GENESIS 2:1-25


Genesis 1 is given in parallel symmetry with the first three days of creation serving as a parallel to the latter three days.  In Genesis 2 we find a different sort of symmetrical arrangement.  It is known as a chiasm and the various points of the parallel often find their pivot at the center of the passage.

Notice what is at the center of this chiasm.  It is the prohibition against eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  This prohibition is centrally placed because of the key role it will play in the next chapter.


As we approach Genesis 2, it seems at first as though we are dealing with a totally separate account of creation.  In an initial reading of this chapter, we note that it contains several references to God’s creation that are already described in chapter 1.  Because of this, some have wondered whether the two passages were not written by two different authors.


However closer observation will show that these two chapters form a unit.  Neither account is able to stand complete in itself.


The relationship between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 is easily understood when we consider the literary structure of the entire book of Genesis.


First the less important things are dealt with in a rapid survey.

Then the things that are deemed more important to the theme of the book are studied and developed more fully.


For example, in the account of Jacob and Esau, it is Esau’s story that comes first.  But it is Jacob’s story that is more fully developed and which holds the place of higher importance to the overall theme of the book.


The same is true of these first two chapters of Genesis.  This will be seen as we take the two chapters and contrast them.


Genesis 1

Genesis 2

Gives a brief outline of God’s creation

Tells us in detail of the creation of man

Sets out the order of creation

Sets out the purpose of creation

Shows man in his cosmic setting

Shows man as the central theme of the book

Gives us a panoramic view of creation as a whole

Gives us a detailed view of one particular aspect of creation

Centers on God creating the heavens and the earth

Centers on man, the crowning of God’s creation


From this we can see that the two chapters are complimentary.  Each contains unique material that is necessary in understanding who God is and what He has done for us.





            Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.  2 And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3).


This is really a continuation of the message of the previous chapter.  In that chapter, the word of creation was seen to encompass six days.  Now on the seventh day, that work is brought to a close.


1.         A Completed Work:  Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.  2 And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done (2:1-2).

Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, we see the earth being formed and filled.  The first three days of creation involved forming the earth and preparing it for life.  The second three days of creation involved filling the earth with that for which it had been formed.


2.         A Divine Rest:  He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done (2:2).


The reference to God resting does not imply that He was somehow tired or overworked or in need of rest.  He rested because the work was completed and nothing more of a creative nature remained to be done.


3.         A Divine Blessing:  God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (2:3).


The seventh day was both blessed and sanctified.  This was done long before the giving of the Mosaic Law.  Some have tried to make a point that the Sabbath is not mentioned again until Exodus and this is a valid observation, but it should also be pointed out that, when the Sabbath IS mentioned again, it is in Exodus 16:23-29 at a time prior to the giving of the Mosaic Law.


This tells us something foundational about the Sabbath.  It both precedes and it also supersedes the Mosaic Law.


            The Sabbath was given as a memorial to the work of God in creation.  This principle is set forth here in verse 3 and it is repeated again in Exodus 20:11.


            The Sabbath also served as a memorial of God’s redemption.  This is mentioned in Deuteronomy 5:15 where the Lord says, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”


Because the Sabbath was also a memorial of redemption, the historic Christian church has understood that the observance of the Sabbath under the New Covenant is such that it commemorates the new redemption brought about by Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.  It is for this reason that the Christian Church has regularly worshiped on Sunday rather than on Saturday.


            The Sabbath was designed to be a shadow of things to come and not as an end unto itself.


            Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- 17  things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17).


Today we have a place of rest that is a permanent rest.  It is a Sabbath that involves trusting and resting upon the finished work of Christ on the cross.


4.         Summary.


·        Principle of Completion.


God rested on the Sabbath because He had completed His work.  We have a place of rest today in Christ that goes far beyond a mere once-a-week memorial.  We rest upon the completed work of Christ on the cross.


·        Principle of Ceasing.


God stopped His work of creation, not because He was tired, but because the work was completed and there was nothing left to do.


Jesus made the atoning payment for our sins once and for all and then He sat down at the right hand of God because His saving work was finished.


·        Principle of Blessing and Sanctification.


God set apart the Sabbath as a memorial of His works of creation and redemption.  Today we continue to observe the memorial to both His creation and His new creation.





            This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.

            Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground.  6  But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.

            Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:4-7).


Verse 4 begins with the phrase, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth.” 

The word account is a translation of the Hebrew word toledoth.  This same word is used throughout Genesis as something of a chapter heading.






In the beginning God...


1:1 - 2:3

1.  This is the account of the heaven and the earth


2:4 - 4:26

2.  This is the written account of Adam's Line

Genealogy: Seth to Noah

5:1 - 6:8

3.  This is the account of Noah

Flood & Covenant

6:9 - 9:29

4.  This is the account of Shem, Ham & Japheth

Table of Nations & Babel

10:1 - 11:9

5.  This is the account of Shem

Genealogy: Shem to Abraham


6.  This is the account of Terah

Story of Abraham

11:27 - 25:11

7.  This is the account of Abraham's son Ishmael

Genealogy of Ishmael


8.  This is the account of Abraham's son Isaac

Transition of blessing from Isaac to Jacob

25:19 - 35:29

9.  This is the account of Esau

Genealogy of Esau


10.  This is the account of Jacob

Joseph & Israel in Egypt

37:1 - 50:26


In each case, the phrase introduces a subsequent narrative that was derived from that which is initially mentioned.  Thus the narrative that follows from this passage will tell us what took place as a result of the creation of the heavens and the earth.


The word toledoth is derived from the Hebrew root yalad, meaning “to bear.”  In this form, it always appears in the plural construct.  We could translate this phrase to say, “These are the things begotten of the heavens and the earth...”


1.         The Name of God.


This is the first use of Yahweh Elohim in the Bible.  Throughout Genesis 1, God is described consistently simply as Elohim - only now do we have the inclusion of the name Yahweh as a reference to Yahweh.


Elohim is the title for God.  Yahweh is the personal name of God.  For example, Mr. President is a title while George Bush is a name.  What we have here is a combination of God’s title and His personal name (President Bush).  Elohim tends to focus upon God in relation to His creation.  Yahweh shows God in relation to man.


2.         The Absence of Rain.


            Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground.  6  But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6).


We are now told that there were no shrubs or plants and that there was a specific reason for this absence.  Actually there were two reasons:


            There was no rain upon the earth

            There was no man to cultivate the ground.


The first of these situations is dealt with in verse 6 in that a mist was given to water the surface of the ground.  The second of these situations is dealt with in verse 7 when man is created from the dust of the ground.


The Hebrew actually speaks of God breathing into his nostrils the “breath of lives.”  But we should not read too much into this plural usage.  It is a Hebrew colloquialism to speak of life in the plural.

What are we to make of this absence of rain?  Some have taken it to mean that climactic conditions throughout all of the earth up until the flood were such that it did not rain.  According to this view, the rain bringing the flood of Noah was the first rain to ever fall upon the earth and the designation of the rainbow was the first time this phenomenon had been manifested.


On the other hand, it is possible to understand the description of verse 5 to be localized to the area in which the Garden of Eden was located.  It is noteworthy that the Mesopotamian River Valley receives little or no rain.  The waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers come from the mountains far to the north, turning the desert lands to the south into a fertile river valley.


3.         Body and Soul:  Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7).


            Man was formed of dust from the ground.  This is a play on words.  Ha-Adam was formed of dust from Ha-Adamah.  Man’s very name is taken from the source from which his body is created.  Yet the creation of man’s physical frame was not the sum of his existence.  He is more than a biological entity.  The Lord then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.





            8 And the LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.

            9 And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8-9).


The word edenu in Akkadian means "garden" or "paradise."

The garden was planted toward the east.  The word east also carries the idea of “front.”  When you were on the east side of the tabernacle, you were at its front.  The natural question that we have to ask is this: From what location was the Garden considered to the east?  East of where?  Because the bulk of Genesis takes place within the land of Canaan, I would suggest that this is the central location from which Eden exists to the east.


Various locations have been theorized as to the location of the Garden of Eden.  It has been located alternately at...


           Jerusalem: Though there is nothing in the text of Genesis to suggest such a location, there was a Jewish tradition that placed the garden of Eden in Jerusalem.


           The lower Mesopotamian River Valley.  This is the traditional view, based upon the location of two of the rivers mentioned later in this chapter.


           The land of Urartu near the source of both the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  It is also from this area that the great Halys River finds its source before it flows around the whole land of the Hittites.


Man’s original home is described as a garden.  When you think of a garden in the ancient world, you would think of an enclosed area that was protected from the wild.  Kings would often have a garden where their royal forefathers would have a place of burial.  One of the wonders of the ancient world would be the hanging gardens of Babylon.


The garden of Eden was characterized by the trees that grew in its midst.  They were trees that were both pleasing to the eye as well as to the palate -- they were good to look at and their fruit was good to eat.  Two trees in particular are named:


1.         The Tree of Life: This tree represented the promise of continuing life and fellowship that was to be had with God in the garden.  The menorah that would later stand in the Tabernacle and in the Temple was a stylized symbol of this same tree.


2.         The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: 


This tree called for a decision.  The decision will be central to this chapter.  When we noted that this chapter is given in the form of a chiasm, it was also noted that the stipulation regarding this tree is at the very center and pivotal point of that chiasm.


We normally think of the first promises of the land being given to Abraham.  But the idea of a land that was given is found first here in Genesis 2 where the first man was given the first land.  It was a paradise.


This means that the promise of a land that was given to Abraham is a promise of a redeemed land.  It is a promise of a return to a new paradise.





            10 Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.

            11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there.

            13 And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush.

            14 And the name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:10-14).


This passage has been a source of great confusion because it seems to join geographical areas which are far removed from one another.


Verse 10 says literally, "from there it divided and became four heads."


1.         Pishon - “Full flowing.”


2.         Gihon - The root word means “to bring forth, gush.”  There is a stream known as the Gihon on the east side of Jerusalem, but it flows down into the Dead Sea and comes nowhere close to the Tigris and Euphrates.


3.         Tigris.


The Hebrew names seems to have been taken from the Akkadian Idiklat.  The Greek Septuagint renders this at TigriV, from which we get our English translation, “Tigris.”  The Persian word tir means “arrow” and is also the designation for the Tigris River.


4.         Euphrates - "Fruitfulness". It brought abundance and fruitfulness to the Mesopotamian River Valley.


The last two rivers are known to us.  The first two are not.  However, they come with geographical identifiers.  This perhaps indicates that they were not well known to the readers of this account.


The Pishon "flows around the whole land of Havilah."  Havilah is normally a reference to lands in northern Arabia where the descendants of Ishmael made their homes (Genesis 25:18).


The Gihon is said to flow around the whole land of Cush (Genesis 2:13).  This presents a difficulty in that Cush was the land to the south of Egypt.  However, there was also an area to the east of the Tigris River which was known as Cush.


This seems to points a location for the Garden of Eden at the northwest end of the Persian Gulf where these four rivers meet and flow into the ocean.  Alternatively, there are some who would point to the country of Armenia where the source of the Tigris and Euphrates is to be found as the original location of Eden.


The real point of this description is not to give us a geographic location of the Garden of Eden, but to present us with a symbol that depicts life-giving water flowing out of the garden to divide into four rivers that subsequently go out to water the whole earth.  This is a picture of God’s gracious provision for mankind.  This image of a life-giving river flowing out from the presence of God is a theme that is echoed in the Psalms.


There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

The holy dwelling places of the Most High. (Psalm 46:4).


The book of Revelation uses this same image to picture a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1).  Both the tree of life as well as the water of life find their origins and their culminations in Genesis and Revelation.


Here is the point.  The purpose of the river was to water the garden, but it accomplished much more than that.  It went out of the garden and it divided into four rivers and it watered all of the surrounding lands.  In the same way, God would be a blessing to the single family of Abraham, but those blessings would overflow to go out and bless the whole world.


What is true of the river is also true of the Lord’s salvation today.  We have been sent out as rivers of living water to bring the Spirit of God to all mankind.  Our mission is to be a blessing to the world.





            Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15).


It is noteworthy to consider that man’s perfect environment involved WORK.  It was not a wearying or toilsome labor, but man had a purpose and an assignment in the garden.  He was directed to cultivate it and keep it.


There is a foundational truth to be found here.  It is that man was made to work.  It is a part of his makeup.  It is often in his work that he finds his significance.  Ephesians 2:10 says that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  There is something imminently fulfilling in learning for what purpose you were made and then fulfilling it.





            And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17).


We noted at the outset of this chapter that it is arranged in a chiastic order with the prohibition of verses 16-17 placed at the center.  This is one of the central ideas of this chapter.


1.         The Grace of the Garden:  “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely (2:16).


Man was placed in a garden paradise and provided with food and water and companionship.  He could eat from any of the trees of the garden and he could eat freely from all of them.  This is the language of grace.


2.         The Nature of the Prohibition: From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat (2:17).


There was one tree whose fruit was forbidden to man.  It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  We are not told that there was something inherently harmful or dangerous about the nature of the fruit of this tree.  It was not a poisonous tree.  It was merely forbidden.  Why?  Because this prohibition was designed to give man a choice.  He could choose to obey or disobey this command.  This tree gave man the possibility of choosing good or evil.


3.         The Consequences of Transgression:   In the day that you eat from it you shall surely die (2:17).


Some Bible students have found this verse to be troublesome.  They look ahead to chapter 3 and they realize that Adam ate of the forbidden fruit and they did not die on that same day.  To the contrary, they lived for many years that followed.  How then could this passage tell us that they would die in the day they ate from it?


One suggested resolution to this problem has been to say that Adam and the woman died spiritually on the same day they ate from this tree.  While I agree to the reality of such a spiritual death caused by the eating of this fruit, I am not so sure that is what this passage describes.  There is no mention in the context of Genesis of a spiritual death taking place.


Instead, I want to suggest that this is a Hebrew idiom guaranteeing, not the immediacy of death, but rather the CERTAINTY of death.  This same sort of language is used in 1 Kings 2:37 when Solomon says to Shimei, “On the day you go out and cross over the brook Kidron, you will know for certain that you shall surely die; your blood shall be on your own head.”  When Shimei is put to death, it is not on the day he crossed the Kidron, for it would have taken longer than a single day for him to make the trip to Gath, find his servants and bring them back.


While it might be argued that Solomon’s promise was only that Shimei would KNOW of his death on the day of his disobedience, when we come to 1 Kings 2:42 where Solomon recounts the original prohibition, he makes no mention of this knowledge being the significant factor and merely echos, "Did I not make you swear by the LORD and solemnly warn you, saying, 'You will know for certain that on the day you depart and go anywhere, you shall surely die '? And you said to me, 'The word which I have heard is good.'”


What we see in these words is the inevitability of this promise.  Solomon makes the point to Shimei and the Lord makes the point to Adam that death will be the inevitable result of disobedience.





Genesis 1:26-27 pictures the creation of both man and woman in the image of God.  It is when we come here to the second chapter of Genesis that we see a more specific description of the creation of the woman.


1.         The Need for a Woman:  Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18).


Throughout the first chapter of Genesis, we see the continuing refrain that each aspect of creation was good.  The Lord would make something and then we would read, “And God saw that it was good.”  Now for the first time we see that there is something that was not good.  It is not that God had created something that was evil, but rather that this portion of creation was thus far incomplete.  Man was alone and he would not be completed until he had a helper suitable for him.


The woman is designed to be a “helper suitable” ('Izer KeNegdu).  Of special interest to us is this term “helper.”  'Izer is the noun form of the Hebrew verb 'Azar, "to help."  The noun is used most often in the Old Testament, not to describe the role of the woman, but rather to describe God Himself in His helping us.  Consider some of the following:


            "...the God of my father was my help..." (Exodus 18:4).


"...Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people.  With his hands he contended for them; and mayest Thou be a HELP against his adversaries" (Deuteronomy 33:7).


"There is none like the God of Jeshurun [Israel], who rides the heavens to your HELP..." (Deuteronomy 33:26).


"Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, who is the shield of your HELP..." (Deuteronomy 33:29).


'Izer is used a number of times in the Psalms as well as 4 times in the prophets, usually referring as these verses have done to God being the helper for His people.


Does this help us understand our passage in Genesis 2?  I think that it does.  It helps us to understand that woman was not created to be a mere underling (we would never think of defining God that way), but rather as one who standing beside and works together with him.  It was not until later, as a result of the fall, that sin brought about a change which has been reflected all throughout history.


The second word, KeNegdu, is made up of the preposition plus Negedh and carries the idea of something that is set over against something else.  It usually describes either an adversarial role (as in Genesis 31:32) or a location of being in front of an object (Numbers 25:4, I Kings 8:22, I Chronicles 8:32, Nehemiah 13:21).  The context seems to indicate that it is the latter role which is used here.


The Ke preposition carries the idea of "with" or "according to" or even "like."  Thus, we have in the Divine plan for woman that she is to be a helper who is standing with the man.  Where there was one, now there shall be two.


It should be remembered that there was not a separate word in the Hebrew (or in the Koine Greek) for husband and wife.  Normally when you see the word "husband" in the Hebrew, it is either ISH ("man") or BA'AL ("lord" is the same term used of the false god of the Canaanites).  By the same token, when you see the word "wife" in the Old Testament, it is nearly always the Hebrew word ISHA (female of ISH) and can be translated simply as "woman."  The context makes it clear that ALL women are not designed to be helpers standing with ALL men, but rather that this is descriptive of a special husband and wife relationship.


2.         The Need Made Known to the Man:   And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:19-20).


Verses 19-20 seem at first to be unrelated to what we read in the verses immediately prior and those which immediately follow.  Verse 18 speaks of the need of a companion for the man while verses 21-22 proceed to the creation of the woman.


Verse 18

Verses 19-20

Verses 21-22

It is not good that man should be alone

Creation and naming of the animals

Creation of the woman

The need for a companion for the man

The inadequacy of the animals for this companionship

The providing of the woman as a companion for the man


It will be noticed that the creation of the birds and land animals is mentioned here out of the chronological sequence that is found in the previous chapter.  Genesis 1 points out that the birds were created on the fifth day.  But when we come to Genesis 2, the birds are mentioned along with the land animals.


Genesis 1

Genesis 2

Order of events

    • Creation of birds on day five

    • Creation of land animals on day six

    • Creation of man and woman on day six

Order of events

    • Creation of man

    • Creation of birds and land animals

    • Creation of woman from the rib of man


This is not a contradiction.  It merely underscores the point that Genesis 2 provides events in a topical order rather than in a strict chronological order.  We can easily understand the reference to the creation of the birds and the land animals as a summary of what God had previously done.


3.         The Fashioning of the Woman:  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21-22).


Is there a significance in the woman being fashioned from the rib of man?  It has been pointed out that this indicates a portion of his body that would be close to his heart.


4.         The Naming of the Woman:  And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." (Genesis 2:23).


The Hebrew word for “woman” is ishai and corresponds to the term for ishi, the term for “man.”  The means we could better capture the essence of this passage by reading it to say,  She shall be called FEMALE, Because she was taken out of MALE.  It can be pointed out that neither of these two terms is used earlier in the Genesis account.  Throughout the first chapter, the focus was upon mankind, though that included both male and female (1:27).


5.         The Ordinance of Marriage:   For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).


This is added by way of an editorial explanation.  The author takes the fact of the woman’s creation from the rib of man and concludes that it points to a one-flesh relationship.  Because the woman was taken from the rib of the man, this pictures the sort of relationship into which a husband and wife are to enter.  The husband leaves his father and mother and connects himself to his wife and they become a new family.


This contradicted the culture of the ancient world.  The ancient world was patriarchal in nature.  The culture of the day called for a WOMAN to leave her father and her mother and to cleave to her husband.  But this passage says something different.  It is the MAN who is to leave father and mother to cleave to his wife.


This is mirrored in what Christ did for us.  He is the husband who left His rightful place in heaven to come to the earth and to be identified with His people.  He cleaved to His bride in the ultimate sense when He gave Himself up on the cross for her.


6.         The Condition of the Man and his Wife:   And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25).


This account closes with a picture of innocence and unashamedness.  There was no shame because there was no sin.


This condition suggests to us what we could call “a theology of clothes.”  The very fact that mankind seeks to clothe himself apart from the need of natural protection suggests that his relationship with his fellow man has undergone a change from the original creation.  The fall affected, not only our relationship with God, but also our relationship with one another.


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