Matthew Poole's Commentary
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.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.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.God ended his work, or rather had ended or
finished, for so the Hebrew word may be rendered, as all the learned know, and so it must be rendered, else it doth not agree with the former chapter, which expressly saith that all these works were done within six days.
He rested, not for his own need and refreshment, for he
is never weary, Isaiah 40:28; but for our example and instruction, that we might keep that day as a day of religious rest.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.God blessed the seventh day, by conferring special honours and privileges upon it above all other days, that it should be a day of solemn rest and rejoicing and celebration of God and his works, and a day of God’s bestowing singular and the best blessings upon his servants and worshippers. He separated it from common use and worldly employments, and consecrated it to the worship of God, that it should be accounted a holy day, and spent in holy works and solemn exercises of religion. Some conceive that the sabbath was not actually blessed and sanctified at and from this time, but only in the days of Moses, which they pretend to be here related by way of anticipation. But this opinion hath no foundation in the text or context, but rather is confuted from them; for as soon as the sacred penman had said that God had
ended his work and rested, & c., he adds immediately in words of the same tense, that God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it. And if we compare this place with Exodus 20:8-11, we shall find that Moses there speaks of God’s blessing and sanctifying of the sabbath, not as an action then first done, but as that which God had done formerly upon the creation of the world, to the end that men might celebrate the praises of God for that glorious work, which as it was agreeable to the state of innocency, so was it no less proper and necessary a duty for the first ages of the world after the fall, than it was for the days of Moses, and for the succeeding generations. Because he would have the memory of that glorious work of creation, from which he then rested, preserved through all generations.
Which God created and made; either,
1. Created in making, i.e. made by way of creation; or rather,
2. Created out of nothing, and afterwards out of that created matter
made or formed divers things, as the beasts out of the earth, the fishes out of the water. He useth these two words possibly to show that God’s wisdom, power, and goodness was manifest, not only in that which he brought out of mere nothing, but also in those things which he wrought out of matter altogether unfit for so great works.
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,i.e. These things mentioned in Ge 1 are a true and full relation of their generations, i.e. of their original or beginnings.
In the day; not strictly so called, but largely taken for the time, as it is Genesis 2:17 Ruth 4:5 Luke 19:42 2 Corinthians 6:2.
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.Before it was in the earth, i.e. when as yet there were no plants, nor so much as seeds of them, there.
Before it grew, to wit, out of the earth, as afterwards they did by God’s appointment.
The two great means of the growth of plants and herbs, viz. rain from heaven, and the labour of man, were both lacking, to show that they were now brought forth by God’s almighty power and word.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.There went up, from time to time, by God’s appointment, a vapour, or cloud, which going up into the air, was turned into rain, and fell down again to the earth from whence it arose; whereby the earth was softened, and disposed both to the nourishment of those plants or trees that were created, and to the production of new plants in a natural and ordinary way. But these words may be otherwise understood, the copulative and, here rendered but, being put for the disjunctive
or, as it is Exodus 21:15, Exodus 21:17, Job 6:22, Job 8:3, and in other places. Or, the negative particle not may be understood out of the foregoing clause, as it is usual in the Hebrew language, as Psalm 1:5, Psalm 9:17, Psalm 44:19, Psalm 50:8, Isaiah 28:27-28. And so these words may be joined with the foregoing, and both translated in this manner,
There was no rain, nor a man to till the ground, or (or
nor, for both come to one thing) so much as
a mist which went up from the earth, and watered (as afterwards was usual and natural) 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.Into his nostrils, and by that door into the head and whole man. This is an emphatical phrase, sufficiently implying that the soul of man was of a quite differing nature and higher extraction and original than the souls of beasts, which together with their bodies are said to be brought forth by the earth, Genesis 1:24.
The breath of life, Heb. of lives; either to show the continuance of this breath or soul, both in this life and in the life to come; or to note the various degrees or kinds of life which this one breath worketh in us; the life of plants, in growth and nourishment; the life of beasts, in sense and motion; and the life of a man, in reason and understanding.
Man, who before this was but a dull lump of clay, or a comely statue,
became a living soul, i.e. a living man: the soul being oft put for the whole man, as Genesis 12:5, Genesis 12:13, Genesis 46:15 Genesis 46:18, 1 Peter 3:20, &c.
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.He had planted, viz. on the third day, when he made the plants and trees to grow out of the ground, a place of the choicest plants and fruits, most beautiful and pleasant.
Eastward, from the place where Moses writ, and the Israelites afterwards dwelt.
Eden here is the name of a place, not that Eden near Damascus in Syria, of which see Amos 1:5; but another Eden in Mesopotamia or Chaldea, of which see Genesis 4:16 2 Kings 19:12 Isaiah 37:12 Ezekiel 27:23. There are many and tedious disputes about the place of this Paradise; of which he that listeth may see my Latin Synopsis. It may suffice to know that which is evident, that it was in or near to Mesopotamia, in the confluence of Euphrates and Tigris.
There he put the man whom he had formed, to wit, in another place.
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.The tree of life; so called, either symbolically, and sacramentally, because it was a sign and seal of that life which man had received from God, and of his continual enjoyment of it upon condition of his obedience; or, effectively, because God had planted in it a singular virtue for the support of nature, prolongation of life, and the prevention of all diseases, infirmities, and decays through age.
In the midst of the garden, or, within the garden, as Tyrus said to be in the midst of the seas, Ezekiel 28:2, though it was but just within it.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil; so called with respect, either,
1. To God, who thereby would prove and make known man’s good or evil, his obedience and happiness, or his rebellion and misery; or rather,
2. To man, who by the use of it would know, to his cost, how great and good things he did enjoy, and might have kept by his obedience, and how evil and bitter the fruits of his disobedience were to himself and all his posterity. So it seems to be an ironical denomination: q.d. You thirsted after more knowledge, which also the devil promised you; and you have got what you desired, more knowledge, even dear-bought experience.
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.A river, or, rivers, by a common enallage.
Eden, the country in which Paradise was; where those rivers either arose from one spring, or met together in one channel.
From the garden, it was divided into four principal rivers, concerning which there are now many disputes. But it is no wonder if the rise and situation of these rivers be not now certainly known, because of the great changes, which in so long time might happen in this as well as in other rivers, partly by earthquakes, and principally by the general deluge. And yet Euphrates and Tigris, the chief of these rivers, whereof the other two are branches, are discovered by some learned men to have one and the same original or spring, and that in a most pleasant part of Armenia, where they conceive Paradise was. See my Latin Synopsis.
The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;Pison, an eminent branch of the river Tigris, probably that called by others Pasi-tigris, or Piso-tigris.
That is it which compasseth, i.e. with many windings and turnings passed through; as this word is used, Joshua 15:3 Matthew 23:15.
This whole land of Havilah; either that which is in those parts of Arabia which is towards Mesopotamia, so called from Havilah the issue of Cham, Genesis 10:7; or that which is nigh Persia, and in the borders of India, so called from another Havilah of the posterity of Shem, Genesis 10:29. To either of these following the description agrees well.
And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.Good, i.e. better than ordinary.
Bdellium, which signifies either a precious gum, of which see Numbers 11:7, or gems and pearls. Once for all observe, that many of the Hebrew words or names of stones, trees, birds, and beasts, are even to the Hebrew doctors and others, both ancient and modern interpreters, of uncertain signification, and that without any considerable inconvenience to us, who are free from the obligations which the Jews were formerly under of procuring such stones, and abstaining in their diet from such beasts and birds as then were sufficiently known to them; and if any were doubtful, they had one safe course, to abstain from them.
The onyx stone, a kind of precious stone, of which see Exodus 25:7, Exodus 28:9, Exodus 28:20.
And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.Gihon; not that river in the land of Israel, so called, 1 Kings 1:33 2 Chronicles 32:30; but another of the same name, which in Hebrew signifies, the branch of a greater river: here it is a branch either of Euphrates, as most think, or of Tigris, as some late writers conceive.
Ethiopia; not that country in Africa above Egypt, commonly so called; but either Arabia, which in Scripture is frequently called
Cush or Ethiopia; of which, see Poole on "2 Kings 19:9", see Poole on "Job 28:19", see Poole on "Ezekiel 29:10", see Poole on "Ezekiel 30:8", see Poole on "Ezekiel 30:9", see Poole on "Habakkuk 3:7".
Or rather a country adjoining to India and Persia, with which Cush is joined, Ezekiel 38:5; see also Isaiah 11:11 Ezekiel 27:10; and about which place the Ethiopians are seated by Herod. 1. 7, Homer, Hesiod, and others. Of which see my Latin Synopsis.
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.Hiddekel, i.e. Tigris, or an eminent branch of it. See Daniel 10:4.
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.Put him, i.e. commanded and inclined him to go. To prune, dress, and order the trees and herbs of the garden,
and to keep it from the annoyance of beasts, which being unreasonable creatures, and allowed the use of herbs, might easily spoil the beauty of it.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:God commanded the woman too, (as appears both from the permission for eating herbs and fruits given to her, together with her husband, Genesis 1:28-29, and from Genesis 3:1-3, and from Eve’s punishment), and that either immediately, or by Adam, whom God enjoined to inform her thereof.
Thou mayest freely eat; without offence to me, or hurt to thyself. The words in Hebrew have the form of a command, but are only a permission or indulgence, as 1 Corinthians 10:25-27.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.With a threefold death.
1. Spiritual, by the guilt and power of sin: at that instant thou shalt be dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1.
2. Temporal, or the death of the body, which shall then begin in thee, by decays, infirmities, terrors, dangers, and other harbingers of death.
3. Eternal, which shall immediately succeed the other.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.The Lord God said, or, had said, to wit, upon the sixth day, on which the woman was made, Genesis 1:27-28.
Not good; not convenient either for my purpose of the increase of mankind, or for man’s personal comfort, or for the propagation of his kind.
Meet for him; a most emphatical phrase, signifying thus much, one correspondent to him, suitable both to his nature and necessity, one
altogether like to him in shape and constitution, disposition and affection; a second self; or one to be at hand and near to him, to stand continually before him, familiarly to converse with him, to be always ready to succour, serve, and comfort him; or one whose eye, respect, and care, as well as desire, Genesis 3:16, should be to him, whose business it shall be to please and help him.
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.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 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.But though, in giving them names, he considered their several natures and perfections, it was evident to himself, as well as to the Lord, that none of them was an help meet for him.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;1. God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, that he, who was without sin, might feel no pain in the taking away of his rib. And in this sleep some think Adam was in an ecstasy, wherein he saw what was done, together with the reason and mystery of it.
2. He took one of his ribs, together with the flesh upon it, Genesis 2:23; or, one of his sides, for the Hebrew word signifieth a side as well as a rib, which may be taken synecdochically, for a part of one of his sides, viz. a rib and the flesh upon it; or, for one part out of each of his sides; as if the two ribs clothed with flesh were taken out of the man, because he saith, Genesis 2:23,
This is bone of my bones, not, of my bone. The woman was taken out of this part, not out of the higher or lower parts, to show that she is neither to be her husband’s mistress, to usurp authority over him, 1 Timothy 2:12; nor yet to be his slave, to be abused, despised, or trampled under his feet; but to be kindly treated, and used like a companion, with moderation, respect, and affection.
Quest. How could a rib be taken from Adam, but it must be either superfluous in Adam, while it was in him, or defective afterwards, both which reflect upon the Creator?
Answ. 1. It was no superfluity, but a conveniency, if Adam had at first one rib extraordinary put into him for this purpose.
2. If Adam lost a rib upon so glorious an occasion, it was but a scar or badge of honour, and no disparagement either to him or to his Creator.
3. Either God created him a new rib, or hardened the flesh to the nature and use of a rib, and so there was no defect in him.
3. He closed up the flesh, together with another bone or rib, instead of that rib and flesh which he took away from him, which was easy for God to do.
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.From some place at a little distance, whither he first carried her, that for the decency of the action he might bring her thence; a bride to a bridegroom to be married to him: the great God being pleased to act the part of a father to give his daughter and workmanship to him, thereby both teaching parents their duty of providing marriages for their children, and children their duty of expecting their parents’ consent in marriage.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.And Adam said.
Quest. How knew he this?
1. By his own observation; for though it be said that he was asleep till the rib was taken out and restored, yet he might awake as soon as ever that was done, the reason of his sleep ceasing, and so might see the making of the woman. Or,
2. By the revelation of God, who put these words into Adam’s mouth, to whom therefore these words of Adam are ascribed, Matthew 19:5.
This is now; or, for this time the woman is made of my bones, &c.; but for the time to come the woman as well as the man shall be produced another way, to wit, by generation. Made of my rib and flesh; i.e. God hath provided me a meet help and wife, not out of the brute creatures, but nearer hand, a part of my own body, and of the same nature with myself.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.These are the words of Moses by Divine instinct, or his inference from Adam’s words.
Shall a man leave his father and his mother; in regard of habitation and society, but not as to natural duty and affection; and in conjugal relation and highest affection, even above what they owe to their parents, they two (as it is in the Samaritan, Syriac, and Arabic translations, and Matthew 19:5) shall be esteemed by themselves and others to be as entirely and inseparably united, and shall have as intimate and universal commmunion, as if they were one person, one soul, one body. And this first institution shows the sinfulness of divorces, and polygamy, however God might upon a particular reason for a time dispense with his own institution, or remit the punishment due to the violators of it.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.To wit, of their nakedness, as having no guilt, nor cause of shame, no filthy or evil inclinations in their bodies, no sinful concupiscence or impure motions in their souls, but spotless innocency and perfection, which must needs exclude shame.