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The Sabbath of Creation
v. 1. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. The actual work of creation had been done in six days, all the created beings in heaven and earth, angels, birds, animals, and men, all organic and inorganic matter having been called into being, and men, beasts, and plants having been endowed with the power to reproduce their own kind.
v. 2. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had made. The work of creation did not extend into the seventh day, but was finished at sundown of the sixth day, which marked the beginning of the seventh. God devoted the seventh day to rest after the creative activity of the preceding days. Not that God was tired out, or that He now turned from the world to devote Himself entirely to the enjoyment of the bliss of heaven, but that the work of creation was finished.
v. 3. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made. In the blessing of the seventh day as a day of rest for Himself and as a type of the great Sabbath of heaven, Hebrews 4:4, God blessed the entire creation, for His blessing is an imparting of the powers of salvation, of mercy, and of peace. And He hallowed, or consecrated, the day, appointing it for His own rest and intending that the peace of the Sabbath should rest upon the world until the eternal Sabbath would continue this rest, Hebrews 4:9. There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God. God, literally, created His works to make, His divine activity remains in the world in the form of preservation, of providence.
The creation of Adam
v. 4. 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. The author, having given a short account of the creation, now proceeds to narrate some facts pertaining to it in greater detail. His heading is: This is the further history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, at the time when Jehovah God made earth and heavens. The earth is mentioned first in this case, as the scene of the events about to be related.
v. 5. And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. This is a description of the earth before Paradise was made. At that time the plants of the field had not yet started to grow, to sprout and to bud; they had not yet matured. There had, till then, been no rain on earth, and the tilling of the soil had not yet begun.
v. 6. But there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. This is the manner in which God provided moisture for the vegetation of the earth at that time, not by means of rain, but by a heavy fog, which arose from the earth and soaked the entire surface of the soil. Having described the earth as the home of man and as the place of his later labors, the author relates the creation of man itself.
v. 7. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. This is one distinction of man: Instead of merely being called into being by a word of God's almighty power, he was formed, as it were, by the finger of God, the material being an earth-clod, dust of the soil. This being done, God blew the breath of life into the figure which He had formed. As the dust, by virtue of the creative omnipotence, formed the figure of a man, it was charged with the living breath and thus became a living soul, named after the more important part of which he consists. The Spirit of God has made us, and the breath of the Almighty has given us life, Job 33:4. This shows the superiority of man over irrational brutes, his being endowed with an immortal soul as well as his being formed in the image of God.
The Garden of Eden
v. 8. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man whom He had formed. Although the entire work of creation was perfect, God chose to do still more for man by planting an enclosed garden, or park, commonly called Paradise, in Eden, a country toward the east. Into this covered and sheltered place the Lord put the man whom He had formed. That was to be his earthly home, a place of wonderful bliss, a fitting vestibule for the eternal home with its unequaled Sabbath rest.
v. 9. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This shows the manner in which the Lord prepared the garden. Jehovah God caused to sprout and grow out of the soil trees of every kind, pleasing to the eye and with fruit that was good for food, the agreeable thus being combined with that promoting health. But, above all, there was in the midst of the garden the tree of life, whose fruit would have given to man perfect health and strength always and thus prepared him for the perfection of eternal life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, placed there for the purpose of testing man; for by obedience to God's command concerning it Adam would retain his concreated righteousness and holiness and progress to the perfection of heavenly bliss, while by disobedience he would become guilty of sin with all its attendant harm.
v. 10. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. This great river thus had its beginning in the land of Eden, flowed through the entire length of the garden, and then divided into four beginnings, or heads of streams, which formed separate arms, or rivers.
v. 11. The name of the first is Pison; that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
v. 12. and the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and the onyx stone. Although the garden of Eden was long since destroyed and the entire contour of the country changed by the great Flood, it is probable that we may assume its location to have been in the central tableland of Asia or Armenia. There was the river Pison, the full-flowing, whose place may now have been taken by the Indus or by the Kur. It flowed through a sandy land, where gold in great quantity and of an excellent quality was found, also bdellium, an odoriferous and very costly gum, and onyx, or sardius, a precious stone which had the color of human finger-nails.
v. 13. And the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. This river has been identified most plausibly with the Ganges or with the Araxes, and the country which it watered with Kossaia, which extended in a westerly direction to the Caucasus.
v. 14. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. This seems to point quite definitely to the TigrIsaiah And the fourth river is Euphrates.
Adam placed into the Garden
v. 15. And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. The earthly home of man being ready, he was placed there by Jehovah God to enjoy the peace and the happiness of the garden, but not in a state of inactivity. He was to be the caretaker of the park, to till and develop it, as well as to keep it, probably with reference to an existing power of evil which has as yet not been mentioned.
v. 16. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat;
v. 17. but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. This was a very general permission or command: of every tree of the garden eating thou shalt eat. There were fruit-trees of every kind in the park, and their fruit was at the disposal of man, even the tree of life with the fruit which was intended to sustain him until the Lord was ready to make his body spiritual and to take him up to heaven. But the prohibition was absolute with regard to the tree of knowledge in the midst of the garden. This tree was placed there for the exercise of man's obedience toward God, and the transgression of God's command would result in man's becoming mortal, becoming subject to death. From the day that he would eat of this forbidden fruit, the germ of death would enter his body, and his final dissolution would be inevitable. If man had stood this test, he would have been confirmed in his possession of Paradise, and through his eating of the tree of life he would finally have been enabled, without pain and death, to enter into the life of eternity. Death is the consequence of disobedience, of sin.
The Lack of Companionship for Man
v. 18. And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. A divine decree introduced the creation of man, a divine declaration precedes that of woman. It is a fundamental truth: It is not good for a man to be by himself, without companionship. The life of the anchorite, of the hermit, of the monk, of the nun, is not in agreement with the principle which governs the world. The normal adult person should seek the companionship of marriage, as the Lord stated that He would make for man a help, or helper, that would correspond to himself, be a counterpart of himself. In further explanation it is stated:
v. 19. And out of the ground the Lord formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
v. 20. And Adam gave names to all cattle and to the fowl of the air and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. This is a parenthetical remark, preparing for the next paragraph. This the Lord had done after the creation of man: He had taken the beasts of the field and the birds of the air as they had been called into being from the earth by His almighty word and brought them to man, in order to give to the latter the proper opportunity to exercise his brilliant mind by giving to each animal the name which fitted it, which properly applied to it according to its structure and manner of living. And so great was Adam's understanding, so keen was his mind in penetrating into the marvels of God's creation that he gave to all animals, to the birds as well as to the game animals of the field, the names which distinguished them with the greatest exactness. But among all these there was not one that was his converse, that corresponded to him, that supplemented him. No animal was fit for intimate companionship with man, owing to the entire dissimilarity of body and spirit.
The creation of Woman
v. 21. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof. Sleep is the natural restorer of man's bodily and mental vigor and not the result of sin. But here was the unusual factor: God purposely caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, thus taking from him all consciousness of the outside world and of his own life. He then removed one of the man's ribs, closing up the vacant space with flesh.
v. 22. And the rib which the Lord God had taken from man made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. Jehovah God literally built the rib which He took from the side of man into a woman. He did not form a second creature out of the dust of the soil, but created woman out of the rib of Adam, because she is destined to enter into an indissoluble communion with man, because she is to stand at his side as his helpmeet, and because God wanted to make of one blood all nations of men, Acts 17:26. The Lord also brought the woman to the man, thus signifying that He, in the manner prescribed by Him, brings man and woman together in holy wedlock.
v. 23. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. The eagerness of Adam for proper companionship is here expressed: This finally is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. This is another remarkable instance of Adam's unusual understanding, which caused him to know at once both the origin and the purpose of the woman whom the Lord brought to him. This was the counterpart of himself for whom he had been longing, her name properly being woman, "maness," because from the man, out of the man, she was taken.
v. 24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh. Whether Adam spoke these words, or whether Moses wrote them in explanation of this wonderful relation which was to obtain between the man and the woman made to be his helpmeet, it was God that inspired them, Matthew 19:5. When, in the manner approved by God, a man has been given the woman whom God has destined for him, then the tie which binds these two together is so close and so indissoluble that the man will sever the former intimate ties of home and be joined with his wife as her husband, under obligation to observe all the duties that this relationship implies, Ephesians 5:29, even as the wife will be guided in her entire life by God's will, 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, as the helpmeet of the man. Man and wife are supposed to be united by the ties of common interests, sharing weal and woes, joy and sorrow, as though they were one single person. Note that this excludes the idea of polygamy.
v. 25. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. There was no necessity for clothes, either physically or morally, before the Fall. Nakedness is here the expression of perfect innocence, since the bodies of both Adam and his wife were sanctified by the Spirit that lived in them. Shame did not enter until sin came into their hearts and caused desires and lusts to corrupt the pure order of God. It should be noted here, as well as throughout these two Chapters, that all theories and idle speculations concerning creation, Paradise, the state of man's integrity must be put aside for the simple truth of Scriptures. What God has not revealed no idle speculation will uncover.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Genesis 2". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany