Genesis 2 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Genesis 2 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2 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.

(2:2) "He rested."
Even God gets tired sometimes.
Tired is not the right word, but God himself tells us he was refreshed by his rest, see Ex. 31:17. That is the purpose of the Sabbath for us as well, see Ex. 23:12.

3 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.

4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

(2:4-25) "These are the generations"
The second creation account. Compare with Genesis 1:1-2:3 in which the order of events is entirely different.
The two creations
The author of the SAB is entirely mistaken here. The phrase “These are the generations” indicates the end of a section, not the beginning. See chapter 1:1.

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.

(2:5-7) In chapter 1 plants are created on the third day before humans are created on the sixth. But in chapter 2 the order is reversed. When were plants created?
If the author of the SAB wants to call this a second creation story, it's lacking a lot. No creation of the earth, the sun or moon, aquatic animals missing, etc. See Tektonics for a comparison.
So clearly this isn't about creation. This book is probably written by Adam, possibly on a clay tablet, see chapter 1:1, and follows the first account. The first account is God telling Adam how the universe came into being, this is the account from Adam starting with his earliest memories. By way of introduction he states that there was no man, because he was the first.

6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

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.

8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

(2:7, 18-22) In the first creation story, God makes humans (male and female) after the other animals; in the second, God makes a man first, then the other animals, and then a woman. Were humans created before or after the other animals?
But humans were not created instantaneously from dust and breath, but evolved over millions of years from simpler life forms.
"The tree of life ... and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."
God created two magic trees: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. Eat from the first, and you become a god and live forever (3:22); eat from the second and you'll die the same day (2:17). (Or that's what God said, anyway. Adam ate from the tree of knowledge and yet he didn't die. In fact he lived for another 930 years or so (5:5). But Adam never got a chance to eat from the tree of life. God kicked him out of the garden before he could eat from that tree, become a god, and live forever.)
The author of the SAB reads into these verses more than they are saying. The Hebrew does not have a past tense.
I believe this story was originally written by Adam himself, possibly on a clay tablet. After the introduction explaining there was no man, the story continues in verse 7 with the creation of Adam. It then explains what went on before, i.e. why he was in the garden, and goes on to the climax, the first woman.
On the “magic trees” these trees were not magic in the sense that they conveyed some supernatural properties by themselves. The tree of of knowledge of good and evil could have been any tree, perhaps just a normal fruit bearing tree. The idea was that man was given freedom here to obey God or not. Without the possibility to obey, what reward could there be? Or as the apostle Paul says (Rom. 4:15): “for where no law is, there is no transgression.” So Adam was given an extremely simple command: don't eat from this particular tree. The punishment of death was conveyed by God and was not simply bodily death, but has a far more extensive meaning: man died internally, he has no longer the freedom to sin or not, but is delivered over to sin. Life is no longer free from death, but everything in this life is under curse, ending in death of the body, and eternal death in hell.
A note of caution: although I previously described that Adam was given a simple command, this is too simplistic a view of this situation. The more accurate way is to say that God entered into a covenant with Adam.

10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

(2:15) "To dress it and to keep it"
Some believers claim that this verse requires them to be environmentalists.
The link supplied by the author of the SAB makes good points. But there is quite a difference between a Biblical view of nature and the environmentalists view. At the extreme end of their view we find that humanity is just a plague and the earlier it disappears, the better. The core philosophy of environmentalists is that humans have a destabilising effect on the environment, although not everyone takes that to its logical conclusion. So Bible believers can never be environmentalists as the word is currently used, and according to the philosophies held by environmentalists.

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

"In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." more
May Adam eat from any tree

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

(2:18) "It is not good that man should be alone."
Is marriage a good thing?
Note that in this verse God talks about “the man.” This verse is about Adam in particular. It cannot be generalised into “It is not good that any man should be alone.”

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.

(2:19) "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast."
From what were the animals created?
When were humans created?
On the substance from which the animals were created, see chapter 1:20.
On when the humans were created, the author of the SAB seems to read in this verse that it describes creation of these animals. But the author of the SAB should simply read this verse as describing how the animals were created, from the ground, and unlike Adam without the breath of life. Just like the previous verse describes the conclusion reached, before the story is given. So read “And out of the ground the LORD God formed them every beast” as only saying that God had formed in the past. It does not describe they were created right here and now. The previous verse wouldn't make sense, because why would God talk about a help? It is because every animal had a help, they came in pairs it appears.
And it may be a good reminder that Biblical Hebrew does not have tenses.

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.

(2:19-20) "God ... brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them."
The author of the SAB confuses animal kinds with speciation. They are very different things. The wolf and dog species are of the same kind. Lions and tigers are of one kind, and so on. Speciation hadn't happened here, only the original created kinds were present. Creationists estimate there were fewer than 20,000 created kinds. These created kinds contained all genetic material we have. Speciation means that we get an animal with less variation, for example his hair is always white.

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

(2:19-22) "But for Adam there was not found an help meet for him."
God makes the animals and parades them before Adam to see if any would strike his fancy. But none seem to have what it takes. (Although he was tempted to go for the sheep.)
When was Eve created?
Because of this story, it was commonly believed (and sometimes it is still said today) that males have one less rib than females. When Vesalius showed in 1543 that the number of ribs was the same in males and females, it created a storm of controversy.
The author of the SAB can't contain himself. It's not easy to practise gospel doctrines you are supposedly on favour of, 3 John 1:11.
On when Eve was created, in chapter 1:27 we have only a short summary affirming both were created in the image of God. One is not less human than the other. In this account we have a personal recollection of Adam with more details. If we had only this we might think the female might somehow be subordinate.
The author of the SAB also says that it was commonly believed that males have one less rib. He does not give any references to back up that claim. We can find the story in Wikipedia, but as usual there are no references. And it is peddled again on another page. Without more proof I'm remaining sceptical on this wave of controversy.
I agree that it is still said today (just Google). And I was taught that at primary school.
However, the human body has one kind of bone that grows back when taking away, and these are the rib bones. So Adam's rib would have grown back fairly quickly. Chest surgeons routinely remove ribs.

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

(2:22) God fashions a woman out of one of Adam's ribs.
When will Armageddon occur? (2:22) God made only one woman to be Adam's helpmeet.
Is polygamy OK?
The failed prophecies of the Jehovah's Witnesses mark them as a false prophet, see Deut. 18:20-22.
And the author of the SAB is correct to infer from this verse that polygamy is not OK. And citing a bitter enemy of God (Gen. 4:19), who in opposition to God's command took himself two wives, is a very silly thing to do if one desires to find contradictions in the Bible.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

(2:25) "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
What the Bible says about nudism
I'm not sure what the author of the SAB wants to prove with his link to verses on nakedness. Regardless, it is made clear in the next chapter (Gen. 3:10) that being naked was a condition before The Fall, and no longer proper after (Gen. 3:21).