The first two chapters of Genesis contain details of the Creation. Although some insist these are two totally different accounts of what God did, it would seem that what we have in chapter two is an expansion of what was summarized in chapter one: chapter one gives an overview while chapter two gives us a little more detail.
We find in chapter two that when God created humans he initially created only a male. “The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 NET). God then made a place for man to live by planting an orchard and calling it “Eden.” This is not the creation of plants, but simply taking what had been earlier created and making a place for man to live. The man was placed in the orchard in Eden to care for it and maintain. He was given the freedom to eat from every tree of the orchard except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The problem was that the man was all alone. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him’” (Genesis 2:18). God then made animals and brought them to the man. Notice that this is not the original creation of animals – that had already happened earlier on the sixth day of creation with the birds being created on the fifth day. The man gave each of these a name. This tells us that man was capable from the beginning of communicating and assigning names to animals – this was not something that slowly developed over thousands or even millions of years!
The point of this exercise was for the man to realise that an animal could not be the close companion that he needed to share his life with. God already knew this – but man needed to know this, too. Even though a dog is often referred to as “man’s best friend,” in reality even a dog cannot be a close companion. Adam needed a companion who corresponded to him.
God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and performed what we might call the first surgery: he took one of the man’s ribs and made a woman. Have you ever wondered why God used a rib? It is interesting that when a rib is removed for some reason during surgery, if the periosteum membrane around it is not removed, the rib will grow back! Perhaps this is why the rib was used.
When God brought the woman to the man, his reaction was totally different from that of the animals. “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:23).
Man now had a companion who was worthy to stand by his side. As we often state in a wedding, “God did not make her from his head to rule over him, nor from his feet that she should be under him, but from his side, close to his heart, that she should be beside him throughout life” (Matthew Henry originally made this statement).
Notice that God did not make Adam and Steve – man and man (or woman and woman) are not compatible in the way man and woman are: not physically, not emotionally. Instead, God made Adam and Eve to perfectly complement each other. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 ESV).
Readings for next week:
6 July – Genesis 4
7 July – Genesis 5
8 July – Genesis 6
9 July – Genesis 7
10 July – Genesis 8