Genesis 2 Study Notes


2:1 This verse serves as a complement to 1:1. Together, the two set the first six days of creation apart from the sacred seventh day.

2:2 This is the first use of the number seven in the Bible, a number that will play an especially significant role in the religious and social life of ancient Israel (4:15; 7:2-4,10; 21:28-31; 29:18-20). On the seventh day God rested, thus setting an example for people—who are made in his image—to follow (Ex 20:8-11; Dt 5:12-14). Though God rested from all his work that he had done, this is not to say that God has abandoned the universe. In the NT Jesus affirmed that God is still at work in the world, even on the Sabbath (Jn 5:16-17). Also, God’s “rest” does not imply that he was tired. It literally means “cease” and implies only that his creative work was complete.

2:3 This is the only instance during the creation process when God blessed a unit of time. The term holy is applied in the Bible to something set aside for service to God.

2:4 The Hebrew word toledoth, translated here as records, is used eleven times in the book of Genesis to introduce new units of material (5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10,27; 25:12,19; 36:1,9; 37:2). Here it introduces a detailed elaboration of some key aspects of the creation account that opens the book of Genesis (1:1-2:3). Special emphasis is placed on the events of day six. Verse 4 includes the first use of God’s personal name, rendered in English as the Lord, the most commonly used noun in the OT. The Hebrew spelling is transliterated as “YHWH,” a word Jews considered so sacred that they would not permit themselves to pronounce it. Its accurate pronunciation is thus unknown, though common suggestions include “Jehovah” and “Yahweh.”

2:5 The shrub of the field and the plant of the field are not the same as the vegetation described in Gn 1:11-12 but are the plants that will make up the Garden of Eden.

2:6 This source of water, a bountiful blessing that provided moisture for all the ground in the time of human innocence, later became a source of judgment on humanity’s sin (7:11).

2:7 The Hebrew verb translated here as formed is used elsewhere in the Bible to describe the potter’s profession (Jr 18:4; Zch 11:13); God acts here as the divine potter, skillfully fashioning man out of the dust from the ground. But the Bible makes it very clear that people are more than just material beings. It was only when God breathed into the man’s nostrils the breath of life that Adam became alive. God is Spirit (Jn 4:24); thus, when God breathed into him, Adam and all later humans became a unique mix of the physical and the spiritual. The Hebrew phrase translated as living being is used elsewhere in Genesis to describe other types of living beings (1:20,24,30; 9:12,15-16). Nevertheless, humans are considered to be in a class by themselves since they alone are made in God’s image.

2:8 The location of Eden is unknown; suggestions include Armenia, Iraq, Africa, and Arabia. Changes in geography caused by the flood in Noah’s day (7:11) make it unlikely that Eden will ever be discovered. The Hebrew word ‘eden literally means “pleasantness.”

2:9 God’s concern for beauty is seen in the fact that the trees he caused to grow were pleasing in appearance. The Lord’s love of beauty will later be extended to Israel’s religion, which will make use of furnishings fashioned by expert craftsmen using expensive materials (Ex 25-40). Of course, God’s beautiful created works were also practical, being good for food.

2:10 The abundance of the waters supplied in the garden of Eden is indicated by the fact that it served as the headwaters for four rivers.

2:11 The location of the Pishon river is unknown. A land known as Havilah existed in the region of the Arabian peninsula at a later point in time (1Sm 15:7), but the pre-flood land may have represented a different locale.

2:12 The gold and gems of Eden foreshadow the splendor of the tabernacle and temple and the priestly garments. They symbolize the presence of God and show Eden to function as the original temple of God.

2:13 The locations of the Gihon river and Cush are unknown. A later Cush was located in the region of modern Ethiopia and Sudan (Est 1:1).

2:14 The Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as Assyria, probably correspond to geographical features associated with modern Iraq.

2:15 The Hebrew word translated as placed literally means, “caused to rest”; this pre-sin state of rest anticipates the rest (“relief”; 5:29) that again would come to humanity because of righteous Noah, as well as the rest God again would give Israel following its episode of calf worship (Ex 32:1-21; 33:14). As a being created in God’s image, Adam, like God, was to be a worker. Without the taint of sin, work was an undiluted blessing. The verb translated here as “work” literally means “serve.” Adam’s second task in the garden was to watch over it. The verb is used elsewhere to refer to the action of God toward his people (Ps 121:3-4) or the work of a military guard (Sg 5:7).

2:16 The seriousness of God’s order is reflected in the fact that it is introduced by a two-verb phrase in Hebrew, rendered simply as commanded in the CSB. This formula was used frequently to express royal decrees (1Sm 18:22; 2Sm 18:5). God gave Adam both freedom and limits. The God-given freedoms vastly outnumbered the limitations. After all, Adam was free to eat from any tree of the garden except one.

2:17 The only limit God placed on Adam was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which apparently imparted divine wisdom (3:22). Eating the forbidden fruit represented Adam’s rejection of God as the source of divine wisdom and his choice to pursue wisdom apart from God. The penalty for disobedience was stated especially forcefully in the original language, with a two-verb construction, “dying you shall die” (you will certainly die). Death would certainly come to Adam and all humanity after him; but the death that God warned about would be more than physical (3:19). Besides severing the cord of life, sin would shatter the harmonious relationship that existed between Adam and his environment (3:17-18), his wife (3:16), and God. Although Adam and Eve did not die physically on the day they ate the fruit, they died spiritually, and all their descendants have been spiritually dead unless they are made alive by God’s Spirit. See Jn 5:24-25; Rm 6:13; 7:13,24; Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:13; 1Tm 5:6; 1Jn 3:14; Jd 12; Rv 3:1.

2:18 The theme of God providing for Adam’s needs (see note at 2:9) is picked up again here, as God declared that Adam’s being alone is not good. God created the man with a need to relate to one corresponding to him, and now God will meet that need.


Hebrew pronunciation [eesh SHAH]
CSB translation woman
Uses in Genesis 152
Uses in the OT 781
Focus passage Genesis 2:22-25

’Ishshah may not be related to a Hebrew word for man in Gn 2:22-25 that looks and sounds like it (’iysh). ’Ishshah resembles a word for woman in several Semitic languages, and may derive from a verb meaning “be weak” that could also lie behind ’enosh, “man” (Jb 25:4,6). The phrase “born of woman” (Jb 14:1) points to mankind’s weaknesses. ’Ishshah has two basic meanings, woman and wife. Both ideas are present in the word’s first occurrences (Gn 2:22-25). ’Ishshah connotes fiancée or bride (Dt 22:24; 24:5). It signifies woman without implying marriage (Ec 7:28). It may be untranslated when describing female bodily functions (Gn 31:35). Sometimes ’ishshah describes a kind of woman, like a prophetess (Jdg 4:4). Fearful soldiers are compared to women (Nah 3:13). ’Ishshah functions as a feminine distributive meaning each, referring to women (Ru 1:8), animals, or even things. “Each to each” appears as together (Ex 26:5).

2:19 Like man, animals were formed out of the ground, but they received neither the breath of life from God (v. 7) nor the image of God. By giving names to the animals, Adam showed that he ruled the animals and that he perceived the nature of each animal (see note at 1:5).

2:20 Adam’s understanding of the nature of the animals he named only highlighted the differences that existed between him and the rest of God’s creatures: no helper was found corresponding to him.

2:21 At what must have been a moment of loneliness in Adam’s life, God stepped in to create one who would perfectly meet Adam’s need. Because God took one of his ribs to use as his raw material, the woman would correspond perfectly—though not identically—to Adam. Like Adam, the woman possessed God’s image. The fact that she was not taken either from the man’s head or his foot may suggest that the woman was not to rule over the man (1Co 11:3), nor was the man to oppress the woman (1Pt 3:7).

2:22-23 Adam’s first recorded words express his delight with God’s handiwork and his recognition of the unique suitability of God’s last recorded acts in the creation accounts. As with no other work of divine craftsmanship, this one was singularly suited for the man, being bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. Adam expresses dominion by choosing a name for God’s final created being, but the name he chose suggests that he viewed her as his equal. The Hebrew term ’ishshah, woman, identifies her as the feminine complement to ’ish, the man.

2:24 God’s timeless design for marriage is declared here. The one flesh relationship certainly involves sexual union, but also includes a husband and wife coming together in spiritual, mental, and emotional harmony.

2:25 Because the devastating effects of sin had not yet ravaged nature or humanity, there was no need for clothing. Adam and Eve could live without the barriers needed to shield them from their environment and each other without a sense of shame. Later, in the time of the patriarchs and kings, clothing was associated with dignity. Accordingly, prisoners of war were not permitted to wear any clothing, slaves wore very little clothing, and higher social classes wore more clothing than anyone else in society.