June 18, 2013
Commentary on the Book of Genesis
By: Tom Lowe

 

PART: I GENERAL HISTORY FROM ADAM TO ABRAHAM—Gen. 1:1-11:9.

Topic #A: An Account of Creation. Gen. 1:1-2:7.

 

Lesson I.A.10: Other Details of Creation


Gen. 2.4-7 (KJV)

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.


Introduction

In the first chapter we saw that there was nothing, and then the inorganic came into existence: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The next step in creation was the organic, that is, the creation of life. We saw that in verse 21, where it says that God created great whales and then all animal life. He created animal life, but the plant life already existed and became food for all the animals. Then man is the next step in the creation. There is actually no natural transition, and evolution cannot bridge the gap that brings us to the appearance of Homo sapiens on the earth. The earth, therefore, was prepared for the coming of man.


Here, a name given to the Creator, "Jehovah." Where the word "LORD" is printed in capital letters in our English Bibles, in the original it is "Jehovah." Jehovah is that name of God, which denotes that He alone has his being (essence, life) of himself, and that He gives being (essence, life)  to all creatures and things. Furthermore, notice is taken of plants and herbs, because they were made and consigned to be food for man. The earth did not produce its fruits by itself: this was done by the almighty power of God. Likewise grace does not grow naturally in the soul, but is the work of God. Rain also is the gift of God; it cannot rain until the Lord God causes it to do so. Though God works by exerting His power and influence over men and nature, nonetheless when it pleases Him to do so, He can do His work without them; and though we must not tempt God by neglecting our duty to Him, we must trust God, both in His use of us and His purpose. Some way or other, God will water the plants which He has planted. Divine grace comes down like the dew, and waters the church without making any noise. Man was made out of the minute particles of dust, like that on the surface of the earth. The soul was not made from the earth, as was the body; therefore, if it cares for only earthly things it should be pitied. Remember, we must shortly give an accounting to God about how we have used these souls; and if He should discover that we have lost our souls, though we may have gained the world, we are more than any other man the most miserable and will remain that way forever! Fools despise their own souls, by caring for their bodies more than they do for their souls.


Commentary

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,

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,
This is the first of ten section headings in Genesis—“These are the generations” (see 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 37:2). The term “generations” is actually better rendered as “histories of,” and the phrase is foundational to the structure of the book. “These” verses “are the” history or account of the creation “of the heavens and of the earth.” Where did Moses obtain this account, which was so different from the strange and absurd fantasies of the heathen? He could not have got it from any human source, because man did not exist at the time; and not from the illumination of nature or reason, since though they proclaim the eternal power and Godhead by the things which are made, they cannot tell how they were made. Only the Creator Himself could give this information, and therefore it is through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God—“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb 11:3; KJV). There are two explanations for the origin of this universe. One is speculation, and the other is revelation. By faith we accept revelation, and, my friend, by faith you will accept speculation. Speculation has many theories, and many of them have been abandoned. Right now the theory is evolution, but even evolution, I am told, is going out of style today. It is the best the unbeliever can hold on to, but it is mere speculation, and they have to have a whole lot of faith to go along with it!


“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” Actually, this could read, “the ages were set up by the Word of God.” The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two–edged sword. The Word of God is more powerful than an atom or hydrogen bomb. Someone has said that atom bombs come in three sizes: “big,” “bigger,” and “where is everybody?” Well, the Word of God is even more potent than that, because the Word of God has the power to transform lives. And when you and I come to the Word of God, we either accept or reject God’s statement concerning the origin of the universe: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). That is revelation. Either you believe God, or you go by speculation. Don’t tell me that evolution is scientific. It is not. If it were, then all the scientists would be in agreement—and they certainly are not in agreement. Today many outstanding scientists are beginning to let go of their worship of evolution. They see so many fallacies in it that they are moving away from it. You either believe God (that’s revelation), or you believe speculation. Faith must be anchored in something.
Faith means that you have a solid basis for the origin of the universe. I won’t have to change my theory as scientific knowledge grows; it has been in operation a long time: “God created the heaven and the earth.”
Some scholars have suggested that Genesis 1 and 2 are different creation stories placed side by side. The structure of chapter 2 does not support this theory. Verses 1–3 complete the retelling of the seven days of creation; verses 4–7 in Hebrew are one long sentence summarizing God’s creative activity. A more detailed description follows of the creation of the man (vv. 7, 15–17), of the garden in which the man and woman would live (vv. 8–14), and of the woman who was to be his “helper” (vv. 18–25). The word “history” (lit. “generations”) is elsewhere used to introduce genealogical lines (Gen. 5:1; 10:1).

in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
Here is the first mention of the name for God, “the LORD.” Literally, it is YHWH (probably pronounced Yahweh), and it is the most significant name for God in the Old Testament; it expresses respect and reverence.


Yahweh (or Jehovah) is one of the most important names for God in the Old Testament, from the verb “to be,” meaning simply but profoundly, “He Is.” His full name is found only in Ex. 3:14 and means “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be.” The four-letter Hebrew word YHWH was the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush (see Ex. 3:14). This bush was a vivid symbol of the inexhaustible dynamism of God who burns like a fire with love and righteousness, yet remains the same and never diminishes. Some English translations of the Bible use the word Jehovah, while others use Yahweh.
God is the author of life and salvation. His “I am” expresses the fact that He is the infinite and original personal God who is behind everything and to whom everything must finally be traced. “I am who I am” implies 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. Yahweh is the all-powerful and sovereign God who alone defines Himself and establishes truth for His creatures and works for their salvation.


“Elohim” is the name of God in Chapter 1. Elohim is the plural form of El, but it is usually translated in the singular. Some scholars have held that the plural represents an intensified form for the supreme God; others believe it describes the supreme God and His heavenly court of created beings. Still others believe that the plural form refers to the triune God of Genesis 1:1–3, who works through Word and Spirit in the creation of the world. In any event, Elohim conveys the idea that the one Supreme Being, who is the only true God, is in some sense plural.


Throughout the first chapter, God was called Elohim—a God of power and perfection; but now, in these verses He is Jehovah. He was known by the name Jehovah when he appeared to perform what he had promised—“And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them” (Ex 6:3; KJV). Jehovah is that great and unspeakable name of God which signifies His having His being (life, essence) of himself, and his giving being (life, essence) to all things; it is fitting therefore that he is called by that name now that heaven and earth are finished.


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.

All that is described in this passage took place before man was here upon the earth, and we can now begin to see the purpose of God in chapter 1. In chapter 1 God was preparing a home for the man whom He would make. Here God is getting ready to move this man into a place that He has prepared for him; and further notice is taken of the production of plants and herbs, because they were made and designated to be food for man.


The earth did not produce its fruits by itself, by any natural power of its own but purely by the almighty power of God, which formed every plant and every herb before it grew in the earth. Similarly, grace in the soul does not grow on its own accord in nature’s soil, but is the work of God’s own hands.


Rain also is the gift of God; it did not rain on the earth until the Lord God caused it to rain. If there is a drought, it is God that withholds the rain; if rain is abundant, it is God that sends it; if it rains upon one city and not upon another, it is God that decides –“And I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain upon one city, and send no rain upon another city; one field would be rained upon, and the field on which it did not rain withered” (Amos 4:7; RSV). Though God, ordinarily, works by means of men and nature acting as His agents, nevertheless He is not tied to them, and when it pleases Him He can do His own work without them. Just as the plants were produced before the sun was made, they were likewise produced before there was either rain upon the earth or a man to till it. Therefore though we must not tempt God to work without His agents, nonetheless we must trust God if He chooses to do it all with His own hands.


“Every plant of the field before it was in the earth” makes it appear that God created everything, not only perfect with respect to its nature, but also in a state of maturity, so that every vegetable appeared at once in full growth; and this was necessary so that man, when he came into being, would find everything ready for his use.


It should be observed that the types of vegetation under consideration may have grown only in Paradise; because the account centers on Paradise throughout the rest of the chapter.


6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

The LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, “but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” The translation into “mist” is pure conjecture. In the Septuagint it is translated plēgē (i.e., fountain, spring). In the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary it is ēdū, which denotes a deluge of water, high water. Harris understands it to mean a waterway. An ēdū was a flood that overflowed the city of Babylon on the lower Euphrates. Therefore, it is probably not a “mist” like we would envision, but an irrigation canal. Note in verse 10 that the root verb of verse 6, “to water,” is used for an irrigation type of watering before the single river divides into four rivers—“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads” (Genesis 2.10; KJV). These are the rivers that watered the garden. These four rivers (or one river branched into four streams) contributed a great deal both to the pleasantness and the fruitfulness of this garden. The land of Sodom is said to be “well watered every where, as the garden of the Lord” (Gen. 13:10; KJV). Some commentators believe the Hebrew word translated “mist” in this verse refers to some subterranean water source, such as an underground spring or stream.
Observe: that which God plants He will take care to keep watered. 


 The verb “went up” is used with regard to the Nile River in Amos 8:8 and 9:5. And in Genesis 2.15 we read that it was part of Adam’s work: to keep the garden well irrigated and watered for these special types of plants that grew there—“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Verse 15 is the fulfillment of the need described in this verse. This man had dominion, and the forces of nature responded at his beck and call.


 One way or another God will take care to water the plants that He has planted. Although there was no rain as of yet, God made a mist which was equivalent to a shower (river, flood, canal, deluge) and with it He “watered the whole face of the ground.” In this way he chose to fulfill His purpose by the weakest means, so that the excellency of the power might be of God.

MIST—The common definition is water in the form of particles floating or falling in the atmosphere near the surface of the earth. Here it speaks of a mist going up from the earth and watering the ground. The plain meaning, with which you may be familiar, seems to be this, that the water vapors, ascending from the earth due to the heat of the sun and other sources, and becoming condensed in the colder regions of the atmosphere, fell back upon the earth in the form of dew, and by this means moisture was distributed to the roots of plants, etc.

 


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.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground,
In chapter 1 we are only told that God created man, but here we are given some details of that creative act. Man himself is a little world, consisting of heaven and earth, soul and body. Here we have an account of the source of both the body and soul, and how they are brought together. I hope that when we are finished with this verse, we will be able to honestly say: “let us praise our Creator, because we are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Elihu, who lived during the age of the patriarchs refers to this account when he says, “I also am formed out of the clay” (Job 33:6), and “The breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (Job 33:4), and “There is a spirit in man” (Job 33:6).


The humble origin of man is revealed by the statement “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground.” “The dust of the ground” is a very unlikely thing to use to make a man of; but the same infinite power that made the world from nothing made man from dust; it’s His master-piece, and the reason for all God’s creative acts that preceded it. He was made of the dust, the small dust that was upon the surface of the ground. It was probably, not dry dust, but dust moistened with the mist that went up (v. 6). He was not made of gold-dust, powdered pearls, or diamond dust, but common dust, dust from the ground. Therefore, he is said to be of the earth—dusty (see 1 Co. 15:47). And you and I are also of the earth, since we are his offspring, and made from the same mould. There is such a close resemblance between the earth and our first parents that our mother’s womb, out of which we were born, is called the earth—“My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth” (Ps. 139:15; KJV). And the earth, in which we must be buried, is called our mother’s womb—“He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21; NLT). Also take notice of these verses:
1. Our foundation is in the earth—“How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?” (Job 4:19; KJV).
2. Our fabric is earthly, and the fashioning of it is like that of an earthen vessel—“Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?” (Job 10:9; KJV).
3. Our food is out of the earth—“As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire” (Job 28:5; KJV).
4. Our familiarity is with the earth—“I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister” (Job 17:14; KJV).
5. Our fathers are in the earth, and one day I will be in the earth; what then do I have to be proud of?

Now here is something truly worthy of noting; the Lord God formed man. All the other creatures were said to be created and made; but of man is unique in that he was formed, which signifies a gradual process carried out with great accuracy. To express the creation of this new thing, he uses a new word, a word (some think) borrowed from the potter’s forming his vessel upon the wheel; for we are the clay, and God the potter—“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8; KJV). Observe:
1. The body of man is curiously wrought—“My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalms 139:15-16; KJV).
2. Let us present our bodies to God as living sacrifices—“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1; KJV).
3. Let us present our bodies to God as living temples—“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19; KJV).
4. And then these vile bodies shall shortly be new-formed like Christ’s glorious body—“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil 3:21; KJV).

 

This is the method God used to create man, and He has not told us much about it. Physically, man was taken out of the ground. It is quite interesting that our bodies are made up of about fifteen or sixteen chemical elements. Those same chemical elements are found in the ground. The physical part of man was taken out of the dust of the ground. If we were to be boiled down into the separate chemical elements of which we are made, we would be worth very little in terms of money. I used to say $2.98, but inflation has increased that figure a little. That is the extent of our bodily worth because we were made out of the dust of the ground.

The Hebrew words for man is adam, and ground, is adamah.

DUST — loose earth. God fashioned Adam out of the dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7). Because he led people to sin, the serpent was cursed to eat dust as he crawled on his belly (Gen. 3:14). Dust was poured upon the head as a sign of mourning. Dust is also used as a symbol for a numberless multitude (Gen. 13:16), for death (Gen. 3:19; Job 10:9; Eccl. 12:7), and the grave (Dan. 12:2).

GROUND. Man made from, Gen. 2:7; 3:19, 23; Job 4:19; 33:6. Animals from, Gen. 2:19. Vegetables from, Gen. 2:9. Cursed, Gen. 3:17; 5:29.

FORMED. GOD FORMED MAN OUT OF THE DUST OF THE GROUND. Science has proved that the substance of his flesh, sinews, and bones, consists of the very same elements as the soil which forms the crust of the earth and the limestone that lies embedded in its bowels. But from that common material what an admirable structure has been erected in the human body (Ps 139:14).
 

and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
Man’s life came from the breath of God—“and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” God had previously breathed the heavens into existence by His omnipotent word—“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth” (Ps 33:6; KJV). Later, He would breathe out the Holy Scriptures—“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16; KJV). But here He breathes the breath of life into the lifeless body of the first man, the non-physical, non-material part of man. Such a breath could only come from God, the Giver of life.


Man is made from dust, but he is more than dust. Physically, he is made from dust and he will turn into dust when he dies, but his spirit is going to God. Why? Because God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” God breathed into him “the breath of life.” God gave man life which is physical and psychological, and then He gave him life which is spiritual. In other words, man now is brought into a marvelous relationship with his Creator. He has in his being a capacity for God. This is what separates man from all other creatures that are found in God’s universe, as far as we know. Of course, there are the angels, but we know very little about them.


The theistic evolutionists say that mankind evolved up to this point, and then God began to work with this product of evolution. However, no form of evolutionary theory can account for human speech, it cannot account for human conscience, and it cannot account for human individuality. These are three things with which evolution has a little difficulty. It is mighty easy to take the bones of a man and compare them to the bones of some anthropoid, probably an ape, or to a horse. There is a striking similarity, I am sure, and yet there is a wide divergence also. I would expect that there would be a certain similarity because these creatures are to move in the same environment in which we move as human beings—naturally, the framework would have to be the same. For example, there is a very striking similarity between the chassis of a Ford automobile and that of a Chevrolet automobile, but you had better not say that to the Ford Motor Company or to General Motors! They will tell you that there is a wide difference between the two. But there is a very striking similarity when you see the chassis. You must begin with something fixed on which you can put four wheels, one on each corner, and it must be rectangular to a certain extent. Why? Because the Ford and the Chevrolet are both going to get stuck on the freeway at five o’clock in the afternoon. A car must be able to balance, and it must have a motor to move it. So you would have a similarity, but that does not mean they came out of the same factory. I feel that such an exaggeration has been made of the similarity between man and these other creatures. Man is a different creature. God breathed into his breathing places the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Man is fearfully and wonderfully made, and that is something which we need to keep in mind.

BREATH — air drawn into the body to sustain life. Since breathing is the most obvious sign of life, the phrase “breath of life” is used frequently in the Bible to mean “alive” or “living” (Gen. 2:7; 6:17). Breath is recognized as the gift of God to His creatures (Job 12:10). But since breath is usually invisible, it also may symbolize something without substance or a temporary state of existence (Ps. 144:4).
In a different sense, the “breath of God” (Job 37:10) signifies God’s power. This stands in striking contrast to heathen gods, which have neither power nor life. The word “breath” may be used figuratively, as when Jesus “breathed” the Holy Spirit upon His disciples (John 20:22).


and man became a living soul.
A better translation for this phrase would be “and man became a living creature or person,” Here, “soul” is not a reference to the concept of body, soul/spirit, but rather to the fact that man became a “living” being. Man is distinguished from animals by being created in the image of God, and also by possessing a soul/spirit. The soul itself is a creation of God, and every human body comes with a soul. It has as its origin, the breath of heaven. It was not made from the earth, as the body was; it is a pity then when a soul mixes with the earth, and is mindful of earthly things. It came directly from God and He gave it to be put into the body—“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7; KJV). Therefore, God is not only the former but the Father of spirits. Let the soul which God has breathed into us breathe after him; and let it be for him, since it is from him. Into his hands let us commit our spirits, since we received them from his hands.


In this distinct manner God shows us that man is a compound being, having a body and soul distinct from each other and created separately; the body from the dust of the earth, the soul from the breath of God. This is proof that the soul and body is not the same thing? The body derives its origin from the earth and due to its organic nature it is decomposable and perishable. It is said of the soul, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life or the breath of LIVES, i.e., animal and intellectual. While this breath of God expanded the lungs and put them in operation, His inspiration gave both spirit and understanding.


The soul lives in a house of clay, and is the life and support of it. It is what makes man a living soul, that is, a living man; for the reason that the soul is the man. The body would be a worthless, useless, disgusting carcass, if the soul did not animate it. To God that gave us these souls we must shortly give an account of them, how we have employed them, used them, and disposed of them; and if it should be found that we have lost them, though we were to gain the whole world, we shall be more miserable than any other. Since the origin of the soul is so noble, and its nature and abilities are so excellent, let us not be like those fools that despise their own souls, by preferring their bodies over their souls—“He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul…” (Prov 15:32; KJV).

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