In my post on Genesis chapter 1, I wrote about Creation in the panoramic view.  In Genesis chapter 2, we meet our characters more close-up-and-personal.  Chapter 2 is the first installment of the first real story we get in the Bible.  If you have a moment, give it a quick read and come back.  (The rest of the story goes through Gen. 5:5.  I’ll write about it in the coming weeks.)

The name used for God in chapter 1 was more generic (El and Elohim, simply meaning GOD), pointing us to the transcendent Creator God.  In chapter 2, God is called Yahweh throughout the chapter – His personal name.  We get a more intimate understanding of how He relates to His creatures.

We also meet the male and female humans more intimately.  Adam (which means “of the earth”) and… well, woman.  She’s not given a proper noun name until the end of chapter 3.  In this story, we get to be privy to the first time a man ever laid eyes on a woman.  It’s pretty delightful! We also get to be privy to God’s first interactions with humans, and it’s a very interesting insight into both God and man.

This chapter is the the extended version of Gen. 1:27 – “God made mankind in his image… male and female He created them.”

God creates the man’s physical body from the dust of the earth, somewhere outside of Eden. But the man doesn’t come alive until God breathes the breath of life into him.  Pretty personal, I’d say!  Mouth to mouth, but instead of resuscitation, it’s first-time life! I wonder what beautiful private conversation Adam had with God when he opened his eyes and saw HIM for the first time.

God is the creator and boss, but He gives Adam a surprising amount of responsibility.  After creating Adam, God purposely places him in this beautiful lush garden with the intention that Adam will “work it and keep it.”  This is an allusion to priestly functions, using the same words in Hebrew that are used of the role of priests in the book of Numbers.

Especially if we understand that this beautiful garden is essentially a temple, Adam’s role here is a) productive work that b) maintains the loveliness of God’s dwelling place by c) tending it, cultivating it, and guarding it from enemies.

Does it surprise you that work was given to humans before the Fall?

The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil are placed right smack in the middle of this garden-sanctuary.  God gives Adam abundant of freedom: Eat from any of these beautiful trees!

God also gives Adam one command, and tells him why: Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because when you eat of it, you will surely die.

God gives Adam productive work to do, and authority to do it.  God brings to Adam all the creatures He’s made, and whatever Adam names it, that’s its name.  This is an interactive process between God and Adam.  And yet, something is still amiss.  Things aren’t quite perfect yet. God can’t pronounce things “very good”.

God proclaims that it’s not good for the man to be alone; he needs a helper that is suited to his needs, a helper who can adequately come alongside him in this priestly role.  This “helper” is no little tag-along slave.  Whatever creature fills this role must be capable of strength, a creature that can wield authority along with the man to rule the earth and subdue it together.  The word used, ezer, is used elsewhere in Scripture of God Himself.  And yet God is not the right person to fill this role for Adam.

None of the animals will make the cut for this job either.  No, God has to fashion a whole new creature, made out of the man himself instead of directly from the dust of the earth.  This creature will complement the man in such a way that humans will truly reflect God’s image in a way the man couldn’t do alone.

You need a soundtrack for the rest of this story.  Try this one:

So, God puts the man to sleep (Adam has absolutely nothing to do with creating the ezer), takes a rib out of the him (not out of his head, not out of his feet, but out of his side), and makes this helper so Adam won’t be alone in carrying the weight of ruling the earth.  Then God brings her to the man…

I love to think about how God might have felt about this gift.  I’m pretty sure he knew Adam would love this new creature.  I think God was grinning when he presented her to Adam!

When Adam wakes up from his divine anesthesia, lo and behold!  There in front of him is a breathtaking being!!

Poetry ensues.

As opposed to all those other creatures that Adam named, here is one who is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”  Finally, someone who can be an ezer for him.  Just like Adam named all the other creatures, he names this one too:  woman, because she was taken out of man.

Here, we have a picture of marriage as it was created and intended to be:  the man leaves his own father and mother and holds fast to his wife, and they become one flesh, and they don’t feel shame about being naked. It’s a beautiful picture of love – love that is innocent and pure, with no need to hide emotions or thoughts or bodies.  Folks, I’ve just gotta say it:  marital sex is a gift from before the Fall!

{For you literal types who are hung up on a detail here: Yes, I know, Adam and his wife didn’t have any parents.  But this is an application point that the Bible makes about this story.  You know it by the “therefore.”  Whenever you see a “therefore” in Scripture, you should always ask “what’s it there for?”  In this case, it’s apparently referring to the romantic love Adam exclaims on immediately before the “therefore,” and is followed by instructions on how to act on that love… marry the girl, love her, honor her, cherish her above all other earthly relations!}

Does it strike you as odd, or as entirely appropriate, that God was the first matchmaker?