Do Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict each other?

The big assumption that people usually make when they ask such a question is that Genesis 2 contains a second account of the creation of the world. This assumption is erroneous, as Genesis 2 (starting from the 4th verse) is not about the creation of the world but about the beginning of man, and everything written in this second account in Genesis revolves around man’s first hours of existence. Even the mentioning of plants and animals in Genesis 2 revolves around him (as we shall see later).

So, basically, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 together have two accounts. The first account is the account of the creation of the whole universe, starting from Genesis 1:1 and ending at Genesis 2:3, with God sanctifying the day on which He rested from His work of creation. The second account is the account of the beginning of man (and woman), starting from Genesis 2:4, which shows that the heavens and the earth had already been created by the time man was created. In other words, Genesis 2:4 takes us back to the 6th day, in the hours just before the creation of man, and then the later verses of Genesis 2 give us a detailed version of the event simplified in Genesis 1:26-29, which has to do with the creation of man.

Now, when people ask the question of this subject, they usually have three sub questions in mind:

1 . Were the plants created before man (Genesis 1:11-12, 26-27) or after man (Genesis 2:5-9)?

2 . Were the birds and the animals created before man (Genesis 1:20-21, 24-25, 26-27) or after man (Genesis 2:7, 19)?

3 . Were man and woman created simultaneously (Genesis 1:26-27), or was woman created after man (Genesis 2:7, 22)?

By God’s grace, I will answer all three sub questions and make it clear that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 do not contradict each other, keeping in mind the points I stated above.

Were the plants created before man or after man?

It is clear that Genesis 1 says that the plants were created on the 3rd day, while man was created on the 6th day. Therefore, according to Genesis 1, the plants were created before man. But what does Genesis 2 say? Does it really say that the plants were created after man?

Let’s read Genesis 2:5-9 together.

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Now that we’ve read the above verses, let’s examine Genesis 2:5 closely. It says that no shrub of the field was yet in the earth and that no plant of the field had yet sprouted. Notice the term “field”. A field is a piece of land designated for agriculture. Therefore, Genesis 2:5 is only referring to the shrubs and the plants of the field. Every kind of plant had already been created on the third day (as Genesis 1 states), but there was no shrub or plant that was of the field, since no field had yet been planted. Besides, God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground, and a field – any field – requires water (like rain) to water its plants and make them grow and intelligent beings (like humans) to designate it, plant it, and take care of it. But back then, there was no rain and no man had yet been formed. This indicated a lack of agricultural resources. Actually, this verse shows how important man’s existence is when it comes to fields. Thus, this verse is an important part of the story of man’s beginning. Do you remember when I said that the mentioning of the plants in Genesis 2 revolves around man’s necessity to exist? Man is an important resource when it comes to farming.

In the next two verses (Genesis 2:6-7), God shows how easy it is for Him to provide all the resources necessary for agriculture. Even though there had not yet been any rain, He made water, which is necessary for the growth of the plants of any field, to come up from the earth. And He formed man from the dust of the ground and gave him life. Thus, fields could now be marked and designated and taken care of because of the existence of man. And because there was now mist from the earth ready to water the plants in every field to be designated by man, there was no need for rain … yet.

Now, after man was formed, God put him in a garden to the east, a garden He Himself planted, the garden of Eden. God planted the garden. He didn’t create new kinds of trees here. The creation of the trees had already been done on the third day. Here, we read about God planting the garden. When you plant a garden, it doesn’t mean you created the plants and trees in it just by planting the garden. It means that you grabbed some seeds and sowed them, letting them gradually sprout into plants for you to harvest and trees for you to pick fruits from. Of course, whether or not God planted the garden of Eden in the same way that humans plant gardens is not the point. What’s clear is that God did not create any plants or trees in Genesis 2.

It’s interesting to note that it was not man who planted the first field. It was God, with the first field being the garden of Eden. But as God chose to make man be an important resource when it comes to farming, He also chose to make the existence and maintenance of fields depend on the existence of man. So, at the end, it is God who gives man his importance; man is nothing without God.

Anyway, in summary:

· God created every kind of plant on the 3rd day, which was before the day on which man was created.

· There were no fields yet, which means that there were no plants of the field.

· God created man on the 6th day. He formed him from the dust of the ground and gave him life.

· God also planted (not created) trees in the garden of Eden, where He also put man in it to take care of it.

Conclusion: Genesis 2 never says that the plants were created after man. Every kind of plant was created on the 3rd day (before man was created).

Were the birds and the animals created before man or after man?

This question is asked by many because they misunderstand the point behind Genesis 2:19. They erroneously think that mentioning the birds and the animals after already mentioning the formation of man implies that, according to Genesis 2, the birds and the animals were created after man. But Genesis 2:19 isn’t telling us when they were created. What it’s actually saying is that, just like man, every bird and animal had been formed from the dust of the ground. So God sent them to Adam (the man), and Adam named them all, but not one of them was a suitable partner for Adam, even though they were all formed from dust like him. Thus, God made another being (woman) out of the flesh of Adam, and she became Adam’s partner, since she was of the same flesh as Adam.

So, if we were to translate Genesis 2:19 according to the style and terms we use today, keeping in mind the context, it would be like this:

Now the LORD God had formed every animal of the field and every bird of the sky from the ground [just like man]. And so, He sent them to Adam to see what he would call them. And, thus, each one was named according to what Adam called it.

Notice above the word “had”. God had already created all the animals and birds before Adam. Hence, Genesis 2 does not say that the animals and birds were formed after Adam.

Now, some might argue and say that the word “had” is not in the original. And that is very true. But we must always keep in mind the context of the verse (which I have already explained), and we must understand that the original language differs greatly in style from the English language. Just because the word “had” is not in the original does not mean that the context fails to say that the animals and the birds had already been created before man.

Actually, let’s look at a few other verses in the same chapter to see how different the style of the original language is from that of the English language.

Consider Genesis 2:8-9 and Genesis 2:15.

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Genesis 2:8 says God planted the garden of Eden and put the man in it. Genesis 2:9 says that God made all sorts of trees grow in the garden. And then Genesis 2:15 repeats, in different words, what Genesis 2:9 already says.

If we were to chronologically list the events in the verses according to the number of each verse (the higher the number of the verse, the later the event described in it), we would come up with a pretty weird outline containing a deja vu at the end.

But if we keep in mind the context (as we did before), the verses will make much more sense to us.

Besides, this kind of style (that is unfamiliar to today’s people) is not just in Genesis 2. We see it throughout the whole of the Old Testament. Those who’ve read the whole Bible should know what I mean.

Conclusion: Genesis 2 never says that the animals and the birds were created after man. The birds and the animals were created before man.

Were man and woman created simultaneously, or was woman created after man?

This one is very easy and does not require much explanation. Genesis 1:26-27 does not say that God created man and woman at the same time. To believe so is to add to the text what’s not there. Therefore, there is no contradiction here.

Having explained everything above by God’s grace, it should now be clear to you that Genesis 2 does not contradict Genesis 1 in any way.

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For comments, feedback, and/or questions, feel free to email me at soldierofchrist777@live.com

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One Response to Do Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 contradict each other?

  1. SoldierOfChrist777 says:

    Today, I wish to share something that a dear brother once pointed out to me concerning this post. I said that God planted the garden of Eden on the 6th day. Actually, the Bible doesn’t necessarily say that the garden was planted on the 6th day. There’s a possibility that the garden of Eden was planted on the 3rd day when God made all sorts of plants grow from the ground. And if this is true, some points I made above concerning the garden of Eden might be nullified. But either way, the conclusion concerning the plants and the trees is still the same.

    I also wish to point out that I made an assumption in the second paragraph when I said “in the hours just before the creation of man”. The “in the hours” might be inaccurate. God probably made Adam in the first hour of the 6th day.

    We just don’t have the full details of what happened back then. Only God alone knows the full details.

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