him; see on Genesis 1:26.

8. A garden] LXX renders by 'Paradeisos' (a Persian word meaning 'a park'), hence the English 'Paradise.' Eastward] i.e. of Palestine, such as Babylonia would be. Eden] The Heb. word eden means 'delight,' but there is a Babylonian word edinu, meaning 'plain,' and there may be a reference to the great plain in Babylonia between the Tigris and the Euphrates. In the southern portion of this plain an ancient hymn placed a garden of the gods wherein 'a dark vine grew.. its appearance as lapis lazuli.'

9. Every tree] The garden was planted with trees, like a king's pleasure park. The trees are specially mentioned, partly because they were to provide man's food, and partly because attention is directed to two of them for a particular reason. As life was to be sustained by them, so immortality was to be received through the fruit of the tree of life, and knowledge of good and evil with death in the end were the possible consequences of eating of the forbidden tree. The garden was divinely planted, and the trees bad miraculous powers of good and evil. The tree of life] The Egyptians believed that in the blissful fields of Alu in the other world grew the tree of life, which the stars gave to the departed that they might live for ever; cp. also Revelation 22:2.

10-14. There are many theories regarding these rivers. Perhaps the most likely is that the ancients, with their very limited notions of geography, regarded the four great rivers known to them, Euphrates, Tigris, Indus (Pishon) and Nile (Gihon), as having a common source in some large lake in Eden. Cush will then be Ethiopia. It is possible, however, that the main river stands for the Persian Gulf, which was anciently called 'The Salt River,' and the four heads were four streams connected with it, viz. (1) the Euphrates; (2) the Hiddekel, which the Persians called the Tigra, and Greeks the Tigris; (3) the Gihon, which is said to 'compass' the land of Cush, the country of the Kashshu in W. Elam, and which may therefore be the Kerkha, which once ran with the Euphrates and Tigris into the Persian Gulf; and (4) the Pishon, which has not been identified. Havilah] the sandy region of N. Arabia, and thus not far from the other localities. Bdellium] an odoriferous transparent gum. Onyx] RM 'beryl.' Gen 2:10-14 are regarded by many as a later addition to the narrative.

15. Dress] i.e. cultivate. Keep] i.e. protect (from the beasts).

17. Knowledge of good and evil] i.e. moral consciousness issuing in moral judgment; the power to distinguish between good and evil, not in act only but in consequence as well. This faculty is necessary, in order that man may reach moral maturity. The narrative implies that it would have come gradually to man, through the teaching of God, and without the loss of his own uprightness. It is a faculty which is developed from within, not conferred from without. By discipline and self-control man gains character and moral strength, or the knowledge of good and evil, and the power to discriminate between them. Hence 'the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil' is forbidden to man, not given to him like that of the others. It can impart the knowledge of good and evil at once, without a prolonged process of discipline or education; but the attainment of it in this summary way is made an act of disobedience, perhaps to assist man's moral development by affording a test of his self-control. Man's freedom of choice, however, makes it possible for him to disobey, and so come to the required knowledge by a wrong way; for the knowledge of good and evil is bought dearly by doing ill.

Shalt surely die] Man, it is implied, was created mortal, but had the privilege of attaining immortality by means of the tree of life. But by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil man forfeited his liberty to eat of the tree of life (see Gen 3:22-24). This implies that the physical is the consequence of the moral death. 'Some of the older expositors observe that the troubles and sufferings to which man became liable through sin, are nothing else than disturbances of life, the beginning of death' (D.).*

18-25. Now the other animals and woman are formed. The order of Creation is not the same as in Genesis 1:24-27.

18. Help meet] This is not one word but two, the former being the noun and the latter the qualifying adjective on which the main emphasis lies. Man might have many helps; the vegetable and animal creation might minister to his welfare and comfort. But though these are 'helps,' they are not 'meet,' i.e. suitable for him. Only a creature like himself can be an adequate companion; and so woman is formed: see Genesis 2:20.

19. The giving of a name implies a power of discrimination and reflection not possessed by the lower animals. Even proper names in the Scriptures are usually significant and descriptive of some quality supposed to be possessed by the person who bears it. Cp. e.g. the importance attached to the 'name' by which God is known: see on Exodus 3:13.

21. The symbolical account of the creation of woman teaches the close relationship of the sexes, and the dependence of woman on man.

23. This is now] Render, 'This time it is bone of my bones,' etc. It is Adam's cry of delight at finding a congenial, sympathising companion, after failing to find one among the animals (Gen 2:20). She shall be called Woman] The similarity of the English words 'man,' 'woman' (wife-man) is also found in the Hebrew Ish, Ishshah.

24. The creation of one man and one woman in the ideally perfect state of Eden implies that monogamy is the ideal of the married life. Polygamy and divorce were later accommodations to man's 'hardness of heart.' But 'from the beginning' (i.e. in the original purpose of the Creator) 'it was not so' (Matthew 19:4, Mat 19:8).

25. See on Exodus 3:7.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 2". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/genesis-2.html. 1909.