There is a significant change that occurs in the book of Genesis between the third and fourth verse of Chapter 2. It is a change so dramatic that some have speculated that perhaps a different writer altogether had picked up the pen which the first writer had laid down. We have what appears to be a recounting or retelling of the Creation account that was given in Chapter 1 and we have a new name given to God.
The name referring to God in Chapter 1 is a generic Hebrew term for Deity (Elohim). The name referring to Him beginning here in Verse 4 is a personal name for God (Jehovah) and is written in many versions of the Bible as, “LORD” (all capitals). This name was regarded as so sacred among the Jews that they would substitute the Hebrew word for “Lord” (Adonai) when they spoke it, lest they should be guilty of blasphemy for inadvertently failing to properly reverence the most precious name of God Almighty. God commanded that His name must not be taken in vain (Exodus 20:7), so they avoided speaking His name entirely to prevent the chance of such an infraction.
The explanation for why Moses would suddenly begin to use the personal name of Jehovah rather than the generic Elohim here in Verse 4 of Genesis 2 can be found if we consider the direction that the narrative is taking. Chapter 1 gave us a “bird’s-eye view” of Creation, while Chapter 2 will narrow the focus to mankind. Chapter 1 was an overview, while Chapter 2 is more specific. Chapter 1 gave a summary of the entire Creation process, while Chapter 2 goes into detail concerning the creation of man. God is the God (Elohim) of all Creation, but He is the Lord God (Jehovah) of mankind. The use of His personal name in relation to mankind speaks of the special and unique nature of our relationship to Him.
This same pattern is repeated again and again throughout the Bible. A general overview will be given, followed by a more detailed examination of a certain portion. The Word of God begins by considering the entire Universe and then “zooms in”: first on the Earth, where man will dwell, then on the land, where man will walk, then on the Garden of Eden; the specific “address”, so to speak, of the very first man and woman. After the Flood, the focus will first be on the entire world as the description is given in Genesis 10 of the branching out of the descendants of Noah throughout the Earth. Then, the Bible will begin to “zoom in” again by focusing on a specific nation, then a specific tribe within that nation, then a specific family, until we ultimately find the pinpoint of the Word of God firmly fixed on a stable in Bethlehem, more than 2,000 years ago.
Genesis 2:4 brings into focus the generations of the heavens and the Earth on the very first man, Adam. The Book of Matthew will open up the New Testament with a “book” of the generations of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17). Genesis brings the attention of all of Creation to mankind. Matthew brings the attention of all of mankind to Jesus Christ.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published August 1, 2009]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]