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Genesis 2:18-25 – It Is Not Good That the Man Should Be Alone

Summary

God evaluates the current state of creation and determines that, in view of the man's aloneness, it is not good. God engages the man in moving the situation from "not good" to "good." That moment arrives with the creation of woman.

Analysis

That God evaluates God's own work at all invites wonderment; that God would find God's own work to this point "not good" is even more striking. In evaluating, God sees--indeed, experiences--that which has been created. What has been created to this point genuinely affects God, and God moves to set the "not good" situation right. This reference is a witness to an ongoing creative process rather than a punctiliar event. It is important to note that "good" does not mean "perfect." This is shown not least in the fact that God commanded human beings to "subdue the earth" (1:28), that is, to bring order out of continuing disorder. In any case, if the creation was "perfect," how could anything go wrong?

God engages the human being in this creative process. God creates animals and brings them to the man to see what he would name them. Strikingly, God accepts "whatever" names the man decides to give (2:19). Human beings thus have a role in the ongoing creative process, just as God's naming of nonliving creatures in 1:5-10 was part of such a process. Indeed, in view of the human decisions, God determines that another creative response is needed.

When the woman is created, it is the man whose exclamation (2:23) determines that the situation is now "good." It is important to note that for the man to name the woman (2:23; 3:20) does not entail his superiority over her in any way (shown by Hagar's naming of God in 16:13). Moreover, that the woman is made from the rib (or side) of the man does not indicate her subordination, any more than the man's being created from the dust of the ground implies his subordination to it.

Genesis 2:18-25

18 Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man* there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
   and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,*
   for out of Man* this one was taken.’
24Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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