The Creation of Man

Genesis 2

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
October 2014

Today, we will begin looking at Genesis 2.  Genesis 2 is an interesting chapter.  It is an interesting chapter.  We learned some things about God in Genesis 1.  We also learn some things about Him in Genesis 2.  There are seven pictures of God in Genesis 2.  God is described in seven different ways.

Pictures of God in Genesis 2 

1. God is a POTTER, forming man from the ground (2:7).

2. God is a GARDENER. He planted a garden in Eden (2:8).

3. God is a LAWGIVER. He gave rules to Adam and Eve (2:16-17).

4. God is a SURGEON. He removes Adam’s rib (2:21).

5. God is an ANESTHESIOLOGIST. He puts Adam to sleep during the surgery and prevents any pain during the operation (2:21).

6. God is an ENGINEER. He builds and designs Eve’s body from a human rib (2:22).

7. God is a MATCHMAKER. He created a beautiful woman for single Adam and brought the two together (2:18-22).

We just finished looking at the creation narrative in Genesis 1.  The focus of Genesis 2 is very different from the focus of Genesis 1.

Introduction to Genesis 2

The focus of Genesis 1 is on THE EARTH (the sky, the waters, the land, the plants).  It mentions people but the focus of the chapter is not on people.  It is on the earth.  The focus in Genesis 2 is on PEOPLE. Genesis 2 mentions the earth (rivers, trees, garden) but the focus of the chapter is on Adam’s home, Adam’s environment, Adam’s job, Adam’s instructions, Adam’s wife, and Adam’s marriage.

The interesting thing about this chapter is that it does not happen immediately after the events of Genesis 1.  Genesis 2 is NOT chronological.

How do we know?  At the end of Genesis 1, both man and woman are on earth.  When chapter two begins, the earth is created but there are no people on the planet.  Adam is not created until Genesis 2:7.  That is strange.  What is going on in Genesis 2?

Genesis 2 uses a literary device called a flashback.  It goes back to the sixth day of creation in Genesis and gives us more details.  Genesis 1 gives us only two verses on the creation of man (1:26-27).  Genesis 2 is a whole chapter written to give more information about those two verses.  It is an expansion of those two verses.  It gives us more details about those two verses.

  • Genesis 1 tells us the DIVERSITY of man’s creation, as we saw last week.  It tells us that that God created two kinds of people (male and female). Genesis 2 gives us the ORDER of creation (first Adam then Eve).
  • Genesis 1 gives us the FACT of man’s creation.   Genesis 2 tells us the METHOD of man’s creation.  It tells us HOW God did it. God created Adam from dust and Eve from Adam’s rib.  That wasn’t revealed in chapter one.  It was just an overview. Today, we want to look in detail about the creation of man and the creation of woman in Genesis 2.

The Creation of Man

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7 NIV).

God was not passive when it came to the creation of mankind.  Man was not formed providentially.  Adam was not born.  He was created.  God was directly involved in his creation.

Genesis says, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures” (1:20) “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind” (1:24). That is not how man was made.  God was personally involved in man’s creation. How He created man is very interesting.  He used dust, dirt, soil.

Did God Create Man by Evolution?

There are many who believe in theistic evolution.  They believe that creation and evolution are not contradictory at all.  They believe that you can be a Christian and believe in both.  They believe that there was a real man named Adam.  They also believe that there were human-like creatures before Adam who served as early human ancestors.

These creatures were large-brained pre-Adamic primates.  They believe that Adam evolved from these Neanderthals and was the first one ever made in the image of God.  There are many evangelicals who take this position.  It is a very common viewpoint in some circles.  The real question is this: Is it biblical?  No.  We can see that clearly in Genesis 2.

God did use materials to make man.  He did not just speak Adam into existence.  God used previously existing materials to make man but Genesis says Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and NOT from an animal.  He did not evolve from another animal.

He was not made from an apelike creature.  He was created from dust or dirt. The Hebrew word means a clump of soil, not dust particles.[1]  What is the difference?  Dust is lifeless.  It is non-living.  It is inorganic. Dirt contains organic material in it (leaves) but dirt itself is inorganic.  That is very significant.

God did NOT create Adam from a previous living organism.  He could have done that.  God made Eve from Adam.  He could have made Adam from the animals before him but He did not do that.  God created him from dust.

Adam was not the result of natural selection from lower life forms but special creation by God from dust or dirt.  That word does not mean animal and NEVER means an animal.  When Adam dies, he returns to the dust.  He does not become an animal.  He goes from dust to dust.  If the first part refers to literal dust, the second part must refer to literal dust.

Let’s talk about the origin of man.  The Bible says that man was made from dirt.  Does that mean that all men are dirt?  That would not make women any better because women come from men.  They are a derivative of dirt as well.  When my son Aaron was in the third grade, I remember teaching him about how man was made from dirt. He asked me if that was why little boys like to play in the dirt and get dirty.

Now this seems very strange.  You can’t tell by looking at people and know that they were made from dirt.  Is it really true or is it just a story?  It really happened.  It is in Scripture.  If it really happened, we should be able to make a prediction based on this. If we are really made from dirt, our bodies would have some of the same elements found in dirt.

Do we?  Yes.  Genesis is scientifically accurate here.  The chemical composition of dirt has some of the same elements that are in the human body (oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, iron, calcium).  The most abundant element in our body is oxygen (65%).[2]  It is also the most abundant element in the earth’s crust (49%).

When God made man, He did it in two stages.  He used two kinds of materials: dust and divine breath.

1) God formed man from the dust of the ground.

Clarice Fluit tells a story about seeing Jesus when she was a child.  She was outside playing.  Jesus came up to her and asked her what she was doing.  She was making things out of dirt.  Jesus said to her, “I’ve done that before.” Adam’s body was formed from dirt.  What do we learn from man’s creation?

We learn two things.  We learn that God took some special attention to us.  He personally formed our bodies.  All of the parts of the human body were made with God’s design.  They are not the result of natural selection or random chance but design.

The word “formed” in Hebrew (yatzar) is used in the OT of a potter who molds something out of clay with his hands (Jeremiah 18:3-4).  Our bodies are God’s workmanship.  They are a work of art.  The Psalmist says “I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV)

It means something else.  It means that we are fragile and delicate.  It shows how insignificant and frail we are.  He wasn’t made from metal or rock but from dust and this was not gold dust but common dust on the ground.  Man wasn’t made by some type of heavenly material but from ordinary dirt.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. (Psalm 103:13-16 NIV)

There is also a little irony here after Adam sinned.  Adam was created from the ground.  His job was to cultivate the ground.  When he died, he returned to the ground.  Adam came from dirt, was going to work in the dirt all of his life and get it under his finger nails and even smell like dirt sometimes and then he would die, be buried and go back into the dirt.  It was his cradle, his home, his career and his grave.

By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3:19 NLT)

2) God breathed life into his nostrils.

God does Divine CPR on Adam but He breathes into his nose, not into his mouth.  The nose is for breathing and the mouth for eating.  We learn several things from how God brought Adam to life.

First, we learn that God and God alone created man.

This breath came directly from God.  It was not a natural process.  God took a lifeless corpse and breathed life into it.  “Man did not evolve from other creatures. Impersonal forces did not form man. All the cells, DNA, atoms, molecules, hydrogen, protons, neutrons, or electrons did not create man.”[3]  It was not just a natural process.

God breathed His own supernatural breath into man to make him alive.  If we do CPR on an inanimate object, nothing will happen, no matter how long we do it.  God can breathe on something non-living and make it alive.  That seems impossible.  How can you breathe into a lifeless doll and make it alive but it is no more difficult for God to do that than to create the entire universe out of nothing by his Word.

Second, we learn that man is unique.

God showed special attention to man that He did not show to animals.  Now animals and man have a lot in common.

  • They both live on the same planet
  • They were both created on the same day as animals (sixth day)
  • They were both made of the same material.  Animals also were made of dust (2:19)
  • They both had the same diet at first. Both were vegetarian (1:29-30)
  • They both need air (an oxygen atmosphere) to breathe
  • They are both called living creatures in Genesis (1:20, 24; 2:7, 19)

The KJV translates the same word “living creature” in Genesis 1:20, 24; 2:19 and “living soul” in Genesis 2:7.  That is a mistranslation.  Genesis is not talking about immaterial part of man that is inside the body and is unique to man.  It is talking about something that people are, not have.  It says that Adam BECAME a living being.  It is also something not unique to man, since the same thing is said of animals (1:20, 24; 2:7, 19)

The difference is that God only man was specially created by God.  Man alone is the direct product of the supernatural breath of God.  He did NOT do this to any animal.  The only time that God talked about Himself was when it came to the creation of man.  He said “Let Us man in Our image”.

The Creation of Woman

The second thing that was created in this chapter was Eve.  The Jews did not call her Eve but havah.  That is her name in Hebrew.  The creation of woman is more interesting than the creation of man.  Man was just made from a pile of dirt.  The creation of Eve is found in Genesis 2:18-22. Why was Eve created?

She was NOT created because God made a mistake making Adam and He needed to correct it.  That is the feminist interpretation.  What did God say after creating Adam? “I can do better.”

It is based on the notion that men are inferior creatures.  When God made man, he didn’t get it quite right, so He started over and tried again.  That is not true.  God created Adam perfect the first time.  He did not need to be improved on.  So why did He create Eve?

Adam had a need.  God saw Adam’s need even before he did.  God says, “It is NOT GOOD for man to be alone” (2:18). Everything else was said to be good.  Now, He says something is “not good”. Adam was perfect but he was incomplete.  He was created as a social being.

He was created to have relationships with people and he was the only one on the planet.  He was surrounded by all of these animals but he was still alone.  Matthew Henry said, “Perfect solitude would turn a paradise into a desert and a palace into a dungeon.”  God knows our needs even BEFORE we do (Matthew 6:8). He knows our needs BETTER than we do.

There is no hint in Genesis that Adam was even asking for a woman.  This was God’s idea.  He operated on Adam and did some surgery.  He starts with anesthesia.  God put Adam in a deep sleep, not a light sleep but a deep sleep. He creates Eve and then brings the two together.  Adam didn’t have to go looking for a wife.  She came to him.  God brought her to him.  Adam was passive in the whole process.  Adam trusted God.  He sought God’s kingdom first.  He was asleep in the will of God and God provided for his needs.  The first marriage was arranged by God.

The result was a perfect match.  It was love at first sight.  Eve was probably the most beautiful woman who ever lived.  She was fashioned by the hand of God.  In Adam’s case, it was not just love but amazement and wonder as her stares at the first women ever created. Apparently, romance is one of God’s specialties.  He brought the first couple together and still does this today.  God is still in the process of bringing people together. The Bible says that God is love.  He is also a matchmaker.

Method of Eve’s Creation

“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. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman” (Genesis 2:21-22)

According to Genesis, Eve was created by a surgical act.  This is a very famous story.  Everyone knows it.  I never really understood it.  It did not make much sense to me.  Why did God use a rib to make Eve?  That seems like a strange story.  Why did God do this?  There are two very important reasons.

1) The Genetic Reason

God used Adam’s rib to show that Eve was human.  She was made of the same substance of man.  She was made of the same stuff as Adam.  If God made her from dirt, you might come up with the conclusion that she was intrinsically different from Adam.

I have to confess that I never really understood this until now.  In the past, I always thought it meant that God used Adam’s rib to make the outside of Eve’s body.  Instead, God used it to make the inside of Eve’s body. God used Adam’s rib as a human DNA sample.  He used it as the genetic blueprint to make the inside of Eve’s body.   It is not a kid’s story.  It actually makes a profound statement about genetics.

God takes a bunch of Adam’s flesh which contains bone, blood vessels, cells and DNA.  He took a biopsy of tissue from Adam’s side and used it to make Eve.  Eve was created from existing human tissue.  She was made from human DNA.

2) The Medical Reason

God used Adam’s rib to make Eve for recovery purposes.  The rib bone is the ONLY bone in the human body that can regenerate itself!  Although all bones can REPAIR themselves, ONLY ribs can REGENERATE themselves.

If they are removed correctly, ribs can grow back new in two to three months and will be as strong as the original rib.  God was certainly aware of this unusual quality of the rib bones when he made Eve.  He thought of Adam before the operation (put him to sleep) and afterwards (wanted him to have all of his ribs).  Men and women have the same number of ribs (contrary to popular belief).

Was Eve a Clone of Adam?

Some believe that Eve was a clone of Adam.  God had to make some changes, because when he took Adam’s rib, because He did not make another man.  He made a woman.  Some believe that she had the exact same DNA code with different chromosomes (XX instead of XY).  That would mean that she was an exact replica of Adam without certain organs.

That would explain why Adam called her “bone of MY bone and flesh of MY flesh”.  That would make her a real counterpart to Adam, a genetic counterpart.  They would be identical twins.  A man’s rib contains enough genetic information to make a woman but a woman’s rib does not contain enough genetic information to make a man, because women do not have the y-chromosome.[4]  That is one way God could have done that, although that would not have been very creative on God’s part.

Another option is that God created Eve with was a separate DNA.  Eve had a completely unique genome.  God did not clone Adam to make Eve but used some of Adam’s genetic material to manufacture a woman.  That would have led to more genetic diversity in the human race with two original genomes rather than one (four chromosomes at the beginning of the world).

Next week, we will look at some lessons that we can learn on marriage from this chapter.  Genesis 2 has a lot to say about the institution of marriage that is very relevant in the day in which we live.


[1] Ziony Levit, What Really Happened in the Garden of Eden, 80.

[2] Water is not an element.  It is a compound, because it is made up of two elements.  It is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

[3] http://www.gotquestions.org/breath-of-life.html

[4] http://www.genesisandgenetics.org/2014/03/31/eves-dna/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *