The last verse of the detailed account of the sixth day of creation, is a description of unity devoid of jealousy, sexuality without sin, observation without criticism, self-love without self-deification, confidence without pride, enjoyment devoid of regret and contentment born of the joy that comes from wanting what one has.
It’s a mistake to call בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2 the second account of creation. Genesis 2:4-25 is not a different story, as some suppose, rather it’s a detailed section of a greater map. It details the sixth day of creation, illuminating and complementing the meta-account of Genesis 1:1-2:3. The first verses of chapter 2 (4-6) link the account to the meta-account of Genesis 1, by citing the first day (the heavens and the earth) and using it as a reference in order to expound on the subsequent 4 days, thus pointing to the sixth day, which is the focus of the remainder of the chapter.
As explained in my introduction to בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis, the extremely flawed redaction theory which claims multiple authors and differing versions of the creation story, is tenuous at best, and at worst, utter nonsense. The continuity of Genesis 2 is self-evident and the misperceived discrepancies are easily explained.
Bereishit 2 expounds upon the beginning of the generations of humanity as seeded through one man, created בָּרָא bara (creative action of God, ex nihilo [from nothing]) through dust and by the breath of HaShem. A man of earth and heaven, a foreshadowing of the King Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
The roles of men and woman are defined in terms of the unifying act of a husband and wife and are consolidated in a complex unity אחד echad. The woman is not a subordinate creature, rather she is the glory of creation, just as man is the glory of God through Yeshua. The Genesis 2 account affirms gender distinction rather than gender subordination.
“For a man indeed should not have his hair fall down around him (at the sides of his head [long hair]), for as much as he is the image and glory of Elohim: and the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man: for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man: for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of liberty on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in Elohim. For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of Elohim. Judge you in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto Elohim with her hair pulled up (looking like a man)? Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man has long hair (looking like a woman), it’s a dishonour to him? But if a woman has long hair, it’s a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering (a symbol of כַּפָּרָה kaparah/atonement).”
–1 Corinthians 11:7-15 (Rav Shaul’s letter) [Author’s translation]
Humanity is thus given the job of caretaker of the created environment, and afforded the godly right of naming and reigning over creation. This too is a foreshadowing of the Messiah, Who in sinless perfection, came to restore dominion over creation, silencing the storm and healing the sick and diseased.
As we approach this account we should examine our motives soberly. Many resist the plain meaning of the text because their science disagrees with the Scripture, however, as followers of Messiah we must humble ourselves and allow the Rabbi (Yeshua) to teach us by His Spirit. Some aspire to be רבנים rabbonim (teachers), others wish to be תלמידים talmidim (students), but those who are unteachable qualify for neither position.
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4-25 [Translated from the Hebrew text by Yaakov ben Yehoshua]
Gen 2:4a These are the generations תוֹלְדוֹת toldot of the heavens הַשָּׁמַיִם ha-sh’mayim and the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz.
There are a variety of translations of the first section of Genesis 2:4:
“This is the account of the heavens and the earth…” –NIV
“This is the history of the heavens and the earth…” –CJB
“These are the products of the heavens and the earth…” –Torah, Stone Edition
“Such is the story of heaven and earth…” –JPS (Jewish Study Bible)
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth…” –KJV
Each of these English translations is attempting to convey the meaning of the Hebrew, תוֹלְדוֹת toldot which is most commonly understood to mean generations or, offspring. It’s true that each of the words chosen by these translators conveys an aspect of the meaning of the Hebrew word, and that all these ideas combine to give the fuller meaning, however, with respect to the context and nature of the Genesis 2 account, by far the single English word that most effectively conveys the intent of the Hebrew text, is generations.
The phrase, אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת eileh toldot (These are the generations), divides the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis into eight sections (11 instances), each introducing a new stage in the development of humanity (Gen. 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12,19; 36:1, 9; 37:2).
So what does this first phrase of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4-25 mean? God knows the end from the beginning and that there will be a subsequent sinless new creation, so in some sense the heavens and the earth will have a proceeding generation. However, that is not the intended meaning here.
We find the subjects of the generations in the account itself, אָדָם Adam, the man האדם ha-adam, איש iysh), along with his partner חוה Chavah, life/living (אישה iyshah), his wife.
The account of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 sets a platform for understanding the rhythm of creation:
Days 1 through 3:
1.) God all existing
2.) God commands
3.) God creates from nothing
4.) God forms the created substance
5.) God names the created environment
Days 4 through 6:
1.) God all existing
2.) God commands
3.) God creates from nothing
4.) God forms the created creature
5.) God names the created creature
This rhythm reflects a generational cycle that is further illuminated through the detailed account of the sixth day, described in בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2. Additionally, it shows that God first created the environment in which He would place the glory of His creation, humanity. The heavens and the earth therefore, qualify as the location for the generations of humanity.
Given, the generational rhythm of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1, the habitat and inhabitant cycle it presents, and the naming of the subjects in the latter section of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2, we should understand the first phrase of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4 to mean:
“These are the generations of humanity for whom the heavens and the earth were created as a habitation.”
Gen 2:4b when they were created from nothing בָּרָא bara, in the day בְּיוֹם b’yom of the making עֲשׂוֹת asaot when יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim made earth אֶרֶץ eretz and heavens שָׁמָיִם sh’mayim,
“In the day” בְּיוֹם b’yom refers to the first day of creation by referencing the heavens and the earth which are the foundation for the detail of the current accounting of the sixth day as it’s illuminated in the following text. The inference is that creation was prepared from the beginning as a habitation for humanity, as explained by the clause’s use of תוֹלְדוֹת toldot (generations).
Just as in the former account, בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4 continues the rhythm of using בָּרָא bara (created from nothing) and עֲשׂוֹת asot (formed out of something) to denote God’s active participation in every aspect of creation. This is important because it lays a foundation for refuting ontological arguments that impugn the character of God and allow for humanist assertions regarding the universe and the human race.
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 2:4, is the first place in the Torah (Books of Moses) where the Holy personal name of God יהוה YHVH is used along with the generic title אלוהים Elohim:
“יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim”. This composite name is important because it’s an expression of the intimate relationship within the God head and God’s love poured out on humanity. In the former account God אֱלֹהִים Elohim (the Judge), is the King and Judge over creation, and here He is revealing His Mercy and eternal all existing nature. The Hebrew יהוה YHVH is unpronounceable, it denotes Divine mercy. When we read the Holy proper noun יהוה YHVH (In worship we use “Adonai” and in practice, “HaShem” the Name) alongside the generic אֱלֹהִים Elohim (Judge), we understand God to be our Merciful Judge. This unity of Love and Justice illustrates the great depths of our security in Him.
The Holy Name יהוה YHVH, also denotes the eternal, all existing nature of God. The rabbis note that the Hebrew phrase, היה הווה ויהיה HaYaH HoVVeH V’YiH’YeiH (Who was and is and is to come) uses only the consonants of the Holy Name יהוה. They teach therefore, that the Holy Name conveys the eternal nature of God, Who was, is and is to come.
Gen 2:5 And every plant of the plain before it was יִהְיֶה yiyeh on the earth בָאָרֶץ va’aretz, and every glistening shoot, herb, grass, of the plain before it sprouted: it had not been sent the rain by יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim upon the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz and humanity אָדָם adam didn’t exist to work the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah.
In reading Genesis 2:5 we are reminded of Genesis 1:2: “And the earth came into existence, desolate and vacant, and darkness was over the face of deep…” –Genesis 1:2a
Genesis 2:5 alludes to Genesis 1:2a in order to link this detailed account of humanity to the meta-creation story. The intent of God’s creative plan is revealed in the qualifying statement, “and humanity didn’t exist to work the ground”. The plant life was purposed as both habitation and food for humanity. Humanity’s role would be to work the ground, not under compulsion but in the pure enjoyment of creative, fulfilling work that produces abundant fruit and completes a cycle of peaceful existence. Not a Utopia built by humanism, but a God haven constructed and purposed by God for humanity’s good.
Gen 2:6 And mist ascended from the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz, and gave drink to the whole face of the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah.
In reading Genesis 2:6 we are reminded of Genesis 1:2b: “Darkness was over the face of deep, surging, subterranean waters, and the Spirit, Wind, Breath of Elohim brooded, like a mother eagle, relaxed, over the face of the waters.” –Genesis 1:2b
Genesis 2:6 gives reference to the waters of the beginning which are mentioned in Genesis 1:2b, and their covering the face of the earth. This is to show the relationship between the רוח הקודש Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) brooding over the formless world and the breathing spirit נשמת nishmat that will give humanity life חיה chayah.
The gap between this verse and the next presumes that the reader, having the first account in mind, will fill in the remaining events leading up to the sixth day, which is the contextual reference point for Genesis 2:7.
Gen 2:7 And formed, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the particular, specific, singular man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם et-haadam of the dust, mortar, powder, dry earth of the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah, and breathed, blew וַיִּפַּח vayifach into his nostrils the breath, spirit נִשְׁמַת nishmat of living חַיִּים chaiyim; and became the man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם ha-adam a soul לְנֶפֶשׁ l’nefesh חַיָּה chayah life form.
In reading Genesis 2:7 we are reminded of Genesis 1:27: “And creating from nothing, Elohim made the particular, specific, singular man, human in His image to resemble Him, in the image of Elohim He created from nothing, him; male and female, He created from nothing, them.” –Genesis 1:27
With illuminating, relational simplicity, this verse unifies the impartation of God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), and describes the joining of the dust of the earth and the breath of the heavens (God’s breath), creating the creature who is the crowning glory of creation, humanity.
The man is created prior to the woman in divine order. The Scriptures illuminate the succession of glory and thus show that the role of the sexes is complimentary rather than subordinate (1 Corinthians 11:7-15).
Genesis 1:27 uses the noun, “image”, “likeness” thus expressing God’s relationship to humanity, but here it is the verbs of the text that act (halakh, walk), to bring about man’s formation. “Formed” expresses the relationship of the potter to the clay (Isaiah 64:8), and “breathed” conveys the intimate nature of a kiss, a face to face encounter that is as much an act of giving as it is an act of constructing. God gives of Himself in order to create humanity. This rhythm of story and action continues today in the very essence of Messiah following Jewish practice. Every Shabbat, while remembering the creation of the universe and God’s rest, we light the candles of observance and remembrance and tell (aggadah) the story of creation in order to act out (halakhah) it’s goal, peace and rest in God through Yeshua (Jesus).
The breath of God imparted to the man corelates to an act of the life of Messiah Yeshua:
“And when He had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, Receive you the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit):”
הבשורה על-פי יוחנן
– Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan (John) 20:22 [Author’s translation]
It’s important to note that the, “breath, spirit נִשְׁמַת nishmat” is not the Ruach Ha-Kodesh Himself but an emanation from the Ruach which affords life to the man. This is a reminder that it’s by the common grace of God that each of us continues to have life in a world that is affected by sin and death. Today (following the fall of humanity) all human beings, (to use a Jewish esoteric turn of phrase) have a divine spark, but not all human beings honour that spark, nor are all human beings in right relationship to the spark Giver, HaShem.
This is confirmed by the HaBrit Ha-Chadashah (NT):
“So also it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living soul (nefesh)’. The last Adam (Yeshua) a life-giving Spirit (Ruach).”
–1 Corinthians 15:45 [Author’s translation]
Man is not a divided entity, rather he is a unity. He is Heart (Core being), Mind (intellectual being), Strength (physical being) and Spirit/Soul (living being), but at his core he is the convergence of all these things, אחד echad (a complex and intense unity). Once created a human being is everlasting, having נְשָׁמָה neshamah (transcendent soul). We are either everlasting unto life through Yeshua or everlasting unto torment through wilful rejection of God’s loving offer of reconciliation through atonement.
God does not send people to eternal torment, rather He offers a means of escape. Those who end up in the lake of perpetual fire will be those who have chosen to go there.
We note that God did not just breathe life חי into the nostrils of the man formed from dust, but living חַיִּים chaiyim. This denotes everlasting life. The Hebrew is an intense form indicating perpetual substance.
Genesis 2:7 affirms the very clear distinction between humanity and the animals. While we are made up of similar elements, we are entirely unique, unrelated with regard to ancestry. We have been created whole, completed in a singular action of God, rather than over millennia, as the theory of evolution claims. It’s here that every believer is faced with a necessary choice between popular science and the truth of Scripture. This is not an issue of interpretation. The p’shat (plain meaning) of the Hebrew text does not allow for evolutionary theory.
It's important to note that this detailed description of the creation of humanity begins with an individual man (Ha-Adam). The Hebrew uses the determiner, אֶת et and the definite article הָֽ ha so as to leave no doubt as to the individual nature of this person. In the context of Genesis 1:27 He is the man, and not a humanity.
Gen 2:8 And planted יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, a garden גַּן־בְעֵדֶן in Eden eidein delight, pleasure, to the east; to put there the particular, specific, singular man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם et-haadam whom He had fashioned.
This is the provision of vegetation of the sixth day as recorded in Genesis 1:30. The garden is to be a place of fulfilling work and discovery, a home laden with provisions and opportunities so that the man can utilize his heart, mind and strength in godly perfection.
The phrase, “a garden in Eden to the east” makes it clear that Eden is a tangible earthly location and not merely a symbolic or ethereal garden. Eden can be both a location and a symbol, but in accordance with the text, it must first be a physical location. This is further confirmed by the detailed listing of the central river and its tributaries in the proceeding verses. (Eden is not, as some foolishly conjecture, a trans-locational place suspended between heaven and earth).
Gen 2:9 And causing to sprout יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, from the ground הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah all trees pleasant in appearance, and good for food; and tree the living עֵ֤ץ הַחַיִּים eitz hachayim in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good טוֹב tov and evil רָע ra.
Genesis 2:9 again references the provision of fruit bearing trees on the sixth day according to the account of Genesis 1:30. The reason for this literary device is to show the unique nature of two specific trees, which are both physically present, displaying fruit, and at the same time possessed of a spiritual nature. We should remember that prior to the fall, the appearance of a division between the seen and the unseen realms was not evident. Prior to the fall, the spiritual and the physical were observed by humanity as a complex unity.
While some claim that the tree of living and the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil are one tree, the text makes this translation difficult and Genesis 3:22 confirms that the trees are indeed separate.
There is no need to make the false choice between the trees being figurative or physical. They are both and more.
Gen 2:10 And a river went out from Eden מֵעֵדֶן mei’eiden delight, pleasure, to give drink to the garden; and there it divided, to become four heads.
While it’s true to say that the river is a symbol of the prosperity and spiritual vitality that proceeds from holy ground (Psalm 36:8-9; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Revelation 22:1-2), it is presented here as a literal river flowing from a literal garden with four qualifying tributaries to act as land marks, a set of ancient GPS coordinates for triangulating the location of the garden. Unfortunately only the Tigris and Euphrates are identifiable today, while the locations of the Piyshon and Giychon remain a mystery.
Gen 2:11 The name of the number one (river) הָאֶחָד echad is פִּישׁוֹן Piyshon: it (he) that flows around the whole land כָּל־אֶרֶץ kol-eretz of הַחֲוִילָה the Havilah sandy land, where there is gold; Gen 2:12 And the gold of the land הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz it (he) is good טוֹב tov: there is the הַבְּדֹלַח ha-bedolach resin, and stone is precious. Gen 2:13 And the name of the river, the second הַשֵּׁנִי sheiniy is גִּיחוֹן Giychon: it (he) that flows around the whole land כָּל־אֶרֶץ kol-eretz of the כּוּשׁ Cush, Black. Gen 2:14 And the name of the river, third הַשְּׁלִישִׁי sh’liyshiy is חִדֶּקֶל Chidekel: it (he) that flows forward to the east of אַשּׁוּר Ashur, Assyria. And the river the fourth הָרְבִיעִי r’viy’iy it (he) is פְרָת Perat, fruitfulness, Euphrates.
We see that the numbering of the rivers follows the numbering of the days of creation in the Genesis 1 account. Beginning with the cardinal number אֶחָד echad and continuing with the ordinal numbers שֵּׁנִי sheiniy, שְּׁלִישִׁי shliyshiy, רְבִיעִי revi’iy. Therefore, the Piyshon is a specific singular water source central to understanding the literal, physical location of the garden and the subsequent rivers are ordered according to it. These also being physical waters of the tangible creation. This is further affirmed by the fact that we can locate the continuing existence of two of these rivers today.
It's thought that the Cush mentioned here is the Kassite territory east of the Tigris, and not the more remote Ethiopia, which was also known as Cush in Biblical times. Havilah is linked with Cush in Genesis 10:7 and with Babylon in Genesis 10:8, 10, which the Kassites invaded at one time, however the Seba in Genesis 10:7 could indicate South Arabia, which is where the other Havilah of 10:29 is located. It’s possible then that the area described is a compact location above the Persian Gulf. However, it is impossible to know with certainty.
Gen 2:15 Taking, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the particular, specific, singular man אֶת־הָֽאָדָם et-haadam, and placing him to rest in the garden of Eden, delight, pleasure, to work, serve and to keep it, watching over it.
God transports the man into the garden He has prepared for him. This is a beautiful illustration of the journey that every believer has entered into. We are transported in Messiah from the dust of this life into the fresh wind of the Olam Haba (eternal kingdom). We have been redeemed and perfected in Messiah, and we are being made holy, sanctified (set apart). Our destination is the rest of God.
The text continues to emphasize the individual nature of the man. This sets the stage for the statement of HaShem, “It’s not good for man to be alone” (v.18). (It is ridiculous to say that “ha-adam” means “the humanity” here, because the man is about to be referred to in the singular as being alone).
Man is placed in the garden to work it in joy and take care of it in love. Man’s subsequent sovereignty over the garden is a gift of God, an extension of His sovereignty and a reflection of His image, likeness.
It’s worth noting that the man is placed in Eden, inferring that he was created elsewhere. This adds weight to the Jewish tradition that says Adam was created through האבן ha-even the foundation stone located on the temple mount. That same stone that was centred in the Holy of holies, the stone which Jewish tradition says Abraham sought to sacrifice Isaac upon, and the same stone which Jacob laid his head upon when he saw the vision of the ladder, and of course, the stone upon which the blood of the Yom Kippur sacrifice fell when sprinkled by the High priest following the loss of the ark of the covenant.
Gen 2:16 And commanded, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the הָאָדָם man ha-adam, saying, “Every tree of the garden consume, freely eat: Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good טוֹב tov and evil רָע ra, don’t eat from it: for in the day you consume from it, death will put to death, bring the killing מִמֶּנּוּ מוֹת mimenu mot.
The man receives this instruction directly and is therefore responsible to convey it accurately to his future wife.
Up until the fall, humanity, both the man and the woman, knew only good. Thus the knowledge of all things, including the possibility of evil was to be off limits to them.
We note that while most English versions of the Bible say, “In the day you eat of it you will surely die”, the Hebrew text literally says, “in the day you consume from it, death will put to death, bring the killing.” While it is true that אדם Adam and חוה Chavah died a spiritual death in the day that they ate of the fruit, they did not die physically in that same day. Therefore the more common reading seems unlikely. What is more consistent is the literal reading which is supported by Rav Shaul’s (Paul) letter to the Roman ecclesia (body of believers):
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed to all humanity, for all have sinned:”
–Rav Shaul’s Letter to the Romans 5:12 [Author’s translation]
To paraphrase the text:
“The day you eat the fruit you will open up a way for sin to enter both yourself, and your progeny and the world in perpetuity: death will result, and will continue to kill generationally.”
Gen 2:18 And spoke יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, saying, It’s not good לֹא־טוֹב lo tov that becoming, the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam is alone; I will fashion one who helps to meet his need, to be in front of him.
This is the first instance of something being called, לֹא־טוֹב lo tov not good. The phrase, lo tov is used here to mean, incomplete. Genesis 1:27 reveals the complete creation of the man and the woman and the subsequent verses culminate in the phrase, “God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was טוב מאוד tov meod, exceedingly good; meaning not only, very good but also, complete.
In isolation man is yet to reflect the full nature of being made in God’s image because God was in relationship from before the creation of the world. The God-head Father, Son and Spirit are a relational complex unity. Therefore man, who has received a soul life through the imparting of the breath of God’s Spirit, now needs a counterpart, as the text says, “to stand before him”. Once the man receives his counterpart he will find the full expression of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God through the act of unifying his flesh with the woman. This relational bond reflects the fullness of the God-head, thus illuminating the greater meaning of image and likeness.
Gen 2:19 And had formed יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, from the ground הָאֲדָמָ֗ה ha-adamah every living thing of the plain, and every flying thing of the sky waters; and He brought them to the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam to see what he would call them: and what called every soul נֶפֶשׁ nefesh living חַיָּה chayah, the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam, it, (he), was the name.
The livestock were formed prior to the man, as recorded in Genesis 1:24. Thus the text of Genesis 2:19 reads, “had formed”. By giving the man an opportunity to name the animals, God was further imparting His likeness/image to humanity. This act reflects the naming by God of the created elements, thus conveying His sovereignty over the creation. In a similar way, the man Adam is given sovereignty over the animals as a representative of God in creation. Yet another foreshadowing of the Messiah.
Gen 2:20 And proclaimed, the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam names for all the beasts, cattle, and flying creatures of the sky waters, heavens, and every beast of the plain; but for Adam there was not found a helper, to meet his need, to be in front of him.
This proclamation over the animals reflects the proclamations of God over the created elements. In naming the animals the man Adam affirms their identity and purpose just as God had affirmed the identity and purpose of humanity through His proclamation (Genesis 1:26).
The fact that none of the animals were found suitable is yet another affirmation of humanity’s unique role in creation. Through the process of naming the animals God was teaching the man to recognize his own need for equitable relationship. Having finished naming the animals and realizing that none were compatible, the man was ready to receive the helper who had always been intended for him.
Gen 2:21 And making to lie down, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam, and he slept: and he took the one אָחת ha-achat, (feminine cardinal number) side, rib, and closed up the flesh beneath;
This passage elaborates on the complete work of creating human beings as described in Genesis 1:27. It is not conveying a new creation so much as an extension of the creation begun in the singular and specific man Adam.
This deep sleep is reminiscent of Genesis 15:12, where the Patriarch Abram falls into a deep sleep and God meets with him to prepare him for the transition that he is about to go through. This connection to the Patriarch in his role as the Hebrew העברי ha-ivri seems fitting.
The side or rib (singular) is called, הָאָחת ha-achat the one. The feminine cardinal number being used for the first time here. This is not intended to indicate some sort of struggle in the man between the feminine and masculine attributes of his person, rather it is intended to emphasize the unique nature and role of the woman.
Gen 2:22 And established, built, יהוה אֱלֹהִים HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the side, rib, which He had taken from the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam, into a woman אִשָּׁה Ishah, and brought her to the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam.
The woman is established, formed, and complete, and is brought to the man by God, Who acts the part of a Middle Eastern Haredi Jewish Father, both selecting His son’s bride and as the Father of the bride, bringing her to His son beneath the wedding chupah of the universe, the stars covering them in majestic procession.
Gen 2:23 And speaking the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam said, This (feminine) is now bone, essence of my bones, essence, and flesh of my flesh: she will be called Woman אִשָּׁה Ishah, because out of man מֵאִישׁ mei’ish taken was she, this female one.
Realizing for the first time that he is encountering one like himself, a helper to stand before him as an equal, the man איש Iysh rejoices in naming her, אשה Ishah recognizing both her connection to him and her uniqueness.
The text leaves unanswered the reason why man is called, איש iysh. This word comes from the Hebrew root, אש eish meaning fire. Fire is said to symbolize man’s uniqueness within the created order. We are reminded that the Spirit of the Lord is also likened to fire in Scripture (Ex. 3:2; 13:21; Isa. 4:4; Matt. 3:11-12; Luk. 3:16-17; Acts 2:3-4; 1 Thess. 5:19) and that it’s this same Spirit that breathed life into the man.
The Rabbis note that the presence of godliness is seen in the naming of the man and woman through the shortened form of the Holy Name. The י Yod from יה YaH is added to אש eish (fire) to form איש iysh (man) and the ה Hey from יה YaH is added to איש iysh (man), and the י Yod removed to form the feminine form אשה ishaH (woman). It is said that this symbolizes the need for God to be present in a marriage, in order to facilitate true unity and peace. If God (YaH) is removed from their respective titles, they are both left with אש eish (fire), which can burn out of control under the wind of sin and thus destroy the marriage.
Gen 2:24 Therefore leaving, a man, his father and his mother, he shall catch, overtake, cleave, cling to, stick to, stay close to, follow, and join to his wife בְּאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ b’ishato: to become of flesh, one אֶחָד echad, (masculine cardinal number: root meaning complex and intense unity).
The role of a husband is beautifully illustrated here. From the beginning God intended marriage to be a living example of the unity of His divine relationship, within the God-head, and with ethnic Israel, and through her to the body of believers ecclesia, redeemed humanity as echad one.
When asked about divorce Yeshua spoke of this very passage, testifying to its historical relevance and its spiritual importance:
“And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put away a wife. But Yeshua (Jesus) said to them, ‘For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of the creation, He made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh: so that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no person tear apart.”
The wider implications of the Hebrew, דָבַק davak cleave, speak immutable security to the marriage relationship that is held together in the Spirit of God through Messiah Yeshua. The bar is set high for the man/husband, why? Because it is the standard set by our Messiah, Who, as the Groom of the ecclesia, has given up His life for His bride.
Gen 2:25 Existing, the two שְׁנֵיהֶם sh’nayim (cardinal masculine) were naked, bare, smooth, prudent, עֲרוּמִּים arumim the man הָֽאָדָם ha-adam and his wife וְאִשְׁתּוֹ v’ishato, and were not ashamed, disconcerted, embarrassed.
The Hebrew, עֲרוּמִּים arumim is plural, indicating that they shared their nakedness and accepted the complimentary part they each played in their sexual, intellectual and spiritual unity. In Genesis 3:10 the same root word is used in the singular form, עֵירֹם eirom denoting the division that had come between the man and the woman as a result of sin. Sin had sought to divide what God had made one אחד echad. This is why ישוע Yeshua (Jesus) uses the example of the pre-fall unity of the man and the woman, as a rebuke to those particular first century Jewish men who were allowing divorce for any and every reason (Mark 10:4-8). Divorce, like sexual immorality, is a result of the fall. It is hated by God because it defiles the greatest earthly representation of His relational love, as pictured in the marriage of a man and a woman.
This last verse of the detailed account of the sixth day of creation, is a description of unity devoid of jealousy, sexuality without sin, observation without criticism, self-love without self-deification, confidence without pride, enjoyment devoid of regret and contentment born of the joy that comes from wanting what one has.
© 2023 Yaakov Ben Yehoshua (Brown)
We note that just as God is אחד echad (a complex unity), we are made as individuals יחד yachad (from the same root and carrying the same meaning but in the past tense). Iyov, the prophet Job explains this beautifully saying:
What we’ve learned so far:
God, HaShem, Yeshua, Ha-Ruach
Moshe (Moses), with collation and annotation of remaining events completed by Yehoshua (Joshua). It’s interesting to note the meanings of the Hebrew scribes’ names. Moshe (Draw forth) and Yehoshua, Yeshua (Salvation, the Lord’s Salvation). Creation is drawn forth from nothing, through Yeshua, the Lord’s Salvation for the purpose of creation’s redemption.
Approximately 1400 BCE.
Category, Style & Genre:
Historical, Instructional, from the Torah, the five books of Moses (בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis uses pictorial language and the occasional poetic phrase in the same way we use pictorial and poetic language in daily life, for the purpose of conveying factual information).
A Definition of Divine Inspiration and Human Penmanship:
The Word of God (Yeshua), imparted to and through a human being in whom God’s Ruach (Spirit) resides; the product of which is the convergence of truth communicated in both spoken and written form, for the purpose of transmitting to humanity, God’s will and purpose for all creation.
Note: Divine Inspiration is not dictation, channelling, auto-writing or any other form of mindless witchcraft. To the contrary, Divine Inspiration operates in relationship. Unlike the demonic spirits of auto-writing or channelling, God’s Spirit does not take over the wilfully blanked mind of the writer, but instead works in relationship to the writer.
“The רוח Ruach (Spirit) of יהוה HaShem (YHVH) spoke דבר-בי diber-biy in, through me; וּמִלָּתוֹ umilato and His (discourse, word, conversation) was on my tongue.”
שמואל ב 23:2
–2 Samuel 23:2 [Author’s translation]
“לִבְנֵי My leiv (Core being, heart) is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skilful writer.”
–Psalms 45:1 [Author’s translation]
The Basic Thematic Distinctions in Genesis:
• Primeval History
• Patriarchal History
Division of the Days of Creation:
Days of Forming Days of Filling
1) Light אור Or (v3) 4) Luminous Bodies מְאֹרֹת Meorot (v14)
2) Waters שָּׁמַיִם Shamayim, מַיִם Mayim (v7) 5) Every living thing in the sky waters & the earth waters מַיִם Mayim (v21)
3) Dry ground אֶרֶץ eretz (v9-11) 6) Every creature that fills the earth אֶרֶץ eretz, plants for food, humanity (v24-30)
Keeping in mind that in all Scripture interpretation we are reliant on the direction of the Holy Spirit, the illumination of the Rabbi Yeshua and the surrounding fidelity of the Father; we are not afraid of the suppositions presented by science, philosophy, art and so on. Any and every interpretation that agrees with the wider Biblical text of the Messianic Canon (Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim [OT] and Ha-Brit Ha-Chadashah [NT]), may be considered. However, only that which is stated in the plain meaning of the text, or, submits to the plain (p’shat) meaning through hint (remez), comparative meaning/halakhic principal (drash) and Divine mystery (sod), may be accepted as a reliable foundation upon which to build our theology in action (hagadah v’halakhah), the way we tell, the way we walk.
Hebraic Methods of Interpretation (PaRDeS):
P’shat: Plain meaning
Drash: Comparative meaning
Sod: Divine mystery
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 conveys the foundational truth that God, Who is all existing, created all that exists from nothing, ex nihilo. This stands in stark contrast to the many theories of the universe that seek to prove accidental creation or the eternal existence of the universe.
In בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 the creation is described in broad terms but with interesting detail that shows (as one would expect from a divinely revealed text) that God was concerned not only with revealing a pictorial account but also an historical record that would stand up to the honest scientific and literary critique of humanity; not because He requires our affirmation but for the sake of our salvation.
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis, the first book of the Torah, also begins the literal history of Israel, an ethnic people chosen by God and given a clear lineage that reaches back via Israel’s Patriarchs (Avraham, Yitzchak & Yaakov) to the first man Adam. Though it’s impossible to determine the time span covered by the genealogical listings of the Genesis text, due to the Hebrew practice of listing key figures in ancestral records and the ambiguous nature of the Hebrew, “ben, b’nai”, meaning, Son, Sons, children, grandson, grandsons, grandchild, ancestor etc; what we do know is that this genealogy is intended to be understood as an historical record leading from the inception of all things to the creation of a holy people, who have been chosen by God to transmit the Ketuvim (Writings) of God to future generations of both Jews (Hebrews) and the many other people groups of the world. Ultimately, this was intended to bring the Good News of redemption, which is first mentioned in בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 3:15.
Interpreting The Text:
בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Translated from Hebrew by Yaakov ben Yehoshua)
1:1 In the beginning, creating from nothing בָּרָא bara, אֱלֹהִים Elohim made the waters of the sky, and He made the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz:
Some English translations of Genesis translate the first composite Hebrew word of Genesis 1:1 “בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit” as, “When God began”. Though it’s true to say that in some cases the Hebrew prefix, “בְּ” can mean, “When”, the more common meanings are, “In the, on the”. Also, the better translation using, “When” would be, “When beginning” because the Generic Hebrew noun אֱלֹהִים Elohim (God) is used following the word רֵאשִית reishit (beginning). It seems far too obvious that the translation, “When God began” is attempting to promote an agenda that lends itself to scientific revisionism rather than intellectual honesty.
The Hebrew verb, בָּרָא bara (create from nothing: used only of God’s creative work) is singular, denoting the intense rather than plural nature of the first use of אֱלֹהִים Elohim (God).
The Hebrew, שָּׁמַיִם sh’mayim combines sky and waters. Although this is a clear reference to the heavens, it’s important that the components that make up this composite word are illuminated in order to show the legitimate truth of the elemental beginnings of the created order. In the context of Bereishit chapter 1 the Hebrew, הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz speaks of the entire mass of the earth.
This first verse begins a rhythm of God’s creative intention followed by His, for lack of a better phrase, hands on moulding of those elements created in הדבר ha-Davar the Word Essence of יהוה HaShem (John 1:1-2).
1:2 And the earth came into existence, desolate תֹהוּ tohu and vacant בהוּ bohu, and darkness חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh was over the face of deep, surging, subterranean waters, and רוּחַ Ruach the Spirit, Wind, Breath of אֱלֹהִים Elohim brooded (Like a mother eagle), relaxing, over the face of the waters.
At God’s command, and through His בָּרָא bara (creative action of God), all things come into existence. Some have suggested that there is a gap between verses 1 and 2 of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1, in which a heavenly catastrophe took place, a battle between good and evil that resulted in the newly created earth descending into chaos at the hands of an evil devil or monster. This has much in common with Near Eastern mythology but has little in common with the Hebrew text or the theme of the book of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis.
The Hebrew, בהוּ bohu, rightly translated “empty, void, vacant” is mistranslated as “chaos” by those who want to make a link between the Biblical account and ancient Near Eastern mythology. However, the word, בהוּ bohu is found in only three other places in the Hebrew Scriptures (Isaiah 34:11; 45:18; Jeremiah 4:23) and does not describe chaos but desolation and emptiness.
In fact it’s impossible for the fall of Satan to have happened prior to the creation of humanity because elsewhere Scripture explains that Satan was a guardian cherub of Eden (Ezekiel 28:10-14) before he fell (Isaiah 14:12-14; Luke 10:18). In addition to this at the end of the creation week of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 and 2, God calls everything (this would include the created being Lucifer [not yet known by the name Satan]) “exceedingly good” (Gen. 1:31). Therefore, at some point after the creation of Eden and the end of the creation week, Satan fell, tempted Adam through Chayah [Eve] (Genesis 3:1-14), and as a result of humanity’s sin choice, sin entered the world and death with it (Romans 5:12). This chronology doesn’t allow for the possibility of the chaos myth or the, Gap theory. Both of which contradict the inspired Hebrew text of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis.
Jewish tradition (Targum Yonatan) also rejects the Gap theory, claiming that the מלאכים malakhim (angels/messengers) were created on the second day and therefore could not have participated in a cosmic conflict which took place between the first and second days. The text itself does not tell us when the מלאכים malakhim were created. However, we do know that they are created beings (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2, 5; Colossians 1:16-17):
“Praise Him, all His מלאכים malakhim (angels, messengers): praise Him, all His hosts… Let them praise the name of יהוה HaShem: for He commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer, and they were created.”
תהילים 148:2, 5
–Psalms 148:2, 5 [Author’s translation]
The phrase, תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ tohu v’bohu “desolate and vacant”, may also be translated, “formless and empty”. This phrase sets up the rhythm of the subsequent creation days. During the first three days God distinguishes and then gathers, thus giving form, and on the remaining three days He makes and fills the form, which had once been empty/vacant.
It’s suggested by some, that חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh (darkness) is not subject to a creative act and therefore always existed. This is easily refuted by the wider Scriptural text.
“I form the light וּבוֹרֵ֣א uvorei (from בָּרָא bara) and create (from nothing) חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh darkness,”
–Isaiah 45:7 [Author’s translation]
“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.”
1:1-5 הבשורה על-פי יוחנן
–Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan (John) 1:3 [Author’s translation]
Some, in misunderstanding the genre of teaching used by John in his gospel, mistakenly see the darkness of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:2 as being in and of itself evil. This is nonsense. The words of John’s opening chapter are a drash (a comparative teaching) on the creation narrative that is intended to convey the pre-existent nature of the Messiah (The Word Essence of God) and the battle that John’s generation were unable to see, the war between God and the darkness of the fallen world. A battle in which the fallen darkness (an allusion to spiritual blindness resulting from the fall of both Lucifer and humanity) is unable to comprehend or overcome the Light that emanates from Yeshua. We know that the darkness of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 is called “exceedingly good” because God says so (Gen. 1:31). Contrary to popular belief, darkness is not the absence of light. God is light and all things exist in Him, therefore the darkness exists in Him.
The existence of the earth as desolate and vacant denotes a foundation that is to be built upon and filled up. In fact the first three days are devoted to the foundational elements of creation. These elements, which include water and earth, are brooded over by the Ruach (Spirit) of HaShem.
The Hebrew, מְרַחֶפֶת merachephet, meaning, “brood, relaxed”, is used elsewhere in Scripture to convey the protective nurturing actions of the mother eagle over her young, even prior to their birth (Deuteronomy 32:11). This brooding is motivated by the knowledge of future purpose.
Every beginning has a goal, and the goal of The Beginning is Yeshua (Salvation). In a similar way to that of a mother eagle, who instinctively knows that her chicks will hatch and grow to learn how to glide on the wind, the Ruach (Spirit) of HaShem broods over the elements that will act as the beginnings of creation and more specifically, the מָּיִם mayim (waters) of the הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz (earth), which will soon be moulded into an image/likeness/representation of God, to form humanity. Our purpose is made certain, long before we ever came into being.
“Like an eagle that breaks up her nest,
That broods and relaxes over her young,
He spread His wings and caught them,
He carried them on His pinions.”
--Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:11 [Author’s translation]
The intimate Hebrew description, עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם al p’neiy ha-mayim (Over the face of the waters) illuminates the action of the Holy Spirit as He hovers over the surface of the earth’s waters. The Ruach, breath of HaShem broods and breathes upon the waters that are representative of חיים chayim (living), both practically and spiritually. This is a picture of the relationship between created חיה chayah (life) and the life Giver. His breath moving against the water, and its deep, surging response.
What becomes clear from the wider Scripture, is that while God ceased for the period of the seventh day, He continues to sustain and purpose His creation. He continues to make (asah) each one of us into who we’re purposed to be in Him.
“The רוּחַ Ruach (Spirit) of אֵ֥ל El (God), has made עָשָׂ֑תְנִי asat’niy me, and the breath נִשְׁמַת neshmat of שַׁדַּי Shaddai (The Almighty) has given me life חַי chay.”
–Job 33:4 [Author’s translation]
After healing a man on the Shabbat Yeshua had this to say:
“My Father continues to work hence forward, and I work.”
5:17 הבשורה על-פי יוחנן
–Ha-Besorah Al-Piy Yochanan (John) 5:17 [Author’s translation]
1:3 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Be light אוֹר Or”, and light אוֹר Or was:
This verse begins a literary rhythm that uses a trifold pattern to convey the process of creation and the way it continues to unfold in our daily lives.
1. God commands וַיֹּאמֶר (vayomeir)
2. God Sees/Observes וַיַּרְא (vaiy’re: from ראה ra’ah)
3. God Proclaims/Calls/Name וַיִּקְרָא(vayikra)
God commands creation, He sees that it’s good and He gives all created entities unique names and roles in the order of the universe. From the view of humanity, God has created us in love, observes us with pleasure and imparts to each of us a unique and fulfilling identity and purpose in Him.
The light which is commanded in 1:3 is essential to the remainder of creation. John’s Gospel understands this light to be the product of the Father through the Word Essence (Yeshua), it illuminates the formless and empty elements and acts as an ignition for both the inanimate matter and the living souls which are to come.
1:4 And saw, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the light האוֹר Or, that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete, and made a distinction, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, between the light האוֹר Or and the darkness הַחֹשֶׁךְ hachoshekh:
Before distinguishing between light and darkness, God sees that the light is good. The light is a representation of all that is good.
Distinctions are made throughout the creative process of God. In Hebrew thought the distinguishing of things is not the same as the separation of things. As mentioned previously, darkness is not the absence of light, rather it is a creation of The Light of God:
“If I say, ‘surely the חֹשֶׁךְ choshekh (darkness) shall cover me’; even the לילה laylah (night, spiralling darkness) shall beאור Or (light) surrounding me.”
–Psalms 139:11 [Author’s translation]
1:5 And proclaimed וַיִּקְרָ֨א Vayikra אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the light, “day” יוֹם yom, and the darkness הַחֹשֶׁךְ choshekh, אֱלֹהִים Elohim proclaimed, “night, spiralling darkness” לָיְלָה laylah and it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom one אֶחָד echad. [אֶחָד echad is a cardinal masculine Hebrew number that is also the Hebrew root meaning, “complex and intense unity”].
The light and darkness are named for identity and purpose. They are the first to be distinguished between and the naming of them establishes a foundation for the days of creation. We note that light is named first, followed by darkness, however the days are recorded in terms of evening and morning. This is a Hebrew format for measuring days that understands the evening as the beginning of the first 12 hours of a day and the morning as the beginning of the second 12 hours, thus it’s a Hebraic formula for a 24 hour day.
While in captivity in Egypt prior to the revelation of God’s Word at Sinai, the Israelites witnessed the worship of the Sun god Ra at the dawn of each day as the Sun rose and in the evening of each day as it set. As a counterpoint to this the text of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis given months after Israel’s escape from Egypt, shows the days as being subject to God and their rhythm follows the order of creation, “Darkness and light” in order to remind the Israelites of God’s sovereignty over all creation.
Some suggest that day one of creation is not the first day of creation but merely a first day of creation. They seek to affirm the misreading, “When God began to create”, however this position becomes untenable when we note that the Hebrew, אחד echad is the masculine cardinal number rather than the masculine ordinal Hebrew form used for the remaining five days of creation. This makes day one unique and establishes it as the first day of God’s creating.
The Hebrew, אחד echad is also the Hebrew root meaning, “complex and intense unity”. This same word is used to describe a single bunch of grapes or an army going out as, “one man” (Numbers 14:15). It is also used to describe the complex unity of God in the Shema (Deut. 6:4), the central prayer of the Jewish faith. While we cannot say that this first day is longer than 24 hours (Evening & morning), we can say that in some mysterious way, this day is a complex and intense unity.
1:6 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Be, atmosphere, the visible arch of the sky” by severing the waters and becoming distinct between the waters and from the waters.
Thus the trifold rhythm of command, see and name, continues. This verse describes the vault of the sky as seen from the earth in an arch over the globe. Job 37:8 refers to the sky as being as, “hard as a mirror” and the prophet Isaiah notes that it’s like, “a tent (ohel)” (Isaiah 40:22).
This dividing of the waters foreshadows HaShem’s deliverance of Israel (red sea) and the nations (baptism/immersion of Yeshua). The distinguishing between the waters also conveys a sense of the clear boundaries set in place in order to produce the ideal environment for life on earth.
As a mirror, the sky reflects our actions back to us, as a tent, it reminds us that we’re dwelling under the loving protection of God, and in the dividing of the waters we see that God, knowing the end from the beginning, had already prepared our escape from sin, just as He had already prepared Israel’s escape from captivity in Egypt through the divided waters of the red sea.
1:7 And made וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the atmosphere, the visible arch of the sky, and distinguished it between the waters that were below the atmosphere and the waters that were above, and the atmosphere came into existence (stood upright).
God, made/moulded/fashioned, the sky. The Hebrew וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as (and constructing from something) is used here rather than the Hebrew בָּרָא bara (to create from nothing), why? Because God acts in His creation to form it in relationship to Himself. Those who claim a hands off approach by the Creator are hard pressed to refute the plain meaning of the text. We are told that God not only made the elements for the creation of things from that which did not exist, He also fashioned the elements into completed things. This has a great deal to say to us as followers of Messiah and children of HaShem. From the beginning, in the very process of His creation, He shows us the foundation of our security in Him by promising to complete that which He has begun in us.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a טוב goodהעבודה work in you will carry it on to ישלים completion, perfecting until the יום day of המשיח ישוע Ha-Mashiyach Yeshua (The Messiah Jesus).”
–Philippians 1:6 [Author’s translation]
The writer of the letter to the Philippians understood the rhythm of creation and its relationship to the life of the individual believer and the community of faith. Note that God will complete, perfect the work He has begun, just as He did in the creation. In addition we see the correlation presented by the terms, יום yom and טוב tov.
Just as the sky, when complete, stood upright; all things were created for the purpose of standing upright.
1:8 And proclaimed וַיִּקְרָ֨א Vayikra אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the atmosphere, “Sky waters”, and it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom two שֵׁנִי sheiniy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
Some pay a great deal of attention to the fact that the Masoretic Hebrew text of this verse does not include the phrase, “God saw that it was good”. The Septuagint (Greek Manuscript translated by Jewish Rabbis in the 3rd century BCE) includes the phrase, however, even if it were not included, in the end the result is the same, “God saw all that He had made and that it was exceedingly good” (Gen. 1:31).
Rashi (RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki the 11th Century Jewish Rabbi and Scholar) in his commentary on the Torah (Chumash) explains that in the case of the בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis account there is a profound correlation between the Hebrew, טוב tov (good) and the Hebrew, טמים tamiym (complete, perfect, innocent, without blemish). He explains further that the reason the Hebrew text of verse 8 does not include the phrase, “Elohim saw that it was good (complete)”, is because the waters (atmosphere included) were begun on the second day but weren’t completed until the third day, at which time the text says, “and saw Elohim, it was good.” Therefore the completion of each proclamation is sealed by the naming of the created entities and the statement, “and saw Elohim, it was good (complete, perfected, without blemish).”
Concerning day two, we are again faced with the debate regarding the Hebrew word, יום yom and the numbering of the days. While it is true that the word יום yom can sometimes be used to refer to periods of indefinite length (Joshua 13:1; 24:31; 1 Samuel 14:18; Job 32:7), it is not the common meaning, nor would it have been understood this way by the Hebrews who received the proto-Hebrew text (not hieroglyphic but alphabetic) at Sinai. Furthermore, the phrase, “Evening and morning”, as previously stated, is understood by the Hebrew to refer to the division of two 12 hour time periods that make up a standard 24 hour day יום yom.
We now note, that day two uses an ordinal, rather than cardinal Hebrew number, שֵׁנִי sheiniy. This gives the original Hebrew reader the sense of the weekly rhythm that comes with counting off the days. In fact this is still the way we count the days of the week. With the exception of the first day (which uses the cardinal number אחד echad), the remainder of the creation week uses the same ordinal numbering as modern Hebrew, “Yom sheiniy, yom sh’lishiy, yom re’vi’iy, yom chamishiy, yom shiyshiy, Shabbat”.
Therefore both the ancient and modern Hebrew reader understand the days, as read literally, to refer to 24 hour days making up the same week, devoid of any intermediary gaps of time or undetermined lengths of time. This refutes the claim by some that the days of creation are ordinal with gaps between them and denies the possibility of the days being of great length.
It’s worth noting that although days 1 through 6 are masculine, the Hebrew Seventh (called Shabbat in Exodus 20:11) is feminine. The creation account begins with the feminine presence of God’s Ruach (Spirit), brooding and relaxed like a mother eagle over creation and ends with the feminine Shabbat (rest, ceasing) of God being imparted to creation as a gift purchased by His work. With this in mind we can understand creation to have both begun and been completed in the rest, wholeness, completeness, well-being of God.
It seems abundantly clear that Moshe understood these days as literal days that connected the rest of God to the rest of His people Israel. A sign that continues to this day, as we read from our siddurim (prayer books) on the eve of every Shabbat:
“For in six days יָמִים yamim HaShem made עָשָׂה asah the sky waters הַשָּׁמַיִם and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and on the seventh day He ceased and rested: wherefore HaShem blessed the Shabbat day, and made it holy.”
–Exodus 20:11 [Author’s translation]
“The children of Israel shall keep the Shabbat, to observe the Shabbat throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days HaShem made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he ceased, and was refreshed.”
–Exodus 31:16-17 [Author’s translation]
1:9 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “bind together the waters below the sky waters, uniting them in one place, appearing, the dry ground existed, it was so (stood upright).
This is a pictorial way of describing the formation of the seas into which the waters of the rivers and lakes flow. Water plays a key part in the creation. We are reminded elsewhere that the earth was formed out of water (2 Peter 3:5) and “founded… on the seas” (Psalm 24:2), and that the waters are not to cross the boundaries set for them (Psalm 104:7-9; Jeremiah 5:22).
1:10 And proclaimed וַיִּקְרָ֨א Vayikra אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the dry ground, “Earth” אֶרֶץ eretz, and the וּלְמִקְוֵה mikveih (gathering together) of the waters הַמַּיִם ha-mayim, He proclaimed, “Seas” יַמִּים yamiym, and saw אֱלֹהִים Elohim, it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete.
The proclamation of God names the earth and the seas with a calling and purpose far beyond the days of creation. The אֶרֶץ eretz (earth) will one day be walked upon by One Who will be of the עם הארץ Am Ha-aretz (common people of the land), and the waters, which are being gathered מִקְוֵה mikveih, are a foreshadowing, not only of Israel’s escape through the red sea but also of the Biblical and now modern immersion ritual of tevilah in the mikveih (immersion pool).
When we are immersed into Yeshua (Jesus) in the mikveih of His immersion, we are participating in the gathering of the waters that He participated in from the beginning.
1:11 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Sprout forth from the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz vegetation, glistening shoots bearing fertile seed and fruit trees with fruit פְּרִי p’riy, bearing fruit according to their species (kind) on the earth,” existing, it was so (stood upright). 1:12 And breaking out of the land, vegetation, glistening shoots, fertile seed and fruit according to their species (kind), and trees bearing fruit with fertile seed according to their species (kind), and seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim perceived that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete. 1:13 And it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom three שְׁלִישִֽׁי shliyshiy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
Day three sees the climatic provision of plant life and food in preparation for the inhabitants of the earth that will soon come. It’s interesting to note that while the text of בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1 is a general overview of creation, it none the less takes time to give certain details, like the fact that the plant life is created, brought into existence according to its kind/species. This is one of the many aspects of the בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis account that makes the position held by theistic evolutionists untenable nonsense. The order of creation aside, there is no room in the text for the evolution of species because the species are created complete according to their kind. They break forth from the earth, seeded by God, Who has made (asah) them, forming them and participating in their unique structure and growth.
1:14 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Exist luminous bodies, in the expanse (space) above the sky waters, distinguishing between the day יוֹם yom and the night לָיְלָה laylah and become signs for the seasons of holy gatherings מוֹעֲדִים moadim, and for days, and years.”
Notice that the command and purpose of the luminaries are intrinsically linked. Their purpose is so important that it is stated within the names given to the periods they govern (1: 5). In fact the luminaries themselves are not named. This is because they were worshipped by Israel’s contemporaries (at the time of her escape from Egypt) as masculine and feminine deities. In the Genesis creation account therefore, they remain nameless as servants of HaShem.
1:15 And they came into existence to serve in the expanse (space) above the sky waters, to give the light over the earth, existing, it was so (stood upright).
Not only do these luminaries serve HaShem, they also serve the earth and its inhabitants. This doubling of servitude seems intended to make clear their subordinate position as created entities rather than deities.
1:16 And making וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as אֱלֹהִים Elohim, the two luminous bodies which were large, He made the light that was greater to govern the day, and the light that was smaller to govern the night and the stars, rolling, round, pin pricks, blazing, shining.
We note yet again that God, יַּעַשׂ yaas made the two luminous bodies out of the elements He has בָּרָא bara (created from nothing). This affirms His active and continuing, “hands on” role in the creative process. As alluded to earlier this simple Hebrew word, עשה asah refutes presumptuous ontological arguments that suggest a hands off, non-participatory approach from God following the creation of the original elements.
1:17 And gave them, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, to be the light in the expanse, visible arch of the sky, above the sky waters, to be light over the earth.
We now observe the giving of the luminaries as light sources for the earth.
1:18 And to govern in the day and in the night, and to distinguish between the light and the darkness, seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete. 1:19 And it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom four רְבִיעִי reviy’iy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
The luminaries, having been defined by servitude, are now gifted as governors of day and night and as signs of the distinct nature of light and darkness. God sees that this is good.
1:20 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Breed in the waters small creatures, with souls נֶפֶשׁ nefesh that are living, and let birds that fly be over the earth on the face of the expanse in the sky waters.
It’s at this point that the English understanding of the word, “soul” needs to be revised to meet the Hebrew understanding. Where Hebrew uses the word, נֶפֶשׁ nefesh (soul) it is speaking, not of the indefinable part of the human existence but of the centre of every living being. It does not in and of itself indicate consciousness or intellect. The נֶפֶשׁ nefesh (soul) of an animal is the convergence of all its parts, however, this does not indicate intellect or consciousness as it does in the sense of the human נשמה neshamah (soul/breath). The difference is clarified in the second chapter of Genesis by the very specific action of God in directly breathing His Spirit into humanity, something He did not do in the case of plant or animal life.
Thus when we read of the creation of water creatures and birds who have soul life נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה nefesh chayah, we understand that they are the sum of their parts, but that there parts do not equal the parts of the human being.
1:21 And creating from nothing בָּרָא bara, אֱלֹהִים Elohim made sea creatures that were large, and all soul life כָּל־נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַחַיָּה kol-nefesh hachayah that glides, which wriggles and breeds in the waters, according to their species (kinds), and all birds with wings according to their species (kinds), and seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, perceived that it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete.
It's worth noting that these creatures are being created from nothing בָּרָא bara. This is another problem for evolutionary theory which requires microorganisms to pre-exist. Organisms that are somehow, without being self-aware, able to evolve and form into ordered, autonomous life forms. Utter nonsense!
Again, each creature is created according to its own species/kind, completed at the hand of God, unique and suited to their environments. Any form of adaption that happens following this does not qualify as evolution except in the case where modern science calls adaption “micro-evolution”, which is simply a manipulative term used by evolutionary theory to replace the more accurate term. This change in terminology seems to have come about in order to try and bring some credibility back to the now untenable position of macro-evolution.
1:22 And blessing them, אֱלֹהִים Elohim said, “Bear fruit, increase, fill the waters of the sea and birds increase in the earth. 1:23 And it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom five חֲמִישִׁי cha’mishiy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number].
The blessing to increase and be fruitful is pronounced over the animal life first as a foundation for the blessing that the creatures of the earth will be to humanity. It’s interesting to note that this blessing relates to sexual procreation. It has not been pronounced over vegetative plant life but over living חיה chayah souls נֶפֶשׁ nefesh.
1:24 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Break out on the earth, souls living according to species (kind) as non-speaking beasts and reptiles and strong beasts of the earth according to their species (kind), existing, it was so (stood upright).
This verse explains that the beasts being created are without higher intellect and have not had the Ruach (Spirit) directly imparted to them. They are souls, the sum of their parts, but they do not have the same standing in the order of creation as humanity will have. In fact, with regard to the order of creation, these beasts, like the plant life before them, are intended for the service of humanity. We note again that they are created according to their kinds, ready for the environment that has been provided for them prior to their existence.
1:25 And made וַיַּעַשׂ vaya’as אֱלֹהִים Elohim, alive on the earth, according to their species (kind) animals; הַבְּהֵמָה habehemah (strong mammals) according to their species (kind), and all reptiles and things that creep on the land הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah according to their species (kind), and seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim perceived it was טוֹב tov good, whole, complete.
The verb יַּעַשׂ yaas (make), is again used to show God’s moulding of these creatures, which include הַבְּהֵמָה habehemah, strong, large animals. For the first time we see the distinction made that the reptiles and crawling species are on הָאֲדָמָה ha-adamah (the land), rather than הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz (the earth), the earth being the globe and the land being the dry ground spoken of previously.
1:26 And commanded וַיֹּאמֶר vayomer אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Let us make humanity אָדָם adam in our image (to resemble us), shaped, modelled on us, having authority to rule, (subjugate, tread down) over the fish in the sea and the bird life of the sky waters and over all of the dumb, mute, non-speaking creatures without higher intellect, of the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz, and all the reptiles and creeping, gliding, creatures on the earth.
The voice of God now speaks using the plural phrase, “Let us make עשה asah”. Some attempt to attribute this to the heavenly court, angels/messengers, who are also created beings (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2, 5; Colossians 1:16-17), though they are not mentioned specifically in בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1. However, we read in the following verse that the creation of humanity is a בָּרָא bara (creating from nothing) act, which can only be performed by God Himself. Therefore the phrase, “Let us make humanity in our image” can only refer to the God-head. The, “us, our” refers to the Father יהוה, the Son הבן and רוח הקודש The Holy Spirit. All of Whom are present in the first two verses of Genesis 1.
1:27 And creating from nothing בָּרָא bara, אֱלֹהִים Elohim made the specific singular human אֶת־הָאָדָם et ha’adam in His image (to resemble him), in the image of אֱלֹהִים Elohim He created from nothing, him (humanity); male and female, He created from nothing, them.
The structure of this verse is both poetic and precise. The Hebrew בָּרָא bara (creating from nothing) is used three times. It is a singular verb whose subject is the Singular God of the universe. He, Who is three persons (distinct but not separate) creates, humanity, male and female.
It’s important to understand that human beings, who are made from nothing via the soil (adamah), which we will examine in the next chapter, are like God in many ways, however, we are not God. We are elohim (judges, rulers, gods in a comparative sense regarding the other entities in creation), but we are not האלוהים Ha-Elohim, the God. God is invisible, we are not, God is all existing past, present and future, we are not, God is sovereign over all things, and we are not, and so on.
So how are we to understand being made in the image of God? There are many things that reflect God’s image, likeness, form, in us:
a.) We have a unity of Spirit, Intellect and Body, God is Father, Son and Spirit.
b.) We have been given authority over the creation, God is Sovereign over all things.
c.) We are creative by nature, God is The Creator.
d.) We are drawn to relationship with one another, God existed in relationship before the creation of the universe.
The list goes on and on. Since human beings are made in the likeness of God there are certain truths that follow. Being in God’s image we have great worth and honour in His creation. We are neither to be murdered (Genesis 9:6, not the same as killed) nor cursed (James 3:9).
Image and likeness are synonymous terms and allude to a number of characteristics inherent in human beings:
a.) Righteousness/Holiness (Ephesians 4:24)
b.) Knowledge (Colossians 3:10)
We further note that just as God is אחד echad (a complex unity), we are made as individuals יחד yachad (from the same root and carrying the same meaning but in the past tense). Iyov, the prophet Job explains this beautifully saying:
“Your hands have shaped me through suffering, fashioned me as יחד yachad a complex unity…”
The Lamb of God slain before the creation of the world (Rev. 13:8) reveals God’s suffering on our behalf long before the problem of sin existed. This is a transcendent expression of the resurrected and therefore trans-locational Son of God.
The prophet Job is speaking of his own suffering in the context of the verse I’ve quoted, however, Job later came to understand that God had suffered with him and in him throughout his ordeal. As followers of Messiah we are grateful for both His suffering and His victory (Romans 6:4-5). We are more than conquerors in Him (Romans 8:37), and He continues to share in our temporal suffering (Heb. 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21).
While we were created holy and without sin, as a result of the fall we now need to be conformed to the image of Messiah Yeshua, the second Adam (Romans 8:29). And will one day be fully like Him, returning to the state of our beginning (1 John 3:2).
1:28 And blessing them, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, said to them אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Be fruitful, increase, and fill the earth and rule, (subjugate, tread down) over the fish in the sea and the bird life of the sky waters and over all of the non-speaking creatures of the earth הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz, and all the reptiles and creeping, gliding, creatures on the earth.
As the pinnacle of creation, humanity is blessed to rule over it. We are physical representatives of the invisible God, created to represent Him in relationship to other creatures. We were created in the image of the King of the universe and have therefore received the privilege of kingship from Him.
1:29 And said אֱלֹהִים Elohim, “Behold הִנֵּה hineih now, listen, pay attention, be prepared, I give you every glistening shoot, seed bearing plant and vegetable which is on the face of all the earth, all the trees that bear fruit and the plants that produce seed are yours, to be food (eating) for you.
This verse seems to indicate that prior to sins entry into the world, human beings were vegans. It seems impossible that humans ate animal flesh prior to the fall because it would have involved death, which we are told was not present until after the fall (Romans 5:12).
1:30 And all the animals of the earth and all the birds of the sky waters, and all the creatures that glide, creep and crawl on the earth, and soul life, all of it, to them I give the glistening shoots and young grassy vegetation to devour as food, existing, it was so (stood upright).
For the same reasons stated above, it seems that all animal life was also sustained by vegetation prior to the entry of sin into the world.
1:31 And seeing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, that all which He had made עָשָׂה asah was וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹד v’hineih tov meod behold, now, exceedingly good, whole, complete, and it was evening עֶרֶב erev and there was morning בֹקֶר boker, day יוֹם yom the sixth השִּׁשִּי hashiyhiy [Hebrew masculine ordinal number with the definite article].
Having completed His creation week God looks upon His creation and sees that all He has made is וְהִנֵּה־ט֖וֹב מְאֹד v’hineih tov meod behold, now, exceedingly good, whole, complete.
We note that the Sixth day is no “a day” but “the sixth day”. The Hebrew text uses the definite article “ה” for day six and the determiner “את” for day seven. Therefore, while they are ordinal days they are very specific in nature and hence require a definite article and determiner respectively.
These days are emphasized because they are the days on which God created humanity and then ceased and rested with humanity prior to the unfolding of the chronology of time. All parents might learn a valuable lesson from the Creator here. It’s while our children are young that we are to take pause and invest in the founding of godly relationship to our children. Let’s choose to send them out into the world fuelled with the love and justice of God, the in filling of His Spirit through Yeshua and the guide book for life, the Bible.
2:1 And all the sky waters and the earth, everything was completed and vast. 2:2 And everything אֱלֹהִים Elohim, in the day seven, finished, from the work He had been making עָשָׂה asah, and He ceased His work in the day seven, from all the works which He had made עָשָׂה asah.
God ceased from His work and rested because all that was formless had been formed and all that was empty had been filled. He rested as an example to the crowning glory of His creation, humanity.
The rhythm of work and rest is imparted to creation from the beginning. Work is not striving for the unreachable and rest is not laziness, to the contrary, there is joy in the work of God and peace in His rest.
We note that prior to God setting us to work in creation He gives us rest (the Shabbat). Rest is not the solution to overwork, rather it is the foundation for work. Rest is the beginning of work intended as a time of strengthening and fuelling rather than an ambulance at the bottom of that all too familiar fall from a cliff called “burnout”. God was at rest in Himself prior to His beginning to create. Once again, He is the example of how we should walk.
Yeshua alludes to the intention of God from the beginning when He says:
“The Shabbat was made for human beings, not human beings for the Shabbat.”
–Mark 2:27 [Author’s translation]
This final day of the creation week is called, אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י et yom hashviyiy “The day the seventh”, from the Hebrew root, שבע sheva seven, which denotes abundant blessing, fullness and completion.
The determiner “את” is employed for day seven rather than the definite article “ה” because day seven is to be distinguished from day six even while sharing specificity in common with it. Day six was a day of work, whereas day seven is a day for rest and the strengthening of relationship.
“For in six days HaShem made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day: wherefore HaShem blessed the Shabbat day, and made it holy.”
–Exodus 20:11 [Author’s translation]
2:3 And blessing, אֱלֹהִים Elohim, made it, the specific day the seventh אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י et yom hashviyiy, a holy day וַיְקַדֵּשׁ vakadeish, because on the Shabbat שָׁבַת He ceased from all the works created from nothing בָּרָא bara which אֱלֹהִים Elohim had made לַעֲשׂוֹת la’asot.
So as to leave no doubt as to the hands on participation of the Creator, this concluding verse explains that God ceased from creating from nothing, all the works that He had made.
The בְּרֵאשִית Bereishit, Genesis 1:1-2:3 account begins and ends in the brooding, relaxing, rest, wholeness, well-being, and peace of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
©2023 Yaakov (Brown) Ben Yehoshua
Yaakov (Brown) Ben Yehoshua, founder and spiritual leader of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community, presents a series of in depth studies of books of the Bible. Yaakov approaches the text from a Messianic Jewish perspective, revealing seldom considered translational alternatives and unique insights into the timeless nature of the Word of God as it applies to the redemptive work of the King Messiah Yeshua.