Old Testament Lesson 02 (Genesis 1–2; Moses 2–3; Abr. 4–5)
January 3–9

ACCOUNTS OF THE CREATION

● There are four accounts of the creation in revealed scripture:
— Genesis 1–3 Gives an account of the physical creation.
— Moses 1–3 Gives an account of the physical creation.
— Abraham 4–5 Gives an account of the planning in heaven and the physical creation.
— The Temple Gives a better idea of the actual sequence of events.

HOW THE EARTH WAS CREATED

● Having seen the vastness of God’s creations throughout the universe, Moses asked two questions (Moses 1:30): “How did God do it?” and “Why did God do it?”

The earth was created by faith (Moses 2:3). John A. Widtsoe said, “The earth came into being by the will and power of God. . . . Chance is ruled out. Latter-day Saints believe that the earth and the heavens and the manifold operations within the universe are products of intelligent action, of the mind of God.”1 The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The whole visible creation, as it now exists, is the effect of faith. It was faith by which it was framed, and it is by the power of faith that it continues in its organized form, and by which the planets move round their orbits and sparkle forth their glory.”2

It was created by His Only Begotten Son—Jehovah; Jesus Christ (Moses 1:32–33). Elder D. Todd Christopherson said, “Whatever the details of the creations process, we know that is was not accidental but that it was directed by God the Father and implemented by Jesus Christ.”3 Bruce R. McConkie said, “Christ, acting under the direction of the Father, was and is the Creator of all things.”4 But He did not act alone.

“They, that is the Gods” created the earth (Abraham 4:1; Moses 1:31–33; Moses 2:1; John 1:3, 14). Bruce R. McConkie said, “Christ . . . was aided in the creation of this earth by ‘many of the noble and great’ spirit children the Father is evident from Abraham’s writings. . . . Michael or Adam was one of these. Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter, James, and John, Joseph Smith, and many other ‘noble and great’ ones played a part in the great creative enterprise.”5

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The first word [in the Hebrew bible] shows a plurality of Gods . . . Berosheit baurau Eloheim ait aushumayeen vehau auraits, rendered by King James’ translators, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. . . . I want to analyze the word[s]. . . . Baurau signifies to bring forth; Eloheim is from the word Eloi, God, in the singular . . . and by adding the word heim it renders it Gods. [Thus it should read] “In the beginning the head of the Gods brought forth the Gods,” or, as others have translated it, “The head of the Gods called the Gods together.”6

Other Facts About the Earth’s Creation

The earth was not made out of nothing (Abraham 4:1). It was organized out of existing materials in space. This corrects the belief of traditional Christianity is that God created all things ex nihilo—”out of nothing”. . . . The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos . . . Element[s] can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end.”7

The earth was not made in one week’s time. Each “day” mentioned in the creation accounts was a “period of time,” not a 24–hour period. Ancient Biblical peoples referred to periods of labor as a “day” and the cessation of labor as “night.” The periods called days and nights in Moses’ account were periods in which the Gods were laboring (Alma 34:31–33). Brigham Young said, [Six days] “is a mere term. . . . God created the world. God brought forth material out of which he formed this little terra firma upon which we roam. How long had this material been in existence? Forever and forever, in some shape, in some condition.”8

Bruce R McConkie said: [A day, in the Creation accounts,] “is a specified time period; it is an age, an eon, a division of eternity; it is the time between two identifiable events. And each day, of whatever length, has the duration needed for its purposes . . . There is no revealed recitation specifying that each of the ‘six days’ involved in the Creation was of the same duration.”9

The earth is billions of years old. Joseph Fielding McConkie said, “The Prophet Joseph is reported to have taught that our God has been involved in the creation and redemption of worlds for some two billion five hundred fifty-five million years, a period so unfathomably long that we speak of it as eternity or infinity.”10

The Atonement of Christ Redeems Them All

Jesus Christ redeemed all of God’s creations (D&C 76:23–24). Even as the Father organized these worlds by the Only Begotten, so does the Father redeem and glorify them by the Only Begotten. The blood of Jesus Christ was not shed for this world alone.

Bruce R. McConkie said, “Our Lord’s jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we dwell. He is, under the Father, the Creator of worlds without number. (Moses 1:33)”11 . . . and, as we have seen heretofore, the Redeemer of those same orbs. . . . Our Lord will visit each of those planets for which he has a saving stewardship, for truly what he creates, he redeems.”12

THE CREATION OF ADAM & EVE

Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Adam and Eve were chosen before, or in the first estate, to come down here and commence the race.”13

Adam was “the first man of all men” (Moses 1:34). He was the first creature that could truly be called a “man.” The Lord does not say here how He created Adam’s body. But we learn later that Adam became a “living soul” when his spirit was placed into his body (Moses 3:7; Genesis 2:7). The Lord also says that the name “Adam” means “many”— billions of souls would come through him.

God has a body of flesh and bones (Moses 2:26). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heavens, is a man like unto one of yourselves . . . If you were to see him today you would see him a man. For Adam was a man in fashion and image like unto him.”14

“Male and female created I them” (Moses 2:27). The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have affirmed, “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”15

“Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Moses 2:28). The English word “fruitful” is translated from the Hebrew “parah”, which means “to increase or bring forth.” The English word “multiply” is translated from the Hebrew “rabah” which means “to become many.” And the English word “replenish” is translated from the Hebrew “male” (maw-lay), which means “to fill, or be full.”

Adam (man) was given dominion (Moses 2:28). Joseph Fielding Smith said that to have “dominion” means to have responsibility.16

How Did God Create Their Bodies?

Man was formed “from the dust of the ground” (Moses 3:7). Bruce R. McConkie said, “Those natural elements that make up the physical earth are sometimes referred to in the scriptures as dust. Thus Adam was created from the dust of the ground meaning that the physical body which he received was created from the elements of the earth. (Gen. 2:7; Moses 3:7; Abra. 5:7; D&C 77:12). Similarly, all men are created from the dust of the earth; that is, the elements organized into a mortal body are assembled together through the birth process (Moses 6:69).”17

Man became a “living soul” (Moses 3:7; Abraham 5:7). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “When God breathed into man’s nostrils he became a living soul. Before that, he did not live, and when that was taken away his body died.” “God made man and put into it Adam’s spirit,” and “God made a tabernacle and put a spirit in it, and it became a human soul.”18

THE WOMAN

Adam’s Eternal Companion

Eve was given to Adam as an eternal companion (Genesis 2:18, 21–25; Moses 3:18–25). “Help meet” means that Eve was to be an equal partner. The Hebrew word from which this was translated has a composite meaning: “helper like-the-opposite-of-him.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “[Marriage is] an institution of heaven, first solemnized in the garden of Eden by God himself, by the authority of the everlasting priesthood.”19 President Russell M. Nelson said that “Adam and Even were joined together in marriage for time and for all eternity by the power of [the] everlasting priesthood.”20 Bruce R. McConkie said, “Before the Fall Eve was sealed to Adam in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, a ceremony performed by the Lord before death entered the world and therefore one destined to last forever (Moses 3:20–25).”21

The name “Adam” appears for the first time here (Genesis 2:19) and is used interchangeably with the word “man” because they both mean the same thing—man. Notice the progression in Moses 2:27 from “him” to “them” and from “the man” to “male and female,” showing that what is being described is the creation of both Adam and Eve, and not just of “man.” Also note that in Moses 6:8–9 He called their name “Adam,” not just the man’s name.

The Symbolism of the Rib

The story of the “rib” (Genesis 2:21–25). To understand the symbolism of this metaphor, we must first notice that Eve was Adam’s rib; she was not just made from one. In Hebrew culture, to say that someone was your “rib” was to say that he or she was your sole-mate—your best friend on earth. Thus, we should not think that she was literally made from one of Adam’s ribs. She was his rib.

Bruce R. McConkie said, “[Eve] was placed on the earth in the same manner as was Adam, the Mosaic account of the Lord creating her from Adam’s rib being merely figurative.”22 So why did God use the metaphor of a rib? Because the rib is “by the side,” “under the arm,” and “next to the heart.” Also, this metaphor suggests that Adam was to consider her “flesh of my flesh,” a symbol of marriage [v. 24].

The Mother of All Living

Adam called his wife’s name Eve (Genesis 3:20–21; Moses 4:26), because of his deep reverence for her God-like ability to create life. The English word “Eve” is from the Hebrew “hawwa,” which comes from verb “to live.” The spelling of the word in Hebrew suggests a facilitative meaning—something like “life-giver.” Bruce R. McConkie said, “Eve was the first woman; she became the mother of the whole human race, her very name signifying ‘mother of all living.’ (Moses 4:26; 1 Ne. 5:11).”23

The Significance of the Apple Story

The fruit of the tree of knowledge is not named in the scriptures. The suggestion that is was an apple is Latin imagery. It came about for specific reasons:
— Tradition holds that Eve was the “apple” [Latin pupilla] of Adam’s eye.
— The word used means “little doll” [Latin pupa].
— This suggests that she was the center of his attention, or alternatively . . .
— She was the means by which he obtained vision.

ALL WILL EVENTUALLY BE REVEALED

Clearly there are limitations on what God is willing to make known to us at this time. When Moses desired to know more about God’s creations than God wanted to reveal, the prophet received a response that is still timely today: “For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me” (Moses 1:31).

What has been revealed of our Creation is not scientific detail about how it was accomplished. The temple helps us understand that the account of Adam and Eve’s creation is “simply figurative.”

During the Millennium all our questions will be answered (D&C 101:32–33).

THE SABBATH DAY

● We know that after the creation of the earth the Lord rested from all His labors. To commemorate this fact, the Lord established the Sabbath day and made it holy, and He asks us to keep it holy. Elder David A. Bednar taught, “The Sabbath is God’s time, a sacred time specifically set apart for worshiping Him and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises.”24

Notes:

  1. Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham, 3 vols. in 1 [1960], 150.
  2. Lectures on Faith, 72–73.
  3. “Why Marriage, Why Family,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 51.
  4. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:194.
  5. Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:194.
  6. Sermon on the Godhead, given by the Prophet Joseph Smith, June 16, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois.
  7. The King Follett Sermon, given by Joseph Smith, April 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois.
  8. Discourses of Brigham Young, 100.
  9. “Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, 11.
  10. “The Answer,” Times and Seasons, 5:758.
  11. Mormon Doctrine, 65–66.
  12. Joseph Smith: The Choice Seer [1996].
  13. Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:213–215.
  14. Ehat and Cook, eds., Words of Joseph Smith, 349; spelling, capitalization, and punctuation standardized.
  15. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.
  16. The Way to Perfection, 221.
  17. Mormon Doctrine, 209.
  18. Times and Seasons, 1 April 1842, 746, in Words of Joseph Smith, 352.
  19. Dean C. Jessee, Autobiographical and Historical Writings, vol. 1 of The Papers of Joseph Smith series, 146.
    20. “Lessons from Eve,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 87.
    21. Mormon Doctrine, 242, EVE.
    22. Mormon Doctrine, 242, EVE.
    23. Mormon Doctrine, 242, EVE.
    24. “Exceeding Great and Precious Promises, Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017, 92.
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