Selections from Genesis 1 and 2
God's Original Intention for Man and Woman
by Pat Joyce
In Genesis 1 God gives an overview of the entire creation including man
and woman. Genesis 2 provides details relating to their creation.
Our interest is in His human creation. What can we learn of God's
original plan for mankind? This is not a detailed analysis but an
overview. For those who want to explore further there are
excellent books available. We recommend some in the footnotes, and
others can be found under Books and Sites. The Word Study section
may also help. We do encourage you to get out your Bibles,
concordances and lexicons and check out what is said.
(Please note the following abbreviations for Bible
translations: NIV = New International Version, NAS = New American Standard,
NKJ = New King James, AMP = Amplified and KJ = King James.)
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our
likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of
the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the
creatures that move along the ground." (NIV)
The word "man" is adam in Hebrew meaning mankind or human being.
It is used here as a common noun not the name of a man nor a reference
to males only. This is true not only in this verse but in many
others in the creation account. Note that it says let them
Genesis 1:27 "So God created man (adam =
mankind) in His own image, in the
image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (NKJ)
The Word proclaims mankind, both male and female, in the image and
likeness of God. "Image" according to Strong's means
representative figure. The man and woman were the beginning
place for Him to reveal Himself--His image--on the earth.
Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, God and said to
fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over
the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living
creature that moves on the earth." (NKJ)
God is speaking to both when He commands them to multiply, subdue and
have dominion. Dominion is over the creatures, not each other.
It is also important to note that subdue, kabash in Hebrew,
indicates that there is something in the earth that is hostile and must
Genesis 1:31 And God saw all that He had made, and it was very
This creation--all of it--was very good.
Genesis 2:7 the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the
ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man
became a living being. (NIV)
In this case the scripture no longer says just "man" but specifies "the
man" referring to Adam, a particular man. The man, Adam,
was formed first from the dust of the ground. The Hebrew for
formed is a different word from that for created. It speaks of
development rather than original creation. "Adam and Eve (so far
as the primal state is concerned) were created simultaneously, but Adam
was formed, elaborated, first." 1, 2
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree
grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of
life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil. (NKJ)
Having formed Adam, God provides food, both physical and spiritual.
Both will be necessary for mankind to become what God created them to
be. The critical nature of this verse will be seen in Gen.
Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden
of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (NAS)
The word keep in the Hebrew, according to Strong's (8104), means
to hedge about, i.e.--guard, protect, attend to, indicating that there
must have been something from which it needed to be protected. The
same word is used in Genesis 3:24 when it refers to the Cherubim keeping
the way to the tree of life. 3
Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of
every tree in the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you
eat of it you shall surely die." (NKJ)
Had you ever noticed that it says, "commanded the man." Just what
was it that was commanded? "May freely eat" sounds like giving
permission but in the Hebrew there is a different connotation.
"Neither the words "may" or "freely"
indicate God was leaving the 'if, when, or how much to eat' to Adam's
own discretion. Adam, having free will, could choose not to eat of
the provision God had made, but it would be in direct disobedience to
the command."4 Spiritual food
was available from the tree of life, the very life of God, yet Adam did
not choose to partake of this provision for "keeping" the garden.
It is a principle of scripture that God offers provision before He gives
us a job. The ability to "keep" the garden would come from
partaking of the tree of life.
Genesis 2:18 & 20 The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man
to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him…So the man gave
names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of
the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. (NIV)
God once called creation "very good" and now he says "not good." How did
the "very good" pronouncement become "not good?"
Some, including William Law & Watchman Nee, believed that a falling away
had already begun. Jacob Behman, the great German philosopher,
said: "There must have been something of the nature of a stumble, if not
an actual fall in Adam while yet alone in Eden…Eve was formed to help
Adam to recover himself and to establish himself in Paradise, and in the
favor, fellowship and service of his Maker." 5 This
interpretation is supported by the definition of the word "alone", which
means something like "alone in his separation." If God had meant
just that one person alone was not a desirable thing, then the Hebrew
expression for "one alone", as found in Isaiah 51:2, would seem more
A second interpretation of the meaning of "not good for man to be alone"
is that God knew Adam needed a mate, but Adam needed to see his need.
By the time he finished naming the animals, it would be clear that he
had no counterpart.
Regardless of the state of Adam, we need to know what a helper suitable
or as the KJV says, a help meet, is. We have a full work up of the
word helper (ezer in Hebrew), and suitable (kenego in
Hebrew) in the Word Study section.
Suffice it to say that ezer is used of woman 2 times, of God
helping his people 15 times, 1 time of God providing help through David,
and 3 times for military power. In all the latter three categories
the one helping is equal to or superior to the one being helped.
Why would the first one be any different? Kenegdo means
corresponding to or counterpart to, equal to or matching. This
does not indicate identical but complimenting or completing, an equal
and perfect counterpart. The idea of help meet meaning an
assistant created for man's comfort, pleasure and use cannot be
supported when we look at the meaning in the Hebrew.
Genesis 2:21-22 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a
deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and
closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman
from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The creator formed the woman from material taken from the side of the
man. Ribs had nothing to do with it. Nowhere else is this
word (tslea in Hebrew) translated rib. The other forty-one
times it is used it is translated side, corner, chamber or flesh.
(See the Word Study on rib
for the origin of this mistranslation.) As the church came from the side
of Christ, the Lord God took woman from the side of man--a beautiful
type and shadow. Eve was formed from Adam's substance. Both
were of human substance, yet formed differently. She was the
finishing touch and completion of God's creation of mankind. 6
Genesis 2:23 The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and
flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of
The word woman in Hebrew is the feminine form of man (ish = man,
ishshah = woman), and Adam called her woman recognizing in her
the female version of himself--a human being--his perfect counterpart.
Genesis 2:24-25 For this cause a man shall leave his father and
his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh
And the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed. (NAS)
This is God's original plan for marriage. It is to be given top
priority among human relationships. In Fashioned for Intimacy,
Jane Hansen says, "The union between the man and woman was to be
inseparable; it was not to be divided. They were to truly know
intimacy in the fullest sense of the word, far beyond what we often
think of as the one flesh relationship, the sexual union. Sexual
intimacy was given to be the seal, the celebration of a much greater
(and much more difficult to achieve) intimacy, which was intended to
follow--that of heart, soul and spirit. This kind of relationship
would reflect, not only union with one another, but also with God." 7
In Ephesians 5:25-32, Paul says that the relationship described here
shows forth Christ and His Church. Man and woman in unity with
each other and their Creator--one flesh--together showing forth the
image of God." 8
1. Katherine Bushnell, God's Word to Women (Eagle Lake, TX,,God's
Word to Women, 2004) paragraph 30. God's Word to
Women was first published under the title Women's Correspondence
Bible Class; it first appeared under the present title in 1916. It
was printed in 1930 & 1998. It was reprinted by God's Word to
Women, and is available for purchase on this
2. There are many who say that in this first form Adam must have
contained the essence of male and female since God later took from him
to form the woman. It is also possible that God used material from
the man to form the woman like He used the dust of the earth as material
to form the man, but that the creation, in God's eyes, was complete as
two distinct entities-- male and female--in Genesis 1:27.
3. The NIV says "to work it and take care of it." The meaning of
work it is clear but the difference in interpretation between keep or
take care of could be a problem.
4. Jane Hansen, Fashioned for Intimacy, (Ventura, CA, Regal
Books, 1997), p. 44.
5. Bushnell, God's Word to Women, paragraph 13.
6. "The point being made… is not the difference between male and female,
but their relatedness. Descent from one ancestor establishes both
the absolute unity of humanity and identical substance of both male and
female in a way that separate creations from dust could not have done."
Joy Fleming, Man and Woman in Biblical Unity Christians for Biblical
Equality (Minneapolis, MN, 1993) p. 12. (Abstracted from a doctoral
dissertation by Joy Elasky Fleming, A Rhetorical Analysis of Genesis
2-3 With Implications for a Theology of Man and Woman, University of
Strasbourg, France 1987)
7. Mary J. Evans, The Place of Women in the New Testament Church
(Master of Philosophy Thesis, London Bible College, December 1997) pp.
8-9. Quoted in G. Taylor, "Woman in Creation and Redemption,"
Journal of the Christian Brethren Research Fellowship 126 (1974):18.
8. Hansen, Fashioned for Intimacy p. 45.