Other Details of Creation Part 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
5 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.
All that is described in this passage took place before man was here upon the earth, and we can now begin to see the purpose of God in chapter 1. In chapter 1 God was preparing a home for the man whom He would make. Here God is getting ready to move this man into a place that He has prepared for him; and further notice is taken of the production of plants and herbs, because they were made and designated to be food for man.
The earth did not produce its fruits by itself, by any natural power of its own but purely by the almighty power of God, which formed every plant and every herb before it grew in the earth. Similarly, grace in the soul does not grow on its own accord in nature’s soil, but is the work of God’s own hands.
Rain also is the gift of God; it did not rain on the earth until the Lord God caused it to rain. If there is a drought, it is God that withholds the rain; if rain is abundant, it is God that sends it; if it rains upon one city and not upon another, it is God that decides –“And I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain upon one city, and send no rain upon another city; one field would be rained upon, and the field on which it did not rain withered” (Amos 4:7; RSV). Though God, ordinarily, works by means of men and nature acting as His agents, nevertheless He is not tied to them, and when it pleases Him He can do His own work without them. Just as the plants were produced before the sun was made, they were likewise produced before there was either rain upon the earth or a man to till it. Therefore though we must not tempt God to work without His agents, nonetheless we must trust God if He chooses to do it all with His own hands.
“Every plant of the field before it was in the earth” makes it appear that God created everything, not only perfect with respect to its nature, but also in a state of maturity, so that every vegetable appeared at once in full growth; and this was necessary so that man, when he came into being, would find everything ready for his use.
It should be observed that the types of vegetation under consideration may have grown only in Paradise; because the account centers on Paradise throughout the rest of the chapter.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
The LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, “but there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” The translation into “mist” is pure conjecture. In the Septuagint, it is translated plēgē (i.e., fountain, spring). In the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, it is ēdū, which denotes a deluge of water, high water. Harris understands it to mean a waterway. An ēdū was a flood that overflowed the city of Babylon on the lower Euphrates. Therefore, it is probably not a “mist” like we would envision, but an irrigation canal. Note in verse 10 that the root verb of verse 6, “to water,” is used for an irrigation type of watering before the single river divides into four rivers—“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads” (Genesis 2.10; KJV). These are the rivers that watered the garden. These four rivers (or one river branched into four streams) contributed a great deal both to the pleasantness and the fruitfulness of this garden. The land of Sodom is said to be “well watered everywhere, as the garden of the Lord” (Gen. 13:10; KJV).
Some commentators believe the Hebrew word translated “mist” in this verse refers to some subterranean water source, such as an underground spring or stream. Observe: that which God plants He will take care to keep watered.
The verb “went up” is used with regard to the Nile River in Amos 8:8 and 9:5. And in Genesis 2.15 we read that it was part of Adam’s work: to keep the garden well irrigated and watered for these special types of plants that grew there—“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Verse 15 is the fulfillment of the need described in this verse. This man had dominion, and the forces of nature responded at his beck and call.
One way or another God will take care to water the plants that He has planted. Although there was no rain as of yet, God made a mist which was equivalent to a shower (river, flood, canal, deluge) and with it He “watered the whole face of the ground.” In this way, he chose to fulfill His purpose by the weakest means, so that the excellency of the power might be of God.
MIST—The common definition is water in the form of particles floating or falling in the atmosphere near the surface of the earth. Here it speaks of a mist going up from the earth and watering the ground. The plain meaning, with which you may be familiar, seems to be this, that the water vapors, ascending from the earth due to the heat of the sun and other sources, and becoming condensed in the colder regions of the atmosphere, fell back upon the earth in the form of dew, and by this means moisture was distributed to the roots of plants, etc.
7 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.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground,
In chapter 1 we are only told that God created man, but here we are given some details of that creative act. Man himself is a little world, consisting of heaven and earth, soul and body. Here we have an account of the source of both the body and soul, and how they are brought together. I hope that when we are finished with this verse, we will be able to honestly say: “let us praise our Creator, because we are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Elihu, who lived during the age of the patriarchs refers to this account when he says, “I also am formed out of the clay” (Job 33:6), and “The breath of the Almighty hath given me life” (Job 33:4), and “There is a spirit in man” (Job 33:6).
The humble origin of man is revealed by the statement “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground.” “The dust of the ground” is a very unlikely thing to use to make a man of; but the same infinite power that made the world from nothing made man from dust; it’s His masterpiece, and the reason for all God’s creative acts that preceded it. He was made of the dust, the small dust that was upon the surface of the ground. It was probably, not dry dust, but dust moistened with the mist that went up (v. 6). He was not made of gold-dust, powdered pearls, or diamond dust, but common dust, dust from the ground. Therefore, he is said to be of the earth—dusty (see 1 Co. 15:47). And you and I are also of the earth, since we are his offspring, and made from the same mold. There is such a close resemblance between the earth and our first parents that our mother’s womb, out of which we were born, is called the earth—“My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth” (Ps. 139:15; KJV). And the earth, in which we must be buried, is called our mother’s womb—“He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21; NLT). Also, take notice of these verses:
1. Our foundation is in the earth—“How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?” (Job 4:19; KJV).
2. Our fabric is earthly, and the fashioning of it is like that of an earthen vessel—“Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again?” (Job 10:9; KJV).
3. Our food is out of the earth—“As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire” (Job 28:5; KJV).
4. Our familiarity is with the earth—“I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister” (Job 17:14; KJV).
5. Our fathers are in the earth, and one day I will be in the earth; what then do I have to be proud of?