“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created…” – Genesis 2:4
Let me ask you a question…
If you created a whole world would you want the people on that world to write about the time you created it and them just once?
The answer is no! You would want them to write about those six days more than once! Maybe twice even!
And that is Genesis chapter two for the most part. In chapter one, God creates all things. Refer to The Brooding Hen post for more on this. He creates the world, water, sky, earth, food, plants, animals, fishes, people (a man specifically).
In Genesis chapter two we hear a slightly different version of this event. And its nothing short of beautiful.
The original translation of the Genesis 2:4 is different than what you see at the top of this post. It reads: “This is the tale of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” This word “tale’ makes much more sense to me than “generations”. The theme of generations is HUGE in the Bible. The Bible is basically one long pedigree of human to human storytelling all the way in an unbroken chain to Jesus Christ. So when I read this verse and it said “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth…” I was immediately confused. I associate that word with the famous “begat” chapters of the Bible – you know, “and so-and-so begat so-and-so” chapters – so now that I know its just the “tale” I can totally grasp it.
HERE’S THE COOL PART
This is the neatest difference between the two creation stories. In chapter one you’ll notice that God is speaking things into existence. If you imagine it he is somewhere far away or ethereal and everywhere at once, speaking life into existence. Its beautiful and magical and powerful. Its untouchable and purposefully superior. The authors want you to know that God is creator and all powerful.
In this second version in chapter two we see a completely different God.
He fashions and forms man from dust. He is actually down in the dirt creating with his hands, like a craftsman or a farmer. And then he breathes his own breath into the nostrils of this man that he has created from the earth to give it life. He plants a garden, grows the trees, and finally he puts the man, physically places him like a young child places a doll into a dollhouse, into the garden that he planted. This is a skilled God, one who has done this before and one who takes joy in creating and getting his hands dirty.
And its interesting that in the first chapter God speaks so much. In this account, God doesn’t speak until verse 16. And when he speaks its a commandment about food and free choice to us humans, to man. From that one commandment – to eat of every tree but that of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – all of life from Adam on sprouts.
Every time I’m in my back yard picking fruits and vegetables that I’ve grown from the earth that God created I think of these few verses. I think about how the entire story of the Bible is one long lesson that God teaches humans and his favorite teaching style is by leading by example.
God shaped you by hand. He rolled up his sleeves and intentionally molded you from the earth, from the best material out there, into the shape you are in now. He put his whole self into it. Literally breathing a bit of himself into you so that you would live.
That’s pretty damn cool.