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There are several questions on this site concerning the differences between the account of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and some related topics. A few: Differences in Genesis creation stories ** Are the two creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 likely to be from different sources? If so what sources? ** What are the similarities and differences between the Genesis creation account and other creation stories of the time ** Creation of Man narrated twice with different God name ** What is the significance of the author of Genesis using two different designations for God?

The common understanding of modern scholars is that these two accounts were written by different authors at different times. Leon Kass (In The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis) on pages 55-57, 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, and once we recognize 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. 1

Kass continues and states: we must scrupulously avoid reading into the second story any facts or notions taken from the first, and vice versa. 1 This means that the seven days of the Genesis 1 account should not be used to understand the events described in Genesis 2.

If the Genesis 1 account is used, the events in Genesis 2 would be placed on the 3rd and 6th day. However, when that information is ignored and only the second creation is examined with the element of time in mind, there is just one reference to time:

This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4 NKJV)

If this second account is taken literally and without considering the Genesis 1 account which reports events taking place over a period of seven days, should we conclude the events of Genesis 2 and 3 all took place on the same day?

If not, what textual evidence is there to indicate the author did not intend to place all of the events on the same day?

The concept that everything takes place on a single 24-hour day is contrary to what is described if both accounts are considered which is the correct way to study the texts: Are the two creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 likely to be from different sources? If so what sources? ** In Genesis 1:11-13, were there trees by the end of Day 3? ** Plants created before the sun?

However, I am interested in what conclusions are supported solely by the text of Genesis 2 (and 3).


1. From Dick Harfield's answer:In Genesis 2:18, was Eve made during or after the 7 days?

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Backdrop to explain my answer

The opening chapters of Genesis provides an interesting framework for understanding the rest of the Bible. That is, the creation narrative of chapters 1-2 includes, within its own framework, the introduction of creation, and a "new" creation. That sounds confusing so let me explain.

In Genesis 1 we're given an account of the earth's creation. This includes a day by day account of God's creative furnishing of the cosmos, earth, its wildlife, then ending with man. The creation narrative appears to be exhaustively explained by 2:2.

Gen 2:2 On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.

But similar to the progressive parallelism of the Book of Revelation (which also chronicles a new beginning), Genesis then shifts to the narration of a construction of what Moses called "the field" as opposed to the "earth" of previous accounts. (This field will be developed into the Garden of Eden). I like to think of this shift in narration as providing a panoramic view.

Gen 2:5 No plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for Yahweh God had not caused it to rain on the earth. There was not a man to till the ground,

The introduction to this yet to be developed field explains why: 1.) There was no plant life. 2.) God had not caused it to rain there. This is logical considering point 1. 3.) There was no man (in this case Adam) to till the ground. Man would be placed there following his dominion of the earth. (1:28)

So what we have is not two separate accounts of creation, as some textual critics claim, but a complementary addition to explain the exclusivity of Eden--man's sanctuary/meeting place with God. Although In order to appreciate the distinction of the "earth" from the "field" we must compare and contrast verses of chapters 1 and 2.

Gen 1:11 God said, “Let the earth yield grass, herbs yielding seeds, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with their seeds in it, on the earth;” and it was so. Gen 1:12 The earth yielded grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with their seeds in it, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.

Then consider the yet to be explained "field" which would have its own glory and purpose (2:9-14). Its origin narrative found beginning in chapter 2:5. Note: From chapter 1 up until this point of the narration the word field is not mentioned.

Gen 2:5 No plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for Yahweh God had not caused it to rain on the earth. There was not a man to till the ground,

In short, the Garden was no less on earth but an exclusive piece of real estate within it. God had given man dominion over the entire earth. But as we notice, once placed in Eden man was under the explicit commandments of his Creator. Man was to "cultivate and keep" the garden. I believe these duties were not isolated to manual labor, but to included worship and fellowship. Consider doing a study of the garden, the tabernacle/temple and the imagery of new heaven and earth of Revelation 21-22. It's fascinating.

The placement of Adam within the garden occurred the day he was created.

Gen 2:8 Yahweh God planted a garden eastward, in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Events of 2:4 thru 3:24 the same day?

Short answer? Most likely. From 2:16-25 Moses informs us of Adam's specific commands regarding Eden's fruit, the formation of woman, and the first couple's innocence (2:25). The artificial chapter break of 3:1 somewhat obscures the narrator's continuing description of the garden's environment and animal life. Specifically the serpent, whose aim was to reverse man's dominion over all created beings, particularly itself.

  • Nice insight on "the field." (+1) Although you could strengthen your conclusion by including the use of "the field" in Genesis 3:1,14,18. – Revelation Lad Jun 27 '16 at 19:28
  • Good insight on your part. I will soon add an addition concerning scholarly sources also. Though they're few and far between on this issue. – wilberteric Jun 27 '16 at 19:46
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According to an answer given by the author of this question, a couple of days had transpired:

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/23114/10231

-2

Leon Kass' statements that

  • "the second story is not just a magnified version of the human portions of the first",

  • that "it is utterly distinct and independent",

  • and that "we must scrupulously avoid reading into the second story any facts or notions taken from the first, and vice versa"

are quite foolhardy. For if Kass would apply the same rules to himself for Genesis 4 & 5, then Seth was really Adam's firstborn instead of Cain, since Cain and Abel did not even warrant a passing mention in chapter 5 (all quotations are from the KJV unless otherwise noted):

1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; 2 male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: 4 and the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: 5 and all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died. -Genesis 5:1-5

Using Kass' rules, the above verses would prove that there are two "utterly distinct and independent" stories of Adam's generations, even though the last few verses of Genesis 4 clearly show that Seth was born after Cain slew Abel:

25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. 26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord. -Genesis 4:25-26

Note that Genesis 5 begins with recounting "the generations of Adam." It gives a quick summary of his creation and then focuses on a specific aspect of Adam's generations: his lineage through Seth. And since the story of Cain and Abel had already been covered, they are not mentioned again.

This is the same type of language used in Genesis 2:4. Genesis 2 begins with God resting from His work on the seventh day, thus completing the creation week:

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. -Genesis 2:1-3

Now that we have a full account of all the things God did on each day, the author focuses on a specific aspect of creation: the creation of man (and subsequently woman). Just as Genesis 5 focuses on a specific aspect of Adam's generations, Genesis 2 focuses on a specific aspect of the generations of the heavens and the earth, namely the creation of man and woman:

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, -Genesis 2:4

The 'day' signifying here a period of time: "...in the [period of time] the Lord God made the earth...." since, as was already covered in Genesis 1:1--2:3, God took six days to create everything and rested on the seventh. This also matches up with a little later when God warns the man

but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day [period of time] that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. -Genesis 2:17

The man did not die the same exact day he ate the fruit, since as we have already seen from Genesis 5:5, Adam lived 930 years.

Brown-Driver-Briggs' definition of the word translated as 'day'

  1. day, time, year
    1. day (as opposed to night)
    2. day (24 hour period)
      1. as defined by evening and morning in Genesis 1
      2. as a division of time
    3. a working day, a day's journey
    4. days, lifetime (pl.)
    5. time, period (general)
    6. year
    7. temporal references
      1. today
      2. yesterday
      3. tomorrow

We know from Genesis 1:24-31 that all the cattle, creeping things, beasts of the earth, and man & woman were created on the sixth day. They were created fully mature and did not require any growth period to reach maturity. In the same way, the plants and herbs of the field were created fully mature on the third day in Genesis 1:9-13, with the growth cycle of new plants not having begun yet:

5 and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. -Genesis 2:5-6

Since we already know that the plants and herbs were created on the third day from Genesis 1:9-13, the emphasis in Genesis 2 is on the fact that the growth/maturing cycle had not yet started1. All plants and herbs that were there were already fully grown2. Any new plants or herbs would first require the current plants' and herbs' seeds to disperse, and then those seeds would require time to germinate. Some plants are able to grow without first dispersing seeds, but this requires someone to cultivate them (root cutting) and there was no man to till/cultivate the ground yet.

Thus, before the very first growth/maturation cycle began for any new plants or herbs, God formed man:

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 soul. -Genesis 2:7

Here in verse 7 it is shown that man was created alone at first.

Continuing with the story:

8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads [and became four riverheads (NKJV)]. -Genesis 2:8-10

Genesis 2:8-10 describes the garden God planted, how God Himself planted additional pleasing vegetation for man's new home, along with the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (which comes into play later). A river is also mentioned that watered the garden. But this is no ordinary river, for Genesis 2:11-14 goes on to describe just how much additional land was also watered by the abundance of this special river that originated in the garden God planted with His own hands.

Picking up at verse 15:

15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 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. -Genesis 2:15-17

Now we are given details of man's assigned occupation of tending the garden, and of how he can eat from all trees in the garden save one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God even gives man a reason for this prohibition, that death would ensue if he ate of it.

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him [I will make him a helper comparable to him (NKJV)]. -Genesis 2:18

This of course begs the question of why did God create the man alone first and then later create the woman? The following verses provide an answer:

19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him [But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him (NKJV)]. -Genesis 2:19-20

God brings to Adam all the other animals and flying creatures created previously on the sixth and fifth days (animals: Genesis 1:24-31; flying creatures: Genesis 1:20-23), to see what he would call them. Man was created in a more exalted way from all other animals, since he was made in the image and likeness of God:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.... -Genesis 1:26

And here lies his first lesson: he is not like the other animals. And out of all the other creatures brought before him, there was no helper comparable to him. Man has the ability to properly reason and comprehend greater things than the cattle or beasts of the field, which have no understanding:

Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you. -Psalm 32:9 (NKJV)

God then creates a companion for the man:

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. -Genesis 2:21-22

Man's higher reasoning and comprehension abilities are further demonstrated when God brings him the woman, as he proclaims in expressive appreciation:

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

I like how Thomas Coke describes the formation of Eve, and have included an excerpt from his commentary on verse 21:

He who had created man out of the dust, could certainly have created woman with as much ease from the same materials: but as the connexion of husband and wife was to be the most intimate and tender, it seems to have been the great Creator's design to have inculcated the lesson of perfect love and union, by the forming of woman out of man's body, and from a part of it so near the heart: as well as to make woman of a more refined and delicate nature, by thus causing the original clay to pass, as it were, twice through his refining hands.

Genesis 2 concludes with the brief explanation of a wife being the reason for a man to leave his father and mother, and that the first man with his wife were both naked and not ashamed (Genesis 2:24-25).

It is here where the magnification of the sixth day of creation week ends. For there was a seventh day created, when God rested from all His work. The entire day was a day of rest, and just as the previous six days fully completed, the seventh day completed as well. Therefore Genesis 3 begins some time after the seventh day.

After eating some of the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3:1-7, Adam and Eve hear God as He is walking and hide from Him:

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. -Genesis 3:8

God was walking in the garden during the cool of the day, or at the wind of the day, during the evening-breeze3. And since God rested for the entire seventh day, the events of Genesis 3 could only have happened after the seventh day, since God walking during the cool of the day would constitute a day other than the first seven.

Summary

  • Genesis 2:4-24 focuses on a specific aspect of "the generations of the heavens and the earth" that were first described in Genesis 1:1--2:3, just as Genesis 5 focuses on a specific aspect of "the generations of Adam" that were first described in Genesis 4.
  • The phrase "in the day" in Genesis 2:4 does not denote a literal day, but the general period of time when the heavens and earth were created (six literal days).
  • Genesis 2 concludes at the end of the sixth day of creation, with Genesis 3 beginning some time after the seventh day.

1Whedon's commentary argues strongly for this in saying of verse 5: "Literally this verse reads: And every shrub of the field not yet was (יהיה, future form, involving the idea of becoming, arising, growing) in the land, and every herb of the field not yet was sprouting... but a more proper translation would be: And no shrub of the field was yet arising in the land, and no herb of the field was yet sprouting. The future form יהיה, will be, taken in connexion with the future יצמח, will sprout, shows that a process of growth is contemplated, not the simple fact of existence. Hence the meaning is, (not that there was yet no plant or herb existing in the land, but,) none of the plants or herbs of the fields of Eden had as yet entered upon the processes of growth."

2Thomas Coke: And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth— That is, God when he made the heavens and the earth, made also, by his immediate power, every plant in its state of perfection, with its seed in it; before the several plants, thus produced, grew and increased in the natural and regular method by which they now grow and increase: and which method he appointed for that end, when things were regularly constituted, when the sun was appointed to shine, and the rain to fall upon the earth; and man was formed to cultivate the earth, and its produce. As yet it was otherwise: the vegetables were created and sustained by his power exerting itself in a peculiar manner: especially by causing a mist, vapour, or steam, to arise from the earth to water them. The sacred writer, by remarking that yet there was no man to cultivate the ground, nor any rain to water it, both which are necessary to the produce of vegetables, assures us, that vegetables were not, at first, produced in the ordinary method.

3Thomas Coke. (John Gill and Whedon also place the wind of the day in the evening.)

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