Genesis 1: God's Man in the Garden
Updated: Apr 22
The very beginning of the book of beginnings tells the beautiful story of a beautiful God creating a beautiful world. The account ends with God resting after blessing all He had made (Genesis 1:1-2:4).
And then a new story begins. Not a new story, really, but a story within the story. The lens narrows from the limitless cosmos to a peaceful land in the east called Eden*. By divine revelation and the ancients’ oral tradition, the existence and description of Eden were recorded, but today it can’t be found. Chances are it’s underwater*, either by consequence or design.
In the broader story of creation, the Creator was called elohim, a generic name for the universal God. In this story, He reveals Himself as YHWH* — “the existing One.” (It may be written as “the LORD God” in your Bible.) The story of creation becomes the story of mankind and his God. In the land of Eden, the God of the universe gets personal.
And then came Day 6*.
Man* — the crowning of creation, made from the soil — was set in his element. God planted a garden and placed him there. (Genesis 2:8; 15)
It was just a little patch of land in the middle of the earth but the eyes of YHWH were on it. There the existing One would display the perfect picture of man’s lives in partnership with God.
Man was charged with taking care of the things planted there: cultivating, maintaining, multiplying. It seems the garden was man’s practice plot for his tending of the whole earth (Genesis 2:15; Genesis 1:28).
The power resident in the seed was revealed there: something alive can spring up from something that appears dead. Mere dirt can carry life. It's the source of sustenance and beauty, with the potential to multiply and fill the earth.
Man, too, shaped from the soil and filled with the breath of God, was created to be a source of life and to display the beauty of a selfless, loving God. Formed in God’s image, he was created with unbridled potential (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 1:26-27). Unlike other animals, he was designed to stand upright, to walk forward while looking ahead, not down while merely covering ground.
In the garden, he was given the task of naming the animals as God paraded them past, and it was then he discovered that among them all no capable helper was found. So God caused Adam to sleep while He performed the surgery. Out of man’s side*, he brought a woman and presented her to him*. (Genesis 2:18-22)
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24)
The one became two and the two walked as one.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:25)
1 The Hebrew word eden means peaceful.
3 The Hebrew word elohim was used not just for God, but for an array of spiritual beings. Here’s a Bible Project video with more detail: Elohim
4 The name YHWH, referring to the God of Israel, has an interesting history: YHWH - LORD.
6 There are a number of Hebrew words to identify plants, shrubs, and the like. In the garden story, words specific to cultivated plants are used for the first time.
8 The Hebrew word adam, often translated “man” really means “human being.” Although used as the name of the first man created, it’s not gender-specific. The word adam is related to the word adamah which means clay, or dirt. When woman was taken out of man’s side (Genesis 2:20-21) the Hebrew scriptures introduced the words is (male) and issa (female).
9 The common meaning of the Hebrew word tzela (often translated “rib” in English Bibles) is “side.“