In The Beginning Bible Study, Lesson 3
So let’s continue. Genesis 1:20-23 goes on to say that on the fifth day, God filled the waters with living creatures and He filled the sky with birds:
And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
Life began on Earth as early as the third day. On the third day, God created vegetation and trees, all bearing seeds so that His creation could continue to multiply on the earth.
And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
It is very interesting that in between creating the birds and fish and vegetation, He created the sun, moon, and stars. As we saw, the sun and moon and stars were not only created to separate day from night, but to mark the sacred times and days and years. Many of God’s Appointed Times reflect the different growing seasons, and so it makes sense that God placed the timing of His creation of these so-called “markers” right after He created the vegetation. It all falls in line with the timing of the harvests.
So now this takes us to the sixth day. Genesis 1:24-25 tells us this:
“Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Now that there was grass upon the earth, God created the animals, but God needed someone to take care of His creation.
Genesis 1:26-27 says,
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.
When God created man, He created him in His image. What does that mean? It means that God is a Spirit, and we too have an eternal spirit. He also made man with the ability to have knowledge and understanding. He gave us the capability of making decisions and having certain of God’s characteristics, like love. The rabbis interpret the statement, “Let us make man in our image” as a reference to God and the angels. They say that God consulted the angels in His creation of man as a sign of respect towards them. Rashi says in his commentary on Genesis 1:26, “From here we learn the humility of the Holy One, blessed be He. Since man was created in the likeness of the angels, and they would envy him, He consulted them.” Another interpretation says that the “us” is God and His Torah. “The Holy One, blessed be He, spake to the Torah: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” Interestingly, in this story the Torah responds with an objection:
(The Torah) spake before Him: Sovereign of all the worlds! The man whom Thou wouldst create will be limited in days and full of anger; and he will come into the power of sin. Unless Thou wilt be long-suffering with him, it would be well for him not to have come into the world. The Holy One, blessed be He, rejoined: And is it for nought that I am called ‘slow to anger’ and ‘abounding in love’?” (Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer 11:5)
In no way does or should man be compared to an animal just because they were created on the same day. God cannot be compared to an animal, and if we are made in His image then we ought not be compared to an animal either—which also means that we did not evolve from one. Psalm 8 speaks of man and his place in creation:
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants You have established a stronghold against Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of Your hands; You put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!
We see clearly that man was made just a little lower than the angels and that man has the authority over all of God’s creation. There is an interesting rabbinic story about Adam and the angels. According to a passage in Bereshit Rabbah, a group of angels objected to the creation of mankind, seeing that humans would bring evil into the world:
R. Simon said: When the time came for the Holy Blessed One to make the first human being, The Ministering Angels made themselves into competing counsels, with one group opposing the other. Some of them said, “Don’t create humans,” and the others said “Create them.” So it is written: “Kindness and Truth met against one another, Righteousness and Peace faced each other.” The angel of Kindness said, “Create them, for they will do acts of loving kindness.” Then the angel of Truth said, “Do not create them, for they will be full of lies.” The angel of Righteousness said, “Create them, for they will establish justice.” The angel of Peace said, “Do not create them, for they will be in constant strife!” . . . R. Huna of Tzipori said: While the Ministering Angels were occupying one another with litigation and debate, The Holy Blessed One created them and turned to the angels saying, “What are you arguing about? Humans have already been created.” (Bereshit Rabbah 8:5)
Although through this parable the rabbis acknowledged these negative traits in humanity and our potential for wickedness, they also recognized the glory and authority that God gave humanity. They understood that we must use this gift correctly. One story says that when Adam was created, he had such a glorious appearance that the animals all tried to worship him.
All the creatures saw him and became afraid of him, thinking that he was their Creator, and they came to prostrate themselves before him. Adam said to them: What (is this), ye creatures! Why are ye come to prostrate yourselves before me? Come, I and you, let us go and adorn in majesty and might, and acclaim as King over us the One who created us. If there be no people to acclaim the king as king, the king acclaims himself. If there be no people to praise the king, the king praises himself. In that hour Adam opened his mouth and all the creatures answered after him, and they adorned in majesty and might and acclaimed their Creator as King over themselves, and they said, “The Lord reigneth, he is apparelled with majesty” (Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer 11:9-10).
Part of man’s dominion over the earth includes the consequence of his sin: that the earth was cursed:
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.(Genesis 3:17-18)
Creation now longs for the redemption that will come in the Messianic Era when it will be restored again to the way it was in Eden, before the earth was cursed due to man’s disobedience:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:19-22)
In the Kingdom, Messiah, as the second Adam, will then have the dominion over a restored creation. Isaiah 55:12-13 says,
For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
And Leviticus 26:4-5 likewise says,
Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.
In the meantime, mankind’s dominionship over nature does not mean he may rule as a tyrant. The rabbis emphasized that we are supposed to take care of the earth and be good stewards. Kohelet Rabbah 7:20 contains a short story that makes this point:
When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, He took him and led him round all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and said to him, “Behold My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are! All that I have created, I have created for you. Pay heed that you do not damage and destroy My universe; for if you damage it there is no one to repair it after you.”
So let us stop here and let’s look at chapter 2 of Genesis, where we see that the creation account is retold. Why is that?
Genesis 2:1 begins by saying, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.”
Genesis 2:2-3 goes on to tell us that God’s work was finished:
By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
So God saw that all was good and He rested on the seventh day and blessed the seventh day and made it holy (or you could say, He set it apart from all the other days). This was God’s last Appointed Time that He created, and because God set the day apart, all mankind should also consider this day holy. Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel has famously referred to the Sabbath as a sanctuary in time. Just like the physical sanctuary of the temple was a holy place in physical space, the Sabbath functions as a holy place in time because it was set apart for that purpose by God. It is sanctified when we honor its boundaries. Since the Sabbath was inaugurated in Eden, it is an open invitation to all humanity.
We see now that God’s creation is finished, and we can say that this Great Architect, this Master Builder, this Great Artist, has designed and built and painted a beautiful picture of Himself, a picture of His love. And to that, we can say with Him, “It is good”. Let us join in with the Psalmist as he writes in Psalm 57:9-11,
I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of You among the peoples. For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.
Genesis 2:4-6 continues,
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but a mist came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.
Because the Scripture tells us that no shrub or plant had sprung up yet since God had not yet sent rain, but mist came up from the earth, we can assume that this is referring to the beginning of the third day of creation, as it tells us in Genesis 1:9-13,
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
The passage in Genesis 2 means that in the days of Noah people had never seen rain before, thus it really was by faith that Noah built the ark, as Hebrews 11:7. tells us,
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
So how was the vegetation watered? Genesis 2:4-6 tells us: by the “mist”. Let’s stop here to look closer at this mist.
The Dew of Heaven
This mist is also called “the dew” (tal in Hebrew), referring to the morning dew and the night time dew. In times of heat and drought the dew is very important. The dew is often called “the dew of heaven.” It was a blessing from God.
When Isaac blessed Jacob, part of that blessing had to do with the dew. Genesis 27:28 says, “May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.”
But to Esau we see there would be no blessing of dew, as in Genesis 27:39 it says, “Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, ‘Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, and away from the dew of heaven from above.’”
We see the manna came with the dew, as Exodus 16:13-14 tells us,
So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.
Numbers 11:9 likewise says, “When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.”
We know that Yeshua (the Word of God made flesh) is the true manna from heaven, as He tells us in John 6:48-51,
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.
We continue to see dew as a blessing. Deuteronomy 33:28 says, “So Israel dwells in security, the fountain of Jacob secluded, in a land of grain and new wine; his heavens also drop down dew.”
What was a blessing from God could also become a judgment from God, as we see in 1 Kings 17:1, “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’”
And again in Haggai 1:9-10,
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of My house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.”
2 Samuel 1:21 likewise says, “O mountains of Gilboa, let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.”
Proverbs gives us another take on the word dew in Proverbs 19:12, “A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.”
Here we see the dew as God’s grace or mercy.
Micah 5:7 tells us that God’s people will be like the dew bringing a blessing as they go throughout the world: “Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on vegetation.”
Isaiah 26:19 speaks of the dew and relates it to the resurrection from the dead: “Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.”
So if the dew represents the redeemed of the Lord in the resurrection, then we can say that Romans 6:4 is also true, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
We can say correctly that the dew of heaven is truly part of the covenant.
Male and Female
Let us continue in Genesis 2, for it leaves us with questions.
You notice in the first account of the creation of mankind that God refers to His creation in a generic manner, “male and female.” The creation of male and female has the Jewish scholars believing that this generic reference is because God created the first human to be both male and female as one being. The rabbis came up with the idea that Adam was created as an androgyne (an androgynous person, both sexes in one individual) by comparing the creation of humans in Genesis 1 with the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib in Genesis 2: whereas in Genesis 1 it says they were created together, in Genesis 2 Eve is created from Adam. So to resolve this, they posited that Adam was created both male and female in one body, and that in Genesis 2 God separated Eve and Adam into two beings. This is found in Bereshit Rabbah 8:1:
Said R’ Yirmiyah ben Elazar: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created him [as] an androgyne/androginos, as it is said, “male and female He created them”. Said R’ Shmuel bar Nachmani: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created [for] him a double-face, and sawed him and made him backs, a back here and a back here, as it is said, “Back (achor) and before (qedem) You formed me” [Psalm 139:5].
Some of the rabbis objected to this interpretation, since in Genesis 2 God takes one of Adam’s ribs to create Eve. Those who supported the androgyne position appealed to Exodus 26:20, where the same root word translated “rib” in Genesis 2 refers to one of the sides of the tabernacle; thus, God took one of Adam’s sides, or halves, to create Eve. This conversation is repeated in Vayikrah Rabbah 14:1:
Said Rav Shmuel bar Nachman: When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, He created him as an androgynous being. Reish Lakish [said]: When it was created, dual faces [together] were created, and it was cut, and two were made. [One] back was male, [one] back was female.
The myth of the androgyne may not be as far-fetched as it appears on the surface. An extremely rare anomaly during developmental stages in some species of animals causes them to become “bilateral gynandromorphs”: half of their body structure is male and the other half is female. These animals appear as if someone cut a male and female organism in half and sewed them seamlessly together. These gynandromorphs differ from hermaphrodites because they contain both male and female body structure combined rather than just male and female sexual organs.
Remember that man was created in God’s image, which means that God, in all of His great power and might, is also gentle, loving, and kind. He is our father and also our mother, thus encompassing the nature of both male and female.
The name used in this passage, ha-adam, is a generic term for humankind which encompasses male and female, but as one human being. It is believed that they were connected side by side or even back to back, but the female side of man was not good for him. In another stream of Jewish thought, the story goes that the woman’s name was Lilith, and she did not like her husband. In fact, she hated him and despised him. Lilith is a sort of a forerunner for darkness and evil, but God saw that this was not good. God had to replace Lilith.
So God brought the animals for Adam to name but saw that they were not a suitable helper. Genesis 2:18-20 says,
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
Genesis 2:21-24 continues,
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
The woman was called Eve, but in Hebrew she is called Chavah, which means “to breathe, to live, to give life.” God separated the male and the female into two living beings, and only at marriage the two once again become one.
In the retold story of the creation of man it tells us this: “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).
The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan contains a tradition that Adam was created with dust taken from the temple mount.
And the Lord God created man in two formations; and took dust from the place of the house of the sanctuary, and from the four winds of the world, and mixed from all the waters of the world, and created him red, black, and white; and breathed into his nostrils the inspiration of life, and there was in the body of Adam the inspiration of a speaking spirit, unto the illumination of the eyes and the hearing of the ears. (Pseudo-Jonathan on Genesis 2:7)
Again we see one more name for our Creator: the Potter. The Scriptures repeatedly refer to God as the Potter and man as the clay, as we see here in Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.”
This title is seen again in Jeremiah 18:3-6:
So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand, Israel.”
Paul tells the Corinthians this in 2 Corinthians 4:6-7:
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Messiah. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.
And this brings us to another thought. If Adam and Eve were the first people created, and they had two children after leaving Eden (Cain and Abel), then why was Cain afraid of people killing him? Could this answer why there are two creation accounts of man?
Genesis 4:13-16 says,
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today You are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from Your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Who were these people that Cain was afraid of, and where did they come from if there was only Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel? I believe when we look at the first account of the creation of man, we see that they were made in God’s image, which is having an eternal soul; but in the second account, God not only made them in His image, but He breathed into them the breath of life. Even Chavah’s (Eve’s) name means “to breathe.” The breath of life in Hebrew is nishmat hayyim. This is important because we know that breath is also represented by the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of life. Here are just a couple examples.
2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..”
John 20:22, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
So, could the first creation account speak of the general populace of people? As Genesis 1:28 tells us, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” Then the second retold version would be the creation of Adam and Eve, who would be the family line in which the Patriarchs and the Messiah would come.
We will continue to take a closer look into this, but first: