Genesis 2. God Put Man and Woman in a Garden.
Key Notes: The first ten generations. The first man was simple. God made a pair. Leave, cleave,and one flesh are rules for the protection of women and children.
The beginnings of the human race set the stage for all the good and evil that followed. Precedents were set. Obligations were imposed. Mistakes were made which could not be reversed. The Bible is not interested in biology as such, but in morals and ethics and relationships between people and God. The message of this chapter is about great beginnings, spiritual transparency and moral innocence—the way we wish we were.
2:4 Some critics see Genesis 2 as a separate source from Gen.l. Many others see it as a refocusing of the creation story with the emphasis on the principals—man and woman—a view I prefer.
"These are the generations" is a phrase repeated throughout Genesis which divides the book into ten sections. Six narratives are marked (*).
- *2:4–4:26. Adam and Eve and their sons. The Fall
- 5:1–6:8. Generations from Adam to Noah. The Antediluvian lineage.
- *6:9–9:28. Noah and his sons. The Flood
- *10:1–11:9. The nations spread out. The Tower of Babel
- 11:10–26. Lineage of Shem to Abraham.
- *11:27–25:11. Lineage of Terah to Ishmael. Abraham and Sarah.
- 25:12–18. Lineage of Ishmael.
- *25:19–35:29. Isaac's descendents. Jacob and Esau.
- 36:1–8. Esau's lineage and homeland.
- 36:9–37:1. Esau's extended family.
- *37:2–50:26. Jacob's family. Twelve brothers. Joseph in Egypt.
2:4–6 The first generation was of Adam and his offspring. The introduction points out that the earth was originally chaotic and God made a garden and plants especially for humans.
2:7 Humans are made of the common material of the animal world: carbon, phosphorus, iron, calcium, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, etc. (2:19). [Although the dust of the ground is often called "dirt", carbon is not native to our planet but was rained down from disintegrating stars.] God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living creature.
Animals are also living creatures but man alone was made in the image of God. (1:27). The image of God? Christ is "the image of the invisible God" (Col.1:15) and His attributes are built into us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal.5:22). Man is a special animal with a unique set of spiritual features given by God.
2:8–17 God put man in a garden. The site can be roughly identified. It is an area in the foothills of Armenia, at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (the other two rivers are unknown), a site rich in jewelry-making minerals and fragrance materials. Bdellium is amber; onyx is agate. God did not make a hunter-gatherer, a shepherd, or a miner, but a farmer. He had two assignments: till the garden and keep it; do not eat of one tree--the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--on pain of death.
He had complete freedom within a circumscribed area and with only one negative order. He had, however, no house, pot, tool, or clothes. He had no antecedents or culture. He will not build a shrine or bake a cake or write a book. We may think of Adam as a genius but he was not of our century. He was intelligent. (Gen.3:6,12). He may have been magnificent. [ Ezek.2812–15 describes the king of Tyre in Adamic glory.] He was also innocent, simple as a child and he was alone. He had nothing to complicate his thinking. He was completely free spiritually, at home in the presence of God.
2:18–20. It is not good for man to be alone. Was not God his companion? But he and God are not on the same level, emotionally or physically. God brought him animals of all kinds--cat, dog, sheep, horse, cow, falcon, canary, goldfish--and Adam named them as they came. They were good companion and play-things. But God went on; none of these was the helper fit for him. Adam had to realize that before he could accept a partner.
2:21–22. The formation of Eve was strange. She was not made from the dust of the ground as Adam was, but from a part of Adam, a rib of bone and marrow, muscle and skin, nerve and blood-vessels. She was taken from his side, to be loved and protected, not from his foot to be stepped on, and not from his head to lord it over him. Paul makes a point of the fact that woman came from man, as man now comes from woman (ICor.11:8–12) indicating their mutual subordination and their mutual dependence. The man had God, animals, and woman for company, and needed them all. And so do we.
2:23. Adam sang the first song, a rejoicing that his soul-mate, his human companion had finally come.
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
For she was taken out of Man.”
2:24–25 Then follows the first clear teaching message of the Bible. "Therefore (because Woman was taken from his side and given to him by God) a man leaves his father and mother, cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” There are three parts to this lesson.
- Leaving his father and mother means that there should not be an extended family living under the same roof. The economy, however, dictates the simplicity of one roof. Houses are expensive to build. But if the man brings his wife home to his parents, as is done in traditional societies of Asia and Africa, she becomes the servant of her mother-in-law, the domestic matriarch. She has no independence or life of her own. Her relationship to her husband is divided by her requirement to satisfy his parents as well as him. Gen.2:24 contains a law to protect the woman's right to be in charge of her own house and her own children. She needs her own roof.
- Cleaving means sticking to his wife. If a man is free to consort with other women, the wife loses her right of being first in his heart and life. She must be assured that her children will be provided for. She must not be required to compete with a second wife, a concubine or a prostitute. This is a second law protecting the wife's rights to full support.
- One flesh means a sexual as well as a spiritual union with his wife. Paul advises men to give their wives their "conjugal rights". (ICor.7:3, RSV). This rule also protects the wife's exclusive right to the marriage bed and to have children, her joy and future security. She must be protected from venereal diseases which the male may acquire in other sexual contacts. It also restricts the man from having other children to care for. We know stories of child-neglect from the behavior of Jacob's children as well as David’s —multiple wives produce multiple children with little attention and no discipline from the male parent.
Jesus applied this passage to his teaching on divorce. "Therefore, (because the two are one flesh) what God has joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matt.19:6). Since divorce was the man's prerogative in traditional society, this teaching is another protection for wives. We are taught that one partner is all we get in this life, barring the death of the partner. Paul also denounces prostitution using the "one flesh" concept. ICor.6:16
2:25 The man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
We are ashamed to read this verse (everyone laughs), but it describes a relationship in which there was no shame, fear, guilt, or rejection, no lust, narcissism or pride. They were emotionally and physically transparent to each other and to God. Innocent love rules completely and it is kind. It is hard to imagine.
We cover up:
physically (“I’m fat”),
emotionally (I'm fine"),
intellectually ("I forgot")
and spiritually (“Ask the preacher").
Most of us cannot tolerate bringing all our own thoughts to verbal consciousness, much less letting anyone hear them. It is required in psychoanalysis and it is expensive and dangerous. Some patients cannot face their secret selves and commit suicide.
But before God we are transparent and that is more scary.
“Nothing is secret that will not be revealed.” (Lk.8:17 NKJV)
“...on that Day, when according to my Gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Rom.2:16)
“All are open and laid bear before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb.4:13)
"If we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (I Jn. 1:7)
Cleansing and a clear conscience make us comfortable in God's presence.