And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And Adam gave names.—Throughout this chapter Adam is but once mentioned as a proper name; and the regular phrase in the Hebrew is the adam, that is, the man, except in the last clause of this verse. In Genesis 2:23 there is a different word for man, namely, ish. We must not confine this giving of names to the domestic animals, nor are we to suppose a long procession of beasts and birds passing before the man, and receiving each its title. Rather, it sets him before us as a keen observer of nature; and as he pursues his occupations in the garden, new animals and birds from time to time come under his notice, and these he studies, and observes their ways and habits, and so at length gives them appellations. Most of these titles would be imitations of their cries, or would be taken from some marked feature in their form or plumage, or mode of locomotion. Adam is thus found possessed of powers of observation and reflection upon the natural objects round him; though we may justly doubt his being capable of the metaphysical discourses put into his mouth by Milton in the Paradise Lost.
But for Adam.—In this one place there is no article, and our version may be right in regarding it as a proper name. Among the animals Adam found many ready to be his friends and domestic servants; and his habits of observation had probably this practical end, of taming such as might be useful. Hence the omission of all notice of reptiles and fish. But while thus he could tame many, and make them share his dwelling, he found among them no counterpart of himself, capable of answering his thoughts and of holding with him rational discourse.Genesis 1:2; Genesis 2:5.
but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him; and perhaps this might be one reason of their being brought unto him, that he might become sensible that there was none among all the creatures of his nature, and that was fit to be a companion of his; and to him must this be referred, and not to God; not as if God looked out an help meet for him among the creatures, and could find none; but, as Aben Ezra observes, man could not find one for himself; and this made it the more grateful and acceptable to him, when God had formed the woman of him, and presented her before him.And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)20. the man gave names] We have here the exercise of man’s powers of discrimination and classification. This is the birth of science. Man’s first use of speech is in the naming of animals. The names describe their character or appearance. From the instance given in Genesis 2:23 of a name thus applied, it is clear that primaeval man was supposed to speak in the Hebrew language.
but for man] From this clause it appears, as indeed is shewn by Genesis 2:18-19, that the animals on being formed were brought to the man, in order that, if it were possible, some amongst them might be the help that his nature needed. The passage implies that the nature of the animals had a kinship with that of man; but, while full of sympathy with the animal world, it implies that companionship, in the truest sense, was not to be found by man in creatures destitute of the higher prerogatives of human nature. “An help meet for man” must be on a level with him in feeling, in intellect, and reason.
for man] Not, as R.V. marg., for Adam. We should undoubtedly here read “for the man” (lâ’âdâm) in accordance with the general usage in this section. The LXX introduces the proper name at Genesis 2:16, Lat. Vulg. at Genesis 2:19 : both ignore the definite article here and in Genesis 2:21-23.Verse 20. - And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field. The portrait here delineated of the first man is something widely different from that of an infantile savage slowly groping his way towards the possession of articulate speech and intelligible language by imitation of the sounds of animals. Speech and language both spring full-formed, though not completely matured, from the primus homo of the Bible. As to the names that Adam gave the animals, with Calvin we need not doubt that they were founded on the best of reasons, though what they were it is impossible to discover, as it is not absolutely certain that Adam spoke in Hebrew. But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. This was the chief reason for assembling the creatures. It was meant to reveal his loneliness. The longing for a partner was already deeply seated in his nature, and the survey of the animals, coming to him probably in pairs, could not fail to intensify that secret hunger of his soul, and perhaps evoke it into conscious operation. 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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