By an oversight, the chapter and verse numbering convention which was imposed on the Bible centuries after it was written creates an unnatural break in the creation narrative, which actually continues a few verses into Chapter 2.
When the Jews were taken into captivity in Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem, they were introduced to the concept of “evil days” which occured on the new moon and every seven days thereafter, when the moon was quarter waxing, full, and quarter waning. On those days, the Babylonians curtailed their activity, and this custom was more or less imposed on the captive Jewish population.
But members of the Aaronic priesthood in exile attempted to reconcile this practice with Judaism, claiming ownership of those “evil days” by reversing them and declaring them holy. The Babylonian Shapattu became the Jewish Shabbat, a day of total rest when no work was to be performed at all. The priests read the Sabbath back into their scriptures when they assembled the Torah from the Jawhist, Elohist, and Deuteronomist sources, and Genesis chapter one is the ultimate instance of that, a retrojection of the Babylonian tradition right back onto the time of creation itself. And within a few years the myth that Moses himself had written the entire Torah and Jewish scribes had faithfully copied it in an unbroken series was accepted by all, and not seriously questioned until the 20th Century.
The second half of Genesis 2:4 marks the beginning of the Yahwhist contribution to Genesis, where all the preceding material came from the Priestly source, and was actually a post-Exilic synagogue litany chanted by Jewish congregations to put them in the frame of mind for worship much like the similar group participation rituals at the beginning of the Catholic Mass. But I will proceed as though Genesis was inerrant and had Moses as the sole author to trace out the consequences of that “conservative” position. Genesis chapter 2 begins after Creation Monday, before he caused the Earth to be covered with green growing things. And it says God created the earth and heavens in just one day, not six.
Genesis 2:7 has significance to the pro-life movement. The Bible says man doesn’t have a soul until he actually breathes air.
The text of Chapter 2 also says the first living thing God created was man, and so we are presented with an inescapable dilemma. If we accept Genesis 1 as true that man was created on the first Friday, then the plants of Creation Tuesday and the birds and fish of Creation Thursday could not have been created on the days they were said to have been. If we accept Genesis 2 as true, then man was created on Monday before any other living thing, contrary to what it clearly says in Chapter 1.
The name of the garden was not “Eden”. It was not the “Garden of Eden” as is commonly supposed. Eden is a land, and the garden was planted in the eastern half of Eden. Mormons insist the Garden of Eden is in present-day Jackson County, Missouri, in the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area. I once took three weeks of instruction from a manufacturer in Kansas City to learn how program a circuit tester they made, and I can assure you Kansas City is not Eden.
There is a curious digression from the straight narrative of Genesis 2, and we veer into a little geography. The garden is the source of a river which divides into four streams. We never see this occur in real rivers except at their mouths, where they debouch into the sea. Josephus identified this river with the Ganges in India. Others associate it with a river in Iran that flows north into the Caspian sea, based on the description of gold and other resources given in the text.
Josephus identified another river in Genesis as the Nile, and this leads to a serious problem. The source of the Blue Nile is Lake Tana in Ethiopia, nowhere near Mesopotamia. Of course, Bible inerrantists claim the geography of all these lands were greatly distorted by the Great (Noachian) Flood, just like Middle-earth after the fall of Numenor. The changed-land hypothesis has a problem because the rivers Hiddekel (Tigris), and Euphrates are well-known and extant on a flood plain that would have been the first to be modified by a global flood. In any event, this little geography lesson seems to be a strange insertion of irrelevant material which interrupts the bold flow of the Yahwhist source, which now resumes as originally scheduled.
The first thing God did with the man was give him a job. He was to tend the garden. Presumably this was accompanied with extensive training, or perhaps the required skill set was built right into Adam’s mind from the gitgo. Along with his training, God gave Adam a Law consisting of a single commandment. He was never to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because it was immediately lethal. This seems to be a little white lie on God’s part, because Adam did eat the fruit yet lived to be 930 years of age.
There are between 1.5 million and 1.8 million named species in the world. Adam never finished the task of naming all of them, because the total number of named and unnamed species in the world could range as high as ten million, and there were many more species back in the Day before man really began to dominate the Earth and kill everything.
God didn’t have a problem finding a help meet (a female beast) for every male beast, but when it came to finding a help meet for Adam, it was a real head scratcher. But finally God hit upon the solution! He would make something a lot like Adam, except it would be (wait for it…) female!
When I was growing up, it was “common knowledge” that boys had one less rib than girls, and when we learned different, it was as traumatic as learning that Santa Claus wasn’t real. It was not until 1543 that Andreas Vesalius did what none before had dared to do: He simply counted the ribs. And he found in every instance their number was the same for man as for woman. But it is a wonder he was not put on the rack.