Bible Difficulty Monday: Genesis 2:19

Genesis 2:19: “Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.”

How can we explain the difference in the order of creation events between Genesis 1 and 2?

Problem: Genesis 1 declares that animals were created before humans, but Genesis 2:19 seems to reverse this, saying, “the Lord God formed every beast of the field…and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them,” implying that Adam was created before they were.

Solution: Genesis 1 gives the order of events; Genesis 2 provides more content about them. Genesis 2 does not contradict chapter 1, since it does not affirm exactly when God created the animals. He simply says He brought the animals (that He had previously created) to Adam so that he might name them. The focus in chapter 2 is on the naming of the animals, not on creating them. Genesis 1 provides the outline of events, and chapter 2 gives the details. Taken together, the two chapters provide a harmonious and more complete picture of the creation events. The differences, then, can be summarized as follows:

Genesis 1:                                                                                   Genesis 2:

Chronological order                                                                 Topical order

Outline                                                                                            Details

Creating animals                                                                         Naming animals