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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 2

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-3


Genesis 2:1

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished. Literally, and finished were the heavens and the earth, the emphatic position being occupied by the verb. With the creation of man upon the sixth day the Divine Artificer's labors were brought to a termination, and his work to a completion. The two ideas of cessation and perfection are embraced in the import of calais. Not simply had Elohim paused in his activity, but the Divine idea of his universe had been realized. The finished world was a cosmos, arranged, ornamented, and filled with organized, sentient, and rational beings, with plants, animals, and man; and now the resplendent fabric shone before him a magnificent success—"lo! very good." This appears to be by no means obscurely hinted at in the appended clause, and all the host of them, which suggests the picture of a military armament arranged in marching order. Tsebaam, derived from tsaba, to go forth as a soldier (Gesenius), to join together for service (Furst), and applied to the angels (στρατία οὐράνιος, Luk 2:13; 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalms 148:2) and to the celestial bodies (δυìναμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν, Matthew 24:29. Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 40:26; Daniel 8:10), here includes, by Zeugma, the material heavens and earth with the angelic and human races (cf. Nehemiah 9:6). If the primary signification of the root be splendor, glory, like tsavah, to some forth or shine out as a star (T. Lewis), then will the LXX. and the Vulgate be correct in translating πᾶς ὁ κοìσμος αὐτῶν and omnis ornatus eorum, the conception being that when the heavens and the earth were completed they were a brilliant army.

Genesis 2:2

And on the seventh day God (Elohim) ended his work which he had made. To avert the possibility of imagining that any portion of the seventh day was consumed in working, which the English version seems to favor, the LXX; the Samaritan, and Syriac versions insert the sixth day in the text instead of the seventh. Calvin, Drusius, Le Clerc, Rosenmüller, and Kalisch translate had finished. Others understand the sense to be declared the work to be finished, while Baumgarten and Delitzsch regard the resting as included in the completion of the work, and Von Bohlen thinks "the language is not quite precise." But calah followed by min signifies to cease from prosecuting any work (Exo 34:33; 1 Samuel 10:13; Ezekiel 43:23), and this was, negatively, the aspect of that sabbatic rest into which the Creator entered. And he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Shavath, the primary idea of which is to sit still, depicts Elohim as desisting from his creative labors, and assuming a posture of quiescent repose. The expression is a pure anthropomorphism. "He who fainteth not, neither is weary" (Isaiah 40:28), can be conceived of neither as resting nor as needing rest through either exhaustion or fatigue. Cessation from previous occupation is all that is implied in the figure, and is quite compatible with continuous activity in other directions. John 5:17 represents the Father as working from that period onward in the preservation and redemption of that world which by his preceding labors he had created and made.

Genesis 2:3

And God blessed the seventh day. The blessing (cf. Genesis 1:22, Genesis 1:28) of the seventh day implied—

1. That it was thereby declared to be the special object of the Divine favor.

2. That it was thenceforth to be a day or epoch of blessing for his creation. And—

3. That it was to be invested with a permanence which did not belong to the other six days—every one of which passed away and gave place to a successor. And sanctified it. Literally, declared it holy, or set it apart for holy purposes. As afterwards Mount Sinai was sanctified (Exodus 19:23), or, for the time being, invested with a sacred character as the residence of God; and Aaron and his sons were sanctified, or consecrated to the priestly office (Exodus 29:44); and the year of Jubilee was sanctified, or devoted to the purposes of religion (Le Genesis 25:10), so here was the seventh day sanctified, or instituted in the interests of holiness, and as such proclaimed to be a holy day. Because that in it he had rested from all his work which God had created and made. Literally, created to make, the exact import of which has been variously explained. The "ω}n h!rcato o( qeo&j poih=sai" of the LXX. is obviously incorrect. Calvin, Ainsworth, Bush, et alii take the second verb emphatice, as intensifying the action of the first, and conveying the idea of a perfect creation. Kalisch, Alford, and others explain the second as epexegetic of the first, as in the similar phrases, "spoke, saying, literally, spoke to speak" (Exodus 6:10), and "labored to do" (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Onkelos, the Vulgate (quod Dens creavit ut faceret), Calvin, Tayler Lewis, &c. understand the infinitive in a relic sense, as expressive of the purpose for which the heavens and the earth were at first created, viz; that by the six days' work they might be fashioned into a cosmos. It has been observed that the usual concluding formula is not appended to the record of the seventh day, and the reason has perhaps been declared by Augustine: "Dies autem septimus sine vespera eat, nee habet occasum, quia sanctificasti eum ad permansionem sempiternam" ('Confess.,' 13:36). But now what was this seventh day which received Elohim's benediction? On the principle of interpretation applied to the creative days, this must be regarded as a period of indefinite duration, compounding to the human era of both Scripture and geology. But other Scriptures (Exodus 20:8; Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:12, &c.) show that the Hebrews were enjoined by God to observe a seventh day rest in imitation of himself. There are also indications that sabbatic observance was not unknown to the patriarchs (Genesis 29:27, Genesis 29:28), to the antediluvians (Genesis 8:6-12), and to Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3). Profane history likewise vouches for the veracity of the statement of Josephus, that "there is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the barbarians, nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of resting on the seventh day hath not come" ('Contra Apionem,' 2.40). The ancient Persians, Indians, and Germans esteemed the number seven as sacred. By the Greeks and Phoenicians a sacred character was ascribed to the seventh day. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and other nations of antiquity were acquainted with the hebdomadal division of time. Travelers have detected traces of it among the African and American aborigines. To account for its existence among nations so widely apart, both chronologically and geographically, recourse has been had to some violent hypotheses; as, e.g; to the number of the primary planets known to the ancients (Humboldt), the division of a lunar month into four nearly equal periods of seven days (Ideler, Baden Powell, &c.), Jewish example (Josephus). Its true genesis, however, must be sought for in the primitive observance of a seventh day rest in accordance with Divine appointment. Precisely as we reason that the early and widespread prevalence of sacrifice can only be explained by an authoritative revelation to the first parents of the human family of such a mode of worship, so do we conclude that a seventh day sabbath must have been prescribed to man in Eden. The question then arises, Is this sabbath also referred to in the Mosaic record of the seventh day? The popular Belief is that the institution of the weekly sabbath alone is the subject spoken of in the opening verses of the present chapter; and the language of Exodus 20:11 may at first sight appear to warrant this conclusion. A more careful consideration of the phraseology employed by Moses, how ever, shows that in the mind of the Hebrew lawgiver there existed a distinction between God's seventh day and man's sabbath, and that, instead of identifying the two, he meant to teach that the first was the reason of the second; as thus—"In six days God made …. and rested on the seventh day; where fore God blessed the (weekly) sabbath day, and hallowed it." Here it is commonly assumed that the words are exactly parallel to those in Genesis 2:3, and that the sabbath in Exodus corresponds to the seventh day of Genesis. But this is open to debate. The seventh day which God blessed in Eden was the first day of human life, and not the seventh day; and it is certain that God did not rest from his labors on man's seventh day, but on man's first. We feel inclined then to hold with Luther that in Genesis 2:3 Moses says nothing about man's day, and that the seventh day which received the Divine benediction was God's own great aeonian period of sabbatic rest. At the same time, for the reasons above specified, believing that a weekly sabbath was pre scribed to man from the beginning, we have no difficulty in assenting to the words of Tayler Lewis: "'And God blessed the seventh day.' Which seventh day, the greater or the less, the Divine or the human, the aeonian or the astronomical? Both, is the easy answer; both, as commencing at the same time, so far as the one connects with astronomical time; both, as the greater including the less; both, as being (the one as represented, the other as typically representing) the same essence and idea." It does not appear necessary to refute the idea that the weekly sabbath had no existence till the giving of the law, and that it is only here proleptically referred to by Moses. In addition to the above-mentioned historical testimonies to the antiquity of the Sabbath, the Fifth Tablet in the Chaldean Creation Series, after referring to the fourth day's work, proceeds:—

"On the seventh day he appointed a holy day,
And to cease from all business he commanded.
Then arose the sun in the horizon of heaven in (glory)."

thus apparently affirming that, in the opinion of the early Babylonians, the institution of the sabbath was coeval with the creation.


Genesis 2:3

The two sabbaths: the Divine and the human.

I. THE SABBATH OF GOD. A period of—

1. Cessation from toil, or discontinuance of those world-making operations which had occupied the six preceding days (Hebrews 4:4). Never since the close of the creative week has God interfered to fundamentally rearrange the material structure of the globe. The Deluge produced no alteration on the constitution of nature. Nor is there evidence that any new species have been added to its living creatures.

2. Holy delight. On the seventh day Elohim rested and was" refreshed" (Exodus 31:17); which refreshment consisted partly in the satisfaction he experienced in beholding the cosmos—a satisfaction prefigured and anticipated by the solemn pauses intervening at the end of each creative day, accompanied by the "good," "lo! very good," of Divine approbation; and partly in the pleasure with which he contemplated the peculiar work of blessing his creation which lay before him, a work which also had its foreshadowings in the benedictions pronounced on the living creatures of the fifth day, and on man on the sixth.

3. Beneficent activity. Even man, unless where his intellectual and moral faculties are dormant, finds it difficult to rest in indolence and inactivity. Absence of motion, with complete negation of effort, may constitute the refreshment of the physical system. The mind seeks its rest in change of occupation. Still less can the supreme Intelligence, who is pure Spirit, rest in absolute inaction; only the Divine energy is now directed towards the happiness of his creatures (Psalms 145:9). Having finished his creative labors, what else could Elohim do but outpour his own blessedness upon his creatures, in proportion to their capacities to receive it? His nature as God necessitated such communication of good to his creatures (Psalms 34:8; James 1:5, James 1:17). The capacities of his creatures for such blessing required it. Hence God's rest may be said to have been man's birthright. He was created in that rest, as the sphere of his existence.

4. Continuous duration. That which secures its perpetuity is the Divine resolution to bless it, i.e. constitute it an era of blessing for man, and in particular to sanctify it, or devote it to the interests of holiness. And in this Divine determination lies the pledge of man's salvation. Without it God's rest might have been broken into by man's sin, and the era of blessing ended. But, because of it, man's sin could not change the character of God's seventh day, so as to prevent it from dropping down gifts and exercising holy influences on the creature for whose sake it was appointed. The security of the world as a cosmos may also be said to be involved in the permanence of God's sabbath. So long as it continues nothing shall occur to resolve the present goodly framework of this globe into another lightless, formless, lifeless chaos, at least until the Divine purpose with the human race has been fulfilled.


1. Of Divine institution (Exodus 20:8; Leviticus 19:30; Psalms 118:24). That God had a right to enact a weekly sabbath for man is implied in his relation to man as Creator and Lawgiver. For man, therefore, to withhold the seventh portion of his time is to be guilty of disobedience against God as a moral Governor, ingratitude towards God as Creator and Preserver, robbery of God as the original Proprietor of both man's powers and time's days. As an institution of God's appointing, the sabbath deserves our honor and esteem. To neglect to render this God counts a sin (Isaiah 58:13).

2. Of sacred character. Among the Israelites its sanctity was to be recognized by abstinence from bodily labor (Exodus 20:10; Exodus 34:21, &c.) and holy convocations (Le Genesis 23:3). That this was the manner of its observance prior to the giving of the law may be judged from the regulations concerning the manna (Exodus 16:22). That from the beginning it was a day of rest and religious worship may be reasonably inferred. That it was so used by Christ and his apostles the Gospels attest (Luke 4:16). That the same character was held to attach to the first day of the week after Christ's resurrection may be deduced from the practice of the apostolic Church (Acts 20:7). The sanctity of the sabbath may be profaned, positively, by prosecuting one's ordinary labors in its hours (Isaiah 58:13; Jeremiah 17:24); negatively, by neglecting to devote them to Divine worship and spiritual improvement (Ezekiel 44:24). Christianity has not obliterated the distinction between the sabbath and the other days of the week; not even by elevating them to the position of holy days. An attempt to equalize the seven days always results in the degradation of the seventh, never in the elevation of the other six.

3. Of beneficent design (Mark 2:27). The sabbath is adapted to the wants of man physically, intellectually, socially, politically. Innumerable facts and testimonies establish the beneficial influence of a seventh day's rest from toil upon the manual laborer, the professional thinker, the social fabric, the body politic, in respect of health, wealth, strength, happiness. It is, however, chiefly man's elevation as a religious being at which it aims. In the paradisiacal state it was designed to hedge him round and, if possible, prevent his fall; since the tragedy in Eden it has been seeking his reinstatement in that purity from which he fell.

4. Of permanent obligation. Implied in the terms of its institution, its permanence would not be affected by the abolition of the Decalogue. The Decalogue presupposed its previous appointment. Christianity takes it up, just as Judaism took it up, as one of God's existing ordinances for the good of man, and seeks through it to bring its higher influences to bear on man, just as Judaism sought, through it, to operate with its inferior agency. Till it merges in the rest of which it is a shadow by the accomplishment of its grand design, it must abide.


1. The reason of man's sabbath. The Almighty could have no higher reason for enjoining a seventh day's rest upon his creature than that by so resting that creature would be like himself.

2. The pattern of man's sabbath. As God worked through six of his days and rested on the seventh, so should man toil through six of his days and rest on the seventh. As God did all his work in the six creative days, so should all man's labor be performed in the six days of the week. As God employs his rest in contemplation of his finished work and in blessing his creature man, so should man devote his sabbath to pious meditation on his past life and to a believing reception of God's gifts of grace and salvation.

3. The life of man's sabbath. Whatever blessing comes to man on his weekly day of rest has its primal fountain in the rest of God. As man himself is God's image, so is man's sabbath the image of God's rest; and as man lives and moves and has his being in God, so does man's sabbath live and move and have its being in God's rest.

4. The end of man's sabbath. The reinstatement of man in God's rest is the purpose at which man's sabbath aims, the goal towards which it is tending. God's rest remains on high (Hebrews 4:9), drawing men towards it. Man's weekly sabbath will ultimately lose itself m God's eternal rest.


Genesis 2:1-3

Rest and Light.

The finished heavens and earth and their host prepare the day of rest. God ended his work as an interchange of darkness and light.

I. THE REST OF THE SABBATH IS NOT INACTION, BUT THE CESSATION FROM THE LOWER ORDER OF WORK FOE THE HIGHER. The idea of the first proclamation seems to be that creation was perfectly adjusted through the six days into a settled harmony which puts heaven and earth in their abiding relation to one another.

II. Then THERE IS NO MORE SAID OF EVENING AND MORNING. The seventh day is only light. God's rest is complacency in his works. The blessing on the seventh day which hallowed it is the blessing on that which the day represents—perfect peace between heaven and earth, God satisfied in his creation, and inviting his intelligent creatures to "enter into his rest" by communion with him. It seems quite unnecessary to vindicate such a sanctification of the seventh day from the insinuations of critics that it was a late addition made by the Jewish legislator to support the fourth commandment. In that case the whole cosmogony must be renounced. Such an observance of a day of rest seems a natural antecedent to the patriarchal as well as the Mosaic economy. We have already intimated that the whole account of creation is placed at the commencement of revelation because it has a bearing upon the positive ordinances of religion. It is not either a scientific or poetic sketch of the universe; it is the broad, fundamental outline of a System of religious truth connected with a body of Divine commandments. The sabbath is thus described in its original breadth. The sanctification of it is—

1. Negative. It is separation from the lower conditions of work, which in the case of man are the characteristics of days which are sinful days—days of toil and conflict, of darkness and light mingled.

2. Positive. It is the restful enjoyment of a higher life, a life which is not laboring after emancipation from bondage, but perfect with a glorious liberty; the true day, "sacred, high, eternal noon," God and man rejoicing m one another, the creature reflecting the glory of the Creator.—R.

Verses 4-7



THE subject handled in the present section is the primeval history of man in his paradisiacal state of innocence, his temptation and fall, and his subsequent development, in two diverging lines, of faith and unbelief, holiness and sin. On the ground of certain obvious, well-defined, and readily-explained characteristics which distinguish this from the preceding portion of the narrative, it is usual with the higher criticism to allege diversity of authorship; and, indeed, these same characteristics, magnified by misapplied ingenuity into insoluble contradictions, are the chief buttress of the documentary hypothesis of Astrue, Hupfeld, Tuch, Ewald, and others. Now the hypothesis that Moses, in the composition of the Pentateuch, and of this Book of Origins in particular, made use of existing documents that may have descended from a remote antiquity is, a prioir, neither incredible nor impossible; but, on the contrary, is extremely probable, and may be held as admitted; only the alleged peculiarities of the different portions of the narrative do not justify the reckless confidence with which it has been resolved by Stahelin, Bleek, De Wette, Knobel, Ewald, and Davidson into its so-called original fragments; and, in the case of Ewald, primordial atoms. The occurrence of the name Jehovah Elohim, instead of simply Elohim, as in the preceding section, is the chief peculiarity of the present portion of the narrative, so far as style and language are concerned; its angered irreconcilable differences in subject-matter are skillfully and succinctly put by Kalisch. "In the first cosmogony vegetation is immediately produced by the will of God; in the second its existence is made dependent on rain and mists and the agricultural labors: in the first the earth emerges from the waters, and is, therefore, saturated with moisture; in the second it appears dry, sterile, and sandy: in the first man and his wife are created together; in the second the wife is formed later, and from a part of man: in the former man bears the image of God, and is made ruler of the whole earth; in the latter his earth-formed body is only animated by the breath of life, and he is placed in Eden to cultivate and to guard it: in the former the birds and beasts are created before man; in the latter man before birds and beasts." For a reply to these "insoluble contradictions," which, though "too obvious to be overlooked or denied," are mostly, if not solely, due to a false exegesis and a misapprehension of the guiding purpose of the writer, see the Exposition following, which attempts no "artificial solution" such as Kalisch deprecates, and proposes no ingenious reconciliation of essentially opposing statements, but simply shows that, when naturally and literally interpreted, the narrative is free from those internal antagonisms which a 'microscopic criticism imagines it has detected in it. The internal unity of the present writing, or second document, as it is called, is apparent. The internecine struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, which the fratricidal act of Cain inaugurated (Genesis 4:1-26.), is the legitimate and necessary outcome of the sin and the grace revealed in Eden (Genesis 3:1-24.), while the melancholy story of the temptation and the fall presupposes the paradisiacal innocence of the first pair (Genesis 2:1-25.). Thus homogeneous in itself, it likewise connects with, the preceding section through Genesis 2:1-25; which, as a monograph on man, supplies a more detailed account of his creation than is given in the narrative of the six days' work, and, by depicting man's settlement in Eden as a place of trial, prepares the way for the subsequent recital of his seduction and sin, and of his consequent expulsion from the garden.

Genesis 2:4

These are the generations is the usual heading for the different sections into which the Book of Genesis is divided (vial. 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). Misled by the LXX; who render toldoth by ἡ βιμβλος γενεμσεως, Ranks, Title, Havernick, Tuch, Ewald, and Stahelin disconnect the entire verse from the second section, which says nothing about the origination of the heavens and the earth, and append it to the preceding, in which their creation is described. Ilgen improves on their suggestion by transferring it to the commencement of Genesis 1:1-31, as an appropriate superscription. Dreschler, Vaihingel Bohlen, Oehler, Macdonald, et alii divide the verse into two clauses, and annex the former to what precedes, commencing the ensuing narrative with the latter. All of these proposals are, however, rendered unnecessary by simply observing that toldoth (from yaladh, to bear, to beget; hence begettings, procreations, evolutions, developments) does not describe the antecedents, but the consequents, of either thing or Person (Rosen; Keil, Kalisch). The toldoth of Noah are not the genealogical list of the patriarch's ancestry, but the tabulated register of his posterity; and so the generations of the heavens and the earth refer not to their original production (Gesenius), but to their onward movements from creation downwards (Keil). Hence with no incongruity, but with singular propriety, the first half of the present verse, ending with the words when they were created, literally, in their creation, stands at the commencement of the section in which the forward progression of the universe is traced. The point of departure in this subsequent evolution of the material heavens and earth is further specified as being in the day that the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim) made the earth and the heavens; not the heavens and the earth, which would have signified the universe (cf. on Genesis 1:1), and carried hack the writer's thought to the initial act of creation; but the earth and the atmospheric firmament, which indicates the period embracing the second and (possibly) the third creative days as the terminus a quo of the generations to be forthwith recorded. Then it was that the heavens and the earth in their development took a clear and decided step forward in the direction of man and the human family (was it in the appearance of vegetation?); and in this thought perhaps will be found the key to the significance of the new name for the Divine Being which is used exclusively throughout the present section—Jehovah Elohim. From the frequency of its use, and the circumstance that it never has the article, Jehovah may be regarded as the proper Personal name of God. Either falsely interpreting Exodus 20:7 and Le Exodus 24:11, or following some ancient superstition (mysterious names of deities were used generally in the East; the Egyptian Hermes had a name which (Cic. 'de Natura Deorum,' 8, 16) durst not be uttered: Furst), the later Hebrews invested this nomen tetra. grammaton with such sanctity that it might not bepronounced. Accordingly, it was their custom to write it in the sacred text with the vowel points of Adonai, or, if that preceded, Elohim. Hence considerable doubt now exists as to its correct pronunciation. Etymologically viewed it is a future form of havah, an old form of hayah; uncertainty as to what future has occasioned many different suggestions as to what constituted its primitive vocalization. According to the evidence which scholars have collected, the choice lies between

(1) Jahveh (Gesenius, Ewald, Reland, Oehler, Macdonald, the Samaritan),

(2) Yehveh or Yeheveh (Furst, W. L. Alexander, in Kitto's 'Cyclopedia'), and

(3) Jehovah (Michaelis, Meyer, Stier, Hoelmann, Tregelles, Murphy).

Perhaps the preponderance of authority inclines to the first; but the common punctuation is not so indefensible as some writers allege. Gesenius admits that it more satisfactorily accounts for the abbreviated syllables יִהוֹ and יוֹ than the pronunciation which he himself favors. Murphy thinks that the substitution of Adonai for Jehovah was facilitated by the agreement of their vowel points. The locus classicus for its signification is Exodus 3:14, in which God defines himself as "I am that I am," and commands Moses to tell the children of Israel that Ehyeh had sent him. Hengstenberg and Keil conclude that absolute self-existence is the essential idea represented by the name (cf. Exodus 3:14; ὁ ὠìν, LXX.; Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:8; ὁ ὥν καὶ ὁ ἠν καὶ ὁ ἐρχομμενος, vd. Furst, 'Lex. sub nora.'). Baumgarten and Delitzsch, laying stress on its future form, regard it as = the Becoming One, with reference to the revelation, rather than the essence, of the Divine nature. Macdonald, from the circumstance that it was not used till after the fall, discovers a pointing forward to Jehovah as ὁ ἑρχομμενος in connection with redemption. Others, deriving from a hiphil future, take it as denoting "he who causes to be, the Fulfiller," and find in this an explanation of Exodus 6:3 (Exell). May not all these ideas be more or less involved in the fullness of the Divine name? As distinguished from Elohim, Deus omnipotens, the mighty One, Jehovah is the absolute, self-existent One, who manifests himself to man, and, in particular, enters into distinct covenant engagements for his redemption, which he in due time fulfils. In the present section the names are conjoined partly to identify Jehovah with Elohim, and partly because the subject of which it treats is the history of man.

Genesis 2:5

And every plant of the field before it was (literally, not yet) in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew (literally, had not yet sprouted). Following the LXX; the English Version suggests an intention on the writer's part to emphasize the fact that the vegetation of the globe—here comprehended under the general terms, shiah, shrub, and eseb, herb—was not a natural production, but, equally with the great earth and heavens, was the creation of Jehovah Elohim—a rendering which has the sanction of Taylor Lewis; whereas the writer's object clearly is to depict the appearance of the earth at the time when the man-ward development of the heavens and the earth began. Then not a single plant was in the ground, not a green blade was visible. The land, newly sprung from the waters, was one desolate region of bleak, bare lava-hills and extensive mud-fiats. Up to that point the absence of vegetation is accounted for by the circumstance that the presently existing atmospheric conditions of the globe had not then been established, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and the ordinary agricultural operations on which its production was afterwards to depend had not then been begun, and there was not a man to till the ground.

Genesis 2:6

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. The dry land having been separated from the waters, and the atmospheric ocean uplifted above them both, vaporous exhalations began to ascend to the aerial regions, and to return again in the shape of rain upon the ground. Jehovah thus caused it to rain upon the ground, and so prepared it for the vegetation which, in obedience to the Almighty fiat, sprung up at the close of the third day, although the writer does not mention its appearance, but leaves it to be inferred from the preceding section. That soon after its emergence from the waters the land should be "dry, sterile, and sandy" will not be thought remarkable if we remember the highly igneous condition of our planet at the time when the dry land was upheaved and the waters gathered into the subsiding valleys. Nothing would more naturally follow that event than the steaming up of vapors to float in the aerial sea. In fact, the rapidity with which evaporation would be carried on would very speedily leave the newly-formed land hard and dry, baked and caked into a crust, till the atmosphere, becoming overcharged with aqueous vapor, returned it in the shape of rain. To talk of insuperable difficulty and manifest dissonance where everything is clear, natural, and harmonious is to speak at random, and betrays an anxiety to create contradictions rather than to solve them.

Genesis 2:7

And the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim) formed man of the dust of the ground. Literally, dust from the ground. Here, again, Bleek, Kalisch, and the theologians of their school discover contrariety between this account of man's creation and that which has been given in the preceding chapter. In that man is represented as having been created by the Divine word, in the Divine image, and male and female simultaneously; whereas in this his creation is exhibited as a painful process of elaboration from the clay by the hand of God, who works it like a potter (asah; LXX; πλαμσσω), and, after having first constructed man, by a subsequent operation forms woman. But the first account does not assert that Adam and Eve were created together, and gives no details of the formation of either. These are supplied by the present narrative, which, beginning with the construction of his body from the fine dust of the ground, designedly represents it as an evolution or development of the material universe, and ends by setting it before us as animated by the breath of God, reserving for later treatment the mode of Eve's production, when the circumstances that led to it have been described. And (the Lord God) breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Literally, the breath of lives. "The formation of man from the dust and the breathing of the breath of life must not be understood in a mechanical sense, as if God first of all constructed a human figure from the dust" (still less does it admit of the idea that man's physical nature was evolved from the lower animals), "and then, by breathing his breath of life into the clod of earth which he had shaped into the form of a man, made it into a living being. The words are to be understood θεοπρεπῶς. By an act of Divine omnipotence man arose from the dust; and in the same moment in which the dust, by virtue of creative omnipotence, shaped itself into a human form, it was pervaded by the Divine breath of life, and created a living being, so that we cannot say the body was earlier than the soul" (Delitzsch). And man became a living soul. Nephesh chayyah, in Genesis 1:21, 80, is employed to designate the lower animals. Describing a being animated by a ψυχηì or life principle, it does not necessarily imply that the basis of the life principle in man and the inferior animals is the same. The distinction between the two appears from the difference in the mode of their creations. The beasts arose at the almighty fiat completed beings, every one a nephesh chayyah. "The origin of their soul was coincident with that of their corporeality, and their life was merely the individualization of the universal life with which all matter was filled at the beginning by the Spirit of God" (Delitzsch). Man received his life from a distinct act of Divine inbreathing; certainly not an in-breathing of atmospheric air, but an inflatus from the Ruach Elohim, or Spirit of God, a communication from the whole personality of the Godhead. In effect man was thereby constituted a nephesh chayyah, like the lower animals; but in him the life principle conferred a personality which was wanting in them. Thus there is no real contradiction, scarcely even an "apparent dissonance," between the two accounts of man's creation. The second exhibits the foundation of that likeness to God and world-dominion ascribed to him in the first.


Genesis 2:7

The first man.

I. MADE FROM THE DUST. This does not imply that in the composition of humanity there is nothing but particles of dust, or "molecules of matter." Simply it designs to state that the point of departure in man's creation was the soil out of which all other living creatures were produced; that, so to speak, man was constructed from beneath upwards, the Divine Artificer proceeding with his creation in the same ascending scale of activity that had been observed in the production of the rest of the universe—first the material body, and then the immaterial soul; and that, so far as the former is concerned, man is wholly and solely of the earth, earthy,—an assertion which the researches of chemistry and physiology abundantly confirm,—the elements of organized bodies being the same as those which constitute the inorganic world, viz; carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, lime, iron, sulfur, and phosphorus. The statement is fitted to impress man with thoughts—

1. Of his lowly origin. While the Scripture in general labors to imbue his mind with correct ideas of his obscure nativity, comparing him to a wind, to a vapor, to a flower, to the beasts, to a worm, the sentiment of Moses takes him lower yet for his birthplace—to the dust of the ground, above which the wind blows, from which the vapors rise, on which the flowers bloom, across which the beasts roam, out of which the worm creeps.

2. Of his essential frailty. Being composed of little particles of dust, held together by what science calls "organization," but Holy Writ designates the power of God, it requires but the loosening of God's hand, as it were, for the framework of his body, so wondrously fashioned, so delicately carved, so finely articulated, so firmly knit, to resolve itself into a heap of dust.

3. Of his final destiny. Every mundane thing returns to the place whence it proceeded (Ecclesiastes 1:5, Ecclesiastes 1:7). The vapors climb into the sky, but descend again upon the hills, and seek the plains. The flowers bloom, but, after dispensing their fragrance, shed their leaves upon the earth. The young lions, that, as it were, are sprung from the soil, find a grave at last within their forest dens. As it is with the flowers and the beasts, so is it also with man. "All are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Ecclesiastes 3:18, Ecclesiastes 3:20; Job 10:9; Psalms 103:14).


1. Humility of spirit (Job 4:19; Psalms 144:3, Psalms 144:4; Isaiah If. 1). "Holy living" (Taylor, § Genesis 4:9).

2. Care for the body—protecting its frailty from injury (Le Genesis 19:28) and its materiality from mastery (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:4).

3. Preparation for death (Psalms 39:4; Psalms 90:12).

II. FASHIONED BY THE HAND OF GOD. Made from the dust, the first man neither sprung from the slime of matter, according to naturalism (οἱ αὐτοìχθονες), nor was evolved from the τοÌ πᾶν of pantheism, but was specifically formed by Divine creative power. This marked the first degree of man's superiority over other living creatures. Deriving existence, equally with man, from the creative power of God, it is not said of them that they were "formed" by God. Let this remind man—

1. Of the Divine origin of the body. If the physical structures of the lower organisms display such admirable proportions and striking adaptations as to evince the action of Divine intelligence, much more may a Creator's hand be recognized in the form and symmetry, proportion and adjustment of the human body. An examination of the hand, eye, or brain, of the muscular or nervous systems, instinctively awakens the devout feelings of the Psalmist: "I will praise Thee, O Lord; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalms 139:14).

2. Of the Divine estimate of the body. Shown by the personal care and attention which God devoted to its construction, since he designed it to be the noblest of his works, the shrine of an immortal spirit, a prophecy and type of the body of his Son, in the fullness of the times to be prepared by another special act of creation (Psalms 40:6; Hebrews 10:8). This estimate he has in many ways confirmed: by abundantly and generously sustaining it, although a partner in the spirit's sin (Genesis 1:29; Genesis 9:3); guarding its life with the strictest and severest penalties (Genesis 9:5, Genesis 9:6); taking it into union with himself, in the person of his Son (Hebrews 2:6); redeeming it, as well as the soul it enshrines, through his Son's blood (Romans 8:21, Romans 8:28); and constituting it, as well as the immaterial spirit, a partaker of resurrection glory (1 Corinthians 15:42).


1. The true nobility of man's descent, and the duty of walking worthy of it.

2. The high value of the body, and the consequent obligation of neither dishonoring nor abusing it.

III. ANIMATED BY THE BREATH OF LIFE. The second degree of man's superiority to the lower animals. Like them, a living soul, his life is different from theirs—

1. In its nature. Theirs was a portion of that common life principle which God has been pleased to communicate to matter; his a direct afflatus from the personality of God.

2. In its impartation. Theirs was bestowed directly and immediately by the fiat of omnipotence; his conveyed into his material framework by a special Divine operation.

3. In its effect. Theirs constituted them "living souls;" his conferred on him personality. Theirs made them creatures having life; his caused him to become a spirit having life. Theirs left them wholly mortal; his transformed him into an immortal (Ecclesiastes 3:21).

Let man consider—

1. That his body is a temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19).

2. That his spirit is the creation and the gift of God (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 57:16; Zechariah 12:1).

3. That with both it becomes him to glorify his Divine Creator (1 Corinthians 6:20).


Genesis 2:4-7

Man the living soul.

1. Life is a Divine bestowment.

2. Dust which is Divinely inspired is no longer mere dust; the true life is neither groveling on the earth, nor so much away from the earth as to be no longer the life of a living soul.

3. The creature who is last formed, and for whom all other things wait and are prepared, is made to be the interpreter of all, and the glory of God in them.—R.

Verses 8-17


Genesis 2:8

In accordance with a well-known characteristic of Hebrew composition, the writer, having carried his subject forward to a convenient place of rest, now reverts to a point of time in the six days antecedent to man's appearance on the earth. In anticipation of his arrival, it was needful that a suitable abode should be prepared for his reception. Accordingly, having already mentioned the creation of plants, trees, and flowers, the narrative proceeds to describe the construction of Adam's early home. And the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim) plantedi.e. specially prepared—a garden (gan, a place protected by a fence, from ganan, to cover; hence a garden: cf. Deuteronomy 2:10; 1 Kings 21:2; Isaiah 51:3; LXX; παραìδεισος; Vulgate, paradisus; whence English, paradise, Luke 23:43) eastward (mekedem, literally, from the front quarter, not from the beginning,—ἀπο ἀρχῆς, Aquila; ἐν πρῶτοις, Theodotion; a principio, Vulgate,—but in the region lying towards the east of Palestine—LXX; κατ ἀνατολὰς) in (not of, as Murphy, who renders "in the east of Eden") Eden (delight; Greek, ἡδονηì: cf. Hedenesh, or Heden, the birthplace of Zoroaster—Kalisch). The word is not merely descriptive of the beauty and fertility of the garden (paradisus voluptatis, Vulg; of. παραìδεισος της τρυφης, LXX. (Joel 2:3). On the ground of possessing similar qualities, other districts and places were subsequently termed Edens: cf. 2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12; Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 27:23; Amos 1:5), but likewise indicates its locality, which is afterwards more exactly defined (Amos 1:10, Amos 1:14). In the mean time it is simply noted that, this enchanting paradise having been specially prepared by Jehovah, there he put the man (Adam) whom he had formed.

Genesis 2:9

And out of the ground made the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim) to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight—literally, lovely to see; i.e. beautiful in form and color—and good for food. In the preparation of man's pristine abode respect was had to ornamentation as well as utility. Every species of vegetation that could minister to his corporeal necessities was provided. Flowers, trees, and shrubs regaled his senses with their fragrance, pleased his eye with their exquisite forms and enchanting colors, and gratified his palate with their luscious fruits. Hence the garden of the Lord became the highest ideal of earthly excellence (Isaiah 51:3). In particular it was distinguished by the presence of two trees, which occupied a central position among its multifarious productions. The tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That these were not two separate trees, but only one tree distinguished by different names, has been maintained, though with no weightier reason than the statement of Eve in Genesis 3:3. The opinion of Witsius, Luther, Kennicott, and Hengstenberg, that classes of trees, and not individual trees, are meant by the phrases "tree of life" and "tree of knowledge," is precluded by the language of Jehovah Elohim in Genesis 2:17 and Genesis 3:24. As regards their significance, consistency requires that they should both be explained on the same principle. This, accordingly, disposes of the idea that the tree of life (literally, the tree of the lives: of. ξυìλον τῆς ζωῆς, Revelation 2:7; Rev 20:1-15 :19) is simply a Hebraism for a living tree, as by no sort of ingenuity can the tree of knowledge be transformed into a knowing tree. It likewise militates against the notion that the two trees were styled from the peculiar effects of their fruits, the one conferring physical immortality on Adam's body (Scotus, Aquinas, Fairbairn, Kalisch, Luther), and the other imparting moral and intellectual intuitions to his soul (Josephus, Kalisch). But even if the life-giving properties of the one tree could be demonstrated from Genesis 3:24, proof would still be required with regard to the other, that the mere physical processes of manducation and digestion could be followed by results so immaterial as those of "rousing the slumbering intellect, teaching reason to reflect, and enabling the judgment to distinguish between moral good and moral evil" (Kalisch). Besides, if this was the immediate effect of eating the forbidden fruit, it is difficult to perceive either why it should have been prohibited to our first parents at all, it being "for their good to have their wits sharpened" (Willet); or in what respect they suffered loss through listening to the tempter, and did not rather gain (Rabbi Moses); or wherein, being destitute of both intellectual and moral discernment, they could be regarded as either guilty of transgression or responsible for obedience. Incapacity to know good and evil may be a characteristic of unconscious childhood and unreflecting youth (Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 7:15; Jonah 4:11), or of debilitated age (2 Samuel 19:36), but is not conceivable in the case of one who was created in God's image, invested with world-dominion, and himself constituted the subject of moral government. Unless, therefore, with ancient Gnostics and modem Hegelians, we view the entire story of the probation as an allegorical representation of the necessary intellectual and ethical development of human nature, we must believe that Adam was acquainted with the idea of moral distinctions from the first. Hence the conclusion seems to force itself upon our minds that the first man was possessed of both immortality and knowledge irrespective altogether of the trees, and that the tree character which belonged to these trees was symbolical or sacramental, suggestive of the conditions under which he was placed in Eden. "Arbori autem vitae nomen indidit, non quod vitam homini conferrer, qua jam ante praeditus erat; sod ut symbolum ac memoriale esset vitae divinitus acceptae" (Calvin). For a further exposition of the exact significance of these trees see below on Genesis 3:16, Genesis 3:17.

Genesis 2:10

The precise locality of Eden is indicated by its relation to the great watercourses of the region. And a river (literally, a flowing water, applicable to large oceanic floods—Job 22:16; Psalms 24:2; Psalms 46:5; Jonah 2:4—as well as to narrow streams) went out (literally, going out) of Eden to water the garden. To conclude from this that the river had its source within the limits of the garden is to infer more than the premises will warrant. Nothing more is implied in the language than that a great watercourse proceeded through the district of Eden, and served to irrigate the soil. Probably it intersected the garden, thus occasioning its remarkable fecundity and beauty. And from thence (i.e. either on emerging from which, or, taking מן in its secondary sense, outside of, or at a distance from which) it was parted (literally, divided itself), and became into four heads. Roshim, from rosh, that which is highest; either principal waters, arms or branches (Taylor Lewis, Alford), or beginnings of rivers, indicating the sources of the streams (Gesenius, Keil, Macdonald, Murphy). If the second of these interpretations be adopted, Eden must be looked for in a spot where some great flowing water is subdivided into four separate streams; if the former be regarded as the proper exegesis, then any great river which is first formed by the junction of two streams, and afterwards disperses its waters in two different directions, will meet the requirements of the case.

Genesis 2:11, Genesis 2:12

The name of the first (river is) Pishon, or "the full-flowing." This is the first of those marks by which the river, when discovered, must be identified. It was palpably a broad-bosomed stream. A second is derived from the region through which it flows. That is it which compasseth (not necessarily surrounding, but skirting in a circular or circuitous fashion—Numbers 21:4; Judges 11:8) the whole land of Havilah. Havilah itself is described by three of its productions. Where there is gold. I.e. it is a gold-producing country. And the gold of that land is good. Of the purest quality and largest quantity. There also is bdellium. Literally bedolach, which the manna was declared to resemble (Exodus 17:14; Numbers 11:7). The LXX; supposing it to be a precious stone, translate it by ἄνθραξ in the present passage, and by κρυσταìλλος in Numbers 11:7—a view supported by the Jewish Rabbis and Gesenius. The majority of modern interpreters espouse the opinion of Josephus, that it was an odorous and costly gum indigenous to India, Arabia, Babylonia, and Bactriana. The third production is the onyx (shoham, from a root signifying to be pale or delicate in color, like the finger-nails), variously conjectured to be the beryl, onyx, sardonyx, sardius, or emerald. From this description it appears that Havilah must be sought for among the gold-producing countries of Asia. Now among the sons of Joktan or primitive Arabs (Genesis 10:29)—"whose dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest, unto Sephar, a mount of the east"—are Ophir and Havilah, whence Gesenius concludes that India, including Arabia, is meant. Other countries have their advocates, such as Arabia Felix, Susiana, Colchis, &c.; and other rivers, such as the Ganges (Josephus, Eusebius), the Phasis (Reland, Jahn, Rosenmüller, Winer), the Indus (Schulthess, Kalisch).

Genesis 2:13

And the name of the second is the Gihon, or "the bursting," from גֵּיחַ, to break forth. "Deep-flowing," T. Lewis renders it, connecting it with ὡκεανοìς, and identifying it with Homer's βαθυῤῥόος Ὠκεανός. The same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia (Cush). Under the impression that the African Cush was meant, the Alexandrine Jews discovered the Gihon in the Nile—an opinion in which they have been followed by Schulthess, Gesenius, Furst, Bertheau, Kalisch, and others. But Cush, it is now known, describes the entire region between Arabia and the Nile, and in particular the southern district of the former lying between the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. Hence Tayler Lewis finds the Gihon in the ocean water sweeping round the south coast of Arabia. Murphy detects the name Kush in the words Caucasus and Caspian, and, looking for the site of Eden about the sources of the Euphrates and the Tigris in Armenia, thinks the Gihon may have been the leading stream flowing into the Caspian. Delitzsch advocates the claim of the Araxis to be this river.

Genesis 2:14

And the name of the third river is the, Hiddekel, or "the darting," from חַד and דֶּקֶל, a sharp and swift arrow, referring to its rapidity. It is unanimously agreed that this must be identified with the Tigris; in the present language of the Persians designated tir, which signifies an arrow. It is styled in Aramaic diglath or diglah. That is it which goeth towards the east of Assyria. Its identity is thus placed beyond a question. And the fourth river is Euphrates, or "the sweet,' from an unused root, parath, signifying to be sweet, referring to the sweet and pleasant taste of its waters (Jeremiah 2:18). Further description of this great water was unnecessary, being universally known to the Hebrews as "the great river" (Deuteronomy 1:7; Daniel 10:4), and "the river" par excellence (Exodus 23:31; Isaiah 7:20). The river still bears its early name. In the cuneiform inscriptions deciphered by Rawlinson it is called "Ufrata." Recurring now to the site of Eden, it must be admitted that, notwithstanding this description, the whole question is involved in uncertainty. The two solutions of the problem that hive the greatest claim on our attention are,

(1) that which places Eden near the head of the Persian Gulf, and

(2) that which looks for it in Armenia. The latter is favored by the close proximity to that region of the sources of both the Euphrates and the Tigris; but, on the other hand, it is hampered by the difficulty of discovering other two rivers that will correspond with the Gihon and the Pison, and the almost certainty that Cush and Havilah are to be sought for in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. The former (Calvin, Kalisch, T. Lewis) is supported by this last consideration, that Cush and Havilah are not remote from the locality, though it too has its encumbrances. It seems to reverse the idea of יֹּעֵא, which according to Le Clerc indicates the direction of the stream. Then its advocates, no more than the supporters of the alternate theory, are agreed upon the Gihon and the Pison: Calvin finding them in the two principal mouths of the Euphrates and the Tigris, which Sir Charles Lyell declares to be of comparatively recent formation; Kalisch identifying them with the Indus and the Nile; and Taylor Lewis regarding them as the two sides of the Persian Gulf. Sir H. Rawlinson, from a study of the Assyrian texts, has pointed out the coincidence of the Babylonian region of Karduniyas or Garduniyas with the Eden of the Bible; and the late George Smith finds in its four rivers, Euphrates, Tigris, Surappi, and Ukui, its known fertility, and its name, Gandunu, so similar to Ganeden (the garden of Eden), "considerations all tending towards the view that it is the paradise of Genesis".

Genesis 2:15

Having prepared the garden for man's reception, the Lord God took the man. "Not physically lifting him up and putting him down in the garden, but simply exerting an influence upon him which induced him, in the exercise of his free agency, to go. He went in consequence of a secret impulse or an open command of his Maker" (Bush). And put him into the garden; literally, caused him to rest in it as an abode of happiness and peace. To dress it. I.e. to till, cultivate, and work it. This would almost seem to hint that the aurea aetas of classical poetry was but a dream—a reminiscence of Eden, perhaps, but idealized. Even the plants, flowers, and trees of Eden stood in need of cultivation from the hand of man, and would speedily have degenerated without his attention. And to keep it. Neither were the animals all so peaceful and domesticated that Adam did not need to fence his garden against their depredations. Doubtless there is here too an ominous hint of the existence of that greater adversary against whom he was appointed to watch.

Genesis 2:16, Genesis 2:17

And Jehovah Elohim commanded the man (Adam), saying. Whether or not these were the first words listened to by man (Murphy), they clearly presuppose the person to whom they were addressed to have had the power of understanding language, i.e. of interpreting vocal sounds, and representing to his own mind the conceptions or ideas of which they were the signs, a degree of intellectual development altogether incompatible with modern evolution theories. They likewise assume the pre-existence of a moral nature which could recognize the distinction between "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not." Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; literally, eating, thou shalt eat. Adam, it thus appears, was permitted to partake of the tree of life; not, however, as a means of either conferring or preserving immortality, which was already his by Divine gift, and the only method of conserving which recognized by the narrative was abstaining from the tree of knowledge; but as a symbol and guarantee of that immortality with which he had been endowed, and which would continue to be his so long as he maintained his personal integrity. This, of course, by the very terms of his existence, he was under obligation to do, apart altogether from any specific enactment which God might enjoin. As a moral being, he had the law written on his conscience. But, as if to give a visible embodiment to that law, and at the same time to test his allegiance to his Maker's will, which is the kernel of all true obedience, an injunction was laid upon him of a positive description—But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. Speculations as to what kind of tree it was, whether a vine, a fig, or an apple tree, are more curious than profitable. There is no reason to suppose that any noxious or lethiferous properties resided in its fruit. The death that was to follow on transgression was to spring from the eating, and not from the fruit; from the sinful act, and not from the creature, which in itself was good. The prohibition laid on Adam was for the time being a summary of the Divine law. Hence the tree was a sign and symbol of what that law required. And in this, doubtless, lies the explanation of its name. It was a concrete representation of that fundamental distinction between right and wrong, duty and sin, which lies at the basis of all responsibility. It interpreted for the first pair those great moral intuitions which had been implanted in their natures, and by which it was intended they should regulate their lives. Thus it was for them a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It brought out that knowledge which they already possessed into the clear light of definite conviction and precept, connecting it at the same time with the Divine will as its source and with themselves as its end. Further, it was an intelligible declaration of the duty which that knowledge of good and evil imposed upon them. Through its penalty it likewise indicated both the good which would be reaped by obedience and the evil which would follow on transgression. For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; literally, dying, thou shalt die. That this involved death physical, or the dissolution of the body, is indicated by the sentence pronounced on Adam after he had fallen (Genesis 3:19). That the sentence was hot immediately executed does not disprove its reality. It only suggests that its suspension may have been due to some Divine interposition. Yet universal experience attests that permanent escape from its execution is impossible. In the case of Adam it was thus far put in force on the instant, that henceforth he ceased to be immortal. As prior to his fall his immortality was sure, being authenticated for him by the tree of life, so now, subsequent to that catastrophe, his mortality was certain. This, more than immediateness, is what the language implies. For the complete theological significance of this penalty see Genesis 3:19.


Genesis 2:8

The garden of Eden.

I. A SCENE OF BEAUTY. Whether situated in Armenia or Babylonia (see Exposition), it was a fair spot in a sunny region of delights (Eden). This beauty was—

1. Luxuriant. Milton has lavished all the wealth of his creative genius in an attempt to depict "the happy rural seat of the first pair" ('Par. Lost,' bk. 4.). Yet it is questionable if even he has succeeded in reproducing the gorgeous spectacle, the endlessly diversified assortment of lovely forms and radiant colors that seemed to compress "in narrow room nature's whole wealth," entitling Eden to be characterized as "a heaven on earth."

2. Divinely prepared. Jehovah Elohim caused it to spring up and bloom before the wondering eye of man. All the world's beauty is of God. The flowers and the herbs and the trees have all their symmetry and loveliness from him. God clothes the lilies of the field; the raiment, outshining the glory of royal Solomon, in which they are decked is of his making. If nature be the loom in which it is woven, he is the all-wise ὑφάντης or Weaver by whom its wondrous mechanism is guided and energized. Let us rejoice in the earth's beauty, and thank God for it.

3. Exceptional. We are scarcely warranted, even by Genesis 3:17, to suppose that, prior to the fall, the whole world was a paradise. Rather, geologic revelations give us reason to believe that from the first the earth was prepared for the reception of a sinful race, death and deformity having been in the world anterior to man's arrival upon the scene (cf. Bushnell, 'Nat. and Super.,' Genesis 7:1-24.), and that the Edenic home was what the Bible says it was—a fair spot, specially planted and fenced about, for the temporary residence of the innocent pair, who were ultimately, as transgressors, to be driven forth to dwell upon a soil which was cursed because of sin. Let it humble us to think that the earth is not a paradise solely because of human sin.

4. Prophetic. Besides being a picture of what the world would have been, had it been prepared for a sinless race, it was also a foreshadowing of the renovated earth when sin shall be no more, when "this land that was desolate shall have become like the garden of Eden." Let it stimulate our hope and assist our faith to anticipate the palingenesia of the future, when this sterile and disordered world shall be refitted with bloom and beauty.

II. A SPHERE OF WORK. Adam's work was—

1. God-assigned. So in a very real sense is every man's life occupation appointed by God. "To every man his work" is the law of God's world as well as of Christ's kingdom. This thought should dignify "the trivial round, the common task," and enable us, "whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, to do all to the glory of God."

2. Pleasant. And so should all work be, whether arduous or easy, especially to a Christian. To be sure, Adam's work was light and easy in comparison with that which afterwards became his lot, and that which now constitutes ours. But even these would be joyous and exhilarating if performed by the free spirit of love, instead of, as they often are, by the unwilling hands of bondmen.

3. Necessary. Even in a state of innocence it was impossible that man could he suffered to live in indolence; his endowments and capacities were fitted for activity. His happiness and safety (against temptation) required him to be employed. And if God who made him was ever working, why should he be idle? The same arguments forbid idleness today. Christianity with emphasis condemns it. "If a man will not work, neither shall he eat."


1. Suitable. It was not suitable for sinners, just as the world outside would not have been adapted for a pair who were sinless; but it was peculiarly appropriate for their innocence. He who appointeth to all men the bounds of their habitation always locates men in spheres that are exactly suited to their natures and needs.

2. Provisional. Their possession of it was contingent on their remaining sinless. If their souls continued pure, their homes would continue fair. It is man's own sin that defaces the beauty and mars the happiness of man's home. When men find themselves in positions that are not compatible with their happiness and usefulness, it is sin that has placed them there.

3. Quickly lost. How long they continued innocent is useless to conjecture, though probably it was not long. More important is it to observe that not much was required to deprive them of their lovely home—one act of disobedience! See the danger of even one sin.

4. Ultimately recoverable. This truth was taught by the stationing of the cherubim at its gate (q.v.). Revelation 22:1 tells us it has been regained for us by Christ, and will in the end be bestowed on us.


1. Everything was absent that might mar man's felicity. No sin, no error, no sorrow.

2. Everything was present that could minister to his enjoyment. There was ample gratification for all the different parts of his complex nature.

(1) For his bodily senses, the fair scenes, melodious sounds, crystal streams, and luscious fruits of the garden.

(2) For his mental powers, the study of the works of God.

(3) For his social affections, a loving and lovely partner.

(4) For his spiritual nature, God. To reproduce the happiness of Eden, so far as that is possible in a sinful world, there is needed

(a) communion with a gracious God;

(b) the felicity of a loving and a pious home;

(c) the joy of life—physical, intellectual, moral.

V. A PLACE OF PROBATION. This probation was—

1. Necessary. Virtue that stands only because it has never been assaulted is, to say the least of it, not of the highest kind. Unless man had been subjected to trial it might have remained dubious whether he obeyed of free choice or from mechanical necessity.

2. Easy. The specific commandment which Adam was required to observe was not severe in its terms. The limitations it prescribed were of the smallest possible description—abstinence from only one tree.

3. Gracious. Instead of periling the immortality of Adam and his posterity upon every single act of their lives, he suspended it upon the observance, doubtless for only a short space of time, of one easily-obeyed precept, which he had the strongest possible inducement to obey. If he maintained his integrity, not only would his own holiness and happiness be confirmed, but those of his descendants would be secured; while if he failed, he would involve not himself alone, but all succeeding generations in the sweep of a terrific penalty. The clearness with which that penalty was made known, the certainty of its execution, and the severity of its inflictions, were proofs of the grace of God towards his creature man.


Genesis 2:8-17

Man's first dwelling-place.

The description of Eden commences an entirely new stage in the record. We are now entering upon the history of humanity as such.

I. The first fact in that history is a state of "PLEASANTNESS." The garden is planted by God. The trees are adapted to human life, to support it, to gratify it; and in the midst of the garden the two trees which represent the two most important facts with which revelation is about to deal, viz; immortality and sin.

II. OUTSPREAD BLESSING. The RIVER breaks into four fountains, whose description carries us over enormous regions of the world. It is the river which went out of Eden to water the garden; so that the conception before us is that of an abode of man specially prepared of God, not identical with Eden in extent, but in character; and the picture is carried out, as it were, by the channels of the outflowing streams, which bear the Eden life with them over the surface of the earth, so that the general effect of the whole is a prophecy of blessing. Eden-like beauty, and pleasantness, over the whole extent of the world.

III. THE PREPARED GARDEN WAITED FOR ITS INHABITANT. "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden" (literally, made him to rest in the garden) "to dress it and to keep it." Perhaps the simplest view of these words is the most significant. Man is led into a life of pleasantness, with only such demands upon him as it will be no burden to meet; and in that life of pure happiness and free activity he is made conscious, not of mere dependence upon his Creator for existence, not of laws hanging over him like threatening swords, but of a Divine commandment which at once gave liberty and restrained it, which surrounded the one tree of knowledge of good and evil with its circle of prohibition, not as an arbitrary test of obedience, bat as a Divine proclamation of eternal righteousness. "Evil is death." "Thou shalt not eat of it," for this reason, that "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." It is not a subjection of a new-made creature to a test. It would be a harsh demand to make of Adam, unless he understood that it was founded on the nature of things.

IV. THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE TREE OF DEATH STAND TOGETHER in the midst of the garden. They hold the same position still in every sphere of human existence. But the book of Divine grace, as it teaches us how the sin-stricken, dying world is restored to a paradise of Divine blessedness, reveals at the last, in the vision of the Christian seer, only the tree of life beside the water of life; the evil cast out, and the death which it brought with it, and the new-made inhabitants "taking freely" of "the pleasures which are forevermore."—R.


Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:10

The tree of life and the water of life.

These two features of Eden claim special attention.

I. THEIR RECURRRNCE IN SCRIPTURE. They link the paradise of unfallen man to that of redeemed man. Actual channels of life and blessing, they were also figures of that salvation which the history of the world was gradually to unfold. But sin came, and death; present possession was lost. What remained was the promise of a Savior. We pass over much of preparation for his coming: the selection of a people; the care of God for his vineyard; the ordinances and services foreshadowing the gospel. Then a time of trouble: Jerusalem a desolation; the people in captivity; the temple destroyed; the ark gone; sacrifices at an end. "Where is now thy God?" Where thy hope? Such the state of the world when a vision given to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-12), reproducing the imagery of Eden, but adapted to the need of fallen man. Again we have the stream; now specially to heal. Its source the mercy-seat (comp. Ezekiel 43:1-7; Ezekiel 47:1; Revelation 22:1). And the trees; not different from the tree of life (Ezekiel 47:12 : "It shall bring forth new fruit"); varied manifestations of grace; for food and for medicine. But observe, the vision is of a coming dispensation. Again a space. Our Savior's earthly ministry over. The Church is struggling on. The work committed to weak hands; the treasure in earthen vessels. But before the volume of revelation closed, the same symbols are shown in vision to St. John (Revelation 22:1, Revelation 22:2). The "river of water of life" (cf. "living water," John 4:10), and the tree whose fruit and leaves are for food and healing. Meanwhile our Lord had said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." A link to connect this with Genesis 2:1-25. is Revelation 2:7 (cf. also Revelation 12:11). And again, the word used for "tree" in all these passages is that used for the cross in Galatians 3:13 and 1 Peter 2:24.

II. THEIR SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE. The tree with its fruit and leaves are the manifestation of Christ to the soul—to sinners pardon, to the weak support and guidance, to saints communion. And the stream is the gospel (the four-parted river in Eden has been likened to the four Gospels), spreading throughout the world, bringing healing, light, and life; enabling men to rejoice in hope. But mark, the drops of which that stream is composed are living men. The gospel spreads from heart to heart, and from lip to lip (cf. John 7:38). Forming part of that healing flood are preachers of the gospel in every place and way; and thinkers contending for the faith; and men mighty in prayer; and those whose loving, useful lives set forth Christ; and the sick silently preaching patience; and the child in his little ministry. There is helping work for all. The Lord hath need of all. To each one the question comes, Art thou part of that stream? Hast thou realized the stream of mercy, the gift of salvation for thine own need? And cans, thou look at the many still unhealed and be content to do nothing? Thou couldst not cause the stream to flow; but it is thine to press the "living water" upon others, to help to save others Art thou doing this? Is there not within the circle of thy daily life some one in grief whom Christian sympathy may help, some anxious one whom a word of faith may strengthen, some undecided one who may be influenced? There is thy work. Let the reality of Christ's gift and his charge to thee so fill thy heart that real longing may lead to earnest prayer; then a way will be opened.—M.

Verses 18-25


Genesis 2:18

In anticipation of the ensuing narrative of the temptation and the fall, the historian, having depicted man's settlement in Eden, advances to complete his dramatis personae by the introduction upon the scene of the animals and woman. In the preliminary creation record (Genesis 1:7-27) it is simply stated that God created man, male and female; there is a complete absence of details as to the Divine modus operandi in the execution of these, his last and greatest works. It is one object, among others, of the second portion of the history to supply those details. With regard to man (Adam), an account of his formation, at once minute and exhaustive, has been given in the preceding verses (Genesis 2:7-17); now, with like attention to antecedent and concomitant circumstances and events, the sacred penman adds a description of the time, reason, manner, and result of the formation of woman. And the Lord God said, It is not good for man to be alone. While the animals were produced either in swarms (as the fishes) or in pairs (as the birds and beasts), man was created as an individual; his partner, by a subsequent operation of creative power, being produced from himself. With the wild phantasies and gross speculations of some theosophists, as to whether, prior to the creation of Eve, Adam was androgynic (Bohme), or simply vir in potentia, out of which state he passed the moment the woman stood by his side (Ziegler), a devout exegesis is not required to intermeddle. Neither is it needful to wonder how God should pronounce that to be not good which he had previously (Genesis 1:31) affirmed was good. The Divine judgment of which the preceding chapter speaks was expressed at the completion of man's creation; this, while that creation was in progress. For the new-made man to have been left without a partner would, in the estimation of Jehovah Elohim, have been for him a condition of being which, if not necessarily bad in itself, yet, considering his intellectual and social nature, "would eventually have passed over from the negative not good, or a manifest want, into the positive not good, or a hurtful impropriety"' (Lange). "It was not good for man to be alone; not, as certain foolish Rabbis conceited, lest he should imagine himself to be the lord of the world, or as though no man could live without a woman, which is contrary to Scripture; but in respect of

(1) mutual society and comfort,

(2) the propagation of the race,

(3) the increase and generation of the Church of God, and

(4) the promised seed of the woman (Willet).

Accordingly, Jehovah Elohim, for whom (seeing that his nature is to dispense happiness to his creatures) no more than for Adam would it have been good that man, being what he was, should remain alone, said, I will provide a help meet for him; literally, an helper, as over against him, i.e. corresponding to him, βοηθοÌν κατ αὐτοìν; Genesis 2:20, ὁìμοιος αὐτῷ, LXX. The expression indicates that the forthcoming helper was to be of similar nature to the man himself, corresponding by way of supplement to the incompleteness of his lonely being, and in every way adapted to be his co-partner and companion. All that Adam's nature demanded for its completion, physically, intellectually, socially, was to be included in this altera ego who was soon to stand by his side. Thus in man's need, and woman's power to satisfy that need, is laid the foundation for the Divine institution of marriage, which was afterwards prescribed not for the first pair alone, but for all their posterity.

Genesis 2:19

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air. To allege that the Creator's purpose to provide a helpmeet for Adam seeks realization through the production of the animals (Kalisch, Alford) proceeds upon a misapprehension of the proper nexus which binds the thoughts of the historian, and a want of attention to the peculiar structure of Hebrew composition, besides exhibiting Jehovah Elohim in the character of an empiric who only tentatively discovers the sort of partner that is suitable for man. It is not the time, but simply the fact, of the creation of the animals that the historian records. The Vav. consec. does not necessarily involve time-succession, but is frequently employed to indicate thought-sequence (cf. Genesis 2:8; 1 Kings 2:13, &c.). The verb (pret.) may also quite legitimately be rendered "had formed (Bush). "Our modern style of expressing the Semitic writer's thought would be this—'And God brought to Adam the beasts which he had formed (Delitzsch). It is thus unnecessary to defend the record from a charge of inconsistency with the previous section, by supposing this to be the account of a second creation of animals in the district of Eden. Another so-called contradiction, that the present narrative takes no account of the creation of aquatic animals, is disposed of by observing that the writer only notices that those animals which were brought to Adam had been previously formed by God from the ground, and were thus in the line of the onward evolutions of the heavens and the earth which led up to mare As to why the fishes were not brought into the garden, if other reason is required besides that of physical impossibility, the ingenuity of Keil suggests that these were not so nearly related to Adam as the fowls and the beasts, which, besides, were the animals specially ordained for his service. And brought them (literally, brought; not necessarily all the animals in Eden, but specimens of them) unto Adam. We agree with Willet in believing that "neither did Adam gather together the cattle as a shepherd doth his sheep, nor did the angels muster them, nor the animals come themselves, and, passing by, while he sat on some elevation, bow their heads at his resplendent appearance; nor were Adam's eyes so illuminate that he beheld them all in their places—all which," says he, "are but men's conceits; but that through the secret influence of God upon their natures they were assembled round the inmate of paradise, as afterwards they were collected in the ark. The reasons for this particular action on the part of God were manifold; one of them being stated in the words which follow—to see what he would call them; literally, to them. Already man had received from God his first lesson in the exercise of speech, in the naming of the trees and the imposition of the prohibition. This was his second—the opportunity afforded him of using for himself that gift of language and reason with which he had been endowed. In this it is implied that man was created with the faculty of speech, the distinct gift of articulate and rational utterance, and the capacity of attaching words to ideas, though it also seems to infer that the evolution of a language was for him, as it is for the individual yet, a matter of gradual development. Another reason was to manifest his sovereignty or lordship over the inferior creation. And whatsoever Adam (literally, the man) called every living creature (i.e. that was brought to him), that was the name thereof. That is to say, it not only met the Divine approbation as exactly suitable to the nature of the creature, and thus was a striking attestation of the intelligence and wisdom of the first man, but it likewise adhered to the creature as a name which had been assigned by its master.

Genesis 2:20

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field. The portrait here delineated of the first man is something widely different from that of an infantile savage slowly groping his way towards the possession of articulate speech and intelligible language by imitation of the sounds of animals. Speech and language both spring full-formed, though not completely matured, from the primus homo of the Bible. As to the names that Adam gave the animals, with Calvin we need not doubt that they were founded on the best of reasons, though what they were it is impossible to discover, as it is not absolutely certain that Adam spoke in Hebrew. But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. This was the chief reason for assembling the creatures. It was meant to reveal his loneliness. The longing for a partner was already deeply seated in his nature, and the survey of the animals, coming to him probably in pairs, could not fail to intensify that secret hunger of his soul, and perhaps evoke it into conscious operation.

Genesis 2:21

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept. This was clearly not a sleep of weariness or fatigue, in consequence of arduous labors undergone, but a supernatural slumber, which, however, may have been superinduced upon the natural condition of repose. Lightfoot, following the LXX. who translate tardemah (deep sleep) by ecstasy, ἐìκστασις, imagines that the whole scene of Eve's creation was presented to Adam's imagination in a Divinely-inspired dream, which has at least the countenance of Job 4:13 Such a supposition, however, is not required to account for Adam's recognition of his bride. There is more of aptness in the observation of Lange, that in the deep sleep of Adam we have an echo of the area-tire evenings that preceded the Divine activity. "Everything out of which some new thing is to come sinks down before the event into such a deep sleep, is the farseeing and comprehensive remark of Ziegler. And he took one of his ribs (tsela = something bent, from tesala, to incline; hence a rib), and closed up the flesh (literally, flesh) instead thereof. Whether Adam was created with a superfluous rib, or his body was mutilated by the abstraction of a rib, is a question for the curious. In the first, Calvin finds nothing "which is not in accordance with Divine providence," while he favors the latter conjecture, and thinks that Adam got a rich compensation—"quum se integrum vidit in uxore, qui prius tantum dimidius erat." Luther inclines to think that Adam's language in verse 23 implies that not the bare rib, but the rib with the accompanying flesh, was extracted.

Genesis 2:22

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he (literally, builded into; aedificavit, Vulgate; ὠκοδοìμησεν, LXX.) a woman. The peculiar phraseology employed to describe the formation of Adam's partner has been understood as referring to the physical configuration of woman's body, which is broadest towards the middle (Lyra); to the incompleteness of Adam's being, which was like an unfinished building until Eve was formed (Calvin); to the part of the female in building up the family (Delitzsch, Macdonald), to the building up of the Church, of which she was designed to be a type (Bonar);—yet it may be doubted if there is not as much truth in the remark that "by the many words used in the generation of mankind, as creating (Genesis 1:27), making (Genesis 1:26), forming and inspiring (Genesis 2:7), and now building, Moses would set forth this wondrous workmanship for which the Psalmist so laudeth God," Psalms 139:14 (Ainsworth). And brought her unto the man. I.e. led, conducted, and presented her to Adam. "The word implies the solemn bestowment of her in the bonds of the marriage covenant, which is hence called the covenant of God (Proverbs 2:17); implying that he is the Author of this sacred institution" (Bush). On awaking from his slumber Adam at once recognized the Divine intention, and joyfully welcomed his bride.

Genesis 2:23

And Adam said. Either as being possessed, while in a sinless state, of a power of intuitive perception which has been lost through the fall, or as speaking under Divine inspiration (vide Matthew 19:4-6). This now. Literally, this tread, step, or stroke, meaning either this time, looking back to the previous review of the animal creation, as if he wished to say, At last one has come who is suitable to be my partner (Calvin); or, less probably, looking forward to the ordinary mode of woman's production, this time she is supernaturally formed (Bush). "The thrice repeated this is characteristic. It vividly points to the woman on whom, in joyful astonishment, the man's eye now rests with the full power of first love" (Delitzsch). Instinctively he recognizes her relation to himself. Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. The language is expressive at once of woman's derivation from man (γυνηÌ ἐξ ἀνδροìς, 1 Corinthians 11:8, 1 Corinthians 11:12) and likeness to man. The first of these implies her subordination or subjection to man, or man's headship over woman (1 Corinthians 11:3), which Adam immediately proceeds to assert by assigning to her a name; the second is embodied in the name which she receives. She (literally, to this) shall be called Woman (isha, i.e. maness, from ish, man. Cf. Greek, ἀνδριìς (Symmachus), from ἀνηìρ; Latin, virago, virae (old Latin), from vir; English, woman (womb-man, Anglo-Saxon), from man; German, manninn, from mann; Sanscrit, hart, from nara; Ethiopic, beesith, from beesi), because she (this) was taken from Man. Ish, the name given by Adam to himself in contradistinction to his spouse, is interpreted as significant of man's authority (Gesenius), or of his social nature (Meier); but its exact etymology is involved in obscurity. Its relation to Adham is the same as that of vir to homo and ἀνηìρ to ἀìνθρωπος.

Genesis 2:24

Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife. There is nothing in the use of such terms as father and mother, or in the fact that the sentiment is prophetic, to prevent the words from being regarded as a continuation of Adam's speech, although, on the other hand, the statement of Christ (Matthew 19:5) does not preclude the possibility of Moses being their author; but whether uttered by the first husband (Delitzsch, Macdonald) or by the historian (Calvin, Murphy), they must be viewed as an inspired declaration of the law of marriage. Its basis (fundamental reason and predisposing cause) they affirm to be

(1) the original relationship of man and woman, on the platform of creation; and

(2) the marriage union effected between the first pair.

Its nature they explain to be

(1) a forsaking (on the part of the woman as well as the man) of father and mother—not filially, in respect of duty, but locally, in respect of habitation, and comparatively, in respect of affection; and

(2) a cleaving unto his wife, in a conjugium corporis atque animce. Its result is stated in the words which follow: and they shall be one flesh (literally, into one flesh; εἰς σαìρκα μιìαν, Matthew 19:5, LXX.). The language points to a unity of persons, and not simply to a conjunction of bodies, or a community of interests, or even a reciprocity of affections. Malachi (Genesis 2:15) and Christ (Matthew 19:5) explain this verse as teaching the indissoluble character of marriage and condemning the practice of polygamy.

Genesis 2:25

And they were both naked. Not partially (Pye Smith), but completely destitute of clothing. Diodorus Siculus and Plato both mention nakedness as a feature of the golden age and a characteristic of the first men (vide Rosenmüller, Scholia in love), The man and his wife. The first pair of human beings are henceforth recognized in their relationship to one another as husband and wife. And they were not ashamed. Not because they were wholly uncultivated and their moral insight undeveloped (Knobel, Kalisch); but because their souls were arrayed in purity, and "their bodies were made holy through the spirit which animated them" (Keil). "They were naked, but yet they were not so. Their bodies were the clothing of their internal glory; and their internal glory was the clothing of their nakedness" (Delitzsch). It is not surprising that the primeval history of mankind should have left its impress upon the current of tradition. The Assyrian tablets that relate to man are so fragmentary and mutilated that they can scarcely be rendered intelligible. So far as they have been deciphered, the first appears on its obverse side "to give the speech of the Deity to the newly-created pair (man and woman), instructing them in their duties," in which can be detected a reference' to something which is eaten by the stomach, to the duty of daily invocation of the Deity, to the danger of leaving God's fear, in which alone they can be holy, and to the propriety of trusting only a friend; and on its reverse what resembles a discourse to the first woman on her duties, in which occur the words, "With the lord of thy beauty thou shalt be faithful: to do evil thou shalt not approach him". The Persian legend describes Meschia and Meschiane, the first parents of our race, as living in purity and innocence, and in the enjoyment of happiness which Ormuzd promised to render perpetual if they persevered in virtue. But Ahriman, an evil demon (Dev), suddenly appeared in the form of a serpent, and gave them of the fruit of a wonderful tree. The literature of the Hin-does distinguishes four ages of the world, in the first of which Justice, in the form of a bull, kept herself firm on her four feet; when Virtue reigned, no good which the mortals possessed was mixed with baseness, and man, free from disease, saw all his wishes accomplished, and attained an age of 400 years. The Chinese also have their age of happy men, living in abundance of food, and surrounded by the peaceful beasts. In the Zendavesta, Yima, the first Iranic king, lives in a secluded spot, where he and his people enjoy uninterrupted happiness, in a region free from sin, folly, violence, poverty, deformity. The Teutonic Eddas have a glimpse of the same truth in their magnificent drinking halls, glittering with burnished gold, where the primeval race enjoyed a life of perpetual festivity. Traces of a similar belief are found among the Thibetans, Mongolians, Cingalese, and others. The Western traditions are familiar to scholars in the pages of Hesiod, who speaks of the golden age when men were like the gods, free from labors, troubles, cares, and all evils in general; when the earth yielded her fruits spontaneously, and when men were beloved by the gods, with whom they held uninterrupted communion (Hesiod, 'Opera et Dies,' 90). And of Ovid, who adds to this picture the element of moral goodness as a characteristic of the aurea aetas ('Metam.,' 1.89). Macrobius ('Somn. Scipionis,' 2.10) also depicts this period as one in which reigned simplicitas mali nescia et adhuc astutiae inexperta. "These coincidences affect the originality of the Hebrew writings as little as the frequent resemblance of Mosaic and heathen laws. They teach us that all such narratives have a common source; that they are reminiscences of primeval traditions modified by the different nations in accordance with their individual culture" (Kalisch)


Genesis 2:22

The first marriage.


1. Nobly born. Sprung from the soil, yet descended from above. Fashioned of the dust, yet inspired by a celestial breath. Allied to the beasts, yet the offspring of God.

2. Comfortably placed. His native country a sunny region of delights (Eden, Genesis 2:8); his home a beautiful and fertile garden (Genesis 3:5); his supplies of the amplest possible description (Genesis 1:30; Genesis 2:16); his occupation light and pleasant (Genesis 2:15); his restrictions slight and trivial (Genesis 2:17); his privileges large (Genesis 2:16).

3. Richly endowed. With immortality (Genesis 2:17), intelligence (Genesis 2:19), social capacities and instincts (Genesis 2:18), the faculty of speech (Genesis 2:20).

4. Highly exalted. As God's offspring, he was invested with world-dominion (Genesis 1:28; Psalms 8:6), symbolized in his naming of the creatures (Genesis 2:20). Yet—

5. Essentially alone. Not as entirely bereft of companionship, having on the one hand the society of Jehovah Elohim, and on the other the presence of the animals; but in neither the Creator nor the creatures could he find his other self—his counterpart and complement, his consort and companion. On the one hand Jehovah Elohim was too high, while on the other the creatures were too low, for such partnership as Adam's nature craved. And so Adam dwelt in solitude apart from both. "But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him."


1. Divinely fashioned (Genesis 2:22).

(1) Woman was the last of God's creative works; presumably, therefore, she was the best. "Eve's being made after Adam puts an honor upon that sex as the glory of the man (1 Corinthians 11:7). If man is the head, she is the crown—a crown to her husband, the crown of the visible creation" (M. Henry).

(2) Woman was not made till everything was in the highest state of readiness for her reception. Before her creation, not only must there be a home for her reception, provision for her maintenance, and servants to attend upon her bidding; there must likewise be a husband that feels the need of her sweet society, that longs for her coming, and that can appreciate her worth. Hence he who seeks a partner should first find a house in which to lodge her, the means to support her, but specially the love wherewith to cherish her.

(3) Woman was formed out of finer and more precious material than man, being constructed of a rib taken from his side. "The man was dust refined, but the woman was dust double refined, one remove further from the earth" (M. Henry). This was not because of any supposed excellence residing in the matter of a human body. It was designed to indicate woman's unity with man as part of himself, and woman's claim upon man for affection and protection. She was made of a rib taken from his side—"not made out of his head, to rule over him; nor out of his feet, to be trampled on by him; but out of his side, to be equal with him; under his arm, to be protected; and near his heart, to be beloved" (Henry).

(4) Woman was constructed with the greatest possible care. The entire operation was carried through, not only under God's immediate superintendence, but exclusively by God's own hand. Adam neither saw, knew, nor took part in the work. God cast him into a deep sleep, "that no room might be left to imagine that he had herein directed the Spirit of the Lord, or been his counselor" (Henry). Then by God's own hand Adam's side was opened, a rib extracted, the flesh closed in its stead, and finally, the rib thus removed from Adam's side—

"Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Man like, but different sex; so lovely fair,
That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained,
And in her looks; ….
Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love"

(Milton, 'Par. Lost,' Bin 8:469).

2. Divinely presented (Genesis 2:22). "The Lord brought her unto the man." "Wherein we have exemplified the three great causes of marriage.

(1) The father's consent, in God's giving.

(2) The woman's consent, in Eve's coming. This was no forced marriage; the woman comes freely.

(3) The man's consent, in Adam's receiving. 'And Adam said, This is at last bone of my bone (Hughes). And without these human marriages are sinfully contracted. Love for the bride is one of the signs which God vouchsafes of his approval of a marriage; the bride's affection for the bridegroom is another; while a third is the approbation and the blessing of the parents of both.


1. Married by God. "God is the best maker of marriages" (Shakespeare). Nay, unless God unites there is no real marriage, but only an unhallowed connection, legitimized by man's laws, it may be, but not sanctioned by God's. As this wedding was of God's arranging, so likewise was it of his celebrating. What celestial benedictions were outbreathed upon the young and innocent pair, as they stood there before their Maker, radiant in beauty, tremulous with joy, full of adoration, we are left to imagine. Happy they whose nuptials are first sanctioned and then celebrated by the living God!

2. United in love. This first marriage was certainly something more than a social or a civil contract; something other than a union of convenience or a diplomatic alliance; something vastly different from a legalized coenobium. It was the realization of what our Laureate pictures as the ideal marriage:—

"Each fulfils
Defect in each, and always thought in thought,
Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow,
The single, pure, and perfect animal;
The two-cell d heart beating, with one full stroke,

('Princess,' 7.).

3. Clothed in innocence. Never had bridal pair so beautiful and radiant apparel. The unclothed bodies of our first parents we can imagine were enswathed in ethereal and transfiguring light; in their case the outshining of their holy souls, which, as yet, were the undimmed and unmarred image of their Maker, capable of receiving and reflecting his glory. Alas, never bridal pair has stood in robes so fair! The beauty of holiness, the luster of innocence, the radiance of purity have departed from the souls of men. Never till we stand in the celestial Eden, where they neither marry nor are given in marriage, will garments of such incomparable splendor be ours. Meantime, let us thank God there is a spotless raiment in which our guilty souls may be arrayed, and in which it were well that every bridal pair were decked. Happy they who, when they enter into married life, can say, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels."

4. Housed in paradise. United by the hand of God, they began their married life in Eden.

"And there these twain upon the skirts of time
Sat side by side, full summ'd in all their powers,
Dispensing harvest, sowing the to-be.
Self-reverent each, and reverencing each;
Distinct in individualities,
But like each other, ev'n as those who love"

(Tennyson's 'Princess,' 7.).

And so may any wedded pair be housed in Eden who, putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, fill their home, however humble, with the light of love.


Genesis 2:18-25

The true life of man.

The commencement of human society. First we see man surrounded by cattle, fowl, and beast of the field, which were brought to him by God as to their lord and ruler, that he might name them as from himself. "What he called every living creature was the name thereof." Nothing could better represent the organization of the earthly life upon the basis of man's supremacy. But there is no helpmeet for man ("as before him," the reflection of himself) in all the lower creation.

I. HUMAN SOCIETY MUST SPRING OUT OF SOMETHING HIGHER THAN ANIMAL LIFE AND MAN'S MERE EARTHLY POSITION. The deep sleep, the Divine manipulation of maws fleshly frame, the formation of the new creature, not out of the ground, but out of man, the exclamation of Adam, This is another self, my bone and my flesh, therefore she shall be called woman, because so closely akin to man—all this, whatever physical interpretation we give to it, represents the fact that companionship, family life, mail's intercourse with his fellow, all the relations which spring from the fleshly unity of the race, are of the most sacred character. As they are from God, and specially of God's appointment, so they should be for God.

II. There, in home life, torn off, as it were, from the larger sphere, that it may be THE NEW BEGINNING OF THE NEW WORLD TO US, should be the special recognition of God, the family altar, the house of man a house of God.

III. The Divine beginning of human life is the foundation on which we build up society. THE RELATIONS OF THE SEXES WILL BE PUREST AND NOBLEST the more the heart of man unfolds itself in the element of the heavenly love.—R.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 2". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/genesis-2.html. 1897.
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