Genesis 2:1
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
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(1) Were finished.—The first three verses of this chapter form part of the previous narrative, and contain its Divine purpose. For the great object of this hymn of creation is to give the sanction of the Creator to the Sabbath. Hence the ascribing of rest to Him who wearies not, and hence also the description of the several stages of creation as days. Labour is, no doubt, ennobled by creation being described as work done by God; but the higher purpose of this Scripture was that for which appeal is made to it in the Fourth Commandment, namely, to ennoble man’s weekly rest. Among the Accadians, Mr. Sayce says (Chald. Genesis. p. 89), the Sabbath was observed—so ancient is its institution—but it was connected with the sun, moon, and five planets, whence even now the days of the week take their titles, though the names of Scandinavian deities have been substituted in this country for some of their old Latin appellations. Here every idolatrous tendency is guarded against, and the Sabbath is the institution of the One Almighty God.

The host of them.—The word translated host does not refer to military arrangement, but to numbers gathered in crowds. This crowded throng of heaven sometimes means the angels, as in 1Kings 22:19; oftener the stars. Here it is the host both of heaven and earth, and signifies the multitudes of living creatures which people the land, and seas, and air.



Genesis 1:26 - Genesis 2:3

We are not to look to Genesis for a scientific cosmogony, and are not to be disturbed by physicists’ criticisms on it as such. Its purpose is quite another, and far more important; namely, to imprint deep and ineffaceable the conviction that the one God created all things. Nor must it be forgotten that this vision of creation was given to people ignorant of natural science, and prone to fall back into surrounding idolatry. The comparison of the creation narratives in Genesis with the cuneiform tablets, with which they evidently are most closely connected, has for its most important result the demonstration of the infinite elevation above their monstrosities and puerilities, of this solemn, steadfast attribution of the creative act to the one God. Here we can only draw out in brief the main points which the narrative brings into prominence.

1. The revelation which it gives is the truth, obscured to all other men when it was given, that one God ‘in the beginning created the heaven and the earth.’ That solemn utterance is the keynote of the whole. The rest but expands it. It was a challenge and a denial for all the beliefs of the nations, the truth of which Israel was the champion and missionary. It swept the heavens and earth clear of the crowd of gods, and showed the One enthroned above, and operative in, all things. We can scarcely estimate the grandeur, the emancipating power, the all-uniting force, of that utterance. It is a worn commonplace to us. It was a strange, thrilling novelty when it was written at the head of this narrative. Then it was in sharp opposition to beliefs that have long been dead to us; but it is still a protest against some living errors. Physical science has not spoken the final word when it has shown us how things came to be as they are. There remains the deeper question, What, or who, originated and guided the processes? And the only answer is the ancient declaration, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’

2. The record is as emphatic and as unique in its teaching as to the mode of creation: ‘God said . . . and it was so.’ That lifts us above all the poor childish myths of the nations, some of them disgusting, many of them absurd, all of them unworthy. There was no other agency than the putting forth of the divine will. The speech of God is but a symbol of the flashing forth of His will. To us Christians the antique phrase suggests a fulness of meaning not inherent in it, for we have learned to believe that ‘all things were made by Him’ whose name is ‘The Word of God’; but, apart from that, the representation here is sublime. ‘He spake, and it was done’; that is the sign-manual of Deity.

3. The completeness of creation is emphasised. We note, not only the recurrent ‘and it was so,’ which declares the perfect correspondence of the result with the divine intention, but also the recurring ‘God saw that it was good.’ His ideals are always realised. The divine artist never finds that the embodiment of His thought falls short of His thought.

‘What act is all its thought had been?

What will but felt the fleshly screen?

But He has no hindrances nor incompletenesses in His creative work, and the very sabbath rest with which the narrative closes symbolises, not His need of repose, but His perfect accomplishment of His purpose. God ceases from His works because ‘the works were finished,’ and He saw that all was very good.

4. The progressiveness of the creative process is brought into strong relief. The work of the first four days is the preparation of the dwelling-place for the living creatures who are afterwards created to inhabit it. How far the details of these days’ work coincide with the order as science has made it out, we are not careful to ask here. The primeval chaos, the separation of the waters above from the waters beneath, the emergence of the land, the beginning of vegetation there, the shining out of the sun as the dense mists cleared, all find confirmation even in modern theories of evolution. But the intention of the whole is much rather to teach that, though the simple utterance of the divine will was the agent of creation, the manner of it was not a sudden calling of the world, as men know it, into being, but majestic, slow advance by stages, each of which rested on the preceding. To apply the old distinction between justification and sanctification, creation was a work, not an act. The Divine Workman, who is always patient, worked slowly then as He does now. Not at a leap, but by deliberate steps, the divine ideal attains realisation.

5. The creation of living creatures on the fourth and fifth days is so arranged as to lead up to the creation of man as the climax. On the fifth day sea and air are peopled, and their denizens ‘blessed,’ for the equal divine love holds every living thing to its heart. On the sixth day the earth is replenished with living creatures. Then, last of all, comes man, the apex of creation. Obviously the purpose of the whole is to concentrate the light on man; and it is a matter of no importance whether the narrative is correct according to zoology, or not. What it says is that God made all the universe, that He prepared the earth for the delight of living creatures, that the happy birds that soar and sing, and the dumb creatures that move through the paths of the seas, and the beasts of the earth, are all His creating, and that man is linked to them, being made on the same day as the latter, and by the same word, but that between man and them all there is a gulf, since he is made in the divine image. That image implies personality, the consciousness of self, the power to say ‘I,’ as well as purity. The transition from the work of the first four days to that of creating living things must have had a break. No theory has been able to bridge the chasm without admitting a divine act introducing the new element of life, and none has been able to bridge the gulf between the animal and human consciousness without admitting a divine act introducing ‘the image of God’ into the nature common to animal and man. Three facts as to humanity are thrown up into prominence: its possession of the image of God, the equality and eternal interdependence of the sexes, and the lordship over all creatures. Mark especially the remarkable wording of Genesis 1:27 : ‘created He him male and female created He them.’ So ‘neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman.’ Each is maimed apart from the other. Both stand side by side, on one level before God. The germ of the most ‘advanced’ doctrines of the relations of the sexes is hidden here.Genesis 2:1. The host of them — That is, the creatures contained therein. The host of heaven, in Scripture language, sometimes signifies the stars, and sometimes the angels. But, as Moses gives us no intimation, in the preceding chapter, that the angels were created at this time, and as Job 38:6-7, evidently implies that they had been created before, they do not appear to be here included.2:1-3 After six days, God ceased from all works of creation. In miracles, he has overruled nature, but never changed its settled course, or added to it. God did not rest as one weary, but as one well pleased. Notice the beginning of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification, or keeping holy, of the sabbath day. The solemn observing of one day in seven as a day of holy rest and holy work, to God's honour, is the duty of all to whom God has made known his holy sabbaths. At this time none of the human race were in being but our first parents. For them the sabbath was appointed; and clearly for all succeeding generations also. The Christian sabbath, which we observe, is a seventh day, and in it we celebrate the rest of God the Son, and the finishing the work of our redemption. - The Seventh Day

1. צבא tsābā' "a host in marching order," a company of persons or things in the order of their nature and the progressive discharge of their functions. Hence, it is applied to the starry host Deuteronomy 4:19, to the angelic host 1 Kings 22:19, to the host of Israel Exodus 12:41, and to the ministering Levites Numbers 4:23. κόσμος kosmos.

2. חשׁביעי chashebı̂y‛ı̂y. Here השׁשׁי hashshı̂y is read by the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint, the Syriac, and Josephus. The Masoretic reading, however, is preferable, as the sixth day was completed in the preceding paragraph: to finish a work on the seventh day is, in Hebrew phrase, not to do any part of it on that day, but to cease from it as a thing already finished; and "resting," in the subsequent part of the verse, is distinct from "finishing," being the positive of which the latter is the negative.

שׁבת shābat "rest." ישׁב yāshab "sit."

3. קדשׁ qādı̂sh "be separate, clean, holy, set apart for a sacred use."

In this section we have the institution of the day of rest, the Sabbath שׁבת shabāt, on the cessation of God from his creative activity.

Genesis 2:1

And all the host of them. - All the array of luminaries, plants, and animals by which the darkness, waste, and solitude of sky and land were removed, has now been called into unhindered action or new existence. The whole is now finished; that is, perfectly suited at length for the convenience of man, the high-born inhabitant of this fair scene. Since the absolute beginning of things the earth may have undergone many changes of climate and surface before it was adapted for the residence of man. But it has received the finishing touch in these last six days. These days accordingly are to man the only period of creation, since the beginning of time, of special or personal interest. The preceding interval of progressive development and periodical creation is, in regard to him, condensed into a point of time. The creative work of the six days is accordingly called the "making," or fitting up for man of "the skies and the land and the sea, and all that in them is" (Exodus 20:10 (Exodus 20:11)).


Ge 2:1. The Narrative of the Six Days' Creation Continued. The course of the narrative is improperly broken by the division of the chapter.

1. the heavens—the firmament or atmosphere.

host—a multitude, a numerous array, usually connected in Scripture with heaven only, but here with the earth also, meaning all that they contain.

were finished—brought to completion. No permanent change has ever since been made in the course of the world, no new species of animals been formed, no law of nature repealed or added to. They could have been finished in a moment as well as in six days, but the work of creation was gradual for the instruction of man, as well, perhaps, as of higher creatures (Job 38:7).The sabbath insituted and blessed, Genesis 2:2-3. A rehearsal of the creation; and,

(1.) Of vegetables, Genesis 2:4-5. The earth watered, Genesis 2:6.

(2.) Of man, Genesis 2:7. His habitation, Genesis 2:8-9. Trees for his delight and food; as also the tree of life and knowledge, Genesis 2:9. Its pleasant situation and riches, Genesis 2:10-14. Man’s employment, Genesis 2:15. Every tree given him but that of knowledge, Genesis 2:16. This denied on pain of death, Genesis 2:17. A purpose to create the woman, and the reason thereof, Genesis 2:18. Beasts and fowls named by Adam, Genesis 2:19-20. The woman made of Adam’s rib, presented to him, Genesis 2:21-22, and owned by him, Genesis 2:23. Marriage ordained, Genesis 2:24. Their state whilst innocent, Genesis 2:25.

All the creatures in heaven and earth are called their

hosts, for their multitude, variety, order, power, and subjection to the Lord of hosts. Particularly the host of heaven in Scripture (which is its own best interpreter) signifies both the stars, as Deu 4:19, Deu 17:3, Isaiah 34:4; and the angels, as 1 Kings 22:19 2 Chronicles 18:18 Luke 2:13; who from these words appear to have been created within the compass of the first six days, which also is probable from Colossians 1:16-17. But it is no wonder that the Scripture saith so little concerning angels, because it was written for the use of men, not of angels; and God would hereby take us off from curious and impertinent speculations, and teach us to employ our thoughts about necessary and useful things.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,.... Perfected and completed in the space of six days, gradually, successively, in the manner before related; by the word and power of God they were on the first day created out of nothing, but they were not perfected, beautified, and adorned, and filled, until all the creatures in the were made:

and all the host them, of the heavens and the earth; the host of heavens are the sun, moon, and stars, often so called in Scripture, and also the angels; see Luke 2:13 wherefore this may be considered as a proof of their creation within the above space of time, probably on the first day, though the Jews commonly say on the second; for if all the host of heaven were made at this time, and angels are at least a part of that host, then they must be then made, or otherwise all the host of heaven were not then and there made, as here affirmed: and the host of the earth, or terraqueous globe, are the plants, herbs, and trees, the fowls, fishes, animals, and man; and these are like hosts or armies, very numerous, and at the command of God, and are marshalled and kept in order by him; even some of the smallest of creatures are his army, which are at his beck, and he can make use of to the annoyance of others, as particularly the locusts are called, Joel 2:11.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the {a} host of them.

(a) That is, the innumerable abundance of creatures in heaven and earth.

Ch. Genesis 2:1-4 a. The Seventh Day: (a) The Cessation from Work; (b) The Hallowing of the Day

1. were finished] In these verses the repetition of the words “finish,” “work,” “seventh day,” “made,” is probably intended to heighten the solemnity connected with the seventh day; see also note on Genesis 1:27, and Introduction, on the characteristics of P.

and all the host of them] The word “host” is noteworthy. The Hebrew is ṣâbâ, “army,” the plural of which is the word “Sabaoth” (= ṣ’bâôth = “hosts”) familiar to us in the Te Deum. Here, as applied to the countless forces of the universe, its use is metaphorical. In the ancient world a great army represented the ideal of an organized multitude: and the designation of “host” (ṣâbâ) is often given in the O.T. to the heavenly bodies (e.g. 2 Kings 17:16). The LXX ὁ κόσμος αὐτῶν, = “their order, beauty, or array,” is reproduced in the Lat. ornatus eorum = “their splendour,” missing the significance of the original. Upon this error of the Vulgate St Thomas Aquinas based his division of the works of Creation into “opera distinctionis” and “opera ornatus.”


In connexion with the Institution of the Sabbath recorded in Genesis 2:1-3 the following points deserve to be noticed.

1. The writer gives the reason for the sanctity among the Hebrews of the Seventh Day, or Sabbath. As, in chap. 17, he supplies an answer to the question: What is the origin of the Hebrew sacred rite of circumcision? so, here, he gives an answer to the question: What is the origin of the observance of the Sabbath?

2. Whereas the Hebrew rite of circumcision is described as having its origin in the command of God delivered to Abraham, the Father of the Chosen People, the origin of the Sabbath is treated as more ancient and uniquely sacred. As an institution, it follows at once upon the work of Creation. Whatever its import, therefore, may be, it is regarded by the writer as universal in its application. The Divine rest from Creation, like the Divine work of Creation, was a pledge of Divine Love, not to the Jew only, but to the whole world.

3. From the first, God is said to have “blessed” and “sanctified” the seventh day. In other words, he invested the seventh day with the quality of highest value and advantage to those who observed it; stamped its observance with the seal of Divine approbation; and “set it apart,” as distinct from the other six days, for sacred purposes.

4. The account of the origin of the Sabbath, given in this passage, is followed in the legislation, Exodus 31:17 (P), and seems to have supplied the appendix to the primitive form of the Fourth Commandment as found in the Decalogue of Exodus (Genesis 20:11).

In the Deuteronomic Decalogue (Deuteronomy 5:12-15) the observance of the Sabbath is enjoined, without any reference to the days of Creation, but with an appendix explaining its humanitarian purpose. “And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out thence by a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.”

A similar explanation for the observance of the Sabbath is found in the so-called Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33 E), which contains the earliest collection of Hebrew laws: “Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may have rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed” (Exodus 23:12). In the old ritual laws of Exodus 34:10-28, the observance of the seventh day is commanded as a duty with which no pressure of field labour is to interfere: “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest; in plowing time and in harvest thou shalt rest” (Genesis 2:21).

What relation exists between the Hebrew institution of the Sabbath and Babylonian usage is a question which has been much discussed in recent years. It has sometimes been too hastily assumed that the Hebrew ordinance has been directly imported from Babylonia. For a full discussion, see Driver (D.B. s.v. Sabbath); Gordon, Early Traditions of Genesis, pp. 216–223; the Commentaries by Driver and Skinner; Meinhold, Sabbath u. Woche im A.T. The following points may here be noticed:

(a) The Assyrian word shabattu appears in a cuneiform syllabary (ii Rawlinson 32, 16 a, b) with the equivalent ûm nûḥ libbi (ilâni), i.e. “day of resting (satisfying or appeasing) the heart of the gods.”

(b) In a tablet, discovered in 1904 by Pinches, the word shapattu appears to have been applied to the 15th day, or full-moon day, of the month (P.S.B.A. xxvi. 51 ff.).

(c) There is evidence which shews that the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th days, and also the 19th (i.e. the 49th = 7 × 7th, from the commencement of the preceding month) were in certain, if not in all, of the Babylonian months, regarded as “unlucky” days. The following quotation is from a calendar of the intercalated month of Elul. “On the 7th day, supplication to Marduk and Sarpanitum, a favourable day (sc. may it be). An evil day. The shepherd of many nations is not to eat meat roasted by the fire, or any food prepared by the fire. The clothes of his body he is not to change, fine dress (?) he is not to put on. Sacrifices he is not to bring, nor is the king to ride in his chariot. He is not to hold court, nor is the priest to seek an oracle for him in the holy of holies. The physician is not to be brought to the sick room. The day is not suitable for invoking curses. At night, in the presence of Marduk and Ishtar, the king is to bring his gift. Then he is to offer sacrifices so that his prayer may be acceptable” (M. Jastrow’s Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 376, 377).

(d) It is only on the side of prohibition that we can here see any resemblance between the Babylonian treatment of the seventh day and the Hebrew Sabbath of every seventh day. Of course it is possible that if the use of the Babylonian word shapattu for “full-moon” day is sustained, it may be a survival of Semitic lunar sacred days, the observance of which, though dropped by Babylonian usage, was retained by Hebrew legislation and given a new religious significance.

(e) In the pre-exilic writings of the O.T. (2 Kings 4:23; Isaiah 1:13; Hosea 2:11; Amos 8:5) we notice the joint mention of the New Moon and the Sabbath as sacred festivals observed by the people; but the conjecture of Meinhold, that the Sabbath was originally the Hebrew name of the Full Moon Festival, seems very improbable. That there is some underlying connexion between the Babylonian shabattu and the Hebrew shabbath is highly probable. At present, there is no evidence to shew that the Hebrew usage is borrowed from Babylonian. Nor does the language of the post-exilic writers suggest that the Hebrew observance of the Sabbath was one which they associated with Babylonian religion.Verse 1. - Thus the heavens and the earth were finished. Literally, and finished were the heavens and the earth, the emphatic position being occupied by the verb. With the creation of man upon the sixth day the Divine Artificer's labors were brought to a termination, and his work to a completion. The two ideas of cessation and perfection are embraced in the import of calais. Not simply had Elohim paused in his activity, but the Divine idea of his universe had been realized. The finished world was a cosmos, arranged, ornamented, and filled with organized, sentient, and rational beings, with plants, animals, and man; and now the resplendent fabric shone before him a magnificent success - "lo! very good." This appears to be by no means obscurely hinted at in the appended clause, and all the host of them, which suggests the picture of a military armament arranged in marching order. Tsebaam, derived from tsaba, to go forth as a soldier (Gesenius), to join together for service (Furst), and applied to the angels (στρατία οὐράνιος, Luke 2:13. 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalm 148:2) and to the celestial bodies (δύναμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν, Matthew 24:29. Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 40:26; Daniel 8:10), here includes, by Zeugma, the material heavens and earth with the angelic and human races (cf. Nehemiah 9:6). If the primary signification of the root be splendor, glory, like tsavah, to some forth or shine out as a star (T. Lewis), then will the LXX. and the Vulgate be correct in translating πᾶς ὁ κόσμος αὐτῶν and omnis ornatus eorum, the conception being that when the heavens and the earth were completed they were a brilliant army. The Sabbath of Creation. - "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." צבא here denotes the totality of the beings that fill the heaven and the earth: in other places (see especially Nehemiah 9:6) it is applied to the host of heaven, i.e., the stars (Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3), and according to a still later representation, to the angels also (1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 24:21; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2). These words of Genesis 2:1 introduce the completion of the work of creation, and give a greater definiteness to the announcement in Genesis 2:2, Genesis 2:3, that on the seventh day God ended the work which He had made, by ceasing to create, and blessing the day and sanctifying it. The completion or finishing (כּלּה) of the work of creation on the seventh day (not on the sixth, as the lxx, Sam., and Syr. erroneously render it) can only be understood by regarding the clauses Genesis 2:2 and Genesis 2:3, which are connected with ויכל by ו consec. as containing the actual completion, i.e., by supposing the completion to consist, negatively in the cessation of the work of creation, and positively in the blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day. The cessation itself formed part of the completion of the work (for this meaning of שׁבת vid., Genesis 8:22; Job 32:1, etc.). As a human artificer completes his work just when he has brought it up to his ideal and ceases to work upon it, so in an infinitely higher sense, God completed the creation of the world with all its inhabitants by ceasing to produce anything new, and entering into the rest of His all-sufficient eternal Being, from which He had come forth, as it were, at and in the creation of a world distinct from His own essence. Hence ceasing to create is called resting (נוּח) in Exodus 20:11, and being refreshed (ינּפשׁ) in Exodus 31:17. The rest into which God entered after the creation was complete, had its own reality "in the reality of the work of creation, in contrast with which the preservation of the world, when once created, had the appearance of rest, though really a continuous creation" (Ziegler, p. 27). This rest of the Creator was indeed "the consequence of His self-satisfaction in the now united and harmonious, though manifold whole;" but this self-satisfaction of God in His creation, which we call His pleasure in His work, was also a spiritual power, which streamed forth as a blessing upon the creation itself, bringing it into the blessedness of the rest of God and filling it with His peace. This constitutes the positive element in the completion which God gave to the work of creation, by blessing and sanctifying the seventh day, because on it He found rest from the work which He by making (לעשׂות faciendo: cf. Ewald, 280d) had created. The divine act of blessing was a real communication of powers of salvation, grace, and peace; and sanctifying was not merely declaring holy, but "communicating the attribute of holy," "placing in a living relation to God, the Holy One, raising to a participation in the pure clear light of the holiness of God." On קדושׁ see Exodus 19:6. The blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day had regard, no doubt, to the Sabbath, which Israel as the people of God was afterwards to keep; but we are not to suppose that the theocratic Sabbath was instituted here, or that the institution of that Sabbath was transferred to the history of the creation. On the contrary, the Sabbath of the Israelites had a deeper meaning, founded in the nature and development of the created world, not for Israel only, but for all mankind, or rather for the whole creation. As the whole earthly creation is subject to the changes of time and the law of temporal motion and development; so all creatures not only stand in need of definite recurring periods of rest, for the sake of recruiting their strength and gaining new power for further development, but they also look forward to a time when all restlessness shall give place to the blessed rest of the perfect consummation. To this rest the resting of God (ἡ κατάπαυσις) points forward; and to this rest, this divine σαββατισός (Hebrews 4:9), shall the whole world, especially man, the head of the earthly creation, eventually come. For this God ended His work by blessing and sanctifying the day when the whole creation was complete. In connection with Hebrews 4, some of the fathers have called attention to the fact, that the account of the seventh day is not summed up, like the others, with the formula "evening was and morning was;" thus, e.g., Augustine writes at the close of his confessions: dies septimus sine vespera est nec habet occasum, quia sanctificasti eum ad permansionem sempiternam. But true as it is that the Sabbath of God has no evening, and that the σαββατισμός, to which the creature is to attain at the end of his course, will be bounded by no evening, but last for ever; we must not, without further ground, introduce this true and profound idea into the seventh creation-day. We could only be warranted in adopting such an interpretation, and understanding by the concluding day of the work of creation a period of endless duration, on the supposition that the six preceding days were so many periods in the world's history, which embraced the time from the beginning of the creation to the final completion of its development. But as the six creation-days, according to the words of the text, were earthly days of ordinary duration, we must understand the seventh in the same way; and that all the more, because in every passage, in which it is mentioned as the foundation of the theocratic Sabbath, it is regarded as an ordinary day (Exodus 20:11; Exodus 31:17). We must conclude, therefore, that on the seventh day, on which God rested from His work, the world also, with all its inhabitants, attained to the sacred rest of God; that the κατάπαυσις and σαββατισμός of God were made a rest and sabbatic festival for His creatures, especially for man; and that this day of rest of the new created world, which the forefathers of our race observed in paradise, as long as they continued in a state of innocence and lived in blessed peace with their God and Creator, was the beginning and type of the rest to which the creation, after it had fallen from fellowship with God through the sin of man, received a promise that it should once more be restored through redemption, at its final consummation.
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