Genesis 2:4-25

Adam’s Twofold Headship: The Garden & The Woman
Genesis 2:4-25
A Twofold Headship. Adam was to be head in two capacities; as head of creation and head to the woman. He failed in both headships. Nevertheless, these two headships were part of God’s eternal counsels. God purposed to have a creation, and bless it under the headship of man. He also purposed to give man a companion. Christ succeeds every way Adam failed. Adam was “the figure of Him that was to come” (Rom. 5:14). All things will be gathered together under the headship of the Second Man. Christ, as the glorified Son of man will fulfill Psalm 8. But also, the Father has given Him a companion to share all He possesses with, as His loved co-heirs. This chapter brings out the first steps in the unfolding of God’s eternal councils.

A Summary of Created Life on Earth (2:4-7)

4 These are the histories of the heavens and the earth, when they were created, in the day that Jehovah Elohim made earth and heavens, 5 and every shrub of the field before it was in the earth [‘And no shrub of the field was yet in the earth’], and every herb of the field before it grew [‘and no herb of the field was yet grown’]; for Jehovah Elohim had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground. 6 But a mist went up from the earth, and moistened the whole surface of the ground. vv.4-6 We are given a description of the earth before the creation of man. This is one of ten generations mentioned in Genesis, all beginning with the words “the generations of”, etc. Read more… The shrubs and herbs were on the earth full grown, but reproduction and growth had not yet taken place. There are two needs for agriculture: irrigation and cultivation. The Lord took care of the irrigation by way of a mist that went up from the earth to moisten the ground. But there was “no man to till the ground”. The point is that the plant life could not be brought to its full potential without the headship of man. The whole vegetable kingdom, and all of the Adamic creation, was made in anticipation of man.
7 And Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul. v.7 The Creation of Man. Therefore, Jehovah Elohim formed man, in order that creation might have its head. God formed man’s body from the dust of the ground, but man’s spirit and soul are from God. The body of man was there, fully formed, but there was no life in it until God imparted it with a divine action. The animals are called living souls, but only with man did God breathe into his nostrils the breath of life. This sets man apart from all the animals, because his soul has a special self-consciousness, and his spirit a special God-consciousness. We can see immediately that God intends a relationship with man. “There is a spirit in man, and the breath at the Almighty giveth them understanding” (Job 32:8). Man is a tripartite being. Read more… When we read of God breathing into man’s nostrils the breath of life, we cannot help but think of the new creation of which Christ is firstfruits… how Jesus in resurrection breathed on the disciples saying, “Receive ye Holy Spirit” (John 20:27). The difference between Christ and Adam is highlighted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:24, quoting this verse; “The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam a quickening spirit.” The heads of two creations are contrasted. Both Adam and Christ are “Adams”, because they are each the head of a race. The first man Adam became “a living soul”, which means he had no existence before, no power in himself, and his life is “soulish” or merely natural. He was a “son” or direct creation of God (Luke 3:38). He had a living soul, but a natural, animal life. The last Adam became “a quickening spirit”, which means He had life intrinsically in Himself – He always existed – and was the source of life to a race that descended from Him! When did He become a quickening spirit? Clearly, when He rose from the dead and became head of a new creation race. This is why immediately after that, He breathed on the disciples, communicating the power of His risen life. 
Change from Elohim to Jehovah Elohim. A marked change occurs in the second chapter, after the seven days are completed. The Hebrew name for God used in the first chapter is Elohim, which means “the mighty one”, and it refers to God in the strength of His being. “El” and “Eloah” are other versions of the same name. Elohim is the name of God as Creator. Read more… But in chapter two, the name is Jehovah Elohim. Jehovah is the modern transliteration of the Hebrew name Yahweh, which is God’s name in relationship with men, especially with Israel. Hence in Genesis 1 we have only “Elohim”, the Creator; but in Genesis 2 we have “Jehovah Elohim,” because the relationship of God with men is brought in. Jehovah means, Him who IS (Exodus 3:14). In other words, “the One who exists”. The extension of this expression is found in the New Testament, stated in a way that Gentile minds can more readily understand, Jehovah is the One “which is and which was, and which is to come” (Rev. 1:4, 8:4, 8; 16:5). Read more… 

The Garden of Eden (2:8-14)

8 And Jehovah Elohim planted a garden in Eden eastward, and there put Man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; and the tree of life, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. vv.8-9 The Garden and Its Two Trees. The garden is something special, beyond even the six days of creation, which were “very good”. God’s way has always been to provide for man, and to put something into his responsibility. What God gives to man, for provision or for responsibility, comes from His hand perfect. Whether it be the garden in Eden, or the land of Canaan (Isa. 5:1-2), all is provided for man. Eden means ‘pleasure’. God cannot be blamed for man’s failure in responsibility. Jehovah Elohim took special interest in this garden; He “planted” it Himself. The garden was good for man, not only to look at the trees, but to eat the fruits. The two trees are very important. The tree of life is the source of life. The tree of knowledge of good and evil speaks of responsibility. From the very beginning we find that the trees are separate. The source of life was never through man’s responsibility, even before sin came in. The law proved man to be lost by making life contingent on obedience. This is the principal reason why salvation by works is utter folly. Man could partake of the tree of life, as long as he didn’t take from the tree of responsibility. But once he did take from the tree of responsibility, he was barred from the tree of life. The two are mutually exclusive.
Christ Unites the Trees. Christ alone could reconcile man’s responsibility and the sovereign source of life. Christ went under the consequences of man’s failure in responsibility. The cross answers to the tree of responsibility. But after Christ had gone into death, He rose victorious over sin and the grave, and as risen He became the source of resurrection life to all who believe on Him. Christ risen answers to the tree of life, which is “in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7; Rev. 22:2). 
10 And a river went out of Eden, to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four main streams. 11 The name of the one is Pison: that is it which surrounds the whole land of Havilah, where the gold is. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: that is it which surrounds the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which flows forward toward Asshur. And the fourth river, that is Euphrates. vv.10-14 The Four Rivers from One. Only one unnamed river came out of Eden, but it was thereafter divided into four “main streams”. The number four speaks of universality in creation. From the very beginning God’s desire is to bless the world. Natural rivers have tributaries, many small streams that join into one. But this was one stream that divided as it went out. The blessing spreads! In the Millennial earth, there will be one river, divided into two main streams (Ezek. 47:3-6)! Also, the river will grow deeper as it flows. Of the four rivers, only two are still known today. The first two are described in more detail, perhaps because they were less familiar to Israel. Cush probably refers to the Asiatic Cush, which would therefore be a reference to the land of Shinar (Gen. 10:6-11). The rivers allow us to roughly locate the region where the garden was, although we cannot know exactly, because the one unnamed river has vanished. The Euphrates and Tigris spring from a table land called Ararat in Armenia, which is part of modern-day Turkey. This is the same region where Noah’s ark came to rest. The Euphrates is the border of the land promised to Abraham. Babylon was built on the Euphrates, and Nineveh was built on the Tigris. The two great empires were heavily involved with the children of Israel later on. The ten tribes were carried captive to Assyria, and the two tribes to Babylon. 

The Headship of Man over Creation (2:15-20)

15 And Jehovah Elohim took Man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to till it and to guard it. v.15 Adam’s Role in the Garden. Adam was placed in the garden as its responsible curator. To “till and guard” implies work, but it is not said “by the sweat of the brow”. Work itself was not part of the curse, but the character that work took after the fall was part of the curse. Adam was free for the moment, within a limited sphere. He could order the garden as he pleased.
16 And Jehovah Elohim commanded Man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou shalt freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest of it thou shalt certainly die. vv.16-17 Man’s Test of Responsibility. The commandment was a simple prohibition. It did not require man to do anything. Nor was it independently evil. There was nothing wrong with the fruit of the tree. God did not expect Adam to do something that required the knowledge of good and evil, because man did not have knowledge. It was a simple test of obedience. The consequence of eating from the tree of responsibility was death. Adam couldn’t have life on the ground of responsibility, and neither can we.
Life and Death. In the garden, Adam and Eve were free to eat of any tree except one, and that fruit would result in death. The path to life was inclusive, and the path to death was exclusive. After the fall, it was reversed. Now the path to life is exclusive, and and without it there is death. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
18 And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that Man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate, his like. v.18 God’s Purpose to Give Man a Companion. In ch.1 we read simply that the creator-God made them male and female. But in ch.2 we get the heart of the relator-God expressed. Jehovah Elohim saw that it was not good for the man to be alone. This was not something spoken to man. It was Jehovah Elohim speaking in the counsel of God’s heart. The Church has always been in the heart of God. We find Adam learning experientially in vv.19-20 what God says in v.18. Man was made for fellowship. Loneliness does not suit man. God purposed to give the man “a helpmate, his like”. For man to really be complete, he needed a companion that was of the same kind. In the following verses, we will see that none of the animals were a suitable companion for the man, because they were not “his like”. This blessed truth is carried forward to the Second Man. It could be said just as well of Christ incarnate, that it is not good that man should be alone. God purposed for His Son to have a companion that was bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. Collectively, the Church is the companion of the Heavenly Man!
19 And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim had formed every animal of the field and all fowl of the heavens, and brought them to Man, to see what he would call them; and whatever Man called each living soul, that was its name. 20 And Man gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but as for Adam, he found no helpmate, his like. vv.19-20 In these verses we see that there was a lack of a fitting companion for Adam among the animals. The animals couldn’t share Adam’s thoughts, nor could they share his heart. By bringing all the animals to Adam for him to name, God showed that the animals were under the subjection of man. All through scripture the right to give names is a proof of authority. For examples, in John 1:42 Jesus gave Simon a new name; “Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas (which interpreted is stone).” But it was this very exercise of naming the animals that illuminated man’s need of a suitable helpmate. God’s eternal purpose for man had two parts: headship over all things, and a companion to share the inheritance (Eph. 1:10-11). This also shows that man was created with the powers of language. 

The Creation of Woman from Man, their Mysterious Union (2:21-25)

The Creation of Woman from Man. With all of the animals, God simply made them male and female. But not so with humans. God created man first, and placed him over creation, in order that man might feel his need of a suitable companion. Furthermore, the woman is made from Adam’s rib, not from the dust of the ground. This also strengthens the importance of marriage. Man and woman complete each other far more fully than male and female in the animal kingdom. This is why, among many animal species, male-female companionship is limited to reproduction, and rarely do you find species that will mate for life. As we will find, the unique creation of woman from man is a beautiful type of the Church, which is not only the bride, but also the body of Christ!
21 And Jehovah Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon Man; and he slept. And he took one of his ribs and closed up flesh in its stead. v.21 The Building Material. Woman was not formed from the dust, but from Adam himself. The “deep sleep” of Adam is perhaps the earliest picture of the sufferings of Christ (whose side was pierced) although the third day of creation also pictures it in a general way. The cross was necessary for God to build the Church. The Church did not exist in the Old Testament, because the work of the cross was not complete! We could never be His “like” until the death of Christ. Note: the widespread rumor that all men have only 23 ribs (one less than women) is false. That was true for Adam. 
22 And Jehovah Elohim built the rib that he had taken from Man into a woman; and brought her to Man. 23 And Man said, This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: this shall be called Woman, because this was taken out of a man. vv.22-23 The Creation of Woman from Man. God didn’t create another man, but rather formed a woman from Adam’s rib. Just as Eve was taken out of Adam, so the Church is of Christ. The Lord took out of Adam’s side a rib, which He “built” into Adam’s wife. The Church is “built” (similar wording, Matt. 16:18) of the same material as Christ, the new creation race – she is perfectly compatible! She was not an independent creation, but made from man. Nor was she made from his head or foot, but from a rib out of his side. It speaks of the heart, and the affections. The woman’s place is not to be superior nor inferior to the man, but to be his complement. We can hear Adam’s exultation, the joy in his voice when he is presented with a woman that is this time it is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”. It is in contrast to the animals he had previously named. Here was a creature that was perfectly suitable to him in every way. The same is true of the Church, “which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). How can this be? How can we complement Him who fills all in all? This is grace. We have the same life and nature that Christ does. In our union with Christ, we are perfectly compatible… “of his flesh, and of his bones”. Even this type falls short of the truth of Christ and the church, because Eve was made from one rib, while the Church is the body of Christ! Man gave the woman a name from himself; he was ‘Ish’, and he called her ‘Isshah’. When the fall came in, man gave her a different name (Gen. 3:20),
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. v.24 The Institution of Marriage. Eve is a beautiful type of the Church because she was one with Adam in creation and in marriage. The thought of the one body and the bride are brought together. This verse expounds the mystical union of husband and wife, and is quoted in Eph. 5:31. This verse gives us the institution of marriage, because Adam had neither father nor mother to leave. The Lord Jesus quoted this verse in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7 to answer the question of divorce. The institution was set up at the very beginning… and it is to the beginning that we must look. It was never God’s mind for a man to take more than one wife. This shows that, even for Adam and Eve, marriage was more than just man and woman being together physically. A man needs to leave every earthly relationship, the closest being his father and mother, to cleave to his wife because the husband is “one flesh” with his wife. This is why a husband is traditionally asked: “Do you promise to love her, etc. …and forsaking all others, be faithful only to her, for as long as you both shall live?” The marriage tie supersedes every other earthly tie. Often trouble in marriage occurs when the husband and wife fail to “leave and cleave”. But what blessed truth, when this is applied to Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:32)! The Church has the closest and deepest connection to Christ of very family in heaven and earth. What does it mean practically to be “one flesh”? The husband and wife are to be one in every way including physically… but not before marriage (Heb. 13:4). Sexual relations outside of marriage is called fornication, and is a serious sin. In Eph. 5:32 Paul goes on to say that the union of man and woman is “a great mystery, but I speak as to Christ, and as to the assembly”The mystical union between “Christ and the church” is foreshadowed by natural marriage; by a man leaving all other relations to give himself to one woman, so closely joined together that they become one flesh. See also 1 Cor. 6:15-17.
25 And they were both naked, Man and his wife, and were not ashamed. v.25 Innocence. There was no shame before sin came in. It was not wrong for Adam and Eve to be naked before the fall, nor is it wrong for husband and wife to be naked together. But shame was a direct and immediate result of sin. But for now, the man and his wife lived together in perfect innocence; naked but not ashamed.
What raised the wondrous thought,
Or who did it suggest,
That we, the church, to glory brought,
Should with the Son be blest?
O God! the thought was Thine,
(Thine only it could be),
Fruit of the wisdom, love divine,
Peculiar unto Thee:
The motives, too, Thine own,
The plan, the counsel, Thine!
Made for Thy Son, bone of His bone,
In glory bright to shine.1
  1. Wigram, George V. What raised the wondrous thought? Hymns for the Little Flock: #330. 1805-1879.