Tuesday, January 02, 2007

So what then is the real order of things?

You know how you know the creation story?

As found in Genesis one.
Day one - light and dark
Day two - water and air
Day three - earth and seas, plants
Day Four - moon, sun, stars
Day Five - water critters and air critters
Day six - animals and mankind
Day Seven - rests

BUT then we come to chapter Two of Genesis.

On Day number seven God rests.
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.
And it is for this reason that we have one day in seven that we rest and make special unto the Lord.

But then we come to what some might call an anomaly
5When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up--for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground-- 7then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.(italics mine)
So there was NOTHING. Just land and water. No rain, no plants, no animals. According to Genesis One that stuff was around BEFORE God made mankind. But in Genesis two it would seem that God purposed to make mankind before he made all the rest, and that in fact he made it all with mankind in mind.

Note too...It is mankind that God actually breathed life into. He just "created" the rest, mankind he breathed into. Kinda marks us as special doesn't it? :)

Then God noticed something:
"It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."
Do you see it? God wanted man to have a helper FIT for him. Nothing less would do. Women are MEANT to be a FIT helper. FIT as in not talking about in good shape, but Fit as in being perfectly suitable for the task at hand. Our task at hand (for us women) is to be a fit helper for the men in our lives.

Anyways, so what did God do? He formed all sorts of animals and brought them before man. Man named them all.
9So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.
Still seems backwards to the first account doesn't it a bit?

But still we see that all the different critters are merely formed by God, no breathe of life was given to them.
But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
So what did God do? Did he just leave Adam helper-less since none of the animals were a "fit helper"? Did God just say...ah make do with the ox, the dog, the sheep etc.? NOPE!
21So 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. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
From man, the one into whom God himself had breathed life, God made woman. He didn't make woman from the dust, he made her from man. And Adam's response?
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."
We as women are the very part of man! We come from him. God's desire for us is that we are fit helpers for our men. We are bone of bone, flesh of flesh. I don't know about you folks, but to me that is really cool. It's non-isolating. It's definitive. It's, oh...I don't know all the words...but we have a needful place in society. Men need us. And we need men....it's our position/role/joy in life.

And because of this
24Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
When a man marries, his first allegiance belongs to his wife, not to his parents. Well... okay...as believers our first allegiance is to the Lord God, but once we have our helpmeet.. we consider them above our parents.

I do still wonder a bit at the differences between these two chapters, but I also know that sometimes what one chapter explains in general, another chapter can explain in specific. and that I think tends to be what happens in these two chapters. In chapter one we get the overall view of what God did in creation, and in chapter two we see how God's focus is on creating man and making the world a suitable place for him.

What do you think?


Martin LaBar said...

I've thought about this, and lots of other people have. I can't explain it, except to say that just accepting Genesis 1 & 2 as a simple, straightforward, literal account of what happened doesn't seem to be a viable option, based on what the chapters, themselves, have to say.

Martin LaBar said...


I found your post through the Christian Carnival.

Anonymous said...

There are a number of possibilities for dealing with this tension. First off, "plants of the field" and "beasts of the field" does not mean all plants or all animals. It means domesticated plants and domesticated plants, respectively. The second point is to notice that Genesis 1:1-2:3 is the creation account and is one section in the Hebrew narrative. The second section is divided into three parts: the remainder of chapter 2, chapter 3 and chapter 4. While the first section is in chronological order, the second is not. Finally, there is a possibility of translating Genesis 2:9 as "...the LORD God had formed every beast of the field...".

Hope this information helps.

Ed Darrell said...

The ancient rabbis -- say, 3,000 years ago -- noticed the differences, but knew that the two stories come from two different traditions. One group argued that the stuff has to be taken literally -- and in trying to square that idea, noticed that it produces the question, "what happened to that woman created with Adam in Genesis 1?"

That woman, they decided, must have been Adam's first wife. Talmudic tradition says she was cast out of Eden because she refused to submit to Adam, and became a demon of the deserts and of the night -- Lilith. The woman in Genesis 2? Adam's second wife, Eve.

Now, I don't offer that to suggest it's fully accurate. I merely offer it to note that the ancients understood those two books are in conflict, and we know that because we have the stories of Lilith.

Genesis 1 was invented during the Babylonian captivity. It lists the Babylonian order of creation, but with a twist: Instead of each of those things created being minor gods, it is the God of Israel who has created all of those things. The point of the story was that the God of the Israelites is the one true God, who created those things the Babylonians worship as gods. It was done in a verse form to make it easy to memorize, to remind the captive Israelites of the faith of their fathers, to keep the faith alive.

There really is quite a bit of writing on the topic of the contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Until recently, few if any suggested that they were just an imperfect retelling of the same story to add detail.

Nancy said...

The best book I've read about this (besides the Bible of course!) is Anne Graham Lotz's book "God's Story - the first 11 chapters of Genesis" She really clears it all up and she's a wonderful straight forward writer.


Annette said...

I've had a chance to do some thinking and I have come to the conclusion that Genesis Two is taking day six and just expanding upon it. It is making note of just how important the creation of man was. It makes sense to think this because otherwise it makes no sense! :) I know, imperfect female logic...but don't knock what works!

There was no "first" wife. And I have to admit, I don't quite get how people would think there was a "first wife". Eve was Eve. No mention of a Lilith in the bible anywhere that I know of.

There was no invention of Genesis. Genesis, like all of scripture is God breathed, God inspired. Moses was just a tool to get it in writing.

Nancy, thanks for the resource, sounds like a book to check out sometime.

Matthew thank you for your words of insight, made me think a bit deeper. :)

Martin, sometimes that's just all we can do, accept God's word as indeed God's word.

Ed... what can I say? You totally shocked me with the whole Lilith and second wife thing. Still makes no sense to me when I look at the bible, so I gotta say, it makes no sense to me.