Two Stories of Creation
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃ When Hashem began to create heaven and earth— b'-ray-SHEET ba-RA e-lo-HEEM AYT ha-sha-MA-yim v'-AYT ha-A-retz וַיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם עֲרוּמִּים הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְלֹא יִתְבֹּשָׁשׁוּ׃ The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, yet they felt no shame.
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃
When Hashem began to create heaven and earth—
b'-ray-SHEET ba-RA e-lo-HEEM AYT ha-sha-MA-yim v'-AYT ha-A-retz
וַיִּהְיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם עֲרוּמִּים הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וְלֹא יִתְבֹּשָׁשׁוּ׃
The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, yet they felt no shame.
The first two chapters of Genesis tell the story of creation. The first provides an overview of the six-day process, while the second zooms in to detail the creation of Man specifically.
The Bible tells us that first, God created Heaven and Earth, then goes on to provide some of the details of that creation.
Each day focuses on a different aspect of the world we live in. On the first day, He creates light and separates it from the darkness. On day two He divides the waters between Heaven and Earth. On day three He forms the dry land and causes plant life to grow. On day four He places the sun, moon and stars in the sky. On day five He creates the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky. On day six He creates all the remaining animals, and before sunset, he forms man.
Of all His creations, God only interacts with man. He turns to His creation, both male and female, and commands humanity to be fruitful and multiply and exert dominion over the Earth. He provides sustenance in the form of the fruit of the trees, offering the growth of the ground for the consumption of animals.
As God looks over His creations, He declares that they are “good”. On the third day He uses the term twice, and when surveying the finished product, He declares it “very good”. Only on the second day does He neglect to use this epithet.
In chapter two we are treated to a slightly different perspective, and even a slightly different order of events. Here, Man is the main focus, and we are told of God’s other creative works in their relation to his needs. Thus, animals are formed only when God determines it is not good for Man to be alone.
Man is formed from the dust of the Earth, and God breathes a soul of life into his body, placing him in the Garden of Eden. He instructs this first Man, called Adam (in Hebrew, the word Adam is synonymous with Ish, or man), not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, then tells him to search among the animals He creates for a life partner. When Adam fails to identify with any of the animals, God causes a deep sleep to overtake him and He forms a woman out of Adam’s own side. We are told that both roam the garden naked, yet are not ashamed, foreshadowing the chapter to come.
In the second description of creation, the Torah tells us that God created the potential for plants, but nothing yet grew because rain had not yet fallen and there is no man to work the land.The Israel Bible cites the sage Rashi, who explains that God withheld the rain until Adam prayed for it. To this day the Land of Israel is dependent on annual rainfall for its water. This is God’s way of strengthening man’s relationship with Him, by building into the world a human need to pray.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
What do you think is the significance of humanity being created last?