Genesis 2:4 - 3:1
The opening words of verse 4 must be specially noted, since they indicate the second of the eleven sections into which the book is divided. As printed in our modern Bibles the chapters number 50, but ten times do we find this expression "These are the generations . . ." (with once a slight variation), showing that, as given by inspiration of God, the chapters number eleven.
We will point out these inspired divisions at once, so that from the outset we may have them clearly before us. They are as follows:—
Genesis 1: 1—Genesis 2: 3, which we have already considered, we may designate as—The Beginning.
Genesis 2: 4—Genesis 4: 26, Generations of heavens and earth.
Genesis 5: 1—Genesis 6: 8, Generations of Adam.
Genesis 6: 9—Genesis 9: 29, Generations of Noah.
Genesis 10: 1—Genesis 11: 9, Generations of sons of Noah.
Genesis 10: 10—Genesis 11: 26; Generations of Shem.
Genesis 11: 27—Genesis 25: 11, Generations of Terah.
Genesis 25: 12—Genesis 25: 18, Generations of Ishmael.
Genesis 25: 19—Genesis 35: 29, Generations of Isaac.
Genesis 36: 1—Genesis 37: 1, Generations of Esau.
Genesis 37: 2—Genesis 50: 26, Generations of Jacob.
The word translated "generations" occurs but sparingly in the Old Testament; apart from Genesis mainly in Numbers 1, and in certain chapters in 1 Chronicles, and it seems to have the force of "births," or "origins." If this be so, "the generations of the heavens and the earth" would signify their origins; whereas the generations of Adam, Noah, etc., would signify those who by birth found their origin in these respective patriarchs.
It is possible that Moses, the inspired penman of Genesis, was led to use existing records left by the patriarchs, in so far as they suited the Divine purpose, and also that he was led to indicate it in this way. From Genesis 5: 1, onwards, we have a Divinely given history of things, that may well have been taken from humanly recorded tablets of most ancient date, just as again and again in the Books of Kings and Chronicles we have allusions to the other books of reference written by prophets and scribes.
Two other remarks we make. First, what we may call the rejected line is always mentioned first; then the accepted line: Adam before Noah: The sons of Noah before Shem: Ishmael before Isaac; Esau before Jacob. Thus from the outset do we see indicated what is so clear in the New Testament, and plainly stated in Hebrews 10: 9, "He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second."
Then, second, we note that chronology is always confined to the selected line. God only counts the years in regard to these while the others He leaves unregistered. This is in keeping with what we find in Matthew 1, where in the fourteen generations between David and the captivity, kings who apostatized over Baal are omitted. God's thoughts and ways in these matters are not what ours would naturally be.
In verse 4 also we notice a change in the Divine Name: not now, as in Genesis 1, "God," (Elohim), but "LORD God," (Jehovah Elohim); and this name characterizes the whole passage to the end of Genesis 3. Based on this fact, the so-called "Higher Critics" many years ago began to build their theories as to Genesis being just a patchwork composition by nobody knows whom, but at any rate not written by Moses. The truth is, of course, that the Name is intentionally varied to suit the theme in hand. In Genesis 1 it is God in His supremacy, creating by His word. In Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 it is God placing man, His intelligent and responsible creature, in relation with Himself — whether in his original innocence or afterwards in his fallen condition — hence Jehovah comes in, since this name sets Him forth as self-existing, unvarying, faithful to His covenant, as is shown in Exodus 6: 24. It is exactly the way in which He made Himself known to Moses, the writer of Genesis.
Verses 5-7, of our chapter, give us several additional details of the creation, and of man in particular. Verse 5 emphasizes that the vegetable creation came straight from the hand of God and was not produced by natural causes, such as rain, nor by man's cultivating skill. Verse 6 shows that it was maintained by a mist which rose from the earth itself, without water descending from above. Waters there were "above the firmament" (Genesis 1: 7), but as yet they had not descended as showers on the earth. Not till Genesis 7: 4, do we read of rain. Some think that the watering of the earth by mist and not rain persisted until the time of the flood. It may have been so.
Verse 7 is very important, giving us man's spiritual constitution by God's original creative act. The material part of man—his body—is composed of the elements that are found in the dust of the earth, but there is also the immaterial part. He is a living soul, as were the animals whose creation is recorded in Genesis 1. It is the way in which man became a living soul that altogether distinguishes him from the animal creation. Only man became a living entity by the Lord God breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. As the result of this Divine act man became possessed of spirit as well as soul.
This great act stands good not only for Adam, the first man, but also for all his race. Hence in the book of Job we find Elihu saying, "The Spirit of God hath made me and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33: 4). We all can say the same today. The possession of spirit by the inbreathing of the Almighty is man's distinguishing feature. This act also defined man's relation with his Creator. God is a Spirit and so man, possessing spirit by God's inbreathing, was fitted to represent Him, made in His image, after His likeness, as we saw in Genesis 1.
Man being thus created, a Garden of delights was formed for his dwelling place. The name Eden has the meaning of "Pleasure," and every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food was there, so for the sustainment of life and the giving of pleasure nothing was lacking. Two trees are specially mentioned. The tree of life was surely a witness to the fact that there was a life distinct from that which man already possessed, and that it was put within his reach. On the other hand the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was to remind him of his responsibility, and prove a test to it.
The location of Eden is indicated in verses 10-11. Two of the rivers can easily be identified; the other two very uncertainly. It seems certain that it lay somewhere to the east of the Euphrates, in a district noted for gold and precious stones and fragrant resin—for that is what bdellium is supposed to be.
The Ethiopia of verse 13 is really Cush, of whom we read in Genesis 10: 6. There appears to have been a district bearing his name between Mesopotamia and India, as well as the better known land we now call Abyssinia.
In this Garden man was put, not to be idle and while away his time, but to dress and keep it. Even when in a state of innocence it was not good for man to have nothing to do. There was healthful occupation without hard labour and drudgery.
In our minds we often couple innocence and irresponsibility together; as in the case, for instance of a very small child. In verses 16 and 17, however, we find that Adam though created in a state of innocence was put in a place of responsibility. He had no knowledge of good and evil, so that one tree was forbidden to him, though he might eat freely of every other tree in the garden. He was put under law in the simplest way, for the law consisted of only one commandment and that commandment concerned with only one tree. He might have had many commands given to him of an intricate and confusing nature or alternatively, he might have been forbidden all the trees in the garden save one. As it was, the Divine command was cut down to the barest minimum, just sufficient to keep before him that as the creature he must be subject to the Creator and walk in obedience.
Moreover, he was warned as to the consequence of disobedience. If he acquired the knowledge of good and evil by disobedience, he would be unable to perform the good because enslaved by the evil. This would bring him under the power of death immediately. As we discover in the next chapter, he would not at once suffer the death of the body, which involves the dissolution of existing personality by separating the spiritual part from the material part of man. But he would at once suffer complete severance spiritually and morally from God, his Creator, which is death in its more intense form. In that sense he would die the very day in which he ate of the forbidden tree. To obey the one prohibition was his responsibility.
We are introduced to another great thought of God in verse 18. Man was not created to be an altogether self-sufficient being. He needed not only companionship but an "helpmeet" or "counterpart." We see the goodness of God as well as His wisdom in the way by which the counterpart came into being. The object being the good and profit of Adam, he was allowed to see for himself that no such counterpart existed in the animal creation by the whole range of beasts and fowls being brought before him.
Adam was evidently at the height of his intellectual powers before they had been in any way tarnished by sin. He was able to discern in each case the characteristic feature, so as to give the suitable name, for the names of course were descriptive and not just fancy words meaning nothing. Adam had both intellect and language, with command of speech. And just because he had, he found no counterpart in the animal creation.
In Ephesians 1: 23 we have the church spoken of as not only the "body" but also the "fulness" of Christ; which word signifies "that which fills up" or the "complement." What we have in Genesis is a foreshadowing of this. We must remember that in creating the first man God had the Second Man before Him, and therefore in a number of features Adam was "the figure of Him that was to come" (Rom. 5: 14). At the point we have now reached this figure begins to come clearly before us. The Son of Man is to have a far wider and greater dominion over all creation than ever Adam had, but in that exalted place He is not to be alone, but to have His complement or counterpart.
Hence in verses 22 and 23 we find woman made in a way that is full of typical significance. In the deep sleep we see that which foreshadowed the death of Christ. Woman was a part of man and designed as his counterpart. She was a rib of his body made into a separate being, which could be presented to him. In this was foreshadowed the fact that the church would be both the body and the bride of Christ. It is remarkable too that the word "made" in verse 22 is really "builded" as the margin shows, thus agreeing with the word of our Lord, "I will build My church" (Matt. 16: 18). Ephesians 5: 23-33 is our warrant for the above, and also shows us that God's action here was designed to foreshadow the truth concerning Christ and the church.
In verses 23 and 24 we get a new word used for man. Up to the end of verse 22 the word is always "Adam," and in verses 26-28, of Genesis 1, this word covers both man and woman, for it says, "God created man... male and female created He them." Now we have "Ish," and woman is "Isha," because she is taken out of him, and takes character from him. Here again we see a type fulfilled in Christ and the church. The church is of Christ and takes character from Him. If however 1 Corinthians 12: 12, 13, be read, we find the human body used as an illustration of the body of Christ; but verse 12 ends, not "so also is the body of Christ," but "so also is Christ." Here Christ, or more accurately, " the Christ," is used as a term which includes His body, just as "Adam" was used to include Eve. These things are worthy of note for they emphasize and illustrate the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.
Verse 24 puts on record the thought of God as to marriage from the outset, and to this the Lord Jesus appealed when answering the Pharisees, as recorded in Matthew 19: 3-9. Deviation from this Divine thought and order, or worse still the denial of it, has probably been the cause of more sin and misery in the world than any other single fount of iniquity. When maturity is reached, a man is to leave father and mother and to found a new family, adhering to one woman as his wife. Thus they become one flesh. As we have just seen, Adam and Eve were one flesh to start with, since she was taken out of him.
This Divine ordinance, if observed, is a great protection for woman; needed because she is at a disadvantage compared with man in more ways than one. In the heathen world it is unknown and in consequence woman becomes a mere chattel, bought and sold and misused by man. In some quarters she is regarded as though she were a distinct and inferior species. These errors, and the abuses originating from them, cannot live in the light of the truth we have here. Woman is not only of the same species as man but in her origin was of his very flesh and bone—taken out of man.
The last verse emphasizes how complete was the state of innocence in which they were created. Sin having come in, all is changed. Savages may still be found in a state of almost complete nudity but they are of the most degraded type. The tendency towards it, in lands where the light of the Gospel has been shining, presages a descent into apostasy.
Chapter 3 opens, "Now the serpent was more subtil..." He wormed his way into this fair scene of innocence. How much more easily will he deceive the silly creatures — men and women — who try to behave as though they were innocent when they possess fallen and lustful natures.
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