Lesson 2: Genesis Chapter 2
Things introduced in Chapter 2:
The basic cycle of time (week), and the SANCTIFYING of a day (Sabbath)
SABBATH — the practice of observing one day in seven as a time for rest and worship. This practice originated in creation, because God created the universe in six days and rested (literally “ceased”, since God did not suffer from physical exertion) on the seventh day (Genesis 1). By this act, God ordained a pattern for living—that people should work six days each week at subduing and ruling the creation and should spend the seventh day both resting AND honoring the Creator. This is the understanding of the creation set forth by Moses in Exodus 20:3–11, when he wrote the Ten Commandments at God’s direction.
The practice of the weekly Sabbath is given at several places in the Bible, long before the Ten Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai. In Genesis, for example, starting with Seth (Gen. 4:26), people began to call upon the name of the Lord in acts of worship. Thus, periods of seven days play a prominent role at crucial points throughout Genesis (Gen. 7:4-10 amd Gen. 8:10-12). The mention of a seven-day week and a seven-year cycle in the life practice of Laban, Abraham’s relative, is striking.
The formal institution of the Sabbath is a basic part of the Mosaic Law system. Each division of the law contains specific sections relating to the practice of the Sabbath: the moral law (the Ten Commandments), the civil law (Ex. 31:14), and the ceremonial law (Lev. 23:3). The keeping of the Sabbath was a sign that God truly ruled Israel. To break His Sabbath law was to rebel against Him (their Creator)—an action meriting death (Ex. 21:14). Society was not to seek advancement outside of submission to God. Therefore, all work except acts of mercy, necessity, and worship were forbidden on the Sabbath (Is. 58:13; Matt. 12:1–13).
The Old Testament prophets called upon the people to observe the Sabbath (Neh. 10:31; 13:15–22), while soundly condemning those who made much of external observance and ignored the heart and moral issues to which the Sabbath bound them (Is. 1:13; Hos. 2:11; Amos 8:5).
During the period between the Old and New Testaments, Jewish religious leaders added greatly to the details of Sabbath legislation, going from the four basic laws of the Sabbath (remember the Sabbath, keep it holy, do no regular work, and kindle no fire) to (at the time of Jesus) 1,850 laws. They sought to insure proper and careful observance by making certain that people did not even come close to violating it. This substituted human law for divine law (Matt. 15:9), made the law a burden rather than a rest and delight (Luke 11:46), and reduced the Sabbath to little more than an external observance (Matt. 12:8). Jesus, like the Old Testament prophets, kept the Sabbath Himself (Luke 4:16) and urged others to observe the day (Mark 2:28). But He condemned the pharisaical attitude that missed the deep spiritual truth behind Sabbath observance (Matt 12:14; Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1–11; John 5:1–18).
The vast majority of Christians feel that God still expects His people to set aside one day in seven to Him. They argue that such an observance is a creation ordinance that is binding until this creation comes to an end and our ultimate rest as Christians is realized in heaven (Hebrews 4). They also believe that as part of the moral system known as the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath is morally binding upon all people for all time.
Christians of this persuasion usually observe Sunday, the first day of the week. This is done not as a repudiation of the seventh day Sabbath, but as a recognition of the NEW creation found in Jesus Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15). They note that Christ arose on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1) and, thereafter, the New Testament church regularly worshiped on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). This day on which Jesus arose was called the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10). In the history of the church, there have been times when “mixed” (Jew and Gentile) groups of Christians would begin their worship service on Saturday PRIOR to sundown, but ending AFTER sundown; thus (by the biblical reckoning of days) starting on the Sabbath and ending on the Lord’s Day. A few Christian groups, however, deny that mandatory observance of the seventh day was ever abolished. Among them are Seventh-Day Adventists and Seventh-Day Baptists.
Taking a day of rest and worship EACH WEEK is a means by which our living pattern imitates God’s (Ex. 20:3–11). Work is followed by rest. This idea is expressed by the Hebrew word for Sabbath, which means “ceasing, to stop”.
Sabbath rest is also a time for God’s people to think about and enjoy what God has accomplished. Another Hebrew word meaning “rest” embodies this idea, “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall not do any work,” (Deut. 5:14). God’s people are directed to keep the Sabbath because God delivered and redeemed His people from the bondage and hard work in Egypt.
Sabbath rest also holds promise of the ultimate salvation that God will accomplish for His people. As certainly as He delivered them from Egypt through Moses, so will He deliver His people from sin at the end of the age through the Great Redeemer (Gen. 3:15; Hebrews 4).
Finally, the Sabbath includes the idea and practice of celebrating rest, or salvation. To this end, God declared that His Sabbath was a day for public convocation (Leviticus 23:3; Ex. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12).
The concept of celebration also presents the Sabbath as a delight (Ps. 92; Is. 58:13; Hos. 2:11). The sabbatical holy days (holidays) prescribed rest from work for everyone (Ex. 23:21; Num. 15:32).
On the Sabbath the Showbread was to be renewed (Leviticus. 24:8). The people were to meet together to praise God and to be instructed in His law (Leviticus. 10:11; Deut. 14:29; 33:10).
The NAME of God (Yahveh, not just ELOHIM as in chapter 1) (verse 4) (are you an ELOHIM person or a YAHVEH person?)
The most frequent name used for God in the Old Testament is Yahweh, or Jehovah, from the verb “to be,” meaning simply but profoundly, “I am who I am,” and “I will be who I will be.” The four-letter Hebrew word (called the tetragrammaton) YHWH was the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:14). English translations of the Bible translate the word as Lord Jehovah, or Yahweh.
As the author of life and salvation, God’s “I am” expresses the fact that He is the infinite and original personal God who is behind the existence of everything and to whom everything must finally be traced. This name, “I am who I am,” signals the truth that nothing else defines who God is but God Himself. What He says and does is who He is. The inspired Scriptures are the infallible guide to understanding who God is by what He says about Himself and what He does.
The divine name Yahweh is usually translated “Lord” in English versions of the Bible, because it became a practice in late Old Testament Judaism not to pronounce the sacred name YHWH, but to say instead “my Lord” (Adonai)—a practice still used today in the synagogue. When the vowels of Adonai were attached to the consonants YHWH in the medieval period, the word Jehovah resulted. Today, many Christians use the word Yahweh, the more original pronunciation, not hesitating to name the divine name since Jesus taught believers to speak in a familiar way to God.
The transition from simply using “Elohim” in Chapter 1 of Genesis to using “Yahweh Elohim” in Genesis 2 is significant in that it is a transfer (in one sense) of transitioning from the “generic” word for God to using “his personal name”. There are many people who say “I believe in God”, but mean it only in a vague, generic sense. They don’t KNOW God (in Jesus Christ), they show Him NO allegiance, they don’t OBEY Him, or have any real AWE or RESPECT for Him.
However, Christians (those who carry the NAME of Jesus upon ourselves) are supposed to have a PERSONAL and LIVING relationship with God (Matthew 6:9). Thus, by changing the names used from Genesis 1 to Genesis 2, God demonstrates from the very creation of Man His intention for personal relationship; culminating in His adoption of us through Jesus Christ.
How man was formed (body and nephesh)
The difference between the creation of MAN as different from the animals is seen in the word used in Genesis 2:7, translated “soul”, which is the word “nephesh”. This word is used 753 times in Scripture.
The word is defined as “1 soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion. 1a that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man. 1b living being. 1c living being (with life in the blood). 1d the man himself, self, person or individual. 1e seat of the appetites. 1f seat of emotions and passions. 1g activity of mind. 1h activity of the will. 1I activity of the character.
God created the animals with breath (moving air to live), but only man was imbued with life by the Breath of God which made him a living SOUL.
The need for purpose (Adam to work the Garden)
Man as created was intended to work. One of his primary tasks in the Garden of Eden was to “till [work] the ground” (Gen. 2:5). Although work was ordained by God as a blessing, it became a curse as a result of the Fall (Gen. 3:17-19). Man would now have to work for his food, and much of his produce would be frustration. The Book of Ecclesiastes teaches that work, no matter how noble and diligently pursued, is rendered meaningless in a world cursed at the Fall (Ecclesiastes 4:4). Work in a fallen world is frequently reduced to exploitation and oppression.
Nevertheless, through redemption, work finds meaning. God ordained that six days be spent in work with one day of rest (Ex. 20:9). The people of God in the Old Testament are frequently encountered performing works in service to God, for instance, in the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 26) and the Temple (1 Chr. 28:10). The Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament praises hard work (Prov. 14:23; 31:27), while it condemns and ridicules laziness (Prov. 6:6–11; 21:25). The same attitude is found in the New Testament. Paul and his associates worked (1 Cor. 4:12; 9:6), and they expected other believers to work and earn their own support (2 Thess. 3:10).
The Garden of Eden represented God’s ideal environment for man. Special characteristics of Eden were its wide variety of trees (Gen. 2:9; Ezek. 31:8–9), its precious stones and metals (Gen. 2:11–12; Ezek. 28:13–14), and its rivers (Gen. 2:10–14; Rev. 22:1–2), all of them portraying its richness and fertility. Eden is also sometimes referred to in the Bible as the garden of the Lord (Gen. 13:10; Is. 51:3) or the garden of God (Ezek. 28:13; 31:8–9). Some of this garden’s features, especially its rivers and the Tree of Life, are also used to portray God’s final blessings for His people (Ezek. 47:12; Rev. 22:1–2, 14).
The beginning of responsibility and accountability (command to NOT eat of the tree)
Since “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” embodied all moral knowledge, both of Good and of Evil, that limited Man cannot digest without becoming corrupted by the influence of evil; knowledge that only God could have while maintaining holiness, its fruit was forbidden to Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:17)
Adam and Eve were now responsible to OBEY the command of God, with consequences occurring if they didn’t.
The phrase “surely die” in the Hebrew is a DOUBLING of the word die, but in 2 different forms (see below):
Gen 2:17 ומעץ הדעת טוב ורע לא תאכל ממנו כי ביום אכלך ממנו מותתמות׃
This indicates the 2 deaths (physical and spiritual) that would occur due to disobedience.
The exercise of Adam’s intellect (naming of names)
To name something is to distinguish the nature of that thing and to recognize the thing by a sound bearing some analogy to its nature. To name things is also the prerogative of the owner, superior, or head.
This indicates to us a twofold use of language. First, it serves to register things and events in the thought (understanding) and in the memory. Man alone has the power of “conferring” with himself. He does this internally by means of language, in some form or other. He bears some resemblance to his Maker even in the complexity of his spiritual nature. He is at once speaker and hearer, and yet at the same time he is consciously one. Secondly, it is a medium of intelligent communication between beings who cannot read another’s thoughts by immediate intuition.
The names Adam gave are the permanent designations of the different species of living creatures that appeared before him. These names being derived from some prominent quality, were suited to be specific, or common to the class, and not special to the individual.
The ONLY NOT GOOD of Creation (man alone)
Man (Adam) was not designed to be alone, and this was made evident by the unity of the animals to their mates. However, Adam was not an animal; but he still had the need for a SUITABLE companion.
A part of the man is taken for the purpose, which can be spared without interfering with the function and integrity of his “structure”. It did not “make” a woman by the mere act of separation, as we are told that the Lord God “built” it into a woman. And thus, in accordance with the account in Genesis 1, we have, first, the single man created, the full representative and potential fountain of the race, and then, out of this one, in the way now described, we have the male and the female created.
The original unity of man constitutes the strict unity of the race. The construction of the rib into a woman establishes the individuality of man’s person before, as well as after, the removal of the rib. The selection of a rib to form into a woman constitutes her, in an eminent sense, a helpmeet for him, in company with him, on a footing of equality with him. At the same time, the building of the part into a woman determines the distinct personality and individuality of the woman.
Also, the fact that the woman was made FROM the man, and not as a completely separate being, reminds us (as the Bride of Christ) that we are individuals, but CONNECTED to the Savior that our life springs from (see John 15:4-5).
The Almighty has called intelligent beings into existence in two ways. The angels he seems to have created as individuals (referred to in Mark 12:25), constituting an order of beings the unity of which lies in the common Creator. Man he created as the parent of a race about to spring from a single head, and having its unity in that head. A single angel then stands by himself, and for himself; and all his actions belong only to himself. But the single man, who is at the same time head of a race, is in quite a different position. He stands for the race, which is contained in him; and his actions belong not only to him as an individual, but, in a certain sense, to the whole race.
Two remarkable events occur in the experience of man before the formation of the woman, – his installment in the garden as its owner, keeper, and dresser; and his receipt of the command to NOT eat of the Tree. By the former he was prepared to provide for the sustenance and comfort of his wife; by the latter, he became aware of his responsibility to protect her. Adam was qualified to hold intelligent conversation and interaction with a being like himself. He was competent to be the instructor of his wife in words and things. Again, he had met with his superior in his Creator, his inferiors in the animals; and he was now to meet his equal in the woman. And, lastly, by the divine command his moral sense had been brought into play, the theory of moral obligation had been revealed to his mind, and he was therefore prepared to deal with a moral being like himself, to understand and respect the rights of another, to do unto another as he would have another do to him.
The fundamental human unit, monogamous marriage (NOT POLYGAMOUS)
Marriage was instituted by God when He declared, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). So God fashioned a woman and brought her to the man. On seeing the woman, Adam exclaimed, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). This passage also emphasizes the truth that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). This plainly shows that God’s ideal is for a man to be the husband of one wife and for the marriage to be permanent. Also note that this knowledge of “family” was a part of the “basic information” that God had created in Adam prior to his ever needing it, or having anything to identify it with.
God’s desire for His people was that they marry within the body of believers. The Mosaic Law clearly stated that an Israelite was never to marry a foreigner. The Israelite would be constantly tempted to embrace the spouse’s god as well (Ex. 34:10–17; Deut. 7:3–4). Likewise, the apostle Paul commanded the members of the church at Corinth, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Newlyweds bring a variety of expectations to marriage. But what are God’s expectations for the marriage relationship? He designed the institution. What did He have in mind when he established it?
One window on God’s perspective comes from His own “marriage” to Israel. The prophet Isaiah portrays the relationship between the Lord and His people as a marriage (Is. 62:1–5). Notice what God as the Bridegroom does for His bride:
• He protects and purifies her.
• He honors and values her.
• He identifies Himself with her, as signified by giving her new names.
Centuries later, Paul echoed Isaiah’s bridal portrait of God and Israel when he described the marriage between Christ and the church (Eph. 5:21-33). Once again, the Bridegroom shows His love by protecting and purifying His bride, honoring and valuing her, and identifying Himself with her. Paul exhorted Christians to build their marriages on a similar basis.
Also see Revelation 19:7-9
Human Being Created In Innocence
Until Chapter 3, verse 7 Adam and Eve were together, naked without shame before each other and before God. They were so pure of mind and heart as God made them, and so much one flesh in their marital relationship that they were as innocent as naked little children who frequently play together with no sense of shame.
In their state of innocence prior to eating of the Tree, their minds could not even conceive of anything impure or unholy, especially in relation to each other.
See Titus 1:15.