Verses 1-7: Rest and review
After six days of creating, God designates the seventh day to rest. Verse 3: “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
Starting in verse 4 and through to verse 7, we have a history, a recounting of the events until now. This short passage reiterates the idea that God formed all the world out of nothing and that nothing existed before He created it. Verses 5 and 6 are interesting here because they refer to how plants received hydration before there was rain. Could this be a foreshadowing of the great flood that will occur later in the book?
The creation of man is also revisited in verse 7, which we already read in verse 27 of chapter 1. Man’s body was formed from the dust of the ground that God created, and man’s life was breathed into his body by God.
Verses 8-14: Garden of Eden
In the midst of His creation, God planted a garden in the East and it was called Eden. God placed man there and He also planted trees in the garden:
- Appealing trees that supply good food
- Tree of life
- Tree of the knowledge of good and evil
A river is mentioned that flowed out of Eden to water the garden. It divided and turned into four riverheads:
- Pishon: Flowed around Havilah, where there were precious minerals of gold, bdellium and onyx
- Gihon: Flowed around the land of Cush
- Tigris: Flowed east of Assyria
- Euphrates: Flows through modern day Turkey, Syria and Iraq
These rivers would all probably have been familiar to the earliest readers of the book of Genesis, but their location more than likely would have changed by the time Genesis was written. The great flood will have affected their beds, so determining the precise location of Eden and the garden is not plausible based on where these rivers are today. A very interesting parallel to this idea of a life-giving river is found in Revelation 22:1-2, where a river flows through the New Jerusalem (heaven), and the tree of life is mentioned again as well: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
The fact that the tree and the river of life are in the garden and also mentioned again as part of heaven suggest a few ideas:
- The garden of Eden was a sort of heaven on earth
- Outside of sin, there is a tree and a river to sustain life
- God provides for those He loves
Verses 15-25: Man in the garden and the creation of woman
God puts man in the garden and man is to tend it. Man can eat of all trees except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If he eats the fruit from this tree, he will die. The name of this tree is significant because without the knowledge of what sin was, man did not yet have a concept of what good was compared to evil; man knew only good. It is like living your whole life eating vanilla ice cream, with no knowledge that chocolate ice cream exists. Without knowing of or committing sin, man is ignorant of the relationship between good and evil because he has not yet made the choice to deviate from God’s planned design for life on earth.
Then God notices that it is not good for man to be alone so he creates woman. Prior to her creation, God had brought every beast and bird before man, and man named them. But throughout all of this, none of the animals were found suited to man as a helper, as a proper companion; “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”” Genesis 2:22-23
Man was evidently desirous of a suitable companion. She was part of him and he recognized her value. In verse 24, the text decrees the import of the relationship between man and woman. The union is strong as they become “one flesh.”
In reading this chapter, we are still in the blissful innocence of creation before sin corrupted all: “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” What need is there to be ashamed when you have nothing at all to be ashamed of? Shame is one of the consequences of sin, and hiding that which is exposed is one of shame’s own reflexes. At this time, life is still perfect in the garden.