Genesis 2:7 MEANING

Genesis 2:7
(7) And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.--Literally, formed the man (adam) dust from the ground. In this section the prominent idea is not that of producing out of nothing, but of forming, that is, shaping and moulding. So in Genesis 2:19 Jehovah forms the animals, and in Genesis 2:8 He plants a garden. As Elohim is almighty power, so Jehovah is wisdom and skill, and His works are full of contrivance and design. As regards man's body, Jehovah forms it dust from the ground: the adamah, or fruitful arable soil, so called from Adam, for whose use it was specially fitted, and by whom it was first tilled. But the main intention of the words is to point out man's feebleness. He is made not from the rocks, nor from ores of metal, but from the light, shifting particles of the surface, blown about by every wind. Yet, frail as is man's body, God--

. . . breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.--The life came not as the result of man's bodily organisation, nor as derived by evolution from any other animal, but as a gift direct from God.

And man became a living soul.--The word translated "soul" contains no idea of a spiritual existence. For in Genesis 1:20, "creature that hath life," and in Genesis 1:24, "the living creature," are literally, living soul. Really the word refers to the natural life of animals and men, maintained by breathing, or in some way extracting oxygen from the atmospheric air. And whatever superiority over other animals may be possessed by man comes from the manner in which this living breath was bestowed upon him, and not from his being "a living soul;" for that is common to all alike.

The whole of this second narrative is pre-eminently anthropomorphic. In the previous history Elohim commands, and it is done. Here He forms, and builds, and plants, and breathes into His work, and is the companion and friend of the creature He has made. It thus sets before us the love and tenderness of Jehovah, who provides for man a home, fashions for him a wife to be his partner and helpmate, rejoices in his intellect, and brings the lower world to him to see what he will call them, and even after the fall provides the poor outcasts with clothing. It is a picture fitted for the infancy of mankind, and speaking the language of primaeval simplicity. But its lesson is for all times. For it proclaims the love of God to man, his special pre-eminence in the scale of being, and that Elohim, the Almighty Creator, is Jehovah-Elohim, the friend and counsellor of the creature whom He has endowed with reason and free-will.

Verse 7. - And the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim) formed man of the dust of the ground. Literally, dust from the ground. Here, again, Bleek, Kalisch, and the theologians of their school discover contrariety between this account of man's creation and that which has been given in the preceding chapter. In that man is represented as having been created by the Divine word, in the Divine image, and male and female simultaneously; whereas in this his creation is exhibited as a painful process of elaboration from the clay by the hand of God, who works it like a potter (asah; LXX., πλάσσω), and, after having first constructed man, by a subsequent operation forms woman. But the first account does not assert that Adam and Eve were created together, and gives no details of the formation of either. These are supplied by the present narrative, which, beginning with the construction of his body from the fine dust of the ground, designedly represents it as an evolution or development of the material universe, and ends by setting it before us as animated by the breath of God, reserving for later treatment the mode of Eve's production, when the circumstances that led to it have been described. And (the Lord God) breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Literally, the breath of lives. "The formation of man from the dust and the breathing of the breath of life must not be understood in a mechanical sense, as if God first of all constructed a human figure from the dust" (still less does it admit of the idea that man's physical nature was evolved from the lower animals), "and then, by breathing his breath of life into the clod of earth which he had shaped into the form of a man, made it into a living being. The words are to be understood θεοπρεπῶς. By an act of Divine omnipotence man arose from the dust; and in the same moment in which the dust, by virtue of creative omnipotence, shaped itself into a human form, it was pervaded by the Divine breath of life, and created a living being, so that we cannot say the body was earlier than the soul" (Delitzsch). And man became a living soul. Nephesh chayyah, in Genesis 1:21, 80, is employed to designate the lower animals. Describing a being animated by a ψυχή or life principle, it does not necessarily imply that the basis of the life principle in man and the inferior animals is the same. The distinction between the two appears from the difference in the mode of their creations. The beasts arose at the almighty fiat completed beings, every one a nephesh chayyah. "The origin of their soul was coincident with that of their corporeality, and their life was merely the individualization of the universal life with which all matter was filled at the beginning by the Spirit of God" (Delitzsch). Man received his life from a distinct act of Divine inbreathing; certainly not an in-breathing of atmospheric air, but an inflatus from the Ruach Elohim, or Spirit of God, a communication from the whole personality of the Godhead. In effect man was thereby constituted a nephesh chayyah, like the lower animals; but in him the life principle conferred a personality which was wanting in them. Thus there is no real contradiction, scarcely even an "apparent dissonance," between the two accounts of man's creation. The second exhibits the foundation of that likeness to God and world-dominion ascribed to him in the first.

2:4-7 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.And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,.... Not of dry dust, but, as Josephus (h) says, of red earth macerated, or mixed with water; the like notion Hesiod (i) has; or out of clay, as in Job 33:6 hence a word is made use of, translated "formed", which is used of the potter that forms his clay into what shape he pleases: the original matter of which man was made was clay; hence the clay of Prometheus (k) with the Heathens; and God is the Potter that formed him, and gave him the shape he has, see Isaiah 64:8, there are two "jods", it is observed, in the word, which is not usual; respecting, as Jarchi thinks, the formation of man for this world, and for the resurrection of the dead; but rather the two fold formation of body and soul, the one is expressed here, and the other in the following clause: and this, as it shows the mighty power of God in producing such a creature out of the dust of the earth, so it serves to humble the pride of man, when he considers he is of the earth, earthy, dust, and ashes, is dust, and to dust he must return.

And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; which in that way entered into his body, and quickened it, which before was a lifeless lump of clay, though beautifully shapen: it is in the plural number, the "breath of lives" (l), including the vegetative, sensitive, and rational life of man. And this was produced not with his body, as the souls of brutes were, and was produced by the breath of God, as theirs were not; nor theirs out of the earth, as his body was: and these two different productions show the different nature of the soul and body of man, the one is material and mortal, the other immaterial and immortal:

and man became a living soul; or a living man, not only capable of performing the functions of the animal life, of eating, drinking, walking, &c. but of thinking, reasoning, and discoursing as a rational creature.

(h) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 1.((i) Opera & dies, ver. 60. (k) Martial. l. 10. Epigram. 38. (l) Heb. "spiraculum vitarum", Pareus.

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