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Genesis 1:24-26(KJV)

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth

Genesis 2:18-20(KJV)

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 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.

In Genesis 1 it would seem the animals were created before the man but in Genesis 2 the animals were created after the man specifically to find a help meet for the man

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You can't "reconcile" the two accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 without creating more problems than you solve. The answer provided by gotquestions.org ignores the problem presented by Genesis 2:18, which verse seems to indicate that the man was alone, without the animals, as the OP indicates.

Here are some reasons not to spend time on this type of "reconciliation" in the OT:

  1. The criterion of logical coherence is extra-textual, extra-cultural and anachronistic (originated in a later period than the text itself and in Greek culture). The writers and compilers of the OT did not share our conceptions about the existence of an objective reality or about an objective view of history.
  2. The large number of inconsistencies both within books of the OT and between the books is a clear indication that the writers of the books and compilers of the corpus felt that conflicting material should be included. We should respect this decision and endeavor to understand it. It detracts nothing from the sacredness of the texts themselves.
  3. The assumption of applicability of the criterion of coherence itself needs to be examined in each instance.
  4. Attempts to reconcile the conflicts usually lead to contrived readings or require making unprovable and often silly presuppositions. As such, they often create more problems than they solve.
  5. The reconciliations add nothing to our understanding of the texts or of the people who wrote them, and in fact, prevent a deeper understanding of what the texts are saying.

In this particular case, it might be more fruitful to ask why there appear to be two different accounts of creation. How do these accounts complement each other? Why did the writer see the need to include both? Why did the writer not smooth out the obvious inconsistency?

  • @Lucian I think you should write up your comments as an alternative answer, since that is what they really are, delete them from here, and then see what comments and up-votes your answer receives. I am not familiar with the translations that you mention. They aren't relevant to my answer, which is based on reading the MT text itself. I use the Onkelos Aramaic and Tafasir Arabic translations as commentaries when reading the MT. I use the mainstream English translations only when answering to questions about the fidelity of those translations. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Aug 10 '17 at 14:26
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The easy answer is that you simply don't. Genesis 1:1-2:3 and and 2:4-3:24 Are two seperate creation accounts targeted at two different audiences and written by different authors. Genesis 1 appears to be a completely different Genre from 2:4-3:24. While chapter 1 appears to be a type of poetic prologue, 2:4-3:24 appears to be straight narrative.

As two competing creation accounts with one being poetic in nature, these no more need to be reconciled than Egyptian creation myths need to be reconciled with Babylonian myths or Proverbs 3:13 needs to be reconciled with Ecclesiastes 1:18.

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From gotquestions.org:

The second claimed contradiction is in regard to animal life. Genesis 1:24-25 records God creating animal life on the sixth day, before He created man. Genesis 2:19, in some translations, seems to record God creating the animals after He had created man. However, a good and plausible translation of Genesis 2:19-20 reads, “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.” The text does not say that God created man, then created the animals, and then brought the animals to the man. Rather, the text says, “Now the LORD God had [already] created all the animals.” There is no contradiction. On the sixth day, God created the animals, then created man, and then brought the animals to the man, allowing the man to name the animals.

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    The text says, “Now the LORD God had [already] created all the animals.” - The Douay-Rheims Version, German Luther Bible, and Romanian Orthodox Scriptures support precisely this reading. – Lucian Aug 9 '17 at 19:48
  • I agree with Frank H. The verbal form there used (ויצר), prefixed with the usual waw may be translate with a target language's tense which cover also a previous timepoint. I may add two Italian translations which maintain this sense: Giovanni Diodati, and Luzzi Riveduta ("E l'Eterno Iddio avendo formato dalla terra [...], li menò all'uomo [...]", that is, "And the Eternal God having formed from the earth [...] drive them to man"). – Saro Fedele Mar 12 '18 at 16:23
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Note how 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.

(All quotations 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

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

but Genesis 5 is not concerned with Cain and Abel anymore and begins with recounting "the generations of Adam" specifically through his son Seth.

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

'in the day' here signifying 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

John Gill also makes note of this in his commentary on verse 4:

in the day that the Lord God made the earth, and the heavens;
meaning not any particular day, not the first day, in which the heavens and the earth were created; but referring to the whole time of the six days, in which everything in them, and relating to them, were made.

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.

Continuing with 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 except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God even gave man a reason for this prohibition, that death would ensue if he ate of it.

While man and woman were both created on the sixth day, we now find out that they were not created at the same time during that day:

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 on the sixth day: Genesis 1:24-31; flying creatures on the fifth day: Genesis 1:20-23), to see what he would call them. John Gill makes note of this in his commentary for verse 19:

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air Or "had formed them"F5 on the fifth and sixth days; and these were formed two and two, male and female, in order to continue their species; whereas man was made single, and had no companion of the same nature with him....

F5(ויצר) "finxerat", Drusius.

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.

Summary

  • Genesis 2:4-24 is a closer look at what occurred on the sixth day by focusing 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.

  • Genesis 2:19 is not saying that man was formed before the animals. It is saying that God brought to Adam all the animals that had been previously created.


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[....] 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.

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If the calendar of God is absolute, if there is no deviation or variations, if there is a single unchanging method by which God keeps track of time, then we may reconcile the two accounts by considering the nature of time from the perspective of the first man.

The man was created on the sixth day and at a specific time of day. If God wrote a birth certificate it would reflect the day and time and location. As stated in Genesis 1, the day was the sixth day; as stated in Genesis 2 the location was west of the Garden of Eden.

For anyone living on the earth, the time of day is location specific. At any given moment people at different locations will record different times and in some cases, different days for an event. The reason for this is the earth's motion relative to the sun and man's desire to "standardize" time. So at the same moment, for men living on the earth, it can accurately be said it is simultaneously both day and night depending on location. Obviously God would not have any such restriction or limitation in "telling time." His clock would show one time, regardless of what anyone on the earth used or believed.

Nevertheless, whatever method God does use means there will be a singular location on the earth which always agrees exactly with God's clock. As a Christian, I place that location at the spot at which Jesus was crucified. This is the only human way Jesus could give up His life at exactly the right time. That exact moment in time in Jerusalem would be a different time in Rome or in Babylon. To the west in Rome, His death occurred earlier in the day; to the east in Babylon it was later. If one considers a location far enough east from Jerusalem, the death would be recorded on a different day of the week.

How can the man be created on the sixth day after the animals (Genesis 1) and on before the animals (Genesis 2)?

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:8 ESV)

If time is absolute for God, when the LORD God took the man from the location at which he was created to the east where the Garden was planted, He moved the man to a location 45 minutes earlier then when he was created, assuming this journey was an act of creation and did not take time to travel from one location to the other. Essentially the man was in two different places at one time.

Therefore, while Genesis 1 is an accurate record that the animals were created before the man on the sixth day; Genesis 2 may also be understood as an accurate record that the man arrived in the Garden, before they were created. Because the LORD God took the man to a location where it was an earlier time of day from the perspective of the man. In other words, if the man recorded the position of the sun when he was created, he would record a position corresponding to an earlier time of day when he arrived in the Garden.

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Properly, the text of Chapter 2 up to, and including, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created", belongs in chapter 1, since the events of the "days" of creation are the "generations of the heavens and the earth", and they finish with the seventh day.

Here is an image that depicts the 50 most frequent words in Genesis 1:1-2:4a (Text from KJV).

enter image description here

Here is an image that depicts the 50 most frequent words in Genesis 2:4b-25.

enter image description here

With this simple analysis of the text it is pretty clear that the principle emphasis of Genesis 1 is GOD and EARTH, and the principle emphasis of Genesis 2 is GOD and MAN. There really is no point trying to impose one chapter upon the other as if they are supposed to serve the same purpose. It is an exercise in vanity.

In my answer here I argue that the first three chapters of Genesis represent a dream/vision concerning how the things the dreamer was familiar with, came to be. The dream is presented as a sequence of separations, beginning with a formless fluid appearing in the void, and finishing with the state of existence in which the dreamer finds himself, i.e. with all the different things about him, and with God in a place where he, himself, is not.

Genesis 2 is not about the days/generations of the heavens and the earth. It is about the relationship between GOD and MAN -- the VERTICAL relationship that sees the new word LORD featuring prominently in the text.

The text of chapter 2 moves the reader towards the next major separation of creation, i.e. woman is separated out of man. In chapter 3, the reader is taken through the last phase of creation, where man is separated from God.

The whole point of the separating was to create the space in which man could move, and to give him reasons to move in particular directions. Because of the separation, proximity is man's decision alone. Does he want to be close to his wife? Does he want to be close to his LORD? His steps will be a manifestation of his desires.

Conclusion

Chapter 2 is not about the DAYS of creation as they were detailed in Chapter 1, but rather, it is about the appearance of WOMAN.

It is vain pursuit to try to reconcile two chapters that have vastly different functions.

  • Correlation is not causation, nor do word counts necessarily show what a passage is about. I've payed around with word clouds before and come up with some that do visualize trends that are meaningful and others that are just nonsense. Basically you've come to this conclusion by pure gut instinct and even though you might be right in this case, you haven't actually established a case. – Caleb Dec 1 '16 at 17:11
  • @Caleb LOL. You wouldn't have seen the CORRELATION had my answer not been given. So, I have shown you something that you hadn't noticed before. Honestly, Caleb, I'm glad you had the courage to let me know who the DV was from. I rarely have that privilege. However, your comment simply exposes the malice of your behaviour towards me. It appears you weren't so brave concenring your DV attacked on my other answers this morning. – enegue Dec 1 '16 at 19:36

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