25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
I let my two young children take a shower just last night. They love our walk-in shower, because they can freely march across its tile and splash in the water without a single care in the world! Both of them were stark naked, of course, but they didn’t feel one bit embarrassed or ashamed about it. Why should they? They are innocent. Indecency and sexuality don’t even register in their minds.
Of course being naked is also metaphorical. It means being exposed, being vulnerable, having all your private secrets laid bare. How many of us would feel so unashamed in that event? A key piece of my children’s carefree innocence is that they also are too young to have done anything that they truly, deeply regret. They therefore have no hesitation to be seen exactly the way they are, just like Adam and Eve.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Verse 24 is curious, no matter how you read it. Is it a continuation of Adam’s speech upon seeing Eve, or is it an insert by Moses? Because if it is the former, then it is very interesting that Adam already understood the concept of a “father and mother,” giving that he and Eve were to become the first ones. If it is the latter, though, it is a fascinating bit of foreshadowing by Moses.
Because as that verse states, man shall indeed leave father and mother to remain with the woman. Adam will soon make a choice between taking the fruit that Eve offers him, or else remaining alone in the garden with his heavenly parentage. And he is going to choose the woman, the one who is a part of him, the one that is “bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh.”
And the language of verse 24 seems to be approving this decision. It seems to suggest that this is a right and natural thing for Adam to do. Condescending from his cozy paradise to remain a partner with his soulmate, to face even death together, this is a beautiful concept. The classic marriage vow today echoes this sentiment with its pledges of “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” In fact, Adam’s choice is itself foreshadowing another individual: the Savior that will leave heavenly parentage to also be a partner to the fallen.
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
I have an “anxious attachment style,” which means that I am afraid of abandonment, frequently seek reassurance that I am loved, and stress out when I am left by myself for too long. Therefore statements like “it is not good that the man should be alone” ring very true to me!
Now I have been learning how to take those insecurities to God instead of other people, as He is the only one that can answer them in the deepest parts of my heart. He is able to bring me to a place of grounded authenticity that no one else can. But even when I am in that authentic place, I do still feel that need for human connection, for a companion, for an equal partner, for a complement to my mind and heart. Between the extreme of “anxious attachment” and the other extreme of “avoidant attachment” there is that happy middle ground of “secure attachment” which all of us need to fully thrive.
And as wonderful as animals are, they cannot meet that need. Perhaps they can relate to us in what it means to be a living thing, but not in what it means to be human. We were crafted to need other people, to need friends, and to need a soulmate.
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Why would God even put the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden? Did He want them to partake of it? Was the Fall necessary so that Adam and Eve could propagate children and give rise to each of us? But would that mean God’s plan of good required an act of evil first?!
I have heard all these questions about the story of creation, and I’ve even asked a few of them myself. But they are questions that have no answer in our scriptural accounts, and thus dwelling on them can only be an agitation and distress. The fact is, we really have very little information about what happened in that Garden, and it is entirely conceivable that we are missing 99% of the bigger story. There could very well have been much more drama between God, Satan, Adam, and Eve, but we were only given a very narrow window of it. Thus anyone that tries to extrapolate all the details from these small pieces is on a vain quest.
But I don’t believe that this narrow-slice view is an accident. When it comes to stories like these, there is a great strength in brevity. It makes them more universal. By stripping away any extraneous details we are left with a message that is applicable to each of us, no matter how different we are. Like Adam, each of us recognizes that there was forbidden fruit that we were warned against, that we were told would destroy us, that we obediently avoided for a time…but which we ultimately did partake of. And when we felt something break inside of us and weren’t sure where to go from there, this story pointed the way.
8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Note that the presence of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden was no coincidence. God adorned the grounds with all manner of plants: trees that were lovely to look at, trees to provide the food man needed to live, and even a tree that gave immortality. But He also intentionally added this one other tree, one that would enable mankind to fundamentally change his state from innocence to being able to perceive evil.
At times I have wondered what the nature of this tree was that it would give knowledge of good and evil. The thought occurs to me that just by God forbidding the eating of that tree it would already qualify as a tree of knowledge of good and evil, for now it could not be eaten except by an act of disobedience, which would necessarily break one’s innocence, which would bring them face-to-face with guilt and consequences. Had God instead commanded Adam to not lift a particular rock then we could just as easily be talking about the rock of knowledge of good and evil.
However this tree has the title of “knowledge of good and evil” even before God forbade the eating of it. That seems to suggest there was something inherent in its nature that God was steering Adam and Eve away from, just as He gives us commandments today to keep us from inherently harmful behavior.
But maybe these questions don’t matter, though. What is more pertinent to me is that this tree is an allegory for the breaking of innocence in my own life. I have had my own trees of knowledge of good and evil, like that time I colored red crayon on the carpet and found myself facing negative consequences on the one hand or the temptation to lie about it on the other. It was an opportunity planted in my life, able to bring me to a knowledge of both good and evil. And like Adam and Eve, I gave in to the temptation, I lied about the mess, and I entered a more fallen world as a result.
4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
At this point we read of God creating man from the dust, which seems confusing given that we already heard about him creating man in the last chapter. Why are we hearing about the creation of man twice? One of the interpretations is that the first account only tells of a spiritual creation. God planned and prepared everything during Chapter 1, and then in Chapter 2 we read the actual execution of that plan. Verse 5 implies this when it speaks of “every plant and every herb” as though they already exist in some context, even before having been planted and grown.
Another interpretation is that these are two accounts of the same event. One could see Chapter 1 and the first three verses of Chapter 2 as a sort of prologue, using broad strokes to describe the events that are further detailed in what follows. In either case, by the end of Verse 7 of Chapter 2 man has become a living soul, the direct creation of God, and a central actor in the story of life.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
A great work never seems complete until we have settled back and looked long and hard at what was accomplished. A garden of crops, a finished basement, a manuscript, a college diploma…all of these need a moment for us to appreciate what has been done.
The thought occurs to me that sitting back and appreciating the creations of God is an excellent way to observe the sabbath, too. After all, the whole point of this seventh day was to cap off that work of creation, so what better way to commemorate it than by immersing oneself in it?
I also want to point out that while this seventh day was the end of God’s creation, it was only the beginning of mankind’s creations. Everything that we fashion on earth is built on the foundation of what He created first. Therefore I think it wise to view the sabbath in that light, too. We should have it be the foundation of our week, the cornerstone that everything else is built upon, not a garnish off to the side of everything else.