7-Minute Parish Catechesis – Lesson 5b (Genesis 1-3)

Genesis 2:4-25 – Another account of creation.  Remember, God is communicating allegorically.  He is trying to tell us a moral story based on a very short account of true events.  This second account of creation quickly arrives at the creation of man (2:7).  Creation and the Fall of man truly happened, but God is not trying to communicate these things to us in a scientific manner.

2:7 – God creates Adam directly from the earth.  This shows man’s direct connection to the earth and his responsibility for it, including one another.  Then God breaths into Adam.  God breathing onto or into man occurs only one other time in Scripture.  After Jesus’ Resurrection, He breaths on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  Therefore, as God gave Adam and Eve the ability to create new life, people made in God’s image and likeness, He gives the disciples the ability to restore life through forgiveness of sins. 

Also, “man became a living soul.”  Man is not merely physical.  He is a body soul composite, and God designed the soul to govern the body.  God does not make another creature like this.  Before the Fall (and when we receive our glorified bodies) the soul governed the body rather than the other way around. We were spiritual rather than carnal beings.

2:8-15 – God creates a garden (Eden) and places Adam in it to “till it and keep it.”  Tilling and keeping the Garden would have been easy in the dominative state, because man did not have to struggle to exercise dominion.  Next, in the Garden, God plants the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Context indicates that both were pleasant to the sight and good for food (2:9, 3:6).  Again, God does not create evil.

2:16-17 – God tells Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or he will die.  Knowledge of good and evil is not evil.  Clearly, at the moment God told Adam to care for creation and not to eat from this tree, he knew that it would be evil to not do the one and to do the other.  However, attempting to obtain knowledge by evil means is evil.  Adam and Eve should have walked with God to attain knowledge.  Rather, they obeyed Satan and disobeyed God’s command not to eat from this tree.

2:20-22 – God creates a “helper” for Adam.  The husband and wife must help one another care for their familial garden.  Help is reciprocal.  If someone is my helper, justice requires that I somehow help that person help me.  Think about parent/child, husband/wife, employee/employer, sibling, and friend relationships.  Each person helps the other.  If God makes my wife to help me, I must help her by giving her everything she needs to help me.  This is the correct understanding of equality.  We must understand, however, that God gave man primary responsibility for ensuring everything works in proper order.  This is why Adam, rather than Eve, is blamed for the Fall.

2:22-24 – God makes Eve from Adam’s side (think about Christ’s bride made from his side).  The teaching here is explicit.  The two become one.  Man “clings” to his wife.  “Clings” implies an unbreakable bond.  Imagine clinging to a life preserver in a turbulent sea.  Nothing will pry you from that preserver.  This is how a husband and wife must cling to one another.  They must not allow anything to break them apart.  Accordingly, marriage is a covenantal relationship of fidelity that is indissoluble.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “It was right for the woman to be made from a rib of man. First, to signify the social union of man and woman, for the woman should neither “use authority over man,” and so she was not made from his head; nor was it right for her to be subject to man’s contempt as his slave, and so she was not made from his feet. Secondly, for the sacramental signification; for from the side of Christ sleeping on the Cross the Sacraments flowed–namely, blood and water–on which the Church was established” (ST I, q. 92, a. 3).

2:25 – “…naked and were not ashamed.”  Adam and Eve live in a state of unadulterated innocence and integrity, filled with sanctifying grace, until Original Sin.