14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Having obtained Adam and Eve’s confession, God now addresses each of his children. And yes, that includes his child Satan. God will address each in the order of their offense: Satan first for tempting Eve, Eve second for falling to that temptation, and Adam last for taking the fruit from his wife.
The King James Version of the bible translates the fate of the serpent as having his head “bruised,” but other translations have noted that the Hebrew word used (shuph) is commonly used to say “break” or “crush.” Thus the serpent may snap on man’s heel, but man will outright kill the serpent.
Which is a wonderfully encouraging prophecy from God! Here are Adam and Eve, having been compromised by the devil and are about to be cast out into the fallen world. Their heels have definitely been punctured, but they are being told that in the end they can have the victory over this foe. This prophecy was generally made true when from the ranks of mankind was found a Savior who defeated Satan and offer reclamation to every fallen man and woman.
But this prophecy can also be true of us on an individual level. We may succumb to temptation once, twice, or many times, constantly nipped at the heels by our foe, but each of us retains the hope to overcome. Many the addict has found a power that they didn’t know was in them, crushed their personal viper underfoot, and moved on with a life restored.
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.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
These verses describe the relationship between man and nature with some very impactful language. The Hebrew root for the word “dominion” for example means “to dominate,” “to rule over,” or “to tread under.” I have brought to mind the image of a horse being broken so that it will obey the will of its rider.
And admittedly these are some hard words for me to digest. I’ve always sought to have a more peaceful relationship with animal life. I come from a state where hunting is a regular fall-time activity, one that I have absolutely no interest in taking part of.
I’m sure part of these more mellow feelings is that the animals around me are already domesticated. When I view a kitten curled on my lap for a nap I hardly feel any need to take it down a peg or two! Our relationship with animals is far removed from that of our ancestors who lived in the wild, hunted for their food, and were ever fearful of an apex predator taking their lives!
On the other hand, I do look at a mountain and feel the need to dominate it by climbing its defiant peak. I have that urge to row across a great lake, just because it’s there. I see a stretch of land and I want to break its soil and sow it with crops of my own. That yearning to surmount nature still exists, though we should keep that passion within reason.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
One of the greatest assaults against all mankind is the academic classification of us as a species of animal. This notion that we are essentially the same as any other type of creature, just evolved differently, is one of the most damaging ideas I can think of. It is debasing. It denies our sacred and divine nature. It willfully ignores the self-evident fact that there is no other creature like people.
Yes, we are creations and animals are creations, but it is readily apparent to anyone that makes the most basic of observations that people are of a different order from animals, just as animals are of a different order from plants, and just as plants are of a different order from rocks and minerals. Even if we discard any religious argument we still have to tie ourselves in knots to deny what is self-evident: that humanity and animals do not fit in the same box.
But why we are different is only made clear when we embrace the biblical record. That indescribable quality that separates man from beast is detailed in verse 27, it is that man is created in God’s own image, male and female. This same claim is not made of any other creation, only of mankind, and it is this fact that lays beneath every elevated aspect humanity possesses.