These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created…
The heading of this passage might not be inappropriate as the title of all the rest of the Bible. We have had the origin in the first chapter, and all the rest of the Bible gives the development — the development of the heavens and the earth, until at last, after all the changes of time are over, we shall witness the inauguration of "the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." In the meantime we shall limit our view to the little book of Generations, with its sad record of fall and failure, gilded, however, with a gleam of hope at the close.
I. First, then, there is a different name for God introduced here. All through the Genesis it has been, "God said," "God made," "God created." Now it is invariably, "Jehovah God" (Lord God in our version). And this is the only continuous passage in the Bible where the combination is used. How is this explained? Very easily. In the apocalypse of the Genesis, God makes Himself known simply as Creator. Sin has not yet entered, and so the idea of salvation has no place. In this passage sin is coming in, and along with it the promise of salvation. Now the name Jehovah is always connected with the idea of salvation. It is the covenant name. It is the name which indicates God's special relation to His people, as their Saviour and Redeemer. But lest anyone should suppose from the change of name that there is any change in the person; lest anyone suppose that He who is to redeem us from sin and death, is a different being from Him who created the heavens and the earth, the two names are now combined — Jehovah God. The combination is retained throughout the entire narrative of the Fall to make the identification sure. Thereafter either name is used by itself without danger of error.
II. Look next at the way in which Nature is spoken of here. When you look at it aright, you find there is no repetition. Nature in the Genesis is universal nature. God created all things. But here, nature comes in, as it has to do immediately with Adam. Now see the effect of this. It at once removes difficulties, which many speak of as of great magnitude. In the first place it is not the whole earth that is now spoken of, but a very limited district. Our attention is narrowed down to Eden, and the environs of Eden, a limited district in a particular part of the earth. Hence the difficulty about there not being rain in the district ("earth") disappears. Again, it is not the vegetable kingdom as a whole that is referred to in the fifth verse, but only the agricultural and horticultural products. The words "plant," "field," and "grew" (ver. 5) are new words, not found in the creation record. In Genesis 1. the vegetable kingdom as a whole was spoken of. Now, it is simply the cereals and garden herbs, and things of that sort; and here, instead of coming into collision with the previous narrative, we have something that corresponds with what botanists tell us, that field and garden products are sharply distinguished in the history of nature, from the old flora of the geological epochs. In the same way it is not the whole animal kingdom that is referred to in verse nineteen, but only the domestic animals, those with which man was to be especially associated, and to which he was very much more intimately related than to the wild beasts of the field. It may be easy to make this narrative look ridiculous, by bringing the wild beasts in array before Adam, as if any companionship with them were conceivable. But when we bear in mind that reference is made here to the domestic animals, there is nothing at all inappropriate in noticing, that while there is a certain degree of companionship possible between man and some of those animals, as the horse and dog, yet none of these was the companion he needed.
III. Passing now from nature to man, we find again a marked difference. In Genesis 1 we are told, "God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him." And here: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Genesis 2:7). Some people tell us there is a contradiction here. Is there any contradiction? Are not both of them true? Is there not something that tells you that there is more than dust in your composition? When you hear the statement that "God made man in His own image," is there not a response awakened in you — something in you that rises up and says, It is true? On the other hand, we know that man's body is formed of the dust of the earth. We find it to be true in a more literal sense than was formerly supposed, now that chemistry discloses the fact that the same elements enter into the composition of man's body, as are found by analysis in the "dust of the ground." And not only are both these statements true, but each is appropriate in its place. In the first account, when man's place in universal nature was to be set forth — man as he issued from his Maker's hand — was it not appropriate that his higher nature should occupy the foreground? His lower relations are not entirely out of sight even there, for he is introduced along with a whole group of animals created on the sixth day. But while his connection with them is suggested, that to which emphasis is given in the Genesis is his relation to his Maker. But now that we are going to hear about his fall, about his shame and degradation, is it not appropriate that the lower rather than the higher part of his nature should be brought into the foreground, inasmuch as it is there that the danger lies? It was to that part of his nature that the temptation was addressed; and so we read here, "God formed man of the dust of the ground." Yet here too there is a hint of his higher nature, for it is added, "He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," or as we have it in another passage, "The inspiration of the Almighty gave him understanding." In this connection it is worth while to notice the use of the words "created" and "formed." "God created man in His own image." So far as man's spiritual and immortal nature was concerned it was a new creation. On the other hand, "God formed man out of the dust of die ground." We are not told He created man's body out of nothing. We are told, and the sciences of today confirm it, that it was formed out of existing materials. Then, in relation to woman, there is the same appropriateness in the two narratives. In the former her relations to God are prominent: "God created man in His own image. In the image of God created He him; male and female created He them" — man in His image; woman in His image. In the latter, it is not the relation of woman to her Maker that is brought forward, but the relation of woman to her husband. Hence the specific reference to her organic connection with her husband. And now, is there anything irrational in the idea that woman should be formed out of man? Is there anything more mysterious or inconceivable in the formation of woman out of man, than in the original formation of man out of dust? Let us conceive of our origin in any way we choose, it is full of mystery, Though there may be mystery connected with what is said in the Bible, there will be just as much mystery connected with any other account you try to give of it.
(J. M. Gibson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,