Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
NARRATIVE OF THE
The course of the narrative is improperly broken by the division of the
1. the heavens--the firmament or atmosphere.
host--a multitude, a numerous array, usually connected in
Scripture with heaven only, but here with the earth also, meaning all
that they contain.
were finished--brought to completion. No permanent change has
ever since been made in the course of the world, no new species of
animals been formed, no law of nature repealed or added to. They could
have been finished in a moment as well as in six days, but the work of
creation was gradual for the instruction of man, as well, perhaps, as
of higher creatures
2. and he rested on the seventh day--not to repose from
exhaustion with labor (see
but ceased from working, an example equivalent to a command that we
also should cease from labor of every kind.
3. blessed and sanctified the seventh day--a peculiar
distinction put upon it above the other six days, and showing it was
devoted to sacred purposes. The institution of the Sabbath is as old as
creation, giving rise to that weekly division of time which prevailed
in the earliest ages. It is a wise and beneficent law, affording that
regular interval of rest which the physical nature of man and the
animals employed in his service requires, and the neglect of which
brings both to premature decay. Moreover, it secures an appointed
season for religious worship, and if it was necessary in a state of
primeval innocence, how much more so now, when mankind has a strong
tendency to forget God and His claims?
4. These are the generations of the heavens and of the
earth--the history or account of their production. Whence did Moses
obtain this account so different from the puerile and absurd fictions
of the heathen? Not from any human source, for man was not in existence
to witness it; not from the light of nature or reason, for though they
proclaim the eternal power and Godhead by the things which are made,
they cannot tell how they were made. None but the Creator
Himself could give this information, and therefore it is through faith
we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God
5, 6. rain, mist--(See on
7. Here the sacred writer supplies a few more particulars about
the first pair.
formed--had FORMED MAN OUT OF THE DUST OF THE
GROUND. Science has proved that the substance of his flesh,
sinews, and bones, consists of the very same elements as the soil which
forms the crust of the earth and the limestone that lies embedded in
its bowels. But from that mean material what an admirable structure has
been reared in the human body
the breath of life--literally, of lives, not only animal but
spiritual life. If the body is so admirable, how much more the soul
with all its varied faculties.
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life--not that the
Creator literally performed this act, but respiration being the medium
and sign of life, this phrase is used to show that man's life
originated in a different way from his body--being implanted directly
and hence in the new creation of the soul Christ breathed on His
8. Eden--was probably a very extensive region in Mesopotamia,
distinguished for its natural beauty and the richness and variety of
its produce. Hence its name, signifying "pleasantness." God planted a
garden eastward, an extensive park, a paradise, in which the man was
put to be trained under the paternal care of his Maker to piety and
9. tree of life--so called from its symbolic character as a sign
and seal of immortal life. Its prominent position where it must have
been an object of daily observation and interest, was admirably fitted
to keep man habitually in mind of God and futurity.
tree of the knowledge of good and evil--so called because it was
a test of obedience by which our first parents were to be tried,
whether they would be good or bad, obey God or break His commands.
15. put the man into the garden of Eden to dress it--not only to
give him a pleasant employment, but to place him on his probation, and
as the title of this garden, the garden of the Lord
indicates, it was in fact a temple in which he worshipped God, and was
daily employed in offering the sacrifices of thanksgiving and
17. thou shalt not eat of it . . . thou shalt surely
die--no reason assigned for the prohibition, but death was to be
the punishment of disobedience. A positive command like this was not
only the simplest and easiest, but the only trial to which their
fidelity could be exposed.
18. it is not good for the man to be alone--In the midst of
plenty and delights, he was conscious of feelings he could not gratify.
To make him sensible of his wants,
19. God brought unto Adam--not all the animals in existence, but
those chiefly in his immediate neighborhood to be subservient to his
whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name
thereof--His powers of perception and intelligence were
supernaturally enlarged to know the characters, habits, and uses of
each species that was brought to him.
20. but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him--The
design of this singular scene was to show him that none of the living
creatures he saw were on an equal footing with himself, and that while
each class came with its mate of the same nature, form, and habits, he
alone had no companion. Besides, in giving names to them he was led to
exercise his powers of speech and to prepare for social intercourse
with his partner, a creature yet to be formed.
21. deep sleep--probably an ecstasy or trance like that of the
prophets, when they had visions and revelations of the Lord, for the
whole scene was probably visible to the mental eye of Adam, and hence
his rapturous exclamation.
took one of his ribs--"She was not made out of his head to
surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to
be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him."
23. Woman--in Hebrew, "man-ess."
24. one flesh--The human pair differed from all other pairs,
that by peculiar formation of Eve, they were one. And this passage is
appealed to by our Lord as the divine institution of marriage
(Mt 19:4, 5;
Thus Adam appears as a creature formed after the image of God--showing
his knowledge by giving names to the animals, his
righteousness by his approval of the marriage relation, and his
holiness by his principles and feelings, and finding
gratification in the service and enjoyment of God.