If we take Genesis 1 as supplying the outline of the making of the sky and land biodome it says that vegetation appeared on day 3 and the seeds were in the plants:

NIV Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

However, in Genesis 2 it appears he made the seeds first and the vegetation failed to appear because man had not yet begun cultivation:

NIV Genesis 2:5 Now no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth, nor had any plant of the field sprouted; for the LORD God had not yet sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.

However in the next verse he says that the seeds were watered only from the earth instead of from the sky:

NIV Genesis 2:6 But springs [actually, a "mist"] welled up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.

  • Genesis 1 seems to say that God made plants with seeds in them rather than making seeds and sprouting them with rain as in Genesis 2

  • I don't see how the water from the sprinkler system failed to cause the seeds to sprout while water from the sky does (except in metaphor where it might be significant)

How can these accounts be reconciled?

3 Answers 3


There is no contradiction between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. If you will notice, in Genesis 2:1-3, the text says God completed the creation, so everything that God created was complete including man.

Genesis 2:1-3 (AKJV)

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.

Verse 4 and following just gives additional detail about the creation events; these should not be viewed as serial events since the text has already stated that the creation was complete. Hence, the text gives additional details to the conditions surrounding vegetation and additional details to the creation of man.

Genesis 2:1-3 (AKJV)

4 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, 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. 7 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.


If we ignore the chapter divisions that were created in the 12th century, the book of Genesis naturally divides itself into sections defined by the "toledoths" - a Hebrew word that is variously translated as, “the generations of”, “the history of”, “the account of”, “the record of”, etc. These act as headings for the material that follows each such header. There are 11 such toledoths in Genesis

  1. Gen 2:4 toledoth of Heavens and Earth
  2. Gen 5:1 toledoth of Adam
  3. Gen 6:9 toledoth of Noah
  4. Gen 10:1 toledoth of Shem Ham and Japheth
  5. Gen 11:10 toledoth of Shem
  6. Gen 11:27 toledoth of Terah
  7. Gen 25:12 toledoth of Ishmael
  8. Gen 25:19 toledoth of Isaac
  9. Gen 36:1 toledoth of Esau
  10. Gen 36:9 toledoth of Esau in Hill Country
  11. Gen 37:2 toledoth of Jacob

Each of these Toledoth sections contains material that is internally chronologically correct; however, they overlap in the sense that most start before the end of the previous one. This covers all of Genesis except the first 34 verses. It is highly probable that each toledoth section was created as a separate text or oral tradition which Moses collected and collated and then added an introduction (Gen 1:1 - 2:3).

Thus, Genesis as we now have it contains two creation accounts probably written by different authors (one of them Moses) which record events from a different perspective and for clearly different purposes. They do not disagree just record different details.

The First creation account is often seen as a salvation/redemption story as the earth starts out as "formless and void" and ends up being declared "very good". The second creation account is told in a way that emphasises the human environment in preparation for the introduction of sin. Both accounts start at the same time but the second goes well beyond the first chronologically


The division between these two accounts is not actually the division between the chapters, but rather Genesis 2:4 which states "אֵ֣לֶּה תוֹלְד֧וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֛יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ בְּהִבָּֽרְאָ֑ם בְּי֗וֹם עֲשׂ֛וֹת יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶ֥רֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם׃" "This is the story (תולדות) of the Sky and the Earth when they were created. When G-d created the Earth and the Sky ..." (Genesis 2:4). The important word here is תולדות which comes from the root ילד which means to give birth. Thus the word תולדות means a story but more specifically a story which has to do with the creation of something. Thus the first chapter is the תולדות of the Sky and the Earth; whereas, the second chapter (from verse 4 onwards) is the תולדות of Adam. It's focus is on Adam. It starts with the creation of Adam and continues to the Shabbath where the snake episode happens.

The order of creation may seem like a contradiction, but one possible explanation is that the animals and plants were created before Adam but sealed from Adam before Adam was created. It is important to note that in Genesis 1, the verb used for creation is ברא; whereas, in Genesis 2, the verb used it יצר. Thus G-d could have created all the plants and animals before Adam, but then shown Adam specific beings which were formed later.

This was likely done for several reasons, the first being to teach man that he is important for the world, but at the same time small compared to the world. The second being to teach man the complexity of understanding his own creation as man cannot fully understand his own creation.

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