This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.
The Bible has two Creation’s accounts. The first one (Gen 1:1-2:4) has been commented in the previous blog’s posts. The second one begins here.
The accounts are very different from one another, because they have different authors. The first account was written by Jews who lived in a cosmopolitan city. They were exiled to Babylon in the 587 BC by king Nebuchadnezzar. So the first account’s tone is cosmic, because in it is not only reported the heavens and earth’s creation, but also the creation of the sun, stars and moon. For the exiled Jews God is the creator of the universe, and he is above all men and women. He is called “Elohim” and he created everything in a very different way from the way by which babylonian gods created the cosmos. Indeed he didn’t create using some tools, but just using his word.
The tone of the second account of Creation (Gen 2:5-25) is instead very different from the first one. God is called no more “Elohìm” but “Lord God”, in hebrew “YHWH Elohim”. This name can be translated into English as “Lord God” or “Lord of the Gods”. Why the author of the second account used a different name of God? Are there different Gods in action?
The Lord God wasn’t a general name for God, but the God of Israel who revealed himself to Moses at Mount Sinai (cf. Ex 3). The author of the second account didn’t live in Babylon, but among Jews that the Babylonians didn’t exile. They lived in their destroyed homeland deprived of the country’s symbol: the Jerusalem Temple. The Jews were living among people that worshipped other gods and that also had a strong appeal on some of them. So it was very important say that the god who created the earth and the heavens was the God of the Hebrews, the Gods of their forefathers.
The couple of terms “heavens and earth” (cf. Gen 1:1) is inverted at beginning of the second account: “earth and heavens”. This is another element telling the different mind of the author. In a land where main cities had been destroyed and where there wasn’t anymore statal organization, people was forced to farm in order to get food (cfr. Jer 52:15-16). They know that the land had to be irrigated to produce crop. So they immagine that the earth just created was barren, without plants and without anyone that could cultivate it.