sermon: Imagining the Garden of Eden (Part Eleven)
A Compatible Helper
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 08-Jan-11; 66 minutes
I have been listening to the audio version of a book called Paths of Glory. It is written by Jeffrey Archer, he is the biographer. What he has written is the biography of George Lee Mallory. I highly recommend it if you can find Paths of Glory, it is a good book.
The story is of George Mallory’s life-long love of climbing mountains—the taller, the better. Ultimately, this book is about his quest to be the first man to stand on the summit of Mt. Everest, over there in the Himalayas. Most of you have probably just thought that Sir Edmund Hillary is the reputed first man ever to reach the top of the world’s tallest mountain, which he did in 1953. But many believe, going over the history and the things that were written, and the things that were only recently found up on Everest, I think in 2000, that George Lee Mallory may have actually stood on the top of Mt. Everest in 1924, though he died in the descent. That is why everybody wonders, because he went up the mountain and there was some tragedy up there that occurred, and nobody found his body for 75 years. So they have been piecing things together, and those who have looked into this, including Jeffrey Archer, believe that he actually did stand on top of Everest in 1924.
Maybe you do not know who George Lee Mallory was, but you certainly have heard one of his quotations. He was the man who was asked, “Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?” And he retorted, “Because it’s there.” We say that all the time, “Why are you going to do this?” “Well, because it’s there, I just want to do it.”
Mallory began climbing in earnest as a teenager, and his climbing leaders immediately saw his potential as a climber. He could stand at the bottom of a mountain, look at it for just a few minutes, and find a route that nobody else had thought of before. A lot of times, it was a very difficult route, but a route that took off maybe hours of climbing around it. He could stand at the bottom of a sheer rock face, gaze up there, find hand-holds and foot-holds, and then he would go up like a mountain goat. He had a very singular way of climbing mountains. They said it was very serpentine-like, where he would grab an outcrop and pull his body up to his shoulders, and then somehow, lift his legs off to where his hands were, and just go up, up and down in that motion, pulling hands to shoulders, and then to knee or leg or foot, and then all the way up. He would just climb up like this, and just be up before anybody realized it.
He was also fearless, even reckless, but he was so good that he rarely had mistakes. He rarely missed a grip or his footing went out from under him. He hardly ever slipped down the mountain at all. He did survive a couple of avalanches, way up in the high mountains, but he always seemed to survive. By the time he was in college at Cambridge, he was climbing the tallest mountains in Europe, Mt. Blanc and the Matterhorn.
During this period of his life, however, he developed a rivalry with another young mountaineer. He was an Australian by the name of George Finch, they were the “two Georges”—George Mallory and George Finch. Unlike any other climber of his age, Finch could stay with Mallory when they climbed together. Stride for stride, hand-hold for hand-hold. The British Alpine Club realized that these two were the future of British climbing, and they were all looking toward the time when the British could mount an expedition to the top of Everest. They grudgingly admitted Finch into this group, because he was not British, he was Australian. He was not only Australian, but he was very brash, conceited, and intensely competitive, and it was just not the British way. But they recognized that he was Mallory’s equal.
So when the Everest committee, made up of three members of the British Alpine Club and three from the Royal Geographical Society, plus their chairman, decided to mount an expedition, they selected Mallory as the climbing leader. Over the objections of some of the committee’s members, he insisted on including Finch in the climbing party, because he argued, he wanted only the most able climber to assist him in reaching the summit. He did not want to be kept back by anyone of lesser ability.
Over the years, he and Finch, though rivals, had become a team. They knew each other’s strengths and limitations, and they trusted each other’s abilities. And even though one was a Brit and one was an Aussie, they were more alike than different, especially when it came to climbing. Neither of them went in for half-measures; it was all or nothing. Both of them were highly motivated. Both of them were highly conscientious about their equipment, the break at your peril rules of climbing, and their respect for the mountain; snow, ice, and weather; and the experience of previous climbers. They were very serious about all of these things.
But they did disagree on one thing when it came to climbing, especially climbing tall mountains, and that was the use of oxygen at high altitudes. The British considered all of their explorers amateurs. They had a view that one should climb without unnatural or mechanical aids. It should be all a man’s effort. But Finch, on the other hand, argued, that an ice axe was an aid, as were ropes, boots, goggles and even clothes! If you wanted to take it to an extreme, if you wanted to do without aids, you should go up there naked!
The Everest committee, with their stiff British upper lip, said they sided with Mallory. But Finch, being Finch, took bottles of oxygen with him on their only attempt to scale Everest together. And do you know what? He was the one who ended up holding for a few years the world altitude record of 27,300 feet. Obviously, that is not the 29,002 feet that is the summit of Everest. But he got up closer than 2,000 feet from the summit. On that same expedition, without supplemental oxygen, Mallory reached 26,985 feet. So he was only 315 feet below him when they had to come back down. So you could tell that Mallory was quite the physical specimen, if he was able to go up that high without any supplemental oxygen. Even so, recently climbers have been able to go all the way to the top without supplemental oxygen, but they have really had to train hard in order to do it.
During the next expedition, which Finch was finally barred from participating in, because of various things (really, it was excuses to keep him off the team), Mallory became convinced that bottled oxygen was the key to a fast ascent, and thus reaching the summit. So when he went up the next time, he took oxygen with him. And despite Finch not being there, he used his experiences (that is, Finch’s experiences) to (many believe) stand on the top of the world, and as the saying went at the time, “shake hands with God.”
If it had not been for the years of companionable rivalry between these equally skilled men, neither one of them would have been able to, literally, reach the heights that they attained.
Now I gave this introduction, this story, because the next section of Genesis 2 deals with a similar beneficial companionship, although one that is much more intimate than climbing partners, or climbing rivals, like Mallory and Finch were. I am continuing my series on Imagining the Garden of Eden, which is designed to show how using our imaginations can open up the Biblical text, while staying within the bounds of God’s revelation. And I hope, after all this time (it has been a long time as we have gone through this), I have inspired you to study more deeply, not here necessarily, but into other sections of Scripture, so that you can mine the same kinds of ideas out of other passages of Scripture.
Remember, last time we spent a good deal of time on why God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” I want to summarize this. We saw that being alone can be a grave misfortune. That is what Solomon calls it, it is a grave misfortune to be alone, because two together can handle problems so much better than one alone, and he says a threefold cord is not quickly broken. I mentioned that there is a possibility that Solomon is intimating that God is part of that duo, and He makes it a trio. The two people, bound together with God, make a very firm, solid relationship.
We also found that man was created to be a social being. I said just the fact that he has a mouth and ears means that he was designed to communicate. This shows sociability and relationship. So man was designed to have relationships, with first God, as it shows in this particular chapter (Adam’s first relationship was with his creator—with God), and then, with other human beings. The hierarchy there runs to his wife, and then to his children, and then to others as they came along.
We saw that even Jesus, though He was God in the flesh, though he was man with as much God in Him as could be crammed in there (as was once said), even Jesus could not stand alone, but He needed His Father to help Him through His arduous ministry and His ultimate sacrifice. You can see that in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, how much He needed God to be with Him, and God sent an angel to comfort Him. So even Jesus needed companionship and help on occasion.
We also saw that it was not good for man to be alone because God is reproducing Himself. He did not want to have just one man as a son, He wanted many sons. He wanted to bring many sons to glory. To do that, after creating one man, He would have to create more than one man, He would have to create a woman, so that the earth could be filled, as He had said in chapter 1. He commanded the man and the woman to multiply and fill the earth. So there needed to be a woman to propagate the species, therefore, the man would not be alone.
We also saw that in chapter 3, in the first prophecy, starting in verse 14 and going down through verse 19, that the savior and the redeemer would come from the woman, that He would be the Seed of the woman. Paul picks up on this in Galatians, talking about the Seed and the seeds.
Lastly, we saw in Matthew 19 that Jesus says that some men, even some women, will remain alone for various reasons. He said some were born that way, some have a physical handicap, some have a personal disposition that makes them not able to marry, some even choose it as a way of life. Some choose it for the Kingdom of God’s sake. Apparently the apostle Paul, by the time he was converted, had chosen to do that, but we do not know for sure. There is no wife ever mentioned. We do know that he was probably part of the Sanhedrin, and they were usually married. So he was probably married at some point, and then later on, he became a eunuch for the Lord’s sake, as it were.
We see here that Jesus says that it is okay, if the right conditions are there, for a man not to marry, but for most, marriage is desirable and good for them, and beneficial.
That pretty much covers all of the summary from the last time. I am going to try today to move along a little bit faster. My notes take me to the end of verse 20, so we should be able to get there without any problem. I may even end early (famous last words). But I am trying to cover more territory so this series will not get too, too long.
Genesis 2:18-20 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
As we see, the verse that begins this little section and the sentence that ends this little section have this phrase, “a helper comparable to him.” That is what we want to concentrate on for the first part of this.
It is interesting to go to a literal translation when studying things like this, because often times, it will give us a sense of the Hebrew behind the English. It is not always perfect, but I went to Young’s Literal Translation, and he renders this phrase as “an helper as his counterpart,” which suggests one like himself, standing opposite to him.
This is very important. This gives us a pretty good idea of what the phrase actually means, especially this part that suggests “one like himself” (let me emphasize it that way), standing opposite to him. So it is like the two were standing there, facing each other. Adam could see that the one who was standing there was very much like him. But it was kind of like a mirror image, in a way. This other one was standing opposite to him, and there seemed to be differences. It was not all the same. It was like, but different.
The Jamison, Fausset, and Brown commentary says on this, “one like himself in form and constitution, disposition and affections, and altogether suitable to his nature and wants.” We see there that these three scholars pretty much focus on the likeness. The way they look at it, the woman is very much like the man, in just about every way. Kyle and Delitzsch translate this as “a help of his like,” also concentrating on likeness, similarity. Other versions, I have just written these down, I do not know where they came from, but these are what they are: “a helper fit for him,” “a helper suitable for him,” “compatible with him,” and “corresponding to him.” All of these suggest some measure of likeness: fit, suitable, compatible, corresponding. As we saw before, the other one said “it was like himself,” or “a help of his like.”
What is interesting is that when you start to peel back some of the understanding of the Hebrew word, it becomes a little bit different. And I use that word advisedly, “different.” The transliteration of the Hebrew word is kenegedo, and it means “comparable to him,” in most dictionaries. But it is really rather interesting in construction. The root of this word (the negedo part) means “over against him,” and that is where Young got it, “over against” or opposite to him. So that part says, opposite. But the first letter, the “k” sound (kenegdo), implies similarity. So what we have here, within the same word, are two opposing images. Opposite, but similar. Unlike, but like. Human, but not a man. There is a big difference.
What God said here is a truth in a very concise form. He is telling us that a woman is in many ways a great deal like a man, but in just as many ways, she is different. Males and females are made of the same stuff. Both have about 98% of the same parts. Both have the same or very similar intelligence and skills. Both have the same potential in God’s Family. But in all of that similarity is a boatload of difference. Perspectives, emotions, strengths, weaknesses, aims, needs, and indeed, a few body parts. Women are different from men. And that is probably why Adam said, “Wow!” when she was finally created.
The wording suggests that God intended the woman to be not only a complement to the man, but also a supplement to him. He wanted her to enough like him that they got along well, but enough unlike him to fill up areas in which he lacked. He did not want someone who was just like him, he wanted someone that was like him enough that they were compatible. But unlike him enough that they were exponentially better by being together, as one would fill the weaknesses with the other’s strengths. She is compatible to Adam, yet she brings her own strengths and talents to the table to fill up where he lacks. She is a suitable companion on the one hand, but she also has additional qualities in her own right that Adam desperately needs.
Let us look at a few scriptures that show something like this. Let us go to Proverbs 12, I am sure you will recognize these.
Proverbs 12:4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.
You had better get an excellent wife!
These are sprinkled throughout the Proverbs. This one is a lot more general, but it follows what is said there in Genesis 2.
Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing . . .
Remember, He said “It is not good for a man to be alone”. Here, Solomon says that if you find a wife, you find a good thing. You change that “not good” into a “good.”
Proverbs 18:22 . . . and obtains favor from the LORD.
This shows that the union of a man and his wife is what God wants, and He blesses it. You get the idea that there is an additional blessing on a person for being married to a good wife, and of course there is. God wants to see that. God can use that relationship between a man and woman to produce a lot of good things in their lives, and eventually, for His Kingdom.
Proverbs 19:14 Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
This shows that God not only blesses a marriage, but oftentimes He puts the two people together that He wants to be together. And that is what we want: we certainly want God’s blessing in our marriages, but more than that, we first of all want Him to find us the correct mate, one that will be suitable and comparable to us, but will also bring us the things that we lack, and therefore produce all that God wants to be produced in our lives. So those of you who are unmarried, I am sure you are praying, but make sure you pray something like this, that you will be given a prudent wife or a prudent husband of God’s choosing (and then you might want to say, “Make sure I like her, too.”).
Let us go to chapter 31. We can probably read most of this chapter, since this is the “Proverbs 31 woman,” from verse 10 on, but I just want to read the first couple verses.
Proverbs 31:10-12 Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of grain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
This expands out upon the idea of the marriage. It brings in the idea of her worth, her value. It is not just her value to him, but his value to her, we can also turn it around that way. If you are with a compatible spouse, then you have found a treasure that, as it says here, not even precious stones could equal. It is one of the most desirable, best things that you could ever have happen to you in your life, to find a suitable mate. It also brings in the idea of trust, of loyalty to one another, of feeling totally at ease with the other. In this case, he is talking about the trust that she will provide for him, in this case, no lack of grain, that she will be a good steward of their resources. She would then trust him for what he brings to the marriage as well, but this is concentrated particularly on what the woman does. She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life, which brings in the longevity of it and the marriage bond is to be forever, for life, until one dies.
So lots of little things are brought up in this particular scripture. You can read the rest of Proverbs 31 whenever you get the chance. It is really neat, from the standpoint of the fact that everybody says that ancient social ways of doing things were backward. But if you look at what was said there in Proverbs 31 about what the woman does, she has a great deal of freedom and leeway. She owns her own business, she makes her own money, she is a free woman in a time that there was not a great deal of freedom for women. I just cannot see where people think that the Bible is so anti-women, when Proverbs 31 is there.
Let us go to the New Testament, I Corinthians 11. I just want to pull this out. This is in Paul’s explanation of hair length and that sort of thing. I just want to pick out a few little scriptures here.
I Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory and God; but a woman is the glory of man.
Remember it said in Proverbs 12 that the virtuous wife is the crown of her husband. This is how a man should look at his wife, that she is his glory, and that he should treat her that way and let her know how much he appreciates her, and all that she does for him.
I Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the LORD.
It shows their mutual need for one another, and notice, it is not just that man needs the woman, or the woman needs the man, they need each other. They both have these needs for one another and when they are together, they are one flesh. They are one in purpose (they should be one in purpose), and one in just about everything that they do. This is the way, as Paul says; it should be in the LORD. They are working as a perfect team. They are no unequally yoked, but very much equally yoked and dependent upon one another.
Let us go back to Genesis 2 and pick up a word that we did not look at, and that is the word “helper.”
Genesis 2:18 I will make him a helper comparable to him.
Over the centuries, since the beginning of the Christian church perhaps, or maybe just after, some have taken this word to mean that a woman is inferior to a man, because God created her to fill a serving role. He created her as a helper. This is not helped by the fact that the apostle Paul, in some of his epistles, and even the writings of some of the other ones, can be misconstrued, as Peter says. They can be twisted, to put a woman in an inferior position. But we saw there from I Corinthians 11 that Paul did not feel that way, he said that the woman was the crown of her husband. He said that they were both interdependent.
He does not put one above the other, except as we understand, when “push comes to shove,” and a decision needs to be made, God leaves it up to the man. He has been given headship in the marriage, and in I Corinthians 11:3 we would see he says just that, that the head of a woman is the man, just as the head of the man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God. So we all have someone that we look to for authority. In a marriage, God has placed that responsibility on the man.
But that does not decrease the importance of the woman. This helper idea has been translated for us. The idea is right, but the implication is wrong. It does not mean someone that is inferior, it simply means “one who helps.” So marriage is a covenant of equals as we have seen, and this does not place her in an inferior position.
Even in the word “helper” is a clue that she is not inferior, despite this status.
Psalm 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD, He is our help and our shield.
Psalm 70:5 But I am poor and needy; make haste to help me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD do not delay.
Psalm 115:9 O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.
In each one of these scriptures, the word “help” is the exact same word as is found in Genesis 2:18, except that it is rendered as “help” rather than “helper.” You could just as easily put the word “help” in Genesis 2:18, “I will make a help comparable [or compatible] to him.”
Is God inferior to us when He helps us? By no means! He is in every way superior to us, but He helps us when we have a need. Those of you who are here in Ft. Mill, as well as those who may have listened in on the stream when I gave my last Bible study on Lazarus, will understand what this word is: ‘ezer. It is the same word that underlies the name Lazarus. We found out in that Bible study that Lazarus means “God helps.” It means one who supplies strength in an area where it is lacking. That is all it means. It does not imply that the helper is a servant, or in any way inferior, or whether he is actually stronger or weaker than the one helped. It simply means that he or she helps when there is a need.
Like God does at times, a wife will help her husband in an area in which he is absolutely clueless (and that occurs probably 15, 30, 100 times a day). We often see this in things like simply taking care of the home, or the children. We see it a lot in issues involving emotion and requiring more than a grunt in response. She helps him put things into words that he would not normally be able to do, because all he knows is up and down on the remote control. She helps him, she is much more complicated, and helps him get through some of these things.
I would like to read it Genesis 2:19 again.
Genesis 2:19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field.
Because of the way this is translated in our English Bibles, some have thought that it means that God created the birds and the beasts after He created Adam. Just read it literally, here is Adam walking about. God says, “Don’t take of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and He tells him He is going to make a helper, and then it says “out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and the bird of the air.” If you read it straight through, it sounds like Adam was created before the birds and the beasts.
But this is not the case, obviously. Hebrew verbs can sometimes be rather ambiguous as to tense. This is one of those rather ambiguous ones. It is written as a simple past tense verb here, “the LORD God formed.” We would have probably written it as a past perfect, “had formed,” so it would say, “out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field.” You will find that in several of the more modern translations. They recognize that this should be the past perfect tense.
But how do we know this? It is really rather simple when it comes down to it, but we have to believe that the Word of God is not self-contradictory. If we believe that, then we can answer this question without a problem.
Let us go back to Genesis 1.
Genesis 1:20-23 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
What we see here is that the birds were created on day five. And Adam, we know, was not created until day six. Let us read that.
Genesis 1:24-27 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth [there are those things that were mentioned there in Genesis 2:20], each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said [then God said], “Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image.
So we see here that there is a very clear, linear progression, from birds and fish, to cattle and other beasts of the earth and all the creeping things, and then, after all of that was done, God created Adam. It is very clear from chapter 1 how it went. It is obvious, then, that when you get to chapter 2, and you get this very simple past tense verb—that God formed every beast of the field—we know that we are talking about the situation that had happened the day before, and the day before that (the day before and that early morning, or earlier in that day, in day 5 or early on day 6). Genesis 2:19 is a reference back to earlier, completed events, and thus past-perfect tense.
We see here that God sends these animals to Adam and parades them before him so that he can give them their names. How many animals are we talking about? We are talking about, it says here, all cattle, birds of the air, and every beast of the field. That is a lot of animals, is it not? How long did such a process take? Now I know some have said that this took a very long time; it might have taken months. But I do not believe so. As a matter of fact, I believe it took place in just a few hours, on that one day.
How can I say this? We need to look at what is said very closely. Always, whenever you are reading the Bible, you need to read closely. You cannot just skim over things, because you miss a lot of detail that you would not miss if you were looking at each word individually. If you remember my sermons on Noah and the ark, we found that people were saying, “This is impossible, you can’t get every living creature, two of every living creature, in the ark. It’s only this big, these wasn’t enough space.”
We found that when you looked at the scripture and see what God actually said for Noah to do, then it became much more plausible. We found that if we really think about the space that was in that ark, he had room to spare. He could have probably put a tennis court in there, with all the room he had to spare (I am being a little facetious, but that is how it was). We have to think about these things very carefully.
We can reduce the number of species substantially that Adam had to name because of what is said here. First of all, before we even get to that that, let us recall here that it says that “the LORD God brought them to Adam, to see what he would call them.” So Adam did not have to go running around the world looking for animals. He stood or sat or whatever in one place, and God brought the animals to him, much in the same way that God brought the animals to Noah. Noah did not have to go hurrying around the globe to find all the different kinds of animals that he would need, God brought the kinds that He wanted reproduced after the Flood to Noah, and He sent them into the ark.
A similar thing happened here with Adam. God probably had them very close by anyway, but He sent them by Adam, and Adam was able to look at them and see their distinguishing features. So he did not have to go anywhere, and take time and travel. They were all brought to him. That is the first thing.
Let us notice here, in verse 20, that it says: “Adam gave names to all cattle.” That is important. We are talking livestock here. How many kinds of livestock are there? There are actually not very many. We are talking sheep and goats, cows, horses, mules. Alpacas? Llamas? There are not very many, you get my point. I named probably five or six or seven there, but there are not very many kind of livestock animals that you could have.
I did not mention any of the fowl because they would be in the next one, the birds of the air. So chickens, and turkeys, and geese, and ducks, as well as other birds of the air, would also have been part of this, and also the beasts of the field. Now “beasts of the field” is the Hebraism that means wild animals. We are talking foxes, and wolves, and lions, and tigers, and bears, and skunks, and all of those other ones that you could name.
We have whittled this down quite a bit by just looking at what is actually mentioned here. Now let us notice what is not there.
Fish are not mentioned here. Adam did not have to get on his scuba gear and name all of the fish. So that is out, or any other marine organism is out. It is not jellyfish, it is not coral, we are not talking about any of those types of things. They are not in this list.
Notice, too, that he did not mention the creeping things. So out also are insects, and beetles, and spiders, and that sort of thing. He did not have to name them.
So once we take out the invertebrates, and the fish, do you realize we have just knocked out 98% of all of the species on the earth (that we know of)? Right now, we are just working with 2% of known species. In terms of today, this would be about 11,000 animals. That is still a pretty tall order, 11,000 animals, to have to name. But it is much more doable than it was before, where there were millions of species. Now we have just about 11,000. So it is getting more manageable.
But even this is pretty much too big for the last part of day 6. So how do we reduce this number further? Probably some of you are ahead of me. I will quote from creation.com, as well as AnswersInGensis.org, they both have the same paper up there, and this is what they say:
Assuming that speciation [meaning the making of new species] has been an on-going occurrence since creation [This happens because God put it in the DNA, for the cat-kind to develop into your leopards, your lions, your housecats, and the various other cat-kinds, all you would have to really do is bring the kind, the original kind, on board the ark, or across Adam’s view, and he would be able to name that entire kind.], the 11,000 vertebrate species in question would have most likely descended from a much smaller number of proto-species. Each would be the ancestors of animals in the group that taxonomists call a genus, or possibly the higher taxonomic order known as a family, and what the Genesis account calls a “kind.” [We do not need to worry about species anymore, and perhaps not even the genus category, maybe all the way up to family. Like I said, the cat family, the monkey family, the skunk family, rodentia, and all of that, that is all he would have had to name.] Since many genera [this guy goes to genera] contain dozens, even hundreds of species, it is far more likely that Adam had to name only a couple of thousand of these proto-species [or genera], a task which could easily have been achieved in a few hours. [Now listen to this, they did a little calculation.] Assuming that Adam had to name 2,500 proto-species [or genera], and he named a single proto-species every 5 seconds, it would have taken him approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the task, if we include a 5 minute break every hour.
So you see, it really comes down to he could have done it in an afternoon. Still a pretty brisk pace to go on, one every 5 seconds. You can imagine, “oh man, what am I going to name it? Tick, tick, tick, tick.” But luckily, Alex Trebek was not there with his Jeopardy! music, luckily he was not born for another 5,900 years. You could see, he would have had to really been working hard to do that. But he had a quick, and intelligent, and very fresh mind, so it is not outside the realm of possibility that he could have done it in let us say 5 hours, or 6 hours.
We do not know the timeline of how long this took. Did God create all of these beasts in the first hour of a 24 hour day, and he had the next 23 hours to spend with Adam, and create him, and do all this naming, and create Eve? Did it take 6 hours to do all of the beasts, and then 6 hours for Adam, and then 6 hours for naming the animals, and then another 6 hours for Eve? I do not know.
But 24 hours is a fairly long time when it comes to God being able to do something. God does things by fiat, He can say it, and it happens. So time is not all that pressing for Him to do all of these things. It could have been a quarter-day’s work, or a full-day’s work, a half day, or whatever it happened to have been. There was certainly enough time, it seems, in the sixth day, for Adam to have gotten that done. He had to have gotten it done, because Eve was, as far as we know, also created on the sixth day, that is what Genesis 1 implies.
So it is pretty easy to see, for me at least, that he could have done this by naming all of the major kinds.
Just for fun, assume that Adam used Hebrew. That is a rather big assumption according to the linguists, because they do not think that Hebrew was the original language, they are still searching for that Adamic language. It is interesting to see the meaning behind the names of some of the common animals. We are just presuming here, maybe we can see some of the thought process that Adam used in coming up with the names for various animals. We are assuming an awful lot, but I thought it would be kind of a fun exercise to do, so I went through my electronic concordance and tried to figure all of these things out. It actually was not too hard, but it was an interesting little study.
What is the most common animal in the Bible that you would think of? For me, I thought of sheep, first thing was sheep. I looked up the word for sheep and I found out that it comes from an unused Hebrew root that suggests migration. The idea here is that perhaps Adam saw a small flock of sheep and they were all moving together. So he used this root that eventually became the word “sheep” to describe an animal that moved together in a group from place to place. That is exactly what sheep do. Sheep will follow a shepherd, or they will follow the ewe, or a goat, or whatever it is, and they all just do all that as one little group. That is the idea that came out of it, and Adam said “sheep,” or whatever the word is in Hebrew.
Here is another one. When you think of sheep, then you think of (I did not do “goat”) cattle. The word for cattle is also from an unused root that means dumb or mute. Do you think he was thinking along the same lines as we are? Cattle do not make a whole lot of noise, they do at times, but they “low” very lowly. They do not say a whole lot, so he called them “dumb beasts.”
The word for bird is one that would have been obvious, it means “covered with feathers,” or perhaps also, having wings, and obviously wings have feathers on them, so those two ideas go together.
I also looked up fox. I remembered there are a couple of occasions in the Old Testament where the word fox is used, and I thought this was interesting. A fox is so named for its propensity to dig in the earth. That is what you think of when you think of a little fox, just scratching on the earth and putting whatever he has in there, scratching for this, and scratching for bugs, and scratching for whatever little rodents might be under there. That is what he was called, he is “the little digger.”
The word for horse implies swiftness, and we can all understand that. A horse runs pretty fast. The word for donkey or ass derives from its coloring, kind of a dun coloring. So if Adam spoke Hebrew, Adam said “that is that colored animal, whatever it is.” He was pretty close on his 5 seconds there, I am sure.
The word for dog is also from an unused root, and that means to yelp or to bark, and most dogs do that quite well and we wish they would shut-up.
The word for ram implies strength, and you can understand that one too. A ram can look pretty majestic and strong when you see him there.
The word for hawk suggests flashing speed, you know, how it can move so fast in the air. The word for raven is like donkey, it just means “the dark bird.” The word for pelican, you will love this one, means “vomiting.” It is the vomiting bird. The word for cormorant describes casting itself into the water to catch fish, so we will have one bird that just plunges into the water to find some fish under the water.
The word for antelope, any guesses? Boing, boing, boing. It means “leaper.”
So you can understand that Adam just took a look at the characteristics of these animals and gave them a name based on that, whatever stood out to him. Of course, I looked up elephant, and there is no elephant in the Bible. There were a lot of other ones that were not there. I did not do animals that were not in those categories, the cattle, birds of the air, and the beasts of the field, so I did not look up various fish or beetles or anything like that. I struck out on some of them because they did not have any kind of word origin on it, they just said “this is a pigeon.”
We can easily see that what Adam did is, he looked at them, saw their characteristics, whether it was color, shape, sound, activity, bearing, whatever it was that struck him, and he gave them the name that fit.
However, we cannot let it go here that beyond the naming of the animals, the whole exercise was to show Adam that none of the previously created living creatures was in any way comparable to him. He could look at a donkey and see “nope, not like me.” He could look at the horse and say, “that looks a lot more like the donkey than me.” He could look at the cattle and say, “nope, too dumb.” He could go through each one and say, “none of them are like me.” I am sure God did not bring monkeys and gorillas, or if He did, He did not mention them in the Bible, so I had no way of knowing whether Adam named those ones. But even then, he would have said, “no, they’re kind of like me, in the general shape, but they’re nothing like me, really. They can’t talk, they’re silly and they chatter all the time, and they pick bugs out of each other. That’s just not me.”
He would not have been able to find any animal that suited him. None had his intelligence, none could communicate with him. We look back on this, and even though we love our pets, we realize that no animal has the ability to have the deep, committed relationship with a human being that we would require, or that Adam would require.
So Adam realized, having gone through this exercise that a special being, like him, but not like him, had to be created for him.
There is a great spiritual principle here also, because Christ, the second Adam, is going to have a Bride that is also created for Him. My Dad mentioned this earlier, I will just go ahead and flip to Ephesians 2:10, we probably all now this by heart, but let us read it. Paul is speaking of “we, the church.”
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
I wanted to get the idea that we are created. Like Eve was God’s handiwork for Adam, the church, those of us who make up the church, are God’s handiwork, God’s creation, for Christ, to be the Bride.
Of course, there is Revelation 19:7:
Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.
So this adds an additional feature. Eve did not have anything to do with her creation. But it is different with us, the church, the Bride of Christ. God creates us, yes, but we have something to do with it, we have a part to play in it. You can see that it is a much higher creation than what happened with Eve. We have a great part to play in it, although God does the bulk of the work.
Let us finish in I Peter 3. This is just a “word to the wise,” meaning husbands, about how they should treat their wives.
I Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them [meaning your wives] with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
So all of us men need to remember, and remember frequently, that God made women as a special creation for our benefit, and a special woman for each one of us. We should value our wives appropriately, realizing that God has brought us together to help each other to attain to eternal life and inherit His Kingdom.