Out of nowhere, time, space, and all the living whirl forth as God speaks the universe into existence. With the utterance of His voice, creation takes form, chaos yields to order, light eclipses darkness, and emptiness fills with life. Not long after God creates the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, the story takes a tragic turn when the first couple disobeys the clear instruction from God not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As a result, humanity falls from God’s intended perfection. The disastrous consequences of this decisive act are demonstrated in Cain’s murder of Abel, Noah’s flood, and the Tower of Babel.
1 In the beginning, God created everything: the heavens above and the earth below. Here’s what happened: 2 At first the earth lacked shape and was totally empty, and a dark fog draped over the deep while God’s spirit-wind hovered over the surface of the empty waters. Then there was the voice of God.
God: 3 Let there be light.
And light flashed into being. 4 God saw that the light was beautiful and good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God named the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Evening gave way to morning. That was day one.
God: 6 Let there be a vast expanse in the middle of the waters. Let the waters above part from the waters below.
7 So God parted the waters and formed this expanse, separating the waters above from the waters below. It happened just as God said. 8 And God called the vast expanse “sky.” Evening gave way to morning. That was day two.
God: 9 Let the waters below the heavens be collected into one place and congregate into one vast sea, so that dry land may appear.
It happened just as God said. 10 God called the dry land “earth” and the waters congregated below “seas.” And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good.
God: 11 Earth, sprout green vegetation! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants and all sorts of fruit-bearing trees.
It happened just as God said. 12 The earth produced vegetation—seed-bearing plants of all varieties and fruit-bearing trees of all sorts. And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. 13 Evening gave way to morning. That was day three.
God: 14-15 Lights, come out! Shine in the vast expanse of heavens’ sky dividing day from night to mark the seasons, days, and years. Lights, warm the earth with your light.
It happened just as God said. 16 God fashioned the two great lights—the brighter to mark the course of day, the dimmer to mark the course of night—and the Divine needled night with the stars. 17 God set them in heavens’ sky to cast warm light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. 19 Evening gave way to morning. That was day four.
God: 20 Waters, swarm with fish and sea creatures. Let birds soar high above the earth in the broad expanse of sky.
21 So God created huge sea creatures, all the swarm of life in the waters, and every kind and species of flying birds—each able to reproduce its own kind. And God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. 22 And God spoke this blessing over them:
God: Be fruitful and multiply. Let creatures fill the seas. Let birds reproduce and cover the earth.
23 Evening gave way to morning. That was day five.
God: 24 Earth, generate life! Produce a vast variety of living creatures—domesticated animals, small creeping creatures, and wild animals that roam the earth.
It happened just as God said. 25 God made earth-creatures in a vast variety of species: wild animals, domesticated animals of all sizes, and small creeping creatures, each able to reproduce its own kind. God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. And God paused.
God: 26 Now let Us conceive a new creation—humanity—made in Our image, fashioned according to Our likeness. And let Us grant them authority over all the earth—the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, the domesticated animals and the small creeping creatures on the earth.
27 So God did just that. He created humanity in His image, created them male and female. 28 Then God blessed them and gave them this directive: “Be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth. I make you trustees of My estate, so care for My creation and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that roams across the earth.”
The crown of God’s creation is a new creature, a creature that can sound the heartbeat of its Creator. That creature, made male and female, reflects God’s own relational richness. The human family is to join God in the ongoing work of creation. The earth below and the sky above with all their inhabitants are too beautiful and too good to be left alone. They need the tender care and close attention that only God’s favored creature can give.
God (to humanity): 29 Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows on the earth and every fruit-bearing tree. They will be your food and nourishment. 30 As for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and every small creeping creature—everything that breathes the breath of life—I have given them every green plant for food.
And it happened just as God said. 31 Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning. That was day six.
2 So now you see how the Creator swept into being the spangled heavens, the earth, and all their hosts in six days. 2 On the seventh day—with the canvas of the cosmos completed—God paused from His labor and rested. 3 Thus God blessed day seven and made it special—an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day.
God’s rest on the seventh day is a model for the kind of Sabbath rest He wants for His people.
4 This is the detailed story of the Eternal God’s singular work in creating all that exists. On the day the heavens and earth were created, 5 there were no plants or vegetation to cover the earth. The fields were barren and empty, because the Eternal God had not sent the rains to nourish the soil or anyone to tend it. 6 In those days, a mist rose up from the ground to blanket the earth, and its vapors irrigated the land. 7 One day the Eternal God scooped dirt out of the ground, sculpted it into the shape we call human, breathed the breath that gives life into the nostrils of the human, and the human became a living soul.
When human body meets divine spirit, soul is born. Divine breath and sculpted earth come together to make up the living soul. For thousands of years, philosophers and theologians have posed the question: what is a human being? Here God gives the answer.
8 The Eternal God planted a garden in the east in Eden—a place of utter delight—and placed the man whom He had sculpted there. 9 In this garden, He made the ground pregnant with life—bursting forth with nourishing food and luxuriant beauty. He created trees, and in the center of this garden of delights stood the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river flowed from Eden to irrigate the garden, and from there it separated into four smaller rivers. 11-12 The first, the Pishon, flows around the land of Havilah—a rich land plentiful in gold of premium quality, bdellium, and onyx stones. 13 The second, the Gihon, flows around the entire land of Cush. 14 The third, the Tigris, flows east of Assyria, and the fourth is the Euphrates.
15 The Eternal God placed the newly made man in the garden of Eden in order to work the ground and care for it. 16 He made certain demands of the man regarding life in the garden.
God: Eat freely from any and all trees in the garden; 17 I only require that you abstain from eating the fruit of one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Beware: the day you eat the fruit of this tree, you will certainly die.
After God gives man this directive, He realizes something is missing.
18 It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will create a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner.
19 So out of the same ground the man was made from, the Eternal God sculpted every sort of animal and every kind of bird that flies up in the sky. Then He brought them to the man and gave him the authority to name each creature as he saw fit: whatever he decided to call it, that became its name. 20 Thus the man chose names for domesticated animals, birds, and wild beasts. But none of these creatures was a right and proper partner for Adam.
The authority to name something is unique to humanity. To name is to share in God’s creative act.
21 So the Eternal God put him into a deep sleep, removed a rib from his side, and closed the flesh around the opening. 22 He formed a woman from the rib taken out of the man and presented her to him.
23 Adam: At last, a suitable companion, a perfect partner.
Bone from my bones.
Flesh from my flesh.
I will call this one “woman” as an eternal reminder
that she was taken out of man.
24 Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh. 25 In those days the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Genesis provides an image of the ideal marriage: One man. One woman. In a one-flesh relationship. For life. These four elements constitute the ideal, as Jesus reminds His followers (Matthew 19:4–5). Anything less, anything more, or anything other misses the ideal. In marriage two individuals, who once lived as “me,” come together as “we” in one flesh and one life. No earthly bond can match the intimacy of this divinely sanctioned union.
3 Of all the wild creatures the Eternal God had created, the serpent was the craftiest.
Serpent (to the woman): Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat fruits from the trees of the garden?
Eve: 2 No, serpent. God said we are free to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 We are granted access to any variety and all amounts of fruit with one exception: the fruit from the tree found in the center of the garden. God instructed us not to eat or touch the fruit of that tree or we would die.
Serpent: 4 Die? No, you’ll not die. God is playing games with you. 5 The truth is that God knows the day you eat the fruit from that tree you will awaken something powerful in you and become like Him: possessing knowledge of both good and evil.
6 The woman approached the tree, eyed its fruit, and coveted its mouth-watering, wisdom-granting beauty. She plucked a fruit from the tree and ate. She then offered the fruit to her husband who was close by, and he ate as well. 7 Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths. 8 Then they heard the sound of the Eternal God walking in the cool misting shadows of the garden. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the Eternal God.
The story of humanity’s sin begins with a tree and ends on a tree: first, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and finally, the cross on which Jesus dies. The first tree offers fruit that leads to death, but the second offers a death that leads to eternal life.
God (calling to Adam): 9 Where are you?
Adam: 10 When I heard the sound of You coming in the garden, I was afraid because I am naked. So I hid from You.
God: 11 Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree in the center of the garden, the very one I commanded you not to eat from?
Adam (pointing at the woman): 12 It was she! The woman You gave me as a companion put the fruit in my hands, and I ate it.
Since Adam and Eve, people have been blaming others for their mistakes. Adam has the audacity to blame God for his.
God (to the woman): 13 What have you done?
Eve: It was the serpent! He tricked me, and I ate.
14 God (to the serpent): What you have done carries great consequences.
Now you are cursed more than cattle or wild beasts.
You will writhe on your belly forever,
consuming the dust out of which man was made.
15 I will make you and your brood enemies
of the woman and all her children;
The woman’s child will stomp your head,
and you will strike his heel.
16 (to the woman) As a consequence of your actions,
I will increase your suffering—the pain of childbirth
And the sorrow of bringing forth the next generation.
You will desire your husband; but rather than a companion,
He will be the dominant partner.
17 (to the man) Because you followed your wife’s advice
instead of My command and ate of the tree
From which I had forbidden you to eat, cursed is the ground.
For the rest of your life,
You will fight for every crumb of food
from the crusty clump of clay I made you from.
18 As you labor, the ground will produce thorns and thistles,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 Your brow will sweat for your mouth to taste
even a morsel of bread until the day you return
To the very ground I made you from.
From dust you have come,
And to dust you shall return.
20 The man named his wife Eve because she was destined to become the mother of all living. 21 The Eternal God pieced together the skins of animals and made clothes for Adam and Eve to wear.
In Hebrew “Eve” sounds like the word meaning “life-giver.”
God: 22 Look, the human has become like one of Us, possessing the knowledge of good and evil. If We don’t do something, he will reach out his hand and take some of the fruit from the tree of life, eat it, and live forever.
23 So the Eternal God banished Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and exiled humanity from paradise, sentencing humans to laborious lives working the very ground man came from. 24 After driving them out, He stationed winged guardians[a] at the east end of the garden of Eden and set up a sword of flames which alertly turned back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
- 3:24 Hebrew, cherubim