4 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, 5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
The history or the generations begins a narrative that will expand an add details to the days of creation that we have studied thus far. The use of day or "yovm" in verse 4 is interesting because it's not clear if it refers to the first creation day or all of them collectively; but as we have covered the word is flexible enough to support either meaning. Verses 5-6 describe the early earth conditions, there was not yet a stable water cycle so the vegetation was not everywhere, but in specific places where God had made water springs to feed rivers and water the ground. The best example I can think of is the mist that surrounds a waterfall as the cascading water puts tiny water droplets in the air.
What this suggests to me is there was a dramatic difference between the land God had prepared for man in Eden, and the wilderness that lay outside the boundaries of the great rivers. This is an easy application for us, as the place God prepares for us in his will is preferable to the wilderness of sin that lies beyond the will of God.
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 being.
We see that God's creation of man was more intimate than with the other creatures. Our life is a gift, formed and breathed by God. Some want to rewrite this verse to say "God evolved man of the ancient primates" or worse yet "nature evolved man from the ancient primates", but that is not what is says, it's not our history nor is demonstrated by science, as some will claim.
The more we learn about creation the more we see how distinctive mankind is. Only man is capable of abstract thought and written language, and it's unclear how things like art, music and religion could have evolved as they would not be evolutionary advantages while those traits were developing, and there is no evidence of these traits among the extant primates, only in mankind.
Life in God's Garden
8 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 the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
The Babylonians called lush green land flowing with water edenu, in English we might call it an oasis, God called it a garden on the eastward side of Eden. There God made a home for man, and gave all of these wonderful fruit and nut trees to make food abundant for man. In the midst of the garden with all the food trees there were two special trees, one by which man could obtain the knowledge to judge good and evil, and another by which man could live forever. So the trees would be their greatest blessing and also their greatest temptation.
10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris); it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
So four great rivers emerged from one spring and watered the whole region. Some have looked at the Tigris and Euphrates. In modern times two of these flows through Iraq and two are unknown. Skeptics point to this and say there was no Eden. But rivers change course over time and studies of ancient river beds have located a place where 4 rivers once met in what is now the Persian Gulf.
Studies of the topology in that region confirm that during times of low sea levels a Gulf Oasis would appear, and there are even plans so search underwater for remains of ancient civilizations in the Gulf. One again the more we learn by science the more the Bible is confirmed.
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
We see that man is not intended to be idle but God gives him work as a gardener. Here also Adam receives his instructions regarding the "tree of knowledge" along with the promised judgment of this transgression was death. So if we remember the "tree of life" you see Adam literally had a choice of life and death, there in the garden. What an interesting choice since Adam already knew good in the presence of God and in his garden home, so really the only thing to be gained by disobedience was evil.
18 And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
If you remember our study of the sixth creation day there were already all kinds of primates and hominids but God says none of these is comparable to Adam. So God brings all the created animals to Adam to name, I don't know how specific this was did he name every species or just every genus I don't know, but he was certainly familiar with all the land animals and birds and their general characteristics. This is an exercise for God to demonstrate to Adam that he is distinct among creation and that there is no other animal comparable to him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
So God performs the first surgery putting Adam to sleep to be spared the trauma of this surgery, then God takes bone and flesh from his side and fashions the woman from this flesh and bone. This is a good time to recall that God instructed Adam regarding the "tree of knowledge" back in verse 17 before the woman was made.
23 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."
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
So Adam is a sentimental guy and when he is presented with this woman he responds with a poem or a song naming the woman and rejoicing over her. In verse 23 the Hebrew word for man isn't "adam" but "iysh" and he calls the woman "iysha", these together should be understood to mean husband and wife. So Adam did not look at Eve (not named as such until after the fall) as just a female but as a part of himself, his own wife. This explains their comfort with being naked and unashamed. There was no disappointment, nothing to hide; everything was the way God has provided.
Recent events have caused some to ask how we should define marriage. Some seek a revised standard of marriage to cope with contemporary reality. In Matthew 19 Jesus was also approached by those seeking a more flexible standard of marriage, and this was His answer:
"Haven't you read the Scriptures?" Jesus replied. "They record that from the beginning 'God made them male and female.'" And he said, "'This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together." (Verses 4-6)
Jesus quotes Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 and defined marriage as heterosexual, monogamous, and permanent. To those unaccepting of such a restrictive covenant, He went on to say that they should not be married. To those who had broken this marriage covenant he said go and sin no more. Just like the garden that God made we can see a dramatic difference between the marriage that God provided, and the "wilderness" of sin that lies outside of God's provision.