Questions About the Integrity of Genesis

William Arnold III


My friend is confused and I can't help. Please help.

First, in Genesis, the order of creation seems to change.

Gen. 1 reads; PLANTS, then ANIMALS, then MAN and WOMAN.

Gen. 2 reads; MAN, then PLANTS, then ANIMALS, then WOMAN.

Gen. 1 always refers to the creator as God (35 times).

Gen. 2 always refers to the creator as Yahweh (11 times).

NOAH AND THE FLOOD.....It seems to be written by two different sources.

Some of the verses call the Diety "God." Some have one pair of each kind of animal and say that the flood lasted 370 days.

Some verses call the Diety "Yahweh," have 7 pair of clean and one pair of unclean animals. Says the flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights. HELP!!!!!!


Thank you for your feedback. Let me say before I even start that what I am giving is possible explanations for these issues. The exact details are by no means agreed upon, even by conservative scholars. Others might explain these things differently and I would be inclined to acknowledge thier opinions and even open to change mine if the evidence is sufficient. With that caveat, let me propose some possible solutions:

First, concerning the order of creation in the two chapters, it appears that chapter two is not a creation account at all, but a focus on the pinnacle of God's creation--mankind. As Gleason Archer points out, there is no discussion of the Sun, Moon, stars, oceans and seas, all of which are vital elements even to the pagan accounts of creation (Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982, p. 69). He also shows where other accounts of telling a story and then repeating it in more detail can be found in other ancient Near Eastern literature (p. 68-69).

So it appears that chapter 1 of Genesis is the skeletal account of the creation of the universe and chapter 2 is a focus on the specific creation of man and woman and of their garden home. 2:5 reiterates what was said in 1:2, that before man was created the earth was barren and empty. At one time there were no plants, trees or rain because there was no man to till the ground. Now it is true that God made these things a few days before he made man, but he made them with man in view. Before there was mankind, there were no need for these things.

Concerning the animals in 2:19, the author seems to be merely reiterating what already took place in chapter 1 to discuss the naming of the animals and to show that none of the animals were a suitable helpmate for Adam. This seems also to be the opinon of the NIV, "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground . . ." (emphasis added).

Concerning the use of the names God (Elohim) and LORD (Yahweh), it should be noted that in both chapters 2 and 3 the divine name "Yahweh" is only found in the combination Yahweh-Elohim (LORD God) and never alone and then the first occurence of Yahweh alone is found in 4:1. Possibly what Moses the author is doing is demonstrating that Yahweh is God (Elohim). With this agrees the Shema, "The LORD is our God . . ." (Deut. 6:4, NASB, NLT, NRSV). He begins using the general title "God" in the first chapter, then connects God with the personal name Yahweh in chapters 2 and 3 before he finally uses the name Yahweh alone in chapter 4. He is gradually moving from "God" in the abstract to Yahweh, their personal God, the God of Israel. Concerning the interchange between LORD (Yahweh) and God (Elohim) in the story of Noah, I have no problem with this since this can be seen throughout the Bible. In fact, God is refered to by many names and titles throughout scripture.

On the seven clean animals, the Hebrew literally says "seven seven" (Gen. 7:2-3) but only says "two" in the singular. It is interesting that this is translated "seven pairs" in the NLT, NAB, NJB and NRSV. This then would be perfectly consistent with the animals going into the ark "in pairs," or "by twos" in Gen. 7:8-9 and 15-16. Each animal entered the ark with it's mate, only there were seven pairs with the clean animals. Elsewhere, God does make a general statement that Noah should bring two of every kind of animal before he gave him the specific instructions about the clean ones (6:19-20).

Finally, concerning the number of days, nowhere is the number 370 found in the story of Noah (or anywhere in the Bible for that matter). This number is arrived at by adding the 150 days that the water prevailed (7:24, which would have to include the forty days and forty nights of rain) to the 150 days that the water receded (8:3) and then counting the days of the drying of the earth (8:13-19, 70 days). God also said that it would rain for the first 40 days and nights (7:4, 12). What 7:17 is saying is that after these forty days the water became deep enough for the boat to float. Notice that the following verses state that it continued getting deeper until it covered the highest mountains (7:19-20). The text does not end the flood here, after the 40 days. Later we read that the water prevailed for 150 days (total) before it began subsiding (7:24-8:1). Then, another 40 days after it began subsiding, Noah sent out a raven (8:6-7). Even this 40 days does not mark the end of the flood because the text mentions at least another 7 days twice (8:10, 12), some time before the final 70 days of the earth's drying began (8:13-19).

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