Contradiction #5 – Which First; Beasts or Man?

GEN 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
GEN 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

GEN 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
GEN 2:19 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.

Simple answer: Beasts.

Long answer: In one way it is a shame that Chapters, Verses and Subheadings were inserted into the bible after the original authors had finished their works. Here is a good example of a chapter division falling in a pretty awful spot. The Hebrew text would read much smoother if chapter 1 was extended to include 2:1-4. That being said, it doesn’t change much, especially if we understand that 2:4 is in fact a marker for a change in topic.

Chapter 1 is commonly thought of as the historical chapter. While this does hold some other implications if it is taken 100% literally, the common consensus, and the author’s intended reading, is most probably a literal one. Although the author has written with a historical genre, historicity is not his primary concern. What is certain from reading Genesis 1 is the author is concerned with the hierarchical structure of Creation. Using common terms, that structure is: God rules over everything. Man has responsibility for Woman, and Man and Woman rule together over the animals and the earth. This seems to be the primary concern for the author.

From chapter 2:4 the author changes his angle. Confident that the audience now has a clear understanding of the hierarchical structure, he can move on and elaborate on some of the details which ‘he’ finds important. (Note that the details are the things that he finds important, not us, him).

2:4 contains the word  תּולדה  (pronounced toldah). This Hebrew word means family ‘decent’ or historical ‘generations’. It is clear that the authors intent in chapter 2 is to tell the story of mankind in more detail and from a different perspective to chapter 1.

It could be argued (I don’t know how convincingly) that chapter one has a concern with God and creation of the world because this is what it starts with. Following this line of thought, the author would start with the generations of mankind if this were in fact his concern in chapter 2.

Hence, chapter 2 skips the first 5 days of Creation and lands firmly onto man in the 6th day. So it is safe to assume that man is the key character in this chapter’s story. The story of man is fixated on his relationships and vocation.

God’s concern isn’t with the order of creation. And having already introduced his main point of emphasis which is MAN, the author focuses in on man’s relationships. God created animals for man to rule over. He showed man that they were unsuitable for companionship, so woman was created. We can assume (by studying the bible and other ANE literature) that to an ANE (ancient near eastern) Hebraic mind, introducing man first, animals second and woman third led the original audience to understand the relationship between himself, woman and animals.

For a 21st Century audience, it only takes a little intelligent thinking, and a desire to seek the truth to see that the beasts were created first, humans second. There is no contradiction. But I’m sure if you were able to ask the author who was created first, he would look at you with a blank face and reply… “Who flippin’ cares? The whole point I wrote Genesis 1 and 2 was to show that God is our King, and we are here to worship him with our work”.