Explain the two creation accounts and reconcile them with each other.
When we look at the first two chapters of Genesis, we should not consider them as two different (and possibly contradictory) accounts of Creation, but rather each chapter has two different focuses. The first chapter tells us of God’s Creation where all things are created in six days including man and woman. The second chapter focuses on God’s creation of man and woman and the environment in which they were placed, the Garden of Eden.
The key to understanding these two chapters is found in the first few verses of Genesis chapter two. Here, we we find a summarizing statement where Moses states what happened on the seventh day, after God had taken the first six days to create all things including humanity.
GEN 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.
GEN 2:2 And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
GEN 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Therefore, all that has gone before in chapter one is summarized at this point. Then, beginning in verse four of chapter two, Moses turns his attention to the special creation of man and woman (on the sixth day) and the special environment into which they were placed, the Garden of Eden. Not only does he describe how humanity was created, but also the special relationship that man and woman were to have with each other and also their relationship with God, to be maintained by the keeping of His law.
GEN 2:4 ¶ This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.
GEN 2:5 Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground.
GEN 2:6 But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
GEN 2:7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
GEN 2:8 And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
GEN 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
GEN 2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
GEN 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;
GEN 2:17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die. ”
GEN 2:18 ¶ Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
GEN 2:19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
GEN 2:20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.
GEN 2:21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place.
GEN 2:22 And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
GEN 2:23 And the man 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.”
GEN 2:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
GEN 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Therefore, in chapter two, more detail is given about the creation of man and woman, the environment into which they were placed, the law that was given to them by God and the special relationship they were to have with one another. But, to interpret chapter two to be a second account of the entire Creation leads us to unwarranted conclusions which would indeed contradict chapter one. An example of this would be concluding that there was no growing venation on the earth until man was created and God brought the rain. A more reasonable and truthful interpretation is, first God gives us a wide view of the entire Creation in the seven day period (Gen. 1:1-2:3). Then, we are given a more narrow view of the Creation of humanity and the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:4-25).
By Gary Hunt