Is there exegetical evidence against the apparent Creation contradictions in Genesis? Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Later on, in Genesis 2:4, it appears that a 2nd, different story of creation starts. The concept of 2 varying creation accounts is a typical misinterpretation of these 2 passages which, in fact, explain the very same creation account. They do not disagree regarding the order in which things were created and do not oppose one another. Genesis 1 explains the “6 days of creation” (and a seventh day of rest), Genesis 2 covers only one day of that creation week– the 6th day– and there is no contradiction.
In Genesis 2, the author goes back in the temporal series to the 6th day, when God made man. In the very first chapter, the author of Genesis introduces the creation of man on the 6th day as the conclusion or peak of creation. Then, in the 2nd chapter, the author provides greater information concerning the creation of man.
There are 2 main claims of contradictions between Genesis chapters 1-2. The first is in regard to plant life. Genesis 1:11 records God creating plant life on the 3rd day. Genesis 2:5 states that prior to the creation of man “no shrub of the field had actually yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had actually yet emerged, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground.” So, which is it? Did God create plant life on the 3rd day before He created man (Genesis 1), or after He created man (Genesis 2)? The Hebrew words for “plant life” are different in the two passages. Genesis 1:11 utilizes a term that describes plant life in general. Genesis 2:5 utilizes a more specific term that describes plant life that calls for farming, i.e., a person to tend it, a gardener. The passages do not contradict. Genesis 1:11 talks about God creating plant life, and Genesis 2:5 talks about God not making “farmable” plant life to grow up until after He created man.
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass (deshe’), the herb that yields seed (‘eseb mazria zera), and the fruit tree (ets party) that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day. (Genesis 1:11–13)
This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field (siah hassadeh) was in the earth and before any herb of the field (eseb hassadeh) had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:4–9)
The 2nd supposed contradiction is in regard to animal life. Genesis 1:24 -25 records God creating animal life on the 6th day, before He created man. Genesis 2:19, in some translations, appears to record God creating the animals after He had actually created man. Nevertheless, a great and plausible translation of Genesis 2:19 -20 reads,
“Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.”
The text does not state that God created man, then created the animals, and after that brought the animals to the man. Rather, the text states, “Now the LORD God had [already] created all the animals.” There is no contradiction. On the 6th day, God created the animals, then created man, and after that brought the animals to the man, permitting the man to name the animals.
Finally, having already shown the exegetical evidence to refute the apparent Creation contradictions in Genesis and by thinking about the two creation accounts separately and after that reconciling them, we see that God illustrates the series of creation in Genesis 1, then clarifies its essential details, specifically of the 6th day, in Genesis 2. There is no contradiction here, simply a typical literary device explaining an event from the general to the specific.