So we have the Earth, the animals, light, stars, night, fish, oceans, land, pretty much everything we could need. Next God plucks man up, and put him into the garden of Eden to take care of it. The wording there, “to take care of it,” implies that the garden of Eden isn’t our gift, it’s not something created for man, but (along with man) created by and for the glory of God.
Then God tells us what’s what: eat whatever you want, but NOT the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or else you’ll die. Sounds pretty dramatic, right? Dramatic sounding enough to stay away from (especially since it’s literally the ONLY tree man was told to NOT EAT FROM)?? Oh goodness, nope. Oranges, coconuts, apples, bananas, cherries, pears, pomegranates, even nuts grow on trees, and NONE of those wind up being good enough. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Back to verse 18. God realizes that it’s not good for man to be alone. He decides He is going to make a suitable helper for man, and brings every beast of the field and bird of the sky to Adam to name them. He named every single creature, but none was a suitable companion for Adam.
The USCCB makes a point that I think is WELL worth mentioning here. “…[the term] “Helper” need not imply subordination, for God is called a helper (Dt 33:7; Ps 46:2). The language suggests a profound affinity between the man and the woman and a relationship that is supportive and nurturing,” (USCCB). This makes so much more sense than God creating woman to be inherently subordinate.
God puts Adam to sleep, takes one of his ribs, closes him back up, and uses that rib to make woman. He brought woman to Adam, and he instantly recognizes that finally, here is his match. If you think about it, it’s pretty much love at first sight. Maybe I have seen too many romantic comedies, but the point still holds.
Just think of Adam, naming every single creature, hoping for the next one to be his match, and not a single one winds up being the right creation. Finally, after all of Adam’s efforts naming every creature, God made woman for man, and then we get one of my personal favorite passages: “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh,” Genesis 2:24
This is one passage that’s in many many maaaaany weddings. Not just Catholic weddings, either. It’s a beautiful sentiment. Think about it—from when you get married onward, it’s just you and your husband together. He’s there to have your back, you’re there to have his, and together you face everything from the happiness to the sorrows, and anything in between.
The last tidbit of this chapter says that they were both naked, but felt no shame. This sets the stage for chapter three, much like the ominous command to NOT eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil also foreshadows the fall of man.
Let’s reflect on the one thing God told Adam to avoid: the tree. We all have “one thing,” to avoid that we struggle with. Everyone sins, and often we all have a particular sin with which we struggle on a regular basis.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your daily life with respect to following God’s laws? What can you do to overcome your biggest obstacles?