Jewish and Christian Bible scholars, as well as Jesus Christ
Himself, attributed the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch,
to Moses.* This means they would have been written before or during
the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, somewhere around 1400 BC. There
is good internal evidence that Moses had source documents in hand
that had been passed down to him from earlier generations. In
this view, Chapter One of Genesis was authored by God Himself
since no human observer was present during creation week. Beginning
at Chapter Two, verse 4b and continuing to the end of Chapter
4 appears to be "Adam's Diary." [See Introduction
to the Early Chapters of Genesis. This reference also contains
a refutation by Ray C. Stedman of the Documentary Hypothesis for
the authorship of Genesis.]
Adam was evidently taught speech by God and given a great body of information in his daily communion with the Lord---information about the animals, about nature and the stars, the ability to think, and to reason, and to choose. He learned about blood-sacrifice and what was pleasing to God and what was not. God gave him details about how he himself [Adam] was created. This theory---commonly called the "toledoth" model after the Hebrew words for "generations"---concerning the internal structure of Genesis and its source documents available to Moses, answers the common objection that Chapters One and Two of Genesis are contradictory and/or repetitious accounts of creation.
According to this model, the Chapter break between Genesis 1 and 2 belongs in the middle of verse 4 of Chapter 2 as follows,
"In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up--for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground--then the LORD God formed [Hebrew: yatsar] man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [ruach] of life; and man became a living being [nephesh]. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden [the word means "delight"], in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed."
In Verse 4 of Chapter Two of Genesis we encounter the first use of the name "LORD God" and we are introduced to the covenant name of God (YHWH = "I Am who I Am"), for the first time. Here YHWH is compounded with Elohim, the uni-plural name of God used in Genesis 1. Yatsar, translated in this version as "formed" means to mold as a potter molds the clay, [see also Jeremiah 18:2ff]. The account of man's creation in Genesis 1:27 says that God created [bara] man. Man was thus created, but also molded and fashioned. Bara is a word used in the Bible only for the creative activity of God. It implies something new has been brought into existence by divine command. Yatsar tells us how God formed and sculpted man (Adam/Eve), how He completed the design and crafting of man. Man is physical and spiritual---we were designed to live simultaneously in two worlds, the material and the "heavenly places."
All the real work of creation took place during the Six Days
of creation week, so the above verses are a recapitulation, a
reflection of what had happened earlier. Adam is, however, adding
additional information to what we were told in Chapter One. Adam,
having learned about all this later from God, tells us that his
body was formed from the dust of the earth and then life from
God (spirit) was breathed into his nostrils on Day Six. All that
Chapter One tells is that God created (bara) man/woman
in his own image and likeness.
Nephesh means "living soul." [Incidentally, some of the higher animals are also nephesh, as in Genesis 1:24] The interaction of spirit and body gives rise to the soul of man where his mind, emotions and will are centered. Since "the body without the spirit is dead," all living things possess spiritual life imparted by God. Man is made capable of knowing God through a covenantal relationship with YHWH in which case God the Holy Spirit indwells and joins Himself in cooperative union with man's spirit. Unregenerated man is "dead in sin" but he does have a spirit. (Most, but not all, Christians hold to the tri-partite nature of man as body, soul, and spirit).
"And out of the ground the LORD God (had) made to grow every [manner of] tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowing of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which flows around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is Tigris [Hiddekel], which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates."
The river described may have originated in the garden or merely
flowed through it. The source must have been a large perennial
spring. It is unusual for a single river to branch into four new
rivers, the reverse occurs nowadays in nature. Many Bible scholars
believe there were no storm or weather systems on the earth prior
to the Flood and that heavy dew fall nightly watered the ground.
Rivers and streams came from subterranean reservoirs most of which
were later emptied by the enormous global catastrophe of the Flood
of Noah. The Flood was such a gigantic upheaval, burying ancient
cities under miles of sediments and completely resculpting the
surface of the earth, that we can only assume the original garden
of Eden was somewhere in the Fertile Crescent area of present-day
Iraq. See Dora Jane Hamblin, Has
the Garden of Eden Been Located at Last? Smithsonian
Magazine, Vol. 18, No. 2, (May, 1987).
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.'"
Adam was not created in the Garden, but somewhere outside.
It is interesting that God Himself planted a garden [gan
= a closed Oriental garden] for man to live in. It was a cultivated,
tended garden. The garden was East of the location where Adam
was made. Some Jews and Moslems think that Adam was created in
what is now Israel---Adam's footprint is in the burial tomb of
Abraham at Hebron, according to one Moslem tradition. The world
was evidently wild and uncultivated outside of the garden. Our
word "paradise" is from the Persian word for an enclosed
garden. Man was given the responsibility of exploring outside
the garden, subduing, cultivating and caring for earth's vast
resources put there for him.
Rather than the threat of instant punishment, annihilation or immediate extinction the consequence of eating from the forbidden tree is stated as "dying thou shalt die." Eating the forbidden fruit would produce immediate spiritual death and in the long run (inevitable) physical death and mortality for the whole race of Adam. This is confirmed in the New Testament in Romans 5:12 which says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned---"
The tree of life is mentioned symbolically in Proverbs and re-introduced in Revelation 2:7, 22:2, 14, 19 in the New Jerusalem.
Both trees were surely literal trees, but deeply symbolic as well. The Tree of Life represents life and truth from God which is freely available by simply taking and eating. The forbidden tree---literally "the tree of the knowing of good and evil"---represents truth available to man by revelation from God. "Knowing" good-and-evil experientially means entering into moral dilemmas that only God can unravel. Only God can sort out good and evil and deal with the forces involved in their resolution. If we allow God to teach us about good and evil we are safe, and much better off. The way to study drunkenness is not by getting drunk all the time, one does not become an authority on immorality by living a promiscuous life style (apart from God's redemptive, restorative work after the fact). The second tree sets limits and bounds between Creator and Creature. There must be such boundaries in the universe or man would be God or a part of God. (However God can not be partitioned, otherwise we are back to polytheism, to "gods.")
"Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper ['ezer] fit for [corresponding to] him.' So out of the ground the LORD God [had] formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast [behemah = domestic animals] of the field [hassadheh = field, not eretz = earth];
"but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep [tardemah = a "deep sleep"] to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib [tsela'] which the LORD God had taken from the man [ish] he made [banah = to construct or build] into a woman [ishshah] and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." (Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.) And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed."
After seven "blessings" by God on His creation, recorded in Genesis One, the first negative statement, "not good" appears in Chapter Two. "Not good" does not mean sin had entered the universe at this point, it meant there was more creative activity by God needed to complete the creation of man as male and female. Adam found no one corresponding to him--after searching and naming the various animals.
In Chapter One when all the original creative work of God was done, we have the statement "and God saw that it was good..." six times, and finally, "...and God saw everything that He had made and behold everything was very good." Thus we have seven statements of the creation as being "good" in the eyes of the Creator. Seven is the number of completeness, so the seven days of creation encompass all that was completed. Adam and Eve were both created on Day Six (bara) but we are not told when Eve was taken out of Adam and presented to him. Was it on Day Six, or later?
There are two schools of thought on this. One group of Bible scholars believes God named all the animals on Day Six, and then later the same Day God took Adam from his side and presented Eve to Adam. This would mean Day 6 was a very busy day. But of course since Adam was unfallen and the creation had not yet been damaged, this would not be an inconceivably impossible task for Adam to accomplish in less than one day. I do not see this. I suggest that indeed Adam/Eve was created (bara) on Day Six and that Eve was present in Adam from Day Six. For additional thoughts on this see Events in the Life of Adam.
The first statement that something is "not good" does not suggest evil, but rather that there is an additional task to be completed. Adam first names the animals, finding many of them to be male and female--two sexes. Among all the animals he finds no mate corresponding to him. Then God puts Adam into a deep sleep and takes Eve from his side. From the "rib" (or the side) of Adam God took the woman and constructed (banah is used here, not yatsar).
"The activity of God in fashioning the rib taken from the man is described as a building (wayyi'bhen). Rather than being an indication of the work of a different author, the verb grows out of the situation of being most appropriate. It would not have been seemly to use yatsar "to mold," a verb applicable to the case of clay, not of flesh. "Build" applies to the fashioning of a structure of some importance; it involves constructive effort. Both of these factors are evident in the case of the creation of woman. When God brings her unto man, this act of his is the institution of marriage and stamps marriage as a divinely willed and approved state." (H.C. Leupold)
If one takes this view that Adam was in the Garden for a period of time prior to the taking out of Eve, it would be logical to assume that God taught Adam speech, assisted in the naming of animals and gave Adam the task of teaching his wife what he had learned.
In this interpretation of things, the taking out of Eve would
not be a new creative act of God, but rather a differentiating
of what had been one whole person into two complimentary whole
persons. This is consistent with the pattern order out of chaos,
light out of darkness, life out and death and now finally female
out of male. Later on we will see that the new creation arises
out of the old creation, but that is yet future. The fullness
of Eve was present in Adam from Day Six, but not externalized
until later on.
The fish are not included in the original naming work given to Adam, apparently, and quite possible many animals that were outside of the garden. "Naming" reveals attributes and characteristics. Language originated in God's teaching Adam. In order to master the task of managing the earth and its ecosystem Adam had to be instructed. Part of this instruction was studying and naming the animals. We do not know how long this took, whether it was days, months or years. Because of the rapid flow of events after the Fall and the brevity of Chapter Two most scholars suggest that Adam and Eve did not remain in the Garden very long before the Fall took place. For example, they had no children before the Fall and since they were to be fruitful and to multiply one would think they would have had offspring fairly early. (On the other hand, before the Flood it seems as if the first born children came to parents when the parents were of the order of a hundred years old).
Adam was given the job of working the garden and having charge of it. The garden required man's cultivation and care, as all gardens do. Thus work and labor was required of man before the fall showing that work is always proper for man, fall or no fall.
Adam's first recorded words are in verse 23 and constitute an explanation of delighted surprise when he discovers, at last, that someone in the garden "corresponds" to him. No such correspondence had he found among the animals, though the animals were already male and female.
Since Adam had no father and mother to leave behind when he "married" Eve, verse 24. ("Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh,")---seems to be parenthetical---perhaps it was added by Moses when Genesis was compiled and edited under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Jesus referenced this verse in Matthew 19 in His teaching on divorce.
The Chapter closes with a brief note reflecting the perfect harmony and state of innocence prevailing before the Fall. This is the meaning of the Hebrew shalom. Shalom ("peace") implies wholeness and harmony between man and God, man and nature, man and his fellow man.
As James Montgomery Boice notes in his excellent commentary
on Genesis, if for some reason Chapter Three of Genesis had been
omitted from the Bible we would be completely confounded in our
attempts to connect the idyllic paradise of the garden of Eve
and man's innocence and the bliss---with the murder, deceit, treachery,
crime, violence and a ruined universe which unfolds beginning
in Chapter Four.
Chapter Three is packed with meaning and many themes that will flow through the rest of the Bible originate here.
"Now the serpent [nahash, possible root, "the shining one"] was more clever than any other wild creature that the LORD God [YHWH Elohim, 9 times this chapter] had made. He said to the woman, '(Indeed) did God [Satan omits "YHWH" in calling God by name, implying God is remote and uninvolved] say, "You shall not eat of any tree of the garden"?'"
We should not connect present-day fear of snakes and folk-stories of talking serpents with this account of an historical event. The angelic being who appeared to Eve was originally a magnificently beautiful creature, appearing perhaps in the garden in human form, counterfeiting as closely as possible the Person of God who also regularly appeared to Adam and Eve in the garden. In the New Testament Paul says "...for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light..." (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan is symbolically identified with snakes and dragons throughout the Bible, in the Book of the Revelation this enemy of God and man appears as a "great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads." (Revelation 12:3).
"And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of [she omits, "freely" and "all"] the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, "You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, [touching was not prohibited by God] lest you die.'
"But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not die [an outright lie]. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened [implies a previous condition of blindness], and you will be like the gods, knowing good and evil.'
"So when the woman saw [a judgment based on reason and outward appearances at this point] that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. [indicating shame, alienation, and self-consciousness]
We do not know whether the serpent worked his subtle deceptions
for minutes, hours, days or months before Eve yielded her will
to the Usurper. C.S. Lewis in the three books in his science fiction
trilogy, Perelandra, Out of the Silent Planet, and That
Hideous Strength where the reader is led into a fascinating fictional
account of evil entering into an unfallen world.
The Tempter begins by calling into question what God has said. He implies that God is not trustworthy, and that He is actually jealous of His realm and resources. He suggests that men should be autonomous as far as authority in the universe is concerned, and he implants the notion that man can, in fact, become his own god.
Very difficult, thorny theological questions are raised by nearly every verse in Genesis Chapter Three. Where did evil come from in the first place? If God is holy and good, how could anything created by God become evil and an enemy of God? How can an innocent, holy individual who is without sin be successfully tempted into committing sin? And so on...
The account in Genesis moves swiftly along to reveal that eating the forbidden fruit has had immediate and devastating consequences for both the man and his wife. Neither has dropped dead, physically, but their spiritual connection with the living God has been severed---they are cut-off from the source of all life. Furthermore they are not seeking God (compare this statement in Romans 3 in the New Testament, "No, not at all; for I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one.' 'Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive.' 'The venom of asps is under their lips.' 'Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.' 'Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know.' 'There is no fear of God before their eyes.'")
God himself takes the initiative to "find" man in his lostness, just as He does in our day. We do not go searching for God, we are in fact his enemies, (Romans 5:12). He comes and finds us and pleads with us to come to him for healing, health, wholeness and eternal life. The first obvious result of the fall is man's self-consciousness and sense of shame and nakedness.
"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking [probably as a "theophany," i.e., God in human form] in the garden in the cool [breezes] of the day, and the man [ha 'adham] and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."
"He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?' The man said, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." [displacement mechanism] Then the LORD God said to the woman, 'What is this that you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent beguiled me, and I ate.'
God knows fully well what has happened---there are no secrets as far as God is concerned, "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance." (Psalm 90:8) His purpose in interrogating the man and the Adam is to gain an admission, a confession of their guilt. This is all God seeks when he restores and forgives any one of us sinners, but he usually has to deal first, at length, with our passing the blame on to others, our denials, and our rationalizations for wrong behavior,
"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:5-9)
At this point the sin of Adam and Eve has been forgiven and
renewed---their spirits were regenerated. They are now back in
fellowship with their Creator and once again the objects of His
gracious Fatherly care and concern. But the effects of their sin
will turn out to be far more horrendous than they had ever imagined,
and they will find it all too easy, now, to sin again and again.
Sin has consequences, and these are now announced by God. The Lord begins by first dealing with the one who has initiated the problems in the first place. As with the other fallen angels, no redemption is offered to Satan, whom Jesus would later call "the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44).
"The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above ["over against," or "out of"] all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity [[not the same as "hostility"] between you and the woman, and between your seed ["the seed of the serpent"] and her seed ["the seed of the woman"]; he shall bruise [crush] your head, and you shall bruise his heel." To the woman he said, "I will [very] greatly multiply your pain [and misery] in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your [yearning] desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
This verse is called by theologians the "proto-evangelium"---the
first announcement of the gospel or good news in the Bible. A
Messiah in the line of Eve will one day come and be the Savior
of the world. He will be opposed by a final form of evil in human
form, a "man of sin", but Messiah will triumph fully.
Pain in childbearing for the woman is but part of a woman's burden in life. A mother's heart breaks over the failings of her offspring to a degree that men can not enter into. Likewise she finds her salvation in the successes and accomplishments of her children (1 Tim 2:15). The term "your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you" is pejorative. The woman's weakness will be a desire to control and manipulate her husband and to gain all her security from him, rather than from God. In turn the man will often subject her to harsh, overbearing, insensitive domineering lordship.
But Adam as "federal" head of the race bears the full weight of responsibility for the fall. This is stated in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul, "Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor." (1 Timothy 2:13, 14). Adam's sin was deliberate and willful, which is more serious than being deceived and sinning with less conscious consent. [See essay on Deliberate Sin]. In 1 Corinthians 15 the Paul describes the entire human race as being either "in Adam" or "in Christ." Christ is called the "second" or "last" Adam in the same chapter. "For as [all who are] in Adam all die, so also [all who are] in Christ shall all be made alive" (15:22).
"And to the man he said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, "You shall not eat of it," cursed is the ground [eretz] because of you; in toil [and sorrow] you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.'
"The man called his wife's name Eve [from the Hebrew "to live," or "life"], because she was the mother of all living. And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them [implies God killed the animals]. Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us [plural pronoun], knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever'---therefore the LORD God drove him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He expelled the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to [not "from" but "to"] the tree of life."
Man must be hastily shut out of the garden lest he partake
of the Tree of Life and live forever in an unredeemed physical
body. The angels with flaming swords twirling in every direction
represent the gateway of the cross of Christ, by means which we
are invited back into God's gardens---into the real Paradise.
The creation consists of a spiritual realm and a material realm. All of life comes from the spiritual world, because God Himself is Spirit. Before the fall of man and the angels a high degree of energy coupling existed between the spiritual and physical world. Now the healing, restoring, renewing flow of life from the spiritual into the material world is diminished. "Opportunistic" enemies of man and nature (such as "thorns and thistles," pests and pestilences now multiply). Man has fallen but the creation has been ruined as well. This is made clear by a statement in Romans 8,
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay [the Second Law of Thermodynamics] and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail [birth-pangs] together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
In spite of billions of dollars spent in research and countless
lifetimes of human strivings, the death rate for men everywhere
remains a flat 100%. The law of "dying thou shalt die"
applies to all of us. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead remains the great exception to this rule. The historic fall
of man resulted in Adam's lost position, power and dominion over
the creation. Man became subject to sin and death. The governorship
of the earth (and control over man) fell into the hands of Satan,
a mighty fallen angel, called in the New Testament "the god
of this world (age)." Christ Jesus, the Last Adam, died to
save sinners and to restore man's lost dominion.
"Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 'For God has put all things in subjection under his feet.'" (1 Corinthians 15:12-27)
A related discussion is The Ruin of Creation.
See also: The Relationship between Sin and Death in Genesis, by James Stambaugh.
Carnal Knowledge, by James M. Boice (Gen. 3:7)
Arthur Custance discusses the first man as male/female in his book "The Seed of the Woman."
The Anguish of Adam
Other Articles on Creation
Articles on Creation
Revised April 19, 1995. June 18, 2003. July 21, 2020.