Genesis Chapter 2 part 7
2:18-20 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, let us make for him a help suitable to him. 19 And God formed yet farther out of the earth all the wild beasts of the field, and all the birds of the sky, and he brought them to Adam, to see what he would call them, and whatever Adam called any living creature, that was the name of it. 20 And Adam gave names to all the cattle and to all the birds of the sky, and to all the wild beasts of the field, but for Adam there was not found a help like to himself.
ALCUIN OF YORK. (Gen. 2:18-20). WHY IS IT SAID, “HE BROUGHT THEM TO ADAM TO SEE WHAT HE WOULD CALL THEM”? — Answer. He did not bring them by going about locally, but, by the secret will of his might, he wanted them to come. (Bed. in Pent., PL 91, col. 209. Bed. Hexm. I, PL 91, col. 48.) [Question 54]
WHY DID GOD WANT MAN TO GIVE NAMES TO ALL LIVING BEINGS? — Answer. So that man might understand himself and how much better he was than all living beings on account of the discernment of reason, and might love his Maker the more when realizing that he, man, was better than other living things. (Bed. in Pent., PL 91, col. 209. Bed. Hexm. I, PL 91, col. 54.) [Question 55]
WHY IS IT SAID, ” BUT FOR ADAM THERE WAS NOT FOUND A HELPER LIKE HIMSELF”? — Answer. Because among all living beings on earth there was found no rational one except him alone. [Questions and Answers on Genesis, 56]
AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO. HOW DOES GOD PRONOUNCE THE WORDS “IS NOT GOOD THAT MAN IS ALONE?” Let us now examine how the words were pronounced: “It is not good that man be alone.” Has God made a series of syllables and words heard? Does the Scripture only explain the reason that the formation of the woman was decided in principle in the Word, reason that the Scripture already expressed by these words: “God says that this or that work is done,” when everything was originally created? Is it in the very spirit of man that God uttered these words, as when he speaks to the heart of his servants? Such was the Psalmist who said, “I will hear what the Lord says to me within me (Ps. LXXXIII, 9). Would man have received inwardly the revelation of this fact through the medium of an Angel, who would have represented the words with sensible images, although the Scripture does not say whether it was in a dream or in a dream moment of ecstasy, as it usually happens? Would not this be a revelation similar to that described by the Prophet: “And the angel who spoke in me said to me (Zech II, 3)? Finally, would these words have sounded through the organ of a creature, like those which resounded in the clouds: “This is my beloved Son (Matt III, 17)? What was the means God used? This is impossible to determine. But we must remain convinced that God has spoken and that, if he has used a succession of sounds or a sequence of sensible images, far from speaking directly and by himself, he has employed some creature subject to his orders have been demonstrated in the previous book.
God no doubt showed himself to the saints later on, sometimes with hair as white as wool, sometimes with feet like fine brass (Rev. I, 14, 16), in short, in different forms; but that he has used, to appear to men, creatures subject to his orders and not his essence, that he has signified his will by means of images or sounds, it is an incontestable truth for the spirits who believe or even have the strength to understand that the essence of the Trinity is eternal, apart from all change, and that, without falling into the extent of duration, it moves all beings in space and time . Without further searching by what secret these words have been heard, let us try to discover their meaning. It was therefore necessary to give man a help of his kind; this is what the creative truth itself declares; and to hear his word, it suffices to understand the reason which presided over the creation of each being.
ANIMALS BEFORE ADAM. We have sufficiently examined, I thought, for what end the woman had been created and associated with the man; let us see now why the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky were brought in the presence of Adam, that he might give them a name, and that it seemed in a certain sense the necessity of drawing the woman from one of his own, since there was no one among them who could assist him. This event seems to me to contain a prophetic meaning: it is real without doubt, but one can, after having confirmed its fulfillment, interpret it in freedom and see it as an allegory. Now, why did Adam not give names to fish, to birds and to terrestrial animals? If gold consults ordinary language, all these beings have received names which the human speech has given them. Not only the beings who inhabit the waters and the earth, but also the earth, the water, the sky, the celestial phenomena; real or supposed, what am I saying? the very conceptions of the mind, have received a name which differs according to the idioms. It has been revealed to us that there was originally a uniform tongue, before the erection of the proud tower after the flood had divided the human race, and attached to the same signs different sounds. What was this primitive language? It’s a pretty indifferent problem. What is certain is that Adam spoke it and that the last vestiges of this language, if they still exist, are found in the articulated sounds by means of which the first man pointed out the terrestrial animals and the birds. But is it likely that the fish were not named by man from the roots of that language, and that the words that represent them were created from God who taught them to man? If it were so, one could explain this fact only by seeing a mystical sense in these words. It is probable that the fish were named little by little as their species were recognized; but if the animals, the animals, the birds were brought before the man; if they were collected and sorted by species so that he could give them a name, when he could have named them little by little and much faster than the fish, supposing that their names had not already been found, Is there not in this fact a hidden reason and a prophetic allegory? This is what the rest of the sacred narrative clearly tends to make us understand.
In the second place, could God ignore that he had not created any animal capable of helping man? Was it necessary that the man should be instructed and had an idea all the higher of his wife that on all the animals which like him had been created under the sky and breathed the same air, none had been his similar? But it would be strange that, to give him this idea, it would have been necessary to bring him and show him the animals. If he had faith in God, he could learn it from him, just as he was instructed in his defense, questioned after his fault, and condemned. If he did not believe in him, it was impossible for him to discover whether this God, in whom he had no confidence, had shown him all the animals, or whether he had hidden others like him in some distant country. Therefore I cannot help thinking that this event, whatever happened, hides some prophetic allegory.
But the plan of this work does not consist in clarifying the mysterious prophecies: I aim to expose the events with their historical character, so that, if some fact seems impossible to the frivolous and incredulous minds, or opposed to the authority of Scripture, by offering, so to speak, a contradictory testimony, its possibility and concordance is demonstrated, as far as I can do it with the help of God. As for events whose possibility is obvious and which, without offering any contradiction with the rest of Scripture, appear to some people useless or even unreasonable, I should endeavor to show that everything outside the ordinary course of nature is intended to teach us to prefer the infallible testimony of Scripture to our imaginations, and that instead of seeing it as an extravagance, it must be taken for an allegory. But these explanations and comments already make or will later be the subject of other works.
HOW ANIMALS HAVE BEEN PRESENTED TO ADAM. Let us examine then, attaching ourselves, according to the plan of this work, to the facts themselves rather than to the events which they announced, to the letter rather than to the symbol, this passage: “God brought before Adam all the animals, so that he saw how he would call them. Do not talk about the passage. “God formed all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air on the earth:” we have devoted enough to him. What was God doing to bring the animals before Adam? In this respect we must banish a crude idea, referring to the theory we have set out in the preceding book, on the dual mode according to which Providence is exercised. Let us not believe that animals are gathered together as the hunter or fowler does, when he throws his prey into his traps or his nets; or that an order, from the bosom of the naked, made the animals heard words that the intelligent creature alone can listen and follow. This commandment could not have been understood either of animals or birds. However, the brute himself receives the orders of God in his own way; without following the impulse of a free and intelligent will, she follows the movements that God, the immovable motor, communicates to her through the angels, who see in her Word the acts to be performed and the determined moment when they must. This is how God remains outside the movements of time, and that angels move in time, to transmit his orders to the beings who are under their control.
Every living being, intelligent as man, or deprived of reason like the animal, the fish, the bird, is struck by what he sees. The man, being reasonable and free, obeys or does not obey the sensation; the animal does not know how to deliberate, but the image strikes him and makes him act according to the laws of his nature. It is not in the power of any being to determine which objects will come to him to the senses or even to the spirit, and therefore will bring his activity into play. From which it follows that once presented from above by the docile mediation of the Angels, these objects fall under the senses and send the orders of God not only to men, but also to birds and animals, for example to the monster that engulfs Jonah (Jon II, 1.). His will is communicated even to the smallest beings, as to the worm which received the order to gnaw the shrub in the shadow of which the same prophet had rested (Ibid., 6, 7). If God has given to man, in spite of the flesh of sin which envelops him, the faculty of making animals and beasts of burden serve him; if he has made it capable of taking not only the domestic birds, but also those flying in the air, however wild their instinct and taming them by finding the marvelous secret of dominating them in reason rather than in strength, since it succeeds in observing what causes pleasure or pain in them, by a wise mixture of caresses and rigor, to make them strip their wild instincts in order to take on milder manners; what is not the power of the angels who, after having discovered the will of God in the immutable Truth that they, unceasingly contemplate, unfold a marvelous activity to move in time, to shake. in the course of time and in space, the subaltern beings, to present to the animals the images capable of striking them and flattering their instincts! Do not they have a hundred times more resources to bring, even without their knowledge, any being who breathes for a specific purpose? [Literal Commentary on Genesis]
JOHN CHRYSOSTOM OF CONSTANTINOPLE. Despite the ministering role creatures play and the assistance they give human beings in their labors, are nonetheless irrational and in great measure inferior to them just in case we might think it was about them God said, “Let us make a help mate for him.” You see, although they are helpful and make a very useful contribution to the service of human beings, they are nonetheless irrational. The fact that they are helpful, after all, emerges from experience. I mean, some are suited to bearing loads for us, while others to working the soil: an ox draws the plough, cuts furrows, and provides for us much other assistance in farming; likewise an ass makes itself very useful in bearing loads; and many other of the irrational animals service our bodily needs. Sheep, after all, meet our needs from their wool for making clothes, and again in similar fashion goats provide a service for us from their coat, their milk and other things related to our living. So in case you think it was in reference to them it was said above, “Let us make him a helpmate,” it now begins its statement with the words, “For Adam, however, there proved to be no helpmate of his kind,” as if blessed Moses were teaching us in saying these words that, while all these animals were created and received from Adam the assignment of names, nevertheless none of them proved to be adequate for helping him. Accordingly, he wants to teach us about the formation of the being about to be brought forth and the fact that this being due for creation is the one he was speaking about. “Let us make him a helpmate like himself,” meaning of his kind, with the same properties as himself, of equal esteem, in no way inferior to him. Hence his words, “For Adam, however, there proved to be no helpmate of his kind,” by which this blessed author shows us that whatever usefulness these irrational animals bring to our service, the help provided for Adam by woman is different and immeasurably superior…
So that Adam may learn that the being in process of being formed is meant to enjoy equality of esteem with him, accordingly just as he said in the man’s case, “‘Let us make,’” so he now says also, “‘Let us make him a helpmate like himself.’” Both expressions, helpmate and like himself have much significance. I do not want him to be alone, Scripture is saying, but to have some support from company, and not this only but a helpmate suited to him should be produced, hinting at woman. Hence he said, “‘Let us make him a helpmate,’” and added, “‘like himself,’” so that when shortly you saw wild beasts produced and all the birds of heaven, you would not think reference was made to them. I mean, even if many of the brute beasts helped him in his labors, there was still nothing equivalent to a woman possessed as she was of reason. [Homilies on Genesis]
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