Genesis: In the beginning...

A Bible Study on Genesis 1-11

What's in a Name? LESSON 2

For Devotions:

bulletRead Psalm 19.
bulletIn your opening prayer, name some things which come to us as daily blessings and gifts from God.

For Openers:

bulletA time when I felt very alone was...
bulletThe best thing someone (my spouse) has done to help me is ...
bulletHow did you get your name?

For Your Information:

bulletRead through Genesis 2.4-25 and:
bulletunderline every reference to water, river, stream, rain, etc. in verses 4-14
bulletlocate on a map Cush = Ethiopia (2.13) and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (2.14)
No one knows for sure to what the Pishon River in the land of Havilah (2.11) refers; perhaps to the waters around the Arabian peninsula or to the Indus River in India. If Cush does indeed refer to Ethiopia, then the Gihon River probably refers to the Nubian Nile.
bulletdraw a line from 2.16-17 to 3.2-3
bulletdraw a line from 2.25 to 3.7.
bulletLook at the pattern established in the phrasing of Genesis 2.4; 5.1; 6.9; 10.1; 11.10, 27; 25.12, 19; 36.1; and 37.2.
bulletIn the table (click here), write down or draw what was going on in each of the verses indicated.
bulletIn 2.21, the word usually translated as "rib" should perhaps be understood more broadly as "side." The picture partly accounts for why human ribs do not entirely cage in the torso.
bullet2.7 - The Hebrew word for “ground” is adamah. The Hebrew word used here for “man” is adam. Adam usually refers to “humans” and not just “male person” as in Genesis 1.26-27. We don't discover that a male person is being referred to until verse 21.
bullet2.8-10 - The Garden of Eden is described here as a grove of trees, some of which were simply there for beauty’s sake and some which were good for food. This earthly Eden was sometimes understood to pre-figure what the after-life would be like. This idea was somewhat reinforced because the Greek word for garden, paradeisos, introduces reflection on “paradise.” (Recall how in Luke 23:43 Jesus says to the one criminal crucified with him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”) The Bible never says that the after-life will be a return to Eden, but it will be like Eden, especially in the sense of the perfect relationship between God and humans. For additional information, look up Isaiah 51.3 and Ezekiel 31.8-9.
bullet2.9 - We are not told a great deal about the tree of life, but evidently it was believed to offer immortality to anyone who ate of it. Part of the purpose of the Genesis story, though, is to show that true life depends on one’s relationship with God, not on the magical powers of the fruit of some tree. For more information, see Genesis 3.22, and Revelation 2.7 and 22.2.
bullet2.9 - Note that it is pure speculation whether the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is an apple tree or some other kind of tree! The Bible never says what kind it is. Actually we do not know much at all about this tree except that the power of “knowing good and evil” is in some way a characteristic which properly belongs to God alone. Knowing good and evil, therefore, is more than a matter of having worldly wisdom. It is a matter of having an all-encompassing understanding of everything, and this is an understanding that only God can have. Genesis 3.5-6, 22 and 2 Samuel 14.17 and 20 offer further help on this difficult topic.
bullet2.18 - Recall the emphasis in Genesis 1 of how God made everything “good.”
bulletIn 2.21, the word usually translated as "rib" should perhaps be understood more broadly as "side." The picture accounts for why human ribs do not entirely cage in the torso.
bullet2.21-24 - The Hebrew word for “man” in verse 23 is ish, a word usually referring to a “male person.” The Hebrew word for “woman” is ishah.
bulletGenesis 2.24 is quoted four times in the New Testament in Matthew 19.4-6 = Mark 10.6-8; 1 Corinthians 6.15-17; and Ephesians 5.29-31. Read these passages and note the various ways in which the text is interpreted and applied. (In the case of Matthew and Mark, especially note that Jesus refers to the creation of male and female as described in Genesis 1.27 and then jumps to the description of marriage in Genesis 2.24.)

For Discussion:

  1. Remembering the repeated refrain in Genesis 2.4, 5.1, etc., read Matthew 1.1. What is the significance of starting the Gospel in this way?
  2. What is the logic to the order of creation presented in this story? How does it compare to the order in Genesis 1?
  3. 2.4-6 and 10-14 - In Genesis 1, water was understood to be part of the darkness and chaos out of which God brought an ordered creation. How is water presented in this story?
  4. The adam / adamah connection is emphasized in 2.7. Why do you think this is important? (Genesis 3.19 might give you some additional insight.) What conclusions do you draw about human nature from this description?
  5. According to 2.7, what is a human being? What is our relationship to God? Try using words like body, spirit, breath, flesh, soul, being, personality, etc. Also read Job 34.14-15.
  6. According to 2.15, what is the adam’s purpose in life?
  7. If there is such a thing as a "tree of life," then it would seem to imply that death is a natural part of how humans were created to be. Do you think this is true? What is the point of God’s statement about death as punishment in 2.17?
  8. There is some flexibility in how 2.18 should be translated. (See parallels.) How would you translate it in view of your understanding of what kind of partner you think God wants for us? In view of what kind of partner you have been?
  9. In Genesis 1, God "called" the various creations and gave them their names. (See 1.8 and 10.) Why does the man get to "call" the creatures and give them their names now in 2.19-20?
  10. Genesis 2.23 records the man's first words. What do you think were the woman’s first words?
  11. What is the significance of the similarity in the words ish/ishah (man/woman) and the pronouncement of verse 24?
  12. Do you think it is harder for a man or a woman to leave their parents in order to get married?
  13. What is the point of saying in 2.25 that the man and woman were naked but not ashamed? (Cf. Genesis 3.7.)
  14. Why is the story of creation in Genesis 1 left to stand side by side with the story of creation in Genesis 2? (More information.) What truths do both stories convey? What unique insights do each offer? Also see the article, "Beresheet: We need two views of the Creation story" by Rabbi Eliezer Finkelman available HERE.
  15. From the details of this story, what can we say about who God is?
  16. What are the implications of this story in regard to the relationship between men and women? Husbands and wives?  
  17. What does this passage about people who are and remain single? (Be sure to note that this Genesis passage is not the last word on this topic. See passages like 1 Corinthians 7.8 and 38.)
  18. Consider how some artists have interpreted this passage in Genesis. A musical  example worth studying is: Michael Card has an album called "The Beginning." Click here for the lyrics to the title song.
  19. Carryover Question from Lesson 1: Is there a contradiction between Genesis and the theory of evolution?
            Internet Extra! The Lutheran magazine featured some very helpful articles summarizing recent developments in this debate. Click here to read them.

For Later:

bulletRead Psalm 111.
bulletSpouses: Take a moment together to look through your wedding album and recall your vows to each other.
bulletBe a companion to someone today!
bulletSpouses, how will you help your partner today?


Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman

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