The Creation Story, Part II: the Responsibility of Adam and Eve

In The Creation Story, Part I, we discussed the Hebrew term ha-adam. God creates ha-adam out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo), and thus man is created free. The creation of ha-adam is the first creation of man, and so it tells us about our nature and humanity.

The second creation of man also tells us something about our nature. While God creates humanity with freedom, He also creates man with responsibility. Responsibility allows us to determine which actions we ought to freely make. If someone can be held justly responsible, they have the knowledge of right and wrong and are free to choose between them. If we are free but not responsible, we would be no different than the other animals of Eden, free to act according to any whim or instinct.

Responsibility requires both an I and You. Without an I, there would be no one to act responsibly. Without You, there would be no one one else to contextualize the knowledge of right and wrong. You give me someone towards whom I can choose to act responsibly.

When God takes man ha-adam and places him in the garden “to till and keep it,” he tells man, “you may freely eat of every tree of the garden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Genesis 2:15-17, RSV). After God introduces the concepts of responsibility (“till and keep”), good, and evil, Genesis addresses the lack of I and You.

To solve this problem, God introduces many animals to man so as to find a fitting companion, but no animal is compatible with man. While God creates ha-adam out of nothing, that is not the case with animals. Genesis 1:24 tells us, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures…” God makes animals from the earth. Man is the only living being created out of nothing, therefore, man is the only free being. For man to take on his responsibilities, God must create a companion for ha-adam who is also free. And so Genesis 2:21-22

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