Genesis 2:19

19 So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.

Genesis 2:19 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 2:19

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast
of the field, and every fowl of the air
Or "had formed them" F5 on the fifth and sixth days; and these were formed two and two, male and female, in order to continue their species; whereas man was made single, and had no companion of the same nature with him: and while in these circumstances, God brought them unto Adam;
or "to the man" F6; either by the ministry of angels, or by a kind of instinct or impulse, which brought them to him of their own accord, as to the lord and proprietor of them, who, as soon as he was made, had the dominion of all the creatures given him; just as the creatures at the flood went in unto Noah in the ark; and as then, so now, all creatures, fowl and cattle, came, all but the fishes of the sea: and this was done to see what he would call them;
what names he would give to them; which as it was a trial of the wisdom of man, so a token of his dominion over the creatures, it being an instance of great knowledge of them to give them apt and suitable names, so as to distinguish one from another, and point at something in them that was natural to them, and made them different from each other; for this does not suppose any want of knowledge in God, as if he did this to know what man would do, he knew what names man would give them before he did; but that it might appear he had made one superior to them all in wisdom and power, and for his pleasure, use, and service; and therefore brings them to him, to put them into his hands, and give him authority over them; and being his own, to call them by what names he pleased: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the
name thereof;
it was always afterwards called by it, by him and his posterity, until the confusion of languages, and then every nation called them as they thought proper, everyone in their own language: and as there is a good deal of reason to believe, that the Hebrew language was the first and original language; or however that eastern language, of which the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, are so many dialects; it was this that he spoke, and in it gave names to the creatures suitable to their nature, or agreeable to some property or other observed in them: and Bochart F7 has given us many instances of creatures in the Hebrew tongue, whose names answer to some character or another in them: some think this was done by inspiration; and Plato says, that it seemed to him that that nature was superior to human, that gave names to things; and that this was not the work of vain and foolish man, but the first names were appointed by the gods F8; and so Cicero F9 asks, who was the first, which with Pythagoras was the highest wisdom, who imposed names on all things?


F5 (ruyw) "finxerat", Drusius.
F6 (Mdah la) "ad ipsum hominem", Pagninus, Montanus.
F7 Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 9. p. 59
F8 In Cratylo, apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 11. c. 6. p. 515.
F9 Tusculan. Quaest. l. 1.

Genesis 2:19 In-Context

17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
19 So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one.
20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.
21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or Adam, and so throughout the chapter.
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