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Is Genesis 2:18-24 saying that the making of Eve was an afterthought?

It appears that the making of Eve occurred after the six days of the making of the skies and dry land and it appears to be because the animals were not found to be sufficient company for Adam:

ESV Gen 2:18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Gen 2:19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had 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. Gen 2:20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. Gen 2:21 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. Gen 2:22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Gen 2:23 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." Gen 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Gen 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Is the text suggesting that she is an afterthought since the animals proved inadequate companionship? Is this intentional? Or is this perhaps a translation issue? Or is there another way to look at the passage?

And if an afterthought, is the account in Genesis 2 and 3 at odds with the account in Genesis 1, specifically verse 26?

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    Not more so that the light of verse 3 being an afterthought to the darkness of verse 2, or the man of verse 26 being an afterthought to the animals of verse 25, over which he was supposed to rule. – Lucian Feb 5 at 0:50
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It is clear that the creation of Eve was an afterthought. It is only after God has taken Adam and put him in the Garden, and after he has given Adam instructions to look after the Garden, told him what he can eat but not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that God decides to create company for Adam:

Genesis 2:15-18: And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

But the company God creates is not a woman, but the animals and birds, which he brings to Adam to give them names. At the end of this, God realises that Adam has not found a help-meet, or companion, that truly meets his needs, so God then decides to make a woman as a companion for Adam. This can scarcely be other than an afterthought.

In The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, Leon R. Kass looks at whether the account in Genesis chapter 2 is at odds with Genesis 1, but first he looks at whether there really are two different accounts. On pages 55-57, Kass discusses the main differences between chapter 1 and chapter 2, and concludes the second story is not just a magnified version of the human portions of the first. He says it is utterly distinct and independent. Kass tells us that the accounts do contradict each other if read as historical accounts, although they complement each other as a metaphysical-cosmological story and a moral-political story.

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    (+1) and accepted as answer. Your reply creates no cognitive dissonance with the text, is complete and even eloquent. Thanks. – user10231 Jun 21 '16 at 22:39
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    (-1) I find it remarkable that an all-knowing God did not know in advance that an animal would not be a suitable helpmate. Even more remarkable is concept that the woman was never part of the plan from the beginning. Can the LORD who knows the end from the beginning have an afterthought in the midst of His work of creation? – Revelation Lad Jun 21 '16 at 23:08
  • @RevelationLad You seem to be taking for granted attributes about God that are not a given in Genesis 2. It needs to be demonstrated that the text or its author(s) had awareness of such concepts as 'omniscience', not assumed. – user2910 Jun 22 '16 at 1:13
  • @RevelationLad Your vote seems to require me, when citing a linguistic expert such as Kass, to put aside any conclusion he reaches unless it accords with mainstream belief. To me, hermeneutics does not work that way. – Dick Harfield Jun 22 '16 at 1:27
  • @MarkEdward If you accept the author was Moses as Scripture states, what attributes of God did he not know? – Revelation Lad Jun 22 '16 at 4:54
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If this question is answered with the knowledge of God found in Scripture the answer is no, the woman was not an afterthought. An all-knowing God does not have an afterthought during His work of creation (or any other time). Genesis 1 makes clear creating man and woman was a planned action.

Nevertheless, it is commonly accepted among contemporary scholars that Moses was not the divinely inspired author of Genesis and the texts must be approached from the perspective of multiple authors whose knowledge and understanding of God differed from one another. Therefore, a modern reader cannot presume an ancient author and reader were equally knowledgeable.

So let's examine the text from that point of view.

According to modern scholars the documentary hypothesis explains the differences between the creation accounts in Genesis 1-2:4a and Genesis 2:4b-24. Genesis 1 is attributed to one source (Priestly) and was written much later than the Genesis 2 account, attributed to a different source (Yahwist) and was written about 950 BCE. [Two Creation Accounts]

The earliest account is in Genesis 2. So the OP's question should be restated: "Does this author portray the creation of the woman was an 'afterthought.'” When the LORD God failed to find a suitable companion from among the animals, He tried something new, a woman and finally found success. According to scholars such as Leon Kass (see Dick Harfield's answer), this demonstrates the woman was an afterthought.

Let's consider what the author has described to judge whether it is an afterthought or a purposeful act.

So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. (Genesis 2:20 NKJV)

By bringing the woman last, the LORD God proved, the woman was the only suitable companion. She was the only one, among every other one. She was not only suitable, all the others were unsuitable. There is a discussion on the meaning and significance of the phrase “they shall be one flesh.” In Genesis 2:24, how do a husband and wife “become one flesh”? There the point is made that the author has described a situation of unity, and a commitment to companionship and other positive aspects. This is possible because the woman is “the only” one suitable for the man: a fact that would never have been brought to light had the LORD God presented the woman at the start.

Moreover, this was accomplished through the direct participation of the man. This author has portrayed Adam as an informed decision maker, naming every animal the LORD God brought. The author's sequence of events is inherent and integral to the main point his account: Genesis 2:24.

There is an additional relevance to the author's sequence:

Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12 NKJV)

Very carefully the author has both described and undermined Adam’s defense. First the man rejected every other option the LORD God presented. Then the man demonstrated acceptance and ownership by naming her:

And Adam 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 NKJV)

The two were one flesh. There was no afterthought. What is described are the actions of the LORD God who clearly understood what was going to happen and how Adam would attempt his defense.

Consider the situation had the LORD God made the woman first. There would be no need for the LORD God to resort to the animals since He was successful on His first attempt.

Had the LORD God started with what was going to work first, the man’s defense would have a much greater legal standing. He could claim that had the LORD God brought a dog instead of the woman, he would have had his best friend and never have been subject to eating the fruit. However, according to the Yahwist source that defense fails since Adam first rejected the dog and every other animal and then accepted the woman who in fact, was the only one suitable.

Both are created conditions; both are purposeful. The man had been created so that only the woman would be suitable and immediately validates what follows:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 NKJV)

However, according to modern scholars that is just the beginning and the next chapter is found in Genesis 1, the one written by the Priestly source long after the first more primitive account.

The Priestly source immediately puts to rest any idea that the woman was an afterthought:

Then God said, “Let Us make man (אָדָ֛ם) in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man (הָֽאָדָם֙) in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 NKJV)

Modern scholars fail to acknowledge the Priestly source actually continues the story of Adam by incorrectly translating "Adam" as "man." Apparently, this is done because the Priestly source inexplicably states הָֽאָדָם֙ (literally “the Adam”) was created in the image of God He created him; male and female. In other words, the Priestly source not only states the woman was not an afterthought, she was essentially equally part of “the Adam.”

This author continues having God (Elohim) bless them both; gives dominion to both; food to both. According to this author the two have become more than one flesh: except for the anatomical differences they are identical. It is no longer two become one; the "one" has a dual nature which now defines one in a manner that is whole and as such different (from Genesis 2:24). The Adam who was alone in need of a companion in the Garden has become The Adam who can never be alone since both his and her essential nature are literally intertwined.

So what can modern readers conclude when these two accounts are finally redacted and combined?

According to the Yahwist source, creation of Adam begins:

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

According to the Priestly source Adam’s dual nature was reflective of being made in the image of God:

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I would conclude the two accounts have been purposely written to prove man has a triune nature, which is the image of God.

  • (+1) for adding significantly to the inquiry. Was Eve made during or after the 7 days? In fact, I think I'll pose that question as a new question... – user10231 Jun 23 '16 at 12:12
  • Also, was this your own work or are you citing something else? If you are citing, please provide the link. Thanks. – user10231 Jun 23 '16 at 12:18
  • @WoundedEgo I think the first man and woman were made on the sixth day of creation. I did not use any references other than the ones noted and some general background on the Documentary Hypothesis (which I see as a false). I only used that perspective to demonstrate how correct application leads to the same conclusion as starting from God's omniscience. Correct application of the hypothesis proves the accounts have a common source. In effect the theory refutes itself. – Revelation Lad Jun 23 '16 at 19:44
  • The new question about the timing is located here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/23044/… – user10231 Jun 23 '16 at 19:47
  • I don't buy your answer though because of the plain reading, starting with Gen 2:1. Genesis doesn't present YHVH as omniscient: Gen 6:7, Gen 18:21, etc. – user10231 Jun 24 '16 at 6:46
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I would consider it clear that showing Adam the creative pattern in the animals pairing, along with providing him with an action of authority over them, was to make clear the lesson to Adam, by bringing the recognition of his lack, his incompleteness deeply ingrained within him. Then for him, when he awakens from his deep sleep and finds his help-mate, his completness there awaiting him, he is not so much suprised, as pleased at finding a fulfillment to the conundrum of being alone by comparison. It was all planned and part of an exquisite creative process.

  • True, and to provide a type of Christ and the Assembly. – Ruminator Oct 27 '18 at 10:58

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