The late Homer Hoeksema was professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
(Gen. 1:27; Gen. 2:18ff.)
The narrative of the creation of the woman is introduced, first of all, by a Word of God addressed to Himself. This time the Word of God is: 1) That it is not good that man should be alone; 2) That God, therefore, would make him an help meet for him. In the second place, the narrative of the creation of the woman is introduced by the account of Adam’s giving names to the animals.
As to the meaning of the statement that it is not good for the man to be alone, we may mention, in the first place, that this has reference to the fact that without a help, a companion, the man cannot realize his calling, cannot serve the purpose of his existence to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, and thus to have dominion over the earthly creation (1:28). This latter Word of God to man was, evidently, spoken after the creation of the woman.
In the second place, the statement points to the fact that without the woman, the man alone is quite helpless. He is not complete. He cannot reflect in his life the covenant life of God. He is in need of a companion to fill his life. For the very term “help meet for him” refers to a companion, a second being, like unto himself, that in every respect fills, supplements, his own existence: the woman is the other part, the “other half,” the counterpart of man. Like the man, she is a human being, yet she is not a mere duplicate of man. She is most closely related to him, yet she is not another man. She differs from him in such a way that she fills his existence, supplements him, is one whole with him. This is true not only in the physical sense, but also in the psychological sense; and it ought to be the case spiritually. This also signifies that one woman fills the life of one man. Polygamy is a violation of the very ordinance of creation, as is also adultery.
As to the naming of the animals by Adam, this was evidently designed to awaken in Adam the consciousness of his being incomplete without the woman. The animals were created male and female at once. Man’s union with his wife was to be a reflection of God’s covenant, ultimately an image of the relation between Christ and His church. Even as the church is the body of Christ, His fullness, so the woman is the fulfillment of the needs of the man. He must consciously need her, want her, seek her, long for her, and discover that she is “flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone.” For he must love her, even as Christ loves the church. Hence, by the naming of the animals God awakened in Adam’s heart the longing for a companion of his own.
Concerning this naming of the animals, we may note that the animals evidently were named before the creation of the woman. It is also evident from Genesis 1that the woman, like the man, was created on the sixth day. It follows, then, that the naming of the animals also occurred on the sixth day. From the moment Adam was created, he functioned as God’s friend-servant in creation.
We may notice, further, that Scripture informs us that God brought the animals to man “to see what he would call them.” God’s glory, revealed in creation, was to be concentrated and reflected in the mind and heart of man. Creation is a book, and all creatures are so many “words” of God. The whole creation spelled the name of God. Adam was so created that he could read the words, could know the name of God. He was God’s prophet. This became manifest when he read the “word” of God in each animal, which is its name. In this, God was glorified. He saw how Adam named the animals.
This also implies that Adam’s knowledge was that of intuition: he could look into the nature and essence of things and could see their true meaning. This form of knowing is lost through sin. We can attain to some knowledge only through a process of reasoning. But Adam in the state of rectitude was able to discern the Word of God in all creation.
Finally, it is evident from verse 20 that the result for Adam of his naming of the animals was that he realized the need of a companion of his own, a help meet for him. He found, evidently, that in the animal world there was companionship, “but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”
Then follows the account concerning the deep sleep which God caused to fall upon Adam and the creation of the woman. The purpose of this deep sleep cannot have been that it must serve as an anesthetic. For, in the first place, Adam did not undergo an operation, even though God took one of his ribs and closed up the place thereof with flesh. But this was a creative act of God. In the second place, the marvel of the creation of the woman out of Adam certainly would not cause physical pain. Rather must the reason be found in the fact that God here resumed His work of creating, and that man could have no part in this. Man can only begin to work where the work of creation is finished. Besides, the creation of the woman must necessarily fall outside of Adam’s experience. This was accomplished by that deep sleep.
God then formed the woman from a rib which He took out of Adam’s side. As Scripture itself makes plain, this signifies that the woman is by creation not designed to be the head, neither the slave of man, : but being flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone is a proper companion for him, standing in the closest of: all relationships to him, the object of his love and care. “Therefore , shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
As to the significance of the creation of the woman out of Adam, Scripture teaches us: 1) That Adam was first created, and is the head of the woman (I Cor. 11:8, 9; I Tim. 2:13); 2) That Adam is the head and root of the entire human race. For given with the creation of male and female is also the potential of the whole race out of them. That race is in Adam and from Adam. Legally and organically he is the head of the race, as well as the root.
At the conclusion of the account of God’s creative work we read, Genesis 1:31 – 2:3: “And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
We should pay special attention to the final statement of Genesis 1. Notice, in the first place, that we do not find the words, “God saw that it was good.” But this time we read: “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” This points us to the fact that in the light of creation all things returned to God. Secondly, it emphasizes that the whole creation as a harmonious unity was good. All creation served the purpose of God, each creature in its own proper place contributing to this purpose. This reminds us by implication once more that creation is destined to pass through a history, and that with a view to that history and to the achievement of the God-appointed destiny, all creation was good.
In close connection with all this stands the summary statement of 21, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” The word “host” occurs frequently in the Old Testament. There are various shades of meaning: 1) An army as prepared and marching for war (II Sam. 8:16; 10:7); 2) The host of heaven: angels, sun, moon, and stars (Ps. 148:2; Is. 40:26); 3) All the individual creatures of the whole universe conceived as a well-ordered army that is prepared for battle. In the last sense it is used in Genesis 2:1. When elsewhere the Lord is called “Jehovah of Hosts,” there is no reason whatsoever to limit the term “hosts” to angels, or to the heavenly luminaries. Our God is the Lord of all creatures, and those creatures constitute a well ordered host to fight His battle and to accomplish His purpose. When creation is completed, the whole universe stands prepared to do God’s bidding and to accomplish His good pleasure in the course of history.
Finally, we read in verses 2 and 3 of Chapter 2 of the creation Sabbath. It is not our purpose at this time to enter into a complete discussion of the idea of the Sabbath. We only wish to point out, in the first place, that the “rest” of God on the seventh day is a revelation in time of the eternal rest in God. God is eternally active; yet His activity is perfect and eternal rest, because His work is always and perfectly finished in Himself. In the second place, we must remember that rest is not idleness, but the entering into the enjoyment of a perfect work. Of this eternal rest in God the seventh day is a revelation.
We must also note that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day. This means, in the first place, that He set it apart from the rest of the week as a day of consecration to a special purpose. In the second place, it implies that God filled that day with a special blessing for Adam, the blessing of “rest.” Even as God works and enters into His rest eternally, and had revealed this in the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest, so Adam had to labor (multiply, subdue the earth, cultivate and keep the garden—all in the service of God) in order to enter into the rest of creation: the perfect development and subjection of the whole earthly creation under his feet. From this labor he might cease, and of this rest he might have a foretaste on the weekly sabbath day.
We must remember, however, that Adam did not enter into the rest of creation. He failed. Accordingly, the number of sinful man is not “seven,” but “six”—the labor without the rest. God, however, prepared another rest for His people through His work of redemption. This word was finished principally in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Hence, by faith the church labors to enter into that rest, and celebrates the “day of the Lord” as its Sabbath. This is the rest that remaineth for the people of God, the rest in Christ, to be perfected in eternal glory (Heb. 4:6-9).