The Process of Forming the Woman: Part 2 of 5 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
19 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.
“Out of the ground, etc.” concerns the formation of the different kinds of animals, which is the subject matter of the preceding chapter, Genesis 1.
“The LORD God formed every beast of the field” is to be understood as “The LORD God” HAD “formed every beast of the field.” The birds and beasts were created before Adam, but Adam’s dominion over the animals is seen in verses 19 and 20; because it is the prerogative of a superior to give names to those under him—“And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:10; NKJV).
“God brought every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air unto Adam”— not all the animals in existence at that time, but mainly those in his immediate neighborhood that were to be subservient to his use. Adam is the name used for the first man; but it is also used as a generic noun identifying the “man” and “woman” collectively and revealing their origin; Adam comes from the Hebrew “adamah,” meaning literally “ground” or “earth.”
“God brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them.” “And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” God caused all the animals to parade before the man; the crown of His creative work. This was another instance of the creatures’ subjection to man, and his dominion over them: “Every beast of the field and every fowl of the air God brought to Adam,” either by the shepherding of angels or by imparting to them a special instinct that would direct them to come to man as their master. Thus God gave man command and rule of the excellent estate he had granted him, and put him in possession of his dominion over the creatures. God brought them to him, so that he could name them.
And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Believe me, that man had to be a smart man to name all the animals. Some cutup has said that when God brought an elephant to Adam and said, “What shall we call this one?” Adam said, “Well, he looks more like an elephant than anything else.” His powers of perception and intelligence must have been supernaturally enlarged so that he would know the characteristics, habits, and uses of each species that was brought to him.
20 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.
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;
“Adam named the cattle, the fowl of the air, and every beast of the field”—this in itself was a tremendous achievement since there are around 17,000 air-breathing species of animals in existence today. This was proof of his knowledge, as a creature endowed with the power both of reason and speech, and so he was created more capable than the beasts of the earth and made wiser than the fowls of the heaven—“who makes us smarter than the animals of the earth and wiser than the birds of the air?” (Job 35:11; NCV). They have wonderful instincts and prudence in seeking out their food and shelter; but none of them are capable of inquiring, “Where is God my Maker?” Something like logic has been observed among the brute-creatures, but never anything like holiness or religion; these are peculiar to man. Naming the animals was also a proof of his power. It is an act of authority to impose names—“Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego” (Dan 1:7; KJV). This change of names was a sign of dominion and authority. It was customary for masters to impose new names upon their slaves; and rulers often, on their ascending the throne, assumed a name different from that which they had before. It may have indicated authority to give names, but for those who received names, it was a sign of subjection. The inferior creatures did now, in a manner of speaking, do homage to their prince at his inauguration, and swear fealty and allegiance to him. If Adam had continued faithful to his God, we may suppose the creatures themselves would have known and remembered the names Adam gave them and would have come to him when he
called. God gave names to the day and night, to the firmament, to the earth, and to the sea; and he calleth the stars by their names, to show that he is the supreme Lord of these. But he gave Adam permission to name the beasts and fowls, as their subordinate lord; because he put some of His honour upon him, for the reason that He had made him in his own image.
It appears that God may have had two objectives in mind when He caused man to name all the cattle, etc.:
1. To show him the great power of comprehension with which his Maker had gifted him.
2. To show him that there were no creatures existing at that time that could make him a suitable companion.
Both objectives were accomplished:
First, names were given to each of the animals (this entailed discerning the character or nature of each animal.). Adam gave names to all the animals; but how?—From an intimate knowledge of the nature and characteristics of each creature. Here we see the perfection of his knowledge; for it is well known that the names affixed to the different animals in Scripture always express some prominent feature and essential characteristic of the creatures to which they are applied. Had he not possessed an intuitive knowledge of the grand and distinguishing characteristics of those animals, he never could have given them such names. This one circumstance is a strong proof of the original perfection and excellence of man, while in a state of innocence. Adam was the work of an infinitely wise and perfect Being, and the effect must resemble the cause that produced it.
Second, Adam saw with his own eyes that each of the animals of God’s creation was subhuman, and inferior to him. He and he alone, had been created in the image of God. He was unique; he was the only one of his kind. Adam was convinced that none of these creatures could be a suitable companion for him, and for that reason he must continue in a state that was not good for him, unless his Maker would act to improve his condition; because, among all the animals which he had named there was not found a help meet for him. God was preparing Adam psychologically for his helper.
but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
“An help meet for him”—There are some who say the word meet should not be here. In this place it means one agreeing with and answering to him, a helper that is his counterpart; the other half of him, his compliment, matching part, corresponding person, and equivalent. I disagree, because it does fit, and I may be called old fashioned for saying this, but I believe man is only half a man until he is married. I am not here to promote marriage, and yet I would say that it is God’s intention for both man and woman to marry. The woman is to answer to the man.
What we see here is that the creatures cannot make the man happy, because there was not found among them all “an help meet for him.” Some have said these are the words of Adam himself, spoken to his Maker as all the creatures come to him by couples to be named—"Lord, all these have companions who are like them; but what shall I do? There is no one for me.’’ But this opinion is wrong, because it is God’s judgment that is expressed here. He brought them all together, to see if there was even one suitable match for Adam among any of the numerous species of the inferior creatures; but there was none. Observe here:
1. The dignity and superiority of the human creature. There was not any like him on earth, and neither was his equal found among all earth’s creatures. He looked over all of them, but none of them were a match for him. There was a reason for which God created this sad scene; it was to show him that none of the living creatures he saw were on an equal footing with himself, and that while each species came with its mate of the same nature, similar outward appearance, and habits, he alone had no companion. The only positive result to be gained from Adam giving names to them may be that by doing so he was led to exercise his powers of speech and to prepare for social interaction with his partner, a creature yet to be made.
2. The futility of this world and the things it contains; you can put them all together, and they will not make a man content. They will not suit the nature of his soul, or supply its needs, or satisfy its desires.
Next, the scene changes, and God creates a new thing to be a help-meet for him.