Genesis 2:19
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: and whatever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
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(19) Out of the ground.—The adâmâh; thus the physical constituents of the animals are the same as those of the body of man. Much curious speculation has arisen from the mistaken idea that the order here is chronological, and that the animals were created subsequently to man, and that it was only upon their failing one and all to supply Adam’s need of a companion that woman was called into being. The real point of the narrative is the insight it gives us into Adam’s intellectual condition, his study of the animal creation, and the nature of the employment in which he spent his time. Then finally, at the end of Genesis 2:20, after numerous animals had passed before him, comes the assertion, with cumulative force, that woman alone is a meet companion for man.

Genesis 2:19. God brought all the beasts to Adam — Either by the ministry of angels, or by a special instinct, that he might name them, and so might give a proof of his knowledge, the names he gave them being perfectly descriptive of their inmost nature.2:18-25 Power over the creatures was given to man, and as a proof of this he named them all. It also shows his insight into the works of God. But though he was lord of the creatures, yet nothing in this world was a help meet for man. From God are all our helpers. If we rest in God, he will work all for good. God caused deep sleep to fall on Adam; while he knows no sin, God will take care that he shall feel no pain. God, as her Father, brought the woman to the man, as his second self, and a help meet for him. That wife, who is of God's making by special grace, and of God's bringing by special providence, is likely to prove a help meet for a man. See what need there is, both of prudence and prayer in the choice of this relation, which is so near and so lasting. That had need to be well done, which is to be done for life. Our first parents needed no clothes for covering against cold or heat, for neither could hurt them: they needed none for ornament. Thus easy, thus happy, was man in his state of innocency. How good was God to him! How many favours did he load him with! How easy were the laws given to him! Yet man, being in honour, understood not his own interest, but soon became as the beasts that perish.Here, as in several previous instances Genesis 1:5; Genesis 2:4, Genesis 2:8-9, the narrative reverts to the earlier part of the sixth day. This is, therefore, another example of the connection according to thought overruling that according to time. The order of time, however, is restored, when we take in a sufficient portion of the narrative. We refer, therefore, to the fifth verse, which is the regulative sentence of the present passage. The second clause in the verse, however, which in the present case completes the thought in the mind of the writer, brings up the narrative to a point subsequent to that closing the preceding verse. The first two clauses, therefore, are to be combined into one; and when this is done, the order of time is observed.

Man has already become acquainted with his Maker. He has opened his eyes upon the trees of the garden, and learned to distinguish at least two of them by name. He is now to be introduced to the animal kingdom, with which he is connected by his physical nature, and of which he is the constituted lord. Not many hours or minutes before have they been called into existence. They are not yet, therefore, multiplied or scattered over the earth, and so do not require to be gathered for the purpose. The end of this introduction is said to be to see what he would call them. To name is to distinguish the nature of anything and do denote the thing by a sound bearing some analogy to its nature. To name is also the prerogative of the owner, superior, or head. Doubtless the animals instinctively distinguished man as their lord paramount, so far as his person and eye came within their actual observation. God had given man his first lesson in speech, when he caused him to hear and understand the spoken command. He now places him in a condition to put forth his naming power, and thereby go through the second lesson.

With the infant, the acquisition of language must be a gradual process, inasmuch as the vast multitude of words which constitute its vocabulary has to be heard one by one and noted in the memory. The infant is thus the passive recipient of a fully formed and long-established medium of converse. The first man, on the other hand, having received the conception of language, became himself the free and active inventor of the greatest part of its words. He accordingly discerns the kinds of animals, and gives each its appropriate name. The highly-excited powers of imagination and analogy break forth into utterance, even before he has anyone to hear and understand his words but the Creator himself.

This indicates to us a twofold use of language. First, it serves to register things and events in the apprehension and the memory. Man has a singular power of conferring with himself. This he carries on by means of language, in some form or other. He bears some resemblance to his Maker even in the complexity of his spiritual nature. He is at once speaker and hearer, and yet at the same time he is consciously one. Secondly, it is a medium of intelligent communication between spirits who cannot read another's thoughts by immediate intuition. The first of these uses seems to have preceded the second in the case of Adam, who was the former of the first language. The reflecting reader can tell what varied powers of reason are involved in the use of language, and to what an extent the mind of man was developed, when he proceeded to name the several classes of birds and beasts. He was evidently suited for the highest enjoyments of social contact.

Among the trees in the garden God took the initiative, named the two that were conspicuous and essential to man's well being, and uttered the primeval command. Adam has now made acquaintance with the animal world, and, profiting by the lesson of the garden, proceeds himself to exercise the naming power. The names he gives are thenceforth the permanent designations of the different species of living creatures that appeared before him. These names being derived from some prominent quality, were suited to be specific, or common to the class, and not special to the individual.

19. God brought unto Adam—not all the animals in existence, but those chiefly in his immediate neighborhood to be subservient to his use.

whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof—His powers of perception and intelligence were supernaturally enlarged to know the characters, habits, and uses of each species that was brought to him.

Brought them unto Adam, either by winds, or angels, or by their own secret instinct, by which storks, and cranes, and swallows change their places with the season; partly to own their subjection to him; partly that man, being re-created with their prospect, might adore and praise the Maker of them, and withal be sensible of his want of a meet companion, and so the better prepared to receive God’s mercy therein; and partly for the reason here following.

To see, or, make a discovery; not to God, who knew it already, but to all future generations, who would hereby understand the deep wisdom and knowledge of their first parent.

That was the name thereof, to wit, in the primitive or Hebrew language. And this was done for the manifestation both of man’s dominion over the creatures, and of the largeness of his understanding; it being an act of authority to give names, and an effect of vast knowledge to give convenient names to all the creatures, which supposeth an exact acquaintance with their natures. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air,.... Or "had formed them" (e) on the fifth and sixth days; and these were formed two and two, male and female, in order to continue their species; whereas man was made single, and had no companion of the same nature with him: and while in these circumstances, God

brought them unto Adam; or "to the man" (f); either by the ministry of angels, or by a kind of instinct or impulse, which brought them to him of their own accord, as to the lord and proprietor of them, who, as soon as he was made, had the dominion of all the creatures given him; just as the creatures at the flood went in unto Noah in the ark; and as then, so now, all creatures, fowl and cattle, came, all but the fishes of the sea: and this was done

to see what he would call them; what names he would give to them; which as it was a trial of the wisdom of man, so a token of his dominion over the creatures, it being an instance of great knowledge of them to give them apt and suitable names, so as to distinguish one from another, and point at something in them that was natural to them, and made them different from each other; for this does not suppose any want of knowledge in God, as if he did this to know what man would do, he knew what names man would give them before he did; but that it might appear he had made one superior to them all in wisdom and power, and for his pleasure, use, and service; and therefore brings them to him, to put them into his hands, and give him authority over them; and being his own, to call them by what names he pleased:

and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof; it was always afterwards called by it, by him and his posterity, until the confusion of languages, and then every nation called them as they thought proper, everyone in their own language: and as there is a good deal of reason to believe, that the Hebrew language was the first and original language; or however that eastern language, of which the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic, are so many dialects; it was this that he spoke, and in it gave names to the creatures suitable to their nature, or agreeable to some property or other observed in them: and Bochart (g) has given us many instances of creatures in the Hebrew tongue, whose names answer to some character or another in them: some think this was done by inspiration; and Plato says, that it seemed to him that that nature was superior to human, that gave names to things; and that this was not the work of vain and foolish man, but the first names were appointed by the gods (h); and so Cicero (i) asks, who was the first, which with Pythagoras was the highest wisdom, who imposed names on all things?

(e) "finxerat", Drusius. (f) "ad ipsum hominem", Pagninus, Montanus. (g) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 9. p. 59, &c. (h) In Cratylo, apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 11. c. 6. p. 515. (i) Tusculan. Quaest. l. 1.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto {n} Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

(n) By moving them to come and submit themselves to Adam.

19. And out of the ground] The animals also (LXX adds ἔτι; so also Sam.) are “formed,” or “moulded,” out of the ground, like man: see Genesis 2:7. They are brought into man’s presence to see whether they could be the needed help to him. Only the beasts of the field and the birds are mentioned in this account.

to see what he would call them] The names which man will give them will determine their use and position in reference to man’s own nature. Their names would reflect the impression produced on the man’s mind. A “name,” in the estimation of the Hebrew, conveyed the idea of personality and character. It was more than a mere label. The animals, in this account, are created after man, and in definite relation to him; an entirely different representation from that in ch. 1.Verse 19. - And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air. To allege that the Creator's purpose to provide a helpmeet for Adam seeks realization through the production of the animals (Kalisch, Alford) proceeds upon a misapprehension of the proper nexus which binds the thoughts of the historian, and a want of attention to the peculiar structure of Hebrew composition, besides exhibiting Jehovah Elohim in the character of an empiric who only tentatively discovers the sort of partner that is suitable for man. It is not the time, but simply the fact, of the creation of the animals that the historian records. The Vav. consec. does not necessarily involve time-succession, but is frequently employed to indicate thought-sequence (cf. 2:8; 1 Kings 2:13, &c.). The verb (pret.) may also quite legitimately be rendered "had formed (Bush). "Our modern style of expressing the Semitic writer's thought would be this - 'And God brought to Adam the beasts which he had formed (Delitzsch). It is thus unnecessary to defend the record from a charge of inconsistency with the previous section, by supposing this to be the account of a second creation of animals in the district of Eden. Another so-called contradiction, that the present narrative takes no account of the creation of aquatic animals, is disposed of by observing that the writer only notices that those animals which were brought to Adam had been previously formed by God from the ground, and were thus in the line of the onward evolutions of the heavens and the earth which led up to mare As to why the fishes were not brought into the garden, if other reason is required besides that of physical impossibility, the ingenuity of Keil suggests that these were not so nearly related to Adam as the fowls and the beasts, which, besides, were the animals specially ordained for his service. And brought them (literally, brought; not necessarily all the animals in Eden, but specimens of them) unto Adam. We agree with Willet in believing that "neither did Adam gather together the cattle as a shepherd doth his sheep, nor did the angels muster them, nor the animals come themselves, and, passing by, while he sat on some elevation, bow their heads at his resplendent appearance; nor were Adam's eyes so illuminate that he beheld them all in their places - all which," says he, "are but men's conceits; but that through the secret influence of God upon their natures they were assembled round the inmate of paradise, as afterwards they were collected in the ark. The reasons for this particular action on the part of God were manifold; one of them being stated in the words which follow - to see what he would call them; literally, to them. Already man had received from God his first lesson in the exercise of speech, in the naming of the trees and the imposition of the prohibition. This was his second - the opportunity afforded him of using for himself that gift of language and reason with which he had been endowed. In this it is implied that man was created with the faculty of speech, the distinct gift of articulate and rational utterance, and the capacity of attaching words to ideas, though it also seems to infer that the evolution of a language was for him, as it is for the individual yet, a matter of gradual development. Another reason was to manifest his sovereignty or lordship over the inferior creation. And whatsoever Adam (literally, the man) called every living creature (i.e. that was brought to him), that was the name thereof. That is to say, it not only met the Divine approbation as exactly suitable to the nature of the creature, and thus was a striking attestation of the intelligence and wisdom of the first man, but it likewise adhered to the creature as a name which had been assigned by its master. Creation of the Woman. - As the creation of the man is introduced in Genesis 1:26-27, with a divine decree, so here that of the woman is preceded by the divine declaration, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him כּנגדּו עזר, a help of his like: "i.e., a helping being, in which, as soon as he sees it, he may recognise himself" (Delitzsch). Of such a help the man stood in need, in order that he might fulfil his calling, not only to perpetuate and multiply his race, but to cultivate and govern the earth. To indicate this, the general word כנגדו עזר is chosen, in which there is an allusion to the relation of the sexes. To call out this want, God brought the larger quadrupeds and birds to the man, "to see what he would call them (לו lit., each one); and whatsoever the man might call every living being should be its name." The time when this took place must have been the sixth day, on which, according to Genesis 1:27, the man and woman were created: and there is no difficulty in this, since it would not have required much time to bring the animals to Adam to see what he would call them, as the animals of paradise are all we have to think of; and the deep sleep into which God caused the man to fall, till he had formed the woman from his rib, need not have continued long. In Genesis 1:27 the creation of the woman is linked with that of the man; but here the order of sequence is given, because the creation of the woman formed a chronological incident in the history of the human race, which commences with the creation of Adam. The circumstance that in Genesis 2:19 the formation of the beasts and birds is connected with the creation of Adam by the imperf. c. ו consec., constitutes to objection to the plan of creation given in Genesis 1. The arrangement may be explained on the supposition, that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beasts, went back to their creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historians, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same thought would be simply this: "God brought to Adam the beasts which He had formed."

(Note: A striking example of this style of narrative we find in 1 Kings 7:13. First of all, the building and completion of the temple are noticed several times in 1 Kings 6, and the last time in connection with the year and month (1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 6:14, 1 Kings 6:37-38); after that, the fact is stated, that the royal palace was thirteen years in building; and then the writer proceeds thus: "And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram from Tyre...and he came to king Solomon, and did all his work; and made the two pillars," etc. Now, if we were to understand the historical preterite with consec., here, as giving the order of sequence, Solomon would be made to send for the Tyrian artist, thirteen years after the temple was finished, to come and prepare the pillars for the porch, and all the vessels needed for the temple. But the writer merely expresses in Semitic style the simple thought, that "Hiram, whom Solomon fetched from Tyre, made the vessels," etc. Another instance we find in Judges 2:6.)

Moreover, the allusion is not to the creation of all the beasts, but simply to that of the beasts living in the field (game and tame cattle), and of the fowls of the air-to beasts, therefore, which had been formed like man from the earth, and thus stood in a closer relation to him than water animals or reptiles. For God brought the animals to Adam, to show him the creatures which were formed to serve him, that He might see what he would call them. Calling or naming presupposes acquaintance. Adam is to become acquainted with the creatures, to learn their relation to him, and by giving them names to prove himself their lord. God does not order him to name them; but by bringing the beasts He gives him an opportunity of developing that intellectual capacity which constitutes his superiority to the animal world. "The man sees the animals, and thinks of what they are and how they look; and these thoughts, in themselves already inward words, take the form involuntarily of audible names, which he utters to the beasts, and by which he places the impersonal creatures in the first spiritual relation to himself, the personal being" (Delitzsch). Language, as W. v. Humboldt says, is "the organ of the inner being, or rather the inner being itself as it gradually attains to inward knowledge and expression." It is merely thought cast into articulate sounds or words. The thoughts of Adam with regard to the animals, to which he gave expression in the names that he gave them, we are not to regard as the mere results of reflection, or of abstraction from merely outward peculiarities which affected the senses; but as a deep and direct mental insight into the nature of the animals, which penetrated far deeper than such knowledge as is the simple result of reflecting and abstracting thought. The naming of the animals, therefore, led to this result, that there was not found a help meet for man. Before the creation of the woman we must regard the man (Adam) as being "neither male, in the sense of complete sexual distinction, nor androgynous as though both sexes were combined in the one individual created at the first, but as created in anticipation of the future, with a preponderant tendency, a male in simple potentiality, out of which state he passed, the moment the woman stood by his side, when the mere potentia became an actual antithesis" (Ziegler).

Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man (Genesis 2:21). תּרדּמּה, a deep sleep, in which all consciousness of the outer world and of one's own existence vanishes. Sleep is an essential element in the nature of man as ordained by God, and is quite as necessary for man as the interchange of day and night for all nature besides. But this deep sleep was different from natural sleep, and God caused it to fall upon the man by day, that He might create the woman out of him. "Everything out of which something new is to spring, sinks first of all into such a sleep" (Ziegler). צלע means the side, and, as a portion of the human body, the rib. The correctness of this meaning, which is given by all the ancient versions, is evident from the words, "God took one of his צלעות," which show that the man had several of them. "And closed up flesh in the place thereof;" i.e., closed the gap which had been made, with flesh which He put in the place of the rib. The woman was created, not of dust of the earth, but from a rib of Adam, because she was formed for an inseparable unity and fellowship of life with the man, and the mode of her creation was to lay the actual foundation for the moral ordinance of marriage. As the moral idea of the unity of the human race required that man should not be created as a genus or plurality,

(Note: Natural science can only demonstrate the unity of the human race, not the descent of all men from one pair, though many naturalists question and deny even the former, but without any warrant from anthropological facts. For every thorough investigation leads to the conclusion arrived at by the latest inquirer in this department, Th. Waitz, that not only are there no facts in natural history which preclude the unity of the various races of men, and fewer difficulties in the way of this assumption than in that of the opposite theory of specific diversities; but even in mental respects there are no specific differences within the limits of the race. Delitzsch has given an admirable summary of the proofs of unity. "That the races of men," he says, "are not species of one genus, but varieties of one species, is confirmed by the agreement in the physiological and pathological phenomena in them all, by the similarity in the anatomical structure, in the fundamental powers and traits of the mind, in the limits to the duration of life, in the normal temperature of the body and the average rate of pulsation, in the duration of pregnancy, and in the unrestricted fruitfulness of marriages between the various races.")

so the moral relation of the two persons establishing the unity of the race required that man should be created first, and then the woman from the body of the man. By this the priority and superiority of the man, and the dependence of the woman upon the man, are established as an ordinance of divine creation. This ordinance of God forms the root of that tender love with which the man loves the woman as himself, and by which marriage becomes a type of the fellowship of love and life, which exists between the Lord and His Church (Ephesians 5:32). If the fact that the woman was formed from a rib, and not from any other part of the man, is significant; all that we can find in this is, that the woman was made to stand as a helpmate by the side of the man, not that there was any allusion to conjugal love as founded in the heart; for the text does not speak of the rib as one which was next the heart. The word בּנה is worthy of note: from the rib of the man God builds the female, through whom the human race is to be built up by the male (Genesis 16:2; Genesis 30:3).

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