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(Gen 2:2) "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had done." (Amplified Bible).

(Gen 2:7) And god formed man from the dust of the ground..."

There are two creation descriptions of man, but why is this description placed after saying that He finished all his work on the seventh day?

I know that there are two creation accounts, and about creating Lilith before Eve. That's why there's a second description of creating man, right? Is that why this creation account is placed after the statement that He finished everything and rested on the seventh day?

Thanks.

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Interesting question.I have never considered this before. –  Bagpipes Jul 13 at 11:44

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Regarding Lilith

Your question revolves around the discrepancy of details when reading Genesis 1-2 sequentially. In a strictly literal reading of these two texts together, it creates some obvious problems, one of which being the question of when humans, particularly men and women, were created. Some readers came to the idea that because Eve is specifically formed in Genesis 2, after man and woman have already been made in Genesis 1, that there must have been a previous woman. In Medieval Judaism, she was identified as 'Lilith'.

This is a historical reading of Genesis 1-2, but the interpretation is rejected by nearly all modern critical scholars, for a variety of reasons, but the most direct one being: No such 'Lilith' or 'first woman before Eve' is specified anywhere in Genesis, or any other biblical text.


The Two Creation Accounts

There was another question some time back asking about the authorial intent of Genesis 1; my answer is here, and can be summarized as such: Genesis 1 is a temple creation text, with the universe as God's temple that he 'rests' in (on the seventh day)

When we read Genesis 2, it is not a sequel to chapter 1. The vocabulary is different, the name used for God is different, the order in which God creates things is different. As such, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 should not be understood as happening in a sequence, nor should Genesis 2 be understood as taking place 'on the sixth day' of Genesis 1. Each creation account was written by an entirely different author, for entirely different reasons.

What we have are two entirely different stories.

What Genesis 1 describes is the creation of humanity, both men and women, after all the plants and animals have already been made, and that's that. What Genesis 2 describes is the creation of man (just the one), after which God creates the plants and animals, and only when none of them are found to be 'suitable' for the man does God created woman.

While both creation texts have something to say about humanity, and men and women, what it is they are saying is distinct and unrelated to what the other says. The 'seven days' are not a part of the Genesis 2 creation text.

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While I disagree with the differing authors of Genesis, you took exception to explain why-hence +1 –  Tau Apr 23 at 0:48

Disclaimer on Perspective

For the record, I do not hold to the Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP theory) as another answer here gives as a solution. I believe the Pentateuch was largely (if not perhaps wholly) inscribed by a single inspired author, Moses.

As such, the Pentateuch should be looked at as a unity, including Gen 1:1-2:3 in relation to Gen 2:4 and following.

Literary/Historical/Theological Focus

Your first question:

There are two creation descriptions of man, but why is this description placed after saying that He finished all his work on the seventh day?

Gen 1:1-2:3 is the introductory "overview" of creation week, and of course, the introduction to all of Scripture. This account gives the day by day details of God's creating during those seven consecutive 24-hour days (yes, others hold different views on interpreting the days).

At Gen 2:4 begins Genesis' toledot sections (אֵ֣לֶּה תֹולְדֹ֧ות; "these are the generations of..."), which organize the entire reset of the book. This first one is the generation and history of mankind being formed from the dust of the earth and breath of God, and what happens to mankind after that, up to the time that God is preparing to save the earth from mankind's wickedness with the flood of Noah (where the next toledot begins, Gen 6:9). As such, it is giving expanded detail of day 6 of creation week (Gen 1:24-31) during the section of chapter 2 up to the creation of Eve.

So the "two accounts" are just that, different accounts, but not describing different periods of time, just different details. Genesis is progressing in its literary and historical description to begin its "history of mankind" as God saw fit for us to need to know.

No Biblical Lilith

Your other two questions:

I know that there are two creation accounts, and about creating Lilith before Eve. That's why there's a second description of creating man, right? Is that why this creation account is placed after the statement that He finished everything and rested on the seventh day?

There is no Biblical textual support for a person such as Lilith, especially in Genesis. The only use of the Hebrew word לִּילִ֔ית is in Isa 34:14, and is in reference to an animal. So there is no textual basis at all for anyone to teach that Lilith is why there are two accounts of creating man in Genesis.

Conclusion

No, Adam was not created after the seventh day. The story shifts focus after giving an initial overview of God's creative work.

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Thank you once again for your excellent answer! –  Tau Apr 23 at 0:54
    
Note that you do not need to believe in Documentary Hypothesis with 4 different sources to believe that Genesis 1 was in fact added to the text later. –  James Shewey Sep 5 at 23:04

Two creation accounts compared

A comparison of the creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:4a with that in Genesis 2:4b-25 raises some interesting contradictions. In the first story, man (and woman) are the last of God's creation, for example after all other animals have been created, whereas in the second story, Adam ('man') is the very first of God's creations and the other animals are only then created. In the first story, God is all powerful (El Shaddai) and simply speaks things into creation ("And God said, let there be ..."), but in the second (and earlier) story, God can not make living things out of nothing and must create Adam and the animals out of dirt (Genesis 2:7,19). Leon R. Kass says in The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, p55 that pious readers, believing that the text cannot contain contradictions, ignore the major disjunctions between the two creation stories and tend to treat the second story as the fuller, more detailed account of the creation of man (and woman) that the first story simply reported.

Independence of the two creation stories

Kass tells us that once we recognise the independence of the two creation stories, we are compelled to adopt a critical principle of reading if we mean to understand each story on its own terms, without considering any facts or notions from the other account. Adam is part of the second story, and this does not have a concept of seven days. He was created at the very beginning.

Later traditions

According to Jewish mythology, Lilith was Adam’s wife before Eve, justified by the creation of woman in Genesis 1:27. A midrash in Genesis Rabba also appears to talk about a previous wife, telling us, in part (XXII. 7-8), "The first Eve had returned to dust." However, these notions are much later than the Book of Genesis and were not the original intent of the book.

Continuation of the second account

The story of the creation of Adam and Eve is followed by the story of the Garden of Eden and the fall of man, Cain and Abel, all the way through to the story of Noah. To have placed it before the seven-day creation story would have disrupted the flow of the text. The Documentary Hypothesis says that what is now the first creation story was added by the Priestly Source during the Babylonian Exile. It was much easier to simply add the later account at the very beginning.

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