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'
- day, time, year
- day (as opposed to night)
- day (24 hour period)
- as defined by evening and morning in Genesis 1
- as a division of time
- a working day, a day's journey
- days, lifetime (pl.)
- time, period (general)
- temporal references
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.
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.