Then 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 birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:26-27, ESV.
Most people will spot startling differences when we read Genesis 1 and 2. Why was man created on the 6th day on Genesis 1 while on Genesis 2, man was created before any shrub had appeared on earth (ref: Genesis 2:5)? Who was the people God intends to work the ground (ref: Genesis 2:5, 15)? Didn’t God only ask man to work the ground after the fall (ref Genesis 3:17-19)?
I do not have all the answers. But in this post, I lay down my understanding of the passage. Because we are all imperfect human beings and we have not lived during the times of Eden, I hope this may be a conversation starter for us to share about how what we understand in this passage. Do feel free to leave comments so that we may carry on the discussion below. 🙂
Personally, I do not think that the human beings created in Genesis 1 are the same as Genesis 2. Here, I am not referring to previous earlier creations as I have written in my previous posts titled, “Is the world that we live in, a second creation?” and “Rethinking the theology of creation — is the cycle of creation and destruction biblical?”. In this post, I am referring to the current creation; the current timeline of humanity that brought us to where we are today.
Having read and re-read Genesis, my limited understanding about God tells me that there appear to be a clear demarkation of territorial boundaries on earth when God created the world. To me, Genesis 1 appears to be the creation of the earth while Genesis 2 appears to be the formation of the Garden of Eden and everything within it. In the earthly timeline, humanity was created on day 6. For Adam however, God pre-planned Him to be in the garden prior to planting any shrubs or any plants on the earth. In other words, it appears to me that God made Adam on the third day — after He created dry ground and before He planted any vegetations. Ask any physicists or biologists and they will tell you that human beings cannot survive in such a condition. So, when God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, Adam became a living being, in a separate location other than on earth. I think, He was in God’s presence prior to being placed on the earth.
Now, if you were to pay attention to the narrative in Genesis 2, you will notice that Eden was a specially chosen place for God to plant His garden. It was in the East, somewhere near modern-day Iraq, and more specifically, modern-day Baghdad (reference from the current location of the river Tigris and Euphrates). There, the land was rich in call kinds of minerals ranging from gold, to pearls, to onyx (ref: Genesis 2:12). When God had prepared the garden in Eden, God placed Adam in it to work it and to take care of it (ref: Genesis 2:15).
But Adam was not the only one tasked with the job of working and caring for the land. Beyond Eden, God had expressed His intention for human beings to work and to care for the land. Before any rain fell onto the ground nor any vegetations sprouting, God gave us a clear look at His intention for human beings to work the ground (ref: Genesis 2:15). Considering that in the chronological order of the passage, Eden was not yet planted and God was referring to the global affairs of vegetation growth, He might have intended to have people working the land beyond Eden.
Here, I am suggesting that there might be people whom God had created who are other than Adam and Eve. These people are people who are residing outside of Eden.
My first clue came from Genesis 2, Moses’ description of the geographical location of Eden. How is he so sure of the names of the river that flowed from Eden and its surrounding land? “The name of the first (river) is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:11, 13-14). Considering the details that goes into the description, it appears that Moses knew exactly where it was. And more importantly, do we notice that the description of the land includes land that were later used to describe human settlements?
Considering Biblical chronology, we will know that these settlements were recorded in the Bible after The Great Flood in Genesis 6. So, if these people — Cush, and Havilah — were born a few generations after Noah, then why are there human settlements there around Eden? And if the land of Cush and Havilah already existed, who gave them these names before the flood? Can there be people there already?
My second clue comes from Genesis 4 after Adam and his family was chased out of the garden of Eden. We all know the story of Cain and Abel. After Cain killed Abel, God cursed Cain to be a restless wanderer. But Cain responded to God saying that whoever finds him will kill him. Then God placed a mark on Cain and told him that whoever kills him will suffer a vengeance seven times over (ref: Genesis 4:12-16). If Adam and Eve were the only people in the planet and they had two kids — Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel, that meant we are left with Adam, Eve, and Cain. Who else will be there to kill Cain? Some people suggests that are girls and other descendants whose names are not recorded in the Bible. However, given that the ancients are so particular about genealogies, I personally do not think that Moses would be so careless with this. Oh, and not to mention, who is Cain housing when he built his city (ref: Genesis 4:17)?
My third and final clue comes from Genesis 6:1-2. It reads, “When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” Many speculated about the sons of God to be angels and descendants of humans to be us. I, on the other hand, am against such a notion. You see, I believe that we who have gotten the breath of life and have the Holy Spirit living within us are called sons and daughters of the living God. That made Adam and Eve, who have the breath of God, one of us. But what about the sons and daughters of humans? I personally believe that they are the other people residing outside of Eden in Genesis 2; they are the people God created on the 6th day in Genesis 1. Even though they were created in the image and likeness of God, they do not have the breath of life that Adam and Eve have.
There are still many things we can talk about on this topic. And frankly, I think this is quite an exciting topic to talk about considering the details God put into the entire creation of the universe. So yes, if you were to ask me, I think that God had created other people on earth and placed them outside of Eden. However, consider The Great Flood that happened in Genesis 6, at the end of the day, all of these does not matter anymore. When The Great Flood happened, the entire earth’s population was destroyed, leaving only Noah and his family — the descendants of Adam; all of them have the living breath of God, all of them sons and daughters of the living God.
So, no matter what our belief is, at the end of the day, all that matters is that we are all descendants of Noah with the living breath of God that Adam had.Image by My pictures are CC0. When doing composings: from Pixabay
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