A description of unity devoid of jealousy, sexuality without sin, observation without criticism, self-love without self-loathing, confidence without pride, enjoyment devoid of regret and contentment born of the joy that comes from wanting what we have.
It’s a mistake to call 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 (4-6) link the account to the meta-account of Gen 1, by citing the first day (the heavens and the earth) and using it as a reference to 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 Genesis, the proposed redactive theory citing 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 perceived in discrepancies are easily explained.
This chapter expounds upon the beginning of the generations of humanity as seeded through one man, created bara (from nothing) through dust and by the breath of HaShem. A man of earth and heaven, a foreshadowing of the 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 compplex unity (echad). The woman is not a subordinate creature, rather she is the glory of creation, just as man is the glory of G-d through Yeshua. This account affirms gender distinction rather than gender subordination.
“For a man indeed ought not to have his hair fall down around him, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of G-d: but 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 HaShem. For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of G-d. Judge you in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto G-d with her hair tied up? Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering (symbol of kapirot/atonement).” –1 Corinthians 11:7-15
Humanity is thus given the job of caretaker of the created environment, and afforded the G-dly 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 wish to be rabbis (teachers), others wish to be talmidim (students), but the one who is unteachable qualifies for neither position.
The Text (Translated by Yaakov ben Yehoshua)
Gen 2:4a These are the generations (toldot) of the heavens (Ha-Sh’maym) and the earth (Ha-Eretz)
There are a variety of translations of the first section of this verse:
“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, “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 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, “Eileh Toldot” (These are the generations), divides 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 Genesis 2:4-25 mean? It’s true to say that G-d 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, Adam, the man (Ha-Adam, ish), along with his sidekick (an attempt at humour) Chavah, life/living (isha), his wife.
The account of Genesis 1 sets a platform for understanding the rhythm of creation:
Days 1 through 3:
1.) G-d Uncreated
2.) G-d Commands
3.) G-d Creates from nothing
4.) G-d Forms the created substance
5.) G-d Names the created environment
Days 4 through 6:
1.) G-d Uncreated
2.) G-d Commands
3.) G-d Creates from nothing
4.) G-d Forms the created creature
5.) G-d Names the created creature
This rhythm reflects a generational cycle that is further illuminated through the detailed account of the sixth day, described in Genesis 2. Additionally, it shows that G-d 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 Genesis 1, the habitat and inhabitant cycle it presents, and the naming of the subjects in the latter section of Genesis 2, we should understand the first phrase of 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 (bara), in the day (B’yom) of the making (asah) when HaShem (YHVH) Elohim made earth (Eretz) and heavens (Sh’maym),
“The day” (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 previous verse’s use of Toldot (Generations).
Just as in the former account, Genesis 2:4 continues the rhythm of using bara (created from nothing) and asah (formed out of something) to denote G-d’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 G-d and allow for humanist assertions regarding the universe and the human race.
Genesis 2:4, is the first place in the Torah (Books of Moses) where the Holy personal name of G-d YHVH is used along with the generic title Elohim:
“HaShem (YHVH) Elohim”. This composite name is important because it is an expression of the intimate relationship within the G-d head and G-d’s love poured out on humanity. In the former account G-d Elohim (Judge), is the King and Judge over creation, but here He is revealing His Mercy and eternal pre-existence. The Hebrew YHVH is unpronounceable, it denotes Divine mercy. When we read the Holy proper noun YHVH (In worship we use “Adonai” and in practice, “HaShem”: The Name) alongside the generic Elohim (Judge), we understand G-d to be our Merciful Judge. This unity of Love and Justice illustrates the great depths of our security in Him.
The Holy Name YHVH, also denotes the eternal, pre-existent, uncreated nature of G-d. The rabbis note that the Hebrew phrase, “HaYaH HoVeH V’YeeH’YeiH” (Who was and is and is to come) uses only the consonants of the Holy Name, they teach therefore that the Holy Name conveys the eternal nature of G-d, Who was, is and is to come.
Gen 2:5 And every plant of the plain before it was (hayah) on the earth (B’eretz), and every glistening shoot, herb, grass, of the plain before it sprouted: it had not been sent the rain by HaShem (YHVH) Elohim upon the earth (Ha-Eretz) and humanity (adam) didn’t exist to work the ground (Ha-adamah).
“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 1:2 in order to link this detailed account of humanity to the meta-creation story. The intent of G-d’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 G-d haven constructed and purposed by G-d for humanity’s good.
Gen 2:6 And mist ascended from the earth (Ha-Eretz), and gave drink to the whole face of the ground (Ha-adamah).
“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 1:2, covering the face of the earth. This is to show the relationship between the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) brooding over the formless world and the breathing spirit (neeshmat) that will give humanity life (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 verse 7.
Gen 2:7 And formed, HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the man (Ha-Adam) of the dust, mortar, ore, powder, dry earth of the ground (Ha-adamah), and breathed, blew (vayeefach) into his nostrils the breath, spirit (neeshmat) of living (chaiyim); and became the man (Ha-Adam) a soul (l’nefesh) living (Chayah) life form.
“And creating from nothing, Elohim made the 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 G-d’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), and describes the joining of the dust of the earth and the breath of the heavens (G-d’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 G-d’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. G-d gives of Himself in order to create humanity. This rhythm of story and action continues today in the very essence of Judaism. Every Shabbat, while remembering the creation of the universe and G-d’s rest, we light the candles of observance and remembrance and tell (Haggadah) the story of creation in order to act out (Halakhah) it’s goal, peace and rest in G-d through Yeshua (Jesus).
The breath of G-d imparted to the man has a counterpoint in 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):” –John 20:22
It’s important to note that the, “breath, spirit (neeshmat)” 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 is by the common grace of G-d that each of us continues to have life in a world that is affected by sin and death.
This is confirmed by the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT):
“So also it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living soul (nefesh)’. The last Adam (Yeshua) became a life-giving spirit (Ruach).” –1 Corinthians 15:45
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, echad (a complex and intense unity).
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 one action of G-d, rather than over millennia, as the theory of evolution claims. It is 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 is important to note that this detailed description of the creation of humanity begins with an individual man (Ha-Adam). The Hebrew uses the determiner, “Ha” so as to leave no doubt as to the individual nature of this person. He is the man, and not a humanity.
Gen 2:8 And planted HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, a garden in Eden (ayden) delight, pleasure, to the east; to put there the man (Ha-Adam) 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 for the man to utilize his heart, mind and strength in G-dly perfection.
The phrase, “a garden in Eden to the east” makes it clear that Eden is a location and not only a symbol. 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.
Gen 2:9 And causing to sprout HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, from the ground (Ha-adamah) all trees pleasant in appearance, and good for food; and tree the living (eytz ha-Chayim) in the midst of the garden, and tree the knowledge of good (tov) and evil (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 composite 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.
Gen 2:10 And a river went out of Eden (ayden) 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 Pishon and Gihon remain a mystery.
Gen 2:11 The name of the first (echad) is Peeshon: it (he) that flows around the whole land (eretz) of the Havilah sandy land, where there is gold;
Gen 2:12 And the gold of the land (eretz) it (he) is good (tov): there is the bedolach resin, and stone is precious.
Gen 2:13 And the name of the river, second (sh’nee) is Gichon: it (he) that flows around the whole land (eretz) of the Cush, Black.
Gen 2:14 And the name of the river, third (Sh’leeshee) is Chiddekel: it (he) that flows forward to the east of Ashoor, Assyria. And the river fourth (r’vee’ee) it (he) is Perat, fruitfulness, Euphrates.
It is 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 Babylon with Cush 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 is 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, HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the man (Ha-Adam), and placing him to rest in the garden of Eden, delight, pleasure, to work, serve and to keep it, watching over it.
G-d 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 we are being made holy (set apart). Our destination is the rest of G-d.
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).
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 G-d, an extension of His sovereignty and a reflection of His image, likeness.
Gen 2:16 And commanded, HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the man (Ha-Adam), saying, “Every tree of the garden consume, freely eat:
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good (tov) and evil (ra), don’t eat from it: for in the day you consume from it, death will put to death, bring the killing.
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 itself literally says, “in the day you consume from it, death will put to death, bring the killing.” While it is true that Adam and 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:
“Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:” –Romans 5:12
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 HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, saying, It’s not good (lo tov) that becoming, the man (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, “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, “G-d saw everything that He had made, and behold it was “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 G-d’s image because G-d was in relationship from before the creation of the world. The G-d head Father, Son and Spirit are a relational composite unity. Therefore man, who has received a soul life through the imparting of the breath of G-d’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 G-d through the act of unifying his flesh with the woman. This relational bond reflects the fullness of the G-d head, thus illuminating the greater meaning of image and likeness.
Gen 2:19 And had formed HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, from the ground (Ha-adamah) every living thing of the plain, and every flying thing of the sky waters; and He brought them to the man (Ha-Adam) to see what he would call them: and what called every soul (nefesh) living (Chayah), the man (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, G-d was further imparting His likeness/image to humanity. This act reflects the naming by G-d 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 G-d in creation. Yet another foreshadowing of the Messiah.
Gen 2:20 And proclaimed, the man (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 G-d over the created elements. In naming the animals the man Adam affirms their identity and purpose just as G-d 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 humanities unique role in creation. Through the process of naming the animals G-d 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, HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man (Ha-Adam), and he slept: and he took one (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 1:7. It is not conveying a new creation so much as an extension of the creation begun in the man Adam.
This deep sleep is reminiscent of Genesis 15:12, where the Patriarch Abram falls into a deep sleep and G-d 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 (Ha-Ivri) seems fitting.
The side or rib (singular) is called, “achat” 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, HaShem (YHVH) Elohim, the side, rib, which He had taken from the man (Ha-Adam), into a woman (Ishah), and brought her to the man (Ha-Adam).
The woman is established, formed, and complete, and is brought to the man by G-d, 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 (Ha-Adam) said, This (f) is now bone, essence of my bones, essence, and flesh of my flesh: she will be called Woman (Ishah), because out of man (m’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 (ish) rejoices in naming her, “Ishah” recognizing both her connection to him and her uniqueness.
The text leaves unanswered the reason why man is called, “ish”. This word comes from the Hebrew root, “eish” meaning fire. Fire is said to symbolize man’s uniqueness within the created order. We are reminded that the Spirit of the L-rd is also likened to fire in Scripture and that it is 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 Yod from YaH is added to Eish (fire) to form EeYsh (man) and the Hey from YaH is added to Ish (man) to form IshaH (woman). It is said that this symbolizes the need for G-d to be present in a marriage, in order to facilitate true unity and peace.
If G-d (YaH) is removed from their respective titles, they are both left with 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 (B’ishati): to become of flesh, one (echad, masculine cardinal number: root meaning composite and intense unity).
The role of a husband is beautifully illustrated here. From the beginning G-d intended marriage to be a living example of the unity of His Divine relationship, within the G-d head, with ethnic Israel, with the ecclesia.
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 G-d has joined together, let no person tear apart.”
The wider implications of the Hebrew, “Davak” cleave, speak immutable security to the marriage relationship that is held together in the Spirit of G-d through Messiah Yeshua. The bar is set high for the man/husband, why? Because it is the measure of our Messiah, Who, as the Groom of the ecclesia, has given up His life for His bride.
Gen 2:25 Existing, the two (sh’nayim: cardinal masculine) were naked, bare, smooth, to beware, prudent, (arumim) the man (Ha-Adam) and his wife (v’ishati), and were not ashamed, disconcerted, embarrassed.
The Hebrew, “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, “eirom” denoting the division that had come between the man and the woman as a result of sin. Sin had divided what G-d had made one (echad). This is why Yeshua (Jesus) uses the example of the pre-fall unity of the man and the woman, as a rebuke to those 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 G-d because it defiles the greatest 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-loathing, confidence without pride, enjoyment devoid of regret and contentment born of the joy that comes from wanting what we have.
© 2016 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.