Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Genesis 2:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

In the day that the Lord God made, etc. - The word יהוה Yehovah is for the first time mentioned here. What it signifies see the note on Exodus 34:5, Exodus 34:6. Wherever this word occurs in the sacred writings we translate it Lord, which word is, through respect and reverence, always printed in capitals. Though our English term Lord does not give the particular meaning of the original word, yet it conveys a strong and noble sense. Lord is a contraction of the Anglo-Saxon, Hlaford, afterwards written Loverd, and lastly Lord, from bread ; hence our word loaf, and ford, to supply, to give out. The word, therefore, implies the giver of bread, i.e., he who deals out all the necessaries of life. Our ancient English noblemen were accustomed to keep a continual open house, where all their vassals, and all strangers, had full liberty to enter and eat as much as they would; and hence those noblemen had the honorable name of lords, i.e., the dispensers of bread. There are about three of the ancient nobility who still keep up this honorable custom, from which the very name of their nobility is derived. We have already seen, Genesis 1:1, with what judgment our Saxon ancestors expressed Deus, the Supreme Being, by the term God; and we see the same judgment consulted by their use of the term Lord to express the word Dominus, by which terms the Vulgate version, which they used, expresses Elohim and Jehovah, which we translate Lord God. God is the good Being, and Lord is the dispenser of bread, the giver of every good and perfect gift, who liberally affords the bread that perisheth to every man, and has amply provided the bread that endures unto eternal life for every human soul. With what propriety then does this word apply to the Lord Jesus, who is emphatically called the bread of life; the bread of God which cometh down from heaven, and which is given for the life of the world! John 6:33, John 6:48, John 6:51. What a pity that this most impressive and instructive meaning of a word in such general use were not more extensively known, and more particularly regarded! See the postscript to the general preface. I know that Mr. H. Tooke has endeavored to render this derivation contemptible; but this has little weight with me. I have traced it through the most accredited writers in Saxony and on Saxon affairs, and I am satisfied that this and this only, is its proper etymology and derivation.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible
Verses 4-7

- Part II. The development

- Section II - The Man

- X. The Field

4. תולדות tôledôt “generations, products, developments.” That which comes from any source, as the child from the parent, the record of which is history.

יהוה yehovâh This word occurs about six thousand times in Scripture. It is obvious from its use that it is, so to speak, the proper name of God. It never has the article. It is never changed for construction with another noun. It is never accompanied with a suffix. It is never applied to any but the true God. This sacred exclusiveness of application, indeed, led the Jews to read always in place of it אדוני 'adônāy or, if this preceded it, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym to intimate which the vowel points of one of these terms were subscribed to it. The root of this name is חוה chāvâh an older variety of היה hāyâh which, as we have seen, has three meanings, - “be” in the sense of coming into existence, “be” in that of becoming, and “be” in that of merely existing. The first of these meanings has no application to God, who had no beginning of existence.

The last applies to God, but affords no distinctive characteristic, as it belongs equally to all objects that have existence. The second is proper to God in the sense, not of acquiring any new attribute, but of becoming active from a state of repose. But he becomes active to the eye of man only by causing some new effect to be, which makes its appearance in the world of sensible things. He becomes, then, only by causing to be or to become. Hence, he that becomes, when applied to the Creator, is really he that causes to be. This name, therefore, involves the active or causative force of the root from which it springs, and designates God in relation with the system of things he has called into being, and especially with man, the only intelligent observer of him or of his works in this nether world. It distinguishes him as the Author of being, and therefore the Creator, the worker of miracles, the performer of promise, the keeper of covenant. Beginning with the י (y ) of personality, it points out God as the person whose habitual character it has become to cause his purpose to take place. Hence, אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym designates God as the Everlasting, the Almighty, in his unchangeable essence, as he is before as well as after creation. יהוה .noitaer yehvâh distinguishes him as the personal Self-existent, and Author of all existing things, who gives expression and effect to his purpose, manifests himself thereby as existing, and maintains a spiritual intercourse with his intelligent creatures.

The vowel marks usually placed under the consonants of this word are said to belong to אדוני 'adonāy and its real pronunciation, which is supposed to be lost, is conjectured to have been יהוה yehovâh This conjecture is supported by the analogy of the supposed antique third singular masculine imperfect of the verb הוה hāvâh and by the Greek forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE which are found in certain authors (Diod. Sic. i. 19; Macrob. Saturn i. 18; Theodoret, Quaest. xv. ad Exod.). It is true, indeed, when it has a prefix all its vowels coincide with those of אדדי 'adonāy But otherwise the vowel under the first letter is different, and the qamets at the end is as usual in proper names ending in the Hebrew letter ה (h ) as in others. יהוה yehovâh also finds an anology in the word ירחם yerochām In the forms ΙΑΩ IAW and ΙΑΒΕ IABE the Greek vowels doubtless represent the Hebrew consonants, and not any vowel points. The Hebrew letter ה (h ) is often represented by the Greek letter α (a ). From יהוה yaheovâh we may obtain רהוּ yehû at the end of compounds, and therefore, expect יהוּ yehû at the beginning. But the form at the beginning is יהו yehô or יו yô which indicates the pronunciation יהוה yehovâh as current with the punctuators. All this countenances the suggestion that the casual agreement of the two nouns Yahweh and Adonai in the principal vowels was the circumstance that facilitated the Jewish endeavor to avoid uttering the proper name of God except on the most solemn occasions. יהוה yehovâh moreover, rests on precarious grounds. The Hebrew analogy would give יהוה yı̂hveh not יהוה yehovâh for the verbal form. The middle vowel cholem (o ) may indicate the intensive or active force of the root, but we lay no stress on the mode of pronunciation, since it cannot be positively ascertained.

5. שׂדה śādeh “plain, country, field,” for pasture or tillage, in opposition to גן gan “garden, park.”

7. נשׂמה neśāmâh “breath,” applied to God and man only.

We meet with no division again in the text till we come to Genesis 3:15, when the first minor break in the narrative occurs. This is noted by the intervening space being less than the remainder of the line. The narrative is therefore so far regarded as continuous.

We are now entering upon a new plan of narrative, and have therefore to notice particularly that law of Hebrew composition by which one line of events is carried on without interruption to its natural resting-point; after which the writer returns to take up a collateral train of incidents, that are equally requisite for the elucidation of his main purpose, though their insertion in the order of time would have marred the symmetry and perspicuity of the previous narrative. The relation now about to be given is posterior, as a whole, to that already given as a whole; but the first incident now to be recorded is some time prior to the last of the preceding document.

Hitherto we have adhered closely to the form of the original in our rendering, and so have made use of some inversions which are foreign to our prose style. Hereafter we shall deviate as little as possible from the King James Version.

The document upon which we are now entering extends from Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 2:4

This verse is the title of the present section. It states the subject of which it treats - “the generations of the skies and the land.” The generations are the posterity or the progress of events relating to the posterity of the party to whom the term is applied Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 10:1; Genesis 11:10; Genesis 37:2. The development of events is here presented under the figure of the descendants of a parental pair; the skies and the land being the metaphorical progenitors of those events, which are brought about by their conjunct operation.

It then notes the date at which the new narrative commences. “In their being created.” This is the first or general date; namely, after the primary creation and during the course of the secondary. As the latter occupied six days, some of the processes of nature began before these days had elapsed. Next, therefore, is the more special date - “in the day of Yahweh God‘s making land and skies.” Now, on looking back at the preceding narrative, we observe that the skies were adjusted and named on the second day, and the land on the third. Both, therefore, were completed on the third day, which accordingly is the opening date of the second branch of the narrative.

The uniqueness of the present section, therefore, is, that it combines the creative with the preservative agency of God. Creation and progress here go hand in hand for a season. The narrative here, then, overlaps half the time of the former, and at the end of the chapter has not advanced beyond its termination.

אלהים יהוה yehovâh 'ĕlohı̂ym “the Lord God.” This phrase is here for the first time introduced. אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym as we have seen, is the generic term denoting God as the Everlasting, and therefore the Almighty, as he was before all worlds, and still continues to be, now that he is the sole object of supreme reverence to all intelligent creatures. Yahweh is the proper name of God to man, self-existent himself, the author of existence to all persons and things, and manifesting his existence to those whom he has made capable of such knowledge.

Hence, the latter name is appropriate to the present stage of our narrative. God has become active in a way worthy of himself, and at the same time unique to his nature. He has put forth his creative power in calling the universe into existence. He has now reconstituted the skies and the land, clothed the latter with a new vegetation, and peopled it with a new animal kingdom. Especially has he called into being an inhabitant of this earth made in his own image, and therefore capable of understanding his works and holding conversation with himself. To man he has now come to be in certain acts by which he has discovered himself and his power. And to man he has accordingly become known by a name which signalizes that new creative process of which man forms a prominent part. Yahweh - he who causes the successive events of time to come to pass in the sight and in the interest of man - is a name the special significance of which will come out on future occasions in the history of the ways of God with man.

The union of these two divine names, then, indicates him who was before all things, and by whom now all things consist. It also implies that he who is now distinguished by the new name Jehovah (יהוה yehovâh ) is the same who was before called ‹Elohiym. The combination of the names is specially suitable in a passage which records a concurrence of creation and development. The apposition of the two names is continued by the historian through this and the following chapter. The abstract and aboriginal name then gives way to the concrete and the historical.

The skies and the land at the beginning of the verse are given in order of their importance in nature, the skies being first as grander and higher than the land; at the end, in the order of their importance in the narrative, the land being before the skies, as the future scene of the events to be recorded.

This superscription, we see, presupposes the former document, as it alludes to the creation in general, and to the things made on the second and third days in particular, without directly narrating these events. This mode of referring to them implies that they were well known at the time of the narrator, either by personal observation or by testimony. Personal observation is out of the question in the present case. By the testimony of God, therefore, they were already known, and the preceding record is that testimony. The narrator of the second passage, therefore, even if not the same as that of the former, had to a moral certainty the first before his mind when composing the second.

Genesis 2:5

This verse corresponds to the second verse of the preceding narrative. It describes the field or arable land in the absence of certain conditions necessary to the progress of vegetation. Plant and herb here comprise the whole vegetable world. Plants and herbs of the field are those which are to be found in the open land. A different statement is made concerning each.

Not a plant of the field was yet in the land. - Here it is to be remembered that the narrative has reverted to the third day of the preceding creation. At first sight, then, it might be supposed that the vegetable species were not created at the hour of that day to which the narrative refers. But it is not stated that young trees were not in existence, but merely that plants of the field were not yet in the land. Of the herbs it is only said that they had not yet sent forth a bud or blade. And the actual existence of both trees and herbs is implied in what follows. The reasons for the state of things above described are the lack of rain to water the soil, and of man to cultivate it. These would only suffice for growth if the vegetable seeds, at least, were already in existence. Now, the plants were made before the seeds Genesis 1:11-12, and therefore the first full-grown and seed-bearing sets of each kind were already created. Hence, we infer that the state of things described in the text was this: The original trees were confined to a center of vegetation, from which it was intended that they should spread in the course of nature. At the present juncture, then, there was not a tree of the field, a tree of propagation, in the land; and even the created trees had not sent down a single root of growth into the land. And if they had dropped a seed, it was only on the land, and not in the land, as it had not yet struck root.

And not an herb of the field yet grew. - The herbage seems to have been more widely diffused than the trees. Hence, it is not said that they were not in the land, as it is said of field trees. But at the present moment not an herb had exhibited any signs of growth or sent forth a single blade beyond the immediate product of creative power.

Rain upon the land - and man to till it, were the two needs that retarded vegetation. These two means of promoting vegetable growth differed in their importance and in their mode of application. Moisture is absolutely necessary, and where it is supplied in abundance the shifting wind will in the course of time waft the seed. The browsing herds will aid in the same process of diffusion. Man comes in merely as an auxiliary to nature in preparing the soil and depositing the seeds and plants to the best advantage for rapid growth and abundant fruitfulness. The narrative, as usual, notes only the chief things. Rain is the only source of vegetable sap; man is the only intentional cultivator.

Genesis 2:6

As in the former narrative, so here, the remaining part of the chapter is employed in recording the removal of the two hinderances to vegetation. The first of these is removed by the institution of the natural process by which rain is produced. The atmosphere had been adjusted so far as to admit of some light. But even on the third day a dense mass of clouds still shut out the heavenly bodies from view. But on the creation of plants the Lord God caused it to rain on the land. This is described in the verse before us. “A mist went up from the land.” It had been ascending from the steaming, reeking land ever since the waters retired into the hollows. The briny moisture which could not promote vegetation is dried up. And now he causes the accumulated masses of cloud to burst forth and dissolve themselves in copious showers. Thus, “the mist watered the whole face of the soil.” The face of the sky is thereby cleared, and on the following day the sun shone forth in all his cloudless splendor and fostering warmth.

On the fourth day, then, a second process of nature commenced. The bud began to swell, the tender blade to peep forth and assume its tint of green, the gentle breeze to agitate the full-sized plants, the first seeds to be shaken off and wafted to their resting-place, the first root to strike into the ground, and the first shoot to rise towards the sky.

This enables us to determine with some degree of probability the Season of the year when the creation took place. If we look to the ripe fruit on the first trees we presume that the season is autumn. The scattering of the seeds, the falling of the rains, and the need of a cultivator intimated in the text, point to the same period. In a genial climate the process of vegetation has its beginnings at the falling of the early rains. Man would be naturally led to gather the abundant fruit which fell from the trees, and thus, even unwittingly provide a store for the unbearing period of the year. It is probable, moreover, that he was formed in a region where vegetation was little interrupted by the coldest season of the year. This would be most favorable to the preservation of life in his state of primeval inexperience.

These presumptions are in harmony with the numeration of the months at the deluge Genesis 7:11, and with the outgoing and the turn of the year at autumn Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22.

Genesis 2:7

The second obstacle to the favorable progress of the vegetable kingdom is now removed. “And the Lord God formed the man of dust from the soil.” This account of the origin of man differs from the former on account of the different end the author has in view. There his creation as an integral whole is recorded with special reference to his higher nature by which he was suited to hold communion with his Maker, and exercise dominion over the inferior creation. Here his constitution is described with marked regard to his adaptation to be the cultivator of the soil. He is a compound of matter and mind. His material part is dust from the soil, out of which he is formed as the potter moulds the vessel out of the clay. He is אדם 'ādām “Adam,” the man of the soil, ארמה 'ădāmâh “adamah.” His mission in this respect is to draw out the capabilities of the soil to support by its produce the myriads of his race.

His mental part is from another source. “And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” The word נשׁמה neshāmâh is invariably applied to God or man, never to any irrational creature. The “breath of life” is special to this passage. It expresses the spiritual and principal element in man, which is not formed, but breathed by the Creator into the physical form of man. This rational part is that in which he bears the image of God, and is suited to be his vicegerent on earth. As the earth was prepared to be the dwelling, so was the body to be the organ of that breath of life which is his essence, himself.

And the man became a living soul. - This term “living soul” is also applied to the water and land animals Genesis 1:20-21, Genesis 1:24. As by his body he is allied to earth and by his soul to heaven, so by the vital union of these he is associated with the whole animal kingdom, of which he is the constituted sovereign. This passage, therefore, aptly describes him as he is suited to dwell and rule on this earth. The height of his glory is yet to come out in his relation to the future and to God.

The line of narrative here reaches a point of repose. The second lack of the teeming soil is here supplied. The man to till the ground is presented in that form which exhibits his fitness for this appropriate and needful task. We are therefore at liberty to go back for another train of events which is essential to the progress of our narrative.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here is a name given to the Creator, "Jehovah." Where the word "LORD" is printed in capital letters in our English Bibles, in the original it is "Jehovah." Jehovah is that name of God, which denotes that he alone has his being of himself, and that he gives being to all creatures and things. Further notice is taken of plants and herbs, because they were made and appointed to be food for man. The earth did not bring forth its fruits of itself: this was done by Almighty power. Thus grace in the soul grows not of itself in nature's soil, but is the work of God. Rain also is the gift of God; it came not till the Lord God caused it. Though God works by means, yet when he pleases he can do his own work without them; and though we must not tempt God in the neglect of means, we must trust God, both in the use and in the want of means. Some way or other, God will water the plants of his own planting. Divine grace comes down like the dew, and waters the church without noise. Man was made of the small dust, such as is on the surface of the earth. The soul was not made of the earth, as the body: pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. To God we must shortly give an account, how we have employed these souls; and if it be found that we have lost them, though it were to gain the world, we are undone for ever! Fools despise their own souls, by caring for their bodies before their souls.
Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 112

“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” “For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:6, 9. The Bible recognizes no long ages in which the earth was slowly evolved from chaos. Of each successive day of creation, the sacred record declares that it consisted of the evening and the morning, like all other days that have followed. At the close of each day is given the result of the Creator's work. The statement is made at the close of the first week's record, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.” Genesis 2:4. But this does not convey the idea that the days of creation were other than literal days. Each day was called a generation, because that in it God generated, or produced, some new portion of His work. PP 112.1

Geologists claim to find evidence from the earth itself that it is very much older than the Mosaic record teaches. Bones of men and animals, as well as instruments of warfare, petrified trees, et cetera, much larger than any that now exist, or that have existed for thousands of years, have been discovered, and from this it is inferred that the earth was populated long before the time brought to view in the record of creation, and by a race of beings vastly superior in size to any men now living. Such reasoning has led many professed Bible believers to adopt the position that the days of creation were vast, indefinite periods. PP 112.2

But apart from Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Those who reason so confidently upon its discoveries have no adequate conception of the size of men, animals, and trees before the Flood, or of the great changes which then took place. Relics found in the earth do give evidence of conditions differing in many respects from the present, but the time when these conditions existed can be learned only from the Inspired Record. In the history of the Flood, inspiration has explained that which geology alone could never fathom. In the days of Noah, men, animals, and trees, many times larger than now exist, were buried, and thus preserved as an evidence to later generations that the antediluvians perished by a flood. God designed that the discovery of these things should establish faith in inspired history; but men, with their vain reasoning, fall into the same error as did the people before the Flood—the things which God gave them as a benefit, they turn into a curse by making a wrong use of them. PP 112.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 90-3

I was then carried back to the creation and was shown that the first week, in which God performed the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh day, was just like every other week. The great God in his days of creation and day of rest, measured off the first cycle as a sample for successive weeks till the close of time. “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created.” God gives us the productions of his work at the close of each literal day. Each day was accounted of him a generation, because every day he generated or produced some new portion of his work. On the seventh day of the first week God rested from his work, and then blessed the day of his rest, and set it apart for the use of man. The weekly cycle of seven literal days, six for labor, and the seventh for rest, which has been preserved and brought down through Bible history, originated in the great facts of the first seven days. 3SG 90.1

When God spake his law with an audible voice from Sinai, he introduced the Sabbath by saying, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” He then declares definitely what shall be done on the six days, and what shall not be done on the seventh. He then, in giving the reason for thus observing the week, points them back to his example on the first seven days of time. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” This reason appears beautiful and forcible when we understand the record of creation to mean literal days. The first six days of each week are given to man in which to labor, because God employed the same period of the first week in the work of creation. The seventh day God has reserved as a day of rest, in commemoration of his rest during the same period of time after he had performed the work of creation in six days. 3SG 90.2

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