The first sabbath. (1-3) Particulars about the creation. (4-7) The planting of the garden of Eden. (8-14) Man is placed in it. (15) God's command. (16,17) The animals named, The making of woman, The Divine institution of marriage. (18-25)
Verses 1-3 After six days, God ceased from all works of creation. In miracles, he has overruled nature, but never changed its settled course, or added to it. God did not rest as one weary, but as one well pleased. Notice the beginning of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification, or keeping holy, of the sabbath day. The solemn observing of one day in seven as a day of holy rest and holy work, to God's honour, is the duty of all to whom God has made known his holy sabbaths. At this time none of the human race were in being but our first parents. For them the sabbath was appointed; and clearly for all succeeding generations also. The Christian sabbath, which we observe, is a seventh day, and in it we celebrate the rest of God the Son, and the finishing the work of our redemption.
Verses 4-7 Here is 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 of himself, and that he gives being to all creatures and things. Further notice is taken of plants and herbs, because they were made and appointed to be food for man. The earth did not bring forth its fruits of itself: this was done by Almighty power. Thus grace in the soul grows not of itself in nature's soil, but is the work of God. Rain also is the gift of God; it came not till the Lord God caused it. Though God works by means, yet when he pleases he can do his own work without them; and though we must not tempt God in the neglect of means, we must trust God, both in the use and in the want of means. Some way or other, God will water the plants of his own planting. Divine grace comes down like the dew, and waters the church without noise. Man was made of the small dust, such as is on the surface of the earth. The soul was not made of the earth, as the body: pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. To God we must shortly give an account, how we have employed these souls; and if it be found that we have lost them, though it were to gain the world, we are undone for ever! Fools despise their own souls, by caring for their bodies before their souls.
Verses 8-14 The place fixed upon for Adam to dwell in, was not a palace, but a garden. The better we take up with plain things, and the less we seek things to gratify pride and luxury, the nearer we approach to innocency. Nature is content with a little, and that which is most natural; grace with less; but lust craves every thing, and is content with nothing. No delights can be satisfying to the soul, but those which God himself has provided and appointed for it. Eden signifies delight and pleasure. Wherever it was, it had all desirable conveniences, without any inconvenience, though no other house or garden on earth ever was so. It was adorned with every tree pleasant to the sight, and enriched with every tree that yielded fruit grateful to the taste and good for food. God, as a tender Father, desired not only Adam's profit, but his pleasure; for there is pleasure with innocency, nay there is true pleasure only in innocency. When Providence puts us in a place of plenty and pleasure, we ought to serve God with gladness of heart in the good things he gives us. Eden had two trees peculiar to itself. 1. There was the tree of life in the midst of the garden. Of this man might eat and live. Christ is now to us the Tree of life, (Revelation 2:7, Revelation 22:2 ) ; and the Bread of life, #Joh. 6:48, #Joh. 6:51 . 2. There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so called because there was a positive revelation of the will of God about this tree, so that by it man might know moral good and evil. What is good? It is good not to eat of this tree. What is evil? It is evil to eat of this tree. In these two trees God set before Adam good and evil, the blessing and the curse.
Verse 15 After God had formed Adam, he put him in the garden. All boasting was thereby shut out. Only he that made us can make us happy; he that is the Former of our bodies, and the Father of our spirits, and none but he, can fully provide for the happiness of both. Even in paradise itself man had to work. None of us were sent into the world to be idle. He that made our souls and bodies, has given us something to work with; and he that gave us this earth for our habitation, has made us something to work upon. The sons and heirs of heaven, while in this world, have something to do about this earth, which must have its share of their time and thoughts; and if they do it with an eye to God, they as truly serve him in it, as when they are upon their knees. Observe that the husbandman's calling is an ancient and honourable calling; it was needful even in paradise. Also, there is true pleasure in the business God calls us to, and employs us in. Adam could not have been happy if he had been idle: it is still God's law, He that will not work has ( 2 Thessalonians. 3:10 )
Verses 16-17 Let us never set up our own will against the holy will of God. There was not only liberty allowed to man, in taking the fruits of paradise, but everlasting life made sure to him upon his obedience. There was a trial appointed of his obedience. By transgression he would forfeit his Maker's favour, and deserve his displeasure, with all its awful effects; so that he would become liable to pain, disease, and death. Worse than that, he would lose the holy image of God, and all the comfort of his favour; and feel the torment of sinful passions, and the terror of his Maker's vengeance, which must endure for ever with his never dying soul. The forbidding to eat of the fruit of a particular tree was wisely suited to the state of our first parents. In their state of innocence, and separated from any others, what opportunity or what temptation had they to break any of the ten commandments? The event proves that the whole human race were concerned in the trial and fall of our first parents. To argue against these things is to strive against stubborn facts, as well as Divine revelation; for man is sinful, and shows by his first actions, and his conduct ever afterwards, that he is ready to do evil. He is under the Divine displeasure, exposed to sufferings and death. The Scriptures always speak of man as of this sinful character, and in this miserable state; and these things are true of men in all ages, and of all nations.
Verses 18-25 Power over the creatures was given to man, and as a proof of this he named them all. It also shows his insight into the works of God. But though he was lord of the creatures, yet nothing in this world was a help meet for man. From God are all our helpers. If we rest in God, he will work all for good. God caused deep sleep to fall on Adam; while he knows no sin, God will take care that he shall feel no pain. God, as her Father, brought the woman to the man, as his second self, and a help meet for him. That wife, who is of God's making by special grace, and of God's bringing by special providence, is likely to prove a help meet for a man. See what need there is, both of prudence and prayer in the choice of this relation, which is so near and so lasting. That had need to be well done, which is to be done for life. Our first parents needed no clothes for covering against cold or heat, for neither could hurt them: they needed none for ornament. Thus easy, thus happy, was man in his state of innocency. How good was God to him! How many favours did he load him with! How easy were the laws given to him! Yet man, being in honour, understood not his own interest, but soon became as the beasts that perish.
Genesis 2:1 . THE NARRATIVE OF THE SIX DAYS' CREATION CONTINUED. The course of the narrative is improperly broken by the division of the chapter.
1. the heavens--the firmament or atmosphere.
host--a multitude, a numerous array, usually connected in Scripture with heaven only, but here with the earth also, meaning all that they contain.
were finished--brought to completion. No permanent change has ever since been made in the course of the world, no new species of animals been formed, no law of nature repealed or added to. They could have been finished in a moment as well as in six days, but the work of creation was gradual for the instruction of man, as well, perhaps, as of higher creatures ( Job 38:7 ).
Genesis 2:2-7 . THE FIRST SABBATH.
2. and he rested on the seventh day--not to repose from exhaustion with labor (see Isaiah 40:28 ), but ceased from working, an example equivalent to a command that we also should cease from labor of every kind.
3. blessed and sanctified the seventh day--a peculiar distinction put upon it above the other six days, and showing it was devoted to sacred purposes. The institution of the Sabbath is as old as creation, giving rise to that weekly division of time which prevailed in the earliest ages. It is a wise and beneficent law, affording that regular interval of rest which the physical nature of man and the animals employed in his service requires, and the neglect of which brings both to premature decay. Moreover, it secures an appointed season for religious worship, and if it was necessary in a state of primeval innocence, how much more so now, when mankind has a strong tendency to forget God and His claims?
4. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth--the history or account of their production. Whence did Moses obtain this account so different from the puerile and absurd fictions of the heathen? Not from any human source, for man was not in existence to witness it; not from the light of nature or reason, for though they proclaim the eternal power and Godhead by the things which are made, they cannot tell how they were made. None but 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 ( Hebrews 11:3 ).
7. Here the sacred writer supplies a few more particulars about the first pair.
formed--had 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 mean material what an admirable structure has been reared in the human body ( Psalms 139:14 ).
the breath of life--literally, of lives, not only animal but spiritual life. If the body is so admirable, how much more the soul with all its varied faculties.
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life--not that the Creator literally performed this act, but respiration being the medium and sign of life, this phrase is used to show that man's life originated in a different way from his body--being implanted directly by God ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ), and hence in the new creation of the soul Christ breathed on His disciples ( John 20:22 ).
Genesis 8-17 . THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
8. Eden--was probably a very extensive region in Mesopotamia, distinguished for its natural beauty and the richness and variety of its produce. Hence its name, signifying "pleasantness." God planted a garden eastward, an extensive park, a paradise, in which the man was put to be trained under the paternal care of his Maker to piety and usefulness.
9. tree of life--so called from its symbolic character as a sign and seal of immortal life. Its prominent position where it must have been an object of daily observation and interest, was admirably fitted to keep man habitually in mind of God and futurity.
tree of the knowledge of good and evil--so called because it was a test of obedience by which our first parents were to be tried, whether they would be good or bad, obey God or break His commands.
15. put the man into the garden of Eden to dress it--not only to give him a pleasant employment, but to place him on his probation, and as the title of this garden, the garden of the Lord ( Genesis 13:10 , Ezekiel 28:13 ), indicates, it was in fact a temple in which he worshipped God, and was daily employed in offering the sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise.
17. thou shalt not eat of it . . . thou shalt surely die--no reason assigned for the prohibition, but death was to be the punishment of disobedience. A positive command like this was not only the simplest and easiest, but the only trial to which their fidelity could be exposed.
Genesis 2:18-25 . THE MAKING OF WOMAN, AND INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE.
18. it is not good for the man to be alone--In the midst of plenty and delights, he was conscious of feelings he could not gratify. To make him sensible of his wants,
19. God brought unto Adam--not all the animals in existence, but those chiefly in his immediate neighborhood to be subservient to his use.
whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof--His powers of perception and intelligence were supernaturally enlarged to know the characters, habits, and uses of each species that was brought to him.
20. but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him--The design of this singular scene was to show him that none of the living creatures he saw were on an equal footing with himself, and that while each class came with its mate of the same nature, form, and habits, he alone had no companion. Besides, in giving names to them he was led to exercise his powers of speech and to prepare for social intercourse with his partner, a creature yet to be formed.
21. deep sleep--probably an ecstasy or trance like that of the prophets, when they had visions and revelations of the Lord, for the whole scene was probably visible to the mental eye of Adam, and hence his rapturous exclamation.
took one of his ribs--"She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him."
23. Woman--in Hebrew, "man-ess."
24. one flesh--The human pair differed from all other pairs, that by peculiar formation of Eve, they were one. And this passage is appealed to by our Lord as the divine institution of marriage ( Matthew 19:4 Matthew 19:5 , Ephesians 5:28 ). Thus Adam appears as a creature formed after the image of God--showing his knowledge by giving names to the animals, his righteousness by his approval of the marriage relation, and his holiness by his principles and feelings, and finding gratification in the service and enjoyment of God.