In Genesis chapter 2 the order of creation seems to be different to that in chapter 1 with the animals being created (2:19) after Adam (2:7). Doesn’t the Bible contradict itself here?
Between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve, the KJV/AV Bible says (Genesis 2:19) ‘out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air’. On the surface, this seems to say that the land beasts and birds were created between Adam and Eve. However, Jewish scholars apparently did not recognize any such conflict with the account in chapter 1, where Adam and Eve were both created after the beasts and birds (Genesis 1:23–25). Why is this? Because in Hebrew the precise tense of a verb is determined by the context. It is clear from chapter 1 that the beasts and birds were created before Adam, so Jewish scholars would have understood the verb ‘formed’ in Genesis 2:19 to mean ‘had formed’ or ‘having formed’. If we translate verse 19 as follows (as one widely used translation1 does), ‘Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field …’, the apparent disagreement with Genesis 1 disappears completely.
The question also stems from the wrong assumption that the second chapter of Genesis is just a different account of creation to that in chapter 1. It should be evident that chapter 2 is not just ‘another’ account of creation because chapter 2 says nothing about the creation of the heavens and the earth, the atmosphere, the seas, the land, the sun, the stars, the moon, the sea creatures, etc. Chapter 2 mentions only things directly relevant to the creation of Adam and Eve and their life in the garden God prepared specially for them. Chapter 1 may be understood as creation from God’s perspective; it is ‘the big picture’, an overview of the whole. Chapter 2 views the more important aspects from man’s perspective.
Genesis 2:4 says, ‘These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens’. This marks a break with chapter 1. This phraseology next occurs in Genesis 5:1, where it reads ‘This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man’.
‘Generations’ is a translation of the Hebrew word toledoth, which means ‘origin’ or ‘record of the origin’. It identifies an account or record of events. The phrase was apparently used at the end of each section in Genesis2 identifying the patriarch (Adam, Noah, the sons of Noah, Shem, etc.) to whom it primarily referred, and possibly who was responsible for the record. There are 10 such divisions in Genesis….
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