(First published January 13, 2006)
The God Who appears in the creation narrative of Genesis 1 is a good, benevolent being. He fashions humanity in His image, placing people in a good world made for their use. He pronounces His blessing upon humans, then initiates a rest that implies delight in Him and His works.
The goodness of this God is further highlighted in the second creation narrative, which occupies Genesis 2:5‐24. In this narrative, Moses recapitulates the story of creation with a significant shift in perspective. This retelling of the story allows him to focus the reader’s attention more specifically upon God’s purpose for humanity.
God’s goodness is emphasized from the beginning of the account. The original creation had no weeds, no harsh weather, and no hard labor. Rather, God provided everything for the man whom He created, placing him in a garden or sheltered park. Moses specifies the location of this garden by naming four rivers that would have been familiar to the people of his day. The Tigris (Hiddekel) and Euphrates are known to moderns. The Pison is unknown. The Gihon, while not known, is said to flow through the land of Cush, which places it somewhere in the western Arabian peninsula or east Africa. The Gihon may be another name for the Nile (though this is doubtful). It could be another reference to the “River of Egypt” that evidently marked the border of that country.