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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Genesis 2

Verses 1-3

GENESIS - CHAPTER TWO

This chapter is a summary and amplification of God’s activity of creation. It is not the account of the creation of another human pair. The last part of this chapter explains chapter 1:27, 28. And it records the first human institution of Divine origin: the Home.

Verse 1-3:

"Finished were the heavens and the earth," with emphasis on the verb. The creation of man on Day Six marked the termination of God’s creative work. "Finished" is calah, and denotes both cessation and perfection. God did not merely pause in His activity. His idea of the universe was fully realized. All was now arranged, embellished, and filled with plants, animals and man. All was established according to orderly laws. And all the universe shined forth before the Creator, who proclaimed it to be "very good."

"The host of them" includes not only terrestrial life, but the hosts of angelic beings, and the celestial bodies, Luke 2:13; 1 Kings 22:19;2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalms 148:2; Matthew 14:29; Isaiah 34:4; Daniel 8:10; Nehemiah 9:6.

The "day" originally consisted of "evening and morning." In today’s world the day begins and ends at midnight. But to the Hebrews, the day began at sunset, and ended the following sunset. Thus, at sunset on Day Six, all God’s creative work, ceased, and He began the "seventh day" of rest.

"Rested" is shabath, "to keep sabbath," with the primary thought to sit still and assume a posture of quiet repose. This is a principle of life operative today, which God established by His own personal example. God does not grow weary, nor does He need rest. He did not establish the sabbath-principle for His own need. He did it for man’s benefit. Man today has a physiological and psychological and spiritual need to rest one day out of seven. Physiologically he needs to allow his body to rest from the rigors and stress of his daily occupation. Psychologically he needs release from the stress and tension of his job. And spiritually he needs time to focus upon the Word and will of God without distractions. To fail to observe this rest-principle results in stress and conflict and physical debility.

God incorporated the Law of the Sabbath into His commandments for Israel, and specified the seventh day of the week as the day of rest. Men today are not under that seventh-day law (Colossians 2:14-17; Ephesians 2:15). However, the principles behind Israel’s written law hold good today. One cannot ignore this Divine principle and escape the consequences.

Verses 4-17

Verses 4-17:

"The generations of the heavens and of the earth" does not refer to any genealogical list of antecedents, but of consequence, to their movements from the time of their creation onward. In the latter clause of verse 4, the order is reversed, to read "the earth and the heavens." This specifies the earth and its atmospheric firmament, and is identified with Day Three when God made the vegetation to appear. This was a step in getting Earth ready for man.

"Lord God" is Jehovah Elohim. The frequency of the use of "Jehovah" and the absence of the definite article indicate this to be His personal Name. Etymologically the name is a future form of havah, an old form of hayah, and signifies "One Who Will Come," or the "Eternal One." So sacred did the Hebrews regard this Name that they did not utter it. They adopted the custom to write it in the sacred text with the vowel points of Adonai, or Elohim. Thus the correct pronunciation today is uncertain.

Jehovah is YAWEH in some texts. The meaning appears to be the same, however; and doubtless refers to the coming incarnation of. God in the Person of Jesus.

Rain, as we know it today, did not fall upon the earth. A mist ascended each day, likely in the early morning hours, which watered the ground and gave sustenance to plant and animal life.

Jehovah Elohim formed (yatsar, fashion, constitute) man "from the dust of the ground." This could be translated, "Jehovah Elohim fashioned or constituted man as the dust of the ground." The idea appears to be: God did not take a handful of mud and make a human form and breathe life into it. He fashioned man from the same elements He used to form the earth itself. Physiologically, man’s body contains the same elements which make up the dust or earth: iron, calcium, zinc, copper, magnesium, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen - and other elements - are all found in various amounts. This denotes man’s kinship with Earth, his right to represent and rule the material creation.

Verse 7 indicates that at the same moment God constituted man from the same elements as those of Earth, He breathed into His nostrils the "breath of life," literally, "the breath of lives," and man became a "soul of life." The formation of man and the in-breathing of life-breath occurred simultaneously. Man’s life came from a definite act of God, not from the fact that he breathed Earth’s air. Man became a "living soul," nephesh chayyah, whose life-principle was in the image and likeness of his Creator.

God provided-the first man with an ideal setting,, He planted a garden "eastward in Eden," where He placed him. The exact location of this garden is unknown today. It was in the Middle East, and the Euphrates River was one of the four rivers which flowed from it. Some interpret "Hiddekel" as the Tigris River. The setting was perfect, ideal for man’s enjoyment and benefit.

"The Lord God commanded the man." This reveals much about the nature and capabilities of the first man. He had the power of understanding language; he could conceive in his mind the meaning of concepts and ideas; he had an innate sense of right and wrong, knowing the distinction between "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not;" he had the power of choice, to obey or disobey the voice of God. He was a moral being, with a sense of moral responsibility a part of his very being, see Romans 1:19; Romans 2:14-15.

God gave the first man a set of rules or laws to live by. These included only one negative command: he must not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is futile to speculate as to what kind of tree this was. There appears to have been nothing noxious in the actual fruit itself. The lethal consequences of partaking of the fruit was from the act of eating, not from the fruit itself. The tree was symbolic of what God’s law required. God did not forbid the eating of the fruit of this tree because He did not want man to be ignorant of right and wrong, see Eze 44:23.

The meaning of God’s prohibition of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is this: God did not want man to decide for himself what is good and what is evil. God is the only One qualified to determine right and wrong. Man is to accept God’s determination, by faith. The consequences of man’s determining right and wrong for himself were death - today, as in Eden. "Thou shalt surely die," literally, "dying you shall die." The consequence of disobedience involves death of all aspects of human life: physical, mental, and spiritual. That the sentence of physical death was not immediately executed does not obviate its reality. When the first human pair violated this command, they began to realize its full consequences. Humanity today is still reaping the fruit of this disobedience.

The "tree of life" was one of the trees in Eden. Its size, shape, color, and content of fruit are unknown. The Scriptures indicate that it will be a featured attraction of the New Heaven and the New Earth, Revelation 22:1-2. Just what would have been the result if Adam had eaten first of the fruit of the tree of life, before partaking of the forbidden fruit, cannot be known. Thus, there is no need to speculate on this.

Verses 18-25

Verses 18-25:

Man’s creation was unique from the animal kingdom. Fishes’ were created in Schools, birds and beasts in pairs, but man was created as an individual.

God’s statement, "It is not good that the man should be alone," implies that He created the woman on the same day He created man. At the close of Day Six, God viewed His entire creation and pronounced it "very good." This would not have been the case had there been no helper suitable for man.

’A help meet" is "a helper over against him, or corresponding to him." This is often rendered "help-meet," as one word. It is not: it is two distinct, separate words. In all the animal kingdom there was no helper found that was suitable to meet the needs of man, for companionship, fulfillment, or for the propagation of the species. God formed a special creation to meet this need. This special helper was from Adam’s side, to be his companion. She was of similar nature to man, and corresponded to supplement him, to be his companion in his lonely existence, ideally adapted to be his helper in every respect.

Verse 19 does not refer to the time-frame of the naming of the animals, but to the fact of their naming. "And" translates the Hebrew "vau," which does. not always denote time-succession, but frequently indicates thought sequence, as Genesis 2:8; 1 Kings 2:13, et. al. "Formed" could be accurately translated "had formed." The reading could be rendered, "And God brought unto Adam the beasts he had formed." The time-frame is unknown. ’

The language indicates that the creatures God brought before Adam for naming were the land-creatures and the, fowls of the air. The Scriptures do not record the naming of the aquatic creatures.

Adam assigned names to the land and air creatures, according to their various species. These names were suitable to the nature of the various creatures. This reflects the extent of Adam’s wisdom and knowledge. The assignment of names is a token of Adam’s dominion over these creatures.

God imposed a supernatural slumber upon Adam, and performed the first surgery. This was not a sleep induced by the weariness of toil. God took one of Adam’s ribs (tsela, something bent, from tsala to incline; thus a rib), and from it formed his counterpart, woman. When Adam awoke, God brought (boa, to cause to come in) the woman to him. The verb implies more than the mere act of escorting the woman into Adam’s presence. It denotes bestowing her to the man as God’s gift under covenant relation. God performed the first marriage, establishing the marriage contract, as the "covenant of the Lord," Proverbs 2:17. Thus did God establish the first human institution, the home, and blessed it with His approval.

Adam accepted God’s provision of the helper to complement him, recognizing her as "bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." The language expresses derivation from and likeness to man, 1 Corinthians 11:8-12. The first denotes her subjection to man as her "head" or authority, 1 Corinthians 1:3, indicated as Adam assigned to her a name; and the second denotes the name itself. Adam called his God-given helper by the name or title, "Woman," ishi or ishah, manness, from ish or "man." Woman’s derivation from and subjection to man is evident in words in other languages denoting the name: Greek, andris, from aner (man); Latin, virago, from vir; English, woman (Anglo-Saxon "womb-man"); German, manninn, from mann, Sanskrit, nari, from nara. The inter-relation and inter-dependency of man-woman is evident in 1 Corinthians 11:8-12.

The marriage bond as God instituted it involves the leaving of parents, and the cleaving of husband to wife. The leaving is in the sense of habitation and affection, not forsaking as in the sense of duty. One reason for this is in the very nature of the marriage relationship. In marriage the husband fulfills the needs of his wife, and the wife fulfills the needs of her husband, in a way that parents cannot. Jesus reaffirmed this principle, and made it obligatory for every age and time, Matthew 19:5-6.

In the marriage relationship, man and woman become "one flesh." This is symbolic, not literal. Man’s literal body does not become the woman’s literal body, and the woman’s body does not become the man’s body. They become "one" in the sense of unity of persons, harmony, and agreement in all matterS2 relating to their life together. Much more is involved than physical relationship. Marriage as God designed it is unity in every realm of man’s life: spiritual, psychological (involving mind, will, and emotions), and physical. "Oneness" does not mean unison; it means harmony, and involves mutual submission, on the part of both husband and wife, see Ephesians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5.

In their state of innocence, both the man and the woman were "naked" and were not ashamed of their nakedness. "Naked" (arum) is translated "subtitle" in Genesis 3:1, where the term is applied to the serpent. In itself the word has neither a good nor a bad connotation. Its usage governs its meaning. When used in a good sense, it denotes open, straightforward, with nothing to hide. In a bad sense, it means crafty, cunning. In applying the term to the man and the woman, the word applies to the purity and innocence of their lives, as this purity shined through to be their outward covering. When they sinned, they lost this purity.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-2.html. 1985.